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Hmm, so what was painful watching over the past two tests over in Australia was made even more so at Perth. Yes, as hard as it is for me to say, the little urn is back with the Aussies.

After many late nights and early mornings to catch up on the goings on Down Under, it all seems that little bit disappointing that the England boys couldn’t secure, not just a series win, but at least one win so far.

Yes, I know we have two more tests still left to go, but for us that’s all about regaining form and pride as there’s not much left to do now than avoid that ever-humiliating whitewash.

It has to be said that Australia have played far superior than they have over the past few years, with Smith, Warner and Watson all racking up three figures at Perth.

England did play a somewhat better game, however, breaking the 300 barrier for the first time this series. Mainly this was all down to one man, Ben Stokes.

Now in my last post I did say runs would be lovely from him and well, it seemed to work didn’t it? I did not expect however, a brilliant 120, England’s first centurion of the series that reduced their defeat to a miserly 150 runs.

Bar Stokes’ maiden ton, England yet again seemed outplayed throughout the five days. Moving onto the Boxing Day test at Melbourne we’re definitely going to have to pick up our game.

With Stuart Broad now injured yet again this means our number one wicket-taker spot is up for grabs, so I think we’re going to need a little bit of Jimmy magic.

Especially if we hope to replicate the 2010/11 Ashes score at the MCG, Australia all out for 98 and a victory of an innings and 157 runs.

What a day that was, what a series in fact.

But that’s now all in the past and England are faltering, we may have lost the Ashes but I know we can regain them just as quick as we lost them this year.

Let’s just see if they can keep them as long as we did, yeah?

Well anyway, we’ll leave it with Belly to have the final word…

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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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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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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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Quite a lot to report on today, the County Championship, the much awaited news of the ODI squad and the England game of course! With so much cricket on I am surprised I haven’t gone into overdrive, there is so much to keep track of but I hope that is where I come in. I hope I can fit everything in today… but check in on Monday to get the full write-up on the England game!

I think that’s what I’ll start off with. So we returned to The Oval today with high expectations, yes even of Jimmy Anderson… but we can’t have everything now can we, as yes after hitting the ball to the boundary a couple of times this morning Jimmy did depart early on in the day. So Morgan replaced the night-watchman but he did not stick around for long leaving with just 1 next to his name; all the while Ian Bell was timing sweet cover drives to the boundary and nudging short singles to climb closer and closer to that magical number. With 199 on the board you could tell the nerves were present but as he flicked that ball to the fine leg boundary you knew celebrations were in order! He patted his chest and kissed the Three Lions on his helmet, he’d done it, his first double ton in Test Match Cricket and boy was it well it deserved… as a Warwickshire boy it made it even more special. The innings was dedicated to Neil Abberley his former mentor, and you could feel his pride, his whole innings was just full of class and attractive shots.

Anyway before I get carried away all good things must come to an end, 235 LBW to Raina and unfortunately that was the end of Bell’s fantastic run-scoring. With runs continuing to pile up on the board the rain once again intervened without invitation to do so, and with a WHOLE session lost (sense the annoyance) there became a declaration and a rather fresh England team to begin the damage. India were chasing 591 and believe me the damage has now well and truly begun. Last ball of the first over, GONE, Sehwag starts hitting Jimmy Anderson to the boundary but not for much longer as he gets himself in a tricky situation and finally falls LBW for 8… accompanied with a couple of cheers form my living room!! A good start I may say but I wasn’t expecting just three overs later to see Broad celebrating having Laxman caught behind on 2, I mean I trust Broad to get the early wickets but the form he is in a the moment… enough said.

