Stuart Broad is congratulated by his England team-mates as his six wickets help England win another Ashes series (Image | Action)
The 2013 Ashes Series (mark 1) has not always been a display of two world-leading teams giving each other their best shot. There has been inconsistency of umpiring, sub-par batting aplenty and the occasional, inevitable washout.
What this series has had throughout, however, is drama. It was punctuated in characteristic style at Durham this weekend by the stoic Ian Bell, unarguably the outstanding performer of the series thus far.
Joe Root (left) will captain the Lions squad, with Yorkshire teammate Jonny Bairstow set to feature in the lineup (Image | Action Images)
More than one Lions squad was announced recently. The ECB released their team for the tour matches against New Zealand.
Lions matches traditionally don’t attract as much attention, but they are useful to see who is likely to feature heavily in the internationals. Places are up for grabs.
The first two tests were resigned to draws after weather forced New Zealand, and then England, into accepting a stalemate where they would otherwise have cantered to victory.
Prior commitment | England captain Alastair Cook embraces Matt Prior after his century against New Zealand. (Image | The Telegraph)
As a result, the series came down to the third and final test on an exceptionally flat pitch at Eden Park in Auckland.
Surely England, so recently victorious in India and sitting second in the ICC world rankings, could beat a New Zealand side down in eighth that have only beaten Bangladesh and Zimbabwe since 2006?
Leading lights | Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen were two of England’s best performers with the bat, especially in Mumbai. (Image | S. Subramanium via Hindu Business Times)
India is not supposed to be a happy hunting ground for the England cricket team.
The slow, dusty wickets and near-Equatorial climate have caused England no end of problems in recent tours, and the Three Lions were without a Test series win in India in 25 years until the events of the past few weeks.
Now, not only have Alistair Cook‘s side delivered Test triumph, but a seriously depleted Twenty20 side have made a statement ahead of the build-up to the South Africa series next summer.
Ready | India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni sits alongside England skipper Alastair Cook ahead of the first test in Ahmedabad. (Image | NDTV)
India are firm favourites to win the opening test of the four-match series with England, and history would certainly point this way with England failing to win a test series in India for 28 years.
The visitors are clearly underdogs, but maybe, just maybe, they have a chance of victory. Firstly, historical results have their merits, but today’s England are arguably a far better side than the country has had for decades.
Meanwhile India may well be playing high quality cricket, but England will certainly come into this with a better chance than they would normally have.
Final concerto | Strauss has gone out on a high note, but his departure will have ramifications for England. (Image | BBC)
Press conferences are, by their very nature, meant to generate hype, suspense and a palpable sense of dread, if only to encourage interest and enthuse people to sit up and pay attention. Which the entire cricketing world did yesterday, as Andrew Strauss announced that he intended to retire from all forms of cricket immediately, bringing an end to a career that began with a first class début for Middlesex County Cricket Club in 1998.
Stating that he wished to “keep things brief” at the conference, in order to avoid turning proceedings into an Oscar acceptance speech, Strauss proceeded to, with the finesse of a Hollywood star, bow out, expire, cease to perform – the curtain was being lowered, not by the stage hand, but the lead star.
They’ve been the world’s best Test side since the start of the year, but now England can secure their legacy if they overcome the best bowling attack in cricket (Image | Reuters)
England have been a significant power at the top end of world cricket for long enough now to prove that it’s no fluke. Fans can rub their eyes and realise they’re not dreaming. After a generation of enduring mediocrity, and sometime worse, the phrase “English cricket” is no longer a national punchline.
England are officially the world’s best side at the five-day format of the game – a reign that’s lasted almost a year. They have just come off the back of playing five one-day matches against Australia. While Australia are currently ranked the planet’s finest at the 50-over version of the sport, they took a pasting – England hammered them 4-0, and probably would have made it a whitewash had this unseasonable English summer not intervened.
But while all may currently be rosy in the English garden, there is a potential thorn on the horizon, in the form of South Africa.
Dominant: England took a 2-0 lead against the West Indies at Trent Bridge to win the series, but they didn’t have to work too hard for it. (Image | The Bolton News)
Before the Test series against the West Indies began, Andrew Strauss was having to defend his captaincy of the England cricket team and refute rumours that he was set to cast the role aside.
A series win over the Windies later, and all is well in the England camp. As has been observed by many, the hosts barely had to move into second gear at Trent Bridge as the West Indies were bowled out for 165 all out, having fallen to 61-6 at the close of play on day three.
The visitors’ collapse was spectacular, as James Anderson, Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad all claimed wickets amid the ruthless destruction of the West Indies batting order.
Andrew Strauss’ personal disappointment and that of England has not convinced the captain to quit his post. (Image | The Age)
England cricketer Andrew Strauss has told the BBC that he will not stand down as captain ahead of the first Test against the West Indies. England currently top the world rankings but are in danger of slipping behind South Africa after a poor run of results.
Strauss’ side have won only once in their past five matches, and suffered a 3-0 series defeat to Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. The captain himself has also experienced a dip in form, making one century in his last 49 innings.
When asked by reporters if he had ever felt “fed-up” of the job, Strauss replied: “Not even close.
Ravi Bopara is the favourite to replace Eoin Morgan for the Sri Lanka series, but he is running out of time to make his mark with England
England’s decision to drop Eoin Morgan from the squad for the two-match Test series in Sri Lanka this month has opened up the number-six spot in the batting order, and although there are other names (the uncapped all-rounder Samit Patel, or seam bowler Tim Bresnan) being touted as possible inclusions, the line-up will most likely be completed by Ravi Bopara, the Essex all-rounder who has been battling for over five years to establish himself in the England Test squad.