Posts Tagged ‘the oval’

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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England. Have. Won. The. Ashes.

I cannot think of 5 better words in the English language right now!

They have won, actually won.

Not that I doubted them at any stage, but tell me that at one point today when it was 100-0 and Australia needed 199 more runs to win, you didn’t have a “oh wait a minute, the Aussies could win this one” moment.

I’ll admit I did, just for a few seconds before tea. Then I remembered, “no this is England we’re talking about.”

It’s like they love teasing Australia. Yeah we’ll let you get your first hundred opening partnership since 2005, but then after tea, we’ll knock you down for 104 runs.

Just once, it would be rather nice for my nerves to have a rest and for England to win 2010/11-esque by securing victory with an innings to spare.

Today was still as equally thrilling though. Broad’s inspired spell simply tore through the Aussie’s batting line-up, you could just see the emotion and determination with every wicket.

The best of which had to be the beauty to Clarke, now this is not up for debate. It was just one of those deliveries, one that potentially sealed the deal.

Figures of 11-121, amazing. Yet there was one other performance at Durham that made all this possible.

How can I not mention Belly? His third century of the series and clearly the highest run-scorer to match. We just couldn’t have done it without him… you can always depend on a Warwickshire Bear.

Just writing this I still can’t believe the position we’re in, surely time for celebration?


The last test at The Oval is 9 (very long) days away, I’m sure everyone is with me when I say I’m sure we can get over the line with another win. Now what a feeling that would be!

I already can’t wait for the next battle – sorry I mean test – to commence. I have no idea what my emotions will be like after those gruelling 5 days, and all this just for a little urn. That’s cricket for you.

It really has been great cricket from both sides, as not to forget Rogers’ gritty century, or Ryan Harris’ best bowling figures of 7-117.

But England, this 2013 Ashes series is now yours, there’s just the last test to win. Who will be next to #RISE?

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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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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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Yes these are the words of England’s wicketkeeper Matt Prior after they had completed a 4-0 whitewash over the previous world number one’s India. Matty threw his hands in the air and shouted this at the camera in utter joy, as the England team led the celebrations by carrying out a lap of honour to show off their wares. By wares I mean of course the Npower and Pataudi trophies along with the most wanted World Number One Mace safely in England’s hands… the looks on their faces was incredible, and I mean incredible! So I’ll get onto the game itself.The end on Day 4 saw India bowled out for 300 their highest score of the series (unbelievable I know) with the help of one exceptional Indian batsmen Rahul Dravid, again registering another 146 to raise India’s hopes – even just a little. Once all out they were made to follow on by England needing 292 to draw par, but as Day 4 came to a close India were once again struggling on 129-3, with Sehwag, Dravid and Laxman already back in the pavilion. Things were looking somewhat dreamy for the England lads and boy was I looking forward to today!

So we returned to The Oval with night watchman Mishra on 8 and the ‘Little Master’ not out on 35. As I got ready for another exciting day’s play I was certainly not ready for what was in store. As the first session passed India are 216-3 at lunch, no it is not a typo India were still only three down; I was in despair what was happening to my England? Why weren’t they getting wickets? More importantly why was Tendulkar still in on 72? Was his resurgence in form happening now, don’t get me wrong I really wanted him to get a hundred in England, but I also didn’t want him to get it against England. Yes I know I can’t have my cake and eat it, but I was still hopeful! So there I was after lunch fearing the worst (sorry for the over dramatics) I honestly was wondering if England were going to be denied a series whitewash after all their hard work, ending in a draw. But then there was Graeme Swann, oh Swanny how we needed you this sunny afternoon at The Oval, and he certainly delivered!

Swanny came up to bowl at Mishra and when I say it turned, it turned alright, smack onto his off-stump as it sped past his bat in glorious style. My mood was lightened as Mishra was beginning to become a threat with numerous boundaries, but there was still that niggling fact that Sachin was still present on 91… nine away from his 100, I knew it then here it is, his 100th hundred! What a fool I was, as Bresnan comes on for a bowl I just watched the action in anticipation that something, anything could happen. First ball, it thunders into Tendulkar’s pads, the whole field screams at the umpire so loud I think I even joined in! And there it was the finger was raised, the finger was raised! Tendulkar had gone on 91. LBW for 91! It was the Indians themselves that decided against DRS as well. The disbelief that crossed my face you wouldn’t believe, and yes I will admit it now I nearly cried, such a rush of emotion that I felt, I screamed ‘YESSS’ at the top of my voice as if I was there, trust me in my own mind I was there! The atmosphere looked incredible and Tim Bresnan became invisible under a mass of white. This moment is one that I will always remember, the shock, the amazement, the excitement… but back to business 5 more wickets were needed for victory.

