Six to Watch: T20I Status – Men’s Special

img_2659

From 1st January 2019, all Associate cricket nations will have full T20 International status. These are really exciting times for cricketers as well as fans throughout the globe. As I do each year when the county season comes around, I’ve identified six players to keep an eye on as T20 Internationals start to be played out across the world.

Simon Ateak (Ghana)

24-year-old Ghanaian Simon Ateak was Player of the Tournament at the 2018 ICC World Twenty20 African Sub Regional (North-Western) Qualifier. Ateak notched back-to-back fifties against Sierra Leone and Nigeria in Lagos. Ateak had actually been in poor form in ICC World Cricket League Division Five prior to the T20 Qualifier but delivered when needed to help Ghana reach the finals. Simon’s younger brother Vincent also chipped in with the ball during the Qualifier.

Harrison Carlyon (Jersey)

Still only seventeen-years-old, Jersey’s Harrison Carlyon made his international debut against Oman in Los Angeles at the tender age of just fifteen. The off-spinner’s father and uncle have both represented the island’c cricket team and injuries even meant that father and son turned out for the same side. Carlyon has since appeared for Jersey U-19s and made some useful contributions in ICC World Cricket League Division Four. He’s also been in and around the youth set ups at Sussex CCC.

Ahmad Faiz (Malaysia)

How about this for form: 50, 86, 20, 47, 45 & 50. Those were the batting contributions of Malaysian skipper Ahmad Faiz in ICC World Cricket League Division Four earlier this year. The right-handed batsman clearly enjoys the surface in Kuala Lumpur. Admittedly those were one-day matches and his T20 form beforehand wasn’t quite as strong but Malaysia will be relying on their former U-19 World Cup captain when it comes to run-getting.

Andrew Mansale (Vanuatu)

Andrew Mansale is Vanuatu’s experienced leader, having debuted for his country when just fifteen years of age. Now 29 and having gained experience of playing club cricket in Australia, Vanuatu will be looking to Mansale’s leadership as well as his right-hand batting and off-spin to help them rise to prominence in T20I cricket. Joshua Rasu, another right-hand bat who has played for the same Australian club as Mansale is another Ni-Vanuatu worth looking out for.

Calum MacLeod (Scotland)

Scotland’s Calum McLeod already has 28 T20I caps as well as double that amount of appearances in ODI Cricket where, for the record, he’s notched an impressive six centuries. His attacking nature was imperative in Scotland qualifying for the 2015 ODI World Cup and there were glimpses of his talent at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in March of this year. As with many Scots, he’s been around the English county second XI circuit, most recently representing Hampshire.

Carl Sandri (Italy)

34-year-old Carl Sandri’s experience will be vital if Italy are to develop as a T20I nation. Australian born Sandri, a right-hand bat and off-spin bowler represented Sydney Thunder in the 2013 edition of the Big Bash. He was Italy’s leading wicket taker in the most recent ICC World Cricket League Division Five. Peter Petricola, who has played alongside Sandri in Ozzie club cricket, is another old head that Italy will look at to spearhead their efforts.

IMG_2940

Elsewhere, could county players such as Middlesex’s Ollie Rayner (Germany) and Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell (France) be eligible to represent the countries of their birth?

Could Hampshire’s Gareth ‘Ice’ Berg return to the Italian side alongside Sandri and Petricola having played with them six years ago? Berg claimed figures of 4-20 against Uganda and scored 47 against Namibia in 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in UAE. He’s been an underrated performer on the English county circuit (First Class, List A, T20) for a number of years.

If USA can sort out their political infighting, could Durham’s Cameron Steel or Hampshire’s Ian Holland represent the Stars and Stripes in T20I Cricket? It seems inconceivable that USA aren’t a cricketing nation to be reckoned with.

Once T20I status has really taken ahold, look out for future posts to see how Ateak, Carlyon, Faiz, Mansale, McLeod and Sandri have got on… and who I should have previewed!

img_1770

In the near future, I’ll also be compiling a Six to Watch for the T20I Women’s game as well as a team special. Be sure to look out for those posts soon.

Not Surprisingly no Surprises!

IMG_3495

England have named their ODI squads for the match against Scotland north of the border and the series hosting of Australia.

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/694732/england-name-squads-for-scotland-and-australia-odis

As was to be expected and as touched upon in yesterday evening’s audio cast here at Silly Point, there are no surprises in the England parties. Gloveman Jos Buttler is rested for the match in Edinburgh, which provided his exploits in the IPL and having returned to the Test side, is understandable. Kent captain Sam Billings is named in the squad for the Scotland match only. Quite what happens if he scores a ton I don’t know… “Thanks Sam but we don’t need you against Oz!”.

