No Wizards in Oz!

A review of the Cricket Australia XI’s batting efforts entertaining the touring Sri Lankan side.

Batsman Selected by Australia: 40-4

Matt Renshaw – 7

Joe Burns – 4

Marnus Labuschagne – 6

Will Pucovski – 23

Batsman not selected by Australia: 262-1

Kurtis Patterson – 157 not out

Jason Sangha – 3

Jake Doran – 102 not out

Have Australia picked the wrong players or is it all a very clever tactical ploy?

Will Wood Burn or Flicker?

What do you do when you lose a player from a whole tour due to injury?

You call up a player with absolutely no history of injury ever right?

Err, wait… Mark Wood, IPL star (!), more time on a sickbed than Ralph Fiennes in The English Patient!

To be fair, it’s not as if the two Jamies, Overton and Porter, haven’t attended the treatment table so many times that they got a session free!

Let’s hope that in the absence of Olly Stone, Mark Wood can keep the English fires burning during an Arctic winter… yes I know, the cricket’s in the Caribbean!

Zim a Bad Way!

Play has been suspended in Zimbabwe’s First Class cricket competition. Such a move seems fair enough in light of the current situation in the troubled nation.

Civil unrest inspired by food and fuel shortages has led to beatings and abductions as well as a government enforced internet black out. At times like this, cricket just isn’t important. The practicality of players, officials and everybody involved being able to travel to matches safely just doesn’t exist.

Food and fuel shortages, civil unrest. Is this what we can expect in Britain when we do eventually rid ourselves of our European Union armbands and attempt to swim at the deep end, even though we haven’t attended all our lessons?!

Disclaimer: Yes I’ve used a variation of this headline before and yes I’ve brought the topics of politics and Brexit into my cricket blog. It’s my blog. I can do what I want!

A Shame for Stone!

Fast bowler Olly Stone is out of England’s tour of West Indies courtesy of a stress fracture. Stone made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka last year but his chequered history of injuries has come back to haunt him. Jamie Overton, no stranger to injuries himself, could be promoted to the touring party whilst Jamie Porter, who has been a squad member in home Tests, could once again flirt with the opportunity of making his Test debut.

Hopefully Stone can recover and be back amongst the county wickets and international reckoning before too long.

Cricket Captain 2018: Suggestions for 2019 – Revisited

Hi readers

As promised in Upcoming Articles, here’s my audio cast detailing my suggestions for alterations and enhancements to the extremely addictive Cricket Captain series…

Here’s my previous written work too…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2018/09/12/cricket-captain-2018-suggestions-for-2019/

What would you like to see in the game?

Many thanks for reading and following and I look forward to reading your feedback.

Extras

Bye:

USA return to the fold. United States of America have had their member status restored…

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/sport/2019/jan/15/cricket-american-dream-usa-icc-status

Leg Bye: Revamp of the Minor Counties set up. From 2020 the Minor Counties will have a new name and new structure…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/46059647

No Ball:

England discard Dawid Malan has signed a new contract with Middlesex that will keep him at the club until the close of the 2021 campaign. Malan is currently skipper at Lords and is joined in committing his county future by former Glamorgan man James Harris. Harris, once a player seemingly destined to play for England, has at least developed into an important player for his adopted county.

Wide: A player you’d (Or I at least!) had completely forgotten about, has actually gone on to have a productive career… with a First Class average the right side of 40! The things you learn when scrolling through scorecards the world over…

http://m.espncricinfo.com/southafrica/content/player/336594.html

Cricket Captain 2018: Omani Odyssey!

It was both an honour and a privilege to perform the dual role of Team Manager and Coach of the Oman Men’s Cricket Team at the T20I World Cup in India. I’m immensely proud of the effort of the squad and how competitive we were at various times in the tournament. I’m only sorry that we were unable to achieve even one victory for the people of Muscat and beyond to celebrate.

Here’s a recap of how our matches played out.

Match One versus Ireland

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Despite losing the toss and being put into bat, we soon reached 82-1 against Test nation Ireland. At the top of the order, Khawar Ali’s 38-ball 54 laid the platform for a competitive total before Aaqib Ilyas’ 42 not out from thirty deliveries helped us kick on. Frustratingly, very few runs came from the last two overs. Seamer’s Shane Getkate’s three-wicket over and Craig Young’s outstanding analysis of 2-17 from four overs, saw us collapse from 148-5 to 149-9!

