Friday, 14 October 2011

So Mr Dhoni, we meet again.......

Don't I recognise
you from somewhere?
Fantasy Bob doesn't really understand the reasons why having thumped India all summer, England now have the opportunity of thumping them again barely 1 month after the last ball was bowled in the gloom and rain at Cardiff.  International cricket increasingly looks like the faintly ridiculous Scottish football league in which the teams play each other every fortnight.  This is one of the reasons for all these different away strips - they make it look as if there is double the number of teams playing.

Whatever the thinking behind the timing, if indeed there was any thinking, it might work to England's advantage.  England have not won a ODI series in India since 1984 when ODIs weren't taken seriously.   They must have a chance of reversing that record this time.  Not only did Indian morale take a bit of a pounding this summer as England outbowled and outbatted them in Test and ODI alike, but the list of Indian injuries has not got any shorter with several big guns still unfit.  Those players who are fit are no doubt tired out by their Champions' League endeavours.  So India already have any number of excuses for a poor performance.

Training with string
England meanwhile only have the continued nonsensical mutterings of Graeme Swan as reported by the media to worry them.  They obliterated the local Hyderabad side in 2 warm up games and have the luxury of selecting from strength this week - particularly in batting.  Bairstow looks an asset and deserves a chance to show if he can deliver on a bigger stage.  Pietersen's ODI record has been indifferent recently but he remains a power on Indian wickets.  There doesn't seem a weak link.  England have been training with string which is a sure sign of their ascendancy.

Of interest to all anorak wearers is that this is the first ODI to be played under the new rules.  Powerplays must now be taken between the 16th and the 36th over rather than between the 11th and 46th over as previously.   Since England's success in the powerplays has traditionally been unspectacular - during the World Cup it was lamentable, all eyes will be on whether they can improve.  When FB says all eyes he does not really mean all eyes, for many spectators, including him, the concept of powerplay is an artificial construct. FB has not really taken to it - no doubt for reasons of intellectual incapacity or simply being a sad old buftie.   In other sports such as ice hockey the powerplay refers to a period when a team is reduced because someone is in the sin bin.  Perhaps it is a miracle that the ICC has not cottoned on to this concept - by reducing the number of fielders altogether to create artificial excitement.

Another rule change is the use of a different ball from either end throughout the innings.  For the avoidance of doubt both balls will be cricket balls of identical make.  The prospects of more artificial excitement being manufactured by using a football and one end and a tennis ball at the other have for the moment been put on ice by the ICC.

Any team which trains with string must have something so FB's prediction is for England to shade the series - by a reef knot and a clove hitch.

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