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Cricket News & Views

Lions can look back to Moores era

ENGLAND have announced a Lions party to tour the West Indies for two months as part of the first class championship after a gap of exactly 10 years, when Peter Moores was the coach.

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James Hildreth has been made captain of a group of players rich in promise, with the coach still to be confirmed. They leave on January 24 and are due to play all the Caribbean first class regions. In 2001 England A experienced a testing programme of four-day cricket under Mark Alleyne, a revolutionary idea designed to heighten interest in West Indian cricket as much as to educate England players.

The only drawback was that England A lacked form in the batting, and most of the players on that tour only flirted with the international fringes. In fact a knee ligament injury during beach volleyball virtually ended David Sales's hopes of playing Test cricket.

James Foster and Chris Read were two top-rate wicketkeepers, perhaps the highlight of the tour. Ian Ward's long occupation of the crease -- hastening brief Test elevation -- and Graeme Swann's attempt to catch the eye were interesting features. Moores was outstanding as coach, putting himself on the ladder to the top job. The ECB should appoint a person they consider could guide Test cricketers in the future because this Caribbean schedule is very demanding. 

in 2001 Swann paraded a remodelled action that set his career back until he reverted to his 'windmill' style after this tour. He finished as second-best spinner behind Chris Schofield... John Crawley's attempt to break back into Test cricket through heavy scoring did not succeed. Crowds did not flock to the matches, though 8,000 turned up on the first day at the Bourda, where England lost to Guyana.

The 2010 tourists seem to have more players with better prospects, most notably Steve Finn, James Harris, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, Ravi Bopara and Chris Woakes (replacing Finn for the second half of the trip). Hildreth might possibly have missed the boat for Test recognition, but this Caribbean challenge should provide a measure of character. As captain he does not have to worry about whether he gets an innings or not. Batting, as in 2001, could be the main headache.

The itinerary is due to be announced later.


England Lions

James Hildreth (Somerset, captain)

Jimmy Adams (Hampshire)

Adam Lyth (Yorkshire)

James Taylor (Leicestershire)

Ravi Bopara (Essex)

Andrew Gale (Yorkshire)

Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)

Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)

Ben Stokes (Durham)

Chris Woakes (Warwickshire) (second half of tour only)

Craig Kieswetter (Somerset)

Liam Plunkett (Durham)

Maurice Chambers (Essex)

Danny Briggs (Hampshire)

Steve Finn (Middlesex) (first half of tour only)

James Harris (Glamorgan)

Jade Dernbach (Surrey)

Posted by Charlie Randall
15/12/2010 17:45:16

Song releases Caribbean party time

THE official song for the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies, Bring It by a duet of Mr Vegas and Fay Ann Lyons, has been released and has already been given air time on Caribbean radio stations and dance halls. To many pop music lovers the sound might be disappointingly hip-hop until the song warms up about halfway through.

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And it is noticeable that soca queen Fay sings better than Mr Vegas, but the package should prove catchy enough when amplified at the cricket grounds in May. The ICC describe Bring It as "contagious", which might be taking the effect a bit far. Nearer would be 'slightly catchy'.

The audio of Bring It can be heard on www.iccevents.yahoo.com

Tickets for April 30 through to May 16 are all reasonably priced -- in fact dirt cheap by UK standards. They have been on sale since last October, and the ICC have reported a good take-up in the West Indies and from further afield for this popular global event, potentially the biggest contributor to the Caribbean economy for a long time unless the wounds of the last World Cup have not healed. It depends whether fans are prepared to forget the bad mistakes by the ICC in 2007 such as excessive restrictions on crowd behaviour and over-priced tickets that kept the locals away.

This time, everyone has been assured, will be different. The ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said: "We want this event to be a celebration of nation-versus-nation cricket with all the atmosphere, fun and excitement traditionally associated with the game in the West Indies. So, we are calling on the people of the Caribbean to ĎBring Ití."

"We invite you to bring your biggest voices. We invite you to bring your loudest noise makers. We invite you to bring your most outrageous costumes and facepaint. The world will be playing. The world will be watching. Itís time for Twenty20 international cricket, West Indies style."

First-time visitors to the West Indies might be shocked at the frequent lapses of grammar they hear, but they will enjoy the experience after a few rum punches. And an official message to "the cricket fans of the world" has been broadcast on the event website by the Bring It Posse, the tournament's cricket-loving gang and the nearest equivalent to the Barmy Army.

