World Cup Equality

img_1987

You’ll have to forgive me for committing the ultimate sin on a cricket blog but I’m about to ramble on (For quite some time!) about football. This is of course my blog so I can do what I want!

Qualification for the 2018 football World Cup in Russia has well and truly reached the business end. All that remains are the heartbreaking play-off matches to determine which counters join the likes of Panama, Iceland and Iran in Russia next year. I’ll hazard a guess that Iceland will find acclimatising to the Russian climate just a bit easier than Panama. It’s also safe to say that none of the three nations mentioned above will be qualifying for the cricket World Cup anytime soon.

Back to the footy, here’s a breakdown of the percentage of teams from each continental region that will qualify for the football World Cup:

South America: 4 out of 10 teams = 40%

Europe: 13 out of 54 teams = 24%

The Americas: 4 out of 35 teams = 11%

Africa: 5 out of 54 teams = 9%

Asia: 4 out of 46 teams = 9%

Oceania: 1 (And maybe not even that) out of 11 teams = 1%

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the above calculations are based on a couple of assumptions regarding who qualifies via the intercontinental play-offs. Oceania are not guaranteed a World Cup representative and for the record, Australia qualify through the Asian pathway because they got bored of thrashing Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa time and time again.

Referring to the percentages above, the tournament title of World Cup starts to lose some of its credibility. There’s clearly a disproportionate amount of teams that qualify from the historical footballing hotbeds of Europe and South America. That historical bias is of course something that is extremely prevalent on the international cricket stage too.

Back to the three nations mentioned earlier. Iran qualified for the football World Cup as far back as 1978 but for Panama and Iceland, 2018 will be their first time at the tournament. That variety of nations on the big stage and the novelty of seeing virgin World Cup competitors is part of what makes the tournament so special. USA beating England in 1950, North Korea beating Italy in 1966 and Senegal beating France in 2002. Without these results the football World Cup just wouldn’t be what it is. Admittedly there have been a few thrashings as the likes of Saudi Arabia (8-0 against Germany in 2002) and Zaire (9-0 against Yugoslavia in 1974) will attest too.

The 2019 Cricket World Cup is unlikely to see such a variety of international representatives or virgin teams as Russia will next year. There will only be ten teams, yes just ten teams at the ‘World’ Cup. Eight of these teams will have qualified as the highest ranked ODI nations. It’s great that the ODI rankings comprise more nations than just Test teams but no promotion/relegation profile is in existence at the upper echelons of international cricket. Referring to the historical bias detailed in football earlier, little scope is left for a changing of the guard as the years go by. The head honchos eat at the main table with one or two varying visitors from time to time.

I’ll be honest, every time I try to get my ahead around the meritocracy of lower division international cricket and World Cup qualification, I end up closing the page out of sheer bewilderment. From what I can gather, it’s possible that teams in ICC World Cricket League Division Two can qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup but some teams from Division One may not. Don’t quote me on that though! In all likelihood none of them will anyway, such is the convoluted qualification process.

Feel free to put me to shame and figure the whole thing our for yourself…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Cricket_World_Cup_Qualifier

Teams such as Papua New Guinea and Ireland could be there though the likes of West Indies and possibly Afghanistan will be favoured to qualify for the ten team tournament. Surely a straight forward main tournament of sixteen teams comprised of four groups of four followed by quarter-finals etc would be logical. Yes there have been some horribly one-sided encounters at cricket World Cups, think Namibia at the hands of Australia in 1970 and one or two Canadian performances (36 & 45 all out in 2003 and 1979) but there has also been Zimbabwe beating Australia in 1983, Kenya beating West Indies in 1996 and Ireland beating Pakistan in 2007.

There are so few teams at the Cricket World Cup that a comparison with football for regional disproportionateness is completely irrelevant. In fact to be fair, there isn’t really a geographic disproportion, just a lack of global representatives in general.

Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is that regardless of sport, a World Cup should be exactly that, a tournament that has a fair and even distribution of teams from across the globe. The football World Cup isn’t perfect but hopefully in the future cricket will allow for the Senegals and North Koreas of the footballing world to have the opportunity at least to produce some shocks that will reverberate around the cricket world.

