Sunday, June 24, 2018

England v Australia 5th ODI Preview

England v Australia 5th ODI Preview Cricket Blog

History for all the wrong reasons if you're an Australia. For all the right reasons if you're English. The way this series has panned out (expected, yes), history looks very likely.

England are on the verge of achieving their first ever 5-0 ODI series win over Australia, and in the lead up, they a trying to fool us a little. "I think 5-0 doesn't really make a difference in the grand scheme of things", says Eoin Morgan. So, can we just forget this match and end the series, then? Of course England would be motivated to beat the old enemy 5-0, and with their batsmen simply all over Australia's bowlers, tipping anything other than an England win would be brave (and stupid).

Australia, before 2016, had never lost an ODI series 5-0. Now, they face the prospect of two in two years, after losing by the same margin against South Africa in 2016. Of course, Australia have it in them to fight back after a series like this, but the bowling, comprising of good T20 talent, has struggled badly in these ODIs. Can they somehow restrict England's batting, and score more runs of their own, to avoid a series whitewash?

Key to an England win

In the last three ODIs, England have amassed 1,134 runs at 7.85 runs per over. The beast has awoken after a shock loss to Scotland, then a shaky batting display in the first ODI at The Oval. 

The top order, especially Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow, are in irresistible form. The key for England would be another strong opening stand to push Australia on the defensive, and then take advantage with a firing batting line up.

Also, England would have been pleased to restrict Australia to 310/8 on Thursday, when 330+ looked on the cards. Mark Wood showed encouraging signs, so too David Willey, so here is another opportunity to put on a decent showing in the quest for 5-0.

Jason Roy England v Australia 5th ODI Preview Cricket Blog
Jason Roy has been on fire

Key to an Australia win

Is it alright if I leave this blank?

Fine, I'll think of something.

The fact that Joe Root bowled ten overs for 44 in the 4th ODI is major cause for disappointment. What's that about? Root should not be achieving such figures on flat pitches. So, Australia need to be much more ruthless when the opportunity presents itself.

Also, how can Australia keep England's batsmen somewhat quiet? A good start would be a couple of early wickets, and force England to rebuild for a little while. As they say, the best way to slow the scoring rate is to take wickets. Also, some yorkers at the death will help.

Shaun Marsh England v Australia 5th ODI Preview Cricket Blog
Shaun Marsh has performed well in this series.

Possible teams

For England, Craig Overton could miss out after a scratchy ODI debut on Thursday. Also, there is a chance Mark Wood will be rested, meaning Jake Ball could come in.

England XI: 1. Jason Roy, 2. Jonny Bairstow, 3. Alex Hales, 4. Joe Root, 5. Eoin Morgan (c), 6. Jos Buttler (wk), 7. Moeen Ali, 8. David Willey, 9. Liam Plunkett, 10. Adil Rashid, 11. Jake Ball/Mark Wood

Glenn Maxwell could return for Australia after missing the 4th ODI with a shoulder complaint.

Australia XI: 1. Aaron Finch, 2. Travis Head, 3. Shaun Marsh, 4. Marcus Stoinis, 5. Alex Carey, 6. Glenn Maxwell, 7. Tim Paine (c & wk), 8. Ashton Agar, 9. Jhye Richardson, 10. Nathan Lyon, 11. Billy Stanlake

Stats and Facts:

  • Australia had never lost an ODI series 5-0 before 2016.

  • England have never beaten any top nation 5-0 before. The last time they achieved this was v Zimbabwe in 2001.

  • Australia's economy rate of 7.10 is the worst they have ever conceded in an ODI series of five or more matches.

  • Jason Roy (81 runs needed) and Jonny Bairstow (96 runs needed) are both with a chance of overtaking Alex Hales as the highest run getter in a single series for England (383 runs).

  • Australia need to win to move back to fifth in the ODI rankings.


England. Nothing more to say.

If you have some spare time, be sure to check out my funny (I hope) 4th ODI review!

Saturday, June 23, 2018

West Indies v Sri Lanka 3rd Test Preview

Shannon Gabriel West Indies v Sri Lanka 3rd Test Preview

This series wasn't going to be the most memorable one on the calendar. However, it has delivered some fine moments, thanks to some wonderful individual performances. It has also offered controversy, which will impact the third and final Test, with still plenty to play for. The first Day/Night Test in the Caribbean could be where West Indies finally pick up their first home Test series win since 2014.

