Wake up call for England: will it rise to the challenge?

Posted: Thursday, August 30, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , ,

By Steve Charles

After losing the top spot in Test rankings, England have lost the spot in one-day rankings as well. Inconsistencies in players performance are one of the major reasons for this downfall. However, inconsistencies in performance also mean that top position can be reclaimed in both test and one day cricket rankings, in the near future. Nevertheless, this dream can be materialized only if some exceptional performances English players show in their up-coming matches.

But where inconsistencies are a major reason for this decline, the incorrect decision making in the selection of players has played an equally devastating role. Just take a look at Graeme Swann, who had to sit on benches in the dressing room for three continuous ODIs. The 33 year old Swann is one of the best off-spinners in England and he definitely could have stopped Hashim Amla from scoring too many runs on Tuesday. Even if England had restricted South Africa to around 250 runs, the decision of the match could be different. Furthermore, the 80 runs victory over England has brought the crown of ICC ODI Rankings on the head of South Africa.

But the challenges for England are not ending up here. They have to defend their title also in the upcoming T20 Cricket World Cup. And in a situation when the senior players like Kevin Pietersen are unhappy with the attitude of the English Cricket Board (ECB), the chances of defending T20 title are fainting away. The relief from the first positions in ICC ODI and Test Rankings is just a start; if the ECB members do not take the issue of players’ selection seriously then things can become even worse for England cricket.


England is no Australia

Posted: Sunday, August 26, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , ,

A year after England were crowned No.1 in Test cricket, South Africa beat them by 2-0 to be the new world No.1. But, most of us knew this was going to happen. England are an inconsistent team. And that has more to do with what goes off-field than on-field. Never before has a man not even playing has sparked more interest. You just can't keep Kevin Pietersen out of the game. Take him or leave him, the showman is here and there is no escape.

The fall from the top
Jimmy Anderson said the reason for England's fall is their poor bowling in the recently concluded series. But, it did not look like England lacked the fighting spirit with either the bat or the ball. South Africa couldn't have asked for anything better. No one is going to doubt whether they deserve to the top spot. There is no question over who played better. Yet, what happened before the match boosted their morale and devastated England like nothing else.

The star
If a player sends texts to the opposition calling his captain a dumb cunt, the board is right in excluding him. But, are the issues not deeper? Right from the beginning of his career, Kevin Pietersen was the face of English cricket, he was the performer, the star, the one with a movie like story, being discriminated in South Africa, coming to England and playing a big role in the epic Ashes 2005 with an England Lions tattoo on his arm. Until he was made captain.

ECB's ego
The ECB could not tolerate that someone else was running their cricket. It was said that following a tiff with coach Peter Moores, KP had asked the board to dismiss him. In return, ECB made both Moores and KP resign. There have been conflicts between the ECB and Pietersen ever since. True, he is outspoken. But, so what if he can't keep his hands off twitter or his cell phone? To lose a player like him over petty issues is nothing but stupid. Australia did not drop Shane Warne over his doping and rape scandals. But, England proves time and again that they are no Australia. They cannot ever rule cricket because their board has an ego too big and a head too small to manage big individual performers.

Signing off, Sanya.


England’s South African Connection

Posted: Saturday, August 25, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

England and South Africa have been contesting test matches against each other since 1889. Behind England and Australia, it is cricket’s second oldest rivalry, and one which has seen high drama both on and off the field. One of the intriguing aspects of this sporting contest is the succession of South African-born players which have gone on to achieve huge success representing England. And with this year’s “World Number One” series almost finished we thought we’d take a look at five of the best.

Basil D’Oliviera – debut 1966
Born in 1931 in Cape Town, Basil D’Oliviera’s cricketing achievements transcended the sport. He was the captain of South Africa’s non-white national team but due to the apartheid policy he was unable to join the main team. After migrating to England in 1960, he began playing first-class cricket for Worcestershire in 1964 and became a British citizen. He was selected for the English team in 1966 and made a solid start to his test career. However, in 1968, his presence in the team led to a controversy ahead of England’s tour to South Africa as the ruling white minority government refused to receive a team featuring a ‘Cape Coloured’ cricketer. The cancellation of the tour contributed to the eventual sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa and was a significant moment in the opposition to the oppressive regime. He went on to play 41 tests for England, scoring five centuries and 15 fifties, and also took 47 wickets. His legacy is commemorated in the eponymous trophy created in 2004 which is played for by South Africa and England.

Tony Grieg – debut 1972
Born in Queenstown, South Africa, Tony Grieg qualified to play for England because of his Scottish parentage. A charismatic player, his 6’6” height made him tower over all his players and in the mid-1970s, many believed that he was the best all-rounder in cricket during his playing days. Having played successfully for England, he was appointed captain in 1975. His swashbuckling style, joy for the game, and his talent with the bat and the ball made him a very popular cricketer. These traits have now made him into one of the best cricket commentators of the current generation. His most successful series was in 1976-77, when England beat India in all three tests with a huge margin.

