Selection, Transfers, Drafts and Other Cricket Ramblings

Gareth Southgate selects the England football team… all by himself.

“Football again. I thought this was a cricket blog!”

England cricket coach Trevor Bayliss doesn’t select the team but definitely has an input from time to time. In cricket it’s the norm, certainly in England, for a selection panel to choose the national squad. There’s normally three or four people that spend their days scouting the domestic circuit before getting together to decide if changes to the first XI (Test/ODI & T20I) are necessary and if so, who’s good enough to step up. There’ll normally be one selector who is in position to have the final say. They’ll possibly be referred to as the ‘chairman of’ or ‘chief’ selector(s).

Would such a set-up be beneficial in football?

The main difference between football and cricket, at least in England, is that our national football coach does actually have the time to watch all the domestic players perform. Gareth Southgate can spend a whole weekend watching all of the Premier League matches (Not live obviously) then watch the English teams in Europe during the week. However for the person at the helm of a side such as Australia, where the national side’s players are playing throughout various leagues across the globe, it actually becomes much harder. It’s in these instances where the notion of a selection panel could be worthwhile. On the cricket front, one person would struggle to watch all four days of each of the eighteen English county cricket teams’ County Championship matches, let alone limited overs encounters. That’s even if they were on the telly! Watching selected highlights packages would definitely not be a very good way to go about selecting a national cricket team. This is why a panel of selectors as opposed to just one lone selector is essential in cricket.

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On the subject of the eighteen counties: Only once in a blue moon will Gareth Southgate select a second tier player for the English football team, so should County Championship (First Class) second division players even be considered for England’s Test side?

If they aren’t, we’ll continue to see the Premier League style transfers that are now common place in cricket. Just like in football the supposed better players will join the first division teams but they won’t always play. The second division will get the cast offs, also-rans and not quite good enoughs. At this point it’s worth contemplating what’s more important: The national side or the quality of the product (Sorry, ICC marketing speak!) at domestic level. Loyalty from player to county will also near non-existence and on that subject…

Could county cricket follow the trend of the global T20 leagues and the history of American sport (Including Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey) by becoming a drafted league?

Returning to the Premier League but staying on the subject of drafts: Can you imagine the owners of Manchester City, United or Chelsea thinking “Let’s try and make the league a level playing field and have a draft system?”

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At the moment, it’s easy to imagine the likes of Durham, Leicestershire and Derbyshire welcoming a draft system. The likes of Nottinghamshire, Essex and Surrey would likely be less keen. The upcoming city based franchise system will have a draft pick. I’ve mentioned before how this will impact counties as players from the weaker teams will enjoy the better coaching and facilities at other grounds before possibly seeking a transfer in county cricket. To implement a draft system in county cricket would be radical and anything but traditional. As with my proposals for a restructure of world cricket (Or what I’m now referring to as the Global Cricket League or GCL for short), sometimes potential changes to what has been for many years are worth exploring. I’m not suggesting that a draft pick is the way to go in county cricket but it’s a thought and not beyond the realms of possibility in the future.

This isn’t one of those articles that’s going to be rounded off with a conclusion or whatever formal ending an article should have but as the title indicates, I hope that you enjoyed rambling with me!

World Cup Equality

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You’ll have to forgive me for committing the ultimate sin on a cricket blog but I’m about to ramble on (For quite some time!) about football. This is of course my blog so I can do what I want!

Qualification for the 2018 football World Cup in Russia has well and truly reached the business end. All that remains are the heartbreaking play-off matches to determine which counters join the likes of Panama, Iceland and Iran in Russia next year. I’ll hazard a guess that Iceland will find acclimatising to the Russian climate just a bit easier than Panama. It’s also safe to say that none of the three nations mentioned above will be qualifying for the cricket World Cup anytime soon.

Back to the footy, here’s a breakdown of the percentage of teams from each continental region that will qualify for the football World Cup:

South America: 4 out of 10 teams = 40%

Europe: 13 out of 54 teams = 24%

The Americas: 4 out of 35 teams = 11%

Africa: 5 out of 54 teams = 9%

Asia: 4 out of 46 teams = 9%

Oceania: 1 (And maybe not even that) out of 11 teams = 1%

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the above calculations are based on a couple of assumptions regarding who qualifies via the intercontinental play-offs. Oceania are not guaranteed a World Cup representative and for the record, Australia qualify through the Asian pathway because they got bored of thrashing Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa time and time again.

