Cricket Captain 2017: 2018 Test Tour to Sri Lanka Squad Announcement

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England head to Sri Lanka shortly for a tough tour consisting of three Tests, five ODIs and curiously … no T20Is.

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Opening batsman Rory Burns returns to the squad after injury whilst there are also recalls for batsman James Hildreth and spin bowler Ollie Rayner, both of whom debuted last year. Dawid Malan, Toby Roland-Jones and Tom Curran, all capped at either ODI or T20I level, earn their first call ups to the Test squad. Uncapped John Simpson provides wicketkeeping cover for the second successive winter but disappointingly the in-form Liam Livingstone is unavailable through injury.

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The full Test squad is as follows:

Mark Stoneman, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Ben Duckett, Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (w), Adil Rashid, Liam Norwell, Ben Coad, Jack Leach, Rory Burns, James Hildreth, Dawid Malan, John Simpson (w), Ollie Rayner, Toby Roland-Jones, Tom Curran

Cricket Captain 2017: Summer 2018 Report

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We commenced the summer with a comfortable win against Pakistan in the first Test before following it up with an uncomfortable defeat in the second. In the absence of IPL duo Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes and following the decision to omit Stuart Broad and James Anderson from the Test squad, there were mixed performances from the likes of Sam Curran, Liam Plunkett, Jofra Archer and Ben Coad.

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Yorkshire’s Ben Coad struck with his first delivery in international cricket.

In the second Test both opening batsmen, Surrey duo Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns were fighting to save their international careers following lean Ashes series and appalling first Test performances. Having made 9 in the second innings Burns broke his rib and was understandably forced to retire hurt. Stoneman however dug deep to pass 1000 Test match runs. The former Durham left-hander reached fifty (74) for the first time in seven Tests to preserve his Test career.

After losing the first ODI we hit back to record a 4-1 series win. The leg-spin duo of Adil Rashid (10 wickets @ 17.90) and Liam Livingstone (8 @ 21.25) shared plenty of wickets and a rejuvenated Liam Plunkett (9 @ 15.33) claimed a healthy amount of victims too. Bermuda born Delray Rawlins made an impressive 60 on debut.

Despite Somerset’s Craig Overton striking with his first ball in international cricket, the sole T20I ended in defeat.

At the end of Pakistan’s visit we had maintained our unbeaten series records in Tests and ODIs since the start of my tenure but following the New Zealand series, had lost back to back T20I series.

Next up came India and the first Test has gone down in history as one of the greatest of all time. Unfortunately for Liam Plunkett, he’ll be remembered as the man who dropped the match. The Yorkshire quick failed to grasp a straightforward match-winning caught and bowled chance in the penultimate over of the final day’s play before the visitors held on by just one wicket. By the time the series neared its end we led 1-0 but promptly lost the last match of a Test series for the third series in a row, resulting in a series draw for the third straight series. There were positives however, most notably Mark Stoneman’s return to form (418 runs @ 41.80 including 160 in the fourth Test) and Gloucestershire pacer Liam Norwell’s debut match figures of 7-89.

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Debutant Liam Norwell (7-89) made the most of good domestic form to lead England’s charge to victory in the third Test.

Others found things harder though. Having replaced the injured Rory Burns at the top of the order, Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond made scores of 98 and 54 on debut at Lords but failed to pass 21 in the next four Tests. Durham pacer James Weighell claimed 4-99 in the fourth Test but his 12 series victims came at more than 60 apiece with a strike rate in excess of 100!.

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Durham’s James Weighell found the step up to international cricket a big one.

The ODI series would prove frustrating as despite leading twice we failed to defend 331 in the final match thus resulting in a 3-2 series loss and our first ODI series defeat in nearly two years. Captain Chris Woakes found the going particularly tough.

Despite the defeat, there were plenty of positives to come out of an extremely competitive series. These included Sam Curran’s consistency with the ball. At just twenty-years-old, Curran already has 31 ODI wickets to his name at an average of just 25.90. On reflection, the decision to rest him from the fourth ODI was probably a misguided one.

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Surrey’s Sam Curran has taken to international cricket like a duck to water but may have to focus solely on ODIs for the immediate future.

Another positive was Liam Livingstone’s contribution to the cause. After performing tremendously well with the ball against Pakistan, Lancashire’s Livingstone, after a few cameos, upped the ante with the bat. This was more evident than ever in the fourth ODI when Livingstone produced a marvellous innings of 127 not out, his maiden international hundred.

