Saturday, August 22, 2009

Australia vs England 5th Ashes Test (2009) Highlights Day 3

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Voges recalled for Champions Trophy

Adam Voges played his only ODI for Australia in 2007.

The middle-order batsman Adam Voges has been recalled to the Australia one-day squad for the Champions Trophy while David Hussey and Marcus North have missed out. There were few other surprises in the 15-man group, which features all the members of Australia's ODI squad to play seven matches in England besides the backup wicketkeeper Tim Paine.

Western Australia's Voges played his only ODI for Australia during the 2006-07 Chappell-Hadlee Trophy, although he has been an off-and-on member of Australia's Twenty20 side since then. Earlier this month he scored his first hundred for Nottinghamshire in the County Championship, where he is playing as an overseas player. He also scored 311 runs from eight one-day matches in Australia's domestic season last year.

Although Michael Hussey's form in Tests has been below par - he has averaged just over 22 in the Ashes so far - his one-day performances have been consistent this year and the selectors have kept their faith in him. But his brother David was left out after averaging 21.87 from 16 one-day innings this year. There was also no place for North or Doug Bollinger, both of whom played in the recent series against Pakistan in the UAE.

Australia squad: Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Nathan Bracken, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin (wk) Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Peter Siddle, Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

Trott buries Australia with debut ton

Jonathan Trott sprints through to reach his maiden Test hundred.

Jonathan Trott entered Ashes folklore with the innings of an instant veteran, as England's batsmen sauntered into a position of absolute dominance, only for Australia's openers to keep their nerves a-jangling with a coolly compiled 80-run stand, on another enthralling day at The Oval. Trott's 119 from 193 balls was the 18th century by a debutant in England's Test history and the first against Australia since Graham Thorpe in 1993, but given the magnitude of the occasion, it ranked among the finest of all time. His efforts left Australia facing a climb as forbidding as Mont Ventoux, as Andrew Strauss declared on 373 for 9, with a massive target of 546 in the bag.

But Australia, to their credit, refused to yield to any presumptions of defeat and decided attack was the best route to the summit. Simon Katich and Shane Watson banished any lingering demons from the first innings, and backed themselves to play their shots against the new ball, and the policy paid off in an opening stand of 80, as they reached the close with their hopes renewed and England's anxieties sharpened in a manner reminiscent of the final day at Lord's. Nevertheless, as the ball lost its hardness and Stuart Broad's offcutters began to grip, it was clear that survival will become harder and harder the longer the innings wears on. Having collapsed from 73 for 0 to 160 in their first innings, Australia know just how tough the next six sessions are sure to be.

The Oval pitch, the subject of much controversy overnight, carried on producing wild puffs of dust from almost every delivery, but as England's lower-order clubbed a supine attack to all corners of South London, adding 205 in the last 37 overs of the innings, the heat went out of the debate about its merits. In fact, England's progress seemed at times almost too comfortable for their series prospects, as Australia's bowlers abandoned any hope of salvaging their team's situation and instead settled for damage limitation with a view to batting out for the draw.

Nevertheless, the steep bounce that the part-time spinner, Marcus North, had continued to extract was enough to confirm the suspicions that batting last, with men packed around the bat, would be a fraught experience. Sure enough, Swann entered England's attack as early as the ninth over, and though he didn't make a breakthrough with the still-hard new ball, he found sufficient purchase to suggest his time will come. For the time being, however, North, who came into the game with just two Test wickets to his name, emerged as the most potent spinner on show, with 4 for 98 from 30 testing overs.

If the expectant buzz around The Oval had been dampened a fraction by the close, then it would never have become so electric in the first place, had it not been for Trott's magnificent scene-setter. For the second time in consecutive Ashes battles at the venue, England's visions of glory were filtered through a South African-born lens, and perhaps that same filter removed the fear of failure as well, because as with Kevin Pietersen's unforgettable 158 in 2005, Trott scarcely blinked for an instant.

He had been a controversial selection for such a pressure-cooker contest, but to give the selectors credit where it is due, the skill, determination and confidence of his performance made the men around him in England's middle-order look like the international novices. His nerveless shot selection, at an even tempo of roughly a run every two balls, provided the scaffolding for a series of carefree cameos at the other end - including a farewell frolic from Andrew Flintoff, and a spanking 63 from 55 balls from Swann, who fine-tuned his confidence going into the defining fourth innings.

