BATTING SHUFFLE COSTS ENGLAND

Graeme Swann believes England has suffered in the ongoing World Cup because of their decision to reshuffle the batting line up.

According to Swann, when you change the batting positions of the players so close to the tournament, they get a little confused how they have to go.

What has baffled Swann is the fact that England demoted somebody like James Taylor who had been in the most fluent form for them. Taylor had been batting at 3 in the games of the tri series and also in the Warm up games, but, just before the World Cup kicked off, suddenly, the people in the England thinktank felt that he should bat at 6.

Such a move could have been understood if Taylor had been a big hitter. But, as titanbet pointed out in their infographic that went viral, it’s not the case. He is a touch player and he barely crosses the strike rate of 90. He can only set the game for you and such guys bat one down or two down, but, not below that at any cost.

Taylor might have scored 98 in the Australia game batting at 6, but, the situation was different in that game. Because of the loss of early wickets, he could take his time, but, generally batting at that position, he will have to get on with his job straightaway and that will make him feel the heat. He can’t smack the ball from get go.

Also, to get Ballance batting at 3 is not an ideal option in Australia because he plays mostly on back foot and that isn’t advisable if the pitch is bouncy.

The new order that England has gone with has flopped completely so far in the World Cup, but, they might not change it in the game against Scotland. Ballance might get one more go at 3 before getting dropped.

A touch of pessimism can do the trick

World Cup, frantic build-up and then an anti-climax. That seems to be the way things work when it comes to English sporting endeavours, yet we never learn from our mistakes. We allow ourselves to naïvely become drawn into an unfounded sense of optimism ahead of major tournaments.

Who could forget the national football team’s efforts (if that’s what you call it) in Brazil last summer? Or England’s exit following defeat to France at the quarter-final stage of the 2011 rugby World Cup? In fact, it seems to me that England tend to perform at their best when the pressure is off.

There is a twofold problem, though. Firstly, as a nation, England are a pretty proud bunch, so it’d be staggering for any World Cup of any particular significance to arrive without a noticeable level of furore surrounding it.

Secondly, the media simply wouldn’t allow it to happen. It’s a journalist’s job to whip their audience (and, ideally, that’s everyone) up into a heightened sense that ‘this could be our year’. That’s what sells papers and gets people to click online. Unfortunately, these two elements feed off each other and perpetuate the situation.

So, it was refreshing to see that most media outlets weren’t jumping on the victory bandwagon this time around, as the England team went through a tumultuous period prior to and during their preparation for the 2015 ICC cricket World Cup.

The Telegraph, for example, produced an article titled ‘Ten Reasons Why England Can Defy The Odds And Win The Cricket World Cup In 2015’ – notice the choice wording of ‘defy the odds’ there. And the BBC were also being realistic with their statistical look into ‘Why England (Probably) Won’t Win’ this year’s tournament.

Just as well, really, because what happened next? Well, it was almost inevitable. It was a heavy defeat by the joint-hosts Australia in their first Pool A match.

Of course, there’s still plenty of time to recover from that 111-wicket mauling (thrashing, humiliation or battering, even, depending on your choice of news outlet) in Melbourne but, as starts go, this was far from ideal.

The only thing that could have made that defeat feel any more sickening would have been if it was handed out on home soil, although knowing that Australia enjoyed such a sweet victory in their own back garden only compounded matters really, as far as I’m concerned.

Not that the media back home were in any mood to let the team off the hook (despite this result being widely predicted ahead of the game), selecting stinging adjectives such as those already mentioned to deepen the sense of woe.
What that tells me is that there is simply no escaping criticism if you’re playing for England in a sport that receives anything more than a single column’s width of attention from the national press, unless you end the tournament with your hands on the trophy.

Unfortunately for most cricketers, they’ll finish their playing days without a World Cup haul to their name, regardless of how otherwise glittering their careers were.

Kevin Pietersen is a man who’s undoubtedly accustomed with the media spotlight and, despite arguably being given a rough ride by the England team in recent times, he believes that the current crop need to play with confidence and freedom if they are going to achieve something unlikely by going all the way in the competition.

