Most players can look good in highlights packages but watching Jhye Richardson bowl in the Big Bash only, errr… highlights how he can’t spend his career hiding away on the domestic circuit. Even the franchise circuit isn’t enough for the Perth Scorchers 24-year-old. If international cricket really is to remain the pinnacle then that’s where this lad needs to be.
An injury setback or two have, like so many, have hampered his progress but he’s steaming in now. Though he hasn’t clocked up many First Class appearances (Not an unusual thing for Australian cricketers), he has already played Tests. Yes T20 would seem the obvious avenue but I hope that we see Richardson playing in all formats… and I’m an England fan!
Australia and Perth Scorchers have historically produced a wide variety of pace bowling options (Have Australia tried too many?). Fingers crossed that Richardson can stay fit and push to the front of the queue because he really is a pleasure to watch.
Opening batsman Joe Burns has been dropped from Australia’s Test team… probably for the last time!
Aged 31, with 1442 runs including four centuries, Burns has been a little unlucky to be dropped and recalled on multiple occasions previously but this time it seems terminal. Despite an undefeated half-century in the first Test against India, he reverted to recent woeful form in the second Test. With Will Pucovski now fit, he’ll belatedly make his Test bow… well, unless David Warner really is fit, then Pucovski may still have to wait. Either way, temporary opener Matthew Wade will probably drop into the middle order with much criticised Travis Head being harshly axed.
With the likes of Jake Weatherald, Daniel Hughes, Nic Maddinson and younger players coming through too, it’s surely the end for Burns. That said, an insatiable run of form could earn him yet another recall. Shaun Marsh was famously in and out of the side and Australia haven’t hesitated in selecting older players. Chris Rogers was one whilst Moises Henriques featured recently.
For now, it’s back to Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash for beleaguered Burns!
However, Mohammed Shami retired hurt (Okay, they don’t call it that anymore!) but, and you’ll have to forgive me for being pedantic… that would usually mean that India’s innings would be refered to as 36-9. I mean you just never know. Maybe Shami and Umesh Yadav were poised to record India’s highest ever 10th wicket stand in Test cricket!
Following such a humiliating defeat, it’s not an ideal time for India captain Virat Kohli to leave his team but fair enough, particularly in the current climate. Many are now predicting a whitewash and already saying “I told you so”. I do hope that India can fightback with a win… that’s what sport and particularly in cricket, character is about!
For our first overseas Test, we made one change from the XI that opposed England in our inaugural five-day encounter. Batsmen Bryn Jones, who made an excellent 66 in our warm-up match, came into the side at the expense of opening bowler Osain Williams. Jones, an opener by trade, who batted at three (Then nine) in the practice game, had to contend himself with a place at number five in the order. That meant a reshuffle with off-spinning all-rounder Maxwell Khan a little unfortunate to drop down from number five to eight. The remainder of the batting line-up all dropped down a place.
Captain Ioan Powell won the toss and had no hesitation in choosing to bat first. We’d seen how the pitch had performed in the warm-up match and with three genuine spinners in our line-up, wanted to allow the surface to deteriorate as much as possible and leave the home side to chase.
Wales 149 (37.2) Edwards 57, Shah 53, Thomas 11/Pittman 5-10, Jeffries 2-10, North 2-8
Opening batsmen Stephen Shah and Aled Edwards began the day by making hay on the field of play. The duo brought up their nation’s first ever century stand at international level to be exactly 100-0 at drinks. Not long after however, USA brought spin into the equation and that literally turned the game. After an over or two of prodding, Shah (53) survived an LBW review only to edge to the wicketkeeper off the following delivery. Edwards (57) survived a little longer before he edged to slip off the spinner bowling from the other end. The pair had done tremendously well to achieve an opening partnership of 110 and though they soon fell to spin, they didn’t get out wafting and the pitch was offering assistance to turners.
