Six to Watch: 2018 – Season Review

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A little premature with the season not quite concluded but here’s 2018’s Six to Watch Review. This year two players from my selection have been promoted to the full England side. One has already debuted and one likely will in Sri Lanka. For the others, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag but should get better.

Tom Fell  (Worcestershire)

Another difficult year for cancer survivor Fell. There were glimpses of his determination and ability but little consistency. Fell has registered only four fifties in 22 innings this term but two of them, including a season best 89, came in the same match against champions Surrey. He’s currently averaging a disappointing 27.82 in the County Championship. Despite an impressive career record in List A cricket, white-ball opportunities have been harder to come by. Fell has only ever played three T20s.

Ollie Pope (Surrey)

So good have been Pope’s numbers (He’s averaging 70.50 in CC2018) that he was fast tracked into the England team. Unlike some sceptics, I think that Ed Smith has got a lot of qualities but his decision to parachute Pope in at number four in England’s Test side was misguided. Pope had never batted higher than six for Surrey! The Chelsea born bat has a good head on his shoulders however and will be better for the experience. This year he’s a Championship winner and breeding that winning mentality can only be good for his development. He’s likely to commence the Sri Lanka tour on the bench but the opportunity to tour will serve him well.

Hamidullah Qadri (Derbyshire)

A frustrating year with limited opportunity and limited success for Afghan born Qadri. Last year the then sixteen-year-old announced his arrival with an outstandingly effective performance against Glamorgan to help Derbyshire win for the first time in… years!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8204/scorecard/1068618/glamorgan-vs-derbyshire-specsavers-county-championship-division-two-2017

This year’s appearances have been fleeting but four more County Championship appearances is more than most for a man his age. He’s claimed eight wickets at 39.88 in CC2018.

Delray Rawlins (Sussex)

Precocious talent Rawlins’ opportunities have been limited to limited overs cricket but his batting caught the eye of many in this year’s T20 Blast. Rawlins made it to the final with Sussex and made starts in both matches on Finals-Day. The Bermuda born bat ended the campaign with 203 runs at 25.38. His strike-rate was 146.04. Little was seen of his bowling however or the red ball this term. Rawlins could be a potentially good draft for a Big Bash or PSL franchise this winter.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire)

The move from Yorkshire to Warwickshire seems to have worked well for Rhodes. Yorkshire didn’t seem to know what to do with him and have had Harry Brook (Better suited to the middle order) opening while losing Alex Lees to Durham. Keeping and making the most of Rhodes may have been a good move by Yorkshire but Rhodes is yet another talent they failed to fully develop. Warwickshire are grateful to have been the beneficiaries of Yorkshire’s slacking. The Midlands outfit have persevered with Rhodes and former Surrey man Dominic Sibley as an opening pair, even when the runs haven’t flowed. Sibley can be feast or famine but Rhodes’ consistency has meant that he’s been one of the county circuit’s more successful openers this year. The left-hander has compiled three tons plus four fifties, a top score of 137 and is averaging a healthy 41.05. He’s also a viable bowling option.

Olly Stone (Warwickshire)

Rhodes’ Warwickshire ally Stone commenced the County Championship campaign with figures of 8-80 against Sussex, cue lots of calls for him to make the England side. Of course he promptly got injured again! Like his main rival for the speedster’s role, Somerset’s Jamie Overton, Stone has recently taken wickets in T20 and First Class cricket, crucially… he’s been on the pitch at all! The former Northamptonshire man has claimed 37 wickets in just six matches at a mightily impressive average of 12.27. With Liam Plunkett and his wedding arrangements undone by a flip of England’s tour schedule, Stone will go to Sri Lanka with both the ODI and Test side if not the T20I side. He should debut sometime on the tour and will have an eye on the West Indies trip too.

Cricket Captain 2018: 1007 all out!

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If I remember correctly, the year is 2027 and despite our white-ball (ODI/T20I) woes, we sit third in the Test rankings. A national record 1007 all out against West Indies went some way to erasing the pain of the infamous 43 all out debacle against Pakistan a few years ago.

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Poor Ollie Pope, he compiled a career best 279, only to be outshone by stand-in skipper Sam Hain (382) in their record-breaking third-wicket combo of 629.

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Hain’s 382 was not only the highest innings of my tenure, surpassing injured captain Max Holden’s 307 not out but was in fact the highest Test score ever by an Englishman. Hain overtook Sir Len Hutton’s 364 but fell short of Brian Lara’s Test record of 400 not out.

