Cricket 19: Global XI – New Faces!

We’ve now participated in two Twenty20 competitions in India and Pakistan and will soon depart for a third tournament, this time in Bangladesh.

Having gained a good understanding of the abilities of our players and the balance of our team, we feel that now is an appropriate time to compliment our squad with new players. Though we expect Bangladesh will offer similar playing surfaces to those encountered in India and Pakistan, a nine-team tournament means an extra six matches to be played. We have a strong spin-bowling attack as well as some extremely competent back-up options. We’d also like to back our under-performing batsmen to come good. Therefore, we’ve recruited two medium-pace bowling all-rounders to ensure that we’ve got all bases covered.

Introducing Global XIs latest recruits…

Abdulfattah Al-Owaishir (Saudi Arabia) 24-year-old LHB/RMF

Vito Vaga (Samoa) 28-year-old RHB/LMF

We look forward to welcoming the duo the the squad and their contributions.

Disclaimer: I actually snook in a knockout tournament after the Pakistan games but… err, we got knocked out… in the first round!

Having lost a crucial toss, we succumbed for our record low score of 76 (Okocha 30) on a raging turner of a deck. Both our opening bowlers struck with their first ball however to keep Northamptonshire on their toes. We reduced the English side to 0-2 and 4-3 before they recovered to 57 when the fifth wicket went down. With the score on 63, Frenchman Xavier Robert dropped a sitter off the bowling of captain Rashid. Part-time leg-spinner Robert then struck for a second time (2-9) but the hosts got home with four wickets to spare.

It was a chastening defeat. Being dismissed in double figures is always a bitter pill to swallow. Once again our top order batsmen struggled however the pitch was extreme and our spin bowlers maintained their high standards. Wicketkeeper Javier Jiminez pouched five catches. The Mexican knows full well that Ogmundar Sightorsson is breathing down his neck for a place in the team!

Cricket 19: Global XI – Form Swings in Pakistan!

Following four wins in our final six matches in India and therefore full of optimism, we moved onto nearby Pakistan. That optimism soon evaporated however as we regressed horribly. In our first three matches, we simply didn’t put enough runs on the board, struggling to reach even a run-a-ball. This was particularly frustrating as we did manage to take a few wickets in each match but were consistently short of posting competitive totals.

We then floundered further, suffering heavy defeats in our next two games, struggling to chase bigger scores. That left us without a win in five matches at the halfway point of the competition. Japanese opening batsman Shoya Suma had yet to reach double figures despite playing all five games.

After yet another below par defeat when we once again barely crept over the hundred run mark, it was seventh time lucky when we secured a famous win in Punjab. We restricted the hosts to just 90-9 from their twenty overs on a minefield of a surface. Egyptian slow-left-armer Mohamed El Mohamedy, who had done incredibly well to force his way back into the playing XI and bravely take on the responsibility of bowling in the powerplay, claimed astonishing figures of 4-1-6-2. Part time slow-left-armers Moses Okocha (4-0-19-2) and the much maligned Soma (4-1-7-1), backed up the effective slow-left-arm theme. Despite a slightly expensive final over from Cameroon quick bowler Ambroise Anguissa (1-0-13-0), we’d given ourselves a great chance of ending our rut. We’d also backed up our decision to bowl first so as to know what we needed to score. Icelandic gloveman Ogmundar Sigthorsson, having replaced Javier Jiminez behind the stumps, held five catches, completed one stumping and effected two run outs!

Our batsmen then backed up the team’s outstanding work with the ball. Run shy opening duo Soma and Mario Kuntz had actually both failed to make double figures in our first four matches. Following a slight recent improvement, the pair batted through the powerplay and recorded our first ever half-century opening stand. With the score on 55, Soma (21) edged behind but he’d laid the foundations and helped avoid any early wobbles. Vice-captain Kuntz (44*) and Phillipio (15*) saw us to a much needed and spirit lifting 9-wicket win. It really was a wonderful team performance and a huge relief to show those in Pakistan that we weren’t completely out of our depth!

What’s that saying about buses? After losing six in a row, we made it back-to-back victories with a home win against Islamabad. This time we batted first and made our highest score of the competition to date. The win against Punjab had clearly had a positive effect on our players as our batsmen came out with much greater intent than had been the case in the first half of the tournament. Phillipio (41) and Moses Okocha (26) led the way before Jamal Peters (18*), now batting in the middle order and captain Norshahrul Rashid (13*) lifted us to a decent total of 138-5.

We soon had the visitors in trouble at 16-2 before they fought back to 56-2 and 108-4. Off-spinner Wu Xu (2-23) bowled with great character and ability on the first occasion that he’d bowled from the off. All our bowlers kept their heads, including young Russian right-arm medium-pacer Roman Andreyushkin at the death. Despite having a bowling average of 123 coming into the match, he claimed 1-6 having bowled the seventeenth and nineteenth over. It was another excellent win after our torrid form in the early part of the competition.

Sadly we reverted to type in our penultimate match then made a right mess of the last couple of overs when batting first in our final match. We scored only three runs to finish on 123-8 which Khyber were able to knock off with plenty of deliveries to spare. Still, it was a far more competitive effort than only weeks prior.

