Saturday, 4 June 2011

Cook the imperious, Joe back on form at last

It's been a while since I added a post, but such is life. Up until last night it had been a good week for England and Kent supporters. I'll start with the England team and their dramatic and unexpected victory over Sri Lanka on Bank Holiday Monday.
Alastair Cook is surely the leading batsman in the World right now. His form has been quite incredible and to continue it in to the new season is a credit to him after the highs in Australia. I was surprised to see him get himself out yesterday when within four of his hundred - he's been so confident that such an aberration was something of a shock to this viewer. The best thing about seeing Cook in form and scoring loads of runs is that it shoves the criticism of people like Mike Atherton back down their throats. For two years Atherton, and others, picked holes in Cook's "technique" and caused him to change the way he batted. Graham Gooch put all of that right and Cook is now back to doing what comes naturally. Anyone who gets criticised by Atherton should simply have a look at his Test average and realise that he is the luckiest man in the World to be considered as some kind of top player.
Chris Tremlett was the catalyst for the England win on Monday. I heard one of the "experts" doing him down on Monday by saying that he showed how good he is "in English conditions" as if to say that he would struggle elsewhere. Were they not watching the series in Australia last Winter? I am a big fan of Tremlett. He moves the ball at pace and gets steepling bounce from that massively tall frame of his.
Sri Lanka's collapse on Monday was the sort of thing that was associated with England when I was growing up. It had more than an echo of the last day at Adelaide in 2006 when Shane Warne created such panic in the England batting. It was the sort of victory that marks out a World Class team and sets them apart from the rest. There used to be talk of that great Australian side carrying an "aura" with them. If Monday showed us anything it is that this England team is gaining a similar reputation.

For Kent we finally saw the top order getting in the runs at Tunbridge Wells. It is surely no coincidence that Joe Denly, Robert Key and Sam Northeast all scored first-innings runs and Kent went on to win the match. After what we've seen these past few weeks this was truly a magnificent effort from the Kent players. Matt Coles showed that he might yet have what it takes with his five-for. James Tredwell also served notice that he should still be looked upon as the contenders to be understudy to Graeme Swann with England.
Since making his England debut Joe Denly has hardly scored a run. Out of contract at the end of this season a lot of Kent supporters have been wondering if he should be offered a new deal. He answered those questions in the best way possible last week. We all know that Joe has genuine quality, so a return to some form was most welcome. I hope this is the start of a permanent return to run-scoring from our opening bat.
Unfortunately the Kent win comes at a time when the County Championship is mothballed to accommodate the Twenty20 Cup. As you know I am not a fan of the shortest format. That it is now disrupting Kent at a time when they suddenly showed some promise only makes it less popular with me. Fingers crossed that it doesn't distract the players too much when we get going again.
On the subject of Twenty20 you have to wonder about the administrators at Kent. Our Club has no money and is losing more of it all the time. So why the hell are we playing potentially money-spinning matches away from Canterbury again? What is the point in Kent playing Twenty20 matches at Tunbridge Wells? What is the point in putting the floodlights in at Canterbury and then playing Somerset (with Trescothick and other crowd pullers in their side) in a Friday evening game elsewhere? They call themselves business people for goodness sake. Alan Sugar wouldn't employ them. It's not just Kent, of course. I've bleated before about the fixture list as a whole and how matches get played at the wrong time - today is Saturday and there is not a domestic fixture anywhere in the Country. Frightening.

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