Tag Archives: subcontinent

Monty Panesar: At last I"m fulfilling my potential

Panesar: At last, I'm showing the 'Inner Monty' (but I'd still like to bat a bit better)

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UPDATED:

23:30 GMT, 1 December 2012

Picture dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from England's tour of India due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India
(BCCI) and international news organisations. The BCCI has refused access
to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action
Images and other Indian photographic agencies. MailOnline consider this
action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to
boycott BCCI imagery.

Eleven wickets in Mumbai, including a
glorious double over Sachin Tendulkar, did not merely signify a
successful return to Test cricket for a left-arm spinner seemingly stuck
in the international wilderness.

According to Monty Panesar, the
performance that helped secure only England's second Test win on the
subcontinent in almost three decades was also the culmination of a
two-year search for the 'Inner Monty'.

Left out of the first Test when
conditions in Ahmedabad screamed for his inclusion alongside Graeme
Swann, Panesar might have thought his latest England outing was going to
pan out like most of the others since the first Test of the 2009 Ashes;
thanks for coming, better luck next time.

Cool customer: Monty Panesar has worked on the mental side of his game

Cool customer: Monty Panesar has worked on the mental side of his game

But with an exquisite exhibition of orthodox slow left-arm bowling, the 'Montster' was back.

Now, as the third Test in Kolkata approaches, it is India who are under scrutiny and Panesar revealed that, as much as his journey back into the team was about finding a way forward as a bowler, it was also about finding himself as a person.

'When I was out of the side, that was a period when I needed to reflect,' he said.

'I felt I needed to know which direction to take my game. I wanted to take on the responsibility for my own learning so I invested in myself on and off the pitch by going to people away from the England Cricket Board.

'I did some work with Neil Burns [the former Essex wicketkeeper], who runs a sort of a mentoring organisation, and Dr Ken Jennings, a sports psychologist.

'We worked together on the emotional perspective and the mental side of things, seeing what was important for me as a cricketer. I helped build emotional resilience and mental focus. It's given me more sense of who I am. People were saying I needed to have lots of variations. I felt I needed to go back to my strengths, rather than trying to be a bowler I cannot be.

'When I first came into the international arena I was very shy. I'd defer to coaches, captains and players. I wouldn't speak to the coaches or anyone. Put a ball in my hand and I'd be happy to bowl line and length. Now I have a clearer understanding of who I am, what I can bring to a team.'

Inner Monty: Panesar is pleased with his progress

Inner Monty: Panesar is pleased with his progress

What he brought to England in Mumbai was a way back into the series.

'Coming into the Test I felt under a lot of pressure,' he added. 'I knew I had to be at my best, so my self-belief had to be high. I had to have that mindset where I don't take things for granted but I commit to my processes.

'For instance, when I bowled that ball to Sachin which bowled him, the previous ball was a short ball, so when I was walking back I was thinking: “Get my mind right. How is my breathing” All these things are on the checklist in my mind I was ticking off. It was like I was doing a service on me … an MOT.'

And how he passed it.

He added: 'I know I'm not the world's best batter or fielder, despite all the effort and improvements I've made. I want to play all forms of cricket, to improve in these areas.'

Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, is the title sponsor of Test match cricket in England. Visit the Investec Cricket Zone at investec.co.uk/cricket for player analysis, stats, Test info and games.

England have fantastic four: Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook, Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar – Nasser Hussain

Triumph is thanks to fantastic four… but it's time to have a word with out-of-sorts Broad

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 26 November 2012

When you consider where England were after being outplayed in the Ahmedabad Test and then losing the toss in Mumbai, this will go down as one of their great victories. The character they showed to play such exceptional cricket was immense.

It would have been easy for England’s heads to drop after the first Test, amid all the talk of a 4-0 defeat, and that they did not is to the absolute credit of Alastair Cook and Andy Flower in particular.

Cricket is such an individual game and this win was down to four individuals who put in absolutely unbelievable performances – Monty Panesar, Graeme Swann, Cook and, of course, Kevin Pietersen. They beat India at their own game.