Now marshalled by Eoin Morgan, KP is of the belief that the side are showing signs of newfound confidence since Alastair Cook’s departure as captain and have enough match winners within the ranks to make a real dent on this tournament.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan’s views were in sync with Pietersen’s ahead of the World Cup, too. Pointing to the recent run that took England to the Tri-series Final in Australia and the nine-wicket demolishing of West Indies in a warm-up match, Vaughan believed that the team were building up a head of steam going into their opening match.

With such unusual levels of low-expectancy and calls from those within the sport for England to simply enjoy their cricket and let loose, it’s a real shame that the opener ended in the manner it did. It doesn’t get any easier for Morgan’s side, either, with their next encounter seeing them take on Australia’s fellow co-hosts, New Zealand, in Wellington.

But, if you, like Vaughan and Pietersen, reckon England still have a chance of bringing home the ICC Trophy, there’s some interesting markets to be checked out across the betting sphere, no less so than with betfair who have myriad options to choose from.

And however down Morgan and co. might be feeling following the Australia game, they’ll know that there can’t be anymore similar slip ups if they’re going to stand any chance of progressing from Pool A. After all, following the tie against NZ comes a crunch match against Scotland – an encounter England can ill afford to lose on any occasion, never mind a World Cup. No offence to our Scottish readers, but a defeat in that game would certainly send alarm bells ringing around the ECB and signal one of England’s glummest starts to an ICC World Cup in living memory.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the contingent over on the other side of the world right now, though. Ireland, so often the makers of wonderful headlines in recent years, took another major scalp in their first match in Pool B, beating West Indies by four runs with 25 balls to spare.

This achievement is just the latest in a string of upsets that has seen Ireland defeat Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2007, England four years later and now West Indies.
Graeme Swann – playing for England on that day in 2011 – believes that this year’s scalp is their best yet.

Four years ago, Kevin O’Brien almost single-handedly took the game to England, smashing the fastest century at an ICC World Cup to help his side chase down the 328 target. This time, the entire Ireland squad stepped up to the plate, putting in a performance that perhaps shouldn’t be seen as out of the ordinary anymore.

That’s certainly how Ireland’s captain, Will Porterfield, feels about it.

Talking after the game, he questioned why Ireland are still considered as an ‘associate’, rather than ‘full’ member nation in international cricket, seeing as they’ve proven their worth time and time again at the very top level.
There’s no suggestion that his team now see their job as being anywhere near complete, either, as Porterfield confidently stated that they’ll be going out for two points in every remaining Pool B game.

If Ireland were to achieve such a feat it certainly would be impressive, as they’ve still got the likes of South Africa, Pakistan and current holders, India, to play.
As is so often the case with Irish teams on the grand stage, there’s very little pressure – externally, at least – but there is a huge amount of passion and that quality shines through time after time.

You have to wonder how teams dealing with greater levels of presumptions would fare if they were allowed to compete free from the shackles of expectancy?

It’d be slightly out of order for this article to be completed without a mention of Scotland’s current condition after their inaugural match of the tournament. There was, after all, certainly plenty to cover following a spirited performance.

Scots themselves probably set even fewer demands upon the shoulders of Preston Mommsen and his men ahead of the competition, and although they lost to New Zealand on match-day one it wasn’t due to a lack of commitment.

Things have changed quite considerably within the Scottish national set-up since their last appearance at the ICC World Cup, not least for the fact that the entire squad can now boast to be full-time professional cricketers. That is something only two players could have claimed at both the 1999 and 2007 tournaments.

It was surely, then, partly down to this increased quality within the ranks that saw the team enjoy a reasonably fruitful preparation ahead of this tournament – beating Afghanistan by 150 runs and Ireland by a staggering 179 before going down by just three runs to the West Indies. Whether they will finish this campaign with a shock victory reminiscent of one enjoyed by Ireland in the past is yet to be seen but teams would be wise to be wary of complacency against this side.

So, how does the rest of the group stage shape up?
As already mentioned, England next travel to the Wellington Regional Stadium to take on New Zealand in an encounter that’s previously seen three English victories compared to four for their hosts. England and Scotland then face up to each other in Christchurch on the 23rd in what will be the first ICC World Cup match-up between the two.

