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Luck definitely is not a word appearing in the England team’s vocabulary this winter. With 5 ODIs and 3 T20s England managed just one win across both formats.

Whatever happened to Australia over the course of four months I don’t know, or to England for that matter?

Is it bad that I’m going to focus on England’s ODI win? Just for a little bit at least, you have to give me something to be happy about where cricket is concerned.

Again, it was Ben Stokes who stepped up to the mark in the 4th ODI with 70 runs and a nice 4 wickets to accompany that. Bell, Cook and Buttler were also among those who performed, the latter in particular pulling out all the stops to stop what could have been another Australian whitewash.

To be fair England weren’t too bad in the limited overs, ok they were, I mean the scores show that. But Balance, Morgan, Root and Bopara individually made pretty decent contributions across the board.

But like I’ve said so many times already these past few months, and yes Australia revel in your glory, as they were just the better team… again.

As an England fan it’s been tough going sitting through defeat after defeat, all I want is just a glimmer of hope and to take a series win away with us this winter.

Not too much to ask is it?

I hope not as we have the West Indies limited overs series’ coming up at the end of this month, not to forget the World T20 (my hopes will be high, whether that’s a good thing or not).

And whether we win or not it will be without controversy maker number one, yes, KP. As we’ve seen, Pietersen no longer forms a part of the England cricket team and never will. Shall we call it KP-gate? That’s what most people seem to do now.

Regardless, a big shake up is happening, Flower’s resigned, Swanny’s no longer the team joker – yes I’m still in shock – and a new England set-up is already in the making.

Hopefully exciting and new challenges lie ahead, don’t know if you agree but I totally feel it’s time for something different, especially with such poor results Down Under.

All we can do is see what’s to come this summer, but one thing’s for sure, it won’t be the England team we know.

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Four days have passed and it has just, only just, sunk in that England now have three consecutive Ashes series wins under their belt.

I had a sneaky feeling back in July that it was again our year, come on don’t say you didn’t either, I think most people across the country had written Australia off before they had even started.

You could say I was slightly shocked of how much of a fight Australia put up after seeing their performance at Trent Bridge, and fair play to them as well.

But for me, every moment that had passed in the series was all forgotten as that little urn was held aloft, in front of an ecstatic England crowd at The Oval.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (zimbio.com)

Photo Credit: Getty Images (zimbio.com)

Despite the fifth and final test being a draw and we all know why – I won’t go into it, as I feel a rant may ensue – it just doesn’t take away that special feeling does it?

With the 5th Test initially going Australia’s way with Watson and Smith both scoring centuries, of equal importance in their careers, it was England who were in with the chance of yet another victory.

Whether it was a win or draw however, the test result, much to my delight, prevented the Aussies from claiming a single win.

The 3-0 win margin, just looks oh so more attractive… surely that now gives us bragging rights over in Australia later this year?

The challenge I set myself for this blog though, was to look back over the 2013 Ashes as a whole and pick my favourite moment. I failed.

Now I am known for my exaggeration, but to pick one moment for me was truly impossible. How can you do it?

As I got thinking, I built up a small collection of moments that would always stick in my mind of how great a series this was. Where to start…

Well there was Bell’s fantastic form throughout the series, then Root’s maiden century at no other than the Home of Cricket, as well as Broad’s magical bowling spell to secure that amazing series win.

It’s been one extraordinary series, one that makes so much more excited for the winter. Is it too early to hope for yet another English success Down Under?

Nah, course it isn’t, because for me, England just keep on surpassing all expectation over recent years.

Roll on the T20 and ODI series!

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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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After a long wait, I’ve finally written another blog post, I’ve had trouble finding the time to write them at the moment; but there has been so much drama on and off the field I decided to give a quick overview of all the jubilations and tribulations England have faced along the way. I suppose you could say a roundup of the latter half of England’s summer cricket campaign, bar the seven matches left in the season.

First up we have the Australian ODI series, yes I know it feels like years ago now, but finishing back on the 10th July I had to give it a mention seeing as we thrashed the Aussies 4-0, it always feels good to get a win over them! With only one rain abandoned match (yes it just happened to be the one I went to), England proved to be the superior team in both batting and bowling abilities, to take the NatWest trophy. Let’s hope the Ashes series next year goes in our favour also!

Then came the South African Test series, a battle for top spot, as South Africa resided in second place in the world rankings. Losing the first test at The Oval by an innings and 12 runs proved to be a shock to the system, whereby a steady 115 from Cook in the 1st innings could not match the abundance of skill that was reflected by the South Africans. Smith, Amla and Kallis between them notched up 637-2 (dec.) in what can only be classed as a show of sheer determination; Amla the star man with an amazing score of 311* breaking many records in the process.

Keen to battle on, England stepped up their game in the second test, a KP 149 secured a decent 1st innings score that only just rivalled that of South Africa’s. Despite it being a high scoring game in the 1st innings for both sides, the match fizzled out to be a draw, leaving the last test of the series vital for England. Only a win could save them from losing that much sought after number one spot in test cricket.

