Extras

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Bye: The upcoming World XI matches which are to be held in Pakistan have been granted full international status. Talk about devaluing international cricket. Aaaaargh!!!

Leg Bye: The Indoor Cricket World Cup which will take place in Dubai, UAE, is less than a month away…

http://www.worldindoorcricketfederation.com/news.html

No Ball: Nottinghamshire duo Billy Root and Luke Fletcher have both signed new deals with the county. England captain Joe’s brother Billy has rarely disappointed when been presented with first XI opportunities and Luke Fletcher (A star of my England ODI side on Cricket Captain 2017) is one of those underrated but throughly effective players plying their trade on the county circuit. Hopefully he’s well on the way to recovery following his nasty head injury.

Wide: Ashton (Or Ash98?) Agar is penned in for a return to Australia’s Test XI come the first Test against Bangladesh. Only an extremely capable ink eraser can deny him his first Test outing in over four years. Agar has been steadily developing on the domestic scene since his headline hitting international debut during the 2013 Ashes series in England…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/12088/scorecard/566932/England-vs-Australia-1st-Test

He’s since made a couple of pyjama outings (T20I) and as well as his bowling and batting abilities, he’s an excellent fielder. Agar seems a phlegmatic character and the sort of player that international cricket will be better for having amongst its ranks.

Desert Delight / Desert Disaster!

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Afghanistan have won the inaugural Desert T20 Challenge after thrashing Ireland in the final in Dubai.

Ireland had actually produced a thrashing of their own earlier in the day with a 98-run demolition job on their Scottish neighbours after amassing an intimidating 211-6 in the allotted 20 overs.

The Afghan Hounds chased down 149 to overhaul Oman in the other semi, thanks in the main to the lynchpin of their side, opening batsman Mohammad Shahzad, who struck 80 from 60 deliveries.

The Irish had clearly used up all their energy in the semi as come the final they were dismissed for a paltry 71 in just 13.2 overs. Afghanistan then romped to their crown with a ruthless ten-wicket victory, the effervescent Shahzad (52 not out) again leading the way.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/desert-t20-challenge/engine/match/1074971.html

Though a more evenly contested final would have been better, the tournament can surely be considered a great success for associate cricket and the global spread of the game and we’ll wait with baited breath to discover whether or not this will be an annual, bi-annual, tri-annual, quad-annual, pent-annual, you get the idea, arranged tournament.

Though this is a T20 tournament the result comes at a convenient time for Afghanistan as speculation mounts that they’ll soon put forward a bid for Test status. If they achieve such then it could be a bitter pill for the Irish to swallow, unless of course they too are granted Test status.

Dislcaimer: I can’t find any evidence of the Afghanistan cricket team actually being nicknamed the Afghan Hounds but I hope that it comes across as affectionate and is not in anyway meant in a derogatory way, not that I have any reason to think it would unless of course Afghan Hounds have a bad reputation and the Afghanistan cricket team don’t want to be named after dogs!

Finnished?

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In the post Duckett Dropped!…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/05/duckett-dropped/

… Silly Point touched upon the notion that Steven Finn’s time as an international cricketer may be up. Having played one wicketless (And runless) Test in Bangladesh the Middlesex man hasn’t graced the turf in India and was omitted from both the ODI and T20I squads for when England return to India after opening their presents and feasting on some turkey.

It almost seems hard to believe that Finn has thirty-six Test matches under his belt complete with 125 wickets at an average of 30.40. He’s currently stranded on 98 ODI wickets at an average of 28.96 and hasn’t disgraced himself in T20Is either. However it’s all seemed a bit of a struggle in recent times and it’s as though the England selectors keep providing him with one more chance to rediscover the Steven Finn that first arrived on the international scene way back in 2010.

His omission from the limited overs squads did seem to spell the end for the Watford Wall but maybe there’s hope yet. Andrew Strauss’ radical North v South idea (Okay, it’s not that radical, he nicked it from New Zealand and actually they did it in England years ago!) allowed a computer to pick some players but the England selectors have found a place for Finn in the, to quote Moby, Southside…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/story/1073030.html

… With Jake Ball seemingly the heir apparent to James Anderson, life in the old dog Broad (Despite recent injuries), the ECB’s evident desperation to get Mark Wood fit and the likes of the Curran Brothers (No they didn’t sing Let Your Love Flow, that was the Bellamy Brothers!) and Finn’s county colleague Toby Roland-Jones also in the selectors thoughts, twenty-seven-year-old Finn will need a confident showing and ultimately a wicket taking one in the three one-day games to be played in Dubai in March. A poor showing however and Steven Finn may become, despite his lack of Scandinavian heritage, Steven Finnished!

Jennings to Debut in Mumbai!

