Don Bradman Cricket 17: French Exam

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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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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/ODC 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/ODC 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.