Tag Archives: wicketkeeper

Australia announce Ashes squad: Brad Haddin recalled as Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus miss out

Veteran Haddin recalled as Australia announce 16-man squad heading to England in bid to win back the Ashes

PUBLISHED:

02:22 GMT, 24 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:30 GMT, 24 April 2013

Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has been named as Australia vice-captain for the upcoming Ashes series in England.

The 35-year-old replaces Shane Watson, who stepped down as Michael Clarke's deputy after the troubled tour on India but remains part of the 16-man squad.

National selector John Inverarity said: 'We feel it's important to have a senior, seasoned player support Michael at this time.

Return the Urn: Michael Clarke (centre), Steve Waugh (left) and Mark Taylor before today's squad unveiling

Return the Urn: Michael Clarke (centre), Steve Waugh (left) and Mark Taylor before today's squad unveiling

Key dates

June 26-29: v Somerset

July 2-5: v Worcs

July 10-14: 1st Test, Trent Bridge

July 18-22: 2nd Test, Lord's

July 26-28: v Sussex

August 1-5: 3rd Test, Old Trafford

August 9-13: 4th Test, Durham

August 16-17: v Northants

August 21-25: 5th Test, The Oval

'When Shane Watson advised of his
decision to stand down, the NSP (national selection panel) viewed Brad
as the exceptional candidate to step into this leadership void.'

Matthew Wade, who has been Australia's first-choice wicketkeeper of late, will also travel to England.

'Matthew Wade is a very good cricketer and remains central to our plans for the future,' Inverarity added.

Left-arm seamer James Faulkner is the only uncapped player to be named, with Mitchell Johnson missing out.

Chris Rogers, the 35-year-old batsman
who has just one Test cap to his name, also makes the squad and seamer
Ryan Harris returns.

'Chris Rogers is a hardened
first-class cricketer and has been given a deserved opportunity on the
back of sustained run-scoring in both Australia and England over many
seasons,' said Inverarity.

Eyes on the prize: Brad Haddin has been recalled to the Australia squad to tour England this summer

Eyes on the prize: Brad Haddin has been recalled to the Australia squad to tour England this summer

'James Faulkner has also been given
an opportunity after impressing in recent months as an all-rounder. His
performance in last month's Bupa Sheffield Shield final was compelling
and he has now produced three consistently good seasons with the ball at
Shield level for Tasmania.

'He is a player who is seldom out of the game for long. He takes wickets, forms partnerships and makes valuable runs.

'Ryan Harris has regained fitness and
it is great to have such a very highly regarded and well-performed pace
bowler back in the mix.'

Fawad Ahmed, the Pakistan-born
leg-spinner who has not yet received his Australian passport, has not
been included, leaving Nathan Lyon as the only spinner in the 16.

Ahmed also misses out on the 14-man
Australia A squad to tour the British Isles ahead of the Ashes, which
contains a number of players from the senior squad including Haddin, who
will captain the side, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Harris, Jackson
Bird and Nathan Lyon.

Steven Smith, who misses out on a
place in the Ashes squad despite some creditable performances in India,
is vice-captain of the A side.

Smith is one of five men to drop out
from the India squad – along with Johnson, Moises Henriques, Xavier
Doherty and Glenn Maxwell – which slipped to a 4-0 series defeat amid
high-profile problems with discipline.

Revenge: England were convincing 3-1 series winners in the 2010-11 series

Revenge: England were convincing 3-1 series winners in the 2010-11 series

Inverarity added: 'The tour to India was very demanding and a learning experience for all.

'The result was unacceptable and the
players, coaches, support staff and NSP are smarting from those
performances and are galvanised to ensure that we play tough,
competitive cricket throughout the Ashes.'

The first Ashes Test begins at Trent
Bridge on July 10, with two tour matches before that, while Australia A
will take on Scotland, Ireland and Gloucestershire, with the first match
getting under way in Edinburgh on June 7.

Lawrence Booth, Sportsmail cricket writer and editor of Wisden, gives a run down on the Australian squad heading to England for the Ashes series this summer

Michael Clarke

MICHAEL CLARKE (c)
AGE: 32
CAPS: 92
VERDICT: World cricket's in-form batsman in 2012, the captain will need to score three hundreds to give Australia a chance.

Brad Haddin

BRAD HADDIN (vc)
AGE: 35
CAPS: 44
VERDICT: Ousted by Wade behind the stumps, he's a spiky character who England would rather not have to deal with.

JACKSON BIRD

JACKSON BIRD
AGE: 26
CAPS: 2
VERDICT: Seam bowler who is not particularly fast but his ability to swing the ball both ways has proven very successful in domestic cricket.

Ed Cowan

ED COWAN
AGE: 30
CAPS: 17
VERDICT: Steady, cerebral left-handed opener, but unlikely to frighten the England attack.

Phillip Hughes

PHILLIP HUGHES
AGE: 24
CAPS: 24
VERDICT: England have exploited his vulnerability outside off stump in the past – expect more of the same, plus a peppering of short stuff.

David Warner

DAVID WARNER
AGE: 26
CAPS: 19
VERDICT: Another left-handed opener, he has the potential to destroy the opposition, but inconsistent at Test level. Jimmy Anderson will fancy swinging the ball into him.

