Strauss dropped as Collingwood picks up captaincy

The one-day squad has just been announced, and features a couple of surprising new faces:

1. Paul Collingwood (Durham) (Captain)
2. James Anderson (Lancashire)
3. Ian Bell (Warwickshire)
4. Stuart Broad (Leicestershire)
5. Alastair Cook (Essex)
6. Dimitri Mascarenhas (Hampshire)
7. Monty Panesar (Northamptonshire)
8. Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire)
9. Liam Plunkett (Durham)
10. Matt Prior (Sussex)
11. Owais Shah (Middlesex)
12. Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire)
13. Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)
14. Michael Yardy (Sussex)

Andrew McGlashan over at cricinfo predicted the potential place for Dimitri Mascarenhas, but what no one will have expected was the selection of Trott. A positive upper-order bat, he has followed Pietersen’s route from South Africa to English qualification, however his present season form ranges from successive ducks to unbeaten centuries. Both of these players are added to England’s Performance Squad, as is Ryan Sidebottom after his impressive performance since Headingley.

Cook’s recall, whilst predicted, poses questions – with no place for Loye, is there really any member of this squad who can force the pace at the beginning of the innings? Who, indeed, is likely to open? The only opener to have survived the World Cup is Bell, who is more naturally a number 3. If Cook make the final XI, he will almost certainly take his place at the top of the order, but is there an opening for Prior to repeat his attempt as a pinch-hitter?

As always, leave your thoughts below.

Who should be England’s new one-day captain?

I think we all saw this coming, and it’s a timely decision for England’s one-day team.

“Since our disappointing performances in the World Cup, I have been giving careful consideration as to what is the best way forward for the England one-day team and my own role within the side,” said Vaughan in an ECB statement. “I reached this decision some time ago, but I did not want to announce it until after the end of this Test series to avoid it becoming a distraction to the team.

“However, due to intense speculation in the media about my future, I feel it is important to make my intentions clear now. Our priority is to build a one-day squad able to compete strongly at the next World Cup, and I firmly believe that the interests of the team will be best served if I step down and allow another player to gain additional experience of captaincy in the one-day international arena.

But who should replace him? Paul Collingwood is favourite. Who is your choice?

Four more runs to go

For those who haven’t heard, Surrey made a world record 496 in 50 overs at the Oval the other day. Of the six Browncap batsmen who took to the crease, none of them managed a strike rate lower than 100, with James Benning smashing 152 off a gluttonous 134 balls at 113.43, while Rikki Clarke thumped a palindromic 82 from 28. Ali Brown, the real star of the show, made 174 from 97. Whilst I am normally loathe to put so many figures in such little space, words don’t quite adequately describe such feats.

The world record has now been broken twice in twelve months, after Sri Lanka punished the Netherlands to the tune of 443 last July. All of the top eight one-day scores have been recorded since 2002. In joint tenth, Somerset’s 413 in 1990 took 10 overs longer than India’s equal score against Bermuda just over a month ago. In fact, the closer you look at the list, the more obvious the increase in scores over time seems. This latest World Cup, furnished as it was with slow, unpredictabe wickets, has not really demonstrated the trend. However, it is inescapable that the five hundred barrier, unthinkable as little as ten years ago, is now a mere boundary beyond our reach.

Is this the result of Twenty20? Maybe the annual encouragement to hit over the top has led to the translation of flamboyance to the other formats. Or maybe it has more to do with television and ECB officials pushing in the ropes to push up the interest in a format of the game that has suddenly started to feel a bit long? Of one thing we can be sure – there aren’t going to be many bowlers in favour of cutting them any shorter.

Goodbye ODI (for now); welcome back Test

If an ODI was a person, I’d punch him right now. Regular readers and gluttons of this blog will know of my dislike for the shorter format of the game and, after a bloated and absurdly organised World Cup, I’d rather eat my feet than sit through another series. I can stomach a semi-final and a final, though.

If a Test was a person, I certainly wouldn’t punch him and might even offer him a drink. The real cricket of the summer gets underway in (amazingly) just 24 days’ time with West Indies taking on England at Lord’s. Ah, Test cricket: three slips and a gully; a respectable three-and-a-half runs per over; maidens and normal field placings. That’s what we want. One-day cricket, the new kid on cricket’s block, has already reached its shelf life. The five-day game still reigns supreme.

But will West Indies ever get here? Their coach resigned early this morning, their captain a few days earlier and there are no dead-set certain replacements for either position. All this on top of another seemingly endless contract crisis. Fingers crossed they do manage to brush the latest mess under the carpet once more, because the two countries have a rich and fascinating history.

