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Posts Tagged ‘hales’

Please don’t blame me for jinxing anything, but it appears as though England may just be on the road to recovery. However, that’s a big may.

We all know about the series loss over in the West Indies (not our finest hour) and needless to say, it wasn’t the best start for our World T20 campaign.

Then to top it all of a defeat in our first official T20 game versus New Zealand, really want to cover it up and blame it on the Duckworth Lewis method, but the scorecard just goes to show our batting had seen no sight of improvement over the winter.

So you can imagine my surprise, shock, amazement at the spectacular show we saw today. Less hiding behind the sofa, more me staring open-mouthed at the television screen.

Alex Hales. Need I say more, just when England wanted a boost they certainly got one.

With Sri Lanka posing a somewhat tricky target of 189-4, I hope I’m not the only one to say that the thought of Malinga, Mendis et al against our batting line up was not a pretty one.

Who knew that what we would witness would be a power-hitting master class from Hales, smashing 116 of just 64, yes 64 balls.

I’m still in shock this very second as to how he could pull off such a show, England’s first international T20 century and an incredible one at that.

Hales not only created the innings of the tournament so far (if I say so myself), but in alliance with Morgan helped push England to reach their highest successful run chase in T20 history.

Now come on, if this isn’t a glimmer of hope I don’t know what is.

A victory to England’s name at last, now me and every fan alike definitely won’t mind seeing the same performance next match, pretty please.

In two days’ time South Africa will be next in line for England, now if Sri Lanka can be beaten, surely we can beat these guys too, right? Fingers crossed.

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The music, the cheerleaders, the excessive boundaries… they are all here, which means the T20 series is now up and running. Actually don’t get me started on the first two; the less said about them the better.

As people always say, cricket is usually a batsman’s game, today however, defied this theory as it was the turn of the bowlers to star in a close-run T20, which saw Pakistan eventually beat England by a margin of 8 runs. With Bopara fit to play, Cook didn’t feature, along with Hales who unfortunately missed out on a place, whilst the two young guns Buttler and Bairstow featured in the middle order. So with everything in place, Broad elected to bowl and despite an expensive start from Finn and Dernbach, the bowlers, namely Swann and Broad, pulled it back. Reducing Pakistan to 144 with a late boundary surge from Misbah, it was a decent chase, however, it would have been far trickier to achieve if it wasn’t for one man in particular…

  • Graeme Swann – Not having the best of starts, dropping a crucial catch and then miss fielding the ball for 4, Swann needed to up his game. The run-out of Shafiq for 19 soon spurred him on, and so with the ball in his hand Swann was keen to impress on this tour. Hafeez was the first of Swann’s ‘victims’, slog-sweeping to Bairstow at deep-midwicket, just two balls after Shafiq’s run-out. In a spot of bother at 65-3, Swann starred in a fantastic over that reduced Pakistan’s chances of a reasonable total. With the dangerous Afridi at the crease, pitching it on leg stump Afridi hit it straight to Morgan at midwicket for an easy chance. What was to come was even better as Umar Akmal; the second danger-man departed with a duck merely 3 balls later, Dernbach takes an impressive catch running in from long off to give Swann his third. A double wicket-maiden for Swann left him with excellent T20 figures of 3-13 going at just 3.25 – amazing!

So with England needing 145 to win it was the turn of the batsmen to do their job. KP and Kieswetter were the men to open, and a great start was made reaching 41 before the first wicket fell. Pietersen was on great form smacking 33 from 21 balls; however, Afridi despite failing with the bat removed KP, which slowly led to England’s downfall. Kieswetter and Morgan followed suit, both failing to defeat the spin of Hafeez, Kieswetter’s the bizarre dismissal of the night after he returned to his old ways of moving away from the stumps, hence unable to reach the ball. After the World T20 when Kieswetter first entertained us with this shot, I certainly didn’t think we would see it again! It was from hereon in, with England on 80-3, that the innings unravelled…

  • Umar Gul – The destructive death bowler, Gul, returned to the side today and definitely made an impression. First removing Bopara, England’s vital cog at this current moment on 39 from 32 was bowled with a leg-stump yorker, potentially thwarted England’s chances. But with Buttler and Bairstow at the crease, everyone was sure things would go to plan. Yet did we know that 2 overs following Bopara’s dismissal and in close range of victory, Buttler, being inventive with his shot selection, unluckily hit one straight to Ajmal at short third man. Well England fans weren’t expecting this kind of display, still, our batting line up was capable of crossing the line. Gul hadn’t stopped there though, he wasn’t happy until he had Patel for a golden duck plumb LBW, shattering England’s chances as they stood on 121-6 in need of 24 from 15 balls. With figures of 3-18 and an economy of 4.50, Gul was the stand out performer for Pakistan when they needed it most.

Bairstow and Swann were unable to smack the winning runs, leaving England with an unlucky defeat when they were on target for yet another victory. With two games left to secure the series win, England have to dramatically improve their game plan if they don’t want to be whitewashed for the second time this tour. Hopefully though it won’t come to that and England will maintain their winning form from the ODI series, but it is just a matter of time.

