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WRITTEN December 2009
I have been a cricket fan most of my life. Nowadays cricket is my most favourite sport. It used to be football but I got fed up of the huge salaries earned by players. I even don't watch 'Match of the Day' every week. Having Sky Sports has really helped my cricket knowledge. Most recently I have been watching the New Zealand v Pakistan series on Zee TV and India v Sri Lanka and South Africa v England on Sky Sports 1. The purpose of this op is to give my views on various aspects of cricket. I hope that you find my views interesting. I am warning you that this op is very long.
I first became aware of women's cricket in the early 1970s. England had a good team which was captained by Rachel Heyhoe-Flint. I think she is now more into Wolverhampton Wanderers football club. My favourite Wolves player was John Richards. In those days England was the best team in the world. But Australia superseded them. I don't know if our Karen has played cricket but I reckon that she is more adept at basketball.
A few years ago the English Cricket Board (ECB) put extra money into women's cricket. The selectors replaced the more experienced players with youth. This policy has paid off with England winning the World Cup, World T20 and the Ashes this year. The team is superbly led by Charlotte Edwards. The wicket-keeper opening batsman Sarah Taylor and the batsman Claire Taylor are the stars of the team. Other bowlers in the team include Jenny Gunn and Holly Colvin. The back-room staff led by Jack Birkenshaw has also been instrumental in England's success.
My favourite player is Isa Guha. She has one brother and plays for Berkshire. Her father played cricket in Kolkata. She is a very effective bowler and runs like a gazelle in the field. She even played grade cricket in Australia. As a fellow Bengali, I am very proud of her efforts and achievements. Isa holds the cricket ball like a rasagulla and she is good enough to eat!
Coincidentally one of my favourite aunties from the early 1970s was Lena Guha. She was the wife of a Bengali doctor in Hull and was a friend of my mother. She was always jovial and ate like a horse. She left Hull to move to Scotland in the mid 1970s. I never saw her again.
I saw a couple of the England v Australia women's one-day internationals on Sky Sports this year and really enjoyed the coverage. Sky Sports have already announced that they will broadcast more women's matches in the future.
ME AND MY CRICKET LIFE
Having no brothers or sisters meant that the television was my closest companion. One of my favourite TV programmes was 'The Romper Room' with Miss Rosalyn. I first watched cricket in 1970. That year England were beaten 4-1 by the Rest of the World team. My favourite cricketers were Barry Richards of Hampshire, John Snow of Sussex and Derek Underwood of Kent. I used to see all the Tests broadcast in those days on BBC1. I also used to watch the John Player League on Sundays on BBC2. This was a 40-over tournament. Occasionally Yorkshire TV showed live coverage of a Roses county match between Yorkshire and Lancashire. Once in the early 1970s ITV showed a whole afternoon from a Middlesex county match. Mike Brearley scored 73 whilst Norman Featherstone hit 94.
I learnt my cricket in Willerby (near Hull) after school. I used to play with my neighbours Geraldine Peat, sometimes with her sisters Susan and Angela and Nicholas Holmes either in our back garden or in the driveway. At weekends I used to play with my cousin Mithu and Silandra Goswami in a garden in Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull. My parents and me used to regularly travel on Sundays to Conisborough to visit Dr Shamsul Haq's family. On one occasion I played cricket in Conisborough with Dr Haq and his children Babu and Molly. I managed to bowl Dr Haq out first ball with one that kept low.
I started off playing rounders at school. At junior school I captained our form to victory and I took 3 slip catches. But I was later made 12th man for the 'B' team which was degrading. I later played crickey-cricket which was great fun. At school our first 11 played and lost against an experienced team congaing the likes of Yorkshire's Jim Love and Mike Bore. At University I took part in a match in Sefton Park which was a good day out. I remember a cricket match held at Dr Mallik's Kirkella back garden during a Bengali party. I took 3 wickets in an over which also included 2 wides.
