Tuesday, August 25, 2009

England vs Australia 5th Ashes Test (2009) Day 4 Highlights

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Monday, August 24, 2009

'Sacking Ponting would be completely unfair' - Sutherland

Merv Hughes is one of the Australian selectors on tour.

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, has said sacking Ricky Ponting from the captaincy would be "completely unfair" and has praised his leadership through the Ashes. Australia lost The Oval Test by 197 runs and conceded their second Ashes defeat to England this decade.

"Ricky's had a very, very good series," Sutherland told reporters. "He's been under incredible pressure. I thought the dignity and poise that he showed in defeat was something that all Australians should be very proud of."

He also absolved the National Selection Panel (NSP) of responsibility for the defeat in England. One of the talking points in the post-mortem was the omission of the offspinner Nathan Hauritz, which captain Ricky Ponting and coach Tim Nielsen admitted was a blunder. Hauritz's counterpart Graeme Swann proved why a spinner was so essential on that pitch as he picked up eight wickets. Sutherland defended the team management for the final line-up, implying that not all gambles are likely to pay-off.

"I think everyone will be looking for people to blame. I don't think that in any way we can hold the selectors accountable for us losing the Ashes," Sutherland said. "At the end of the day, the players go out and do the business on the field.

"Only six or seven months ago we had a fantastic series in South Africa where we beat the No. 1 team in the world (2-1 in the Tests) with a pretty similar line-up. The selectors were hailed for their selection, I guess in some ways the perceived risks they took in backing young talent. I think it would be jumping to conclusions to be blaming the selectors for this."

Sutherland said it would be unfair to criticise the decision to play a four-pronged pace attack at the expense of Hauritz, while it was clear that Australia effectively lost the game when they conceded a huge first-innings lead of 172.

"That's something that the selectors can explain for themselves," Sutherland said. "Whether that had any bearing on the result of the game, who will know? We've lost the game by 200 runs, it's a pretty significant defeat, and having a spinner in the side wouldn't have helped us in the first innings, where we were bowled out for 160 and effectively lost the game."

With Australia free-falling to No. 4 in the latest ICC Test rankings, Sutherland admitted that plenty of work had to be done to reinstate their position at the top.

"I don't think Cricket Australia is under any illusions as to where this team is at. We're definitely in a re-building phase after losing some of the best players to ever play cricket for Australia, and right now, what you get with a young and relatively inexperienced team is some ebbs and flows in performance.

"We saw a little bit of that in the Ashes series. Our best cricket was very, very good, and our not-so-good cricket, in a couple of critical moments, were really the reasons why we let the Ashes slip."

Commenting on likely changes to the selection panel, Sutherland said at least one position in the three-man panel, led by Andrew Hilditch, will be converted to a full-time role.

"The selection panel is to some extent, professional already. We have in recent times had a review, where we are now moving to a phase of becoming more professional in our approach to selection. It's not just selection, it's a matter of identifying talent and being partners in the development of talent and I think that's part of the review and going forward we'll be moving towards having at least one of the selection panel full time."

However, he ruled out the possibility of appointing the captain and coach to the panel, on the lines of what New Zealand Cricket adopted on Sunday. "The captain and the coach are always heavily consulted before matches but the structure that we prefer is for the selectors to be independent and making their own decisions and to be accountable for selection on that basis."

Australia must face harsh reality

Ricky Ponting is faced with the challenge of lifting his Australian side back to the top of the Test rankings.

T-I-M-B-E-R. That loudly cracking gum tree at The Oval on Sunday was Australia crashing towards earth as they tumbled from first on the ICC rankings to a record low of fourth. Michael Hussey, the last man out, might not have reached the dressing room by the time the official email arrived, confirming what had been coming since Australia were so outplayed in India late last year. Ricky Ponting's world champion tag now lies in history next to the exploits of those from the Beijing Olympics.

That it was England who sent them through the trapdoor adds to the pain. After the game, Ponting was hurt and disappointed, but dignified and composed. The planning to move back up the ladder has already begun, and will be helped by playing Pakistan and West Indies at home over the summer. However, an era of severe inconsistency has followed the decade of dominance that began under Mark Taylor, continued through the Steve Waugh period and started to waver when a series of greats left Ponting stranded with an unrecognisable outfit.