Aside from a brush with a Peter Siddle bouncer, and a hairy moment on 97 when he deflected Ben Hilfenhaus inches past his leg stump, Trott barely played a false stroke until the very moment of England's declaration, when he chopped Stuart Clark to North in the gully. In fact, his most palpable moments of alarm came from his first two deliveries of the morning, first when Siddle believed he had made the breakthrough with an off-stump lifter (umpire Asad Rauf correctly ascertained that the ball had flicked only the thigh pad on the way through to Brad Haddin) and then when Trott followed up that escape with an awkward spoon into the covers off a leading edge.

Graeme Swann brings out the reverse sweep, England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval, 3rd day, August 22, 2009
Graeme Swann hit a swashbuckling 63 to increase England's lead .

With impressive ease, however, he put those dramas out of his mind, perhaps sensing that he'd experienced the most capricious deliveries that could come his way. He added 118 for the fourth wicket with his overnight partner Andrew Strauss, to ensure there would be no continuation of the late-evening hiccup that had taken a layer of sheen off England's remarkable second day, and as early as the first hour of the day, Australia's hopes of an attainable run-chase had been quashed.

Strauss's contribution was an unflappable and agenda-setting 75, which served as a moist flannel on his country's fevered brow. He left the ball with nerveless certainty outside off, demanding that Australia's bowlers bowled to his strengths rather than probe for non-existent weaknesses, and when he lashed Clark for three fours from nine balls faced as England upped the ante in the half-hour before lunch, he looked a dead-cert for his, and England's, second century of the series. With four balls remaining of the session, however, he was lured by a ball of fuller length from North, who extracted enough rip off the track to find the edge to slip.

Matt Prior, for once, played only a minor role in England's momentum shift - although he did manage to send Ricky Ponting into the lunch break with a mouthful of blood after drilling the ball into his face at silly mid-off. Three overs after the break, he called for a crazy single after picking out the dead-eyed Katich in the covers, and was run out by a distance for 4. Nevertheless, his departure ensured that the crowd got one last glimpse of the man they really wanted to see, and when Flintoff clubbed his second delivery violently through midwicket for four, it was abundantly clear how he intended to pace his final Test innings.

Three more boundaries followed, each greeted with rapture, but alas the magic could not last. With 22 from 17 balls to his name, Flintoff came down the track once more to launch North into the Harleyford Road, but Siddle steadied himself on the long-on ropes to pouch a simple catch. The Aussies stood in the middle to applaud Flintoff back to the pavilion as he saluted all corners of the ground, while down the steps - replacing him in every sense - came the man of the moment, Broad.

He did not disappoint either. Feeding off Mitchell Johnson's regressive line and length, he dabbed the first of his five fours through backward point, then climbed into North in a violent over containing three further biffs down the ground, the first of which went arrow-straight back over the bowler's head to land just inside the boundary's rope. He eventually took one swipe too many, and picked out Ponting in the covers, but into the fray strode Swann, in a mood for violence - just as he had been in the final innings at Headingley two weeks ago, when England's predicament could hardly have been more different, but when the licence for thwacking had been every bit as liberating.

With Trott trotting along beside him, Swann belted two-thirds of England's runs in an eighth wicket of 90 from 80 deliveries that left observers wondering if he'd win the race to three figures. Australia took the new ball in that period as well, but offered Swann far too many opportunities to unfurl his exuberant drive, which accounted for six of his nine fours before Hilfenhaus pulled his length back at last and skidded a bouncer off a miscued hook to Haddin.

For the best part of the day, England had simply had it too easy, and by the close, Watson and Katich had shown them just how ready Australia are to hand over their urn. All the same, the series is coming to a crescendo, and as in that unforgettable summer of 2005, there is an air of anxious expectation in SE11.

Friday, August 21, 2009

England vs Australia 5th Ashes Test (2009) 2nd Day Highlights

Part 1

Part 2

Broad and Swann give England control

Stuart Broad wrecked Australia's top order with a stunning spell.

