Captain Marvel

16 02 2008

I suppose I shouldn’t be too picky. England did, after all, win the third one day international with New Zealand by a rather comfortable 6 wickets in the end.

However if I can be picky for a moment (and I can, this is my blog and if you don’t like it, tough), they were unlucky not to win by an even bigger margin.

New Zealand’s best batsman on the day was Jacob Oram who was plumb lbw to Ryan Sidebottom on just five and yet not given out. To say he was very very fortunate would be a gross understatement.

In my many years of watching cricket I have never seen a batsman be as plumb as that and survive. The ball would likely have hit the middle of middle and leg, probably taking both stumps out, the perfect lbw line. Yet Asad Rauf, a very fine umpire usually, decided it was not out.

Oram went on to make 88 off just 91 balls and took the Black Caps to a defendable total along with Daniel Vettori. Admittedly both did bat rather well, particularly the Kiwi captain. Of course Asad Rauf will likely be remembered more for the humorous dead ball situation. To be fair it was the right decision, he wasn’t in position. He was, as umpires are required to do, marking off an over by Collingwood’s name.

Ultimately the decision didn’t prove important anyway but in other matches that sort of thing could be a clincher. Collingwood would have been gutted if he’d gotten the wicket and it was given not out, so what was he doing delivering the ball? And Oram, why’d he play the shot? All that effort and no runs, pointless. Oh well, both played well in the end.

Despite playing a sensational captain’s knock, Collingwood really shouldn’t have had to come to the crease. Bell was unlucky to have been given out when replays showed that he clearly edged the ball onto his pad. Although slightly less obvious Pietersen’s lbw decision was somewhat dubious. Not wrong, per se, but we’ve seen those not given.

Although Collingwood has rightly got the plaudits, Bell’s innings deserves some praise too. He’s been due some runs for a while and it was a pretty good knock. Would have wanted him to go on and get a hundred but he was ultimately unlucky to be given out.

If England’s selectors are pleased with Bell’s performance, which I suspect they will be, they have to be disappointed with the running between the wickets. Certainly I was, and I hope they are looking at that and realising that seven run outs in three games, and Bell was lucky to survive a few close shaves on his way to 73, is simply not good enough.

A final word for the man of the match, England captain Paul Collingwood. Leading by example, as he has done so often in his short stint as captain, he fielded superbly, bowled very well and batted sensationally. In years gone by England one-day captains were often weak links in the team, quick with words, slow with actions. Not anymore.


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