Well-earned beer: (clockwise from top left) Graeme Swann, Matt Prior, Alastair Cook, James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen toast victory in the dressing room

Well-earned beer: (clockwise from top left) Graeme Swann, Matt Prior, Alastair Cook, James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen toast victory in the dressing room

More from Nasser Hussain…

Nasser Hussain: 'Public enemy No 1' Pietersen is a genius and he is worth a bit of hassle
25/11/12

Nasser Hussain: England captain Cook comes nicely to the boil in Mumbai
23/11/12

Nasser Hussain: Captain Cook must think on his feet now that the pressure is on
21/11/12

Nasser Hussain: The time has come for you to go out and show us you can play
19/11/12

Nasser Hussain: England can rely on captain Cook on the subcontinent
18/11/12

Nasser Hussain: Old subcontinental demons come back to haunt England
16/11/12

Daily Dossier: Missing Monty is England's achilles in Ahmedabad
15/11/12

Nasser Hussain: Jimmy to set trap for Little Master… but beware new star Kohli and old foe Sehwag
13/11/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

I always thought India would be better off preparing flat pitches rather than ones that turned from the first ball like this did, and I think the surface will be much flatter for next week’s third Test in Kolkata.

That would then pose a question for England as to whether they should somehow try to squeeze a fifth bowler into the line-up. Panesar was quite brilliant in this second Test. We had all the talk about whether he should have more variations or bowl at differing paces but in this game he did what he does best: bowl quickly and get the ball to spin at pace.

In recent times Monty has only played when it has been blindingly obvious that he should, but perhaps England need to change their mind-set and play him unless it is blindingly obvious that he should not.

Sometimes we don’t see what’s in front of our eyes and in Panesar England have a seriously good bowler who has made a strong case for playing more often.

Some of the deliveries he bowled to
Sachin Tendulkar in particular were remarkable and for that reason I
would not be too critical of the Indian batsmen.

I
don’t think India will panic. Tendulkar is enduring a poor run of form
but any batsman in the world would have been out to the balls he faced
in this Test.

All-time great: Sachin Tendulkar has earned the right to choose when to quit

All-time great: Sachin Tendulkar has earned the right to choose when to quit

It would not be wise to write the great man off just yet and, in any case, he has earned the right to decide when he will leave the stage.

I would bring Ian Bell straight back into the team, probably for Jonny Bairstow, and I would sit Stuart Broad down now to have a chat with him about where he’s at. I wouldn’t judge him on this match on that pitch but there is no question that he has been out of sorts in recent times and England have to be sure he is fully fit as they move forward in this series.

Again, it would be unwise to write off someone like Broad, because he is a great competitor who might find the Kolkata conditions more to his liking.

For now England should enjoy the moment. Wins like this do not come around too often and should be savoured. Then the hard work will begin again.

Picture Dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from the Second Test in Mumbai due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations. The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies. MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Martin Samuel: Admit it KP, left-arm spin baffles you

Admit it KP, left-arm spin baffles you

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UPDATED:

23:06 GMT, 18 November 2012

The first step towards dealing with any problem is to recognise that one exists. Viewed like that, Kevin Pietersen is about as close to addressing the issues around his playing of left-arm spin as the housewife who thinks her bottle of gin a day amounts to social drinking.

A moment of clarity, of honesty, is needed. A stark room, a simple confession. My name is Kevin Pietersen, and I can't play left-arm spin for toffee.

In a spin: Kevin Pietersen

In a spin: Kevin Pietersen

It is not as if, in the subcontinent, he would not have an empathetic support group capable of aiding him through this crisis. Spin and slow-turning wickets have given any number of England batsmen the shakes on recent tours. Pietersen, though, remains the greatest casualty.

'There is only one person in cricket who does not think Kevin Pietersen has a problem with left-arm spin,' said Sir Ian Botham, 'and that's Kevin Pietersen.'

India certainly know it. The moment
Pietersen walks in, Pragyan Ojha is summoned to the attack, and it
usually isn't long before KP is walking out again. Ojha has taken
Pietersen's wicket twice in this Test – and yesterday's duel was even
shorter than the first.

India v England pictures

We are unable to carry live pictures from the First Test in Ahmedabad due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Pietersen lasted nine minutes and six balls for his two runs, before attempting what looked to be a premeditated slog-sweep to one that bowled him around his legs.

Brought to his knees, literally, it was left to the one faultlessly world-class batsman in the tourists' ranks, Alastair Cook, to steer England through to a score that, even if it does not save the match, will at least have salvaged some dignity in requiring India to bat again if they are to win.

