Can England get out of their 2014 World Cup group?

After England were drawn with Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in the ‘Group of Death‘ for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, I asked a few people on the streets of Preston whether they thought they could progress or not.

The people I asked weren’t rife with optimism, with the general thought being that England will have to rely on their attacking players, such as in-form Daniel Sturridge who has scored 11 goals in 14 games this season, to cover their defensive frailties. The Three Lions have put in poor performances at recent major championships, so it is understandable for even the most die-hard of fans to be wary.

https://soundcloud.com/user8489976/can-england-get-out-of-their

How Australia’s attack won them the Rugby League World Cup 2013

rlwc top try scorerss The chart above shows the top try scorers during the Rugby League World Cup 2013, and serves to highlight Australia’s dominance of the tournament. The Kangaroos beat New Zealand 34-2 in the final to regain the trophy after losing 34-28 to the Kiwis in the final of the 2008 tournament. Throughout the finals, Australia scored an incredible 272 points in their six matches (an average of 45 per game), with Jarryd Hayne and Brett Morris contributing 72 of those points through their nine tries each. Half of the players in the top 10 try scorers are Australian, with the non-Australian players being Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (New Zealand), Ryan Hall (England), Antonio Winterstein (Samoa), Manu Vatuvei (New Zealand) and Matthew Russell (Scotland).

For the data to accompany the chart, visit https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0As66_R38ou2sdGZNWDZxYzUtOElyZ21fYS14T0FjMkE&single=true&gid=2&output=html

For a full list of all player stats, including try scorers, go to http://www.rlwc2013.com/fixtures/player_stats

England v Chile pre-match: Frank Lampard’s 100th cap

Before England’s match against Chile on Friday night at Wembley Stadium, England fan Harry Brent discusses midfielder Frank Lampard’s international future. The Chelsea player received his 100th cap in September against Ukraine, but has since said he is unsure of his England career. Lampard, 35, is the eighth player in England history to earn a century of caps, and one of three in the current squad along with Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole.

Wickets tumble on day one

14 wickets fell on the opening day of the 2013 Investec Ashes series, with the pick of the bowlers being Australian fast bowler Peter Siddle.

Siddle took 5 marvellous wickets as England crumbled to just 215 off 59 overs, with fellow quickies Mitchell Starc claiming 2 wickets and James Pattinson taking 3.

The hosts won the toss and elected to bat in the overcast weather of Trent Bridge in Nottingham.

England started the day brightly, with openers Alastair Cook and Joe Root making good progress before Cook pushed a Pattinson ball to Brad Haddin behind the stumps on 13. 27-1.

Fears that Root would follow suit on his Ashes debut were soon dispelled as he and Jonathan Trott took control, working the ball into the gaps and to the boundary.

The 50 partnership was brought up in the 21st over, and it looked as if the pair would carry on and make big scores. However just 5 balls later, Root played all around a late inswinger from Peter Siddle, finishing on 30. 78-2.

The returning Kevin Pietersen, who had played just one first-class innnings this year prior to today, scoring 177 against Yorkshire, was next in and saw England to lunch at 98-2.

The next session belonged to Siddle.

The 5th best bowler in the world, according to the Reliance ICC World Rankings, had Pietersen caught on 14 by captain Michael Clarke at second slip soon after lunch, leaving England in a precarious position at 102-3.

That position got even worse just 8 overs later when Trott, the anchor of the host’s innings, chased a wide one and chopped on to his leg stump to agonisingly fall 2 runs short of a well-deserved 50. 124-4.

Ian Bell, playing in his fourth Ashes series, came in next and steadied the ship, constructing a fantastic 50 partnership with debutant Jonny Bairstow.

Just as the pair were looking to press on and make good individual scores, Bell edged a good ball straight from Siddle to Shane Watson at first slip. 178-5

Matt Prior was the next man in and will have been looking to stay in until tea, but he only lasted six balls as he lashed a shorter ball from Siddle into the hands of Phil Hughes, giving the Aussie his five-for.

Broad and Bairstow manoeuvred England to 185-6 at tea, with the latter unbeaten on 32. It was Broad who took the initiative after the break though, playing shots his father, Chris, would have been proud of to move on to 24.

He went after one too many though, and top edged a short one from Pattinson high into the air, with the bowler taking the routine catch. 213-7.

Yorkshire fast bowler Mitchell Starc was brought back to clear up England’s tail, and he duly obliged when he removed county teammate Bairstow for 37 with a wonderful yorker.

He had two in two next ball when Steven Finn edged an outswinger to Haddin behind the stumps, but James Anderson survived the hat trick ball with a cheeky leave outside off stump.

Pattinson finished what Starc could not though, getting Graeme Swann caught at cover for a solitary run to end England’s innings on a sub-par 215 off 59 overs. Siddle finished with 5-50

With at least 20 overs still to play in the day, England knew they still had a chance to get back into the game if they could take some early wickets.

Aussie openers Shane Watson and 35-year-old Chris Rogers, playing in just his second ever test match, took an over to settle but once they did they never looked like leaving.

Watson began to take the onus, driving fours off Finn like they were going out of business. However he tried one too many in the third over and edged a full ball from the big man to Joe Root at third slip.

Finn, opening in place of Broad who sustained a shoulder injury whilst batting, got two in two when Ed Cowan attempted to drive him and only succeeded in edging it to Graeme Swann at second slip.

The visitor’s talisman Michael Clarke faced the hat trick ball, and nearly succumbed to it when Finn sent down the perfect ball, only for it to flash inches past the outstretched bat.

It was Anderson who claimed the coveted wicket of the Australian captain a few overs later when he sent down a fantastic ball which straightened on Clarke and clipped his off stump for a duck.

That left Australia reeling on 22-3, and England were firmly back in the game.

The unorthodox Steve Smith was in next, and was building a nice partnership with Rogers, until Anderson claimed the latter lbw as his second wicket.

Rogers probably felt a tad unlucky as the decision was initially given out, and the review left it to “umpire’s decision”, forcing him to walk back to the pavilion on 16.

Smith was still going strong at this point, and continued to do so after Phil Hughes came in. Australia ended the day on 75-4, with Smith on 38 and Hughes on 7.

Overall, it really was a day for the bowlers. England almost looked to be down and out for a while, but the three quick wickets at the start of Australia’s innings will have done wonders for morale.

Here’s hoping for a lively second day, and here’s hoping I get the chance to do a day two review tomorrow evening.