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Let’s just say I am still trying to get over the shock of yesterday, my buoyant mood after the 3rd day has well and truly vanished. If you recall I felt that England were in the driving seat, and that this was the test in which we would see the England boys back to their best. In fact it was quite the opposite, don’t get me wrong our bowling unit has been fantastic throughout, but our top-order batsmen… well they sure enough did not step up to the mark. Pakistan beating England yesterday by 72 runs means they sail to a 2-0 series lead with one left to play, if our boys don’t pick up soon it could be a series whitewash. Returning back to Dubai for the 3rd test next Friday, one can only hope for an England revival, and quick!

What exactly happened to England though on the fourth day? Pakistan resumed the day on 125-4, Azhar Ali and Shafiq were at the crease, but England was soon to break this partnership. Eight overs into the day Panesar was the man on form, having Shafiq nick a thick edge to Anderson at slip for 43, the first wicket of the day and England were in high spirits. Next to go was Ali, having compiled a neat 68, he and Akmal had put on a decent partnership of 28 taking Pakistan to 170, before Anderson with the new ball had Ali edging behind to the ‘keeper. Six wickets down, it didn’t take long for England to take advantage of the new ball. The following over it was Broad’s turn to snatch a wicket on day 4, Akmal chased a wide one which carried perfectly to the safe hands of Strauss at slip, with 13 runs he reluctantly had to leave. So having taken three early wickets yesterday it looked like England were on a roll, they were in a great position, but it was not over yet. Swann was next to strike, capturing Rehman LBW for 10 as he attempted that dreaded sweep shot , he fell to a straight one from Swann and had to depart. Pakistan were now 198-8 and were not yet over the 200 mark; but once they did the star man Panesar soon took charge. Five overs after Rehman’s dismissal Ajmal provided Panesar with his 5-wicket haul, turning away from the right-hander it edges to Anderson at slip for 17, and Panesar claims his 5th. Monty didn’t stop there, he wasn’t happy until his next over where Kahn got tangled, misjudged the spin and saw his middle stump removed for a glorious 0. Monty reaped 6 wickets in total, and how magnificent he was. His skill and precision were spot-on, and he showed the England side what they have been missing – it truly was a fantastic lesson in spin!

So with Monty’s magic, Pakistan were all out for 214, leaving England with a 145 deficit, and one which they had a day and a half to achieve. Easy. Or so I thought, despite our bating difficulties so far this series I honestly believed that 145 was a respectable total and one that should not prove hard to obtain. But then, I feel most people misjudged the pitch, and misjudged the skill and fighting spirit of the Pakistani bowlers as they weren’t just great as they have been all series, they went above and beyond. Our batsmen were totally outplayed; astonishingly they collapsed in a heap as Pakistan spun rings around them, certainly not what I was expecting. Strauss and Cook started off well, slowly but well. They put 21 on the board and seemed so far to be undisturbed by the fact that Pakistani captain, Misbah, brought in spin to open, yes open, the bowling. Cook’s wicket was the first to fall, Hafeez was the man who had him caught and bowled, and he departed with 7 leaving England on 21-1. Now Trott was currently absent due to illness, so in came Bell at three. He only lasted 3 overs however, returning to the pavilion with 3 to his name as Ajmal straightened one which unfortunately rolled back onto his stumps. That’s just what we needed, but could KP provide the stability we needed? Not quite, again lasting just 3 overs, Rehman claimed his first of the innings, falling for 1 after being trapped LBW even the review could not save Pietersen. From bad to worse, the apparently best player of spin within the side, Morgan, also fell in the same over, his leg stump removed as he left with 0 – England on 37-4 needed more than luck at this stage, still 108 runs behind.

