This Sporting Life

Cricket b

Broad Shoulders

Way back in the dark ages, over two years ago if you’re counting, the very first post on was not about Doctor Who, sci-fi, or the latest American import show. It was, in fact, about cricket. My sports-related blogging has been somewhat lacking of late but what better time to resurrect the past-time? The big sporting question of the weekend is choosing what to watch at 5pm on Saturday afternoon. On ITV, the English rugby team are begining the defence of their World Cup crown in their opening game against the USA (they have no chance of retaining it, by the way!). Meanwhile, Steve McClaren is finding life tough as the manager of the footballers and their crunch match, in the Euro2008 qualifiers against Israel, begins (on BBC1) at, oooh, 5pm. Elsewhere, at the home of cricket, Lords, the vastly improving One-Day side make their final appearance of the summer (in England, at any rate) in the decider of the magnificent 7-match series with the touring Indians. If everything goes to form, the final 20 overs of this thrilling series will start…. at five o’bloody’clock.

I think the lure of the pub will win out for me (see you at 4:30pm, at the Nags!) and then I’ll record highlights of the other two games.  I’ll try and post something about the football after the event (full of vitriol over another unsipid England performance and the inabilty to score past a stubborn Israel defence… 0-0, if want my prediction) but for now, I’ll talk about the cricket.

The sudden and surprising rise of the Twenty20 format could have sounded the death knell for the 50-over version of the game and the forthcoming Twenty20 World Cup could still prove a huge success, but this series, currently poised at 3-3 has restored widespread faith in the game.  Good pitches, well matched teams and sell out crowds that the Indians always seem to attract appears to have brought out the best in the players*.  And England, who have been close to woeful for a couple of years, have found a new lease of life under the experienced tutelage of Moores and captaincy of Collingwood.  Some bright, young things are getting selected too and that can only bode well for the future.   Cook, Broad, Anderson, Bopara, Wright, et al have all had a chance to shine and grasped their opportunities with both hands.  Mike Selvin in today’s Guardian recommends that Flintoff withdraws from the 5-day test squad to concentrate on these shorter forms for the sake of his dodgy ankle and the longevity of his career.  I think he makes a good case.
(* = except the criminally off-form, Kevin Pietersen)

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