Before the series, if you thought West Indies were outsiders, you were not alone. I thought the same. The Windies have overcome their poor Test form over the last 18 months, and Sri Lanka's encouraging run of results since October 2017, and sit very close to a cherished series win. Shannon Gabriel has been outstanding, notching up a 13-wicket haul in St. Lucia, breaking a bunch of records. They have lost two out of two Day/Night Test to date, but this represents their best opportunity for a win.

Sri Lanka are in all sorts. Their three key players - Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews and Rangana Herath will all be missing in this Test, in addition to the possibility of Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and manager Asanka Gurusinha facing suspensions. They were better with the ball in St Lucia (perhaps because it was tampered with), but they face a huge mountain to climb. Suranga Lakmal will lead - he will become Sri Lanka's 8th captain in the last 12 months across formats. If Sri Lanka level the series, it will be a very memorable result.

Key to a West Indies win

There is serious pressure on Kusal Mendis now that Dinesh Chandimal, one of Sri Lanka's key batsmen, had his appeal dismissed. This presents a magnificent opportunity for Shannon Gabriel and co to pounce, especially with the pink ball that could do plenty, particularly under lights.

In addition to Gabriel, Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Miguel Cummins have all had some good moments in this series. On a Bridgetown pitch that typically favours seam bowling, Sri Lanka's batsmen could be in for a very tough Test. It's the job of the Windies bowlers to ensure that is the case.

Also, in St Lucia, all of the Windies' top seven batsmen notched up double figures in the first innings. However, only two converted to half centuries. After knocking over Sri Lanka for 253, there was a chance to get a bigger first innings lead. Starts need to be converted better in Bridgetown.

Key to a Sri Lanka win

Do Australia have a better chance of avoiding an ODI series whitewash in England?

It's difficult to see Sri Lanka winning this Test, but I believe they have a couple of key avenues to victory.

The performances of the seam bowlers in the 2nd Test would have encouraged all associated with Sri Lankan cricket, especially debutant Kasun Rajitha and Lahiru Kamara. There is so much onus on the Sri Lankan seamers to get it right with the pink ball, looking at how fragile their batting line up is.

Speaking of their fragile line up, 23 year old Kusal Mendis is vital to their chances. Thankfully for Sri Lanka, he has been in good form, notching up scores of 4, 102, 45 and 87. In four Test this year, he averages 72.71. Can he get some support from the likes of Gunathilaka (who's likely to play), de Silva and Kusal Perera (who's likely to move down the order)?

Predicted teams

Miguel Cummins has had some decent moments in this series, but needs more output. I still believe he will be picked and West Indies will go with the same XI.

West Indies XI: 1. Kraigg Brathwaite, 2. Devon Smith, 3. Kieran Powell, 4. Shai Hope, 5. Roston Chase, 6. Shane Dowrich (wk), 7. Jason Holder (c), 8. Devendra Bishoo, 9. Keemo Paul/Miguel Cummins, 10. Kemar Roach, 11. Shannon Gabriel

Sri Lanka will be without four Test regulars, which makes predicting their team quite difficult. Kusal Perera should be down the order, with Danushka Gunathilaka to open. Sri Lanka could go with this option.

Sri Lanka XI: 1. Danushka Gunathilaka, 2. Mahela Udawatte, 3. Dhananjaya de Silva, 4. Kusal Mendis, 5. Roshen Silva, 6. Kusal Perera, 7. Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8. Suranga Lakmal (c), 9. Akila Dananjaya, 10. Kasun Rajitha, 11. Lahiru Kumara

Stats and Facts:

  • West Indies have not won a Test series against a team other than Bangladesh or Zimbabwe since 2012.

  • West Indies' last home Test series win was in 2014 v Bangladesh.

  • Sri Lanka's winless time in the Caribbean will continue. They have never won a Test series in West Indies.

  • Shannon Gabriel has taken 51 wickets at 23.49 since the start of 2017.

  • West Indies have won their two most recent Tests at Kensington Oval - vs. Pakistan and England.


Sri Lanka look decimated at the moment, and it's hard to see them win this Test. West Indies look far more settled, and their seam bowlers can exploit the conditions better. Weather permitting, I will confidently pick West Indies to win this Test and take the series 2-0. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

Will you laugh? 4th ODI England v Australia player ratings

Australia have travelled to England FOUR nothing.

I didn't manage to write a preview for the 4th ODI, but another predictable result presents the perfect opportunity to write a light-hearted match review.