Cue a mini revival which lifted the hopes, even if just a little, of every England fan. Strauss and Prior seemingly looked like they were staying put, with a partnership of 19 runs it was not what you could call ground-breaking, but it was much needed. However the one thing we certainly did not foresee was that the captain was next to be struck down, another LBW shout that went in the favour of Rehman, even though it was referred Strauss left with 32; England in dire straits at 56-5. The ill Trott finally was present at the crease, only remaining for six overs and running up a score of 1 he was trapped at the crease, plumb LBW to Rehman who picked up his 4th wicket of the day. I suppose it was now, as England stood at 68-6 that I knew they were staring defeat in the face, after the hard-work of the bowlers, our position could take us nowhere. For some reason I also did declare that “Rehman will want to get his five wickets now, won’t he?” I then decided to keep quiet, as 2 balls after Trott’s dismissal Broad was also following. Rehman bowled a superb delivery straight through the gate, smacking the off-stump as Broad walked away with 0. Swann also failed to score as the following over Ajmal got to work, first catching Swann LBW, then next ball Prior who failed to clear Shafiq at cover for 18. This being Ajmal’s 100th test wicket, the celebrations broke out, England were 72-9 and Pakistan were in touching distance of victory. It didn’t take long to achieve either, as Rehman claimed his 6th and final wicket of Anderson, sweeping but catching the top-edge, Jimmy sends one straight to the hands of Gul for just 1. And there it was England all out for 72, Pakistan wrapped up a famous victory, beating the Number One Test side in the world. England were dejected, ashamed, disappointed. Pakistan on the other hand truly deserved such a win; they had played superbly throughout the test and reaped the rewards of their hard-work.

With a 72 run victory and a 2-0 lead in the series Pakistan are the outstanding performers of this test series, and one which England will most probably want to forget. It is such a shame after the beautiful work by the bowlers that our batsmen just could not withstand the pressure, and it shouldn’t be forgotten that Broad and Panesar in particular were fantastic throughout. Looking on towards the next test surely the batting line-up will be altered? England fans for sure will not want to witness a terrible collapse again; our form from last summer will be a grateful return. So hopefully it is onwards and upwards from Friday, let’s see the England of old! I’ll be back to report on the England Lions performances very soon so keep a look out, as they are currently outshining the senior team winning their second match today by 67 runs, with their next match on Tuesday.

For now I am off to beat the post-test match blues! FB.

This says it all! Photo Credit: Getty Images (zimbio.com)

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What a wonderful three days of cricket we have seen! Fortunately for every England fan out there, it is fair to say that yes, we are almost back to our normal selves. Over in Abu Dhabi England have finally put the wheels in motion meaning we can finally witness a test in which both teams are in contention for victory. First up the big selection news that was casting a shadow over this current test, Monty returns due to Tremmers being injured. I am delighted, oh and not because of Tremlett, I just can’t believe how long Monty has waited in the side-lines and now finally gets a game. His crazy wicket celebrations are back people, so rest assured! It also has turned out to be a very successful move by Flower and Strauss also, as Monty has been one of the stars within the team to date, pitching in as the second spinner and proving to be worthy of his England place.

Onto the action then, and we started on Wednesday with Pakistan winning the toss and choosing to bat (Cheema replaced by Junaid Kahn). It was Swann who claimed the first wicket of Taufeeq, after Strauss decided to bring in spin after just 12 overs, dislodging the off stump for 16. Making the breakthrough of the opening partnership of 51, it was Swann’s spinning partner, Panesar, who then took his first wicket after a long-awaited return, bowling Hafeez through the gate beautifully for 31 leaving Pakistan on 61-2. A decent partnership between Ali and Kahn ensued of 37, but before Pakistan could bring up three figures, it was Broad who with a perfect delivery nipping back, knocked back Kahn’s off stump for 4. Broad was currently in fantastic form and was bowling beautifully (I do remain unbiased here), so it was no surprise to see him just four overs later removing Azhar Ali’s off stump also, beating the edge and having him out for 24. So with the top four in the batting line-up all bowled and standing at 103-4, Pakistan needed a saviour, who came in the form of captain, Misbah, along with Shafiq, who together compiled a 100 partnership. Shafiq soon however, misjudged a sweep shot, leaving him LBW to Swann on a much-needed 58. Having defied Monty’s spin, sending him towering over the boundary rope for consecutive sixes, Misbah seemed to be in very good touch and was leading from the front. With the ‘keeper Akmal at the crease with his captain, the partnership lasted merely 7 overs before the ‘keeper departed LBW for 9 to Broad. However controversy followed as the mode of dismissal was questioned as to whether or not an edge was present – nevertheless Akmal walked without referring. So Pakistan were 216-6, a decent total bearing in mind four wickets remained, adding 27 runs, Misbah looked settled bringing up a worthy 50, Rehman however was yet to get off the mark. He failed to score a run before his dismissal, leaving him with a duck as Swann got one to straighten and pass the bat. No more wickets graced day 1 and Pakistan ended the day on 256-7, Misbah remained not out on 83, Ajmal 0*.

