Common Sense Prevails

I’m not going to dwell on the issue of the Ian Bell run out for too long as I believe it has already been blown well out of all proportion.

First I have to say well done to MS Dhoni and the Indian team for their decision to withdraw their appeal for Ian Bell’s run out, it was the right course of action and the game of cricket was the real winner in the long run.

Yes, to the letter of the law India were correct and Bell was out, but for me the run out wasn’t in the spirit of the game. For a start it appears that Bell thought the ball had gone for 4 and was therefore dead. But whatever way you want too look at it, I think we ended up with the correct outcome.

Dhoni’s decision leaves Paul Collingwood still in sole possession of the worst bit of bad sportsmanship I’ve seen in modern cricket. His decision to appeal the run out of Grant Elliott in 2008 after he collided with Ryan Sidebottom was an appalling one and should have resulted in him being removed as captain in my book.

Any person stupid enough to do what Collingwood did that day isn’t fit to lead an international side.

So again, well done to MS Dhoni and the Indian side for a common sense decision.

A funny tweet I noticed in the aftermath of the incident said something along the lines of ‘it is the most shocking thing I’ve seen on a cricket field since Paul Harris got a ball to spin.’ A bit harsh on poor old Harris.

Any Sympathy for Paul Collingwood?

It was Thursday of last week that England announced that they had just sacked their only captain to have ever become a world champion, not only a world champion, but a record breaking captain with eight T20 wins in a row.
Hardly an eyebrow seems to have been raised or a keyboard tapped in protest. Why is this?
Compared to the fuss kicked up when ICC closed off qualifying to the 2015, 50 over world cup, this is being treated as a total non event.
I have to confess that I have never been Collingwood’s biggest fan, but even I think he has been treated very harshly here.
Just why has he been sacked? Obviously it is a forward thinking move to appoint Stuart Broad, but maybe I’ve had my head buried in the sand for a few days as I haven’t heard or read any kind of explaination justifying this decision.
Anyway, judging by the article in the Mail on Sunday, Collingwood is far from impressed.
This decision further proves (not that it is needed in my opinion) how ruthless Andy Flower is and how sentiment has no place in his mindset. I wouldn’t be surprised if Flower has already decided that Collingwood has played his last match for England.
Collingwood’s form has been abysmal lately and he was rightly dropped from the 50 over team during the world cup. Andrew Strauss’ retirement shows that the 50 over England team is working in cycles, so if there is no place for Strauss in it, then why Collingwood?
Add to that the amount of overs being bowled by Ravi Bopara for Essex this season, and the pieces of the jigsaw are starting to come together.
This doesn’t explain his T20 axing though, the next world cup is in 2012 and Collingwood’s age won’t be a problem for that. It will be interesting to see if Colly’s name appears in either of the limited overs squads for the games against Sri Lanka starting at the end of June.

England Injuries Mount Up

Problems seem to be mounting up for England with the news that Kevin Pietersen has a hernia injury which will require an operation after the world cup.

Apparently he will continue to play through the pain during the world cup, but there must be a chance that the injury could get worse and force him out of the tournament.

There has been rumours circulating that Pietersen is set to retire from ODI’s, I know that KP has denied these rumours, but it does make you wonder as these stories can quite often be sparked off by something of substance.

The facts are that KP is now a father and probably hasn’t enjoyed being away from his wife and child for such a long time over this winter. He will now also miss out on his lucrative stint in the IPL, he is nearly 31 now, how many more chances will he have to play in the IPL while he is at his peak and can command a high price?

He may well put the fact that he’s injured down to the workload of the past 12 months, and he would probably be right.

Before his retirement Andrew Flintoff planned a similiar route due to his own injury problems, Pietersen obviously hasn’t had the same injury problems that Flintoff did, but the facts are that the injuries are now starting to mount up and he may well decide that to give him the chance to cash in on what time he has left at the top, that a reduction in the amount of cricket he is playing is needed.

I think there is no smoke without fire on this one and wouldn’t be surprised to see him cut back on the amount he plays in some shape or form.

In the Daily Telegraph, Nick Hoult is claiming that England are going to drop Paul Collingwood in place of Ravi Bopara for tomorrow’s game with South Africa.

The article claims that as well as being out of form, Collingwood has been having knee trouble too.

It has been confirmed that should a batsman get injured that – as he was named in the original squad – Eoin Morgan would be allowed to replace him, that’s one bonus for England with KP and Collingwood both carrying niggles.

Could and would the England management be so ruthless as to advise Collingwood that his injury is worse than first thought, and that they are sending him home, with Eoin Morgan coming the other way?

Well Done Colly!

Not a massive surprise to see Paul Collingwood retire from test cricket tonight. I believe he has made the correct decision for both himself, and the team.

From his own point of view, he has looked a bit lost over the last 12 months in test cricket. The shot he got out to yesterday wasn’t great, he looked like a man desperately trying to smash his way into some sort of form. It was a sad sight.