IMG_3485

Advertisements

Cricket Captain 2017: 2023-24 – Namibian Desert and Canada Dry!

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 08.19.17

The 2023-24 campaign culminated with back-to-back ODI World Cup defeats against associate nations Namibia and Canada. Against Namibia, England’s skill set simply deserted them, whilst against Canada, their quality ran dry.

Screen Shot 2017-09-30 at 23.25.29

James Weighell’s figures of 10-0-102-0 against Canada, summed up a selection policy that has been found out and confirmed that competitiveness is a trait long since departed from England’s cricket team.

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 14.03.50

Following the World Cup exit in India, Middlesex legend Toby Roland-Jones retired at the end of an injury hit campaign. TR-J had his moments in an England shirt, most notably his 49-ball 75 against South Africa in a Test match and strong Test and ODI series against Zimbabwe at home at the start of last year.

England finished the season placed 9th out of ten in Test, ODI and T20I rankings, superior only to Zimbabwe, another team that defeated them in the World Cup.

Among few positives, young batsman Sam Evans scored centuries in the first innings of his first three Test matches. Those matches were in South Africa and it is the same opposition that England will entertain in the summer of 2024. Such is England’s fall from grace that in the 2024 T20I World Cup they will face the might of Nepal, USA and once again, Canada. The days of such encounters being ‘walk in the parks’ for England’s cricketers are long, long gone!

A Complete Restructure of International Cricket: Revisited

img_1987

Following my previous proposals for, in the words of David Bowie…

I have decided to make, in the words of you know who, ch, ch, chan…

You get the idea!

Here’s the link to my original article…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/a-complete-restructure-of-international-cricket/

I have now decided to expand the International Championship to 13 teams. This is to provide anxious current Test nations with the security required in order to vote for ch, ch, chang….

I have trimmed the First Class, List A and T20 divisions from two to one and have limited the second and third tiers to nine teams. This is due to the financial restraints that are present on lesser nations. The notion of these sides jetting around the world as many times as the top tier teams is for the time being at least, in-practitcal. I’m ditching any suggestion of a play-off and am proposing that one team alone is relegated from the International Championship and therefore one team alone is promoted from International Division One. Again, this provides security to current full member nations including the minnows, they simply have to avoid finishing last to avoid being relegated! That may seem a long slog, a four year worldwide cycle for just one spot but the prize is Test match cricket as well as full ODI and T20I status. It should not be given away easily.

Tours remain three matches of each format (Yes that’s right, the Ashes as we know it is dead!) scaled back to one match per format in International Division Two and beyond. Again, this is for financial and practical purposes for less equipped nations.

Here’s an update and a recap of the league breakdown:

International Championship

Test, ODI and T20I status

13 teams

4 year cycle

6 home series / 6 away series

All series consist of three Test matches, three ODI matches and three T20I matches

1 team relegated (But guaranteed four years of consistent and structured FC, LA and T20 cricket)

International Division One

First Class, List A and T20 status

9 teams

4 year cycle

4 home series / 4 away series

All series consist of three First Class matches, three List A matches and three T20 matches

1 team promoted

1 team relegated

International Division Two

Other status

9 teams

4 year cycle

4 home series / 4 away series

All series consist of one four-day match, one one-day match and one T20 match

1 team promoted

1 team relegated

The points system would of course be crucial and in truth I need to do a few more calculations. I think that the points system put forward in my original article seemed fair in terms of getting the balance right for each format however some freak results could possibly lead to, for example: A team winning all their T20I matches but losing all Tests and ODIs and finishing bottom of the overall table. As a result said team would not only concede their Test and ODI status but their T20I status as well. I guess I’ll clarify the points system in the article ‘A Completer Restructure of International Cricket Re-revisited’!

I know what you’re thinking: What about hemispherical control?

It’s a very good question but I don’t think it matters. If maybe twenty years down the line the entire top tier consisted of southern hemisphere sides then there’s enough time to schedule all series. There would be lengthy periods of no top flight cricket but would it really matter? Committed and passionate fans will be following their nation in the division that they are in. It would be ideal though possibly not practical if the final round of T20I matches could be played simultaneously.

