Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Pietersen’

England announce 15 for Stanford Super Series

September 9, 2008

Stanford Super Series 2008

Ryan Sidebottom: back in contention after an injury-hit summer

England’s selectors have named a 15-man squad for the Stanford Super Series and the seven-match one-day tour of India that gets underway in November, with Ryan Sidebottom earning a recall after an injury disrupted season. He comes in to replace Tim Bresnan, although will have to pass a fitness test, in a squad that is otherwise unchanged from the team that defeated South Africa 4-0 in the recent NatWest Series.

The fact that England have named the same squad for both the Stanford Series and the one-dayers is clearly in the interests of team unity, even though a player like Alastair Cook, who rarely clears the ropes in any form of the game, can hardly expect to feature in the big-money match.

Only players who are in the final eleven will be given a shot at winning a personal fortune of US$1 million, but the remaining four squad members will share another US$1 million between them, while the backroom staff will be well paid as well. The weakening pound is currently making it an even more enticing prospect. In the three months since the match was announced, the potential prize has gone up by more than £50,000.

Steve Harmison, who only came out of ODI retirement last month, is now widely expected to feature in the match. Miller confirmed that Harmison had originally said he didn’t want to be considered for the Stanford match – for fear of being seen hunting riches – but said the final selection was based purely on picking the best squad. “We picked the side on cricketing factors, there were no financial implications at all,” he said.

The 15-man squad is also a clear shift away from the Twenty20 specialists who were chosen for the ICC World Twenty20 last September. On that occasion the likes of Darren Maddy, Jeremy Snape, James Kirtley and Chris Schofield made the side but were predictably out of their depth. This time around there was a clamour from some quarters to include Graham Napier, who hit 152 against Sussex in the Twenty20 Cup this season, but England have stuck with the tried and tested.

In a separate announcement, England have unveiled their list of 12 centrally contracted players for the 2008-09 season, as well as a new seven-man Increment Contract list, tailored for those players who are regular squad members, if not guaranteed first-team players.

As widely anticipated, Matthew Hoggard – who has not played for England since the tour of New Zealand in March – is the most notable absentee from the senior contracts list. Stuart Broad, who replaced Hoggard in the team for the second Test of that series in Wellington and has been a notable performer with bat and ball ever since, has been rewarded for his efforts with his first full contract.

There are few surprises in the contracts list, although one man who will be relieved to feature is the former England captain, Michael Vaughan. He has not played limited-overs cricket for more than a year and has been struggling for form in the first-class game as well. Nevertheless his retention is a reward for his diligent service as captain, and will be a significant boost to his morale ahead of next summer’s Ashes.

Vaughan now hopes to find some form during the last few weeks of the season.

Miller added that he was delighted that Broad had earned a full contract for the first time in his career.

Players awarded an Increment Contract will receive an additional one-off payment from ECB on top of the salary they receive from their county. These contracts have been awarded, for the most part, to England’s one-day specialists, although the announcement of such contracts for both wicketkeepers, Matt Prior and Tim Ambrose, undermines the suspicion that Prior had begun to nudge ahead in his race to cement his place in the team for both Test and one-day cricket.

Squad for Stanford and India ODIs Kevin Pietersen (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison, Samit Patel, Matt Prior (wk), Owais Shah, Graeme Swann, Ryan Sidebottom, Luke Wright

Central contracts James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Andrew Flintoff, Stephen Harmison, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Ryan Sidebottom, Andrew Strauss, Michael Vaughan.

Increment contracts Tim Ambrose, Ravi Bopara, Samit Patel, Matt Prior, Owais Shah, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi

Pietersen’s hopeful to beat Australia in Ashes

August 13, 2008

Tim Nielsen, the Australia coach, has taken confidence from Kevin Pietersen’s early talk about the Ashes following his opening game as England captain. The series doesn’t start until next July, but Pietersen said after opening his account against South Africa that “if we play like we played this week, we’ll beat Australia”.

“I’m pleased that he is thinking about us already,” Nielsen said in the Age. “We’ve got a couple of big series coming up that are taking up most of our thinking at the moment, but we’re certainly very aware that in 12 months we’ll have an Ashes series on the go, and we’re very much looking forward to it.”