It is also a good move for him in prolonging his ODI career. If he had carried on struggling like the way he has in test cricket, how long would it have been before it started to effect his ODI form? And the minds of the selectors.

This is also a good move from the point of the team. It has saved the selectors from making a difficult decision, not that it should have been difficult, but I’m sure they wouldn’t have been looking forward to ending Colly’s career.

It also means the England batting can move forward. We needed to blood a youngster while the team are on the up, this means that we can now ease someone in down at number 6.

Collingwood’s fielding has probably been the best part of his game, he has certainly led by example in that department. His batting has had it’s moments, but if I’m going to be brutally honest, it hasn’t been anything special.

I now that dosen’t sound very complementary, but in a way it is. Colly wasn’t blessed with outstanding talent, but has made more than the most of what he has been given, and has really excelled way beyond most observers expectations.

It was clear from the reactions of his teammates to his announcement just how popular Collingwood is with them. It is a shame his batting has to go out on a low note, but there is still a chance he might go out with a match winning catch over the next two days. If not, he still has the wicket of Australia’s batsman of the series to remember from Sydney.

Is Sydney, Paul Collingwood’s last hurrah?

Will the Sydney test match starting in just a few hours be Paul Collingwood’s final test match for England?

The calls for him to go seem to be increasing. Simon Hughes has questioned his long term future in the test squad and Andrew Flintoff is going as far as calling for Collingwood to be dropped in favour of Eoin Morgan ahead of the SCG test.

Flintoff has a valid point for me, as Shane Warne pointed out yesterday the time for making ruthless tough decisions is when you are in a position of strength. That is where England currently are and, why for me, there should be no room for compassion beyond Sydney for Collingwood.

Give him the SCG by all means. But even if he scores a century he has to be gone from the test side by the time England play Sri Lanka in May. There is no way in the world England can continue to leave Ian Bell batting at No.6 with the tail.

The selectors have stuck by Collingwood in the past – and have been proved right to do so. But in the past he had age on his side, as Bell and Cook have when the selectors have previously backed them. This time age will surely count against Collingwood, he is nearly 35, so there is no real logic to stick with him this time.

This is the strongest batting line up we’ve had since 2005 – although it isn’t the finished article by any means and I hope it dosen’t collapse in a heap again in Sydney – so it is the logical time to invest in youth.

If England build their team around Ashes cylcles, then come May with the next one just over 2 years away, it would be the perfect time to make a change and give Eoin Morgan the extended run in the side his talent deserves. Then if he’s not the right man, England still have time to look elsewhere.

I still see Collingwood having an important role in the ODI team. I hope that if he is left out of the test team he continues to play limited overs cricket for England. He did sulk a bit and take his ball home after getting dropped in 2008, I would like to think he wouldn’t do that again.

If he thinks he sill justifies his place in the test team, then he is wrong and should take a look at the record books. At the moment he is just clogging up a space in the batting line up.

It would be a ruthless act to drop him tonight, I would expect the selectors to give him one last game in Sydney and what a place to bow out. It also would be fair enough to offer him the chance to retire and leave on his own terms, as he has been a great servant to the England team in all formats. But whatever way he leaves, he has to be gone from the test side by May.

Paul Collingwood to top score at MCG?

There is 8/1 available on Paul Collingwood to be top England batsman at Melbourne. Any takers? Collingwood has previous when it comes to saving his skin when he is drinking in last chance saloon – or will he save it for Sydney, should he play.

I do believe that there is a slight chance that this could be Colly’s last test outing, depending on circumstances. If England lose this test they will probably throw caution to the wind and play 5 bowlers at Sydney, meaning no place for Collingwood.

If the selectors then decide to look forward and invest in youth, that would surely have to rule out a return for Colly, who is nearly 35. Harsh, but that is test cricket.

If there is any takers, Skybet, Totesport, Victor Chandler and William Hill all have him as 8/1, 6th favourite to top score at the MCG. Chandlers also have Eoin Morgan at 8/1, as do Bet365.

It’s hard to make a case for Colly on present form. He is averaging 15.50 runs so far in this series and he only managed 28 and 16 in Melbourne four years ago. There is also a chance that he could be demoted down to No.6 in the batting order, although the word in the press is that he will remain at 5.

As we have seen with him before though, he is a street fighter and he seems to produce the goods when his future is in doubt, and I’d say that it has to be in doubt at the moment.

In 2009 he struggled against Australia, he had a decent series away to South Africa, but again had a bad run against Pakistan last summer. If things don’t pick up for him over these next two tests, it’s hard to make a case for his inclusion in next summers test matches.

Collingwood picks up an African Arse

Never mind the Delhi Belly, England have managed to invent the African Arse, Paul Collingwood has become the latest English batsman to suffer the condition after Stuart Broad was previously pillow ridden with it ahead of the Champions Trophy semi-final.

