Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Denly's England Worries

While he is not a Middlesex player, Joe Denly is one of my favourite domestic players. Having watched him progress from young upstart to international, Denly's career path has been of great interest to me. While I at first ignored his poor international form, it became apparent that he wasn't quite ready for international cricket. With great sadness, I called for his head; and his removal from England's Twenty20 squad. And today I got my wish. (I know, I've only just learned how to do links on here!)

Only I didn't get my wish. Yes, the squad is probably better off with Michael Lumb in it than with Joe Denly, but that still doesn't make me feel any better. I want to see Joe Denly play for England like I see him play for Kent, with a swash-buckling confidence that he deserves to make runs. I want him to have the same understanding in his opening partnerships for England like he has with Rob Key, and the same assurance at the crease. But none of this will be seen this April in the West Indies, with neither Denly nor Key being picked for the squad.

This is probably for the best; Kieswetter will open with one of Bopara and Lumb (who are both playing with mixed success in the IPL), which would be a better opening partnership than Denly who is still struggling with his technique and confidence at international level. England will have a greater chance of success without Joe Denly.

While I am upset for now, it is Denly who should be the most worried. If he does not have a very good season for Kent, there is no guarantee that he will be the 'next-in-line' if there are injuries or loss of form. And if he is given another international chance, he will need to seize it in a much better way than he has already. I do not believe Denly's international career is over, but he will need to prove to the selectors that he has the attributes to become an accomplished one day, and later test player for England. And I for one hope that he can.

Monday, 29 March 2010

An excerpt from Lalit Modi's Diary

When not making money or idly chatting at cricket matches, IPL commissioner Lalit Modi likes to relax by keeping a diary. In a world exclusive, The Short Third Man is able to bring you a chapter from Lalit's Secret Diary.

Monday 29th March

While I have been pleased with the way the IPL has been going, it has been brought to my attention that not everything in the match has been sponsored yet. This has seriously restricted the earning potential of the IPL in the last 3 years. While chatting to some people at the game earlier, we came up with some unsponsored things which we could emblazen some logos on.

Balls - a no-brainer. The most crucial part of a cricket match - and the cameras are always focusing on it. Will speak to contacts regarding having a 'Sony Sphere of Bounce'

The Sky - always above the stadium. Plenty of advertising space. (Note: already have MRF blimp. More blimps? Or sponsor clouds?)

Players Names - no reason why individual players can't be sponsored. Will speak to Gautam to see whether he would be interested in being called Gam - Cobra Beer.

Dot Balls - doesn't happen very often, but no reason why a company couldn't sponsor it. The "Axis Bank Moment of No Runs" has a ring to it, doesn't it?

Rain Breaks - again, not very often, but if there is a rain delay, no doubt we could earn millions by calling it the "Tata Precipitation Pause". And TV time could be used to show more ads.

Drinks Breaks - not common in T20, but could shoehorn two or three an innings in if we called it a "Red Bull Moment of Refreshment".

Tactical Time Out - sure, we already have a Maxx Mobile Strategic Time Out, but some suckers would definately want to pay us to call something which takes the TV to adverts after them.

Hairstyles - brands could colour or shave things into their respective players hair for money - and we could do a deal to name our favourite hairstyle the "Reliance Industries Hairstyle of Success". (Note: would Ishant Sharma be allowed to win this every game?)

Lalit's Vision

The IPL Enigma

Those who follow me on Twitter will have seen that I was generally displeased with the IPL yesterday. While a Harbhajan-inspired Mumbai Indians beat the Deccan Chargers, I was finding all kind of faults with the IPL, from the rubbish commentary, constant adverts, and generally low standard of play. Deccan bowled brilliantly from overs 5-15, until the number 9 Harbhajan came in with Mumbai 100-7. Without wanting to knock a great innings from Harbhajan; there is no way that a tail-ender should hit 49* from 18 deliveries (one run from the quickest fifty ever). Terrible bowling aside; the blast of the final few overs just didn't feel like cricket, which is why I didn't really like it. While Mumbai did bowl sensibly, my mood worsened, probably due to the awful "Deccan Chargers" chant, which followed every boundary, wicket, over, dot ball, drinks break and run (seemingly).

