Cow Corner

New generation, same result

Cow Corner

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England cricket shirts are a powerful thing at the moment.

So long as you're wearing one, you're likely to be doing rather well. It doesn't seem to matter who your opposition is, or who your team-mates are.

Despite sweeping changes ahead of the matches against the West Indies, the dominant result was all very familiar.

Some in the
press have suggested it would be better renaming these two T20s the
'Contractual Obligation Series', given the circumstances.

The ECB had
to stage these games because of a deal struck on the basis of the Stanford
triangular tournament, which disappeared along with its patron.

With more
shoehorning required than the time Chris Tremlett thought it might be fun to
try on Ian Bell's spikes, it would be easy to write off the games as more evidence
of cricket's crazy scheduling.

What
England seem to have learned, however, is that there is something to be gained
from every match - hence a fresh-looking side to face an equally unfamiliar
West Indies.

Nkrumah Bonner? Christopher Barnwell? Danza (and
Cowers promises he isn't making this up) Pacino Hyatt? Then again, how many
people will have been watching the development of Alex Hales from the beaches
of Barbados? Mind you, you had to credit the crowd - 19,000 fans defied cricket
fatigue from a long and one-sided summer to lend some vociferous support to
England.

The reality
for both sides is that the T20 World Cup is less than a year away, and both
sides have a handful of games left to fine-tune their campaigns - something
that stand-in skipper Graeme Swann touched on in the build-up.

"I think most
people in the changing room thought the same thing when these games were
plonked in front of us midway through the season," said Swann," but
when you actually look at it and the scheduling before the World Twenty20 they
are important."

Swann has come a long
way since he played in the ill-fated Twenty20 for $20m game in 2008, a
desperate and hopefully never-to-be-repeated contest before which the
off-spinner talked about splurging his winnings on a pink Ferrari.

Give him a choice
between a luminous sports car and a captain's armband, though, and Swann would
surely choose the latter.

Granted, he couldn't
remember that Jonny Bairstow was in the team at the toss, but it didn't matter.
He remembered Ravi Bopara was a bowling option, and was rewarded handsomely.

And meanwhile the West
Indies forgot any basics they had been working on in the build-up to this
series.

The ball slipped
through the fielders' hands all too often, while several bowlers sent down
front-foot no-balls as if they thought the free hit might be a good thing. As
spinners, Bonner (twice) and Devendra Bishoo were especially culpable.

"We'll do some
fielding practice," West Indies skipper Darren Sammy reportedly said
afterwards, before laughing with one of the team's media men.

You can be sure England
will be doing their drills, though. Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler were denied an
opportunity to make an impression with the bat, but both were responsible for
top-class run-outs.

Taking a relaxed
approach to fielding is as sure a sign as any that a team is going nowhere
fast. India proved that repeatedly over four Tests and six limited-over
clashes.

At least we finally
discovered some value for India's visit to England's shores - their sloppy
summer of cricket was the ideal preparation for taking on a ragtag Caribbean
outfit.

"Men against
boys," concluded Nasser Hussain at the end of the contest. But that wasn't
strictly true - it was boys against boys, with Swann the only Englishman older
than 26.

The future's bright,
especially if England can keep up the hard work when their opponents slip up on
theirs.

USER
COMMENT OF THE DAY: "
I heard the fat lady
has left her dressing room and is standing in the wings" - Merv in Germany called it early, and
called it right.

TWEET
OF THE DAY:
 "England
10wicket Win...Kiss Teeth!!!!!! Sighhhhh!! Not lying I Vex Baddddddd!!!!!!!"
Not exactly sure of the specifics, but somewhere in amongst those words Chris Gayle is a bit vexed to be in
India, watching his team get pounded (after his own Bangalore
Royal Challengers suffered a heartbreaker of their own
in the Champions
League T20).

STAT
OF THE DAY:
3.4-0-10-4 - Ravi
Bopara posts the best figures by an Englishman in T20 internationals.

SNAP
OF THE DAY:
Is Bopara so surprised by his figures that he's re-reading them on The Oval scoreboard? Or is Swann trying to protect him from seeing a highlights reel of the 2009 Ashes before the Essex man loses his mojo?

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