The English summer saw an early start to this summer as WI toured them for the double header. The two test series (which just got over) will be followed by 3 match ODI series.
Ashes preparation started well in advance for the English side which wanted to get the winning formula right before the storm. England did not manage a single win in their tour of WI a little while earlier this year. Flintoff, Bopara, KP were called back. Flintoff injured himself in the IPL and had to sit out the test series. How costly can that be? Read on...
Graham Onions, Durham pace bowler was called in for a test cap and Bopara was given the nod ahead of Ian Bell. Good decision, I say, as England, put into bat by the most talked about Caribbean player, Gayle amassed good runs on the first day. Edwards did get the ball do the talking, but Bopara and co had things in control. After posting a decent total on a Lords pitch which is so allergetic to producing results, it was time for the English bowlers to warm up for the big times waiting for them in September. It was Swann who started to open up the bad phase of WI batting. With four left handers in top six/seven in the WI line up, Swann had a nice time posing challenges. Strauss brought in Onions in time to bring down the house. 5 wickets on debut, first three in a single over. Dream debut? Yes. WI made to follow on, were no different in the second innings. Just, a bit better than the first, but nowhere near a decent Lords' total. Nash and Ramdin tried to put something big on the board. Too little too late. All bowlers, except the rarely used Bresnan contributed well. Strauss and Cook mopped up the small target without wasting much time, and England went 1-0 up with the probing Swann getting the man of the match. BOY! Shiv getting out cheap twice to him was exceptional. We all know how he batted last time aound in England!!!
Chester-le-Street now. Lots of chit-chat between Strauss and Galye made this test a bit more spicy. England, batting first, piled up a HUGE total, thanks to Cook and Bopara. Now, Bopara has more or less rule Bell out of the Ashes equation. Poor bell... KP, Paul and Broad chipped in with more contributions down the line. WI attack was toothless. Their only big moment was when Gayle got rid of Strauss, as if to say, 'I had the last laugh'. Guess he didn't read his future. Now, it was Jimmy's turn to rip the top order. Three good wickets and WI were never in the hunt thereafter. Jimmy had five, Broad picked up three. Sarwan waged a lone man's battle. A neat century, but in vain. Received no big help from the other end and WI were forced to follow on again. And, Jimmy was at them again. Bresnan got three to assist Jimmy's four, and England pinned WI on the mat to secure an innings victory. Jimmy was the man of the match.
With two centuries in the series, Bopara was named man-of-the-series, which meant, Bell out-of-the-Ashes. Bopara has three centuries in his last three tests, one in each, first since Botham ( I think) to do so. All the very good for the English side.
Freddie is out of the Twenty20 World Cup too and its been worrying for England, though Paul Collingwood has reassured the side that they can beat the Aussies without Freddie too.
But why risk it? I so very much wish he hadn't playted the IPL. he could've played better T20 with Lancs than with the lusty IPL clubs. England bowling is coming good and batsmen have been in good touch. Bench strength will be tried and tested in the strenous county cricket.
WI will be reviewing the series. It was a complete failure of batting and bowling, those individual glitters set aside... A stready side has to be built and trusted with responsibility. Gayle's captaincy-quitting remarks were disturbing at a time when WI cricket is trying to recover from a low.
The cricketing world will soon be coming to England for the second edition of the Twenty20 World Cup. Much better than the money laden IPL.
Pakistan was removed as a host of Cricket World Cup 2011 for security reasons that caused rifts within the ICC. Pakistan is now helpless, from my point of view. Though its cricketing body ain't the reason for all this, they just can't change the scenario. Sad for them, their alternative solutions haven't reached the ears of the game's governing body either.
ICL players have been allowed by BCCI and other national cricketing body to return back to the "legal' side of cricket. BCCI has been a chicken and used its power to completely play ICL out of the equation.
Pakistan, barred from IPL is now gonna play a domestic T20 tournament to prepare for the World Cup. Pakistan, runner up in inaugral tournament are looking to make it big this time around too.
Only time will tell.
Just hang on...
The commercial tournament is not done yet in South Africa. WI-England ODI series will start soon. Twenty20 World Cup will follow.
Summer is HOT