England are not running scared
Paul NewmanEngland, the new world Twenty20 champions, tomorrow start the first of their summer Test matches against a 'we don't travel too well' Bangladeshi side, short on quality and certainly short on form.Paul Newman
England, the new world Twenty20 champions, tomorrow start the first of their summer Test matches against a 'we don't travel too well' Bangladeshi side, short on quality and certainly short on form.
Lords will play host to this summer's First Test and it would be a brave man to bet against a resounding England victory. With the 'Tigers' firmly put in their place by the England Lions team last week at my old club Derby, I just don't see how England can fail not to win this Test match.
Even though Stuart Broad and Twenty20 captain Paul Collingwood have been rested for various reasons there is still far too much quality within the England line-up.
The two omissions from the side are quite interesting. 'Golden Boy' Broad, although a key performer for England in the one-day side, has struggled to maintain the level of performance in the Test match arena as he did during the past two seasons.
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His bowling has certainly dipped and his batting - he was once considered a candidate for the Test number seven spot - has deteriorated to such an extent that both Bresnan and Swann now bat before him in the order. For me, what Stuart Broad needs to do is get on with his cricket, put the performances in, stop complaining and questioning umpiring decisions and basically to grow up a bit.
He certainly appears mature off the field but lets himself down when he crosses the white line. As for Collingwood, that is a totally different matter.
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The sceptic in me could say that Andrew Strauss has been given breathing space by the selectors to re-establish himself in the dressing room after both Alastair Cook and more recently Collingwood have led England to some fantastic results.
As with the Hussein/Vaughan situation in 2005 it might be more difficult if all three captain were in the same dressing room, so although Collingwood does have a long-term shoulder injury that the selectors want him to rest, it wont do Strauss's 'street-cred' any harm and when Collingwood does return after the series has ended then Strauss will have cemented his position once more.
So, assuming good weather, nothing more than a 2-0 series victory will be good enough for Strauss, coach Andy Flower and Geoff Miller and his fellow selectors.
t BROWN PLAYS A PART AS THE UNDERDOGS HAVE THEIR DAY
I have for some time believed that the days of the amateur side beating a First Class county had long gone. The direction the game had taken over the past 10 years was putting further distance between the amateur and professional player.
It was not unusual in the 80s and 90s for shock results to take place and indeed I was on the end of one of those when my Derbyshire team were firmly put in our place in a one-day game by the then Minor County side Durham.
But I was also a member of the victorious Minor Counties representative side that beat the West Indies, Sussex and Leicestershire in the mid-90s.
But this season has seen the Unicorns, a collection of the best amateur players in the country, beat Sussex on two occasions in this season's Clydesdale 40 competition.
Not only have they beaten them but on Sunday they chased a mammoth 325 and knocked them off for the loss of just four wickets.
My best mate and Norfolk coach Chris Brown was a member of the Unicorns side at Arundel and he was somewhat ecstatic and quite rightly so. I did speak with him halfway through the Unicorns reply and there was a nervousness about his voice but I could also sense that he believed they could chase down this total and make history by scoring the highest number of runs of a side batting second in the entire history of 40-over cricket. If I'm honest then this type of result shouldn't happen.
Shock results tend to come along on bad club wickets, rain affected pitches or very low and slow tracks but not on a belter of a wicket like Arundel and the first class boys should always have enough quality to beat amateur teams no matter what. I know very little about Wes Durston but to score 117 off just 68 balls takes some doing in anyone's book so why was he released from Somerset? Perhaps Brownie will tell me when I see him next.
Also, the partnership with Josh Knappett of 165 in just 18 overs is a quite incredible achievement by two amateur players batting against a bowling attack comprising six international bowlers.
If I was Mark Robinson - the Sussex coach - as mild a man that he is, I would be having some serious words with my players. But having said that these have been two fantastic results by the underdogs and particularly pleasing for all Norfolk fans to see one of our own making a significant contribution.
t WHEN THE BEST OF FRIENDS BECOME BEST OF FOES ON THE PITCH
Sunday's Carter Cup second round matches see my club Acle entertain Horsford when I will be up against my mate Chris Brown. But don't be surprised if you see us having the odd verbal exchange during the game - it will be because we both want to win. Ultimately we are the best of friends and what goes on on the field will stay on the field. I can assure you it will amount to little more than handbags and people should not read too much into it.
We had a bye in the first round when Topcroft pulled out so this game has probably come a bit early for us, as we haven't got much cricket under our belts but that's no excuse, we are just going to have to dig a little deeper. Anybody who wants to see a good competitive game of cricket played with a little edge should come along.
t We begin our Norfolk Twenty20 Cup campaign tonight with a game against Swardeston, who lost to Norwich in last year's final. Swardeston are favourites on paper because they have got the pedigree.
Last year was our first in the competition and without question we could have won all three games.
They were matches which went to the wire, and we actually beat Swardeston, although the match was something of a dead rubber for us.
But I'm sure there will be some strange games which will throw up the odd shock result. The way the groups have come out we are up against the same opposition this year in Fakenham, Witchingham and Swardeston, while the other Alliance side Brooke, will play Horsford, Norwich and Mallards in the other of the two groups. This year the best placed of the six EAPL sides will represent Norfolk in the national Cockspur Cup competition.