L.B. Wilson

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I’m delighted to announce that Leonard Bartholomew returned to the crease today after accidentally being left at home last week.

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There were no salmon in sight at Stainforth Foss though. Little Leo arriving too early in the season to catch a glimpse of the leaping life aquatic.

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L.B. ran around 9 miles between the wickets so has earned himself a well deserved rest… like Eoin Morgan!

Malan’s Plan?

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Dawid Malan. It’s now or never, boom or bust!

England captain Eoin Morgan said that all squad players would get a game during the three-match T20I series against South Africa. Following the second match and with just one encounter remaining, Morgan said that there’ll definitely be one more debutant in the third match. This may be a bit concerning for Morgan’s Middlesex colleague Dawid Malan, given that another uncapped player, Somerset’s Craig Overton joined up with the party after the first match.

Surely the England management aren’t  going to turn around to Malan now and say “Sorry mate but we’ve changed our mind. You’re not playing”. Remember that Malan made the squad for the one-off T20I against Sri Lanka last year only to miss out on the final XI.

Malan has performed admirably well in limited overs cricket for England Lions, appeared in the recent PSL final and most notably pummelled runs in the North v South Series thus demanding selection. Malan’s 196 runs at an average of 98.00 at a strike rate of 104.81 with a top score of 109 not out saw him top the run scoring charts. To have omitted him following those performances would have brought into serious question the whole point of North v South.

Maybe Malan hasn’t had that big domestic season but sometimes those 1000+ runs campaigns that a batsman has can be misleading. I’ll always revert to Ed Smith and that one season he had making hundred after hundred but was he good enough to be a Test cricketer? To be fair his Test career is too small a sample size to judge. For the record, Smith did a great job at short leg against South Africa and I really like his insightful and balanced commentary.

Malan bowls useful leg-spin too but if he does play in the final T20I you can’t help but think he either needs a half-century or if he makes late twenties/early thirties then it needs to be struck at around 200% if he’s to ever wear the jersey a second time. A single figure score may well be the beginning and the end of Malan’s international career all in one. At the age of 29 a considerable international career could lay ahead but it’s easy to sense that England felt slightly forced to select him than actually wanting to. Andy Flower has vehemently campaigned for his call-up. That may be unfair on the England management but such is the competition amongst the batting ranks that as much as England want to mix things up selection could almost become convoluted. It’s arguable whether providing players with odd matches is any use at all as Sam Billings’ fill-in the gaps international career displays.

Growing up in the nineties and early 2000s I saw the likes of Mike Hussey and Darren Lehmann have to wait domestic run-glutinous years for a run in the Australian Test side and for Jamie Cox to not get a chance at all.

There’s nothing worse than seeing a batsman get one chance and fall for nought so fingers crossed that Malan at least gets some runs on the board if selected as promised.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast

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Telegraph Fantasy Cricket run an exclusive Natwest T20 Blast competition, separate to the County Championship/Royal London One-Day Cup combo. It would make more sense to me for them to have three separate competitions, each with a winner as well as having an overall winner.

Anyway, three players from my CC/RLODC side make it into my T20 side. They are Riki Wessels, wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick and Basil’s grandson Brett D’Oliveira. D’Oliveira is an opening batsman who bowls and is listed, fairly enough, as an all-rounder in the CC/RLODC game but is down as a bowler in the T20 comp.

I’ve very deliberately (Wessels aside) selected players that aren’t in many people’s teams. It’s no good having the same players as everybody else because you simply don’t gain any advantage. To be successful at fantasy sports, it’s imperative that you identify and select players not picked by many but who will go onto put in the performances.

Mark Cosgrove and Ryan Higgins are listed as batsman but Higgins in particular, after a good showing on First Class debut recently, should contribute with the ball.

Dominic Sibley (T20 bat ave: 49.40) hit the headlines with a double hundred in the County Championship in 2013 aged just eighteen and has become a dynamic batsman at the top of the order for Surrey.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-cricket-2013/content/story/674737.html

California born bat Cameron Steel has come to the fore for Durham this year and should be provided with an opportunity in the shorter form of the game on the back of his CC/RLODC efforts. He bowls a bit of leg-spin too.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/century-for-steel-stars-stripes-and-steel/

Ex-England men Stephen Parry (Now a CC regular) and Jade Dernbach lead my bowling attack. Dernbach is a player despised by many and therefore ignored by a number of Telegraph selectors but if not for injury he would likely have qualified for next year’s North v South encounters. Chris Liddle is also a fly under the radar pick. A journeyman pro and holder of and unhealthy First Class average, his limited overs stats are respectable though and he could be a surprise performer. Like Dernbach, he wasn’t far away from automatic North v South selection.

My captain is another ‘to be scoffed at by many’ selection. What Moises Henriques was doing batting at four for Australia at the 2017 Champions Trophy as Chris Lynn sat on the bench nobody knows. Well actually, it was because he bowls a bit of dibbly dobbly and at domestic level he’s an intelligent and belligerent batsman who will not be representing Surrey for the first time.