As day 2 approached I had high hopes for England to get the three early wickets, I did not however expect Pakistan to add only 1 run for 3 wickets – perfect sums it up really. Misbah was the first to go with a great innings of 84, falling LBW to Broad, even with a review on Pakistan’s part. Then the following over brought the remaining two wickets and Jimmy Anderson’s first of the match, as he claimed Ajmal (0) and Kahn (0), LBW and caught respectively. A triumphant England returned to the pavilion in high spirits, and I felt sure that 257 was a respectable total for our boys to chase and build up a, hopefully, substantial lead. Things didn’t go quite to plan as Strauss departed in the 14th over for 11 being caught at short leg off the bowling of Hafeez once again. However the pair now at the crease, Cook and Trott, were there to stay, and as Atherton wonderfully put it “When Cook and Trott are batting, they’re not that scintillating often”. Very true words but we don’t expect them to be, as these two bat in their own glorious way, and most times rescue us from a sticky patch. As they toiled away they piled up a partnership of 139, it was Trott who broke this partnership with his footwork, as Rehman passed the outside edge and removed the bails in the process for 74. No century for him then this time, but as I seem to jinx a situation during a test series I thought that I would be right in saying that Cook on 75 at this time, would easily sail to 100. Erm, Cook was next to depart on 94! Not able to judge Ajmal’s doosra (he isn’t the only one) Cook was trapped LBW, and selflessly did not review – what a team player. At 198-3 it only got worse for England, as 5 runs later KP left with 14 caught at slip off the bowling of Ajmal, leading to a minor collapse, Morgan played an unwise shot one ball before the end of play, also caught at slip in an Ajmal over. England left the day on 207-5; considering they were 198-3 it was just a tad worrying to say the least.

Then finally we witnessed day 3, and without breaking into song… what a difference a day makes! Despite Prior falling early on 3, LBW to Ajmal, Bell had played sweetly with 3 fours taking him up to 29. Broad was the man who was impressing down the other end however, with 6 fours already under his belt, at the time Bell departed he was on 33*. Bell unfortunately was another victim of the LBW, this time to Gul, making way for Graeme Swann to play a brief spell coming in at 268-7. Again another one of our batsmen fell LBW, Swann defending a straight one from Rehman for a reasonable 15 from 15. Once tail-ender Jimmy came to the crease, Broad never gave up the fight, and at 291-8, he and Jimmy created a great 36-run partnership taking England over the 300 mark. During this Broad brought up his well-timed 50, including a wonderful 6 over wide long-on. But once Hafeez took the wicket of Jimmy minutes after lunch, as he miss-read the length and was bowled for 13, it didn’t take long for Monty to fall – one ball in fact – LBW for a golden duck.  So at 327 all out, Broad stood tall with 58* and everyone anticipated what was to come. What did come was actually better than expected, well in my eyes anyway. The openers fell early, Hafeez the first to Monty in the 12th over, LBW for 2 hitting Hafeez on the inside pad, then Taufeeq followed an over later to fellow spinner Swann, this time bowling him through the gate for a mere 7 runs. Wonderful stuff, Pakistan were 29-2 and things were looking rosy. It soon became 36-3 as Panesar with his second wicket of the innings had the experienced Kahn bowled for just 1, celebrations followed as it was Monty of course. The last wicket to fall for the day was the captain, Misbah, as Panesar picked up another, trapping him LBW for 12, leaving Pakistan in a not so good position of 54-4. Ali and Shafiq rescued Pakistan in the late stages of the day, hauling them to 125-4 before the close, with 46 and 35 respectively. A better performance by these two cricketers meant Pakistan now have a lead of 55, hopefully the England boys will wield their magic as always tomorrow, early wickets are essential to keep that deficit down.

So I wonder what tomorrow will bring, I am wishing for quick wickets leaving England with a manageable total… minus the batting collapse and it should be a perfect day. Let’s level this series and come back even better next match! I’ll be back with a massive smile on my face hopefully if England can become victorious; I have no doubt that they will fantastic in the remaining two days; Pakistan will resume day 4 on 125-4. Let me know what your highlights have been so far!

