Steve Smith is the future but Clarke is NOW!

Australia are my favourites to the win the 2015 Cricket World. So I ask myself why they would put themselves through a situation that could rock the boat. The injury situation with Michael Clark is unfortunate but surely any change of ODI permeant captain could wait.

Steve Smith has earned the right to be the heir in waiting, ahead of the likes of George Bailey and Cameron White. The reason for this is that he is guaranteed to play at the moment. Given the strength of Australia’s batting I feel that a risk can be taken on the fitness of Michael Clark. If he is likely to regain fitness at any time during the world cup he has to be in.

If he is not to be fit at all for the world cup then I still feel that announcing a new permanent captain would be (1) disrespectful to Clark who has been a great captain and (2) cause different news right before the world cup. Any such announcement can be brushed aside after the world cup.

If the reason to change him as skipper is political then it is an absolute joke. I feel it probably is more down to fitness concerns. Will Clarke ever play ODI cricket again if he is not able to regain fitness during the world cup? Whatever happens injury has tormented Michael Clark I just hope he can recover in time for us to see the great player that he is.

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My Random World Cup Predictions

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If you love cricket like me then you probably can’t wait until the start of the cricket world cup. Here are some of my random predictions as to what may happen. These will be reviewed after the world cup to see how well or badly I have guessed. Please feel free to add your own random predictions:

1. Tournament winners: Australia

2. Runners Up: South Africa

3. Captain who scores the most runs: AB de Villiers

4. Most Runs: Hashim Amla

5. Leading Wicket Taker: Morne Morkel

6. Surprise Package: Scotland

7. Surprise Package Player: Corey Anderson (New Zealand)

8. Under achieving side: West Indies

9. India v Pakistan match?: India

10. First player to retire after/during the tournament: MS Dhoni

Write your random predictions below:

Bell, Bopara & Cook all playing for their places?

Alastair Cook and Ian Bell in action during the second ODI against West Indies

England travel to Sri Lanka on the back of two ODI series losses. This series is key to the squads preparation for the upcoming world cup which starts in February. Unlike the majority of international sides England have lots and lots of questions to answer before the world cup starts.

India, Australia and South Africa for example have had a settled squad in place for the last two or three years, whilst England have chopped and changed and then brought the original guys back into the fold. It is a very English problem that the side faces. Like many of England’s past sides they do not have players of the same experience as the other sides. This is not due to them having a young squad it is due to the constant experimenting to the ODI side.

Bopara is probably England’s most experienced ODI player now, yet he is inexplicably dropped from the summer’s series against India and Sri Lanka. The reason given was that they wanted to experiment with pace bowling. Ian Bell is another who seems to have been around for ever, yet I can not remember an ODI series where he has been the best batsman for England.

I do not blame either Bopara or Bell, I blame the lack of clear leadership in English cricket, particularly for the shorter forms of the game. Conversely to Bell and Bopara we have England captain Alistair Cook. It is very clear to all that he is only in the side because he is the captain. If he once again fails in Sri Lanka will the selectors make the right call? I somehow doubt it.

In the eyes of the selection committee I fell Alistair Cook can do no wrong. For England’s sake I hope they come to their senses and relieve him of all captaincy matters. He should go back to batting only in test cricket, where he is an undoubted star when the captaincy pressure is off.

Who opens for England? The answer can’t be answered without mentioning Alex Hales. Surprisingly he only played in the India series, but will feature up the top. If England did not stumble on his re-selection we probably would have seen Bell and Cook again opening, ZZzzzzzz..

Bopara, Broad, Root, Morgan, Voakes, Jordan and Butler have to play. Anderson deserves one last chance in the world cup, although he has never cut it at ODI level. Especially in the sub continent, so another poor showing in Sri Lanka before the world cup may do him more harm than good. Another key player for England is Moin Ali, he has to play but in my eyes can be assisted by another spinner. Ali is now a genuine all rounder, so play him as a batsman that bowls not the other way around.

Ali opens for England in T20 cricket so why can he not do the same in the ODI squad?

The Sri Lanka series will be very interesting to see how England line up. Lets hope they pick the best side and not the side that are most chummy with the coach.

England, Sangakara, Jayawardene and the end of Yuvraj

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The T20 World Cup in Bangladesh was an overwhelming success. For me it was the best international T20 tournament so far. The competition will be remembered for a few things, the first being Kumar Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardene going out of T20 cricket with a bang. The second being England’s total capitulation against The Netherlands and the last being the slow decline of another great Yuvraj Singh.

Although India played well throughout the tournament they were definitely the second best side in the final. Sri Lanka had plenty of experiences in how to lose a major final, but this time they always looked in control of the game. The ending of two of the worlds great players T20 careers was almost the stuff of dreams. Both Sangakara and Jayawardene had been part of great Sri Lankan teams which bravely lost so many finals. It would have been a real shame for them to retire without any silverware to show. They have one more chance in limited overs cricket, the 2015 world cup will be the ending of their ODI careers. Surely they cannot repeat this feat can they?

The two best friends have always been at ease in the international game, breaking many records. It will be fun to see how Sri Lanka will play without their two talismanic figures when they line up against England on the 20th May at the Kia Oval.  It will be a hard few years when they totally call it quits, for Sri Lanka.

England had a very interesting winter, cumulating in the terrible T20 world cup. Not only did they lose all the matches in Australia, they topped it all by embarrassing themselves against The Netherlands. What was very evident for is that Stuart Broad is not a real captain. I read an interesting quote from someone on my twitter feed, (sorry I cant remember who). He said “some people are generals and others are soldiers, Broad is a soldier.” It is not really a secret that Ashley Giles is going to be the next England coach. From the looks of the winter it seems to be the wrong choice, only time will tell.