From 1983 onwards my parents and me attended every August the reunion of my father's medical college Nil Ratan Sircar Medical College, Kolkata. On the Saturday after lunch there was a fathers v sons cricket match which was fun to participate in. I was attracted to Sangita Saha who hailed from Fulwood near Preston. Her father organised the event in Blackpool at the Castle Norbreck hotel. I wanted to speak to her alone. But every time I saw her, she was stuck like glue to her sister Anita. The one that got away.
I often received book vouchers as birthday/Xmas presents. I bought a few cricket books with these vouchers: 'Put To The Test' by Geoff Boycott; 'Phoenix From The Ashes' by Mike Brearley; 'The Incredible Tests' by Ian Botham. They were all very good reads. I also subscribed to 'Shoot' magazine every week to keep up with the football news. But the cricket equivalent of 'Wisden Monthly' and 'The Cricketer' were too complicated for me.
I sometimes play cricket in the back garden with my parents in Willerby. But often emotions get the better of me. I start bowling bouncers although I cannot get the correct trajectory. Then I start bowling beamers. I would love to be able to spin the ball. I get most of my wickets from a high arm action and drift. I would love to be able to bowl Neil Hawke's breakback ball or Shane Warne's zooter.
Sometimes I read more into things than is really happening. A few years ago I spoke to someone who looked like former England captain Michael Vaughan. Last year as I was entering hospital someone resembling the South African legend Barry Richards waved at me. Also last year I took a taxi to Walthamstow with my parents. The taxi driver resembled former England captain Nasser Hussain. A couple of years back I saw someone standing at the street corner resembling the former Pakistani captain Inzamam Ul-Haq.
My parents are not into cricket but my in-laws are. The main site I surf online is the cricinfo site. It contains archives of every international match ever played. I also watch cricket on Sky Sports 1 all the time. Its coverage is excellent. In my opinion, Charles Colvile is the best cricket journalist in the world.
In 2007 we stayed at the excellent Executive Tower Hotel in Kolkata. I was expecting to see plenty of cricket on the Star Sports channel. Unfortunately BBC World had stopped being broadcast in Kolkata for some reason. I could not find any cricket on Star Sports. Flicking through the channels I came across the channel Star Cricket. This, as the name suggests, broadcast cricket all day long. Soon it became tiresome watching the channel but the idea was good. One evening I was shocked to see live county cricket from England being broadcast. I don't think that the players themselves knew that they were playing live to an Indian audience. But it was a good opportunity for them to make a name for themselves.
Kolkata is ideally positioned for cricket broadcasting. During a visit in the late 1990s I saw Test cricket from Australia in the morning, Test cricket from South Africa in the afternoon and live coverage of the West Indies v England test series in the evening. Perhaps in the future Sky Sports may rebrand itself Sky Football, Sky Cricket, Sky Wrestling etc. and the Sky customers could subscribe to the relevant package which met their needs.
THE UMPIRE REFERRAL DECISION SYSTEM
Technology has a lot to answer for. One example is the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Apparently it only takes 12 bombs to blow up the earth. But innovations in technology has helped the world of sport. The hawkeye system used at Wimbledon can clarify whether the ball was out or not. In rugby video replays have showed if a try was valid or not. Cricket has recently allowed the umpire referral system in Tests. The third umpire can give the correct decision regarding stumpings, run-outs, bad-pad catches and caught behind. There are still teething problems to be sorted out but the introduction of technology is the way forward in cricket.
Balls have to be
legitimate before any scoring can take place. The technology is already in place to detect no-balls i.e. if a bowler's front foot exceeds the popping crease on delivery. The technology will ease the workload on the umpires. In the first Test against South Africa Kevin Pietersen was bowled in the first innings from a no-ball by Morne Morkel.
The snickometer is a wonder piece of innovation. The technology can detect whether a batsman has touched the ball or nor regarding being caught behind. The hot spot is equally a good innovation. This decides whether the ball has come off the bat or pad. Television replays have also been useful in determining run-outs and stumpings.
The only grey area is determining lbws. Cricket is a game of angles and it is very difficult to know if a batsman is out lbw or not. Perhaps these decisions should be left to the umpires for now.
