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…

Don Bradman Cricket 17: A Ton in the Sun!

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Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate my First Class career best innings of 137 for Yorkshire against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl in the County Championship but also to provide a little insight into where Don Bradman Cricket 17 on the PS4 (Also available on Xbox One and Steam) currently stands. Regarding the Hampshire match, I was actually captain and when I came to the crease in the second innings we were three wickets down and still behind the host’s first innings total. I then ran Joe Root (27) out but first Jonny Bairstow and then David Willey (Career team selection now more dynamic) hung around as I batted aggressively but not recklessly, selecting the right ball and field placings when going aerial. I had one stroke of luck when I was dropped on about 70. Hamps’ were left requiring 238 to win and a last wicket stand of 29 got them within 12 runs before their number eleven was out in exactly the way you’d expect someone to be so in that situation… stumped!

Onto the game in general:

Firstly: When you login to career, you’re now promptly dropped for the first match after each login. I think that if you save the game at a certain point then it’s avoidable but it’s one of many little nuisances in the game that add up.

Secondly: Batting average seems to be calculating ‘more correctly’ but it’s still unclear if not outs are being counted as they should be. In a new career that I’ve started, I’ve batted once and scored 31 not out but on the statistics panel on the player page it says no not outs. On my older careers the statistics panel and the information on screen when I walk out to bat don’t match. I need to have another bat or two in my new career to confirm things but ultimately statistics still aren’t accurate across the board.

Thirdly: Outisde of career mode, so in casual or tour matches, no statistics are saved. For example: Mark Footitt has played a few Tests for me but his performances don’t record anywhere. On DBC14 I created my village team and played match after match analysing player’s averages and how they went up or down. It’s a strange omission from the game and has been keenly discussed on the forum…

https://www.planetcricket.org/forums/forums/don-bradman-cricket-17-forum.306/

Fourthly: Back to career. When you start at Club T20 level, at the beginning you select your team then five opposition from the local area to be in your league. In my new career I’m playing for Redcar under the Durham umbrella. I selected local teams such as Berwick and South Shields but have Lancashire’s Burnley and Yorkshire’s Keighley to travel to!

Fifthly: This probably played a part in my what I seem to recall were back to back centuries. After the last patch my player rating went from about 70 to 87! You gain skill points for performance and apply them to various skills and techniques within the three disciplines but obviously now being 87 means I should be competing with the best of ’em.

I find gameplay in general really good and the concept of career mode is great. That’s what makes it really frustrating that the… frustrations are such simple things as statistics that were correct on the original instalment of the game.

As has probably been the case for many loyal fans of Don Bradman Cricket for sometime now, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they’ll be just one more patch, just one more patch, please!

I hope that loyal Silly Pointers will look forward to my future England match reports. I’ve designed four new kits (Test, ODI, T20I and Exhibition) and look forward to sharing my designs with you as the team go in search of global success. I’ve also designed a new bat that at least some of the players will be using.

Toby Rolls In!

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I’ll admit that TRJ’s latest call-up to the England squad on the eve of the third ODI against South Africa had passed me by, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a thoroughly deserving county stalwart’s name on the scorecard when I got home from work yesterday. It eased the pain of the scorecard as a whole.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1031429.html

Toby Roland-Jones made England’s Test squad last summer but not the XI. He performed admirably with bat and ball for the Lions in the winter and has been a consistent performer on the domestic circuit for a number of years. He played a huge part in Middlesex’s final day County Championship title clinch last season and possibly the fact that Middlesex haven’t played a match this week and that the third ODI was at his domestic home ground of Lords probably helped he and Steven Finn make the squad. England had niggles to the likes of Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali and clearly decided not to take any risks with their other fit but injury prone first choice pacers. Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood were rested. Liam Dawson, perennial 12th man was also added to the squad but not surprisingly provided the greenness of the pitch, he again failed to take the XI. Jake Ball responded to his figures of 0-81 in the second ODI by claiming two wickets at Lords and back to Roland-Jones, he came out swinging (Not slogging!) to hit a run-a-ball 37 not out on debut after England had been 22-6 inside five overs! TRJ also took his and England’s first wicket. Hashim Amla is not a bad maiden international victim. It says bowled in the scorebook and mentions nothing about playing on!

Credit the ECB that have some good pieces on their website. It won’t let me post links to the specific video pages but only the main page. Have a look at the post match interview with TRJ and the match highlights that are a decent nearly six minutes long and available soon after the match conclusion, providing the frustrated fan with some action in an era of no bat ‘n’ ball on free to air television. Hopefully that’s about to change!

https://www.ecb.co.uk

Ahead of the Ashes this winter, England seem likely to experiment with their squad come the ODIs against West Indies later this summer and will probably rotate their seamers before taking plenty of them Down Under. Roland-Jones could yet don the full England kit again soon.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/370535.html

Balancing Invincibility

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Two batsman are setting the county circuit alight this season and both of them are last term’s England cast-offs. One of them has assumed the captaincy of his employer and has revelled in the responsibility. The other has, at least in part, relinquished the leadership of his county. Both are making a strong case for a rapid recall to the national side this summer.

I am of course talking about Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance and Hampshire’s James Vince. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that many wanted both these batsman out of the England side. Starts but no substance for Vince. Single figure struggles for Ballance. Such glutinous run scoring as that displayed in the past month or so though, both in the County Championship and the Royal London One-Day Cup means that both batsman could don the Three Lions jersey again very soon. It could be that Ballance is more likely a recall to the Test side and Vince in ODIs. These possibilities depend however on how England choose to balance their Test side and whether they actually need a ‘new’ batsman at number five in the order. The all-round capabilities of the likes of Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes provide England with lots of options.

The management seem likely to experiment with the ODI squad post Champions Trophy. Winter Lions and North and South performers such as Liam Dawson, Dawid Malan, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Liam Livingstone, seem likely to be provided full international honours. Let’s not forget Ben Duckett either.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Not everybody hits the ground running when it comes to international cricket. In Ballance’s case he actually did, only to wobble later. Vince just couldn’t get out of second gear. A second or third coming for these two batsman could spell the start of substantial international careers.

White Ferns Call on Kerr to Curb Run Flow

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New Zealand Women have selected teenage spin bowler Amelia Kerr in their World Cup squad for the tournament that commences next month in England. The Wellington Wizard was just fourteen years of age when she popped up on YouTube, the great hope for New Zealand Women’s cricket. Of course courting such attention at that age can have a detrimental effect (Freddy Adu anybody?). Kerr though has clocked up ten wickets in 7 ODIs to date, at an average of just 22.90. The Wellington native has already claimed two four-wicket hauls in those 7 appearances and gone at less than four runs per over, 3.89 to be precise.

There’s something utterly bizarre about looking at a person’s Cricinfo profile page and seeing a birthday in the 2000s!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/newzealand/content/player/803971.html

Here’s a Trans World Sport feature on the leg-spinner who can bat too. She struck 119 for Wellington Women against Otago Women as recently as February.

Cricket runs in the Kerr family. Amelia’s sister plays alongside her at domestic level, both parents played the game and grandfather Bruce Murray clocked up 13 Test caps for the Black Caps. Murray’s career best 90 came in Lahore when New Zealand beat Pakistan for the first time.

http://www.howstat.com/cricket/Statistics/Matches/MatchScorecard.asp?MatchCode=0663

That was nearly half a century ago. Kerr will hope to create some historic moments of her own in the sport in the years and even decades to come.

Disclaimer: Irrelevant lyrics, relevant title!

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!