Didn’t have time to write anything today because I had to go to work, leaving the house during the final session. In summary, however:

– We had a good day
– Tremlett bowled better than I’ve ever seen him bowl before – i.e. he properly bowled it rather than amble up and just put it on a length
– The Aussie’s recalled two seamers they dropped after the first test, dropped one of those they called up to replace the two they dropped first time around, because the two they dropped the first time weren’t as bad as the one they brought in that they thought was better
– Mitchell Johnson showed he might be a cricketer for the first time in the series
– Paul Collingwood is a legend


What’s the plan then Aussies? Letting our second XI bowlers get a few cheap wickets on a green un in Tasmania, on the off chance they’d force their way in to the England team, displace a better bowler, and then slog their guts out on a flat, hard, grassless Gabba! We know your game! Oh, and I do hope I won’t have to listen to bloody Mark Nicholas all this winter.

The Village Cricketer is delighted with the appointment of Andrew Strauss as captain. He can bat, he can captain, he is sensible, he is not a martian.

Could I ask whoever it is that ends up on this site by repeatedly searching the internet for “Kevin Pietersen naked” to stop please. KP is not naked on this site, and he needs to concentrate on his batting.

The only naked cricketers on this site are Stuart Broad, Alistair Cook and James Anderson, and they did this for the Everyman Male Cancer Campaign, a charity we are supporting through the pre-Ashes charity cricket match between The Village Cricketer’s English All Stars and the Cricket with Balls Aussie Code of Conduct XI in June. Donate some cash here!

To remove any doubt, Andrew Strauss naked is not something you will find on this site, not now, not ever.

Hmmm, India were very good today, but we were not great. Good to see Kevin Pietersen and Ravi Bopara clearing the boundaries, however, sloppy run-outs and a couple of poor decisions meant that we never got close to getting within a 100 of the India today. Having said that, irritating Youvraj Singh was sensational, he cleared the boundaries without trying, and our bowlers were a little rusty. 7-match series so we can bounce back, need to improve though.

The much anticipated match up between England and the Stanford Superstars is edging ever closer. Kevin Pietersen’s team will be taking part in the ‘winner takes all’ event in Antigua on Saturday night. However, ahead of this contest, Pietersen has some major concerns regarding the lighting at the ground, writes Thomas Rooney, exclusively for The Village Cricketer.

The England captain had his side do some emergency fielding practice during the victory over Middlesex on Sunday night after several players dropped chances that would normally have been routine. After this match, Paul Collingwood suggested that the lights at the ground were to blame as they were ‘different than any other set’ they have played under.

Now, it seems that Pietersen goes along with this theory. Speaking ahead of the match with Trinidad and Tobago, the Hampshire man said that ‘there could be someone under a $20m catch on Saturday’. This is obviously something he is worried about, given the situation with the lights.

The unique and potentially detrimental reason for visibility being poor is that the floodlights are lower than normal at the ground to avoid any danger from a near by airport. This is the reason being suggested anyway.

Pietersen isn’t just concerned about the lighting though. The pitch being used has proved very sluggish and has made runs extremely hard to come by. This meant the use of spin proved effective in the previous game, so this is an option England will consider ahead of Saturday’s match.

This all seems very bizarre to me. All this fuss was made about the money Sir Alan Stanford has and the amount of money that is at stake in this tournament. However, despite all this, they are playing on a ground where they can’t see the ball and on a pitch that won’t allow many runs to be scored. When this first came about, my first thought was that it would be a run filled contest with lots of entertaining cricket. Now I’m not even sure this will be the case.

I guess that’s why I can’t get excited about the prospect of this match – at all. I won’t even be placing a cricket bet on the game. As things stand, it seems that a group of players are going to win a crazy amount of money for dropping catches and posting totals of just over the 100 mark. They would have earned every penny wouldn’t they?

Putting my feeling about the circumstances of which this game is being played aside, I think it is a game that England will win. The cricket odds will certainly be favouring them to do so. They are a settled team and have put together a good run of results recently. Captain Pietersen will make sure they are prepared for the challenge ahead and will drum into his players the fact that there is a game of cricket to be won.

Without doubt though, even if they don’t admit so, the players will have one thing on their mind – money. That’s the reality. It’s also a reality that certain individuals will be responsible for their team-mates losing a great deal of money.

As always, a dropped catch, a run-out, a bad spell of bowling or a poor shot could be the difference between winning and losing. The players will know this and I suppose my main reason for me wanting England to win is that none of the player’s future confidence is effectied by a very, very costly mistake.

Something very rare happened this morning. Australia suffered a batting collapse that any England side would have been very proud of. Ricky Ponting’s side went from 141-5 to 195 all out to hand India an impressive 320 run victory in the second test match of the series, writes Thomas Rooney, exclusively for The Village Cricketer.

From the very first over it was something I was used to seeing from England. Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin has renewed Australia hope in the final session yesterday – they put on 84 for the sixth wicket. Then, on the final day, they knew that if they could make it past the first hour or so, they had an outside chance of drawing the match. This wasn’t to be though as in the very first over of the day, Haddin was clean bowled Zaheer Khan. Game Over. How many times have we seen something similar by England over the years?

Of course, the rest of the match is history. It only took India 18.4 overs on the final day to take the remaining four Australian wickets to ensure they went 1-0 up with two matches to play. It was a fantastic display by the Indians and one which leaves many to question how the tourists can get themselves back into the series. The cricket odds are certainly favouring a home win now.

Something this test match told me was that this Australia team is nowhere near as talented, gritty or confident as past teams. For the first time in many years – they seem vulnerable. Yes, it is only their second test defeat since the Ashes in 2005, but there is a different look to this Australia team. Other than suffering a rare batting collapse, there are several other aspects of Ponting’s team that would concern me if I was him.

Brett Lee – I am not convinced that Lee is comfortable taking over the ‘senior bowler’ role. He is best used in short bursts and with the freedom to concede a few runs. Figures of 2-147 in the most recent test suggest he isn’t on top of his game.

Lack of spinners – This has been well publicised. They haven’t come anywhere near replacing Shane Warne yet. Cameron White is currently their spinning option and he has only played two tests. As much as they have criticised Monty in the past – I’d place a cricket bet on the fact they would take him now! Even Giles!

He’s no Gilchrist – Brad Haddin has done a solid enough job since taking the gloves from Adam Gilchrist and averages 33 with the bat. However, Gilchrist won so many matches for Ponting and without him – the tail looks a lot longer.

Lack of belief – Something never normally associated with Australia is a lack of confidence. However, I’m not convinced that this Australia team has that ‘unbeatable’ feel about them. Not enough of their players striker me as ‘leaders’ either.

Gentlemen, after one victory against South Africa, Kevin Pietersen believes England can win the Ashes next summer. The Village Cricketer is not so sure, however, it does remind me that the Canary Yellows are in England in 2009, and it seems as though a challenge is in order.

Soooo, here is an open invitation to the Aussie cricket bloggers. If you are touring England for the Ashes next summer and can find 11 sober colonists, The Village Cricketer will field 11 true Englishmen (maybe a Saffa and a bloke from Grimsby via Melbourne too, plus a sub fielder to really get up your noses) in an exhibition match.

We can sort minor details like a date and venue once the challenge has been accepted. To accept, please leave a comment stating your credentials.

If you would like to be considered for selection for the The Village Cricketer’s XI, please also do so in the form of a comment.

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