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Cricket Musings

Got the chance to watch some highlights of the last test match against South Africa, which England won.  It was somehow inevitable that Kevin Pietersen scored a hundred (*makes mental note: next time put a bet on*) and that the England team would be buzzed and motivated by his promotion to the England captaincy.  What did come as a surprise to me was Steve Harmison’s performance.  More of that anon.

Kevin Pietersen’s press conference and interviews since his promotion have been interesting and positive from the maturity point of view.  He looks more settled, his words and his tone considered.  And he’s got rid of that on field huddle before the start of play.  If you have things to say, say them in the safety of the dressing room where you haven’t got a packed, noisy crowd perhaps stopping your message getting across.  The one thing I liked the most was his comments about wanting being passionate when you play for your country to return.  If you can’t be passionate about that, when can you be passionate?

Then there was his man management approach.  To borrow from a Thunder song it was as if love walked in to the England dressing room.  Very hands on (and I mean physically), talking to people, encouraging them.  And the England team responded.

Credit to Steve Harmison for going back to Durham and doing what he needed to: bowling lots of overs, bowling fast and being noticed by batsmen and umpires.  That’s how you get back into the test team, not slating the press.  I hope the lesson has been learned.

It’s been an interesting series.  I’d expected Dale Steyn to cause havoc but injury ruled him out for much of the series.  Neil McKenzie is a player I have a lot of time for and am pleased he’s enjoying a successful time having reinvented himself as an opening batsman.  Who’d have thought the huge presence of Jacques Kallis would have such a lean time with the bat?  He has the most dominating forward defensive stroke in the game.  Geoffrey Boycott’s forward defensive said “Ils ne passeront pas”.  Kallis’ screams “Don’t even think about it!”.  Kallis is no mug with the ball either, a more than useful all rounder who averaged 29.5 with the ball in the series.

Graeme Smith’s batting and captaincy has been excellent.  Here is a guy who’s learned from everything going on around him, realised where he’s been a bit wrong and developed as a person as well as a player.  Seeing him playing in the IPL alongside Shane Warne showed that he has learned.  His bat looks monstrous, more like a railway sleeper!

AB de Villiers is one of those people who’s irritatingly good at any sport he tries.  Word has it he may be the next South African wicket keeper.  If that happens then in years to come people may be talking about who will be the new AB de Villiers.

England’s series has been disappointing but there is the promise of better things to come.  Alistair Cook may be a bit annoyed at being seen as the “60-man” but if every time he bats he scores 60 then his average will be rather good.  And if your top 7 batsmen all score 60 in an innings then you’re looking at a 1st innings of 420.  Not a bad base at all.

I like Andrew Strauss.  He has a good cricket brain and I’m sure he knows that some work with batting coach Andy Flower (no mean player in his day, averaging 51 as a wicket keeper batsman) should help to rectify his problems.  I tried batting the other way around for a while.  Helped me to understand more about shot making and seeing the ball.

Michael Vaughan may be back as a test batsman.  I hope so because his driving is beautiful to behold.  Purr inducing no less.  If he regains his form with Yorkshire then he will be back.  I wish him well.

Ian Bell promises much but needs to start delivering when under pressure.  Whether captaincy will, in time, affect KP’s batting only time will tell.  That’s a phrase he used a few times in his first press conference.  Like I said, settled, considered words.  Gives a better impression than his dance down the track when on 94.

Paul Collingwood is one hell of a fighter with serious guts.  I hope he’s not finished at test level.

I’ll make no bones about saying that I think James Foster is the best keeper in the country.  Chris Read is still up there too but if he’s picked again the BCCI will throw a strop because of his involvement with the ICL.  Tim Ambrose and Matt Prior are not number 6 batsmen.  Prior’s glovework has cost England before; unless that has improved considerably then for me he does not deserve a place in the test side.

Freddie is back and looking mean with the ball.  But not so hot with the bat.  England are a stronger side with Flintoff in the bowling attack.  Stuart Broad is coming on nicely.  There’s a lot of his dad Chris in his batting.  Remember Stuart started off as a top order batsman.  He will be learning lots both in the county game and the test arena.  As part of a five man attack he can learn and do a job.  He will improve.

James Anderson. When he gets it right he’s wonderful.  When he’s a bit off then he’s expensive.  The way he took care of Jacques Kallis in the last test match was beautiful swing bowling.  Bought a huge smile, a “Yes! yes! yes!” and the lifting of the finger when that inswinger pinned Kallis in front.  Working on less bad balls and more consistency when the ball is not swinging will make him a better bowler.

We didn’t see much of Ryan Sidebottom due to injury.  I like the guy (when his dad Arnie was on Test Match Special and talking about who had helped him develop the people mentioned were Stephen Fleming and Mark Ealham. No mention of Duncan Fletcher. Just thought I’d mention that.) and hope he shakes off the injuries.  He made the difference against New Zealand in the winter.

Monty Panesar’s honeymoon period is now over.  He needs to develop an arm ball and to cut down on the overzealous appealing.  If I’m a bit annoyed by it then the umpires surely are.  There’s no more enthusiastic a cricketer than yours truly but enthusiasm can’t be used as an excuse for overdoing the appealing.

Some may argue that the England team still appears to be a closed shop.  That perception needs to be addressed.  The comments that the selection of Darren Pattinson disturbed the team dynamic didn’t help at all.  Pattinson didn’t bowl that badly.  Owais Shah must be wondering who he upset in a previous life and what else he must do to get into the test side.

There is potential there but there is also work to be done.  KP has had a good start to his captaincy career.  Things will get tougher.  He knows it and we know it.  As others have already said, it should be one hell of a ride.

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One Comment

  1. Jessie…

    Interesting opinions which are diverse and give reason to a great deal of thought….

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