Urn the victory: Former England captain Andrew Strauss led Eng;and to victory in the last series

Urn the victory: Former England captain Andrew Strauss led Eng;and to victory in the last series

James Faulkner

JAMES FAULKNER
AGE: 22
CAPS: 0
VERDICT: A left-arm seamer and hard-hitting batsman, the 22-year-old Faulkner is an outsider for a Test spot – but look out for him in the shorter stuff.

USMAN

USMAN KHAWAJA
AGE: 26
CAPS: 6
VERDICT: Left-handed top order batsman who was one of the four players dropped ahead of the third Test in India following a breach of discipline.

Shane Watson

SHANE WATSON
AGE: 31
CAPS: 41
VERDICT: Averaging only 25 since the start of 2011, he needs a big series to prove he was right to quit the vice-captaincy. Could do with bowling too.

Matthew Wade

MATTHEW WADE
AGE: 25
CAPS: 12
VERDICT: His batting can be punchy, but his glovework is shaky. And he's a place too high at No 6.

Nathan Lyon

NATHAN LYON
AGE: 25
CAPS: 22
VERDICT: Australia's first-choice spinner is tidy but unthreatening, and his confidence was knocked recently when he was dropped in India.

Ryan Harris

RYAN HARRIS
AGE: 33
CAPS: 12
VERDICT: Fast and hostile, as he showed when England lost at Perth in 2010-11. Only trouble is, he's rarely fit.

Home of cricket: The first Test in the five match series will take place at Lord's in north London

Home of cricket: The first Test in the five match series will take place at Lord's in north London

cHRIS rOGERS

CHRIS ROGERS
AGE: 35
CAPS: 1
VERDICT: Another left handed top order batsman whose one and only cap came against India in 2008. Played country cricket so is used to English conditions.

James Pattinson

JAMES PATTINSON
AGE: 22
CAPS: 10
VERDICT: Young, hungry, angry and highly talented. He will be the bowler England's batsmen fear most.

Rain on their parade: The Aussies will be hoping they have their own reasons to celebrate on English soil

Rain on their parade: The Aussies will be hoping they have their own Sprinkler Dance on English soil

Peter Siddle

PETER SIDDLE
AGE: 28
CAPS: 41
VERDICT: The workhorse of Australia's seam attack, he has improved hugely over the last year. But will he be bowled into the ground

Mitchell Starc

MITCHELL STARC
AGE: 23
CAPS: 9
VERDICT: Tall left-arm seamer who could be Australia's best chance of keeping Alastair Cook quiet. Can bat a bit too.

England lose Test warm-up game by three wickets to New Zealand XI

Watling's second half-century gives Cook and Co plenty to ponder ahead of first Test as England lose tour match

By
David Clough, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

07:33 GMT, 2 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:33 GMT, 2 March 2013

England suffered an unexpected defeat as BJ Watling's second half-century of the match proved too much for the tourists at the Queenstown Event Centre ground.

Watling (89no) followed his unbeaten 66 in the first innings with another telling contribution to help a New Zealand XI chase 334 to prevail in a tight finish with eight balls and three wickets to spare.

England, in their first red-ball fixture of a double-Ashes year in this warm-up for the first of three Tests in Dunedin, were losing in a first-class tour match for the first time in almost seven years – the last defeat came against an India board XI in Vadodara.

Trudging off: England captain Alastair Cook alongside Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad react after losing to the New Zealand XI

Trudging off: England captain Alastair Cook alongside Kevin Pietersen and Stuart Broad react after losing to the New Zealand XI

Watling finished with eight fours and two sixes from 122 balls, in a run chase which featured three other individual scores between 40 and 50 as England – without rested frontline seamers James Anderson and Steven Finn – paid for an unconvincing performance with the ball in particular.

Graham Onions lost his way, and it is hard to see him being considered as the go-to back-up Test seamer if needed after recording match figures of one for 213.

Inconsistent batting from the top six was also part of the problem – with Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Nick Compton all short of runs as the Test series looms.

There was no particular shame in losing to a team in which all but Carl Cachopa have international experience, and five – including wicketkeeper Watling – are in the squad to face England again next week.

It is hardly the start Alastair Cook would have wanted nonetheless as his side seek to follow up their historic series win in India with more success here over the next three weeks.

After England declared on their overnight 256 for nine, progress was initially unremarkable for both sides.

Openers Hamish Rutherford and Tom Latham began the chase with their second stand of 56 in this match, at four-an-over on a cloudy morning which yielded no immediate headway for Stuart Broad and Onions with the new ball.

Rutherford even climbed into an upper-cut which deposited a short ball from Broad high over point and into the enclosure in front of the players' pavilion for six.

Soon afterwards, Broad hit the same batsman on the head with a sharp bouncer.
But it was first-change Chris Woakes who made the first breakthrough when Rutherford cut him into the hands of point.

Woakes was rewarded for a spell which was much-improved from his first-innings efforts, and Broad also struck in the next over when he switched to a fuller length and bowled a static Cachopa for a third-ball duck.