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Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone (127 not out) showed he’s right at home in the international arena.

Kent’s Sam Northeast struck 72 on debut in the fifth ODI after replacing the struggling Delray Rawlins. Sussex’s Rawlins was twice run out in single figures during his four innings in the series and failed to pass 22. It was a disappointing follow up to the debut 60 he hit against Pakistan and he may be well served to return to domestic cricket to further his education before donning England colours again. His time will come.

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Adil Rashid: Best bowler in the world but can’t get a game!

It was also a frustrating summer for Adil Rashid. Having topped the Ashes bowling averages the Yorkshire leggie had to make do with 12th man duties for many of the Tests (Jack Leach the preferred spinner) and despite being ranked the number one ODI bowler in the world, he was unable to force his way into the limited overs XI against India. In truth, the pitches were not really crying out for spin. His frustration was probably exasperated when Hampshire’s Mason Crane claimed four wickets in four balls on T20I debut. Having gone around the park (0-33) in his first two overs, captain Eoin Morgan made the brave call to stick with Crane and the decision paid dividends. Crane finished with figures of 4-48 to display the sort of character and temperament required to prosper at international level. Cynics will say that the tail were slogging but Crane prevented India from getting away before the team classily chased down 186 to win the sole T20I and finish the summer on a high. At just twenty years of age, Crane should have an important part to play for England in all formats for the next decade or more.

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Hampshire’s Mason Crane (4-48) took four wickets in four balls on T20I debut!

Another youngster who impressed on debut was Worcestershire’s Joe Clarke. Coming into international cricket off the back of outstanding domestic form, Clarke hit 26 from just 9 deliveries to seal victory following Crane’s heroics.

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Joe Clarke: 9 balls, 26 runs. International Cricket: Easy!

The contributions from the likes of Crane and Clarke will have been of huge relief to T20I captain Eoin Morgan. Speculation about his position had been mounting following back to back series defeats and no win in four matches but Morgan led the charge both in the field and with the bat on one of English cricket’s greatest nights.

Next for the team is a tough tour to Sri Lanka. The Test squad will be announced exclusively here at Silly Point later today!

Westley, Malan & TR-J Debut at The Oval!

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England have handed out Test caps 677, 678 and 679 today.

Middlesex duo Dawid Malan and Toby Roland-Jones as well as Essex’s Tom Westley have donned the Baggy Blue for the very first time.

Prior to today, Malan had one T20I cap and Roland-Jones a solitary ODI outing but for Westley, this is his premier outing for the full national side.

Keep up to date with how they get on against South Africa on Cricinfo…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/10718/game/1031441/England-vs-South-Africa-3rd-Test-South-Africa-tour-of-England-2017/

Cricket Captain 2017: ODI/T20I Series Review

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In the ODI series we thoroughly thumped Australia 4-1, losing only the fifth and final match. The series victory was thanks in no small part to Alex Hales’ 304 runs @ 60.80. Surrey teenager Sam Curran claimed figures of 6-27 in the 4th ODI before his older brother Tom recorded impressive numbers of 3-48 on debut. Essex’s Tom Westley (25 & 53) also won his first cap and looked at home in the international arena.

Onto the T20I series that not only involved Australia but New Zealand as well. The structure involved playing Oz twice then New Zealand twice. We defeated the Ozzies 2-0 including a two-run win in the second match courtesy of Adil Rashid’s last ball wicket. However we then got torn to pieces by New Zealand, losing the two group matches then being defeated by them again in the final.

In the second T20I against New Zealand, Middlesex batsman Dawid Malan made 75 on debut but having reverted to our ‘strongest’ line-up for the final, Jason Roy promptly lasted just one delivery!

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Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell made 43 and took 2-7 against Australia on debut but failed to back up that performance. Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone claimed 3-38 in his only match of the series and there were also a couple of wickets for Somerset’s Jamie Overton on his sole outing of the tour.

Having gone unbeaten throughout the year, the 3-0 whitewash dished out to us by the Black Caps was a disappointing end to the campaign.

Extras

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Bye: Former England opening batsman Michael Lumb has been forced to retire at the age of 37 due to an ankle injury. He’ll surely be grateful that the ankle has only given up on him having reached the age of 37 and the question is, if he was 27 could he have played on?

