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

Will England Take the Plungekett?

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England head to the Land of Oz for the Ashes later this year and if past expeditions are anything to go by then the selectors are sure to stock the plane with plenty of pace bowling options. James Anderson and Stuart Broad will go, as of course will Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes.

But who else?

Jake Ball, Steven Finn and Toby Roland-Jones are contenders as are the Curran brothers, Tom and Sam. Mark Wood is surely one that the England selectors will be keen on and Mark Footitt is an outside bet. He’s erratic but he does take wickets (As I’ve banged on about (Campaigned) in previous articles!). A name that doesn’t seem to come up often when it comes to Test squad discussions is Liam Plunkett. Remember that the England selectors won’t be looking or needing players that have to stay fit for five Tests. The back up pacers will slot in for a Test or two at a time in order to rest senior members of the attack and to catch the hosts by surprise. But for Afghanistan’s teenage spin sensation Rashid Khan’s seven-fer against West Indies yesterday, Yorkshire’s Plunkett was the leading ODI wicket taker in the last year. He actually did well when he returned to the Test side in 2014 before incurring injury. England have the opportunity and possibly the necessity to view alternative options in this summer’s home Test series’ against both South Africa and West Indies. With injury concerns present regarding both Anderson and Woakes then surely it’s worth England having a look at the likes of Plunkett and Footitt in the red (Or pink) ball arena.

Here’s my squad come England’s first Test of the summer with Plunkett and Footitt providing cover if Woakes and Anderson aren’t fit:

Alastair Cook

Keaton Jennings

Joe Root (Captain)

Gary Ballance

Moeen Ali

Ben Stokes

Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)

Adil Rashid

Chris Woakes / Liam Plunkett

Stuart Broad

James Anderson / Mark Footitt

Here are the players to add to the squad come the Ashes:

Haseeb Hameed

Jos Buttler (Reserve Wicketkeeper)

Liam Dawson

Mark Wood

Hameed’s domestic form, an equation of three into two for the opening slots, Ballance’s demanding of a recall, Moeen’s desire and merit to bat at five and Rashid’s time to lead the spin bowling attack equates to Hameed missing out at the start of the summer but making the tour. I’m happy with Root captaining the side from three ala Australia’s Steven Smith as Ballance has been so productive at four this year at Headingley. Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone could also come into the equation but that would balloon the party to eighteen. LL was England Lions standout performer last winter and presumably the back-up brigade will be waiting in the wings if England need to call for reinforcements. Of course Dawson and Buttler will already provide genuine batting cover. Dawson bats at five for Hampshire and Buttler will be in the squad as second choice gloveman.

Regarding spin, Mason Crane could return to Oz after playing First Class cricket there last winter but needs to really set the word alight in the County Championship from this point on. Alternatively England could turn to Somerset’s Jack Leach but you get the impression that the selectors aren’t convinced and that Dawson will do seen as it’s Australia not Asia.

Of course if Jennings averages 15.00 against SA, Broad breaks down injured playing for Nottinghamshire and Rashid goes at 6.00 an over against WI then the Ashes squad could have a completely different complexion to the one presented above.

You’ll have to excuse me. The article headline suggested that it would be all about Liam Plunkett but has descended into a general England squad predictor/requestor. I definitely think that Plunkett and Footitt would be great weapons in England’s attack for three to five Tests each in our next three series.

We’ll see what happens…

Century for Steel: Stars, Stripes and Steel!

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I previously wrote an article about Americans that have played First Class cricket…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/first-class-americans/

Well today one of them, Durham’s Cameron Steel, recorded his maiden First Class century. The likes of Middlesex and Somerset, each of whom had the Stateside born bat in their 2nd XI ranks at one time, might be regretting letting him slip through their nets.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-championship-division-2-2017/content/player/633301.html

Steel’s 128 today was pivotal in putting Durham in with a chance of victory in their County Championship Division Two encounter against Northamptonshire at Chester-le-Street.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-championship-division-2-2017/engine/match/1068607.html

You may of course wonder about my obsession with the America/Cricket combo. I believe the phrase the ICC use is ‘Untapped market’. Of course USA has been tapped but the water just doesn’t pour. It’s a nation crying out to be a force in international cricket and to have a major domestic scene…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/stateside-smash/

Back to Steel, he’s played junior cricket Down Under and University Cricket here in England but was born in Cali. He’s helping Durham ease the pain of their points deduction and the loss of senior top order batsmen Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Jersey Creamed!