Onions looked a slightly more likely wicket-taker too for a time, but no one could find a way past Latham or Neil Broom up to lunch.

Their stand had extended to 64 by the time Swann got Latham two short of his half-century, apparently caught-behind as he tried to sweep.

Then with the first ball after mid-session drinks, Broad saw off Broom lbw playing no shot.

When Dean Brownlie went too before tea, neatly caught low at second slip by Swann off the returning Woakes, the hosts were running out of frontline batsmen.

But Watling and Corey Anderson, who had battered England for a rapid century stand in the first innings, were once more in occupation.

They almost repeated the dose too, in a partnership of 82 this time which took the hosts to well within 100 runs of their target with more than 20 overs remaining.

Onions had suffered at Anderson's hands yesterday, and did so again today in two overs which cost 23 runs and contained three no-balls.

A much-needed wicket came from an unlikely source in Joe Root, who did Anderson in the flight as he aimed another big hit to leg and was bowled.

Swann, off the field for several overs previously, returned only to almost immediately drop Watling on 47 off Broad at gully.

It proved a costly miss – because, even after Jimmy Neesham had pulled a Root long-hop straight into Broad's hands at square-leg, Watling saw the job through against the second new ball in an unbroken half-century stand alongside Neil Wagner.

Cricket: England lose to New Zealand in final Twenty20 warm-up match

Dernbach the weak link as England sink in final Twenty20 warm-up match

By
Paul Newman

PUBLISHED:

06:40 GMT, 6 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:03 GMT, 7 February 2013

SCOREBOARD

New Zealand 171-7 (Latham 64, Devcich 33)

England 170-5 (Morgan 51, Buttler 51)

New Zealand win by 1 run

Click here to see the full scoreboard

England received a second welcome fillip from their captain but have concerns about the man earmarked to bowl at the death in their Twenty20 series against New Zealand.

Another encouraging display from Stuart Broad in Whangarei was more important than defeat by a New Zealand XI in the second of England’s two warm-up games ahead of Saturday’s first Twenty20 international in Auckland.

Plenty to ponder: Stuart Broad looks on after his England side fall to defeat against New Zealand XI at the Cobham Oval

Plenty to ponder: Stuart Broad looks on after his England side fall to defeat against New Zealand XI at the Cobham Oval

Yet England must decide if they
retain faith in Jade Dernbach’s ability to exert control with his myriad
of variations when the tour’s serious business begins.

Broad followed his hat-trick in
England’s opening victory with another three wickets and conceded only
24 runs in his four overs as England slipped to a last-ball three-wicket
defeat against a young New Zealand side.

But Dernbach, who suffered a
miserable one-day tour of India and lost his place in the 50-over squad
for the three matches that follow the short-form series in New Zealand,
was again expensive, going at close to 10 an over.

Batter up: New Zealand XI's Tom Latham strikes on his way to the game's high score of 64 as England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler looks on

Batter up: New Zealand XI's Tom Latham strikes on his way to the game's high score of 64 as England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler looks on

Nifty fifty: Eoin Morgan impressed with a half century but his effort of 51 was not enough to save England from defeat

Nifty fifty: Eoin Morgan impressed with a half century but his effort of 51 was not enough to save England from defeat

At least Dernbach clawed back some
credit in a final over which almost clinched an unlikely win for
England, Andrew Ellis eventually hitting the winning run off the final
ball.

Broad arrived in New Zealand complete
with new cushioned bowling boots to help protect the damaged left heel
that forced him to return home early before Christmas from England’s
Test tour of India.

It is the latest in a long line of
injuries for one of England’s most important players and the Twenty20
captain will be pleased that he has been so effective and pain-free in
his first two outings of a crucial tour for him.

Fall guy: Alex Hales reacts with disappointment after being dismissed Matt Henry

Fall guy: Alex Hales reacts with disappointment after being dismissed Matt Henry

Up top: New Zealand XI captain Andrew Ellis celebrates with team-mates after taking the wicket of Luke Wright

Up top: New Zealand XI captain Andrew Ellis celebrates with team-mates after taking the wicket of Luke Wright

England will be enthused by another
half-century from Jos Buttler who hit 51 from 31 balls in a partnership
of 87 in 8.2 overs with Eoin Morgan that took England to 170 for five
from their 20 overs.

But England’s bowling was
disappointing and Tom Latham looked to be leading New Zealand to a
comfortable victory when he struck 64 off 38 balls.

Broad and Samit Patel, who conceded
just 20 runs, brought England back into the game and they made the home
side work hard for a win that emphasised that the short-form series
should prove a close affair.

‘I think it will be tight against New
Zealand,’ said England’s Michael Lumb, who ran into form at the top of
the order with 45. ‘A lot of people have written them off but it would
be foolish to do that.’

Up in arms: Jade Dernbach unsuccessfully appeals for the wicket of Anton Devcich as England were denied a late fightback

Up in arms: Jade Dernbach unsuccessfully appeals for the wicket of Anton Devcich as England were denied a late fightback

Matt Prior phone call to Kevin Pietersen built bridges for reintegration

Prior: My phone call built the bridges for Pietersen's England reintegration

|

UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 29 December 2012

At the height of last summer’s textgate affair, Kevin Pietersen’s phone had never rung colder.