Seemingly gone are the usual traditional English cricket injuries, the bad knees, ankles joints, bad heels, bowling machine incidents and tackles from behind etc.

The injury rules Collingwood out of the upcoming Champions League tournament where he was set to aggravate the injury more by sitting on a hard bench for the Delhi Daredevils for possibly up to two weeks before returning home to take his place – unopposed again – in the England team with ready made excuses for another average series, this time against South Africa.

It does seem remarkable that two England players have managed to come back from South Africa with sore arses, team morale did seem to be quite high during the competition with England scoring two remarkable wins during the group stages, quite what the reason for the turnaround in form was down too, who knows?

Maybe Tim Bresnan needs to start twittering again to give us some more insight.

England release batsmen to play for counties

The ECB have released struggling batsmen Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara and Ian Bell to play for their respective counties in an attempt to get some runs under their belts and much needed confidence to take into the 5th test at The Oval – for those of whom get selected.

As was the case last year when he was struggling for form and drinking in last chance saloon for his England place in the series against South Africa, Paul Collingwood apparently doesn’t need the practise and has been given the week off.

This is staggering that no-one in the England set up believes time in the middle is what Collingwood needs! If he is carrying an injury that needs resting and the ECB don’t want to reveal these details to the Aussies then fair enough.

At Headingley he didn’t look injured to me and he certainly dosen’t need a rest from batting. In a similar situation during last years South Africa series Collingwood was given the option to play for Durham when hopelessly out of form and he declined the offer, instead opting to go into the nets and practise.

The descision last year did pay off in fairness as he came back and scored a century at Edgbaston when his international career appeared to be all but over. At the time the decision not to play county cricket looked arrogant and ill-judged, the results proved the opposite though.

Who took the decision this year? Surely the England management would have liased with Collingwood and his own views must have gone some way to making up Andy Flower’s mind not to release him for much needed practise.

If Collingwood did have the final say I hope he can back up what looks another staggeringly lousy complacent decision with a hundred like the one last year, after all he is certainly due one in this series – he shouldn’t have too many last chance cards left to play by now.

No need for England to panic – yet!

Despite the hammering England suffered at the hands of Australia in the 4th test at Headingley last weekend there is no reason for wholesale changes and major panicking as the series is 1-1 going into the final test with all still to play for – a position everyone involved in the England set up would probably have gladly taken if offered at the start of the series.

Yes, the batting line-up does look in disarray and badly struggles without the steadying hand of Kevin Pietersen, England’s only true World class batsman. The selectors will probably point to the fact that England have scored over 375 in all three of their 1st innings in this series before Headingley saying that the batting can’t be that bad.

The facts are though that the tail in all of the 1st three tests has had to bail out the batsmen in getting the total to respectability, it’s a team game after all the selectors would probably rightly argue. Only Andrew Strauss though (once) has scored three figures in any of the four tests in this series, and for the top five that just isn’t good enough.

As stated above this is no time for panic and wholesale changes, team changes should be kept to minimum – that is for sure. If the situation dosen’t improve at The Oval and the top 5 buckle under the pressure yet again though it should be a different matter.

The time will surely have arrived for a rethink in the batting department before the South Africa series and with Andrew Flintoff going as well England can start looking at rebuilding the team. How many times now have the likes of Cook, Bell, Collingwood and now a new face in Ravi Bopara failed against the major test playing nations.

If the feeble nature that they continuously surrender isn’t bad enough the brainless shot selection and ill discipline and apparent inability to think on their own two feet and learn from previous mistakes and experiences is enough to drive an England supporter mad.

For me changes need to be made at the end of this series, I applaud the selectors for their loyalty and reluctance to chop and change at the drop of a hat like in the really bad old days (which I’m not for a minute suggesting we are in now), but you get the feeling that this current batch have been shown a bit too much faith.

Haven’t we been here before, Collingwood was on the verge of getting dropped last season against South Africa until he got his 100 at Edgbaston in the 3rd test. Bell has done nothing since his 199 in the 1st test at Lord’s in the same series. Alastair Cook could easily have gone after the 1st test in West Indies ealier this year when Bell was dropped after England’s diabolical 51 all out.

Again I’m not suggesting wholesale changes but a rethink is certainly needed. All in the England set up seem to think Ravi Bopara is going to be a good test player and I’m not going to disagree with them, the problem is he looks like he might be better suited down the order, maybe at No.5 or 6.

Is Pietersen willing to move up to No.3? If not that is a long standing problem. Opener Alastair Cook has 3 hundreds since December 2007 (two of which against West Indies), not good enough for a test opener! Could he bat at No.3 if another opener could be found? England have a lot of questions to answer, they can’t go on stumbling around hoping things will put themselves right.

It’s great caning the West Indian and New Zealand bowling attacks around in English conditions – a task not much tougher than playing against county cricket attacks – but when it comes to the big boys they are continuously found wanting.