Saturday, June 18, 2005

StavSport Dettori-sized

The Lions second string looked much better this morning against a tough and eager Otago team. Some of the set moves started to come off and they were slightly better at the breakdown. Even so, most of the players on show under the Dunedin floodlights won't be lining up for that dodgy 'anthem' in Christchurch next Saturday. Geordan Murphy and Shane Williams looked lively and could play themselves into Test squad contention. Charlie Hodgson looked pretty sharp and has impressed me as the best flyhalf seen so far, but whether he has done enough to oust golden-boy Wilkinson and the in-form but practically unseen Stephen Jones, only Clive Woodward will know. Talking of Jones's, young replacement back-rower Ryan Jones, had an absolute stormer, and with Dellaglio on crutches he must fancy his chances of wearing 'eight' on his back come Saturday. Tackling, mauling, under the high ball, and in the loose this was an impressive all-round display from a player that wasn't even picked in the fist place.

Ashraful gets a hatful of runsToday is the hottest day of the year so far. The kind of bright day that encourages thoughts of picnics, berry-picking, pints of IPA outside a country pub. But above all it is perfect for the white flannels, cream cakes, wooden pavilions and the sound of leather on willow. I'm taking about Cricket of course. The gentle English summer sport, and the sport that the Australians are suddenly rubbish at. After getting a mauling by England in the Twenty20 curtain-raiser on Monday, they had hoped to bounce back with a good performance in the warm-up against Somerset on Wednesday. They didn't get it. Still, with the Natwest Tournament starting for them today at Cardiff, it'll be a case of alright on the night surely. Australia don't lose three matches in a row do they, and Bangladesh are the worst ranked side in international cricket, an undernourished nag in this three-horse race? The Bangladeshis didn't read the script. Cricinfo describes it as "one of the biggest upsets in cricket history". They'll be dancing in the streets of Dakka and Chittagong tonight, I don't know what they'll be doing in Melbourne and Adelaide. Tomorrow thought it is Bristol's turn to host the Great Australian demise. I say that with the tounge firmly in cheek, as I was 5 years old when England last won an Ashes series, since then English cricket has seen more false Dawns than a French and Saunders lookalike competition. Beware the wounded Kangaroo.


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