Farewell Joe, Welcome Joe!

The time has come for England to move on from Joe Denly. Denly has fought hard and contributed useful innings but he’s also been extremely (And I mean extremely) lucky. You only have to count the amount of times that he’s been dropped (I mean by fielders) in his career.

With Joe Root certain to return to the England side the following batting line-up: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Stokes and Pope can not only hopefully be a top six for a number of years but have provided enough evidence to suggest that we can do more than hope.

As for Denly, the likes of James Hildreth and Sam Northeast amongst others will despair at the opportunities that he’s had. I’ll say it again though, Denly has contributed and he’s tried his best but with Dan Lawrence and co. waiting in the wings, it’s time to put a full stop on Denly’s Test career.

Ball Games!

Test Cricket returns tomorrow when England host West Indies at Southampton. Whether or not it should really be classed as Test status is debatable. Yes, Test cricketers will be playing but they’ve prepared by playing intra-squad matches and there’ll be no spectators in the ground. It is of course arguable that fans could attend and maintain social distancing however it’s more the getting there (Unnecessary risks on public transport etc) and getting in and out of the ground that are the problem.

West Indies are short of a few players. It’s perfectly understandable that some players, at least one of whom has suffered tragedy in his life, doesn’t want to tour England. Two of the absent players hail from Guyana where until recently at least, there hadn’t been many deaths. That may have changed as Coronavirus gains a grip on the Americas but it’s easy to comprehend that they didn’t want to visit a country where there’ve been thousands upon thousands of deaths, even if a little digging might suggest that a lot of those deaths have been in care homes. Of course BAME personnel do seem to be more vulnerable.

England will also be deprived of a player in the shape of their captain Joe Root. That possibly earns Joe Denly a reprieve and means that England’s batsmen will be competing against each other. Ben Stokes will lead England against a West Indies side who have some exciting young players in and around their squad.

West Indies have been written off before, only to show England up. Let’s hope for some competitive cricket to feast upon once again. Whether or not there’ll be artificial crowd noise like in the football we’ll have to wait and see.

May I take this opportunity to thank anybody and everybody for visiting my blog. You might like to visit my football blog http://www.leftbackfooty.com Please do… because nobody is!

Close of Play for Meschede!

German international Craig Meschede has been forced to retire due to injury.

The South African born Glamorgan and former Somerset all-rounder is suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome.

Meschede made two First Class tons and claimed one five-wicket haul. His best List A bowling figures were an incredible 4-5 but he’ll be disappointed that his top score was only 45. His best figures in T20s were 3-9 and with the bat he scored over a thousand runs at a strike-rate of 134.08. It was in the latter format (T20I) that he earned international recognition with Germany, his father’s homeland.

He duly impressed with a top score of 67 and averaged 44.75 striking at a mighty 155.65! Throw in six wickets at just 19.16 apiece and the German selectors will be gutted that the 28-year-old won’t be donning the German kit again.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/362565.html

Meschede advises that he’s “… lost about 80% strength in my upper arm” and that he requires “… (a) procedure to improve my everyday life.”

I sincerely hope that the procedure goes to plan and that Meschede is able to find fulfilment away from playing cricket.

3TC – I Like It!

If you were struggling to stomach The Hundred then 3TC is likely to make you choke on your cornflakes! But do you know what? Having watched the little explainer video on YouTube… I actually quite like the idea!

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/29338438/south-africa-return-cricket-delayed-3tc-competition-postponed

Yes it’s another South African cricket competition that isn’t going to get off the ground as anticipated and how practical three-team international matches outside of a major tournament would be is debatable but it seems like it could be really exciting.

One thing the video doesn’t make clear but is presumably easy to figure out is that if a batsman is left on their own then they have to keep walking back to the other end to be on strike even if they ran a single or a three.

