Halestorm!

England’s Alex Hales produced a storming innings for Rangpur Riders in the Bangladesh Premier League today.

Hales (102 from 48), in the company of Rilee Rossouw (100 from 51), took the Chittagong Viking bowlers to the cleaners whilst compiling a monstrous 174-run second wicket stand…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8653/scorecard/1169408/chittagong-vikings-vs-rangpur-riders-30th-match-bangladesh-premier-league-2018-19

As England’s Test batsman struggle in the West Indies, Hales, who’s no longer a shoe-in for white-ball selection for England, served a timely demonstration of his qualities.

In today’s other match in the BPL, there were also runs for another England batsman, in the form of Surrey’s Jason Roy. Roy, for so long Hales’ partner at the top of the order for England in limited overs cricket, before the latter was unceremoniously dethroned by Jonny Bairstow, made 42 from 28 deliveries for Sylhet Sixers…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8653/scorecard/1169407/rajshahi-kings-vs-sylhet-sixers-29th-match-bangladesh-premier-league-2018-19

Now if England’s Test batsman could score 100, heck, even 42 would be nice!

Matthew Gilkes and the Beauty of Cricket

So a rarity occurred today. I actually had the opportunity to watch some cricket, the subject that I blog about!

Perth Scorchers hosted Sydney Thunder and to the third delivery of the match, debutante wicketkeeper Matthew Gilkes dropped the mother of all sitters, despite three attempts, off the edge of Shaun Marsh’s first ball. He later displayed some village style glove work when letting four byes go through his legs.

How did he respond though?

By making a measured and assured 51 from 38 deliveries, sensibly playing second fiddle to the amazing Callum Ferguson (113 not out). To the first delivery he faced, he gloriously drove through the covers for four and continued to stay on top of the ball and not go too hard.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8044/scorecard/1152551/perth-scorchers-vs-sydney-thunder-41st-match-big-bash-league-2018-19

Gilkes displayed great character and temperament after such an inglorious entry to his Big Bash and professional career.

Instant redemption. The beauty of cricket!

Evans Above & InVincible Encore!

In the past few days I posted about a couple of England qualified batsman going large on the franchise circuit and it turns out that they just can’t stop!

James Vince followed up seventy-odd for Sydney Sixers with another seventy-odd, this time undefeated…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8044/game/1152550/sydney-sixers-vs-hobart-hurricanes-40th-match-big-bash-league-2018-19

Meanwhile in Bangladesh, Laurie Evans followed his hundred for Rajshahi Kings with a firework filled fifty, a Vincesque seventy-odd actually…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8653/scorecard/1169405/chittagong-vikings-vs-rajshahi-kings-27th-match-bangladesh-premier-league-2018-19

It doesn’t stop there! Even Sam Billings (104 not out) has been amongst the runs, as were most of the batsmen to some extent, for England Lions in India…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19084/game/1169338/india-a-vs-england-lions-1st-unofficial-odi-eng-lions-in-india-2018-19

These are the guys that can’t get in the England team! To be fair, Vince and Billings have never grabbed the chance with both hands. Maybe these experiences will spur them on to bigger things at international level.

Evans Above!

Sussex batsman Laurie Evans smashed a scintillating 104 not out from only 62 deliveries for Rajshahi Kings in the Bangladesh Premier League today…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8653/scorecard/1169401/comilla-victorians-vs-rajshahi-kings-23rd-match-bangladesh-premier-league-2018-19

Former Surrey and Warwickshire player Evans has gained a reputation for being a reliable limited overs player in county cricket and it’s great to see someone outside of the England squad making waves on the global franchise scene.

If Evans can deliver another productive summer then maybe he could come into contention for England, possibly after this summer’s World Cup, though aged 31, time isn’t on his side!

InVincible!*

England’s most frustrating batsman of modern times, Hampshire’s James Vince, walloped 75 from just 46 deliveries for Sydney Sixers against Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash in Sydney today…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8044/scorecard/1152546/sydney-sixers-vs-brisbane-heat-36th-match-big-bash-league-2018-19

But what are England to do with him? Is he really going to find a place in England’s destructive white-ball teams? With so few places for specialist batsmen up for grabs, is he likely to get another chance at Test level?

In a world of T20 franchise cricket, does it really matter? Is international cricket still the pinnacle?

Regardless, today’s innings was a demonstration of how much value Vince can add to a team, of his skill and stroke-playing prowess. Maybe we’re yet to see the best of him in an England shirt. Maybe the soon to turn twenty-eight-year-old could yet gatecrash England’s World Cup and Ashes summer!

*Disclaimer: A completely unoriginal headline that I and many others have used before. Sorry!

European Cricket Champions League

How about this?

To help spread the game, let’s create a European Cricket Champions League. Below I’ve selected twenty possible teams for the inaugural tournament. I’ve selected the countries first and foremost by population but with previous/current cricketing pedigree helping the likes of Jersey squeeze in ahead of for example: Austria. Of course there could be more groups with more teams from more countries. Maybe the format could be eight groups of four teams but this is a starting point. I’ve kept it simple by sticking to capital cities for the teams and I’ve then organised them into geographically practical groups. Obviously the teams in Group A don’t have as far to travel for a match Athens do when playing Moscow but something’s got to give.

