Cricket 19: Signing Off in Style!

In the one-off T20I against Australia in Sydney, we started in a way that encapsulated the hit and miss nature of our tour. Following a double mis-field off the first delivery off the match, we ran David Warner out without facing a ball! Australia had opted to bat but for the second Sydney innings in a row, Warner blobbed having made 140 in the first Test in Perth.

From 0-1 Australia hardly got going as we effected three run outs in the innings. Captain Xavier Le Tallec set astute field placings as we reduced the hosts to 82-8. A stand of 40 between McDermott (34*) and Behrendorff (21*) lifted Australia to a potentially competitive 122-8 from their 20 overs. Skipper Aaron Finch top scored with 38 meanwhile Le Tallec was outstanding with the ball, claiming figures of 3-17. Georges (1-26) and Petit (1-15) also struck.

Petit was unfortunate to have a chance dropped by wicketkeeper Maxime Bernard but the gloveman redeemed himself with a run out and catch soon after. The luckless Phillipe La Roux finished with figures of 3-0-23-0 that included 8 overthrows… would they prove costly? Zidane Thomas’s (3-0-25-0) struggles with the ball continued but Christophe Martinez’s leg spin was a revelation. The Reunion Islander conceded just 15 runs from three overs. We required just over a run-a-ball to claim our first ever limited overs victory and end a tough tour on a huge high note…

Jean-Luc Chevalier and Hippolyte Gregory started sensibly before Gregory feasted on Adam Zampa’s vegan leg-spin. Gregory struck each of Zampa’s first three deliveries over the ropes for 6 as Zampa conceded 31 from his first over. Credit to Zampa, who only conceded 34 from his next three overs but his performance was costly! Having helped compile 49 for the first wicket, Chevalier (15) top edged a pull off Jhye Richardson to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. It hasn’t all been roses on this tour for Chevalier but he’s got enough about him to be better for it.

Gregory went onto make a career best 35 from 28 deliveries before being bowled by Coulter-Nile with the score 90-2. The run flow stymied somewhat as Matteo Phillipe batted sensibly but possibly got a little bogged down. He’d made 7 from 17 balls when he reviewed an LBW against Glenn Maxwell. Phillipe, like the rest of us on the balcony, was spewing his supper when he was given out. This was despite the video evidence clearly confirming that he’d got bat on ball before being struck on the pad. He’d flown a long way for just 7 runs and desperately wanted to be there at the end.

From 108-3 the supremely composed Zidane Thomas finished a tough winter by edging the ball… time stood still as everybody turned their gaze… for four to seal our first ever white-ball win. Thomas finished 49 not out from 44 deliveries with Zvonimir Pitko undefeated on 3 alongside him. The Iceman Pitko was of course at the crease when we won our first Test. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Australia’s bowlers: Behrendorff (4-0-10-0), Coulter-Nile (4-0-13-1), Richardson (3.1-0-14-1), Maxwell (2-0-8-1)and Short (1-0-2-0) all of whom keep things tight but Gregory’s onslaught on Zampa won us the match. That’s not to undermine what was a consummate team performance with contributions throughout.

Australia skipper Aaron Finch was humble in defeat but didn’t regret choosing to bat first. We struck immediately and never let Australia get away from us then batted sensibly without a hint of panic when chasing an historic victory.

The home fans were superb and for our supporters who’d travelled all the way from Europe, it was a special moment to be shared by all. President Macron was on the phone immediately… he’s never shy to share any glory!

This winter hasn’t always been easy but we’ve won a Test in India and a T20I in Australia. We’re ahead of where we expected to be. Bring on the summer!

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!

It’s a Numbers Game

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New Zealand opener Jeet Raval’s maiden Test hundred scored against Bangladesh in Hamilton. Raval’s first ton at the highest level came in his 28th innings and also took him past 1000 Test runs

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Bangladesh spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s bowling figures in the same innings that Raval reached his maiden Test ton.

22, 5, 41, 11, 6, 6, 14, 0

Australian opener Aaron Finch’s current run of scores in ODI Cricket since a knock of 100.

16, 3, 47, 1, 0, 3, 1, 7, 27, 0, 28, 0, 8

Australian opener Aaron Finch’s current run of scores in T20I Cricket since a knock of 172.

228

Ashton Turner became Australia’s 228th ODI cricketer when he made his debut against India in the same match that Finch registered his latest failure.

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Ashton Turner’s T20I batting average having registered scores of 0 (5) and DNB on his return to the side.

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West Indian opener Chris Gayle’s run tally in ODI Cricket following scores of 135, 50 and 162 in the series against England!

52 off 35

England spinner Liam Dawson’s batting exploits in his latest innings for Peshawar Zalmi. Perennial England fringe man Dawson is flourishing in the PSL and not for the first time.

