Who Should Captain England? – The Results

Screenshot 2019-12-04 at 19.48.24

The results of my latest poll are in and… errr, we’re none the wiser!

To be fair to Joe Root, he’s tied at the top so possibly deserves to retain his place. Most of the votes were submitted in between the first and second Test in Aotearoa, so after England lost and before Root struck 226 as England drew the second match. I’m not convinced that this should effect whether or not he retains the captaincy. Of course Root was never likely to be stripped of the role mid-winter but with such a cramped international schedule the seasons almost role into one. Could a hiding in South Africa result in Root being out of a job (Or at least one of his roles) come Spring?

The alternatives are limited though. I backed Jos Buttler (As a player not to be captain) for the New Zealand series but South Africa may be the right time to get behind Ben Foakes as gloveman with Ollie Pope returning to solely batting duties. Is Ben Stokes fit enough to assume the role? Is Rory Burns proven and, not meaning to be rude, but respected enough by his teammates just yet to take on the burden? Would it really help Stuart Broad and the team to make him skipper?

Of course the system doesn’t really allow a player to be groomed as captain. The best players make their respective international sides when still young before domestic captaincy opportunities have presented themselves. If a player lingers at county or state level and does well as captain then they’re playing catch up in regards to proving themselves as international cricketers once selected.

Root will lead England in South Africa and likely for years to come. I’ll back him but like many I’m not convinced that leadership comes naturally to him. Just because his teammates like him isn’t really a good enough reason for him to remain captain, particularly when the side isn’t in the habit of winning!

Who Should Captain the England Test Team in South Africa?

img_6070

Following a heavy defeat in the first Test in New Zealand the question marks over Joe Root’s captaincy are now firmly written in bold font and possibly in red ink! Root registered his lowest Test aggregate score, dropped out of the top ten batsmen in the world for the first time in five years (I’m surprised that it’s taken that long!) and was once again lacking inspiration in the field.

Does the Yorkshireman remain the best man to lead England or would he and the team as a whole be best served if he returned to being just one of the ranks?

Such a move has the potential to rid Root of the additional strain of leadership and allow him to thrive as the high quality batsman that we know he can be though in turn it obviously burdens someone else… or possibly brings out the best in them. Captaincy certainly isn’t bringing out the best in Joe Root.

Ben Stokes is currently vice-captain, Jos Buttler has stood in for limited overs matches, Stuart Broad has captained England in T20Is and Rory Burns is a County Championship winning captain.

Who do you think should lead England?

Emily Smith Ban – The Results

IMG_4089

Hi folks

Thanks for voting on my latest poll. Let’s take a look at the results…

Screenshot 2019-11-27 at 13.20.45

Well it’s unambiguous then. 83% of voters feel that the one-year ban (Nine months suspended) applied was appropriate.

Numerous people have had their say on the matter and I do have some sympathy for Smith but ultimately naivety, casualness or lack of professionalism (Call it what you will) can’t be used as an excuse. That may seem harsh but once again please don’t forget the extreme monetary value that rides on WBBL matches. Women’s cricket may still be playing catch-up to that of their male counterparts in regards to many aspects of professionalism but Smith is old enough and experienced enough to have avoided all this.

I think that there’s little doubt that there wasn’t any sinister motive related to the Victorian born’s actions and ultimately I’m sure that we all want to see Smith back on the cricket field as soon as possible, ban considered. I know that I do.

Cricket 19 – NWHTC – Final Statistics

img_8971

Having reached the conclusion of the inaugural North Western Hemisphere Test Championship here are our statistical highlights…

Highest Team Total: 619 vs. Canada at Lords

Highest Individual Innings: Haseeb Hameed – 154 vs. USA at Edgbaston

Highest Batting Average: Moeen Ali – 63.38 (Minimum 500 runs)

Leading Run-scorer: Haseeb Hameed – 942

Most Catches: Jonny Bairstow – 59

Best Bowling (Innings): Sam Curran – 6-26 vs. USA at Edgbaston

Best Bowling (Match): Sam Curran – 10-127 vs. Canada at Ottawa Oval

Best Bowling Average: Jamie Overton – 18.28 (Minimum 10 wickets)

Leading Wicket Taker: Sam Curran – 39

Cricket 19: NWHTC – Final Fling in the Valleys!

After ten rounds in the ring, or possibly cricket ground, two teams travelled to Wales to fight it out for the right to be crowned inaugural North Western Hemisphere Test Champion. An administrative error meant that the awe-inspiring Ottawa Oval in Canada had been double booked and so a quaint little ground in Glamorgan was the neutral territory selected to host the final between Scotland and ourselves. If nothing else, carbon emissions were limited and Greta could at least raise a smile!

Scotland had of course performed the double over us during the round robin stage, chasing down in excess of 400 on both occasions. Provided such history and having been presented with a lush swing inducing green deck, it was no surprise that having benefited from the fall of the coin, Scotland opted to insert us into bat on the grand finale’s premier morning.

