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Posts Tagged ‘tim ambrose’

  • Durham surprised a lot of people with their Championship win last year, and with Steve Harmison out of favour with England once again, their bowling attack looks just as strong as it was in 2008. Ian Blackwell has come in to bolster the middle order and add a spin option, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul returns in June following the World Twenty20.
  • Hampshire arguably owe last year’s survival, let alone their eventual third place, to the spin bowling of Imran Tahir, who returns from June. In the meantime, Australian Marcus North comes in as an overseas player to add runs, and Dominic Cork also arrives following his release by Lancashire. Chris Tremlett will also be key for the attack, whilst Mascarenhas’ England and IPL commitments will drain the Rose Bowl’s resources for much of the season.
  • Lancashire have released Dominic Cork and Stuart Law, whilst Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson are likely to make very few appearances for their county, so the Red Rose lineup will be somewhat unfamiliar in places. Mark Chilton and Francois Du Plessis need to improve on last year’s performances with the bat, or relegation may threaten to make Peter Moores’ 2009 even worse.
  • Nottinghamshire may spend the majority of the season watching their three best bowlers ply their trade for England, so the likes of Shreck and Pattinson will be key. If Samit Patel gets fit enough to be called up as well, the side could look a little thin in the middle order, but if newlywed Adam Voges can translate his limited-overs form to the four-day game then the prospect of a title challenge isn’t too far-fetched to consider.
  • Somerset continue to have an incredibly strong top order (especially with and Marcus Trescothick as an opening pair), but with Ian Blackwell moving to Durham and Andy Caddick into his 40s, the bowling attack looks worryingly thin. Unless a young gun steps up to take wickets, a proliferation of draws may ensue.
  • Warwickshire face the step up from Division Two without Ian Salisbury, but Jeetan Patel should be a strong addition to their four-day side. If Ian Bell stays out of the England team long enough to feature regularly, then the Bears can reap the benefits. Similarly, Tim Ambrose will be a force in the County game even he doesn’t cut it at Test level.
  • Worcestershire enter the post-Hick era in 2009, which puts a lot of pressure on Vikram Solanki and the likes of Stephen Moore. Gareth Batty’s recent England call-up underlined his quality with the ball, but the pace attack is relatively weak, especially given Simon Jones’ continuing injury problems. If Solanki and Kabir Ali find form, then the side can look for more than just consolidation in their return to Division One.
  • Yorkshire came uncomfortably close to relegation last year, but players of the quality of Michael Vaughan, Anthony McGrath, Matthew Hoggard and Adil Rashid should see them improve in 2009 (assuming England call-ups don’t intervene). A championship challenge may be asking too much, and adjusting to life without Darren Gough will be difficult, but there is enough class (especially with Jacques Rudolph in the side) for a top-half finish.

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It’s more than a year now since I named my 11 to watch, so it’s probably time to weigh up (briefly) who’s lived up to their potential and who hasn’t:

Nasir Jamshed is still under 20, but had little chance to impress this year given Pakistan’s effective exile from international cricket; Virat Kohli made some waves, and is still well-placed for a call-up to the Indian Test side after some good ODI performances and a strong showing in domestic cricket; Tamim Iqbal has shown some promise, but Bangladesh’s continued position at the bottom of the cricketing pile has frustrated his ability to shine; Fawad Alam is probably the one that got away; Steve Davies has finally been called up to the England side, and looked good for a while when he got his chance; Adil Rashid has also won some recognition from the ECB, and will probably play Test cricket in the next year or two; Beau Casson has sunk from the international picture seemingly without trace; Sulieman Benn gave England a torrid time in the Tests and looks set to be a part of the Windies side for some time to come; Tim Southee hasn’t quite lived up to the early hype but still shows promise; Ishant Sharma continues to scare batsmen (especially Ricky Ponting) the world over; Mitchell Johnson continues to do the same to everyone that isn’t Australian.

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Matt Prior has flown home to be with his wife after she gave birth to his son on Monday. All well and good, but lurking at the bottom of the Cricinfo report of this occurence, in a discussion of Tim Ambrose (Prior’s replacement as wicketkeeper) are four words that will strike terror into the hearts of England fans everywhere:

“[Ambrose] is likely to be joined in the middle-order by Ravi Bopara, who scored an attractive century in England’s warm-up in Barbados, or a recalled Ian Bell.”

I’d rather have Amjad Khan batting at three than let Bell back in after one mediocre performance in a tour match against the bowling of Barrington Bjorn Beckenbauer Yearwood. If Bell comes back in, it will arguably be more of a testament to the lack of quality available to England on their current tour than to any resurgence in his own lacklustre form.

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After the recent events in Mumbai, and the subsequent ‘will they/won’t they’ deliberation by the tourists over whether it was safe to travel, both England and India will doubtless be relieved to get back to playing cricket when the Test series gets underway in Chennai.

For the hosts, the tour is an opportunity to cement their status as
challengers to Australia’s dominance of Test cricket (a 1-0 or 2-0 win
would see them overtake South Africa as the second-highest ranked team), as well as the first series since the retirement of Sourav Ganguly. Yuvraj Singh, who many feel has so far failed to do himself justice in the longer form of the game, steps into Ganguly’s shoes. If he can replicate the form he showed in the One Day series, England’s bowlers are in trouble. Also in need of a big score is Rahul Dravid – ‘the Wall’ has looked a little less than solid of late, and calls for his retirement are starting to be voiced more vociferously.

