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EDIT: Updated thread title. *straightens tie, coughs, waits for studio lights to come up* PLAY THEME MUSIC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CY_3SGNRvMw Hello, and welcome to another edition of Cricket Lovely Cricket. You join us for the second leg in this year's Ashes one-two - England's tour of Australia. After an eventful home series in which both sides looked a bit scrappy, and dubious umpiring decisions stole the limelight more than once, what can we expect from the Australian tour? Have the teams, and the officials, learnt from their mistakes? England, of course, won that first leg 3-0, thanks to an indomitable performance from Ian Bell and fairly consistent excellence from Anderson, Swann and Broad. The Aussie cupboard wasn't entirely bare, with Ryan Harris outbowling everyone else in the series, but just not getting the backup he needed to keep the pressure up. The other problem for the Aussies was the fragility of their bowlers - such a problem, that one wonders if the reputation of Troy Cooley is going to undergo a negative re-evaluation in future. Starc, Pattinson and Bird were all afflicted with (suspected) stress fractures, Harris had hamstring problems towards the end of the tour. Of the quicks, only Peter Siddle, rumoured to be a golem constructed of tinned meat and coconut matting, made it through the tour without injury. Add to that the fact that Pat Cummins is still crocked, and Shane Watson limped off the field in India today, and the Aussies have to be worrying. No squad announced for Australia yet, but it sounds like Clarke will be fit, and like George W Bailey might have played his way into the team in the India runfest. For England, things look much better. Bresnan came down with a stress fracture during the last series, but is rumoured to be potentially ready to be flown into the squad if his recovery continues at its current pace. Cook also has a bad back, but should be fit. Monty Pee (can't wait for the bouncer jokes), who can probably be considered psychologically injured at this point, is also picked. A few interesting names in the England squad. Michael Carberry, who I remember being the Next Big Thing about five years ago, and has put in a good knock in the first (rather lame) warm up. Boyd Rankin, our latest stolen Irishman, who is a big thing, and I believe came over from Ireland via a causeway of some sort. Bairstow's grip on the #6 slot still doesn't look secure, with yet another Yorkshireman (c/o Harare) in the form of Gary Ballance competing for that place. Given as his England scores so far consist of a 2 ball duck followed by a golden quacker in the warm up, Bairstow may be feeling a bit better. Tremlett returns from injury, but I'd be surprised to see him make an impact (mind you, I was surprised last time). Ben Stokes (born right here in sunny Christchurch NZ), who I'm very eager to see play, joins as a potential all-rounder, filling the ginger Dunelmian slot left vacant since Collingwood's retirement, and is probably more of a threat to Bairstow's place. Two interesting names that aren't on the England list are Nick Compton, who we can presume forever discarded at this point, and Graham Onions, who despite dominating in the County Championship didn't get a call-up, and will be playing state cricket in South Africa. From my perspective, it looks like England see Onions as a like-for-like swap for Anderson, and if Jimmy gets injured I have no doubt Onions will be straight on the plane to Aussie, match fit and with plenty of competitive games under his belt. Schedule can be found here. Once again, Tasmania misses out on a test, but gets probably the best warm-up match. TMS will be doing live commentary for the next two warm-up matches, as well as the full test series. Two captains with bad backs competing to lift the lightest trophy in international sport is rather amusing. I think if it was the Stanley Cup, they'd both give up all hope.
