Oct 24

England Training Camp Sees Unprecedented Intensity

It’s the dream of every player from the moment they start playing their chosen sport to pull on their national jersey and represent their country. To get the call to join a national training squad is exhilarating and exciting, although it can cause difficulties for the club left behind.

England Training

Several Premiership coaches have been publicly critical of the current intensity of the England training camp following some high-profile injuries to key players. Bath’s Anthony Watson broke his jaw training with the national squad recently, and Wasps’ Sam Jones will be out for even longer with a broken leg and damaged ankle.

Controversial Tactics

There has been no need to buy rugby ball equipment for these players as the focus has been on learning judo, which many believe is the reason for the number of lengthy injuries of late.

Those in favour of the unusual training point out that with a Test against the Springboks coming up, the players must be used to the big hits that some of the southern hemisphere teams put in time after time. The sustainability is key, although that will likely result in some heavy casualties.

High Intensity

Proponents of the high-intensity tactics claim that it’s the only way to get ready for the bigger matches and that inevitably will cause some injury, although injuries are not uncommon at any training camp.

The element of Eddie Jones’s camp raising eyebrows is that the players are learning judo as part of their “basic skills training”, not least from the Premiership coaches. A rift is developing with resistance from the club sides.

In fact, judo is not a new addition to the a rugby training regime, and training with an external group can help players from different clubs come together and bond as a functioning unit.

A Step Up

Rugby is a contact sport, and injuries are always a risk. Damage can be minimised by warming up and cooling down properly and through maintaining a healthy squad.

There is a step up from club level to playing for your national side, so training should reflect that. Trends in exercise these days suggest that shorter periods of high-intensity training are often more effective than several hours of exercise at 70 per cent intensity.

To beat the best teams in the world, the England rugby team will need to be ready both physically and mentally, and persistent injuries will hinder that.

Oct 17

Guide to Buying the Right Cricket Bat

The right cricket bat will help you enormously on the pitch, but when buying cricket bats online you can’t always get a feel for them as you would in a store. Not to worry, though, as with our simple guide to shopping for cricket bats online, you’ll know what you need without having to leave your house.


Cricket bats are made from willow – either English or Indian. The grade of willow ranges from 1 to 5, with 1 being the best. As a basic rule, the more advanced the level that you play at, the higher the grade you should go for. Those playing cricket for fun can go for the lower-grade willows, whilst those playing professional cricket will always need the highest grade only.


Unfortunately, size does matter, and getting the cricket bat size correct will help enormously. The correct size doesn’t just apply to whether you get a junior or senior bat – within those categories size and weight can differ enormously. This cricket bat size guide from Morrant – http://www.morrant.com/Portals/1/user/sizeGuide/Batsizes.pdf – will make it easy to find the right size for you.

Trusted Manufacturer

It’s advisable to buy a bat from a trusted retailer that stocks only reputable manufacturers. Top brands in cricket bat manufacture include Gray Nicholls, Kookaburra, Gunn and Moore and also well-known general-purpose sports brands such as Puma or Adidas.


When buying your cricket bat, there are a number of accessories you may want to consider which can protect the bat and help you maintain it, ensuring it lasts longer. Cricket bat covers are a must for many cricketers as a simple way to protect the bat from dust, damp and the elements in general. If you’ve opted for a high-end cricket bat, it makes sense to keep it as safe as possible with a padded cricket bat cover. You can also protect your bat by purchasing a toe protector which is fixed to the very bottom of the bat or anti-scuff sheet. In terms of maintenance, a conditioning oil or wax will protect the willow for longer.

As you can see, choosing the best bat in terms of looking at size, manufacturer and willow grade is only half the decision process. You then need to consider accessories such as protectors, covers and maintenance in order to make sure you keep your bat tip-top condition.

Oct 14

England’s batsmen struggle as Bangladesh dominate second ODI

After taking a one-nil lead in their previous match against Bangladesh, England were hoping to wrap up the three-match series with a convincing performance in the second, though those hopes were soon dashed.

A Good Start

The match had begun reasonably well for England, as their bowlers restricted Bangladesh in the early stages. The home side quickly got into their stride, though, ending on 238-8, with Mahmudullah scoring a solid 75 runs to help his team recover from their slow start.

England’s seam bowlers’ mix of pace and length throughout never allowed Bangladesh to settle, though the high intensity of their bowling started to cause a problem for themselves as the game wore on, and the humidity rose to 70%.