Surrey’s Tom Curran is also added to the party for the Australia series. With Durham’s Mark Wood now in the Test side, England will be keen to manage his workload and so Curran, who performed well Down Under as well as in short bites in India, should get some playing time. Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett, expensive in the IPL, also returns after injury.

Having been dropped from the Test side, Worcestershire spinner Moeen Ali retains his place in the ODI outfit, alongside fellow twirler Adil Rashid. Yorkshire’s Rashid, who is now solely focused on white-ball cricket, has been travelling at 6.38 runs per over in the One-Day Cup this year. The likes of Alex Hales, Chris Woakes and David Willey are a little short of match practice having done their fair share of bench warming at the IPL. England will hope that said players can hit the ground running and make the most of any One-Day Cup opportunities prior the the international matches.

img_2659

Silly Point will be in Edinburgh for the Scotland match and will provide a write-up complete with photos following the match.

Duckett’s Despair!

Hello loyal followers.

Please find my latest audio cast regarding one of England’s forgotten men and a little about the upcoming ODI against Scotland right here…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/521637.html

England’s Alternative Batting Options

IMG_4028

James Hildreth (Somerset)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/15348.html

Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Yorkshire)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/470633.html

Ross Whiteley (Worcestershire)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/288617.html

World Cup Judgement Day for Khan

img_2659

Afghanistan’s teenage spin sensation Rashid Khan is just one wicket and one match away from becoming the fastest player to chalk up 100 ODI scalps. If he achieves it in his next match then he’ll have shaved a whopping nine games off Australian quick Mitchell Starc’s current record of 52 outings required to reach the ton but…

40 of Khan’s wickets have come against Zimbabwe and 33 against Ireland. That’s 73 out of 99 whilst his best of 7-18 came against West Indies in St. Lucia. Contrary to some old fashioned opinions, the Caribbean is as much a spin bowler’s paradise as is India or Pakistan. That’s 80 wickets right there. In total, he’s claimed eleven victims against West Indies, a side perceived by many to be the weakest Test nation as backed up by the fact that they’ve been playing in the ICC World Cup Qualifier. For the record, the rest of Khan’s wickets have come against Bangladesh (7), United Arab Emirates (5) and Scotland (3). He averages 14.12 and has an ODI economy rate of 3.94. These are absurdly good figures. His First Class average is 15.05 and his highest figure is actually his domestic T20 figure of 15.14! He averages over 40 with the bat in First Class cricket (Admittedly a very small sample size) and is still only nineteen years of age.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/afghanistan/content/player/793463.html

Khan is clearly head and shoulders above his associate and latest Test nation peers. He’s also performed admirably well in the Big Bash and IPL amongst other global T20 competitions but at full international level and despite his stats, he is ultimately unproven. Given the fact that the ICC have limited the 2019 ODI World Cup to ten teams, it is against the supposed world’s best and in English conditions, not generally favourable to spin, that we’ll really find out how good Khan is.

This article is not meant to be a slight on Khan nor the opposition that he’s faced. As the old adage goes “You can only beat what’s in front of you”. It’s great to see Afghanistan cricket thriving, particularly during a competitive ICC World Cup Qualifier filled with promising associate nations. Khan is at the very heart of that.

2019 Cricket World Cup

img_1987

I’ve thrown my e-mail address into the ticket ballot for the 2019 One-Day Cricket World Cup that is scheduled to take place in England next summer. Quite what this means I’m not sure. Could I end up with tickets to see Papua New Guinea vs. Bangladesh in Cardiff? I should probably point out that I’m a Yorkshire based England fan! Here’s the link to the ICC’s ticket page:

https://www.icc-cricket.com/media-releases/595204

The tournament qualifiers are currently taking place in Zimbabwe with two teams from ten progressing to the World Cup. Can you call it a World Cup when there’ll only be ten countries taking part? It’s a bit of a lottery as to which matches count as ODIs and which ones count as List A only. It’s pretty crucial stuff when a player registers a hundred or claims a five-for!

Many of the associate nations taking part at the qualifiers are missing key players because they’ve jumped ship and joined Test nations (Mark Chapman, Hong Kong to New Zealand) or because they’re working on doing the same (Michael Rippon, Netherlands to New Zealand). They’re also missing players because they can’t afford to play and need to work, e.g.: Preston Mommsen (Scotland) and Jamie Atkinson (Hong Kong).

Cricket needs to spread and develop the game globally. It could be that Test cricket will be saved by the associate nations. As players abandon the longest format for the T20 dollars and Test cricket becomes less competitive then the likes of Kenya and Nepal may join Afghanistan and Ireland in dining at the main table. Having said that, Rashid Khan and Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichane have already had a taste of the global T20 league so already even the second tier teams are potentially losing players from competing internationally to the domestic dollar competitions.