Few in English cricket were prepared to call a man many believed had, by sending a string of derogatory messages to ‘close friends’ in the South Africa dressing room, betrayed captain Andrew Strauss and severely undermined the team’s carefully fostered morale.

While several England players were minded to wash their hands of the side’s most talented but highest maintenance player, wicketkeeper Matt Prior saw the bigger picture and called his troubled team-mate in an effort to thrash out the seismic differences few in the dressing room had seen coming.

Old friends: Prior (right) and Pietersen (left) patched things up over the phone

Old friends: Prior (right) and Pietersen (left) patched things up over the phone

It was a move that showed Pietersen he was still valued by his team-mates and cemented Prior’s position as the most inclusive – and, arguably, most important – member of the team.

‘If that situation arose another 100 times, I would phone Kev another 100 times,’ Prior said. ‘It wasn’t done for any other reason than that I saw a team-mate struggling and, as far as I’m concerned, that becomes the responsibility of the players.

‘If someone isn’t happy in the dressing room then you have to go out of your way to find out what the issue is and do as much as you can to make it right.

‘That might be a case of seeing a person’s point and saying: “You know what, mate You’re right”. Or it might be a case of being honest and saying: “You need to sort a few things out”.

‘Kevin and I are both pretty straightforward and honest guys who don’t mince our words. I think he was pleased to hear from me and, from what I’ve heard him say, I think he was pleased someone made the call.

Reintegrated: Pietersen was dropped following the Headingley Test last summer

Reintegrated: Pietersen was dropped following the Headingley Test last summer

‘It was a case of “what’s up buddy You
tell me and I’ll tell you”. It was a refreshing way to have a
conversation. Sometimes, you need to say tough things to your mates in
order for them to improve and, more importantly, for the team to move
forward.

‘We’d worked extremely hard under Strauss and Andy Flower to build the team culture and we got to a good place, No 1 in the world. But what last summer proved was how fragile that team spirit can be if you don’t look after it.’

Prior’s intervention saw England’s players begin a dialogue that eventually led to Pietersen being reintegrated after he was dropped for the final Test of the summer on disciplinary grounds.

The appointment of Alastair Cook as Strauss’s successor, after the decision of England’s most successful captain of all time to resign at the end of the South Africa series, also provided an opportunity to bring Pietersen back into the fold for the tour of India.

England were rewarded with a sublime innings of 186 in the series-altering second Test win in Mumbai and an overall contribution of 338 runs at 48.28 in the series.

Down Under: Prior is currently playing in the Big Bash tournament in Australia

Down Under: Prior is currently playing in the Big Bash tournament in Australia

But it was Pietersen’s off-field contribution which impressed Prior most.

‘Kevin was absolutely sensational,’ he said. ‘The public will see he hit 180 in Mumbai, which showed his class, but we all know how good he is and that he can play those match-winning innings.

‘He was fantastic talking to the young players and passing on his experience. Because he’d been to India more than anybody else, he also knew where to go and what restaurants to eat at. Little things like that are incredibly important on a tour to somewhere like India.

‘It wasn’t just Kev who had to make changes, everyone had to. We did that well and proved we’re again a tight unit and can move forward without having to talk about it any more.’

England’s one-day squad, minus the rested Pietersen and the out-of-favour Prior, leave for their five-match tour to India on January 2.

Prior, widely acknowledged as the world’s finest wicketkeeper batsman, remains desperate to reclaim both his one-day and Twenty20 shirt and is spending his time away from the Test team honing his skills in Australia’s Big Bash tournament.

Australia rip apart Sri Lanka in Boxing Day Test in Melbourne

Aussies run riot on Boxing Day to rip apart Sri Lanka in Melbourne opener

|

UPDATED:

09:01 GMT, 26 December 2012

A brilliant display of pace bowling allowed Australia to assume control of their second Test with Sri Lanka on its opening day in Melbourne.

Having been asked to bowl first in the traditional Boxing Day encounter, Michael Clarke's men skittled their visitors for just 156 midway through the afternoon session, before closing up just six runs shy of that total for the loss of three wickets.

Festive fun: Mitchell Johnson celebrates taking the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan

Festive fun: Mitchell Johnson celebrates taking the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan

In the swing of things: Matthew Wade and Mitchell Johnson mark the dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara

In the swing of things: Matthew Wade and Mitchell Johnson mark the dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara

A reinvigorated Mitchell Johnson was the standout performer in the Baggy Green, with the often-maligned quick taking a four for 63 that was ably supported by two each from Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon and debutant Jackson Bird.

David Warner then smashed a 46-ball 62 to get Australia up and running in their pursuit of a first innings lead, something that now looks a certainty, despite Sri Lanka taking three wickets before the bails were flicked.

Had their own score been a better one that would have been respectable but, with such a failure on the board, they already look up against it, but only have themselves to blame.

The Australia pace attack got a bit of movement out of the pitch during the first session, but Sri Lanka were let down by a series of poor shots and Kumar Sangakkara was the only batsman to look comfortable.

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

That was until Wade combined with Johnson to pull off a brilliant catch with the veteran on 58.
Sangakkara had not played a false shot all day, but was tempted into hooking a short Johnson delivery that bounced higher than expected and could only collect the top edge.