Dylan Roberts, our best batsman on the international scene to date but having not played in the warm-up match, soon followed for just 7, edged and caught at slip. Debutante Bryn Jones, having performed so well in the tour game, was then flummoxed by the surprising introduction of a pace bowler, one who didn’t bowl particularly fast. Jones defended a delivery that he could’ve left and like many before him, was out caught at slip, in his case for just 2. Eifion Williams, who had a poor practice game but whose spin bowling skills made sure that he was retained in the Test XI, was bowled by spin for just 1, meaning that he hadn’t reached double figures in three innings since arriving Stateside.
Skipper Powell and wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas reached lunch at 133-5. A somewhat disappointing score having been 110-0. First ball after the interval, Powell (5) edged behind but it didn’t carry. Second ball after the interval, he edged behind again… and it did carry! Maxwell Khan (6) soon followed, adjudged LBW on review having not offered a shot. Cai Hughes was bowled for a duck in the same over before Dwayne Alexander slapped one straight to the fielder first ball! Rhodri Thomas (11) was bowled in the next over.
We’d collapsed from 110-0 to 149 all out, primarily at the hands of spin with one of their bowlers claiming 5-10. It was an embarrassing collapse after messrs Shah and Edwards had made such an encouraging start. The only other positive was that the performance of the home spinners provided our own turning threesome with huge optimism.
USA 420-7 dec. (110.00) Morrison 114, Trujillo 96, Potter 71/E.Williams 3-76, Hughes 3-132, Jones 0-2
Despite a good standard of bowling from opening bowlers Rhys Evans and Dwayne Alexander, USA reached 31-0 at thirst quenching. Cue the introduction of spin. Despite beating the bat on numerous occasions, USA ascended to 71-0 at the interval.
Finally, with the score on 131, slow left-armer Cai Hughes, bowling around the wicket to the right-hander, made the breakthrough by bowling Martin The Wizard Potter for 71. The Wizard would wave his wand no longer, at least not in this innings.
The home side progressed to 189-1 with Potter’s opening partner JJ Morrison on 91, however left-arm pacer Evans knocked over his stumps with a sensational inswinging yorker… off a NO BALL! Minutes later, overthrows took Morrison from 95 to 99.
USA closed the day on 209-1, a lead of 52 and Morrison sleeping one run shy of a century on Test debut. For us and our travelling fans, a day that had begun with such promise, saw us staring down a possible innings defeat. This having won the toss and been 110-0!
On day two, we agreed to put the opening day behind us, enjoy ourselves and bowl out the home side. Again, both Alexander (0-47) and Evans (0-63) were genuinely unfortunate not to take a wicket. Morrison soon brought up a fantastic ton in his country’s first ever Test and fair play to him. Eifion Williams eventually terminated Morrison’s (114) excellent knock courtesy of a catch by gloveman Thomas with the score 253-2. At that stage USA already led by over 100 runs. Number three Stuart Trujillo feasted on Cai Hughes bowling but with the game already well out of reach, captain Ioan Powell made the brave call to persist with the slow left-armer. The decision reaped dividends when Hughes had Trujillo (96) edge behind just four runs short of joining his teammate Morrison in registering a debut Test ton.
That left USA 299-3 but a middle order collapse ensued and they were soon 308-5. Firstly, Williams struck again by bowling Pittman (3) then Alexander ran Jeffries (21) out via an incredible direct hit from deep in the outfield. At lunch on the second day, USA were 325-5, a lead of 176.
Post bagels and OJ, Jackson North and Henry Wilks batted well in tandem to take USA to 345-6. North (21), who batted with reasonable intent, became Williams (3-76) third victim when he dragged onto his stumps. Wilks continued with Rufus Suarez for company and the pair put on fifty to take the hosts past 400. Suarez was adjudged LBW off Hughes when on 30 but successfully reviewed. Incredibly, following an eleventh maiden from Williams, Hughes (3-76) then took out Suarez’s middle stump the very next ball he faced after overturning the LBW decision.
Wilks (53*) went past fifty and USA were 271 runs in the black on 420-7 at tea. Just as we prepared to come out and mop up the tail, we were informed that the hosts had opted to declare. Openers Stephen Shah and Aled Edwards put their pads on.