Following that, Ireland take on the United Arab Emirates in Brisbane on the 25th and then Scotland make their way to Dunedin for a match against Afghanistan on the 26th. England’s next match after Scotland sees them face Sri Lanka back in Wellington on the 1st of March in what could prove to be another tricky tie for Morgan and his team.

And then Ireland have a huge task in front of them as they line up against South Africa in Canberra on the 3rd – a match we’re predicting to be one to keep your eye on. Scotland nip over to Nelson for a match against Bangladesh on the 5th of March and then Ireland will be hoping a victory against South Africa can be backed up by taking a couple of points from Zimbabwe on the 7th.

England square up against Bangladesh in Adelaide on the 9th and then Ireland take on India in Hamilton the very next day, while Scotland prepare for their match against Sri Lanka in Hobart that will take place on the 11th. Then it’s the last round of pool matches, with England travelling to Sydney for the game against Afghanistan on March 13th – they’ll no doubt be hoping that victory isn’t necessary for qualification at this point.

Scotland have a huge task in front of them as they finish off with a match against Australia in Hobart on the 14th, and then Ireland feature in the final tie of this stage as Pakistan are greeted in Adelaide.

Simply writing those fixtures down can leave you with a sense of anticipation and excitement. There are some sure-fire classics just waiting to be written by the contingent in the coming weeks, let’s just hope they’re not on the receiving end of such a tale.

We will certainly enjoy whatever is in store beforehand but, come Sunday 29th March, the Melbourne Cricket Ground will play host to this year’s final. Could England surprise us all and finally break their World Cup hoodoo by taking the title in a fourth final?

Might Scotland improve on their recent performances and follow in the footsteps of Ireland with some major scalps? Or might Ireland themselves surprise us all and find their way into the last two? Enjoy finding out, everyone. We know we will.

Australia and England prepare to ring changes

With less than a year to go before Australia prepare to set off for England in the hope of retaining the Ashes, both sides are beginning to plan for next year’s intriguing series.

2015 is set to be a big year, and betting companies such as Betfair, bet365 and the other big ones should expect to be busy with so many sporting events on next year’s calendar.

The Background
After surrendering the famous urn without so much as a fight at the end of 2013, that England team was all but dismantled in the wake of some embarrassing in-fighting and poor results.

Australia, meanwhile, have been able to build on their impressive destruction of England by putting together of run of series wins and climbed back up to second in the ICC Test Rankings, albeit with a number of players who might not still be in the team come next summer.

While we’re sure to be in for an interesting series between the two old enemies, there could be a host of new players making their first appearance in an Ashes series.

It’s almost guaranteed that Australia next year will have a much different spine from the team that played in the two Ashes series of 2013. While the young players stole many of the headlines as Australia whitewashed England Down Under last year, it was three players in their mid-thirties that at-times held them together – Chris Rogers, Brad Haddin and Ryan Harris – all of whom face a tough battle to maintain their place in the side in 2015 due to their age.

While it would be foolish to write either player out at this early point, Australia will be looking at younger alternatives.

It’s been all change for England, however, most notably with the very public falling out between Kevin Pietersen and the England management and playing staff. Pietersen hasn’t been the only high profile England player now out of the picture will be Graeme Swann. The spin bowler has been a huge thorn in Australian batsmen’s sides over the past five years, and his disappointing performance in Australia last year played a big role in England’s dismal display.

The Preperation
Australia will kick off their new season with a one-day tri-series in Zimbabwe along with South Africa. On the back of that series, the Aussies head to the UAE to take on Pakistan over two Tests and another ODI series before flying back to Australia to welcome South Africa for a one-day series.

Following the ODI series against the Proteas, Australia will return to the five-day game after a triangular series against India and England to take on Indian over Christmas in a four-Test series. With the World Cup coming up quickly at the start of the year, Australia will then have a couple of months to rest up before heading to England.

One main difference by the next Ashes series is that England will be knackered, whereas Australia will be refreshed. The Australians will be schedule will reach its climax of the World Cup in late March and the squad will then have two months off – except those heading to the IPL, as very few will. England, while the Australians rest, will be playing Tests in the West Indies and at home to New Zealand.

