Cricket 19: Global XI – More New Faces/Exhibition Matches Announcement!

Following our semi-final heartbreak in Bangladesh, we’ve strengthened our squad by adding two new faces.

15-year-old Peruvian (Half-English) wicketkeeper and left-handed batsman Esteban Ramirez-Holmes and 30-year-old left-arm Spanish speed merchant Gaston Garcia, become Global XI squad members number 19 and 20.

We don’t believe in having an excessively large squad but with the volume of competitions on the horizon and challenging circumstances for everybody around the world at the moment, these two additions to our playing squad are vital. Beyond our two gloveman, who obviously spend a lot of time training together, what with COVID-19 on the scene, it was essential to acquire another wicketkeeping option. The modern and free-spirited Ramirez-Holmes will develop his glovework quickly alongside messrs Jiminez and Sigthorsson.

Also, with Cameroon’s Ambroise Anguissa the only out and out express pace bowler in our group, it seemed sensible to recruit a left-arm option. Gaston Garcia is no spring chicken but is fit as a fiddle and will combine skill and guile with venomous speed!

Ramirez-Holmes and Garcia’s introduction to our squad is an exciting one. The duo will link up with their new teammates as we host England for what will be two fascinating T20 encounters. The reigning ODI World Champions were passing our way and were seeking practice matches in a bio-secure environment. We’re happy to provide and this will be a fascinating opportunity for our players to challenge themselves against the very best. It’s a huge honour and will be a great way to pick the guys up following our sad demise in Bangladesh.

Cricket 19: Semi-Final Super Over!

Following the huge progress that we’d we made and fantastic form that propelled us to the knockout stages, so the semi-final greeted us!

We won the toss and had no hesitation in choosing to bat first at home to Khulna. Regrettably, Jamal Peters (5), Phillipio (8) and Moses Okocha (7) were all soon back in the hut. That left us reeling on 37-3. For the second match in a row, vice-captain Mario Kuntz (33) fell when well set. Kim Lee-Soo made a run-a-ball 12 but captain Norshahrul Rashid used up six balls for just 2.

Wu Xu foolishly fell first ball but wicketkeeper Javier Jiminez stroked 40 from 36 deliveries to at least help put a score on the board. Mohamed El Mohamedy (9*) and Ambroise Anguissa (2*) took us to 128-8 with the welcome help of 12 extras.

Slow-left-armer El The Pharaoh Mohamedy (1-26) then struck in the first over but Khulna were soon on course for victory at 44-1. Xu’s (2-18) off-spin claimed two wickets in two balls outside of the powerplay (8th over) to drag the visitors back to 44-3 and put us in the box seat.

Kim’s (1-20) slingy right-arm bowling accounted for Shafiq (22) but captain Rashid, who uncharacteristically conceded 31 from his four overs to go with his miserable batting effort, later dropped a catch of the South Korean. In between, Hammond (15) was run out but a couple of silly overthrows and fatigued fielding would prove costly!

Left-arm pacer Roberto Biabini (0-10) conceded just one run from an almost immaculate penultimate over. Tall right-arm fast bowler Ambroise Anguissa had 15 runs to play with to put us in the final but began the 20th over with a wide. Tiredness and possibly pressure set in but the Cameroonian wasn’t helped by the efforts (Or lack of) by some of his fielders. Despite that, top scorer Ingram (46) was run out off the penultimate ball of the final over when going for the win. Anguissa (0-22) regained his nerve to finish with a dot and send the game into a super over… the crowd couldn’t believe what was happening before their eyes and many couldn’t bare to watch!

Egypt’s El Mohamedy ,well versed at bowling under pressure in the powerplay, rocked up to the wicket. Despite conceding a boundary early in the over, he responded superbly to limit Khulna to just 7-1.

There was little time to think about who should open the batting. Our minds were occupied with how we’d only scratched our way to a semi-competitive total after performing so well recently, before letting the win and a place in the final, slip away. It was felt that sending out a right and left-hander made sense and so it seemed appropriate to allow regular openers Jamal Peters and Mario Kuntz to take responsibility… they failed spectacularly!

Against right-arm medium pacer Asad Hashim, Peters made 2 from 3, meanwhile Kuntz wafted away horribly outside off stump, failing to connect with any of the three deliveries that he faced, only running a bye. All this came after Hashim had offered up a wide first ball… it was a heartbreaking end!