The ball flew straight over Wade's head, but the wicketkeeper kept his eyes on the ball and sprinted over 30 metres towards the sightscreen, before producing a dive to pull off a tremendous catch that dismissed the man who became the 11th in history to register 10,000 Test runs earlier in his innings.

Sangakkara's patience at the crease and ability to punish anything loose was the only highlight of a poor batting performance from the tourists as questionable shot selection led to many of his team-mates' demise.

Bird (two for 32) had his first Test victim with the 22nd delivery of the morning when Dimuth Karunaratne (five) came forward to a ball on a good length, but was only able to edge one through to Wade behind the stumps.

The usually reliable Tillakaratne Dilshan (11) was guilty of the worst shot of the day as he attempted to hit a booming straight drive off Johnson, only to inside edge it onto his off stump to reduce Sri Lanka to 19 for two.

Siddle (two for 30) made it 37 for three shortly after when Mahela Jayawardene (three) nicked one through to Wade, before Sangakkara combined with Thilan Samaraweera to take the score through to 79 for three at lunch.

Gone: Phillip Hughes is run out by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara

Gone: Phillip Hughes is run out by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara

Bird, who had bowled intelligently during his first stint in the morning, had his second wicket with the third ball after lunch when Samaraweera (10) lofted a short one and Angelo Matthews (15) came and went moments later as the wickets continued to tumble around Sangakkara.

A Prasanna Jayawardene (24) cameo gave Sri Lanka some hope, but when he got a ripper from Johnson and Dhammika Prasad fell the very next ball for a duck, the tourists were 134 for seven and in all sorts of trouble.

Lyon (two for 23) came in to clean up the tail with ease and Australia – with captain Michael Clarke having passed a fitness test before the start of play – set about making hay.

Warner and Ed Cowan raced out to 95 before the former found the hands of Prasad at mid-wicket off the bowling of Andrews, with Phil Hughes then doing little to enhance his credentials as a number three by getting caught out of his ground by Dilshan when on 10.

Another wicket followed when Cowan nicked Prasad to Mahela Jayawardene at second slip, and Australia looked to be reeling when Shane Watson edged the same man to Prasanna Jayawardene, only to see a one-handed attempt at a catch go to ground.

The reprieve stopped the slide and Watson (13no) and Clarke (20no) saw things through to the finish.

Sight for sore eyes: A view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on day one of the second Test

Sight for sore eyes: A view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on day one of the second Test

Ashes 2013: England are red-hot favourites to beat Australia, says Nasser Hussain

Red-hot Ashes favourites: England have talent to burn as battle for urn hots up

|

UPDATED:

22:32 GMT, 18 December 2012

England have beaten India, and Ashes
fever is starting to hot up. Surrey announced that they have already
sold out all five days for next summer’s final Test, the first time an
English Test has ever been entirely sold out before Christmas.

With the
oldest enemies in cricket meeting in back-to-back series next year, Sportsmail columnist
Nasser Hussain, a veteran of many an Ashes battle as England batsman
and captain, ran the rule over both teams with the countdown to the big
battle now under way…

Three's a charm: England aim to win their third consecutive Ashes series next summer... and travel to Australia in winter

Three's a charm: England aim to win their third consecutive Ashes series next summer… and travel to Australia in winter

The captains

We have two phenomenal players here
who seem to have been inspired to new heights by the captaincy and
increased their potency since rising to high office. I think Alastair
Cook is much more likely to score runs in Australia than Michael Clarke
is in England, with the English seamers fancying their chances of him
nicking the ball to wicketkeeper or slips over here next summer. But
that is not to underestimate Clarke, who has had a Bradmanesque year.

Face-off: Alastair Cook (left) and Michael Clarke will do battle over 10 Tests in seven months

Face-off: Michael Clarke

Write caption here

As
a leader, Clarke, a disciple of Shane Warne, is more proactive and more
inclined to do unusual things, like getting keeper Matthew Wade to have
a bowl in Hobart when he was struggling for wickets. Cook will sit in
more and is like Andrew Strauss in style but we saw in India that he is
not afraid to quickly change things if they are not going right, like
replacing Joe Root at silly point with Ian Bell in the final Test to
immediate productive effect. He has made big changes to personnel
already too, even though he is a new captain, like leaving out Stuart
Broad after Mumbai.

The bowlers

On paper Australia have an excellent attack full of potential but the challenge for them will be keeping their bowlers fit because they have had one injury after another. A seam attack featuring the likes of Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Pat Cummins could cause problems for England but there are too many question marks for Australia’s liking. And their spinner, Nathan Lyon, is OK and nothing more. England certainly won’t be kept up at night looking at DVDs of Lyon like we had to watch videos of Warne.

No sleepless nights: England's batsmen need not have nightmares about Nathan Lyon

No sleepless nights: England's batsmen need not have nightmares about Nathan Lyon

England, in contrast, have strength in depth and are raring to go. They have been able to rest and look after their bowlers — they sensibly left Jimmy Anderson out of the Indian one-day series — and Graham Onions, who is a fantastic bowler who could get into almost any other Test team in the world, hasn’t even had a game yet this winter for England. And England have two world-class spinners in Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar. They have the bowling edge, no question.