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Saqib Mahmood (6-134) led the way as we bundled the visitors out twice inside two days. Hain (6296 @ 54.75, 21/20) and Pope (5457 @ 47.45, 18/19) continue to dominate Test cricket. Joe Clarke (5159 @ 40.30, 10/25) is finally fulfilling his potential at Test level while captain Max Holden (5506 @ 55.62, 12/30) is another to have surpassed 5000 Test runs. On the bowling front, leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson (427 @ 23.19) has his eyes firmly set on 500 if not 600 Test wickets!

Cricket Captain 2018: Statistical Highlights… and Lowlights!

Five full years into my tenure as Coach/Selector of the England cricket team, here’s a round-up of the highs and lows that we’ve experienced as a collective thus far…

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Yes that does say 43 all out against Pakistan at Edgbaston! That’s an England all-time low and a slap in the face for our decision to bat exclusively (And optimistically) for a draw. The sweet success of 806 against Sri Lanka in Kandy seems a long time ago.

Joe Root’s 292 against India in Nottingham, came after he’d been dismissed for 230 twice during my tenure and in the same innings that James Vince briefly (Very briefly) held the record when making 246.

Leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson’s 7-82 against New Zealand, also at Edgbaston, are the best individual bowling figures in an innings while Stuart Broad’s 11-98 against West Indies in Jamaica in 2019 remain our best match analysis.

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The year before the 43 all out debacle, 436 against the same opponents in Leeds, had been a none too shabby effort in a One-Day International. In truth, our limited overs batting has regressed since then. As in the Tests, it’s former captain Joe Root who leads the way with a rare double ton (214) in the fifty over format, indeed it was in that innings of 436 against Pakistan in front of a packed and vibrant Headingley crowd.

Somerset speedster Jamie Overton claimed astonishing figures of 6-14 against Australia in the infancy of his international career but lost his way a little in ODIs. He is however averaging sub 30 in the Test format and has become a valuable option in the longer format. He’s no slouch with the bat either.

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Errrr, yeah, 41 all out against South Africa in a T20I. Like I said, highs and lows. Never an easy place to bat is Cape Town!

Alex Hales 124 against arch-enemy Australia in Bristol has been the best batting output in the format whilst the often economical Tom Curran’s 5-26 against West Indies in Delhi at the World Cup is our best individual bowling analysis.

It’d be great to post 1000 runs in a Test innings but with the need for declarations this can often only be feasible in a dead rubber. 500 in a ODI and 250 in T20Is would also be welcome. It’d also be great to see an individual batsman reach a triple ton in a Test match but should they approach Sir Len Hutton’s 364 then I might have to declare!

Transfer Madness!

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Not a day seems to pass without news of yet another transfer or rumoured transfer at least, on the English county cricket circuit. The county game really has become like football’s Premier League.

Meaning no disrespect to Josh Poysden, his one-match loan deal from Derbyshire to Yorkshire really shouldn’t have been allowed, certainly not when Yorkshire have spinners of their own. Poysden has now joined Yorkshire permanently from next season but is available for them in the County Championship this season however he remains a Derbyshire T20 player for the rest of this term. With players signing white-ball only contracts and some jumping from franchise to franchise, it’ll be interesting to see if we end up with English players signing a red-ball contract for one county and a white-ball contract for another. Quite how they’d work out which training facilities they could use and when, who knows!

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Some of the global franchise brigade have already jumped ship from the T20 Blast to head to the Caribbean Premier League… and this even during our scorching summer! What do you mean that the beaches of Brighton, St. Ives and… Scarborough don’t compare to Barbados, Jamaica or St. Kitts?

West Indies opening bat Kraigg Brathwaite, who turned out in a couple of games for Yorkshire a year or two ago, will now spend a few weeks with Nottinghamshire. Liam Plunkett will join his third county when he migrates south to Surrey from Yorkshire whilst Northamptonshire duo Ben Duckett and Richard Gleeson seem likely to follow David Willey’s path to Yorkshire. Loyalty, a quality already nearly all but lost in football, is rapidly vanishing from cricket. Provided the transfer free for all that’s already ongoing, could a draft system be implimented to keep English domestic cricket competitive? Could it be that counties retain a proportion of players born within their borders but compliment them with draft selections? As it stands, the potential move to Yorkshire seems a smart one for Duckett and Gleeson. With Yorkshire losing Alex Lees to Durham, Duckett could do as Lees hopefully will further north and reignite his career and international ambitions. Late bloomer Gleeson, if he can remain injury free, could be a really viable option for Yorkshire with the ball not least because former Northamptonshire player Jack Brooks could be heading to Somerset… are you keeping up?