Excuse my laziness but please watch the video presented by Mark Nicholas via the link above that does a better job of explaining it than I would. It seems really dynamic and like I say, I like the idea… though it’s probably not desperately necessary to rush to commence it in a coronavirus hotspot in the middle of the South African winter!

Cricket 19: Afghan Duty!

Test Squad: Enzo Petit, Jean-Luc Chevalier (Vice-captain), Christophe Martinez, Zvonimir Pitko, Louis Petit, Zidane Thomas, Marwan Leroy (Wicketkeeper), Xavier Le Tallec (Captain), Paco Georges, Anthony Toure, Mehdi Qadri, Timothee Clement, Maxime Bernard (Wicketkeeper), Aymerric Gautier, Louis Martin, Thibaut Keller

Only Test: Abu Dhabi

France 220 (Thomas 59, E Petit 35, Leroy 26/Ahmad 3-37, Khan 3-22, Ahmadzai 2-43)

Afghanistan 183 (Ahmad 45, Zazai 42/Qadri 5-23, Toure 3-36)

France 221 (Martinez 74, E.Petit 42, Georges 39/Khan 4-53, Nabi 3-32, Ahmad 2-51)

Afghanistan 259-4 (Shah 77, Afghan 42*, Ihsanullah 42/Chevalier 1-8, L.Petit 1-34, Qadri 1-77)

Lost by 6 wickets

ODI Squad: Hippolyte Gregory, Jean-Luc Chevalier (Vice-captain), Christophe Martinez, Matteo Phillipe, Maxime Bernard, Zidane Thomas, Marwan Leroy (Wicketkeeper), Xavier Le Tallec (Captain), Louis Petit, Paco Georges, Phillipe La Roux, Zvonimir Pitko, Aymerric Gautier, Anthony Toure, Mehdi Qadri

1st ODI: Abu Dhabi

France 113 (Bernard 33, Chevalier 14, L.Petit 11/Khan 5-12, Zadran 3-34)

Afghanistan 116-0 (Naib 64*/Shah 51*/L.Petit 0-13, Le Tallec 0-13)

Lost by 10 wickets*

*Please note that the players refunded our fans the cost of their tickets.

2nd ODI: Dubai

France 369-9 (Georges 76*, Bernard 47, L.Petit 45/Shirzad 2-62, Zadran 2-85)

Afghanistan 242-8 (Khan 82*, Shah 40, Shirzad 33*/ Georges 3-53, Qadri 2-41)

Won by 127 runs

3rd ODI: Dubai

France 149 (Bernard 26, Leroy 22, L.Petit 19/Nabi 3-25, Khan 2-34, Zadran 2-39)

Afghanistan 150-4 (Alikhil 62*, Shah 39, Nabi 21*/Le Tallec 1-23, La Roux 1-29)

Lost by 6 wickets

Lost the series 2-1

T20I Squad: Hippolyte Gregory, Jean Luc Chevalier (Vice-captain), Zidane Thomas, Matteo Phillipe, Maxime Bernard, Christophe Martinez, Marwan Leroy (Wicketkeeper), Xavier Le Tallec (Captain), Louis Petit, Paco Georges, Phillipe La Roux, Zvonimir Pitko, Maurice Noe, Anthony Toure, Mehdi Qadri

Only T20I: Dubai

France 245-9 (L.Petit 65, Phillipe 54, Gregory 38, Martinez 26/ul-Haq 3-30, Ur Rahman 3-53, Khan 3-61)

Afghanistan 178-6 (Zazai 55, Zadran 54*, Afghan 38/Thomas 1-22, La Roux 1-24, Martinez 1-26)

Won by 67 runs

Disclaimer: Please note that to reduce the risk of infection no warm-up matches were played.

Cricket in the Time of Coronavirus!

Ben Duckett and Liam Livingstone are two players that I’m glad England haven’t given up on having named both in a 55-man trans-format training squad.

A wide variety of personnel are involved, many of whom have performed well for England Lions in recent times. The likes of Dan Lawrence for example thoroughly merit recognition whilst Will Jacks is an exciting proposition.

