Amateurish Agnew!

WARNING: RANT ALERT!

It’s comments like this that confirm how rubbish Jonathan Agnew is!

He’s the lead commentator on BBC Cricket coverage, though I notice that they did keep him away from the televised matches this summer when very keenly trying to attract a younger audience with The Hundred and other televised matches to come next year. I digress, he should know who George Linde is!

The spinner has played for South Africa before and whilst I wouldn’t expect him to know the shoesize or even batting average of every player off the top of his head, to have not even heard of him just isn’t good enough!

As for the score…

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19939/game/1237122/south-africa-vs-england-1st-t20i-south-africa-v-england-2020-21

Cricket in Common!

A Women’s T20 International cricket tournament will be part of the 2022 Commonwealth Games and England have qualified (Yey, well done!)… as hosts!

All games will be held in Birmingham (Booo!) and there’ll only be a women’s competition, not men’s?! Still, it’s an opportunity for cricket to be screened on the BBC and pique the interest of young girls (And boys).

Because it’s the Commonwealth not the Olympics, Heather Knight’s England can compete as England, so as per usual in this sort of thing, it’s West Indies that complicate things. They’ll have an individual island competing (If they qualify) which presumably will strip some games of official, or at least international, status. There is no official status for women’s matches played at domestic level.

Hopefully the Commonwealth Games can go ahead but let’s be honest, we aren’t going to be in a position where people are attending sporting events huddled together as before.

Let’s Get Associated!

I’m currently reading The Selection Room by Peter Della Penna. The book revolves around the selection, performance and post tournament careers of a number of trialists attempting to get into an ICC Americas XI that competed in the West Indies domestic 50-over competition.

Could a similar idea work elsewhere to help promote cricket in Europe, Africa or anywhere else in the world?

It would probably make sense to focus on the T20 format. That’s the logical vehicle that is helping get the game going in many corners of the world. Most nations now have international status in said format.

Could a squad of fifteen players from the likes of Sweden, Germany and Greece compete in England’s T20 competition… or even two teams if we need to stick to round numbers?

Could players from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria compete in South African cricket? Namibia certainly have done. Could the Big Bash accommodate a team consisting of players from Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji? They seem set on introducing two new teams so maybe alongside a new city based team, an Oceania Associate XI could be introduced. The same could be done in one or two leagues in Asia with players from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Korea etc comprising a team. Just imagine a Chinese player taking a prize wicket in the PSL or a Spaniard striking a six-laden fifty in England’s T20 Blast. Such performances would make headlines and inspire kids across the globe to start playing cricket.

The franchise circuit is there and could truly be filled with players from across the globe. That would then lead to national T20 teams from Mexico to Malaysia getting stronger and to cricket having a proper T20I WORLD Cup!

For too long cricket has given with one hand but taken with the other when it comes to developing the sport across the globe. This could be a fantastic opportunity to unearth talent, change lives and gets kids (And adults!) in Israel, Chad and who knows where, picking up a cricket bat. Imagine a Japanese guy performing for an Asian Associate XI in the BPL then getting a contract in the CPL or Big Bash, then playing for Japan against West Indies or Australia in a T20I series, then playing in the T20I World Cup, gaining fans for him, his team and the sport all along the way. Stars would be born!

It may be that a team could have two/three players from a Test playing nation in their squad to provide experience and pass on knowledge. So say for example a European Associate XI with players from Czech Republic and Italy etc are competing in the T20 Blast. They might be able to recruit a player who is looking to move into coaching, an out of contract player or even a full international, just to make sure that some quality is there and like I say, help develop players throughout the continent.

Another vehicle might be an FA Cup style competition, well, with some sort of group stage to guarantee the Associate team at least a few games. Maybe it could be a Europe XI and World XI competing in the T20 Blast. Maybe the Irish league could have a team feature in their T20 competition. Heck, they’ve only got three teams!

There must be so much talent out there, so much opportunity. At the risk of being a bit corporate, untapped markets could become, well… tapped!

What do you think? How would you help cricket grow around the globe? Do you even want cricket to grow or are you content with watching the same players from the same countries?

Cricket 19: Wales Tour of USA – T20I Leg Results

1st T20I

Wales 126-9 (20) Edwards 35, Thomas 21, Schmidt 11/Suarez 2-10, Alvarez 2-18, North 2-19

USA 118 (19.3) Alvarez 31, Trujillo 24, Sanders 17/E.Williams 4-5, Khan 3-24, Alexander 2-32

Won by 8 runs

Our seemingly underwhelming innings of 126-9 was built around knocks from opener Aled Edwards (35) and in-form Rhodri Thomas (21). Dwayne Alexander (9*), who hadn’t shown his best with the bat on tour, struck two boundaries late in the piece that would later prove crucial.