Jordan Clark from Lancashire to Surrey, Matthew Pillans from Surrey to Yorkshire, Ben Slater from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire and Liam Norwell from Gloucestershire to recruitment reliant Warwickshire, are all likely transfers during the off-season, if they haven’t already been finalised. Oh and guess who Alex Lees’ opening partner up at Durham could be… Australian master tactician Cameron Bancroft!

You can keep up to date with all the migrations by clicking below…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/41154332

Cricket Captain 2018: Test is Best but One Day we won’t be Limited!

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To be honest, I’ve forgotten what year it was and have also tried to forget nearly all our limited overs performances!

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Somewhere and somehow, Somerset’s Craig Overton claimed astonishing analysis of 4-0-6-2 in a T20 International. Unfortunately his twin brother Jamie hasn’t been able to back-up an impressive start to his international career which included figures of 6-14 against Australia in a ODI a few years back. He’s failed to take a wicket in three T20I appearances to date.

There was another T20I World Cup, we didn’t win but we did at least win the Ashes in Australia. Against a home side that changed their openers more often that their players changed their underwear as well as constantly shuffling their middle order, we sealed a 3-1 (Or was it just 2-1?) series win. The less said about Will Pucovski’s batting for the hosts the better but he’s welcome to play against us anytime!

Following the euphoria of Ashes success, we took an experimental side to the West Indies and having won the first match comfortably, subsided to defeat in the second by a margin somewhere in the region of 500 runs!

The new season commences with a three-match home Test series against everybody’s second favourite team, New Zealand. Alastair Cook, who performed admirably in Australia and reached the epic milestone of 200 Tests when playing in the fifth and final Test before being rested for the tour of West Indies is again omitted. Haseeb Hameed has come of age and Max Holden will debut alongside him at the top of the order. Sam Hain who replaced James Vince in the Caribbean, maintains his place. Joe Root will continue to skipper the Test side at number four while Ollie Pope keeps Joe Clarke out at number five. Clarke will be disappointed to have fallen for so many forties in recent times. Still only tweny-five, his time will come again but for now he will be better served playing the domestic game. Gloucestershire’s Ryan Higgins, who swashbuckled 97 not out on Test debut in the fifth Ashes Test will bat at six. Jonny Bairstow keeps the gloves at seven while the new Broad and Anderson, Jamie Porter and Ben Coad, will each hope to reach 100 Test wickets during the series. They’ll be backed up by the ever-improving Josh Tongue and Matthew Parkinson (159 Test wickets to his name) is our sole spinner.

Cricket Captain 2018: From One Extreme to the Other!

2020-21 Season Review

West Indies Tests: Won 3-0

Australia ODIs: Lost 2-1 (Sam Hain 145, 105 and 88)

Australia T20Is: Lost 2-1 (Tom Kohler-Cadmore 101, maiden ODI century)

Pakistan Tests: Lost 2-1 (Ed Barnard match figures 9-85)

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Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed opening partnership 346.

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43 all out!

Pakistan T20Is: Lost 3-0

Ireland ODIs: Won 2-1 (Tom Kohler-Cadmore 133, century on ODI debut, 62 and 141)

India ODIs: Lost 3-0 (Ed Pollock 102, maiden ODI century)

India T20Is: Lost 3-0

T20I World Cup: Won 1, Lost 3 – Knocked out at group stage (Jofra Archer 4-21 vs. West Indies)

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India Tests: Won 4-0 (Achieved highest ever run chase in history of Test cricket: 489-2 (Vince 204*, Root 198*))

South Africa ODIs: Lost 2-1

South Africa T20Is: Lost 3-0

Tests:

Won: 8 Drew/Tied: 1 Lost: 2

ODIs:

Won: 4 Drew/Tied: 0 Lost: 8

T20Is:

Won: 2 Drew/Tied: 0 Lost: 14

Cricket Captain 2018: 2019 World Cup

For many years it was South Africa who wore the tag of ‘Chokers’ in international cricket. It’s now safe to say that we’ve assumed that unenviable title! Having blown opportunities to win ODI series against both West Indies and Pakistan by failing to perform in the final match of said series, we crumbled when it mattered most at the 2019 World Cup. After a long slog of nine games where we suffered a heartbreaking one-wicket defeat against Afghanistan, fell apart in a run chase to end with only a tie against Sri Lanka and failed to defend 340 against Australia, we meekly limped to 229 when chasing just 253 against New Zealand. Sam Billings ten ball duck was a torturous end to his World Cup!

