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ECB announce 2013 Ashes dates and venues

England to start 2013 Ashes defence at Trent Bridge with Old Trafford another returning venue

PUBLISHED:

11:03 GMT, 1 June 2012

|

UPDATED:

13:01 GMT, 25 April 2013

The England and Wales Cricket Board have released the itinerary for next year's international fixtures, with Trent Bridge playing host to the first Ashes Test.

It is another packed schedule for England, with series against New Zealand in all three formats between May 16 and June 27 before the world's top-eight teams contest the Champions Trophy.

The Oval, Cardiff and Edgbaston are the home grounds for that tournament but, as ever, the focus will be on the arrival of Australia.

Scroll down for video

Ashes heroes: England will begin the defence of the Ashes at Trent Bridge

Ashes heroes: England will begin the defence of the Ashes at Trent Bridge

They will play two four-day warm-ups, against Somerset and Worcestershire, before the opening Test in Nottingham on July 10.

The second Test, at Lord's, follows immediately on July 18 before Australia face Sussex in another tour match at Hove.

The next two Tests are also back to back, with Old Trafford the venue for the third match, as it was in the memorable 2005 series, and Durham's first taste of Ashes cricket coming in the penultimate match of the series, starting on August 9.

The tourists then have a two-day fixture at Northampton before the sides meet again at The Oval, where England have clinched the urn for the last two home series.

Having announced his shock retirement from limited-overs cricket, Kevin Pietersen's international commitments will end on August 25, while his colleagues contest two Twenty20s and five one-day matches against the old enemy as well a stand alone trip to Malahide to face Ireland.

Happy memories: The England team celebrate winning the Fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in 2005

Happy memories: The England team celebrate winning the Fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge in 2005

The final match on the calendar, a 50-over clash with Australia, takes place at Hampshire's Ageas Bowl on September 16 – four days later than its 2012 equivalent.

ECB chief executive David Collier said: 'The prospect of England defending the Ashes on home soil, the world's top eight teams competing in the ICC Champions Trophy, and a full programme of 50-Over and T20 International cricket will provide rich pickings for cricket fans next summer.

'Last season's international programme attracted a record aggregate attendance of more than 850,000 spectators and we would urge all fans to purchase their international tickets early for 2013 to avoid missing out on what promises to be a memorable summer.'

Collier also referred to the decision to hand Lord's the first Test of the summer against New Zealand, having initially awarded the fixture to Cardiff.

Australia announce Ashes squad

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Ticket sales for last summer's Test against Sri Lanka were disappointing and a compromise deal was reached which saw Glamorgan trade their Test for the Champions Trophy fixtures.

'Wales has earned an outstanding reputation for its ability to deliver world-class sporting events and we are delighted that Cardiff will be used as a host venue for the ICC Champions Trophy and stage a semi-final,' said Collier.

'Cardiff was originally scheduled to stage next summer's first Investec Test match against New Zealand and following further discussions between ECB, Glamorgan CCC, and MCC, this match will now be played at Lord's. We are grateful to both parties for their co-operation in this matter.'

2013 SUMMER DATES FOR NEW ZEALAND AND AUSTRALIA

New Zealand tour itinerary

May 4-6 v Derbyshire

May 9-12 v England Lions (Leicester)

May 16-20 v England (First Test, Lord's)

May 24-28 v England (Second Test, Headingley)

May 31 v England (First One-Day International, Lord's)

June 2 v England (Second ODI, Ageas Bowl)

June 5 v England (Third ODI, Trent Bridge)

June 22 v Kent (T20 warm-up, Canterbury)

June 25 v England (First T20 international, Oval)

June 27 v England (Second T20 international, Oval)

NB. T20 tour match at Canterbury on 22 June cancelled if NZ in Final of ICC Champions Trophy.