USA were 101-3 in pursuit of the target but collapsed to 118 all out! Leg spinner Eifion Williams was 3-0 at one stage and finished with astonishing figures of 4-5 to seal the deal, just as he had done in the Netherlands. Wicketkeeper Thomas claimed five catches in an innings for the third consecutive full international (ODI/T20I) on this tour. A couple of players held their nerves for some crucial catches on the boundary too.

2nd T20I

USA 127-7 (20) Trujillo 44, Sanders 27, Alvarez 18/Khan 3-26, Hughes 2-5, Evans 2-28

Wales 104-7 (20) Schmidt 22, Duke 19, Davies 12*/North 3-20, Suarez 2-9, Kennedy 1-14

Lost by 23 runs

Having won the toss, we opted to bowl first in order to challenge ourselves. This turned out to be a regrettable decision and we need to be far more ruthless in the future!

As was the case in the first match, we fought back to restrict USA to an at best par total. Having been extremely well set at 98-2, they finished on just 127-7. Their total included a 21-run over bowled by fast bowler Dwayne Alexander where USA opener Steven Sanders struck five successive fours. Spinners Maxwell Khan (3-26) and Cai Hughes (2-5) did their usual however to apply the brakes.

Come our pursuit, our inexperienced top order batsmen Steffan Schmidt (22) and Marcus Duke (19) both made career best scores. However the two left-handers used up far too many deliveries getting there. That put the rest of our batting unit under huge pressure in what should’ve been a routine chase. The pair will have to develop methods to score quicker and… quickly!

USA didn’t concede the excessive amount of extras that they had in the previous match and fair play to them. Sanders came into the side mid-tour and made a huge difference at the top of the order. Even if he didn’t make substantial scores, he set the tempo. What we’d give to have somebody like him at the top of our order.

It was a disappointing defeat to bookend the tour with losses but all in all, much was gained from our trip to America.

Due South!

With the help of a little shuffling (Resting/rotation), Liam Livingstone and Lewis Gregory are included in the England ODI squad for the white-ball only tour of South Africa.

I’ve long been a fan of the oxymoronic named Livingstone. He’s a fantastic all-round cricketer who has performed well in all facets of the game in all formats of the game. He’s done well in county cricket, on the franchise circuit and with England Lions, despite his path to those destinations been one less traveled.

Yes he didn’t quite get going when in full colours before but he’s now a much more experienced player, a potential match winner and as he’s shown as a substitute, an excellent fielder.

Gregory has underwhelmed in his T20I appearances. He wasn’t provided with much responsibility against New Zealand and didn’t seize his opportunities against Australia. It’s fair to see him provided with potential further opportunities though.

Jake Ball comes in out of the cold, well, sort of. He’s officially a reserve. He did well in the T20 Blast and though has been known to be particularly expensive for England, I always felt that he was up against it after continually being carried around as 12th man.

Full squads are below:

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/30249069/jofra-archer-ben-stokes-sam-curran-rested-england-odi-squad-south-africa

It looks like you now need to login to read anything on ecb.co.uk!

Cricket 19: Wales Tour of USA Squad Announcement

The Wales squads for the tour of USA that consists of a two-day warm-up match, one Test, three ODIs and two T20Is are as follows:

Test squad: Stephen Shah, Aled Edwards, Dylan Roberts, Ioan Powell (Captain), Maxwell Khan, Eifion Williams, Rhodri Thomas (Wicketkeeper), Cai Hughes, Dwayne Alexander, Rhys Evans, Osain Williams, Bryn Jones, Marcus Duke (Wicketkeeper), Jesse Morgan, Phillip Fish

ODI squad: Stephen Shah, Aled Edwards, Dylan Roberts, Ioan Powell (Captain), Maxwell Khan, Eifion Williams, Rhodri Thomas (Wicketkeeper), Cai Hughes, Dwayne Alexander, Rhys Evans, Osain Williams, Marcus Duke (Wicketkeeper), Seth Davies, Morgan Price

T20I squad: Steffan Schmidt, Aled Edwards, Marcus Duke, Ioan Powell (Captain), Rhodri Thomas (Wicketkeeper), Eifion Williams, Seth Davies, Cai Hughes, Dwayne Alexander, Rhys Evans, Osain Williams, Maxwell Khan, Morgan Price, James O’Neill

Cricket 19: Finding Netherland!

T20I tour of Netherlands.