Yes, the World Cup will hold greater significance than this series, but Australia still don't possess rubbish players. Sure, you can't imagine seeing the likes of India, South Africa and other top sides shaking and shivering scared of this team, but the thrashings are still disappointing. Even Royal Challengers Bangalore would fancy a win against Australia at the moment. Could Glenn McGrath or Chris Martin even score runs as well?

Scotland were able to expose England's shortcomings, and the fact Australia have barely come close to England so far is quite sad. It's time to go back to the drawing board and focus on the basics. A good start would be to execute some damn yorkers. You know, the balls that are difficult for batsmen to get under. They have about 1,064 different types of balls they try to bowl, but are missing the basics. Knuckle balls, cutters, back of the hand, side of the hand, front of the hand, fast bouncer, slow bouncer, balls in the pads, short-wide balls and the good old length ball that is so hard to hit at the death (not).

The underarm delivery is looking tempting, too... They might try that before reverting to the yorkers.

For England, it's been a good series. The 4th ODI further emphasised their dominance, but it remains to be seen whether they can translate it to tangible success in the future.

In this cricket opinion piece, I will go through each player from the 4th ODI and rate them out of ten! I'll start with Australia. Some solace in a tough period.


Aaron Finch: Century at the top and batted through to the 40th. Travis Head outscored him quite significantly in the early stages, though. 8.5

Travis Head: Adil Rashid owes him dinner for such a nice gift. It was so perfectly wrapped, with a nice little ribbon on top. Looked really good. Shame he didn't kick on. 8

Shaun Marsh: Can you at the start of 2018 if someone said Shaun Marsh would be arguably Australia's best ODI performer? Happy for Shaun, but I might start crying at the same time. 9

Marcus Stoinis: 1 run and no wickets. Another reason to start crying. 0

Ashton Agar: Went for six an over. Absolute scenes. That's the equivalent of maiden after maiden in Tests. Couple of wickets, too. Did OK. 7

Alex Carey: Was rightly brought into the side, didn't get much time at the crease, and then smoked one straight to deep midwicket. Tried to swing the Willey, but got it wrong. 2

Tim Paine: Tim is in a whole lot of Paine. 3

Michael Neser: If you got rating points for bowling on the pads when fine leg is up in the ring, Michael would get 20/10. Instead he gets two. 2

Jhye Richardson: Big learning curve for the young bloke. 1

Billy Stanlake: Was getting driven on the up a few times. Expensive outing and lacked impact, which was disappointing. 2

Nathan Lyon: The GOAT. Under six an over. Started bowling in the fifth over. Decent effort. 6

Special mention - Andrew Tye: Didn't play this game but so what? Great century at Trent Bridge.


Jason Roy: Roy the boy. His amazing form continues. Thought he wouldn't deliver any more favours to Australia after running himself out at Trent Bridge. Ruthless. 9.5

Jonny Bairstow: Nearly scored his fifth hundred in seven matches. Got out to a ball that should have been smashed to the fence? 9

Alex Hales: 45 balls for 34? What is this nonsense? All jokes aside, still a very composed effort for England after smashing Australia at Trent Bridge like they were an under 11s side.

No, no that's unfair.... on the under 11s. 8

Joe Root: That Joe Root gave away only 44 in his ten overs is cause for massive celebrations. Can't believe Australia would let him get away with that. Played a couple of decent shots in the chase, too. 7.5

Eoin Morgan: Paid a tribute to Shane Watson and reviewed when he was out. Led him team pretty well in the field when Australia were on track for 330+. 4

Jos Buttler: Send Jos to Australia and give him an Australian citizenship. Is it possible, please? 42 of his 54 runs came in boundaries. Carnage to end the game. 9

Moeen Ali: Seven fruitless overs for 43 and then chilled out watching his teammates take apart Australia again. 4

David Willey: Bit of a tough start for Willey but then came good towards the end of the innings. Took four and kept Australia to a lower-than-desired score. 7

Craig Overton: Craig kept getting hit OverTheBoundary. Not the answer for England's pace attack in ODIs, in my opinion. 2

Adil Rashid: Should take Travis Head out for dinner for gifting a wicket off a long-hop filthier than Australia's death (especially) bowling. Took two wickets but was expensive. 5

Mark Wood: Before Willey came good, Wood took two in the 40th to start the loss of momentum for Australia. Wood and Willey combining. Geez. 7

Final word: 5-0 whitewash incoming. No more to say.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

England v Australia 3rd ODI Preview

England vs Australia 3rd ODI Preview Cricket Blog

In the theme of the Football World Cup, Australia's "World Cup Final" is here. They have entered a scenario they needed to avoid before the series began: 2-0 down after as many matches, and needing to win all three remaining games to win the series.