As Pietersen was humbled, so Cook was triumphant. His was a true captain's innings, 168 not out at close of play, a mammoth eight hours and 21 minutes at the crease, the fifth time in his Test career he has batted beyond 400 minutes.

Matt Prior and, earlier, Nick Compton had done their best to stay with Cook, but Pietersen was of no assistance. His team-mates had said they wanted the KP of old, on the occasion of his reintegration into the fold, and that is what they got. The same absence of dedication to duty; the same sense that here was an individual dancing to his own drum.

Support act: Matt Prior

Support act: Matt Prior

When successful, it can be the best of KP, but here it was the worst. Even if he had the capability, Pietersen did not have the desire to dig in and craft an innings that would perhaps rescue England in Ahmedabad.

One imagines he would try to play Ojha his way, whatever the state of the game. Some choose to find this charming. Yesterday, as a response, it looked half-baked and inadequate.

Graham Gooch, England's batting coach and Cook's mentor and champion from his earliest days with Essex, was actually talking in general terms when he raised the issue that cut to the heart of Pietersen's great failing.

In praising Cook and Prior's resilience and that of India's top order, he could easily have been addressing the weakness of the man whose maintenance bills are beginning to creep higher than his run rate.

'The Indian players attack, but they also stick in there and don't take chances,' said Gooch.

'The skill of scoring runs is being
adaptable. You can't play the same way every time; you have to tailor
the way you play to suit the conditions. That is what stands one player
out from another.

'Alastair
put together a hundred today. It's a different skill to scoring a
hundred, I don't know if everyone understands that.

'People go out sometimes and score a hundred: it all goes well for
them, it all fits into place and they have a good day. That boy was
different, because he just made it happen.

Disappointed: England batting coach Graham Gooch

Disappointed: England batting coach Graham Gooch

'I think Kevin will be very disappointed, with both innings. He trains very hard, he practises very hard, he's had good knocks in Colombo against spinners in recent times and he'll be disappointed with his performance here. Like some of our other players, he has to trust his ability.

'There is a certain way of playing over here, you have to get yourself in, trust your defence and if you do that, only then can you look at your scoring options.

'He won't be happy with his return in this match, but he's strong enough and a big enough character to continue working on his game and put it right.'

But is he This was Pietersen's 25th Test dismissal by a left-arm spinner and to deny it as a flaw seems delusional in the circumstances.

Last season, playing for Surrey against Hampshire, he was out first ball, twice, to Liam Dawson, a 22-year-old with two first-class five-wicket hauls to his name, whose slow left-arm orthodox spin plays second fiddle to Hampshire's front-line protagonist, Danny Briggs.

It is going to be a long tour if Pietersen determines to play Ojha as if untroubled. His last shot yesterday was that of a man whistling to keep his spirits up; so desperately determined to appear carefree that every sinew in his body betrays him.

There is a whole troupe of KP cheerleaders waiting for the opportunity to tell the ECB everything their hero is forbidden to say; but yesterday's events were not part of that script.

Yesterday, their man was not central to the narrative, but a blurred figure in the background.

He was not the star, but the stooge.

Cook's century took him level with Pietersen's total of 21 in Tests for England, and there is little doubt who is favoured to lead their tussle by the time the team returns from India.

Cynics have suggested that part of the motivation for including a reintegrated Pietersen on this tour was that if the team went down, as expected, in India, he could not then return as their saviour on the considerably less taxing tour of New Zealand in the New Year.

Reintegration would mean winning – or more likely losing – as a team. The Batman act would be over. If such Machiavellian plotters were at work, events in Ahmedabad have played into their hands. Pietersen is as far from being England's salvation here as he is from making Andrew Strauss's Christmas card list.

He needs to be truthful in recognising his problem; with Gooch, with Cook, with Andy Flower, all fine players of spin.

The first step, however, is to accept reality. Sadly, Pietersen is no nearer to doing that than he was to picking Ojha after a measly six balls yesterday.

After that, Ian Bell can take as much paternity leave as he wants

After that, Bell can take as much paternity leave as he wants

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UPDATED:

20:34 GMT, 17 November 2012

Batsman Ian Bell will return to
England for the birth of his first child with his position in England's
middle order in jeopardy unless he can make a significant second-innings
contribution.

PICTURE DISPUTE

We are unable to carry live pictures
from the First Test in Ahmedabad due to a dispute between the Board of
Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news
organisations.