Stuart Broad produced a bowling performance to rival that of Andrew Flintoff at Lord's, and Graeme Swann chimed in with four vital wickets on a dry and dusty track, as Australia felt their grip on the Ashes being prised away, finger by finger, on a sensational second day at The Oval. Responding to England's first-innings 332, the Aussies collapsed from a confident but never comfortable 61 for 0 at lunch to 160 all out shortly after tea, conceding a first-innings deficit of 172 in the process, as well as every ounce of the momentum they had established during their fourth-Test triumph at Headingley.

Australia did recover from that nadir to claw back some lost initiative, claiming three key wickets in the closing overs of the day as the frailties of England's dodgy batting card were exposed once again. Nevertheless, with Andrew Strauss remaining unperturbed on 32, and England's lead extended to an already imposing 230, the majority of the demons remain with the side facing the prospect of batting last on a dustbowl that has more in common with Kanpur than Kennington. In particular, the manner of Alastair Cook's dismissal - caught at slip as Australia's part-timer, Marcus North, ripped an offspinner across his bows - was ample proof of the traumas that lie ahead.

It was a stunning and memorable day's play dredged from the depths of Australia's worst nightmares, and their desperate afternoon session - in which they lost eight wickets for 72 in 24.4 incredible overs - is shaping up to be the decisive passage of play of the summer. Each of those eight breakthroughs was greeted with riotous acclaim by an absorbed and pumped-up crowd, as England's bowlers surfed a wave of emotion to exploit once again the peculiar frailties of an Aussie batting order that, for all its myriad successes this summer, has now failed calamitously in three of their five first innings in the series.

The star of England's show was Broad, who was thrown the ball for the second full over after a 50-minute rain delay, and responded with a full and straight 12-over spell that perfectly exploited a pitch showing increasing signs of uneven bounce. He claimed the first four wickets to fall for eight runs in the space of 21 deliveries, and then - after Swann had extracted the obdurate pairing of North and Simon Katich - wrapped up his second five-wicket haul in consecutive innings by yorking Brad Haddin for 1.

Fifteen wickets in all fell in the day, including (way back in the mists of time) that of James Anderson, whose first Test duck after six years and 54 innings might have been a portent of the chaos to come. Though Australia somehow reached lunch unscathed after 20.2 overs of hard graft, Shane Watson and Katich had been forced to scrap for every one of the 61 runs in their opening stand. Watson in particular tempted fate with three consecutive lbw appeals in the space of seven deliveries, but after the resumption, he fell to the very first delivery he received from Broad, nailed plumb lbw for 34 to prise open the floodgates.

Stuart Broad's pitch map from Hawk Eye, England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval, 2nd day, August 21, 2009
Pitching it right: how Hawk-Eye saw Stuart Broad's magic spell .

Ricky Ponting was the next man in, and though he emerged to loud acclaim - the boos of Edgbaston a distant memory - his personal jitters were transparently plain to see. Sensing that the wicket was already a minefield, he got off the mark with an under-edged cut for four off Broad, and then survived a frenzied lbw appeal in the next over as he shouldered arms to Flintoff. But before he could settle, Broad cramped him on the back foot, and he inside-edged a loose drive onto his middle stump for 8.

Three Broad deliveries later, and Mike Hussey's traumatic series had taken another turn for the worse, as he thrust out his front pad and was sent on his way lbw for a duck - the decision looked tight on the replay, but stone-dead to the naked eye. And when Michael Clarke, Australia's star of the summer, drove fiercely into the covers in a bid to impose some authority, he picked out the debutant Jonathan Trott, who swooped superbly to cling onto a stinging low catch.

From 73 for 0, Australia had drifted listlessly to 93 for 4, with only the obdurate Katich providing any sort of sheet-anchor. He opened the face of his bat to steer Broad through the gully to move to 49, but then at the other end, Swann got into the act - in a somewhat fortuitous fashion - as North thrust his bat and pad forward to a non-spinning delivery on middle stump, and was adjudged lbw for 8 despite evidence that the bat had won the race.

North grinned wryly as he departed the crease, but there was little he or Australia could do to halt England's momentum, and in his next over, Swann claimed the vital wicket of Katich, who once again played for non-existent turn on a pitch creating demons in the mind, and popped a facile chance off his bat and pad-flap to Cook at short leg for exactly 50. Nine balls later, and Broad was back on centre stage. Haddin came down late on a stump-splattering yorker, and Australia's last recognised batsman had joined the procession.