The batsmen

Again I fancy England in batting too. Any side who cannot get Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow in the team at the moment must have depth while another two Test batsmen have emerged against India in Nick Compton and Root. England’s batters just seem more ready for Test cricket these days than Australia’s when they are introduced. Clarke and Mike Hussey are outstanding but there are question marks at the top of the order and around them.

Mr Cricket: Mike Hussey remains a middle order menace for England

Mr Cricket: Mike Hussey remains a middle order menace for England

Shane Watson has been decent without going on to big scores and David Warner could be very good but I am not sure yet, while the absence of Ricky Ponting could be a problem for them because they will miss his experience. No Australian line-up will be ordinary but they have no-one like Kevin Pietersen, and all England’s batsmen know how to perform in their own conditions.

The keepers

Matt Prior really is the finished product while Wade is another one still in the promising category. Warne has been saying for some time that Wade was the man to watch out for but I actually think Australia could miss Brad Haddin. He is a feisty character who England don’t really like and a good attacking batsman. I cannot speak highly enough of Prior, the best No 7 in world cricket and a much improved keeper. I would keep him as vice-captain, too. He impressed in that role after Broad was left out in India.

In the box seat: Matt Prior (right) and Pietersen celebrate an Ashes victory Down Under

In the box seat: Matt Prior (right) and Pietersen celebrate an Ashes victory Down Under

The verdict

I think next year’s two Ashes series are coming at exactly the right time for England whereas for Australia they may be a year to 18 months too early. For them to defeat England they will need to get everybody fit for sustained periods and rely on the galvanising abilities of Clarke. England will not leave anything to chance and have great bench strength. OK, they had had a bad year before they pulled things around in India but I believe they are very much back on track now. If I were a betting man I’d have money on England to win, as both teams stand now, both home and away.

India v England: Kevin Pietersen leads recovery on day one in Nagpur

KP leads England recovery as slow-scoring visitors struggle on day one of final Test

By
David Clough, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

11:02 GMT, 13 December 2012

|

UPDATED:

11:52 GMT, 13 December 2012

Kevin Pietersen helped England recover from the loss of two early wickets to eke out 199 for five on a pitch of turgid low bounce on day one of the final Test against India.

Alastair Cook's tourists, needing a draw in Nagpur to close out an historic series victory, lost both openers – their captain and Nick Compton – to India's lone pace bowler Ishant Sharma inside the first hour.

But Pietersen (73) and Jonathan Trott then shared a hard-working stand of 86 in 39 overs after England had chosen to bat first.

Leading the recovery: Pietersen hit 73 off 188 balls at Nagpur

Leading the recovery: Pietersen hit 73 off 188 balls at Nagpur

Pietersen had to play a very
different game in his 108-ball 50 today to the century with which he
transformed proceedings in England's famous second-Test victory in
Mumbai last month.

Extreme conditions here at the VCA
Stadium dictated that patience and watchfulness were a necessity, even
for a batsman of his world-class talent.

The same will surely pertain all
match, and may well mean England have fared acceptably at least –
especially after a second 50 partnership, unbroken between Matt Prior
and debutant Joe Root – on a surface precluding fluent strokeplay.

Compton was the first to be undone in slow-motion when a short delivery produced only looping, disorientating bounce.

He set himself with reflexes trained
for a pitch somewhere within the usual pace parameters. As the ball died
off the surface, Compton's bat was therefore thrown into position too
quickly and resulted in a thin edge which barely carried to the
wicketkeeper.

No ordinary Joe: Root ended day one on 31 runs after facing 110 balls

No ordinary Joe: Root ended day one on 31 runs after facing 110 balls

Cook needed 15 balls to get off the
mark, as Pragyan Ojha took the new ball in the absence of a second
seamer and tried to out-bore the England captain with a seven-two
leg-side field and consequent negative line.

Trott contributed England's first
boundary, a straight-driven four when Sharma helpfully took the pitch
out of the equation with a half-volley.

But the No 3 was fortunate to survive on seven when he played too soon at a length ball and was hit on the pad.

Sharma was convinced the lbw was
stone-dead, but umpire Kumar Dharmasena made the marginal call that ball
had hit pad just outside the line of off-stump.

Cook found himself on the other side
of a similar ruling soon afterwards from Dharmasena – and although it
looked as if he was hit outside the line, this time he had to go lbw.
England were in danger of fluffing their lines just when they need one
more confident performance to complete their mission improbable on this
tour.

Take bat: Jonathan Trott led a fightback with Pietersen

Take bat: Jonathan Trott led a fightback with Pietersen

But Trott and Pietersen provided
some much-needed stability as they gradually attuned themselves to an
unfamiliar experience, even by sub-continental standards.

Pietersen became sufficiently in sync to loft leg-spinner Piyush Chawla over mid-on for two boundaries in one over.

By early afternoon, he was also leg-glancing Ravichandran Ashwin for his seventh four to reach his half-century.

Trott dug in too for 133 balls until a
misjudgment against slow left-armer Ravindra Jadeja saw him wave
through an arm ball which bowled him off-stump.