While Australia will feel they have the perfect run-up to next year’s Ashes, England will be rightly aggrieved to have seen their schedule over the next 10 months. Alastair Cook and his men are currently preparing to jet out to the sub-continent for a remarkable and unnecessary seven-game ODI series against Sri Lanka before the triangular series against Australia and India.

Right after the World Cup, England then have to set off for the West Indies for three Tests before kicking off the English summer with a pair of Tests and seven one-day games against New Zealand. A tired England squad will then only have a matter of weeks to get ready for the arrival of Australia and the first Ashes Test of the summer in early July in Cardiff.

The Changes
While England have been forced to make a host of changes in the wake of their humiliating Ashes defeat last year, the Aussies are only just coming round to the idea of losing some of those experienced players that have been so crucial to the team’s return to form over the past couple of years.

Rodgers, Haddin and Harris were all thought to have seen their best days before returning to the international stage in recent years and playing instrumental roles in Australia coming back from a string of embarrassing series defeats to reclaim the Ashes in such drastic fashion. All three will be hoping to experience one more home Ashes series, but there are still doubts over whether the trio will be in the mix next year.

Opening batsman Rogers is coming the back off another steady season for Middlesex in which he averaged over 50, and the veteran should be a guaranteed part of the side that heads to the Gulf to take on Pakistan before Christmas.

Australia will also be keen on keeping Rogers at the top of the order for the series against India, knowing the batsman could score some serious runs against the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Pankaj Singh. Rogers proved many doubters wrong in the 2013 Ashes series by finishing as Australia’s leading run-scorer, but the batsman will turn 38-years old next year and some feel too old to open the batting for his country.

David Warner could have a different opening partner next year, with Phil Hughes tipped to replace Rogers in time for next summer’s Ashes. While the left-hander struggled in England early in his international career, Hughes has slowly worked his way back into the mix courtesy of some impressive performances, not least a magnificent innings of 243 against South Africa A.

While other veterans have walked away from ODI cricket in order to extend their career, Brad Haddin is still a key member of Australia’s 50-over team. But while Haddin has insisted he is ready to handle a World Cup and then an Ashes series, the likes of Matthew Wade and Peter Nevill have both been mentioned in regards the wicket-keeping position in the Test side, with the 37-year old Haddin facing a battle on his hands to convince the Aussie management to give him the chance to end his international career with one last appearance in the Ashes. But while Wade and Nevill have both done enough to show they could be important players in the future, the fact is that neither player brings what Haddin brings to a team.

One of the most surprising stars of Australia’s 5-0 series win against England was Ryan Harris. Struggling with injuries before each series, Harris ended the series whitewash patched together with tape, bandages and anti-inflammatories – not to mention with 22 wickets to his name.

Harris hasn’t bowled a competitive ball since the 2-1 series victory over South Africa earlier this year, however, and the 36-year old’s continued injury problems is giving Australia plenty of cause for concern with the Ashes now arriving on the horizon. While Mitchell Johnson is the undoubted leader of this Australia bowling attack, Ryan Harris has been the perfect foil for the left-armer and his absence would be sorely missed by the tourists.

If Harris does not come back to England due to his fitness problems, Johnson, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Pat Cummins can provide the same sort of pace at both ends which has bothered English batsman in recent years, but Harris brings more than just pace to a bowling attack and his presence would be a massive boost to Australia in England next year.

Much of Australia’s recent success has been down to their pace department, and the Aussie fans will know keeping as much of this unit together for the next Ashes series could be integral to ensuring their hold on the Ashes urn isn’t a fleeting one.

While Australia are yet to make decisions regarding three key players, England have already made changes to three very important parts of their team. Despite finishing as his side’s leading run-scorer in the last Ashes series, it didn’t take long for Kevin Pietersen to find himself being made something of a scapegoat for England’s dismal showing Down Under. A string of accusations and counter-accusations soon followed, including a book detailing the batsman’s side of the story and a leak from inside the England dressing room revealing a list of reasons as to why Pietersen had to go.