Below are our statistical highlights from the competition:

Highest Team Total: 138-5 vs. Islamabad at Global Arena

Highest Partnership: 62 (3rd wicket) Phillipio (Brazil) and Moses Okocha (Nigeria) vs. Islamabad at Islamabad Stadium

Leading Run-scorer: Phillipio (Brazil) 181

Best Batting Average: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 50.33

Best Strike-rate: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 112.68

Best Batting Innings: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 53 not out vs. Punjab at Global Arena

Leading Wicket-taker: Mohamed El Mohamedy (Egypt) 8

Best Bowling Average: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 13.20

Best Strike-rate: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 12.00

Best Bowling Innings: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 3-26 vs. Sindh at Global Arena

Most Dismissals: Ogmundar Sighthorsson (Iceland) 11 (10 catches/1 stumping)

Most Catches (Non wicketkeeper): Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 2

Next up we remain in Asia but for a far more exhaustive nine-team tournament in Bangladesh. We’ve got a strong contingent of spin bowlers, some talented all-rounders and a capable captain. However a number of specialists both in the batting and pace bowling front need to up their game soon. Maybe the conditions aren’t favourable for quick bowlers but our batsmen really have to find a way. Too often it’s been left to our skipper to lift us to a barely competitive score.

Cricket 19: Global XI – Improvement in India!

It was a huge honour to lead the newly formed Global XI in India’s domestic Twenty20 competition (Not the IPL).

The team consists of a 16-man squad made up of players from beyond the Test world. Norshahrul Rashid of Malaysia, a leg-spinning all-rounder, is captain of the side.

We lost our first three games but recorded our first win at the fourth attempt. At home to Western Wolves, Cameroon fast bowler Ambroise Anguissa claimed figures of 3-22. In pursuit of our target of 133, German opening batsmen Mario Kuntz (68*), ably supported by Nigerian Moses Okocha (33*), saw us to victory with an undefeated partnership of 90.

We sadly made a mess of a similar run chase in our next game. Despite skipper Rashid’s 42 not out, we fell 13 runs short of chasing down 131 away to Northern Tigers.

We won our sixth game at home to Central Foxes, defending our highest score to date, 148-5. Debutante Brazilian batsman Phillipio struck 48 from just 40 balls whilst Mexican wicketkeeper Javier Jimenez boosted our total with 43 from 34 deliveries. Our entire bowling unit then played their part as we held on for victory by 10 runs.

We then lost a couple of games, the first being our heaviest defeat, the second a game we really should’ve won. Defending 146-7, in the main courtesy of a second-wicket partnership of 107 by Kuntz (50) and Phillipio (55), we had Eastern Buffalo in peril at 98-5 but they got home with four balls to spare.

Stand-in skipper Kuntz then captained us to victory in our penultimate game. Though we only took one wicket as Western Wolves posted 142-1, in-form Phillipio (69*) aided by a 17-ball 28 from Okocha, saw us to a seven-wicket win with 15 deliveries to spare.

Captain Rashid then returned to lead us to our fourth victory of the competition. A solid bowling (And fielding) performance all round saw us restrict Northern Tigers to just 119-6. Despite slipping to 35-3 come the chase, that man Phillipo (58*) and Chinese off-spinner Wu Xu (25*), who earlier claimed figures of 2-19 from four overs, put on 44 undefeated runs to get us over the line.

Below are some of our statistical highlights from the competition:

Highest Team Score: 148-5 vs. Central Foxes at Global Arena

Highest Partnership: 107 (2nd wicket), Mario Kuntz (Germany) and Phillipio (Brazil) vs. Eastern Buffalo at Global Arena

Leading Run-scorer: Phillipio (Brazil) 232

Best Batting Average: Phillipio (Brazil) 77.33

Best Strike-rate: Phillipio (Brazil) 119.58

Best Batting Innings: Phillipio (Brazil) 69* (51b) vs Western Wolves at Western Park

Leading Wicket-taker: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 9

Best Bowling Average: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 16.78

Best Strike-rate: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 15.33

Best Bowling Innings: Ambroise Anguissa (Cameroon) 3-22 vs Western Wolves at Global Arena

Most Dismissals: Javier Jiminez(Mexico) 10 catches/0 stumpings

Most Catches (Non wicketkeeper): Ambroise Anguissa (Cameroon) 2

After starting the competition with three defeats when we fell a bit short of being genuinely competitive, the team improved immensely as they gained more and more experience. There’s still a lot of work to do, a little more bite from our opening bowlers would be nice whilst a couple of batsmen particularly struggled. However, I’d like to thank those in India that made it possible for our players to gain such fantastic exposure at the same time as helping develop cricket across the globe.

Next it’s onto Pakistan for another six-team Twenty20 competition with the domestic (Non PSL) teams and it looks like the standard of opposition may be a little bit tougher. We’ve retained the same squad but some players will need to display signs of improvement before the competition that follows Pakistan!

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.