1st T20I

Netherlands 134-6 (20.0) Schmidt 39*, Claessens 32, Long 32/E.Williams 2-27, Evans 2-34, O.Williams 1-22

Wales 100 (18.2) Thomas 24, Edwards 19, Evans 10/Keene 5-21, Stokes 2-16, Vargas 1-16

Lost by 34 runs

2nd T20I

Wales 131-7 (20.0) Thomas 23, Powell 22, E. Williams 20/van Keulen 3-27, Vargas 1-15, Zweers 1-19

Netherlands 129-6 (20.0) Beelen 32, Long 28, Vargas 24*/Evans 2-31, Hughes 1-8, Davies 1-20

Won by 2 runs

Drew the series 1-1

There’s not a lot to say about the first match. We simply weren’t good enough, were given a rude awakening and deserved to lose. We learnt fast however and come the second game, raised ours!

Opening batsman Stephen Shah and off-spinning all-rounder Maxwell Khan made way, replaced by debutantes Steffan Schmidt and Seth Davies. Batsmen Marcus Duke kept his place after debuting in the opening match.

After sluggishly accumulating only 100 runs for the loss of all ten wickets in the first T20I, we posted an improved 131-7 having chosen to bat in the second. Wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas, promoted to number five, top scored for the second match in a row. He put on 30 with captain Ioan Powell (22), though the skipper foolishly ran himself out. Eifion Williams (20) was the next highest scorer. The total was still some way short of the sort of scores that we’ve set our sights on but we new it was enough to provide us with a chance of levelling the series. It was only just less than the Dutch had posted in the first match and this time they’d be under scoreboard pressure!

Osain Williams (1-27) and debutante Seth Davies (1-20), both made breakthroughs. The latter having far more luck than he had done on ODI debut when nothing had gone his way. Sadly, left-arm pacer Rhys Evans, who had performed so well in the Test match against England, bowled seven wides in the innings! After a third wicket fifty partnership however, he struck twice in his final over to turn the game. Credit must go to captain Powell for sticking by his opening bowler. Evans’ (2-31) adventure continued to ebb and flow though, much to the chagrin of fast bowler Dwayne Alexander. Alexander thought he’d pretty much won the game when he got in on the wicket taking act but Evans fell apart in the field, committing mis-field after mis-field to ruin Alexander’s (1-36) figures and keep the hosts in the game. Mercurial slow left-armer Cai Hughes (3-0-8-1) bowled outstandingly however to leave the Dutch requiring ten from the final over.

Step up leg-spinner Eifion Williams for his first bowl of the match! He promptly got hit for four off his premier delivery but the home side could only manage two runs from the next three. With Netherlands needing four to win, would you believe Williams (1-0-7-0) lobbed up a wide (Our 10th of the innings!). He kept his composure though to follow up with two dots and seal a sensational first ever T20I victory for his country.

This short and ultimately successful tour was important for our development. We displayed great character to bounce back and win the second game but in truth, were fortunate to some degree. Having managed a reasonable improvement with the bat, Thomas being the best of an at best mediocre bunch, we bowled far too many wides and committed an alarming amount of fumbles and mis-fields that very nearly cost us dear. Marcus Duke, a wicketkeeper by trade, was a mixed bag in the field though Aled Edwards was a dime. The less said about Evans in the field the better but we did hold our catches in the second match.

Next we travel across the Atlantic for an exciting and immersive tour of USA. We’ll play a two-day friendly followed by one Test, three ODIs and two T20Is. We hope to see some Welsh shirts in the crowd!

Disclaimer: It’s highly likely that I’ve used the above headline before when playing a previous Don Bradman/Ashes game… but I couldn’t think of anything better even though I like to avoid repeating headlines. Sorry!

T20I: Where in the World?

Hi guys

I thought that it’d be interesting to take a look at the latest Twenty20 International rankings and see which teams have made an impact since T20I status was applied across the globe.

Obviously Test teams lead the way with the historically strong Associate nations next inline. I’ve touched upon Singapore’s progress before whilst the likes of Namibia and Canada are trying to make their presence felt in the global game once again.

In 22nd place sit Qatar. Ex-pats have made a crucial contribution to developing cricket in many countries but of course it’s always great to see national cricket teams have a strong local representation. Now Qatar’s population is a little unusual. It fluctuates based on season and there are actually few Qatari citizens. People from places such as traditional cricket strongholds Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh provide a healthy part of the country’s population. It’s no surprise then that they should provide a good foothold for Qatar and its cricket team.