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Adil Rashid’s bowling figures in the fourth ODI against West Indies. By a full twelve runs this was the most expensive five-wicket haul in ODI history yet perversely, still a match-winning performance.

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Michael Vaughan’s ODI shirt number and Goa’s sum total in a T20 encounter with Saurashtra earlier today.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8661/scorecard/1157201/saurashtra-vs-goa-group-c-syed-mushtaq-ali-trophy-2018-19

76, 59, 59-9, 38, 25, 86-9 = 343-58 = 5.91 runs per wicket

An extremely tough time for Kuwait’s Women in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Asia Region Qualifier. Their batting averages make for extremely grim reading…

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/records/averages/batting_bowling_by_team.html?id=12866;team=4550;type=tournament

86-9 in their final game was their highest total though and hopefully they’ll be better for the tough experiences gained.

278-3 (20.0) – Enough Said!

Okay, so there’s a little more to be said…

Afghanistan have just totalled a record-breaking 278-3 in a Twenty20 International against Ireland. Opening batsman Hazratullah Zazai scored a whopping 162 (11×4, 16×6) from just 62 deliveries. He has form as I’ve mentioned more than once here at http://www.sillypointcricket.com. Strike stealing Mohammad Nabi denied Zazai the opportunity to topple Chris Gayle’s record individual T20 innings of 175* as well as Aaron Finch’s international record of 172… cheeky beggar! Zazai is one of the hottest young players anywhere in world cricket right now.

Looking forward to Ireland’s reply…

Solving Australia’s Batting Woes!

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Will Pucovski (243) and Josh Phillipe (41 & 104) were amongst the runs in the opening round of 2018-19 Sheffield Shield matches. It was good to see young batsman such as Sam Heazlett and Will Bosisto in their respective state XIs as well, even if they didn’t quite churn out Pucovskiesque innings. Question marks still linger over much of Australia’s batting line-up, what with Shaun Marsh’s inconsistency, Mitchell Marsh batting far too high at times and Usman Khawaja (Now injured) and Aaron Finch both needing to back-up encouraging performances against Pakistan in UAE, Pucovski could well have put himself to the front of the selection queue. With Peter Handscomb having fallen away horribly after a promising start to his Test career and Glenn Maxwell clearly not fancied by the selection panel, the twenty-year-old Victorian’s path to the national XI is being cleared of obstacles.

Another player that peaked interest in the opening round of this year’s Shield was leg-spinner Lloyd Pope. Not all that long ago, Pope terrorised England at the Under-19 World Cup with an eight-wicket haul that went viral. In truth, aside from that match-winning performance he had a quiet tournament. His maiden First Class wicket, trapping Steve O’Keefe LBW, saw him go viral again even though his two wickets cost in excess of a hundred runs. It was extremely alarming however to see the reaction of the Australian media. Labelling Pope as the “New Warne” is surely both unnecessary and unoriginal.

Back to batting and another player who could possibly solve Australia’s batting problems… Meg Lanning. There are some that say there’s no need to suggest women cricketers aim to play in men’s teams and that women’s cricket is a good enough sport on in its own right. I’m not necessarily suggesting that run-express Lanning represent her country’s men’s team but it’s worth pointing out just how good she is. Still only twenty-six, she has in excess of 3000 ODI runs from just 68 matches. She averages north of 53 with twelve tons and eleven fifties. She’s fresh off the back of another hundred against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur.

It’ll be interesting to see just how much Lanning can achieve in her international career and who lines up for Australia’s men’s team come next year’s Ashes encounter in England.

Cricket Captain 2018: CrAshed and Burned!

Firstly, prior to the 2019 Ashes series, there was an oddly scheduled trio of T20I matches of which we managed to lose each one. Well at least we were consistent!

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Alex Hales’ 124 from just 64 deliveries in the third encounter was a rare highlight. The next highest score in the innings was Ross Whiteley’s career best 10 from six balls.

Onto the Ashes and the first Test ended in a frustrating rain-affected draw. Having bowled Australia out for 250 (Footitt 4-45), we compiled a mammoth 594-9 (Bairstow 173). Australia managed to hold out though and finished on 286-7. In doing so the visitors acquired the momentum for the matches forth.

In the second Test, we again had Australia in strife but Travis Head’s excellent 126 was the difference between the two sides as the visitors assumed a series lead courtesy of a brutal 272-run victory.

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Then, the darkest of days. There have been many bad days in the history of the England cricket team but few Tests have been lost from a position of such supremacy. Having dismissed Australia for 325, Alastair Cook (153) and Haseeb Hameed (140) compiled an opening partnership of exactly 300 (THREE HUNDRED!). Even though an archetypal English collapse ensued, James Vince (113) ensured that each of our top three registered tons to provide us with a first innings lead of 171. The tourists then made a strong second innings score of 368 but that still meant we only needed 198 to square the series. We didn’t even get close, bowled out for a pathetic 124!