In the mid 1970s I was waiting to see a John Player League match on BBC2 featuring Lancashire. It was raining and play was delayed. Eventually it was decided that a 10-over per side match would would be played instead. The cricket was thrilling. Ken Snellgrove simply threw his bat at everything. Subsequently only the introduction of T20 cricket has matched this excitement.
The format of T20 cricket is quite simple. The match is 20-overs per side with bowler permitted to bowl a maximum of 4 overs. The stroke-play is exciting with plenty of 4s and 6s hit.
T20 was invented in England a few years back. Soon there was a T20 league in operation. But when other countries embraced T20, they worked out what was required and caught up and overtook England.
Indian supporters especially have taken T20 to their hearts. There was the formation of the Indian Cricket League (ICL) which was superseded by the Indian Premier League (IPL). The ICL are owned by franchises. Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Shilpa Shetty own some of the franchises.
The World T20 tournament took place in England in June 2009. Pakistan won the trophy. But Australia got knocked out early and Ireland beat Bangladesh in the group stages. There is more chance of an upset in T20 cricket than in one-day cricket and Tests.
The West Indian captain Chris Gayle said that he preferred to play T20 instead of Tests. Certainly the attendance at grounds and TV audiences for Test matches have declined in the past few years. Meanwhile T20 is on the up. The Champions League was held in India in October. It featured teams from all over the world. T20 is here to stay.
In the early 1990s India only played 3 Tests in one year and the the rest being one-dayers. It just shows the popularity of the shortened form of the game.
After the Ashes in 2009 had finished there were 7 one-day matches. This was basically an opportunity of the English Cricket Board (ECB) to fill up their coffers. If this goes on the TV audiences will cease to watch and even players will be reluctant to play in so many meaningless fixtures.
In October 2009 the Champions Trophy in South Africa was a great success and won by Australia. The length of the tournament was just right. I remember that the last World Cup in the West Indies seemed to go on for ages.
There has been a few changes in rules in the one-dayers e.g. the introduction of powerplays, 2 runs for a no-ball. But I still become bored watching 50-over matches. The middle of the innings is the most boring. I would prefer these matches to be played 40-over per side. Perhaps both teams could bat for 20 overs first followed by a second bout of 20 overs. The trouble is that T20 cricket has made significant inroads into one-day cricket.
It was an American who said that he could not believe that 2 teams would play each other for 5 days and there might be no conclusive result. In the 1970s I used to watch every session of Test cricket avidly. But since my marriage I have had to give the TV remote to my wife. She had bad experiences growing up in Kolkata where her uncle hogged the TV watching cricket all day long.
The Australian Cricket Board made a sensible suggestion a few years ago that Test cricket should only last 4 days. But this suggestion was rejected by the ICC. I would like to see day/night Test matches. I would also like to see Test matches between 2 countries other than the host country. In the Summer of 2010 Australia will play Pakistan in a few Tests in England.
Test cricket is dying. TV audiences are lower than before. The ICC needs to come up with some fresh ideas to liven the Test format.
England had a difficult start to 2009. Captain Kevin Pietersen and coach Peter Moores both resigned. Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower replaced them respectively. It seemed ironic that Andrew Strauss could not get a place in the one-day side for 2 years but was now captain and expected to lead the team in the next World Cup.
The opening partnership of Strauss and Alistair Cook is the most prolific in England's history. Kevin Pietersen is a great player and can take the game away from the opposition very quickly. But he has scored fewer runs since he got married to Jessica from the pop group Liberty X. he also is slightly vulnerable to the left arm spinners such as Yuvraj Singh and Paul Harris. Jonathan Trott is a new find and scored a century on his début.
England has a reasonable bowling attack in James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Graham Onions, Ryan Sidebottom and Graham Swann. All are capable of taking wickets. I thought that Matthew Hoggard had at least 2 years of Test cricket left in him but he has been discarded. I would like to see the likes of Nick Compton, Phil Mustard, Ian Blackwell and Michael Yardy be given a chance in the team.
