Archive for October, 2012
Uncapped batsman Nick Compton is leaving no stone unturned as he prepares for a stern test of his technique on England’s tour of India.
The 29-year-old earned his first international call-up on the back of a prolific summer in which he hit 1191 County Championship runs at an average of 99.25. Compton topped the Division One batting averages despite missing five matches through injury.
Sport news networks are reporting that he Somerset man has now fully recovered from his back problem and is in line to replace Andrew Strauss at the top of the England order. Joe Root, who is also uncapped, is another option along with regular number three Jonathan Trott.
Whoever takes the field for England in the first Test in Ahmedabad on November 15 will be subjected to a spin examination. England have an unwanted reputation as poor players of spin bowling, something which will not be lost on the hosts.
Compton is well aware of what will be waiting for him in the sub-continent and has taken steps to combat the impending threat.
“In my batting I am trying to replicate the sorts of angles and situations that I might find out in India,” Compton told news sport networks.
“I have been facing Monty Panesar in the nets at Lord’s, which has been very good practice for me because there is going to be plenty of spin bowling to face out there.
“I have had a couple of sessions with Graham (Thorpe) at Lord’s. In between that I have been trying to give myself a bit of a break before setting off, because it will be a tough trip.”
England face three warm-up matches before the opening Test. Compton will be keen to show he will not be overawed by one of international cricket’s toughest challenges – facing India in India.
With the Kevin Pietersen saga now put to bed, we can all turn our attentions to matters on the pitch, with England seeking to overcome the mighty India on their own turf.
One of the main decisions for coach Andy Flower is the batting order, with former captain and opener Andrew Strauss now retired.
That leaves a spot vacant at the top of the order. Pietersen is unlikely to be asked to stride out first; his style of play isn’t suited to facing up to the openers anyway.
The number three position is where he plays best, averaging more than 50 in 34 Test matches. However, Jonathan Trott has recently revealed he prefers playing in the number three position.
Given the number three can often play the role of opener when there is an early wicket, Trott seems the sensible choice. The Warwickshire batsmen is never ruffled by what is going on around him and he has the temperament to play in that position.
Pietersen should be better down in four, when (hopefully) there are runs already on the board, giving him the opportunity to express him himself.
That leaves uncapped duo Joe Root or Yorkshire and Nick Compton of Somerset. It is far from ideal throwing youngsters into the bear pit of the sub-continent, but I feel it is better than going for a more experienced square peg in a round hole.
The selectors have made a show of faith in selecting Root and Compton so they should follow that up by giving at least one of them the chance to stride out with new captain Alistair Cook at the top of the order.
With Trott, KP and Ian Bell to follow, England have a varied and talented top six that is more than capable of giving the India bowlers something to think about.
England Test captain, Alastair Cook, insists that Kevin Pietersen is focused on playing well for England. Cook – and, indeed, fans of cricket test betting – is desperate to put the long-running saga to bed before his team kick-off the gruelling tour of India next month.
Pietersen’s exclusion following his rouge text messages brought to the surface a number of simmering issues that perhaps needed to be dealt with sooner or later and, although there has been a lot of upheaval, English cricket may be better off for it.
For starters, they can welcome back into their side one of the world’s most destructive batsmen. England are a weaker side without Kevin Pietersen, though the ECB’s tough stance throughout sent out a strong message to KP that he was not going to receive any special treatment just because of his ability.
To be fair to the 32-year-old, who has a reputation for having a precious ego, he appears to have been genuine remorseful for what has gone on and had done everything asked of him in order to the issues to be resolved.
There will, of course, be huge focus on him when he next takes to the field in an England short, but if he can start writing headlines for the right reasons, the drama of late summer may quickly be forgotten.
“It’s been a difficult two months for us, but as captain the best possible outcome is that we have a world-class player back in the team,” said Cook. “Kevin is very contrite and desperate to be back playing and scoring runs for England. As captain that’s all I want.”
Elsewhere on the cricket calendar, Australia are lining up to play their rivals in the South Hemisphere, South Africa. View the South Africa test odds before placing your bets to ensure that your gamble gets off on the right foot.
England fast bowler Steve Finn is keen to establish himself as a regular in the Test side on the upcoming tour of India.
The 23-year-old has taken 66 wickets in 16 Tests for England and has become an integral member of the one-day set-up. Finn was England’s top wicket-taker at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka and has produced a number of eye-catching performances in the 50-over format, even if England’s live scores results haven’t reflected his own personal performances.
Despite Finn’s excellent record in Tests, he has been left frustrated more often than not when it has come to selection in recent times, with Tim Bresnan regularly preferred as the third pace bowler.
However, his recent form has given him the edge in the battle to partner James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the England attack, something Finn is desperate to do on a full-time basis.
“I’ve had a few tough times when I’ve been left out of the team and had to fight my way back in. You learn from those experiences and now I feel I’m a much better bowler, as well as a more experienced person, to deal with the setbacks,” said Finn.
