Archive for March, 2013

England hold on in thrilling finale

One of the things non-cricket fans struggle to comprehend about the game is how teams can play for five days yet still only draw. England and New Zealand have gone better than that, playing nearly 15 days of cricket only to see the series tied at 0-0.

That scoreline barely tells half the story, though, certainly on a thrilling final day in Auckland which saw the New Zealand v England Cricket Betting veer one way then the next.

New Zealand may well have triumphed in Dunedin had it not been for the rain, while poor weather probably cost England victory in Wellington – so Eden Park would always going to be the decider.

With the weather set fair the game was allowed to be played through to its conclusion – and what a conclusion it was.

England were staring down the barrel at the start of the final day, slumped on 90-4 and with the winning target of 481 well out of reach – it was all about survival.

Joe Root and Ian Bell gave England their first sense of belief, holding firm until just before lunch, when Root was trapped lbw by Trent Boult with the new ball.

Bell and Jonny Bairstow were both dropped just before the interval and although the latter would not last much beyond the break, Bell would stick around for the majority of the afternoon session, eventually departing for a 271-ball five and a half hour 75.

By then Matt Prior was at the crease and he turned in a match-winning 110 not out, curbing his attacking instincts to guide the tail through to the conclusion. He rode his luck, not least when the ball cannoned off his helmet before knocking into the stumps, but crucially failing to dislodge the bails.

Stuart Broad, whose batting has deteriorated in recent years, defiantly stuck around for 77 balls, showing the patience his petulant display on day four sadly lacked.

Still despite their efforts Broad’s eventual dismissal was quickly followed by Jimmy Anderson, leaving Monty Panesar 21 balls to try and survive with Prior.

Monty is a cult hero with England fans, as much for his perceived weaknesses than his skills, but he gamely held on here in the most trying of circumstances, even if his comedy mis-timed slide while chasing one run set hearts a fluttering.

In a situation that can only occur in Test cricket, five days of sporting action, largely dominated by the hosts, came down to the last over, with Panesar’s single off the second ball the most important he has ever scored in international cricket.

Prior saw out the over to secure an unlikely draw and save face for England after a below par tour. Following the highs of India’s and the looming challenge of Australia, it seems New Zealand were somewhat overlooked. But despite some poor days, England always seems to respond when they are backed into a corner. Something that will serve their Ashes odds well in this year of cricket.

March 27, 2013 at 5:19 pm Leave a comment

Clarke eyes Ashes return

Australia captain Michael Clarke says he is confident of returning to full fitness in time for this summer’s Ashes series with England.

The 31-year-old was forced to miss the fourth and final Test with India in Dehli last week because of a back injury.

He immediately flew home to have the injury assessed and is set to undergo x-rays to try and determined the extent of the problem.

Clarke is scheduled to play in the IPL next month before heading to England though that now appears unlikely, especially if it would jeopardise his chances of playing against England.

Clarke is leading Australia through a difficult chapter in their recent history, with the young team suffering a dip in results.

The retirement of Ricky Ponting late last year broke off another connection with the great side of the 1990s and early 2000s, with the current crop struggling to live up to their lofty predecessors.

Clarke is crucial to their fortunes this year as not only is he captain and the player with most experience, but he is also in fine form.

He averaged 106.33 for calendar year 2012 and looking at the way his team-mates repeatedly got themselves out cheaply during their India tour, any the latest Ashes betting suggests any hope of winning back the little urn will rely on him returning to fitness.

“I’ll listen to the experts once I’ve had my scans and do as I’m told,” said Clarke on his return to Sydney.

“I’m always positive so I think it’s very unlikely I’ll miss the Champions Trophy [in June] and the Ashes.”

For more information and previews ahead of this summer’s Ashes, head over to: http://betting.betfair.com/cricket/

March 25, 2013 at 10:57 am Leave a comment

Anderson plays down pitch fears

England paceman jimmy Anderson has dismissed speculation that flat, lifeless pitches have been deliberately prepared in order to hinder results.

The surfaces at Dunedin and Wellington have not offered much assistance to the bowlers, though wet weather played a part in ensuring both Tests finished a draw.

That had led to speculation among conspiracy theorists that the Kiwis had prepared pitches designed to help the batsmen, making a draw the most likely result. Indeed the Betfair England cricket odds suggest the final Test will end in a stalemate.

England, man for man, have better players than New Zealand and were expected to win the series comfortably.

Anderson has played down such theories, however, insisting that the pitches were no more difficult to bat on than elsewhere.

“Test pitches around the world are generally quite flat, and you’ve got to work hard for your victories,” he said.

“It’s no different out here. So you can’t say they’re not result pitches … you’ve just got to work hard as a bowler to get 20 wickets in a game.

“That’s just the way things are. You have to find different ways of getting people out. You can’t always just steam in and try and roll sides over. You’ve got to use other skills, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do this trip.”

That said, had weather not intervened England may well have lost the first Test following their first innings collapse.

This New Zealand v England has still produced some compelling cricket, despite the inclement weather at times.