Ian Bell disappointed, making only a single in 28 balls before poking a straightforward catch to cover off Chawla.

Pietersen had escaped a half-chance
on 61, when Cheteshwar Pujara could not quite gather a tough low catch
at midwicket off Sharma.

He shepherded Root through to tea.
But there was to be no record-equalling 23rd Test century, Pietersen
neatly caught low down by Ojha when he again chipped to midwicket – this
time advancing to Jadeja.

It was the latest in a series of
apparently unforced errors which had led to England wickets. But it
would be missing the point to view them in isolation, without reference
to the arduous process of trying to make runs in between with so little
pace and bounce on the batsman's side.

Prior joined Root, and the struggle
continued – favourably for England, though – for the remainder of the
evening session. Prior, like Pietersen, was forced to bat against type –
while Root impressed with his defensive technique and willingness to
meet spin with bat rather than pad even in the absence of DRS.

By the close, the jury had to stay
out on which team was ahead of the game. For England, after their
decidedly sticky start, deferred judgment was a tolerable outcome.

Picture dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from the fourth Test in Nagpur 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.

England beat India by 10 wickets in second Test: Report

Cook and Compton see England home after spin twins set up Test win in Mumbai

|

UPDATED:

06:06 GMT, 26 November 2012

England raced to a famous 10-wicket win over India in the second Test this morning, after Monty Panesar finished with a career-best match haul of 11 for 210.

The tourists' series-levelling victory was achieved principally on the back of Kevin Pietersen and captain Alastair Cook's wonderful first-innings centuries yesterday.

Today, they merely had to complete an apparently straightforward task – and duly did so with the minimum of fuss at the Wankhede Stadium.

Panesar recorded innings figures of six for 81 as he and Graeme Swann accounted for 19 of the 20 home wickets to fall and India mustered just 142 all out on this spinners' pitch.

Beginning 31 runs in front and with just three wickets remaining on day four, India had to believe opener Gautam Gambhir (65) could somehow inspire enough resistance to set England an awkward total.

It was an unlikely scenario, and one which proved beyond him.

Professional job: Alastair Cook saw England home to victory

Professional job: Alastair Cook saw England home to victory

Harbhajan Singh made his intentions clear from the first ball of the morning, clubbing Panesar for four high over mid-off in an over which cost 10 runs.

But Swann (four for 43) made short work of the tailender at the other end, finding extra bounce with an off-break to take the glove for a neat catch by Jonathan Trott away to his left at slip after Harbhajan shaped to cut.

Positive play: Nick Compton made 30 not out as England won on day four

Positive play: Nick Compton made 30 not out as England won on day four

Zaheer Khan also tried to slog India into more credit, but managed only a single before his sweep at Panesar resulted in a gentle skier safely held by wicketkeeper Matt Prior.

Number 11 Pragyan Ojha then appeared to have made contact with his bat, for a catch at short-leg, off Panesar.

But umpire Aleem Dar's agreement about that was required to close the India innings, and it was not forthcoming.

Jumping for joy: Monty Panesar was a key bowler for England taking 11 wickets in the game

Jumping for joy: Monty Panesar was a key bowler for England taking 11 wickets in the game

It was not a decision which looked likely to be significant, and so it proved as India could add only another six runs before Gambhir fell to another dubious call – this time from Tony Hill – when there was a suspicion of inside-edge about his lbw dismissal.

There were no complaints from England, of course, and fewer still after Cook and Nick Compton passed their target of just 57 well before lunch in under 10 overs.

Doing his bit: Graeme Swann helped clean up the India tail on day four

Doing his bit: Graeme Swann helped clean up the India tail on day four

The tourists therefore surpassed India's nine-wicket margin of victory from the first Test, and will head for the third in Kolkata with renewed confidence that they can after all become the first Englishmen to win a series here since 1984/85.

World Twenty20 minnows Afghanistan target England upset

War-ravaged minnows Afghanistan target upset over England in World Twenty20

|

UPDATED:

08:54 GMT, 18 September 2012

Rising from the ruins of war to
challenge the world's cricketing establishment, Afghanistan's rag-tag
team hope to inspire the conflict-ravaged nation with a strong showing
at the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka.

Afghanistan take on the might of
India in their first group match in Colombo on Wednesday, having
qualified for their second successive T20 World Cup.

Feeling the pressure: Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal

Feeling the pressure: Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal

The team's success against the odds, with many of its players born during the 1979-1989 Soviet occupation and knowing little of peace in their home nation, has drawn legions of Afghan youth to take up the game in recent years, according to captain Nawroz Mangal.

Mangal said some 70,000 youngsters had started playing cricket after his team's breakthrough qualification for the 2010 T20 World Cup in West Indies.

'Right now it is more than 500,000,' Mangal said, referring to the country's cricket-playing population.

'After participating in this World Cup, if we do better I expect 30 to 40 percent of the population to start playing cricket.'

Mangal led the team to a 51-run victory against a Sri Lanka 'A' team on Saturday, with vice captain Mohammad Nabi scoring a 22-ball half-century with five sixes and wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad compiling a similarly quickfire 48.

