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Posts Tagged ‘chris gayle’

In case anyone was wondering why it is that Chris Gayle prefers Twenty20 cricket, watch the below, make a mental comparison to his distracted play in the recent Tests against England, and perhaps things will be clearer:

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Australia, as in any competition in any form of cricket, are amongst the favourites, but they are nowhere near as highly rated as usual. Most of the impressive Aussie performances in this year’s IPL were from players retired from international cricket or not included in the national team. Of course, there are enough top-quality players in the side to beat anyone else on their day, but a tough draw and the distraction of the upcoming Ashes may mean that this is not the Australia that usually turns up and dominates international tournaments.

The West Indies were disappointing in the last tournament, but given their captain’s recently-expressed view on the merits of Twenty20 cricket, they should presumably put in more of an effort this time around. If Gayle, Chanderpaul and Bravo all live up to their billing, then the Windies will be a force to reckon with, but none of them performed well in either  the Tests or the ODI series against England, so the pressure is on.

Sri Lanka will be playing their first international cricket since the team fell victim to a terrorist attack when on tour in Pakistan, and hopes will be high that the country can make headlines for the right reasons. Players like Kumar Sangakkara, Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis are well-equipped for match-winning performances, and although the side has a tough draw, Sri Lanka could be the dark horses of the competition.

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Just as Twenty20 cricket seems to be taking over, with the IPL looking to expand, Gayle’s recent comments and the upcoming World Twenty20, there are whispers that the tournament that started it all, the Twenty20 Cup in England and Wales, is struggling to attract fans.

Advance ticket sales are reportedly down by as much as 40% on last year, and a number of theories are being advanced in explanation. One is that the novelty of Twenty20 is no longer enough to attract spectators who have experienced the glitz and glamour of the IPL, another that the early start to the international season and the prospect of a busy summer with the World Twenty20 and the Ashes on the way (plus the involvement of English players in the IPL) has overshadowed the county game for UK cricket fans.

It could be that casual fans who flocked to matches in the past are cutting back on their cricket watching during the current recession, or even that the novelty of Twenty20 as a format has worn off following the overkill of the last few years. The prospect of the latter may worry the ECB, who are planning a second Twenty20 competition from next year – the P20.

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England fans who have handed over £45 to watch England versus the West Indies at Headingley (or up to a whopping £66 to watch the Second ODI at Bristol) may be, how shall I put it, a little disappointed that they will see neither Andrew Flintoff nor Kevin Pietersen. They may also be less than impressed with the tourists’ attitude so far.

Nevertheless, England’s success in the ODI series over in the Carribbean, as well as ever-growing Ashes fever, will ensure plenty of attention is paid to this series. The return to the side of Dwayne Bravo, and the move to a format of cricket that Chris Gayle cares about, will boost the Windies’ chances no end.

For England, much of the attention will be on the new blood in the squad. Tim Bresnan returns for the first time since 2006, whilst Eoin Morgan looks set to get his big chance in Pietersen’s stead. Meanwhile, Ravi Bopara’s recent Test and IPL form means that he may now be the headline-grabber.

England are favourites, but I think they’ll have a tough time of it if Chanderpaul, Gayle and Bravo all perform for the Windies.

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Since his Test recall in the West Indies, Ravi Bopara averages 118, and his overall average (at the time of writing) is nudging 50. It seems England have found their number three.

That said, such were conditions today that even Alastair Cook was able to convert his 50 into 100 (his first century at home since June 2007), although Strauss threw away his wicket after being tempted by his new nemesis Chris Gayle into an ill-judged sweep.

There weren’t many people there to see all this, though – whether that had anything to do with the alleged death of Test cricket, or was (as Durham’s chief executive claimed) due to the rival attraction of the North-East’s Premier League strugglers (or perhaps the increasing price of Test cricket over the last few years) isn’t entirely clear. Maybe the fans have simply realised that this series – which was organised purely to keep up the Test quota for the ECB’s deal with Sky, isn’t worth the outlay, particularly with the hefty cost of the Ashes just around the corner.

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Given that the West Indies, and Chris Gayle in particular (although it’s not entirely clear whether he was misinterpreted or not), have more or less said that they don’t want to be in England, the home side’s convincing win in the First Test is looking a little less impressive.

The Second Test is England’s last opportunity to work out the ideal Test side to take into the Ashes. The slightly less than impressive showing with the bat by everyone except Ravi Bopara in the first match is a valid cause for concern, and the Australians certainly won’t roll over as easily as the Windies did at Lord’s.

Kevin Pietersen in particular was uncharacteristically anonymous last week, and will be keen to get back into form before the Aussies arrive. The arrival of Bopara as England’s newest saviour (which may have temporarily usurped KP from his usual role as big-hitter and headline-grabber), and a difficult winter when the latter’s commitment to England came into question on more than one occasion, mean that England’s former captain and foremost Aussie-baiter may feel that he has much to prove.

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After a brief interlude which many of the players involed spent playing (or bench-warming) in the IPL, England and the West Indies go toe-to-toe for the second time this year with the Test series starting tomorrow. The Windies, of course, were hastily lined up as replacements for first Zimbabwe (who were banned from touring the UK for political reasons) and then Sri Lanka (who decided they preferred the IPL millions and to getting rained on in May in the UK), but have proven themselves formidable opponents for England, winning the series in the carribbean after a memorably awful performance from the English batting order.

For the hosts, thoughts are already drifting towards this summer’s Ashes series, and many of the squad will be looking to stake their claim for a spot in the side to face Australia. Ravi Bopara gets his chance at number three, on the grounds that everyone else is either too young, too old or too rubbish. Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions are the other new faces as Andy Flowers tries to liven things up a bit. The absence of Flintoff means there will be opportunities to shine for the young bowlers, but it will take something special to guarantee an Ashes place.

The West Indies haven’t had the best of preparation, being soundly beaten by the England Lions in the absence of their captain (who seemingly shares the Sri Lankan’s preference for the IPL over the UK), but their performances over the winter will have brought encouragement. As ever, Gayle and Chanderpaul are the danger men, but the likes of Fidel Edwards and Sulieman Benn also gave England plenty to worry about last time around.

Anything less than a series victory for the hosts will be seen as catastrophic, but catastrophe has befallen England so often recently that it’s difficult to rule out another abject failure from the home team.

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