So in the backdrop of the MCC / Durham game in Abu Dhabi, and again with nothing better to do on a wet Monday afternoon, I settled down to watch cricket's most lucrative league; with my team Delhi Daredevils taking on the Kolkata Knight Riders. And I really enjoyed it. Yes, one of my favourite England players was playing, but that didn't seem to matter. There was an exceptional century from David Warner, ably supported by Collingwood, as well as one of the greatest catches I've seen from David "Master Cricket" Hussey. It is with good reason that Alec Stewart called it "probably the greatest catch of the decade".

Being so enamoured with the game, I am already eulogising about it during the innings interval (OK, it's now the start of the KKR innings, but these blogs take some time). So why have I suddenly started to like the IPL again? Maybe it's the fact there is an English player involved, or maybe it's because I am in a better mood today than yesterday. Probably, however, it's because that horrible Deccan Chargers chant isn't on repeat.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

What we learned from Bangladesh

Before this series started, I named the team who I thought would play in the 1st Test against Bangladesh at Lord's in the summer. The team of Cook, Strauss, Bell, Pietersen, Collingwood, Prior, Wright, Swann, Broad, Anderson and Onions. With Strauss, Anderson and Onions unavailable for the tour, there were opportunities for Carberry, Finn, Tredwell and Bresnan to stamp their authority on the team, and put forward a good case for their inclusion, with Cook given the chance to show why he has been regarded as a Future England Captain since he first broke into the team. And nobody really took that chance.

Yes, Tredwell bowled well in his only test, and yes, Bresnan batted well in the second test. Yes, Carberry looked good in the first test, and yes, Finn did cause some problems when he was allowed to bowl. But none of them proved to be better than any of the men they replaced, and as such, none of them will play in the first test at Lord's. Tredwell toiled away on a pitch which offered little to him, and probably out-bowled Swann in the second test; but Swann's continued high level of performances (including a ten wicket haul in the first test) means he will retain his place, with two spinners in England unfeasible. Bresnan bowled OK, taking some good wickets, and took advantage of a weak attack, but the nature of England's defensive team line-ups mean that they will play 7 batsmen, and Bresnan will not get into the team on his bowling alone. While he will probably travel to Australia in the winter, it will be as a reserve for Broad and Anderson. Finn likewise will go to the Ashes, but did nothing spectacular to show why he was playing test cricket at 20. The fact that Carberry was dropped for the second test shows he has no chance of playing in the summer; now acting as England's fourth choice opener behind Cook, Strauss and Trott.

Alastair Cook did not cover himself in glory as captain, proving to be more reactive than pro-active, but it was not "his" team, and when he is allowed to be full captain, he will have much more influence and a bigger say in the team direction. While his fields were often defensive and bizarre, he is an inexperienced captain, and the tour will help him gain that experience before he gets the job full-time (remember Strauss captaining England against Pakistan in 2006 before being appointed in 2009).

Following the series, my team for Lord's has changed, with Jonathan Trott retaining his place ahead of perennial water-boy Luke Wright. England have won 100% of their matches in the Desh, and while they have now a better idea of their squad at large, they know that those replacements proved that the first choice team (even in the absence of Strauss, Onions, Anderson and Sidebottom) are England's best eleven.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Jonathan Trott v The IPL

Today was a day of real extremes in world cricket. In one part of the subcontinent, England laboured against Bangladesh in the second test of the series. Shakib Al Hasan bowled 15 maidens, and Jonathan Trott ground out a half-century, with his 64 coming from 187 balls. Not too far away, in Chennai, a tense IPL game was tied from the final ball, with the Kings XI Punjab triumphing over the Chennai Super Kings in a super over.

The two poles of world cricket - an attritional test against a glitzy T20 game. I know which one I'd rather watch. And it wouldn't have any cheerleaders.

Test Match Sofa on The Short Third Man

The cult cricket commentary Test Match Sofa has built up a firm following since they began last year. Getting up at unseemly times in the morning for the current tour to Bangladesh, the boys (and girl) have informed, entertained, and insulted, and now the Test Match Sofa feed is available on this very website.

The cricket fanatics on the sofa will be commentating on the rest of the current Bangladesh test match, as well as the entire World Twenty20 from the West Indies (April 30th to May 16th). They will also be commentating on all England test, ODI and Twenty20 games.

The feed is available on the sidebar (-->), as well as here:
src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="seed_name=videojuicer&presentation_id=26" width="300" height="130" name="videojuicer_seed_videojuicer_presentation_26" wmode="transparent" />
Be warned; there is a 10 second buffering delay, as well as some often choice language. Sorry.

