Ravi Bopara should be given more chance of Batting

The England all rounder Ravi Bopara finally got the much deserved promotion in the batting order in yesterday’s game versus Sri Lanka, but, he could not make the most of it as he was dismissed at the score of 6 trying to play a cheeky shot off the bowling of the left arm spinner Rangana Herath.

Herath bowled an arm ball which Bopara got on his knees and tried to paddle fine, but, the wicketkeeper was pro active on that occasion. He saw that shot coming and thus, took a step or two to the left and ended up actually catching that ball. It was a phenomenal grab.

Bopara was taken aback by that and so was Joe Root who was his partner. That ball was supposed to run down to fine leg for four but, because of the wicket keeper’s brilliance, it actually turned into a wicket.

It seemed England perhaps would not get to the target after Bopara’s dismissal because he was the only in-form big hitter in the line up.

But, Jos Buttler, who came down the order for a change found some form, and with some creamy blows, he saw England home.

Joe Root also remained there till the end. He scored 48 not out with 2 fours and 2 sixes.

Root had actually got out off the bowling of Dhammika Prasad once, but, it was a no ball when the umpires rechecked it and he got away with it.

The Yorkshire player was very sensible after that and he ensured that the target was chased down successfully by his team.

The winning shot came off the blade of Root, who after hitting a straight six off Ajantha Mendis, took a single and wrapped it up.

The teams will be back to Colombo for the next game of the series.

Andrew Flintoff at Gabbatoire

It was a mixed day for Andrew Flintoff at Gabbatoire last Sunday. He was playing a competitive game of cricket on a foreign ground after a very long time. So, it must have been special, but, he could not play as well for his team Brisbane Heat as a big player like him should have.

With his poor bowling in the penultimate over of the game, Flintoff had given the opposition team a chance to snatch win from the jaws of defeat, but, thanks to Ryan Duffield who bowled some god low full-tosses at the end to keep the Melbourne Stars two runs away from the target.

Before that, Flintoff had wasted some valuable deliveries while batting too. He scored 15 off 13 balls, but, apart from that one shot which he hit over the long on boundary for six, he did not get any from the middle of the bat.
In fact, on the last two deliveries of the Heat’s innings, he swung like a tail-ender and missed on both the occasions. There was a slight bit of embarrassment on his face when he was returning to the hut and that’s obvious considering how great a cricketer he has been over the years in all forms.

It’s hard for Flintoff surely. A game which has not played for 5 years and then, to come back and play at a competitive level straightaway, it takes a lot of mental and physical adjustments.

Of course, he would have been training and practicing for the last couple of months for the Big Bash League, but, still, he cannot become the player that he was, that same all-rounder who was devastating in both the departments of the game, the batting and the bowling. The age has got on him as well. He is 37 now.

Ben Strokes Clone of Andrew Flintoff

Steve Harmison thinks Ben Stokes is good enough to be compared to the legendary all rounder Andrew Flintoff.
But, the former fast bowler has urged the England team management to let the Durham player express himself and not make him curb his natural instincts.

According to Harmison, Stokes, just like Flintoff, is a free flowing player and he can succeed at the international level only by playing the way he knows. The coaches should not try to transform his game even if he plays a bad shot or two every now and then.

Speaking about Stokes yesterday, Harmison said, “Ben has got significant amount of ability in all the departments of the game. He can do so much for England in future only if the management doesn’t try to tinker with his style of play. He has that natural aggression in him and he loves to attack the opposition either he is batting or bowling. If he is asked to stop playing in that manner, he would lose his way.”

“If Ben is playing at his best, England automatically becomes a balanced side because he can be that fifth bowler and we all have already seen how good he is with the bat on his day.”

“I am not someone who likes comparisons, but, I must say that Ben is a bit like Freddie and I have told that to Freddie himself. I have told him that I see him in this young bloke.”

Stokes lost his place in the England test side last summer after registering three successive ducks to his name in the first two test matches against India. He is still very much in England’s World Cup plans though. He has travelled to Sri Lanka with the Three Lions’ One Day International squad.