Champions Trophy

June 6-17 ICC Champions Trophy Group Stages

June 19-20 ICC Champions Trophy Semi-Finals

June 23 ICC Champions Trophy Final (Edgbaston)

Australia tour itinerary

June 26-29 v Somerset

July 2-5 v Worcestershire

July 10-14 v England (First Test, Trent Bridge)

July 18-22 v England (Second Test, Lord's)

July 26-28 v Sussex

Aug 1-5 v England (Third Test, Old Trafford)

AuG 9-13 v England (Fourth Test, Emirates Durham ICG)

Aug 16-17 v Northamptonshire

Aug 21-25 v England (Fifth Test, Oval)

Aug 29 v England (First T20, Ageas Bowl)

Aug 31 v England (Second T20, Emirates Durham ICG)

Sept 3 v Scotland (Edinburgh)

Sept 6 v England (First ODI, Headingley)

Sept 8 v England (Second ODI, Old Trafford)

Sept 11 v England (Third ODI, Edgbaston)

Sept 14 v England (Fourth ODI, SWALEC Stadium)

Sept 16 v England (Fifth ODI, Ageas Bowl)

Sept 3 Ireland v England (ODI, Dublin)

Chris Gayle hits fastest ever T20 hundred

VIDEO: Fuelled by eggs 'n' pancakes, Gayle smashes fastest ton EVER… in just 30 balls!

By
Andrew Magee and Sunni Upal

PUBLISHED:

12:05 GMT, 23 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:49 GMT, 23 April 2013

Chris Gayle smashed his way into the record books on Tuesday as he hit the fastest-ever century in professional cricket.

The West Indian opener reached triple figures after just 30 balls and clubbed a brutal 175 not out, including 13 fours and 17 sixes, for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL — which is a new T20 record.

Gayle also propelled Bangalore to the highest-ever T20 score of 263 as they crushed the Pune Warriors by 130 runs. Gayle alone scored 42 more runs than the entire opposition.

Scroll down to watch Gayle's innings

World record: Gayle (right) took just 30 balls to reach his hundred

World record: Gayle (right) took just 30 balls to reach his hundred

Centre stage: Gayle hit 11 sixes on his way to his hundred

Centre stage: Gayle hit 11 sixes on his way to his hundred

Centre stage: Gayle hit 11 sixes on his way to his hundred

GAYLE IN NUMBERS

175* Gayle's innings for the Royal Challengers Bangalore is the new record individual score in T20 cricket.

30 Number of balls Gayle took to reach 100 — the fastest-ever century in cricket history.

17 Sixes hit by Gayle in his innings — a new T20 record. The West Indian also smashed 13 fours, just for good measure.

263 The total reached by Bangalore after 20 overs — another T20 record for most runs in an innings.

42 The runs by which Gayle outscored the opposition, the Pune Warriors.

The Jamaican has earned a reputation
as one of the most destructive players in the star-studded tournament
and he showed why with a sublime powerful hitting display on Tuesday.

Gayle said: 'I'm lost for words. It
was just one of those days when I was hitting it really well and the
ball was coming out of the middle of the bat.

'We got a pretty good total
and I'm really happy with the performance.

‘All I had for breakfast this morning was a plain omelette, two pancakes and a hot chocolate.’

India captain MS Dhoni tweeted: ‘Life
is all about taking the right decision. Seeing Gayle bat today, I think I
took the right decision being a wicketkeeper.’

Andrew Symonds previously held the
record for the fastest-ever century after hitting a 34-ball ton in an
English domestic match between Kent and Middlesex in 2004.

Previous best: Andrew Symonds took just 34 balls to score a hundred against Middlesex in 2004

Previous best: Andrew Symonds took just 34 balls to score a hundred against Middlesex in 2004

Gayle’s 17 sixes was also a new record, beating the 16 hit by Graham Napier for Essex against Sussex in 2008.

A boundary at the start of the 18th
over on Tuesday took Gayle onto 160, ahead of the previous highest T20
score of 158 set by Brendon McCullum in the first ever IPL match in
2008.

As if all those runs weren’t enough,
Gayle also chipped in with two late wickets. If only there was an
outstanding candidate for the man of the match award…

Gayle force: The West Indian is widely regarded as the best T20 batsman in the world

Gayle force: The West Indian is widely regarded as the best T20 batsman in the world

Gayle force: The West Indian is widely regarded as the best T20 batsman in the world

VIDEO: Watch Chris Gayle's record innings

Andrew Flintoff claims Ashes double-header may be England swansong for Kevin Pietersen

Ashes double-header may be Pietersen's England farewell, says Flintoff

PUBLISHED:

11:54 GMT, 18 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

14:49 GMT, 18 April 2013

Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff believes Kevin Pietersen may consider his England future early next year.

Pietersen has only been back in the fold for two series following last summer's dramatic exile from the international set-up and is due to miss the forthcoming home Tests against New Zealand due to a knee injury.

