Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Time to end England's misery. Not.

TIME for a quick review of the last week for English sports fans before we begin to discuss this weekend's international showdowns.
On Saturday Martin Johnson's rugby union hopefuls produced what former World Cup-winner Matt Dawson described as "the worst half of rugby I have ever seen" as they scraped to a 16-9 win over Argentina at Twickenham. Soon afterwards, Fabio Capello's all-conquering World Cup group winners were given a severe reality check by Brazil in Doha, losing 1-0 when really, they were lucky to get nil.
And so to Sunday, with Andy Flower's cricketers treated to a record-breaking Twenty20 defeat by South Africa at Centurion and Tony Smith resigning after his side were soundly walloped by the Wallabies in the Four Nations final at an even-quieter-than-usual Old Trafford.
Not a great weekend then. Oh, perhaps we should mention that all four of our international bosses, particularly Johnson and Capello, were hit by injuries to 341 members of their squads.
And no doubt the excuses will be hauled out again this weekend, with England launching their five-match ODI campaign at the Wanderers with only 13 fit players and New Zealand arriving for the final Autumn International at Twickenham with Simon Shaw back in the squad at 35.
The cricketers did manage a win over South Africa A at Potchefstroom yesterday with Andrew Strauss, Matt Prior and Jonathan Trott all getting half centuries and yes, all three of them were born in South Africa. Alistair Cook pulled out with a sore back to add to the injury list which already features Paul Collingwood, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Graeme Swann.
Adil Rashid? The man taken off after one over when he was hit for four sixes last Sunday, bowled eight overs and ended with 0-44.
Trott was wheeled out for the post-match quotes. He said: "I think it was a nicely measured innings from us. Andrew Strauss set it up nicely at the beginning and along with Joe Denly gave us a good start.
"I then came in and sort of got going. There was then a little period where the guys came in, getting themselves in and then getting themselves out unfortunately.
"But Matt Prior came in and played an awesome innings - I just batted around him and then Luke Wright came in and played his part, the way we know he can, and we got ourselves home."
I can't see England beating South Africa on Friday at the bull-ring... though I notice their rugby Springboks fell to a third successive defeat on tour, this time by a point to one of their colonies, Saracens, at Wembley.
If only England were playing the Boks on Saturday we might have a chance. The All Blacks, beaten by South Africa in the Tri-Nations, may be too much for England's depleted side, even with the resurgent Shaw.
It's going to be another tough weekend for England fans.

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