FB :D

P.S Don’t forget to keep up to date with the Lions progress. I will soon report in full but they have won their first match versus Sri Lanka A by 68 runs – Buttler 102* from only 56 balls, Hales 94, Kieswetter 53; Buck 4-39 from 8 overs! Brilliant performance by these boys, replicate it next match please.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (espncricinfo.com)

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Hello all, yep I’m back again! This time though with a right mix of all sorts, namely the progress of the England Lions over in the ‘Desh, and not forgetting the build-up to the much anticipated 2nd Test between England and Pakistan. A little bit of a mix, but I’m just full of surprises.

First up the Lions over in Bangladesh, when I last covered them back on Jan 11th they had just levelled the unofficial ODI series with Bangladesh A 1-1 with three left to play. As it so happens at the end of the 4th ODI our boys had already lost the series, with Bangladesh A beating them by 75 runs and 6 wickets in the respective games. In the third game managing to reduce Bangladesh to 218-9 with three wickets for Briggs, their prospects looked promising. However, despite a partnership of 48 between openers Hales and Vince, wickets began to fall in the middle order with Maynard, Bairstow, Buttler and Borthwick all trapped at the crease LBW. It was Borthwick who was the man to steady the innings at number 7 with a crisp 44 from 52, offering some hope to the Lions, but as the tail fell for a total of 16, England were bowled out for a mere 143 and 75 runs short.

Moving onto the 4th ODI, batting first England seemed to be in a reasonable position, losing opener Hales, Taylor and Maynard early on leaving England on 67-3 you may have thought this was not the case. Fellow opener Root however, along with Bairstow and Buttler all chipped in with helpful runs, Root especially top-scoring with 81 before becoming Farhad Reza’s third ‘victim’. With a decent foundation built with 155-5 before Root departed, it was up to the tail to haul the Lions to a respectable target, losing the last 5 wickets within 50 overs for only 53 runs was not on the cards and left Bangladesh A, a total of only 209 to chase. This was made ever easier by an unbeaten century by Imrul Kayes (110*), with an opening stand of 72 the base was set for victory, even despite losing Faruque and J. Islam for just 31 between them. Bangladesh were aided by a well-timed 40 by N. Islam, which brought them within inches of victory, as they soon won with 28 balls remaining and the loss of just 4 wickets.

The final game of the series though was a different story and a morale boost for the Lions, as they beat Bangladesh A by 6 wickets (with 73 balls remaining) – thank goodness! Restoring their pride this meant the Lions pulled back the series to leave them with a 3-2 defeat. A superb effort by the bowlers in the 1st innings saw Bangladesh reduced to 152 all out, with 3 wickets for Brooks, and 2 for spinners Kerrigan and Root, the top three were skittled for just 8 runs! None of the Bangladesh batting order really got started, with number 9 N. Hossain top-scoring with 38. Turning our focus over to the Lions top order, Root departed for a duck, but Hales and Taylor put on a decent partnership of 52 before Hales (26) and then Maynard (0) left in quick succession leaving England on 60-3. This was not a problem for Bairstow and Buttler though, as between them they racked up 60 runs, both aiding the captain, Taylor, to secure victory leaving him unbeaten on 65*, his highest score of the series and the MOTM. So a face-saving win for the Lions, gave them much more of a boost entering the first of 2 T20’s.

The unofficial T20 series concluded today in fact, and ended 1-1, England winning the 1st by 32 runs, and Bangladesh winning the latter by a small margin of 11 runs. With a score of 143-6 in the 1st T20 by the Lions, and contributions from Roy with 40 from an astonishing 19 balls, Vince (32), and Taylor (28) the Lions bowled Bangladesh A all out for 111, with wonderful figures of 3-16 by Buck from his 4 overs. Eight of the eleven Bangladeshi batsmen remained in single figures and enabled the Lions to claim a comprehensive victory. Reversing the tables in the last T20 the Bangladesh A side brought up 166-6, with a 62 from opener Kayes, Buck was the stand out performer in the bowling department again with 3-22. It was a different story though for the England batsmen as both openers, Roy and Hales fell for 0 and 1 respectively! Putting them back on track, Maynard with 68, and 43 from the captain enabled the Lions to push up to 101-4, losing three more wickets hereafter meant that England fell to 155-7 within their 20 overs, unable to win the series outright.  A mediocre performance over in Bangladesh raises hopes that the upcoming series’ versus Sri Lanka will prove more successful for these future England hopefuls. Jade Dernbach, Craig Kieswetter, Samit Patel and Chris Woakes all join the Lions squad for this upcoming series, taking the places of Simon Kerrigan, Tom Maynard, Tymal Mills, Boyd Rankin and Jason Roy who return to their counties. Hopefully we will see a more victorious Lions squad over in Sri Lanka; we may also see a few of their faces in the International 50-over side to face Pakistan next month.