England's star batsman was left out of the final Test against South Africa last year having sent 'provocative' messages to friends in the Proteas side and given a confrontational press conference at Headingley.

Fore! Freddie ejoys a round at the Colin Montgomerie Golf Clinic at The Devere Mottram Hall Hotel in Cheshire

Fore! Freddie ejoys a round at the Colin Montgomerie Golf Clinic at The Devere Mottram Hall Hotel in Cheshire

Fore! Freddie ejoys a round at the Colin Montgomerie Golf Clinic at The Devere Mottram Hall Hotel in Cheshire

Fore! Freddie ejoys a round at the Colin Montgomerie Golf Clinic at The Devere Mottram Hall Hotel in Cheshire

Farewell Kevin Pietersen could quit the international stage after this year's Ashes double-header, according to former England team-mate Andrew Flintoff (below)

Farewell Kevin Pietersen could quit the international stage after this year's Ashes double-header, according to former England team-mate Andrew Flintoff (below)

Pietersen's last Tests

THE ASHES IN ENGLAND 2013
July 10-14 – First Test, Trent Bridge
July 18-22 – Second Test, Lord's
August 1-5 – Third Test, Old Trafford
August 9-13 – Fourth Test, Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street
August 21-25 – Fifth Test, The Oval

THE ASHES IN AUSTRALIA 2013-2014
November 21-25 – First Test, The Gabba, Brisbane
December 5-9 – Second Test, Adelaide Oval
December 13-17 – Third Test, WACA, Perth
December 26-30 – Fourth Test, Melbourne Cricket Ground
January 3-7 – Fifth Test, Sydney Cricket Ground

He was initially left out of the touring party for India but returned to the fold after a much-discussed period of 'reintegration' and enjoyed a superb run of form with the bat.

But Flintoff, who called time on his own England career in 2009, believes Pietersen could be tempted to depart the scene again after back-to-back Ashes series at home and abroad.

'I wouldn't read too much into his not playing New Zealand, Kevin will be ready (for the Ashes),' he told Sky Sports News.

'There are 10 Tests against Australia in the next few months, I expect England to win and expect Kevin to be part of that.

'But
I would be quite interested to see if Kevin tries to play Test cricket
after that. We'll see what happens after that, if he is lured away to
play IPL and Twenty20 cricket around the world.

Old pals: Pietersen and Flintoff together for England during the winter 2008 tour of India

Old pals: Pietersen and Flintoff together for England during the winter 2008 tour of India

'I've got a sneaking suspicion he'll be looking at those 10 Tests and then consider his future.'

Pietersen took to Twitter on Wednesday to insist he would play internationally for another four years.

Responding to a question from another user asking: 'Do you think/want to play for England for a few more years', Pietersen replied: 'At least 4 years…'

I'm staying: Pietersen insisted he would play for England for another four years on Twitter yesterday

I'm staying: Pietersen insisted he would play for England for another four years on Twitter yesterday

County Championship 2013: Nick Compton"s rise highlights importance of domestic circuit

County cricket is back! And if you're in any doubt how relevant it is, just ask Compton

By
Richard Gibson

PUBLISHED:

22:26 GMT, 9 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:19 GMT, 10 April 2013

Anyone wondering whether the County Championship retains its relevance within the framework of 21st-century cricket ought to pose the question to Nick Compton.

In an age when Twenty20 offers the quickest route to fame and fortune, Compton took the sleepy backroads around the shires with Somerset to reach the international fast lane.

Perhaps held back in his early career by lugging a famous surname around, the 29-year-old has flourished since moving to Taunton in 2010.

Driving seat: Nick Compton hit back-to-back centuries in New Zealand to all but secure his Ashes spot

Driving seat: Nick Compton hit back-to-back centuries in New Zealand to all but secure his Ashes spot

Prolific: Compton averaged 99.25 last season

Prolific: Compton averaged 99.25 last season

Last season he achieved a Bradman-esque
County Championship average of 99.25 and, two Test hundreds in New
Zealand later, he holds an England place three months shy of the Ashes.

‘The County Championship provides the route to the England team and it is really important that message is projected.

'Compton is a fine example of someone who was banging out big runs to a degree where we could no longer not pick him,’ acknowledged England limited-overs coach Ashley Giles as county sides prepare for Wednesday's opening games of the Championship season.

‘In the end he selected himself by the sheer weight of numbers he was stacking up and that has to be a boost for all county cricketers out there.