Mitchell Johnson did what he could to jump-start a flatlining innings, smacking Swann for two lusty fours in a single over, but with tea looming he became the eighth casualty of the session, stunningly snaffled by Matt Prior behind the stumps, who read the big turn off the pitch, and moved sharply to his left to cling onto an edged drive.

Australia limped to tea on 133 for 8, and though Stuart Clark was hugely unfortunate to be adjudged caught at short leg for 6 when his bat was nowhere near the ball, Peter Siddle thrashed a skittish 26 not out as he and Ben Hilfenhaus hung around long enough to haul their side past the 150 mark. But Flintoff claimed his share of the limelight by yorking Hilfenhaus for 6, to complete an incredible and series-transforming two-and-a-half hours of cricket.

Still the procession of wickets was not over, however. With a session and three days in which to cement their advantage, England felt no need to rush their reply, but with the score on 27, Cook's unconvincing series came to an end as North nailed him for 9, before Ian Bell was somewhat unluckily extracted for 4, as he got on top of a short ball from his nemesis Johnson, only for Katich at short leg to hold onto a remarkable reflex catch inches from the turf. One over later, and Katich was back in the action when Johnson found Paul Collingwood's splice with an effort ball, but Trott provided convincing and confident support for his captain, Strauss, to enable England to finish on a high.

Asif returns to Pakistan squad for Champions Trophy

Mohammad Asif's ban expires on September 22, the same day the ICC Champions Trophy is scheduled to begin.

Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Asif's rehabilitation is almost complete after he was named in the Pakistan squad for the Champions Trophy, having been out of international cricket for over a year. Asif is one of five pacemen for the tournament, but there is no place for allrounder Abdul Razzaq, who took four wickets from three matches on his comeback to ODI cricket in Sri Lanka earlier this month. Razzaq was, however, dropped for the last two games. Opener Nasir Jamshed, who was part of the ODI squad in Sri Lanka, has also been excluded.

"Asif is back after he satisfied with his fitness and this is the best possible team for an event which is regarded as the toughest of all the events as the world's top eight teams compete in it," Iqbal Qasim, Pakistan's chief selector, told reporters in Lahore. Razzaq's exclusion, mildly surprising given his impact at the World Twenty20 in June on his return from an ICL-exile is believed to be a tactical one; given a long, solid middle order, Pakistan prefer a bowling allrounder at number eight, rather than a batting one. "We had a tie between Razzaq and Naved-ul Hasan when it came to selecting an allrounder, so the best one was picked," Qasim said. "It was not a case of Razzaq not performing well."

It is the return of Asif, however, that will make the headlines. The fast bowler last played for Pakistan in July last year; he was banned by the Pakistan board soon after in September after testing positive for the banned substance nandrolone at the inaugural IPL. The ban ends on September 22, and the ICC has cleared him to play in the eight-team that starts on the same day in Johannesburg.

After being included in the 30 probables for that tournament, Asif attended an Under-23 training camp in Karachi to assess his match fitness. He took 1 for 23 in a practice match during that camp, impressing Rashid Latif, who was overseeing the camp. But despite his selection, Asif can't take part in Pakistan's conditioning camp leading up to the Champions Trophy because his ban expires after the camp finishes.

Pakistan's squad has only one specialist opener in Imran Nazir, who only returned to the side in Sri Lanka after leaving the ICL; alongside Jamshed, Salman Butt also doesn't find a place in the squad. Until Sri Lanka, Butt was Pakistan's one steady opener, with eight ODI hundreds to his name, but an alarming dip in form and confidence during the tour has done for him.

Many eyes will be on Umar Akmal, wicketkeeper Kamran's 19-year-old brother, who made such an impact in Sri Lanka and was Pakistan's highest scorer in that series.

Pakistan: Younis Khan (capt), Imran Nazir, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Naved-ul Hasan, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Yousuf, Kamran Akmal (wk), Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif, Rao Iftikhar, Saeed Ajmal.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

England vs Australia 5th Ashes Test (2009) Highlights

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Ashes at stake in Oval battle

One final Ashes hurrah for Andrew Flintoff?.