Right, with the Lions news out of the way for today, finally we have the England Test starting in 2 days’ time. With England’s disappointing performance being the pick of conversation between most cricket pundits and fans alike, there has been talk over selecting a different line-up. Who knows what to expect until the day, but I have an incline that there may be a minute chance that they bring in Monty as a second spinner, but do you all think this is the way to go? Let me know as I would be interested to know who you would select as your 11! Hopefully though whatever the decision I am hoping for a far more improved England on show, back to their number one best if possible. I feel that the last test was a small hurdle to come across for the England boys, but now it is all in the past they can hopefully conquer the conditions in the UAE. So don’t forget to tune in and set those alarms ready for the early wake-up call for those who can cope with it, as it is soon approaching.

So there we have it, a mix of the England Lions news, as well as the build-up toward the anticipated second duel between two highly-performing test teams. I will be here as usual with all the England Team news to keep you up to date, and keep up that support for the England lads as I am sure they will be bouncing back to full form!

Thanks for reading as always! FB :)

Photo credit: BCB (espncricinfo.com)

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Hello all, I am back with my first 2012 post *cheers*, your wait is over and you can divulge into my lasting musings for another year… so be ready and prepared for a fun-filled, roller-coaster year in the cricketing calendar. Firstly if you are new to my blog, welcome, it is great to have new readers and I hope you enjoy what I can only describe as the true fans guide to the world of cricket, as I encourage everyone to share their views. I try to provide everyone with all the latest news, whilst adding that female twist to the game – yes I am female, and yes I love cricket! Secondly, hello wonderful regulars it is great to have you back for another year, and I must say a huge thank you for the support and lovely comments throughout my ‘debut’ year in 2011.

With all that out of the way, this year I hope to make Caught At Slip really successful, in terms of attracting more cricket lovers to the site who wish to air their views on Domestic or International cricket. So any of you out there who knows someone with a passion for the game, or you have a friend who is slowly becoming a fan… then you know where to direct them!

Right now down to the cricket at last. For those who struggled with the lack of cricket over the winter, we are being treated to a Test Series between the Aussie’s and the Indians. I know it is not really a substitute for you die-hard England fans, but the sheer skill of both sides is evident, even though India’s prestige seems to be slipping as they are losing the series 2-0 with two still left to play. We have already witnessed the likes of Clarke, Hussey and Ponting at their best – 329*, 150* and 134 respectively. Let me tell you that was impressive to see, the slick cover drives and square cuts it was pure brilliance if I may say so! Not forgetting also the “Little Master’s” seemingly harder challenge to conquer the 100th ton feat, the agony to fall at the final hurdle – what can’t you like about this clash?

But I don’t know if it is just me, as the England winter tour versus Pakistan is about to begin this Tuesday the excitement is just about containable. Yet we are what, 11 days into 2012 and there has already been plenty of ‘goings-on’ within the England camp. Namely that of Tim Bresnan having to fly home due to his elbow not having fully recovered, plus throw this into the mix, Tremmers is currently suffering from an eye infection (I did say it would be a roller-coaster year)… but it isn’t all doom and gloom as it does just happen to clear the way for Finn to show-off his skills on the UAE pitches. Having already beaten the ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI – try saying that quickly – by 3 wickets things are looking good for 2012, not that I want to jinx anything of course. Having the ICC boys at 90-6 we we’re sailing through, but an upsurge in runs enabled them to reach 281, which was a slight challenge. Managing to reach 185 for the loss of 8 wickets, Captain Fantastic declared, which I must say in hindsight was definitely the way to go, considering we then knocked ICC over for 164 leaving England with a total of 261. It was a close run match but England clinched the win despite the loss of 7 wickets, a winning start is always wonderful even if it is a tour match. Oh and how can I not include that Stuart Broad, after making his return, received a 7 wicket match haul, get in there Stuey! Actually as I write this England are currently involved in their second tour match this time versus the Pakistan Cricket Board XI, England finishing Day 1 on 269/9 declared, with the PCB XI at 23-0, the highlight being Cook standing tall with 133… need I say more?!

