Posts Tagged ‘owais shah’

I’ve always quite liked young Ravi Bopara (exactly a fortnight older than me, actually), so I’m pleased he’s finally got a Test century. That should, at least, correct his aberrant Test average, which before the current Test stood at a mere 8.40.

Whether making a century on a decent track in Barbados qualifies him to face Australia’s newly potent pace attack in the summer is another matter. Indeed, the role Bopara is being asked to play at the moment may merely be a sort of job-share, a pro-rata part-time Flintoff substitute, with the bowling element of Freddie’s role allocated elsewhere. If that proves to be the case, then once Flintoff returns, Bopara’s may find himself in a difficult situation.

England’s middle order for the Ashes is still not entirely fixed, but on past evidence the selectors are likely to resist radical changes. Therefore, if Shah does well enough to keep his place at number three, and Collingwood continues to make decent scores, then future chances for England’s newest centurion may turn out to be somewhat more limited than he might hope.

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Play has sensationally been abandoned for the day after only ten deliveries of the second Test between England and West Indies at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in Antigua, after the sand-based outfield was deemed a safety risk to the bowlers.

This raises a number of questions. Firstly, how do you sensationally abandon something? Also, how can a surface that was deemed fit to play on be proved not to be fit for play after a mere ten balls? How does Owais Shah feel right now, having had what may be his last chance to make an impression on the Test cricketing world thwarted by sand? What about the Barmy Army – how do they feel, after keeping faith with England following the disruption to their plans in India? Is an abandoned Test more embarassing than 51 all out?

And, of course, what will the impact be if the Test is moved – either to the ARG or (whisper it) the Stanford ground?

UPDATE: it seems the Test will be restarted on Sunday at the ARG (at least, according to Sky Sports).

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Now that the dust has settled on England’s god-awful performance with the bat against the West Indies, it’s time to start thinking about what England need. The answer, it seems to me, is change.

What do I mean by change? Not a radical throwing out of the baby with the bathwater, but a reasoned reassessment of the whole batting line-up. Ian Bell has had enough chances now, and keeping him in the side because he has occasionally showed promise (mainly when England are already cruising) would be foolish. Owais Shah is the only ready replacement in the squad, and his good form in the tour of India has probably earned him another shot (his four knocks so far aren’t necessarily enough information to go on regarding his ability at Test level).

As well as dropping Bell, Collingwood needs to be made to feel under pressure. His recent form has been poor, as has Cook’s, but there are limited options for making wholesale changes in the middle of a tour. Much as I rate Rashid, whether he is good enough to come in purely as a batsman is uncertain to say the least. Swann may get his chance soon

In the medium term, England need to chop away at the dead wood, but the fear of angering senior players, or of not having a settled side for the Ashes will probably save most of the old guard.

As for blaming the IPL, that’s lazy journalism (as predicted elsewhere) at its most clichéd. All the players who aren’t involved in the IPL made equally poor scores, and Flintoff, who could potentially have been adversely affected by learning of his newfound riches, made the side’s biggest score (admittedly a below-average 24, but the next-highest was Strauss with 9). There shouldn’t be any excuses made for a performance as bad as Sunday’s – the players, after all, are supposed to be taking more responsibility for their own performances.

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England go into their first Test series of 2009 with a new captain, no permanent coach, and a significant chunk of the batting order likely to have one eye on the IPL auction during the First Test. Despite all this, they’ll be widely expected to pull off a comfortable series win as they continue their battle with Australia to see who can be worst prepared for the Ashes this summer.

In case any of the players not included in the IPL auction feel there’s insufficient time for them on camera, they need fear not – this series will be England’s first encounter with the TV referral system that many other teams have used already. Ian Bell may want to make use of it while he can, as a poor performance in the First Test may see him relieved of Test duties for a time, especially if Owais Shah can seize the opportunity.

For the hosts, expectations have been steadily building, and the quality of Gayle, Sarwan and of course Chanderpaul is enough to win them at least one Test if all find form at the same time, although the team often collapses if they don’t. The Windies bowling attack, once so feared, is potentially a weakness if it reverts to mediocrity once the new ball shine has worn off. Recent unlikely batting hero Jerome Taylor could be key, given his ability to swing the ball both ways.

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England have decided to forgo the usual warm-up match silliness and field a team of a mere eleven players against St Kitts & Nevis in the first match of their tour of the Carribean.

Owais Shah is included in the XI, presumably to remind the more inconsistent members of the top order (that’ll be pretty much everyone, then) that their places are, in theory at least, under threat.

Much more interesting from my point of view is the inclusion of Adil Rashid. I hope that isn’t just the metaphorical throwing of a bone to a player not expected to play much part in the Test series, but is rather a genuine opportunity for the youngster to impress.

You can follow the match here, should you so desire.

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England were looking a little wobbly in their second innings of Second Test at 43/3, but arguably the two least glamourous batsmen in England’s lineup put them back on track. Strauss and Collingwood, neither of them what you might call marquee players, put on an unbroken partnership of 129 runs to leave the tourists with a 247-run lead, 7 second-innings wickets in hand, and two whole days of play left.

Strauss in particular seems to have rediscovered his best form – he now has nearly 200 runs in the match, which is remarkable given his relative lack of preparation. Collingwood, under pressure from Shah for his place in the side, slipped somewhat under India’s radar to make a solid 60 not out. If the two of them can stay there for a period tomorrow morning, the hosts could find themselves with a very large target to chase.

Earlier in the day, India had been dismissed for 241, 75 runs short of England’s first innings total. Flintoff and Panesar both finished with three wickets as only Dhoni and Harbhajan offered any real resistance, putting on 75 for the 7th wicket.

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England’s slim hopes of salvaging something from the One Day series in India ended in dramatic fashion as the Fourth ODI was reduced to a 22-over slogfest. India, put in to bat by Kevin Pietersen, started their innings still expecting a 50-over match, but Sehwag behaved as if he was playing Twenty20 anyway, smashing 69 from 57 balls to take the home side to 106-1 after 17 overs.

A prolonged rain delay seemed at one stage to have ended all hopes of play resuming, but when it did India hammered 60 runs from their last five overs to take them to 166, a target inflated to 198 by the mystical workings of Duckworth/Lewis.

Nine runs an over was always going to be a struggle for England, and the only point in their innings when it looked attainable was whilst Owais Shah and Andrew Flintoff where smashing balls to all corners of the ground during their 79-run partnership. Once both had fallen, England had little to offer in the way of boundaries, and could only make 178 from their allotted 22 overs.

India win the series, and England’s attention may now drift towards the upcoming Tests. Shah’s knock at least bodes well for Middlesex’s chances in the upcoming Twenty20 Champions League.

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