11 March 2009

England fall just short of victory

First word for today should probably go to the fact that England have lost the test series against West Indies 1-0 after just failing to squeeze a victory out of the first test.

With the cricket odds expecting a draw going into the final day, Andrew Strauss’ men – in particular Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Strauss – batted aggressively before declaring on 237-6.

This declaration came a bit too late for a lot of people, but it gave England two sessions to bowl out the hosts and square the series. In the end, it was a valiant effort, but they fell two wickets short.

So, England have lost a series during which they were they were the better side for large periods. In the end, it all came down to that horrific batting performance on the fourth day of the first test in Jamaica.

The disaster of 51 all out combined with two questionably delayed declarations and a number of flat bowling displays have cost England.

One particular position remains uncertain in the England team – the number three batting position. Ian Bell held the position at the start of the series before being dropped for Owais Shah who is currently in possession of the role.

However, he has failed to make the type of impact that would have guaranteed him a place in the side come the English summer. Shah made scores of 57, 14, 7, 21, 33 and 1 during this series. Hardly the sign of someone in it for the long term is it?

Personally, I feel for Shah. He has been forced to bat in a position that he isn’t completely suited to in order to achieve a much deserved place in the side. The reality is that England have a problem with number three and have done for a while now.

So, who are the options to for fill the role in the tests against West Indies and Australia this summer? Well, presumably Bell and Shah are in with a shout if they show some decent form between now and then. Ravi Bopara is another option as he often bats at number three for his county Essex.

However, if England are to have someone at three they can rely upon, someone who has experience, someone who can make big hundreds - it has to be Michael Vaughan.

If the former England captain can find some form, then he could complete an England top six which – despite the 51 all out – is beginning to look in top form. We shall have to wait and see how it turns out.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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