Wales 127 (23.0) Powell 40, Jones 33, Edwards 16/Suarez 5-33, Pittman 2-14, Napier 2-35
To just the second delivery of our second innings, we lost Shah without scoring. Fellow opener Edwards and the promoted Jones then moved comfortably to 28-1 before an all to familiar dismissal for Edwards. On 16, he wafted outside off stump and was caught by that man Morrison with the gloves.
Jones, promoted up the order having done well in the tour game and to try and make life easier for an undercooked Roberts, looked a quality player whilst compiling a partnership of 46 with his captain. Having made a run-a-ball 33 however, he feathered an unnecessary push outside off stump to slip. Skipper Powell, having walked to the crease with just eleven runs in three Test innings, finally displayed some of his undoubted quality with the bat. The left-hander made a really important 40 both for him personally and the team. His innings included three boundaries before he dragged onto his stumps when trying to cut.
From 94-4 an alarming trend of incompetent wafts outside off stump saw us capitulate to just 127 all out on the third day. Change right-arm pacer Rufus Suarez (5-33) accounted for Williams (1), Thomas (3) and Khan first ball. Having already accounted for Jones, Suarez would complete a debut Test fifer by having Alexander (8) caught behind, a fourth catch of the innings for Man of the Match Morrison. Alexander had at least hit the first ball that he had faced for 6!
Despite an optimistic review, Cai Hughes (1) was LBW to spinner Pittman’s first ball of the innings. Then, not for the first time in his career, last man Roberts (15) was bowled by spin (Pittman again!) when opting to leave the ball. Pittman finished the match with figures of 7-24. Clearly we need to improve against spin but lost wickets all too regularly against pace in the second innings as well.
Lost by an innings and 144 runs
At 93-3, though still a long way behind in the match, the likes of Edwards, Jones, Powell and later Roberts, all briefly looked the part in Test cricket. The lower order failed to apply themselves as they are capable off though and our batsmen have to find ways to turn starts into scores of real substance… and fast!
We won the toss and were 110-0… but lost by an innings!
Congratulations to USA who thoroughly deserved their maiden Test win and left us still seeking ours. Though we’ve done well in white-ball cricket thus far, we’ll desperately need to up our game to compete with the home side in the upcoming ODIs/T20Is.
The Wales squads for the tour of USA that consists of a two-day warm-up match, one Test, three ODIs and two T20Is are as follows:
Test squad:Stephen Shah, Aled Edwards, Dylan Roberts, Ioan Powell (Captain), Maxwell Khan, Eifion Williams, Rhodri Thomas (Wicketkeeper), Cai Hughes, Dwayne Alexander, Rhys Evans, Osain Williams, Bryn Jones, Marcus Duke (Wicketkeeper), Jesse Morgan, Phillip Fish
ODI squad:Stephen Shah, Aled Edwards, Dylan Roberts, Ioan Powell (Captain), Maxwell Khan, Eifion Williams, Rhodri Thomas (Wicketkeeper), Cai Hughes, Dwayne Alexander, Rhys Evans, Osain Williams, Marcus Duke (Wicketkeeper), Seth Davies, Morgan Price
T20I squad:Steffan Schmidt, Aled Edwards, Marcus Duke, Ioan Powell (Captain), Rhodri Thomas (Wicketkeeper), Eifion Williams, Seth Davies, Cai Hughes, Dwayne Alexander, Rhys Evans, Osain Williams, Maxwell Khan, Morgan Price, James O’Neill
Following our hugely encouraging start to life in white-ball cricket, eleven men took to the field in Wales and upon doing so, assumed the honour of becoming the nation’s first ever Test cricketers. Captain Ioan Powell won the toss and led his men out in front of a packed and passionate home crowd. The hosting skipper hoped that his bowlers could exploit the conditions following a delayed start due to rain. England’s opening batsmen strode to the wicket as Test cricket’s most experienced nation commenced battle with its newest inductee.
Experienced England may be, they looked anything but when Keaton Jennings (1) was run out early in the piece. Left-arm pace bowler Rhys Evans (2-61), who effected the run out, then had the pleasure of taking our first proper wicket, when he got Jonny Bairstow (26) to edge behind to wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas.