This may seem impossible looking at the two sides at the moment, but Australia need only focus on this third match and get the series back to 2-1. Easier said than done, though.

England, on the other hand, sit in the perfect position. While their performances haven't been perfect yet, and probably should be beating Australia more convincingly, they are in prime position to hammer Australia with a pressure-reduced 2-0 series lead. England took advantage of Australia's somewhat nervous mindset in Cardiff, and fired with the bat to rack up 342/8, their highest ever ODI score v the Aussies. England will be further boosted by the expected return of Eoin Morgan, so watch out Australia.

Australia need to dig deep and find something. They decided to chase in Cardiff, which didn't go well as they conceded far too many with the ball. The lack of yorkers at the death was disappointing, considering they fielded the likes of AJ Tye and Jhye Richardson, who are promising performers in the Big Bash League and other T20 matches. In addition, there are numerous injury concerns. Tim Paine, Billy Stanlake and Glenn Maxwell could all be playing with niggles, leaving us scratching our heads as to how Australia can put a somewhat competitive XI together. Good luck is all I can say.

Key to an England win

England are overwhelming favourites here, and in the next 12 months including the World Cup, they'll need to get used to favouritism. As serious contenders for next year's title, England need to display ruthlessness and keep the foot on the throat. Whether they should be considered favourites, though, is another matter.

In Cardiff, their batting was too strong. Jason Roy played his best knock for England since his 180 in Melbourne earlier this year, and Jos Buttler continued his irresistible form. With Eoin Morgan to return, England's batting can go up a notch, and at the home of their 444/3 against Pakistan two years ago, Australia's bowlers could be in for a tough day.

Jason Roy England vs Australia 3rd ODI Preview Cricket Blog
Jason Roy played his best knock for England since his MCG 180

Key to an Australia win

Apart of Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell, no other player has crossed 50 in the first two ODIs. Aaron Finch, a player who needs to step up, has spoken of Australia's disappointment with their batting in recent times.

If they don't get enough runs on the board here, then the series will be as good as gone. Setting or chasing 300 will likely be the order of the day on what is expected to be a very good batting pitch at Trent Bridge. 

However, this means the onus is not only on the batsmen, but on the bowlers too to restrict England's batting as much as possible. Billy Stanlake is expected to return, so that will be a nice boost for Australia. 

It's now or never for the Aussies in this series.

Shaun Marsh England vs Australia 3rd ODI Preview Cricket Blog
Shaun Marsh was superb in Cardiff but needed more support

Predicted teams

Chris Woakes has been ruled out of this series with his knee problem, while Ben Stokes is close (but not quite ready) to a return following a hamstring injury. Jonny Bairstow is also said to be in doubt with a knee issue, which keeps Sam Billings in with a chance of a spot, with Eoin Morgan due to return.

England XI 1 Jonny Bairstow, 2 Jason Roy, 3 Alex Hales, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (c), 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 David Willey, 9 Liam Plunkett, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Mark Wood

With Australia putting together an encouraging 300+ score in Cardiff, expect them to stick with the same batting line up. A more cohesive batting effort is required. The top order failed badly at The Oval, and then Shaun Marsh didn't quite get enough support in Cardiff. However, Glenn Maxwell is in some doubt with hamstring tightness, which could mean Alex Carey gets a game. Also, with Billy Stanlake likely to return, one of the Richardson's is likely to miss out.

Australia XI: 1 Travis Head, 2 D'Arcy Short, 3 Shaun Marsh, 4 Marcus Stoinis, 5 Aaron Finch, 6 Glenn Maxwell/Alex Carey, 7 Tim Paine (capt & wk), 8 Ashton Agar, 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Jhye Richardson/Kane Richardson, 11 Billy Stanlake

Stats and Facts:

  • If Australia lose this game, it will be their fourth ODI series loss in a row. They have never lost four in a row before.

  • Eoin Morgan is 41 runs away from becoming England's leading run scorer in ODIs.

  • Australia have the worst ODI win-loss ratio of any team in the last 12 months (0.181). Since the Champions Trophy, they have won two of 15 ODIs.

