What are your predictions for 2006?

Yes I know. It’s that time of the year; when “reviews” are aplenty, the foolhardy make new years’ promises – and people look to the next year to right their wrongs and all that kind of stuff. But if you can’t beat them…

So. 2005 was utterly memorable and brilliant (mainly for English fans…but hopefully the world in general too), far outweighing my own aspirations last December. What about 2006? Give me one aspect/event you think will happen during the course of the next 12 months…and one other thing you’d like to happen. Open debate…and, naturally, cricket related (however vague!)

Happy Christmas (or whatever you want to call it)

Happy Christmas to those who celebrate or indulge in its drink-fuelled, food-ravaged, present-opening goodness. And the same to those who don’t! Been a bit busy with ‘flu and Christmas stuff, and a couple of other projects – one of which will be revealed in the New Year – so I’ll be catching up with things later today/tomorrow or Boxing Day.

2005 – the year England won the Ashes. Have some of that.

The year in review

We (Cricinfo) have been assembling a year-in-review for 2005; it promises to be both fascinating and enjoyable, even for those of us involved. I’m doing a photo review, which should be around on New Year’s Day – but the rest of the scores of features will be starting very soon.

Cricinfo magazine

Sambit Bal, our Editor at Cricinfo, has been heavily involved in launching Cricinfo’s latest offering: Cricinfo Magazine. It’s primarily aimed at the Indian market, but it’s perhaps a sign of things to come: web-to-print (in part, at least). Can’t wait to see the first edition.

Cricket on the Railway

Cricket on the Railway

Originally uploaded by etmooney.

The photographer has annoyingly not rotated this…so turn your head, if you’re not too drunk in Christmas cheer, and find yourself a really great photo

Grim Reaper – RIP Australian Cricket

Grim Reaper

Originally uploaded by shotbygrant.

I’m not sure what the point to this photo is, or who took it, or anything. But it had to be posted, really.

Back in the land of the blogging

Hello all, I’m back in the land of the blogging. Well, I would be if I didn’t have ‘flu (yes, Martin, it’s now definately ‘flu!). BT have kindly given us broadband in Devon – we’re one of the few in the village to have been granted it, which is as odd as it is depressing; bloody London/Berkshire types craving their instant always-on internet connections. In other words, us!

Anyway. I’ve a turkey to buy, Christmas shopping to start (literally) but will blog like a bafoon a bit later; thoughts on Pakistan, thoughts on England and my usual repetoire of rambling opinions about the game.

On the road again

My turn for a hiatus- I will be away for a couple of weeks, however there will still be intermittent postings from me while I am away. However, I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or just good luck if you live in a place which doesn’t do Christmas Holidays. And if I don’t see you before hand, Happy New Year and see you all in 2006.

Harmison adds to England’s woes

I get the strong impression that England are ready to come home. This often happens to touring sides that have had a tough Test series, and then have to play a ODI series afterwards; ideally, all tours should have the ODI’s first, because otherwise touring sides lose interest rather quickly.

It’s the 4th ODI today between Pakistan and England, and Steve Harmison is in doubt with the flu. Despite this latest blow, Duncan Fletcher is still selling a positive spin to the media.

But Fletcher remained optimistic that his team, who are 2-1 down in the series with two matches to play, would be able to bounce back regardless.

“We’ve just got to play the same way we did in that first game,” he added, harking back to a powerful performance at Lahore, in which England batted first and put the game beyond reach with a total of 327 for 4. “We need to show the same approach. If we win tomorrow, we’ll have a slight advantage going into the last game.

“It’s all about doing the basics right,” added Fletcher. “We need to look to bowl in the right areas consistently, and when we bat we mustn’t worry about looking for too big a score up front, and forgetting how to get there. Instead our top three batters need to lay a good platform.”

Despite a record-equalling 165-run defeat at Karachi, Fletcher denied that weariness was beginning to take its toll on the team, and pointed out that their fielding drill under the Rawalpindi lights had been as eager as ever on tour.

“We said all along before we came out here, it’s going to be a difficult tour,” said Fletcher. “They are a very talented side, and they’ve played well and done their homework. We’ve got to make sure we put up performances like we’ve managed in the past.”

I guess he had to say something like that. It wouldn’t go down very well if he said “The boys are tired, sore, and pining for home. It’s hard to keep the lads motivated just before Christmas, when they are thinking of their families, especially for a ODI series which, in the bigger picture, does not mean that much.”