England Odds On to beat Pakistan and level the Test Series

England go into todays’s 2nd Test against Pakistan at Headingley, with Mark Stoneman out, and Keaton Jennings in. That is one definite change, with Chris Woakes possibly in line for a recall, and Ben Stokes is also struggling with an injury.

England’s main problem would seem to be a lack of form, and the subsequent confidence crisis that ultimately will follow such a dismal run in form.

Such is England’s form of late, it seems to be a massive leap of faith for any punters wishing to back England at odds of 4/7 with Betfair. The draw is 4/1, with Pakistan at 16/5.

England can still win this series, and a win for Joe Root’s side wouldn’t be a massive shock, after all they do have a fairly decent home record over the past few years. It’s just, can you trust them at such a short price?

The possible recall of Woakes in English condition – where he has an outstanding record – will no doubt strengthen England and increase their chances of finishing the two match series on level terms, but will it help England build a side capable of winning outside of England (an area where Woakes has a poor record)? Probably not.

Similar to the inclusion of Keaton Jennings, they look like short term fixes, rather than long term ones. But with Joe Root’s honeymoon period as captain well and truly over, and possible pressure building on Trevor Bayliss’ position as head coach of the Test team, surely England will play safe and bring Woakes back for Wood, rather than Stuart Broad or James Anderson, as suggested by Michael Vaughan.

I can totally see where former England captain Vaughan is coming from (he has suggested that too many players are comfortable in this England team), but in England’s current plight, it would be a brave call for Root to drop a guy with over 400 Test match wickets in Broad, or England’s all time record wicket taker in Anderson.

Michael Vaughan Charity Bike Ride

Former England cricket captain, Michael Vaughan is too cycle 462 miles around this summer’s ODI venues on behalf of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and Chance to Shine.

I received the following email yesterday from Laureus Global Public Relations, and I am happy to relay it too all readers of this website as it is for a good cause.

Ashes winning captain Michael Vaughan is replacing his Strictly Come Dancing costume with lycra cycle shorts later this year as he undertakes a UK-wide bike ride to raise funds for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and the Cricket Foundation’s Chance to Shine initiative.

Laureus Ambassador Vaughan, who famously inspired England to their memorable 2005 Ashes victory, announced today that he will be leading a team of charity fund-raisers on a 12-day tour of England cricket grounds to coincide wit h the One Day International series against Australia from September 6–17.

Starting with the first One Day International at Headingley in Leeds, Vaughan’s peloton will route via Old Trafford in Manchester, Edgbaston in Birmingham, the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff and the Aegeas Bowl in Southampton before finishing in London.

Vaughan, who showed an entirely different side of his character as he reached the ninth week of popular TV show Strictly Come Dancing to national acclaim, said: “I loved taking part in Strictly. It was terrific fun and incredibly hard work. This is going to be a seriously different challenge, but I am really looking forward to it. I’ll be cycling 462 miles over the 12 days and that is not going to be easy, but these are two really good causes.

“For more than a decade Laureus has been using sport as the means to help improve the lives of young people and it now reaches 34 countries. Since it started, Laureus has helped more than one-and-a-half million kids and supports around 140 sports-based community projects around the world. 

“Chance to Shine is keeping cricket alive in schools. Over the past seven years it has brought competitive cricket and its educational benefits to nearly two million young people in thousands of state schools.”

Michael Vaughan launched his cycle ride at Lord’s, the Home of Cricket, where he was supported by current England women’s cricket stars Lydia Greenway and Susie Rowe. Also there were children from Chance to Shine projects in London who joined the former England captain for a coaching session at the MCC Cricket Academy.

The itinerary for the ride is:
Friday, Sept 6: First One Day International, Headingley, Leeds
Saturday, Sept 7: Leeds to Manchester (80 miles)
Sunday, Sept 8: Second One Day International, Old Trafford, Manchester
Monday, Sept 9: Cycle Challenge at the Manchester Velodrome
Tuesday, Sept 10: Manchester to Birmingham (91 miles)
Wednesday, Sept 11: Third One Day International, Edgbaston, Birmingham
Thursday, Sept 12: Birmingham to Brecon Beacons (86 miles)
F riday, Sept 13: Brecon Beacons to Cardiff (55 miles)
Saturday, Sept 14: Fourth One Day International, Swalec Stadium, Cardiff
Sunday, Sept 15: Cardiff to Southampton (80 miles)
Monday, Sept 16: Fifth One Day International, Aegeas Bowl, Southampton
Tuesday, Sept 17: Southampton to London (70 miles)

Guest cyclists will be able to join any of the stages and will be asked to raise funds for Laureus and Chance to Shine. Fund-raisers should go to http://www.laureus.com/michaelvaughanbikeride for more details.

