One

Matt Prior to last Nick Knight, it’d been nearly two years since I’d last scored a run. In my only two outings to the crease since the start of 2017, one last year and one this, I had been dismissed second ball without scoring. They were the first two instances of me batting whilst wearing glasses. Yesterday however, progress was made… small victories! I scored a run, one run, one whole run! As was the case in my previous innings, I walked to the crease during the penultimate over but this time at least made it to the last. Having calmly pushed the ball back past the bowler to get off the mark, in the final over, I opted for expansiveness against the opposition’s ringer… and was promptly bowled! Had I just got forward in an orthodox fashion, then I could’ve tapped an easy leg side single. Still, it’s a run, I fielded well and we won, onto the next round… but not selected for tomorrow’s league match!

That’s right folks, I thought that just one run merited a whole article. You just wait until I make it into double figures, it has been known to happen you know!

Upcoming Articles

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With the recent addition to the blog of audio casts to compliment the written word and with lots of cricket being played at all levels around the world, there’s much to look forward to at Silly Point throughout the rest of 2018.

Topics for future posts may include but not be limited to: The inaugural edition of Global T20 Canada, T20I status provided to all Associate Cricket nations, Telegraph Fantasy Cricket updates, the release of Cricket Captain 18, further Ashes Cricket (PS4) reports, book reviews, the author’s own efforts on the village circuit, first hand accounts of men’s and women’s ODI cricket (Trips to The Grange, Edinburgh and Headingley are booked!) and thoughts on England’s Test side’s continued woeful run of form (For the pessimists!)/renaissance (For the optimists!).

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Next year Silly Point will bring you match reports from the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England and there’s sure to be many posts to keep readers and listeners occupied in the meantime.

Ducking on Day One!

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I’m not going to commit to a season diary just yet, particularly if things continue as they’ve started but having informed followers of my coming out of retirement and quest for an ever elusive half-century, I feel that it’s only apt to advise of my quack spectacular on the opening day of the village campaign!

I played one match last year and was dismissed second ball. It was the first time that I’d played cricket wearing glasses. Yesterday I played my second match with glasses and fell second ball again. That’s 0 runs in two innings across 2017-18. The only way is up!

I haven’t netted because I’d retired. The match was actually called off due to a damp pitch however the opposition’s first team’s opponents conceded because they couldn’t raise an XI. Therefore a ground that somehow wasn’t soaking became available. I batted at seven and arrived at the crease during the penultimate over. The points system has changed so there’s nothing to be gained for not being bowled out. We had wickets in hand so I just tried to hit as far as I could. Unfortunately that wasn’t very far. After failing to swat the first chest high ball I connected with the second and looking back, am not sure why they weren’t called no balls! The ball simply went up and with their team having dropped everything else, the young lad who nonchalantly dropped a pathetically casual one-handed attempt earlier in the match, made sure he safely wrapped two hands around the red spherical orb and terminated my brief affair at the wicket!

Oh look, we’ve now got yet another new scoring system that records all your stats in great detail…

http://birstwith.play-cricket.com/website/player_stats_widget/batting_stats/4049115?rule_type_id=179

Chasing Fifty!

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I thought that I’d retired from playing cricket. I haven’t attended pre-season nets, not that doing so has ever helped me in the past! I thought that my second ball duck early last season, clean bowled by a man who must’ve been at least 80, would forever remain my ungracious exit from the village game. I genuinely haven’t scored a run in nearly two years and was ready to flog my attic residing kit at the first car boot sale of the year on sunday… but, with the start of the club cricket campaign just a few days away, I received a text: “Fancy a game of cricket Saturday?… only play 40 overs now so should be done by 6pm at latest”. I ummed and ahhed for a while but the temptation was too strong. If the past few hundred innings are anything to go by then a duck is highly likely, a single figure score is quite likely, a score in the teens is a possibility and anything from twenty to forty-odd is optimistic but has been known to happen. Despite the severe duck risk, it’s that elusive half-century that tempts me back out onto the field. That and the remote (And I mean remote!) possibility that I might get a bowl. The closest I came to a half-ton was 47, when I opened the batting and was last man out to the first ball of the 44th over. That was way back in 2009! I did finish 40 not out in a T20 match in 2016, a match-winning innings but not a fifty.