England are 5th in the World Test rankings. They easily beat the West Indies in the home series in 2009. And England even regained the Ashes against Australia. They won the key moments in the series. But statistically Australia scored more centuries and took more wickets. England are improving as a Test nation.
England won both one-day series against the West Indies home and away. But were thrashed 1-6 by Australia after the Ashes. In the Champions Trophy in South Africa they played very well to beat South Africa. They reached the second round which was par for the team. They also beat South Africa in the one-day series on their home ground. England can beat the best on their day but are far too inconsistent.
In the World T20 tournament in England, England provided the shock of the tournament losing to the Netherlands. They reached the second round which was disappointing for a nation which gave T20 to the world. Paul Collingwood is not an inspiring captain. England need to play more T20 internationals to gain more experience. I don't know what plans the selectors have in place for the next World T20 tournament in the West Indies?
Really the likes of former England captains such as David Gower and Sir Ian Botham should be running English cricket. But they are commentators on Sky Sports giving the viewers their wisdom.
Wonderful Wendy is part Australian so I get a buzz whenever Australia does well which is most of the time. The former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan recently wrote in his autobiography that Australian dressing rooms with their fielding charts and motivation words are more advanced than those in England.
Captain Ricky Ponting has now steered Australia to 41 Test victories which beats the world record of his predecessor Steve Waugh. In 2009 Australia beat South Africa away and the West Indies at home. They also won the first Test against Pakistan. The only blip was the Ashes series loss in England. But Australia dominated the first Test and should have won that one. They thrashed England in the penultimate Test.
Australia won the Champions Trophy in October. Opener Shane Watson scored centuries in the semi-final and final. Australia were equally adept batting first or second. They are the number one one-day side in the world.
Australia got knocked out of the World T20 tournament at the first hurdle. But in the warm up matches they played very well thrashing Bangladesh. They probably need more domestic experience of T20 cricket to become a world force. But it is good for the game that countries other than Australia can win tournaments. I just want to say a quick hello to those Australians who nicknamed me 'grub'.
To me MCC stands for only one thing: Michael Charles Carter. This man knows everything to do with West Indian cricket. In the early part of 2008 I saw someone resembling him in Hammersmith. When the billionaire Allen Sanford decided to invest in West Indian cricket the future seemed bright. But now he is in custody and is allegedly awaiting a fraud trial.
In the 2009 Tests the West Indies beat England at home, lost to them away, lost at home to Bangladesh albeit with a weakened side and lost away to Australia. Ramnaresh Sarwan performed well with the bat.
The West Indies performed well in the Champions Trophy and World T20 tournament but did not progress far. They relied upon captain Chris Gayle's brilliant hitting as an opener to win matches.
West Indies cricketers have always been known for their athleticism in the field. But in the one-day series in England in 2009, the body language was poor. They need to increase their enthusiasm and love of the game. The new coach is now Joel Garner who was a fine bowler for Somerset and the West Indies. But great players do not always become great coaches.
Towards the end of 2009 a taxi-driver in India was asked what he thought of Indian cricket. He said that there were so many tournament such as the Champions Trophy, Champions League, India v Sri Lanka one-day series following on from one another that one could not be happy at victories nor be sad at defeats. In short there is too much cricket played nowadays to maintain the interest of the average spectator.
India are now the number one Test team in the world. They played very well to beat a strong Sri Lankan team at home. The likes of Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar all scored centuries. India played well in defeating New Zealand away. But they have yet to beat Australia or South Africa away.
In the Champions Trophy India did not progress as far expected. They seemed to be affected by the pressure. But in run-of-the-mill one-dayers India are an exciting team to watch.
India were pre-tournament favourites for World T20. But again they failed to peak at the right time. But they have an interesting policy of giving younger players experience of international T20 cricket. The problem will arrive for India when the likes of Sehwag, Laxman, Dravid and Tendulkar etc. retire from international cricket. They are irreplaceable.
Over the years New Zealand have overachieved given the players that they have. They have an excellent cricket centre where Indian sub-continent temperatures can be simulated. The administrative structure is better than in other countries. New Zealand always seems to reach the semi-finals of most tournaments.
