Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Below Average SportsBlog #7

Well May has come and gone near enough gone and I've not been updating my blogs of late too which is my fault for a few reasons. Podcasting and a trip to Chicago are the main reasons.

We will look back at the last few months of sporting action and we’ll turn to football first and since the last blog I posted back in January it has saw the domestic side of things come to a conclusion. In the Premier League it saw Chelsea completing a double in Jose Mourinho's second season back in charge at Stamford Bridge as first off he won the League Cup beating Tottenham back in February and then won back the Premier League title for the first time in Six years. The Blues were very much deserving of the league title this season as the table doesn't lie and saw Chelsea notch up more points and stayed unbeaten against their title rivals in City,United and Arsenal.

Manchester had for the last few seasons dominated the title scene in English football with both City and United lifting the league crown and forced the other sides into playing catch up. Both had up and down seasons since the turn of the year with United at point getting some form back towards the back end of the season and saw them looking like  their old selves as the made a late charge for the title something that they were famous for during their dominant seasons.

City carried on their inconsistent form in which the only thing that was consistent about them in the season. City threw away so many 2-0 leads at an alarming rate over the year that it was the worse lead in football for the Blues as games against the likes of Sunderland, Aston Villa and Swansea saw go from 2 up to 2 all as they proceeded to hit the self destruction button and let their opponents back in the games. However the blues were normally able to find a vital late goal in these tight games to see them just get out of jail on more than one occasion..

A lot of questions will be asked in the off season about the goings on in the background with the Etihad Stadium club. After the ongoing saga over Yaya Toure and the way the whole drama was played out between player & agent which saw the ridiculous incident of ‘Cake-gate’. The phrase 'defense wins titles' so looking at the table you can see that wasn't the case for the Citizens, with them conceding more goals than any of their title rivals.

City's Central Midfield was ropey and lacking in any drive going forward or direction as Toure who had been a lynchpin in the title winning season for the blues saw Manuel Pellegrini using him as a defensive midfielder and it hurt the side in my view.
Player of the year for me seemed cleared cut for me but when Toure was named as the shock winner it had me thinking how on earth James Milner didn't win was a mystery!

Milner who has been a complete model professional about the whole uncertainty of the Yorkshireman's future at the club had Pellegrini in some quarters of media not giving Milner the credit he has deserved, as he had for a majority of the season the standout performer in the team and always gave 100% to the cause.

Chelsea led the league from start to finish almost and although they aren't the most attractive team to watch, they do get the job done and that facts don't lie, in which the outcome was a league championship.


Turning to Cricket and it has seen signs of improvement within the England side ahead of the Ashes with Australia this upcoming summer. As the last couple of months has seen the ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board) suffering some turmoil, what with the sacking of Peter Moores as England coach (again!) and then saw the quick appointment of Andrew Strauss being given the top job in the English Cricket. Following the appointment there was then a Public outcry over Strauss's decision NOT to welcome back Kevin Pietersen to the England fold after there was alleged promises from within the senior members of the ECB big wigs to bringing him back in the squad.

On the field and England faced New Zealand in a two-match series at Lords and Headingley. England started the series off in the worst possible way as on day one they found themselves in deep deep trouble at 43-4 after losing Debutant Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, captain Alistair Cook and Ian Bell all fairly cheaply.
However a rescue effort by Joe Root 'YORKSHIREMAN' saw him scoring 98 and a good knock by Ben Stokes of 92, saw them both helping England recover along with Jos Buttler and Moeen Ali providing back up down the order.

New Zealand in reply to England's 389 scored a massive 523 with Kane Williamson scoring a masterful 132 to help the Black Caps bypass the hosts and try to exert pressure of their own. Martin Guptil and Tom Latham gave the tourists a brilliant start to the innings, as the opening pair put on a 148 run stand for the opening wicket before two quick wickets with Stuart Broad and Moeen Ali dismissed them both.
Ross Taylor and Brendan McCullum kept the runs coming for New Zealand which gave them a first innings lead of 134.

England in 2nd Innings scored 478 with the return to form of captain Alastair Cook and saw him top score with 162 with Joe Root giving him support with 84. Ben Stokes came to the crease and scored the fastest hundred at Lords in test match history making 101 from 92 balls to see England's innings roll on and giving them hope of getting a result.
New Zealand found the run chase difficult after England set them the target of 345 for victory. Instead it saw their hopes of chasing it down vanish very quickly with the loss of three wickets, with both openers going without scoring and then when Taylor, Williamson and McCullum all departed too it really made for a tall order for the Black Caps to get back into the game at 61-4.

BJ Watling and Corey Anderson then kept out the English bowlers to see New Zealand survive till mid afternoon, but eventually England broke up the partnership and saw them go through the rest of the tail to win by 124 runs in the 1st Test.


The series then headed up North to Yorkshire and to Headingley in Leeds in particular, where England were hoping to seal their first series win since last summer against India. The hosts got the perfect start getting Tom Guptil and Kane Williamson out early and had the Black Caps scorecard reading 2-2. Tim Latham remained at the crease and had Ross Taylor to help him as their mini partnership got NZ moving long again and rebuilt. Brendan McCullum then scored a quick fire 41 to see the tourists onto 123-4 and England's attack was bowling very well on the Leeds pitch.

Tom Guptil and Luke Ronchi helped New Zealand move from 144-5 to 264 for 6, as Guptil's innings came to a close at 84 and without him the tourists really would have been in danger. Ronchi departed on 88 and with the tail wagging it had Matt Henry and Trent Boult both playing cameo innings as they finished on 350 all out.
England in reply saw their new opening partnership blossoming well, with Alastair Cook and Adam Lyth on his home ground putting on 177 for the first wicket stand, after Cook was out LBW to Craig for 75. Lyth was next to follow after he was run out for 107 and got a standing ovation by the Headingley crowd as he headed back to pavilion.

Gary Ballance another Yorkshire player in the England side, saw him score his best score since the West Indies series a couple months back as he made 29,while the third member of the White Rose nation saw Joe Root out for 1.
England collapsed from 238-3 to 267-8 with only Stuart Broad fighting back after he scored a quick 46 from 39 balls,before he was bowled out and saw England finish level with New Zealand scoring 350 themselves.

Second innings saw Tom Guptil making 70 runs with Ross Taylor adding 48 and then Captain Brendan McCullum scoring 55 as NZ by built a lead of up to 262. BJ Watling then put the Black Caps in complete control of the match with a well played 120, when Joe Root took the catch off James Anderson's bowling to dismiss him.
Once again failure to get the tail out saw vital runs come and had the three tailenders score a combined total of 110 to see them finish on 454-8 declared.

England needed to bat out two days and with the rain helping their cause out on day 4, it saw Cook and Lyth at the crease come day 5. Sadly though as England tend to do historically at Headingley, saw the hosts collapse and handed victory to NZ with only 6 players making double figure scores with Lancashire's Jos Buttler top scoring with 73 and ended in New Zealand levelling the series at 1-1 ahead of the one day internations. 

New show will be back soon! 


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