Despite the defeat, their third to a major nation in less than a year, the influential figures in Australian cricket remain happy with the progress. James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, and Andrew Hilditch, the often under-attack chairman of selectors, have expressed their disappointment in the result without pointing any fingers. A review will occur - of course it will - but the pair remained committed to this regenerating outfit.

"I'm comfortable with where we are at," Ponting said as he wondered why things had turned so bad at The Oval. "We've been rebuilding for 12 to 18 months, with guys who have a few Tests under their belts who are still learning about the game. There couldn't be a better example for the young guys than the last couple of months. They all should be a lot better off for being part of this series."

That might work for the newer faces, who become toughened and gnarled in defeat, but it's unlikely to help the older players, particular Ponting, Simon Katich and Michael Clarke, who have now lost twice in England. They had their chance for revenge and failed against a far inferior outfit than the 2005 vintage. Only Clarke stood out consistently, but then he flopped in the final Test, first the victim of a rash drive and then to an unfortunate pin-ball run-out. A home series win in 2010-11 can't exorcise their England issues over the past four years.

What has been hardest to understand is the regular yo-yo of performance, something for which the inflated coaching staff must accept some of the responsibility. How can the coterie of hangers-on and strategic planners not see problems unfolding when they spend so much time with the squad? All drills at the daily training sessions are designed for peak performance under searing pressure, but the tracksuits were blinded by optimism following each strong Test before re-discovering reality the next week.

The fright arrives when the team loses so badly in two Tests after saying how well everybody is going, how great the "preparation" has been, how strong the belief is in the group. By manufacturing this in-public spirit, lying about team developments and hiding struggling figures until they gain a high-paying tell-all media deal, the followers and players feel nothing is wrong. None of the professionals sensed the threat of the crash.

"Excitement" was Ponting's buzzword in the lead-up to The Oval. He didn't want to talk about the pressure on his men because he didn't want his young players tensing up. It wasn't just the fresh ones who couldn't deal with the strain of a winner-takes-all game, but the experienced campaigners as well, particularly in the first innings when they were flattened for 160. Modern-age team psychology and management babble masks truth. If players are told they are going well all the time how can they cope when things, suddenly or slowly, turn bad? They need to learn how to deal with fact.

To move on this unit must start by forgetting the high of South Africa, the one-off steamy holiday romance earlier this year, and focus on what happened in England. The day-to-day problems, the failure to turn hours of talk into action and recognising the ability and limits of those in the squad, particularly the fast bowlers. This is an outfit that can't transform any situation into a win, especially under extreme conditions.

When it mattered most, they failed. It happened at Lord's, where they expected to take a 1-0 lead at their overseas fortress, and was repeated at The Oval in the most important contest. In between they hung on for a draw at Edgbaston and had the best of the conditions in Leeds. Ponting regularly said Australians play their best when their backs are to the wall. It's not true with this side, which is why it currently sits in fourth behind South Africa, Sri Lanka and India. Mighty England remain fifth.

Despite it all, Ponting feels hurt but sees sunshine. "We're definitely heading in the right direction," he said. "I'm really proud of the guys." A tour that began with a first-round exit in the World Twenty20 has been followed by a second consecutive Ashes defeat in England. That's more like a dead end.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Flintoff's fling inspires England Ashes glory

Andrew Flintoff celebrates his run out of Ricky Ponting that sparked England's march to the Ashes.

Amid scenes of delirium unwitnessed in South London since the unforgettable summer of 2005, England's cricketers reclaimed the Ashes on a tumultuous fourth afternoon at The Oval, as Australia's brave resistance - led by a century of incredible mental fortitude from Michael Hussey - was unpicked, wicket by wicket, minute by minute, until, at 5.47pm, and with an expectant crowd willing on the moment of glory, Hussey prodded Graeme Swann to Alastair Cook at short leg to spark the celebrations into life.

At the moment of victory, all of England's players rushed into a huddle on the edge of the square - all except for one, that is. In his moment of Test retirement, Andrew Flintoff's first instinct was to seek out and console the crestfallen centurion Hussey, whose 121 from 263 balls had given his side a hope of salvation, but whose careless running between the wickets during a fraught afternoon session had been the single biggest factor in their demise. By calling for the single that led to the run-out of his captain and resistance-leader Ricky Ponting for 66, Hussey is unlikely to recall this particular innings with any fondness whatsoever.