Match facts

Thursday, August 20-24, 2009
Start time 11.00 (10.00 GMT)

Big Picture

For the second time in four years, the destination of the Ashes will be decided at the same venue where the legend was conceived way back in 1882. In 2005, The Oval in South London was the stage for one of the most wildly celebrated draws of all time, as a jittery England overcame their final-day nerves, thanks to an eye-poppingly aggressive 158 from Kevin Pietersen, a performance that carried his team clear of disaster and all the way to an open-top bus parade through Trafalgar Square the following morning.

This time, Pietersen will not be around to mop his colleagues' brows - his dodgy right Achilles underwent surgery after the second Test, and he might not even be fit in time for the tour to South Africa this winter. Instead, all of England's hopes and prayers are invested in their other modern-day colossus, Andrew Flintoff, who missed the fourth-Test debacle at Headingley due to doubts about his right knee, but is certain to be thrust into the fray for what is scheduled to be his final Test appearance.

Flintoff has said that success in this summer's Ashes would be an achievement to surpass even his magnificent performance four years ago, and those sentiments have been echoed by Australia's captain, Ricky Ponting, who has spent most of the year playing down the significance of that defeat, but has now gone on record as saying that this week is the perfect opportunity for vengeance. The quality of the cricket may not have touched the heights we saw when Australia were last on England's shores, but the level of competitiveness has scarcely diminished a notch.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)

England - LDWDW
Australia - WDLDL

Watch out for…

Jonathan Trott: A Test debut is, by its very nature, an anxious occasion, but spare a thought for England's 645th and latest selection. At the age of 28, and with nearly a decade of first-class experience to fall back on, including a stellar 2009 in which he has averaged more than 80 to date, Trott is as well prepared as he could possibly hope to be for such an auspicious occasion. But there's no way that this was part of England's summer masterplan. The loss of Pietersen, and the abject failure of a supine middle-order at Headingley, has forced the selectors into a drastic selection. Still, South African-born batsmen have a handy record in Oval Ashes deciders, so that's something.

Mitchell Johnson: Try as we might, it's been hard to tear our eyes away from Johnson's travails this summer. At Cardiff he was poor, at Lord's he was appalling. At Edgbaston he showed signs of a resurgence but was still clobbered at five runs an over. And then at Headingley, everything clicked. Suddenly he was fast and straight, with a vicious bouncer and devastating late swing from a full length, and he was too good for England's abject batsmen. A five-wicket haul was the reward for his - and the selectors' - perseverance, and at last the hype that had accompanied him back from South Africa seemed justified. More of the same at The Oval, and England may struggle to stay in the contest.

Team news

Trott's debut is the big news, Flintoff's return is the secondary story. Ian Bell's promotion to No. 3 has raised an array of eyebrows from those who've studied his average in that position (31.00) and ascertained that he is a glug of ketchup short of a full bottle, and the identity of the fifth bowler remains the mystery to keep us on our toes until the toss. Monty Panesar is in the frame as a potential second spinner, Ryan Sidebottom is lurking to provide some extra lateral movement. More likely, however, is Steve Harmison's retention on a ground that suits his style, with the unlucky Graham Onions returning to the bench through no fault of his own.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Ian Bell, 4 Paul Collingwood, 5 Jonathan Trott, 6 Matt Prior (wk), 7 Andrew Flintoff, 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steve Harmison.

All week the talk from the Australian camp has left English observers incredulous. How could they possibly contemplate leaving out Stuart Clark, a player with 29 wickets in six Ashes Tests, and the man whose straight lines and subtle swing goaded his colleagues into abandoning their scattergun approach at Headingley, to dramatically successful effect. Two players, however, are competing for a recall. Brett Lee, the reverse-swing specialist, as Ricky Ponting described him this week, and Nathan Hauritz, the unassuming spinner who has been working on his strategies with Saqlain Mushtaq. Hauritz is probably the likeliest to return, but an all-seam attack deserves to remain the attack of choice.

Australia (probable) 1 Simon Katich, 2 Shane Watson, 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Marcus North, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Stuart Clark, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Ben Hilfenhaus.