Referring to the percentages above, the tournament title of World Cup starts to lose some of its credibility. There’s clearly a disproportionate amount of teams that qualify from the historical footballing hotbeds of Europe and South America. That historical bias is of course something that is extremely prevalent on the international cricket stage too.

Back to the three nations mentioned earlier. Iran qualified for the football World Cup as far back as 1978 but for Panama and Iceland, 2018 will be their first time at the tournament. That variety of nations on the big stage and the novelty of seeing virgin World Cup competitors is part of what makes the tournament so special. USA beating England in 1950, North Korea beating Italy in 1966 and Senegal beating France in 2002. Without these results the football World Cup just wouldn’t be what it is. Admittedly there have been a few thrashings as the likes of Saudi Arabia (8-0 against Germany in 2002) and Zaire (9-0 against Yugoslavia in 1974) will attest too.

The 2019 Cricket World Cup is unlikely to see such a variety of international representatives or virgin teams as Russia will next year. There will only be ten teams, yes just ten teams at the ‘World’ Cup. Eight of these teams will have qualified as the highest ranked ODI nations. It’s great that the ODI rankings comprise more nations than just Test teams but no promotion/relegation profile is in existence at the upper echelons of international cricket. Referring to the historical bias detailed in football earlier, little scope is left for a changing of the guard as the years go by. The head honchos eat at the main table with one or two varying visitors from time to time.

I’ll be honest, every time I try to get my head around the meritocracy of lower division international cricket and World Cup qualification, I end up closing the page out of sheer bewilderment. From what I can gather, it’s possible that teams in ICC World Cricket League Division Two can qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup but some teams from Division One may not. Don’t quote me on that though! In all likelihood none of them will anyway, such is the convoluted qualification process.

Feel free to put me to shame and figure the whole thing our for yourself…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Cricket_World_Cup_Qualifier

Teams such as Papua New Guinea and Ireland could be there though the likes of West Indies and possibly Afghanistan will be favoured to qualify for the ten team tournament. Surely a straight forward main tournament of sixteen teams comprised of four groups of four followed by quarter-finals etc would be logical. Yes there have been some horribly one-sided encounters at cricket World Cups, think Namibia at the hands of Australia in 1970 and one or two Canadian performances (36 & 45 all out in 2003 and 1979) but there has also been Zimbabwe beating Australia in 1983, Kenya beating West Indies in 1996 and Ireland beating Pakistan in 2007.

There are so few teams at the Cricket World Cup that a comparison with football for regional disproportionateness is completely irrelevant. In fact to be fair, there isn’t really a geographic disproportion, just a lack of global representatives in general.

Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is that regardless of sport, a World Cup should be exactly that, a tournament that has a fair and even distribution of teams from across the globe. The football World Cup isn’t perfect but hopefully in the future cricket will allow for the Senegals and North Koreas of the footballing world to have the opportunity at least to produce some shocks that will reverberate around the cricket world.

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Ashes Cricket (PS4): You, Me and Virtuality!

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Been missing my Don Bradman write-ups? Cricket Captain and its graphs and charts just not the same? Well fear not Silly Pointers because with the release of Ashes Cricket soon upon us, my PS4 based cricket adventures are about to begin again!

Come the release of Big Ant’s third (DBC14/DBC17/Ashes Cricket) venture to the crease, you can look forward to the following:

  • Yours truly setting out on a career and this time getting a county gig before the age of 26, a batting average at least in the twenties and international recognition… hopefully!
  • England participating in newly formed Test, ODI and T20I leagues. As per my previously detailed plans to restructure world cricket, I would ideally amalgamate all formats and create the Global Cricket League (GCL) but that is beyond even Big Ant’s customisation boundaries.
  • The Stateside Smash (Something that I’m confident is within Big Ant’s customisation boundaries). Los Angeles Ashes, New York Nightwatchmen and Houston Apollo are just some of the franchises rumoured to be signing up.
  • Original jazzy kits and funky bats designed by yours truly.

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Silly Point himself registering a First Class century, England becoming Test champions of the World, a razzmatazz USA based T20 league, Mark Footitt winning an England cap and Ross Whiteley turning out for Phoenix Free Hitters. These are all things that could happen… if not in reality then in virtuality, in Big Ant’s Ashes Cricket!

 

Cricket Captain 2017: 2023-24 – Namibian Desert and Canada Dry!