I will reiterate my key tips from previous posts for selecting a fantasy cricket team:

  1. Select batsman that bowl
  2. Select bowlers that can bat
  3. Select players that aren’t in many people’s teams

I’m advocating faith when it comes to selection for my CC/RLODC team but transfers will be a crucial part of the T20 comp come Finals Day. Don’t be left with few players playing additional matches. When the crunch comes ensure that your side is full of players participating for silverware!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Thai’d in Knots!

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Some are already dubbing it ‘The Greatest Test Match of All Time’. Thailand’s first ever foray into cricket’s ultimate battle, played out in the surrounds of another Test debutant, London’s Olympic Stadium, a match that would go all the way to the proverbial wire.

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Haseeb Hameed (141 and 132) reaches his first century of the match.

England reached 330-9 (Hameed 141, Bairstow 85) in their first innings before declaring in order to attack the tourists with the new ball under lights. James Anderson (5-38) exploited the conditions as Thailand tumbled to 29-4. Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes claimed the first four catches in the evening session. Thailand recovered to 81-4 before Ryan Raina threw his wicket away to the final delivery of the premier day’s play. Raina’s 27 was the second highest score of the tourists’ first innings, making Mohammed Haque’s 112 not out even the more incredible. The Thai’s last wicket stand produced 51 runs as they trickled to 191 all out.

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Gloveman Ben Foakes snaffled Thailand’s first four wickets and would go onto double that total in the match.

England were 173-2 at one stage in their second innings and looked well set to put Thailand out of sight however the usual collapse occurred before the home side once again chose to avoid the ignominy of being bowled out, declaring this time on 280-9. Just like in the hosts’ first innings, all dismissals were exclusively via spin. Haseeb Hameed then followed up his first innings 141 by writing his name in the record books. The Lancashire willow wielder eventually succumbed for 132 this time around. An outstanding achievement on the part of the young Lancastrian, to have registered a century in each innings of a Test match. He probably wishes that England could play all their Tests at the Olympic Stadium. No other batsman passed 50 in England’s second outing.

All that equated to Thailand requiring 420 to win their first ever Test match. Achieving it would be the third highest Test run chase ever. At 62-4 the visitors looked dead and buried but had reached the halfway point, 210 before losing their fifth wicket. Captain Joe Root deserves great credit for the move as part-timer Keaton Jennings it was who claimed the vital scalp of Daniel Jacobs (107) and in doing so, possibly gave himself one more match to save his Test career. Mason Crane (Match analysis: 38-6-146-2) then doubled his match wicket tally as Thailand slipped into the abyss at 226-6. They made their way to 267 late in the day before Stuart Broad (5-84) struck to provide England’s players with a more comfortable night’s sleep than would have been the case with only six wickets down.

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Unusual suspect Keaton Jennings (7-1-20-1) terminated a 148-run partnership.

England were made to work hard on the fourth day but no sooner had Thailand accumulated 300 they lost their eighth wicket and at 318-9 were being read the last rights. By the time they posted 400-9 English hearts were a flutter. Lower order batsman Pengkumpta (106 not out), wicketless and run less in the match prior to the fourth innings, brought up the fifth century of the match, the fourth batsman to score one and the third for Thailand. With his side on 410, just ten runs short of arguably the most astounding result in the history of Test cricket and with England skipper Joe Root possibly regretting both declarations, Pengkumpta’s partner, number eleven Sungnard, who fought hard with both bat and ball in the match, went for one big shot too many and as a nation, two nations, even the world held its collective breath… Gary Ballance held the catch on the boundary. England running out victorious by the minor margin of just 9 runs.

Haseeb Hameed aggregated 273 runs in the match, James Anderson (6-105) and Stuart Broad (6-132) both claimed a fifer and stumper Ben Foakes totalled eight victims. We did drop a few too many catches, including the Anderson/Crane slip combo that went viral but there were contributions throughout the composition with Ben Stokes (3-111) and Sam Curran (2-77) backing up a rejuvenated Anderson and Broad.

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James Anderson and Mason Crane combined to squander a chance in the slips.

On behalf of the England team, I’d like to congratulate our guests Thailand, on being part of an epic few days in the history of Test cricket. I’m proud of our side for coming through though, particularly after the difficult results of recent times. I’m pleased to say that we don’t expect wholesale changes to the side come our next outing as we head off on the quest for consistency.

We can even laugh about moments such as these…

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Err… boys. Some interesting running between the wickets!

Maybe our new kit was part of the reason for our inspired performance. We’ll be sure to don it again next time we take to the crease.