Australia have a Test campaign against New Zealand in November followed by home-and-away contests against South Africa before they head to England. Nielsen felt England, who lost the 2006-07 Ashes 5-0, had a lot to improve before they could compete with Australia.

“Without wanting to put too much on paper, I reckon it is interesting that he’s coming out and saying that already,” Nielsen said. “There are obviously some things they need to work on. It was a dead rubber and if they want to win the Ashes, they’ve got to win two more Tests than they won in this series, against us in England next year.”

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi

Pietersen confirmed as England captain

August 5, 2008

Kevin Pietersen has been swiftly appointed as Michael Vaughan’s successor as Test captain, while also taking the one-day leadership after Paul Collingwood handed in his notice yesterday following Vaughan’s departure. Pietersen, one of the few members guaranteed to be a key player of both teams in the next few years, was the favourite to take on the joint role and his appointment was confirmed by the ECB at Lord’s today. He will lead out the side for the fourth Test against South Africa this week and promised to lead on gut instinct but ask for advice, after making a decision he described as “very, very emotional”.

Vaughan’s resignation on Sunday brought to an end a five-year tenure as the most successful England Test captain with 26 wins. Pietersen takes over with just one ODI as captain under his belt, having led the side against New Zealand at Lord’s in June when Collingwood was serving a four-ODI suspension. Andrew Flintoff had taken the reins when Vaughan was injured for England’s last Ashes campaign, the ill-fated 5-0 walloping by Australia in 2006-07.

Ravi Bopara has been brought in to take Vaughan’s spot as batsman for the fourth Test at The Oval, a dead rubber which begins on Thursday. Vaughan has chosen to take a break from cricket and with South Africa already having sealed the series, it will be a good opportunity for Bopara – who has three Tests to his name – to try to shine.

The selectors also named a 15-man squad for one-day series and Twenty20 against South Africa which includes the uncapped Nottinghamshire batsman Samit Patel and a recall for the Sussex wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Test squad Alastair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Ravi Bopara, Kevin Pietersen (capt), Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Tim Ambrose (wk), Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom, Steve Harmison, Monty Panesar.

One-day squad Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Kevin Pietersen (capt), Owais Shah, Ian Bell, Samit Patel, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior (wk), Andrew Flintoff, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Ryan Sidebottom, Chris Tremlett, Luke Wright.

– About Cricket –

Sandesh Kumar Jaggi

Vaughan steps down as captain

August 4, 2008

Michael Vaughan has resigned as England captain following the series defeat against South Africa, which was sealed by the five-wicket loss at Edgbaston on Saturday.

The decision was announced during a hastily arranged press conference at Loughborough even though yesterday evening Vaughan said he “would let the dust” settle on the defeat.

Paul Collingwood has also stood down as one-day captain, meaning that England will announce a new captain for both forms of the game on Monday. The frontrunner is Kevin Pietersen, who is a fixture in both teams. Collingwood is currently serving a four-match suspension for a slow over-rate.

An emotional Vaughan said he felt the time was right to go and will take some time out of the game and won’t play in the final Test at The Oval, though he remains available for selection for future England contests.

“It’s the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make, but also the easiest,” said Vaughan. “I put my heart and soul into the job but if I kept on going my career could have come to an abrupt end. I think this decision will prolong my career.

It brings an end to Vaughan’s 51-match run as captain, four games short of becoming England’s long-serving leader, although his 26 victories makes him, statistically, the most successful captain.

However, the pressure on Vaughan has been growing in recent months despite back-to-back series victories against New Zealand. The series loss to South Africa is England’s third in five series, dating back to the 1-0 reversal against India last summer. They then lost by the same margin in Sri Lanka before losing the first Test against New Zealand in Hamilton. Vaughan led a shake-up of the team by dropping Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison and England hit back to take the series, but the performances were not convincing.

Adding to the stress on Vaughan has been his own lack of runs. He has made 40 in five innings against South Africa, consistently being troubled by the pace bowlers, and his last ten Test have produced just one century and an average of 22.