Inevitably, it was Flintoff who stole the show from the Australians. He could not be the tub-thumping batsman of old in this series, while his bowling - though thunderous at Lord's - faded cruelly as the concerns about his right knee began to mount. But as a presence, and as a man who can make things happen on a cricket field, his spell has scarcely diminished. In a moment that is sure to be replayed for years on end, he gathered a firm clip from Hussey, steadied himself as Ponting hesitated fatally, then unleashed a fast, flat, unerring swing of the arm that plucked out the off stump with Ponting a foot short.

Though the decision went to a replay, Flintoff was in no doubt. He raised his arms in his now-habitual Kodak pose, and waited to be enveloped by his jubilant team-mates. It was a moment eerily reminiscent of Gary Pratt's series-turning shy at Trent Bridge in 2005, when Ponting once again was the fall guy, and it uncorked the tensions in the crowd as surely as the champagne was uncorked in England's dressing-room some three hours later. It brought to an end an unnerving stand of 127, and it shattered Australia's collective will.

Five balls later, their batsman of the series, Michael Clarke ran himself out for a duck after a clip off the pads ricocheted to Andrew Strauss at leg slip, and Australia could not recover their poise. Though Hussey was badly dropped by Paul Collingwood at slip on 55 off Swann, in Swann's next over, Marcus North dragged his back foot out of the crease as he swung at a big ripper, and Matt Prior, having gathered well high to his left, flicked off the bails almost as an afterthought. Their target of 546 had become a distant figment of their imagination, and at 236 for 5, their only remaining hope was to bat out the final four sessions of the series.

Brad Haddin chose pugnacity as the means to reboot Australia's innings, and he signalled his intent with two fours in his first nine balls, including a fizzing cover-drive as James Anderson overpitched. But Anderson might have dismissed him three times in a single over, including a regulation clip to short midwicket that was spilled by the substitute, Graham Onions. As he and Hussey took their seventh-wicket stand to 91, an ever-anxious crowd began to shuffle in their seats. On 34, however, his luck finally ran out, as he advanced down the track to Swann and picked out Strauss with a lofted flick to deep midwicket.

It was to be the game-breaking moment. Strauss, usually the coolest of characters in the field, celebrated euphorically as The Oval erupted once more, and seven balls later, the end truly was nigh. Steve Harmison - hitherto muted on a pitch that did not suit his style - extracted enough life for Mitchell Johnson to fence to second slip, where Collingwood, to his relief and joy, finally held on. Then, when Peter Siddle played around his front pad to lob a simple chance to mid-off, Harmison had his second scalp in the space of 12 balls.

That quickly became three in 13, as Stuart Clark fenced nervily to Cook at short leg, and though Hilfenhaus averted the hat-trick with a stabbed defence straight back down the track, there was no longer any way to stem England's tide of emotion. With Harmison stalking to the crease with a predatory menace unseen in Ashes cricket for four long years, the crowd finally dared to proclaim the Ashes were coming home. Fifteen balls later, they were.

After the ease with which Australia's openers had pushed along at four runs an over on the third evening of the match, England's day of destiny had dawned with more than just a frisson of anxiety in the air. But Swann claimed the initial breakthrough at the end of his second over, tweaking a succession of sharply spinning offbreaks past Simon Katich's edge, before nailing him plumb lbw with the arm-ball.

Swann bounced for joy in the middle of the pitch as a massive roar of relief and ecstasy erupted from the stands, but almost immediately the fervour morphed into a respectful standing ovation for the incoming Ponting, in his 136th Test and almost certainly his last in England after four memorable Ashes tours.

Before he had faced a delivery, however, England had struck again, as Broad this time hurried Shane Watson on off stump and beat the inside-edge of his defensive prod. Watson did not seem best amused at the decision, but replays suggested there was nothing wrong with the appeal at all. For all of Watson's impressive form in five innings at the top of Australia's order, it was nevertheless the fourth time this series he had fallen in such a manner. Food for thought as he works on his new career as an opener.

At 90 for 2 and with a jittery Hussey at the crease, England swarmed onto the offensive, with Swann camping four men around the bat at all times and at one stage sending down 28 dot balls in a row as Hussey prodded and smothered with desperate determination. At the other end, Ponting's eagerness to play the pull was tempered by his wariness of the vagaries of the wicket, although whenever he was tempted, he executed the stroke with the mastery that has made it his calling-card for the past decade.