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Keaton Jennings will become England Test cricketer number 675 tomorrow, unless Liam Dawson also makes the XI for the fourth Test in Mumbai in which case Jennings will be number 676.

Durham opening-batsman Jennings outscored everybody in the County Championship last term (1548 runs @ 64.50) and struck an undefeated century for England Lions in Dubai last week, just a few hours after the excitement of opening the first door on his 2016 advent calendar.

India lead the series 2-0 with two Tests to play and so England will hope that Jennings can help lay the platform to post some competitive totals.

England to Name Squads for India ODIs/T20Is

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England will name their squads for the post Christmas ODI and T20I series’ against India, both three-match affairs, on monday. England are likely to avoid too much experimentation and save that for the matches against West Indies and Ireland in February and May. That’s not to say that there won’t be a little squad rotation.

Captain Eoin Morgan as well as opening batsman Alex Hales will come straight back into the side after opting out of the Bangladesh tour because of security concerns. Joe Root, rested for the limited overs leg of that tour will also return. That means that for the ODIs at least, perennial starter James Vince will pay the price for not going onto makes scores of substance. England will be keen to persist with many of their limited overs specialists and provide opportunity to those that have mostly sat on the bench during the Bangladesh / India Test tours. That means Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow, both of whom are burdened with great responsibility in the Test arena may be amongst those that have earned a respite.

Adil Rashid’s continued progress may grant him further responsibility in the ODIs without the safety net of Moeen to back him up. Liam Dawson, who has been playing T20 in the Bangladesh Premier League and was this week added to the Test squad, will be in the party and Joe Root can provide an occasional off-spin option.

Sam Billings recorded a maiden ODI fifty (62) in the deciding match in Bangladesh but will have to drop down the order to make way for the return of Hales and Jason Roy who was injured for that match. Both deserve to recombine at the top of the order for England. Billings of course provides wicket-keeping cover for Jos Buttler as does Ben Duckett who despite his travails in Test match cricket merits retaining his place in the ODI side. He made scores of 60, 0 and 63 in Bangladesh and like Billings will hope to avoid being dropped the match after registering a career best. All that adds upto Jonny Bairstow sitting out. Scores of 0,35 and 15 in Bangladesh didn’t quite make Bairstow demand a regular place in the ODI side as ridiculous as it might seem to omit him.

England will be keen to provide Jake Ball (5-51 on ODI debut Bangladesh) and Steven Finn with game time as well as Liam Plunkett. Plunkett was injured for the first two matches of the Bangladesh series and didn’t have a game to remember (0-51) in his sole outing in the third but merits retention in the squad. David Willey (15-2-82-0 in the series) is another one who didn’t have an outstanding time against the Tigers but his left-arm provides variety in the attack and again he is one who England will feel it is worth further investment. England may also be tempted to rest Chris Woakes and that could benefit Surrey’s Tom Curran. The Surrey man recently took 5-16 as well as scoring 40 with the bat for England Lions against UAE in Dubai.

For the T20Is summer debutant Tymal Mills, currently playing in New Zealand and like Dawson having played in the BPL last month will come into the squad and could simply be an addition rather than sending anyone home. If England do decide to tinker then Dawid Malan who made the squad but not the XI in the summer and has produced a couple of match winning innings in the BPL could also come in. Moeen and Woakes would likely come back in for Duckett and Curran with the likes of Adil Rashid and Ben Stokes taking a rest. James Vince might also sneak back into the T20I squad.

What was I saying about avoiding too much experimentation?!

Predicted ODI Squad:

Eoin Morgan (Captain), Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Ben Duckett, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey

Predicted T20I squad:

Eoin Morgan (Captain), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Liam Dawson, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Liam Plunkett, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey, Chris Woakes

Six to Watch: 2017

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It may only seem like yesterday that the 2016 English domestic campaign reached its dramatic conclusion but it’s never too early to start looking ahead. With only six months until the 2017 season begins, Silly Point has identified six players to watch out for. It’s not just youngsters trying to make their way in the game that Silly Point has taken a look at either. Seasoned veterans receive a going over too with Silly Point predicting some renaissances in 2017.

Jofra Archer, 21, Sussex, All-Rounder

When you Google Barbadian born Archer and this is know joke, he was born on April Fools Day, he appears to be draped in West Indies colours. He wouldn’t be the first Sussex man to have departed Caribbean shores and gone on to play for England however, Chris Jordan anybody! Archer arrived on the English county scene with a bang last season, recording figures of 4-49 on First Class debut against the touring Pakistanis at Hove. Mohammad Hafeez, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq all fell victim to the twenty-one-year-old. Sussex’s six other first innings bowlers managed just a sole wicket between them and it was only Archer who managed to bag second time around when he sent Hafeez back to the pavilion once again. Archer displayed his batting credentials with a knock of 73 against Essex in the County Championship at Colchester, recorded two more four wicket hauls before the season’s completion and took 5-42 against Somerset in a one-day match at Taunton. Sussex will rely heavily on Archer’s contributions in 2017 if they’re to haul themselves up to Division One in both the County Championship and One-Day Cup.