In case you haven't noticed, we enjoy our cricket a little different in the Caribbean. We live it. We breathe it. We Bring It for every match. With that in mind, consider this an invitation - an invitation from some of the craziest cricket fans in the world to you. We invite you to bring your biggest cheers. We invite you to bring your loudest noise makers. We invite you to bring your most outrageous costumes and facepaint.

You call yourself a cricket fan? Well this is your chance to Bring It, West Indies style. The world will be playing. The world will be watching. It's time to Bring It!

Sincerely, The Bring It Posse

Ticket prices range from three US dollars for ground entry at single group stage matches to five dollars for double-headers and eight dollars for entry to Super Eight matches. Prices for the semi-finals in St Lucia range from $10-20, and general admission to the menís and womenís finals in Barbados on May 16 will cost $20 with a premium stand ticket available for only $40. Under-16s will gain entry free of charge for all group stage matches and significant discounts at all other fixtures. Admission to the womenís group matches in St Kitts is free to all.

Supporters from overseas can choose from a range of official tour operators signed up with service provider Cricket Logistics.

UK: Gullivers Sports Travel, Howzat Travel, ITC Sports, The Cricket Tour Company, Sporting Getaways.

India: Cutting Edge, Pyramid Travels, Tui India, SOTC Sports, Kuoni Travel, Cox & Kings.

Australia: AST Sports, Cricket Australia, Sportsnet Holidays.

United States: PKT Tours.

United Arab Emirates: MMI Travel.

Ireland: Sadlier Travel.

If the general public would like to organise travel packages to the ICC Twenty20 2010 in the West Indies, they can find all the information they need at www.cricketlogistics.com

Any parties interested in becoming an official tour operator are asked to contact Shirley Rattray of Cricket Logistics by email on shirley@cricketlogistics.com for an information pack.

Group A: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia

Group B: Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Zimbabwe

Group C: South Africa, India, Afghanistan

Group D: West Indies, England, Ireland

Match schedule, ticket prices: www.iccevents.yahoo.com

Information on tour parties: www.cricketlogistics.com

Posted by Charlie Randall
09/03/2010 13:06:15

Collapso cricket at the wrong time

THE West Indies have shown off their Twenty20 skills by losing to Zimbabwe, but they expect success as hosts of the ICC World Twenty20 in May -- at the discipline of partying.

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Preparations are well advanced for the tournament in Guyana, St Lucia, Barbados and St Kitts from on April 30-May 16, the director Robert Bryan is confident the Caribbean is ready to give visitors and teams a good experience.

Bryan, a Jamaican, felt that the excitement was building up in the West Indies. "Weíre definitely ready to ĎBring Ití," he said. "Weíre expecting full houses so we get maximum capacity in the various venues across the West Indies. I think the ICC World Twenty20 will capture the fun, excitement and unique flavour of the Caribbean. I think we do believe there is no better place to throw a party than the West Indies. Weíre looking forward to a really competitive series of matches."

Not that the West Indies team can start as favourites, even with the presence of Chris Gayle, probably the world's best batsman in this format. Without their captain they failed to chase down Zimbabwe's total of 105 all out in Trinidad on Feb 28, finishing on 79 for seven like prep school cricketers. Ottis Gibson, their embarrassed new coach, assured the media his team had not been complacent.

Earlier in the month in Australia the West Indies lost both 20-over games, even with Gayle at the front. The Hobart margin was 38 runs, but at Sydney the Australians won by eight wickets when they pssed 138 in only 11.4 overs. David Warner, the left-hander of Durham, Delhi Daredevils and new South Wales, smashed seven sixes in his 67 off 29 balls.

So the heat remained on Gibson, another Durham man, for the visit of Zimbabwe as supposed no-hopers, though the presence of Dave Houghton among the visiting management should always make the write-off men wary. Eight Zimbabwe batsmen failed to score, with left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn returning 4-2-6-4 on a slow pitch, but the West Indies fared worse, managing only three fours and a six in their 20 overs. Leg-spinner Graeme Cremer took 3-11 in four overs.

Perhaps the West Indians should stick to partying, which they do so well by reputation. For spectators, though, it might be worth a trip as ticket prices are low and the hotels should have learnt from the failure of their rip-off strategy in the 2007 World Cup.