The Nottinghamshire left-hander  was an integral part of England’s 2010 T20I World Cup winning team and crucially effected the run out of Australia’s David Warner in the final. The former Yorkshire and Hampshire player also played three ODIs when England used the T20I squad to play against West Indies. He was in part lucky to get the ODI chance but having scored a century on debut…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/11778/scorecard/636533/West-Indies-vs-England-1st-ODI-England-tour-of-West-Indies-2013-14

followed by a fifty next up, he was somewhat unlucky not to get further opportunities.

He was also one of the early English trendsetters by getting in on the global T20 franchise act. He represented Rajasthan Royals in the IPL and Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash.

Silly Point wishes Lumb the very best in whatever future endeavours lie ahead.

Leg Bye: England have gone west with their latest batting solution. Essex’s Tom Westley has received the call to replace the injured Gary Ballance in the third Test against South Africa. Westley should be safe in the knowledge that given Ballance’s injury, he’ll get at least two Tests to prove his value. He’s consistently stepped up for England Lions and when Essex have faced touring sides in the past. It did seem as though he was one that the national selectors weren’t ever going to turn to but he gets his thoroughly deserved chance now.

No Ball: Cricinfo have changed their website. It’s become quite, well… bloggy. Let’s just say that it’s going to take some getting used too!

http://www.espncricinfo.com

Wide: Moving away from Extras, please be aware that in the future there will be articles other than International Cricket Captain 2017 themed ramblings but for now you will have to make do with my fantasy come reality efforts at making English cricket great again making up a high proportion of the articles!

Cricket Captain 2017: Limited Overs Squads Announcement

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England Squad for five-match ODI series vs. Australia.

Squad in full: Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Ben Duckett, Joe Root, Liam Livingstone, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (w), Adil Rashid, Sam Curran, David Willey, Chris Woakes (c), Tom Westley, Tim Bresnan, Luke Fletcher, Tom Curran

Please note that Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow are being rested following the Ashes series. Liam Livingstone and Sam Curran, having both come into the side against the West Indies retain their places. Essex’s Tom Westley and Surrey’s Tom Curran earn their maiden call ups whilst there is a recall for Yorkshire’s Tim Bresnan.

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England Squad for T20I series vs. Australia and New Zealand.

Squad in full: Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan (c), Joe Root, Moeen Ali, Benny Howell, Jos Buttler (w), Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Liam Livingstone, Dominic Sibley, Dawid Malan, Jamie Overton

Please note that Ben Stokes is being rested following the Ashes and ODI series. Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell and Middlesex’s Dawid Malan earn their maiden call ups.

Cricket Captain 2017: SmAshes, ThrAshes and CrAshes!

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2-1 up with two Ashes Tests to go. What could possibly go wrong?

A word of advice. Never let one player’s personal glory compromise the team goal!

We (England) were 2-1 up in the Ashes and had Australia one wicket down (Target: 490!) at the close of play of the fourth day of the fourth Test. Earlier in the day, when pondering a declaration, I allowed Joe Root to equal and then surpass his previous career best score of 200 not out. The skipper eventually declared with himself undefeated on 213. The only problem was that he spent quite a long time getting through the 190s but we backed ourselves to bowl Australia out with little more than a day to do so. How wrong we were! We got the hosts eight wickets down but Australia resisted to seal a draw. We then fell apart in the fifth Test, putting in our weakest batting performance (284 & 259) of the series capped off by our worst fielding display when it really mattered. We still managed to set the hosts 283 to win but claimed only four wickets and thus surrendered the Ashes.

The 2-2 series result was particularly harsh on Ben Duckett. The Northamptonshire batsman finished the series with 746 runs at an average of 82.89.

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As you’ll see from the images below, opening batsmen Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns failed to back up their impressive first summers in international cricket. Stoneman failed to reach 50 in the series whilst Burns reached 98 in the fifth Test but his dismissal without adding to his overnight total complimented by two dropped catches significantly contributed to us not winning the Ashes.

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On the bowling front, senior pacemen James Anderson (17 wickets @ 35.76) and in particular Stuart Broad (11 wickets @ 55.00) struggled throughout the tour, though their new ball spell did win us the third Test.

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The squads for the ODI/T20I series will be announced shortly.

Update: I later realised that Joe Root had already surpassed 200 not out and that his Test best score was actually 254 so 213 not out wasn’t really worth throwing away the Ashes for!