Mahmood to Deliver!

I’m absolutely delighted to see Lancashire quick bowler Saqib Mahmood take to the field in the opening round of the One-Day Cup today.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO44961

Mahmood performed well in the North v South matches (Remember them?) but then spent the entirety of last season battling injury niggles. Extremely frustratingly, he was then unable to assume his England Lions place for the tour of India. This was apparently due to visa issues on the part of his Pakistan heritage.

Finally, he’s back on the field playing first team cricket. Hopefully he can snap up some wickets and make a significant impression during the competition.

Wright Wronged!

Former England player Luke Wright recently signed a white-ball only contract for Sussex, putting an end to a First Class career that earned nearly 8000 runs and in excess of 100 wickets.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/23460.html

Remember that Wright was extremely close to winning a Test cap in South Africa some years ago but England plumped for Ian Bell.

If anything Wright was rather perversely both ahead of his time but also picked too soon. At a time when England, despite inventing it, had no idea how to play T20 cricket but belatedly attempted to select a squad somewhere near resembling a T20 outfit, Wright was sent out to swashbuckle from ball one and promptly scored a paddle of ducks at the World Cup.

Strip away ODI and T20I career bests against then Associates Afghanistan and Netherlands and his stats make for even grimmer reading than they already do. A lack of a consistent defined role may not have always helped him. Was he an all-rounder or just a batsman who bowled? He bowled that last over against New Zealand alright!

Despite his international struggles, Wright was making a name for himself on the franchise circuit long before many of his compatriots. His performances in the Big Bash were record-breaking and over a sustained period of time, confirmed his ability. It’s a shame that it had been lost on England by then.

All-time Big Bash leading run-scorers:

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/big-bash-league-2015-16/engine/records/batting/most_runs_innings.html?id=158;type=trophy

Highest individual Big Bash innings:

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/big-bash-league-2015-16/engine/records/batting/most_runs_career.html?id=158;type=trophy

Wright could still have a few years in him yet and let’s hope to see some boundary laden innings from the now 34-year-old, wherever in the world he shows up!

Losing all Respect for Cardiff City

I know I know, it’s not cricket again but this subject is close to my heart. Emiliano Sala represented my wife’s hometown of Nantes for four seasons. His death was tragic and avoidable.

What annoys me greatly are the actions of Cardiff City. When it suited them, Cardiff paraded Sala in a Cardiff City shirt and claimed him as their own…

https://www.cardiffcityfc.co.uk/news/2019/january/record-signing–emiliano-sala-is-a-bluebird/

However it soon didn’t suit them and according to the Welsh outfit, suddenly the paperwork wasn’t in order.

Sorry, too late. You put him in your shirt and said he was yours. €15,000,000 needs transferring to France ASAP please!

Australia: Naive or Cunning?

Australia have neglected to select even a part-time wicketkeeping option in their World Cup squad…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/26526151/smith-warner-make-world-cup-return-handscomb-hazlewood-out

Should Alex Carey fall ill or get injured just before the start of a match then Australia will be looking around for a sub-standard stand-in. I think that I’ve seen Aaron Finch keep wicket briefly.

Now they can call up an injury replacement if required. I hope that they’re not going to have one of Paine, Handscomb or Wade, all of whom are in an A squad that’s touring England during the World Cup, at the ground incase. If they do then they shouldn’t be allowed to make a same day change. All teams have been allowed to select a fifteen man squad… not sixteen!

I may be doing Australia a disservice here as I’m preempting actions but I hope it doesn’t happen then their integrity need not be questioned… again!

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC – Early Season Update

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 19.35.12

After two rounds of the County Championship and before we hit the One-Day Cup trail, I thought that I’d provide an update of how I’m getting along.

The main graphic at the top of this post details my current positions in the table and I’m optimistic that I can build on a respectable if not sensational start. Having said that, my top ranked team is placed in an encouraging 524th position.

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 20.05.04

Based on where one of my team’s were sitting at one stage, there are at least 7,500 entrants in the game. For the record, the 100th placed team has 2,410 points. 1st place has 3,096 though I’m only around 500 points off being placed in the top ten! As you can see, there’s only about 400 points separating my top two teams but nearly 3,000 positions between them.

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 20.03.39

Remember that some teams didn’t play in the first round of matches so have only played once not twice. This was critical to my team selection thus far. I’ve managed to ensure that I’ve had at least ten if not all eleven players playing and have only made one (Out of 30) of my transfers in any of my teams. That could change though as I potentially tinker a little for the One-Day Cup. The fact that the cup is played in a block means that I accept making a couple of transfers to commit to the One-Day competition.