Imagine winning International Division One. The players would be…

´╗┐Cricket Captain 2017: 2019 ODI World Cup Review

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 08.19.17

With an Ashes series on the horizon, England’s cricketers have laid down a marker by comprehensively and deservedly winning the 2019 ODI Cricket World Cup in their own backyard!

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 21.50.28

Moeen Ali didn’t even start the World Cup in the England team but after dislodging Jason Roy at the top of the order, the Worcestershire man finished the tournament by blazing an express paced 80-ball 112 in the final and set the hosts on course for global glory!

Like Moeen, Surrey’s Sam Curran came into the team during the tournament and excelled in the latter stages. Like Roy however, David Willey’s inconsistency led to him missing out in the latter stages. For both Roy and Willey, their exclusions could be terminal to their international careers.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 17.44.06

In the runs stakes, Ben Duckett led the way with 562 runs @ 80.29 including three centuries. Liam Livingstone (405 runs @ 50.62) and Joe Root (344 runs @ 43.00) also formed part of England’s run-reaping middle-order. England’s numbers one to five all contributed at least one century during the tournament.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 17.47.05

On the bowling front, captain Chris Woakes topped the charts with 20 wickets just @ 12.55 apiece. Yorkshire Spinner Adil Rashid (15 @ 23.40) was next whilst Durham’s Ben Stokes and the aforementioned Sam Curran claimed 12 wickets each.

Stumper Jos Buttler’s impeccable glove work (17 catches) also merits more than just a fleeting mention… but here’s just a fleeting mention!

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 21.51.39

The group stages, despite a defeat against India and scare against Namibia, were only a precursor of what was to come. The hosts just held off Australia in the quarters and got revenge against India in the semis. Having already defeated New Zealand in the round-robin, things went as expected in the final.

The decision to hand the ODI captaincy to Chris Woakes, a move criticised by many just two years ago, paid off handsomely. The Warwickshire man led the side superbly and has surely placed himself on the cusp of a Test recall.

The players are sincerey humbled by the kind suggestions that they should be knighted but maybe backing up World Cup victory with Ashes success this summer would be what truly merits such accolades and possibly make for English cricket’s greatest ever summer. No pressure boys!

For the record, England’s 2019 ODI Cricket World Cup squad was as follows: Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Ben Duckett, Joe Root, Liam Livingstone, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (w), Adil Rashid, David Willey, Chris Woakes (c), Luke Fletcher, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Curran, Jamie Overton

Hong Kong Sixes: England Squad?

IMG_3722

The Hong Kong Sixes tournament is back on the cricket calendar after a five-year absence. The pint-sized cricket competition will make a welcome return this October.

http://www.hkcricket.org/en/hk-sixes/hong-kong-sixes-2017

Historically the various cricketing nations around the globe have treated the tournament with a variety of seriousness and not so seriousness, with some teams sending amateurs or ex-pros. England normally send a reasonable bunch of fringe limited overs players.

Silly Point has composed an England squad and put forward one or two other possible candidates as well. Remember that every player bar the wicketkeeper must bowl.

My squad is as follows:

Tim Bresnan, Yorkshire (Captain)

He bats, he bowls, he captains, he’s my selection to lead the side. I find it difficult to comprehend that Bresnan’s England career is over. He required surgery and is no longer the spring chicken that rocked up for Yorkshire’s first XI aged 15 but in limited overs cricket at least, he could surely still have a role to play for the national side. He’s led Yorkshire this year following injury to Gary Ballance and the other squad members would learn from his international experience and professionalism.

Ben Duckett, Northamptonshire (Wicketkeeper)

Duckett just pips Joe Clarke for the ‘keeping gloves. It would be a good way to reintegrate Duckett into England colours following a difficult winter. After a slow start to the domestic season he has started to make significant contributions with the bat as well as keeping wicket on occasions. Sam Billings, more of a genuine gloveman option in T20I/ODI cricket could also come into consideration.