  • Australia's current ODI ranking of 6th is their worst in 34 years. 

  • England have not won back-to-back ODI series against Australia since 1986-87.


Hard to see anything other than an England win. The best we can hope for from an Australian perspective is to see the team fight as hard as possible, and take the game as close as possible.

In the meantime, be sure to check out my piece on whether England should be considered World Cup favourites. Thanks for reading.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Cricket Opinion: Should England be considered World Cup favourites?

England World Cup Cricket Opinion Cricket Blog

When you see and before you answer this question, please don't assume it's the Football World Cup. England shouldn't ever be considered one of the favourites in global football tournaments!

Now, with that little bit of banter out of the way, it's a good opportunity to discuss where England are at in ODI cricket and whether they should be considered favourites for the 2019 World Cup.

I know what you might be thinking. Here is an Australian who is a little salty about the Aussies being 2-0 down in the current ODI series in England. However, I'm as impartial as they come, and call things as I see them. This is a good opportunity to have a little discussion about England cricket.

So, as always, you are encouraged to put your views across! Here goes...

Where are England current at?

England are ranked no.1 in ODI cricket. Even though there is some debate about that, no one can doubt the excellent transformation of their ODI side, which all stemmed from a change in mindset.

Since their embarrassing (but not unexpected) group stage exit at the 2015 World Cup, England have won 43 of 63 completed ODIs, and are arguably the most exciting limited overs side at their best. Their upturn in the ODI format came from the realisation that playing a 1990s style of ODI cricket doesn't work.

However, their "boom only or bust" approach could be a cause for concern. In big games in big tournaments, it remains to be seen whether England can translate their ODI transformation into tangible success. I strongly believe when England begin their 2019 World Cup campaign in a year's time, there will be plenty of crossed fingers and toes with all associated with England that this could be their time. It's not a given that they'll go all the way.

Currently, England are leading 2-0 against an Australia side whom they should be a lot more dominant against. In this cricket opinion piece, I will explore a few of England's biggest strengths and concerns, and then highlight who I think should be favourites for the tournament.


Strength #1: Long, powerful batting line up

England's batting line up is superb on paper. The fact that David Willey was batting at number eight for England in the recent 2nd ODI against Australia highlights just how much firepower they have right throughout their batting line up. Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes are still to come back!

Jos Buttler is in rare form, following a magnificent run of scores for Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2018, and then against Pakistan in the Tests. Jonny Bairstow recently hit three straight ODI hundreds, and on his day, Jason Roy can be very damaging at the top. Joe Root will hold things together and give plenty of strike to the bigger hitters, and Eoin Morgan is close to becoming England's greatest ever ODI run scorer, at a strike rate of over 90.

When the batting is on song, England are very difficult to beat.

Eoin Morgan England Cricket Opinion Cricket Blog
Eoin Morgan has helped lead an England transformation since 2015

Strength #2: Irresistible home form

Since the 2015 World Cup, England have won 25 of 35 completed ODIs at home. With the World Cup in 2019 to be played in conditions they are very familiar with, there is no doubt this is a key strength.

Strength #3: Strong team cohesion

England's current squad against Australia boasts a relatively modest 1,053 games of experience (65.8 matches per player). However, they have had a pretty consistent ODI side since the 2015 World Cup, which is a big strength, as this assists in putting together cohesive and complete performances. Even better, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes are still to come back into this side, which will strengthen England further, especially at home.


Concern #1: "All boom or bust" approach

One concern I have with England is an inability to play the situation. 

In the 1st ODI of the current series against Australia, England made hard work of a chase that should have been a piece of cake. In Adelaide earlier this year, whilst a dead rubber, England collapsed to 8/5 against the moving ball. 

Playing your shots is crucial in this format, of course, but there are times where accumulation is required. Can England do this effectively when the pressure is being applied? 

Concern #2: Bowling attack can leak plenty of runs

Does this England bowling attack send shivers down the spine of other ODI teams? Don't think so.

Mark Wood averages over 45. Liam Plunkett's economy rate is nearly six. Moeen Ali, while a solid ODI performer, doesn't possess enough quality with the ball to trouble the big teams when England need it. Ben Stokes has his injury concerns.

If England's batting has an off day, can England's bowlers win the game for them?

England World Cup Cricket Opinion Cricket Blog
Can England's bowling deliver on the big stage?