England’s turn to bat came, and confidence among the supporters was high, with the target set by Bangladesh seen as achievable.

Unfortunately, that confidence didn’t seem to make it on to the pitch, and England’s batsmen got off to a shaky start. The hosts looked a lot sharper in the field than they had in the first match, and their bowling soon had England on the back foot.

Before long, England were in trouble, having lost 4 wickets, whilst only scoring 26 runs, though some calm was restored when captain Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow combined to record a 79-run partnership.

Not long after Bairstow edged a Taskin Ahmed delivery into the keeper’s gloves, tempers frayed as Buttler was trapped LBW by Taskin. The Bangladesh players celebrated his dismissal, and the umpires had to step in to calm the situation down.

England fought right to the end, but fell 24 runs short of their target, leaving the series on a knife-edge as the two teams go into the third match.

Fines and Reprimands

The match ended with more controversy, as Jos Buttler was given a reprimand due to a heated altercation with some of the Bangladesh players after his dismissal. The crowd favourite, and the inspiration behind a lot of younger fans buying their replica shirts and other cricket clothing online, was deemed guilty of “using language or a gesture that is obscene, offensive or insulting”.

The ICC also imposed fines on Bangladesh’s Mashrafe Mortaza and Sabbir Rahman, totalling 20% of their match fee, for their part in the fracas. England Coach Trevor Bayliss warned that his players will not back down from any further provocation from the Bangladesh team.

Oct 13

England Fans Warn Against Travel to Bangladesh in Support of Cricket Tour

The colourful group of supporters, known the world over for their partisan chants and overt support, has suggested that travel to Bangladesh would be just a step too far. The Barmy Army is warning that the current political situation in the country is too risky currently, though they would reconsider their position if they were to organise a fans’ tour that would be given the same security as the players themselves.

No Interest

Support for travel is limited amongst fans given the national security concerns, and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has suggested that there may yet be players who opt out. Selection has not yet been made, but the ECB Director of Cricket, Andrew Strauss, is under no illusion that security concerns might yet play havoc with selection decisions.

Strauss has allowed all players the chance to consider the risks and implications of both travelling and remaining behind. Some players have come out on both sides already, ahead of the official squad announcement on 16 September. The captain of the limited-overs team, Eoin Morgan, has put himself on the side of the cautious and has stated that he is glad of the additional time to make this important decision.

Real Concerns

The England tour, which is made up of three one-day internationals and two Test matches, starts on 7 October and passes through Dhaka, where a hostage incident in July saw 20 deaths.

The Barmy Army’s stance is that if there is enough of a concern to warrant additional security measures for the team, there should be the same security given to those travelling to Bangladesh in support. Without these measures, they believe, it is simply too risky to go, though they advise visiting the Foreign Office website for the most up-to-date information and intelligence.

The current risk is said to be “heightened” – this is the same level given for London and many other European destinations. The advice is to avoid large crowds and areas that Westerners are known to congregate in.

An option for the non-travelling Barmy Army would be to buy cricket batting gloves online and make the most of the long-promised Indian summer this year!

Oct 06

Historic hockey victory aims to inspire a new generation of players

The women of Team GB’s hockey team walked away from the Rio Olympics in 2016 with a first gold medal in hockey for Great Britain after beating the Netherlands in a dramatic penalty shootout. Winning gold was the end of a journey that saw the team win bronze at London 2012 and reunite with coach Danny Kerry in 2014. The team used a sports psychologist to help them get mentally prepared for Rio, while funding from the UK Lottery and sponsorship means that most of the team are now playing professional hockey full-time.

Inspiration for the future

One of the main aims of the team is to try to increase participation in hockey at the grassroots level. Whether you are already playing at school and want to play more or you haven’t played since school and would like to take it up again, now is the perfect time. Even if your child is at primary school and has taken an interest in the sport, it is never too early to start playing. Great Britain is also hosting the Hockey World Cup in 2018, which should encourage even more interest in the sport.

How you can get involved

If the winning ways of Team GB’s women’s hockey team have inspired you and you are looking to start playing again or try it for the first time, the best way to take up the sport is to find your local hockey club. You might even be able to do a “taster” session to see if it is the right sport for you.