The fact of the matter is that we didn’t deserve to win. Congratulations to Khulna who did. Our top order were tense and went chasing runs, not sticking to our recent successful (Albeit old-fashioned) gameplan. Old bad habits resurfaced as we failed to make the most of the last few overs and barely scratched out a competitive total.

We then had the game in the bag, we were in a good position well into their innings but skipper Rashid was uncharacteristically expensive and Anguissa fell apart. There were three unnecessary overthrows, two atrocious pieces of fielding late on, one that cost a boundary, the other an extra run in the final over… not to mention the captain’s dropped catch or our batsmen’s failure to execute in the super over! Hard to stomach would be an understatement. We may now have to break a tag of chokers!

Our captain has led us superbly upto this point and shouldn’t be judged on one night… but like too many of our players, he failed to bring his A game to the big occasion. We will learn as a group and be stronger for it. There are many bad things happening in this world and at the end of the day, this is just sport. It will take some coming back from however!

Oh… typically Khulna got rolled over for just 90 in the final as Rajashahi ran out 9-wicket winners. Saleem Rad claimed ridiculous figures of 4-0! He claimed a hat-trick to finish off Khulna who had actually recovered from 50-6 to 90-6 before, well, you know! Sheikh Hudson then struck 61 not out from only 29 balls as the team that topped the table deservedly won the competition.

Disclaimer: Celebratory image at the top of this article is probably a bit misleading!

Please see below for our statistical highlights from the competition.

Highest Team Total: 161-7 vs. Barisal at Comilla Cricket Ground

Highest Partnership: 121 (1st wicket) Jamal Peters (USA) and Mario Kuntz (Germany) vs. Khulna at Khulna Park

Leading Run-scorer: Mario Kuntz (Germany) 399

Best Batting Average: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 37.60 (Shoya Soma (Japan) averaged 89.00 from only four innings that included three not outs)

Best Batting Strike-rate: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 128.33

Best Batting Innings: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 69 not out vs. Chittagong/Mario Kuntz (Germany) 69 not out vs. Dhaka at Dragons Oval

Leading Wicket-taker: Mohammed El Mohamedy (Egypt) 14

Best Bowling Average: Roberto Biabini (Italy) 20.33 (Three players averaged less but claimed a maximum of only three wickets)

Best Bowling Strike-rate: Roberto Biabini (Italy) 18.44 (Again, players that claimed less than a handful of wickets were not considered)

Best Bowling Innings: Roberto Biabini (Italy) 4-21 vs. Barisal at Global Arena

Most Dismissals: Javier Jiminez (Mexico) 15 catches/0 stumpings

Most Catches (Non-wicketkeeper): Wu Xu (China) 6

Cricket 19: Global XI – Bangladesh Part Two

Starting the second round of fixtures, we posted a decent total of 149-3 at home to Chittagong. It was great to see Phillipio (63*) rack up his first half-century in a while as the Brazilian combined with Mexican gloveman Javier Jiminez (26*) for a combo of 67. The visiting side could only muster 138-4 and though a winning margin of eleven runs might sound close, fast bowler Ambroise Anguissa (0-24) and off-spinner Wu Xu (1-26) kept it tight in the last couple of overs to make it a relatively comfortable victory. Roberto Biabini (1-23) backed up his hat-trick and four-wicket haul in the previous match with some tight bowling too. The win elevated us to third in the table.

In the following game (And what a game!) we rested captain Norshahrul Rashid. Opening batsman Mario Kuntz (With a W1 L1 record) stepped into the role. Having lost the toss, the German endured a torrid time with the willow, being dismissed for just 5 from 14 deliveries. Fellow opener Jamal Peters (54) didn’t panic however and finally clocked up a half-century. It was an important chip off the American’s shoulder.

Nigerian Moses Okocha then came out with the right attitude, striking 31 from 21 deliveries before Phillipio (43*), backing up his fifty in the last match and Jiminez (8*) walked off at the conclusion of our 20 overs. We had lost only three wickets for the second game in a row as our top order continued their progression. We finished on 147-3… then for the bowling!

