Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Record breakers England draw with Australia

Sports - Cricket - Ashes - 1st Test - Brisbane - Day 5

My picks of the fifth and final day:

Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott broke record after record on the fifth and final day at the Gabba. England declared 517-1, 296 ahead, and took a wicket before tea to make the hosts more than nervous, but in the end Australia survived the last session without losing any further wickets, turning the obvious prediction of the morning into the result at the end of the day and leaving honours and spoils even after the first Test.

Run of Play: Advantage to...

1st session, England 439-1, 218 ahead at lunch: England in dreamland with all top three batsmen scoring centuries for the first time since 1924. Superb morning for batting, Australia would rather forget about it, hardly any fans in the ground apart from a happy, dancing, singing and dancing English bunch.

2nd session, England declared on 517-1, 296 ahead, Australia 11-1 at tea: All records and eyes are on England. Stuart Broad gets the early breakthrough and first wicket of the day - can they do the impossible and get Australia all out in the last innings of the day and match? As we have learnt from this match, nothing is impossible...

3rd session, Australia 107-1, 189 behind, match drawn at the end of the fifth and final day: England could not do the impossible and grab a win in the end, but a draw is still a result-and-a-half for the guests, especially in what fashion and after the first disastrous couple of days! Record breaking match from both sides, draw it is, bring on Adelaide.


Sir Jack Hobbs, Herbert Sutcliffe and Frank Woolley were the last top three batsmen to score centuries in the same innings for England against Australia, back in 1924, fourth man Patsy Hendren adding his half-century to the lot. Cook scored his maiden double-century from 361 balls in 537 minutes and is only the second to do so in Australia since WWII, Paul Collingwood the other in 2006, overtaking Sir Ian Botham's record top score for an Englishman in an Ashes Test at the Gabba and Donald Bradman's record of top scorer ever in Brisbane, too. Trott was dropped twice on 34 and 75 by Michael Clarke and ended up scoring 135, his second Ashes century in as many appearances, and building a record partneship of 329 with Cook - breaking the previous record of 307 runs produced by Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin only two days before. In the end, Australia were spared any shocking fall by Ricky Ponting's 51st half century from only 40 balls and his partnership of 102 runs with Shane Watson, ending the day and match with a draw and that bit more honorable for the Aussies.

Bowling: It was more the fielders that let down their sides most with drops all over the place. First Clarke missed a sitter at slip by Trott off Watson, his second drop v Trott (on 34 and 75), then the third umpire reckoned Cook's shot didn't carry to Ponting at mid-wicket who was not happy with the decision as he thought he had gotten his fingers underneath; and to make things from bad to worse the skipper misses a sitter in the slips a couple of overs later, Cook the lucky one again. England didn't go without a drop either - Cook, of all fielders, the one you can always count on, top-catcher, dropping Watson. We will never know if any of those misses would turned the match around again. But, I think we had enough twists and turns for one match, in record-breaking fashion. I can't wait until Thursday night, when the second Test kicks off for us here in the UK...

Ups: There were hardly any Australian fans left - it was a game of spot the Aussie in the crowd on the last day, with the England fans taking over. The little in numbers they were, the louder and more encouraging they were for their team, the 12th man alright on this day. And they were rewarded alright for all their effort.

Downs: As mentioned yesterday, after seeing both sides playing their hearts out, it was a shame to see no result out of all the action and drama and records and blunders and wonders. It is definitely a promising indication of what's to come though and a brilliant promotion for the game and tournament.

Hero to zero: Australia somehow lost the plot. At the end of day three you thought the match was the Aussies oyster and it would give them the best start to this Ashes tournament they could have wished for. But, how do they say, every game has two halves, every match has two innings and England will have thanked god for that in this match. The second innings turned the match around, turning England from zeroes to heroes, and the Aussies... Well, you get the gist...

Australia v England first Test day five as it happened

1st session:

- 152 off 271 partnership and 150 off 302 for Alastair Cook, his third 150, England with a solid start to the morning v Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle, 340-1, 119 ahead, Jonathan Trott on 66 off 146.

- Mitchell Johnson on for Australia, looking to find some kind of form. Trott dropped at first slip on 75 off Johnson, straight to Clarke and straight out of his hands, England 365-1 at the end of that over, 144 ahead. Blank Aussie faces, Trott was walking, completing about three steps thinking that was the end of his innings for sure. Trott dropped by Clarke on 34 and 75.

- 17 overs, 61 runs, 0 wickets so far this morning, England 370-1, 149 ahead. Xavier Doherty on for Australia.

- 150 lead comes up for England next delivery. Shane Watson v Cook at the other end.

- 191 partnership highest for England v Australia, Cook's career best on 175, record after record after record for England, 379-1, 158 ahead at the end of that over. 20 overs, 78 runs from it.

- Next ball: 200 partnership off 333 balls, Cook contributing 104 off 157 from his total of 176 off 333 and Trott 83 off 176.

- Boundary after boundary for England, including a sweet 6 for Cook and 8 byes by Doherty, 400 comes up for England, 402-1, 181 ahead, 214 off 344 partnership, healthy run rate of 4.2 so far this morning.

- Highest successful run chase so far at Brisbane has been 236 for Australia...

- Marcus North comes into attack v Trott. Boundary brings up 200 lead for England.

- Btw: It's the first time ever there's no English nor Australian batsman in the ICC top 10, Trott the highest England player on 12th... Surely that will change after this Test's records?!

- More records tumbling... Cook on 199, his highest ever score. Trott on 93.

- Cook hesitant but gets single to give him his maiden double-century from 361 balls in 537 minutes, only the second to do so in Australia since WWII, Paul Collingwood the other in 2006. England 434-1, 213 ahead, 246 partnership, last over before lunch.

- Cook on 201, Trott on strike on 95. Trott v Doherty: 2 0 0 0 3 and a century for Trott before lunch, his fourth century, second v Australia, the celebrations show how much it means to him, 100 off 213.

- 0 off the last ball, 251 partnership, England go to lunch 218 ahead at 439-1 off 133 overs, all top three batsmen with centuries for the first time since 1924. Superb morning for batting, Australia would rather forget about it, hardly any fans in the ground apart from a happy, dancing, singing and dancing English bunch. See how far England can and will want to take it until they declare, if they declare, and if they can scare Australia out of a draw and into defeat. I would think and feel to just smash it in after lunch, treat it like a ODI or 20twenty and see how far the total can go before getting the Aussies in flapping... Just my idea... But I'm not at the crease... And better for it I think! :-P A happy lunch-nap for me... :-D

2nd session:

- Last time all top three England batsmen got centuries was 1924, Hobbs, Sutcliffe and Woolley, Hendren adding his half century.

- Ponting catch, but has it carried? It's sent to the third umpire Tony Hill, no great celebration, given not out, Cook survives on 209, England 457-1. Not sure whether it bounced or the skipper got his fingers underneath, no celebration, I think that's what let the Aussies down, no reaction by anyone, weariness, no appeal whatsoever, whether it's because of the scoreboard or because they had doubts about the catch and whether it's carried is for them to know, but the umpires weren't impressed, that's for sure, so not out stands eventhough and even if Ponting has his objections.

- Cook boundary brings up 250 partnership.

- Appeal for lbw next ball not given, Australia with no reviews left, boundary next ball to add salt onto the wound - replays show it was marginally outside the line but hit the stumps, umpire's call would have stood anyway.

- Aaaaand another drop for Ponting at first slip on the off-side!

- Trott smashes the next ball down the pitch for four, the salt-on-wound trend continues, the England batsmen anihilating the Aussie bowlers.