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The 2023-24 campaign culminated with back-to-back ODI World Cup defeats against associate nations Namibia and Canada. Against Namibia, England’s skill set simply deserted them, whilst against Canada, their quality ran dry.

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James Weighell’s figures of 10-0-102-0 against Canada, summed up a selection policy that has been found out and confirmed that competitiveness is a trait long since departed from England’s cricket team.

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Following the World Cup exit in India, Middlesex legend Toby Roland-Jones retired at the end of an injury hit campaign. TR-J had his moments in an England shirt, most notably his 49-ball 75 against South Africa in a Test match and strong Test and ODI series against Zimbabwe at home at the start of last year.

England finished the season placed 9th out of ten in Test, ODI and T20I rankings, superior only to Zimbabwe, another team that defeated them in the World Cup.

Among few positives, young batsman Sam Evans scored centuries in the first innings of his first three Test matches. Those matches were in South Africa and it is the same opposition that England will entertain in the summer of 2024. Such is England’s fall from grace that in the 2024 T20I World Cup they will face the might of Nepal, USA and once again, Canada. The days of such encounters being ‘walk in the parks’ for England’s cricketers are long, long gone!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: New York City Pioneers – Franchise Disbanded!

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There is nothing new about cricket in USA not working out as planned and so it is that the New York City Pioneers franchise has disbanded after just one match, a defeat at that. You can read about the team’s sole venture to the crease and how it all began by clicking on the link below…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/category/new-york-city-pioneers-dbc17ps4/

On a positive note however, rumours are circulating regarding the possibility of a city based T20 franchise appearing on the North American horizon within the next few months. Could it be that the Stateside Smash is about to become a reality?

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/stateside-smash/

With the release of Ashes Cricket on the PS4 and Xbox One looming, it could be a convenient time to launch a razzmatazz league from New York to Los Angeles!

Century for Steel: Stars, Stripes and Steel!

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I previously wrote an article about Americans that have played First Class cricket…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/first-class-americans/

Well today one of them, Durham’s Cameron Steel, recorded his maiden First Class century. The likes of Middlesex and Somerset, each of whom had the Stateside born bat in their 2nd XI ranks at one time, might be regretting letting him slip through their nets.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-championship-division-2-2017/content/player/633301.html

Steel’s 128 today was pivotal in putting Durham in with a chance of victory in their County Championship Division Two encounter against Northamptonshire at Chester-le-Street.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-championship-division-2-2017/engine/match/1068607.html

You may of course wonder about my obsession with the America/Cricket combo. I believe the phrase the ICC use is ‘Untapped market’. Of course USA has been tapped but the water just doesn’t pour. It’s a nation crying out to be a force in international cricket and to have a major domestic scene…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/stateside-smash/

Back to Steel, he’s played junior cricket Down Under and University Cricket here in England but was born in Cali. He’s helping Durham ease the pain of their points deduction and the loss of senior top order batsmen Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick.

First Class Americans

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Last week Durham debutant Cameron Steel got a mention here at Silly Point…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/21/cricket-randoms/

The Cali born bat put in a more than respectable showing against Gloucestershire on County Championship debut, producing scores of 31 and 17 not out with the willow. He also claimed figures of 1-34 with the ball.

Today, Wisconsin born Ozzie Ian Holland made his List A debut for Hampshire against Kent in the One-Day Cup. ‘Dutchy’ as he’s known (I don’t need to explain why… do I?) claimed the wickets of Sam Northeast and Adam Rouse on his way to figures of 10-0-57-2. The twenty-six-year-old has arrived late on the professional circuit. He has one First Class appearance for Victoria to his name, an outing that only came earlier this year. He was actually the winner of the 2012 Australian reality TV show Cricket Superstar but has had to wait or more precisely work hard in the cricketing backwaters in order to register First Class and List A outings.

Sri Lanka’s Jehan Mubarek was born in Washington DC. He failed to record a fifty in 17 Tests and averaged only early twenties in ODIs and T20Is.

Bart King is America’s most celebrated cricketer. He claimed 415 First Class wickets at just 15.66 apiece and has a FC century to his name.

Here’s a great little article about another American born First Class cricketer, Charles H Braithwaite…

http://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/charles-brathwaite-the-american-first-class-cricketer-who-lived-a-hundred-years-471354

Steel and Holland seem to be available for England and Australia respectively but if that doesn’t happen they might follow the examples of players like Bermuda’s David Hemp and represent the country of their birth and maybe, just maybe, provide USA cricket with some heroes to help inspire a nation!