Finally a real sad sight for Indian cricket was the decline of Yuvraj Singh. He cannot be held solely to blame for India’s loss in the final but he played a major role in it. He has been one of India’s greatest players playing major roles in past glories. The six 6’s against England was what set up India to win the first T20 world cup. He was voted the player of the tournament in the last world cup which India won. Coming back from cancer was a massive battle for him, thankfully he has won. After this he has not been the same player he was.

He is now fit and looking as slim as he has ever been but there seems to be something slightly missing. He is getting in and then getting out. The performance in the final was very unlike him. I do wonder how much more of Yuvraj we will see when players such as Binny, Shikar Dhawan were sitting on the sidelines. This may not be the end as Yuvraj is a fighter he may have one more comeback in him. I wish him well, hopefully he can find form with his new side RCB in the IPL.

What are your best memories of Kumar Sangakara and Mahela Jayawardene? Will Yuvraj make another comeback and who should captain England in T20/limited overs cricket? Please let me know below. 

World T20 – Preview and Predictions

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Tomorrow sees the start of the ICC World Twenty20 competition in Bangladesh. The first matches are to qualify for the main event with the home side Bangladesh starting off proceedings. Afghanistan will be a tough test for their first match. A team that is on the rise and full of confidence. The competition ends on Sunday 6 April with all the big sides thinking they could be in with a chance. This format may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I love the short exciting matches.

The holders West Indies will once again fancy their chances with the likes of Gayle, Pollard, Bravo and Narine in the side they can beat any side. Their problem is concentration, they will either demolish the opposition or crumble. The lower order batting of Darren Sammy may be crucial.

India go into any competition as the favourites, there is huge pressure on the side. The batting line up is one of the best ever assembled in this format. Dhoni, and Yuvraj are back to the side that struggled in the Asia cup. All of the players have played in the IPL and most of them have experience of winning in this format. This will be invaluable for the side coupled with the fact that the tournament is being played in Asia.

The two teams that I feel could win are Australia and South Africa, that 7/7 over match last week displayed the very best of these two sides. Brad Hodge is a player that is very much like Dhoni in the fact that he can pace a run chase. Also watch out for Quinton De Kock who I have said for many years is the South African reincarnation of Adam Gilchrist.

Watch out for former champions Pakistan and England, they are dangerous sides which cannot be ruled out. Sri Lanka depending on their dispute with SLC will fancy their chances. If the problems are not sorted out then they may send a second string side, if they send their strongest side then watch out for them. They are the number one ranked side at the moment.

Poll: Who will win the ICC World T20 2014?

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Under 19 World Cup Review and the potential future stars

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We have just seen the climax of a very fascinating U19 world cup held in the UAE. A tournament that any of the teams could have won, was eventually claimed by South Africa. This was the countries top honour in their cricketing history. We saw the next crop of future international stars going head to head to produce some fascinating cricket. South Africa the champions went a bit under the radar beating one of the favourites Pakistan in the final. other teams were more fancied over South Africa, this being teams such as England, Australia and India. Although this competition is about winning it also is a good opportunity to see the talent that is coming through.

The majority of the teams performed as their senior counter parts do. For example India have a classy batting line up but lack the one class bowler who could rip through the opposition. The batting and fielding bailed out India up until the quarter final. England showed spells good batting and bowling but were undone twice by sub-continent sides in pressure situations. Pakistan had a few lower order collapses just like the senior side have suffered so much. The only exception to this were South Africa, they overcame their nemesis in Australia. That to in a semi final, they went on to win a major ICC trophy, something that no South African side has done before.

Many players stood out, here’s a list of the players to look out for in the future:

Inam-Ul-Huq/Sami Aslam: These two players have big futures in the side. The two openers will be buoyed on by Pakistan’s record of blooding young players. In many games these two carried the batting line up. Sami being the captain showed good leadership throughout the competition. Inam has the talent to be a player in the mould of his uncle the great Inzamam.

Aiden Markram: He will be fondly remembered in South Africa is the man who guided the side to their first ICC trophy. His leadership and calm play under pressure was a reason why South Africa did so well. He will find it hard to immediately break into the senior side but has a good chance if he develops his game.

Nicolas Pooran: If you had to back one player to hit a six at any time, you would pick him. His clean striking and composure under pressure will in no doubt attract many IPL sides in the future. He is also a good wicketkeeper. Definitely a player to watch and possibly the next cab off the block after Gayle and Pollard.

Ben Duckett: Like Bairstow and Butler England have another player who is multi talented. He is the sides best batsman, a good wicket keeper and can also field anywhere. Unfortunately England do not have the best record of blooding young players but Duckett should push his way through in the next five years. Often compared to Eoin Morgan for his ability to handle spinners.

Sarfaraz Khan: An allrounder, he did a similar role to what Yuvraj Singh used to do for India. He has a similar personality aswell, being the life of the Indian side. On the face of it he doesn’t look the greatest player, but when the pressure is on he seems to play better. Also a good fielder, like many of his under 19 team mates. He now faces the challenge of forcing his way into an IPL side and keeping up these performances.

Other players to look for are Matthew Fisher, a good English swing bowler, put many teams under pressure. Rabada from South Africa who showed good pace on grounds that didn’t really suit him, Zafar Gohar who didnt have a great tournament but showed on occasions why he will be the next big spinner. Also Vijay Zol the Indian captain and Sunju Sampson also from India both have good careers in front of them.