Ali Proves Naysayers Wrong

Moeen Ali has proved all those people wrong who were saying that he is just a part time spinner and he would not be able to create that much of an impact on the Indian batsmen in the 5-match test series that has finished just recently.
The Worcestershire man got a total of 19 wickets in the series and played a big part in England’s strong revival. People might say that he got most of his wickets because of the batsmen trying to be ultra aggressive against him and that would not be a completely wrong remark, but, despite that, nobody can take the credit away from Moeen. He bowled quicker through the air and made sure that the batsmen did not get enough time to get right to the pitch of the deliveries to play the lofted shots.
Moeen dismissed a few Indian batsmen on defence as well. He troubled Cheteshwar Pujara, who is normally a very good player of spin bowling, quite a bit in the series.
Moeen made Pujara edge to the slips at Southampton by deceiving him with a straighter one and then, he got the Indian no. 3 out leg before wicket with his stock delivery i.e. the off spin in the second innings at Old Trafford.
Moeen was interviewed by an Indian television presenter at the end of the 5th test match at Oval and he said in that interview that his intention was just to keep things tight from his end.
In the words of Moeen, “I didn’t want them to hit me for fours and sixes and that’s why, I tried to bowl a little quicker. Thankfully, it paid off and I got some wickets.”
Moeen might be a little worried about his batting though as he was the only specialist batsman from the England side who did not get a half century in the series.

English Collapse Under Indian Pace

The English middle order collapsed yesterday against the inexperienced pace attack of India at Nottingham.

At one point of time, the Three Lions were on the driving seat with Gary Ballance and Sam Robson playing very well, but, as soon as Ishant Sharma got both of them dismissed with the reverse swinging old ball in the second session, the pressure was back on England and their middle couldn’t soak it up.

The likes of Ian Bell and Matt Prior who are the seasoned campaigners of the team fell cheaply on a dead deck and left the hosts in more than a spot of bother.

But, some guts shown by the tail-enders towards the end of the day’s play made sure that England didn’t get into a losing position.

Stuart Broad, in particular, was responsible for England’s late revival. He showed his top order batsmen what kind of cricket they needed to play against the Indian bowlers.

Broad, who is the local boy as well, didn’t look shy of hitting the ball in the air. The Indian captain had set attacking field against him and he kept making mockery of that field by hitting the ball over the infield.

However, Broad couldn’t complete his 50 as at the score of 47, he was adjudged leg before wicket off the bowling of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

As far as the match situation is concerned, despite the respite of English tail, India is still on top in the test match.

The Visitors are ahead by more than 100 runs. They would like to get England all out early tomorrow. If they do that, they will have every chance of enforcing a win.

The weather forecast for the 4th day is not that good though. The odd showers have been predicted in the afternoon.

Bailey Proves Worth As Leader

The T20 captain of the Australian Cricket Team, George Bailey, proved his worth as a leader in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League as well. He was appointed as the captain of the Kings XI Punjab side despite some other strong contestants being there for the post. The Tasmanian lived up to the faith showed in him by the higher officials of the franchise and led the team wonderfully throughout the tournament. Had he been slightly lucky, he would probably have made his team champion.

Bailey’s performance with the bat was a bit up and down though during the course of the tournament. He played a few impact knocks, but, other than that, he was not that impressive as a batsman, but, he made up for that with his great captaincy skills. There were a few occasions in the tournament when the strong Punjab batting order couldn’t post a big total on the board, but, Bailey didn’t let those matches slip away from his team’s hands. By rotating his bowling options superbly and setting great fields, he won Punjab those games.

Bailey is being tipped by some experts back in Australia as the most suitable man to take over the One Day International captaincy from Michael Clarke once the New South Wales player retires from that format and the way he has been captaining these days, be it in international cricket or club cricket, he indeed seems to be the most suitable guy for that post.

Bailey was given the charge of the Australian team in the shortest format of the game a couple of years back in 2012. He had replaced Cameron White back then who was dropped from the team because of his poor form.

Australia has taken part in two World T20 Championships under the captaincy of Bailey.

Rumors Abound; Flintoff Return

There have been reports that Andrew Flintoff might resume his cricket career during the upcoming county season by representing his former team Lancashire in the T20 competition.

Lancashire has denied those reports though. According to the Manchester based club, they haven’t made any such offer to the former England captain till now.

Flintoff has actually been spending a lot of time with the Lancashire first team of late. He has been practicing as well as mentoring the youngsters.

Flintoff had announced his retirement from top level cricket 4 years back in 2010. He was just 32 years of age at that time. The main reason behind his retirement was his deteriorating fitness.

Meanwhile, the former England fast bowler Paul Allott who also used to play for Lancashire doesn’t think that it’s going to be that easy for Flintoff to make a comeback.
Talking to the reporters, Allott said, “Freddie has been helping the young guys over the last few weeks. He’s faced a few deliveries in the nets and he’s bowled alright too, but, the thing is that he’s been away from the game since a very long time. So, he would need quite a lot of time to get back into shape. However, I must say he’s been exception as a mentor.”