So I didn't find a thread for this, and it's pretty much heading our way at the speed of a freight train now! 16 days to go, which obviously is long enough for Australia to decide they can get a new coach in... BBC: Arthur 'sacked' as Australia coach Utter chaos The test schedule is as follows: First Test: 10th - 14th July, Trent Bridge (Result: England won by 14 runs) Second Test: 18th - 22nd July, Lord's (Result: England won by 347 runs) Third Test: 1st - 5th August, Old Trafford (Result: Match drawn) Fourth Test: 9th - 13th August, Chester-le-Street (Result: England won by 74 runs) Fifth Test: 21st - 25th August, The Oval (Result: Match drawn) The Australian touring squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin (vice-capt), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Chris Rogers, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, Matthew Wade, James Faulkner, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Ryan Harris, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith
Oops, despite this going on in my backyard, I've managed to forget to neglect to start a new thread until the Test series is upon us. The tests do mean one thing though... the return of The Ghost. No, wait, they don't. He's not in the squad. Bugger. So, England take both the Twenty20 and ODI series two games to one. Both series had two England wallopings and one close one where NZ crept home. Now we move onto the longer format, which in recent years has been NZ's weakest form of the game. For England, the big question is whether to persist with Nick Compton in the opener's slot after his solid, but unexceptional tour of India, or whether to promote Root to open the batting with Cook, following his extraordinary run for England in all forms of the game. Presumably, if Compton was omitted, Bairstow would come back in at #6, giving him a chance to face some quality quick bowling and build on his promising performance against South Africa way back at Lords. Personally, I'd give Compton another crack at the top - Root has shown he can bat wherever, so let's have him fill the troubled #6 spot. In the bowling ranks, Broad is back to match fitness and looked good during the short formats. Anderson is a shoo-in, and Finn has now surely cemented his test place. With Bresnan and Tremlett still crocked, we're probably looking at the reliable quartet of Anderson, Finn, Broad and Swann. Despite his superb showing in India, I can't see Monty getting a game in NZ's rather English conditions, especially with creditable part-time options of Root and Pietersen. For New Zealand, it's all gone a bit pear shaped. Both their usual openers are gone - Guptill is crocked, after taking NZ over the line on one leg and two toes, and McCullum has (sensibly) decided to drop down the order to #5. They're bringing back eternal nearly-man Peter Fulton, AKA Two Meter Peter, and he'll be partnered by either Tom Latham or Hamish Rutherford, both promising youngish prospects. Taylor's back after his brief (justified) sulk after being stripped of the captaincy, and will join the pure class that is Kane Williamson, but drinky middle-order powerhouse Jesse Ryder has made himself unavailable, which is a real shame for the competitiveness of the series. Watch out for BJ Watling, NZ's latest Wicketkeeper Batsman - I think he's fricking great. The bowling looks much better, at least in the pace department. Southee, who always feels a bit like a cut-price Stuart Broad, has been much more impressive in the last 12 months, and Bracewell and Boult have both been fantastic finds. It's possible NZ's own South African import, Neil Wagner, may also join the team to make a 4-man all-pace attack. Spin-wise, the only candidate is Bruce Martin, a 32-year old NZ domestic journeyman. Vettori is still crocked, although I'm not sure what Ronnie Hira has done wrong (or, for that matter, right). Fun random bits: There are four second-generation test cricketers in the two squads - Broad, Bairstow, Latham and Rutherford. NZ have an embarassment of wicket keepers. Either in the squad, or competing to be in it are McCullum, Watling, Latham and Luke Ronchi, the former Australia ODI/T20 keeper who decided he'd have more luck being a Kiwi. With England potentially fielding both Prior and Bairstow, it could be a glove-fest out there. Predictions: 3-0 England, sadly. Anderson to be man of the series with a redonkulous heap of wickets. NZ press to deservedly kick seven shades out of current management and cricket executive.
It was a time of Cricket... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNX1beRgwJ8 Yes, it's proper cricket time again. England are touring India for 4 tests, 3 T20s and 5 ODIs, starting with the first test on the 15th. Fixture list here!. The build up has been... interesting. The BCCI have made another money grab and tried to extort the BBC and Sky an extra 50,000 GBP and 250,000 GBP respectively for letting TMS and Sky use facilities at the ground. The Beeb have come to an arrangement, but the last I heard Sky had not, meaning that their presenters will be sitting in a studio in the UK watching the piped-in feed from the Indian broadcaster. A bit like TalkSport used to on the radio, in the late 90s. Player wise, England's quicks are looking creaky, with both Broad and Finn carrying minor injuries and in doubt for the first test, and Stuart Meaker called up as coverage. Graeme Swann had to make a dash home to help care for his sick daughter, but is now back in India. Ian Bell will be flying back for the birth of his first child, and will miss the second test. The battle for the opening spot looks likely to be won by Nick Compton, 29 year old grandson of the legendary Denis Compton. Expect much romantic reminiscing guff. Interesting to see such a relatively old player getting his first cap - I don't think we've seen a 29 year old come into the team since Sidebottom, and even he had one previous cap. Joe Root is presumably on standby. Not sure what's happening at #6 - Bairstow or Patel? The latter provides some spin options, and has been in good form in the warm ups. I like having a fatty on the team personally, cricket and baseball are about the only two sports these days where you can get away with it. Oh, and some guy called Kevin is back in the team. I haven't heard much about him. On the India side, I believe eternal nearly-man Suresh Raina has been dropped and Yuvraj Singh has regained his place in the test team following his recovery from cancer. Good work, sir. Tendulkar is still there, but has made some vague rumblings about maybe stopping one day. I really can't predict this series - entirely depends on how weak England are against spin, I suspect. Anderson vs Tendulkar should be beautiful to watch, and I'll be very interested to see if Cook is a more tactical captain than Strauss. My one-to-watch? England's slip cordon. With the retirement of Strauss, who on earth is going to be in there? Bairstow, if playing, (wicket keeper that he is), and Anderson when he's not bowling. Compton? Maybe Patel, I hear a big man can be effective in the slips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGuPP8vLlTc