The “all or nothing” game soon approached at Lord’s on the 16th August, and it certainly was a nail-biting match as it was left to the final day to decide the outcome. If it wasn’t for Amla’s heroics with another century to secure a steady 2nd innings total, the result may have been very different. Then again if England’s batting line up had not collapsed, namely Strauss, Cook, Bell and Taylor scoring only 12 runs between them, then England would have been able to secure victory. Unfortunately for them, all out for 294 and trailing by 51 runs left the England team and fans devastated, as the Number One World Test ranking was handed over to the touring party, South Africa.

And if that wasn’t a lot for England to contend with, during the middle of the series itself other drama was beginning to unfold. If I mentioned the Kevin Pietersen fiasco, I think you know what I’m about talking about. To cut a long story short, it was discovered that KP sent certain text messages to members of the South African team that could be deemed offensive towards Andrew Strauss, fellow team mates and management. Causing a huge rift between him and the team it was no surprise to see Pietersen dropped from the side in the final test, making way for debutant James Taylor (so happy he has finally been given a chance). Pietersen’s actions quickly reached the attention of the public, and soon it was released that KP, despite coming out of retirement to play in all forms of the game, did not make it into the T20 World Cup squad.

To say cricket isn’t eventful is definitely wrong, in the space of two months anything can happen. From England losing their number one spot, to a senior cricketing star making the headlines for all the wrong reasons. As I said there has been drama on and off the field, but for now I think it is clear that England must focus on the rest of their ODIs and T20s versus South Africa to keep their ODI top spot, and look towards retaining their title as T20 World Cup holders next month!

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Ahhh, it is that time again. The clocks have been put forward which means I am still adjusting to losing an hours sleep. But, it also brings along with it light nights, summer, sun, and most importantly… cricket! The time has come and the Sri Lanka Test Series is finally upon us, only a meagre two Tests this is disappointing, the impending IPL is most probably a contributing factor. That aside England introduce to us a reinvigorated side in order to capitalise on the dusty pitches, and more importantly to enhance their Number One status, which was recently under threat by the South Africans.

So what do we expect from this tour? It will be Mahela Jayawardene’s first Test Series as he returns to the captaincy, whilst the pitch itself in Galle (the venue of the opening Test) will come under scrutiny, no one knows what performance to expect. Then we have the uncertainty over England’s batting on the subcontinent. We saw how they coped in the UAE, and following the two warm up games, we see the likes of Ian Bell still struggling to gain a decent score; the absence of Muttiah Muralitharan’s mystery spin however, may lessen the problem.

England team news –

  • I have mentioned changes have been made to the side, personally for the better, now with a squad of four spinners, the inclusion of Samit Patel and James Tredwell making their Test returns gives England the spin options they require on these subcontinent pitches. The other significant change would be that of Eoin Morgan departing the side with Ravi Bopara earning a recall, it is now up to Morgan as to whether he selects gaining valuable experience from the County Championship commencing 5th April, or whether he chooses the lucrative Indian Premier League (4th April).
  • With an early injury scare when Stuart Broad sprained his ankle, hence missing England’s first warm-up game, Stuart fortunately has been declared fit for selection for the first Test tomorrow. Not bowling yesterday in order to rest up, Broad thankfully will not miss the Test series. With no limited over games whatsoever, Broad will not have to worry about captaincy during the Test series, being able to focus fully on taking advantage of the subcontinent pitches, along with his fellow opening partner, James Anderson.

Keep an eye on –

  • Alastair Cook and Monty Panesar – Time will tell as to whether Cook can regain superior form following on from the ODI series versus Pakistan. At the top of the order, Cook can help the foundations for England’s run-chase, this will be vital if runs are sparse in the lower-order. Panesar on the other hand has a lot offer this England side. Impressing over in the UAE with 14 wickets, Monty’s talent will prove him worthy of selection, but may also heighten the level of expectation from the fans themselves.
  • Mahela Jayawardene and Tillakaratne Dilshan – Two fantastic senior players, stalwarts of the Sri Lankan game but both will hope to impress in this series. Jayawardene as aforementioned will captain his side once again this year, so with this added pressure, he will certainly aim to win this series outright to earn themselves their first series victory since Muralitharan’s retirement. With plenty of runs coming in at fourth, the Sri Lankan captain will be closely watched in this short series. Dilshan however, will want to surge his way back to full form. Opening alongside Thirimanne, he will be expected to return back to his best, perhaps not having the captaincy will benefit his game greatly.

So there we have, it is all to play for tomorrow as we witness the first day’s play, of what shall hopefully be a very entertaining series, however short it may be. There are to be more early mornings obviously due to the time difference over in Sri Lanka, with coverage starting at 5 am over on Sky Sports 1. The Tests have been long awaited and plenty of talent will be on show, there is just one thing left to do…

Set those alarms! Photo Credit: Getty Images (espncricinfo.com)

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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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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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