The BCCI has
refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty
Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

The 30-year-old batsman suffered what
former England captain Michael Atherton described as an 'unforgivable
brainstorm' in his side's first innings, when he charged down
the pitch to his first ball from Pragyan Ojha and gifted a catch to
Sachin Tendulkar at mid-off.

Bell's record on the subcontinent –
where he averages less than 30 in 18 Tests – came under scrutiny in the
lead-up to this series and yesterday's nervy contribution will only
increase the question marks over his ability against top-class spin.

'That was disgraceful. He can have all the paternity leave he likes after that,' said Sky commentator Atherton.

'It was an indefensible shot and he
deserves every bit of criticism that comes his way. It made life
particularly difficult for England.'

Oh dear: Ian Bell had a 'brainstorm' in the first innings against India

Oh dear: Ian Bell had a 'brainstorm' in the first innings against India

With Jonny Bairstow favourite to replace Bell for the second Test in Mumbai next week, the Warwickshire batsman desperately needs a second-innings score to avoid calls for his exile to be made permanent.

The moment of madness, which reduced the tourists to 69-5, also drew criticism from former England opener Geoffrey Boycott.

He said: 'He came down the pitch first ball and tried to hit the left-arm spinner out of the park and I thought: “Did that really happen” Even if he had got away with it, it was an awful shot.'

Wicketkeeper Matt Prior said: 'Only he will know his plan and what he wanted to do. But you can't question the class of a batter like Ian Bell.'

Alastair Cook: England can beat India without Kevin Pietersen

England can beat India without Pietersen, says Test captain Cook

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UPDATED:

22:32 GMT, 20 September 2012

Alastair Cook has admitted England are a better team with the ostracised Kevin Pietersen but the door for his return remains only slightly ajar.

Speaking formally for the first time about the issue, new Test captain Cook confirmed he had talked to Pietersen and had other meetings on the impasse prior to the squad for this winter’s four-match series in India being announced.

Discussions between Pietersen and ECB chiefs Hugh Morris and David Collier are on-going.

Captain's job: Cook believes England can prosper in India without Pietersen

Captain's job: Cook believes England can prosper in India without Pietersen

Cook said: 'The issues have not been resolved which is why he is not available for selection at the moment. Time, hopefully, will be a healer and we will be able to move on.

'It is a given that Kevin — who has proved himself in conditions all around the world — is a world-class player.

'His record suggests that in all forms of the game. He will be missed in that way but it gives another person an opportunity.'

Watching brief: KP is watching the World T20 unfold from a TV studio

Watching brief: KP is watching the World T20 unfold from a TV studio

Cook has first-hand experience of filling big shoes on the subcontinent: he struck a century on debut in Nagpur six years ago after being called in for Marcus Trescothick, who had withdrawn with depression.

'When I got called up people were probably thinking: “Who is this 21-year-old from Essex He will never be as good as Tres.”

'And I wasn’t, but it gives another person an opportunity to go out and do well for England.

'We have to look forward now as a side. We have 16 players getting on the plane and we have to look forward to the two months coming up and not look back.

'The guys coming in have nothing to fear about going out there. We are going out there to win a series.'

Alastair Cook is supporting Buxton’s Less Is Best campaign. To win 2013 Ashes tickets go to: www.buxtonwater.co.uk

England deserve No 1 Test ranking, says Mahela Jayawardene

Forget woeful run on subcontinent, England deserve No 1 Test ranking, says Jayawardene

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UPDATED:

12:33 GMT, 2 April 2012

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene still rates England as the number one side in the world, despite their recent struggles in the subcontinent.

England ascended to the top of the rankings courtesy of a 4-0 home win over India last summer but are in danger of slipping from top spot already following a 3-0 series defeat against Pakistan and a 75-run loss in Galle last week.

The second Test of the series gets under way in Colombo tomorrow and, while many see an England side shorn of confidence and lacking in a clear strategy against spin bowling, Jayawardene is not underestimating the tourists.

Respect: Jayawardene believes England's achievements over the last two years make them worthy of their No 1 status

Respect: Jayawardene believes England's achievements over the last two years make them worthy of their No 1 status

'England have played some really good cricket the last two years,' he said.

'They beat Australia in Australia, they played well in South Africa and they have been really good in English conditions. That is reflected in their results.

'There are five or six teams in the world playing really good cricket now, so on any given day they can beat each other, but England have set the standards.