Cricket Randoms

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There’s nothing we love more here at Silly Point than seeing our game gain global appeal, reaching out to untouched corners of the big blue and green. No pressure on Durham debutant Cameron Steel then! The California born bat has racked up appearances for Western Australia’s youth sides and has already tasted First Class cricket on half a dozen occasions when representing Durham MCCU. To date he has three First Class fifties including one against Durham last year. We’ll see how he gets on when it comes his turn to wield the willow, probably tomorrow.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-championship-division-2-2017/content/player/633301.html

On the subject of USA, Kieron Powell is back in West Indies whites. The man who gave it all up for baseball is currently holding the fort as WI slide into the abyss against Pakistan in Jamaica. Powell is undefeated on 33 at lunch with Windies precariously placed at 71-4.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-pakistan-2017/engine/match/1077953.html

In another corner of the world, well maybe not a corner but another location. Come to think of it, unless the world is flat then there probably aren’t really corners on the globe… are there?

Where was I going?

Zimbabwe!

Natsai M’Shangwe’s 8-91 for Mountaineers against Mid West Rhinos merits a mention. Performances such as this might provide the twenty-six-year-old with the opportunity to bring his Test match bowling average of 62.14 down to something a little more respectable in future. Opposition bowler James Bruce snapped up five wickets on First Class debut, suggesting that he might be better in real life than he was when I led Zimbabwe on International Cricket Captain!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1070906.html

One more for you, regarding my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket team that goes by the name of Roderick Brotherhood. Things could have been going a bit flat in the absence of my captain and moniker inspiration Gareth Roderick. Rodders is still suffering from his ‘mystery’ pre-season illness but fortunately… step forward Mr Riki Wessels. 202 not out from 177 deliveries including 22 fours and 7 sixes, thanks in no small part to the supporting act of Nottinghamshire’s lower order, has surely propelled me to the top of the table… at least in my family!

Other County Championship performances worth noting today:

James Vince: 143 not out. Pencilled in for an England recall against Ireland?

Haseeb Hameed: A duck… again!

Sam Robson: 144 not out. Anything you can do Vincey, I can do one better! Set for a recall against South Africa at the expense of Hameed?????

Liam Livingstone: 68 out of a total of 109 all out for Lancashire’s stand-in skipper. Penned in in permanent marker for a full international debut against Ireland!

Harry Dearden: 87 for Leicestershire’s teenage opener. His first fifty in his eleventh First Class innings. Not quite set for an international call-up!

Adam Barton: 11-0-81-0. Like Durham’s Steel, he’s making a proper debut having previously played Uni stuff. With Sussex currently 7-3 following Wessels double hundred, Barton might need to enhance his Chris Martinesque batting average of 2.12 from ten innings! There’s no sign of Silly Point favourite Ajmal Shahzad in the Sussex XI.

Ian Westwood: 153. Westwood for England anybody?

Ben Duckett: 45 not out out of a total of 102-6 and needing to go big given the performances of the likes of Vince, Robson and Livingstone. Penned in in biro for a recall against Ireland.

Tom Abell: 1 to follow 1 & 0 in Somerset’s opening match of the 2017 campaign for the new young skipper.

P.S. Powell’s just fallen second ball after lunch!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: New York City Pioneers!

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I’m delighted to announce the formation of a new cricket franchise: The New York City Pioneers. As the owner of this new venture, I’ve worked tirelessly to compose a competitive squad. Earlier today, in the heart of the ‘Big Apple’, we played our first game against a visiting Mutare Peaks side from Zimbabwe. The following is a report of how our inaugural match panned out:

