A Very Late Review Of The England Tour To Sri Lanka

Russell Hughes@rusty_hughesContributor IIINovember 23, 2009

CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 22:  Man of the Match Paul Collingwood of England is interviewed after the 2nd One Day International between South Africa and England at Supersport Park on November 22, 2009 in Centurion, South Africa.  (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

This is a piece of work that i wrote for my English coursework that i want to put up. Thats the reason thats its defiantly not an up to date article.

Remember the date? 1st November 2008.No, it wasn’t the date your daughter got married or your 25th wedding anniversary. Rather it was something more global than that. Oh! You say to yourself, that’s right! It was the day that crazy Texan Alan Stanford gave away £11.7 million in an exhibition match between England and a Stanford Superstar eleven. The very game in which an England team, maybe not wholly English (Prior, Pieterson, Patel and Ambrose all have foreign roots), miserably failed in the fashion of a chicken trying to fly, and indeed some of the dismissals resembled this. Not even Steven Spielberg, in collaboration with Quentein Tarentino, could have compiled a drama of such epic proportions. 22 young men, in peak physical fitness (conveniently ignoring Samit Patel) fighting tooth and claw for $1 million each.

However, the contrast between the personal wealth of both teams is massive. Flash cars, model girlfriends and luxury gadgets are something that the England players are accustomed to. Many of Stanford’s players do not lead such a privileged life. This is something that was evident when 22 year old opening Batsman Andre Fletcher sank to his knees after captain Chris Gayle hit the winning runs, tears streaming down his face. Kevin Pieterson, no longer loud mouthed and brash, said: “To see a guy fall over in front of me at the end of the game, crying, with a million dollars in his bank account, was absolutely fantastic” You can’t help but wonder whether Stuart Broad or Samit Patel would have cried real tears had they won that match.

Flash forward a couple of weeks, and all the furore surrounding cricket’s biggest philanthropist would have died down. Surely. Well, it seems Sir Allan Stanford is never far from any media attention, however this time its nothing to do with cricket. The Texan has managed to land himself in the centre of an international espionage row. How very James Bond of him, you might say to yourself. Although it is considerable less glamorous then Bond’s latest outing.

Venezuelan military intelligence raided a branch of Stanford International Banks in the capital Caracas. The authorities claim that three of the banks employees were spying for the CIA. This may have implications for English cricket, as it could potentially be damaging to the sports reputation, as critics who claim the deal has turned into a money grabbing circus will now have more ammunition to throw at the ECB. The England Cricket Board declined to comment as it seems they would rather adopt the tactic of sweeping things under the rug of English cricketing bureaucracy.   

Putting this aside and concentrating on England cricket once again, this week sees England undertaking the difficult task of defeating India. In India. They will need to win the series in order to be taken seriously as genuine World Cup contenders. England will arrive in India with newly found confidence, having eased past an underperforming South Africa side, rated number one in the world.

England are no strangers to winning on the dry, dusty sub-continent soil, as they exceeded all press and public expectations by returning victorious from the winter 2008 tour in Sri Lanka. However, the side would do well not to let the series win against Sri Lanka go to their heads, as India, along with their fanatical supporters, have not been beaten in at home since 1985, and the last time these two sides came head to head in India England were at the receiving end of a 5-0 thrashing. 

The squad including such players picked and then dropped such as Geraint Jones, Ian Blackwell, Gareth Batty, Andrew Strauss, Kabir Ali, Liam Plunket and Sajid Mahmood. So, with a much changed squad from 2006, can England triumph? Peter Moores, England coach seems confident: “We won the one day series in Sri Lanka with a very young team and this year we are taking a stronger team to India”.

How England do in this series will be critical to assessing how well they will perform in the next world cup in 2011, which is being hosted by India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. However, before they can contemplate winning the World Cup, England will need to limit the chopping and changing that has been commonplace in the past. A most recent example is the Stanford match, where they dropped an in form James Anderson for an extra spinner; Graeme Swann.Who only bowled one over.

The sub-continent is not an easy place for anyone to go and perform while under pressure, but it is even harder when you are a wicketkeeper. Facing the dusty pitches and uneven bounce will prove a stern test for Prior’s glovework. Prior proved his determination to be an England player when he went back to Sussex, after being dropped from the national squad, and worked on all attributes of his game and has been rewarded with an England place after his summer improvements: “Matt went away and did not talk much and worked on his game, and got better at the areas where he probably let himself down” said captain Kevin Pieterson.

England’s other dilemma is how to get the best out of influential all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, who has not had the best of times with the bat in India, and his form with the ball was a severe let down for his county, Lancashire. His form for England, however, has been much improved against South Africa in the test and one day series earlier this year.

Important for Flintoff’s success in the one day and test series will be how he approached India’s deadly double of spinner, Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra,he can’t afford to be caught in two minds, so sticking to his strength will be key, such as hitting down the ground, this is something that batting coach Andy Flower realises: “Hitting down the ground is one of his strengths”

After England’s recent humbling by a Mumbai second team, all out for 98 inside 25 overs, captain Kevin Pieterson tried his best to shrug off the significance of the result: “It’s a tough lesson we need to learn”. However with only three batsmen reaching double figures (Samit Patel, Greame Swann and Jimmy Anderson) alarm bells must surely be ringing in Coach Peter Moor’s ears.

England have until Sunday to set right this humiliation, and Pieterson will do well to reign in his flamboyant streak that can ruin his batting, his Achilles heel has become more commonplace in recent matches: who can forget him walking down the pitch to try and hit Paul Harris over mid off on 99 against South Africa to get himself out? And in the match against Mumbai he walked down the wicket. Third ball. Is he compensating for a lack of something? Only time will tell.