Friday, 31 October 2008

The $20,000,000 Line Up

The ECB have released the final England team line-up ready for Saturday. And not without a few surprises.

Gone is Ryan 'I'm Too Good For The Team' Sidebottom (how's your bank balance now, curly?) and James Anderson, replaced by Steve Harmison and Graeme Swann. And magically it seems everyone has recovered sufficiently from carrot chunksitis.

Now, NWG is all about forgiveness and redemption. She wants to move on and let the past be the past etc. etc. But, with Swann's track record, it seems slightly worrying to include him in a team where so much rides on every move each player makes. Who can forget that tragic over throw at the Oval against New Zealand? (Well, others might, but NWG can't, aside from the fact she was there witnessing the world's worst overthrow, Swann threw away that match without thinking through the options; it's all about the options)

The match on Saturday doesn't really mean anything to the average cricket fan. They are not privy to a cut of the winnings (how good would that be?), but when it comes down to it, a match is a match and England must be fired up to win, otherwise what's the point of even being alive? (Don't answer that)

England must perfect their Twenty20 strategies for the up and coming World Cup next year and this seems a good opportunity to have a go. So, it may be without spirit, it may be without (healthy or unhealthy) guts and glory, but an England win is good for the team, for the fans and for 2009.

Full Line Up:

Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wk), Owais Shah, Kevin Pietersen (capt), Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood, Samit Patel, Luke Wright, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, Steve Harmison

The Line Up for Nightwatchgirl's Super Series will be announced over the weekend.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

17, 21, 28, 44, 49, 50

A typical day for Nightwatchgirl:

On a whim, Nightwatchgirl bought a lottery ticket. She watched the draw and looked at her numbers.

All of a sudden it dawned on her. She had won. And not just £10. She had won the jackpot. £20,000,000.

After the shock and allowing her time for the news to sink in, an idea came in to her head. What could be the best way to spend her money? What would make Nightwatchgirl extremely happy? And then it hit her.

She was going to organise the Nightwatchgirl Super Series in Bognor Regis. After sending a very polite letter to the ECB suggesting this very thing, Giles Clarke wrote back.

The Series is on. England v NWG Super Stars. And it starts next week.

NWG knew happiness could be bought. It just took her a very long time to realise.

The Red Light Cricket Game

Kevin Pietersen has officially lost his mind. After weeks of 3 line whipping the England camp in to shape over what great experience the Stanford Super Series will be and how it's all about the game and not the money, KP has admitted that "the longer this week goes on the more I want to get it over with."

Only days after harping on and on to all who would listen about the privilege of playing for England, having the three lions on your shirt, KP now can't wait to get home. What has changed?

Could it be the atmosphere the games are played in? Could it be the sight of England WAGS getting cosy with Stanford? Could it possibly be the sight of cricket being sold to the highest bidder is finally chaffing a little?

Either way, Nightwatchgirl is left confused. Should she be enjoying the cricket in Antigua or boycotting it? It feels like such a long time since England were playing regular games that it is a welcome relief to be able to watch her team at all.

You would never hear KP talk about other more 'worthy' series this way. There will be no mention of getting the Ashes out the way (unless England repeat the last encounter), so why this?

Nightwatchgirl has come to the conclusion that even the players feel a little bit dirty at being paid to perform like circus monkeys. The series has no worth except money.

It's a dark day for cricket when the England captain can't be bothered, even if it is for a $1,000,000.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

England Get the Runs (finally, but unfortunately)

The second England Twenty20 match went with a bang, a yelp and pint of milk of magnesia. There was no lack of trying from the England batting line-up; no one can argue that they don't want the joy and pride only achieved after a win in the Stanford series (wait, Nightwatchgirl didn't mean joy and pride, she meant a growing bank balance, a new car, an extension and a small charity donation - not necessarily in that order).

The game was not the most exciting ever witnessed by NWG, although she appreciated how close it was towards the end. Free hits that should have been launched in to the lucky crowd were missed, KP messed around too much deciding which way he wanted to hit the ball, whilst also checking whether his wife was being accosted by the host and Flintoff failed to live up to his batting potential (and could possibly be bloody injured. Again).

And, along with the stomach bug that has ripped through the England camp (NWG wonders who will be feeling ill on Saturday. Her guess is that all symptoms magically disappear), England still looked pretty scrappy in the field.

Still, Nightwatchgirl does not want to be too picky. England won and that surely is the most important point. Harmison, Collingwood, Patel and Bopara got a bowl. Pietersen got some runs. Catches were dropped....

But whichever way Nightwatchgirl looks at this series, it still feels like England are selling their soul to the cricket devil. Perhaps Saturday will be more exciting. Perhaps Saturday will prove England are a side that want to win, not because of the money but because of pride and glory. And hopefully there will be a tie at the end of the forty overs, because Nightwatchgirl likes the sound of this extra magical over, where it becomes a mini match; anyone could win. How would you like that kind of pressure?

Bring. It. On.

Monday, 27 October 2008

England Light Their Way With First Win

Oh the excitement. Oh the drama. Who would take the glory? Who would rise to the occasion? Who would make their team proud?

Well, no one in fact. A pretty low-key game: not much entertainment (apart from Ryan Sidebottoms's new hair - just wrong in so many ways), not a lot of huge hitting and terrible, awful, faintly embarrassing catching (or not).

Neither England nor Middlesex really looked bothered to be part of this Stanford series. And what did the great England captain have to say about the match? Some wise words indeed: "I am as concerned about the lights as I am about the wicket." Oh help. The England captain is now moaning about lights.

Pietersen is more worked up about Neil Carter's brief move to Middlesex from Warwickshire for this series, branding it a "disgrace," than he is about England putting in an exciting performance.

England need a reality check. Focus on the game, not the people in the other team. Focus on catching the bloody ball, not what's lighting it, and focus on making England fans glad they paid all that money to travel out to the West Indies or pay their Sky subscription.

That is all.