Once more unto the breach etc…
It’s always great to hear from a member of the growing Interestment Family, and today it’s the turn of Josh Allen to talk cricket…
As if playing them five times in the Ashes and seven times in a one day series wasn’t enough, England are now getting ready for another clash with Australia; this time in the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy.
After being demolished 6-1 by their fierce rivals just a few weeks ago, common sense would dictate that England will have a more productive time sight-seeing than playing in this particular match but then sport rarely adheres to the laws of common sense. Indeed it was less than a week ago when the nation’s cricketers were being written off by all and sundry and a place in the semi-final looked about as likely as Freddie Flintoff breaking his lucrative IPL contract in favour of a new life in a monastery. Yet lo and behold, England have come good!
The middle order batsmen, once as crumbly as a particularly crumbly rhubarb crumble, with extra crumble on top, suddenly look capable of scoring a few runs and successive wins over Sri Lanka (one of the pre-tournament favourites) and South Africa (the hosts) resulted in qualification from the group stage with a game to spare. Rather predictably that game ended in defeat as the England players headed off for an early night – the match ending 23 overs behind schedule.
So refreshed and rejuvenated, Andrew Strauss’s not so barmy army will head to the Centurion on Friday, in the knowledge that they are just two wins away from a first major trophy in one day cricket. Spinner Graeme Swann says there’s a “strong belief” that they can do it. Owais Shah thinks they can “go all the way”. The bookmakers have given them a reasonable chance with odds of England winning the Champions Trophy at 5.7 and well, I even think they might do it.
As ever in English sport and particularly English cricket, success may not always be forthcoming but hope always springs eternal.
One made it, one didn’t…
And so the Ashes has come to a glorious end, and now there’s just the small matter of a one-day series that no one really cares about. The players have done what they wanted to do, so expect a lot of half-hearted wafts at the ball, and moments when the batsman isn’t even looking when the ball is bowled. Fielders near the boundary might conceivable just wander off the pitch. No one cares. No one. Still, the test series was brill, and this would probably be the ultimate Ashes compilation team. As decided by us…
1. Andrew Strauss, England
Strauss gets in, but not as captain. He scored more than anyone else, even with a tight leather necklace on throughout the series, with a ring on it, digging right into his throat. That makes his 161 at Lords all the more impressive.
2. Shane Watson, Australia
It was a close one for the second opening spot, but Watson just out-muscles Katich, mainly because he looks a bit like Patrick Swayze. He also scored three half centuries, which isn’t bad for a man who looks like Patrick Swayze. That’s right – Patrick Swayze. He looks like Partick Swayze.
3. Ricky Ponting, Australia
Unfortunately for England, the minute someone is asked to bat third, their knees start knocking together, their arms turn to rubber, and the bat morphs into a heavy truncheon made of lead. Hence, Ponting was the only choice. He does, however, also get the nod as captain, thanks to his hilarious way of speaking in post-match interviews. It’s just a big long stream of words. No pauses.
4. Jonathan Trott, England
He played just one match, and in it he became only the second Englishman after Strauss to score a century in the series. Hence his Ashes average of 80. As with so many great starters, he will now get promoted to batting at three. Cue jelly-legs.
5. Michael Clarke, Australia
Despite having the facial expression of a man who has been trapped in an airtight horse manure manufacturing machine for most of his life – or at least until the wind changed – Michael Clarke seems like a friendly young man. So friendly that he scored two 100s and two 50s in just five matches. Pretty good going.
6. Matt Prior, England (wkt)
His opposite number, Haddin, might have scored more runs, but the manner in which Prior got his just edged it. His strike rate of 81.81 is impressive, and his “glove work” was also pretty tasty. Whatever that means.
7. Andrew Flintoff, England
It was never in doubt really. Even with knackered knees, Freddie had a few fine moments – the five wickets at Lords, the run out at the Oval. And, really, that’s it. The second best all-rounder of the series.
8. Stuart Broad, England
The best all-rounder of the series. He makes the side for getting 18 wickets, and a couple of decent half centuries. He does have the look of a rather snotty high achiever, but he can be forgiven that. Needs to start eating heavily if he really wants to be the New Flintoff.
9. Mitchell Johnson, Australia
Arrived in England as the most feared bowler on the planet, then quickly became the object of much crowd lampooning. He was pretty rubbish in the first couple of tests, then suddenly he got quite good. In fact, even when he was awful he took wickets. Smirks a lot.
10. Graeme Swann, England
The only spinner of any note throughout the series, he also had a couple of decent goes with the bat. He looks ever so slightly like Marcus from Big Brother minus the massive side burns and hillbilly haircut. Actually, on closer inspection, he hardly looks like him at all.
11. Ben Hilfenhaus, Australia
The cricket equivalent of a dinner party guest’s silent husband, who has become seriously wealthy and successful despite never having anything to say, nor ever having made a single other human being smile. Even for a second. And yet, the highest wicket taker in the series. Dependable.
The cavalry has arrived, they say…
As always, it’s great to hear from a member of the Interestment family, and today we’ve heard from a few of them. In this case it’s Josh Allen, here to tell us all about the next important cricket match. He had this to say…
If ever there was a time for good news in English cricket that time is now. Fortunately for captain Strauss and co that good news hath arrived. For it shall be cometh the man, cometh the hour, as Freddie Flintoff was cleared to make his last ever Test appearance in next week’s Ashes showdown.
