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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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So, England managed to pull of an impressive win in time for the Champions Trophy this weekend. Despite losing the series 2-1, the outstanding batting performances from Buttler and Morgan, 47* (28) and 49 respectively, have set England’s sights high. Not to mention Broad and Finn are back, fit and ready to take England to supremacy in the 50-over game.

New Zealand did prove to be a tough match in this ODI series, with the likes of Guptill, Southee and Taylor a contest for our side. But, England was not without talented individuals, with Trott, Anderson and Bell all proving their worth; not forgetting Tredwell’s notable first performance in the series, along with Root’s maiden international ODI wicket.

With the Champions Trophy and Ashes series ahead, it could be said that England were in great form heading into the busy summer that awaits.

It wasn’t necessarily the individuals’ performances however, that were catching the attention of the public, media and the commentators themselves. The topic on everybody’s lips over the past One-Day series was the concern over England’s kit in the shorter formats.

Bright, bold and somewhat controversial, England’s vibrant red attire led some fans reminiscing over the kits of previous years. But the question is, is it really that bad?

It isn’t as if we haven’t seen red England shirts in the past, take 2006 and 2009 where red was the “dominant” colour. Some fans and pundits alike just can’t get their heads round the idea, I guess I didn’t even realise that it was such a major part of the game as it is.

Out of interest what do you as the fans think… is it that you just prefer the kits of the recent years, or maybe are you just a die-hard fan of the kits of yesteryear? Let’s see if this year, it really is a big deal, especially with the Champions Trophy about to get underway.

With that debate started, only time will tell as to how England will fare in this year’s competition. With the first game set for this Saturday against our closest rivals, Australia, it sure will be a battle worth watching. Let’s hope for more of the same this weekend where our batting is concerned, as it doesn’t come more entertaining than that.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (espncricinfo.com)

Photo Credit: Getty Images (espncricinfo.com)

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In what was the first test series of the summer, England did not fail to disappoint as much expectation lies ahead in the rest of the 2013 cricket calendar. With back-to-back Ashes Series and the Champions Trophy soon to get under way, it could be said that the New Zealand Test Series was overshadowed. But, by the calibre of the performances as well as the excitement and support that was seen over the past two weeks, it was clear that this was not the case.

In just a two test match series, Lord’s set the international season off in style. In a low scoring test, many fans were sceptical over England’s chances, as New Zealand’s pace attack kept England to 232 all out. With the young middle-order Yorkshire pair, Root and Bairstow, the highest scorers with 40 and 41 respectively, it seemed as though a lot of hope was pinned on England’s bowlers.

Who could doubt our bowling line up though, when you have the likes of Anderson, Broad and Finn. Knocking New Zealand out for 207 left England with a surprising lead, leaving Jimmy with a five-for and surpassing that amazing 300 test wickets mark. After England scored only 213 in their second innings, New Zealand were chasing 238 as Southee, the pick of the Blackcaps bowlers, claimed seven wickets. This time round however, it was Stuart Broad’s turn to show off his skill, tearing through the New Zealand line up, Broad was left with figures of 7-44. The opposition fell to a measly 68 all out, in what was an amazing couple of hours of test cricket. It was England’s hour of glory as they left the infamous Lord’s ground with a 1-0 lead as they headed off to Headingley.

Yet if we thought the first test match was England’s bowlers in top form, Headingley made way for the batsmen to prove their worth.  At 67-3 and losing two wickets in two balls, it seemed as though it was to be yet another low scoring game. Bring on young Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, both playing for the first time internationally on their home turf. It was Root who stole the limelight, in a sparkling show of talent, skill and maturity at the crease for such a young player. Just missing out on a debut hundred at Lord’s with 71, it then seemed rather fitting for him to finally reach the milestone in front of a home crowd. The emotion was clear for everyone to see, including Bairstow who was equally happy for his fellow team mate. He was not to be overshadowed however, he himself making a brilliant 64, contributing to take England to 354 all out.