- Single brings up 300 partnership off 479, England 494-1, 273 lead end of that (146th) over.

- A boundary smashed in by Cook and more byes conceded by Australia bring up the record partnership, highest at the ground, breaking Haddin and Hussey's record that was set a just a couple of days ago and brings up England's half-millennium, 503-1 end of that over.

- 505-1, 284 ahead, and drinks come on end of the next over.

- Cook on 230 breaking Don Bradman's record from the 1930s to become highest scorer ever at this ground, Trott on 128, 317 partnership off 494 deliveries, Johnson and Doherty both conceding over a century each.

- 513-1 after 150 overs, Cool 233, Trott 133, 292 lead. Will England declare? If so, when? When they pass the 300 mark on the lead?

- Stuart Broad has left his seat (to warm up I give it a guess), and yes, Strauss comes out and calls his men in, Cook 235 (sixth highest score ever v Australia - and he could have gone on!), Trott 135, 329 partnership, England 517-1 after 152 overs. 1.5 sessions left, Australia need 297 to win off 41 overs left in the day (required rate of 7.24), England need ten wickets off 246 balls (that means they have 24.6 balls per wicket or in other words, a wicket every 6-7 overs).

- Big cheers for England as they come on, Aus 0-0 & 481; England 260 & 517-1 dec.

- Shane Watson v James Anderson to kick off the last and decisive innings of the match - who would have thought it would have been England all smiles and hopeful, ey?

- First over a solid maiden over, good start for Anderson, defend, defend, defend for Australia.

- Stuart Broad v Simon Katich, slight changes to the field discussed and made, three slips, a gully and one at short leg, Katich off the mark, 2-0 at the end of the second over.

- Katich edges it and is gone, caught by Strauss off Broad, out for 4 off 16, Australia 5-1, first wicket of the day and nine to go...

- Ricky Ponting to the crease...

- Three slips and a gully, short mid-wicket and a silly one on the off-side, the skipper's off the mark with a single from the third delivery he faces, off his glove. 6-1 at the end of that over.

- Four fielders on the legside v Ponting, Anderson going straight at him, Kevin Pietersen conceding four overthrows with a boundary what was just a single for Australia, Anderson not happy at all, 11-1.

- Brilliant over by Anderson to make it 11-1 at tea after 7 overs. All records and eyes are on England.

3rd session:

- Anderson and Broad having their goes at Watson and Broad. Temperaments flowing over a bit. Australia 30-1.

- Graeme Swann into attack, boundary off his second ball. Ponting edges it to first slip but is dropped by Collingwood, should have been a wicket!

- Broad still at the other end, Australia 36-1.

- 43-1, Steven Finn on...

- Australia end the day on 107-1, Ponting reaching his 51st half century and Watson on 40ish. A draw it is but it was everything else but a given, obvious, boring match. Day one and two, you thought England were going to get a thrashing and beating of a lifetime, on day three that trend changed thanks to the last session and 5 wickets for only 45 runs. The last two days were all England and you thought - could they do the impossible and grab a win?! They didn't in the end, but a draw is still a result-and-a-half for England, especially in what fashion and after the first disastrous couple of days! Record breaking match from both sides, draw it is, bring on Adelaide! :-D

Monday, 29 November 2010

Reds sunk by own failure in the 2nd half

Sports - Football - Premier League - Tottenham 2:1 Liverpool

This was certainly a game of two halves which reflects Liverpool's season so far, from top to flop in one game, a rollercoster ride display with a crashing end as far as the Reds are concerned.

Liverpool started on top, with chance after chance, Maxi Rodriguez sending one wide, having another smartly palmed round the post by goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.

Spurs had their fair share of chances, too, former Red Peter Crouch stearing one wide, Jermain Defoe volleying a Luka Modric cross into Pepe Reina's gloves, for him to palm it back to the England striker, his close range shot blocked on the goal-line by Jamie Carragher.

Martin Skrtel then took the lead for the Reds just before half time. He reacted the quickest when his header off a free-kick came off his team-mate David Ngog, sending in the loose ball.

Spurs could not have wished for a better comeback in the second half, although Defoe sent the spot-kick horribly wide which Ngog blatantly conceded blocking a Gareth Bale free-kick with his arms.

Bale had his strike headed off the line by Raul Meireles only minutes before the penalty miss. But Modric eased Tottenham's disappointment soon after, breaking through the Red defence with cool ease, seeing his cross to Crouch netted in by Skrtel - turning him from the hero into the villain for the guests.

Both sides pressed after that, were denied penalties, you just knew this game was not going to settle with a draw.

Aaron Lennon made sure of that with an injury-time winner, earning his side a dramatic win and three points, side-footing the ball past Reina.

After Liverpool's missed chances and them not taking full advantage in the first half, you just felt the turnaround for Spurs and that the Reds just did not do or have enough to stop the hosts and keep it up and going for themselves.

After their 3-2 win against local rivals Arsenal last Saturday and the midweek victory over Werder Bremen in the Champions League, Tottenham proved they are fit for the top four crunch of the Premier League.

Harry Redknapp should and can be more than happy and very proud of his side and their accomplishments - less the case with Roy Hodgson.

Tottenham: Gomes; Hutton, Bale, Kaboul (Bassong 36), Gallas; Assou-Ekotto, Lennon (scored 92), Van der Vaart (Defoe (Sandro 93)), Palacios; Modric, Crouch.
Subs not used: Cudicini, Corluka, Kranjcar, Pavlychenko.

Liverpool: Reina; Johnson (booked 88), Konchesky (booked 29), Carragher (booked 40, Kyrgiakos 86), Skrtel (scored 42, booked 60, OG 65); Meireles (booked 24), Maxi, Lucas; Torres, Kuyt, Ngog (Aurelio 74).
Subs not used: Jones, Poulsen, Shelvey, Jovanovic, Babel.

BBC Stats:
On target: 13-8
Corners: 5-8
Free kicks: 16-6
Possession: 51%-49%

Sky Sports Stats:
On target: 8-4
Offsides: 1-2
Corners: 5-8
Free kicks: 18-6
Possession: 50%-50%
Passing Success: 78.8%-77.6%
Tackles/Success: 19/78.8%-35/60%
Territorial Advantage: 47.2%-52.8%

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the match: Luka Modric

Sunday, 28 November 2010

England fightback is full on at the Gabba

Sports - Cricket - Ashes - 1st Test - Brisbane - Day 4

My picks of the fourth day:

England fought back hard, skipper Andrew Strauss with his first century in Australia and his opening partner Alastair Cook also reaching a landmark century, his 14th, the first time since 1938 that both England openers have reached a century against Australia, Charlie Barnett and Len Hutton the last ones at Trent Bridge. It was a day to forget and a tale of woes for the Aussies, just one wicket from it, a lot of missed chances, slip-ups and mis-haps, England finishing the day on 309-1, 88 ahead.

Run of Play: Advantage to...

1st session, England 135-0, 86 behind, at lunch: England will be the happier to have survived the ealy scares, Strauss especially. Australia will wonder how they haven't got the breakthrough yet, nothing going their way, the visitor stayin put and keeping the scoreboard ticking.

2nd session, England 238-1, 17 ahead, at tea: England not showing any signs of backing down or going soft after losing their skipper, batting and scoring on safe and sound, Australia missing more chances, the day backfiring on them big time.

3rd session, England 309-1, 88 ahead, at the end of day four: England ending the day smoothly, not going too OTT on the bat, just keeping it going constantly, Australia having used up all their reviews just looking more and more desperate. It's like day three in reverse... Apart from the last session that is...

