Hoping England’s Selectors Learn!

IMG_3736

England’s discarded Test batsmen of recent times:

Michael Carberry: 345 in 6 Tests @ 28.75 (1 x 50, 0 x 100) 1 Test in Bangladesh/5 against a rampant Australia

Sam Robson: 336 runs in 7 Tests @ 30.54 (1 x 50, 1 x 100)

Adam Lyth: 265 runs in 7 Tests @ 20.38 (0 x 50, 1 x 100)

James Vince: 212 runs in 7 Tests @ 19.27 (0 x 50, 0 x 100)

Ben Duckett: 110 runs in 4 Tests @ 15.71 (1 x 50, 0 x 100) All in the subcontinent

Keaton Jennings: 294 runs in 6 Tests @ 24.50 (1 x 50, 1 x 100)

England’s next discarded batsman?

Tom Westley: 141 runs in 4 Tests @ 20.14 (1 x 50, 0 x 100)

West Indies persevered with batsman of recent times:

Shai Hope: 391 runs in 11 Tests @ 18.62 (1 x 50, 0 x 100)

Then…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/10719/game/1031661/England-vs-West-Indies-2nd-Test

In the words of Kings of Convenience: “Failure is always the best way to learn”.

Hong Kong Sixes 2017: England Squad?

IMG_3722

The Hong Kong Sixes tournament is back on the cricket calendar after a five-year absence. The pint-sized cricket competition will make a welcome return this October.

http://www.hkcricket.org/en/hk-sixes/hong-kong-sixes-2017

Historically the various cricketing nations around the globe have treated the tournament with a variety of seriousness and not so seriousness, with some teams sending amateurs or ex-pros. England normally send a reasonable bunch of fringe limited overs players.

Silly Point has composed an England squad and put forward one or two other possible candidates as well. Remember that every player bar the wicketkeeper must bowl.

My squad is as follows:

Tim Bresnan, Yorkshire (Captain)

He bats, he bowls, he captains, he’s my selection to lead the side. I find it difficult to comprehend that Bresnan’s England career is over. He required surgery and is no longer the spring chicken that rocked up for Yorkshire’s first XI aged 15 but in limited overs cricket at least, he could surely still have a role to play for the national side. He’s led Yorkshire this year following injury to Gary Ballance and the other squad members would learn from his international experience and professionalism.

Ben Duckett, Northamptonshire (Wicketkeeper)

Duckett just pips Joe Clarke for the ‘keeping gloves. It would be a good way to reintegrate Duckett into England colours following a difficult winter. After a slow start to the domestic season he has started to make significant contributions with the bat as well as keeping wicket on occasions. Sam Billings, more of a genuine gloveman option in T20I/ODI cricket could also come into consideration.

Lewis Gregory, Somerset

Gregory made the England squad a few years back for a one-off ODI against Ireland. Unfortunately for the Somerset man, he was the one squad member to miss out on the final XI leaving him cap-less. A series of injuries have meant that he remains so but when fit Gregory possesses the all-round strengths that make him an extremely tempting selection in this format.

Ryan Higgins, Middlesex

Higgins has contributed some brutal batting displays for Middlesex in limited overs cricket this term and has also dislodged Ollie Rayner from the County Championship side. The Zimbabwe born former England Under-19s player is one of a handful of capable all-round players that make my squad.

Benny Howell, Gloucestershire

A shrewd performer for Gloucestershire, particularly in the shorter forms of the game. French born Howell has cropped up in both the BPL and PSL. His experience and all-round capabilities would make him a valuable asset to the the squad.

Liam Livingstone, Lancashire

LL’s introduction to international cricket was slightly underwhelming but he’s an almost irresistible selection for this tournament. His destructive batting, much improved bowling and reliable fielding win him a place in my squad. Like Bresnan, Livingstone has gained captaincy experience this season and is capable of coming back stronger following his tough international baptism.

Ross Whiteley, Worcestershire

Whiteley hit the headlines this term when he struck six sixes in an over against Yorkshire in a T20 match (I was there, remember?). Yes it was an extremely short boundary and yes it was a third choice spinner but rather audaciously, Whiteley sits in the top ten of the sixes per (T20) match ratio, modestly and unobtrusively placed alongside the likes of Brendon McCullum, David Warner and Chris Gayle. He would probably be the weakest bowling option in the team but has clocked up 29 First Class victims.

