A few people reckon that Moeen Ali should not open the batting for England as he is vulnerable to moving balls and is not a good back foot player either.
But, the Worcestershire left hander gave a strong answer to those people with his knock against Scotland earlier today in Christchurch. He made a beautiful hundred and gave the Poms a huge start along with Ian Bell.
The situation which Moeen had left England in, they could have got to 340 from there if not for some quick lower order wickets.
Nevertheless, England’s score reached 300 and that was enough for the minnow opposition.
As far as Moeen is concerned, there was nobody with express pace in that Scotland bowling line up to test him with the short stuff, but, there was surely a bit of movement early on and he showed good application during that phase.
Lofted cover drive is Moeen’s favourite shot and it’s hard for him to resist the temptation of playing that shot whenever the ball is pitched up.
But, when the ball swings, it’s important for even the stroke makers to leave a few at the start. The white new ball doesn’t move for long durations. It’s just about the first 15-20 minutes or so and then, it gets easy.
Moeen will have to make sure he remains watchful in the early overs in the coming games – though titanbet are currently running a market on him getting out within his first 6 bowls. He is such a gifted player that he can play long innings if he gets past the tough starting period.
Moeen did his job with the ball too against Scotland. He got a couple of wickets which would only add to his confidence.
With 2 points in 3 games, England is at the 6th position in Pool A right now.
Not too many people would have been taken aback when the news flashed that Alastair Cook was removed as the captain of the England One Day International team.
But, there’s one guy who was surprised when being told that the Essex opening batsman was no longer in charge of England as far as 50-over cricket is concerned. It’s Luke Wright.
The all rounder could not quite believe his ears when he heard the big news.
Because of the World Cup being so near, Wright had not expected something like this.
The 29-year old is in Australia right now featuring in the Green outfit for the Melbourne Stars in the 4th edition of Big Bash League.
When asked if he had seen Cook’s sacking coming, Wright said, “Not at all. It’s quite surprising for me. He had a lot of support back home and I also thought the same that he should be carrying on. To have it taken away so close to the World Cup, it would have hurt him for sure, but, whatever happens, it happens for the good. I hope Alastair starts enjoying the game again and scores heaps of runs in test match cricket in the coming months.”
Wright himself is not in the scheme of things either for England at this point of time. He had been with the team on the Caribbean tour in the earlier part of last year, but, then, over the summer, he was sidelined.
When asked if he is satisfied with the amount of Cricket that he has been able to play for England so far in his career or if he thinks he should have played more, Wright said, “You always want to play more, but, I will have no regrets if I don’t make the team ever again. I have represented my country more than 100 times at the international stage and that is quite satisfactory.”
Moeen Ali reckons that he and the other top order English players must throw caution to the wind and get prepared to risk their wickets in the initial phase of the innings.
England’s approach in the power play has been very different from the other teams in the recent times.
While, the other teams look to take advantage of fielding restrictions and get as many runs on the board as possible before the field gets spread, the Three Lions focus on building the innings and they have taken a lot of criticism for that.
The English bosses, be it the selectors or the head coach, have also been very hesitant to slot the attacking players in there at 1 and 2 and give them the licence.
However, this winter, there have been some bold decisions taken. The change in the captaincy is one of them.
Alastair Cook has been shown the door. He is not in the World Cup team. It’s somebody else who would be opening with Moeen for England in Australia/New Zealand.
Whoever is going to be the second opener for England, Moeen wants him to be free flowing and not think about getting out.
Speaking to the press yesterday in Australia, the Worcestershire player said, “I am an instinctive stroke-maker. I go for it from the word go.”
“Obviously, when you play that way, you are always at risk. You might look ungainly while getting dismissed and you might get criticized for your choice of shot, but, when you go well, you would win the game for your team.”
“That should be the mindset of the other top order guys too.
It’s the top order which you expect to set it up for the guys coming lower down. Some intent must be shown at the start.”
Craig Kieswetter might be England’s back up wicketkeeper for the World Cup. He was pretty good behind the wicket for Somerset last season and with the bat too, he did enough to keep himself in contention for the showpiece tournament down under.
Kieswetter’s glove work had always been an issue during his first run with England. But, after having been left out, he seems to have got it sorted out and he is looking pretty efficient even while keeping against the spinners.
The thing because of which the England selectors might opt to prefer Kieswetter over the other names in county cricket for that second keeper role is his batting ability.
