April 2007

Congrats to the Canary Yellows who won the World Cup without even needing to break sweat. Big shame that the final wasn’t played in good weather over 100 overs, but getting to watch Gilchrist go mental was some compensation. Interestingly, the Sri Lankan bowlers, who had looked incredibly good against everyone else, looked ordinary when faced with the Gilchrist onslaught. I would suggest reading the Australian perspective on this, and also some analysis of his squash-ball innovation.

At least Glen McGrath can no longer darken our doors. The grump in (baggy) green has retired, disgracefully with 20+ wickets from this World Cup alone, and will go back into the bush. Batsmen around the world can breath a sigh of relief, the fans will get to see him sitting in a convertible being wheeled around the MCG when Cricket Australia celebrate their legends, and the rest of us can look forward to a more cheery replacement. See below for a picture of Glen looking grumpy.

Oh, and I have just watched the BBC’s Panaroma show looking into the murder of Bob Woolmer. 30 minutes of speculation rehashed from stories on the internet, with the major scoop being an interview with an illicit Indian bookmaker. Everything on the show had been revealed before. “Woolmer poisoned and then strangled…” we knew that weeks ago. Must be a cushy number working reworking online stories at the Beeb!

P.S. Made two not out at the weekend, batting at seven, we lost.

Grumpy Glen


Great local newspaper story which made both the front and back pages of today’s Sheffield Star. Good quote too from the Chairman of Rotherham Pheonix after one of his club’s bowlers allegedly lamped the batsman!

“We do not condone any violence but our player was attacked and we see it as him just defending himself”

I wonder if the scene was anything like this…

There are those in life that watch and moan, and there are those in life that watch, moan then do something about it. The Village Cricketer has lamented the pitiful performance of the England team in this current World Cup and has selected a 15-man squad that has the potential (because when it comes to English cricket, potential is a popular word) to win the next one. The squad selected is full of exciting young cricketers that have show enough signs of talent and temperament required to win a tournament. It may be a little batsmen heavy, however those listed score quickly and make big runs, the bowlers ooze class. Those cricketers listed below need to be given an extended run in international cricket over the next four years to hone their skills and gain the experience they need. Crucially, this side already has the core of a successful England team. As always, I welcome your thoughts.

James Benning: Born 1983, James Benning is a classy opening batsman at Surrey with a career Twenty20 strike rate of 147, a List A one day average of 35.13 and top score of 189* against Gloucestershire. These provide enough evidence to suggest he is prepared to get on with it and the ability to score big once in. This is the man that could do the job Mal Loye should have been selected for in the Windies.

Andrew Flintoff: Despite his lack of form with the bat, big Fred is still one of the world’s best players and still the right side of 30. Provided he can find some form (and joie de vivre) in time for the next World Cup Fred could be a match winner with bat or ball. Could possibly open the batting.

Kevin Pietersen: England’s best batsman by a mile, but gosh – don’t he know it. Perhaps, marriage and another four years maturity will mellow KP and improve his batting even more. Big ego, but a bigger cog in the English wheel.

Ian Bell: One of the few positives in this tournament. Bell showed class, was consistent and has still yet to reach his prime. Aged just 25 now, he can be the ideal foil in the middle order to the likes of Pietersen, Flintoff and Benning.

Ravi Bopara: Only got in the side because Fred fell out of his pedalo, but is likely to remain there for some time. Is 22 this May but demonstrates maturity beyond his years with the bat. Already averaging 36.50 at a strike rate in excess of 80 in ODI cricket and is a handy bowler too.

Paul Collingwood *: Give him the captaincy and ink his name on the team sheet. Has scored 100s against the best ODI side in the world, is the best fielder in the world and can bowl a bit too. Great temperament, has worked hard to get where he is and will not give it away easily. Will be 34 the next time the World Cup comes along and will make a good mentor to the younger members of the side.

Matt Prior +: Still just 25, the Sussex keeper/batsman has already had a pop at ODI cricket. He batted at the top of the order and pitched in with a few 30s and a 40-odd in tough series in Pakistan and India. More than 500 Twenty20 runs at a strike rate of 138.97 puts him up with the best in county cricket.

Ian Blackwell: With the next World Cup in Asia we will need two spinners and the Somerset allrounder had a regular place in the England team before missing pretty much all of the 2006 season through injury. With the ball he has a tidy ODI economy rate of 4.27 and was bowling consistently tight spells against good oppositions. Although he hasn’t shown his true batting ability on a regular basis for England, he has made good runs in county cricket, gives the ball a smack and regularly clears the boundary. Worth a recall.

