My Ashes XI

My all-time Ashes XI courtesy of the BBC Sport website. Leave a comment letting me know what you think of my team and who would make yours.

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Book review: Start the Car – The World According to Bumble

Start The Car has David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd looking over cricket and his life. The book is in three parts. In the first part, Bumble profiles those he has worked with on commentary duties. There are stories about those he has worked with and what they are like. The second section focuses on cricket and games that Bumble has been involved in. The final section is a look at Bumble’s life. The stories told are interesting and funny and told in Bumble’s inimitable style. It frequently feels less like a book and more like a cosy chat by the fire over a good pint in one of Bumble’s recommended pubs.

Rating (out of 5): *****

ODI Team of the Year 2016

The ICC ODI Team of the Year has been named.

David Warner (Australia)
Quinton de Kock (South Africa)
Rohit Sharma (India)
Virat Kohli (India, captain)
AB de Villiers (South Africa)
Jos Buttler (England)
Mitchell Marsh (Australia)
Ravindra Jadeja (India)
Mitchell Starc (Australia)
Kagiso Rabada (South Africa)
Sunil Narine (West Indies)

12th man: Imran Tahir (South Africa)

Who is lucky to be in the team? Who was unlucky not to be included? Leave a comment and let me know.

Test Team of the Year

The ICC Test Team of the Year has been announced. The players in the team are:

David Warner (Australia)
Alistair Cook (England, captain)
Kane Williamson (New Zealand)
Joe Root (England)
Adam Voges (Australia)
Jonny Bairstow (England, wicketkeeper)
Ben Stokes (England)
Ravichandran Ashwin (India)
Ranguna Herath (Sri Lanka)
Mitchell Starc (Australia)
Dale Steyn (South Africa)

12th man: Steve Smith (Australia)

Who was lucky to make the side and who was unlucky to not be included? Leave a comment and let me know.

England (135/7) V Pakistan (139/1)

Pakistan cruised to a comprehensive 9-wicket victory in the only T20 game between the two as the international summer in England came to an end. England batted first and made use of the powerplay, finishing on 53/0 after 6 overs. Jason Roy was dismissed soon after the powerplay by Wasim when attempting a reverse sweep, with Hales (bowled trying a slog sweep) and Root (caught at third man attempting an uppercut) following soon after, Wasim and Ali picking up the wickets respectively. Pakistan bowled well, with Wasim bowling a very full length to remove cross-batted shots, whilst the quicker bowlers varied length and pace well; the wicket of Root seemed to show that slow, short balls were effective and England never timed any shots against these well. Boundaries dried up, whilst runs became harder to come by as wickets fell at regular intervals, preventing England building any momentum.

England’s attack looked to replicate the Pakistan tactic of short, slow balls, but with the new ball, it sat up for Pakistan’s openers and they cashed in; the first 17 balls saw 9 dots and 8 4s. Pakistan punished any bad ball throughout the innings and reached their target with 5.1 overs left for the loss of Sharjeel, who skied a Rashid googly and was caught by Ali who just held onto the ball in his fingertips. A below-par performance from England and an excellent one from Pakistan resulted in a one-sided game.

England V Pakistan 2nd Test

England levelled the series with Pakistan through a 330 run victory at Old Trafford. England batted first and scored 589/8 declared, built around Joe Root’s 254. In reply, Pakistand were all out for 198, 391 runs behind. England had the opportunity to enforce the follow-on, but decided not to; they scored 173/1 declared in 30 overs and then bowled Pakistan out for 234.

The decision not to enforce the follow-on was a big talking point. In my opinion, England should have enforced the follow-on. England bowled Pakistan out in 63.4 overs, with Chris Woakes bowling the most overs (16 overs). Just over two sessions is not a long time to spend in the field and the decision to bat again did not give the bowlers a long rest as they only batted for 30 overs, the equivalent of a session (although bad weather did extend the time period). Batting again removed any chance for Pakistan to win the game, although after the first innings, Pakistan would need to have scored somewhere in the region of 500 and then have bowled very well.

I think England should have enforced the follow-on, but what do you think? Leave me a comment and tell me.

Book review: Second Innings

Second Innings is Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff’s autobiography. It looks at his cricket career, especially the memorable Ashes summer of 2005 and the following Ashes series in Australia in which Flintoff was captain and the World Cup after that tour. Flintoff is honest throughout, looking at his own weaknesses and admitting mistakes made. Whilst being honest, he does not look to settle any scores with former team-mates or coaches. Flintoff makes it clear that he did not have the best relationship with former England coach Duncan Fletcher, but makes it very clear that Fletcher and his approach helped others in the squad a great deal.

As well as looking over his cricket career, Flintoff’s post-cricket career is also tracked. His career as a TV personality and boxer are both looked at and Flintoff is just as honest about these. Flintoff also reveals that he has two sides to his personality and explains them along with what the present and future holds for him.

The books was easy to read and very enjoyable. I read it in a couple of sittings, but was tempted to finish it in one go. There are some very funny anecdotes, with my favourite being the dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar in India in 2006 when Flintoff was captain. I strongly recommend this book.

Rating (out of 5): *****