Concern #3: Holding their nerve in the big, big games

Every once in a while, England can put in a performance that sends a few concerns over to their fans about whether they could avoid such performances in big games. 

The Champions Trophy semi-final against Pakistan in 2017, while only one game, showed that England need to prove they can get it right on the big occasions. They have improvement left in them looking at their showings vs. a weakened Australia, as well as a Scotland side that took their bowlers to the cleaners.

England have it in them to win the tournament. Whether they can deliver when it counts remains to be seen.


So, should England be favourites?

Home ground advantage suggests possibly, but there are other nations that can certainly enjoy these conditions. India will certainly be a factor, and even though Australia have their worst ODI ranking in 34 years, they'll have their players back and will be doing everything they can to challenge. South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan also can't be discounted.

My opinion? I think England at best should be considered equal favourites with India, who have a lot going for them. They have a seam attack that can deliver at the death, as well as a spin attack that can take wickets as well as contain. This is in addition to their strong batting line up, where players such as Rishabh Pant are emerging as wonderful power hitters, and could be in with a chance of being in the World Cup squad.

The upcoming ODI series should be a beauty between the sides (despite being so short).

In the meantime, feel free to leave a comment and let's have a discussion. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

England v Australia 2nd ODI Preview

England v Australia 2nd ODI Preview Cricket Blog

As the 2nd ODI kicks off in Cardiff, both teams will be keen to put in a better display than what we saw at The Oval. It's safe to say England and Australia were not at their best, and with a game in the series complete, we could see more polished performances. Both teams need to improve a year out from the World Cup, and this series will continue to be an opportunity to get things right.

England bounced back from their shock loss to Scotland, but somewhat surprisingly, it was on the back of their bowlers. The seamers kept things relatively tight in the first ten, and then the spinners took charge. England could very well target Australia with spin again, but can their batting fare a little better? Are they able to play the situation a little more convincingly? It will be interesting to see if they can deliver an all-round performance at Cardiff, a ground where they have lost three of their last five ODIs.

It is no secret Australia have their issues against spin, but to let Moeen Ali dominate as he did (with all due respect to Moeen), is a big disappointment. Tim Paine delivered a nice gesture before the game with the handshakes, but it wasn't an invitation for the top order to hand out niceties as well. No player in the top five reached 25, and while the bowlers did a great job in almost pulling off a miracle defence of 214, the batting must improve. 

Key to an England win

If both teams are at their best, England win. They clearly have the better side on paper given Australia's absentees, but their first ODI performance didn't quite reflect that. It was a bit of a nervy chase, and if England are to translate their rise in limited overs cricket since 2015 into tangible success, more complete performances are required.

There is no doubt though that they would have been thrilled with their bowling effort. On the same day, New Zealand's 17-year old Amelia Kerr hit 232* v Ireland, which was more than the whole Australia team could muster. Can England hammer Australia's top order once again, exposing a longish tail?

Moeen Ali England v Australia 2nd ODI Preview Cricket Blog
Moeen Ali delivered in the 1st ODI

Key to an Australia win

Despite a batting performance riddled with concern, the efforts of Glenn Maxwell and Ashton Agar would have been hugely encouraging. However, these two need to be provided with a proper platform instead of trying to rebuild an innings on life support. 

The onus is on the top order to deliver a lot more, and one way of achieving is not surrendering so meekly to the likes of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

Also, Australia would be encouraged by the efforts of an attack missing Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummins. The depth in the pace attack is a real strength for Australia, with Billy Stanlake and AJ Tye continuing on from their promising showings in the IPL. A repeat effort is needed.

Glenn Maxwell England v Australia Preview Cricket Blog
Glenn Maxwell's long wait for an ODI fifty ended at The Oval

Predicted teams

England will most likely stick with the same team that won at The Oval, and would have been encouraged by the performances of the likes of Eoin Morgan, David Willey, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali. A better team performance is required in Cardiff, though.

England XI: 1 Jonny Bairstow, 2 Jason Roy, 3 Alex Hales, 4 Joe Root, 5 Eoin Morgan (capt), 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 David Willey, 9 Liam Plunkett, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Mark Wood

I don't think Australia will go in with the same line up. I would bring D'Arcy Short in for a seam bowler because Australia's batting looked short at The Oval. Kane Richardson could make way. Marcus Stoinis, Glenn Maxwell and Travis Head could fill in with some overs. 