So here it goes. The forecast isn’t great. There’s plenty of rain about so if we do take to the field then it’ll likely be the bowlers who are provided with some assistance. I’m making excuses already!

A Shaw Thing?

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Whilst Cameron Bancroft does okay opening the batting for Australia’s Test outfit, his predecessor Matt Renshaw is sniffing for a recall at the earliest opportunity. Since the turn of the year the nearly twentytwo-year-old has reeled off First Class scores of 56, 32, 170, 0, 112, 12, 3, 143* & 8. If the opposition get him early then fair enough but if they don’t then the Middlesbrough lad cashes in. Remember that he’s got a Test high of 184 and averages just shy of 37.

Back to Bancroft. He produced one good knock during the 2017-18 Ashes and under huge pressure for his place, has made starts and got one fifty in South Africa. It’s a good little battle for the Australian selectors to have being played out. Western Australia’s Bancroft has three or four years on Renshaw and experience of opening at county level in England for Gloucestershire that will serve him well. Queensland’s Renshaw is clearly made of tough stuff though, even if he recently rather naively conceded five penalty runs!

Don’t forget Renshaw’s domestic partner Joe Burns either. He had a bit of a stinker in his last Test but he’s still only 28 and has three Test tons to his name. South Australia’s Jake Weatherald is another one to keep an eye on, though he’s failed to convert starts this term. Travis Dean is another who despite not backing up the absurdly good start to his First Class career, has recently notched up a couple of hundreds. His average is a disappointing 34 exactly but six tons seven fifties is a good conversion rate. Remember that opening the batting isn’t easy. I should know because I’ve done it in Division Seven of the Nidderdale League and Division Five of the Harrogate and District Evening League!!!

Like Renshaw, another player from the north of England worth keeping tabs on is Charlie Hemphrey. Despite a duck on First Class debut, the Doncaster native registered a century early in his Australian domestic career and following a difficult time thereafter, has made hundreds in each of his last two outings. Twentyeight-year-old Hemphrey has produced these performances batting at four for Queensland. Burns, Renshaw and Hemphrey helping contribute to a strong batting order.

Current Test incumbent David Warner is only thirty-one so there’s life in the old dog yet and unlike some, he seems committed to the Test cause and not yet seeking a purely T20 franchise existence.

Competition for the opening slots for Australia’s Test side is scorching hot and the selectors will be chuffed at the tough decisions to be made.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – New Zealand Run Out… of Ideas!

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When your bowlers need claim only fourteen wickets, you can’t help but think that Test match victories shouldn’t come quite so easily!

Post victory in the Shamrock state, Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes was recalled to the side for the hosting of New Zealand at Edgbaston. Woakes soon snaffled a wicket on his home ground, that of Kiwi opener Jeet Raval, caught behind for seven by debutant wicketkeeper Ben Foakes. That’d be bowled Woakes caught Foakes then! Brought into the side at the expense of Jonny Bairstow following the Yorkshireman’s shabby showing against Ireland in Malahide, Foakes duly put in an exemplary performance behind the timbers. Surrey head honcho Alec Stewart will be proud.

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Woakes made the most of his familiarity with the surroundings. With the new ball in hand whilst Stuart Broad sat this match out, Woakes claimed impressive figures of 3-28 as New Zealand capitulated to 143-9 in their first innings. Only a last wicket stand of forty between Neil Wagner and Trent Boult helped lift the visitors to a slightly more respectable 183 all out. New Zealand’s ineptitude with the bat on such a run-welcoming surface was soon highlighted by England’s willow wielders, not to mention the Kiwis’ own efforts come their second innings.