Partnerships: Strauss and Cook didn't quite get to emulate Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin, but at least they set out a good platform for England bat on, showing the Aussies that the guests are not there to crumble at the first challenge. They didn't quite flash and thrash it but that would have been too risky. They just kept at it nice and neatly, a couple of shouts and scares but the trend just showed it was going their way. Strauss then got himself out in silly fashion, maybe a bit over-confident after reaching the century, coming forward to attack a shot, too far out, nearly halfway down the pitch and ended up stumped by Haddin off Marcus North. Shame ending to an exemplary innings which you felt could and should have gone on for another couple of session if he could and would have resisted temptation. Jonathan Trott came in to join Cook, had a couple of close shaves too but is looking to be building up a good partnership with Cook too.

Bowling: It just wasn't Mitchell Johnson's day - dropping a catch, getting nothing out of the ball. North got the only wicket of the day, the man of the first innings Peter Siddle getting close calls but not much more out of the pitch either, same for Ben Hilfenhaus and Xavier Doherty. Australia used up their reviews desperate for wickets, wasting them on a couple of obvious not-outs. It was just fascinating to see the contrast to their first bowling innings and the similarities to England frustrating bowling innings - the Gabba's pitch is definitely not the bowler's friend.

Ups: What a difference a day makes again! Finally England showed they can be patient, consistent and not waste and give away chances and wickets and make it all too easy for the Aussies like in the Aussies. Finally it looks more like a competition - although a draw seems like the most likely result.

Downs: I hope it won't end up a draw - either way, both sides have played their hearts out so deserve more out of it... I know it's not possible to give both of them a win, but this match just deserves more than a draw...

Hero to zero: I think the Australian bowlers will be feeling like they have woken up to the wrong film in contrast to the first innings. They thought they were all ruling and cruising, just to be pegged back by the English batsmen - as mentioned, the Gabba is definitely not on the bowlers' fave list...

Australia v England first Test day four summary:

1st session:

31 overs bowled this morning, England 135-0, 86 runs behind, after 46 overs, Strauss on 79, Cook 51 at lunch. The skipper will be glad he got away with the chance he gave away earlier, Mitchell Johnson dropping him. Cook meanwhile is looking solid and backing up Strauss well, both left-handers enjoying their share of boundaries on the onside. Mitchell Johnson is still struggling to find his Test form on the field and with the ball whilst Siddle and Haddin are trying to pace it up and get something out of the pitch, but failing so far. England definitely the happier side after the start of the day.

2nd session:

England 238-1 at tea from, 17 ahead. Strauss out for 110 (224), 15 fours, 0 sixes. The skipper got himself out in silly fashion, maybe a bit over-confident after reaching the century, he came forward to attack a shot, too far out, nearly halfway down the pitch and got stumped by the wicketkeeper Brad Haddin off Marcus North. Shame ending to an exemplary innings which you felt could and should have gone on for another couple of session if he could and would have resisted temptation. Cook is on 98* (200), 8 fours, 0 sixes, looking solid and the more responsible backup player, partner you can count on, nothing too flashy or risky. Trott is on 23 (47), 50 partnership of 71 balls at the break, see what the two can build up together and what Australia can change and do with the new ball due in two overs after the break.

3rd session:

Cook reaches his 14th test century, his second against Australia in the second over of the session, just before the new ball is due. This is the first time since 1938 that both England openers have reached a century, Charlie Barnett and Lan Hutton. Cook 103* off 207, 9 fours. New ball available to the Aussies now and taken, Hilfenhaus v Trott after they have given the uneven pitch a workover. Chance missed: catch slipped through Siddle's hands, couldn't quite get there, went through and past him for four instead. England 255-1, lead by 34 runs after 3 overs of the last session, reach their 30th boundary in the next over thanks to Trott now on 32*. Dropped by Clarke at backward-point on 34, the ball bounces out of Clarke's finger tips when he hits the floor, Siddle was already celebrating, good dive, stretch and effort, no luck for the Aussies (we know the feeling!), England 265-1, 44 ahead. 309-1 at the end of day four, 88 ahead.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Hussey and Haddin make England suffer

Sports - Cricket - Ashes - 1st Test - Brisbane - Day 3

My picks of the third day:

Australian duo Michael Hussey (195) and Brad Haddin (136) were the dictators of the day and match so far hammering England with a record partnership of 307. The mammoth sixth wicket stand wasn't ended until after tea with Hussey falling first against Graeme Swann (450-6) and Haddin following soon after against Steven Finn (458-7). James Anderson and Stuart Broad drew the most frustrated picture of the bowling lot with close shouts but nothing going their way after England had used up their reviews early in the innings. Swann and Finn finished the lot, getting Australia all out for 481 and a lead of 221. England ended the day unscathed on 19-0 after 15 overs, but have a huge mointain to climb on day four if they want to avoid defeat.

Run of play: Advantage to...

1st session, Australia 327 for 5, 67 ahead, at lunch: All Australia. England were close, but not close, nearly there but not there, close calls but no wickets. Hussey and Haddin riding the show, some brilliant and beautiful cricket. England need a wonder to spare them from total embarrassment!

2nd session, Australia 436 for 5, 176 ahead, at tea: Australia on top - to put it quite slightly/mildly! 107 runs, 0 wickets in this session. They couldn't have wished for anything better from Hussey and Haddin - dream partnership, HuHa, just a little bit!

3rd session, Australia 481 all out, 221 ahead, England 19-0, 202 behind, at the end of day three: Fine last session for England, finally finishing Australia off, 5 wickets for only 45 runs from it. The visitors survived early scares including a review and ended the day without losing an early wicket. They will have to emulate Australia's innings and neede a BIG BIG partnership on day four if they want to be in it with a shout.

Partnerships: Hussey and Haddin put on a Gabber record, hammering in a partnership of 307, the fifth best in any Test, 39 runs behind Don Bradman and Jack Fingleton at Melbourne in 1937. They didn't have an easy start to the early morning though, Anderson tormenting them with the second new ball of the innings and with cracks emerging on the surface. But after overcoming those early scares, they looked indestructible with one beautiful boundary after another. These two men are the difference between the two sides so far. They put on a show-and-a-half, unforgettable, they certainly entered their names into the legend books. Especially the older of the too will be the happier, Hussey having had to listen to many doubters whether he could still bring it - well, he has certainly answered that question!

Bowling: Anderson was the man of the moment in the early session. He looked like he was going to grab the Aussies and drag them out by their hair. In the end the hair ripped, decisions went against the bowler and Hussey and Haddin took over. Anderson and co grew more and more frustrated, Broad and Finn having forgettable innings, being hit around left, right and centre. In the end it was Swann who got the breakthrough and Finn took over from there ending up with six wickets in his first Test innings for 125 runs, flattering final figures. If this breakthrough would have come a couple of sessions earlier, England would have been in dreamland with five wickets for only 45 runs coming from it. If, if, if... It just didn't happen for England though!

Ups: For England, the last session saved their faces for the day. They finally broke through and got the Aussies out and didn't lose any early wickets themselves. It just depends now how they fight through the fourth day... Anderson was the only man who showed fight for England on this day.

Downs: The bowling came to nothing. All the shouts and scares were forgotten for Hussey and Hadden in the second session, England having wasted their reviews early, the Aussies had nothing to worry about and took over the game and were in total control in the afternoon. Entertaining for neutral spectators, wonderful batting and boundaries - sour and dire truth for England fans.