Will players like Harry Brook, Jack Burnham and Matt Milnes play the white-ball games?

Screen Shot 2019-04-14 at 20.10.28

Milnes has been one of my good left-field picks. I selected him off the back of claiming some wickets in a university warm-up match. He’s only ever played First Class cricket but I fancy that we’ll see a white-ball debut soon.

Wicketkeeper Ricardo Vasconcelos (Selected by 5.5%) who produced a knock of 184 against Glamorgan, Durham’s Gareth Harte (2%) and a sneakily snuck in Marnus Labuschagne (1.5%) who scored a ton and claimed three wickets on debut, are other slightly under the radar players that have contributed well for me. Harte and Labuschagne are both listed as batsmen but have contributed with the ball. That was no fluke but a significant part of why I selected them. It’s my team that has a batting line-up of specialist batsman that has particularly struggled but I’ll maintain the faith for the start of the One-Day Cup at least.

Getting your captain (They score double points) correct is vital.

I’ll stick with Liam Dawson and David Wiese who’ve made vital contributions for me as well as Steven Mullaney who should be effective in fifty-over cricket.

I’ll almost certainly change Toby Roland-Jones though as I think I need captains who are more certain of getting a bat in the One-Day Cup. Based on his performances in the County Championship thus far, Roland-Jones is clearly still re-discovering his groove. He may well stay in one of my team’s but not as captain.

Roland-Jones’ Middlesex skipper Dawid Malan has made vital contributions with both bat and ball for me, as he bids for an England recall and another shot at Ashes glory.

Keaton Jennings is captain of my wife’s team that she selected though I’m providing transfer consultancy during the course of the campaign. Typically at this stage she’s ahead of three of my teams! I anticipate that KJ will bowl a bit in the one-dayers so could rack up some points. I really do think that your captain must be some form of all-rounder. If you’re skipper is purely a batsman and they score 0 (-20=-40) and 4 ala Ben Duckett this week then you’re relying on catches to get said player back in the black. As for Gareth Ice Berg who made a pair against Yorkshire… I’m glad that I didn’t provide him with the captain’s armband!

Should I bring players like Alex Hales, Luke Wright or Ross Taylor, signed by Middlesex exclusively for the One-Day Cup, into my team?

The New Zealander is a specialist batsman so won’t take any bonus wickets. He’s normally a good catcher though, so I’ll see how many people pick him. I don’t want to select him if everybody else does. I want to get points that other participants in the game aren’t getting. Hales, Wright and Taylor are currently selected by next to nobody but that could change over the course of the next couple of days as participants tinker for the One-Day Cup. Of course transferring these players in will cost two out of thirty season transfers because they’ll need transferring out again.

What about this guy?

Come tuesday night, I’ll be scouring the club website’s (All of them!) for squad news.

I’ll provide a further update of my progress after the group stages of the One-Day Cup are complete.

MS Dhoni and Everything Wrong with Cricket!

Imagine that you were playing village cricket and the batting side’s captain walked into the middle to contest an umpiring decision. You’d think that the player in question was pathetic and their actions unacceptable. You’d think that they were setting a disgraceful example to kids wouldn’t you!

MS Dhoni did such a thing in a recent IPL match and bar a small and utterly meaningless fine, got away it. Whether or not the umpiring decision was correct is irrelevant. It’d be fascinating to know what the reaction would’ve been had the player in question not been Indian.

Cricket has been played for over 150 years and players have been getting ‘rough’ decisions all over the globe everyday. Few players anywhere at anytime have likely acted with the lack of grace that MS Dhoni did.

Nothing about our game should make anyone angry or disappointed, with the performance maybe but certainly not with conduct.

Has MS Dhoni apologised? Is he embarrassed or is he revelling in the attention? I have no idea but what I do know is that his lowest of the low actions were totally out of place at all levels of our beautiful game.

Salt in Pepper’s Wound!

Poor Michael Pepper!

The young Essex stumper will have known that he would be behind Adam Wheater when it came to first XI opportunities this season. Having his appendix removed would’ve meant missing some second XI games but he could live with that. Unfortunately for Pepper, Wheater injured himself on day one of the county campaign and so Pepper could’ve clocked up two months’ worth of first team outings. Instead, Middlesex loanee Robbie White gets some game time and the opportunity to enhance his rather appalling batting statistics.

Salt in the wound as they say!