Part-time medium pacer Dylan Roberts (1-10) then struck with his first ball in international cricket. Rory Burns (48), who up to that point had looked in good touch, nicked behind to Thomas before forlornly trudging back to the sheds.
Captain Joe Root (44) alongside Ben Stokes (30) then batted well and looked to be batting England into a commanding position. The duo combined for 63 but both fell with the score on 160. Jos Buttler (2) and Chris Woakes (4) soon followed at the hands of leg-spinner Eifion Williams (3-32). At that point the tourists had slumped from 160-3 to 171-7.
Following the clatter of wickets, Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad applied themselves extremely well in a partnership of 58 to frustrate our side. Broad was particularly effective when sweeping the spinners. Off-spinner Maxwell Khan managed to oust Archer (29) late in the day before England closed on 232-8.
It had been a riveting and engrossing first day of Test cricket and left everybody, players and fans, craving more!
On day two, Khan (3-28) soon wrapped up the England innings. First he trapped James Anderson (5) LBW. Then he had top scorer Broad (49) hole out to the one and only fielder on the leg side. We’d bowled England out for 253, an outstanding effort in our first innings in Test cricket.
Wales 152 (28.2) Roberts 59, Thomas 42, E.Williams 18/Leach 5-8, Broad 4-39, Anderson 1-39
Our opening batsmen both got off the mark in James Anderson’s first over. Sadly however, our Test bow quickly turned sour when Stuart Broad rolled his arm over. Not content with sweeping 49 runs, he tempted Stephen Shah (2) to edge a delivery that he needn’t have played at. Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler dived full stretch and down low to claim an outstanding grab. Two balls later, an ill-disciplined Aled Edwards (1) wafted away to give the Broad/Buttler combo a second wicket. Captain Ioan Powell then suffered the ignominy of registering a golden duck on Test debut. Fortunately, teenager Maxwell Khan then managed to see out the remainder of the over without further damage. Unfortunately he couldn’t see out the following James Anderson over and as a result, we were in dire straits at 9-4! By lunch, we’d progressed to 12-4.
Our phlegmatic number three, Dylan Roberts and enigmatic number six, Eifion Williams, then applied themselves superbly to save us from complete ignominy. The pair posted 44 before Williams joined the Broad/Buttler procession. Possibly surprised by the bounce, he probably didn’t need to play at the delivery. From there, gloveman Rhodri Thomas knuckled down alongside Roberts. By the time beverages were served, the duo had helped haul us from the depths of despair on debut to a far more respectable 92-5.
Roberts and Thomas took their partnership to 62 before the former made a regrettable decision. After scoring a single from spinner Jack Leach’s first delivery then watching from the non-striker’s end as the Somerset man turned the ball away from the batsman, he opted to leave the first delivery of the Leach’s second over. The ball promptly spun the other way, stumps shattered and Roberts was gone. Still, after posting two fifties in the ODI series, Roberts (59) had looked like a batsman of Test calibre to rescue his team from the undesirable score of 9-4.
Cai Hughes (5) then failed to overturn an LBW decision as Leach and England turned the screw. Dwayne Alexander (15), who attacked briefly, Rhys Evans (0), who suffered the same fate as his skipper, and finally Thomas (42), who had batted extremely well, all fell to Leach, as he claimed astonishing figures of 5-8. Jofra Archer didn’t even bowl!
We finished 152 all out from only 28.2 overs but having been 9-4, it was a commendable effort in our first ever Test innings. In truth, we probably over achieved in the ODI series and facing the likes of Anderson and Broad with a red ball, not to mention Leach, taught us some harsh truths!
England then cemented their authority courtesy of a far too easy 93-run opening stand between lefties Burns and Jennings. Not long before the close, leggie Eifion Williams (1-61) did at least force Burns (59) to drag onto his stumps but by the end of day two, England had moved to 105-1, a lead of 206.
Day three started like the two before it, delayed because of rain!
Jennings and Bairstow then ploughed on into the middle session before we effected a mini-fightback. First, Rhys Evans had Jennings (81) nick to slip, then he accounted for Root (12), caught behind. In between, Bairstow (39), was run out via a direct hit from Cai Hughes. England had stuttered from 173-1 to 196-4 but the lead had swelled to over 300.