'From my experience with Warwickshire, he was by far the stand-out guy we played against; by virtue of the fact you actually had to get him out.

'He exhibited the skills you look for in a top player as well. You can’t just do it by getting runs, you have to display the mental and physical attributes to play Test cricket.’

Mark Butcher, a predecessor of Compton’s as an England Test opener, added: ‘Compo’s thing is that he was not picked on the basis of one glorious summer. He has done it year in, year out and that as much as anything is the lesson for others.’

Recognition: England coach Ashley Giles believes Compton selected himself after his prolific run-scoring

Recognition: England coach Ashley Giles believes Compton selected himself after his prolific run-scoring

Championship cricket, with its
unrelenting schedule, remains the best gauge of a player’s credentials,
according to Giles, the director of cricket who guided Warwickshire to
the title last September.

‘Over
the course of a long season, take away all the variables of weather,
injuries to a degree, and it is the best signal of who is the best
cricket team in the land,' he said.

On Wednesday morning, the Championship
pennant will be hoisted on the pavilion at Edgbaston for the champions’
opening fixture against Derbyshire. But who does Giles view as the most
likely challengers this year

Champions: Warwickshire will begin their Division One defence on Wednesday against Derbyshire

Champions: Warwickshire will begin their Division One defence on Wednesday against Derbyshire

Addition: Middlesex have been strengthened by the signing of James Harris (left)

Addition: Middlesex have been strengthened by the signing of James Harris (left)

‘I think Middlesex will be a dangerous side,’ he said. ‘When we sat back at the end of last season and reflected, we felt they were the most similar side to us in how they played their cricket. If they had nudged us a bit harder last year I reckon they could have beaten us but they were quite tentative.’

Former Surrey batsman Butcher, meanwhile, said: ‘I will be keeping an eye on Yorkshire because they are a very talented group. They have some young guys in there so to go all the way might be beyond them because of that youth.

‘To me it’s no surprise that Warwickshire got into positions to win things over the past couple of years because of the average age of their team. They are a mature team, not an old team.'

Cups run over: All the trophies that will be played for this summer, and the Ashes in the middle

Cups run over: All the trophies that will be played for this summer, and the Ashes in the middle

Ashley Giles and Mark Butcher were talking ahead of this year’s LV= County Catch-up – A monthly online programme featuring news, player interviews and behind the scenes insight from the LV= County Championship circuit.

Jesse Ryder in critical condition after being beaten up outside Christchurch bar

New Zealand's Ryder in critical condition after being attacked outside Christchurch bar

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

20:41 GMT, 27 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

22:09 GMT, 27 March 2013

New Zealand cricketer Jesse Ryder has been admitted to Christchurch Hospital after being attacked at a bar, police have confirmed.

According to reports in New Zealand, the 28-year-old all-rounder is in a critical condition in intensive care after suffering a fractured skull and a collapsed lung.

It is understood that three men attacked the controversial cricketer from behind.

Critical condition: Jesse Ryder

Support: Ryder

Critical condition: Jesse Ryder is in hospital in Christchurch after suffering serious head injuries

A statement on the New Zealand Police website read: 'Police are investigating an incident at a bar in Merivale in the early hours of this morning.

Cricket tweets support for Ryder

Michael Vaughan (former England captain) – Devastating news regarding Jesse Ryder… Just hope he can pull through… Thoughts are with him and his family…

Boyd Rankin (Warwickshire and former Ireland seamer) – Get well soon Jesse Ryder!

Ross Taylor (New Zealand batsman, former captain) – Thinking of you mate @DijaRyder

Black Caps (Official New Zealand cricket Twitter account) – The whole NZC team's thoughts are with @DijaRyder this morning.

Luke Wright (England limited overs all-rounder) – Hope your ok @DijaRyder. Get well soon buddy.

Martin Guptill (New Zealand batsman) – Thoughts are with @DijaRyder this morning. Get well soon bro.

'Police can confirm the incident did involve Jesse Ryder and that he is currently in Christchurch Hospital.'

St John Ambulance confirmed to TVNZ that two ambulances responded to an alleged assault at 12.34am in the morning.

'We transported to Christchurch Hospital ED under lights and sirens one patient, a male, aged in his 20s, with very serious head injuries,' St John Ambulance said.

Ryder, a controversial figure whose career has been plagued by off-field incidents, is on an indefinite break from international cricket and has not played for New Zealand since February last year.