Posted by Charlie Randall
04/03/2010 17:58:41

End of Caribbean rip-off in sight

REMEMBER the rip-off packages forced on England supporters flying out to the West Indies to watch the last World Cup? For next year's ICC Twenty20 tournament prices have been cut drastically, and it looks as though the Caribbean business community has learnt a lesson from the diminished revenues of 2007, especially in the hotel sector.

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And those stifling ICC ground admission regulations have been scrapped. Music and spontaneity will be back, and spectators should be left with more money to spend. Package prices announced for next year's ICC Twenty20 tournament have been pitched at about half the levels on offer for the World Cup, and the organisers, based in St Lucia, say that the official hospitality programme is already proving to be a crucial part of the tournamentís planning and delivery.

The packages are available both locally and internationally for the venues at St Lucia, St Kitts, Barbados and Guyana, with the West Indies Cricket Board designing, managing and implementing an official hospitality programme themselves for the first time. With whole region suffering during the economic downturn, the cricket will be very welcome on April 30-May 16.

The organisers have emphasised that the customary West Indian sounds and sights at every match, including conch shells, flags and drums, will be encouraged, not banned. The public ticket prices have been set low to focus on filling every ground with home fans and tourists alike.

At the Super Eight stage, every qualifying team will play in both St Lucia and Barbados. A suite customer will be able to watch every Super Eight team play, as well as both semi-finals (St Lucia) or the final (Barbados). With the exception of two match days in Guyana, every game day will feature double-headers, offering twice as much cricket for half of the price.

The tournament director Ernest Hilaire said: "The ICC World Twenty20 West Indies 2010 will offer great value to all spectators through competitive ticket prices, and the corporate hospitality sector will be no exception."

The hospitality programme will be centrally managed from the tournament headquarters in St Lucia, making use of an extensive network of international official hospitality sales agents around the globe to market, promote and sell official hospitality packages to prospective customers.

Tom Roche, another official, said that it was not just in the provision of a good hospitality programme that the region would be benefiting commercially. "As part of the management and delivery of the programme, local resources will be secured and some large contracts will see many local companies benefiting hugely from the presence of the tournament," he said.

"Event companies, caterers, hostesses, advertisers, printers, florists, signage manufacturers and a host of local administrators and suppliers will all be a part of the delivery and provisioning of the programme that will see at least US$1.2 million pumped in to the economies of the Caribbean."

The following tournament information has been issued by the organisers:

*On average, pricing for this tournament is almost half the cost of similar packages sold for the World Cup in 2007:

*A dining package to the final in Barbados will cost US$649 for what is essentially the same package in the same facility at the same venue in 2007 when the cost was US$1,299.

*A dining package to a semi-final in 2010 will cost US$449 (US$749 in 2007).

*A suite package in Guyana will cost US$800 for six matches over four days (US$2,200 over six days in 2007)

*A suite package in Saint Lucia costs US$1,500 for eight matches and both semi-final matches (US$2,600 for six matches and one semi-final in 2007).

*A suite package in Barbados will cost a customer US$1,800 (standard) or US$2,400 (premium) for 10 matches and the final (US$5,000 for six matches and the final in 2007).

Any parties interested in becoming an official sales agent are invited to email hospitality@windiescricket.com for an information pack.

Posted by Charlie Randall
09/09/2009 13:17:27

Boredom sets Banks a'tampering

THE West Indies off-spinner Omari Banks has been suspended for 11 days by the ECB for a "blatant" case of ball tampering while playing for Somerset second team.

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Banks admitted at a Cricket Disciplinary Commission in Bristol today that he used his thumb and fingernails to tamper with the ball and claimed it was through boredom.  The umpire observed him when the ball was thrown to him three times in an over at midwicket during a championship game against Essex at Taunton Vale on July 1. Suspicions were raised when the ball began to swing unexpectedly. Five penalty runs were awarded to Essex, and the player was told he would be reported.

Banks said at the time that it was an isolated incident, that Somerset did not condone and that he deeply regretted his actions. He explained during the panel hearing that he did it out of boredom, he knew he should not do it, it was the first time he had done it and that he would not do it again. He did not think the rest of the team noticed.

Brian Rose, Somersetís director of cricket, who attended the hearing, told the panel that he spoke to Banks and the other players in the club to emphasise that this was a serious matter. He made it very clear that it should not happen again in any form of the clubís cricket. Directive 3.7 of the ECB makes it plain that ball tampering should be regarded as unfair and improper conduct which is prejudicial to the interests of cricket and likely to bring the game into disrepute.