Peter Della Penna: Inside the Selection Room Book Review

I’ve long been an admirer of Peter Della Penna’s work. I’ve read articles by him on Cricinfo that focus on Associate Cricket with USA often at the forefront of his efforts. When I saw that he had a book out that was about selecting a team beyond the Test world, I just had to get my hands on it…

And so it was that a 453 page tomb in size 10 (Maybe ?!) font arrived through my door! Even I felt daunted but it turned out to be right up my street.

The book details the trial and selection process for an ICC Americas XI that competed in the West Indies domestic 50-over competition in 2015. We’re provided with back stories of the players and later, a Where are they Now? section. If you’re not already aware, this book highlights the fact that cricket beyond the Test world relies heavily on players from celebrated cricketing nations, namely in Asia. It also pinpoints what those players are up against in a constantly changing and often poorly organised system both in their own countries and in international tournaments. As well as all this, it highlights, as is one of the main points of the book, that T20 franchise cricket could be an absolute game changer for some of these players and inspire many more from all over the world.

Cover star Ali Khan is the, errr… star of the book. The chapter surrounding IPL auction day highlights how many people are interested beyond the player themselves and the pressure this brings. His desire for opportunity on the franchise circuit whilst being in demand to represent USA, does showcase the challenging and often fixture clashing environment that players face. Of course this happens for Test players too but an Associate player having to decide between what competition to play in can have serious consequences… good or bad!

I suppose one criticism could be that the book displays a hint of repetition when referencing players’ past achievements etc. To be fair, so many player’s histories straddle the same events that it’s unavoidable.

This book isn’t for everybody but if your a stats freak who is passionate about cricket beyond Test stars and even T20 icons then it could be for you.

https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Journalist/Peter-Della-Penna-302791379550/

Peter Della Penna’s Inside the Selection Room is unlucky to be caught at square leg for… 88!

Six to Watch: 2020 – Season Review

Obviously this season was a little different but still, here’s a review of the six players that I identified were worth watching this year. Remember that it was a transfer special!

Paul Coughlin, Durham

13 T20 Blast wickets at an average of 16.23 from just 20 overs back up north at Durham, was a healthy return for Coughlin. The all-rounder was injured almost as soon as he arrived at Nottinghamshire and just never really got going. He was an England Lion but despite his blast showing, is surely a long way from full international recognition. Averaged a whopping 101.33 with the ball in the Bob Willis Trophy!

Josh Shaw, Gloucestershire

Limited opportunity in the Blast but claimed 8 wickets at 41.00 with a best of 3-13 in the First Class format. Having finally made his frequent loans from Yorkshire to Gloucestershire permanent, he’s displayed wicket taking effectiveness in the past and should be an integral part of the Bristol based bowling attack moving forward.

Jack Leaning, Kent

After a tough debut, Leaning soon made a score of 220* in a record-breaking stand for Kent. That he only totalled 279 runs in eight innings however confirms what a struggle the campaign as a whole was! Clocked up a respectable 201 runs at 33.00 with a best of 55* in the T20s.

Luke Wood, Lancashire

Picked up seven wickets at 20.43 in the Blast but only three wickets in the Bob Willis Trophy. Still, an underrated left-armer with time on his side.

Dawid Malan, Yorkshire

Malan’s arrival in Yorkshire soon resulted in a First Class double ton and he’ll be pleased to have remained in the mix for England if only in white-ball cricket. Frustratingly, he really could’ve been a fine Test number four/five though. Failed to show up for Yorkshire in the T20 Blast however, scoring a paltry 36 runs at 9.00!

Haseeb Hameed, Nottinghamshire

Hameed registered a hugely encouraging 272 First Class runs at an average of 38.86 in seven innings. His top score was 87 and unlike Malan, he could yet play Test cricket again. Fingers crossed for one of sports great comeback stories!

X-Factor!

In this year’s edition of the Big Bash in Australia, teams will have the option to utilise an X-Factor replacement (Basically like the hugely successful supersub!).

Can you detect my lack of enthusiasm?

The rules are that the player been subbed out can’t have batted or bowled more than one over. The X-Factor can only be introduced after the 10th over of the first innings. Teams will have named a 12th and 13th player and can bring either person into the game.

For me, cricket is an eleven per-side sport. If a team has to turn to a batsman that doesn’t usually bowl for an over or two or a lower order batter has to come up trumps with some runs or even just hold an end up then that’s part of the beauty of the game. That’s how players increase their experience and skillset. If teams keep subbing in a batter for a bowler (I know it’s only if they bowled one over) when chasing in the second innings, bowlers will continue to regress as batsmen. Take England for example. We all know how capable Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood etc are with the bat but because they only very occasionally come out slogging at the end of a T20 innings, when they’re required to construct an innings following a collapse in a fifty-over game or perform in a Test match, they’re already struggling to do so. Stripping them and their peers of more batting opportunities may take us to a game where we literally do divide batsmen and bowlers… maybe batsmen bat twice and bowlers never do!

What does it say about a team’s preparation if they’re having to utilise this option and maybe admit that they got their team selection wrong or misread the surface?

I just feel that it will ruin the integrity of the game. Yes it’s the same and available to everyone but though we have tactical substitutes in other sports as well as concussion and currently Covid replacements in cricket, for me… X-Factor just isn’t cricket!

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?