Ryder has played 18 Tests and 39 one-day internationals for the Black Caps, his last appearance an ODI against South Africa.

He played yesterday for the Wellington Firebirds in the major preliminary final against Canterbury Wizards at Hagley Oval and was due to fly out to India this week to compete for the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League.

New Zealand Cricket revealed its chief executive David White, Peter Clinton from Cricket Wellington, Heath Mills from the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association and Ryder's manager Aaron Klee were flying to Christchurch.

'We are all shocked by what has occurred and extremely concerned for Jesse. New Zealand Cricket's thoughts are with him and his family,' White said.

New Zealand Cricket said the four would likely hold a press conference once they had ascertained the facts surrounding Ryder's injuries and his current condition.

Steven Finn takes six wickets but hails Matt Prior"s contribution

Prior's flying high: Finn takes six wickets but hails the contribution of England's renaissance man

By
Peter Hayter

PUBLISHED:

18:48 GMT, 23 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:50 GMT, 23 March 2013

Steven Finn celebrated his second six-wicket haul for England by thanking the man who pulled one of them out of the clear blue Auckland sky.

Finn bowled his side back into contention on day two of the third and deciding Test against New Zealand with 6-125 as England responded to conceding 250-1 on the first day after inviting the hosts to bat by bowling them out for 443.

Struggling in the first two Tests to groove a new action necessitated by his habit of kicking the stumps in delivery, Finn produced his fourth five-for in Test cricket and the first since he recorded exactly the same figures against Australia in the opening Test of the 2010-11 Ashes series in Brisbane.

But a measure of the contribution to his success of Matt Prior was that Finn nominated his catch to dismiss Peter Fulton as the highlight of his day, a superb effort down the legside that underlined the England wicketkeeper’s status as the best gloveman in world cricket.

In full flight: Peter Fulton flicks Steven Finn's delivery down the legside, Matt Prior takes off and holds a remarkable catch

In full flight: Peter Fulton flicks Steven Finn's delivery down the legside, Matt Prior takes off and holds a remarkable catch

Finn had called for England to have a crazy hour in the field after their failure to make inroads on day one. But all they got at first was Fulton grinding on where he left off the previous evening, blocking the living daylights out of it from his overnight 124 with 12 runs in 69 balls spanning a seemingly endless hour and three-quarters.

Yet ‘Two-metre Peter’ probably thought he had collected four more when he glanced an innocuous legside delivery from Finn towards the fine leg boundary, only for its passage to the rope to be breathtakingly interrupted.

Diving full length to his left, Prior threw out a glove and caught the ball one-handed after it had already passed him, then twisted in mid-air to ensure he avoided spilling the ball when he landed.

Even Fulton seemed suitably impressed, pausing momentarily to admire a catch which, for sheer impact, was on a par with Andrew Strauss’s effort to dismiss Adam Gilchrist in the Trent Bridge Test of the 2005 Ashes and Paul Collingwood’s amazing take at slip to get rid of Ricky Ponting on England’s last trip Down Under.

Prior went on to complete his own ‘five-for’ in the innings, three off Finn, one of the two wickets James Anderson took to draw level with Derek Underwood on 297 Test dismissals and a second outstanding catch, standing up to the stumps, to snaffle a thin outside edge to do for the dangerous Brendon McCullum off Jonathan Trott, an example of Alastair Cook’s inspired captaincy or a fluke, depending on your preference.

All smiles: Steven Finn celebrates with teammates Stuart Broad, Jonathan Trott and Prior after dismissing Trent Boult

All smiles: Steven Finn celebrates with teammates Stuart Broad, Jonathan Trott and Prior after dismissing Trent Boult

As Finn said: ‘It’s nice to know he can leap like a salmon down the legside and catch a couple of those. To have him behind the stumps is fantastic.’

It is all a far cry from where Prior found himself the last time England toured here dropped after a controversial start to his Test career in 2007 as the successor to Geraint Jones.

Despite becoming the first England keeper to score a century on Test debut, against West Indies at Lord’s, the Sussex man won more critics than admirers for clumsy glovework and a perception grew he put his mouth where his mitts should be too often. It was no surprise when he lost his place to Tim Ambrose after a terrible tour to Sri Lanka, in which at times he looked no better than a part-timer behind the stumps.

Anderson is no doubt, however, of how good the keeper who reinvented himself has become.