Pitch and conditions

Dry and bare, but invariably a true wicket, The Oval offers rewards to sides who risk two spinners, but there is plenty of bounce and carry for the seamers on either side as well. "Any bowler who is not on top of their game can expect to be punished, particularly once the batsmen are in," Chris Adams, Surrey's cricket manager, told Cricinfo. "Australia certainly have in-form batsmen at the moment, and it could be quite painful for the bowlers if they're allowed to get set."

The big concern for both teams, but especially England who desperately need to win, is the weather forecast. It has been glorious in London all week, but the rain is set to return with a vengeance this week.

Stats and trivia

  • England have won 37 and lost 18 of the 91 matches they have played at The Oval, while Australia won 6 and lost 15 out of 34. With three wins, two draws and one defeat since 1985, it is England's most successful Ashes venue in recent times.

  • In the four Tests in the series so far, Australia's fast bowlers - Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Johnson and Clark - have averaged 28.11 per wicket for their 53 scalps.
  • England's fast men - James Anderson, Onions, Stuart Broad, Flintoff and Harmison - have conceded more than 37 runs per wicket.


"There is nothing bigger than playing a deciding Test in an Ashes series, and you have to grab these moments when they present themselves because you may never experience such a match ever again."
Ricky Ponting has been around the block a few times in his 14-year international career, but it doesn't get bigger than this

"If we win this one it will be a far greater achievement than 2005. That was fantastic but the side had performed well over a period of time and we'd beaten everyone in the world."
Andrew Flintoff believes his final Test could be his finest hour

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Victory would be greatest moment - Flintoff

Andrew Flintoff: 'From my point of view, with the injuries that I've had to be here, if we won it would be a far greater achievement for some of the things that have happened over the past six to 12 months'

Andrew Flintoff believes an England victory in his farewell Test would be a greater accomplishment than the team's heralded 2-1 Ashes triumph four years ago. Describing this week's Ashes decider at The Oval as "the biggest [Test] I'll ever play in", Flintoff said a final act of resurgence after a trying 12 months would be a more satisfying result than England's authoritative series win in 2005.

"It's different, obviously going in 1-1, but if we win this one it will be a far greater achievement than 2005," Flintoff said. "That was fantastic but the side had performed well over a period of time and we'd beaten everyone in the world and we came here against Australia expecting to win.

"I'm not saying we're not expecting to do it this time but the side's gone through a lot over the past 12 months. The side's changed hell of a lot. We've got young players who have never played in the Ashes. And from my point of view, with the injuries that I've had to be here, if we won it would be a far greater achievement for some of the things that have happened over the past six to 12 months."

Flintoff, training with a brace on his damaged right knee on Tuesday, successfully completed his first bowling session since the eve of the Headingley Test. He began cautiously, but gradually built up pace during a 20-minute spell. He expected the knee to swell after training, but insisted it could be managed with regular icing and treatment. "I'm confident I'll be alright," he said.

Flintoff admitted to being disappointed at his omission from the Headingley Test, given his insistence that he was fit enough to play, but declined to take aim at Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower over their decision.

"It was a tough decision all round," he said. "I'd have played at the position I was at the time but Andrew [Strauss] and Andrew [Flower] decided that wasn't an acceptable level, so that's the sort of thing you've got to get on with. Ever since then I've been trying to get right for this one here which is going to be an unbelievably good game.

"Sometimes in professional sport there are some hard decisions you have to make and as a player sometimes they're hard to take but you move on from that. I'm just pleased to be here now with an opportunity to play on Thursday."

Flintoff has placed sentimentality and thoughts of another knee operation to one side as he attempts to propel England to Ashes glory, but conceded the enormity of his decision to retire from Test cricket would likely not hit him until England's next international assignment.

"It's not about sentiment or last Test matches or anything like that," he said. "I'm fully focused on trying to perform and add to an England victory. Everything else I'm sure will take care of itself, for me it's all about winning the game.

"At some point in the winter when the boys are playing in South Africa I'm sure I'll want to be there and I'll be missing it. But the retirement, it's a decision I came to a while ago. That knee stuff, it was the final draw. I got it out there to stop the speculation over my future. Since announcing it, it's been a bit of a weight off my shoulders and I can go out there and enjoy the last game. As for sentiment and all that, I'll let you know how I can get on with that.