Lewis Gregory, Somerset

Gregory made the England squad a few years back for a one-off ODI against Ireland. Unfortunately for the Somerset man, he was the one squad member to miss out on the final XI leaving him cap-less. A series of injuries have meant that he remains so but when fit Gregory possesses the all-round strengths that make him an extremely tempting selection in this format.

Ryan Higgins, Middlesex

Higgins has contributed some brutal batting displays for Middlesex in limited overs cricket this term and has also dislodged Ollie Rayner from the County Championship side. The Zimbabwe born former England Under-19s player is one of a handful of capable all-round players that make my squad.

Benny Howell, Gloucestershire

A shrewd performer for Gloucestershire, particularly in the shorter forms of the game. French born Howell has cropped up in both the BPL and PSL. His experience and all-round capabilities would make him a valuable asset to the the squad.

Liam Livingstone, Lancashire

LL’s introduction to international cricket was slightly underwhelming but he’s an almost irresistible selection for this tournament. His destructive batting, much improved bowling and reliable fielding win him a place in my squad. Like Bresnan, Livingstone has gained captaincy experience this season and is capable of coming back stronger following his tough international baptism.

Ross Whiteley, Worcestershire

Whiteley hit the headlines this term when he struck six sixes in an over against Yorkshire in a T20 match (I was there, remember?). Yes it was an extremely short boundary and yes it was a third choice spinner but rather audaciously, Whiteley sits in the top ten of the sixes per (T20) match ratio, modestly and unobtrusively placed alongside the likes of Brendon McCullum, David Warner and Chris Gayle. He would probably be the weakest bowling option in the team but has clocked up 29 First Class victims.

Some other players that could come into consideration:

Adam Lyth

Riki Wessels (Wicketkeeper)

Brett D’Oliveira

Liam Dawson

Paul Coughlin

Craig Overton

Tymal Mills

Don Bradman Cricket 17: French Exam

IMG_3502

If this was an exam then England aced it. In truth, the channel hoppers weren’t really tested at Paris Cricket Ground. France succumbed for a pitiful 73 in their virginal venture to the crease. James Anderson and Stuart Broad claimed three victims apiece, Ben Stokes and Sam Curran backed them up with two each.

IMG_3503

Keaton Jennings (54) and captain Joe Root (69) constructed a second-wicket partnership of 112 in England’s first innings.

Haseeb Hameed (2) and Gary Ballance (9) will be frustrated to have been the only England batsmen to have missed out on runs but can at least console themselves that they’re the only batsmen in the side to have contributed centuries in recent times.

IMG_3504

Keaton Jennings (54) battled hard for a much needed fifty and in reaching so, probably saved his Test career.

As for the rest of the willow wielders, under pressure Keaton Jennings was hardly fluent but recorded a much needed half-century (54) in partnership with captain Joe Root. Root himself was in sparkling form, striking 69 from just 50 deliveries as he and Jennings compiled 112 for the second wicket. The pair fell in quick succession before Ballance missed out however Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes then set about putting England out of sight of their French hosts. Stokes reached a long awaited half-century but was harshly adjudged run out when on 60. The Durham dynamo had put together 120 with Bairstow who would fall in the eighties (84) for the second Test in a row. This was the first Test in four that England have failed to have a centurion but the first in a long time that as many as four individuals have passed 50.

IMG_3505 2

Ben Stokes (60) was controversially run-out, even though replays suggested that he might have grounded his bat before the stumps were broken.

England’s innings petered out somewhat before the visitors, having reached 333-9, declared for the third Test innings in a row. England posses a ruthless nature when it comes to day/night cricket and know that their pace bowlers are capable of making inroads into opposition batting line-ups with the pink ball under floodlights, hence the trend for late night declarations.

IMG_3506

Mason Crane (17-1-55-0) bowled his entire spell unchanged but in truth he served only to provide respite for French cricketers.

It was probably only the fact that England chose to bowl Hampshire spinner Mason Crane unchanged throughout the entire first session of the second day that France were able to reach three figures second time around. Crane finished with respectable but generally unthreatening figures of 17-1-55-0 and despite England winning back to back Tests for the first time in memory, his place in the XI may well come under threat.