Back to the qualifiers, Scotland have already upset Afghanistan who were captained by nineteen-year-old Khan, whilst Zimbabwe posted nearly 400 in imposing defeat against Lamichane’s Nepal. You can keep up to date with proceedings here:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/_/id/8038/season/2018/icc-world-cup-qualifiers/

Hopefully next year’s World Cup will catch the fans’ attention like last year’s Champions Trophy did. Here’s to some fine English weather come 2019!

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – Feasting in First Class!

IMG_3974

Following on from my previous career mode update, post my captaincy heroics at club level, I entered the professional circuit. I was delighted that my debut came at home for Yorkshire against strong opposition in the shape of Kent County Cricket Club.

IMG_3973

I’d attempted to stay grounded and not get carried away with my recognition. The match against Kent could’ve been the only First Class match that I ever played and after being dismissed for 8 in the first innings and running my partner out off my first ball in the second innings, it seriously looked like that might be the case. I’d be just a footnote in history. I dug deep though, all those years on the Northern amateur circuit have served me well. I combined in an epic partnership with my teammate, falling only one-run short of a double-century stand and five shy of a hundred on First Class debut. Of course I would’ve loved a hundred but my 95 showcased both my ability and character after my poor first impressions. Most importantly, we went onto win the match.

IMG_3975

In my second match, away at Sussex, a side containing the likes of Vernon Philander and Jofra Archer in their bowling attack, I immediately set course to right the wrongs of my century shortcomings on debut. I surpassed my career best 95 but had an uneasy tea whilst 99 not out. In truth I dealt with Test bowler Philander as well as Archer with moderate ease. It was the less heralded left-armer George Garton and Scotland’s Stuart Whittingham who carried more threat. The home side lacked real penetration on the spin front though and I soon chalked up a maiden First Class hundred in only my second game. I proved a lot to myself by carrying my club form into the professional game. The same teammate and I shared another century partnership and I went past 200. As you’ll see from the image above, when I went past 300, I just couldn’t contain my excitement. This was despite my energy reserves running low.

IMG_3976

I eventually fell for 325 having re-written many record books in the process of the innings. This was only the start of things however. In pursuit of 195 for victory in the second innings, we were soon on the back foot at 57-3. A few hours later though, with only two overs of the match remaining, I helped get us over the line by four wickets with a composed and measured 96 not out. To see my name spread across the headlines, both online and on paper was truly humbling. I knew though that such a performance so early in my career served only to increase the pressure and expectation on me to go on have a rewarding professional existence. Some in the media brought up the word ‘England’ but let’s not get carried away!

Northampton away in the next match was definitely something akin to a Lord Mayor’s Show. My reward for my performance of 421-1 against Sussex was to be demoted in the batting order from four to five to accommodate the return of England Test captain Joe Root. Gary Ballance, successful skipper against Sussex, actually had to make way. I made just 18 & 9 with South Africa spinner Tabraiz Shamsi causing me problems.

Come the final match of the season in Wales against Glamorgan, I knew I needed a score before the season was out to prove I was no one-match wonder. As was the case on my debut, I had a little luck in my innings when the wikcetkeeper actually prevented the ball from rolling onto the stumps. I made him pay and went onto notch another First Class hundred. Not only that, I made it a double but inexcusably threw my wicket away immediately after, falling for 202. A tired 12 in the second innings was my limp farewell to a season of huge success for me.

IMG_3977

My First Class scores so far read: 8, 95, 325, 96*, 18, 9, 202 & 12. All but the first match were played away from home.

IMG_3978

I actually topped the First Class division one batting averages with 765 runs at a Bradman dwarfing 109.29. If only I could have hit the campaign trail earlier!

I’m delighted to say that I’ve accepted offers to be part of both Yorkshire’s First Class and List A squad for next season. There are rumours of one or two T20 franchises around the world keeping an eye on my progress too. In 2023, I’ll endeavour to back-up the encouraging start I’ve made to my professional career and help my beloved Yorkshire win some silverware.

Dawson’s Creek’s Banks Haven’t Burst!

img_2503

File photo: Liam Dawson brings up his maiden ODI fifty against Scotland in Edinburgh.

That’s right, a headline announcing that something hasn’t happened!

Water gently meandering along a creek, a tranquil and serene scene. The water levels rise though and the creek’s banks burst. For Liam Dawson however, the banks haven’t burst, the water levels haven’t risen and there’s been no drowning. The water has consistently gently meandered along.

2-129 in India on debut got him up and running. There have been worse starts to Test careers. Figures of 2-67, 2-34, 0-26 and 1-42 against South Africa leave Dawson with a more than respectable bowling average for a spinner of 33.80 in Test cricket in England. Along with a penchant for dismissing Hashim Amla, that’s a decent start. Dawson is 27, an age where he’s gained experience but should have his best years ahead of him. England’s selectors however have regressed, pressured by the public and media, they’ve already ditched ‘Daws’ and moved onto Mason Crane. Should 20-year-old Crane be left with a bowling average of 42.57 after four Tests and average a healthy 33.80 in England will he too be ditched?

