Saturday, March 31, 2007

England look alright, but not great, you know?

England beat Ireland by 48 runs. So well done. Some people don't think this is good enough. But, considering their"go slow" strategy, they're never going to whallop the minnows in the way Australia do. We can only hope they can grit it out agains the good teams.

I haven't spoken much about England. It's all been a bit depressing, really. I suppose I should talk about them at least once. Just in case they win. England put on an OK score, thanks, in the main, to that bloke with the bat on the left. Again, the top order failed, again Kevin Pieterson got in and got out, and again Paul Collingwood saved the team from certain embarrassment.

Trent Johnston, the stately Ireland captain, stated, “We spoke about Paul Collingwood in the team meeting before the game and he is the quality player in England’s team”. See that? The quality player. Never mind Pieterson or Andrew Flintoff, they’re afraid of Colly.

Johnston goes on: “He’s the guy that gets you a run-a-ball hundred and gets you three or four wickets [I’m not sure about that part]. He’s also their best fielder in the team too so we expected him to come out and do that and he did.” I’m not really sure what that last bit means, but I suppose living in Ireland for so long has got to rub off, doesn’t it?

Collingwood has now become England’s only hope with the bat. The rest aren’t firing at all. KP, despite his new number one status, hasn’t impressed during the tournament so far. And this go-slow business is making the rest of the line-up look pedestrian and distinctly unthreatening. So, essentially, we’re dependent on one man. And he’s a ginger Northerner. Prospects have never looked so good for the England team.

However things aren‘t all bad. Paul Nixon also chipped in with 19 off 15. A lot of people don’t like Nixon. Principally because he’s a gobby irritant of a man, but also because, they claim, he’s not very good. However, I think he’s alright. He averages 18.8 in ODIs, with a strike rate of 86. In addition, he averages 32 in first class cricket, striking 16 hundreds. He is also the most experienced man in the world when it comes to twenty20. This is exactly the sort of thing you need at the death: quick, irresponsible runs, boundaries, speedy running and annoying the elbows off the opposition. This combination of fast runs and being an arse is working for the England team. Although, his keeping isn’t great, but that has never seemed to be an issue in the past.

Also, what on Earth is going on with Ravi Bopara? Apparently, he is being picked because he is an all-rounder. Yet he didn’t bowl a ball, but came in at number eight. What? You’re picking a batsman for the number eight spot? Whereas Michael Vaughan seems to have become a bowling all-rounder, bowling nine tight overs and taking a wicket. Surely, if you wanted to play this game you could stick Andrew Strauss in at one, and put Vaughan in at eight. Maybe you could promote young Bopara to smash some quick runs opening the batting? Sadly, this is probably a little too creative for the ECB. Damn their pants.

Lastly, did anyone notice how cheerless Flintoff looked? Not a smile throughout the whole occasion. Normally, I quite approve of people moping about and depressing everyone, but even poor old Monty received the cold shoulder. After Flintoff caught a skier off Panesar’s bowling, Monty leaped and twirled about, as he does, beaming at Flintoff. The all-rounder, as the commentator described it, was nonplussed. Monty looked embarrassed, and shuffled off, deflated. How could anyone do that to the Monster? That’s almost cruel. Defusing the joyous heart of the young lad can almost be considered a crime against humanity. I’m starting to like Flintoff less and less. Here’s another picture of him looking gloomy.

Miserable sod.

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