For England, ‘spin twins’ headlines await for Graeme Swann and Monty
Panesar
after the former (“a lovely confident boy”, according to his
captain) was confirmed as the replacement for the injured Stuart Broad
. Also added to the side for the tourists is Matt Prior, who returns in place of Tim Ambrose as part of England’s revolving door approach to wicketkeeper selection. Although it has been suggested that England’s very decision to tour means that they ‘cannot lose’ in terms of prestige, they can certainly lose the series.

You can follow the First Test here, or here.

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Jonathan Agnew writes that “India would probably refuse to play against England with [Chris] Read in the team” because he has played in the ICL. This means, of course, that he may have caught the deadly ICL virus, and could therefore, in the eyes of the BCCI, reduce the world’s second most populous country to something out of 28 Weeks Later.

With Tim Ambrose looking increasingly like he won’t be playing in England’s next Test, which will of course be in India, this could cause political pressure on team selection in a way reminiscent of the Basil D’Oliveira affair. This time, though, Lalit Modi’s commercial self-interest would replace the National Party’s racism as the elephant in the room.

Whilst Read wouldn’t necessarily be an automatic replacement for Ambrose, he has been the most successful (in purely statistical terms) of England’s succession of attempted replacements for the mighty Alec Stewart. Matt Prior has been selected for the One Day squad, but if he doesn’t impress, Read might well be in pole position for selection.

If that happens, we will see whether the BCCI really does wield as much power within international cricket as is often suggested.

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It’s been four months since I plucked these eleven young cricketers from various levels of obscurity and cursed them with the tag ‘ones to watch’. How have they been getting on?

  • Tamim Iqbal is over in England at the moment with Bangladesh A, but there hasn’t been much news of him recently. Hopefully there will be more to report soon.
  • Sulieman Benn has overcome the apparent West Indian anti-spin bias to show some promise whilst going for quite a lot of runs, but he needs to play more cricket against sides that aren’t Australia before he can be properly assessed.

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Poor Colly. Even ‘Ian-frigging-Bell‘ was scoring bucketloads of runs for England today, but Captain Ginger made a measly 7 from 13 balls, dealing a heavy blow to his confidence and confirming his status as the man most likely to make way for Flintoff should the England selectors break the habit of a lifetime and change the team.

Tim Ambrose didn’t make many either, but his place is probably safe unless he starts dropping everything behind the wickets, and Michael Vaughan did his usual yesterday, but he’s the captain so he’s seemingly under no pressure regardless of how poor his batting gets.

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England’s under-pressure batsmen failed once again on the 1st day of , excepting Kevin Pietersen and Tim Ambrose, who made 115 and 67 respectively.

I think I’ve said more than enough about England’s top order for the time being, so I’ll leave it there. Ian O’Brien took 4-61 for the Black Caps, though, which is worth a mention.

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So, has England’s first away Test series win for three years answered the questions that I said they were facing a month ago? Not entirely, of course, but things are a little clearer.

  1. Should Strauss play? We had to wait until the 3rd day of the 3rd Test to get any evidence that the Wing Commander / Lord Tweedy Brockett-Strauss was still capable of making decent scores in Test cricket, but his 177 will see him included in the next squad.
  2. Is it time to try another spinner? Monty bowled well when the conditions were in his favour, and his 3rd Test figures (a career best) would have been even better if not for this chap.
  3. Who is the best wicket-keeper? Tim Ambrose has done enough to keep his place (despite a missed stumping), and his innings in Wellington may well have been the turning point in the series.

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England have now squared the series thanks largely to Jimmy Anderson, but even the captain realises that they’re not really a proper team.

Good performances form Tim Ambrose (even if he did miss a stumping) and Paul Collingwood helped greatly, but the fundamental difference from the first test was the first innings bowling. There may still be come clamouring for a Hoggard recall, but I wouldn’t mind the same XI going into the deciding test.

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For the first time in what seems like months, there’s going to be some Proper Test Cricket. Following the interminable ODIs in Australia, and the (very) brief distraction of South Africa hammering Bangladesh, England take on New Zealand.

For New Zealand, it will be Steven Fleming’s last series. For England, it’s a chance to rebuild.

England are, at the time of writing, odds-on favourites to win the series. They should be. New Zealand are missing a great deal of firepower in Shane Bond, and have played only four Tests in the last 14 months.

Even so, England retain the ability to self-destruct. Of particular concern is the length of the tail, especially given Tim Ambrose’s inexperience in this form of the game. If Strauss (out of place at No. 3) cannot recover his lost form for a more serious match than this, then a massive amount will be the middle order in the run-scoring department.

As for the bowlers, much rests on the shoulders of Steve Harmison. Gulp.

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With the Test series against New Zealand only days away, there are still a number of key questions which England hope will be answered over the next few weeks. Chiefly, there are the following three:

  1. Should Strauss play? After a series of poor performances, Andrew Strauss was dropped last year. Despite not making many runs since, he now appears to be poised for a Test recall. It’s understandable that he continues to be in the selectors’ minds (not least because he has a Central Contract), but how many poor innings can he have before someone else is given a chance?
  2. Is it time to try another spinner? Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Monty. I’ve queued in my lunch hour to watch him sign books, for goodness sake. But he’s been playing Test cricket for long enough now to be judged by the same standards as anyone else. That means that if there’s a Young Buck out there whose batting average is higher than his bowling average at the time of writing, he might get a chance in Monty’s stead.
  3. Who is the best wicket-keeper? Now that Matt Prior has gone the way of Geraint Jones, Tim Ambrose will get to sip from the poisoned chalice. Those who keep wicket well are criticised for not scoring enough runs, and those who average more than 40 in Test cricket face scrutiny of every mistake they make with the gloves.

Whilst there may not be immediate answers available to any of these questions, it must be hoped that they are a lot easier to answer by the time the teams reconvene for another series in May.

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