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Archives for May 2009

All set for the World Twenty20

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Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 10:06 UK time, Friday, 29 May 2009

Yuvraj Singh hitting six sixes in an over, Zimbabwe's shock victory over Australia, the bowl-out between India and Pakistan, Chris Gayle's blistering 117 off 57 balls and Misbah-ul-Haq's dramatic last-over dismissal in the final - just a few of the highlights from the hugely successful inaugural ICC World Twenty20 held two years ago in South Africa.

Now the tournament is back and its happening right here! The most exciting cricketers in the world are arriving in the UK ready to compete in the second World Twenty20 - and you will be able to follow all the action on the BBC.

We will be providing ball-by-ball commentary on every match in the competition on BBC Radio, with games shared between Five Live, Five Live Sports Extra and Radio Four Long Wave (Ed's note: there will be live text commentaries on all the major matches on the BBC Sport website) - and every evening of the competition there will also be highlights on BBC Television.

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Tests give way to one-day action

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Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 11:49 UK time, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

After a successful, if low-key, start to the summer, England's cricketers move onto six weeks of one-day action with the NatWest Series and the ICC World Twenty20.

Although the Tests against the West Indies were a useful exercise in building confidence, especially for the likes of Ravi Bopara and Graham Onions, I'm not sure it will be a series that lives long in the memory.

It was summed up for me on the final morning of the Durham Test match when at around 0930 in the morning we heard the public address system welcoming spectators into the ground and given details of where they could buy programmes, refreshments etc.

Unfortunately, at that point there were precisely two spectators in the ground - it would have been easier for Johnny Dennis, the affable actor who makes the announcements at international games, to have spoken to the members of the crowd individually.

Let's hope this exciting summer of cricket really starts to get going with this week's NatWest series.

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Symonds out in the cold

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Oliver Brett | 08:58 UK time, Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Australia have hedged their bets by picking three all-rounders in their 16-man squad for the Ashes, but the most gifted of the four possible contenders has missed out.

Once again, the headlines concern Andrew Symonds, only this time the player himself - so often at the centre of controversy - is wholly innocent of any wrongdoing.

And England fans who witnessed his brutal century in the Ashes Test at Melbourne two and a half years ago will breathe just a little bit easier in the knowledge that he will not be tormenting Andrew Strauss's men this summer.

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England player ratings

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Mark Mitchener Mark Mitchener | 14:46 UK time, Monday, 18 May 2009

Here is our verdict on the performances of the England team in the second Test against West Indies at the Riverside (my name may be at the top of this blog but I'm not taking all the blame). As usual, we'd like to hear whether you agree or disagree.

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Out-of-sorts Windies face northern chill

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Oliver Brett | 10:42 UK time, Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Chris Gayle sounded like Scott of the Antarctic when describing the rigours of playing cricket at Lord's in early May.

"The majority of the time I was batting out there, that wind was hitting me in the eye and there was a lot of water in the eyes as well".

Welcome to Chester-le-Street, Chris, some 270 miles due north of London. If you needed hand warmers to cope in NW8, you might need something stronger to get you through the day in County Durham.

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Aggers' bizarre bra questions

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Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 07:16 UK time, Wednesday, 13 May 2009

After England's three-day victory at Lord's, the TMS team now moves onto Chester-le-street for Thursday's second Test.

It may have been a short game at the home of cricket, but there were still plenty of highlights both on the field and in the TMS box.

The Brian Johnston Champagne moment we agreed was Graeme Swann dismissing Devon Smith and Shivnarine Chanderpaul in successive balls, the start of an impressive match for the popular spinner.

If we had to nominate a champagne moment for an event in the TMS box I think it would have gone to Jonathan Agnew for his grilling of Marks and Spencer executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose about the price of bras. This was to be honest not a conversation I was expecting to hear this summer...!

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Going for a song

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Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 14:57 UK time, Monday, 11 May 2009

I love cricket, I play the guitar and I love Eric Clapton, so you can imagine my excitement at receiving an invitation to the 'Bunbury Bashes', a black-tie gala dinner organised by the Bunbury Cricket Club, where Rory Bremner would be MC, comedian Peter Kay would do a turn and Eric himself would perform live.

The Bunbury Cricket Club is a pro-celebrity club, founded and run by the inimitable David English MBE, which has raised over £12m for different charities over the years.

It has also helped to produce a few England cricketers through the English Schools Cricket Association's annual under-15s Bunbury Festival - nine members of the 2005 Ashes-winning team took part in it.

Alongside the ESCA, other causes supported by the 'Bashes' include the Leukaemia Research Fund, the Crossroads Centre in Antigua (an alcohol and drug facility founded by Eric Clapton) and an orphanage in India called Joybells.

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England player ratings

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Oliver Brett | 19:20 UK time, Friday, 8 May 2009

It's time for me to reveal my England ratings for the first Test at Lord's. I am sure this will attract some healthy debate, so let me know what you think. I like to keep to whole marks out of 10, but found myself stumped by James Anderson who ends up with 6.5.

