Saturday, January 8, 2011

England : We can rule the world!

We can rule the world! Aussie-crushing England celebrate in style... now they are on a new mission.

Andrew Strauss yesterday vowed the best is yet to come from England’s Ashes heroes as he savoured ‘one of the most special moments of my career’.

Strauss led England to their first Ashes series success in Australia for 24 years and became only the third post-war England captain to win the urn home and away when his triumphant side galloped to a third innings victory of the series here at the SCG.

Then, as Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and the rest of England’s heroes uncorked the champagne, Strauss promised this outstanding 3-1 series triumph, the first since Mike Gatting’s team won in Australia in 1986-87, was a stepping stone towards England’s ultimate target — being the top side in world cricket.


‘The majority of this team should be hitting their peak in the next couple of years and that’s encouraging,’ said Strauss, who saw England close within two points of second-placed South Africa in the ICC Test rankings.

‘We have to think about how we can improve and hopefully one or two new guys will be sticking their hands up and saying, “I can add something to the team”.’

Bubbling over: Kevin Pietersen kisses the replica urn as the victory champagne flows for England

Bubbling over: Kevin Pietersen kisses the replica urn as the victory champagne flows for England
 
 The England captain paid tribute to team director Andy Flower, the main architect behind two Ashes victories and a World Twenty20 triumph in two years at the helm of a side he inherited in a state of disarray.

‘He has been immense,’ said Strauss. ‘Andy is a guy we all respect, not only for what he’s achieved but the way he handles himself in the dressing room.’
 
Sprinkling of magic: Graeme Swann celebrates in the dressing room by doing the now famous 'sprinkler' dance, while Cook and James Anderson look on

Sprinkling of magic: Graeme Swann celebrates in the dressing room by doing the now famous 'sprinkler' dance, while Cook and James Anderson look on 

Strauss believes the successes in Melbourne and Sydney rank as highly as any England victories in which he has been involved.

‘It feels pretty special,’ continued Strauss. ‘We wanted to finish the series on a high. It’s a dressing room full of pride — and probably quite a bit of alcohol, too!

‘We have proved it is possible for an England side to win out here. You don’t need a mystery spinner or a guy who bowls at 95mph. You just need a lot of guys performing well and consistently.’


Moment of glory: England finally get their hands on the Ashes after a long but remarkably successful tour
Moment of glory: England finally get their hands on the Ashes after a long but remarkably successful tour

An exhausted Jimmy Anderson finished the series with 24 wickets, the best haul by an England bowler in Australia for 40 years, and promptly fell asleep in the dressing room.

‘It’s not exactly rock and roll,’ he said later. ‘But I’ve not been that well this week. It has been a long seven weeks and with me going home for the birth of my daughter (between the third and fourth Tests), it has been a really emotional time.’

Taunted in advance by Australians who remembered his struggles with the Kookaburra ball four years earlier, Anderson added: ‘There were no doubts in my mind that I could perform. I’m delighted with the way it has worked out.’
Mobbed: Photographers snap the England team as the Barmy Army rejoice behind
 
Mobbed: Photographers snap the England team as the Barmy Army rejoice behind

Flower was absent from the main celebrations as England did a lap of honour at the SCG after wrapping up their victory by an innings and 83 runs.

Strauss said of Flower: ‘He prefers to lurk in the shadows. He’s not good at smiling, for starters! Andy is not doing this job for accolades, he is doing it because he desperately wants England to improve so that when he does finish he can look back and say, “I was part of something special”.’



Dream team: Captain Strauss and England team director Andy Flower have combined magnificently to retain the Ashes Down Under
Dream team: Captain Strauss and England team director Andy Flower have combined magnificently to retain the Ashes Down Under 

And the captain had a final word for Paul Collingwood, who has bowed out of Test cricket.