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As a consequence, we failed to reach the knockout stages of our very own World Cup. There were positives however, three straight successes against Pakistan, Bangladesh and West Indies were a welcome response to defeat at the hands of South Africa in our opening match. Frustratingly, we then contrived to win only one (Versus India) of our final five matches.

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For the record, Jos Buttler who came into the competition with next to no match fitness following injury, topped our batting charts with 454 runs at a healthy average of 75.67. The ruthless axing of Alex Hales and Jason Roy at the top of the order, replaced by Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow hinted at being the right one but didn’t quite come off. Moeen’s place in the side certainly helped us from a bowling perspective.

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Given the dry summer of 2019, we were heavily reliant on our spin bowlers. Each of Matthew Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and captain Joe Root did their bit. Root, who replaced Eoin Morgan as ODI captain earlier in the summer, marshalled the troops superbly. As per usual, Somerset quick Jamie Overton struggled to maintain a strong start but kept bustling in, meanwhile left-arm paceman Chris Wood continued to enhance his reputation as one of the leading bowlers in ODI cricket.

As for the competition as a whole, the magnificent Afghanistan finished joint top of the group with Australia but it was South Africa (No longer chokers!) who ran out competition winners.

Next up for us are yet more ridiculously scheduled limited overs (T20I/ODI) matches with white-ball affairs against Australia either side of the marquee Ashes Test series.

1000 Not Out for USA!

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It would be easy to be surprised by the fact that besides the UK, the most visitors to my cricket based website have come from the United States. USA is not perceived to be a hub of cricket activity and interest but of course USA is such a large and diversely populated country. The nation is home to many expatriates from cricket obsessed countries such as India, Pakistan and West Indies as well as hopefully, a developing interest amongst the local community. Proportionally then, with a population of in excess of 325 million people, it makes perfect sense that so many visitors have discovered Silly Point. Compared with some nations across the globe, quite simply, access to the internet is another crucial factor in receiving visits from the United States.

Congratulations and many thanks to the people of America for accumulating 1000 career runs. India on 804 and Australia with 683 are comfortably placed in third and fourth on my list and nearing 1000 runs. Good luck to them both but where are you Central African Republic?

Cricket Captain 2018: Pakistand and Deliver!

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For the ODI series against Pakistan, a series that was crucial preparation for this summer’s World Cup, I opted to make a big call to enhance our chances of tournament success. Eoin Morgan was removed from his position as ODI skipper and dropped from the squad. This followed a poor string of results last year coupled with disappointing individual performances by Eoin himself. Joe Root was handed the captaincy for the Pakistan series, the 2019 World Cup and likely beyond. Eoin remains in charge of the T20I side.

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With gloveman Jos Buttler absent through injury, things started badly but after falling 2-0 behind in the series, skipper Joe Root came to the fore with a national record 214 not out. Root struck 25 fours plus eleven sixes in his innings that was constructed from just 126 deliveries. Sam Hain (107) also made a ton, his second ODI century to help us post a gargantuan 436-9 from our allotted 50 overs. We would then go onto win the fourth match by a massive 145 runs and it seemed that momentum was truly on our side for the decider. Sam Billings, who acquired the gloves from Jonny Bairstow midway through the series, was simply sensational behind the stumps.

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As was the case in West Indies, we failed to deliver when a series was within our grasp. We had Pakistan in peril at 222-9 but allowed them to reach 259-9. That last wicket stand proved the difference as we succumbed for just 234. A series draw in West Indies and loss at home to Pakistan could have so easily been two series victories.

The 3-2 result was hard on many of our players who had really lifted the hearts of the nation with two stunning performances. The exploits of our bowling attack: Matthew Parkinson (10 wickets @ 18.90), Chris Wood (9 @ 32.22), Ben Stokes (8 @ 37.75), and a much improved return from Jamie Overton (9 @ 23.44) went unrewarded. Joe Root’s series aggregate of 371 runs at 92.75 also deserved more than to lose the series at the last.

There was then a needless T20I sandwiched in-between the ODI series and ODI World Cup. To remove the risk of injury to World Cup players, certain picks for the tournament were not selected for the T20I. As it was, a reserve side crumbled to 94 all out and lost by nine wickets. Craig Overton top scored with 36 and Mason Crane claimed the sole wicket. There was also a debut for Yorkshire’s Tom Kohler-Cadmore. I apologise to our fans for a disappointing night but insist that the composition of the side was appropriate with the ODI World Cup on the horizon. Our squad for that tournament will be named shortly.