It is a rare day indeed when England win three important games in a single afternoon. But such a day was Saturday 8th September. We won important matches in Rugby, cricket and football… but how to score them in terms of quality?
As a fan, wishing to see all three matches and not being omnipresent was a problem. All three ought to have clashed at around 5pm. And because they did not, performance of the day has to go to England’s cricketers. Beating India in the decider of a seven match series was a terrific achievement. it really does look like brighter days are ahead for our one day side. We outplayed India throughout the day and won deservedly by seven wickets with 12 odd overs to spare. That is a resounding win against very good opposition. Great to see Freddy back but I worry about his long term fitness. Great to see KP score runs and keep concentration under pressure. And great to see Luke Wright opening the batting. I don’t care that it didn’t pay off this time. What the selectors did was make a brave decision based on form and that is the right way to go. Critically, the emphatic nature of the victory against a strong and passionate Indian team meant the game was done before 5pm… kick off time at Wembley and in France. Luvverly.
In second place, England’s beleagured footballers. Too often we’ve scratched out results against crap opposition. This time, against a very average Israel side, we went at them for 90 minutes, scored three, could have scored six and came away with poitives in every department. Special mention to Gareth Barry who was excellent in the centre of midfield. To Shaun Wright-Phillips who just gets better and better. To Micah Richards who is a mountain in defence and a genuine threat coming forward. And Michael Owen who looked sharp and scored a lovely goal. As for Heskey, well actually, he played well, spent less time on his arse than usual and gave the forward line balance. Oh, and Joe Cole. Great player, end of story. If I was the England coach, who cares who else is fit for Wednesday against Russia, you have to start with the same 11. Anything else is a betrayal of all the work, energy and belief. As for speculation making this the end of Beckham’s international career, well I doubt it. If SWP isn’t fit or doesn’t perform, who else would you play? Serious answers only.
Which leaves England’s rugby players. I saw bits and pieces of this match and it was a turgid affair. The US were all muscle and no style and England tried to be fancy and dropped the ball a lot. Yes, we won 28-10 but scored no bonus points while other sides playing the weaker teams in their groups have run up big scores. In the end, the win was everything, of course, but the manner was very disappointing. All we had to do was stick to a single game plan (probabaly sucking players in to rucks and mauls before using our wing pace to score tries would have done it. It’s simple after all) and we’d have scored 60 points. I just don’t think we gave the US enough respect for being organised and tough tacklers. We tried terribly clever moves which are unnecessary against lesser opposition and screwed them all up, more or less. Must try harder. Or we’ll get a sreous beating by South Africa next weekend.
Roll on Wednesday, the 20-20 World Cup and, sort of, the South African challenge.