Talking of which…we’ve been beavering away today writing brief series histories all the way back from 1928; 1960 to 1980; 1980-1995 and 1995-2004. I’m clearly biased, but nevertheless feel this is one area Cricinfo really shines as we can link to the Almanack report and our own series page – not to mention every scorecard from every match played between the two countries. That’s pretty damn useful for the fan, I reckon. Have a read and leave your thoughts if you have any.

What are you most looking forward to this summer (anyone who mentions one-dayers will be publicly humiliated)?

Eleven pioneers of one-day cricket

When you get too many cricket nuts sat round a table, it doesn’t take long before you start picking the greatest teams of all time.

And so it was last night. Our goal was slightly different, in that it was not a question of results, figures etc, but rather picking which eleven players had most altered ODI l cricket for the better. Those whose skill, style, attitude and innovation added new expectations to those players that followed them. As a result, batsmen like Ponting, Tendulkar, Lara, Pietersen don’t get a look in, nor do bowlers like McGrath or Murali, as others set the bench mark, which they would later raise further. No doubt, there are players we’ve missed out! Surely there is an Indian or two…

1. Adam Gilchrist 2. Sanath Jayasuriya 3. Viv Richards 4. Mark Waugh 5. Clive Lloyd 6. Michael Bevan 7. Jonty Rhodes 8. Lance Klusener 9. Wasim Akram 10. Shane Warne 11. Waqar Younis


Ian Valentine is a freelance journalist blogging his diary of the World Cup for The Corridor

Atherton on England’s “blind faith”

Another supreme piece from Athers in today’s Sunday Telegraph:

England can beat South Africa and the West Indies, but it would be almost a miscarriage of justice if they found themselves in the semi-finals. And in terms of learning lessons for the future, it might not do English cricket much good at all to know that you can turn up relying on hope and blind faith and still go all the way

Read the full thing here.

Is this really the best England can do?

It never fails to amaze me reading the contrasting opinions from our feedbackers at Cricinfo while covering these one-dayers, especially with England in such limp form. Of the 1000 or so emails, a fair chunk criticised us for our anti-England stance, accusing us of racism, bias toward Ireland and whatever else. What game were they watching? The one we were watching was between a feisty, energetic team full of lively promise and intent. The other was England at their timid best.
Contine reading

Ireland win a tie

Now that is a one-dayer, with a finish and conclusion that only cricket can produce. What other sport would produce a tie and witness one of the teams doing a victory lap?

Zimbabwe had the match by the throat and somehow lost it. Well, they didn’t officially lose it – but Ireland most certainly took more from the match than they did. Here is what I mumbled on about during comms in the final three overs.

49.6 White to Matsikenyeri, OUT, drives, misses and it’s a tie! What a match; what an incredible last 10 overs. Only the third tie in World Cup history – all three have involved an African nation – and Ireland jump in delight
EC Rainsford run out 1 (10m 1b 0×4 0×6) SR: 100.00
Last ball
49.5 White to Matsikenyeri, 2 runs, well what a mad ball. Short, wide, cut just behind backward point who made a brilliant attempt to catch it. They go for a single, in comes the throw – but the batsman appears to run in front of his stumps…and he’s home safe! My word this is madness
49.4 White to Rainsford, 1 run, driven past cover – and he gets the single! This gets Matsikenyeri back on strike – not a good ball from White. Not a good over.
This is epic. 4 from 3
But Matsikenyeri is now off strike
49.3 White to Matsikenyeri, 1 run, full toss, spooned to midwicket – but no! Dropped? The man came in and appeared to just stop in his tracks, the ball dropping short!
49.2 White to Matsikenyeri, 2 runs, too short, square cut powerfully into the deep
49.1 White to Matsikenyeri, 2 runs, full toss, hammered through cover and long off has a chase to his left…and does well, saving four
Rainsford the No.11 for Zimbabwe, at the non-striker’s end. White’s back into the attack

It’s all down to Matsikenyeri. By not taking the run, he’s back on strike – and only he can win this for Zimbabwe.
48.6 KJ O’Brien to Mpofu, OUT, GONE! Smacked to mid-on, they run a single – but Matsikenyeri stays at the non-striker’s end and mid-on’s throw hits the stumps
CB Mpofu run out 0 (3m 5b 0×4 0×6) SR: 0.00
Ireland are buzzing now. 9 from 7
48.5 KJ O’Brien to Mpofu, no run, hammered down the ground – no! Brilliant stop from the bowler’s right foot
9 from 8
48.4 KJ O’Brien to Mpofu, no run, inside edge! My word that was close
48.3 KJ O’Brien to Mpofu, no run, driven back to the bowler – the batsman wants a run! How? Scampers back into his crease
Ooh this is close now. 9 from 10
48.2 KJ O’Brien to Mpofu, no run, well bowled! Slower, and Mpofu just dabbed it gently to mid-on
9 from 11
48.1 KJ O’Brien to Utseya, OUT, GONE! A full toss, slapped straight to cover! A dreadful shot; Ireland are absolutely ecstatic, never mind the fans in the stands
P Utseya c Morgan b KJ O’Brien 1 (3m 3b 0×4 0×6) SR: 33.33
Here’s Kevin O’Brien for the penultimate over of the match