Allan Lamb – debut 1982
Born to British parents in South Africa, Allan Lamb initially played first class cricket for the Western Province, and then as an overseas players for Northamptonshire. Since his native country was banned from international cricket due to apartheid policies, he immigrated to England in 1978 and within four years he was a member of their international team. He played 201 matches for England and was a recognised batting expert against fast bowling. He excelled in the ODIs and will be remembered for hitting an incredible 18 runs off the last over against Australia, in the 4th game of the Benson & Hedges Cup in 1987, to pull off a stunning England victory.

Robin Smith – debut 1988
He was another cricketer who was unable to play for South Africa due to the sporting boycott of apartheid South Africa. Born of English parentage, he played for England from 1988 to 1996. Famed for his ferocious square-cut, he was a consummate player of fast bowling, though famously susceptible to spin. He still holds the record for the highest England innings in an ODI with 167 runs. When he was dropped from the test team in 1996, he had the highest average among his England team mates and many felt it was a premature end to his career. His score of 175 runs in the test against the West Indies in 1995 is believed by many to be his finest innings.

Andrew Strauss – debut 2004
Strauss moved to England from South Africa in 1983, when he was six years old. Called in to play for England in 2004, he went on to become their most successful captain in 2009, after a short inglorious stint in 2006. His calm nature and his knowledge of the intricacies of the game have helped him guide his team through a series of good tours, and he begun 2012 in style with two consecutive centuries. Although the current series versus the country of his birth has put his captaincy under strain, as at the time of writing a loss was on the cards, with the current South African team arguably the most talented in the world.

Kevin Pietersen – debut 2005
Kevin Pietersen, after voicing his anger against the racial quota system, moved to England and since then has gone on to become one of England’s most valuable players. Frank and outspoken, but also insecure, Pietersen has had plenty of highs and lows with the England dressing room and fans. But his talent is undeniable – he was hailed as ‘England’s greatest modern batsman’ by the Guardian newspaper, and holds a host of run-scoring records. His career best 227 in the second test at Adelaide in 2010 helped England to win the Ashes in Australia for the first time in 24 years.

This article was brought to you by Keith Prowse, one of the leading corporate hospitality providers in the UK.

It had to Happen Sometime

Posted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , ,

By Guest Author.

England’s drop off the top of the world Test rankings this week was inevitable and, although Andrew Strauss is right to be disappointed, at least their downfall didn’t happen next summer.

Strauss’ men had no answer to South Africa’s superb bowling attack in the third Test at Lord’s, losing by 51 runs to suffer a heavy 2-0 series defeat.

The loss means South Africa leapfrog England to the top of the rankings; the experts page had already predicted this demise after a stuttering summer of English cricket.

Before their three-match series with South Africa, England captain, Strauss, had been adamant their Test rivalry with the Proteas is as fierce as with Australia, dubbing the clash “up there with the Ashes.”

Graeme Smith’s side certainly played with the intensity of an Ashes series but found England woeful and far too easy to pick off.

Strauss himself will be bitterly disappointed with his performances at the crease this summer, with a single innings top score of 37 and a miserable duck at The Oval. His series was summed up with that appalling leave in the twilight of the fourth day that rocked England’s third-Test comeback before it even began.

There is optimism in the air, however, and that comes in the form of time. England now have something to fight for: to retain their place as the best in the world. They have a year to restructure the squad and prepare for the Ashes on home soil next summer.

Australia will come with as much intensity and clinical execution as South Africa have this series, and Strauss must have his team ready for that test when there really is everything to lose.

Next up on the calendar is the limited overs World Cup.


English Domination In The Internatinal Cricket Tournaments Is Getting Fuel From The County Cricket

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: ,

By Steve Charles

As they say nip the evil in the bud, if we take this phrase reversely, the reason for continuous domination of English teams in the international cricket gets clear. With no doubt, the English players have faced consistent defeats against Australia during the first decade of the 21st century, but they have competed well against the other cricket teams during this period. It is not a good idea to compare the English Cricket Team with Australians for the same period since that was the period of Australian domination in the international cricket. They did not let any other team to win even a single World Cup during this period. So it is better to leave Australia and compare the other international teams with England.

And if we do so, the English cricketers are not behind any other team like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, etc. Why is it so? It is because the English cricket has a solid base. Of course the English players understand that cricket is their ancestors’ invention and they must not let it go into the hands of others.

England has 18 first-class counties and all of them have a history to tell. All counties are maintaining the traditions of English county cricket. Players to become a part of these counties normally come from the grass root level. They have to pass through a number of tests before participating at this level.

The first-class county season starts with the end of the university academic year. In this part, the first-class counties play the three-day matches against the university cricket teams. It is the early part of English cricket season. The county clubs warm-ups for the real competitions starts from these matches, at one side, and the fresh blood for the junior county clubs also comes in the eyes from the other side. The players to emerge from these competitions usually join the minor counties—most of them cannot be afforded to get the first-class status.

Cutting short, only the best players come out of this basic cricket structure. They are the best players and so are chosen for the national cricket team of England—where the best coaches shine them further to compete against the world’s leading bowlers and batsmen.