Some other players that could come into consideration:

Adam Lyth

Riki Wessels (Wicketkeeper)

Brett D’Oliveira

Liam Dawson

Paul Coughlin

Craig Overton

Tymal Mills

27 Tests

IMG_3495aaa

27 Tests. That’s how long it took Australia’s Steve Waugh to record his maiden Test hundred. That’s Steve Waugh, a man who has 10,927 Test runs at an average of 51.06 to his name. Oh and the century tally… 32!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/8192.html

Do you think that any England batsmen debuting in the near future will be provided 27 Tests to score their first century?

Keaton Jennings scored one on debut just four Tests ago but already many people seem to want rid of him. Sam Robson then Adam Lyth each recorded a century in their seven (Not 27) Tests but it wasn’t enough to provide them with an extended run in the team.

England don’t really seem to know what they want at the moment, stoic resilience or explosive attacking? The selectors, coach and captain don’t appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Captain Joe Root campaigned for Gary Ballance, Dawid Malan clearly appeals to coach Trevor Bayliss, Tom Westley has demanded selection but needed injury to another to receive it and all the while the likes of Mark Stoneman and Daniel Bell-Drummond await their turn, not to mention Ben Duckett, Haseeb Hameed and… Sam Robson, again!

Unless somebody rocks up and averages 65.00+ from the get go and maintains those numbers then the England batting merry go round looks set to continue. I can’t help but think England’s Test summer isn’t structured in the best possible way to get the country’s premier batsmen on the plane to a land Down Under this winter. English willow wielders are currently struggling against a strong South African attack. If they’re dropped then newbies will come in against (No disrespect) a less threatening West Indies attack and surely have an increased chance of doing well but though they may gain confidence from doing so, will facing the likes of Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Miguel Cummins (No disrespect) really prepare them for the Ashes?

We’re five Tests away from the Ashes (If they go ahead?!) and the identity of Alastair Cook’s opening partner and the number three position remain anything from certain. Throw in an injury or some other misfortune to messrs Cook or Root and cue panic among the England selectorial Gods!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Paper, Scissors, Stoneman!

IMG_3483

Debutant Mark Stoneman’s ‘Monkey Jive’ catch celebration has since gone viral!

Earlier today, England hosted Vanuatu for a 50/50 dual on Merseyside, the first ever international contest to be hosted at Liverpool Arena.

IMG_3477

International newcomer Mark Stoneman compiled 77 from 81 balls.

After the early departure of Adam Lyth (3), debutant Mark Stoneman (77) and captain Joe Root (51) put together a stand of 110. Stoneman looked untroubled by the early loss of his partner or the build-up of any dot balls. All in all, he looked at home in the international arena and did his claims for a place in the Test side no harm whatsoever.

Dawid Malan (25) got going as usual but also got out as usual! / Liam Livingstone struck 44 from just 37 deliveries.

Dawid Malan (25) and Liam Livingstone (44) both looked in good nick but will be disappointed not to have really kicked on. Sam Curran (35) also batted well before England, with notions as lofty as 350 in their sights, derailed drastically. Some late bludgeoning from Liam Plunkett (25) got them to 298 with 32 deliveries unused!

IMG_3479

Mason Crane (2-60) celebrates finally breaking the visitors’ opening stand.

Set all but a run a ball for victory, the tourists were steady away. After dropping no less than four catches (No really!) and missing a run out chance, England eventually made the breakthrough with the score on 98. The wicket came courtesy of young spinner Mason Crane. Crane didn’t have the best of times in the thrilling Test match victory over Thailand last week but displayed great character in the ‘Pool Arena today.

IMG_3484

Liam Livingstone effects a crucial run out.

Not content with his positive batting, Liam Livingstone picked up a wicket and effected the run out of Vanuatu’s top scorer (Mansdale, 80) to swing things in England’s favour.

IMG_3485

Adam Lyth prepares to take a vital catch late in the piece.

Chris Woakes (8-2-35-0) and Sam Curran (8-0-55-1) bowled with guts before Toby Roland-Jones (7-1-30-0) and the luckless Liam Plunkett (7-0-55-1) kept things tight at the death. Keeper of the wicket Jos Buttler also contributed with a stunning diving catch. With the Ni-Vanuatuans requiring just 7 runs to win from the final over, Plunkett delivered four dots before conceding a six. He followed that up with another dot however, resulting in a thrilling and extremely rare tie.