'It has been difficult for them in the sub-continent, so for us it's about challenging them here just as it is about challenging ourselves in English conditions.'

Tuesday's match sees Sri Lanka and England take to the field at the P.Sara Stadium for the first time since the home team's inaugural Test match in 1982.

Final preparations: Sri Lanka are hoping to complete a 2-0 whitewash

Final preparations: Sri Lanka are hoping to complete a 2-0 whitewash

Final preparations: Sri Lanka are hoping to complete a 2-0 whitewash

That match was the culmination of decades of cricketing progress in the country and Jayawardene is pleased to be returning to the site of one of Sri Lanka's proudest moments.

'It is going to be somewhat emotional,' he said. 'We do have a rich history and everyone who plays tomorrow will be part of it.

'It's not just the last 30 years of Sri Lankan cricket, it is 50, 60, 70 years ago and what our cricketers did for us to get Test status in 1982.

'We are very humble and very proud to be a part of it.'

Sri Lanka have made two changes to their winning side from the first match of the series, with seamer Dhammika Prasad replacing the injured Chanaka Welegedara and vice-captain Angelo Mathews back from injury to take over from Dinesh Chandimal in the middle order.

Hand it to them: The hosts were worthy victors in the first Test

Hand it to them: The hosts were worthy victors in the first Test

Andrew Strauss vows to fight on as England captain

Strauss vows to fight on as England captain focuses on Test victory in Sri Lanka

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UPDATED:

08:56 GMT, 2 April 2012

Andrew Strauss has insisted giving up the England captaincy has not crossed his mind at he prepares his team for the second Test against Sri Lanka.

Four Test defeats in a row have left England in danger of losing their status as the world's top ranked side, and have led to questions about Strauss' role as skipper, as has his mediocre form opening the batting.

But Strauss said that relinquishing his role has not come into his thoughts.

Plenty to ponder: England have lost four Tests in a row on the subcontinent

Plenty to ponder: England have lost four Tests in a row on the subcontinent

'Not at all. It'd be wrong for me to think about anything other than us winning this game,' he said.

'That's where both my emphasis and my intention is at the moment.'

The second Test begins in Colombo
tomorrow, and Strauss was asked whether he might consider his position
if the match does not go well.

'What do you mean, “If it doesn't go well”' he said on BBC Radio Five Live.

'I'm not looking at it like that way.
I've got every intention of playing well myself and every intention of
us winning this Test match.'

He added: 'I've got great faith in us as a team to show that sort of resilience we need to show this week.

'It's all very well me talking about it in an interview but we need to show it on the pitch.'

Meanwhile Nobody within the England
camp has any doubts about Andrew Strauss' future as captain according to
batsman Jonathan Trott.

Long wait: Strauss hasn't scored a century for England since November 2010

Long wait: Strauss hasn't scored a century for England since November 2010

Long wait: Strauss hasn't scored a century for England since November 2010

Strauss is facing his hardest period
in over three years as skipper following four straight defeats and a
personal record that includes just one century in 48 innings.

A series-levelling victory in the
second Test against Sri Lanka, which starts in Colombo on Tuesday, and a
first hundred since November 2010 would silence any doubters, but
anything less would see question marks seep into the English summer.

Trott, though, dismisses talk about Strauss' position as a media creation and insists it has no place in the dressing room.

He also cited the case of Alastair
Cook – Strauss' deputy and the man most likely to inherit the captaincy
when the time does come – in support of Strauss.

Cook was under intense pressure after
a lean run in 2010, but rewarded the selectors' faith by embarking on a
phenomenal run of scores, starting with the Ashes.

'Andrew is our captain and that's the
way it is,' said Trott. 'I don't think anyone else could see Andrew not
as England captain.

Final preparations: England can level the two-match series in Colombo

Final preparations: England can level the two-match series in Colombo

'I don't think this Test is any more important than all the other Test matches he's played.

'Every player goes through ups and downs.
When someone is not scoring as many runs as they would like, or expect
of themselves, it is always highlighted by you guys (the media).

'But I'm sure it will have a similar
effect as it did when Alastair Cook came through his little slump. I'm
surprised you guys haven't learned your lesson from that.

'You come out of it. Cricket can be a cruel game sometimes when it doesn't go your way but it's not for lack of trying.