Amongst the recalled (It is only a training squad) players are James Vince, David Willey and perhaps most surprising of all… Reece Topley!

In the uncapped bracket both young and old are represented. Batsman Laurie Evans fully merits recognition having performed well both in England and overseas whilst Richard Gleeson may be a surprise to some but has been admired by the England hierarchy for some time.

Sam Northeast, Ben Coad and Harry Gurney will be among the disappointed ones having been omitted despite pressing their cases either on Lions duty, in county cricket or on the franchise circuit.

Other than those mentioned above there are lots more exciting players who could be called upon. Please see the link below for the full squad…

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/29239315/alex-hales-liam-plunkett-left-england-name-55-man-training-group

Cricket 19: Which Way? Zimbabwe

Only T20I: Corsica

France: 195-9 (Phillipe 81/Williams 4-??)

Zimbabwe: ???-?

Won by ?? runs

Errr, sorry, made a mess of saving the scorecard but we won… honest!

1st ODI: Corsica

France 252 (Chevalier 37, Phillipe 27/Raza 3-24, Mpofu 3-32)

Zimbabwe 203 (Ervine 66/La Roux 2-37)

Won by 49 runs… courtesy of an extreme volume of extras!

2nd ODI: Corsica

Zimbabwe 208 (Masakadza 59, Raza 53*, Burl 46*/Chevalier 2-31)

France 214-2 (Gregory 103*, Chevalier 55/Chisoro 1-43, Ngarava 1-51)

Won by 8 wickets

Nearly made a mess of getting Gregory to his nation’s first ever ton in a full international but with the scores tied he got there with a six!

3rd ODI: Nantes

France 333 (Bernard 112, Chevalier 49/Chatara 4-99)

Zimbabwe 313-6 (Burl 65, Kamunhukamwe 58*, Musakanda 53/La Roux 1-47, L.Petit 1-50, Toure 1-59)

Won by 20 runs

A century on ODI debut for Maxime Bernard. Like Gregory he nearly didn’t get there but an epic last wicket stand of 71 with Anthony Toure (22*) elevated his and the team score. Had Zimbabwe played their reserves in the first two matches then maybe the series would’ve been more competitive.

Only Test: Nantes

France 247 (Le Tallec 75, Thomas 73, Georges 30/Mpofu 3-32, Ngarava 3-82, Raza 2-16)

Zimbabwe 241 (Masakadza 120, Taylor 51/Qadri 4-37, Toure 2-51)

France 117 (Chevalier 41, Thomas 22/Mpofu 5-47, Mavuta 4-29)

Zimbabwe 125-1 (Masakadza 83*, Taylor 25*/Qadri 1-22)

Lost by 9 wickets

We recovered from 41-5 in our first innings and they collapsed from 146-1 in theirs. As for our second innings… don’t ask! Having performed a clean sweep in the white-ball games, it was disappointing not to complete the set by winning the Test.

Next we head to Afghanistan for one Test, three ODIs and a single T20I with serious question marks hanging over our struggling batting line-up!

Disclaimer: Apologies but I just needed a break from full on match reports of every game!

A New Playing Field

Hi all

If cricket doesn’t provide enough ball action for you then please head over to my new football (Soccer) related site. You can arrive at the pitch by clicking here… http://www.leftbackfooty.com

If you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts on cricket then hopefully you’ll do the same regarding football. There’ll be a variety of articles taking to the pitch soon and please share the links to both my sites with all your friends and families on social media.

http://www.sillypointcricket.com

http://www.leftbackfooty.com

Many thanks and stay safe!

Out of the Darkness!

In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, counties continue to cancel the contracts of overseas players. If there is any cricket played this summer then it could be that local/English players are presented with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

There are great benefits of experienced overseas players representing counties but far too many of those signings are nowadays made with a short term view. They’re a quick fix and more likely to delay the development of a young local lad than aid it.