Reducing New Zealand therefore to 174 was an even greater achievement for England as they had a 180 run lead at the end of the second day’s play, with Swann finally making an impact in this series. Captain Cook was the next man to rack up three figures with 130, as he and Trott fought long to take England to 287-5dec. New Zealand now required 468 runs to win but having not scored above 207 so far in the series, it was inevitable that England were about to steal the win. Swann for the second time in the match destroyed the batting line up, resulting in a 10 wicket match haul and an England series win as New Zealand were all out for 220.

With winning margins of 170 and 247 runs in the tests respectively, England were by far the dominant team, setting them up perfectly for the summer ahead. And by the look of it, certain players who were in supreme form over both games, show a lot of promise to display some amazing talent over the next few months to come.

The Aussies better watch out this year, as who knows what lies ahead for this England side!

Photo Credit: Getty Images (espncricinfo.com)

Photo Credit: Getty Images (espncricinfo.com)

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Long-time no blog.

Would love to say I have been travelling the world, or following England in their escapades across India, but it’s been uni, uni, uni since September to be honest.

It just meant that I was unfortunately unable to cover the England winter matches this season, but I promise to be back at the start of the 2013 season that is only 6 and a half weeks away!

This year obviously I will be blogging about the England home games against New Zealand, not forgetting the finest battle in cricket, the 2013 Ashes!

Also updates on the county circuit as to whether the Bears can retain their crown as LVCC Champions, Hampshire their 40 over title and of course if Hampshire can claim yet another T20 trophy. Who knows it may be Somerset who has their eye on that T20 title this year?

So keep a look out in the upcoming weeks, as this will be the place to be for all things cricket… I know I personally can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us!

Caught At Slip

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Yes, it is not only the England men that are hitting the headlines this spring, but the England women are currently unbeatable against their New Zealand opponents. After storming to a 4-0 T20 win, with one match abandoned, the England women were on top form heading into the current ODI series. A comprehensive 2-0 ODI lead with one still left to play has highlighted their skill and ability to compete alongside the England men in the UAE. Despite there being great performances from the majority of the team, I have selected two of the top performers within the England women’s setup based on the ODI series as it stands…

  • Charlotte Edwards – It looks like it wasn’t only Alastair Cook who took the limelight as both captain and batsman in the Pakistan ODI series. The England women’s captain Edwards is so far doing the same. With a clean knock of 84 in Lincoln, Edwards top-scored in England’s first innings, despite being LBW to Bates in the 35th over Edwards set it up for England to surpass the 233 total. Taking the lead once more in the second ODI again in Lincoln, Edwards was the stand out performer with a fabulous 137 from just 88 balls in a rain-affected match. Reduced to just 26 overs a side made Edward’s innings even more impressive as England racked up 219; a revised total of 224 for New Zealand was too much as they crumbled under the pressure. A successive victory, so let’s just hope the series is wrapped up with a whitewash.
  • Laura Marsh – March has so far impressed with bat and ball throughout the series, currently with a total of 59 runs and 3 wickets. First obtaining the crucial wicket of opener Martin, caught and bowled for 29, Marsh returned figures of 1-35 from her 10 in the first game. Then scoring a notable 44, Marsh helped to set up victory after the loss of Edward’s, before she also departed, out to Bates. Moving up from fifth to open in the second game, Marsh could only manage 15 before falling to Candy. But despite a poor performance with the bat, Marsh came back with the wickets of Nielsen and Tahuhu, with figures of 2-35 from 5 overs. Although Shrubsole was the star bowler with 3-28, Marsh has still impressed with her two performances, and has still one more opportunity to build upon her decent start.

With England winning the two games by 5 wickets and 59 runs (D/L) respectively, it is all to play for tomorrow as England try to claim their successive series victory. For New Zealand though they need to win in order to restore their pride, as they are yet to beat England on this tour. So keep up to date tomorrow to see if England can make it through the New Zealand tour undefeated, fingers crossed they do! Their next tour is back at home, commencing 26thJune against India women at Canterbury in a 2 match T20 and 5 match ODI series.  It is great to see the women influencing the world of sport, it is not often televised or spoken about within the media, but I think for women to become more acknowledged in sport, they really do need media coverage. So get supporting the England women this year if you are not already!