Stuart Broad: Pace, bounce, good fielder and can hold a bat too. Has performed well in the few ODI matches he has played already and is likely to have a long and successful England career.

Monty Panesar: A world cup on the subcontinent needs a quality spinner – and Monty is quality. Had a more than useful test tour in India last year and has performed credibly in the ODI games he has already played.

Jimmy Anderson: King of the swingers, Jimmy A is already a potential matchwinner in the England side. Had a decent enough World Cup and has already won matches on the subcontinent.

Billy Godleman: You’ll have to take my word on this that I had picked young Billy in this side before he made a hundred against Somerset on his championship debut. This kid has class, and showed many with a quickfire 71 in a televised Twenty20 match last season. A former Australian cricket academy attendee who played alongside him at Brondesbury once told me he was as good at 15 as Damien Martyn.

Mark Pettini: This Essex lad is an opening batsman, talented strokeplayer, a sharp fielder and a potential reserve wicketkeeper. Pettini established himself in the Essex team in 2006 hitting a career-best 208 not out in a Championship victory over Derbyshire. He was also part of the Pro40 Division One title-winning side. Has a good strike rate in both List A and Twenty20 cricket.

Rikki Clarke: Would have played more for England already but for the ever presence of Flintoff. Good batsman and pacey bowler. Topped Surrey’s batting averages for the totesport league in 2005 and has already taken international wickets. Squad player for the next World Cup.

Luke Wright: A blonde medium-fast bowling allrounder, Mr Wright could be the English equivalent of Shane Watson (well, hopefully the good bits anyway). Can score quickly, scored a century on his first-class debut for Sussex. Once took a hat-trick for England Under-19s against South Africa.

The Village Cricket tips his hat to Mr Brian Charles Lara, the retiring record-breaking West Indian genius who twice broke the world record for the most runs in a single test innings and scored 501 in a county innings. I have had the privelage to be present to watch him bat in both test and county cricket, and to be him in his very own computer game. Cricket will be the poorer without him – and the West Indies even more beatable.


Duncan Fletcher has resigned as coach of England and will finish after the World Cup. Read all about it in The Guardian. A caretaker coach will be announced in the next 48 hours, with a permanent replacement to be named by July.

“I feel it is in the team’s best interests over the long term that I should move on and seek a new challenge elsewhere,” read a statement released by Fletcher. “This has been a difficult winter for the team and for me personally, but I believe that my record as coach over the past eight years is one in which I can take great pride.”

From The Guardian: Fletcher took up his post in 1999, at a time when England were labelled as the worst team in the world after a series loss against New Zealand. The side improved dramatically under his stewardship culminating in their Ashes triumph in 2005. But many observers believe England have failed to build on that victory. Fletcher’s men relinquished the Ashes this winter, suffering a 5-0 scalping by the Australians.

From TVC: Whatever England’s failings as a one day side, Duncan Fletcher turned England into a very good test side. He also played a key part in winding Ricky Ponting right up!

One of my abiding memories of the last World Cup gets played every now and again on Sky. England, having been beaten and knocked out of the tournament, are boarding the team bus, and a beered up supporter shouts “disgraceful Nasser, disgraceful son” at Mr Hussain. Marcus Trescothick stands at the steps of the bus and gives the heckler a mournful glare.

The reason I mention this is that I – like the vocal supporter at the last tournament – feel a little let down by England in this World Cup. Having just been hammered by South Africa and booed off the pitch, England have been shown up as the very average one day side it is. The end of the Commonwealth Bank series showed some promise – albeit with a makeshift side – and we were promised more in this tournament. All tournament, as England have started badly, shown promise, and then thrown winning positions away, we have been promised that England will click – we haven’t and we are out of the tournament.

I think the world of Michael Vaughan and would be the first to highlight the improvements the English test side has made under Duncan Fletcher, however for all their good work we still play one day cricket like county sides did in the eighties and nineties.

The Times today previews Division One of this year’s County Championship competition, it is well worth a read. The world’s greatest county cricket club – Lancashire – are the bookies’ favourites (at 6-4) to win the championship this year, the overseas pairing of Murali and Brad Hodge cited as a key factor. Hampshire and Sussex (both 7-2) are join second favourites. Lancashire’s first choice bowling attack (Murali excepting) includes Andrew Flintoff, James Anderson and Sajid Mahmood – who will probably spend most of the summer with England, however it is anticipated that Dominic Cork, Glen Chapple and Tom Smith will be more than able backup. The batting looks stronger with the addition of Brad Hodge. Interestingly, Chris Schofield has been signed by Surrey.

Next Page »