IMG_2752adj

Sam Curran (File photo) recorded match analysis of 17-6-39-8!

As it was, skipper Joe Root opted to provide senior members of the bowling attack some respite and let Crane twirl away alongside Sam Curran. Curran would repay his captain’s faith in sensational style. The teenager claimed career best figures of 6-27 with wicketkeeper and Surrey team-mate Ben Foakes holding all six catches (A world record?). The former Essex stumper held a world record eight catches in France’s second innings to add to the first three wickets to fall he had been responsible for in the hosts’ first innings. The eleven dismissals in the match for Foakes equalled the Test record. So obvious is it to Jonny Bairstow that he won’t be required to keep wicket for England anytime soon courtesy of Foakes’ phenomenal start to his Test career behind the stumps, that in France’s second innings JB bowled six perfectly respectable overs for the concession of just eleven runs.

IMG_3498

Many players will have gained confidence from their Parisian excursion but England will hope for a sterner Test the next time they take to the field.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Paper, Scissors, Stoneman!

IMG_3483

Debutant Mark Stoneman’s ‘Monkey Jive’ catch celebration has since gone viral!

Earlier today, England hosted Vanuatu for a 50/50 dual on Merseyside, the first ever international contest to be hosted at Liverpool Arena.

IMG_3477

International newcomer Mark Stoneman compiled 77 from 81 balls.

After the early departure of Adam Lyth (3), debutant Mark Stoneman (77) and captain Joe Root (51) put together a stand of 110. Stoneman looked untroubled by the early loss of his partner or the build-up of any dot balls. All in all, he looked at home in the international arena and did his claims for a place in the Test side no harm whatsoever.

Dawid Malan (25) got going as usual but also got out as usual! / Liam Livingstone struck 44 from just 37 deliveries.

Dawid Malan (25) and Liam Livingstone (44) both looked in good nick but will be disappointed not to have really kicked on. Sam Curran (35) also batted well before England, with notions as lofty as 350 in their sights, derailed drastically. Some late bludgeoning from Liam Plunkett (25) got them to 298 with 32 deliveries unused!

IMG_3479

Mason Crane (2-60) celebrates finally breaking the visitors’ opening stand.

Set all but a run a ball for victory, the tourists were steady away. After dropping no less than four catches (No really!) and missing a run out chance, England eventually made the breakthrough with the score on 98. The wicket came courtesy of young spinner Mason Crane. Crane didn’t have the best of times in the thrilling Test match victory over Thailand last week but displayed great character in the ‘Pool Arena today.

IMG_3484

Liam Livingstone effects a crucial run out.

Not content with his positive batting, Liam Livingstone picked up a wicket and effected the run out of Vanuatu’s top scorer (Mansdale, 80) to swing things in England’s favour.

IMG_3485

Adam Lyth prepares to take a vital catch late in the piece.

Chris Woakes (8-2-35-0) and Sam Curran (8-0-55-1) bowled with guts before Toby Roland-Jones (7-1-30-0) and the luckless Liam Plunkett (7-0-55-1) kept things tight at the death. Keeper of the wicket Jos Buttler also contributed with a stunning diving catch. With the Ni-Vanuatuans requiring just 7 runs to win from the final over, Plunkett delivered four dots before conceding a six. He followed that up with another dot however, resulting in a thrilling and extremely rare tie.

IMG_3489

It’s hard to decide whether to see this as a good or bad result. Ultimately the dropped catches early in Vanuatu’s innings were critical to our chances of success. The performances of debutant Stoneman with the bat and the all-round exploites of Liam Livingstone who is still finding his feet at international level, were extremely encouraging. I guess you could say that “The stones are rolling”. The bowling of both spinner Mason Crane as well as all our pacers in the final throws of this match combine to present many positives. Despite a seemingly quiet match on paper, Adam Lyth’s efforts in the field shouldn’t go without mention.

We remain undefeated in any of our newly designed kits and just like after the Thailand Test, we don’t anticipate many changes to the XI for our next ODI. Our gratitude for your support remains as humble as ever. Forever England, forever the fans!!!