Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Newlands awaits a Broad side and England are having a whale of a time

JUST three words from Stuart Broad and a buoyant England camp in Cape Town is positively bubbling. "I feel good," says the Nottinghamshire paceman - or should we say all-rounder - after a couple of weeks out struggling with a dodgy shoulder.
Given that England crushed the South Africans at Centurion by seven wickets last Sunday, that's just what coach Andy Flower will want to hear in the city of his birth... though Sajid Mahmood may suffer for it when the team is picked for Newlands on Friday.
Mahmood looks like being the fall-guy for Broad's return after conceding 92 runs from seven overs in the drawn Twenty20 series and seven overs for 41 at Centurion last Sunday.
But let's not be negative. England are on a run of six successive one-day wins over the hosts and after last Friday's rained-off opening ODI, they are 1-0 up in this series with three to play.
Another win and a morale-boosting series triumph before the four Tests start on December 16 will appear on the horizon.
Broad's larger-than-life Notts pal Graeme Swann twitters to keep us up to date with the background to the team's current plight in mid-summer Cape Town, one of the finest cities in the world. He said: "300 miles on a Harley Davidson, great white sharks and whales. Not the worst day that! Apart from sunburnt hands!"
That can be loosely interpreted as a motorbike trip to Hermanus to see the great monsters of the sea. Not a bad way to prepare for another massive showdown against a side hovering around the top of the world rankings. And all this in a city which proclaims in today's newspapers: "Trott's coming home", a reference to the Capetonian roots of England's in-form batsman Jonathan.
And there was Broady yesterday, in the shadow of the stupendous Table Mountain, training with the rest of them at Newlands... and looking tip-top, ready to repeat his Ashes-winning performance from last summer. Hopefully.
He said: "It's been a tricky couple of weeks getting my shoulder right but I feel back to full fitness and excited if selected for Friday.
"We've built some momentum but it's important we kick on from here. There's only three one-dayers left in the series so this is going to be huge for us."
Swanny was out and about too yesterday after his rib injury. With Adil Rashid bang out of form and emergency call-up James Tredwell yet to play international cricket, Swann's needed in the spin department. Elsewhere, pacemen Graham Onions and James Anderson plus opening bat Alistair Cook are all struggling for fitness.
Strange that. Broad, Cook and Anderson all injured... and all three featured in our picture (above) in a shoot for sponsors Hugo Boss. That'll teach 'em! Please feel free to comment on this post... or even, dare I say it, follow me. Pleeeeease!

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