Pietersen’s departure has opened the likes of Gary Ballance to establish himself in this England batting line-up. The Zimbabwe-born batsman had been one of the County Championship’s biggest run scorers for Yorkshire and Pietersen’s departure resulted in Ballance being given the chance to prove his England credentials.

With 729 runs to his name in just eight Test appearances, including a sensational 156 against India in the summer, Ballance has already gone some way to helping England move on from Pietersen. But despite his impressive start to life in the England team, there’s little doubt Ballance doesn’t install anything like the same level of fear into this Australian side as Pietersen did.

Pietersen wasn’t the only England player to come out of the last Ashes series without much of an international career left. Wicket-keeper Matt Prior, whose name came up a number of times in relation to players having issues with Pietersen, has also seen his chances of playing a part of next summer’s Ashes all but killed off.

While Prior remains popular with many of the senior players in the England team, his dismal form with the bat and increasingly questionable displays with the gloves resulted in exciting youngster Jos Buttler being given the chance to step into Prior’s shoes.

Just three games into his Test career, Buttler has already looked more than at home on the game’s biggest stage and someone who could be a guaranteed part of next summer’s Ashes team. While his glovework still needs working on, Buttler’s batting make him a valuable part of this team and a player who will be given the time he needs to become a world-class wicket-keeper. At just 24-years old, Buttler looks as though he could be in this England team for a long time and the selectors will be keen for him to experience an Ashes series as soon as possible to see how he handles the pressure.

If the departures of Pietersen and Prior might have been a surprise to Australia, they have had longer to get used to the prospect of facing an England side without Graeme Swann. The spinner’s decision to leave the last Ashes tour mid-series had been taken by Swann in the hope of giving England a chance to get back into the series, but seeing one of the tourists main weapons leave halfway through an Ashes tour only gave the Aussies more momentum to go on and whitewash the English. Swann had caused the Australian batsman untold problems during his Ashes career and it was always going to take England a while to replace a spin bowler with 255 Test wickets to his name.

While Moeen Ali might not yet be the spin bowler Swann was, the 27-year old all-rounder has taken to international cricket like the proverbial duck to water. With 22 wickets to his name in just seven Test appearances, the future looks pretty bright for England in terms of spin bowling. And when you take into consideration that Ali is predominantly a batsman – already with a Test 100 to his name – Swann’s retirement may well be a blessing in disguise for England as they prepare for Australia’s arrival.

If England can keep Moeen fit up until next summer, they have a player who could well be the secret weapon that sees the hosts reclaim the Ashes urn and some credibility back from their fans.

ENGLAND ARE DARK HORSES

The England Cricket Team on the basis of current form doesn’t seem to be one of the favourites to win the World T20 Championship.

The way they have played in the first two matches of the T20 series against West Indies, one should not be shocked if they don’t even qualify for the knockouts in Bangladesh.
There is a lack of balance in the England T20 line up at the moment. They don’t have any experienced finisher and in the shortest form of the game, it’s the finishers who win you matches more often than not.

Last year, England had used Jos Buttler as finisher in the T20s, but, this year, for some reason, they have pushed him up the order and have been using Ravi Bopara in that role.
Bopara is a capable batsman and can strike the ball clean, but, he is not a power hitter by any means. Rather than powering the ball away, he relies on timing for hitting sixes and thus, finds it hard sometimes to collect runs quickly in the last few overs of the innings.

So, it would not be a bad idea for the England team management to promote Bopara to no. 5 and bring back Buttler to no. 7.

England has some issues to sort out in bowling as well. As many other teams in the world, they also don’t have a death bowler. Jade Dernbach is the one whom they generally go with in the death, but, in 90% of the matches, he proves to be expensive.

The problem with Dernbach is that he has got too many variations and he tries to use each and every one of them. In doing so, he loses control and gets smashed.
But, considering the importance of the World T20 Championship, England might not try a new option in that tournament and just keep persisting with Dernbach.

KOHLI HITS HUNDRED

Virat Kohli scored his 5th test hundred on the first day of the first test match against South Africa which is currently going on at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg.