IMG_3489

It’s hard to decide whether to see this as a good or bad result. Ultimately the dropped catches early in Vanuatu’s innings were critical to our chances of success. The performances of debutant Stoneman with the bat and the all-round exploites of Liam Livingstone who is still finding his feet at international level, were extremely encouraging. I guess you could say that “The stones are rolling”. The bowling of both spinner Mason Crane as well as all our pacers in the final throws of this match combine to present many positives. Despite a seemingly quiet match on paper, Adam Lyth’s efforts in the field shouldn’t go without mention.

We remain undefeated in any of our newly designed kits and just like after the Thailand Test, we don’t anticipate many changes to the XI for our next ODI. Our gratitude for your support remains as humble as ever. Forever England, forever the fans!!!

Cast in Stone

IMG_3431

It now looks certain that England will turn to Surrey’s Mark Stoneman come the first Test against South Africa commencing July 6th. The former Durham opening batsman registered scores of 58 and 86 for England Lions against South Africa A this week.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1097115.html

Any previous posts by yours truly that made wild predictions of England Test line-ups can likely be forgotten…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/will-england-take-the-plungekett/

With Haseeb Hameed’s run pool run dry and despite Moeen Ali’s not so subtle hints that he’d like to bat at five (He’s likely to stay at eight), England’s batting department at Lords will probably look like this:

Alastair Cook

Mark Stoneman

Keaton Jennings

Joe Root (C)

Gary Ballance

Ben Stokes

Jonny Bairstow (W)

Moeen Ali

After that it becomes a bit of blur dependent on fitness to the men in possession, messrs Anderson, Broad and Woakes.

Returning to Stoneman, he’s a player that I’ve wanted to see capped before but felt that whilst at Durham he was too often dismissed in the thirties and forties. A First Class career average of 34.20 (And that’s gone up this year) confirms such. The left-hander averages a healthy 39.20 in List A cricket. The journey south (Remember them?)…

and a reuniting with his coach, former Ozzie ODI opener Michael Di Venuto, has seen Stoneman prosper and usurp Durham to Surrey twin Scott Borthwick in the international pecking order. It seems unlikely that Adil Rashid will get to play a Test on home soil soon and that when England do require a second spinner, it will be Mason Crane. That leaves Moeen down at eight for the time being. Gary Ballance demands selection and with Joe Root expected to bat at four, Keaton Jennings will be at three. Hameed will be left to pick up the pieces in the County Championship and possibly for the Lions come the winter. England have gone through many opening batsman in recent times, from Sam Robson (Called up to the Lions today) to Adam Lyth, Michael Carberry to Ben Duckett and Nick Compton to Alex Hales. When they do select Stoneman, they need to make a commitment to stick with him, invest in the failures and opportunity to learn and play him throughout the South Africa and West Indies series and the Ashes as well as into next summer. Only then should they consider jettisoning him if they haven’t reaped the rewards. To pick another opener for between four and seven Tests, maybe even see him score a hundred, then move onto someone else would be a failure to live and learn on the part of the England hierarchy.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/229954.html

Let’s hope Mark rolls like a stone!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: A Lyth Less Ordinary!

IMG_2924

After serially struggling to cobble together 200 runs in an innings, we made over 300 against Nepal… and still lost!

Nepal were tracking at a run a ball from the get go. El capitan Joe Root spilled a simple chance early doors and twelve overthrows (An improvement on the 16 conceded in our last match) would ultimately prove costly. Jamie Overton’s ten overs were also costly… 1-81!

All-rounder Sam Curran, recalled at the expense of batsman Tom Fell, claimed figures of 3-53 from his ten overs, providing two dismissals to stumper Gareth Roderick. The ever impressive Matt Coles finished with outstanding analysis of 2-34 from his full allocation and Liam Livingstone claimed three catches to add to the four he held against Afghanistan.

In pursuit of 313 for victory, a little over a run a ball, openers Adam Lyth and Dawid Malan put on 85 for the first wicket before Malan was clean bowled for 38 in exactly the same manner as in the last match, i.e. stepping outside off and trying to flick to leg. Malan is good for a thirty or forty but will he ever go big?

Brett D’Oliveira used up 37 deliveries in making 25 and skipper Root wasted six costly balls in making… 0!

