Ta-ra Zafar


I wish Zafar Ansari the very best in whatever he does, personally and professionally, for the rest of his life… but he still made me a bit angry!

I’ve got no qualms with a professional sportsperson calling it quits sooner than is the norm and am a big believer that to be successful in anything… that you need other things. Dedicating and immersing yourself in your chosen career is great but the best preparation can sometimes be to do something completely different. Ansari always maintained that cricket wasn’t the be all and end all for him but what disappoints me is that, if he’s as intelligent as everybody claims, then didn’t he see this coming?

Surrey signed Scott Borthwick last year. Ansari surely knew that Borthwick would bat at three once he arrived at his new home. If Ansari sensed that his time was up then wasn’t he a bit selfish to go on tour with England?

Maybe I’m being selfish. He’s worked hard at junior and domestic level and maybe he merited the opportunity to play at the pinnacle but England’s selectors will surely look upon Ansari’s selection last winter with regret. They could have played somebody else and even if that player’s performances had been as underwhelming as Ansari’s, they may have been a better player for it and comeback stronger. Of course Liam Dawson might have played earlier, scored a pair, gone wicketless, never played again and therefore never scored that 66 not out. My reference to Ansari’s achievements in the Test arena as underwhelming are described in Test match standards however to have scored 49 Test runs and taken 5 Test wickets should be something to be really proud of… Is Ansari though?

I’m disappointed. It seems like a wasted selection that could have been spent on somebody else, somebody committed to the long term cause. That’s not to say I’m against selecting players well into their thirties either, as long as they intend to play for and are ideally contracted to, another couple of years in the game.

Is Ansari the answer?



The Cricket Wheel of Fortune spins again…


Thanks for your efforts Zafar. All the very best in the years to come.


First Class Americans


Last week Durham debutant Cameron Steel got a mention here at Silly Point…


The Cali born bat put in a more than respectable showing against Gloucestershire on County Championship debut, producing scores of 31 and 17 not out with the willow. He also claimed figures of 1-34 with the ball.

Today, Wisconsin born Ozzie Ian Holland made his List A debut for Hampshire against Kent in The Royal London One-Day Cup. ‘Dutchy’ as he’s known (I don’t need to explain why… do I?) claimed the wickets of Sam Northeast and Adam Rouse on his way to figures of 10-0-57-2. The twenty-six-year-old has arrived late on the professional circuit. He has one First Class appearance for Victoria to his name, an outing that only came earlier this year. He was actually the winner of the 2012 Australian reality TV show Cricket Superstar but has had to wait or more precisely work hard in the cricketing backwaters in order to register First Class and List A outings.

Sri Lanka’s Jehan Mubarek was born in Washington DC. He failed to record a fifty in 17 Tests and averaged only early twenties in ODIs and T20Is.

Bart King is America’s most celebrated cricketer. He claimed 415 First Class wickets at just 15.66 apiece and has a FC century to his name.

Here’s a great little article about another American born First Class cricketer, Charles H Braithwaite…


Steel and Holland seem to be available for England and Australia respectively but if that doesn’t happen they might follow the examples of players like Bermuda’s David Hemp and represent the country of their birth and maybe, just maybe, provide USA cricket with some heroes to help inspire a nation!

Why Not Wales?


Ireland have their own cricket team and so do Scotland, so why are Wales silently tagged on with England?

It’s the England and Wales Cricket Team you know?

ECB stands for England and Wales Cricket Board but surely Welsh cricketers deserve the right to represent their home nation at international level, not just play for their big neighbours.

Should New Zealand’s cricketers have to scrap to get a gig for Australia?

Wales performed well at the 1979 ICC Trophy then between 1993 and 2001 played against Ireland and Scotland in the British Isles Chmpionships. Of course Ireland and Scotland joined the elite (Well almost!) and Wales were left to fend for themselves… so on themselves that they haven’t played competitively since. The Dragons (Maybe they’re called that?) played a few one-day games against England in the early 21st century and courtesy of former England opener Steve James they actually won the first meeting in 2002.


A couple of years later they beat Denmark in the C&G Trophy. A quick Google search suggests that the question of an independent Welsh cricket nation is often brought up, particularly at http://www.walesonline.co.uk. Of course the notion opens a can of worms regarding Glamorgan’s existence or at least their place in the English county structure and whether or not domestic cricket in Wales needs ramping up a level. Only recently and with only three teams were Ireland granted First Class status.

Maybe one day we’ll see some Welsh willow wielders wearing the Wales name!

Don’t Just Catch the Ball, Hold it!


Can’t bat, can’t bowl, can’t catch. Well, in the words of Meat Loaf…

Hold on, that makes absolutely no sense! Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that despite my ineptitude with the bat and as a bowler, I have been known to take more than my fair share of catches. The notion of me providing cricket tuition to anybody is almost laughable. It’s kind of like me telling Bear Grylls to “Lean horizontal and just abseil down that 500ft precipice”. However, here are my thoughts on fielding:

When fortunate enough to play on a saturday, we play 45 overs per side. That’s 270 deliveries plus a few extras in the field. For every single one of those 270 balls that are bowled, I’m anticipating that the ball is coming my way… in the air. I don’t think that most people do that. They’re just fielding and will react on the occasional occasions that the ball comes their way. My method may seem taxing but doesn’t a batsman focus on every delivery possibly for hour upon hour? When the ball does come my way and I’ve caught it, it is in that moment the really important bit happens. You do not relax! The job is not done. Catching the ball is only part of the process. You must HOLD onto the ball, you must prepare your body for landing without losing grip of the ball despite elbows thudding the ground or a foot straying over a boundary rope. You’ll see so many amateur, even professional cricketers catch the ball. Anybody can catch but can they hold onto the ball? Can they hold onto that spherical cork and leather combo like it’s the love of their life?!!!