However it is not only the big boys who are excelling over in the UAE, the England Lions are now also in action over in Bangladesh in an unofficial ODI series consisting of 5 matches. We have a mix of and old and new Lions touring this year, and exciting ones at that, such as Roy, Vince, Mills, Buck and Maynard. Losing by six wickets to Bangladesh A in their first game their top order seemed to struggle with the pitches in the ‘Desh. However Buttler did manage to rack up 45 to haul the Lions to a mediocre total of 139, with Buck impressing in the latter half of the game with two maiden-wicket overs! Needing to improve their game somewhat, the Lions didn’t disappoint in their second outing only yesterday, turning the tables to win convincingly by 6 wickets. Despite Nazimuddin’s 99*, recent England star Meaker reaped four wickets, whilst spin bowling trio, Briggs, Borthwick and Kerrigan chipped in with 7 collective wickets, to reduce Bangladesh A to 176. Losing the two early wickets of Roy and Root, Vince and the captain, James Taylor put on a stand of 48, whilst Bairstow and Buttler hit aggressively to claim 50* and 41* respectively. Levelling the series, the Lions have it all to play for now, not that I want to sound too dramatic or anything!

So what a great 11 days of the year we have had so far, there will be many more to come as well, trust me on that… or maybe I am just a little bit biased about our wonderful England teams? Nah, surely not.

I’m looking forward to 2012 as I do have a few surprises in store for you all, that is, if they go to plan which fingers crossed they hopefully do. So stay tuned, not just for this surprise in the next few weeks, but also for all the latest surrounding England’s tour, the new County season, as well as the recent developments concerning the Morgan review. Can’t wait for what is in store for this blog in 2012, it is going to be a great cricketing year. I hope you have all had a great start to the year and have enjoyed my first blog in 2012, there will be plenty more to come I assure you!

FB :)

P.S – Don’t forget to keep up to date, either subscribe to the site, or check my Twitter posts to see whenever I post a new blog!

Photo Credit: ecb.co.uk

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Well I decided to start off with my personal favourite moments of the summer; there have been some absolutely great games, great performances, and great players to watch this year so I have had to carefully select what I feel to be the crème de la crème.

My top five moments of the International summer

  1. England becoming World Number One in Tests (obviously)
  2. Whitewashing India 4-0
  3. Stuart Broad’s hat trick at Trent Bridge along with his match saving innings
  4. Tim Bresnan having Sachin Tendulkar LBW for 91
  5. England’s prolific batting and wicket taking in general – they have all been fantastic

Well as I’ve already said, how can England becoming World Number One not be top of the list? England’s will to succeed from the outset of the Ashes last year has propelled them to become a force to be reckoned with, already T20 Champions, it has shown how far they can actually go. So to see them crowned Number One in Tests in glorious style by whitewashing the Indians was fantastic.

Then we have that test at Trent Bridge, on his home patch Stuart Broad almost saved the game single-handedly with an incredible hat-trick, along with scores of 64 and 44. Looking for the first time like they could win a test, India had the advantage over England this was before they realised the might of Broad back at full form.

I also had to include Tim Bresnan’s wicket, it was the pivotal moment of the game as several chances were denied to have Tendulkar out, and I would have loved him to have got a 100 hundreds just not against this all powerful England side.

My top five moments of the County Season

  1. The Leicestershire Foxes being crowned T20 Champions
  2. Warwickshire Bears finishing second in the Championship when they were nearly relegated last year
  3. Supporting two great teams, as well as being privileged enough to see them both play
  4. James Taylor having such a prolific career so far that he was chosen to captain the England Lions, as well as an England call up
  5. The climax of the County season, this year has been amazing roll on next year

So yep my top moment of the County calendar was the T20 trophy going to the Foxes. Classed as the ‘underdogs’ right from the quarter-finals it was great to see them comeback in such amazing fashion, they had it all, the class opening pair, the power-hitters as well as the death bowlers and fantastic fielders.

Moving on we have the Bears, an up and down summer in terms of not having their best limited overs season, they turned their Championship hopes around from last year and they almost, just almost, clinched the title. From nearly being relegated into Division 2 last year it was a delight to see them back to full force and relishing their return to form in the four-day game.