Hero to zero: Again, Andrew Strauss was made to eat his words from the pre-match and pre-tour interviews. With all his confidence and optimism they could control this relatively inexperienced Aussie side, this day hopefully and should have most certainly made him wake up to reality. Never underestimate and Australian side, especially in Australia. Extraordinary underestimation on Strauss' behalf I say (and many other over-optimists, including me!

Australia v England first Test day three as it happened

- Early start to the third day, Australia on 220-5. James Anderson and Stuart Broad try to get early wickets and have a couple of shouts, one lbw given out but then overturned for Anderson against Michael Hussey. Apart from that heart-in-the-mouth moment, no genuine scares early on for Australia, 7 runs from the first 6 overs of the morning.

- 229-5 after 7 overs, Anderson with a couple more lbw appeals in a wonderful over, he is on Hussey's case most certainly, but as England have no reviews remaining, there's not much to keep on shouting about, all given not out.

- 229-5 after 8 overs, partnership of 86 off 211 deliveries with Hussey on 86 off 165 and Brad Haddin on 24 off 96. Resolute batting against consistently challenging bowling in the first half hour.

- 230-5 after 9 overs.

- Steven Finn comes on for Broad and another massive lbw appeal not given, it's just not happening for England. It's not going their way, but they have to be patient, stay in there and it'll pay off hopefully. That looked high and hawkeye says the ball would have gone over. 233-5 after the first 10 overs of the morning. 10 overs, 13 runs, 0 wickets, 13.5 over rate, 1.5 run rate.

- Anderson v Hussey again, lovely deliveries to keep the top scorer of the match so far on his toes, sweet pressure. 237-5, 23 behind after 11 overs. Cracks having their effect and showing movemement, goody goody for Anderson.

- Finn on Haddin's case, the ball fizzing just past his bat, the batsman with some solid shots after that little scare, fielded and picked up well by Colly and co, but no on one can stop the boundary off the last ball, 241-5 after 12 overs, drinks come on.

- Fielding error by Broad brings up 100 partnership off 241 balls; 57 off 125 contributed by Hussey, 30 off 116 by Haddin. Anderson not happy about that. 243-5 after 13 overs.

- Boundary, fine drive by Haddin v Finn. Three fine runs bring 250 on the board for Australia after 14 overs, 10 runs behind.

- Haddin strong high shot boundary v Anderson, Australia getting onto a roll, not good for England. A wide given for a too high delivery to add salt onto the wound for the visitors. More sloppy fielding by Finn too, Anderson must be exploding inside! Hands on hips for England. 257-5 after 15 overs.

- 258-5 after 16 overs.- Broad on for Anderson v Hussey on 92, Australia trailing by just the two, Haddin on 41. 260-5 after 17 overs.

- Finn staying at the other end, Graeme Swann left waiting again, Australia moving ahead on the scoreboard with a beautiful boundary by Haddin, another fine shot brings four and him onto his 6th test fifty, well played. He wants to get going now, Australia want to get going now their ahead, you can sense it. Hussey still on 92. Has he gone all quiet on us?! Haddin seems to be taking over the fin batting... 126 partnership off 271 balls.

- Close shave for Haddin, ball from bat onto boot and could have gone anywhere, 269-5 after 19 overs, Broad knows.

- Swann on for Finn finally, see what he can do... Hussey pushes forward second ball and moves onto 96 with a boundary through mid-off. Will he or won't he go for it now? That's the question... Not really's the answer, just a single off the last ball, Hussey on 97, Australia 274-5 after 20 overs.

- Another single by Hussey brings him onto 98 and Haddin onto the crease v Broad. Single again, Hussey back on and he knows when his shot goes he can take two and his 12 test hundred with it and he's loving every moment of it and celebrating, 3rd v England, 2nd at the Gabba. True joy and big hug from Haddin. 286-5 after 22 overs, Australia earned their drinks. These two men are the difference between the two sides, especially the older guy everyone was doubting if he could still bring it... Ha to them, he's on 104 off 199 balls! Run rate of three on the day so far. Strong and on.

- Boundary brings on 150 partnership off 299 balls, Hussey contributing 73 runs off 148 balls (105 off 200 in total) and Haddin 62 off 152. 293-5 after 23 overs.

- Hussey drags down the ball, almost sweaps it for four. 299-5 after 24 overs.

- Paul Collingwood on for Anderson. Catch dropped/missed: Alastair Cook just quite couldn't get there, not far off the boundary line, tantallising once again, through his finger tips, Haddin let off to score another boundary. 306-5 after 25 overs.

- 307-5 after 26 overs, 47 ahead. 12.5 over rate, 3.35 run rate. 164 partnership off 320 balls.

- 308-5 after 27 overs.

- 311-5 after 28 overs, a couple of tight and close ones for Swann, still nothing for England though. So close and yet so far.

- 312-5 after 29 overs, Hussey on 111 off 213 and Haddin 75 off 176.

- 313-5 after 30.- Ball drops just short of Anderson... Another chance gone begging... 315-5 after 31. Umpires checking the ball...

- Anderson back on with just a couple of overs left before lunch. A couple of close calls again

- 327-5 after 32 overs.

- 329-5 after 33 overs, one more before lunch by Anderson and finishes the session with a maiden. 329-5 after 34 overs, 109 runs off it, Hussey on 124 off 230, Haddin 79 off 189, 186 partnership, Australia 69 ahead. All Australia. England were close, but not close, nearly there but not there, close calls but no wickets. Hussey and Haddin riding the show, some brilliant and beautiful cricket. England need a wonder to spare them from total embarrassment!


- Australia 436-5 after 140 overs at tea, lead by 176. 107 runs, 0 wickets in this session, Aussies on top - to put it quite slightly/mildly. They couldn't have wished for anything better from Hussey and Haddin - dream partnership, HuHa, just a little bit!

- Finally England have something to cheer about! Haddin caught at first slip - legside - by Collingwood off Swann, out for 136 off 287, 450-6, parternship has come to an end at 307! Mitchell Johnson on, Australia lead by 190, Hussey on 187, this session so far: 6 overs, 14 runs 1 wicket.

- And Hussey leaves the stage, caught by Alastair Cook off Finn, 458-7, out for 195 off 330, priceless runs, outstanding innings, he receives a standing ovation and England are very glad to see the back of him! Xavier Doherty on v Swann. Big appeal first ball for lbw, close but not out. He's off the mark and scores his first test runs soon after and takes Australia's past 200, 461-7 after 150 overs.

- 462-7 after 12 overs.

- Finn back on in 13th over of the session v Johnson and bowls him out for a long duck with the third ball of the over, straight through all covers, 0 off 19 deliveries, 462-8, Peter Siddle on, off the mark with a single and Doherty follows on with a neat boundary. 13 overs 31 runs 3 wickets in this session so far, England would have loved these stats about two sessions ago! Australia 467-8.

- 5 wickets for Finn in his first Ashes test, something for England to celebrate. Siddle out for 6 off 16 after nicking it high up and off behind him, unusual decision, Australia crumbling to 472-9. Finn's figures so far: 31.4 - 1 - 121 - 5, puts a smile on his face.

- 17 overs, 43 runs and 4 wickets this session make it 479-9 after 157 overs, Australia lead by 219 runs.

- Honesty by Cook, everyone thought he caught the last wicket, but it just dropped short, no cheering.

- Finn's 6th, this time Cook could grab hold of the ball, Australia 481 all out in the 159th over, Doherty last man out for 16 off 30. Finn 33.4 - 1 - 125 - 6. Fine last session for England, but Australia have bossed the day and game overall so far and lead by 221. England will have at least an hour to start tackling the mountain to climb - if they want to get anything out of this game.