Having considered the evidence and submissions, and having regard to the blatant nature of the offence, the panel concluded that the cricketer should be suspended from all games within the jurisdiction of ECB from today until the July 20, which is likely to be three games.

In addition Somerset CCC were fined £500, and the points gained in the match were ordered to be deducted. These penalties reflected the panelís view that the club had not taken adequate measures to prevent the offence occurring.

The panel also expressed the view that they would expect the club to write to all the players, strongly reminding them of the law and the seriousness with which any breach is regarded. They would further expect the Commission to be provided with a copy of that document.

The panel added that if they had been satisfied that other members of the team were aware of, or were complicit in, what occurred, then the penalty imposed upon the club would have been substantially greater. The club was ordered to pay costs of £500.

The panel was convened on July 9 with Chris Tickle as chairman. The other members were Mike Smith and Alan Moss.

Posted by Charlie Randall
09/07/2009 17:34:38

Unlucky England slip-slide away

THE BRIT OVAL

England 161-6, West Indies 82-5

West Indies won by 5 wickets on Duckworth-Lewis

JUST for the ICC Twenty20 duration the Brit Oval becomes the Oval again. All mention of the ground-sponsor insurance company is blacked out to ensure the name is not associated with the tournament to 'protect' the rights of the official sponsors. And out went England, beaten by the West Indies on Duckworth-Lewis by five wickets in the wet with four balls remaining.

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England played well and lost, suffering the worst of the conditions. Often pundits talk about 'which team turns up' when assessing Pakistan and West Indies, but England have been the high-low team of the event, completely and infuriatingly unpredictable. After a great win over India on Sunday, they are out of the competition.

Doubts lingered about England's selection. For example, number five still looked too high up the order for Paul Collingwood, and one wonders whether wicketkeeper James Foster should be selected ahead of Matthew Prior, a harder striker of the ball. I doubt if Adil Rashid is yet an international 20-overs player.

Against West Indies the top order played some lovely ground strokes, most notably Kevin Pietersen in his 31 off 19 balls. Ravi Bopara stroked 55 off 47 balls, which was all very well, but short of carnage. In fact in the second 10 overs until the final two balls England had hit only one boundary, a six by Owais Shah, before Stuart Broad clouted four and six off Suleiman Benn's left-armers to raise the final score to 161 for six.

The boundary rope was pushed fully out, to explain the dearth of sixes -- a welcome dearth in my view. The big shots had to be earned over 70 yards and more, and that meant spinners could be effective. The domestic county 20-over competition has been spoilt in some cases by a reduction in boundary distances to increase the six count. It was a marketing ploy by the ignorant, and fortunately the ICC have maintained the cricket integrity of this competition.

England's innings was interrupted by a half-hour blast of rain when the score had reached 129 for four in the 17th over, but no first-innings overs were lost, which showed gratifying flexibility in the ICC rules. Punters would usually prefer a full game, even if the game ends later than expected.

The West Indies were without their fastest bowler Fidel Edwards, nursing a back strain, and England galloped along without murdering an average attack. Shah hit his six with a typical leg-side pick-up. This was the shot that landed in a boundary fielder's hands against Holland at Lord's, but with an exaggerated follow-through he cleared the ropes here.

Shah was dismissed by one of the tournament's more sensational interventions. His middled pull off Dwayne Bravo flew like an anti-tank missile -- yes, I have seen one -- towards the midwicket boundary. It looked like six all the way until Andre Fletcher leapt high on the boundary edge to pull down a marvellous catch.

Broad supplied the England innings with a 'big' over, a few moments of brute force that could push up the final score a dozen runs above a par target. Unfortunately the weather spoilt an intriguing match.

Rain delayed the start of the West Indies innings long enough for one spectator to strip to his underpants and achieve a belly waterslide along the covers. Naturally I should be condemning this, but I can't. It was spectacular stuff. Anyway, the delay meant that under Duckworth-Lewis the target was revised to 80 to win off nine overs. With a greasy ball, England had little chance of halting an onslaught. They tried manfully and go out with my sympathy.

Posted by Charlie Randall
15/06/2009 21:18:34

ECB cut all Stanford links

THE Stanford party is officially over, and the sceptics have been proved correct. The ECB have served notice that they are terminating with immediate effect their contracts with the Stanford group, having already budgeted for the collapse of the proposed programme.