Only rain prevented New Zealand winning the recent Test series with Pakistan. Daniel Vettori is a good captain. Unfortunately Shane Bond had to retire from Test cricket after taking 87 wickets in 18 Tests.
New Zealand reached the final of the Champions Trophy losing to Australia. They seem to peak very well for the major tournaments.
New Zealand can bat and bowl very well in T20 but only performs in patches. There is rumour of an Oceanic T20 league starting up. This will give the players more experience. For the record, my favourite New Zealand player is Glenn Turner.
The terror attack against the Sri Lankan team in Pakistan changed cricket forever. There was a rocket launcher near the Sri Lankan bus. If it had hit the bus there would have been more injuries and perhaps even fatalities. At present Pakistan is too unsafe to play cricket. But after the 7/7 terror attacks in London, no-one said that international cricket in England should be banned.
Unfortunately due to the ban on international cricket in Pakistan, Pakistan have to play all their Tests abroad. They drew a tight series with New Zealand and lost the first Test against Australia. In the summer of 2010 they will play tests against Australia in England for the first time.
Pakistan have a good one-day side. They can be brilliant one day and awful the next. They are the World T20 champions. Shahid Afridi is a world class batsman and bowler in the shorter form of the game. I saw him at the Zee Carnival at Olympia a few years back. Umar Gul has the best figures in T20 of 5 for 6.
One of the main problems with Pakistan is cricket politics. There always seem to be arguments between various administrative staff. The latest scandal is the dropping of Younis Khan from the team just after he led them to the T20 world title. One of the best innings I ever saw was Zaheer Abbas's 274 against England in 1971. For the record my favourite Pakistani player is Wasim Raja.
Given that South Africa was banned from international cricket for 22 years their subsequent progress has been exceptional. But players denied Test cricket included the likes of Eddie Barlow, Barry Richards, Jimmy Cook, Graeme Pollock, Clive Rice etc.
After beating Australia in Australia in the Test series, South Africa became the number one team in the World. They lost the return series in South Africa though. But winning in South Africa is a daunting task for any team.
The Champions Trophy was held in South Africa and home side was amongst the favourites for the title. But they lost to England and did not do very well in the tournament. But on their day they can be one of the best teams in the world.
The IPL of 2009 was held in South Africa. The tournament was a great success. The dancing girls on the podium were always a pleasure to see. South Africa have a good T20 side which can be a little inconsistent.
If I was Sri Lankan I would be very angry at the ECB. Since Test status was granted to Sri Lanka in the early 1980s they have won the World Cup. But they have not been invited to play a Test series in England. The ECB says that Sri Lanka are not that great a draw to bring in the crowds. That may be true but in fairness every team deserves a fair crack of the whip.
Sri Lanka lost the recent Test series to India. But their home form is very good. Players such as Tillerkeratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara are world-class. The batting is exciting and for bowling there is Muthia Muralitharan who is the leading Test wicket taker.
Sri Lanka don't always play their best cricket in tournaments for some reason. A few years ago they beat England away 5-0. They score very quickly leading to huge totals on occasions. Schools cricket is important in Sri Lanka and this forms the basis for the enormous young potential talent.
Bangladesh has had a harsh start to international cricket. They were granted Test status when the team was not good enough. So they lost several of their early Tests. Now there is more experience in the team which means that they can compete better.
In the summer of 2009 Bangladesh recorded their first Test away series win in the West Indies. The West Indies played a weakened side due to an internal dispute. But still Bangladesh performed well.
The one-day side can occasionally cause upsets. But the team has to be more consistent. It would also help if more players played county cricket. Recently the U19 team matched England's U19 side so the future of Bangladesh cricket looks rosy.
Zimbabwe has not played tests for a number of years and have been restricted to playing one-dayers only. This has stifled the development of their cricket. Alistair Campbell is now in charge of Zimbabwe cricket. At home they can win matches. Mazakadska is a good player. But it is a tough road ahead for Zimbabwe to regain their Test status.