The 27-year old is good enough to claim a place in the XI as a specialist batsman. And, he is an opener. So, if he is there in the squad for Australia-New Zealand, England doesn’t need to pick any reserve opener.
Kieswetter has won England matches bating aggressively at the top of the order and that too in big tournaments. In the World T20 Championship final in 2010, he had scored a half century against the arch rivals Australia. So, he has been at big stages before. That’s another positive that he has.
And, Kieswetter is a player of bouncy tracks. He is somebody who relies on playing his shots from the back foot rather than leaning on to the deliveries. So, he can be supposed not to find the Australian conditions as difficult as some of the other players.
Kieswetter has not made appearance in an ODI World Cup so far. He had a chance to be selected last time around in 2011, but, the selectors went with the experienced Matt Prior at the very last minute which had surprised a few former cricketers.
The fingers have started getting pointed towards Alastair Cook again, this time not on his captaincy, but, on his batting in One Day International Cricket.
Even before the start of the 2nd match against India, some of the former England players had said that Cook is not a player for 50-over format and the sooner he leaves that format, the better it would be for him as well for as England cricket and it seems that they were right in their opinions.
Cook again took quite a bit of time at the top of the order yesterday in Cardiff. He ended up with a strike rate of about 67 which could have been much lower if he had not got two boundaries towards the end of his innings.
However, Alex Hales was scoring so freely at the other end that Cook could afford that time, but, definitely, the England selectors need to think about it.
Because, on days, when Hales get out early, England will get stuck with Ian Bell at no. 3 who is also a defensive player like Cook.
Also, Cook’s low strike rate can put unnecessary pressure on Hales who, even if he is not having a great day, will have to go for his shots and he might end up giving his wicket away in that process.
England can afford to play only one out of Cook and Bell in One Day Cricket. Some of the English fans might not agree to it, but, that’s the bitter truth.
In modern day cricket, a-run-a-ball is the minimum that one should score even in the middle overs, forget about the slog overs during which the batsmen tend to go nuts these days. But, the current England set up finds hard to do it because of their conservative approach.
Andrew Flintoff has said that he has seen very few players in his career who can hit the cricket ball harder than Jos Buttler.
Buttler used to play for the Somerset County Cricket Club until the last season, but, this season, he has taken a transfer to Flintoff’s club Lancashire and he has started making impact at Old Trafford straightaway. He has won the club a couple of games with his thundering stroke play.
Buttler has already become a certainty for the Three Lions in 50-over cricket and he is very close to making it to the England test squad as well. He was on the stand-by ahead of the Trent Bridge test match against India. If Matt Prior had not been able to pass the fitness test on the morning of that match, Buttler would have made his test debut there.
Talking about the young wicketkeeper batsman yesterday, Flintoff said, “Jos is phenomenal as far as playing the big hits is concerned. I’ve seen quite a few belligerent hitters over the years and he is as good as any one of them if not better.”
“The thing which impresses me about Jos is that despite having tasted success at a young age, he doesn’t take things for granted. He never misses practice sessions. He is at it all the time. He’s a keen learner.”
When asked if he reckons Buttler can be a good test match wicketkeeper batsman for England, Freddie said, “Yes, off course. Having watched him bat in quite a few innings this season, I do believe that he can succeed at the test level as well.”
Flintoff has recently made a comeback in competitive cricket after being out for a few years. Just a couple of days back, he featured for Lancashire in a match of the Natwest T20 Blast competition.
The young Yorkshire batsman, Joe Root, scored a superb hundred on the first day of the first test match against Sri Lanka which is being played at Lord’s. He came to bat at his new position of 5 and looked extremely comfortably there.
Root had come out in a bit of a tricky situation with England 74 for 3 on a grassy surface, but, he showed a lot of composure and soundness and by building three consecutive big partnerships, he put England into a great position when the play stopped on the first day.
Root had to suffer a lot of criticism for his performances in Australia. The experts were saying that he had flaws in his technique and he needed to go back to domestic circuit and work on them.
In Australia, Root was found wanting on slightly back of length deliveries by Mitchell Johnson.
Johnson used to push the 21 years old back and back by bowling short and then he used to bowl one slightly up to make him edge into the slip cordon or to the keeper. The problem basically for Root there in Australia was that he was not able to transfer his weight from back foot to front foot smoothly.