If we do witness any county cricket this year then we could see some unfamiliar names taking to the field. Some will flounder never to be seen again and soon turn to working in the city etc but for some, they’ll seize the chance and go onto make a career that they might not have had. We’ll wait and see…

Cricket 19: Signing Off in Style!

In the one-off T20I against Australia in Sydney, we started in a way that encapsulated the hit and miss nature of our tour. Following a double mis-field off the first delivery off the match, we ran David Warner out without facing a ball! Australia had opted to bat but for the second Sydney innings in a row, Warner blobbed having made 140 in the first Test in Perth.

From 0-1 Australia hardly got going as we effected three run outs in the innings. Captain Xavier Le Tallec set astute field placings as we reduced the hosts to 82-8. A stand of 40 between McDermott (34*) and Behrendorff (21*) lifted Australia to a potentially competitive 122-8 from their 20 overs. Skipper Aaron Finch top scored with 38 meanwhile Le Tallec was outstanding with the ball, claiming figures of 3-17. Georges (1-26) and Petit (1-15) also struck.

Petit was unfortunate to have a chance dropped by wicketkeeper Maxime Bernard but the gloveman redeemed himself with a run out and catch soon after. The luckless Phillipe La Roux finished with figures of 3-0-23-0 that included 8 overthrows… would they prove costly? Zidane Thomas’s (3-0-25-0) struggles with the ball continued but Christophe Martinez’s leg spin was a revelation. The Reunion Islander conceded just 15 runs from three overs. We required just over a run-a-ball to claim our first ever limited overs victory and end a tough tour on a huge high note…

Jean-Luc Chevalier and Hippolyte Gregory started sensibly before Gregory feasted on Adam Zampa’s vegan leg-spin. Gregory struck each of Zampa’s first three deliveries over the ropes for 6 as Zampa conceded 31 from his first over. Credit to Zampa, who only conceded 34 from his next three overs but his performance was costly! Having helped compile 49 for the first wicket, Chevalier (15) top edged a pull off Jhye Richardson to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. It hasn’t all been roses on this tour for Chevalier but he’s got enough about him to be better for it.

Gregory went onto make a career best 35 from 28 deliveries before being bowled by Coulter-Nile with the score 90-2. The run flow stymied somewhat as Matteo Phillipe batted sensibly but possibly got a little bogged down. He’d made 7 from 17 balls when he reviewed an LBW against Glenn Maxwell. Phillipe, like the rest of us on the balcony, was spewing his supper when he was given out. This was despite the video evidence clearly confirming that he’d got bat on ball before being struck on the pad. He’d flown a long way for just 7 runs and desperately wanted to be there at the end.

From 108-3 the supremely composed Zidane Thomas finished a tough winter by edging the ball… time stood still as everybody turned their gaze… for four to seal our first ever white-ball win. Thomas finished 49 not out from 44 deliveries with Zvonimir Pitko undefeated on 3 alongside him. The Iceman Pitko was of course at the crease when we won our first Test. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Australia’s bowlers: Behrendorff (4-0-10-0), Coulter-Nile (4-0-13-1), Richardson (3.1-0-14-1), Maxwell (2-0-8-1)and Short (1-0-2-0) all of whom keep things tight but Gregory’s onslaught on Zampa won us the match. That’s not to undermine what was a consummate team performance with contributions throughout.

Australia skipper Aaron Finch was humble in defeat but didn’t regret choosing to bat first. We struck immediately and never let Australia get away from us then batted sensibly without a hint of panic when chasing an historic victory.

The home fans were superb and for our supporters who’d travelled all the way from Europe, it was a special moment to be shared by all. President Macron was on the phone immediately… he’s never shy to share any glory!

This winter hasn’t always been easy but we’ve won a Test in India and a T20I in Australia. We’re ahead of where we expected to be. Bring on the summer!