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The ECB confirmed in an announcement that they would not be proceeding with any further Stanford Twenty20 matches in Antigua or the Stanford-sponsored international Quadrangular Twenty20 events in England, due to be held at Lordís in May. At a meeting of the ECB executive committee on Feb 20, chief executive David Collier confirmed the notice sent to counties the previous day that the executive committee and ECB Board, during the budget process, had taken a prudent view to income from a number of sources.

As a result, the termination of the Stanford agreements had no impact on the projected fee payments to counties and the Recreational Assembly. John Pickup, chairman of the Recreational Assembly, commented: "At a time when the global economic climate is putting great pressure on sponsorship and finances for club and community sport, the ECB have taken a responsible and prudent attitude to its financial planning.

"The report from the chief executive demonstrated the wisdom of this approach, and it is pleasing to receive confirmation that the commitments from ECB within the memorandum of understanding for the Recreational Assembly are to be fulfilled. Over the past four years we have made great strides in the funding for the recreational game, and the certainty of income has been a key factor in the game being able to deliver increases in participation numbers in excess of 20 per cent in each of the past two years."

David East, chief executive of Essex and a member of the ECB executive committee, said: "The communication from ECB yesterday that the termination of the Stanford agreements would not negatively impact our fee payments was a great relief to all counties. Today the further confirmation of this fact allows counties to move forward with their 2009 budgets given that, for some counties the ECB fee payment accounts for the majority of their income.

"The economic climate is very difficult at present, in particular in the area of sponsorship and corporate hospitality, and therefore a solid income base through the ECB fee payments is critical to all counties, which is why we were anxious to receive this confirmation. The executive committee fully supported the Board's decision to terminate the Stanford agreements."

Collier added: "The ECB weres shocked by the charges filed against the Stanford organisation and personnel earlier this week by the SEC. Within minutes of the announcement the ECB determined to suspend any further discussions with Stanford, and the Board has now agreed to terminate the ECBís agreements with Stanford. Given the uncertainty of the financial markets and the sponsorship dispute between Digicel and the West Indies Cricket Board over the matches in Antigua in 2008, the executive committee and Board when setting the 2009 budgets took a prudent position in creating a contingency in case the Antigua matches did not proceed. For that reason ECB were able to confirm immediately to counties and the Recreational Assembly that there would be no impact on fee payments in 2009."

 

Posted by Charlie Randall
20/02/2009 23:13:24

Jerome Taylor on the rise

PACE man Jerome Taylor has become the highest-ranked West Indies Test bowler since the retirement of Courtney Walsh, a fellow Jamaican, in 2001 as a result of his impressive performance against England in the first Test of the four-match series.

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Playing in front of a home crowd at Sabina Park, Taylor, 24, produced match-winning figures of 29-8-85-8, including 5-11 in the second innings as England was dismissed for 51 in 33.2 overs. This catapulted him up 11 places to sixth spot in the Reliance Mobile ICC Player Rankings, giving him a personal-best rating and putting him in a good position to reach top five during the remainder of the series.

With 717 ratings points, he still has a way to go to achieve the heights of some of the legendary West Indies bowlers of the past, however. Curtly Ambrose, Wes Hall, Lance Gibbs, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Colin Croft, Michael Holding, Walsh and other great players all achieved higher ratings during their careers. Walsh retired in 2001 while ranked at number three in the world.

West Indies captain Chris Gayle,another Jamaican, rose four places to 15th position in the batting after scoring his ninth Test century. His overall batting average in Tests is a respectable 40.10, but his average in the eight matches since taking over as captain of the team is 56.46, indicating that the weight of leading the team has so far sat comfortably on his broad shoulders.

Reliance Mobile ICC Test Rankings (as of Feb 8)