Then we have James Taylor, I didn’t really want to pick out one player, but at such a young age Taylor has already had a fantastic career with 1,000 first class runs for the third successive year. His efforts were finally rewarded this year with the captaincy of the England Lions, not only this but James was soon called-up to the England set up, making his debut against Ireland earlier this year.

So there you have it, my top moments of the whole summer, or more ramblings I should say. Let me know what you have most enjoyed about this cricketing summer, as there were so many great times I couldn’t include, please leave your comments below, I will look forward to them. Check back soon for part 2.

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I knew they could do it; I just had a feeling that Sunday was a glitch in the Lions game that prevented them from a series whitewash. With only three games to play, and two already decided for, it was today’s match that was the series decider… from early on it looked to be going the Sri Lankans way, but it wasn’t long before England had the game tightly in their grip!

Three Lions wickets fell early and left them at 38-3 and certainly did not look promising. But England captain James Taylor and fellow England hopeful Ben Stokes created a partnership that was going to be a hard one to break. A stand of 98 between the pair looked invincible with Taylor playing the ‘anchor’ role with 50 from 91 balls, whilst Stokes had free reign and hit 73 from 65 balls with an impressive three 6’s and seven 4’s. After Stokes’ departure it saw the acceleration in Taylor’s innings making his second 50 in just a further 37 deliveries with eight 4’s and a 6 in total, making this an incredible innings. Now with James Harris at the crease, he and Taylor were able to make another significant partnership of 74, Harris only making 29 of the runs, just showing the latter speed of Taylor’s innings who finally ended up with 111 to his name – his second one-day tonne in just three games! Surely now even closer to an England call-up?! With the help of Taylor the Lions were able to make a very reasonable total of 282… which turned out to be an easily defendable target thanks to the newly adjusted bowling attack that graced the Northampton field.

After being outplayed last match, the danger men of the Sri Lankan side at the top of the order were dealt with correctly this time around, Harris having Warnapura caught behind, going to only the fourth delivery of the innings. He was closely followed by Thirimanne an over later again caught behind but this time to England hopeful Chris Woakes… the matter only got worse when Rajapaksa also edged Harris behind to give Bairstow his third catch of the innings after only 2.4 overs! So at 3-7 the Sri Lankans looked in a similar position to that of England only two days before and the Lions were probably relishing this fact, with three down already they weren’t going to let this go easily. It was the turn of debutant Boyd Rankin to take the following two wickets as things were beginning to slightly improve for the ‘As’, but within the space of three deliveries the problem was soon eliminated… 5-51 the Sri Lankans needed some serious runs on the board! Meaker pitched in to remove Kulasekara for 9 but it was the pick of the bowlers, slow left-armer Simon Kerrigan who seriously lowered Sri Lanka’s chances of reaching a respectable score.

After Kerrigan claimed his three wickets Sri Lanka were on 9-140, and removed two of the only four batsmen that reached double figures, the Lions were only facing one outcome possible now, a victory plain and simple… Woakes took charge of obtaining the last wicket to dismiss the opposition for 147, just 147! A stunning victory by all accounts and I must say I was delighted to see England wrap up another victory and to put it like the ECB, it was Taylor-made – loving the support for Taylor.

There is not huge support for our other England teams like the Lions or the U19s and the like, as I witnessed at Worcester… so hence my blogs to try and raise their profile. It really is some great cricket to watch and I fully support them all the way, more people should take an interest, plus it gives you an insight into the up and coming players who may soon be sporting an England shirt. Looking forward to their tours this winter and will hopefully keep you posted!

 

Photo Credit: zimbio.com

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Even though the title of this blog speaks for itself, I know for sure that the England Lions have their minds set on a series defining match at Northampton tomorrow, and regardless of the scenes at Worcester yesterday will hopefully clinch a win!

So yes, I was there yesterday to witness such a dramatic turnaround in the Lions… let’s go back to Friday where they beat SL A by 97 runs! At Worcester again, here the Lions were able to post a massive total of 310 with a captain’s innings from Taylor with 106! :) Other notable performances were those of Joe Root (62) and Jonny Bairstow (59), both who have promising careers ahead… yes I am putting it out there! Now onto the bowling, SL A were bowled out for 213 due to the impressive bowling line up that the England Lions contained, including names such as Finn and Woakes. The Sri Lankan batting line-up suffered despite some impressive starts, but the Lions were too much for them and bowled their way to victory.

