Friday, 22 August 2008

Pietersen plunders South African potential

England stepped up to the mark tonight, with a wonderful and well-timed 20 run win against South Africa. In the first of five One Day Internationals, England dominated with the bat and ball, leaving fans and Nightwatchgirl believing there is hope after all.

The England innings started well under (Elvis) Bell (35 runs) and the ever-whistling Prior (42 runs), scoring a slow, but constant 77 runs. It was then left to Pietersen (90, not out off 82) and Flintoff (78), who added an immense 158, leaving South Africa a total 276 runs to win (wow, that's a lot of numbers in one paragraph).

But England were committed and aggressive in the field, determined to start the ODI series with a win. Flintoff, Harmison and even Pietersen (yes, that's not a typing error, he really did bowl, 2-22) bowled with intent and intelligence.

And South Africa really ran out of steam after losing wicket after wicket of some of their more reliable batsmen (Graeme Smith - 21 runs, A.B. Devilliers - 24, Mark Boucher - 16). This all worked wonders for the England spirit, as Nel, Steyn and Ntini could offer South Africa no hope of getting the runs necessary for a draw, let alone the win.

England go in to the next match on Tuesday 1-0 up, but the boost to the confidence of the team is priceless.

Nightwatchgirl can barely speak from all the shouting and cheering.

Britney's advice

With 50% of the vote going to Britney Spears from the latest poll on Nightwatchgirl as to what KP should do at the toss, Nightwatchgirl emailed KP with the result that he should be asking Britney what he should do. Obviously, he emailed Nightwatchgirl straight back and said that he had spoken to Britney and would take her advice.

Well, readers this clearly worked, and we can thank Britney for the fact that the England team chose to bat first.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Hip Hip Harmy

Great news for the England One Day team (finally). Steve Harmison has cancelled his plans to retire from the 50 over game, and has decided to make his return in the South Africa series (starting Friday).

Harmison 'officially' hung up his cricket boots after the One Day series in Australia, but it seems some encouraging words from KP and the desperate realisation that England need the extra firepower, swung Harmy to rescue England.

Things look a tad better for England now. With the day/night match starting at 2.30pm BST tomorrow at Headingly, the toss will once again prove important (seriously - your votes are needed). Batting second and under lights has always been something of a curse, but then at the same time, setting a total high enough to put South Africa under pressure will also rate as a pretty difficult task for the new-look England batting order.

With Bell and Prior eager to show selectors that they can open the batting successfully and Pietersen desperate to start his reign as One Day captain with the same result as the Oval test match, the game tomorrow should prove equally as exciting as it will be nerve-wracking.

p.s. There has been rumours that Harmison is only back to try and secure a place for the Stamford match, where players will be receiving a rather large pay-packet for a win. Nightwatchgirl is not so cynical. Harmison is back for England's sake, and not his bank balance (hopefully).

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

It's all in the Mind

With the news that today's Twenty20 has been called off, Nightwatchgirl had a dream about a magical land, where there was only rain at night (and even then it was just enough to keep the grass green and the flowers flowering), where the sun shone brightly (but no one got sunburned) and where the warm breeze and humid conditions allowed the ball to swing further than Jimmy Anderson ever thought possible.

It was in this land that a Twenty20 took place against England v South Africa. The crowd was happy because Kevin Pietersen won the toss and chose to bat first. The crowd was even happier when Ian Bell scored a record 200 off 87 balls and Freddy hit eight sixes in a row.

With the score of 393, England came out to bowl (after waving to Nightwatchgirl for good luck -she was in the stand cheering loudly). Graeme Smith scored 10 runs off the first over, and then the collapse happened, leaving South Africa all out for 23. Anderson and Broad both got a hat-trick and the team high-fived until their hands hurt. It truly was a great day for England cricket.

And then Nightwatchgirl woke up.

Damn it.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

It's KPeeing it down

The cursed weather has once again caused misery for England cricket and the fans. The Twenty20 match, scheduled for tomorrow, has been cancelled due to the pitch being under water (just an idea - water-cricket. Suggestions as to how this could be played will be forwarded to the ECB).

This is very disappointing news for all the fans looking forward to a good smash-about. It's obviously too much to ask for the weather to hold out for an extra day. Hopefully, England will be more lucky on Friday, for the first ODI match at Headingly. Although, probably at this stage England need more than just luck (divine intervention?).