Ireland was the surprise package at the last World Cup beating Pakistan in one of the group matches. In the World T20 tournament they played well to beat Bangladesh. Ireland has asked for Test status to be granted. If it is granted then I hope Ireland only plays 'A' teams at first to get used to the grind of international cricket. Ireland have also lost their best players such as Ed Joyce and Eoin Morgan to England. There is a lot of good talent in the Ireland team such as Trent Johnston and Boyd Rankin.
Scotland are on a downward spiral at present. They failed to qualify for the next World Cup. I wonder how their finances are? After the Ashes defeat Australia played a warm-up game again Scotland. BBC Scotland covered that game which was enjoyable to watch. Scotland has reasonable
Pictures of Cricket in general
Paul Kundu gets the runs after this meal. For Cricket in general Ciao review.
batsmen but lack depth in their bowling. But the potential is there and things may improve in the future. FINAL THOUGHTS
So I am coming to the end of this op. It must have been a long read for you. It took me ages to write. I don't know if our Caroline still reads my ops? Where is she hiding? The category of the op was cricket in general. I have tried to cover as much as I can. But I am sure that I have missed important bits out. But I hope that you have enjoyed reading the op.
I am now off to hitch a lift on Meredith's ambulance!
UPDATED October 2011
England have been absolutely brilliant over the past couple of years. They have won the T20 World Cup, regained the Ashes and retained the Ashes as well. This summer they have won all the test and one-day series against Sri Lanka and India. England are now the number one test nation in the world.
I thought that England were on the right lines when the ECB appointed Kevin Petersen to be England captain for all 3 forms of the international game. His batting shows that he has an attacking approach to cricket. He also allegedly pulled the model Caprice which shows that he can do no wrong in my book! My only concern was that he had no experience of captaining his county side. Unfortunately he had to resign after a fall-out with coach Peter Moores. He also resigned causing some sort of Greek tragedy. But Andrew Strauss has been a more than able replacement for KP.
The best thing Peter Moores did as coach was to appoint a fielding specialist who is still with the team today. His deputy Andy Flower moved up to become coach of England. The team got off to a very poor start in Kingston being all out for 51 in their second innings. But things definitely improved after that. Andy became the number one test batsman in the world so there is something special about him. But to be number one whilst playing for a minor team such as Zimbabwe deserves extra plaudits. One new innovation he has presided upon is access to a database of all the international players. This shows the strengths and weaknesses of a particular batsman. The coach can then work out which bowler and which bowling strategy can best get that batsman out. The database is not yet available to every nation so England has a head start. Andy Flower does not say too much to the media and lets his team do its talking on the pitch.
The best teams have always had a strong captain/coach partnership at the helm. Andrew Strauss has done very well as captain. Even at cricketing college, he spent evenings studying the game whilst most of his fellow students were down the bar.
The selector Geoff Miller has done a fantastic job. Sky Sports did a brilliant feature on him. As a national selector, he was entitled to watch all 5 days of a Lords test and enjoy the hospitality. But after watching the first morning's play, he drove off to Trent Bridge to find out the upcoming players in the Nottinghamshire team. This unseen behind-the-scenes dedication is one reason why England have climbed the test rankings.
Every good test side has a strong opening pair. I have seen Geoffrey Boycott and John Edrich in the early 1970s and Graham Gooch and Michael Atherton in the early 1990s. The current pairing of Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook is up there with the best of them. Both have several test centuries to their name. Cook had an amazing tour of Australia. His 235 no will live long in the memory. I thought that Cook was a magnificent captain on the tour of Bangladesh. There was one match where England needed more batting practice. So Cooky put on Michael Carberry to bowl and the opposition reached their 1st innings target with ease. I see Cooky as being the natural replacement for Straussy.
Johnathon Trott has solved the problem number 3 position. He was recently voted ICC cricketer of the year. The best compliment paid to him was that he was England's version of Jacques Kallis. Trott has performed well in tests and in odis. He has a similar temperament at the crease to John Edrich. The strange thing was that a few years earlier he was picked by England and quickly discarded. If test cricket is about batting for as long as possible then he is the perfect example.
