Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Whats Wrong With England's One Day Outfit??

At last England's never ending Caribbean tour has finally come to an end. The English team which was embroiled in the captaincy issue just prior to the start of the series lost the 5 match test series 1-0 ( A series which was widely considered to be the warm up to the forthcoming "Ashes" series against old rivals ). After the test series England also lost the twenty/20 international. At that point, England has not won even a single international cricket match after their home victory against the South Africans.

England were ultimately declared "winners" in the first ODI after the West Indies coach John Dyson misread the Duckworth Lewis sheet. The Windies then won the 2nd and 3rd ODI's comfortably to take 2-1 lead in the 5 match series. This prompted an emotional outburst from the English Batsman Kevin Pietersen who said that the England squad was a lonely place to be after a string of defeats in the season. Had the Windies coach looked up the Duckworth Lewis table correctly in the first match, the fate of the series would have been sealed in the 3rd match itself. But luckily for England it was not to be. The English side then managed to win the 4th truncated ODI due to the efforts of their skipper Andrew Strauss. The 5th ODI was also then clinched by England after their talismanic all rounder Andrew Flintoff took an hat trick to seal the series in England's favor.

So much for the recent history. Till date England has never won any men's World cup or Champions trophy. It should be pointed out here that their female counterparts won the World cup in 2009. So whats wrong with the England's one day outfit?? To answer this question one must take a look at the composition of the side. Lets analyze the positives first.

1. They have one of the best all-rounders in the world in the form of Andrew Flintoff.
Andrew Flintoff is one of the best all-rounders in the cricketing world today. He is a genuine fast bowler who can strike fear in the heart of the opposition ranks. He is also an explosive batsman who can wield the long handle effectively.

2. They have an explosive and truly world class batsman in Kevin Pietersen.
Kevin Pietersen's ability with the bat was never in doubt. He is one of the most destructive players in the world at the m0ment. He can adapt and play in any situation. He comes in at No 4 in the English line up.

3. They also have an exceptional fielder in the form of Paul Collingwood.
Paul Collingwood's prowess in the field is well known. He is a capable batsman who is well suited to the shortened version of the game. He can also contribute a few handy overs with the ball.

Add to this list the likes of Stuart Broad and James Anderson, we should have a team which can give any team a good run for its money. But the fact is its not happening. So the negatives must outweigh the positives. Lets analyze them.

1. They don't have a good opening pair.
The initial start provided by the openers is vital in any form of the game. It has assumed greater importance after the introduction of power plays. So the opening pair must be in a position to take advantage of the power plays. England has always chopped and changed its openers ever since they lost the services of Marcus Trescothick. They have used Andrew Strauss, Ravi Bopara, Mal Loye, Phil Mustard, Matt Prior, Ed Joyce, Alastair Cook and Luke Wright in the opening slot without any considerable success.

2. They don't have a good No 3 batsman.
No3 slot is very vital in any batting line up. When a wicket falls early, No 3 batsman are required to consolidate and direct the flow of the innings. It is for this reason, the best players of the team occupy the No 3 slot. A few examples include Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Kumara Sangakkara e.t.c.

3. They don't have a good wicketkeeper.
Gone are the days when wicket keepers were selected purely based on the ability to keep wickets. Adam Gilchrist has truly revolutionized the role of wicket keeper batsman. England has been having 'keeper troubles ever since the retirement of Alec Stewart. They have tried Matt Prior, Tim Ambrose, Chris Read, Geriant Jones, Phil Mustard and Steve Davies in this position without any considerable success.

If England can find a way to address these problems and find an able skipper who could command a place in all 3 formats of the game, they can be a strong outfit in ODI and twenty/20s. It seemed that they had found their ideal man in Kevin Pietersen but that experiment had a premature end when he was stripped of his captaincy. So who is the best man to lead England?? Do post in your views.

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Slumdog" Steals The Show At The Oscars

It was a "Slumdog Millionaire's" night at the Oscars. The movie swept 8 awards out of the 10 nominations. The awards include

1. The Best Picture

2. The Best Director (Danny Boyle)

3. The Best Original Score ( A.R.Rahman)

4. The Best Original Song - Jai Ho (A.R.Rahman)

5. The Best Cinematography (Anthony Dod Mantle)

6. The Best Sound Mixing (Resul Pookutty)

7. The Best Adapted Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy)

8. The Best Film Editing

The Best Actor award went to Sean Penn for his role in Milk. The Best Actress award was bagged by Kate Winslet for her role in The Reader. The Supporting Actor Award was awarded to Heath Ledger posthumously for his role as Joker in The Dark Knight. It was only the second such instance of an Oscar being awarded posthumously. The Supporting Actress Award went to Penelope Cruz for her role in Vicky Christina Barcelona. The Brad Pitt starrer The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button which was nominated in 13 categories bagged 3 awards, for visual effects, art direction and make up.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Oscar Fever Heats Up

Its that time of the year when the entire film world and the fans turn their attention to the Kodak theater where the Oscar awards will be presented. The 81st academy awards ceremony will be held on February 22nd 2009. The nominations for this year are

In The Best Picture Category:

1. Slumdog Millionaire

2. The Reader

3. The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button

4. Milk

5. Frost / Nixon

In The Best Actor Category:

1. Brad Pitt (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button)

2. Sean Penn (Milk)

3. Mickey Rourke (Wrestler)

4. Frank Langella (Frost / Nixon)

5. Richard Jenkins (The Visitor)

In The Best Actress category:

1. Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married)

2. Kate Winslet (The Reader)

3. Angelina Jolie (Changeling)

4. Melissa Leo (Frozen River)

5. Meryl Streep (Doubt)

Freddie Out Of Fourth Test

England will be without their star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff for the fourth test against the West Indies. Freddie was injured during the third test and was in visible discomfort when he bowled 15 overs in the second innings of the third test. West Indies managed to escape with a draw in the third test. Although England reduced them to 370/9, the last wicket pair of Darren Powell and Fidel Edwards denied the victory for the Englishmen. Batting all-rounder Ravi Bopara and uncapped fast bowler Amjad Khan have been summoned as a cover. The West Indies lead the 5 match test series 1-0 with 2 more matches to play. The fourth test will be played at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown from Feb 26th.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Strauss And Colly Prop Up England

Centuries from skipper Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood put England in a commanding position in the ongoing third test at the Antigua Recreation Ground. After winning the toss West Indies skipper Chris Gayle put the visitors into bat, hoping to re open the scars of the 1st test. But all English batsman barring Andrew Flintoff scored half centuries and two of them went on to score tons. England's new No 3 batsman Owais Shah scored 57 while all rounder in the making Stuart Broad scored quick fire 44 of 55 balls. Engand declared at 566 for the loss of 9 wickets. For West Indies Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards and Ryan Hinds captured 2 wickets apiece.

In reply West Indies lost their skipper Chris Gayle for 30 off 32 balls. He fell to Steve Harmison. They were 55/1 when stumps were drawn on the 3rd day. West Indies lead the series 1-0, after winning the first test at Sabina Park. The second test was abandoned owing to a poor outfield. An additional test was added to the series after the abandoned match.