'It's probably just a few
misjudgements and a bit of bad luck. It will come round to Andrew's way
and everyone will be very happy for him.'

Although Trott does not see
tomorrow's match at the P.Sara Stadium as critical to Strauss' future,
he admits there is huge desire among the squad to end a disappointing
winter on a high.

Pressure All eyes will be on the England captain

Pressure All eyes will be on the England captain

Having secured world number one status last summer, 2012 has so far yielded a 3-0 whitewash at the hands of Pakistan and a surprise defeat to a Sri Lankan side who had yet to win at home since the retirement of Muttiah Muralitharan.

'In our changing room is a highly-motivated bunch of guys who don't like losing,' he said.

'So winning is a bit of a habit and it would be nice to get back into that habit. It is a great feeling winning Test matches for England and it's something we treasure.

'Everyone feels pride at being part of a successful team.'

England boil over in defeating Sri Lankan Board XI

England boil over as Sri Lankan Perera refuses to walk in Colombo

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UPDATED:

21:22 GMT, 17 March 2012

England opened their tour with a
convincing victory by an innings and 15 runs against a Sri Lankan Board
XI at the Premadasa Stadium.

However, the match was overshadowed
by an ugly incident in Saturday's afternoon session which saw captain
Andrew Strauss and several of his players involved in a heated row with
both umpires and opposition batsman Dilruwan Perera.

Flashpoint: James Anderson lets Dilruwan Perera just how he feels

Flashpoint: James Anderson lets Dilruwan Perera just how he feels

It followed a passage of play which had seen Perera edge a James Anderson delivery to first slip.

To the naked eye, the catch looked good as Strauss dived forward to scoop the ball up into his hands.

Yet Perera, a 29-year-old off-spinner
who has played four one-day internationals, insisted the ball had not
carried and, after consultation between Sri Lankan umpires Ravindra
Kottahachchi and Ravindra Wimalasiri, he was reprieved.

It led to an unsavoury confrontation
involving England's players, led by Strauss, Perera and both umpires,
which threatened to boil over.

Marching on: England celebrate as they cruise to victory in Sri Lanka

Marching on: England celebrate as they cruise to victory in Sri Lanka

Anderson later admitted a valuable
lesson has been learned about cricket in the subcontinent, where
suffocating humidity and slow wickets can often see tempers rise in
direct correlation with the temperature.

'It was just frustrating,' he said.
'With Straussy being the honest upstanding citizen that he is, he
wouldn't lie about something like that. You have to take his word on it
and the other slip and keeper thought he'd taken it, too.

Full stretch: James Anderson attempts a catch against the Sri Lanka Board XI

Full stretch: James Anderson attempts a catch against the Sri Lanka Board XI

'Add the heat into it and it was a
good lesson for us. Situations like that are going to be hard to deal
with in the Test matches and we have to deal with them well.

'You're working very hard to take
wickets, and seamers aren't going to bowl a huge amount of overs in a
spell, so when you get someone out, it is frustrating to have it taken
away.

In form: Steven Finn shone for England

In form: Steven Finn shone for England

'We could have handled it better but I'm sure it's something we'll talk about.'

The argument, which took place with
their opponents in a hopeless position on 63-7, shows how seriously
England are taking these warm-up games before their two-Test series
against Sri Lanka, which starts in Galle on Monday week.

It is also evidence of the burning
desire among England's players to set the record straight following
their humiliating 3-0 Test series whitewash against Pakistan in the UAE.

There were numerous positives to take from the Colombo game.

The runs of Alastair Cook, whose
unbeaten 163 allowed England to declare on 303-8 overnight, and wickets
yesterday for a previously out-of-sorts Graeme Swann were two, while
Anderson finished with match figures of 7-40 as the Sri Lankan Board XI
were bowled out for just 119 in 56.4 strength-sapping overs.

Cricket betting scandal: English counties targeted by corrupt bookmakers

Betting scams target English county cricket as 'soft touch' for match fixing

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UPDATED:

00:34 GMT, 11 March 2012

English cricket is being targeted by corrupt bookmakers on the Indian subcontinent who claim they can make huge sums of money by influencing matches.

International and county players are being used by the betting rings who are offering up to 750,000 to those who can guarantee the outcome of a match.

And match fixers are now turning their attention to domestic action in England because of the low levels of checks means county games are seen as soft touch.

