Live chat: England v India, 5th ODI, Headingley

So, the fifth of seven one-dayers is upon us and England are sensing a series win. Can they do it or will India bite back? Keep an eye on Cricinfo and leave your musings and observations below.

What a difference a year makes

Have a look at this. It’s Cricinfo from today, September 1 2007.

A screenshot of Cricinfo

Now then. When you manage a site as popular as Cricinfo, it’s especially important we keep our headlines fresh, sharp – and above all, accurate. So when I noticed a colleague had altered the clusters and changed the top headline to “Ruthless,” it struck a chord. Ruthless? This England? Really?

But, in this series at least, they are and they have been. And who’d have thought it after the utter shambles of last year? What a difference a year can make.

Video of Bopara and Broad’s match-winning partnership

What a performance from Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad last night. I missed it, naturally, but have found a video of their brilliant partnership courtesy of crickethighlights.info – do give it a watch. They are the future, and are ridiculously level-headed for their age.

Incidentally, apparently you might need Firefox to watch it.

Bopara and Broad enthrall Manchester

Why am I writing a piece for The Corridor when I’ve got a site of my own? Because I’m still ridiculously overexcited about England’s run-chase yesterday, that’s why.

I went to the fourth one-day international at Old Trafford yesterday and having been pretty comprehensively wowed by Stuart Broad’s and Ravi Bopara’s fightback, I made a point of watching the highlights on Channel 5. As is so often the case, the truncated version didn’t give the full effect. England were down and out. Wickets had fallen fairly regularly all day and with even more haste during England’s run chase. England had scored 114 when the seventh wicket fell, but that seventh wicket had been Paul Collingwood who’d scored the bulk of England’s total. The crowd knew that the game was up, so they did what they always do at times like this: Mexican waves, beer snakes and general merriment. In short, anything but watching the cricket.

So having lost seven wickets inside 24 overs, England then lost none in the next 24. The performance of Broad and Bopara was so impressive that drunk England fans, at the end of the day, when they’d been drinking for the longest, actually put down their beer snakes and watched the cricket in near-silence.

I’ve never seen a crowd do that before.

A question of spin

There were several factors that divided India and England this evening, but none may have proved quite so decisive as each team’s solution to the question of spin. Diametrically opposed at the toss, England left out Panesar while India brought in Powar. And while Monty was bringing on the drinks, his Indian counterparts were bringing England’s run chase under control.

England’s decision to opt in Tremlett was based on the short straight boundary at Bristol, which prompted fears that a front-line spinner would only leak runs. This attitude also seemed to infect their batting, with Collingwood bowled on the charge and Flintoff caught in the deep. Chawla in particular was impressive, tying down England’s batsmen. Ian Bell, normally a confident player of spin, lacked fluency and while his partners fell around him, he did not manage to keep the runs ticking over. Heroic though Mascarenhas’ quick tempo half-century and Broad’s impressive last over swinging may have been, it was too little, too late, against a spiralling run rate.

Although Prior and Cook started in a positive vein, a total exceeding 300 has seldom been posted at Bristol, let alone exceeded. Indian’s batting was much like that of England’s on Tuesday; Tendulkar in particular was outstanding at the top of the order, and Dravid superlative at the close. Given their performance at the Rose Bowl, England’s bowling was verging on wayward, although still an improvement on much of what we’ve seen over the last 12 months.

Tremlett’s inclusion did not pay off; however, it is questionable whether Panesar would have made the difference. India’s batsmen are amongst the best players of spin world wide, and this was reflected in Monty’s quiet Test series. The other slower bowlers in England’s ranks were treated to high economy rates today, despite watertight showings at Southampton, and Panesar might well have fallen to the same sword.

With Sidebottom still unavailable, when Collingwood takes his teamsheet to the toss at Edgbaston, it will be intruiging to see whom he calls upon. It seems highly unlikely that Monty will miss out again.

Live chat: England v India, 2nd ODI, Bristol

After a near-to-perfect one-dayer as England have played in a long while, it’s a rare sunny day at Bristol for today’s game. India have won the toss again, and there was no hesitation from Rahul Dravid this time in putting England in the field. A couple of changes for both sides: India’s flu bug has forced Zaheer Khan out for Munaf Patel, and India’s tail looks long compared to England’s middle-order of allrounders. The hosts have only one change – Tremlett replacing Panesar.