‘The legside take off Finny was one of the best wicketkeeping catches you will see,’ he said. ‘It had been a long couple of days and the legs start to get tired, so to see someone do that gives everyone a rush.

‘Matt is the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world. I can’t honestly think of anyone who comes close but the fact is he wasn’t in the side when we were here last and that made him change his whole approach to the job.

Prize wicket: Prior holds on to dismiss Brendon McCullum

Prize wicket: Prior holds on to dismiss Brendon McCullum

‘At first he thought of himself as a batsman who could get by with the gloves on athleticism and eye, but he realised there was more to it. He worked tirelessly with Bruce French [the former England keeper and now their wicketkeeping coach] and is reaping the rewards.

‘He is the first out on the field doing his drills every day, will practise taking all sorts of catches one-handed, like this one he took, for hours and hours, and the way he manages to maintain his concentration hour after hour when one slip can make all the difference is impressive.

‘And he fulfils all the criteria for a genuine all-rounder because, not only is he clearly worth his place as a keeper, he could easily bat at No 6 on merit as well.’

The best wicketkeepers, they say, are the ones whose work you hardly notice. In Auckland Prior disproved the rule.

Which football star wants to play club cricket when he retires?

From Blues to whites: Everton skipper Neville wants to play club cricket when he retires from football

By
Phil Gradwell

PUBLISHED:

13:11 GMT, 14 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:57 GMT, 14 March 2013

Retirement will be a whole new ball game for Everton captain Phil Neville, who says he wants to spend his post-football days playing club cricket.

Neville, 36, may have won 59 England caps, have six Premier League titles to his name and be leading out an established top-flight side but he is relishing the thought of swapping his blue shirt for his whites.

That may not be for a few years yet but the defender – who played alongside Andrew Flintoff in Lancashire's youth set-up and was a good enough cricketer to play for the county's second XI aged 15 – said when his football career is up he will join Bury-based local-league club Greenmount, for whom he played as a junior.

Is that a wide Phil Neville looks as if he is getting into the cricket a bit early during Everton's FA Cup defeat by Wigan

Is that a wide Phil Neville looks as if he is getting into the cricket a bit early during Everton's FA Cup defeat by Wigan

Different kind of whites: Neville played 59 times for England

Different kind of whites: Neville played 59 times for England

WHO ARE GREENMOUNT CC

Greenmount Cricket Club, founded in 1867 (as far as records can establish) are based in Bury, Greater Manchester and play in the Bolton League.

In 2011 they won a treble of the Bolton League, the Lancashire Knock Out and the Hamer Cup.

They have had many famous overseas players including Australians Mark Taylor and Matthew Hayden and West Indian Franklyn Stephenson.

The much more English Neville Neville, father of Phil and Gary, also played for the club.

Neville told the Bolton News: 'One hundred per cent, I will play cricket again in a couple of years time if my career ends.

'That is the first thing I am going to do; I am going to get back doing something I love.

'People sometimes fear retirement but I am looking forward to it because I can go and do something I love.'

Neville was speaking as an ambassador
at the launch of ‘The Lancashire Way’ – an inclusive cricket initiative
launched by Lancashire CCC.

He
added: 'To get the chance at my stage in my life to get back involved
with Lancashire is great because I love going to Old
Trafford to watch.'

Team-mates: Neville played with a young Andrew Flintoff in Lancashire's youth set-up

Team-mates: Neville played with a young Andrew Flintoff in Lancashire's youth set-up

Advice: Everton captain Phil Neville chats to England women's cricketer Lydia Greenway at Lancashire's Old Trafford ground

Advice: Everton captain Phil Neville chats to England women's cricketer Lydia Greenway at Lancashire's Old Trafford ground

Steven Finn puts in mature display as nightwatchman

Finn curbs his instincts to deliver one of the great nightwatchman innings in Dunedin

By
Ian Prince

PUBLISHED:

07:01 GMT, 10 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

09:55 GMT, 10 March 2013

As Steven Finn made his way to the University Oval this morning, he discussed the day ahead with a member of England's support staff.

The conversation went something like this: 'How are you feeling'

'Good,' said the fast bowler. 'I know I need to bat a long time but there's this little devil on my shoulder telling me to play some shots.'

Assured: Steven Finn put in a mature performance at the crease and hit 56 runs in Dunedin

Assured: Steven Finn put in a mature performance at the crease and hit 56 runs in Dunedin

'Don't listen to it,' came the sensible reply.