Cue the turnaround. So after such an impressive start I arrived at Worcester full of hope that I would see an up and coming Lions squad that would destroy Sri Lanka A once again… true I did see an extremely good up and coming squad but one which failed to deliver the goods – or so to speak. It all began at the end of the second over where Hales, facing a spinner opening with the new ball, was stumped for only 2 runs. Root was the next to go for a duck; shortly followed by Nash before the next two wickets also fell for a mere 0… yes I know what a collapse! Nash had made a good start with a couple of boundaries but fell at 16-3 which soon became 16-5 with both Stokes and Bairstow crumbling against spin registering golden ducks. A slight improvement was made when the star of Friday’s show came to the crease, Taylor, but was shortly out LBW again to spin at 6-27, I was there shaking my head saying ‘no, no, no’ as if that would influence the umpire. The whole time I sat completely shell-shocked and even more so when Taylor began his walk back off to the pavilion. I think my gasp of shock rippled round the ground. Without Taylor we were really suffering! Not looking good you would say – but the only positive was the Sri Lankan spinner who had taken all of the 6 wickets so far with overall figures of 6-23 off his 10 overs, amazing stuff.

Taylor’s wicket brought Woakes and Borthwick to the crease who, I am elated they did, started to make an improvement putting on 30 for the 7th wicket. Unfortunately Borthwick, like three of his other team-mates, fell victim to an LBW shout that went the Sri Lankans way… but Woakes continued to impress and once his new partner Meaker joined the rest of the Lions back in the pavilion, it was the turn of Steven Finn. To be honest I really thought that our chances were now well and truly over, but after suffering so many surprises in this match already the next went straight over my head. At 8-74 Finn and Woakes managed to reach the 106 mark with a very valuable partnership, with Finn, yes Finn, making 16 runs off 22 balls with a boundary 4 included. His will and determination saw England pass one hundred and I felt like I was really watching a batsmen not the number 10 batsmen, I know this is how surprised I must have been! :D Anyway Finn’s wicket soon fell as did number 11 Kerrigan’s did leaving Woakesy stranded on 45, and the Lions on 108 all out. I believed in England to come out and try and save their dignity as much as they possibly could, but 108 in a 50 over game was not going to be a match for any team.

But to end on a high note and give my musings on the young talent that the England Lions has on offer, and which players I feel are shining through:

James Taylor – As the captain of the Lions this summer, this young player I am sure has one very big future ahead of him. At only 21 James has made more than a 1,000 Championship runs for 3 consecutive years running. Taylor has the talent to hit and nurdle the ball into each available space, as well as his short size enabling him to have full control over his bat… his size however does not prevent him from clearing the boundary rope let me tell you! I just love watching him play and am definite that sooner rather or later he will be able to represent his country at the highest level!

Joe Root – A classy batsmen Root made his mark in Friday’s match with 62 runs from 66 balls. Not initially selected for the one-dayers but just the 4-day squad, Joe replaced Bopara who had an England call up. I think he proved his worth, if only in the first game, but shows glimpses of some very exciting talent which will hopefully be present in tomorrow’s game. If this is so then he will strengthen his position in the selector’s minds in a few years to come.

Jonny Bairstow – Bairstow has made a rather big impression as a wicket-keeper batsman recently in the county scene, hence his inclusion in the Lions squad, and what a talent he has turned out to be. In the first game at Worcester, Bairstow hit a magical innings of 59 runs from 26 balls with four 4’s as well as four 6’s! If he keeps on giving out such performances, along with his ‘keeping ability, this is one player who may have a big impact in the shorter formats of the game for England, and possibly in the very near future.

Scott Borthwick – A Durham leg-spinner when I saw him play in a CB40 game the other week I said he was an excellent bowler and would make it big, next thing I know he has been called up to the Lions. Watching him bowl in person I think I can say that this guy has some serious talent, and England could do with a good ‘leggie’ as well, maybe to stand into the shows of Graeme Swann in the future – even though he is a class act! Borthwick however could definitely prove to be an England hopeful in the future.

The whole team is full of exhilarating talent, come on lads I am right behind you.

Appeal of LBW for James Taylor!

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