It’s turnaround, and it will be interesting to see how England’s inexperienced bowling attack cope without runs in the bank. Follow the action on cricinfo and leave your comments and predictions below.

India to unleash the Powar

It seems Ramesh Powar might be given a chance in today’s second one-day between England and India at Bristol, and three cheers for that. Powar is not your average svelte cricketer. In fact, he makes Inzamam look decidedly anorexic. There really are far too few rotund players in the world. The fatter the better, I say.

By all accounts, Powar’s really rather good too – probably better than the merely ‘useful’ tag he has earned. And Michael Vaughan is a little worried about the impact Powar could have, saying he “is a clever, clever bowler who will be a big threat to us in the middle period”.

Tonight’s match is a day-nighter, which is an utter pain in the derriere as it won’t start before 5pm in India, and I also happen to be staying in a place which doesn’t serve alcohol. I’ve tried doubling the dose of lime in my Fresh Lime Soda, but the results are not good for my stomach or my fellow patrons.

Excusing India’s defeat

I’m in India, hence the total lack of any posts here (bar Ian’s – thanks), but while I was wolfing my breakfast this morning I read a curious sub-header in today’s Hindu. I don’t have it in front of me now, so forgive me if it’s not entirely accurate, but it said of Dravid’s decision to field first: “Probably due to extensive cloud cover”. The partisanship here is like no other country. Face it; England outplayed you.

The channel I watched it on contained commentators who shared a mixture of English and Hindu. But when Sachin was scratching around, as is his modern wont, any drive which pinged off his bat was met with “What a shot! What a shot there from Sachin Tendulkar…and it’s fielded in the covers preventing the single”.

Anyway, it’s a topic for another day. Here’s the brilliant contraption in which I was pushed up 46kms of India’s “Blue Mountains,” the Nilgiris. It really is spectacular here.

A steam train, the Nilgiri Express, pushed us up the mountain

Strauss off Key?

Sorry about the contrived headline, but it is fairly self-explanatory. Has Andrew Strauss failed to deliver for too long? It’s been forever since he last scored a Test hundred, while his one good knock this summer was gifted by Dinesh Karthik’s appalling drop. All the other batsmen have scored tons, while he has struggled to convert, despite getting a few starts.

There’s no doubting his class, but is it time to try someone else? Robert Key would jump at the chance, as would Ravi Bopara. Or does Andrew Flintoff bat six when he returns, with Ian Bell going to three? Perhaps Strauss should get yet another chance, given he has managed to get to 30 regularly and is possibly one big score from finding top form.

For what it’s worth, I’d go with Rob Key.

Should stump mics be turned off?

Peter Moores, the England coach, has responded to criticism of England’s behaviour in the 2nd Test against India by suggesting stump microphones are switched off.

“There must be some things that are left on the field to be fair to the players,” Moores said in response to criticism of England’s incessent chatter during the Trent Bridge Test. “They should be allowed to go out there and play the game without being worried that everything they actually say is going to be broadcast. It’s something we’ve discussed as a management team and we’ve spoken to the match referee about it.”

The International Cricket Council rules that stump microphones be turned on whenever a ball is live – that is, when a batsman takes guard, between a bowler’s run-up to the time the ball reaches or passes a batsman, and from the time a fielder throws the ball back to a team-mate or onto the stumps.

It’s a confident reaction from a coach so new to international cricket and I agree, in part. Players should be allowed, within the law, to go hell for leather out there and say whatever they wish. This isn’t Question Time or an audience with the Queen. This is professional sport played by well-paid, talent individuals (supposedly) at the top of their game – and sledging is part of their armoury.

But, as a viewer, only once or twice have I ever heard a “live” sledge (Dean Jones was caught out, remember). Sky always tend to turn it down for viewers – though Matt Prior is, admittedly, probably the loudest England wicketkeeper I’ve ever heard, so it’s entirely plausible his yelps break through. And so what if they do? So what if we hear Prior, for example, call a batsman a gimp – or Zaheer thinks Pietersen’s a hermaphrodite. This has been going on since WG Grace first threw away his razor. Is society so pathetically sensitive, or naive, that it can’t handle the odd bit of banter between players fighting tooth and nail?

And if so…just turn it off and let everyone get on with it. If anything goes too far, the match referee can slap them with a fine or whatever.

You? Should they be turned on or off? Vote below, then leave your comments. If you can’t see the poll below, click here.

{democracy:31}