Global warming is causing damage to our oceans, our atmosphere and now our sport. This is too much.

Everyone recycle.

Monday, 18 August 2008

The Line-Up

Nightwatchgirl is pleased to present the England team. The exact line-up for tomorrow has not been announced yet, but most of these players will feature tomorrow.

Ian Bell :
Identifying features: he's tiddly, has an elvis-lip and bleached blonde hair that looks like it needs a cut.
Role in England: Excellent batsman (when on form - which is pretty often). Brilliant fielder.

Matt Prior:
Identifying features: he's bald (recurrent theme for England wicketkeepers?), also quite small. And has an earring (why?).
Role in England: wicketkeeper, and opening batsman (both of which are sometimes questionable).

Owais Shah:
Identifying features: always has his top button done up on his England shirt, a cheeky grin as he smacks a ball for six (frequent occurrence - he doesn't like to hang around).
Role in England: to score as many runs as possible as quickly as possible. Not the best fielder in the team, and that's being kind.

Kevin Pietersen: (captain)
Identifying features: shaved head, huge England tattoo on his arm, when batting constantly taking his gloves off and then putting them back on (why? it's annoying). South African accent.
Role in England: to destroy opposition with as many huge shots as possible. Also gets out frequently by hitting as many huge shots as possible. Pretty good fielder, but catches aren't always safe in his hands.

Ravi Bopara:
Identifying features: cute teddy-bear face, nearly always smiling or deep in concentration.
Role in England: very handy with the bat and can bowl. Bonus.

Andrew Flintoff:
Identifying features: everyone knows what Freddy looks like. Not necessary to explain.
Role in England: excellent quick bowler, takes many, many wickets (especially it seems when they are most needed - strange) and can be great batsman, smacking the ball to all parts of the ground with no more than a little pat. Been out of the game for a long time because of injury, his batting is yet to catch up with his bowling (fingers crossed it happens soon).

Luke Wright:
Identifying features: bleached blonde hair, quite small, always grinning.
Role in England: can be great batsman, but still seems a bit nervous playing for England, also bowls and gets a fair amount of wickets, too.

Stuart Broad:
Identifying features: he's as tall and skinny as a tall skinny building (?). Blonde hair. Looks about 12.
Role in England: primarily brought in to the team as a bowler, but also developing brilliant skill as a batsman. Handy to have around.

Graeme Swann:
Identifying features: blonde hair. Will lose a game for England if need to (Nightwatchgirl still has not forgiven him for the New Zealand ODI game at the Oval).
Role in England: an alright batsman, but in the team for his bowling (spin), takes important wickets on a regular basis.

James Anderson:
Identifying features: nice hair, nice eyes, (Nightwatchgirl is getting carried away), doesn't have blonde hair (it's brown).
Role in England: when on song, he's a seriously good bowler. Can also bat occasionally.

Ryan Sidebottom:
Identifying features: crazy, brown curly hair that he loves a little too much for Nightwatchgirl's liking. Shouts at fielders when they don't collect the ball in two seconds. Also very moody.
Role in England: bowler, not very good fielder.

Dark Clouds Loom for South Africa One Day Series

England cricket has once again lost to its fateful and eternal enemy: the weather. With the game set in Edinburgh (surely some clever person with a degree of intelligence would know that the weather in Scotland is ten times worse than England), a result was never really on the cards, and not surprisingly, the match was abandoned.

All hope was not lost, though. England at least got to have a bowl at the Scottish team (which included a policeman - Nightwatchgirl is sure that this calibre of opposition will certainly prepare England for the onslaught of the South Africans). Flintoff (3-21), Bresnan (2-34) and Broad (2-35) were the pick of the bowlers, but still England failed to bowl Scotland out in the reduced 44 overs.

The results of the latest poll on Nightwatchgirl prove, without a single grain of doubt, that readers are agreeing that England just aren't up to standard yet. When asked if England could beat South Africa in the One Day Series, 43% thought there was not a chance, with only 31% thinking it was possible.  Nightwatchgirl would also like to add that 25% of those polled thought England could only win if Britney Spears was captain.  Oh it's a worrying world we live in.

All this deeply troubles Nightwatchgirl. Yes, it's great to have Flintoff back in working order (hip, hip, hooray), but England must somehow, and almost overnight, become a better team.

Suggestions as to how this is possible would be gratefully received.