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Gary Ballance (123, foreground) compiled a 146-run stand with debutant Ben Foakes (62, background) to propel England to an encouraging first innings total of 367.

Following our Greek tragedy in Corfu, we headed to yet more exotic isles, this time Jersey shores. Unfortunately the home side milked our bowling ’til the cows came home and we went down by nine wickets. It was the familiar fable of building up our hopes only to have them knocked back down again. We posted a very respectable 367 in our first innings, courtesy in the main to an epic 146-run partnership between Gary Ballance (123) and debutant Ben Foakes (62). The recalled Toby Roland-Jones came next in the scoring charts with 43. Eight of our wickets fell to spin.

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Debutant stumper Ben Foakes made scores of 62 and 44, claimed three catches and effected a run out.

We then had the home side in peril at 155-6 but somehow they went on to total 445. Sam Curran (3-99) bowled exceptionally well whilst Liam Plunkett (3-108) and Roland-Jones (2-75) plugged away. Despite Moeen Ali taking a wicket in his first over, the last ball before lunch, our spinners again disappointed. Foakes dropped a regulation chance early on but responded by claiming two catches, one each off pace and spin, as well as performing a clever run out. Captain Joe Root held four catches.

In our second innings we simply fell apart. Once again batsmen got starts but only the impressive debutant Foakes really looked comfortable. He made 44, Root 33 and Haseeb Hameed 22… for the second time in the match. Sadly the next highest score wasn’t 11!

Jersey were left requiring 91 to win and we presented our spinners with the opportunity to save their Test careers as the match headed into a fourth day. Adil Rashid did at least snap up a wicket (Another catch for Foakes) and Liam Dawson was economical but the Test careers of both of them as well as Moeen and batsman Ben Duckett (20 & 15) now hang by a thread.

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It is with great shame that I find myself once again defending the efforts of our players when the performance as a whole simply wasn’t good enough for this level. In truth, we should have selected an extra pace bowling option at the expense of either a spinner or the extra batsman we had at number six. Wholesale changes will be made come our next outing. We can’t go on like this!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Greece Frightening!

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Haseeb Hameed stroked 131 but we collapsed from 131-1. Coincidence?

We were 130-1 at lunch on day one. Guess how this story ends?!

Having made 27, James Vince (Bowled off a no ball on 15) went for a wander the first delivery he faced after his salad and promptly got run out. Cue a collapse of epic proportions as 131-1 became 258 all out. It would be an understatement to say that it’s a good job Haseeb Hameed turned up. He constructed a chanceless and quite simply, in the face of all the carnage around him, magnificent 131.

We then chipped away at the opposition batting order and following a quick double strike from Liam Plunkett we had the Grecians in peril at 196-7 but they would go onto claim a vital 68-run first innings lead by totalling 306. Plunkett was the pick of the bowlers with figures 4-44. Fellow pacers Mark Footitt (2-63), Mark Wood (2-65) and Sam Curran (2-55) also performed well but spin trio Adil Rashid, Liam Dawson and Moeen Ali failed to claim a wicket between them. More plates were spun at lunch than the ball turned for the twirless threesome!

We then stumbled to 258 in our second innings at Corfu Stadium. First innings hero Hameed (12) left a straight one, Vince (5) vanished and Gary Ballance (18) hit two of the most majestic fours you’ll ever see then offered slip catching practice. Moeen Ali (42) again looked good but got out and Sam Curran (16) briefly flirted with doing well. Captain for this match Jonny Bairstow (31) put on 60 with Liam Dawson before the former fell in spectacular fashion when attempting an audacious ramp and becoming the premier spin victim in the Test. Dawson battled away and reached fifty but fell soon afterwards for 52. Liam Plunkett made 8 having quacked in the first innings before Mark Wood (18) put on 45 with Adil Rashid. Rashid was dropped behind on 34 but when Wood was out Rashid couldn’t get back on strike before Mark Footitt was bowled without troubling the scorers. Rashid was left stranded on 35 not out from 80 deliveries.