Swann was to claim another three of these in what I would like to call pure ‘Swann style’ as well as two wickets for Broad his first in this innings. First up Swann to Raina, he managed to bag himself a pair as he again walked back with only a 0 to his name as he became another victim to that infamous LBW! The captain Dhoni was the next to go, he was looked upon as the last hope you might say, but three was all he managed. Broad forced Dhoni to play a shot, for it to only be parried to Swann at slip, forcing RP Singh to the crease with the already injured Gambhir. But Broad made sure he didn’t hang around for long, having him caught behind for a miserly 0. At 269-8 India were still 23 behind and this was the beginning of the end for India, I was becoming uncontrollable with excitement at this point but that wasn’t the half of it. So back to the wickets and Gambhir takes an unbelievable swipe at Swann, I mean when you are trying to resurrect the innings you do not come down the pitch to a spinner a play a shot that was bound to get you out, three was all he got! So there we had it England needed one more wicket to win in fantastic style, Sharma and Sreesanth were at the crease, I was in a daze. Two overs and three balls later it came. In the best way possible, as Swann made sure Sreesanth’s stumps were sent cartwheeling across the ground. All out for 283, they had been beaten by an innings and 8 runs, just 8 runs.

We’d done it, we’d actually done!! Officially now crowned Word Number One’s in Test Cricket, India had been whitewashed! I cannot tell you how proud I am to be an English supporter right now; the boys have been absolutely outstanding! As they returned to the field for the presentations I joined in the fans at the ground, clapping and cheering them on so reverently. Ian Bell was awarded Man of the Match for his amazing double hundred, although Swann did manage to a get a 6-fer in this game with lovely celebrations I may add. India’s Man of the Series was Dravid, who else? This man has been the pillar within the Indian team, without him they would have had no chance. Finally our Man of the Series went to Stuart Broad, leading wicket-taker in the series with 25 wickets, and a fantastic run with the bat across each four matches, he truly has been pivotal in the series win as has every other England player! As they received their trophies and medals, the champagne spurting everywhere, I can honestly say I did have a tear in my eye, very emotional scenes. I had followed the team the whole way through the summer and to see them complete such a feat made me ecstatic to say the least… even now I still remain overwhelmed, honestly! The post-match interviews were also a highlight of the game, Swann and Jimmy need I say more, Matty P and the rest of the lads, so comical and loving the moment. Jimmy told Swanny to milk it and of course they did, they fully deserve it. But not forgetting the backroom staff they have also been a key to England’s success and much credit to them… party on boys. As Strauss said ‘I’ll probably have a hangover in the morning’ I can’t imagine one member of that team not having one tomorrow but who can blame them, they’ve only beaten India 4-0 and all that!

I can’t go on forever about how wonderful England are as I think you may get rather bored, plus I am rather quite upset that this is the last test of the summer, so I only have one thing left to say… I love England and their Test Cricket, I really really do.

Photo Credit: Getty Images (espncricinfo.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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What a week it has been in the cricketing world! First up Alistair Cook took centre stage in his first ODI as captain on Tuesday at The Oval, and with it came a comprehensive win of 110 runs!! Not to sound like a broken record :) but rain did interrupt the game once again reducing it to 32 overs… however despite the rain I can happily say (well… actually I am ecstatically happy!) that Craig Kieswetter went back to his best with a rather quick 61 off 59 balls. Now I have been waiting for this performance and I must admit that it was a sheer delight to watch… well in my eyes anyway! Anyway after posting 229, England took to the field, and at 14-5 you could say I was a little more than surprised :D The duo of Jimmy and Swann were the key with 7 wickets between them, but Dernbach also impressed me on his debut with 2 wickets… could he be an important member in the squad?! Only time will tell.

After this great victory I sat down today to expect more of the same, unfortunately Sri Lanka were back to their best with Mahela Jayawardene top-scoring with 144! With a score of 309, this was a mammoth-task for the England boys but I remained optimistic especially after two amazing run-outs by Broad and Jimmy at the start of the innings … there were some good batting performances also from Cook, Morgan and Bell but all the same England fell short by 69 runs :( This means the NatWest Series is now level 1-1, but who will come out on top – England fingers crossed – do me proud please boys!!

In the Women’s news they have won the T20 Quadrangualr Series so big congrats to them!! They have now moved onto the ODI Quadrangular Series, they have won their first ODI against India in the Quadrangular Series, beating them by six wickets.  India were all out for 202-9 with Holly Colvin and Kathryn Brunt with 2 wickets a piece, and two great run-outs amongst the wickets, in the batting department Charlotte Edwards and Lydia Greenway impressed both passing 50 helping England get over the line. Hopefully more victories will follow to allow them to win this Quadrangular Series also, let’s keep cheering them on!!

Keep an eye on the county game also, with a few County Championship games going on; it’s easy to forget with all this T20 action on our screens. I mean you can’t complain about there being no cricket on now can you? Anyway I will be off to a few T20, county and International games this summer, so match reports or photos will be posted if you are interested… but for now that’s this blog done!!

Photo Credit: zimbio.com

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