- Ben Hilfenhaus kicks the Aussie bowling off against Andrew Strauss, leaves the first ball, big lbw appeal, not given, sent for a review, just high, so decision stands, Australia used one of their reviews, Strauss off the hook - for now. What a start! No pressure on England then! The skipper's off the mark with a single - it's getting better and better for England! 1-0 after the first over.

- Peter Siddle v Strauss at the other end, the skipper leaves the first ball. 3-0 after two overs.

- England finish the day unscathed, 19-0 after 15 overs - what a difference a day makes, England will hope to emulate Australia with a strong innings on day four.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Defiant Hussey keeps Aussie heads high

Sports - Cricket - Ashes - 1st Test - Brisbane - Day 2

My picks of the second day:

England were unable to take advantage of wickets taken and partnerships broken, with Mike Hussey staring and hitting in an unbeaten 81 to steady the ship. James Anderson and Steven Finn took two wickets each and Graeme Swann nicked one too after being left out for most of the day apart from one over here and one over there. Apart from those breakthroughs, the Aussies' beautiful batting and (numerous) exemplary boundaries took command of the second day at Brisbane, England needing a similar session to the second of today if they want to gain any kind of advantage in the game.

Run of play: Advantage to...

1st session, Australia 96 for 1, 164 behind, at lunch: The morning definitely goes to Australia, eventhough Anderson got a breakthrough for England, they looked solid and comfortable, dominating most of the morning and the scoreboard with it. Worrying for England.

2nd session, Australia 168 for 5, 92 behind, at tea: England - just! Hussey with some beautiful play and plenty of runs and boundaries, looking like he may be the one to save Australia from falling and failing similar to England after the visitors thought they were taking over control and the game.

3rd session, Australia 220 for 5, 40 behind, at the end of day two: Australia steady the ship - wonderful cricket and partnership by Hussey and Haddin with boundary after boundary, beauty after beauty, frustrating the England bowlers after they though they had taken over in the afternoon.

Partnerships: The opening partnership of 78 between Simon Katich and Shane Watson got England worried this could end up a thrash. They looked too comfortable in the first session. Then when the wickets started to fall in a regular-ish basis, it looked like the Aussies were going to fall similar to how England crumbled apart - but then Hussey and Brad Haddin took over the game in entertaining fashion. Hussey reached his 22nd Test fifty and continued in confident, solid fashion with some fine shots. Haddin joined in as good as he could with boundaries - a partnership 77 which brought up the 200 for Australia. Some cracking shots and boundary after boundary and good running between the two. England will be looking to break up this twosome as soon as possible on day three.

Bowling: Anderson and Finn enjoyed most control and success in the afternoon session. Both saw much more movement on the pitch which caused much more worry and flattering nerves for Australia. It was a surprise that Swann didn't see any more overs with his bowling history and record, against the Aussies and in general. Maybe we will see more of him on the third day, although he did concede a lot of runs against the confident and flashy Aussie batsmen. It depends on the weather, how the pitch will turn and who Andrew Strauss will choose to change the trend of the game so far... Stuart Broad hasn't had an innings to write home about so far, but, again, we will see how the conditions will change that. It is still early days... The third day will tell more...

Ups: For England, definitely the second session. They finally got the breakthrough and control they needed. It got the crowd and game going. It looked very much like the Aussies' innings could have ended up very similar to England's and the game much more competitive then expected. But then...

Downs: England gave away their reviews, losing the confidence and Australia took over the game again, bit by bit, boundary by boundary. Then the weather spoiled the end and any chance of wickets late on... Hopefully the pitch won't be too soaked through, otherwise the new ball will come at no advantage to England...

Hero to zero: Swann went from top to flop in a day, from the ECB Cricketer of the Year, to the odd-over bowler and conceding many runs. Obviously it depends on the pitch, weather and stage of the game, how the Aussies are tempered, but still, if you want to turn a game around, you have to make changes and I think Strauss didn't make enough on the day to keep the Aussies worried...

Australia v England first Test day two as it happened

- Aus 25-0 (245 runs behind): Katich 15*, Watson 9*

- Day two starts with Stuart Broad bowling 8th over of the innings v Shane Watson: NB, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0 (83/84mph), 26-0 after 8 overs.

- James Anderson 9th over v Simon Katich: 0, 1, 4, 1, 0, 2. First boundary of the day by Watson, fourth of the innings. Appeal against Katich for a catch behind, replay shows ball went through unscaved between bat and leg, not worth a review that one. 34-0 after 9 overs.

- Slow but comfortable start for the Aussies... Little encouragement for England so far...

- 37-0 after 10 overs.

- 5th boundary, 42-0 after 11 overs.

- Lbw appeal last ball of the over by a hopefull Broad, clearly comes off the bat though, another one not even worth a review, 42-0 after 12 overs.

- Mix up between the batsmen, Katich would have been way out, Watson sending him back, but Alastair Cook at square? misses the stumps. Will that get England going, finally putting on more pressure? 42-0 after 13 overs.

- Beauty by Broad v Watson, just missing a touch, boundary next ball though... England need to find something... The Aussies still too comfortable... Run rate 3:33 per over, 46-0 after 14 overs; Watson 21, Katich 22, Australia 214 runs behind.

- Single off the last ball makes it 47-0 after 15 overs.- Bouncer by Broad, ball comes off Watson's arm and down his body, he had to make sure that's didn't end up on the stumps, little shiver-shake there. Just a single off the over again, 48-0 after 16 overs.

- First bowling change of the day after a fruitless start for England: Steven Finn on for Anderson in the 10th over of the day (17th over of the innings). 50 comes up for the Aussies, Katich 27 off 49, Watson 21 off 51, partnership of 51 off 100 at 3.06 per over. It looks all too easy for Australia. Beautiful boundary, full stride down the onside by Watson, just underlines and shows the run Australia are on, too comfortable, too good for England's liking. 55-0 after 17 overs.

- Dead ball as Katich turns his head v Broad. Rare maiden over, 55-0 after 18 overs. 30 runs on the day so far, after 11 overs.

- Finn nowhere near the front line when he bowls... 56-0 after 19 overs.

- Anderson on for Broad, switching ends, see if that can get him going and more dangerous to the Aussies... 59-0 after 20 overs. Drinks come on after the first hour of day two, England still looking for a breakthrough from somewhere, Australia looking more than comfortable and solid. Watson 28, Katich 27, Australia 201 runs behind. When will Graeme Swann get the call today then? Just before lunch?

- Finn continues after the drinks, Watson drives a full on shot out for four, nice zap-boundary - if that's a cricket term... 63-0 after 21 overs.

- Anderson quite slow for his average, just around 80mph, his fastest overall so far 86.5mph... Maiden, 63-0 after 22 overs.

- Everyone's wondering why Swann's not on yet... Four through extra cover brings Watson to 36. Bouncer by Finn to end the over, 67-0 after 23 overs.

- Finally lbw by Anderson in his 10th over, given out by the umpire, sent to the third umpire by Australia: in line but, uh, maybe too high. Yep, too high, missing, not out, first Billy? Doctrove's decision to be turned around on his 65th wedding anniversary by the way. Two reviews remaining each, Katich stays in and puts next ball down legside for four. 74-0 after 24 overs.

- Overthrows by Finn... England need a change! 78-0 after 25 overs. 18 over, 53 runs, 0 wickets this session. All going Australia's way.

