April 2009


So, Flower and Strauss have mixed things up a bit with what Mr Hopps has called in The Guardian “an adventurous Test selection”.

None of the three main candidates for the number three spot get it, and a couple of interesting selections in the bowlers too.

Vaughan needed to score bigger county runs to get back in – he hadn’t, and it was rather a lot of journo fantasy to wish for his return. Bell has scored big county runs, but obviously hadn’t done enough for a quick return. Shah’s run in the side looks over and perhaps he will now go and join Rob Key as another of England’s nearly men.

Fair enough for Ravi Bopara. He batted wonderfully in his one test match to date and was unlucky to be dropped. In addition he’s done well at the IPL – considerably better than either big Fred or Kevin Pietersen.

Also, I’m fairly relaxed about Matt Prior batting at six. He’s a better batsman than keeper and better to get him in a drop earlier.

The most interesting thing is the bowlers. Here’s hoping that Onions has real wheels, because from what I remember about Bresnan’s ODI bowling he is a medium fast at best. Harmison needs bowling to be at his best, but he does have pace and bounce.

In early summer English conditions a bowling attack of Anderson, Broad, Swann, Bresnan and Onions should still be enough for the Windies. Not sure it would have enough cutting edge for our Canary Yellow friends mind, but here’s hoping it can find it in time for July.

The following 12 players have been selected in the England squad for the first npower Test against West Indies at Lord’s, from May 6-10:

Andrew Strauss (Middlesex, captain)
James Anderson (Lancashire)
Ravi Bopara (Essex)
Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire)
Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire)
Paul Collingwood (Durham)
Alastair Cook (Essex)
Graham Onions (Durham)
Monty Panesar (Northamptonshire)
Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire)
Matt Prior (Sussex, wkt)
Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire)

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The Village Cricketer has moved quickly to dispell rumours circulating in the deepest, darkest recesses of the internet that Darren Pattinson has been signed up to represent The Village Cricketer’s English Allstars in the pre-Ashes charity match against the Cricket with Balls Aussie Code of Conduct XI.

Challenged on the matter TVC commented: “This is a smear campaign.”

The Village Cricketer has been to the south of Fraaaarnce baby to play cricket near Monaaaarco. Just like in Malta, there are people in European countries who play cricket, and in the south of France they tend to be English ex-pats. There are also, however, Sri Lankans, and they knew what they were doing. All marvellous baby, and big up to Entrecasteaux CC, Riviera CC and the Mediterranean Juniors for their hospitality.

entrecasteaux cricket club, fraaaaaarnce

entrecasteaux cricket club, fraaaaaarnce

So, a good win against the Windies secures a series win, and England have followed that up by revealing a shortlist for the forthcoming T20 world cup. This provides an opportune moment to review how The Village Cricketer’s blueprint for success in the limited overs form of the game is taking shape.

To recap: in April 2007 TVC selected a 15-man squad that has the potential to win the next one. Nine of the 15 are currently in the mix, and it is possibly only Ian Blackwell and Ricky Clarke that could be ruled out at this stage. Those in the current England plans are:

Andrew Flintoff – the most important player in the England side at present, in all forms of the game

Kevin Pietersen – his reputation has taken a battering but KP is still there, and likely to stay there and keep scoring runs

Ian Bell – had a good World Cup in 2007, but Belly has gone off the boil. Still has class and potential but he needs to score big runs to get his place back and then score big for England when he gets it

Ravi Bopara – made some good runs in the Windies and has bagged the opening spot. TVC expects he’ll score big with an extended run in the side

Paul Collingwood – OK so he will probably not be captain, but he should be there as a batter alone. Good innings in the crunch match against the Windies again showed he has the balls in the tough situations

Matt Prior – in, out, in, out. He’s now in and scoring runs. Keeping has improved too. Good stuff

Stuart Broad – still has pace and bounce, is a good fielder and can still hold a bat. Has also secured a place in the England team for the foreseeable

Jimmy Anderson – Flintoff aside, Jimmy is now the best bowler in the England team, even when it doesn’t swing

Luke Wright – almost back in the fold for the T20 World Cup, needs an extended run to show his class

Magnifico! England have won yet another one-day series, that is two out of the last three, we must be a great side. As I said, no crisis in sight as the big men stepped up to the plate and put in big performances at the big moments in the big game. Flintoff was awesome, Anderson too, and Pietersen did his thing, but not long enough due to Mr DJ Sammy’s economy with the truth. Good win at a good time for the England.