In the first over after lunch, Ponting laced a first-ball full-toss from Broad through the covers for four, then tickled Swann around the corner to bring up a battling and brilliant half-century from 76 deliveries. Broad subsequently received a warning for running on the pitch to deepen the crowd's growing concerns, who had just seen Collingwood at slip parry a rare Ponting edge with his left boot. But then up popped Flintoff, and once he'd had his say, there was no holding back the inevitable.

How two run-outs turned the day

Andrew Flintoff's pain-filled body has weakened his main weapons but his right Andrew Flintoff's pain-filled body has weakened his main weapons but his right arm is one of the few major parts that hasn't been operated on and it was his bullet of a direct hit that shot the game back England's way.

Andrew Flintoff's rocket arm got rid of Ricky Ponting and brought his team-mates to life.

Can't bat, can't bowl ... can throw. Andrew Flintoff's pain-filled body has weakened his main weapons but his right arm is one of the few major parts that hasn't been operated on and it was his bullet of a direct hit that shot the game back England's way.

Both Flintoff's batting and bowling have clicked only once in his farewell series as he has battled a threatening knee injury. He can still frighten opponents with each discipline, just not all the time, and in this match he has been quiet, living off a well-won reputation in his last game without producing anything special with his usual methods. One side-arm hurl from mid-on changed his impact and ensured a lasting memory.

No, not as the poser who stood arms aloft, mouth opening and closing as he munched on his gum, as soon as the ball left his hand on missile-lock towards the stumps at the striker's end. But as the man who could grab a game with an act of beauty or destruction, depending on your allegiance. It took the third umpire a couple of replays to confirm the dismissal, but when OUT appeared on the scoreboard the ground throbbed.

It wasn't a tailender who had been removed, but Ricky Ponting, the in-form captain who was worrying the home side in the impossible chase. Flintoff has often taken the biggest wickets, including Ponting five times in 15 Tests, but not like this. Around the field he has looked heavy-legged and more like a 50-year-old than the 79-Test veteran aged 31.

For the moment that Michael Hussey pushed Steve Harmison to Flintoff's left at mid-on, the speed of the allrounder's feet didn't matter. He picked up the ball cleanly and flung it back, catching the slow-starting Ponting, who had been called for the run, about five centimetres short. Hussey quickly put a hand on hip in disbelief before staying at the bowler's end while the decision was made. Knowing it was his mistake, his back stayed turned as Ponting walked off at the end of the 127-run swim for safety with Hussey.

At the same time Flintoff was being mobbed. After an insecure opening to his career, Flintoff has grown used to being the centre of attention and it was the last time a ground would cheer spontaneously at his Test brilliance. Flintoff came on to bowl shortly after but did not have any impact, finishing with one wicket for the game and a total of 29 runs.

Six balls after Flintoff's run-out it was Andrew Strauss, a batsman who has had the biggest impact on the direction of the Ashes, who matched his team-mate during another freakish dismissal. Michael Clarke was as unfortunate as Jonathan Trott on the opening day.

Starting against Graeme Swann and not feeling overly comfortable, Clarke went down the pitch to his fourth ball, hitting hard and on to the short leg Alastair Cook's left foot. The rebound went to Strauss, running in from leg slip, and his underarm beat Clarke's return by millimetres. It was frighteningly close even though Billy Bowden didn't call immediately for the replays. They showed a bat on the line and Clarke went the same way as Ponting.

Both the captain and vice-captain had become the tourists' first run-out victims of the series in unrepeatable circumstances. The Australians will consider themselves seriously unlucky but that is generally the feeling of a losing team. The pitch, the umpires, the gods of cricket and the world have been against them at The Oval. Not so for Strauss, Flintoff and their ecstatic followers.