Photo Credit:Martin Hunter/Getty Images (ECB)


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Could it get much better? Well yes, a series whitewash would be the icing on the cake. Nevertheless, for now, England can sit back and enjoy their latest, comprehensive victory that sees England fans once again surprised by their ODI form. For the third successive time I cannot compliment England’s performance further, they pulled it out of the bag once more, as they won by a wonderful 9 wickets. Remaining unchanged England started off in the field for the first time this series, as Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat. Undeterred (well slightly at the beginning) the bowlers reduced Pakistan to 222 within the 50 overs, a total that England found easy, well more than easy to chase! What seems to be coming the usual now, Finn and Cook stood out today, their consistent performances showcasing England’s talent. Who were the stars of today’s victory then…

  • Steven Finn – I cannot praise Finn more than I have done already, another superb performance today by the big man with another three wickets under his belt. Making the early breakthrough, Finn snatched the wickets of openers Farhat and Hafeez, as he sailed through to claim his final wicket, Adnan Akmal, later on in Pakistan’s innings. The most astonishing element of Finn’s bowling though has to be his economy rate, from his 10 overs going for 2.40 is amazing… the limited overs format suits Finn down to the ground. Surely now his brilliant skill must be rewarded with another chance in the Test team?
  • Stuart Broad – Unlikely to be one of the top performers if you just went off the back of his first over; going for 16 runs it wasn’t what England were hoping for. Including a wicket from a no ball, Broad would have to patch it up quickly. Following up with successive wicket maidens however, shall we say, was just a slight improvement! Broad certainly did pull it back, and was finally rewarded with 3-42, a great performance that was definitely not predicted after just six balls.
  • Alastair Cook – With 2 centuries already secured, a third was on the cards, and the way Cook went about his innings today, it looked a certainty. A supreme innings, even including a 6 from the captain, Cook hit his way to 80 from 98. Unable to get to the nervous nineties, fooled by Ajmal – and not for the first time – Cook gets a faint edge behind to the ‘keeper, what a shame but it was not to be. If Cook can produce one more fantastic performance on Tuesday, then this series will definitely be his own!
  • Kevin Pietersen – After a poor Test series, and no ODI century since 2008, once Pietersen took hold today he didn’t stop until he broke that 100 barrier. On a boundary surge, KP defied spin for the first time this tour and finally showed off the talent we all knew he had. Smashing his way to 111 from 98 balls, Pietersen was euphoric with his triumph, and why not? Truly showing the rest how to perform in ODIs, Pietersen is hopefully regaining some form, but it is too early to say that he is back to his best, way too early. So, let’s hope it can continue.

Rounding off a win with a Pietersen extra-cover drive for four, it sealed the series result in England’s favour. However, it all comes down to Tuesday when England must prove that they have utterly conquered the one-day format and complete a series whitewash over Pakistan. It can be done, of course it can, but whether or not England pull it off is a different matter – I believe they can, and it will give them a great boost going into the T20 series.

Moving away from the England lads for a minute, it must be mentioned that the England women have started their tour off versus New Zealand with a resounding T20 win by 6 wickets.  Restricting New Zealand to just a mere 80 runs, Anya Shrubsole starred with 5-11which is only the 4th 5 wicket haul in women’s T20 cricket. Alongside Shrubsole, Hazell with 3-15, helped to limit the opposition’s total, as New Zealand managed to scrape to 80 with one wicket remaining. Despite faltering in the run chase, ‘keeper S. Taylor and Beaumont stuck in taking England from 44-4, to the winning total of 81, with a 37 run partnership, that took the England women over the line to a comprehensive win. Hopefully they can make it 2-0 with their next game airing tonight; with both our England men and women in victorious form, it is a good time to be an England fan!

So that’s all for today, an England series whitewash is with any luck just around the corner, if they can repeat their performances in the T20 series soon approaching, they will have had a rather interesting series. Let’s see how they fair on Tuesday, but I am sure they’ll do just great… come on England!

Photo Credit: ECB (ecb.co.uk)

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