Stokes (19) and the more assertive Buttler then steadied England with a fifty partnership before the former edged to slip. His dismissal ended an unusually subdued innings and provided Hughes with a maiden Test wicket. At tea on day three, England were 264-5, the small matter of 364 runs ahead!
Not content with one wicket, Hughes (2-49) promptly doubled his tally immediately after tea. The left-arm spinner had Woakes (1) caught behind to the very first delivery of the evening session. He was unlucky not to send Jofra Archer packing too. Buttler soon passed fifty however but failed to convert. Captain Ioan Powell boldly chose to take the new ball and just three deliveries later, Evans (3-70) had his third innings of the wicket when Buttler (61) swung wildly and edged to Thomas.
Archer (21) then needlessly ran himself out. Hughes the thrower from the deep once again! Captain Powell (1-6) then returned for a trundle and should’ve had James Anderson LBW as his first Test wicket. The umpire wasn’t in the mood however but did at least give Broad (20) out in the same over. Express pace bowler Dwayne Alexander (1-53) did then tempt the officials to adjudge Anderson (14) LBW as he too claimed a maiden Test victim. Sadly, opening bowler Osain Williams remained wicketless just as in the first innings. His match figures read 31-1-97-0. We had however performed admirably to restrict England to 335 after they had been 173-1. Unfortunately, that still left us requiring 436 to win!
Wales 198 (44.4) Hughes 31, Khan 30, Thomas 24/Broad 3-41, Archer 2-22, Anderson 2-37
Only four over remained in the day’s play but sadly Aled Edwards (8) couldn’t survive. The left-hander was caught at slip by Jennings off the bowling of Anderson in the third over. Stephen Shah and Dylan Roberts made it to the close on 25-1.
After yet another rain delay and negating a James Anderson over on day four, Shah (17) was trapped plumb LBW in Broad’s first over of the morning. He’d looked comfortable up to that point but was done for pace and even a review couldn’t save him. Captain Ioan Powell, on a pair, strode to the crease with his team 33-2.
The skipper avoided the ignominy of a pair on Test debut but when his team needed their leader to set the standard, he played a horrible drive, away from his body to the last ball of a Broad over and trudged back to the pavilion with only six runs to his name. Roberts (20) then soon edged Archer’s first ball of the match (?!) to leave us in peril at 56-4. Another brief little partnership ensued but just as things were looking up, Eifion Williams (5) defended a ball that he could’ve left and feathered Archer (2-22) to Buttler, giving the Sussex man two wickets in as many overs. That left us 74-5.
Maxwell Khan (30) compiled 41 with wicketkeeper Thomas but like too many batsmen before him, edged a ball that he didn’t need to play at. After bedding in and surviving Jack Leach’s first over, Khan was possibly looking to up the tempo when just plodding on against the returning Anderson (2-37) would’ve been better.
Thomas was another who couldn’t resist the corridor of uncertainty. To be fair to the wicketkeeper, his was probably a little narrower as Leach (1-26) probed for what would be a first wicket of the innings. Thomas (24) could hold his head up high however after an excellent effort both with bat and gloves on Test bow.
Cai Hughes and Dwayne Alexander then put together another partnership of sorts. Alexander (22) chopped onto his stumps however with the score on 149 to gift Chris Woakes his first wicket of the Test. After yet another mini-partnership, Woakes (2-56) accounted for innings top scorer Hughes (39) before Broad (3-41) wrapped up the match by having Evans (22) nick to slip. Our total of 198 from 44.4 overs was a healthy improvement on our first innings effort both in terms of runs scored and duration. From 74-5 we achieved 198. In fact, in our second innings seven of our dismissed batsmen reached double figures. Our lower order put some of our specialist batsmen to shame. It was just frustrating that with so many players getting starts, nobody passed 31. Seven batsmen were dismissed between 17 and 31.
Lost by 237 runs
Despite what looks a thumping loss on the face of it, we performed admirably in our first ever Test. Against a full strength England side, we bravely chose to bowl, dismissed them for sub 300, recovered from 9-4 to score 152, hauled them back from 173-1 to 334 then improved second time around with the bat. It won’t get much tougher than facing England in those conditions. Thank you to all those who supported the Welsh team in the country’s inaugural Test match.
