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Posts Tagged ‘graham napier’

England have announced their squad for the summer’s World Twenty20, having trimmed their initial 30 down to a more manageable 15:

Paul Collingwood captains the side, somewhat suprisingly given his previous reluctance to do so, and the fact that he stood down as One-Day captain a mere nine months ago. Cynics may also suggest that if England’s best hope is someone who couldn’t even get a game in the IPL, then things don’t look good.

The other headlines are the inclusions of Rob Key (interesting because he hasn’t played for England – as opposed to the Lions – since 2005, and his last limited-overs international was way back in 2004), James Foster (also recalled after a long exile), Eoin Morgan (‘borrowed’ from Ireland), Graham Napier (another IPL bench-warmer, albeit with a fair bit of Twenty20 pedigree) and Leek’s very own Ryan Sidebottom.

The rest of the squad comprises James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Andrew Flintoff, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Kevin Pietersen, Owais Shah, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.

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There was much excitment in some quarters when it was announced that English players would be available for the second season of the IPL, and Chennai and Bangalore alone spent $3m between them on Flintoff and Pietersen respectively, but how have England’s IPL stars got on so far?

  • Kevin Pietersen has struggled too, getting out cheaply in nearly every innings. His famed aggression hasn’t always been on display for Bangalore (at least not until after he’s out), and the treatment he’s getting from the South African crowds can’t have helped. Having captained his side to four defeats in a row, the Royal Challengers might not be too upset to see the back of him when he returns to England.
  • Dimitri Mascheranhas, the only English player with prior experience of the IPL, made an explosive start to his second season, taking 2 wickets in 2 balls, and batted well against Kolkatta. He seems to have graduated from last year’s bit-part at Rajasthan to the role of front-line bowler, and has taken the wickets of some very good players indeed.
  • Owais Shah has apparently enjoyed practising his Hindi with his Delhi Daredevils team-mates, and has had plenty of time to, with little in the way of cricket to occupy himself with.
  • Ravi Bopara blasted 84 from 59 balls against Bangalore, and claims that he has now learnt how to open in Twenty20 cricket, something that may bring cheer to England ahead of the World Twenty20 in June.
  • Paul Collingwood has made it onto the field, but only as a substitute fielder (would it be cruel to suggest that Delhi signed him with that in mind?), and may not get a chance before England duty calls.

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Kings XI Punjab
Punjab have been relatively quiet in the transfer market, having added only Jerome Taylor, Ravi Bopara, and the previously obscure Burt Cockley. Sarwan has departed – having apparently only been on a one-year contract – and a number of key players will only play part of the season (Shaun Marsh, Brett Lee and James Hopes are all likely to be called away by Australia).

As with last season, much will rest on the shoulders of Yuvraj, who will be expected to provide batting pyrotechnics every time he plays. If he can find form whilst the Australians are unavailable, and Marsh can continue his impressive form from last year, then the Kings XI are capable of mounting a strong challenge.

Kolkata Knight Riders
The KKRs build-up has been dominated by talk of multiple or rotating captains, but the unusual situation has partly arisen out of the fact that the side has so many top-class players at its disposal. Chris Gayle is made for Twenty20 cricket, as is Brendon McCullum (who should be available for the whole season). David Hussey, Ricky Ponting and Ajantha Mendis will probably only play cameo roles, but home-grown talents such as Cheteshwar Pujara will be available throughout.

Sole auction signing Mashrafe Mortaza probably won’t alter the balance of the side much, but Umar Gul’s bowling will be missed, putting a lot of pressure on Ishant Sharma.

Mumbai Indians
A disappointing start last time around saw Mumbai fail to make the play-offs, and the Sreesanth slapping incident stirred controversy. He’s out with an injury, so discipline may be less of an issue in 2009. Dwayne Bravo’s recent form has been impressive, suggesting that he will be a key player with both bat and ball, and the additions of JP Duminy and Graham Napier should boost the batting.

Zaheer Khan has also come in for Robin Uthappa, whilst a number of the overseas players can offer something with both bat and ball, leaving the side well-balanced in the middle order. Harbhajan has so far failed to impress in Twenty20 cricket, but is likely to feature throughout.