Liam Livingstone made a busy 15 and Sam Curran a brisk 33. Lyth was run out early in the second powerplay for an excellently paced 120. He got bogged down in the eighties but fought back however his run out may well have been crucial. Spinner Liam Dawson followed another wicketless outing: 5-0-29-0 with 9 runs before being run out. In the circumstances, both Lyth and Dawson’s run outs were as acceptable as getting run out comes but if Lyth in particular could have avoided being so… ?

Matt Coles was harshly dismissed LBW for 6 to follow his debatable stumping against Pakistan. Jamie Overton made 5, one beautiful sweep included and Tom Curran would finish 1 not out. Wicketkeeper Roderick swept well but missed out on ones and twos when attempting to hit boundaries. 17 were needed from the final over for us to secure an epic chase. A dot ball was followed by Curran getting off the mark with a single. Roderick then hit a four to bring the equation down to 12 from 3. Nepal then bowled a wide but to the next ball Roderick was unable to clear the field and was caught at mid off. Agonisingly, despite a vastly improved performance and having totalled in excess of 300 with the bat, we fell just eleven runs short of victory with two balls to spare. Overthrows, Matt Coles LBW decision, Adam Lyth’s run out, they’re all moments in the game that we can look back on and consider costly.

IMG_2925

As a team, we neither celebrate nor are we content with defeat but we do recognise improvement. The team can hold their heads high after this effort but it’s imperative that we maintain this standard as we move forward.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Debacles, Despairs and Disasters, the Travails of a DBC17 Addictee!

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan. It doesn’t really matter who we play, we’re destined for defeat!

IMG_2915

I’ve almost blotted out the ODI against Pakistan from my memory. Cancer survivor Tom Fell was amongst the debutants and in a sign of things to come, I think made somewhere between 10 and 20. Tom Curran was the standout performer with figures of 3-43 or something of that ilk.

IMG_2919

Matt Coles also debuted and having accumulated 9 runs was the victim of the most appalling stumping decision ever. Let’s just watch about a thousand replays over the course of FIVE minutes that all confirm he’s not out then watch the big screen flash up with the word ‘OUT’!

Coles would go on to claim figures of 4-42 from 10 overs in the humbling 59-run defeat at the hands of Afghanistan. Those figures could have been even more impressive if it were not for our generous concession of overthrows.

Jamie Overton debuted against Afganistan and claimed his first ODI wicket in his very first over. He bowled a superb opening spell though the Afghans hounded him come the second powerplay later in the innings. Unfortunately, after having the visitors in trouble at 186-7, our composite fifth bowler of Adam Lyth, Brett D’Oliveira and Dawid Malan couldn’t stem the lower order flow of runs as Afghanistan recovered to post a competitive 282-7 from their 50 overs.

IMG_2921

Debutants Lyth (10) and D’Oliveira (17) set the tone for the innings in that they made starts but got out. After captain Joe Root (6) fell cheaply, Tom Fell also fell after a busy 17. Liam Livingstone lasted all of one delivery but Dawid Malan looked to be heading towards a hard fought but determined maiden international half-century before missing a straight one having reached a career best 46. Malan (35) had also top scored against Pakistan but that inability to convert a solid platform into a score of substance runs deep into the grain of our team.

IMG_2922

Another debutante, wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick, got giddy after hitting a boundary and was caught in the deep on 21. Liam Dawson (35 not out) and Matt Coles (29) took advantage of some strange field settings to put on 50 before Coles played an unnecessarily¬†ambitious shot after we’d got the target down to less than a run a ball. To be fair to Afghanistan, the field setting that brought about the downfall of Coles deserves credit. Jamie Overton also took advantage of the Afghan spinners vacant leg-side field but having made 22 was needlessly run out. Tom Curran soon followed and that was that, 221 all out. If our top order batsman could have stayed in then they may have been able to cash in against Afghanistan’s strange fielding tactics late in the innings but in truth it was our poor bowling in the final 10 overs of Afghanistan’s innings and the lack of a genuine fifth bowling option that cost us. 16 overthrows didn’t help the cause either. 267 would have appeared a lot more attainable than 283.

Afghanistan deserved their victory. Three of their batsman passed 50 including the specialist that they had as low down as seven in the order.

Where we go from here I don’t know. Hopefully not Australia or India!