Next up is likely a short T20I tour of the Netherlands. Look out for a report from the continent soon.
Schedule:One Test, Three ODIs & One T20I (All matches to be played in Malahide).
Test Squad: Maxime Bernard, Enzo Petit, Christophe Martinez, Youssef Rizvi, Louis Petit, Zvonimir Pitko, Marwan Leroy (Wicketkeeper), Xavier Le Tallec (Captain), Anthony Toure, Louis Martin, Mehdi Qadri, Zidane Thomas, Alexandre Rivière
ODI Squad: Maxime Bernard, Jean-Luc Chevalier, Christophe Martinez, Zvonimir Pitko, Louis Petit, Zidane Thomas, Hugo Olivier (Wicketkeeper), Xavier Le Tallec (Captain), Paco Georges, Phillipe La Roux, Bruno Hernandez, Gilles Smith, Maurice Noe, Incroyable Mpenza
T20I Squad: Hippolyte Gregory, Jean-Luc Chevalier, Zidane Thomas, Matteo Phillipe, Louis Petit, Christophe Martinez, Hugo Olivier (Wicketkeeper), Xavier Le Tallec (Captain), Gabin Sauvage, Phillipe La Roux, Incroyable Mpenza, Gaspard Harris-Gourcuff, Thibaut Keller
Disclaimer: Big Ant have released a new patch that has fundamentally altered the batting dynamics. It probably isn’t going to be very pretty!
Sri Lanka 391 (de Silva 116, J.Mendis 92, Fernando 88/Martinez 2-32, Qadri 2-91, Martin 2-122)
France538 (Martinez 182* Rizvi 94, Le Tallec 69/Vandersay 6-187, de Silva 2-66, Lakmal 1-71)
Sri Lanka 597 (Fernando 174, de Silva 143, Mathews 95/L.Petit 3-110, Qadri 3-129, Pitko 1-59)
Won by 14 runs
Won the series 2-1
Disclaimer: I’m currently playing some A Team games. This will provide experience to some of the extended squad members and allow them to push for full international honours. An announcement regarding future fixtures and squads will be announced shortly. I hope to find the time to get back to writing full reports on at least some matches as I’d like to think that’d be a bit more appealable to followers than just perusing short scorecards!
England have been desperately seeking a Test number three for some time. Someone with the resilience of an opener but enough stroke play and the right mindset to set the tempo. They want a player that can prevent the middle order stroke players from being exposed to the new ball and crucially leave Joe Root in his optimum number four position.
The player they’ve identified doesn’t have a bucket load of First Class centuries nor has he spent years being groomed in the England Lions. He’s been in and out of the England team, up and down the order but should now get a run at three where he’s already thriving. That’s particularly impressive given the lack of competitive preparation.
The player in question is not James Vince, Sam Northeast or any other celebrated or touted batsman… he’s Zak Crawley and he’s just struck his maiden Test ton…
It was pleasing to see batsmen Dawid Malan and Ben Duckett in the runs in the County Championship yesterday, particularly Malan as he’s now playing for Yorkshire! The 32-year-old finished the day undefeated on 145 against an admittedly low-calibre Derbyshire bowling unit.
Duckett, another fringe England left-hander, made 116 against a slightly more formidable Lancashire attack.
Both were in the 55 but have a lot to do to gain further England recognition. Injuries have hampered former Middlesex man Malan’s chances, both last year on ODI debut and missing this summer’s 50-over games. His Test career is probably over and despite a stellar start, he’s by no means guaranteed to add to his T20I caps.
Duckett has far more time on his side but needs to relentlessly churn out big scores like he did a few years ago. He should be knocking the door down in all formats but at least the seeds of recovery have been planted. Despite the odd misdemeanour, he remains highly thought of enough to have made the 55.
Only time will tell if either Malan (An Ashes centurion/T20I batting average: 52.11!) or Duckett (ODI batting average: 41.00) will score another international run. As the divide between formats continues to grow, that might just aid their chances.