To find out more about the Sofa team, or anything else sofa-related, visit the website here

Saturday, 20 March 2010

England winning, but Bangladesh could be winning in the long-run...

While there has been some criticsm that England have "only" taken 8 wickets in a day, were this not Bangladesh, the press would be dreaming up new superlatives to celebrate England's day. While England are not in firm control of the game, they are dominant, and if they bat well, should cement their position tomorrow.

Perhaps it is the preconception that Bangladesh were to be rolled over in two sessions, before conceding 700 runs for 3 wickets. However, after forcing England to 5 days in the first test (and not without an outside chance of saving the draw), and a fantastically attacking innings from Tamim Iqbal, it is evident that Bangladesh are not the poor outfit that everyone expected. While they do still have a long way to go before they can start winning games against the top test nations, they are starting to become competitive. England, or at least the English media, had underestimated the Bangladeshis, and if they reset their expectations, they will realise that they have performed fairly well today.

On debut, James Tredwell posed problems throughout (bowling 29 overs in the day); Graeme Swann bowled as well as ever, and Bresnan, Broad and Finn also chipped in. While England's catching was not great, there were a couple of good ones taken, and overall, wickets were taken at regular intervals. While there were a few 50 partnerships, England were able to keep pressure on, and never really allow Bangladesh to get firmly on top.

However, the 85 from 71 balls by Tamim Iqbal looked like it could. Attempting to score a century in the opening session, Iqbal may have been unfortunate to be given out on the sweep off Tredwell, with his attacking play accelerating the run rate, and causing Alastair Cook some real problems - his first proper test as English skipper, and the jury is still out as to whether he won that battle. The nature of Iqbal's dismissal (and those of Mahmudullah and Siddique) are indicative of the problems which beset Bangladeshi test cricket - they do not know when / how hard / whether to attack, and often go too hard, too early, and end up getting out. While that level of attacking may be acceptable in the one day formats, it often does not translate into test cricket, and will continue to hold Bangladesh back until they are able to rectify it.

I do not know just how much first-class cricket the Bangladeshi team have played, but some of the dismissals would be examples of those who have very little first class experience. This team will need to play more and more four or five day matches with the intention of playing long, big innings, rather than the quick-scoring cameos shown in this game.

While we won't really know just how good a batting pitch this is until England have a go (and hopefully double what Bangladesh get), Bangladesh have exploited it quite well, but the regular wickets mean that England have the upper hand . While this series is slipping away from Bangladesh, it may well be a different story the next time England travel to Dhaka and Chittagong.

The Delhi Daredevils newest fan

You have spoken. And with 40% of the votes, I am now a Delhi Daredevils supporter. The franchise boasting the talents of Sehwag, de Villiers, Dilshan, and Paul Collingwood. And the only IPL team with Dirk Nannes. Get in.

In honour of the Diggler, here is a post written by the excellent Jarrod Kimber of Cricket With Balls fame, separating Dirk fact from Diggler fiction.
Go Daredevils!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

More IPL stuff

Contrary to previous predictions, I have actually watched a fair bit (a few overs here and there) of the IPL. However, I still haven't been fully involved in it - mainly as I do not have a team. While picking a team might be easy, each has their own unique charms that could attract me to them.

Delhi have Paul Collingwood and Dirk the Diggler; Bangalore have Eoin Morgan; Kings XI have Ravi Bopara, Rajasthan have Warne, Mascarenhas and Tyron Henderson; KKR have Owais Shah; and the rest have players who I'm either not interested in or I dislike.

So I am handing it over to you, my loyal Short Third Fans; pick for me an IPL team. I will forever follow them, look out for their score, buy their shirt, whatever. You have three days to vote.

The Short Third Man

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

The Art Of Captaincy By Alastair Cook - Chapter One

An excerpt from Alastair Cook's forthcoming book in which he gives young captains tips on how to effectively lead and captain an international team. (The book features a foreword from Andrew Strauss).

Cooky's Top Tips

1) Fielders follow the ball
If the ball is hit to an area of the pitch where there are no fielders, immediately take out one of your fielders from a key position and put them there. Repeat as necessary.

2) Don't rotate bowlers
Keep bowling your two best bowlers irregardless of the stage of the game, or how fatigued / injured they are. It is more then acceptable to bowl someone for 42 consecutive overs.