That left the Greeks requiring 191 for a famous victory. Footitt struck early but though wickets fell every now and again there wasn’t the clatter required for us to pull of a heist. Footitt (2), Wood and Plunkett each claimed a wicket and there was one solitary wicket via spin courtesy of Liam Dawson.

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Well played Greece. They thoroughly deserved their five-wicket win. We were 131-1 in the first innings of the match, were gifted 36 extras, had Vince bowled off a no ball and had Rashid dropped yet we still lost! The team as a whole offer their sincerest apologies to our fans, particularly those that made the trip to Corfu in the hope of a good time.

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The selection committee will review the events of the past four days prior to announcing the squad for our next Test match.

Chasing Hope

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The West Indies made it to within one over of a series draw against Pakistan before the Angel Gabriel had his wings clipped by Yasir Shah.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-pakistan-2017/engine/match/1077955.html

The hosts’ failings were all too familiar. Batsman failing to make significant scores (I know how you feel boys!) and despite having an array of spin bowlers possessive of outlandish First Class bowling averages, Devendra Bishoo only really came to the party late in the day… and just to ruin the farewells of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan!

I’m not convinced that opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite should be playing ODIs. It compromises his strength, that is to occupy the crease in the longest form of the game. He failed to pass 50 and averaged sub 17 in the series.

Kieron Powell’s flame flickered. He made starts but like Brathwaite failed to find 50. An average of 26.83 tells its own story. He made starts but failed to go on. That’s no fifty in sight for Windies openers across 12 innings. Of course maybe if things had been handled differently then KB and KP could have been opening for WI for years already. A few years ago they contrasted well and could have developed into a lethal pair. KP got disillusioned then and it will be interesting to see if the selectors persist with him. They’ll probably have to and should do because they might feel it necessary to make changes elsewhere in the order.

20-year-old Shimron Hetmyer clearly has talent but he also has only one First Class century. He’s a very attack minded player. Was first drop the right place to baptise him on the international stage? His top score: a quarter century at an average of 16.00. Even if he’s not retained for the time being his time can come again.

Domestic dominant and Zimbabwe slaying Shai Hope did at least at last record a maiden Test half century, a 90 in fact. In his five other innings he totalled 59 runs combined.

Vishaul Singh was supposed to be the middle order rock. The middle order sandcastle with the tide coming in fast more like. He made 32 runs in one innings but only 31 across the other five. He’s 28 years old and his First Class batting average is an underwhelming 33.45. His conversion rate is good though: 6 centuries to 9 fifties but can he get to fifty in the international arena in the first place? His First Class strike rate is literally 34 runs slower than Hetmyer’s. Call me old fashioned but maybe they would have each prospered had they been positioned the other way around.

Wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich made 56 in one innings but didn’t total 56 across the other five. There’s a theme developing here isn’t there? These guys have got the ability but not the consistency, not yet anyway.

Then there’s Roston Chase. Wow, just wow! How good is this guy? Ten Tests into his career and he’s got three hundreds to two in the First Class game. Some people just thrive the tougher the challenge. He’s averaging 48.53 as well as claiming a more than useful 17 wickets at 52.23 apiece. At the risk of raining on the parade, I’m going to hazard a guess that in a year’s time that figure of 48.53 will have dipped. I hope that it doesn’t but he’s really going to have to excel to maintain such a strong start.

Where WI go from here, who knows? Actually, it would appear not very far, they’re hosting Afghanistan for some T20Is and ODIs. Then post Champions Trophy they take on England. Jermaine Blackwood could come back in but the others out there in the domestic game all seem much of a muchness, averaging in the mid twenties. That’s even the case for Jason Mohammed despite his success in recent ODI fair. Vishaul Singh had stepped up to the plate in A and Board or Chairman XIs but didn’t deliver against Pakistan. Remember though that both Hetmyer and Singh have had far better starts to their Test careers than five time Test double centurion Marvan Atapattu. I think that the West Indies selectors will do well to persist with these players and provide them further opportunity. Even the likes of Jacques Kallis, Steve Waugh and Matthew Hayden didn’t hit the ground running in the Test arena.

The West Indies might not be Singhing but they can always Chase Hope!