If you decide you like the sport, you will need to invest in some equipment. Most of what you need is readily available on the internet or on the high street. You can even buy hockey sticks online.

Hopefully, Team GB’s hockey success at the Olympics has inspired you to return to hockey or have a go at it for the first time. There is no better way to grow as an individual than by playing a team sport and getting involved.

Sep 29

Pakistan v West Indies T20I Series, 2016/17

The West Indies are on a high after beating England in the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 by four wickets. Pakistan came into the tournament looking poor and got worse, with losses to India, New Zealand and Australia failing to see them get beyond the group stages.

Clash of the Titans

The T20I series in the UAE could see a head-to-head clash between two of the best bowlers in T20 cricket – the West Indies Samuel Badree, ranked world number one, and Shahid Afridi, who at 36 has been a talismanic all-rounder for Pakistan over the years. Both are right-arm spinners, though Afridi has carried his bat more successfully than Badree, slashing some serious boundaries during his career.

The teams are yet to be announced, with the new West Indies captain, Barbadian all-rounder Carlos Braithwaite, confident that his team will be successful in the UAE. The West Indies have been playing in America, where the game is getting off the ground. Pakistan have just lost the ODI series against England 4-1.

The UAE Series

If the Windies have the edge on paper for the T20I matches to be played in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, then Pakistan will be looking for revenge in the upcoming ODI matches. Pakistan will also contest their first ever day-night Test with the new and controversial pink ball.

The West Indies Cricket Board turned down the opportunity to play the T20I matches in Pakistan, citing security fears – Pakistan have played virtually all their international matches in the UAE after the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus, when six players were injured and six Pakistani policemen were killed.

Globalising the Game

If you’re inspired to get back to the wicket or to take up cricket for the first time, you’ll find some great online bargains right now on all your essential equipment. Don’t forget to look for cricket bags for sale to carry it all round in, then settle back and enjoy some quality T20I cricket – the most exciting format around.

Sep 23

Australia v Ireland ODI Match, 2016/17

The 2015 One Day International

Last year’s One Day International between Ireland and Australia took place in Belfast and saw the Australians enjoy a convincing victory over the Irish team. The Australian team boasted the impressive combined might of Joe Burns and David Warner, with both being instrumental in the win. Burns and Warner set up a 139-run partnership before heavy rain put a stop to the first innings. Rain interrupted play throughout the day, so both teams will be hoping for better weather during this year’s One Day International. When play resumed, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Glenn Maxwell claimed two wickets each, helping to cement the Australian team’s victory over their Irish hosts.

This year’s match

Ireland again line up against Australia on 27th September this year, with the match scheduled to take place in South Africa. Ireland are still cricketing minnows, but are continuing their quest to regularly play against some of the world’s top teams. Australia’s feared team are no easy prospect, however, and Ireland are sure to have their work cut out. Usman Khawaja is enjoying a particularly good spell at the moment, and is going to be one to watch. Steve Smith may also prove troublesome for the Irish team.

With one of the stars of last year’s match, Mitchell Starc, due to feature again, Ireland will have to be careful not to give away early wickets, and effectively end the match before it’s properly started. Ireland’s Kevin O’ Brien may end up being an important weapon in the team’s batting lineup.

If the current spate of One Day Internationals has got you itching to have a go at the game yourself, why not take this opportunity to dig out your cricket whites, or treat yourself to some new gear? The autumn sales are in full swing, and it’s a great time of year to hunt for bargains, if you’re thinking about getting back into cricket after an absence or even playing for the first time. From cricket bats to protective equipment like cricket batting pads sale offers can provide big discounts, to help you get kitted out.

Sep 20

Afghanistan in Bangladesh ODI Series, 2016/17

From 25th September to 1st October 2016 at Mirpur’s Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Afghanistan will be welcomed by Bangladesh. During this event, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will play three One-Day Internationals (ODIs).

The first bilateral series

Speaking about the series, chairman of the Afghanistan Cricket Board Nasimullah Danish said that this will be the first-ever series played between Afghanistan and Bangladesh. He added that they were looking forward to bringing entertaining cricket to those in Bangladesh who love the sport.

Danish also said that with ICC full members, they have already successfully completed a number of tours and are in close discussions about future plans. He went on to say that when there are ICC full members in a series of matches, it proves that Afghanistan has secured its spot within the cricketing world.