Michael Vaughan is a Laureus Ambassador, a select group of current and retired sportsmen and sportswomen, who, along with the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, support the work of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. 

The Laureus Sport for Good Foundation uses sport as the means to combat some of the world’s toughest social challenges facing young people today such as juvenile crime, gangs, gun and knife violence, HIV/AIDS, discrimination, social exclusion, landmines awareness and health problems like obesity. Since its inception, Laureus has raised over €60 million to support its work around the world.

Before the Cricket Foundation launched Chance to Shine in 2005, fewer than 10% of state schools played competitive cricket. Seven years on, Chance to Shine has linked 1,000 cricket clubs to 6,500 schools and their specialist coaches have brought cricketing opportunities to 1.8 million state school children. Young people involve d in the programme are also developing essential life skills and values, such as leadership, discipline, teamwork and understanding how to win and lose. 

For further information, please contact:

Gerald Meier,
Head of Global Communications

Tel: +44 (0)20 7514 2749
E mail: publicrelations@laureus.com
Photo Archive: www.laureusarchive.com
Video Archive: www.laureusdigital.com
Websites: www.laureus.com
Follow us on Twitter @LaureusSport 

Fabian Devlin, 
Head of Communications Cricket Foundation 

E mail: fabian.devlin@cricketfoundation.org.uk  
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7820 7551 
Mobile: +44 (0)7920 502 152 

The hardest job in world cricket

I was surprised to hear today that Duncan Fletcher has been named as India coach on a 2 year contract.

With India the number 1 test team and ODI world champions, it would seem like the dream job. But I’m not so sure and think he could be on a hiding to nothing here, this job looks full of pitfalls to me, I can already hear Geoffrey Boycott sniggering at the thought of Fletcher falling on his face here.

Despite all these misgivings, ultimately this was an offer he could never have turned down. It will probably be his last high profile job offer in cricket, and by the end of it I would imagine no one will touch him with a barge poll.

In the test arena Fletcher is going to have to oversee the end of the careers of Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and probably Sachin – assuming he doesn’t go on for another 20 years.

Replacing Dravid and Laxman could take up the bulk of his 2 years. Also if he handles the Sachin issue badly, then he will obviously be out on his ear. When the time comes for Sachin, he has to be allowed to go in his own way.

It will also be interesting to see how he handles the lack of Indian seam bowlers, he is famously known for not wanting to know any bowlers in English county cricket who couldn’t bowl between 85 and 90 mph. Will he have to break his principles there?

I can see this job being the ultimate test of Fletcher’s man management skills – not only with the senior players, but the press.

In England he struggled with the press and he always struck me as a man who didn’t have much in the way of man mangement skills, but in fairness to him I have listened to Nasser Hussain and Michael Vaughan a lot and they both speak very highly of him.

On the whole Fletcher did a good job with England, but it will be interesting to see if the Indian players buy into his ways. The BCCI know that this is going to be a transitional period for Indian cricket and there is a cynical part of me that thinks they may well have been looking for a potential fall guy.

Good luck Dunc, I think you’re going to need it.

Congratulations to Bangladesh

Have to say I didn’t see this one coming. A 4-0 win for Bangladesh over New Zealand would surely have been well beyond their wildest dreams when this series started a couple of weeks ago, in fact a 3-2 series defeat probably wouldn’t have been seen as a massive disappointment to them if truth be told.

Bangladesh had a bit of a mixed summer when touring the UK. They had the high of their first win over England with their 5 run victory at Bristol, followed by a series draw with Ireland (1-1) and defeat to Holland at Glasgow.

Although this series victory is not in test cricket, it should go a long way to shoving the critical words last summer of Michael Vaughan and Geoff Boycott back down their collective throats.

Their opinions that Bangladesh should of had their test status removed were ridiculous in my opinion.

Michael Vaughan talks out of his backside

Well that was the view that was expressed by Michael Atherton on Sky Sports when asked to give his opinion on Michael Vaughan’s article in todays Daily Telegraph, where Vaughan wrote that if England win the World T20 on Sunday it would eclipse their 2009 Ashes victory.

Have to say I can’t agree with Vaughan either. Todays victory was great, but is in no way comparable to the Ashes victory last summer.