Australia XI: 1. Travis Head, 2. D'Arcy Short, 3. Shaun Marsh, 4. Aaron Finch, 5. Marcus Stoinis, 6. Glenn Maxwell, 7. Tim Paine (c & wk), 8. Ashton Agar, 9. Michael Neser, 10. Andrew Tye, 11. Billy Stanlake

Stats and Facts

  • England have won five of six ODIs against Australia in 2018.

  • Eoin Morgan needs 41 runs to become England's all-time leading run scorer, overtaking Ian Bell.

  • Adil Rashid needs two wickets to reach 100 ODI wickets.

  • Australia have won just two of their last 14 completed ODIs.

  • Glenn Maxwell's fifty at The Oval was his first ODI fifty since January 2017.


Who is your pick if both teams improve? 

England for me. They have the experience and quality in their team to make it 2-0. Hopefully, Australia can put a good showing and make this series a really interesting one. 

We'll see.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

West Indies v Sri Lanka 2nd Test Preview

For Sri Lanka, their version of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place in West Indies. They were desperately disappointing in the first Test, but take nothing away from West Indies, who are now poised to win just their second Test series in their last 12 attempts.

Yes, West Indies displayed the patience and skill required to win a Test match, and completely outplayed their opponents in Port of Spain. They put the all important first innings runs on the board, and from there, they were always playing from in front. It was a well-rounded performance, and Jason Holder and co will be confident of a sweet series victory.

A 226-run loss to a struggling Test side isn't Sri Lanka's only worry. Angelo Mathews (personal reasons) and Lahiru Gamage (injury) have flown back to Sri Lanka, stretching their already thin resources even further. They'll have to dig very deep to keep their hopes alive of winning their first Test series in the Caribbean.

Key to a West Indies win

West Indies were 147/5 in their first innings in Port of Spain, but still managed to put immense pressure on Sri Lanka with both bat and ball. West Indies' batting approach on the second day may have frustrated a few, but 414 was a magnificent score after losing half their side for 147. 

Seven players crossed 30 in the first innings, but only Shane Dowrich scored 50+ in his second Test hundred. The key for West Indies would be for their batsmen to convert starts to mount the pressure on Sri Lanka.

Also, in the first innings, West Indies' seamers took charge. In the second, the spinners did. It was encouraging to see, and a repeat will be the order of the day.

Key to a Sri Lanka win

Kusal Mendis was the only player to score over 50 for Sri Lanka in Port of Spain, and he even offered two chances that the West Indies missed.

Their batsmen were decimated against a West Indies attack that has been modest at home over the last few years, despite their potential. In addition, the bowlers lacked bite, and couldn't take advantage of having West Indies 147/5 on the first day.

Sri Lanka need to remain positive, despite the big loss in particular of Angelo Mathews. I would keep Kusal Perera in the side, moving him down the order. Whether Dilruwan Perera gets a game over Akila Dananjaya remains to be seen.

Whatever they go with, they need to have a better game.

Predicted teams

Devon Smith had a tough time of it in the first Test but West Indies could give him another chance. Otherwise, no changes to a winning formula.

West Indies: 1 Kraigg Brathwaite, 2 Devon Smith, 3 Kieran Powell, 4 Shai Hope, 5 Roston Chase, 6 Shane Dowrich (wk), 7 Jason Holder (c), 8 Devendra Bishoo, 9 Miguel Cummins, 10 Kemar Roach, 10 Shannon Gabriel

Dhananjaya de Silva could return to sit at number three, and will give Dinesh Chandimal a bowling option. I would also think Sri Lanka will go with Akila Dananjaya to provide more attacking off spin.

Sri Lanka: 1 Kusal Mendis, 2 Mahela Udawatte, 3 Dhananjaya de Silva, 4 Roshen Silva, 5 Dinesh Chandimal (c), 6 Kusal Perera, 7 Niroshan Dickwella (wk), 8 Rangana Herath, 9 Suranga Lakmal, 10 Akila Dananjaya, 11 Lahiru Kumara

Stats and Facts:

  • West Indies haven't won back-to-back Tests since beating Bangladesh 2-0 in 2014.

  • Rangana Herath has 418 Test wickets. Only Anil Kumble, Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan have more wickets among spinners.

  • Three of the five Tests at Gros Islet have been draws.


Sri Lanka entered this series on the back of a good run in Test cricket, but after the first Test, they are really up against it.

Anything can happen, but I will back West Indies to win and take the series 2-0 ahead of the third Test.

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