Seldom have the England cricket team endured such a turbulent year of cricket. Frightening frailty against spin derailed our attempts to stay world No1 in the UAE, then South Africa piled on the misery in the second instalment of the English summer. And remember, had it not been for Kevin Pietersen’s mesmeric performances in Sri Lanka, we might have slipped to five consecutive test defeats.
Then there was KP-gate, that unsavoury affair which tarnished the reputation of a team who, under Andy Flower’s leadership, had earned a reputation for playing with professionalism and pride. Nobody came out of the affair smelling of roses.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we did rather well in coloured clothing (for a change). Alastair Cook and KP’s twin hundreds surprisingly won the day against Pakistan’s arsenal of spinners, whilst the West Indies were more predictably dispatched on home soil.
However, temporarily rising to the summit of the ODI rankings can’t disguise what was a pretty dire year for English cricket. Did you know that England were just a solitary Test defeat away from recording their worst year in whites since 1993; this was the last time we lost eight Tests in 12 months.
Although it was brilliant to win a test series in India for 28 years – and don’t get us wrong, it was a superb achievement – most of the year was, well, a disaster.
Luckily however, the famous win in India, and the new leadership of Alastair Cook, has given us some momentum as we move into 2013 – so we can look forward to the upcoming New Zealand tour with confidence.
New Zealand are obviously no Australia – the rivalry between the two isn’t nearly as fierce as the Ashes – and NZ’s recent form in 5-day cricket has been about as impressive as the acting in Shortland Street. But in Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum and arguably Tim Southee, the Black Caps have a smattering of talent that on its day could upset England. In fact, he Kiwis probably see the upcoming series as immensely winnable.
So what do you reckon? Will England sink the men from New Zealand, much like our triumphant rugby team did at Twickenham (with a little help from the norovirus) a few weeks ago. Or will Jesse Ryder lose a few pounds and then pile on the runs against Broad and Co? The bookies seem quite confident. Here’s the latest cricket betting news.
If Flower and co. are to erase the mildly sickening memories of 2012, barging New Zealand out of their way must be the starting point. In years gone by, however, England have found beating the Black Caps in New Zealand more of a problem than expected.
2008 threw up more than the proverbial banana skin (rather an icy car park splashed with soap) as the home side humiliated the visitors in the ODI series, then skittled Michael Vaughan’s team for 110 in the first test – a game the Kiwis went on to win comfortably.
In an attempt to put that harrowing encounter behind them, notable names like Hoggard and Harmison were disposed of in favour of the fresher, younger pair of Anderson and Broad. Recognise them? Fortunately, the younger pacemen inspired their side to overturn the deficit and claim a 2-1 series victory.
Circumstances back then weren’t so dissimilar to our current predicament: England were a team in transition, clutching for stability in selection and performance. With players like Joe Root, Nick Compton, Chris Woakes and Jonny Bairstow striving to cement a place in the starting XI, the similarities are clear. Perhaps this new generation of players will put aside the carnage of 2012 and resurrect the team, much like Anderson and Broad did in Michael Vaughan’s last tour as England skipper?
The rest period enjoyed by Jonathan Trott, James Anderson and Graeme Swann should ensure they are fresh, both physically and mentally for another arduous tour, but England should underestimate New Zealand at their peril. Most of us thought we’d beat Pakistan in the UAE quite comfortably. Remind me how that one turned out again?
Whatever the result, however, England fans travelling to New Zealand will have cracking time. It’s a beautiful, beautiful country – if a little too infested with Hobbits. I’m gutted I can’t go personally, but at least I’ve got my satellite subscription, and I’ve discovered you can also watch cricket online too.
Will you be staying up all night to watch it? Surely your job isn’t that important.
Written in collaboration with Bet365