Dawson’s axing on the cue of social media opinion reminds of the time that Ian Blackwell was chipping in with wickets and Anthony McGrath was keeping things tight for England. They weren’t setting the world on fire but they were, understatedly, making a contribution. An article in a newspaper questioned their returns and they were ditched never to be seen in England colours again.

I’ll bore myself let alone my readers if I repeat previous sentiment about English fans always wanting the new and undamaged goods as well as how investing and persisting in a player is of value but to cut through the trees to get to the wood… I’m suggesting that Dawson, like many players, may have been given up on too soon. Still, if he’s lucky, he might earn an England recall and carve out a decent international career when Ashes Cricket arrives on the PS4 in November…

Disclaimer: For the uneducated, please be aware that the lines between reality and virtuality on my blog often become very blurred, so much so that I can’t remember if Haseeb Hameed’s twin centuries against Thailand at London’s Olympic Stadium were in real life or only in my living room!

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/don-bradman-cricket-17-thaid-in-knots/

Why Not Wales?

IMG_3124adj

Ireland have their own cricket team and so do Scotland, so why are Wales silently tagged on with England?

It’s the England and Wales Cricket Team you know?

ECB stands for England and Wales Cricket Board but surely Welsh cricketers deserve the right to represent their home nation at international level, not just play for their big neighbours.

Should New Zealand’s cricketers have to scrap to get a gig for Australia?

Wales performed well at the 1979 ICC Trophy then between 1993 and 2001 played against Ireland and Scotland in the British Isles Chmpionships. Of course Ireland and Scotland joined the elite (Well almost!) and Wales were left to fend for themselves… so on themselves that they haven’t played competitively since. The Dragons (Maybe they’re called that?) played a few one-day games against England in the early 21st century and courtesy of former England opener Steve James they actually won the first meeting in 2002.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/2062244.stm

A couple of years later they beat Denmark in the C&G Trophy. A quick Google search suggests that the question of an independent Welsh cricket nation is often brought up, particularly at http://www.walesonline.co.uk. Of course the notion opens a can of worms regarding Glamorgan’s existence or at least their place in the English county structure and whether or not domestic cricket in Wales needs ramping up a level. Only recently and with only three teams were Ireland granted First Class status.

Maybe one day we’ll see some Welsh willow wielders wearing the Wales name!

Roy Morgan: Real International Cricket Book Review

img_2689

Warning! This article contains spoilers. It’s not so much a book review but a selection of highlights or/and lowlights from Roy Morgan’s exhaustively detailed and passionately presented Real International Cricket. Remember how at school you were told not to use Wikipedia as a source for your homework, well Morgan says ‘Howzat’ to that as he proudly uses Wiki to pool source information for his tables found in the latter pages of this 280-page epic. To be fair, he’s also scoured the archives of the Lagos Daily News, Saint Helena Telegraph and The Philadelphia Inquirer to name just a few!

IMAGE

Five run outs. Steady on boys, you’ve travelled 345 miles from Toronto to New York for this!

IMAGE

Poor W.L. Fraser of Scotland. Everybody else made double figures against Ireland but you quacked!

IMAGE

Two bowlers, five wickets each, both 34 runs. Damn you Bannerman-Hesse for needing that extra delivery!

IMAGE

Morgan informs us that Danish wicketkeeper Jorgen Holmen popped up once for the national team in 1973. He promptly conceded 13 byes, dropped a catch, made scores of 0 and 0 not out and never played cricket for his country again.

Where are you now Jorgen?

IMAGE

A good indicator of how cricket has spread around the globe and prospered amongst indigenous or local populations, or not as the case may be, is the French line-up from 1997. Jones, Hewitt and Edwards et al, proper French names!

IMAGE

6-1 for Maldives’ Neesham Nasir. A bit expensive conceding that run Neesham!

IMAGE

A 510-run defeat in a 50 over match. New Caledonia’s Boaoutho’s 0-132 from eleven overs was so bad that the umpires even let him bowl an over more than he should have been allowed to!

IMAGE

The priceless Pritchard Pritchard makes an appearance in 2011 and promptly clobbers 28 not out, including three sixes from just ten deliveries for Samoa.

Another warning! Unless you’re a cricket tragic, this book probably isn’t for you. If however you enjoy reading about obscure corners of the world, sympathising with numerous poor sods that voyaged for weeks to bat at eleven and not bowl or have a good old healthy obsession with the world’s number one bat ‘n’ ball game then this book is well worth a peruse.

Roy Morgan’s Real International Cricket scores an undefeated…

83 not out