To a chorus of rapturous applause from both the locals and travelling fans, opening batsmen Dawid Malan and Haseeb Hameed bounded to the wicket in confident mood but aware of the stern challenges that lay before them. Hameed, fresh from scores of 102 and 90 against Netherlands will have been disappointed to fall for only 20 in the final. Following a century of his own in said match, Dominic Sibley reverted to type with a promising but unfulfilling 38. Malan (74) continued to justify his selection as opener but like skipper Joe Root (84) will have been disappointed not to make a ton on such a magnificent occasion. Moeen Ali, excellent in all facets both in the final and the competition as a whole, made 65 but Sam Curran (4) missed out. It was a great shame for the Surrey youngster given his swashbuckling contributions in the competition up to that point. Chris Woakes (14), Jamie Overton (23), Stuart Broad (28) and James Anderson (10) all made handy contributions alongside a fine Jonny Bairstow (65 not out). There were contributions from throughout the batting line-up but it was disappointing that nobody went big and thus 427 only seemed a par total against a Scotland side that have regularly been amongst the runs during the NWHTC. Spin bowler Martin Law (3-96) and pace bowler Abdulrahmann Egan (3-111) stuck to task with the ball to claim three wickets apiece.

Having batted so well in the league stage of the tournament, Scotland simply failed to show up in the final. Opening batsman Mahdi Clay top scored with 42 as the Saltires crumbled from 90-2 to just 196 all out. Moeen (3-28) led the way with Broad (2-47) and Curran (2-23) collecting two wickets each. Our varied attack that consisted of pace, swing, spin as well as a mixture of right and left-arm helped keep Scotland on their toes and unable to settle. The efficient Martin Law was left stranded not out on 39. Some great bowling changes as well as an excellent decision review by Root helped limit Scotland’s total.

We opted to enforce the follow-on and Scotland were soon in trouble once again. First innings top scorer Clay was amateurishly run out for just 6 (Village!) and Scotland were soon 59-4 staring down the barrel at an innings loss. Once again Root was on the money with his bowling changes as the likes of Overton and Moeen struck almost if not immediately. Finally resistance came in the shape of Gene Moore (88) and Dorian Burke (73) as the right-hand/left-hand pair batted out the day before lifting the score to 205-4 on the third morning.

It seemed almost certain that we would be set a tricky total to chase but having spent the night dreaming of scoring a match-defining century in the final, Moore (88) was run out after fine work from Malan and Root on the boundary. Stuart Broad (4-46) then ran riot dismissing Law (2) in the same over followed by Skinner (1) and Watt (3) in the overs that followed.

It was the economical James Anderson (12.3-2-23-2) who had the honour of sealing the inaugural North Western Hemisphere Test Championship when he dismantled Carter Scott’s stumps to seal victory by an innings and six runs.

Defeat was a sickener for the Scots having beaten us in both round robin matches but they flatlined in the final. Despite not quite been at our most ruthless with the bat and becoming sloppy in the field during the Moore/Burke partnership, our batsmen outperformed the opposition including finally getting on top of the spin combo of Law and Watt whilst our bowlers made breakthroughs at regular and crucial intervals.

The team, both players and backroom staff are honoured to claim this title and would like to place on record our support for the… support of our fans. As a reward for your undying support all official merchandise both in store and online has a 20% markdown for the immediate future and the players will be holding a meet and great at Lords in the next week or so.

I’d like to place on record my praise of the players in particular captain Joe Root whose captaincy has evolved greatly during the competition culminating in final success. Moeen Ali (824 runs at 63.38 and 28 wickets @ 24.14) beat off stiff competition most notably from the likes of Haseeb Hameed and Sam Curran to be named Player’s Player of the Competition.

Disclaimer: Unlike most match reports of recent times, this one was written entirely post match. Playing such match was obviously spread over a reasonable period of time with a lot of ‘life’ sandwiched in-between, hence it may not seem as in depth as other match reports. It’s a better way of playing the game though and slightly less obsessive way of writing up the report.

Is Emily Smith’s Ban the Appropriate Length?

IMG_4089

An hour before the official release of the team sheet for what would ultimately be a rained off match, Hobart Hurricanes wicketkeeper Emily Smith posted an Instagram video displaying her side’s playing XI. It’s unlikely that there was any sinister corruption related motive to this and only that Smith was killing time and boredom when drawing attention to her lowly position in the batting order.

In Ed Hawkins ‘Bookie, Gambler, Fixer, Spy’ he alludes to a seemingly innocent conversation in the pool with Ian Bell that could ultimately have been perceived as the England batsman revealing information that could be abused by match-fixers. This highlights how careful players must be. Don’t under estimate how much money rides on Women’s Big Bash matches either!

Hurricanes’ Smith seems to have been naive rather than sinisterly motivated but the words of Cricket Australia when banning her…

“We have been working with Emily throughout the process and Emily now understands the mistake she made”.

… suggest that she’s struggled to grasp the severity of the situation. Why Smith had her phone on her at the time is another question given the current protocol. Team management should already have confiscated it. However, despite the excuses provided by some, let’s be clear that Smith is not a kid but 24-years-old and has been playing regularly at the top level of domestic women’s cricket for some time. She also can’t say that she wasn’t warned. Corruption education has been exhaustive. If it were a male non-Australian cricketer would the likes of Andrew Symonds be offering a defence?

Smith has received a year-long ban but nine months of that are suspended. She’ll miss the remainder of the Women’s Big Bash League and Women’s National League. Ultimately she can’t play any cricket, not even amateur cricket, for the remainder of the Australian summer.

What do you think? Is this ban the right amount? Should she have been let off or suffered an even more severe punishment?