 

Daniel Bell-Drummond, 23, Kent, Right-Handed Opening Batsman

747 County Championship runs at 53.36, 332 One-Day Cup runs at 41.50 (S/R 86.23) and 171 off 139 deliveries for England Lions against Sri Lanka A in a one-day match… yet somehow DBD’s progress in 2016 seemed to go somewhat under the radar, a mid-season injury didn’t help. Last year DBD smacked 127 from just 112 balls against a touring Australian side whose bowling attack included Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris. You can go as far back as 2013 to find former Kent skipper Rob Key proclaiming that DBD could be a “… 100-test cricketer…”. Despite a more than reasonable 2016, Northamptonshire’s prolific Ben Duckett, Lancashire’s record breaking Roses match teenager Haseeb Hameed and maybe even Durham’s Keaton Jennings have all usurped twenty-three-year-old Bell-Drummond. DBD will hope to press his case for full honours when representing England Lions this winter against the UAE in three one-day games in Dubai and against Afghanistan in a three-day match in Sharjah.

Dom Bess, 19, Somerset, Off-Spin Bowler

Topping the County Championship Division One bowling averages last term with thirteen wickets at 10.46 apiece including two five wicket hauls, 6-28 against Warwickshire and 5-43 against Nottinghamshire, both at Taunton, suggest that Somerset have a real find on their hands in England U-19 international Bess. Of course not all of those that arrive on the scene with a bang live up to the hype, Mathew Sinclair anybody! Some of the mystery of Bess will have evaporated as batsmen have had both the opportunity to face him and to study the videos during the winter. Not that Shane Warne or Muttiah Muralitharan got any easier to play and Bess will remain a mystery to many that have yet to encounter him. The real test for Bess will come when (if?) he finishes with figures of 0-150 and how he responds to doing so.

Look out for my upcoming article ‘England’s Spin Dearth Myth’ for more on Bess.

Jack Burnham, 19, Durham, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

Stoneman, gone. Borthwick, gone. Muchall, gone. Mustard gone. No pressure on 19-year-old Jack Burnham then! The 2016 Under-19 World Cup’s leading run scorer registered 630 County Championship Division One runs at 27.39 in 2016 but his limited overs campaigns were rather fruitless. Despite the departures of senior batsmen Burnham will still have the likes of Keaton Jennings and Paul Collingwood alongside him and following Durham’s relegation after an ECB bailout he’ll be playing County Championship cricket in Division Two this term. Durham will be seriously hoping that the teenager can kick on in 2017 and break the 1000 run barrier in the County Championship’s bottom division to help get Durham back into the upper echelons of English cricket.

Nick Compton, 33, Middlesex, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

@Compdog’s axing from England first time around was a bitter affair. Second time it was just horrible to watch, to witness English cricket’s Marmite fall apart. There was no bemoaning the selectors this time around. Compton knew he’d had his chance. After commencing the South Africa series with a Comptonesque 85 at Durban, mixed messages from coach Trevor Bayliss resulted in Compton trying to go out all guns blazing to seal victory in the Johannesburg test and ultimately forget how to play the very sort of innings that had earned him international recognition in the first place. It’s questionable whether an experienced cricketer such as Compton should have ever allowed his coaches public comments to affect his game and after returning to the county game he rather alarmingly took a break from cricket altogether. He did however return to the Middlesex ranks and of course finished the season as a title winner. After the fall there were glimpses of his run making ability like his innings of 131 against Durham at Lords in August. With even the man himself surely beyond thinking about international selection, if he can just enjoy himself at the county he felt it necessary to return to then Middlesex will surely reap the benefits.

Mark Footitt, 30, Surrey, Left-Arm Fast Medium Bowler

It would be easy to assume that the proverbial ship has long since sailed for Mark Footitt, at least on the international front. If he wasn’t going to make the England XI in South Africa then maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. He was seen as the County Championship’s marquee signing pre last term but injuries disrupted the left arm seamer’s opportunity to make an immediate impact at Surrey. However as the season progressed and he eventually rid himself of injury he didn’t half come good. The wickets tumbled in the latter stages of the season and Footitt finished the campaign with 34 Division One wickets at 26.85 including career best figures of 7-62 against Lancashire at The Oval followed up by 6-161 against Hampshire at the same ground and 5-90 against Durham at Chester-Le-Street. If he can stay fit he will surely prove a major asset for Surrey and with the international attraction to left arm seamers maybe an England cap could still be within the thirty-year-old’s reach.