I am of course destined to now spend the summer months spilling chances left, right and center!

Stephen Hawking, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, John Nash. These men all had theories. Well I too have a theory… Don’t just catch the ball, hold it!

No Ball, No Luck?


Is a batter the recipient of an element of fortune if they are ‘dismissed’ off a no ball?

Me thinks not, hence this article!

I previously scripted an article titled ‘Score Assumptions and Naivety in Sport’. I’m sure that you all remember it well but if the fine details have slipped your memory…


… as you’ll have read, that article touched upon things such as dropped catches and even missed chances in football matches and how people interpret their effect on subsequent passages of play.

This article, ‘No Ball, No Luck’, addresses a similar theme. A batter may be caught off a no ball when on 15 and go onto score 140. The commentator may say something like “The batsman was lucky. He would have been out for 15 if the bowler hadn’t overstepped”.

But would they, would the batter have been out?

Firstly, there’s the possibility that the batter only played the shot because they heard the “No ball” call or saw the umpire raise their arm. It may seem unlikely but top quality batters’ reaction times are superior to us mere mortals.

Secondly, if the delivery is illegal because the bowler has overstepped the mark then the whole trajectory of the subsequent delivery and bat connecting with ball is different to what would have been if the ball had been bowled legally. The part of the pitch that the ball has hit, different by only a few millimetres, may have quite feasibly effected the bounce and swing of the ball. The length of it’s pitch, again varying in millimetres, maybe even centimetres, may have effected whether or not the batter chose to defend, drive, cut, pull, hook, helicopter or whatever.

I don’t perceive that a batter is lucky if they’re ‘out’ to a no ball. The bowler has delivered an illegal delivery which has resulted in a completely different voyage for the ball and result for the batter.

No ball, no luck? Correct, for me there is no luck involved when it comes to a batter being dismissed off a no ball.

Disclaimer: Take note MCC. I’ve gone all Ozzie and gender neutral and have applied the term batter when referring to the wielder of willow!

Cricket Randoms

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There’s nothing we love more here at Silly Point than seeing our game gain global appeal, reaching out to untouched corners of the big blue and green. No pressure on Durham debutant Cameron Steel then! The California born bat has racked up appearances for Western Australia’s youth sides and has already tasted First Class cricket on half a dozen occasions when representing Durham MCCU. To date he has three First Class fifties including one against Durham last year. We’ll see how he gets on when it comes his turn to wield the willow, probably tomorrow.


On the subject of USA, Kieron Powell is back in West Indies whites. The man who gave it all up for baseball is currently holding the fort as WI slide into the abyss against Pakistan in Jamaica. Powell is undefeated on 33 at lunch with Windies precariously placed at 71-4.


In another corner of the world, well maybe not a corner but another location. Come to think of it, unless the world is flat then there probably aren’t really corners on the globe… are there?

Where was I going?


Natsai M’Shangwe’s 8-91 for Mountaineers against Mid West Rhinos merits a mention. Performances such as this might provide the twenty-six-year-old with the opportunity to bring his Test match bowling average of 62.14 down to something a little more respectable in future. Opposition bowler James Bruce snapped up five wickets on First Class debut, suggesting that he might be better in real life than he was when I led Zimbabwe on International Cricket Captain!


One more for you, regarding my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket team that goes by the name of Roderick Brotherhood. Things could have been going a bit flat in the absence of my captain and moniker inspiration Gareth Roderick. Rodders is still suffering from his ‘mystery’ pre-season illness but fortunately… step forward Mr Riki Wessels. 202 not out from 177 deliveries including 22 fours and 7 sixes, thanks in no small part to the supporting act of Nottinghamshire’s lower order, has surely propelled me to the top of the table… at least in my family!

Other County Championship performances worth noting today:

James Vince: 143 not out. Pencilled in for an England recall against Ireland?

Haseeb Hameed: A duck… again!

Sam Robson: 144 not out. Anything you can do Vincey, I can do one better! Set for a recall against South Africa at the expense of Hameed?????

Liam Livingstone: 68 out of a total of 109 all out for Lancashire’s stand-in skipper. Penned in in permanent marker for a full international debut against Ireland!

Harry Dearden: 87 for Leicestershire’s teenage opener. His first fifty in his eleventh First Class innings. Not quite set for an international call-up!

Adam Barton: 11-0-81-0. Like Durham’s Steel, he’s making a proper debut having previously played Uni stuff. With Sussex currently 7-3 following Wessels double hundred, Barton might need to enhance his Chris Martinesque batting average of 2.12 from ten innings! There’s no sign of Silly Point favourite Ajmal Shahzad in the Sussex XI.

Ian Westwood: 153. Westwood for England anybody?

Ben Duckett: 45 not out out of a total of 102-6 and needing to go big given the performances of the likes of Vince, Robson and Livingstone. Penned in in biro for a recall against Ireland.

Tom Abell: 1 to follow 1 & 0 in Somerset’s opening match of the 2017 campaign for the new young skipper.

P.S. Powell’s just fallen second ball after lunch!