Rajasthan Royals
Rajasthan confounded a lot of people’s expectations with their victory last season, but key player Shane Watson could miss much of the 2009 season due to international call-ups. Tyron Henderson comes in as cover, but the lack of big-name players (Graeme Smith’s recovery from injury may also prove more costly for the Royals now that they have lost the element of surprise.

Rajasthan, of course, are nominally my team, so all the best to them.

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The county season’s over, the dust has settled, here are my picks for the best of 2008

  • Best Batsman: Not so straightforward this season, especially given Ramprakash’s relative slump. It’s between Marcus Trescothick and Martin van Jaarsveld, and whilst van Jaarsveld was relegated despite his team winning more matches than Trescothick’s, it’s the sympathy vote that swings it for Marcus.
  • Best All-Rounder: Adil Rashid took more County Championship wickets than Harmison, scored more County Championship runs than Phil Mustard, and was still overlooked for England. What more could he have done? Well, I suppose he could have scored the 8 extra runs that would have put him ahead of Graeme Swann.

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Despite a general feeling that this would be a runfest, Kent’s openers were both gone before 20 runs had been scored. Van Jaarsveld and >McLaren made half-centuries to help the Spitfires set a not-too-humiliating 215 as the victory target for Essex, but the Eagles, with the likes of Bopara and Napier in the side, would clearly knock off 215 in no time. Wouldn’t they?

Essex made a good start before Mahmood struck to remove Pettini and Gallian, with Robbie Joseph then getting rid of danger-men Bopara and Cook. Grant Flower stepped up, Stevens dropped ten Doeschate, Essex won with 7 balls to go.

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In tomorrow’s Friends Provident Trophy Final, the Kent of Rob Key, Joe Denly and Yasir Arafat take on the Essex of Ryan ten Doeschate, Ravi Bopara and Graham Napier.

Both sides have been on top limited-overs form this season, with this being their second finals day meeting of the summer. Whilst Kent, on paper, are the better side, I don’t think the match is going to be played on paper this year, and Bopara in particular always has the ability to make a game-changingly big score.

I think Kent will edge it, unless one of Essex’s big hitters goes ballistic.

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With the Twenty20 Cup having reached the Quarter-Final stage, the remaining eight sides are only three matches away from the riches of the inaugural Twenty20 Champions’ League (providing, of course, they don’t field any players from the ICL, and aren’t replaced by teams from Pakistan).

  • Durham, before this year’s tournament began, had won fewer games of Twenty20 than any other county (a mere 8), but Shaun Pollock’s economy rate has been consistently low, and even a certain, currently banned player has turned out for the now-quite-well-named Dynamos, taking 5-14 against Derbyshire. Add to that the fact that runs are being contributed from a variety of sources, and Durham look like genuine contenders.
  • Lancashire have always been quite good at twenty20, so it’s no surprise that the Lemurs have made it to this stage. Lou Vincent and Mal Loye have been scoring plenty of runs, whilst Mahmood and Marshall have been taking wickets. I’d like to think they can win the whole thing (preferably with Freddie bowling some overs and scoring some runs in the final).
  • Middlesex’s record in the Twenty20 Cup was, like Durham’s, pretty poor before the start of this year’s competition, but they’ve been making up for it this year, mainly due to an improvement in their bowling. They have no ICL players, so they could actually compete in the Champions’ League with their current team, which is a plus. Also, they have Dirty Dirk Nannes.
  • Northamptonshire, unlike Middlesex, have loads of ICL players, so will probably not be Lalit Modi‘s favourites. I wouldn’t have picked them to make it this far, to be truthful, but Rob White has made plenty of runs and numerous others have put in good performances at crucial times to put the Steelbacks into the last eight. Given that they’ve surprised me so far, I’m not going to write them off at this stage.
  • Warwickshire haven’t made too many runs – they have only once scored above 160. Despite this, they’ve lost none, had a tie (ooh, a tie) and two matches which ended in no result, which means that their bowlers must be doing something right. Of those bowlers, Salisbury and Botha have been the pick, taking wickets and going for not many runs at all. All in all, the King of Spain‘s men definitely have the pedigree to make the finals day.
  • Yorkshire are strong contenders for the overall win. Adil Rashid has got a lot of people excited, and his 4-24 last night was proof that he can perform on the big occasion. Anthony McGrath, meanwhile, has scored more runs than anyone else in the competition. In addition, there’s always Dazzler to spice things up a bit.

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