As the ‘Little Master’ and ‘The Wall’ are at the crease it is very hard not to be mesmerised by sheer talent which these two have in bags (not literally)! But as their partnership developed we needed a genius to split them apart, and who else could we turn to apart from Graeme Swann, who has Sachin mistiming a sweep to send the ball sky high to be caught by Jimmy for 23… not the best of series really. I’ll just pass over the next wicket as Raina was dismissed for a 39 ball 0, Swann having him stumped with magical work by Matty P. With four wickets down in comes India’s night watchman Ishant Sharma; whilst Dravid passed 50 once again, Sharma is being surrounded with five catchers round the bat… I wouldn’t have liked to been him. I don’t think he rather liked it either as he soon chipped one to short-leg with a brilliant catch from Cook for 1, leaving India finally on 103-5 at the close of play and making England look doubly impressive! What a day of test cricket, Belly’s 200, five wickets down… I just can’t wait for tomorrow as I predict more fireworks!!

With all the excitement of test cricket everyone seems to be forgetting about the County Championship, so I have all the goss – if you can call it that – okay the lowdown on today’s play! There was quite a lot of change in the standings too…

In Division 1 my hopes of Warwickshire getting anywhere this season were dashed when after a total 10 wickets in the match Chris Woakes top-scored in the Bears second innings with 23. As yes you guessed it, they collapsed for a shocking 98 after Hampshire had racked up an impressive 416 with a great 145 from young James Vince, so losing by 209 runs. Five Warwickshire batsmen ended on 0 and to be honest their title hopes are gradually slipping away. This is the opposite for Lancashire as they have now gone top of the table beating Worcestershire by 98 runs, as both Keedy and Smith took 4 wickets apiece, with Smith having a spell of 4-7!! Lancashire are now 13 points clear at the top and look like certain contenders for the title. The other two games petered out to be draws. Firstly Sussex v Yorkshire was a close finish with Yorkshire almost clinching a win. They needed 344 runs to win but this was not going to put them down with a limited overs style approach the Yorkshire men fell just 31 runs short, now that is what I would call unlucky! Where as in the Notts game it was inevitable there was going to be a draw as rain was the main complication in Taunton, where Somerset finished on 177 all out leaving Nottinghamshire to reach 402-9!

Onto Division 2, here Northants remain top of the table by beating Derby by 165 runs, with a rather impressive 100 from Middlebrook and 4 wickets by Lucas to ensure promotion into Division 1. Onto the Middlesex v Kent game whereby Kent won by 69 runs and a much needed win by the Spitfires. Despite a five-for from Finn and a morale boosting century form Dalrymple, Middlesex could not defeat Kent as they clinched victory over the team currently second in the table! There was a draw present also in Division 2 with Essex and Gloucestershire, neither side could gain a significant advantage or take hold of the game in hand… regardless of some good performances. Finally Leicestershire were beaten by Glamorgan today by 108 runs. With a win for the Foxes possible, their batsmen could not withstand the pressure of the Glamorgan bowlers who whipped through their batting line up, dismissing them for 191.

So with all the cricketing action now wrapped up I want to leave you with a little bit of exciting news. With an ODI coming up on the 25th August next week against Ireland, England selectors have decided to rest some key players before the India series. So this means making way for change… and what change it is. Morgan is to captain the squad so it will be great for him to exhibit his potential. As well as this there are four new debutants all 21 or under who go by the names of James Taylor, Scott Borthwick, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes. All recent players for the Lions I am sure I tipped some of these players didn’t I?! Also Graham Onions has made it into the squad… after being out so long with injury it is great to see him back within the England set-up! Oh and here is the squad in full:

Eoin MorganCaptain, Middlesex, Jonathan BairstowYorkshire, Ravi BoparaEssex, Scott BorthwickDurham, Jade DernbachSurrey, Steven FinnMiddlesex, Craig Kieswetter – Somerset, Graham OnionsDurham, Samit PatelNottinghamshire, Ben StokesDurham, James TaylorLeicestershire, Jonathan TrottWarwickshire, Chris WoakesWarwickshire

Very exciting stuff but that is all I have for you today, oh and just for the record don’t tell Swanny I called him a genius…

Photo Credit: news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket

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