The official assessment from the suits at the ECB is that Flintoff’s place is subject to “further rest and intensive treatment” but the all-rounder is expected to play and after revelations that he missed the Headingley test against his will, any u-turn would surely lead to widespread rioting throughout the nation’s cricketing community.
The news comes as an almighty boost to Strauss, who saw his side surrender their 1-0 lead with a dismal fourth Test showing. Indeed the batting was so poor that the 39 year old Mark Ramprakash has been strongly linked with a recall despite a Test average of just 27.32. Just as well then, that a ten day gap splits the two Tests – a sudden bout of panic is understandable, yet to follow through with a foolishly romantic notion when given time to consider, is anything but.
In actual fact major changes appear unlikely and could cause more harm than good. The ever likeable Phil Tufnell sums the situation up nicely:
“I would say no to wholesale changes,” said the former England spinner.
“We’re one Test away from winning the Ashes. The boys have got us this far – okay, we’ve had a bad match, but crikey, we’re playing against Australia, one of the best sides in the world. It’s still 1-1.”
That may mean one final chance for Ian Bell and Ravi Bopara but while that news is likely to trigger more groans than cheers amongst the England faithful, both have at least been sent away for more practice.
In a really rather clever move, the stuttering duo have been placed amongst a quintet of players (the others are Alastair Cook, Graham Onions and Graeme Swann) to be sent back to their respective counties for an extra match prior to The Oval decider. Should they impress, some confidence will be restored, should they fail, the selectors will enjoy a somewhat easier task.
The Oval epic, featuring a Freddie swansong, gets underway on Thursday 20th August but make sure you check out the Fifth Test odds now so you can make an informed Oval Test bet.
Only one of these men made it…
It’s always a treat to hear from a member of the growing Interestment family, and today it’s the turn of Betfair‘s Josh Allen – a man who knows more than a little about sport, betting, cricket and gambling. He had this to say about the next Ashes test…
England may have won the second Ashes Test to take a 1-0 lead in the series but at times the coverage at Lords was more Casualty than cricket match. Indeed the skills of Charlie Fairhead and co would have come in handy as Pietersen, Flintoff and various others limped around the pitch.
It’s fortunate for England then, that Strauss’ troops were given nine days to recover. Not quite fortunate enough for Kevin Pietersen mind; the flamboyant number four has been ruled out for the rest of the series after undergoing surgery on an Achilles problem. Fellow 2005 Ashes winner Ian Bell will take his place.
Warwickshire batsman Bell had a difficult time of it back in 2005, scoring just 171 runs in 10 innings but his nemesis throughout the series, Shane Warne, has since retired and captain Strauss assured BBC Radio 5 Live that Bell is up to the task.
“We’re fortunate to have Ian waiting in the wings” said Strauss.
“We have really high hopes that Ian Bell will be a big player in the team moving forward and he will be determined to take his chance.”
One man that has been pieced together again is Andrew Flintoff. Quite how he keeps going is a mystery to one and all but thanks to seemingly Terminator-esque regenerative qualities, the Lord’s hero is due to throw himself at the Aussies once more. Furthermore, in order to leave Flintoff out, the England selectors would have to find somebody brave enough to tell him. With this in mind Strauss said:
“He’s absolutely determined to play in these last three Test matches and it will take something pretty dramatic for him not to take the field on Thursday.”
Of the remaining Lord’s victims, Graham Onions has shaken off a knock to play, while another Graeme with a peculiar surname (Swann) has shown no signs of post traumatic stress, after surviving a barrage of aerial missiles from Australian axeman Peter Siddle.
The third Test gets underway at Edgbaston on Thursday 30th July at 11am.
Say adios to this man…
The Interestment family continues to grow and grow, and today we welcome Josh Allen to the site – he’s a betting and sport expert. He told us this about the upcoming cricket…
Vaughan ready to retire as England prepare for Ashes assault without him
Former England captain Michael Vaughan is set to retire from all forms of Cricket after missing out on the Ashes training squad.
The 34 year old has struggled for form and fitness in recent years and has not played for England since relinquishing the captaincy in August 2008. His likely omission from this year’s Ashes squad all but ended any chance of an international comeback and and he is now expected to confirm his retirement at a press conference on Tuesday.
Upon announcing the training squad, national selector Geoff Miller (pictured) said that Vaughan would have to “make runs consistently in county cricket if he is to force his way back into the squad.”
However ex-county team mate Paul Grayson told BBC Sport that Vaughan had become disillusioned with that form of the game. He said: “You have to be really motivated to play county cricket and he [Vaughan] felt he did not have the motivation to keep going”.
Despite his best efforts, Vaughan has only managed 147 runs in seven Championship innings this season and according to Grayson he didn’t want to hold back the progress of any of Yorkshire’s younger players.
Vaughan will retire as England’s most successful Test captain ever, with 26 victories; his most famous win coming against Australia in the 2005 Ashes series. Ashley Giles (pictured) was one of Vaughan’s team-mates throughout the series and said: “Vaughany’s been a great servant to cricket, a good friend of mine and great player for England and a great captain so it would be a loss to the game”
“He treated everyone as an individual and believed that guys should express themselves and not have the fear of failure and gave us all a bucket load of confidence.”
Andrew Strauss is the man charged with repeating Vaughan’s 2005 success and he will lead England out for the first Test with Australia on July 8th.