3) Declarations
You can never declare too late - keep batting regardless of time; make sure there is absolutely no way you can lose before you start to think of winning.

4) Defensive Fields
As England captain, you should always assume the worst, and even with Bangladesh's numbers 9 and 10 in (requiring 250 more runs), put your men on the boundary, just in case.

5) Four man attack
Even if a player takes 7 wickets in an innings in a warm-up game, do not pick them - instead choose a four man attack including someone who is clearly not fit enough. This will give those bowlers much more exercise in the warm overseas climate, making sure they slim down for the next test. NB - if a four man attack is selected, remember to pick seven batsman.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

The Short Third Man's IPL Update

While I did protest slightly strongly that I would not be watching the IPL, I lied. As the test match drew to a close earlier, the Royal Challengers of Bangalore took on the Knight Riders of Kolkata (I hope the Hoff is getting royalties...).

Looking at the teams, I saw three Middlesexers - Eoin Morgan, Owais Shah and Murali Kartik (well, he used to be a Middlesexer). While Shah and Kartik donned the historic black and gold of the Knight Riders, Morgan's my favourite, so I supported Bangalore. Eoin was due to bat at 7, but Bangalore's top order batted so badly he was in by the 6th over. And out by the 7th (bowled by Kartik). Once Morgan was out, Bangalore took a tactical time-out; I went upstairs and never returned.

The game was over as a contest, and I later checked the score to see Kolkata won by 7 wickets. But the IPL yet again failed to draw me in. I guess I was unlucky, as the one game I was able (i.e. not doing something else) was the worst game of the tournament so far, with fireworks from Shah, Pathan and Mathews making the host commentators very excited. And I don't even want to go into the bizarre television which was ITV4's coverage.

So will I start to watch IPL3? As with this game, if I have nothing better to do, I will watch. And probably only if players I like are involved.

Bang out of the Running

(Just resisted completely ripping off the headline "Bang Out of Order")

So here we are at the end of day 3 of the first test. In a way, Bangladesh have exceeded my expectation, as they haven't lost yet. Yet. However, they have all but lost, with England well over 400 runs ahead and looking to add to that. Even with a flurry of late wickets this morning (or evening, depending on where in the world you were), Bangladesh are hopelessly out of the test match, and are certainly one-nil down. As a side, you know you're not going to win when after two innings the normally perfectly impartial, unbiased and predicition-averse BBC Sport website are already talking about the game as though you have lost, saying that England will "ensure a comfortable win when a second declaration follows on Monday". Ultimately, that match report says it all; England will win, Bangladesh will lose. And you will get bored and watch the IPL.

With such a comfortable victory which has never been in doubt since Shakib stuck England in on Friday morning (and probably even before then) comes suggestions that Bangladesh should not be playing test cricket. However, I am against this idea, as every nation needs to start somewhere, and while Bangladesh are not winning many fixtures, they are becoming more and more competitive in them. For example, their first day performance against India recently, and the half-centuries for Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim prove that Bangladesh test cricket does offer some level of competition. Naysayers should also remember that current 'Test Number One' Side India struggled for around a quarter of a century, as did 'not Test Number One' side New Zealand. Test cricket is an unforgiving place, as proved by the knocks of Cook, Collingwood and Pietersen, so I would advocate a 'second-tier' of test cricket, where other emerging sides such as Ireland or Afghanistan could compete in first class cricket against similar standard sides. (This would also help promote local Irish talents as well as keeping them in the Emerald Isle - but that's another blog for another day). While ultimately I would prefer a two division test system with promotion / relegation over a two year period, I know this won't happen, but a "B Division" of test cricket would give teams a much better chance of suceeding and elevating standards.

However, at the moment, Bangladesh are not in a test "B Division" where they can compete. They are fighting a losing battle against an England side who aren't allowing them to.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Tea Time Thoughts (Bangladesh v England 1st Test)

Despite my best intentions to get up early and watch the cricket from the bitter beginning, I didn't. A week's worth of fatigue (plus a bad case of man flu) meant I didn't awake to watch Steven Finn and Michael Carberry being given their test caps, or Cook passing 50. However, having got up for 6.30 (ready to start my day) I did see Jonathan Trott being given out by an absolute shocker. Yesterday, the ICC said that the UDRS was "here to stay". However, with no such technology being used in this series, Trott was given out - and he was looking like maintaining his good form and making a big score - a score which could guarentee his place in the team when Andrew Strauss returns. While the umpire's decision was poor (and ultimately just wrong, as proved by TV replays), this is a prime example as to why the UDRS should be implemented across the board.