He finished by saying that the series are good for the team because they are able to test themselves in a number of different conditions, and this also aids in team development. In his eyes, Bangladesh is the perfect place to do this. One thing you can be sure of is that both teams will need their cricket wicket keeping gloves!

Previous meetings

Afghanistan and Bangladesh have met each other three times before at the international level. They met once in a Twenty20 International and twice in ODIs. In 2014, they met at the Asia Cup. Afghanistan came out victorious on this occasion, managing to beat Bangladesh by a total of 32 runs.

Later on in the year, the teams met at Mirpur in the ICC World T20, and it was Bangladesh that took the title in this meeting. They won this game by nine wickets, winning the game on home turf.

Their most recent meeting was in Australia during the ICC World Cup 2015. Afghanistan made its World Cup debut at this event, but the team was ultimately defeated by Bangladesh by 105 runs.

The upcoming series will allow Afghanistan to showcase its skills against a nation that is at test-playing level. The chief executive of the Afghanistan Cricket Board, Shafiq Stanikzai, said that they are thankful to the cricket board for hosting Afghanistan and that they’re committed to taking part in as many international games as they can.

Sep 14

New Zealand in India Test Series, 2016/17

The New Zealand cricket team is set to begin its tour of India later this month, which will continue late into October. With five One Day Internationals and three test matches, the schedule is packed and both teams will have to be on top form throughout.

The three test matches will be played in Kanpur, Kolkata and Holkar, with the teams also visiting Dharamsala, Delhi, Mohali, Ranchi and Nagpur, to play their five one day matches.

Keeping Their Guard Up

Indian batsman, Ajinkya Rahane, has told teammates that they shouldn’t underestimate New Zealand despite their home advantage. In the World Twenty20, the New Zealand spinners put in a great performance and as such, Rahane is playing a cautious game when it comes to the ability of New Zealand’s attack, and the coaching team are working to ensure the team’s guard will be up at all times.

Rahane’s focus is entirely on this upcoming series, as he doesn’t believe in looking too far ahead and getting distracted by future targets. The team has been working hard on their strategy and are sensibly not revealing any information about their preparations prior to the matches.

Anil Kumble, the Indian coach, has been highly praised for retaining his passion for cricket eight years after retiring from the international game. It is said that he has a real eye for detail, which could prove crucial in the upcoming series.

Top Ranked Test Team

Rohit Sharma has spoken about the desire to be the highest ranked test team and believes that if they follow through on their established process they will be able to achieve that goal. They have a long season ahead of them, but each member of the team is feeling positive and looking forward to the challenge.

If you’re feeling inspired to get out and enjoy a game of cricket yourself, alongside keeping up with the latest results from India and New Zealand, you can find cricket balls online, available in many varieties, from practice balls to help improve your technique to top quality balls used by the professionals!

Sep 07

Bath Rugby Stalwarts Watson and Joseph Commit To Club

Fans looking to buy rugby shirts with these club stalwarts’ names on them will get another few seasons worth of wear from them, after the two backs committed their futures to the West Country club.

Versatile Players

Utility back, Watson, just 22 years old, has scored 12 tries for his club from 67 appearances in the blue, black and white hoops, and 24 caps for England. Joseph has similar statistics, with 16 tries from 58 appearances for Bath and 25 caps for his country.

The versatile pair have been playing together for some years now, having plied their trade at London Irish together before they travelled down the M4 to join Bath in 2013. Both are very talented players, and with both still very young, the best years of their career should be ahead of them. They are now, Bath Rugby fans will hope, committed to the Blue, Black and Whites.

Big Things Required

As a club with such an impressive history, Bath Rugby will be looking for big things from the pair when they are not on international duty. Things have not gone according to plan for the club recently, and despite being former winners of the European Cup, Bath failed to qualify last season for the European Champions Cup.

Both players are undoubtedly high calibre, and knowing that they will be available for the Bath Rugby coaching team to include on the team sheet come the start of the new season should give the club a boost. The experience both Joseph and Watson have gained at international level has had a positive impact on their individual games, as well as a beneficial effect on their squad. Those closely involved with the club have spoken about the professionalism they take with them on international duty which is also evident back at the club, both on and off the field.

The fans will be expecting big things from the team this season, following a lot of change during the summer off-season, including a new coaching team. It is a partisan crowd at the Recreation Ground in Bath, but they can get impatient and they will be expecting greater success from their team this year.

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