If the news regarding Flintoff’s comeback turns out to be true, then, there will surely be a significant increase in the number of spectators during the Lancashire matches this year because the 36 years all rounder has got a huge fan fowling.

Flintoff won the Ashes series twice during his career, but, he also had to suffer an Ashes whitewash in 2007. He was the captain of the England team during that series. In total, he played 79 test matches in which he scored more than 3000 runs and took more than 200 wickets.

FLINTOFF SIDES WITH KP

Andrew Flintoff has criticized the cricket controlling body in England i.e. ECB for bulldozing Kevin Pietersen into an early international retirement.

The former English all rounder reckons that one man can’t be responsible for everything that went wrong with the Three Lions on the Ashes tour. There would have been other reasons as well.

Flintoff is also not happy with the senior England guys. According to him, they should have acknowledged the fact that the Ashes whitewash was a result of everybody not playing up to his potential.

There are many other former England players who are of the same view as Flintoff. They also reckon that Pietersen is not the only reason why England suffered that sort of humiliation down under.

It’s also quite surprising for Flintoff that nobody is talking about the bowlers’ inability to take wickets regularly in Australia.

During the Ashes series, the English fast bowlers let the Kangaroos get off to a quick start more often than not and it’s that which pushed England back.

Jimmy Anderson, England’s main weapon, as far as the fast bowling is concerned was ineffective in almost every game and the same can be said for their leading spinner Graeme Swann who actually announced his retirement after the third test of the series and left the tour in between.
So, what Flintoff is saying is actually quite right. The English bowlers were as much responsible for that

whitewash as the batsman, but, there is just one man whom ECB decided to blame for everything and that’s one of England’s all time greats i.e. KP.

However, Pietersen can be very proud of what he achieved in his international career. He retired as England’s highest run getter in international cricket and that’s quite an achievement.

TROTT CAN RETURN

Andrew Flintoff thinks that the English top order batsman Jonathan Trott who left the Ashes tour and returned home after the Brisbane test match due to stress illness will be able to make his comeback to international cricket.
Trott was bounced out by Mitchell Johnson in both the innings of the Brisbane test match.

After that game, the England coach Andy Flower announced that the Warwickshire right hander would not play any more games in the series and would return home immediately as he was struggling with stress illness.
Flower also said that Trott had not discovered that problem on the Ashes tour. He had been struggling with that since a while.

Some people believe that it would be very difficult for Trott to be back playing for England again, but, Flintoff doesn’t have the same opinion. He reckons that Trott is one of those guys who are mentally very strong and people will see him in England jersey again.

Talking to the reporters about Trott recently, Flintoff said, “I have got no doubt in my mind that he will come back at some point of time. He is a tough bloke.”

Trott had been in great form in the ICC Champions Trophy which was played a few months back and he was expected to play a big part for England in the last Ashes series, but, he couldn’t do that. The Aussie quicks exposed his vulnerability against the rising deliveries in that series.

However, he made his way down under and looked in good form in the warm up games, but, in Brisbane, he was up against the sheer pace of Mitchell Johnson and he couldn’t handle that well. He got completely rattled and that would surely have made his mental state even worse.

FAITH IN CARBERRY

Eoin Morgan has said that the England team management has got full faith in the abilities of the opening batsman Michael Carberry despite his poor outings in the ODIs so far.

Carberry has recently begun his ODI career and has played 3 games so far. He has just managed to score 15 runs in those 3 games at a pathetic average of 5.

There had been speculations that the 32 years old Hampshire batsman might be replaced by Joe Root at the top of the order in the 4th ODI against the Aussies, but, the statements of Morgan suggest that the England team management is looking to give Carberry a few more opportunities.

Talking to the reporters ahead of the 4th ODI, Morgan said, “Carbs hasn’t had best of times so far in this series, but, he is matured and he knows how to come out of situations like these. He is a hard working guy and the team management has got faith in him.”

“Obviously, he is gutted that he hasn’t been able to make the most of the opportunities so far, but, he is determined to do well in the remaining games.”

When asked about the opposition fast bowler Mitchell Johnson who has been creating a lot of problems for the English batsmen in the ongoing ODI series, Morgan said, “Mitchell is in fine form at this point of time. He bowled some great deliveries the other day.”

“We are well aware of his abilities. When he gets it right, it’s quite difficult to put him away.”

Australia currently has a lead of 1-0 in the series with only a couple of games to go. They will be looking to seal the series by winning tomorrow’s game which will be played at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.