Born in a refugee camp in the Pakistani frontier city of Peshawar, all rounder Nabi started playing cricket aged 10.

'I played a lot of school cricket there as well as street cricket and everywhere with a tennis ball in Peshawar,' 27-year-old Nabi said.

He made his first-class debut with the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 2007, having caught former England captain Mike Gatting's eye by scoring a century against the team during a tour of India.

Confident: Afghanistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad

Confident: Afghanistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad

'There is a lot of improvement in Afghanistan cricket,' said Nabi, who played a leading role in securing the national team's berth at the 2010 T20 World Cup.

'Everyone likes cricket. There are a lot of fans now. We will try hard in this tournament to do something for our nation and we want to win one match and go to the Super Eight (round).'

Despite lacking basic infrastructure and having to play international matches in neighboring Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, the team are feeling the burden of expectation from hopeful home fans, according to wicketkeeper Shahzad.

'The people want us to win everything in the World Cup, because people can't understand cricket,' said Shahzad, who plays for Nangarhar Cricket Club in the eastern city of Jalalabad, where one of the country's two main cricket grounds is located.

Afghanistan were eliminated from the 2010 tournament in the first round after losing both of their group matches to India and South Africa.

They face another uphill battle to break into the 'Super Eight' second round in Sri Lanka, with defending champions England the third member of their Group A. Afghanistan face England on Friday.

Shahzad said their team had worked out the weaknesses in both their of the both opponents.

'England struggle a little bit against spinners. India have a very good batting line up, but they don't have a good bowling (attack),' he said. 'India every time go for part-time bowlers.'

With violence at its worst levels since US-backed forces ousted the Islamist Taliban in 2001, Afghanistan skipper Mangal said he hoped his team could help bring stability to the war-torn country.

'This would be a positive sign to bring the youth into sports instead of them having wrong influences,' he said.

'I would say this could be a positive step towards bring peace to the country as well.'

Derbyshire win County Championship Division Two

Derby delight! Khawaja helps seal Division Two title ahead of Yorkshire

|

UPDATED:

15:51 GMT, 14 September 2012

Derbyshire have been crowned LV= County Championship Division Two champions after recording a six-wicket victory over Hampshire.

The home side, who sealed promotion to the top flight on Thursday, easily chased down a target of 196 in only 41.5 overs to clinch their sixth four-day victory and a 135,000 cheque for winning the title.

After Usman Khawaja's unbeaten 72 and Ross Whiteley's violent 38 not out from 30 balls took them to victory at 3pm, the team celebrated in front of the pavilion while Hampshire set off to Lord's for Saturday's Clydesdale Bank 40 final against Warwickshire.

Just champion: Derbyshire have won the County Championship Division 2 title ahead of Yorkshire

Just champion: Derbyshire have won the County Championship Division 2 title ahead of Yorkshire

The visitors went into the final day with a chance of helping Yorkshire pip Derbyshire to top spot but they could only add another 56 runs to their overnight total of 142 for 6.

Much rested on Bilal Shafayat who was unbeaten on 52 and the early signs were encouraging as he and Chris Wood frustrated Derbyshire's attack for the first 11 overs of a blustery morning.

Wood sensibly played the supporting role as 35 runs were added until he went for a lofted drive at Wes Durston's off-spin and was superbly caught by Paul Borrington diving full length at deep mid-off.

But the wicket Derbyshire wanted to open up both ends came two overs later when Shafayat (81) pushed Durston towards midwicket and set off for a single that was never on and was run out by Whiteley's return to wicketkeeper Tom Poynton.

Sealed with a kiss: Derbyshire secured promotion a day earlier but had little problem wrapping up the title

Sealed with a kiss: Derbyshire secured promotion a day earlier but had little problem wrapping up the title

The end came swiftly as David Balcombe was lbw to David Wainwright's arm ball and David Griffiths drove Durston to cover to leave Derbyshire a minimum of 77 overs to reach their target.

Skipper Wayne Madsen and Borrington started confidently but there was a pre-lunch wobble when two wickets fell in consecutive overs.

Borrington was well caught low down at first slip by Jimmy Adams as he pushed at Griffiths and Madsen fell to what was the last ball of the session when he was bowled off his thigh pad by Liam Dawson.

But Khawaja and Durston came out clearly intent on finishing the job quickly and they plundered 25 from four wayward overs from Sean Ervine before Khawaja drove Dawson over long on for six.

Thanks for the help: Usman Khawaja was the architect of the quick run chase on Friday

Thanks for the help: Usman Khawaja was the architect of the quick run chase on Friday

They added 67 in 13 overs and although Durston was lbw for 23 trying to whip Griffiths through midwicket, Khawaja took Derbyshire closer to the finishing line when he cover drove Griffiths for his ninth four to reach fifty off 51 balls.

The cheers of the home supporters were temporarily silenced when Dan Redfern was caught at leg slip off Dawson with 53 still needed but they found their voices again when Whiteley pulled Dawson for six and then drove Michael Carberry for two more maximums.

It was Whiteley who clinched victory in the grand manner with his fifth six, a slog-sweep off Dawson, to put the seal on one of the most memorable seasons in Derbyshire's history.