RIP – Phillip Hughes and Alistair Cook.
The death of Phillip Hughes was terrible for cricket, obviously, the first guy to effectively die on the pitch. I can’t recall the death of any other cricket professionals. But eventually this would happen as the short delivery is designed to try and hit the batsmen to intimidate him out, or into a poor shot. Hughsey was a batsman who went after the short delivery with courage and made his name that way with big runs. It’s truly terrible. I spoke to him a couple of times as my job as a minor cricket writer and a typical laidback and jokey Aussie. Top bloke, as they say Down Under. Sean Abbot, who bowled the ball, will never live it down. Others in the match who witnessed the blow may also walk away from the game. It’s just terrible. Abbot responded with a hostile 6-15 this week in the Sheffield Shield and courageous to but it’s in the winter where it will really hit him.
But cricket moves on and England are engaged in an ODI series in Sri Lanka, the first time I can recall they won’t play a test match in the winter as we build towards the World Cup in Australia, and quickly went 1-0 down. England can’t be bothered with one-day cricket. The ECB refused to remove test captain Cook from control of the one-day side so to mentally keep his authority as England Test captain after the Pietersen debacle and so England carry on picking multi-code players when they shouldn’t, and carry on losing.
Sri Lanka smashed 317, as they do on their flat dry pitches, but still a disappointingly high score conceded when you consider Jade Dernbach wasn’t bowling, Dilshan top scoring with 88. Bopara is back in the team to replace KP and bowled 4 neat overs for 24 but apart from that the runs went around the park off all the bowlers with 50s for Jaywardene (his 75th ODI half-century) and Perera. England’s highest ODI chase in SL was 234 and so little hope of getting near this one. In fact no international team has chased down 300 there. It was a good effort with Moen Ali cracking 119 off 89 balls and the third fastest English ODI century but England falling 25 short on 292 all out, once he was out, their highest ODI score in Sri Lanka.
=Fastest English ODI Hundred=
61 balls: Jos Buttler v Sri Lanka, Lord's 2014
69 balls: Kevin Pietersen v South Africa, East London, 2005
72 balls: Moeen Ali v Sri Lanka, Colombo, 2014
74 balls: Ravi Bopara v Ireland, Malahide, 2013
The second game in the 7 match series was must win in Colombo as the unseasonable monsoon rumbled in the distance, only 45 overs aside which England managed just 185 all out (Bopara 51, Root 42) in 43 overs, a pathetic 8 boundaries scored, their second lowest ever, NZ 2008 with 7.
Sri Lanka quickly set about the bowlers on a turning pitch; the retiring and amazing Sangakkara (67*) getting his 88th ODI 50 and Jayewardene (77*) his 76th half-century, adding 149 for the 3rd wicket for 8 wicket thrashing. England are already looking disinterested. Its 15 defeats from 22 O.D.I’s now, not looking good for the World Cup.
The interest perked up as an increasingly soggy series saw a 35 over match take place under the Hambonata lights. After feeling out the damp pitch Sri Lanka compiled a useful 242-8, Sangakkara’s 89th half-century the highlight and 63 from Thirimanne. England had to win this game and did, strolling to a rain reduced 236-5 with 8 balls to spare, that man Mooen Ali with 58 to set it all up and then Root (48*) and Butler (55*) putting on 85 to win by 5 wickets. Hales was recalled and made a scratchy 27 off 29 balls. 1-2.
Match 4 saw Cook banned for one match for slow over rates in the previous games. Sri Lanka immediately complained and said that Cooks ban gave England an unfair advantage. Eion Morgan stepped up to take the armband, and the guy most England fans can’t understand why isn’t leading the England team from day one of this series, smashing 62 alongside little James Taylor’s 90 for 265-all-out off the 50. In keeping with Cooks bad habits he was also fined 20% of his match fee for slow over rates. England just can’t get on top of Sri Lanka’s multi purpose spinners enough to post the winning big score.
Sri Lanka have no problems chasing down scores on their home wicket, Jayewardene (44) putting on 96 with that man Sangakkara (86). Sanga has now scored over 26,500 runs in all competitions, the most by any international player still playing from 387 one-day matches, 2nd only to the great Tendulker for ODIs with 463 appearances. International crickets highest averaging captain and run scorer in ODIs this year, a one Angelo Mathews, guided them home with two balls to spare with a perfectly measured 51*. By the end of this series England would have played 25 ODI/s in 2014.
