April 2009
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The TWC summit: T20 time

April 8th, 2009 by TWC in Miscellaneous, Twenty20

With England picking their provisional 30-man squad for the summer’s Twenty20 World Cup, and no place for Test and one-day captain Andrew Strauss, it is the perfect opportunity for our panel to stick their oars in. Here, they choose their captain and final 15s.

As a reminder, here’s who they had to pick from:

England preliminary WorldTwenty20 squad: Kabir Ali (Worcestershire); James Anderson (Lancashire); Gareth Batty (Worcestershire); Ian Bell (Warwickshire); Ravi Bopara (Essex); Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire); Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire); Paul Collingwood (Durham); Joe Denly (Kent); James Foster (Essex); Steven Davies (Worcestershire); Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire); Steve Harmison (Durham); Robert Key (Kent); Sajid Mahmood (Lancashire); Dimitri Mascarenhas (Hampshire); Eoin Morgan (Middlesex); Graham Napier (Essex); Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire); Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire); Liam Plunkett (Durham); Matthew Prior (Sussex); Adil Rashid (Yorkshire); Owais Shah (Middlesex); Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire); Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire); Chris Tremlett (Hampshire); Shaun Udal (Middlesex); Chris Woakes (Warwickshire); Luke Wright (Sussex).

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Posted in Miscellaneous, Twenty20 | 9 Comments »

The Wisden Cricketer – May Issue

April 8th, 2009 by TWC in Miscellaneous

With the new season approaching it’s about time for May’s edition of The Wisden Cricketer.

No one had much fun watching England’s men this winter, but fortunately the women know how to win and we have celebrated their World Cup success with a place on our cover. Also in the May issue are the BBC’s Alison Mitchell’s World Cup diary from Sydney and an exclusive interview with Claire Taylor, the first woman to be named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the year.

Nasser Hussain has spent the last few months watching England struggle in the Windies and has done his best to ‘take the positives’ for us, while recommending Andy Flower as the man to succeed Peter Moores on a permanent basis.

As the country gears up for it’s busiest summer of cricket ever, there are team-by-team previews for the County Championship season, with Nick Knight giving his expert predictions and Robin Martin-Jenkins on taking photos of vineyards.

We also have the best team never to play for England, with Steve Bruce nowhere in sight.

Plus, there’s a revealing interview with Ali Brown and an even more revealing extract from Mark Wagh’s upcoming book, Adam Gilchrist is Nicholas Shakespeare’s favourite cricketer and Devon Malcolm wins a place in our XI bespectacled cricketers.

And much more.

In newsagents on Friday, or subscribe here.

Posted in Miscellaneous | No Comments »

Lawrence Booth: Luck the Key for Robert

April 8th, 2009 by Lawrence Booth in England, Twenty20 and tagged , , , , ,

When Richie Benaud made his oft-quoted point about captaincy (90% luck, 10% skill, you know the one) he may not have been thinking of the kind of situation that has arisen in England this week. To recap: a man who recently hit 79 not out off 61 balls in a one-day game reduced to 20 overs is not even in the 30-man provisional squad for the World Twenty20, apparently leaving the path clear for a replacement who has not played international cricket for four years. Just as counter-intuitively, everyone seems agreed that the exile is the man for the job.

Truly, Rob Key is blessed. If Key is named captain for a couple of weeks in June, he will wonder whether Benaud underestimated the 90% part of his homely equation. It is often said that the Booker Prize is won by the novel that is most judges’ second favourite: a compromise, in other words, which avoids the ego-threatening perception that any single judge’s first choice was deemed more worthy than his colleagues’. But Key, for all his qualities – and successive Twenty20 Cup finals with Kent are not to be sniffed at – would not even be most judges’ second favourite if events had not taken the course they have. Or third. Or fourth. His ascent, should it occur, will be by default.

Yes, luck. While Key has been out of the England side, plenty has been going on. Andrew Flintoff turned up drunk to training in Australia, then fell off a pedalo. Michael Vaughan never worked out one-day cricket. Paul Collingwood stepped down from the one-day captaincy because it was affecting his batting. Kevin Pietersen was encouraged to quit for speaking his mind. And, most crucially, Strauss decided he wasn’t suited to Twenty20 cricket before that 79 not out in Barbados. One by one, the frontrunners have fallen.

Meanwhile Key – who last played for England, remember, when they were actually a pretty good side: yes, it was that long ago – has been able to gather Twenty20 experience in county cricket. As Geoff Miller said on Monday, experience will count for lots when the new captain is chosen. That’s quite lucky too. But there’s more. Strauss is an opening batsman. And so is Key. The cards really could not have fallen more favourably.

The thing is, Key might actually do a pretty good job. He is well-liked, has the ear of Andrew Flintoff (more important than you might imagine), knows how to win games of Twenty20 (his record with Kent is 16 victories, 10 defeats and a tie), has the game to take advantage of powerplays (at least at county level) and won’t regard the World Twenty20 as a mere taster for the Ashes. Luck or no luck, England may have stumbled across a decent candidate.

And yet the nagging feeling is that Strauss is wrong to under-estimate his own abilities at the shortest form of the game, and the selectors are wrong not to talk him round. Four years ago, England set the tone for a heady summer by thrashing Australia by 100 runs in a Twenty20 international at the Rose Bowl. Darren Gough was so pumped up that he preferred to hit Andrew Symonds rather than go for a hat-trick. Vaughan, that least adept of Twenty20 players, was captain then, and the result told us that England were a team with an increasingly formidable identity. Whatever happens this summer, the chance of building momentum immediately prior to the Ashes under the same leader has now gone.

Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for The Guardian. His third book, Cricket, Lovely Cricket? An Addict’s Guide to the World’s Most Exasperating Game is out now published by Yellow Jersey

Posted in England, Twenty20 | 1 Comment »

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