Betting scandal: Cricket was rocked by spot-fixing claims in 2010

Betting scandal: Cricket was rocked by spot-fixing claims in 2010

The revelations come just months after three Pakistan bowlers caught and subsequently jailed for their part in a tabloid spot-fixing sting.

And former Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield received a custodial sentence last month for accepting 6,000 to concede a set number of runs in during the clash with Durham in 2009.

But cricket's hard stance has not deterred the game's sinister elements from widening the net and recruiting players from all over the world to throw parts or all of international fixtures.

Undercover reporters working for The
Sunday Times have revealed that batsmen can earn up to 44,000 for slow
scoring and 50,000 for bowlers who concede runs in set patterns.

Jailed: Three Pakistani cricketers (Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt) were jailed for offences including bowling no-balls (below)

Jailed: Three Pakistani cricketers (Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt) were jailed for offences including bowling no-balls (below)

Jailed: Three Pakistani cricketers (Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt) were jailed for offences including bowling no-balls (below)

They have also revealed that corruption tainted last year’s World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan.

The reporters captured Vicky Seth, an influential Delhi bookmaker boasting of being able to influence Twenty20 internationals, Tests and Indian Premier League and Bangladesh Premier League matches.

He said: 'English county cricket is a good new market. They are low-profile matches and nobody monitors them.

'That's why good money can be made there without any hassle if we can get the players to play for us.'

Shamed: Former Essex bowler Westfield was imprisoned for his role in spot-fixing

Shamed: Former Essex bowler Westfield was imprisoned for his role in spot-fixing

The paper has passed the information gathered from their investigation to the International Cricket Council who have announced they will launch an investigation.

A spokesman said: 'We are grateful for the information you have provided and will launch an inquiry into these serious allegations.

'Betting on cricket in the legal and illegal markets continues to grow rapidly and with many, many millions of dollars being bet on every match, the threat of corrupters seeking to influence the game has not gone away.'

Scandal: The investigators claim the World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan was targeted

Scandal: The investigators claim the World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan was targeted

Andy Flower: Deal with spin and we can win in Sri Lanka

Deal with the spin and we can win, warns Flower as England jet off to Sri Lanka

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UPDATED:

10:54 GMT, 10 March 2012

Lift-off: Andy Flower speaks at Heathrow

Lift-off: Andy Flower speaks at Heathrow

England can expect to do well in Sri Lanka if they can deal with the amount of spin they will have to face, according to team director Andy Flower.

The world`s leading Test side were given a dramatic wake-up call in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year, when they were whitewashed by Pakistan in a three-match series.

An inability to handle spin was their downfall, with Saeed Ajmal in particular dismissing batsmen at will.

There were evident green shoots of recovery in the subsequent one-day series, though, with England`s leading names dealing with the slower delivery better as they enjoyed a 4-0 whitewash of their own.

And, if they can continue the improvements they showed in the 50-over game, Flower believes they will hold their own in Sri Lanka over the next six weeks.

'The biggest lesson we have had to learn is the skill against spin,' he told a media conference at Heathrow Airport on Saturday morning.

'This is going to be crucial as to how we do. If we can show what we learned from two months in the UAE, we can expect to do well.

'It`s going to be tough. Sri Lanka are a good side and have just played some good cricket in Australia. They're hardened from having played good cricket and are in their home conditions.'

Several respected critics have suggested
England`s claim on the world`s top spot can only be truly validated if
they enjoy success on the subcontinent.

 Alastair Cook

Stuart Broad

Next challenge: Alastair Cook (left) and Stuart Broad at Heathrow on Saturday

Their failings against Pakistan did not help their case but, with a tour to India also booked into this year`s diary, Flower knows the opportunities are there to prove the critics wrong.

'It`s a tough challenge, it`s one of the hardest places to go and win,” he said ahead of the departure to Colombo.

'But that is the challenge for us now. We knew going into this year that we had a lot of subcontinent cricket. I`d like to see us improve our skills in that part of the world.

'It's exciting for our experienced cricketers to prove that they can adapt. We also have a very important tour to India this year and the lessons we learn in Sri Lanka will be crucial there.

'I am confident we will perform better than we did in the Tests against Pakistan. It was really good to see how we responded after the Test series. There were obvious signs that our batsmen had learned something'

England play their first warm-up game against a Sri Lankan board XI on Thursday, with the first Test starting on March 26.