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Sunday, July 01, 2007

West Indies in England

The Windies in their avatar post-Lara, seem to be coming up short in most of the matches they have played during their English tour. The test matches were almost a whitewash, with the exception of Chanderpaul and Bravo stitching up a string of partnerships. Chanderpaul, during his marathon stints, managed to create some new records but it was visible that he was suffering from the typical subcontinental ailment of concentrating on his own performance rather than the teams'. When he was left with the tail for company, instead of shepherding them he chose to do a Steve Waugh - giving them strike to the best bowlers of the opposition, even if it meant that they would have to play the second ball of the over. Clearly, the Windies tailenders are not known for their batting, let alone their bowling. But, Chanderpaul would refuse to see the situation repeatedly in the series - his main intention was to score a century rather than save the test for his side.

For those who have watched the earlier series between England and West Indies (where the Windies blackwashed the English 5-0 twice), it was clear that the Windies cricket has come a full circle. David Moore, the new coach of West Indies, has a lot of work to do if he wants his team to compete with the other teams in test matches. Going by their current form, the Windies will be able to give a good fight to the Bangladesh and Zimbabwe teams. Added to their on-field woes, the battle between Chris Gayle and the Board has seen the team lose concentration off it as well. As has been the recent trend, the team seems to be a combination of individually brilliant (but inconsistent) players rather than a team. How the mighty have fallen - in fact, still falling, one would say.

Peter Moores of England might be feeling a little better than his compatriot but he would be the first one to agree that he was lucky to get a easy opponent first up. His own team suffered from players missing out on form or fitness - Flintoff being the latest to join the bandwagon. Yet another captain was chosen - Paul Collingwood - after Vaughan (resigned from ODI captaincy), Strauss (dropped on form), Flintoff, Trescothick (playing county still, with no hopes of getting an English recall) were unavailable for the post.

The test squad seems to be a decent one with a settled batting attack - the bowling seems to be the one that gives them more worries. It was the magic of Monty Panesar that won the series for the English. Steve Harmison has still not found his old form - which must given the Management more worries (added to the fact is that he is suffering from hernia). The emergence of Ryan Sidebottom and Matt Prior in these circumstances is heartening for the English selectors.

The English ODI squad seems to be more of an experimental one - the selectors apparently have decided that they would like to see all the possible contenders for the team, before deciding on a core group that can be relied on. That probably justifies the selection of orthodox test players like Alastair Cook and Monty Panesar. Stuart Broad and Michael Yardy are playing in the team just because there are no other decent players available for selection - that itself conveys the strength of the bowling attack.

Nothing could be gauged from the Twenty20 Series - which was rightly shared by the two teams. It was a slog-out between two countries that would give a headache to all the cricketing pundits trying to figure out which was the worse team of the two.

The Indians arrive in England for their test and ODI series - this will give a fair idea to Moores on where his new-look team stands in the international scheme of things. The weather would be much warmer and the wickets will give a little help to the spinners - this would make the Indians favorites (especially in the ODIs).
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