The Arab nation have made an encouraging start to T20I life and are amongst the teams to have qualified for the 2019-21 ICC Cricket World Cup (50 over/List A) Challenge League.

Jersey, population less than 100,000 but with a history of being there or there abouts on the Associate circuit, sit 25th. Of course you would expect the very best players from the small island to make themselves available for England. The Channel Island side previously required special dispensation to name Jonty Jenner in their side after he made a substitute appearance in a Test match for England.

Italy, often on the fringes, lie in 27th with Saudi Arabia an unfamiliar cricketing name one place below.

Uganda, who have hinted at doing well in the past, are in 31st. That’s three places ahead of the shabbily run massive missed opportunity that is USA.

A number of teams are yet to win a game. They include China, who’ve lost all six matches that they’ve played while Gibraltar are winless in seven.

https://www.icc-cricket.com/rankings/mens/team-rankings/t20i

In the Women’s rankings, there’s a surprise name just outside the top ten. Thailand currently reside in a healthy 11th place. They’ve won 25 out of 39 T20Is and qualified for this year’s T20I World Cup (So maybe not such a surprise then!). Not unexpectedly they had a tough time in Australia but had it not been for rain, they would likely have given Pakistan a run for their money after posting 150 from 20 overs.

They appear to have a strong homegrown contingent with players recruited from a variety of sporting backgrounds. Their progress so far will hopefully inspire more Thai women to take up cricket.

Samoa are another ‘new’ name in 16th place. They’ve actually won 10 out 12 T20I matches played so far.

France sit in 30th and though the ship has probably sailed for my wife, I have high hopes that my daughters can push for selection in a few years time. That’s if they’re not playing for England of course!

https://www.icc-cricket.com/rankings/womens/team-rankings/t20i

When it comes to Women’s cricket, it’s probably worth keeping an eye on this self-explanatory named website…https://femalecricket.com

Down in Tasmania!

Yorkshire and England batsman Dawid Malan has signed for Big Bash outfit Hobart Hurricanes.

33-year-old Malan currently tops the T20I batting rankings but still isn’t guaranteed a place in England’s XI if everybody’s fit. Malan has been unfortunate with injuries when it comes to ODIs and though he was rightly dropped, I still believe that there’s a Test player in him.

Malan’s chances of seeing a thylacine could yet be scupered or at least limited however. This is because England may yet be touring at the same time.

Disclaimer: Not my first Dawid Malan article. I do think that he’s a very good player!

Cricket 19: Wales – T20I Debut!

Our first full international upon us, England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and chose to field in this one-off Twenty20 International.

Our top order, having batted safely in the practice matches, attempted to instil a little more gusto into our short form batting. That’s what the powerplay is for right? It didn’t work!

We were soon 34-5 with all the fallen batsmen failing to reach double figures. Left-arm pace bowler Sam Curran (4-14) was destroyer in chief. Teenager Maxwell Khan (30) and wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas (26) batted admirably however to save face and lift us to 76-6. After Thomas was bowled by Ben Stokes (3-12), Cai Hughes (13) batted with aggression alongside the more measured Khan but also fell to Stokes. The score 98 at the time. Our tail couldn’t wag and we finished a disappointing 104 all out from 19.1 overs on full international debut. Still, having been 34-5 it was a score of sorts at least.

In each of the first two overs of England’s chase, we conceded boundary overthrows as the visitors blitzed their way to 43-0. However, from that point on, we went about providing England with a scare!

Osain Williams (1-18) had the honour of claiming Wales’ first ever T20I wicket. The right-arm medium pacer clean bowled a frustrated Jason Roy for 14. Express paceman Dylan Alexander did the same for Jos Buttler (30).

Slow left-armer Cai Hughes then dismissed Jonny Bairstow (15) with his first delivery in international cricket. He then accounted for England skipper Eoin Morgan (11) as well. Leg-spinner Eifion Williams had Moeen Ali (7) caught behind to complete a trio of catches for gloveman Rhodri Thomas. The efficient stumper had pouched the edges of Bairstow and Morgan for both of Hughes’ wickets.

Ben Stokes (18*) and Chris Woakes (10*) saw England home by five wickets with 6.2 overs to spare. However, we can hold our heads up high after a nervous start with bat and ball. Clearly though, we need to inject more power into our T20 batting in order to post competitive totals.

Next up is a three-match ODI series against England. I’m confident that in that particular format, our batsmen possess the skillset to bat time and produce decent scores. Our bowling attack are clearly capable of keeping opposition batsmen on their toes if our own batsmen can play to their potential.

Thank you for your support and look out for a report on how the fifty-over affairs panned out come the conclusion of the series.