Finn did just that, curbing his inner devil to help save this first Test and put New Zealand's bowlers through hell in Dunedin as he produced one of the great nightwatchman innings in the history of English cricket.

Before he took guard on the fourth evening following the dismissal of his captain Alastair Cook, Finn had batted a combined total of 291 minutes across 20 previous Test innings. By the time he was out in the second over after tea today, he had batted for 286.

In one knock he'd managed to cram in almost his entire Test batting career to date.

It was the second longest innings by an England nightwatchman, bettered only by the 306 minutes Jack Russell spent at the crease in a losing cause against the West Indies in Bridgetown, Barbados, in 1990. Russell, who batted at seven and finished his career with two Test centuries, is lucky to be classed as a nightwatchman given his pedigree with the bat.

Finn had little before this match, making his achievement even greater. His score, 56, was his highest in first-class cricket, beating the 32 he made against Essex at Lord's in 2011. His previous Test best was the 20 he managed in the first innings here.

Not since Alex Tudor's 99 against New Zealand at Edgbaston in 1999 has an England nightwatchman made more.

While much has been made of Finn's express pace – it is thought he could develop into England's first 100mph bowler – it is his presence in the dressing-room which has made a big impression on director of cricket Andy Flower in recent months.

And we're off: Finn substituted risky shots for sensible batting to help England draw the Test

And we're off: Finn substituted risky shots for sensible batting to help England draw the Test

And we're off: Finn substituted risky shots for sensible batting to help England draw the Test

At just 23 years of age, he is said by insiders within the camp to be an increasingly influential voice, keen to take on more responsibility.

Given his age, some have tipped him to one day take over the Test captaincy from Cook, five years his senior.

It was that willingness to take on responsibility which came to the fore on day five in Dunedin. When he started his epic knock yesterday, England were 231 for one, still 62 runs behind New Zealand's first innings total.

When he was eventually out early in the evening session today, trapped lbw by spinner Bruce Martin, his side were 93 runs ahead.

He had batted for 33 overs, more than an entire session, and it's fair to say that without Finn's dogged contribution, England would have not saved this match.

Graham Onions, Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar have gone down in folklore for their tailend defiance, the former saving two Test matches in South Africa in 2009/10 and the latter pair famously denying the Australians victory in the opening Test of the 2009 Ashes in Cardiff.

Gotcha: Finn was eventually bowled out lbw shortly after securing his half century

Gotcha: Finn was eventually bowled out lbw shortly after securing his half century

Happy: Both Finn (pictured) and Jonathan Trott made strides to help England avoid defeat

Happy: Both Finn (pictured) and Jonathan Trott made strides to help England avoid defeat

But Finn showed even more grit, at one point on the final afternoon digging in for 49 balls without scoring. In total he went 72 minutes without a run during a session in which he accumulated just 14.

He may have made Nick Compton look like Chris Gayle but the self-control and discipline he showed in curbing the devil inside his head shows what strong stuff mentally Finn is made of.

After the match, Cook confirmed Finn will now take nightwatchman duties away from the previous incumbent James Anderson permanently.

Following a display like this, it appears a wise choice.

Steven Finn and Jonathan Trott help England draw first Test with New Zealand

Finn and Trott help save first Test as England bat their way to a draw in Dunedin

By
Paul Newman

PUBLISHED:

03:51 GMT, 10 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

03:51 GMT, 10 March 2013

Steven Finn took a big stride down this lifeless Dunedin wicket ball after ball to repel New Zealand and rescue England from first Test embarrassment today in one of the great displays of nightwatchman defiance.

Not since Alex Tudor made an unbeaten 99 in England’s victory charge against New Zealand in 1999 at Edgbaston has a bowler doing a batsman’s job for England made such an impact as a nightwatchman.

It seemed an excessively cautious act by England to send Finn in ahead of Jonathan Trott when Alastair Cook was out with just over two overs left on the fourth day but far from just seeing his team through to the close the big fast bowler went on and on and on today.

Unlikely hero: Nightwatchman Steven Finn hit 50 as England drew the first Test

Unlikely hero: Nightwatchman Steven Finn hit 50 as England drew the first Test

Finn outlasted Nick Compton, Trott and Kevin Pietersen to score his first half-century in first-class cricket and go a long way towards earning England a draw that will feel like a great escape after they were humiliated for an abject 167 in their first innings.