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We kept Ireland in check during the powerplay but our spinners lacked both control and penetration as Ireland coasted towards victory courtesy of messrs. Stirling 74 not out and Porterfield 73. Only a late run out of the latter helped us avoid a ten-wicket defeat.

Match Two versus Netherlands

Again, we lost the toss but this time were made to bowl first. What’s frustrating about Netherlands massive total of 216-5 is that, in part at least, our bowlers performed well. Spin duo Mehrab Khan (2-40) and Khawar Ali (1-31) were much improved from the Ireland match but a third spinner, the experienced Ajay Lalcheta, brought in having been omitted for the opening match, was expensive, conceding fifty-two wicketless runs from his four overs. Who else but Ryan ten Doeschate (67 not out) was destroyer in chief.

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Khawar Ali then followed his 54 in the opening match by carrying his bat when making an excellent 86 not out. He faced exactly half the innings’ deliveries and twenty-five of his runs were gloriously driven through the extra cover region as the above graphic demonstrates.

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He shared an opening stand of 54 with Zeeshan Maqsood. Maqsood swashbuckled 35 from just sixteen deliveries to keep the Dutch honest. Ali then went onto share a stand of 70 with gloveman Naseem Khushi. Khushi only fell for 30 to the last delivery of the innings.

screen shot 2019-01-15 at 15.36.01

Our effort of 173-6 is something to be proud of but having conceded 216, we fell short by 43 runs. As with the batting, it was a player with exhaustive experience of county cricket that proved the difference. Roelof van der Merwe finished with figures of 5-25. Take away the county stars and there really isn’t much between the two teams.

Match Three versus Bangladesh

In our final match against the mighty Bangladesh, we made it a hat-trick of toss losses and if we thought that Netherlands’ 216 was an imposing total, The Tigers 270-4 was always going to be an ask to chase down!

If you blinked, you’ll have missed Tamim Iqbal’s amazing 101 from a meagre 47 balls. Animul Haque (54 from 26) helped Tamim put on a gargantuan 153 for the first wicket. Shakib Al-Hasan then smacked 62 from just 22 deliveries to propel Bangladesh to within sight of 300!

screen shot 2019-01-15 at 15.40.19

Debutant Jayesh Odedra’s international debut (4-0-63-0) was one to forget and he may never get another chance.

Mehran Khan’s 2-56 meant that he finished the tournament as our leading wicket taker with four victims at 34.00 apiece. His economy rate of 11.33 is nothing to write home about however.

Khawar Ali followed up his 54 and unbeaten 84 with… a golden duck, to end his World Cup on a low. He did finish as our leading run-scorer with 140 runs at an average of 70 and an impressive strike-rate of 141.40.

Against Bangladesh, it was his namesake Aamer Ali (28 from 18) and Alyas Iqbal (38 from 20) who put on an entertaining 58 to help us put a score on the board and avoid a truly embarrassing scoreline. Ilyas finished the tournament with 91 runs at 45.50. Noorul Riaz, a thirty-nine-year-old batsman who before the competition had played only one List A game… and duly ducked in it, followed up his nine against Netherlands on international debut with an ability demonstrating 39 not out. Throughout the tournament our batting unit fully committed to playing a selfless and attacking brand of cricket.

screen shot 2019-01-15 at 15.41.39

The efforts of Ali, Ilyas, Riaz and co. amounted to 150-9 from our allocation. A respectable effort against a Test nation but still 120 runs short of parity.

In summary, I’d like to put on record my appreciation for the efforts of the team during the World Cup. As hinted at, every individual in the squad committed to the tactics of the collective and gave their all in the pursuit of glory. Though we were soundly beaten, we did manage to express ourselves against two Test playing nations and the most experienced non-Test playing nation. I’d like to thank the Omani Cricket Board and the fans for providing me with this wonderful opportunity and the support provided. Having reached the conclusion of my contract, we part on good terms and I wish all involved with Oman cricket the very best in years to come.