47.6 Botha to Matsikenyeri, no run, another slower ball but not on target this time; defended.
47.5 Botha to Utseya, 1 run, inside edge, a desperate scrambling single
10 from 14 and the Ireland fans are singing in the stands. All 10 of them
47.4 Botha to Utseya, no run, full, straight, hit back to Botha
That was absolutely dead. Is there a twist in this game? Zimbabwe are doing their utmost to make a pig’s ear of it. 10 from 15. Two quick fours will do it for Zimbabwe, but they seem to be frozen in time
47.3 Botha to Brent, OUT, gone! Excellent slower ball, bang on middle stump, completely foxing the batsman
GB Brent lbw b Botha 3 (15m 12b 0×4 0×6) SR: 25.00
47.2 Botha to Brent, no run, slower ball worked into the packed off side
47.1 Botha to Brent, no run, good line, good length and it’s blocked out to cover
10 from 18. Can Zimbabwe mess it up?

And with a great sense of inevitability, they did mess it up – due in no small part to Stuart Matsikenyeri receiving very little of the strike after playing a gem of a knock. That was unfortunate, but these things happen and his team-mates couldn’t rise to the occasion.

Well batted Jeremy Bray, too. The most laid back of characters off the pitch, he’s a bulldog with a bat in his hand. The World Cup is alive.

May criticises cricket’s schedule

Tim May has criticised the ICC regarding the sheer number of matches countries are expected to play, highlighting the ridiculous schedule facing Australia and India later this year. The two sides will face each other 21 times in 8 months, but their packed intinerary is just the peak of the mountain. We’ve known this would happen for years yet the ICC continue to pile on the matches and honour the boards’ and TV companies’ greed, at the players’ and spectactors’ expense.

“They were already playing each other 18 times and now they’ve thrown in another three (in Ireland),” May said. “We’re concerned about that. Players have a passion for the game and want to maintain that passion every time they play. But it’s becoming harder to play every game as though it’s their last.

“No one wants a two-bit product where blokes are only giving 75 percent because that’s all they’ve got left. Or because they need to pace themselves for more games coming up.” May, who has criticised the heavy workload on players in the past as well, also took a shot at the upcoming World Cup, arguing that it dragged on purely because of TV broadcasters.

“Our World Cup is too long,” he said. “Everybody bar the people who sell the TV rights believe we could compress it. The ICC sells the rights for significant amounts of money and obviously the broadcasters want to get their money’s worth.

One-day cricket is the commercial world’s gem. Short, fast, glamorous, colourful, loud, they are a huge revenue-generator for TV companies and the ICC. But with excess comes complacency, comes boredom. Do the players really want to be playing this amount of cricket? Of course not. Do the public care enough to sit through a seven-match humdrumathon after witnessing a Test series which, with the exception of India, remains the game’s pinnacle of entertainment? I doubt it. One-dayers should be the icing on a series’ cake, not a whole extra extravagant meal in itself.

One-day cricket is a victim of its own success, its shelf-life coming to an end. If nothing is done to address the sheer quantity of matches being played, we could well see strike action from the players in a desperate attempt not only to remain fit, but mentally sane. I hope so, too, because the ICC are far too one-eyed to see sense unless a problem smacks them in the chops.

Patrick Kidd has his own thoughts over at Line and Length. Offer yours below.

Asking the right questions is half the battle.

So The Guardian ask David Lloyd and Bob Willis if England take the limited-overs game seriously enough. Lloyd says yes, and Willis says no.

But the real question is, do the fans take the game seriously enough? And should we take it seriously at all, given the way that cricket administrators fiddle around with it.

Played properly, on a true surface that helps strokeplay but also has some life and bounce and a teensy bit of sideways movement for the bowlers, limited overs cricket can be as skillful and as demanding and entertaining as you could wish for. It is up to administrators and ground authorities to produce those conditions for the players. I think that world-wide, cricket fans have been let down by the people in charge of the game, and it is high time some serious questions were asked about the direction of the limited overs game.