After a game dominated by the bowlers it will be good to see what the second T20 brings… roll on Saturday, let’s see if England can conjure up a magical win in order to level the series! :D

Photo Credit: ECB (ecb.co.uk)

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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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Finally England secured a win on Indian soil, yes it may have been in a single T20 game, but it was a win all the same. We are T20 Champions so securing this win was crucial, if we’d lost it down to number three in the rankings we would go. I can’t begin to tell you how ecstatically happy I was, having been used to England domination over the summer it had been hard to see them suffer consecutive defeats. But we had done it once again albeit in the shortest format of the game, and regained that winning form. However, hopefully England will keep up their form in the New Year, as I regret to say this is the last game of the year, yeah I know I am asking myself the same question… what are we going to do? I suppose all I can do is wait, and wait – January is the time we will see the best format of the game (in my opinion anyway) Test matches against Pakistan, so roll on next year!

Well just focusing on now, yesterday saw a thrilling game that had the best of starts for England to say the least. So just 4 balls in and Steven Finn once again passing the bat and bowling superbly (as he has done all series I must say) managed to get Rahane to edge behind enabling Kieswetter to pull off a stunner of a catch, one-handed as well, incredible stuff! A loud cheer came from my end to make up for the lack of spectators at Eden Gardens, rather too loud I think but we did have the Indians on 1-1. Anyway on with the game, just four balls after Finny’s glorious wicket along came Bresnan with a great delivery that caused Uthappa to get a slight edge and allow Kieswetter to pull off another fantastic dive. What was this, India on 5-2? *Wild celebrations ensue* England could hardly believe it, yet alone I! It was onwards and upwards for England, Kohli departed in the 6th over for 15, and sent the ball into the safe hands of Alex Hales at deep midwicket, who took an absolutely remarkable catch. Tiwary and Raina left in successive overs to Patel and Finn, Patel bowling Tiwary beautifully on the off stump, with Finn having Raina cut to Bairstow at point. Things got worse for the Indians who fell to 74-6, as Finn reaped rewards for his brilliant bowling taking Jadeja’s wicket to claim 2 in 2, leaving him on a hat-trick. There was unfortunately no hat-trick for Finn but Bopara soon added further to the Indian’s woes. He was able to the wickets of Pathan and Kumar which left India facing a downfall as they only had 3 overs left, and just 91 runs on the board. But thankfully for them their captain along with Ashwin managed to take India to 120, with Dhoni especially chipping in with much needed boundaries… however not being out throughout the whole series Dhoni looked like he was going to survive in the T20 also. This wasn’t to be as MS took a risk that certainly didn’t pay off as he was run-out by Dernbach off the last ball of the innings.

Onto England’s chase then, I must say I was happy for the boys to chase down 120. Don’t get me wrong it was a good score, but on that pitch the Indians could have scored around 140+ which to be honest we couldn’t have chased down as we left it until the end to cross the line. England didn’t get off to the best start with their batting it must be said, as openers Kieswetter and Hales had both departed by the end of the 7th over. KP and Patel though had a decent partnership to take England to the 100 mark, Patel left to the spin of Kohli but it was KP who was the man in charge. Pietersen stormed to 53 from 39 even bringing back out the spectacular switch-hit… oh yes it seems to have returned! Hitting three 6’s KP helped England to take the game out of the Indians hands, but all was not yet complete. KP did have to depart as he was given out LBW to Raina attempting a reverse sweep, so with 2 new batsmen at the crease it was left up to Bopara and Bairstow to finish off what was started. Slowly but surely the pair held it together to prevent another wicket falling, it was truly wonderful to witness and you would think England hadn’t won a game since the Ashes as I was so, so happy. To see the smiles return to the England lads’ faces was a picture, the sheer amount of hard work that has gone into their cricket, not just in India, but over the summer as well had definitely taken its toll… so much credit to them. As I said it was their last game of the year, and even though I cannot wait, it will surely give the team a very well-earned and well deserved break.

To round things off this was my first full season of cricket covered on my blog, and even though it is the end of the season the blogs will still be written – but I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read them. As it is the first time I have ever written a blog I wasn’t sure how well it would be received but have been happy by the response, and can’t wait for a cricket filled year next year! On a final note congratulations England on yesterday’s win as well as the absolutely amazing summer that has given me so many memories… but for today that is all! :D

Photo Credit: ecb.co.uk

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Yes as you may have already heard England suffered their first defeat in over two months yesterday to the West Indies by 25 runs. Rather unexpected I must say after the low score by the Indies, I thought it was victory all over for England but then again I didn’t factor in a batting collapse on our behalf. However I am not letting this dampen my spirits of what has been an amazing summer of cricket, and considering this was sort of an ‘unofficial’ game it doesn’t really blemish the International successes this year.