- Another lbw shout by Anderson, not given this time, England huddle up and decide to review, the analysis shows the ball is too high, misses off. England have wasted one, Watson stays in. Next ball, Anderson finally gets the first brekathrough, Watson caught by Strauss, out for 36 off 76, Australia 78-1, Ponting on. We'll see of England can turn Australia's lunch a little more sower... Slower balls by Anderson v the Aussie skipper, just under 80mph... 78-1 after 26 overs, wicket maiden for Anderson.

- Broad back into attack, replacing Finn. Single brings Ponting on to bat, just for one ball, defends it easy. 79-1 after 27 overs.

- 80-1 after 28 overs, Ponting defends the last ball.

- 81-1 after 29 overs, Ponting defends/leaves the last ball.

- Ponting off the mark with an awkward four through the gap between second slip and gully v Anderson. 88-1 after 30 overs.

- Session so far: 23 overs, 63 runs, 1 wicket, 12.4 over rate, 2.74 run rate. Katich on 44, Ponting on 4, Australia trailing by 172 runs.

- 90-1 after 31 overs.

- Anderson's the last over before lunch, good line v Ponting, well bowled, squaring up and opening up the Aussie skipper, trying to get edge... No one at second slip though... 91-1 after 32 overs.

- Swann on for the last over before lunch... Only had one yesterday to which went for 10 runs, hopefully this one will be a bit better... Singles off the first two deliveries, short balls. Ponting coming out v spin, defending the next two, lbw shout as Ponting defends the next with his far-forward leg, nothing serious, three off the last ball after a fielding error. 96-1 after 33 overs. Katich on 46 from 99, Ponting on 10 from 24. The morning definitely goes to Australia, eventhough Anderson got a breakthrough for England, they looked solid and comfortable, dominating most of the morning and the scoreboard with it. Off for a lunch snooze.


- First over after lunch, Anderson v Ponting, second ball, inside edge down legside caught behind by Prior, clear contact with the ball and out for 10 off 26 balls, no need for a review, the skipper knows, 96-2. Vice-captain Michael Clarke on, three slips and a gully ready for him, survives. Wicket maiden, 96-2 after 34 overs.

- Finn on the other end v Katich, who hits him for four to reach his 25th Test Fifty, 50 off 103. 100-2 after 35 overs.- 100-2 after 36 overs, one lbw shout for Anderson, but it clearly came off the bat.

- Terrific effort by Finn c & b Katich's outside edge, out for 50 off 106 balls, Australia 100-3. Hussey on, edges first delivery behind, drops just short of Swann at second slip, nervous times for Australia. Suddenly the ball is flashing England's way, good pace, 87mph, bounces, worrying the Aussies. 101-3 after 36 overs. After a quiet morning, the game has finally kicked off after lunch and England are finally challenging the home side, wonderful over by Finn, the ball nipping around.

- 101-3 after 37 & 38 overs.- Shout for a catch behind off Finn, not given, sent to be reviewed, Strauss was sure there was an inside edge, however, no hot spot, no sound, decision stands, England have used up their reviews, Clarke off the mark the next ball. 102-3 after 39 overs, Anderson and Finn take England on top and in control. What a difference an afternoon makes... Well, it's 3.10am on my clock...

- Much more movement on the seem for Anderson and England, Clarke still feeling it out... Maiden, 102-3 after 40 overs. Clarke and Hussey on 1 each.- RE: England's second review that wasn't given: Snicko actually shows Clarke's bat did make contact with the ball, but the decision has been made... Luck or just postponed doom?

- 106-3 after 41 overs. 8 overs, 10 runs, 2 wickets so far this session. Australia 154 runs behind.- Broad on for Anderson in 42nd over, aggressive running, four off the fourth ball, 110-3 after 42 overs.

- Hussey's starting to enjoy it, boundary after boundary, especially v Swann, 27 from 37 balls.- 140-4 Clarke caught behind by Prior off Finn, top edge, walks off, 9 off 59 balls.

- 143-5 genuine outside edge caught by Collingwood, North gone for 1 off 8, Swann a much happier man now.

- 168-5 at tea, Hussey with some beautiful play and plenty of runs and boundaries, looks like he may be the one to save Australia from falling and failing similar to England after the visitors thought they were taking over control and the game.

- 22nd Test Fifty for Hussey and he continues in confident, solid fashion with some fine shots, Haddin tries to join into with boundaries 53 off 103 balls partnership and they bring up the 200 for Australia. Some cracking shots and boundary after boundary and good running between the two. Steadying the ship for Australia.

- 220-5, new ball available, the umpires are checking the lights and conditions, flood lights are on, umpires call it a day, the crowd doesn't like that at all.- Rain ends the day then any way, Australia 220-5, trailing by 40, Hussey on 81 and in ominous form. Last session definitely goes to him and Australia for evening the ship again.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Bday boy Siddle destroys England

Sports - Cricket - Ashes - 1st Test - Brisbane - Day 1

My picks of the first day:

All the hype, build-up and over-confident and -optimistic interviews and anticipations of fans, players, former players and sports pundits alike were quickly forgotten and tossed out the window, with Peter Siddle stealing the show on his 26th birthday with a hat-trick, the main wicket-taker with six in total, to see England all out for no more than 260 runs. He is only the second Australian to do so in over 100 years - joining Shane Warne on that record list. Australia ended the day safely on 25-0 and will be looking to build on their early confidence with a high total.

Run of play: Advantage to...

1st session, England 86 for 2 at lunch: Australia for exposing and exploiting England's nerves and testing them thoroughly with Cook and Pietersen trying to steady the ship, Hilfenhaus and Watson the visitors' icebergs so far.

2nd session, England 172 for 4 at tea: Australia - similar to first session, some good batting and partnership that kept England from a total collapse with a solid display by Cook, but the Aussies kept nagging and the pressure up with a couple of wickets.

3rd session, England 260 all out; Australia 25-0 at the end of day one: Australia - Siddle turned the match completely on its head and to the Aussies' advantage, dismantling England and destroying any hope of a high score. They will hope nothing similar will happen to them on day two; it just seems to be a too good to be true start for them.

Partnerships: They got started but never really going and rolling: 41 between Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, 76 between Cook and Kevin Pietersen, 74 between Cook and Ian Bell and then came the hat-trick and total collapse thanks to Siddle. They were good starts, nothing more than that. Just when you thought the ships was steady again and ready to go, it hit another rock and had to restart its repair again. Cook and Bell scored over half of the total and spared England from total embarrassment but not from the wicket carnage.

Bowling: No questions about it who stole the show, Peter Siddle hitting England bad and leading to their knock-out. Ben Hilfenhaus and Shane Watson did the early work to keep England at bay and under control, Xavier Doherty and Siddle doing the rest to see them fall all out. Beautiful bowling, exemplary control and capitalisation. We will see if James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann can do anything even close to resembling this total takeover.

Ups: At least there was a little bit of batting shine and nice boundaries inbetween. But the bowling definitely took over the show and got the crowd going. Brilliant atmosphere. Flawless umpiring too, none of the referrals having turned any of the decisions around.

Downs: Has this already spoilt the show? Hopefully not! After all the build-up, England cannot fall at the first hurdle! Please not! They should learn from their mistakes and explosive fall and try to turn it around and against Australia. Please let it not become a one-sided show already!

Hero to zero: Andrew Strauss! As mentioned above, after all the confident interviews and promising and over-confident predictions - the England skipper fails and falls miserably first over! He couldn't have made it easier for the Aussies! Come on Straussie - get a grip!!!