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.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka T20 (2009) Highlights – Colombo

Pakistan won by 52 runs
Pakistan 172/5 (20/20 ov); Sri Lanka 120 (18.1/20 ov)
Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 5th ODI (2009) Highlights




England vs Australia 4th Ashes Test (2009) Day 3 Highlights

Part 1

Part 2

Saturday, August 8, 2009

England vs Australia 4th Ashes Test (2009) Day 2 Highlights

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

England vs Australia 4th Test Day 1 (2009) Highlights

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 4th ODI (2009) Highlights


Pakistan innings

Pakistan innings Part 2

Sri Lankan innings

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

England vs Australia 3rd Test (2009) Day 5 Highlights

Part 1

Part 2

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 3rd ODI (2009) Highlights

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Your Ad Here West Indies vs Bangladesh T20 (2009) Highlights

Part 1

Part 2

Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2nd ODI (2009) Highlights

Pakistan innings

Sri Lanka innings

Original Video- More videos at TinyPic

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Broad gives England 113-run lead

Andrew Flintoff gave England a valuable lead and entertained the Edgbaston crowd.

Andrew Flintoff's Ashes farewell tour rolls on. The departing allrounder added one more Edgbaston memory to an already rich anthology with a powerful six to draw England level with Australia's first-innings total, followed by a boundary to overtake it. The latter stroke delivered him to a near even-time half-century - his first since December - as Flintoff positioned England for a fifth-day victory tilt.

At the very ground at which he notched his highest Test score in 2004, and earned Man-of-the-Match honours against the Australians four years ago, Flintoff propelled England from a precarious position at 168 for 5 at the fall of Ian Bell's wicket to an imposing 316 for seven at the tea break, holding an overall first-innings lead of 53 runs. Flintoff displayed indomitable intent from the outset by engaging a rejuvenated Mitchell Johnson in verbal combat, then channeled his aggression through his bat, highlighted by a blazing sequence in which the England total advanced from 200 to 250 in the space of just 38 deliveries.

Peter Siddle and Shane Watson bore the brunt of Flintoff's powerful stroke play, releasing much of the pressure created by Ben Hilfenhaus and Johnson in the first session. Siddle, as has become custom on this tour, interspersed testing inswingers and seamers with too many loose deliveries to concede 47 runs from an erratic seven-over spell. Watson, meanwhile, was set upon from the outset; his comeback spell in Test cricket yielding the unflattering figures of 0 for 23 from three overs.

Flintoff was particularly strong on the drive and pull, and raised the roof at Edgbaston when he bashed Nathan Hauritz into the long-on boundary rope for his first six of the innings. Hauritz exacted a measure of revenge by having him caught at first slip for 74 (from 79 deliveries), but not before the powerful all-rounder had guided England past Australia's first innings total of 263 and beyond the 300-run mark.

Prior to Flintoff's 89-run sixth-wicket partnership with Matt Prior, Australia had enjoyed the better of proceedings on a fourth morning delayed by an hour due to a sodden outfield. Hilfenhaus terrorised England's batsmen with a lion-hearted 14-over opening spell during which he swung the ball both ways and accounted for Andrew Strauss and Paul Collingwood. Of similar encouragement was the performance of Johnson, who bowled straighter than at any other stage on tour and was rewarded with the wicket of Ian Bell for a charmed innings of 53.

Australia might well have struck earlier on the fourth morning had Rudi Koertzen found in favour of Siddle. The fast bowler rapped Bell below the knee roll with a prodigious inswinger only for Koertzen, under the spotlight for the second consecutive Test match, to rule hiin the batsman's favour. The decision was Bell's second reprieve following a closer lbw shout to Johnson late on the second day, but he successfully navigated his way through the first hour of play to advance to 46 not out at the lunch break.

Strauss looked the more authoritative of England's overnight pair, and few would have bet against him raising his second century in as many Tests. As it was, Strauss became the first batsman from either side to pass the 300-run mark this series before attempting to cut too close to his body to a tailing Hilfenhaus delivery. His top-edge was accepted by the impressive Graham Manou.

Australia bowled a noticeably fuller length than on Friday and were rewarded with appreciable swing. Ricky Ponting predicted the Duke ball would begin to swing around the 40th over, and was vindicated when both Hilfenhaus and Siddle found aerial movement from the first over on Sunday. Three of Hilfenhaus' first four overs were maidens, as Australia sought to create a rare period of pressure in defence of their first innings total 263.

The wickets of Strauss and Collingwood - the latter to a loose drive from an away-swinging delivery accepted by Ponting at second slip - were Australia's primary highlight-reel moments in the first session, but Johnson's two-over burst prior to the lunch break was arguably the greater source of optimism. Australia's selectors have gone to extraordinary lengths to accomodate the misfiring paceman this series - ranging from pep-talks to the inclusion of an insurance seamer in Watson for Edgbaston - and their faith appeared on the way to being repaid.