In the fourth Test there was at least a return to form for captain Joe Root. The Yorkshireman made 114 in another draw that meant Australia sealed the 2019 Ashes.

The series then ended like it began, with a frustrating draw. In the fifth and final Test Australia compiled 454 in their first innings but we responded with 469. Root (162) maintained his return to form whilst Somerset spinner Dom Bess (79) made an entertaining maiden international fifty. We then bowled Australia out for 327 in their second innings. Essex debutant Jamie Porter responded to a wicketless (23-1-101-0) first innings showing by claiming figures of 3-83. The equation boiled down to us requiring 312 for victory. We committed to go for it. We may as well have lost the series 3-0 than 2-0 playing for a draw. We got mightily close (286-9) and only for the final four overs did we abandon the chase and shut up shop in an attempt to avoid another defeat.

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2-0 is not a thrashing. If time had been limitless we would’ve won the first Test. We should’ve won the 4th but fair play to Australia because they did and we didn’t. We had a real go and came almightily close to winning the fifth. In the early part of the series we dominated their top order but allowed their lower order to score runs. In the latter matches we allowed the top order to make big runs but limited the contribution of the tail. Yes we lost the series and to lose the third Test in the manner that we did was inexcusable. However we regularly competed and are not a million miles away from where Australia are.

For the record: Joe Root (485) topped our run charts, closely followed by Alastair Cook (477) and James Vince (445). Ben Stokes topped the averages with 55.43.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad, with 22 and 18 wickets respectively, silenced their critics. It was a young spinner with 11 wickets at 26.00 who topped the averages however…

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Dom Bess, recalled part way through the series, made an encouraging impression not only with the ball but with the bat too. Our immediate tours however are to New Zealand and South Africa so not necessarily spin paradises. We’re spoilt for choice on the spin front so we’ll see what happens this winter before a short trip to Sri Lanka.

At the conclusion of the Ashes there was a trio of ODI matches. I’m delighted that we restored some pride with a deserved 2-1 win.

Jos Buttler’s 127 not out paved the way for a win in the first match but Australia fought back in the second. Buttler again top scored with 82 but our bowling lacked penetration. David Warner feasted on some insipid deliveries to finish unbeaten on a dominant 161.

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Cometh the hour cometh the man! In the deciding ODI, Surrey starlet Sam Curran, having been dismissed for a duck and gone wicketless on debut in the second encounter. struck 27 from 24 deliveries before claiming astonishing analyse of 6-37!

Another newcomer, Warwickshire tearaway Ed Pollock, followed scores of 2 and 21 with 70 from 77 deliveries at the top of the order. Ben Stokes, promoted to three in place of the recalled James Vince who suffered a disappointing return, made 87 from just 79 deliveries. Jos Buttler again made runs with 54 off 51 in his new position at number five. Having players of the quality of Stokes and Buttler so high in the order rather than leaving them at six or seven is the way forward. After Chris Wood had dismissed danger man David Warner first ball, Aaron Finch was run out off a free hit before Sam Curran took over. #priderestored

Cap Closer Than Ever for Klinger!

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Aaron Finch, check.

Moises Henriques, check.

Tim Paine, check.

Jhye Richardson, check.

AJ Tye, check.

Michael Klinger, check.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia-v-sri-lanka-2016-17/content/story/1080449.html

That’s just the few names that Silly Point put forward for selection for Australia’s T20I party for the series against Sri Lanka that have indeed made the squad then.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/follow-the-yellow-brick-road/

I knew I should have listed Ashton Turner as well!

36-year-old run machine Michael Klinger is finally rewarded for his consistent run getting both in Australia and England in recent years. The stars have finally aligned for Klinger, what with the poor scheduling of this series meaning that it clashes with Australia’s Test tour of India, therefore opening a few vacancies in the squad as well as Klinger’s Perth Scorchers winning the Big Bash just a couple of weeks ago, thanks in no small part to Klinger’s quickfire 71 not out in the final. Scorchers coach Justin Langer is also involved with the squad to take on Sri Lanka and there’s no doubt that he will have vociferously campaigned for Klinger’s inclusion.

Though there were tears of joy for Klinger, there probably wasn’t such emotion for either this year’s Big Bash leading run-scorer, Ben Dunk (364 runs @ 52.00), or its leading wicket-taker, Sean Abbott (20 wickets @ 16.15). Abbott’s time will surely come but the proverbial ship has almost certainly long since left the harbour for Dunk, leaving him stranded on 3 T20I caps, won back in 2014. There are no doubt countless examples of why international selection isn’t as simple as picking the leading run-scorer or wicket-taker but with this series coming straight off the back of a Big Bash campaign, a little meritocracy might have been welcome.

There also wasn’t room for Cameron White following his recent criticism of the make-up/selection of the national side.

The three match T20I series commences on 17th February in Melbourne.