It all started with England bowling first and with an early breakthrough things looked rosy. It was Dernbach with the wicket of Smith LBW in the fourth over and was the first of the previous game’s danger men to be removed, Bascombe also fell LBW, this time to Patel for just 3 and the West Indies were 24-2. With spin brought on early, well Patel opened in fact, it was the turn of debutant Borthwick to show us what he’d got. It was the penultimate ball of Borthwick’s second over, and a full-pitched googly was too good a ball perfectly knocking down Charles’ stumps in the process. When the fourth wicket fell only 22 runs were added in the space of 5 overs. Barnwell departed due to a fantastic catch to Hales off the bowling off Patel. Now down to 64-4 off 14 overs the West Indies looked in a lot of trouble, but with the captain Sammy and Samuels at the crease a decent partnership was made. After Sammy holed one out to Borthwick in the outfield for the second great catch the West Indies finally ended on 113 which to be honest seemed an easy enough total for the England boys to get.

That is easier said than done. Hales and Kieswetter had both left the field within the space of four overs both bowled by Santokie and Mathurin respectively, with 12 between them leaving Bopara and Stokes to pile on the runs. Bopara didn’t last long, with England on 24-3 the two inexperienced batsmen Stokes and Bairstow were left with a struggling task. Twenty runs were added however and they managed to get England down to needing a run a ball, so there we were thinking the job was almost done… or maybe not. Bairstow within the space of two overs was Mathurin’s third victim, with Patel following shortly after, this time however he was to be the first of four, yes four run-outs! England were 52-5 and this time it looked like the West Indies were on top, Stokes and Buttler were the men in the middle. Stokes unfortunately could not overturn an LBW decision meaning he departed for a valuable 31 from 23 balls, but with England still only needing a run a ball with 6 wickets down the game was not yet lost.

But I must admit at this point I was starting to doubt just how much our lower order hitters could take us over the line. Bresnan only lasted one over after that becoming the 7th man to succumb to the West Indian bowling attack, Borthwick was the next man in and being on debut he must have had some nerves surely? He and Buttler though did manage to salvage something for England, taking them to 83-8 with a partnership of 23 and showing up the other more experienced batsmen in the line-up. But then came the downfall, both were run-out within seven balls with 2 extra runs added and England were facing defeat. Dernbach was finally the last man out once again a run-out victim, and 26 runs behind you wouldn’t have thought this was the all-singing, all-dancing team (okay a bit of an overstatement) that have been nearly undefeatable this summer.

England will come back fighting I know they definitely will, but for now it’s onwards and upwards as we look towards October for the limited overs series in India, we won’t see another Test series until January but I’m sure England will be able to reign supreme over in India (fingers crossed). After this defeat it will put things into perspective for England and make them come back stronger and I really can’t wait to see what the team has in store!

The end of the cricketing summer has finally arrived just imagine what next year will bring.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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It was the first of the two T20’s yesterday against the West Indies at The Oval and yet again no one can stand in England’s way. Coasting to a 10 wicket win England only have one more game on Sunday to complete before their summer of success comes to an end, with a new look team, the fifth captain of the season and the raw talent that they boast, will surely help them to clinch the series tomorrow.

From the outset the West Indies posed a difficult challenge for Captain Graeme Swann having racked up 51 runs in just under 6 overs before the first wicket fell. However Swann made the perfect decision to bring on spin early, Smith being Patel’s first victim after his off stump was removed in glorious fashion departed for 33. Samuels the next man in only survived 7 balls as he was unable to defy Swann bowling him through the gate for a mere 4 runs, the West Indies were 62-2 and needed to repeat their fine start to the innings. After Bopara’s first over only went for 2 runs he took his first wicket in the second over of his spell, bowling Bonner for 3, what came next was even more magical as Barnwell was caught behind for a golden duck. Kieswetter took a magnificent catch and managed to take the West Indies to 104-5 and reaped figures for Bopara of 2-3. Big hitter Hyatt was then conveniently bowled the following ball and the West Indies by this time had slumped to 112-7, and if you think this was bad only four more runs were added before Christian succumbed to a Dernbach yorker. Considering the start the West Indies made it seems quite unreal for them to suffer such a downfall, having lost their last seven wickets for 28 runs they collapsed from 97 for 3 to 125 all out.

As Hales and Kieswetter took to the crease they made light work of the total that they were presented with. Hales, after having scored a duck on debut, smacked a first ball four to ease the nerves, whilst Kieswetter cashed in on the first of numerous no-balls with a towering six over towards cow corner. With fielding errors galore and below-par bowling throughout it really didn’t challenge England’s batsmen in the slightest. Spin did slow the pair down but couldn’t produce the miracles as it did in England’s innings, enabling Hales to reach his first T20 50 for England off just 36 balls with eight 4’s and a 6. Kieswetter alongside him saw his impressive 50 and later joined in with the fun with a half-century scored in 43 balls with a total of three 4’s and two 6’s. With a remarkable partnership the pair overtook K.P’s and Morgan’s record, and finally Kieswetter ended the West Indies pain by smashing a four to the cover boundary, ending the innings in fitting style. With the formalities out of the way, it was Bopara who won the MOTM for amazing figures of 4-10 being the best figures for an Englishman in a T20 International!

All in all England’s performance was nothing less of outstanding in all departments, their bowling, fielding and batting surpassed the West Indies’ attempts by miles and I really haven’t seen a better side in any format than I have this year. Hopefully a win tomorrow will top off this fantastic summer.

England take a bow.

Photo Credit: zimbio.com

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