Stuart Broad hopes England can now hang onto the newly-restored feel-good factor following their Ashes success.
England face a Test series against Pakistan in the UAE and South Africa in a challenging winter, with Broad admitting Alastair Cook’s men must win abroad to justify recent hype surrounding a new era of dominance.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 14, 2015
“I don’t think there’s any danger of us getting too far ahead of ourselves – we’ve got a lot of Test cricket coming our way,” he said.
“But to play in a side with the likes of (Joe) Root, (Moeen) Ali, (Ben) Stokes, (Jos) Buttler, (Mark) Wood and (Steven) Finn; there are guys coming through who could play for England for eight or nine years.
“Our away form hasn’t been great for a little while now and we know the UAE is a really tough place to go – we went there as world number one last time and just got destroyed.”
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The 29-year-old Broad can not see a way his recent heroics in the urn-clinching Nottingham Test can be bettered, though.
“I hope to play for a few more years yet but I can’t see personally having a better day than that eight for 15,” he said. “You get those spells once in a lifetime – sometimes for school or a club, but to do it against Australia, it’s not even a dream come true, because I would never have dreamt it.”
Meanwhile, James Anderson could feature in the fifth Ashes Test against Australia after practising yesterday. The fast bowler, 33, suffered a side strain on the second day of the third Test and was immediately ruled out of the fourth Test, in which England secured the Ashes. He will be assessed Tuesday and Wednesday before a decision is taken over his potential participation.
Defeats are part of sport, and fans learn to accept them as the by-product of putting everything on the line while going for victory. But what is difficult to digest is total capitulation, like Australia during the Ashes or India in the first Test against Sri Lanka.
Before we dissect India’s performance, Sri Lanka must be commended for never giving up hope despite being almost 200 runs behind in the first innings and five wickets down with nearly 100 runs in arrears. To script a convincing victory from that position is stupendous.
But equally striking was India’s meltdown. How does a team lose from a seemingly ‘unbeatable’ position? Some might suggest that the reprieve that Sri Lankan centurion Dinesh Chandimal and Lahiru Thirimanne received early on in their match-winning effort in the second innings from the umpires, when both edged the ball to the fielders, cost India dearly.
But as long as the Indians are opposed to the Decision Review System, they have no right to complain about umpiring.
— Sri Lanka Cricket (@OfficialSLC) August 15, 2015
The larger issue here is that the defeat has set India and its new philosophy of attacking cricket back a few notches.
It’s all good to talk about being aggressive on the field and packing the side with five bowlers, but when the opposition is on the mat and victory is there for the taking, defeats such as these affect the confidence of the team.
Virat Kohli has a lot of issues to handle. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and seamer Ishant Sharma bowled very well, while leggie Amit Mishra held his own.
However, veteran offie Harbhajan Singh was terrible on a wicket where spinners had a ball and his spot in the team is definitely under threat.
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The batsmen did sufficiently well in the first innings but things fell apart in the second outing, with left-arm spinner Rangana Herath making the ball talk. Middle order batsman Rohit Sharma flopped in both innings and the decision to pick him ahead of Cheteshwar Pujara now seems like a mistake.
What makes the defeat even harder to comprehend is the fact that it came against a Sri Lankan side that was at an all-time low after losing all three series at home against Pakistan.
They were brushed aside by the Pakistanis in the Test, one day internationals and Twenty20 encounters and this was the perfect platform from where India could have started a new, and victorious, era under the leadership of Kohli. The conditions suited the Indians as much as they did Sri Lanka and that must add to the pain of the visitors.
What’s worse for the Indians, 37-year-old Herath, who had been in such poor form that he was dropped from the series-deciding third Test against Pakistan, is back in top form and that will boost Sri Lanka’s confidence considerably.
They say you always learn something from defeat. But India’s setback at Galle has only raised some fresh problems. Captain Kohli said the defeat was down to the batsmen who became tentative during the chase. But he forgot to mention that it was the bowlers who failed to take the last five wickets quickly and that set up the tricky chase.
The inability of the team as a whole to grab the initiative and seal what should have been a straightforward victory proved decisive. For a young team desperate for Test victory away from home, the wait just got longer.
Danube Lions, one of UAE’s top domestic cricket clubs, is set to have a new head coach for this season as part of a new partnership with the ICC Academy.
In a first-of-its-kind project, Danube Lions team members will undergo stiff fitness and training programmes that will help them develop after being approached by Dubai Sports City-based academy.
While no papers have been signed, Danube Lions owner Anis Sajan has confirmed to Sport360 he will go ahead with the partnership, which will run from October to May during the UAE’s domestic season.
— ICC Academy (@ICCAcademy) July 15, 2015
The new qualified head coach, yet to be appointed, will oversee all training sessions three days per week as well as attending all of Danube Lions’ matches, which also includes one 50-over fixture per month against a “high quality” team at ICC Academy. Players will also undergo a programme for strength and conditioning, nutrition and monthly fitness tests.
Having dominated the domestic circuit with silverware including the Al Hamad and Bukhatir trophies, Sajan is in no doubt his players will develop further.
“This will definitely benefit my players as the biggest weakness of cricket in the UAE is the fitness of each player and their fielding,” he said.
“People are only used to hitting sixes and boundaries but they don’t want to take the singles. But if you’re fit, you will make sure you get a single, or convert them in couples and not wait for the boundary.
“It’s a mutual agreement between me and the ICC Academy which we are definitely going to conclude.”
Sajan is confident whoever he hires as coach, will have a positive impact on his team.
“He will improve us by 200 per cent,” he said.
“A coach is a like a teacher and whether you’re batting, bowling or fielding, there’s always room for improvement. As a player, they maybe good, but if you’re not guided your talent can never be nourished.”
Danube Lions and the ICC Academy are no strangers to each other.
Lions train regularly at the state-of-the-art facilities which also host their annual Danube Test and ODI series, which they won this year.
“We have been having a good relationship with the ICC Academy as we’ve been using their facilities for the last two years,” he added.
“We get a lot of support from them and Will Kitchen (ICC Academy general manager), deserves a lot of credit as he gave us the idea of a fitness plan.
“You can say my boys are eating and sleeping at the ICC Academy. It’s our home ground, all the tournaments that we have played there, we have won, so it’s special.
“We have been the No1 team in the last two years. We want to make sure we widen that gap between us and the other teams.
“My goal is to make sure we are like the Australian national team. Yes, they may have lost the Ashes but they are a hard team to beat when they are on top of their game and that’s what I want to see with Danube Lions.”