Australia v England first Test day one as it happened

- England win the toss at the Gabba in Brisbane and choose to bat, skipper Strauss gone third ball v Hilfenhaus, after cutting a slower loosener (81mph) straight to Hussey at gulley, jumping up and back, not able to get on top of the ball. After all the talk and preparation, an easy ball to fall to! 0-1; Trott blocks... 0-1, dramatic first over, a wicket maiden! Strauss more than disappointing and disappointed!

- Siddle opens with a maiden at the other end v Cook, not much pace in the pitch.

- First runs by Trott, first ball of the third over, straight googly edged for four on the offside, another boundary on the third ball tapped across the ground on the onside, gone with the wind for four. 8-1 after 3 overs.

- Cook off the mark in the fourth over with a relieving single. Lbw shout by Siddle in the same over, given not out, sent to third umpire by Ponting for a review. It shows the ball was nicking the off-stump, just, original decision stands, Trott is safe, just, 10-1 after 4. What a start...

- 11-1 after 5, disastrous start for England after 3 balls but Cook & Trott trying to even things out.

- 12-1 after 6. 20 for 1 after 7. Over rate 14, run rate 2.86.
- Trott's edge falls just short of Ponting at second slip, , 23 for 1 after 8. Trott's Australian tour so far: 24, 23, 12, 20, 41, hoping for a bigger, land mark score. Temperature 25¤ Celsius, humidity 44%.

- Trott playing across slightly again, edge short of Hussey v Hilfenhaus, 16 from 32. 27-1 after 9, Cook 7, Trott 18, 2 extras (1 NB, 1 WD).

(Pietersen warming up on the sideline, just doesn't look the same with the tash!)

- 28-1 after 10, first blood to the Aussies, Cook & Trott trying their best to dry it up.

- Mitchell Johnson on for Hilfenhaus in the 11th over. 30-1 after 11.

- 35-1 after 12, Cook 9, Trott 24, run rate 2.88 per over.

- 36-1 after 13, first hour gone.

- Watson on for Siddle in the 14th over, first ball v Trott, beautiful shot goes for 4, second ball wide. 41-2: Trott bowled by Watson last ball of the over, took him a bit to get loose, ball pitched up, nicked into the stumps, too square shot, 29 off 53 - not an all too bad knock but got away with a couple of lucky decisions.

- KP on none-striker's end, single brings him on second ball v Johnson, off the mark with 3 off second ball he faced. This is going to be interesting... Cook pulls away for 4, his first, the sixth of the day, he is on 14. 49-2 after 15, 3.27 run rate.

- 50-2 after 16.

- Hilfenhaus back on 17th over, Johnson out of the attack. 53-2 after 17.

- 56-2 after 18.

- 61-2 after 19.

- Pietersen's first boundary takes him into double figures v Watson. 66-2 after 20, Cook on 22, KP on 10, again England are trying to steady the ship after Australia capitalised with a second wicket.

- Doherty on just before lunch for Hilfenhaus to get England into further trouble, sweet first spinner, just needed the slightest of a touch by Trott. Single brings KP against the spinner, see if the batsman can master his weakness... 3 off the second ball brings Trott back on. End of the over 70-2, 29 partnership.

- 70-2 after 22, Watson completes his 5th over with figures of 5-0-14-1.

- 73-2 after 23.

- A couple of overs to go until lunch. Cook crashed the shot away to the covers, straight at Doherty on his debut and he drops it at extra-cover! Lucky excape for Cook. Partnership of 34 off 60 balls, 75-2 after 24, Cook on 27 off 62 and KP on 14 off 27.

- Doherty v KP again, will he make up for the drop? KP gets a lucky boundary off an awkward low-ish ball, 79-2 after 25 overs, there is a definite spark between the two... Sweet smile by KP - for now.

- Johnson on for the last over before lunch on 3-0-11-0. Single brings in KP again, another single, back to Cook. 41 off 69 partnership... KP falls over on the shot, slipping on the surface, good that it went for four! 86-2 as they break up for lunch. Advantage to Australia I would say. England's nerves showing and tested thuroughly, Cook and KP trying to steady the ship, Hilfenhaus and Watson the visitors' icebergs so far.


- 172-4 at tea after 56 overs, 47 off 97 partnership, Cook 60, Bell 26:

- Cook was the standing player and partner of the day: 76 with KP, 8 with Collingwood, both falling making it 117-3, 125-4 respectively.

- Similar to first session, some good batting and partnership to keep England from a total collapse in the afternoon with a solid Cook, but the Aussies kept nagging and the pressure up with regular-ish wickets. Pressure still on England, advantage still to Australia.

- Hilfenhaus kicks off the last session, Watson at the other end, both giving away wides, 50 partnership up.

- 197-5 Cook falls v Siddle, caught by Watson for 67 off 168 balls, a full delivery that pulls a shot out of the batsmen and forces the wicket, his third wicket of the day.

- Prior in and out first ball, bowled by Siddle, ball came in on the player, duck, 197-6, Siddle on a hat-trick, all going Australia's way in the last session. Broad on to survive the hat-trick ball, crowd anticipating... Lbw given out! But England send it to the third umpire for a review, the wicket stands! Siddle the first since Warne to destroy England with a hat-trick, the second one to do so in 100 years, on his birthday! England sinking 197-7! A moment of cricketing history! A hat-trick maiden by Siddle, 5 wickets on the day - certainly woke up the subdued crowd!

- Session so far: 10 overs, 25 runs, 3 wickets. No big scorer for England. On a good-ish note, Bell reaches his 24th Test fifty. Swann's the one with him now by the way...

- 225-8 Swann out lbw, sent for a review too but looks an obvious one, dead out. 6 for 43 for Siddle, excellent bowling, excellent umpiring, and rain pooring down on England - umpires walking off with the rain too, the crowd not happy at all!

- But they are all back on before they were off... Anderson joins Bell. Nearly nr 7 for Siddle, wicketkeeper couldn't hang onto the ball...

- England survive not even another half hour with Bell and Anderson both falling to Doherty in quick succession, 254-9 and 260 all out.

- Australia survive seven overs at 25-0, with only one noteworthy appeal by Broad turned down, pleading for lbw against Watson, but he made clear contact. Nothing's worked out for England today, that's for sure!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Ashes 2010/2011 Countdown

Sports - Cricket - Ashes 2010/2011

And here we go again! Only 15 months have passed since we retained the Ashes and now we want to defend them, in Australia! For the first time in over 20 years (24 years to be exact), we want to win it Down Under! And I think, with all the Australian top names that have retired and won it for them in the past, we have the best chance, more than ever!

Looking at the squads, comparing their experience, character, attitude and hunger - hopefully, this time, it won't end up in embarrasment on our side - but on theirs! Like last time, Ashes 2009, I hope I can report and blog my heart out with the results ending up all good and more than worth it - COME ON ENGLAND!

Australia Test squad:

Ricky Ponting (captain)

DOB: 19.12.1974, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm medium

Doug Bollinger
DOB: 24.07.1981, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Left arm fast medium

Michael Clarke (vice-captain)
DOB: 02.04.1981, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Slow left arm

Xavier Doherty
DOB: 22.11.1982, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Slow left arm

Callum Ferguson
DOB: 21.11.1984, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm medium

Peter George
DOB: 16.10.1986, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm fast medium

Brad Haddin
DOB: 23.11.1977, Batting style: Right-hand

Ben Hilfenhaus
DOB: 15.03.1983, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm fast medium

Mike Hussey
DOB: 27.05.1975, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Right arm medium

Mitchell Johnson
DOB: 02.11.1981, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Left arm fast medium

Simon Katich
DOB: 21.08.1975, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Left arm wrist spin

Marcus North
DOB: 28.07.1979, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Off break

Tim Paine
DOB: 08.12.1984, Batting style: Right-hand

Peter Siddle
DOB: 25.12.1984, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm fast medium

Steven Smith

DOB: 17.06.1981, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm fast medium

Shane Watson
DOB: 02.06.1989, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm legbreak

Possible lineup for the 1st Test:
Australia team:
Ricky Ponting (captain), Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Xavier Doherty, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus.