The tourists were then in the ascendancy at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, forcing the Black Caps to follow-on before the final two days were scuppered by the weather. Meaning we could well have been heading up to Auckland all square anyway.

With the weather set fair for all five days, the conspiratorial theories will be put to the test once and for all.

March 20, 2013 at 10:12 am Leave a comment

Fit-again Broad Breathes life into England Attack

A fit-again Stuart Broad showed just why England are so keen to have the fast bowler firing on all cylinders come this summer’s Ashes, taking 6-51 in the first innings of the washed-out second Test against New Zealand.

After missing much of the pre-Christmas tour of India with a heel injury, Broad now looks capable of bowling at his maximum capacity without pulling up.

An encouraging return to action in Dunedin was followed up with his electric performance in Wellington, collecting 6-51 and producing the sort of consistent line-and-length that has made him such an integral part of England’s Test side.

The heel problem, although not something that will ever completely go away, has been significantly improved to the point where Broad is confident of bowling full-pelt without fear of breaking down.

“I managed to get my heel right over Christmas, and it’s nice to be able to attack the crease with confidence – knowing 10 times your body weight is going through your heel, and it can withstand it,” he told the cricket betting news.

“It’s almost getting used to the impact again, and touch wood I’ve not felt it for about two-and-a-half weeks. That’s really encouraging and I feel confident – like I can tear in, and my speeds are pretty good as well.”

There had been some real concern from betting news pundits as to whether or not Broad’s place in England’s Ashes plans was as secure as it had been this time last year. But the England selectors will have been as happy as anyone to see Broad back firing on all cylinders during New Zealand’s first innings in Wellington.

The hope will now be that the rest of England’s bowling attack will be injury-free by the time Australia arrive this summer.

March 19, 2013 at 11:23 am 1 comment

Clarke backs Aussies to Bounce Back

Despite being completely outplayed in the opening two Tests by a rampant India, Michael Clarke has backed his Australian side to stage a comeback and level the series in the final two matches.

The Aussie captain has seen his side lose the first Test in Chennai by eight wickets, only to suffer an even heavier defeat in the second match in Hyderabad after going down by a humbling innings and 35 runs loss.

With Tests in Mohali and Delhi still to come in the series, Clarke has backed his beleaguered squad to prove they are still capable of coming away from this tour with an unlikely draw from this four-game series.

“It is not in our nature to give up without a fight. We have every chance of making a comeback and levelling the series. We feel if we win one, we can win two. Had there been a fifth Test, I am sure we would have won the series 3-2,” insisted Clarke to cricket betting news pundits.

“Winning the next two Tests is our main focus. But obviously it is going to be tough as India are playing really good cricket at the moment.”

Losing the series 4-0 would be a real hammer blow to Australia’s preparations for this year’s back-to-back Ashes series against England.

While there is no real shame in losing a Test series in India, suffering a series whitewash against an Indian side that is itself going through something of a transitional period would not be hard to take for Clarke.

While Clarke has been in the best form of his career since taking over the captaincy from Ricky Ponting; the same cannot be said for the majority of the batsman’s teammates, who have not made many friends in the sports betting news.

Until the rest of the team can begin to match their in-form skipper, then it is hard to see how Australia will have any chance of competing with England during this summer’s Ashes.

March 12, 2013 at 2:22 pm Leave a comment

England Look to Capitalise on New Zealand Fatigue

New Zealand will no doubt be aware that they could and should have won the first test against England.

If it wasn’t for a day being lost to rain and a stoic performance from nightwatchman, Steve Finn, then they most probably would have recorded a famous victory in Dunedin, but man of the moment Finn is clear that England will come back fighting in the second test.

“I had to do my job today as nightwatchman to see New Zealand off as long as I could,” said Finn, following his highest first class score of 56 from 203 balls.

As well as frustrating the New Zealanders and sapping their confidence, Finn’s knock also ensured that the hosts were forced to field for 171 overs and, with the second test following in quick succession, he knows that it will take time for Brendon McCullum’s side to recover physically and he expects England to take advantage of their fatigue.

“Now there’ll be some tired players in their dressing room for the Test match on Wednesday,” Finn said. “It’s important we start well in Wellington as we didn’t here.”

Despite providing sterling support for the top order batsmen and occupying the crease for long enough to deny New Zealand victory, Finn still feels frustrated at the cheap way that he gave up his wicket. “I was trying to take it ball by ball.

It was good to bat with Compo and Trott, those guys helped me through,” Finn said. “To bat for so long and sweep across the line so close to tea wasn’t the best thing for the team,” he added ruefully.

England will certainly be looking to bounce back in the second test at Wellington and the top order batsmen will be aiming to make amends for their first innings showing in the first test.

It is very rare to see two poor England performances in a row and Alistair Cook will be confident that his side can show their superior class and come away from the New Zealand capital with a comfortable victory.

Did you know that you can get Michael Vaughan previews and tips here? Fans of cricket can also take advantage of live Test match blogging on the Betfair website.

March 11, 2013 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment


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