While Trott was looking good before getting out, by all accounts captaincy debutant Alastair Cook was even better. Amazingly hitting two sixes (which probably says more about the bowling then anything else), Cook reached his century just before the tea interval. Having never reached 200 in professional cricket (his best being 195 v Northants in 2005), Cook must fancy his chances of making what his batting mentor Graham Gooch would call a "daddy". While the bowlers have hardly been Warne, Laker or Holding, Cook has shown good mental fortitude and technique to keep scoring at a good rate.

In other news, Kevin Pietersen has astounded critics by making double figures - when most pundits were of the impression that his switch hit was actually confusion as to whether he was left or right handed. KP seemed to have a new technique against those left handed spinners which had so plagued him; getting his front foot well out of the way - taking LBW well out of the equation. Hopefully KP can go on and make a 'gritty' century - something he has not always done in England colours.

England are firmly in the box seat at 243-2, and with Cook's century comes the inevitable century from Ian Bell (he can only make them when someone else has done it first). I predicted an English victory within three days, and if they can keep up the scoring rate, it could well be quicker.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Oh, it's the IPL...

It's difficult to write the obligatory IPL blog (or IPL3 as this year's event will be hereforth known) as quite honestly I am not excited about it. I have been weighing up the pros and cons of staying up until 3am to watch the start of the Bangladesh-England test, but have payed no attention to the hype surrounding the start of the IPL. To be quite honest, I don't even know who's playing. Or any of the star players for any of the teams. It's not that I am against the IPL, it is just that I don't really care.

I know that this must be sacreligious for an internet cricket blog to not pick a pro or anti-IPL viewpoint. All of the Indian blogs are no doubt detailing each team, player, and security guard; whilst many English, Australian and South African blogs are ridiculing the cheerleaders, glitter and Lalit Modi. However, I am not going to be doing that either.

I sat down (well, lay down) to write this blog grudgingly, knowing it would have to be saying something about the IPL. Despite the many interesting things currently happening in world cricket; England touring Bangladesh, Zimbabwe touring the West Indies, Australia touring New Zealand, the PCB shooting themselves in the place where their foot used to be, Michael Clarke looking for nude photos of his girlfriend; the IPL starts tomorrow, and should take centre stage. Because Lalit Modi said so. But why should it? Just because loads of Indian businessmen I've never heard of and some woman who used to be in Big Brother have thrown loads of money at something, doesn't make it particularly interesting or enjoyable. Ultimately, the IPL is an Indian domestic competition, just like the KFC Big Bash or the MTN40 (I had to look that one up). And as such, I am treating it with the same apathy as any overseas domestic competition.

It's not that I wouldn't enjoy it if I watched it. Last year, whilst incapacitated with illness (possibly ebola, probably swine flu) I actually watched the events from South Africa. And for the most part, they were fairly interesting. I was watching as Flintoff got injured, and I was watching as Pietersen got injured. I also watched as Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah sat on the bench throughout. And then the English players went home and I stopped watching (I was better by then). I only really showed interest in the games involving players I had interest in, and no disrespect to your Roelof van der Merwes, but there were plenty of players who I didn't care about. My reason for not paying attention to the IPL is simple: there is nothing really drawing me in. Just like watching a game of French league football - it could be a perfectly fine game full of well paid players showing good skills, but if there are no players I know I won't watch it. Which is ultimately why I won't be watching this years IPL.

While I will no doubt succumb and flick through a few highlights on ITV4, the IPL lacks something to succesfully maintain my interest, and I'm guessing, the interest of the world at large (outside India). Over the next five days, the only cricket I'll be watching will be Bangladesh v England.

OK, probably the next three days...

Monday, 8 March 2010

England v Bangladesh A

While the highlight of today's play for most will be the unbeaten century of Jonathan Trott, for me it's the feat of Matt Prior. According to the BBC Sport scorecard , Prior hit 69 runs from only 21 deliveries - with no fours or sixes! He must have been knackered in that Chittagong heat...