He took on the role against South Africa in 2003, following Nasser Hussain’s resignation which also came after an Edgbaston Test. His first Test in charge, at Lord’s, was a thumping innings defeat, but he subsequently secured victories at Trent Bridge and The Oval as England shared the series.

The defeats in the past two weeks at Headingley and Edgbaston were the first time he has lost back-to-back Tests and a hallmark of his reign as captain was how England could bounce back from defeats. His finest moment was the 2005 Ashes victory, although he was also at the helm for historic away successes against West Indies in 2004 and South Africa in 2005.

– About Cricket –
Sandesh Kumar Jaggi

England struggles, as Top Order fails again !!

August 1, 2008

South Africa took a hold on the third Test, and with it the series, reducing England to 126 for 4 at tea, a lead of just 43. The three frontline quicks all made inroads, after Mark Boucher’s feisty 40 helped the visitors to an advantage of 83, but in truth it was another feeble effort from England with a number of loose shots. Alastair Cook and Ian Bell were especially culpable as South Africa again worked as a unit to prey on their weaknesses.

After being rattled by Andrew Flintoff’s fire-and-brimstone performance yesterday evening, South Africa reasserted their authority even though the lead was restricted to double figures by James Anderson and Ryan Sidebottom. However, in the context of Edgbaston 83 was still substantial and England couldn’t really afford more than a single loss while knocking off those runs. Two would have been manageable; three meant they were once again chasing the game. A target of 200 would be testing for South Africa, but that is a long way away. Pietersen remains to offer hope, but there is a huge amount resting on the out-of-form Paul Collingwood and the improving Flintoff.

The early overs from Morne Morkel and Andre Nel were wayward – although Nel was denied a plumb lbw first ball against Alastair Cook as the atmosphere bubbled up again – and it was Makhaya Ntini’s introduction in the sixth over that opened the door. His first ball was pulled away by Cook, and he also dropped his second delivery short, which Cook tried to help onto the leg side. Instead, he was defeated by the angle going across him and a top edge ballooned towards square leg. Boucher made a huge amount of ground and clung on a full stretch.

South Africa goaded Michael Vaughan, who was on a king pair, and although the England captain opened his account there was always a hint of desperation about his innings. He’d reached 17 at a run-a-ball when he played a compact-looking drive, only to watch it skim above the surface and be intercepted by Hashim Amla at a close mid-off.

Pietersen holds the key to the innings and he seemed to know it with the way he played himself in. He refused to chase Jacques Kallis’ wide outswingers although his first boundary was a full-stretch cover drive off Nel. Andrew Strauss was playing a compact innings, and he and Pietersen quietened the innings, until Morkel returned and produced a good ball, from round the wicket, to take Strauss’s outside edge.

The deficit was eventually erased by Pietersen and Ian Bell and for a while there was a false ease with the way they batted. However, in their current form the England top order are never far from giving a helping hand. Bell’s 199 in the first Test only raised the expectation of what he should be producing on a regular basis and he hasn’t backed it up. A few moments after a creamy straight drive, he lobbed limp pull behind square where Boucher took his second catch.

The electric atmosphere from the second evening when Flintoff tore into Kallis created a sense of anticipation during the morning. Ashwell Prince was a pivotal figure, an in-form batsman who was also capable of batting well with the lower order. But he didn’t last long, playing a rare loose drive at Sidebottom The tail was exposed and England were armed with a new ball.

Morkel provided solid resistance for half-an-hour, showing some of his batting potential which wasn’t evident in the opening two Tests, but his stay was ended by Anderson who trapped him in front of middle stump. Nel didn’t hold England up for very long, completely worked over by Sidebottom’s late swing. Sidebottom should have claimed the final wicket, but Monty Panesar dropped a simple chance at long leg as Boucher hooked straight towards him on the boundary.

Sidebottom didn’t even bother ranting at Panesar, instead just turning and grabbing his sweater. However, it didn’t cost England too many when Vaughan, not far behind Panesar as England’s biggest fielding liability, made plenty of ground at deep mid-off to hold a superb catch. They’d succeeded in keeping the lead under three figures, which gave their beleaguered batting line-up a chance of redemption. So far, they don’t look like taking it.

– About Cricket –
Sandesh Kumar Jaggi