Batsmen

Rank (+/-)                             Points Ave     HS Rating

1 ( - ) S Chanderpaul W Indies   892   49.53   900 v NZ at Napier 2008

2 ( - ) Mohd Yousuf Pakistan     880   55.49    933 v WI at Karachi 2006

3 ( - ) K Sangakkara Sri Lanka   859   54.37    938 v Eng at Kandy 2007

4 ( - ) Kevin Pietersen England  828    50.45    905 v WI at Headingley 2007

5 ( - ) Michael Clarke Australia   825   49.40    825 v SA at Sydney 2009

6 ( - ) M Jayawardena Sri Lanka 819   52.36    854 v Ban at Dhaka 2008

7 ( - ) Ricky Ponting Australia    810    56.87    942 v Eng at Adelaide 2006

8 ( - ) Younus Khan  Pakistan    799    49.14     856 v Eng at Headingley 2006

9 ( - ) Graeme Smith S Africa    797     50.57    810 v Aus at Melbourne 2008

10 ( - ) Gautam Gambhir India   771     49.35     771 v Eng at Mohali 2008

11 ( - ) Mike Hussey Australia    761     59.36     921 v WI at Kingston 2008

12 ( - ) Virender Sehwag India   729     51.06      854 v SA at Kolkata 2004

13 ( - ) Jacques Kallis S Africa    726    54.57      935 v NZ at Centurion 2007

14 ( - ) Ashwell Prince S Africa   709     45.68     756 v Pak at Centurion 2007

15 (+4) Chris Gayle W Indies      703     40.10      703 v Eng at Kingston 2009

16= ( - ) Sachin Tendulkar India 683     54.27       898 v Zim at Nagpur 2002

       ( - ) VVS Laxman India       683     44.45       753 v Aus at Sydney 2004

18 (-3) Andrew Strauss England  673     41.69      769 v S Africa at Johannesburg 2005

19 (-1) Hashim Amla S Africa      671     41.30       671 v Aus at Sydney 2009

20 (-1) Simon Katich Australia     670     43.43       670 v SA at Sydney 2009

Bowlers

Rank (+/-)                              Points   Ave         HS Rating

1 ( - ) M Muralitharan Sri Lanka   887     21.95       920 v Ban at Kandy 2007

2 ( - ) Dale Steyn S Africa          844     23.08       897 v Ind at Ahmedabad 2008

3 ( - ) Stuart Clark Australia        782      22.96      863 v WI at Bridgetown 2008

4 ( - ) Mitchell Johnson Australia  756      28.62      779 v SA at Perth 2008

5 ( - ) Makhaya Ntini S Africa       754     28.22      863 v Ind at Durban 2006

6 (+11) Jerome Taylor W Indies    717      32.56     717 v Eng at Kingston 2009

7 (-1) Ryan Sidebottom England    703     26.14     769 v SA at Lord's 2008

8 (-1) Chaminda Vaas Sri Lanka    688      29.22     800 v Ind at Chennai 2005

9 (-1) Harbhajan Singh India         686     30.88     765 v NZ at Wellington 2002

10 (-1) Shoaib Akhtar Pakistan      684     25.69     855 v NZ at Wellington 2003

11 (-1) Brett Lee Austrlia             673      30.81     811 v WI at Antigua 2008

12 (-1) Daniel Vettori NZ              653      33.09     681 v Aus at Auckland 2000

13 (-1) Zaheer Khan India            630       34.04    689 v Pak at Delhi 2007

14 (-1) Shane Bond NZ               629        22.39    778 v WI at Auckland 2006

15= ( - ) Mohammad Asif Pakistan 619        23.13    710 v SA at Cape Town 2007

(-1) Andrew Flintoff England         619       32.15     810 v Pak at Multan 2005

17 (+1) Danish Kaneria Pakistan     614       33.90     723 v Eng at Multan 2005

18 (+1) James Anderson England    605       35.22     622 v Ind at Chennai 2008

19 (-4) Monty Panesar England      594       33.61     721 v WI at Chester-le-St 2007

20 ( - ) Jacques Kallis S Africa       589        31.12    742 v Eng at Headingley 2003

Posted by Charlie Randall
09/02/2009 11:32:01

Strauss gets widest command

ENGLAND have announced that Andrew Strauss will captain both Test and one-day sides for the duration of the Caribbean tour, removing one of the uncertainties surrounding his new appointment. There was no real alternative, and the one-day element might not be permanent.

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With the tour starting on Jan 21, it was no surprise that Strauss was confirmed as the all-round leader, and it was entirely logical that Andy Flower should be drafted in as caretaker coach after the sacking of Peter Moores in the wake of the Kevin Pietersen bust-up.

Strauss, in 78 one-day internationals, has scored two centuries and 14 fifties in 77 innings at an average of 31.98. His average and strike rate of 75.82 runs per 100 balls is unfortunately not as respectable as it looks because he has been flattered by big runs against Bangladesh.

One-day cricket is hardly a top priority, with the Ashes looming, but now that Michael Vaughan, mediocre in the upper order, has gone, England might be able to afford Strauss, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell in a sluggish top four -- just. The absence of Marcus Trescothick, with his power as opener, has made a huge difference.