‘Colly has been one of the great servants of English cricket,’ said Strauss. ‘He epitomises everything this England side is about.’
What a way to go: Retiring batsman Paul Collingwood reflects on a job - and career- well done

 What a way to go: Retiring batsman Paul Collingwood reflects on a job - and career- well done

Amin assures English players' participation

Putting to rest speculations about their participation in the fourth edition of the Indian Premier League, IPL Commissioner Chirayu Amin today said the fact that English cricketers were included in the players’ auction means they are available for the tournament.

“There is no issue at all, otherwise they would not have been included in the auction,” said Amin on the sidelines of the first day of the players auction here on Saturday.

“There is no question that English players wont play. The fact that the franchises have bought them (English players) means they have decided to play them and would now look to fit them into the team composition,” he added.

There were reports that English players would need a ’no objection certificate’ (NOC) from the England and Wales Cricket Board to participate in the mega-event starting April 8 as the ECB did not want to overburden its players because the IPL starts just five days after the World Cup.

England are touring Australia since November, where they have already played the Ashes series, and will now be seen in action in the Twenty20s and an ODIs.

When asked Amin why BCCI secretary N Srinivasan, who is a de facto owner of the CSK, was sitting along with him and Rajiv Shukla instead of his franchisee members during the auction today, the IPL chief played down the issue, saying, “He sat there as one of the members of the governing council.”

Meanwhile, the franchisee owners expressed satisfaction on the players they have bought on the first day of the auction.

“We have a good set of players and we are happy about it,” Kochi Cricket Pvt Ltd partner Vivek Venugopal said after the first day’s auction.

The owner of Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Gurunath Meiyappan said that their aim was to retain as much players as possible from the previous team which played in the last three editions of the IPL.

“Lot of efforts have been put behind the team. So we were trying to retain as much of the previous team as possible,” said Meiyappan.

He, however, added that although they were keen to buy Muttiah Muralitharan, who was an intergal part of the team in the last three seasons, in the end they gave up to Kochi as the new franchise was bidding desperately for the Sri Lankan.

Century stand bolsters Pakistan against New Zealand

Asad Shafiq hit 74 as Pakistan closed day two of the first Test in Hamilton on 235-4, 40 runs behind New Zealand.

New Zealand resumed on 260-7 and, although Kane Williamson completed his fifty, they added only 15 runs before being all out for 275.

Pakistan recovered from the first-over loss of Mohammad Hafeez, with captain Misbah-ul-Haq (50 not out) sharing an unbroken stand of 128 with Shafiq.

Shafiq, in his second Test, struck 12 fours for his second fifty.

Pakistan made short work of the New Zealand tail-end, taking only 7.5 overs to capture the remaining three wickets.

Umar Gul struck with the third ball of the day, Tim Southee (56) fending a bouncer to second slip.

Williamson was also unsettled by a short-pitched delivery, this time from Tanvir Ahmed, which he top-edged to wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal, and Tanvir finished with 4-63 in his next over when Brent Arnel miscued to mid-on.

That left renowned batting "rabbit" Chris Martin unbeaten on nought, still seeking three more to complete 100 Test runs - in his 60th match.

After Martin had Hafeez superbly caught at second slip by Tim McIntosh, he conceded three fours to Taufeeq Umar in his next over and two more to the opener in his third over as Pakistan raced to 67-1 from 17 overs at the lunch interval.

Martin gained some revenge when he got one to bounce and straighten and Azhar Ali (24) feathered a catch to wicket-keeper Reece Young.

Younis Khan survived a huge appeal for a catch behind from his third ball but soon hit Martin for three successive boundaries to bring up the Pakistan 100 in the 29th over.

In the next over Taufeeq, having completed his 10th Test fifty, flicked Arnel straight to mid-wicket and in his next over the seamer claimed a simple caught and bowled when Younis overbalanced and got a leading edge.

But 24-year-old Shafiq played a mature innings, negotiating a superb spell by New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori, the left-arm spinner bowling 16 overs for only 17 runs.

Misbah swept Williamson for six and later added successive fours off the spinner to record his eighth Test fifty as Pakistan ended the day in a strong position.