Posted by: iccwc | May 17, 2007

The Cricket…. Oh Esmerelda, the cricket….

Ah a new day dawns and as we open our eyes to the radiant…err… gloom. We awake to find that another English test summer is upon us. Like a David Boon hangover, we ask ‘Hasn’t it happened quickly?’ – a bit like an Andrew Flintoff calamity (**spot the cheap shot**)

But jokes aside, today does indeed mark the start of another English test summer. Evoking memories of picnics, freshly mown grass, gentle applause by landed gentry, willow smashing through clubhouses as the captain’s scored 0 again, we await the first ball to be bowled in anger at Lords this morning.

In reality both teams have plenty to prove. Neither nation’s showing at the World Cup was up to the standards commanded by their respective publics, and the last year’s results were nothing like their resources indicate they are capable of.

Both teams are being led into the sunset by new captains and one feels there will be an element of ‘Scratching around in the dark’ as Strauss and Sarwan find their feet as leaders at the highest level.

England and the West Indies have both rung the changes as they both seek to regroup following the World Cup.

England: A J Strauss, A N Cook, I R Bell, K P Pietersen, P D Collingwood, O A Shah, M J Prior, L E Plunkett, S J Harmison, M J Hoggard, M S Panesar

For the home side, Cook returns after a dreary winter with some good runs to his name at county level and Owais Shah has been brought in to replace the injured Flintoff after he failed a late, late, late fitness test at around 9.30am today. The Middlesex batsman impressed everone who saw him in his only other test in India a year ago. His 88 at the Wankhede stadium in March last year was a key innings as England secured victory by 200-odd runs in India. some will question why he hasn’t played since. Shah’s powerful and elegant in shotmaking, has seen him become a consisently high scorer in county cricket (with a couple of hiccups) since his transition from the Cambridge University side.

It’s great to see progressive selection at last from the England staff. Bringing in Matt Prior is a step forward, and there are many hoping that he will make this awkward position of wicketkeeper batsman his own following years in the shadows of Read and Jones.

With players out of form and out of action, this is the chance for Shah and Prior to shine – they might not get another.

West Indies: C H Gayle, D Ganga, D S Smith, R R Sarwan, S Chanderpaul, R S Morton, D J Bravo, D Ramdin, D B Powell, C D Collymore, J E Taylor

The West Indies squad will have an air of familiarity  to it for West Indian viewers. However some ‘tweaks’ have been made recently; Jerome Taylor was surprisingly under used in the World Cup and  Cricketing wildchild Runako Morton makes his seventh appearance in test matches, after nearly being banned from the game six years ago.

The main absence from the side is that of “Official Cricketing Legend” Brian Charles Lara. This test at Lord’s is the first match the Windies have played since his retirement, and all eyes will be on them to see how they adapt and if a chasm has class suddenly opened up…

Now get me  my paraffin…

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