Saturday, 6 March 2010

England's Twitter Revolution

With the shock revalationary news that previously Twitter-shy Paul Collingwood has joined Twitter, the whole cricketing world is aghast. Collingwood opposes everything Twitter stands for, with his stoic hours of test defence for England belying his new status as 140 character micro-blogger. Collingwood has also appeared very informative and interesting in interviews, something that Twitter does not often lend itself too, with banality usually being the lifeblood of most tweets. So why would England's ginger hero want to join the likes of Graeme Swann, Jimmy Anderson, Tim Bresnan and The Short Third Man on Twitter?

Probably because Twitter's rather fun. With millions of worldwide users, there is obviously some attraction to seeing what other people are thinking. Especially when those people are celebrities. That's why I joined! I often while away time reading the tweets of various sporting types, and have (hopefully) amused a few of my 120 followers into the bargain. On a long, boring tour of the subcontinent (which the England team are currently on), there are definately advantages to being on Twitter, compared to another game on Pro Evo, or a walk into the Bangladesh countryside. In the evenings, when there isn't much in the way of entertainment, and added to us being in the era of the smart phone where Twitter is always available, players can easily express their thoughts through a new medium. During the Sri Lanka tour of 2007, many of the England players signed up for Facebook (the new thing at the time), and now a few are signing up to Twitter.

During the Ashes last year, the tweets of Anderson and Swann entertained thousands, as regular fans were granted an insight into the English dressing room (and Phil Hughes gave us an insight to the Australian selectors). While both Anderson and Swann did not get the large numbers they expected for their not-very-publicised "Tweet Off" (and I should know... I was there!), there was very good feedback about their tweeting activities. The actions of Tim Bresnan, who signed up only to tell a fan to "get back to his mum's basement" caused slight embarrassment to the ECB, who warned the irresponsible Bresnan off the social networking site. So should the ECB stop the higher profile Swann, Anderson and Collingwood (as well as any potential others) from tweeting? Ultimately, the twitter accounts of the players are their own, and could theoretically be allowed to put up whatever they want. However, PR-wise, they should be warned from certain things, such as abusing fans a la Bresnan, revealing confidential team information (like Phil Hughes or tennis' Andy Roddick), or being a downright moron (Darren Bent).

England's Twitter Revolution may or may not have any impact on the team's performance, but certainly has an impact on the team's relationship with the fans. If handled properly, the social networking site can be a massive PR success for the ECB, who are always trying to attract new fans to the game. And hopefully for me, Swann can attract more players to Twitter.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Finn's chance to beat England's bowling curse

With the news today that Ryan Sidebottom is going home from Bangladesh, with Stuart Broad and Graham Onions unlikely to play, England's bowling line up for the tests looks decidedly weak. With Jimmy Anderson also not playing due to a knee injury, England may well be forced into blooding three fast bowlers with only two test appearances between them. In light of the spate of injuries and withdrawals, Middlesex seamer Steven Finn has been added from the Lions squad, with Tim Bresnan joining the squad from the One Day team. Bresnan has only played twice in England whites, with Finn having never played at international level. They are due to be joined by Ajmal Shahzad, veteran of a sole Twenty20 game against Pakistan. With either Luke Wright or James Tredwell (both uncapped) also likely to play in the first Chittagong test, England could quite conceivably play a bowling attack with only one bowler (Graeme Swann) having played more then twice. So surely England will be rolled over against test cricket's weakest team?

In short, no. While England will miss their main three strike bowlers (and Ryan Sidebottom) from their attack, Graeme Swann proved that he is capable to take much of a batting line-up in South Africa, and Bresnan has proved in short form games that he is a perfectly good bowler. If Finn and Shahzad are added to this (or England's forgotten man Liam Plunkett), England should have more then enough to roll over a pretty poor Bangladesh team. The only remaining spot is debatable, between all-rounder Luke Wright, and off-spinner James Tredwell, both of whom will act in a supporting role to the main bowlers. So England should have enough about them (both in terms of wickets, and runs if both Bresnan and Wright play) to easily beat Bangladesh.

While England's bowling problems may appear to be cursed, this tour could turn into a blessing for England ahead of the Ashes. Steven Finn, the 6 foot 8 fast bowler has been lined up to become England's next great fast bowler. England have searched for a 'hit the deck' bowler who will worry batsmen with his bounce, and with the end of Harmison's international career, this search has become more critical. Finn is only 20, but if he gains the international experience in the fast-bowling desert of Bangladesh, he could be an outside shout for the first test in Brisbane. Finn will no doubt become a crucial part of England's team over the next few years, and with some question marks remaining over Graham Onion's ability when the ball isn't swinging, Finn could throw down the gauntlet to the selectors with wickets in Bangladesh. While Finn is certainly not guarenteed to start, it is worth looking at him and Shahzad, as Plunkett has already proved that he is not international quality. Even if Finn doesn't perform particularly well (or at all), being in and around the England squad will set him up for the future, as well as showing that he is very much part of the selectors plans.