His first delivery was full, fast and tailing into Bell, who, if not for the faintest of inside edges onto his pad, might well have been pavilion-bound. Bell fended a shorter ball from Johnson's next over into the chest of Simon Katich at short-leg, which required the fielder to leave the field for much of the afternoon to receive treatment for bruising.

Johnson finally got his man when he trapped Bell leg-before as part of a five-over spell of 1 for 12. Siddle was later the beneficiary of Prior's indiscipline; the batsman attempting to pull for the second time in as many deliveries from outside off-stump, and ballooning a catch to Phillip Hughes, substituting for Katich, at mid-on.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Batting continues to worry Pakistan

Pakistan need to come up with a solid batting performance to stay in the series.

Match facts

Saturday August 1, 2009
Start time 10.00 (04.30 GMT)

Big Picture

The first one-dayer on Thursday wasn't as one-sided as it was turning out to be at one stage. The Pakistan lower order fought commendably with only a couple of wickets in hand but it wasn't enough to erase an inept performance by the top order. Pakistan's coach, Intikhab Alam, stated after the match that the pitch was not to blame; his team lost it in the field when they had a chance to restrict the Sri Lankans below 200. The bowlers struggled to contain a rampaging Muttiah Muralitharan in the third Powerplay and the Sri Lankans took the psychological advantage with them in the better part of the chase as well.

Intikhab didn't blame the defeat on bad batting. But the top order's frailties against the swing generated by Sri Lanka's penetrative new-ball attack remains a concern. In four matches against them, Pakistan are yet to register a win, despite the contests being closely fought. Pakistan need to win tomorrow or else they will have to win all their remaining games to win the series.

Sri Lanka too didn't bat as well as they would have liked, but have fewer concerns overall compared to their opponents. Kumar Sangakkara wasn't exactly chuffed with the way his bowlers lost the plot towards the end of the chase. Death bowling is something the home side will need to sharpen.

Form guide

(last five matches, most recent first)

Sri Lanka - WWLLL
Pakistan - LWLLL

Watch out for…

Shahid Afridi: He made a start in the first ODI, hitting a brisk 27 before a poor shot - dabbing a short ball to the keeper - cut short his knock. More is expected from him, both with bat and ball as this series progresses. If he retains his No.3 spot, he can focus more on anchoring the innings.

Thilan Thushara: He was the best bowler across both sides in the opening match - taking 3 for 29 - and his early strikes derailed Pakistan's chase. In Chaminda Vaas' absence, Sri Lanka have found an effective replacement who gets enough zip off the pitch. He cleaned up Kamran Akmal with a back-of-a-length ball which snuck through bat and pad, before removing Afridi and Younis Khan.

Team news

Intikhab conceded that the decision to send Shoaib Malik to open didn't work out as planned, which could strengthen Imran Nazir's case for an inclusion. If he's included, one of the non-performers in the middle order will have to make way.

Pakistan: (likely) 1 Kamran Akmal (wk), 2 Imran Nazir, 3 Younis Khan (capt), 4 Fawad Alam, 5 Shahid Afridi, 6 Shoaib Malik/Misbah-ul-Haq, 7 Mohammad Yousuf, 8 Abdul Razzaq, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Mohammad Aamer, 11 Saeed Ajmal

Sri Lanka will probably retain their winning combination.

Sri Lanka: (likely) 1 Upul Tharanga, 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Kumar Sangakkara (capt and wk), 4 Mahela Jayawardene, 5 Thilan Samaraweera, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Chamara Kapugedera, 8 Thilan Thushara, 9 Nuwan Kulasekara, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan

Stats and trivia

  • Despite Pakistan's unsuccessful run-chase in the first ODI, Dambulla remains a better pitch for the team batting second in day games. Teams batting first average 3.84 per over and 20.09 per wicket. For teams chasing, the numbers are 3.98 and 26.94.

  • Murali's Man-of-the-Match award on Thursday was his second against Pakistan and his third at the Dambulla Stadium in 16 ODIs at that ground.

  • Murali's starting to win matches ... with the bat. In the tri-series final against Bangladesh in Mirpur this January, his whirlwind unbeaten 33 guided Sri Lanka to the title in the most freakish manner possible.