“A big part of being a successful international cricketer is knowing how to deal with the bad days and I feel I can do that better now.”
The tall seamer is in line to face India in the first Test in Ahmedabad on November 15 where they will begin as outsiders in the sport betting. He believes his experience of sub-continental conditions will stand him in good stead.
“India is a formidable place to play but I have good personal memories of playing there,” added Finn.
“You have to be able to bowl reverse-swing, dry the runs up and attack batsmen in different ways. I’ve played a lot of cricket in the subcontinent and I hope that will serve me well in the Tests.”
After a saga that has dragged the reputation of English cricket to grimly low levels, Kevin Pietersen is finally back in the England squad after two months in the wilderness.
His return to the squad marks the end of his period of reintegration, which involved several rounds of talks with coach, Andy Flower, new Test captain, Alastair Cook, and several key members of the first team.
The drama stemmed from ‘provocative’ text messages sent by Pietersen to South Africa players during last summer’s Test series between the two sides.
However, that incident in isolation probably would not have caused such a furore with Bet365 cricket online. The problem with KP is that this latest incident was one of many that rubbed the ECB and England players up the wrong way.
Pietersen’s ego is notoriously sensitive, akin to that of a Premier League footballer than a cricketer. He loves the glory and attention of top level cricket, something at odds with the modest team ethic of Andy Flower’s England.
His talent is without question, but his antics at Headingley threatened to divide the dressing room.
To his credit, he has been insistent in his desire to play for England again – in all forms of the game. He could have easily given up on his country and become the latest ‘freelance’ cricketer, chasing the T20 dream around the World.
But his remorse appears genuine and rounds of talks appear to have gone well. I‘m sure there will be a few frosty moments initially, but the England team know there is no place for internal squabbling in a place such as India, where they will begin a three match Test series in November.
Hopefully, this sorry chapter of English cricket can be put to bed and we can all focus on what KP does best; the cricket Test betting pundits are certainly waiting to see what Pietersen can do for England’s chances, this autumn and winter.
There were rumours he would go into politics, with punters on Betfair putting money on him becoming a Tory MP by the next general election, but former England captain Andrew Strauss has instead chosen a different diplomatic route after joining the International Cricket Council’s committee.
Strauss, who retired from England duty this summer, replaces Ian Bishop on the cricket committee and will join a board of 16 members to decide and deliberate aspects of the international game.
The move is seen as a good one for UK cricket, for the ECB now has a relatively young yet very experienced former player within the ICC ranks. It is hoped Strauss can do some good at committee level, with a number of issues continuing to trouble the international game.
Only recently the ICC launched a match-fixing probe into allegations six officials were willing to fix scores during this year’s World Twenty20 tournament after an undercover investigation by India TV.
Meanwhile, cricketing schedule in general is in a bit of a mess and with the emergence of financially-beneficial T20 domestic leagues there is a sway towards the short-form that could ruin Test cricket in the not-too-distant future.
The IPL has set a benchmark for how far cricket can develop if marketed properly but the extravagant spending on big-name players is already a huge concern. The Deccan Chargers are up for sale after financial mismanagement and the ICC committee may have to outline fiscal rules to prevent such a predicament ruining the sport.
The Betfair cricket odds predicting a life in Parliament may now be distant a punt, but Strauss will still have plenty of political manoeuvring to do in his new position. It can only be a good thing that one of England’s Ashes heroes will not simply slide into obscurity now his professional career is over. Indeed, a position on the ICC board may well be in the pipeline should Strauss help resolve some of cricket’s desperate issues.
Former Pakistan captain, Wasim Akram, believes that Mahendra Singh Dhoni should carry the can for India’s failure at the World Twenty20.
India won four of their five matches in Sri Lanka but fell at the Super Eight stage, with Australia and bitter rivals, Pakistan, qualifying for the last four by virtue of superior run rates.
Dhoni’s side looked set to enjoy a successful tournament after they hammered England in Colombo. The reigning champions had no answer to India’s spinners – Harbhajan Singh leading the way with 4-12.
The off-spinner missed the cut in India’s final group match against South Africa, who, like England, are vulnerable to spin. Akram told the news sport that India failed to get the balance of their team right in the crunch encounter.
“I am puzzled with the way the Indian team management has picked playing XIs. For example, I feel a wicket-taking bowler like Harbhajan Singh was missed against the ragged South Africans on Tuesday night,” the former all-rounder told ESPNStar.com.
India won the match by one run but paid the price for a heavy defeat by Australia in their Super Eight opener. Akram felt India lacked the necessary firepower to go all the way in the competition.
“A team is world class only when it is complete in every respect. India’s batting is one of the strongest in the world, but if you are expecting Zaheer Khan or a Balaji to win you a tight match every day, think again,” he added.
Betting fans now turn their attentions to India’s four-Test series against England, which begins next month. India will be desperate to avenge a humiliating 4-0 defeat on English soil last year, a victory which saw England leapfrog India at the top of the Test world rankings.