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We were invited to bowl first and whilst our pace bowling and fielding units maintained their heads above water, we struggled to find a breakthrough. Our Zimbabwean guests moved quickly to 95-0. In order to quell the run-scoring, skipper Robin Hunter, a native of Pallenville, turned to Dutch spinner Guy de Maan. After seeing Hamilton Masakadza reach his half-century with a four from de Maan’s first delivery, de Maan then followed up with a dot before officially becoming ‘The Man’ to claim NYC Pioneers’ first ever wicket, a smart caught and bowled to send Masakadza (50) back to the hut and leave Mutare Peaks on 99-1. Just six runs later, captain Hunter ran out Louis Klazinga following a horrendous mix-up between he and new batsman Vusi Sibanda. At first Hunter appeared to throw to the wrong end but he’d made sure to send the set batsman packing. After a good throw, stumper Lyon Cage finished the deed. Like Masakadza, Klazinga had made 50 exactly. De Maan would later double his wicket tally courtesy of a superb diving catch by Ali El Naany before opening bowler Jacques Dawes returned to snatch a maiden victim in the final over. The only blemish in the innings being that of a dropped catch by the skipper off the bowling of Brooklyn born Brotherhood Collins. Though both went wicketless, Chris Kasprowicz (4-0-34-0) and Woody Forrest (4-0-28-0) were our most economical bowlers.

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In pursuit of 177 for a famous victory, we were soon in trouble with Kuwaiti native El Naany out second ball of the innings with the scoreboard yet to get rolling. Fellow opener Independence Masakadza (No relation to Hamilton) laboured to 5 from 11 balls but did cobble together a partnership of 30 alongside his captain before being dismissed. Ozzie left-hander Mitch Djordevic was out for a golden duck when trying to go big on the leg-side first ball.

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Queens born Dean McQueen ventured to the crease to a rapturous applause but disappointed his local following when being caught having made just 5.

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Skipper Hunter, keen to make amends for his drop, batted with skill in compiling a top score of 23 on debut. Brotherhood Collins took out his disgust at his skipper’s dropped catch by blazing 4,4,4,6,1 before wicketkeeper Lyon Cage finished the over with a further four to provide the Queens crowd with some excitement and even a glimmer of hope. That hope soon evaporated as Collins ran himself out the first delivery of the following over. South African stumper Cage chopped on next ball.

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From the depths of 68-7, we raised ourselves to 90 with Ozzie pacer Dawes (10) joining Hunter and Collins in double figures. When he was out however we became the victims of an 86-run defeat.

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This performance was by no means a disgrace and our squad are better for the experience. We have a squad of sixteen that will breed healthy competition and we look forward to our next match with much anticipation. To our fans in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Pallenville and throughout both the USA and the globe, we offer our deepest gratitude for your support and we will strive to attain the success that you deserve.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Trumped!

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There have been many dark days in English cricket. Today was one of those days. It was like being in the world’s longest tunnel without a torch or possibly with a torch but no batteries or the batteries had run out!

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Ben Duckett (30) put on 56 for the first wicket with Michael Carberry (26).

Having seemingly had the Trumpeteers under control at 117-5, we ‘allowed’ Team USA to post a competitive target of 170. A recalled Ajmal Shahzad was the pick of our bowlers. He claimed figures of 2-25 from his full allocation as well as having a chance dropped. Tom Curran also claimed two wickets (4-0-31-2). Matt Coles figures were less impressive: 4-0-40-0 and he would go onto compliment these with a golden duck!

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Michael Carberry (26) put on 56 for the first wicket with Ben Duckett (30).

We began our pursuit sedately, the intention to keep wickets intact and accelerate as the overs elapsed. We were aided early on by some wides and opening batsmen Ben Duckett and Michael Carberry posted a half-century stand to commence the chase. Duckett fell first, caught behind off a good delivery from the spinner having constructed a decent 30 from 24 deliveries. Captain Joe Root built a brisk 30 from 21 deliveries but was harshly adjudged LBW before the returning Michael Carberry was also dismissed in debatable fashion. By then, Carberry had grafted to 26 from 30 deliveries. His innings lacked fluency but did include one majestic leg-side flick for four. He was adjudged caught behind off the spinner though no edge was apparent. Why there were no reviews available in this T20 International remains unclear.

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Dawid Malan (7), Liam Livingstone (Run out for 2 to add to a dropped dolly!) and Liam Dawson (0 to compliment figures of 2-0-20-0) offered little to the chase. After Jos Buttler had struck a rapid 27 both Tom Curran and Ajmal Shahzad found the boundary on more than one occasion but ultimately Shahzad was unable to clear the ropes as required from the last ball of the match. Tom Curran (8) was run out and The Stars and Stripes ran out victors in Taunton by the small margin of just three runs.

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Maybe we got our tactics wrong. Possibly we should have attacked in the Powerplay but whilst we may have had more runs on the board early on, we would likely have lost more wickets too. To the loyal supporters of English cricket, the team offer their sincerest apologies for this result and promise to dig deep in the face of opposition to come.