Group A

Dublin – Ireland

Edinburgh – Scotland

London – England

St Helier – Jersey

St Peter Port – Guernsey

Group B

Amsterdam – Netherlands

Brussels – Belgium

Madrid – Spain

Paris – France

Rome – Italy

Group C

Berlin – Germany

Copenhagen – Denmark

Prague – Czechia/Czech Republic

Stockholm – Sweden

Warsaw – Poland

Group D

Athens – Greece

Bucharest – Romania

Budapest – Hungary

Kiev – Ukraine

Moscow – Russia

Let’s say that each team plays eight matches. They play the four other teams in their group home and away. The format is Twenty20 with 2 points for a win, 1 for a tie and 0 for a defeat. The top two teams from each group qualify for the quarter-finals. The team with the most points, or if tied then the team that has scored the most runs (Or taken most wickets, etc etc.) in the competition, has home advantage in the last eight. For the semi-finals, the two teams that won their QF by the largest margin gain home advantage for the semi-finals. The final is played at a predetermined neutral venue unless of course that team has qualified for the final, in which case lucky them!

This would be a great opportunity to help continental cricketers develop their skills in a competitive, meaningful and exciting environment. Now of course the teams could just end up being national teams but maybe this would inspire other cities to create teams. For example, Italy creates a four-team league with entrants from Rome, Turin, Florence and Naples. They hold their own qualifying tournament and the winner qualifies for the European Cricket Champions League. It wouldn’t even have to require a full season, just a short-term tournament but measures would need to be in place to ensure some squad continuity season by season and possibly even a local player quota in each team.

Of course this idea isn’t entirely original. It’s very much along the lines of European football but if it can make stars out of Polish or Ukrainian cricketers and get people in those nations playing the game then great. Teams could have the option of one or two non-European players to supplement their seventeen-man squad. The cricket calendar is already congested but the players likely to participate in this competition are unlikely to be playing in franchise leagues around the globe… for now anyway! If Copenhagen signed a Ugandan cricketer and he starred for them in the tournament then that would help cricket all around. Kids in Uganda would be inspired, pick up a bat or ball and want to play the game, on the street and possibly in Europe’s leading cricket competition. Denmark themselves would’ve obviously do well and the player in question might end up getting an IPL or Big Bash gig. All corners of the globe could be represented in the competition, European players could end up playing in the South American equivalent and these players could end up playing in the IPL etc… or maybe those competitions will have been superseded by such tournaments as the European Cricket Champions League!

I could suggest team names like London Lions, Edinburgh Royals or Dublin Shamrocks but the continental teams will of course posses native names. You wouldn’t expect teams to be called Berlin Bears of Stockholm Sixers for example but might find Les Chevaliers de Paris. Now of course London would be expected to win and English players deserve to play as much as anybody but maybe some sort of criteria could be put in place to limit the amount of full international or even professionals participating, at least in the early years whilst the other teams/nations evolve.

The same league concept could be implemented on other continents as well.

Could we see Tokyo versus Seoul or Pyongyang versus Beijing in the Asian version?

To open the game to the world could help develop it tremendously and highlight how stuck in time we are, even when we think that the game is constantly evolving. I can’t say that I’m a Formula One fan but when I caught a glimpse of maybe the Malaysian Grand Prix which was held on the streets at night, the variety made it more interesting. Maybe in Japan matches would be held on rooftops or in China be played in huge stadiums.

Maybe we could discover new grounds like that in Rwanda…

https://www.cricketbuildshope.org

I’ve previously written about how I can’t believe that America doesn’t have a successful T20 competiton…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2016/11/06/stateside-smash/

Canada got one first. Hong Kong have one as well. Let’s have a Europe wide cricket competition to bring the game to the continental masses, to the amphitheatres of Rome, the Streets of Amsterdam, the bars of Greece and beyond!

What do you guys think? Is there a place for a city based European Cricket Champions League? Could such a tournament help steal some of the sporting monopoly from football? Could such an idea work in other parts of the world?

Many thanks for reading and keep following, keep liking and keep blogging yourself if that’s your thing!

Disclaimer: Apologies for the appalling image at the top of this post. I might try and source another one later!

Vince Voyages Trans-Tasman

James Vince played a typically James Vince-like innings today. The sometime England batsman made 28 from 25 deliveries for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8044/scorecard/1152540/perth-scorchers-vs-sydney-sixers-30th-match-big-bash-league-2018-19

Vince has cut short his time with New Zealand side Auckland Aces to represent his second Sydney side and I have to say I’m disappointed in him. Having signed for the Kiwi outfit, you’d like to think that he would’ve fulfilled his contract but no! He got a better offer from a more fashionable side in a more glamorous league in the same city he’s represented before but for a different team and negotiated a way out. Maybe it was already in his contract that he could depart for the razzmatazz of the Big Bash.

We see these sort of short stints from overseas players in England and aside from T20s, Australians in particular have always had no qualms about representing a different county from summer to summer but even in a global franchise world, you’d like to think that there can be a place for some sort of loyalty and honour?!