England Test squad:

Andrew Strauss (captain)
DOB: 02.03.1977, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Left arm medium

James Anderson
DOB: 30.07.1982, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Right arm fast medium

Ian Bell
DOB: 11.04.1982, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm medium

Tim Bresnan
DOB: 28.02.1985, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm medium fast

Stuart Broad
DOB: 24.06.1986, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Right arm fast medium

Paul Collingwood (vice-captain)
DOB: 26.05.1976, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm medium

Alastair Cook
DOB: 25.12.1984, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Off break

Steven Davies
DOB: 17.06.1986, Batting style: Left-hand

Steven Finn
DOB: 04.04.1989, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm medium fast

Eoin Morgan
DOB: 10.09.1986, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Right arm medium

Monty Panesar
DOB: 25.04.1982, Batting style: Left-hand, Bowling style: Slow left arm

Kevin Pietersen
DOB: 27.06.1980, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Off break

Matthew Prior
DOB: 26.02.1982, Batting style: Right-hand

Graeme Swann
DOB: 24.03.1979, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Off break

Chris Tremlett
DOB: 02.09.1981, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm medium fast

Jonathan Trott
DOB: 22.04.1981, Batting style: Right-hand, Bowling style: Right arm medium

Possible lineup for the 1st Test:
England team:
Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steven Finn, James Anderson.

Australia's last 5 (10): WLLLN (LNLLW)

England's last 5 (10): WDWWL (LWWWW)

Ashes 2010/2011 Fixtures:
1st Test: 25-29 November, Brisbane
2nd Test: 3-7 December, Adelaide
3rd Test: 16-20 December, Perth
4th Test: 26-30 December, Melbourne
5th Test: 3-7 January, Sydney

Followed by two Twenty20 internationals on 12 and 14 January and a series of seven ODI from 16 January-6 February.

Can we do it?
My prediction:
Yes wen can!

Australia 1-2 England

(Even if it ends 2-2, we retain the holy Ashes!)

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Reds beat the Hammers without their skipper

Sports - Football - Premier League - Liverpool 3:0 West Ham

And it could have been more! 4, 5, 6... What a difference a week makes!

Okay, this was a home game, against a dire and under-fire Hammers side where Avram Grant is walking on very thin, melting ice down at the bottom of the Premier League table.

It all happened in the first half: Criticised by his manager, Glen Johnson made it 1-0 when he chested Raul Meireles' corner before drilling a low shot straight down the middle of the goal (18), making a clear point to Roy Hodgson.

Dirk Kuyt netted the 27th minute penalty, after Fernando Torres' shot chipped over Matthew Upson's foot onto Danny Gabbidon's hand.

Maxi Rodriguez headed headed in an easy simple third before half time.

It could have been 4, 5 or 6 at the interval with Rodriguez, Meireles and David Ngog all denied in one way or the other.

The second half was less spectacular, Liverpool sitting comfortably on their three-goal advantage and West Ham getting nowhere with the ball.

After the recent (lack of) form and results for the Reds, you would have through they would have pushed on for a thrashing of West Ham. But having to cope without their talisman skipper, they were obviously happy with the way things stood.

It just shows, there is always worse - ask the Hammers' fans - and their co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold. Grant will be counting his days...

Liverpool: Reina; Johnson (scored 18), Konchesky, Carragher, Skrtel; Meireles (Shelvey 83), Maxi (scored 38), Poulsen, Kuyt (scored pen 27); Torres (Babel 84), Ngog (Aurelio 73).
Subs not used: Jones, Kyrgiakos, Kelly, Eccleston.
West Ham: Green; Gabbidon, Upson, Ilunga (Tomkins 76), Jacobsen; Boa Morte, Kovac, Noble (booked 73), Cole (McCarthy 69); Piquionne, Obinna (Barrera 46).
Subs not used: Stech, Reid, Spector, Nouble.

BBC Stats:
Liverpool-West Ham
On target: 11-1
Corners: 10-2
Free kicks: 8-8
Possession: 62%-38%

Sky Sports Stats:
Liverpool-West Ham
On target: 8-1
Offsides: 2-1
Corners: 10-2
Free kicks: 11-7
Possession: 53.8%-46.2%
Passing Success: 82.8%-78.5%
Tackles/Success: 26/76.8%-28/71.4%
Territorial Advantage: 49%-51%

Referee: Lee Probert
Man of the match: Raul Meireles

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Sorry Liverpool fall at the Britannia

Sports - Football - Premier League - Stoke 2-0 Liverpool

Stoke ended Liverpool's four-match unbeaten run and sealed a back-to-back victory following the midweek win against Birmingham that ended a run of five straight league defeats.

The Potters gave a performance of the season, showing grit and determination which the visitors have been more than lacking.

Especially the first half showed Stoke on top, dominating, nearly haunting the Reds, who showed no control, coordination or organisation.

The second half continued in the same trend and the first goal showed and reflected this:

Liverpool's box and back line was unable to clear the ball, scrambling around, ping-ponging around until Ricardo Fuller took advantage of the chaos and poked it home, through and past the crowd, firing Stoke in front deservedly so.

If it weren't for Jamie Carragher's goal line clearance, Martin Skrtel's hugging and wrapping cover and Pepe Reina's top-notch saves, the score line could have been so much worse!

Maxi Rodriguez came closest for Liverpool when his close-range effort was kept out by Asmir Begovic, the only close shout for the Reds.

Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres had a hardly noteworthy performance, with only a couple of semi-chances.

The skipper gave the ball away late on in the match and Kenwyne Jones connected to it, skipped past Skrtel, and fired it home past a stranded Reina.

To top it all off and add to the misery for Liverpool, Lucas Leiva was sent off in stoppage timee, seeing his second yellow of the day for a stupid tackle.

Stoke overtake Liverpool and are up to 10th whilst the Reds are still drifting and hovering around at 11th looking for some kind of form and coordination - Roy Hodgson needing to find the right change and solution, quickly!

Stoke: Begovic; Huth, Collins (booked 54), Shawcross, Wilkinson; Pennant, Whitehead, Delap, Etherington (Wilson 93); Jones (scored 90:02), Fuller (scored 55:12, booked 83, Walters 88).
Subs not used: Sorensen, Higginbotham, Whelan, Sanli, Gudjohnson.

Liverpool: Reina; Konchesky, Kyrgiakos, Carragher, Skrtel (booked 79);Meireles (Ngog 66), Gerrard, Maxi (Babel 73), Lucas (booked 58, 2nd yellow & off 92); Torres (booked 47), Kuyt.
Subs not used: Jones, Kelly, Poulsen, Shelvey, Jovanovic.

1st half stats:
Attempts: 8-4
On target: 3-1
Offsides: 1-0
Corners: 2-2
Free kicks: 5-4
Possession: 56%-44% (BBC HT)

2nd half stats:
Attempts: 6-4
On target: 2-1
Offsides: 0-0
Corners: 2-1
Free kicks: 7-8

Sky Stats:
Possession: 39.7%-60.3%
Passing Success: 57.7%-69.4%
Tackles/Success: 19/78.9%-13/92.3%
Territorial Advantage: 56.7%-43.3%

Referee: Mark Halsey
Man of the match: Martin Skrtel