"I've not been thinking about the past full stop to be honest with you. I'm proud that I've played for England over a period of time, proud of some of my performances and proud I've been on a winning side for quite a long period of time. That's about as far as I've gone to be honest with you. My thoughts over the past week have been getting fit for this Test match which is the biggest I'll ever play in, not because it's my last but the position of the series - 1-1 against Australia. It's a great opportunity for anyone going out there to take the series by the scruff of the neck and put in a match-winning performance."

Australia report bookie approach to ICC

Cricket's recent trysts with bookmakers

  • February 2007: Nagpur Police accuses Marlon Samuels of giving out team information to an alleged bookie, Mukesh Kochar. Police releases a transcript of the conversation between Samuels and Kochar, and the ICC bans Samuels for two years.
  • October 2008: Two ICL players are suspended from the league amid widespread speculation over match-fixing, though the ICL says they are suspended on "disciplinary grounds".
  • July 2009: Pakistan players complain of the presence of "suspicious characters" in their team hotel in Colombo during a Test series. The team management gets their rooms changed, and the ICC's ACSU clears Pakistan of any contact with bookies.
  • August 2009: An audio tape of a phone conversation between Mohammad Illyas, a Pakistan senior selector, and Salim Altaf, the PCB's chief operating officer, alludes to match-fixing in the ICL. Illyas, father-in-law of Imran Farhat who played in the ICL, accuses senior Lahore Badshahs players of having fixed matches.

The Australian team management has filed a report with the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit after a player was approached by a man suspected of links to illegal bookmaking. Cricinfo has learned the approach was made in the bar of the team's London hotel, the Royal Kensington Garden, following Australia's Ashes defeat at Lord's in July.

The player alerted senior officials immediately and, following ICC protocol, team manager Steve Bernard filed a report with the ACSU. The matter is currently under investigation. The player is not suspected of wrongdoing, and has been praised by a senior ICC official for his prompt reporting of the approach in line with the ACSU's player education programme.

Sources within the ICC and the Australian team, when contacted by Cricinfo, described the approach as "concerning" and part of a worrying resurgence in the presence of illegal bookmakers around major events. Sir Paul Condon, the chairman of the ACSU, told ICC meetings in Dubai and London over the past year that Twenty20 cricket posed the greatest corruption threat to the game since the dark days of Sharjah in the 1990s; a notion supported by recent media and anecdotal reports.

Cricinfo understands the ACSU is investigating additional approaches made to players by illegal bookmakers, or conduits acting on their behalf, during the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in England earlier this summer. One source said the ACSU was "well advanced" in several lines of inquiry, at least one of which also involved approaches made to players at a team hotel.

Senior officials are concerned that illegal bookmakers, emboldened by the new betting possibilities opened up by the Twenty20 game, are becoming increasingly prevalent around match venues and team hotels. After the inception of the ACSU in 2000 - in direct response to the match-fixing scandals involving international captains Hansie Cronje, Mohammed Azharuddin and Salim Malik - barriers were established to block bookmakers and their intermediaries from direct contact with players. But the approach to an Australian player during an Ashes series, coupled with those allegedly made to other international cricketers at the World Twenty20, have raised concerns that a new wave of corrupting influences is attempting to infiltrate the game.

A report in the Sunday Telegraph earlier this week, quoting an anonymous ICC source, warned that cricket was under renewed threat from illegal bookmakers. "Those in charge in the ICC understand that Twenty20 cricket has the danger of going back to the bad old days," the source said.

The report suggested that the apparent resurgence in contact from illegal bookmakers was in part attributable to the second IPL, a tournament at which the ACSU was not in operation, reportedly due to its $1.2 million operational bill. Lalit Modi, the IPL's commissioner, told Cricinfo last month the ACSU would be involved in future IPL tournaments, and an agreement in principle has been reached for the unit to police the Champions League Twenty20, scheduled to be played in India this October. "They have expanded their services and going ahead, all the tournaments, including Champions League and the IPL would have the presence of ICC's anti-corruption unit," Modi said, in a move welcomed by the ICC's chief executive Haroon Lorgat.

Lorgat last week announced there was "absolutely no substance" to reports that Pakistan players had been apporached by illegal bookmakers at their team hotel in Colombo during the recent series against Sri Lanka. The matter was investigated by the ACSU.

