Thursday, 16 June 2011

The Rose Bowl Gold Cup

Not a bowl and no roses visible
Fantasy Bob has only been to Southampton once - many years ago to catch a ferry to France.  He has never been to Ascot.  But that is where the action is this week.  The 3rd Test between England and Sri Lanka is the maiden Test match at the Rose Bowl, one of those new fangled grounds that have appeared in England with funny shaped stands.  FB has no idea why it is called the Rose Bowl - but accepts that meaningless names is one of the consequences of general new fangledness all oaver the world.  The Gold Cup however is not a new fangled cricket ground but a feature race at Ascot first run in 1807.  FB's tip to win is the lady with cabbages for a hat.

Ascot favourite
There will anxious scanning of the skies because the weather forecast is poor, unless you are worried about reports of drought in the south of England.  So good luck Rose Bowl - its main test may be of patience.  Hats may suffer.

But as and when the cricket gets underway, and now that all dressing room windows have been treated with shatterproof surfaces, what are the main talking points?   The real challenge facing both sides is how to get 20 hats win the match. 

Is the challenge less for Sri Lanka?  After all, they only really have to get 16 wickets because when Strauss comes in they toss the ball to Welegedara and when KP comes in they bring Herath on, so fragile have these 2 looked this summer.  Jimmy Anderson's return should give England's attack that bit extra compared to its monotonous and tall sameness at Lords, but even he cannot make a flat batting wicket into a result wicket.  And unlike Ascot hats, Southampton's wicket appears to be a flat, to judge from recent scores. 

The experts, whoever they are, think Anderson will come in for Finn which leaves former Hampshire player Chris Tremlett returning to his old stamping ground to show he is not the gentle giant they fondly remember.  He is now a snarling hell raiser, almost.  But Stuart Broad remains a puzzle - he got his 100th Test wicket at Lords but for long spells he looked like he had no idea how to take a wicket.   FB has no idea why he persists with the short stuff when a goodly number of his wicket taking balls are pitched up. T20 skipper or not, to stay in Fantasy Bob's side for the rest of the summer, Broad has to get among the wickets, or wear cabbages for a hat.  Putting the sulking behind him would also help. On the plus side, England's batting, KP aside, looks rock solid - and it's just a question of which 2 of the top 7 are going to get 100s. 

Sorry, did you say heads.....
Sri Lanka face the major loss with Dilshan out.  His pirate hankie hat under his helmet is a valiant attempt but doesn't have enough cabbages.  Nevertheless his 193 at Lords was further evidence of a player of the highest calibre.  Sangakkara, somewhat reluctantly it would seem, takes up the captaincy, fresh from a big 100 against Essex.  Rumours that he gave up the captaincy after the World Cup because of persistent hearing problems at the toss are unsubstantiated. Sangakkara is one of those fine players who is on everyone's favourite player list and it is surely time that he delivers against England.  For a player of his standing his average against England in England is in the Fantasy Bob class compared to his overall average.

As seasoned readers of FB will know he is an enthusiastic but incompetent match forecaster.  Actually he is enthusiastic but incompetent at most things, except those things at which he is only incompetent.  The weather and the probable featherbed of the wicket suggest a draw to FB which will leave England 1-0 victors on the basis of that exceptional 20 overs in the final afternoon at Cardiff.  A telling lesson for all  junior cricketers - lose one session and you can lose the series.  But Sri Lanka are probably firm favourites already for the ODIs.

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