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Cast in Stone

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It now looks certain that England will turn to Surrey’s Mark Stoneman come the first Test against South Africa commencing July 6th. The former Durham opening batsman registered scores of 58 and 86 for England Lions against South Africa A this week.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1097115.html

Any previous posts by yours truly that made wild predictions of England Test line-ups can likely be forgotten…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/will-england-take-the-plungekett/

With Haseeb Hameed’s run pool run dry and despite Moeen Ali’s not so subtle hints that he’d like to bat at five (He’s likely to stay at eight), England’s batting department at Lords will probably look like this:

Alastair Cook

Mark Stoneman

Keaton Jennings

Joe Root (C)

Gary Ballance

Ben Stokes

Jonny Bairstow (W)

Moeen Ali

After that it becomes a bit of blur dependent on fitness to the men in possession, messrs Anderson, Broad and Woakes.

Returning to Stoneman, he’s a player that I’ve wanted to see capped before but felt that whilst at Durham he was too often dismissed in the thirties and forties. A First Class career average of 34.20 (And that’s gone up this year) confirms such. The left-hander averages a healthy 39.20 in List A cricket. The journey south (Remember them?)…

and a reuniting with his coach, former Ozzie ODI opener Michael Di Venuto, has seen Stoneman prosper and usurp Durham to Surrey twin Scott Borthwick in the international pecking order. It seems unlikely that Adil Rashid will get to play a Test on home soil soon and that when England do require a second spinner, it will be Mason Crane. That leaves Moeen down at eight for the time being. Gary Ballance demands selection and with Joe Root expected to bat at four, Keaton Jennings will be at three. Hameed will be left to pick up the pieces in the County Championship and possibly for the Lions come the winter. England have gone through many opening batsman in recent times, from Sam Robson (Called up to the Lions today) to Adam Lyth, Michael Carberry to Ben Duckett and Nick Compton to Alex Hales. When they do select Stoneman, they need to make a commitment to stick with him, invest in the failures and opportunity to learn and play him throughout the South Africa and West Indies series and the Ashes as well as into next summer. Only then should they consider jettisoning him if they haven’t reaped the rewards. To pick another opener for between four and seven Tests, maybe even see him score a hundred, then move onto someone else would be a failure to live and learn on the part of the England hierarchy.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/229954.html

Let’s hope Mark rolls like a stone!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: How Not to Take a Catch!

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How not to take a catch, courtesy of James Anderson and Mason Crane. At least the new kit looks snazzy!

England have put themselves in a commanding position at the end of the premier day’s play in the inaugural Test match to be played at London’s Olympic Stadium.

England made a cheeky declaration having reached 330-9 (Hameed 141, Bairstow 85), providing themselves with the opportunity to claim some Thai wickets with the pink ball under lights. The hosts soon had the tourists in trouble and by the close of play Thailand had subsided to 81-5 (Anderson 3-17). Stumper Ben Foakes snaffled the first four victims and after the shoots of recovery having been 29-4, Thailand lost a wicket to the final delivery of the day. It could have been even better for England had they not dropped three catches, the most spectacular being the Anderson/Crane slip combo pictured above.

Look out for a full match report in the coming days as England desperately bid to return to winning ways. Of course we have a habit of blowing good starts so we won’t count our chickens just yet!

Extras

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Bye: I can’t keep my eyes off the Kookaburra Ghost. Marcus Harris used it to good effect in compiling 120 for Victoria in the first innings of the 2016/17 Sheffield Shield final…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1036431.html

If somebody came up to me and provided me with around £90.00 and said “Go and spend it on a cricket bat” then the Kookaburra Ghost is what I’d spend ‘my hard earned‘ cash on!

Leg Bye: Just like the CC/RLODC competition, Telegraph’s T20 fantasy cricket will set you back £8.00 per team or £15.00 for three teams. At least the overall winner receives a whopping… £1,000 prize!

https://fantasycricket.telegraph.co.uk/twenty/select-team

Shrewd selectors will notice that Worcestershire opening batsman and part-time spin bowler Brett D’Oliveira (Listed as an all-rounder in the CC/RLODC comp) is listed as a bowler. Get him in your team! Meanwhile, Essex’s Tom Westley’s seven career wickets in 54 T20 outings get him listed as an all rounder! There are a few players with generously low ratings based on their efforts in last year’s comp/career T20 records. Obviously the Telegraph can’t rate people on potential but players such as Liam Livingstone (5), Paul Collingwood (3) and Mason Crane (1) are the surely the sort of candidates to sneak into your XI… if you can afford it/if you can afford it (If you know what I mean?)!

No Ball: The Women’s World Cup is on the horizon. Just like the Champions Trophy, there are no matches taking place anywhere near my abode. Come on the White Knights! (England’s flag is white and the team are captained by Heather Knight!?).

Surely the best cricket player that Japan has ever produced, errr, England’s Natalie Sciver…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/515905.html

is Silly Point’s player to look out for during the tournament, as well as New Zealand’s Amelia Kerr…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/white-ferns-call-on-kerr-to-curb-run-flow/

Wide: 14.74, 14.35, 13.25, 14.74 and 15.00. Afghanistan’s 18-year-old leg-spinner Rashid Khan’s bowling averages in each form of the game!!!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/afghanistan/content/player/793463.html