Dawn Of A New Era

When the England squads for the forth-coming cricket tour of South Africa were announced yesterday I for one breathed a sigh of relief followed by a renewed optimism ahead of the tour.

Although the tour does not commence for another month or so and the all important test series not beginning until mid-December as a cricket fan I have more optimism than usual.

The selectors appear to have finally gone for a new selection policy in some aspects with the selection of players who have been in form over the course of the past 12 months and finally having a ruthless streak with several under performing players.

The obvious joy of Kevin Pietersen (pictured above) returning to the test arena offers comfort and much needed steel to a very vulnerable middle order, which against Australia performed to an embarrassing low.

Looking at the other notable selections, it shows a squad of players who are hungry to produce, offer the team more than one dimension and many have been rewarded for continued international performances or on the back of an excellent domestic season or two.

It is also really pleasing to see several of the old guard dispensed with and told to go away and perform to the level of the players included and for the next tour you maybe considered.

Will the likes of Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara, Monty Panesar. Steve Harmison and Tim Ambrose be able to get back into this squad? My only hope is no and for the very good reason that this selected squad produces the goods in South Africa.

Of those only Monty Panesar has shown any hunger in the past week with his decision to join Highveld Loins (South African franchise) for the pending winter months. The rest need to follow suit.

I am extremely excited to see the career of Jonathan Trott (pictured below) develop on this tour as in his test debut it was easy to see this is the level of cricket he was meant to be playing at. I only hope he excels in his homeland.

The mood within the camp will be positive following the ashes success and the semi-final appearance at the Champions Trophy as well as several players wanting to justify their inclusions.

Time will tell as the tour unfolds but it is sure to be a fantastic tour against the number one test side in the world and to beat them in their own back garden as we did in the 2004/05 series would prove England are a test team on the up.

Also the one-day squad needs to continue from the relative success in the Champions Trophy recently and look to remove the memory of the recent 6-1 drubbing by the Australians.

The tour dates are below for your perusal and why not bookmark my blog to keep them close at hand.

November

1st England squad arrives in South Africa

6th v President’s XI, 50-over tour match, Bloemfontein

8th v President’s XI, 50-over tour match, Kimberley

10th v South Africa A, 20-over tour match, Bloemfontein (d/n). Play starts 1230 GMT

13th 1st Twenty20 international, Wanderers, Johannesburg (d/n). Play starts 1600 GMT

15th 2nd Twenty20 international, Centurion. Play starts 1230 GMT

17th v South Africa A, 50-over tour match, Potchefstroom (d/n). Play starts 1230 GMT

20th 1st one-day international, Wanderers, Johannesburg (d/n). Play starts 1230 GMT

22nd 2nd one-day international, Centurion. Play starts 0800 GMT

27th 3rd one-day international, Newlands, Cape Town (d/n). Play starts 1230 GMT

29th 4th one-day international, St George’s, Port Elizabeth. Play starts 0800 GMT

December

4th 5th one-day international, Kingsmead, Durban (d/n). Play starts 1230 GMT

9th-10th v SA Airways Challenge XI, East London. Play starts 0800 GMT

11th-12th v SA Airways Challenge XI, East London. Play starts 0800 GMT

16th-20th 1st Test, Centurion. Play starts 0830 GMT

26th-30th 2nd Test, Kingsmead, Durban. Play starts 0830 GMT

January

3rd-7th 3rd Test, (pictured below), Cape Town. Play starts 0830 GMT

14th-18th 4th Test, Wanderers, Johannesburg. Play starts 0830 GMT

I have also included the squads that will travel to South Africa below for you should your heart so desire to go into cricket overload!

Test squad:Andrew Strauss (Middlesex – captain), Alastair Cook (Essex – vice captain), James Anderson (Lancashire), Ian Bell (Warwickshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Paul Collingwood (Durham), Steven Davies (Surrey), Graham Onions (Durham), Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire), Liam Plunkett (Durham), Matt Prior (Sussex), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire), Luke Wright (Sussex)

One-day squad: Andrew Strauss (Middlesex – captain), James Anderson (Lancashire), Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Paul Collingwood (Durham), Alastair Cook (Essex), Joe Denly (Kent), Sajid Mahmood (Lancashire), Eoin Morgan (Middlesex), Graham Onions (Durham), Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire), Matt Prior (Sussex), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire), Luke Wright (Sussex)

Cheers for reading as usual and all comments are welcome.

Gaffers

P.s. I am rather pleased the England versus Ukraine match is not live on television this weekend for several reasons.

Kentaro (internet providers screening the match) are well within their rights to screen the match and to experiment with the technology at their disposal.

But the main reason I am pleased is, it may open narrow-minded sports fans up to other football matches this weekend and the many other live sporting events been aired this weekend, namely the Super League Grand Final and Somerset’s appearance in the Twenty20 Cricket Champions League.

Check out all the live sport your heart desires at http://www.livesportontv.com/ it is the equivalent of a sports fanatics bible!

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