The middle order of KP, Paul Collingwod, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan have delivered the goods. They have scored their runs quickly meaning more time for their bowlers to bowl out the opposition. KP plays 12 months a year so he is bound to have a poor run of form from time to time. Colly is an example of a cricketer who has worked so hard that he has maximised his talent. Eoin Morgan has settled in nicely into test cricket.
Matt Prior has made the wicketkeeping position his own with his brilliant batting displays. His wicketkeeping has improved under the tutelage of former keeper Bruce French. Craig Kieswetter has done well in the odi and T20 teams. England always seems obsessed with keepers who can open the innings. I am from the old school and feel teams should always play their best wicketkeeper. A brilliant wicketkeeper can take 2-3 more catches than a good one. This may be the difference between winning and losing. I also feel that the likes of Alan Knott, Bob Taylor, Jack Russell should be given a consultancy role with England. They have so much international experience of cricket.
England has a great variety of fast bowlers to call upon e.g. the swing of Jimmy Anderson, the seam of Stuart Broad, the height and extra bounce of Steven Finn, the nagging accuracy of Tim Bresnan etc. I feel that Matthew Hoggard was discarded from international cricket a couple of years too early. I also hope that Saj Mahmood can make an internatioal comeback. Not many bowlers can bowl yorkers at 90 mph like he can.
Graeme Swann has developed into the world's best spinner. He seems to have an uncanny habit of taking a wicket in his first over. His swashbuckling batting style often works dividends against tiring bowlers. Like Trotty, he was in the England squad a few years ago but was discarded. I hope that England do not become over-reliant on Swann. Monty Panesar did the correct thing in changing counties. But he has not played international cricket for some time. The media pundits rave about Scott Borthwick but I have not seen him play. County pitches seem to help the spinners less every year. perhaps we should go back to uncovered pitches. Playing a turning ball on a drying pitch requires a lot of batting skill.
During the tests this summer, players on the fringe of the England team like Ravi Bopara were invited to train with the squad. This was very good thinking. When England toured Down Under last winter, the England Lions were also in Australia. This meant that any players injured could be replaced by fit, match-hardened replacements.
England have not had a good one-day team since 1993. Perhaps this coincided with the international retirements of Ian Botham and David Gower? Amazingly England still have not won the World Cup. The World Cup usually takes place after an Ashes series Down Under which is physically and mentally draining. When Andrew Strauss was made England one-day captain, he was not part of the team on merit. Now the same applies to Alistair Cook. What England need is a captain who has captained his county to success in domestic competitions. What the players have to do is to learn the one-day game. The Sri Lankan Sanath Jayasuriya only made regular one-day centuries after he had played over 100 matches. Nowadays I do not have the patience to sit through 100 overs of a one-day match. Perhaps other armchair supporters feel the same?
England has already won the T20 World Cup so there is nothing more to achieve. I would like international T20 matches to be limited to under 24 year-olds with a proviso of perhaps 3 overage players. There would be more attacking shots played and more spectacular fielding. Perhaps these players might force themselves into the odi and test squads?
WORLD CHAMPIONS INDIA
India's current squad must be the most successful in their history. They won the T20 World Cup, became the number one test nation and recently won the One Day World Cup. There is nothing more left to achieve.
During this summer's tour of England, I was slightly disappointed in the attitude of some of the players. They seemed to be going through the motions during fielding practice. Whilst fielding, several players had their hands in their pockets and seemed disinterested. Perhaps having won the World Cup followed by the IPL this tour seemed too mundane?
Indian batsmen always have had problems coping with Australian bouncy pitches and English seaming pitches. The solution is for the players to play grade cricket in Australia and league cricket in England.
I was surprised by the margin of defeat by Australia in the last Ashes series. But they recently won a test series 1-0 in Sri Lanka which is a very difficult place to win at.
There was a 7-month inquiry into Australian cricket after the Ashes debacle. There has been a change in the management hierarchy. Really all you need is the coach, captain and a 3rd selector.