For whatever inexplicable reason England have again been slow starters in an overseas series but have got away with their first innings negligence here and will feel that they cannot bat as badly again at either Wellington or Auckland.

They owe much of that to Finn. If the man preferred to Jimmy Anderson as nightwatchman got out early on the fifth day it is probable that England would have been on the end of one of the biggest upsets in recent Test history.

As it was they were made to battle all the way by a New Zealand side who pushed hard for what would have been one of their greatest modern wins, having England421 for six, a lead of 128, when both Brendon McCullum decided that enough was enough at the start of the last hour.

Such had been the quality of the start of England’s second innings, Compton and Cook putting on 231 for the first wicket, that England knew they just had to bat sensibly on what was effect a fourth day pitch to survive.

But Compton, who played what may turn out to be a career defining innings to record his maiden Test century on Saturday, could add only 15 to his overnight 102 before he was trapped lbw by the impressive and ever persevering Neil Wagner to give New Zealand hope.

That brought in Trott who had the rare experience of outscoring his partner as he moved smoothly along towards a fluent half-century, the only surprise coming when he was athletically caught by Wagner off his own bowling.

Kevin Pietersen, still looking rusty after his extended break from first-class cricket, arrived on a king pair but eased his first ball through midwicket for two. It could have been the cue to calm Pietersen down but he never looked comfortable before inside edging his new nemesis Wagner through to BJ Watling and departed for 12. England can only hope he is more fluent is the second Test which begins on Thursday.

When England had moved on to 382 for four at tea, a lead of 89, that seemed all but safe but the trouble was that they had scored too slowly to be out of New Zealand’s reach, only 53 runs coming in the middle session.

Certainly when Finn’s long vigil was over when he was trapped attempting to sweep the left-arm spinner Bruce Martin, after facing 203 balls for his 56, there was the hint of a twitch for England. When Joe Root was then run out without scoring the wobble was very much on.

But the bottom line was that this was a lifeless University Oval pitch, which made England’s first innings capitulation all the more inexplicable, and Ian Bell and Matt Prior were able to negotiate the remaining overs for England without alarm.

New Zealand will be able to hold their heads up high after this match. They went into the series seemingly in turmoil internally and with very few players of genuine Test-class. Yet in Neil Wagner they seem to have found a left-arm seamer with considerable enthusiasm and no little pace and in Hamish Rutherford they have found an opener who has started off in the best manner possible.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that England, under-prepared after just one first-class warm-up match, were complacent here, even if it was sub-consciously, but they now know they are in a proper series.

The second Test follows in Wellington on Thursday and , after this experience, they will be backing themselves to do what they did in India and come back from a rotten first Test to win the series.

Cricket fan hit on head with ball in Dunedin – New Zealand v England

VIDEO: Knocked for six! Cricket fan is clobbered on the head as Kiwi openers punish lacklustre England

By
Joe Ridge

PUBLISHED:

11:45 GMT, 7 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:16 GMT, 7 March 2013

Just one six was hit on the second day of the first Test between New Zealand and England and Dunedin – but one poor lad wore it right on his temple.

Having skittled England out for a pitiful 167, Kiwi openers Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton had seen off the new ball and were just settling into their stride when Monty Panesar was brought into the attack by Alastair Cook.

Scroll down to to watch the video…

Clean hit: Hamish Rutherford launches Monty Panesar towards the long on boundary

Clean hit: Hamish Rutherford launches Monty Panesar towards the long on boundary

Incoming: Hamish Rutherford launches Monty Panesar towards the long on boundary

But while the watching public were waiting to see if the spinner could extract any turn from a decent pitch, one unlucky punter took his eye off the ball as the left-handed Rutherford sent the ball sailing over the long-on rope.

The ball clattered into the unsuspecting spectator's head but don't worry, he's OK, and he'll have it all on tape to look back on – once the swelling has gone down, of course.

Unsuspecting: The fan is seen chatting to friends just before the ball hits him

Unsuspecting: The fan is seen chatting to friends just before the ball hits him

Unsuspecting: The fan is seen chatting to friends just before the ball hits him

Stinger: The fan is in pain, but he's OK

Stinger: The fan is in pain, but he's OK

VIDEO: Watch fan get hit on the head by Hamish Rutherford six

Stumped! Cricket ball hits fan on the head

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