I have long supported the rise of Steven Finn, and hopefully he can get the international recognition that he both craves and deserves.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Eoin Morgan earns Central Contract

Well done to him. After fulfilling the required quota needed for an incremental contract, Eoin has gained a contract that could see him net a five figure sum. And the three figure sum that mattered from him yesterday was 110*.

I am fully aware that this post is more of a tweet then a blog, which is really my reason for this post. Basically, I need more followers. At the moment, has only 9. Even my alter ego has 120. I don't care if you don't have Twitter, loyal blog fans. Sign up, and follow. My 100th follower will win a signed book, or something.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Twenty20 specialism ignored

While the BBC Sport website emblazon the headline that Alastair Cook has not made the preliminary squad for the World Twenty20, it's worth noting the other players who probably should, ahead of Cook, who shouldn't. Just like normal captain Strauss, stand-in captain Cook has been deemed not 'twenty20' enough for the squad, and as such, will play no part in the Caribbean. And by all accounts, this is a good thing. The selectors have seen the shortest form of the game as a very specialist form, and as such have not selected some of the best 'cricketers' in the country. It has long been recognised that Strauss is to play no part in T20, so why should Cook's 50 tests guarentee him a place on the plane? Ultimately, it is about picking the right players for the format. And to be honest, I don't know if England have done that.

In the two previous World T20s England have selected a squad full of 'specialist' T20 players. Players who would otherwise not be in a fifty-over or test squad were suddenly propelled to the tournaments, with Darren Maddy, Jeremy Snape, Vikram Solanki, James Kirtley and Chris Schofield being picked in 2007, with Dimitri Mascarenhas, James Foster, Robert Key and Graham Napier selected for last year's event. While history has shown that England did not play well at the tournaments, I support the selection of good county Twenty20 players. However, if you look at the current 30 man squad, there doesn't appear to be many specialist T20 players in there (only Mascarenhas from the previously mentioned). Michael Lumb, Peter Trego and Steven Finn aside, there are no players who have been called in on the back of good T20 performances, with all players having either represented England previously or the Lions recently. While the 30 man squad does include the young talents of Finn, David Wainwright and Chris Woakes, it is doubtful whether any will make the final squad, with specialists ostracised from the party.

For last years tournament England made the bold selections of Key and Napier (on the back of continued county T20 excellence), but did not select Napier at all (even for warm-up games), and Key was only shoehorned in at the last minute for the Holland game before being bombed out. While they appeared to make a statement in the selection of Foster that they were looking for consistency behind the stumps, he has not been selected this time - as have Key and Napier, who also miss out. England will never succeed at T20 if they cannot retain some consistency in selection - 15 opening partnerships is testament to that. Of the 30 man squad it is also apparent that some players (Shah, Bopara, Mascarenhas) have been put in purely to justify their central contracts with no intention of taking them to the West Indies. So while England in the past have attempted to treat the 20 over format differently, we will no doubt see a rehash of the current 50 over touring side. Just without captain Cook.

England 30-man ICC World Twenty20 squad
Paul Collingwood (Durham, captain)
James Anderson (Lancashire)

Ian Bell (Warwickshire)
Ravi Bopara (Essex)
Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire)
Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire)

Steven Davies (Surrey)
Joe Denly (Kent)
Steven Finn (Middlesex)
Craig Kieswetter (Somerset)
Michael Lumb (Hampshire)
Sajid Mahmood (Lancashire)
Dimitri Mascarenhas (Hampshire)
Eoin Morgan (Middlesex)
Graham Onions (Durham)
Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire)
Liam Plunkett (Durham)
Matt Prior (Sussex)
Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
Owais Shah (Middlesex)
Ajmal Shahzad (Yorkshire)
Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire)
Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire)

James Tredwell (Kent)
Peter Trego (Somerset)
Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)
David Wainwright (Yorkshire)
Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)
Luke Wright (Sussex)
Michael Yardy (Sussex)

In bold are the 15 who will go to the World Cup. You have my word.