It was a high quality knock by India’s new no. 4 batsman.
It was a typical Wanderers pitch with a bit of green tinge on it and bowling first was believed to be a good choice, but, the Indian captain MS Dhoni surprised everyone by deciding to bat first after winning the toss.

It looked like a wrong decision at the start as India lost a couple of wickets very quickly, but, at the fall of the second wicket, Virat walked out and he tried to take the attack to the opposition. He took on the short balls which were being dished out by Dale Steyn and company. He played some great pull shots and the batting suddenly started looking very easy.

The thing which was most impressive about Virat’s knock was the way he was leaving the deliveries. He seemed to have got complete idea of where his off stump was.

The 25 years old right hander from Delhi completed his hundred after tea with a square cut. It was his second test ton outside the subcontinent.

The way Virat was playing, it seemed he would return not out at the end of the day’s play, but, that wasn’t the case to be. At the score of 119, he perished trying to play an extravagant cover drive. He couldn’t hit it out of the middle of the bat and ended up slicing it in the hands of the fielder standing at cover.

At stumps on day 1, India’s score was 255 for the loss of 5 wickets. They would like to add at least 100 more runs to their score on the 2nd day.

AUSSIES UNCHANGED

The Australian cricket team is expected to go into the third Ashes test match with an unchanged playing XI. The Kangaroos have been leading the series by 2-0 at the moment. They have won the first two test matches by big margins and they are full of confidence.

There have been a few talks that Australia might think of including an extra specialist bowler into the playing XI for the third test match because of the hot Perth weather, but, it doesn’t seem that they would do so. They have already got a couple of all round players in the form of Steven Smith and Shane Watson who can roll their arms over if required. So, the Aussie captain Michael Clarke should not be too bothered about bringing in that extra bowler into the playing XI.

However, in case, Australia decides to go with 5 bowlers, Doug Bollinger is the one who can get a playing opportunity. The left arm fast bowler has shown good form in the Sheffield Shield games this season and he was with the Aussie team at Adelaide too as a standby.

James Faulkner was perhaps ahead of Bollinger in the pecking order, but, he injured his thump while taking part in the practice session yesterday and he has now been ruled out for a few weeks. So, Bollinger is clearly the strongest contender now for that 5th bowler’s spot.

If Bollinger comes into the playing XI, either Steven Smith or George Bailey would have to sit out. Bailey had got a fifty in the last game, but, Smith is more experienced than him as far as the test cricket is concerned, so, he might end up getting the nod.

If Australia wins the Perth test match, they will be able to regain the Ashes.

INDIA NET WIN

Although India defeated Australia in the recently played ODI series but, the Indian skipper MS Dhoni is not happy with the death-overs performance of his bowlers in the series.

Apart from Mohammad Shami, no other Indian bowler looked comfortable bowling in the last few overs. They all bowled wrong lengths throughout the series and were taken apart by the Aussies.

Talking to the reporters after his team’s victory in the 7th ODI at Bengaluru, Dhoni said, “Death bowling is something which is a concern for us. We will have to make improvements in that department.”

When asked about Rohit Sharma who became only the third player in the history of the game to get past the score of 200 in an ODI game, Dhoni said, “He batted beautifully. We had lost a few wickets in the middle overs and things had become a bit tough for us.”

“We were not thinking about getting past 380 or something like that. We wanted to take the score to 300 first and then try and explode. But, Rohit played so well that we ended up getting more than what we were looking for.”

In the series, the Indian team got past the score of 300 four times out of which three were 350 plus scores. These stats are enough to suggest how brutally the Indian batsmen played.

When asked about the overall batting performance of his team in the series, Dhoni said, “The top order did really well for us. I would have liked to see the middle order players making some runs as well, but, overall, our batting performance was good throughout the series.”

Now, India will play a 2-match test series against West Indies. The first game of that series will start from Wednesday in Kolkata.

Fit-again Clarke Boosts Aussies

Michael Clarke has handed Australia a huge boost ahead of the upcoming Ashes series after returning to action following his latest back problem.

Australia had missed him in the previous series, but will be happy to see his name back on the team-sheet for the latest series.

The Aussie skipper was ruled out of the one-day international series with India because of injury and there were serious doubts as to whether he would be fit for the first Ashes Test with England on November 21 in Brisbane.