Miller said: "The selectors feel that it is important to have stability and continuity on the Caribbean tour given the events of the last few days. Andrew and I have also agreed that we will review the one-day captaincy at the end of the tour. Andrew is extremely comfortable with that."

Strauss, 31, added: "I know I havenít played an ODI since the end of the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007, but I do feel that I have something to offer in that form of the game. Now this situation has been resolved we can now all unite and get about the business of winning cricket matches for England and winning them consistently."

Andrew Strauss will be supported in the Caribbean by Flower, England assistant coach, and Phil Neale, England team operations manager as well as Englandís other specialist coaches and support staff.

Posted by Charlie Randall
09/01/2009 17:54:58

No calypso time for Vaughan

ENGLAND have rightly decided against selecting Michael Vaughan for the Test series in the Caribbean, starting in February, and have called up his Yorkshire colleague Adil Rashid, a spin all-rounder with excellent potential.

======STOP SUMMARY=====

Vaughan had four unsuccessful innings for Yorkshire after his tearful resignation from the England team last summer, and there must be serious doubts whether he can return to international level, even if he produces runs during Yorkshire's pre-season trip to Abu Dhabi to play in the Arabian Cricket Challenge limited overs competition on March 18-25.

Geoff Miller, the national selector, said Vaughan had not been ruled out for Ashes selection next summer. "Michael Vaughan has not yet had an opportunity to prove his form in order to be considered for selection for the Test side," he said during the official squad announcement. "He does, however, remain very much in our thoughts as we continue to plan for the npower Ashes Test series against Australia later this summer. He will play a full part in Yorkshire's pre-season programme, and we will continue to monitor his form closely once the domestic season begins in April."

The uncapped leg-spinner Rashid, a very good batsman, is the only mildly surprising choice in the Test squad, though Nottinghamshire's left-arm seam bowler Ryan Sidebottom is a risk after missing the India Test series with a side injury. Taking three spinners to the West Indies reflects the changing more docile nature of the pitches there.

Hampshire all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas deservedly returns to the one-day squad, which features the uncapped Worcestershire wicketkeeper Steven Davies for the first time.

Miller said: "Despite losing the Test series in India 1-0, we felt the team performed creditably against strong opposition and all the players originally chosen for that series have been retained in the squad.

"Adil Rashid was added to the Test squad for the India tour and we have again included him in the party to tour West Indies. He is an exciting prospect for the future, and his inclusion will enable us to continue to monitor his development closely as well as providing extra competition for places in the spin-bowling department."

Kent captain Robert Key, so close to a senior return, will lead the 14-man England Lions squad to New Zealand where they will play two four-day matches against New Zealand A in Queenstown and Christchurch, along with two one-day games and a Twenty20 fixture against the same opposition.

England Test Squad

Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire, capt)

Andrew Strauss (Middlesex)

Alastair Cook (Essex)

Owais Shah (Middlesex)

Ian Bell (Warwickshire)

Paul Collingwood (Durham)

Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire)

Matt Prior (Sussex, wkt)

Tim Ambrose (Warwickshire, wkt)

Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire)

Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)

Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire)

Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire)

James Anderson (Lancashire)

Stephen Harmison (Durham)

Monty Panesar (Northamptonshire)

England One-Day Squad

Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire, capt)

Matt Prior (Sussex, wkt)

Ian Bell (Warwickshire)

Owais Shah (Middlesex)

Ravi Bopara (Essex),

Paul Collingwood (Durham)

Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire)

Dimitri Mascarenhas (Hampshire)

Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire)

Steven Davies (Worcestershire, wkt)

Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire),

Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire)

Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire)

James Anderson (Lancashire)

Stephen Harmison (Durham)

England Lions Squad

Robert Key (Kent, capt)

Joe Denly (Kent)

Stephen Moore (Worcestershire)

Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)

Eoin Morgan (Middlesex)

Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire)

Ravi Bopara (Essex)

Stephen Davies (Worcestershire)*

Luke Wright (Sussex)

Gareth Batty (Worcestershire)

Amjad Khan (Kent)

Sajid Mahmood (Lancashire)

Liam Plunkett (Durham)

Mark Davies (Durham)

*Tim Ambrose (Warwickshire) is to replace Stephen Davies in the Lions

squad after the Test Series in West Indies.

Posted by Charlie Randall
29/12/2008 13:49:33
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