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Mark Stoneman compiled a career best 82 in an opening partnership of 186 with former Durham colleague Keaton Jennings but was rightly gutted on missing out on a maiden Test century. The Surrey lefty played an unnecessary and inexplicably expansive shot when three figures were peeping above the horizon whilst crying out “Come and get me Mark, please!”.

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Perennially in-form Jennings made no such mistake. His monumental 222 was a dominational knock that left him sitting pretty at the top of the Global Test League run charts whilst averaging an epic 83.29! #Bradmanesque was soon trending on social media. In the interest of fairness, Roston Chase, Dean Elgar and Ross Taylor have all clocked up higher GTL scores in the first four rounds of games.

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Dawid Malan registered his third hundred of the GTL, the most by any individual thus far in the inaugural edition of the competition. The Middlesex man fell for a Test best 155, his partnership of 194 with Adil Rashid was England’s competition high so far as was the team cumulative of 765-9. Regarding the bowling, Neil Wagner claimed absurd figures of 3-256!

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Following his reintegration to the Test side against Ireland, Adil Rashid continued his authoritative all-round performance and seemed destined for a maiden Test century. The Yorkshireman was controversially adjudged run out when on 79 however, though in truth it was an almightily risky run, even if the cameras suggested he’d made his ground.

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As was the case against Ireland, England saw their opposition produce a strong second innings batting display. It was only day three and the pitch was still a good one. How much more the Kiwis 410 could have been if it were not for five run outs in the innings, added to one in their first, will forever remain unknown. Had the tourists not conceded such village dismissals (No disrespect to village cricketers across the land!) and had they applied themselves better in their first innings then this could have been a far more evenly contested high scoring affair. Tim Southee’s run out for a career best 87, a dismissal that sealed the home side’s victory was disappointing, embarrassing, amateur, heart-breaking and inevitable all at the same time. Even the England fans wanted to see him reach a ton.

Moving on from my journalistic report and bringing to the fore my role as Team Manager and Chairman of Selectors of the England national side, we’d prefer to have to work harder for our wickets, even if we can claim to have applied pressure to bring them about. Our performance against spin, Jeetan Patel finished with figures of 0-98 on his home ground, was extremely encouraging. Pakistan in Lahore however will be a different kettle of the proverbial fish. We look forward to the challenge though. We currently sit joint top of the GTL table alongside South Africa and India. They too have won three matches and lost one. Entertaining ‘The Proteas’ at home will follow the trip to Pakistan.

The squad to travel to Pakistan will be named after careful consideration has been provided. Rotation of our pace bowlers continues to be of paramount importance as we look to sustain our intensity throughout the duration of the competition. Thoughts of adding additional spin options to the XI will be weighed up as will selecting spin-skilled batsmen. The players continue to be humbled by the support of the fans.

Retirement Announcement

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Don’t worry, I’m not retiring from blogging but I am retiring from playing… I think. We may have been here before and who knows what the future holds but in what will surely be a huge disappointment to bowlers throughout Nidderdale, I’ll no longer be assisting them in lowering their bowling average. My dibby dobblies, effective in the pre 2005 Ashes surge of cricketing talent that would appear a few years down the line, will no longer be used by batsmen as average enhancers either.

Scribbling about my on-field efforts was one aspect of the game that I’d expected to take up some space here at Silly Point but in truth there are far too many ducks and drops to justify the odd twenty-something with the bat and maybe an annual over with the ball.

Save your tears. I’ll continue to score runs by the bucket load on Don Bradman Cricket 17 and Cricket Captain 2017, take L.B. Wilson on hikes, review cricket themed literature, moan about the England team and pitch a restructuring of world cricket on an all too frequent basis!

The subtitle of this website describes me as an “… extremely average village cricketer’. I guess that I was.