But, in the inning that he played yesterday, he did that quite well. He handled both short of length and back of length deliveries beautifully and hit some wonderful fours.
He is still unbeaten on 102. He has faced 190 deliveries for that and has sent the ball outside the boundary line 8 times. He has the chance to convert this inning into a big one.
This is the second time that Root has scored a hundred at Lord’s. He had done that against Australia as well last year. He had got 180 at that time.
The English selectors are planning to recall two of the old foxes i.e. Ian Bell and Jimmy Anderson for the one off T20 game against Sri Lanka.
Bell and Anderson have not been featuring for England in the shortest format of the game for quite some time, but, considering the team’s mediocre performances in the recent times, the new selection committee reckons that it’s important to bring in some experience into the set up now.
If Bell gets called back, he would surely be opening the batting along with either Alex Hales or Michael Lumb.
As far as Anderson is concerned, he is a swing bowler and likes to deliver at good length most of the times and that’s why he goes for a lot of runs in the death. In T20 cricket, you need the bowlers to try and bowl yorkers, but, Anderson is not that good at that. But, when it comes to experience, the Lancashire quick is right up there.
The last time that Anderson was seen representing England in the slam bang format was 5 years back in 2009. It was a game against South Africa and despite being his team’s most economical bowler that day, Anderson was left out thereafter and he has been on the sidelines since then in the T20s.
There have been a lot of young bowlers tried by the English selectors in the last few years in the T20s, but, they haven’t got repaid that much and that’s why they are now forced to look back to Anderson.
Anderson has taken a lot of wickets for England in test cricket. He is close to taking his tally past 350 in that format, but, test cricket is a different ball game altogether. You need different skills for different formats.
The England Cricket Team has been defeated by West Indies in the first ODI match played at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium yesterday. The hosts won the match by 15 runs.
Batting first on a sluggish surface, West Indies lost wickets quickly and was not looking like positing a reasonable total half way through their innings, but, a 100-run partnership between Sammy and Bravo for the 5th wicket helped them get to 269 which proved to be sufficient.
England’s new opening pair started well and added 96 runs to push the opposition on the back foot, but, once the first wicket fell, the momentum shifted in the favour of West Indies.
Although Joe Root hung in there with Michael Lumb but, he couldn’t score the runs as quickly as needed and that made the required run rate go higher and higher.
However, with some big hitters waiting in the dressing room, the situation was still in the control of the visitors. They needed to score at just more than 8 per over in the last 7 overs, but, they eventually didn’t manage to do that.
The West Indies bowlers kept things simple in the death. They bowled full and straight and didn’t give the batsmen any room whatsoever.
Ravi Bopara who is renowned for his ability to clear boundaries couldn’t hit even 1 boundary during his 36-minute stay at the crease and that’s enough to suggest how tight the Caribbean bowling was.
Dwayne Bravo who had scored 86 runs for West Indies was declared man of the match. He played his part with the ball too as he dismissed England’s most lethal player Jos Buttler in the 43rd over.
The second match of the series will be played at the same venue on Sunday.
The England team management is expected to make some changes in the playing XI for the third Ashes test match which is going to be played at Perth.
England has performed awfully in the ongoing Ashes series so far. They have suffered two huge loses and are on the verge of losing the Ashes after a while.
The wicket at Perth is known to be the quickest in Australia. So, the Poms would certainly not be naming two spinners in the XI there. That means Monty Panesar will be sidelined and the man who is the strongest contender to replace him is Tim Bresnan.
Bresnan had a fantastic Ashes series back home in England and if he had not had fitness problems, he would have been the third fast bowler for England in the Brisbane test match.
However, he is completely recovered from his injury now and there are good chances of him making his way back into the playing XI.
Another change that England might make is to bring Jonny Bairstow in place of Ben Stokes who had made his debut at Adelaide Oval. But, the England team management should keep one thing in mind that the weather in Perth is going to be extremely hot. So, going with only 4 bowlers in that test match might not be a good decision.
If they persist with Stokes, he can give the main bowlers a bit of a breather and he will be quite handy with the bat too. And, that will boost the youngster’s confidence as well.
Stokes hadn’t done poorly in that Adelaide test match anyway. He had shown good fighting spirit while batting in the second innings and he had grabbed a few important wickets too. The young man needs one more go.