Tuesday, 18 May 2010

England hit on winning formula

England fans are still taking in their side's dramatic World T20 final win on Sunday, their first ICC triumph in a one-day tournament after 35 years of trying.
What made the win more satisfying was the manner in which it was achieved. England played the best cricket in this tournament by a distance and no one can argue with their win.

In the West Indies, England upset the cricket betting odds but they did it with such ease you would have thought they were favourites before the start of the competition.

The old question marks that hung over the team in recent years England have been eradicated and credit has to go to the selectors for dealing with those problems.
Firstly, England's repeated failure to take advantage of the powerplay was solved by the selection of Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb. The pair may not be technically the best cricketers in the country, but they know how to hit a ball and aren't afraid to do so.

Their lusty blows at the top of the innings gave England a solid platform on which to build on. They duly did so with the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan ensuring that the momentum gained by the openers was not lost. This is backed up by the statistics which reveal all but one of England's batsmen had a strike rate of over 100.

The pressure was kept on the opposition in the field as well. England had no 'out' bowlers, a player who the opposition knew would bowl a few loose ones allowing them to hit a few boundaries to release the pressure.

The opening pair of Sidebottom and Bresnan were on the money from the off, no looseners there. While Stuart Broad as first change bamboozled the batsmen using the full compliant of deliveries in his armoury.

With the powerplay out of the way spin pairing of Graeme Swann and Michael Yardy choked the middle of the innings, meaning when the pacemen were brought on at the end they were bowling to frustrated batsmen. Desperate to boost their side's low score they took more risks, usually resulting in their dismissal.

Coach Andy Flower was quick to put things in perspective and urged calm, saying this was only one format of the game. But the confidence taken from this win should spur the players on to greater things in 50 over and test matches. With the Ashes on the horizon, that is definitely something to get excited about.

Meanwhile, the England football team will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of their cricketing compatriots this year when they travel to South Africa for the World Cup.

The World Cup betting makes the Three Lions third favourites for the tournament, but they will face some stiff competition.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

England see both sides of Duckworth-Lewis

Being in Paul Collingwood's company would not have been pleasant had the complicated maths involved in the Duckworth-Lewis method gone against England once more.

The England captain couldn't hide his frustration after England lost to the West Indies under the method, despite posting a tournament high of 191 in their 20 overs. But a sloppy start by England's bowlers was compounded as the rain came down in Guyana.

The mathematical system, which was introduced in 2001, set the Windies a target of just 60 from six overs with all their wickets in hand. The system isn't ideal, but it was also designed with 50 over cricket in mind, not T20.

As Collingwood said a score of 191 would win the game 95 per cent of the time so for the system to skew the odds the other way is proof it is flawed in this format.
England then had a dreaded sense of deja vu as the rain came down again during their match with Ireland. In truth they weren't as impressive with the bat as they were against the Windies, and credit has to go to the Irish, in particular pace bowler Trent Johnson and young leg spinner George Dockrell.

However, it was Irish-born Eoin Morgan, who made a composed 45, who dragged England to 120-8.

Ireland were 14-1 from three-and-a-half overs in reply, but found themselves dodging the rain. There was a real worry in the England dressing room that the maths would fail then once more. The cricket betting suggested England are in with an outside chance of winning the competition, but had things gone wrong they could have fallen at the first hurdle.

After a prolonged break, Ireland were set a revised target of just 47 from 33 balls before a final burst of rain ended the contest without a result being reached.
No one would argue against using Duckworth-Lewis to decide a game - using run-rate ratios or best scoring overs is unthinkable, as past experience shows.

However, the past two games have shown adjustments need to be made for its use in the T20 format of the game. After all, losing a match because a formula needs rejigging is not what cricket is about.

Meanwhile, in other sports news, England remain third favourites in the FIFA World Cup odds as this year's tournament approaches.