"The ICC and its members have a zero-tolerance approach to corruption and rightly so because the integrity of our sport with its spirit is one of its greatest assets," Lorgat said. "On that basis it is entirely appropriate that any suggestions in relation to that subject are always reported to and properly investigated by the ACSU. I am pleased those investigations have indicated nothing untoward has taken place on this occasion but it is a reminder that all of us - players, officials and supporters - must maintain our vigilance to ensure we remain on top of the issue of corruption."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Pietersen out of England ODI squad

Andrew Flintoff has been included in England's ODI squad for the summer but Kevin Pietersen hasn't.

Kent's opening batsmen, Joe Denly, has been called up to replace the injured Kevin Pietersen in England's one-day squad for their seven ODI series against Australia, plus the subsequent Champions Trophy in South Africa. Denly, 23, is the only uncapped player in a 15-man squad, and will also travel to Old Trafford for the two Twenty20 internationals on August 30 and September 1.

"Joe Denly has impressed the selectors for a while with some excellent performances in one-day cricket and with Kevin Pietersen unavailable through injury, this is an excellent opportunity for Joe to step up to the next level and show what he is capable of," said the ECB's national selector, Geoff Miller, who added that the selectors had kept faith with the bulk of the squad which was successful in the ODIs against West Indies earlier in the summer.

"It is a dream come true for me," said Denly, who averaged 51.85 in the Friends Provident Trophy this season, and who made 66 and 36 for England Lions against the Australians at Worcester in July. "As a youngster, I dreamt about representing Kent and now I have the honour of hopefully playing for my country. I've always had ambitions of playing for England; whether it be at one-day or Test match level. I feel very proud and hope to forge a long international career.

"I won't look to change too much. I'm confident that I've got the game to step up to the next level and I cannot wait to represent England. I've played for the Lions but stepping up into the main side is great for me. I did pretty well against the Aussies for the Lions and will hope to carry that on for the rest of the summer.

"Hopefully I will get a go in a few of the one-dayers and Twenty20 matches and you never know where that will lead. If I continue my form in the County Championship then hopefully they will consider me, for Test match cricket too, although I realise that could be a while off as there are a few players ahead of me. I just need to keep performing for Kent and now hopefully for England too. I cannot wait to link-up with the group."

Andrew Strauss will once again lead England in their major ODI campaigns, although not in the two Twenty20s where Paul Collingwood continues in the role he assumed for the ICC World Twenty20 in June. Collingwood will also take charge for the one-off ODI against Ireland in Belfast on August 27 that serves as a warm-up for the main events that follow.

"Andrew Strauss has led the side extremely well in both forms of cricket this summer," said Miller, "but the selectors felt it would be beneficial for him to have a short break from international cricket following the conclusion of the npower Ashes Test series and Paul Collingwood will lead the side in Ireland and in The NatWest International Twenty20s. "

As expected Ravi Bopara, who was axed from England's Test squad for Thursday's Ashes decider, is included for all formats, alongside Andrew Flintoff, who will retire from Test cricket this week, but who will remain available to England in the limited-overs format for the foreseeable. Jonathan Trott, Bopara's replacement in the Test side, has been named in the squad for the two T20Is at Old Trafford, having previously played two such matches for England in 2007.

Luke Wright and Adil Rashid, who impressed for England during the World Twenty20, have been rewarded with places in the ODI squads, but four other squad members from that tournament have not been retained. Denly's Kent captain and opening partner, Robert Key, is back on the sidelines, along with Essex's specialist wicketkeeper, James Foster, who has been superseded by an in-form Matt Prior, and Dimitri Mascarenhas, who has been discarded from all formats. Graham Napier, who was selected in the World Twenty20 squad but did not play a match, is also out of the reckoning.

Squad for ODIs v Australia & Champions Trophy: Andrew Strauss (capt), James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Joe Denly, Andrew Flintoff, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (wk), Adil Rashid, Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.

Squad for ODI v Ireland: Paul Collingwood (capt), James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Joe Denly, Andrew Flintoff, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (wk), Adil Rashid, Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.

Squad for Twenty20 internationals v Australia: Paul Collingwood (capt), James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad, Joe Denly, Andrew Flintoff, Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior (wk), Adil Rashid, Owais Shah, Ryan Sidebottom, Graeme Swann, Jonathan Trott, Luke Wright.