But after another short spell spent resting his back, Clarke could now play in New South Wales’ first match of the Sheffield Shield season, which begins on October 30, although many fans in the betfair forums believe his side’s second game of the season, against Victoria the following week, could be a more realistic target for the batsman.

Clarke has been suffering with back problems for some time and they affected him during the summer Ashes series in England, forcing him to miss some warm-up and limited-overs matches and restricting the Aussie skipper throughout his side’s disappointing Ashes.

Australia physio, Alex Kountouris, said: “Michael is progressing well and recently recommenced batting in the nets. At this stage we are aiming to have him fit to play the second round of the Sheffield Shield, but we have not ruled out the possibility of him playing the first round if he makes better than expected progress.”

After such a comprehensive series defeat in England a few months ago, it can’t be underestimated just how important it is to Australia’s chances over the next few months.

While the tourists will go into this Ashes as heavy favourites with betfair to make it four series victories in a row against the Aussies, with Clarke fully fit and in confident form, it could be a very interesting series indeed for fans of both sides.

Warner determined to clean up act….again

David Warner has once again insisted he is determined to clean up his act after yet another incident left him foul of the Australian Cricket authorities. The 26-year-old was hit with a one-match suspended ban by Cricket NSW earlier this week after he went to the races rather than playing for his club side.

The opening batsman blamed a misunderstanding in communication for his absence but that didn’t stop Warner from receiving a third sanction from cricket officials this year. And with the return Ashes series coming up, Warner’s place in the Aussies’ squad that will face England has to now be in doubt. Australia are currently 13/8 with Paddy Power to win the upcoming Ashes series.

After being fined following a Twitter row with a journalist in May, the batsman was then involved in that pub bust-up with England opener Joe Root ahead of the Aussies Champions Trophy campaign, resulting in him being left out of the ODI tournament and then the early stages of the Ashes. That said, he is 9/2 to be the top Australian series runscorer.

But despite “doing a Warner” for the third time this year, the batsman has made it clear he is ready to change his ways and focus on his cricket during an important summer for Australia.

“The old saying is that things come in threes and I think I’ve had my turn now,” Warner said.

“There’s always going to be ups and downs in your life but it’s probably been a pretty bad six months for myself, but now it’s about moving forward and getting on with cricket and trying to be a mature adult.”

But as ever with Warner, there will be a large percentage of Aussie fans just waiting for him to make the headlines again for the wrong reasons – which is a huge shame when taking into consideration just how important the left-hander could be to the host’s chances of reclaiming the Ashes urn.

RANKIN WANTS ASHES SPOT

The English fast bowler, Boyd Rankin, has said that he is hoping to find a place in the England Ashes squad which will visit Australia towards the end of this year.

Rankin is currently a part of the England ODI team which is playing a 5-match ODI series against the Kangaroos.

In the 2nd game of the series played yesterday, Rankin was the only English bowler who managed to impress. The 29 years old Ireland born fast bowler bowled his heart out and ended up with figures of 49 for 2 in 10 overs.

However, despite Rankin’s effort, Australia managed to score more than 300 in 50 overs and that proved to be too much for the home team. If you had a bet at William Hill cricket on the match you would have come up trumps by backing an Aussie win.

The pitches in Australia generally happen to be quick and bouncy and Rankin with his height of 6 foot 7 inches can prove to be lethal there. But, to be a part of the Ashes squad, the Warwickshire seamer will have to show some consistency in the remaining 3 matches of the ODI series.
Talking to the reporters after England’s defeat in the 2nd ODI, Rankin said, “I have the chance to showcase my skills in the remaining 3 games of the ODI series. Hopefully, I will be able to put up consistent performances and push my name forward for selection in the Ashes squad.”

“I am yet to play a game in Australia, but, I have been told that the pitches and conditions over there will suit me. So, I am looking forward to go there and have a crack.”
Rankin hasn’t made his debut in test match cricket yet, but he has got quite a bit of experience in ODI cricket. He has played 38 ODIs so far and has taken 47 wickets at an average of just more than 30. He has represented two countries at international level i.e. Ireland and England.