Aussie captain Michael Clarke scored an emotional hundred in the delayed first test in Adelaide as they ran up 600 against a disinterested Indian side. Warner and Smith followed suit. In Sri Lanka it was win or bust for England in the 5th ODI with Cook back in for Hales. With two scores over 50 in ten ODIs he needs a score. Sri Lanka hit first with rain looming and squeezed their innings in, bowled out with an over to spare on a turning pitch, a rarity for England these days, Woakes 6-47 not as good as it looks in the slog but surely Dernbach’s replacement at the death. It was his second 6 haul for England (the only England bowler to do that) and the third best figures for England in ODI. Sangakkara helped himself to yet another 50 (91) to set 240 to win.
===best England Bowling in ODI==
Paul Collingwood: 6-31 v Bangladesh at Trent Bridge in 2005
Chris Woakes: 6-45 v Australia at the Gabba in 2011
Chris Woakes: 6-47 v Sri Lanka at Pallekele in 2014
Mark Ealham: 5-15 v Zimbabwe at Kimberley in 2000
Andrew Flintoff: 5-19 v West Indies at St Lucia in 2009
Rain washed out the reply so they came back the next day, England in the chase early on in a match they had to win, Taylor (68) putting on a hundred with Root with one hundred needed, who, himself, went on to win the match in the last over with a hundred (103) in a partnership of 84 with Ravi Bopara, a man unfairly picked on by the ECB by being dropped regularly over the years. Cook, of course, got out when he was in for 20 odd. 2-3 and on to Kandy.
Sangakkara decided it was time to finish Cook and England off by batting first and blazing a hundred (112), his fifth score in a row over 50 and 19th ODI hundred. Cook dropping him on 41 said it all. Sangakkara has 267 international scores over 50 and 48,000 runs. Dilshan (68) joined him in a second wicket stand of 153 and that was that. 293 to win proved too much for England as they lost wickets at a regular interval, Cook failing again in the first over. The ECB know they need to dump Cook but in a traumatic year for they simply don’t have the courage to initiate yet more change. The Aussie and NZ pitches will suit him more and that’s the main reason he will survive the cut. Root continued his form (and quest for Cooks job) with a half-century but England rolled over for 202 in 41 overs and so the series. One to go but that’s it for me and 5-2 very likely. Australia rounded off their emotional week with a thrilling 48 run victory in the test match after Warner (102) set India 373 to win with his second ton of the match, a man who plays very much like Phillip Hughes did, Nathan Lyon spinning them out with 7 wickets, Warney-esque bowling.
Off all the recent England middle order collapses, this one was most definitely forgivable as each batsman slowly got the news off the terrible death of young Ben Holioake. The first to get the news in the dressing room had to leave for the square to tell the player sat the other end the horrific news. The Surrey guys in Butcher and Thorpe were right in the thick of it setting England on the way to a big score until the news broke and England slumped from 212-4 to 280 all out. I had a mate at middle school that I sat next to who was wiped out in a car crash. You don?t really understand death at eight and nine but an empty chair is a very strange feeling everyday. Ben was a big part of the one day and Surrey set up and you cant help but feel for the whole team. In the context of the game though, the foreshortened innings may be the catalyst of an unlikely England victory that would be no better a tribute to the young Surrey and England all rounder. Captain Hussiens gutsy 66 with Butchers deflecting 47 were the guts of the effort on a fair track with New Zealand less constrained in their closing tally of one for seventy. Day Two and the three lions on the chest s proud as ever, Andy Caddick once again took a six for, ripping through the Kiwi bats in double time, restricting them to just over two hundred on a nearer three hundred top. England approached the crease second time around in far more resilient form as the boards rattled from Trescothicks mighty blade fitting to the opposition. At 178-2 and a 250 plus lead, England can let rip on the final day of this rain and gloom effected test to leave themselves 60 overs to have a dart on a much greener southern hemisphere wicket than normal. The final day started well with England pressing on to set NZ a big score in just enough over s to knock them over. Butcher and Trescothick got the ball rolling with Freddie Flintoff blazing a mad 50 of 33 balls and seven
ty-five out of 56. This was the brute force required as we set them 350 odd to win of 88 overs. But a couple of early wickets fromHoggard and a hundred partnership couldn?t tease them into a chase as the draw was batted out. If theres any good news to take from this test, is that we cant lose the series and should be able to win it in Auckland with yet another gutsy display. To put in perspective in the loss of Holioake, it?s the same as the England football losing a fringe player like Gareth Southgate or Darren Anderton. The players have been given special discompensation to attend the young all rounders funeral in Perth this week as the terrible week comes to an end.