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Windies batsmen get first taste of Onions

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Oliver Brett | 19:01 UK time, Thursday, 7 May 2009

The first ball he faced in Test cricket crashed into his stumps - and the first delivery he bowled an hour later was smashed for four.

So it was that Graham Onions quickly learned about the ups and downs - or downs and ups in his case - of Test cricket. And yet if he was to wander into a newsagent on Friday morning, he would have every reason to smile.

With a surname that is pure gold for a headline writer, he would be able to laugh at the inevitable puns that will be displayed - because Onions recovered from a most inauspicious entry into the Test arena by taking five West Indies wickets.

And though Graeme Swann arguably had a bigger impact on the course of the match on day two at Lord's, Onions was a lot more than a bit-part player.

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Tell us your favourite Ashes moments

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Adam Mountford | 15:04 UK time, Thursday, 7 May 2009

England captain Andrew Strauss refused to mention the "A" word during his media conference before the first Test against West Indies at Lords - the "A" word, of course, being the "Ashes".

Strauss said he wanted instead to focus on the current series and would not respond to the inevitable questions about the visit later this summer of the Australians.

But even though Strauss doesn't want to talk Ashes, it is impossible not to cast your mind forward to Cardiff and the 8th of July and during the lunch interval on Friday's TMS we announced details of a really exciting project which will go alongside our coverage of the Ashes summer.

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Positive thinking pays off for Bopara

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Oliver Brett | 20:30 UK time, Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Centuries by England's Test batsmen at Lord's have not exactly been collectors' items during the course of this decade. It may surprise you to know that before Wednesday there had been 30 since the summer of 2002.

Having said that, if coach Andy Flower could have chosen which member of this England side would notch the 31st, Ravi Bopara would almost certainly have been his pick.

Selecting Bopara to bat at three for this match was arguably a bolder call than naming two Test rookies (bowlers Graham Onions and Tim Bresnan) in the starting XI.

But the Essex man paid off his coach's hunch with a pretty unfazed effort, especially when you consider how he had to watch wickets tumble in clutches at the other end.

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Contrasting pair hope for similar fortunes

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Pranav Soneji | 13:27 UK time, Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Four years ago, a swing bowler from Yorkshire and a beanpole from Durham took the new ball at the start of an Ashes summer for England.

But while this May Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison failed to receive a phone call from England's selectors, two men cut from similar cloth found their mobiles buzzing with good news.

Barring a five-day downpour of biblical proportions in NW8, Tim Bresnan and Graham Onions will make their Test debuts against the West Indies at Lord's on Wednesday.

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Ashes preparation starts here

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Oliver Brett | 06:00 UK time, Tuesday, 5 May 2009

At the start of an English summer, when expectations are naturally heightened simply because it's an Ashes year, the warm-up act for Andy Flower's side is provided by a familiar foe in Chris Gayle's West Indies.

But while many of the game's global fans will be fascinated by what an ever-improving Windies side might achieve, England have a dual task: As well as winning the two-Test series, there also needs to be a feeling that their chances of winning the Ashes have improved, not declined.

Will a 1-0 win suffice? Perhaps. But at least as important as winning back the Wisden Trophy will be to provide concrete answers to troubling dilemmas.

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Sarwan keen to cause England more pain

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Oliver Brett | 06:00 UK time, Monday, 4 May 2009

You can count the autograph-hunters at Chelmsford on the fingers of one hand, but it's still an effort for a weary Ramnaresh Sarwan, vast cricket bag slung over one shoulder, to attend to their wishes.

"Doesn't he have someone to carry his bag for him?" asks the sole female member of this hardy band of aficionados. The gnarled security guard on the gate at the County Ground just looks skywards.

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Foster key for new-look Twenty20 squad

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Oliver Brett | 13:10 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009

If Wednesday's Test squad announcement had a fresh feel to it, then the revelation of the 15 players called upon to represent England in the ICC World Twenty20 in June took the concept to a whole new level.

It was as though a dusty Victorian pub had been gutted and turned into a holistic therapy centre, with juice bars and vases of irises replacing the cigarette machines and dripping beer pumps.

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Looking forward to Lord's

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Adam Mountford | 11:35 UK time, Friday, 1 May 2009

While the debate rages about whether the England selectors have picked the right team for the first Test of the summer, you'll be pleased to know there is little controversy about our squad for Lord's.

Leading our commentary team as usual will be cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew, who will be joined by Christopher Martin Jenkins MBE and the voice of West Indies cricket Tony Cozier.

Our expert summarisers at Lords will be the irrepressible Geoff Boycott, Phil Tufnell, who knows a thing or two about bowling at the home of cricket after his long Middlesex career, and Sir Viv Richards.

Viv enjoyed an eventful winter as part of the TMS commentary team. In Jamaica, we heard his excitement as England were bowled out for 51; in Antigua, we saw his understandable anger over the abandoned Test at the ground which bears his name and then in Trinidad, as the West Indies nervously hung on for a series-winning draw, Viv simply could not watch the climax to the match and instead stood at the back of the media centre listening anxiously to the roars of the crowd. Let's hope he's calmed down now!

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