Mr Tait and I spent a fantastic day at the T20 World Cup, this being my first visit to Trent Bridge since it’s revamp, and it’s a cracking place to watch cricket as the facilities are first class but it doesn’t seem to have that stadium feel which is a blight at Headingley.
The draw couldn’t have fallen better for us at this Super Eight stage as we got to see both Ireland and England, and although the Irish went down fighting and having a great time, England were predictably dreadful in this form of the game, seeming to freeze with the bat and get all the tactics wrong in other parts of the game.
New Zealand were so short of fit players that Aaron Redmond was called up from Club cricket and Ross Taylor was crocked. Bedecked in my Ireland soccer shirt and a tri colour, lustily belting out Ireland’s Call
I informed my bemused, but supportive neighbours in the stands that an upset was on the cards.
Redmond belted 63 of just 30 balls and Ireland were thrashed by 83 runs, but the criac was fierce and the beer (an eyewatering £3.84 a pint with no take ins allowed) flowed so I wasn’t too disappointed.
At the break between games people disappeard to the surrounding pubs but we remained where we were doing what we always do; discussing the odds of England actually doing summat at the business end of a Tournament and reminising about the 2005 Ashes Series.
When our fellow spectators returned they were suprised to find a totally irrational and over excited Irishman replaced by a cynical Yorkshireman in an England ODI jersey fearing, and expecting the worst from Collingwood’s team. Such are the privileges of dual heritage.
We won the toss and elected, inexpicably to bat. This form of the game and a fresh pitch means that no Captain can predict what a par score is, and given South Africa managed to defend just 130 against India, all logic suggested sticking them in.
Our innings never really got going, and once KP fell to a wonder catch at mid on by van Der Merwe and it became obvious we had no plan how to tackle their spinners, there was only going to be one winner. So it proved as we staggered to 111 and the Proteas knocked the runs off with 8 balls to spare.
Watching Owais Shah was a painful experience as I have rarely seen a more nervous professional sportsman, jumping about in the crease and strangling the bat in his hands. No wonder cramp has bedeviled his career. Generally people get less panic stricken as their cricket career develops. Shah appears to reverse this trend and it has been since he replaced Bell (underwhelmingly) in the Test side that the jitters have set in.
The problem with the T20 team is that guys like Luke Wright and James Foster have simply never faced rapid pace, or indeed mystery spin on the County circuit and are thus easily undone. Strauss and Cook are good cricketers and should be fully involved in the one day side. Conversely Collingwood, a doughty but not very gifted competitor, has found it difficult to improvise.
Until we pick our best cricketers and give up this "specialist" (reality average with both bat and ball) crap which has seen us lift how many World Tournaments again, err none, we will never succeed in the one day arena.
Bonuses from the Tournament however were the outstanding bowling of Swann, Broad but especially Ryan Sidebottom who led the attack with growing maturity, keeping it together when the pressure was really on in the India game and sending it down at a distinctly rapid pace boding well for the Ashes.
My starting 11 in Cardiff would be this; Cook, Strauss+, Bopara, KP, Collingwood, Prior (wk), Broad, Swann, Anderson, Sidebottom, Panesar.
The priority is to take twenty wickets as this batting line up is very strong provided they can hold it together mentally. Cardiff turns, hence Monty’s inclusion as the second spinner. Fred needs more time to sort his batting out as he is no longer a starter in either discipline on its own.
The Aussies…. Underestimate them at your peril but with no spinner and having lost Langer, Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist since the 06/07 series they look to be there for the taking.