The opposition opener struck 28 from just 14 deliveries but El The Pharaoh Mohamedy (1-20) trapped him LBW with his slow-left-arm bowling. Part time slow-left-armer Okocha (1-19) then struck in the powerplay as young Kuntz displayed his brave captaincy.

Never out of the action Peters (1-2) effected a crucial and sensational direct hit run out then dismissed the other opening batsman for his first ever wicket as the match of his life continued!

Cameroon speedster Anguissa (1-23) and Chinese off-spinner Xu (1-5) both struck and kept things incredibly tight when under huge pressure. At one point, Dhaka had required 55 runs from 55 balls and plenty of wickets in hand. There was also a dropped catch from Kuntz off Anguissa which seemed to have handed the game to the team from the capital.

When it looked like it might really slip away from us as we missed a run out opportunity, we struck twice via run outs in the penultimate over bowled by the expensive Andryushkin (0-37). Roberto Biabini (0-14) kept it tidy enough in the final over though and when Xu, who earlier took an excellent catch at slip, kept his eye on the ball as it hurtled to the boundary then returned it to gloveman Jiminez, we’d won once again, by a margin of just two runs!

I’ve never been so proud of a performance as that one. Everybody contributed. Stand-in captain Kuntz led the side superbly despite having a poor match with the bat and in the field. And as for Jamal Peters, it’s been a long time coming but a first fifty, a first wicket and a direct hit run out made for an all action performance!

Moving on… another game, another win! We made 84-2 (Kuntz 36*/Okocha 32*) from 11.3 overs at home to Dhaka’s other team, before rain curtailed our innings, so another match with no batting for our lower order!

Dhaka were set 71 from 7 overs though peculiarly our bowlers could only deliver one over each. Anguissa (2-6) struck from consecutive balls in his as we eased home by 13 runs. That made it four wins on the bounce however it was a shame that the likes of Vito Vaga and Shon Solomon had so little opportunity when provided a rare outing.

Looking to make it five consecutive wins, we posted 141-3 at Khuna Park. Opening duo Peters and Kuntz broke their own record for the team’s highest 1st wicket partnership. After taking so long to get one, Peters brought up his second fifty in three matches before launching a vicious assault on Khulna’s Hannan. The American slapped the medium-pacer for back-to-back sixes before Hannan got revenge as Peters (65) threw the kitchen sink at finishing the over with a third, only to nick behind.

Kuntz (59) fell off the penultimate ball of the innings whilst Jiminez (2*) continued his healthy obsession of walking off undefeated. By only totalling 141 though, we hadn’t quite put the game out of reach, which was slightly disappointing given the opening stand had accelerated throughout after we’d been put into bat. Peters’ failure to execute a third six meant that still no batsmen in a Global shirt had ever reached 70!

El Mohamedy (1-19) and Xu (1-33) both struck in the powerplay before Anguissa (2-29) struck twice in two balls for the second consecutive match. Firstly, captain Rashid (0-16) made great judgement to appeal an LBW decision before Anguissa welcomed the new batsman by immediately bowling him around around his legs. It was a stunning delivery!

Khulna did fightback from 58-4 to 106-4 at which point Xu produced an outstanding piece of fielding to send opener and top score Handal (55) packing. Somehow, the Chinese all-rounder prevented a boundary before returning the ball to the bowler’s end. Then cue a couple more run outs, something we’ve developed a good habit of effecting and so the hosts fell 8 runs short on 133-8.

The win was our fifth in a row and fourth consecutive match where we’d batted first and won by thirteen runs or less. The start of the run was a 23-run win. It’s worth pointing out that we’d often been put into bat as oppose to luckily winning the toss in favourable conditions. We’ve got nerve and bottle!

Come the next game at home to table topping Rajashani, we were finally made to field first. The visitors compiled 141-6 despite a good all round bowling effort. Roberto Biabini (2-34) was struck for four off each of the final three deliveries of his third over but displayed great character to claim two wickets in his fourth.

Sadly, we were bowled out for a disheartening 99 in our chase. It’s important to be clear that Rajashani were deserved victors with the contrast of their change express pace and dibbly dobbly bowlers ripping through our undercooked batting unit. Remember that nobody lower than five had batted in our last four matches. However, the game hinged on a couple of decisions that didn’t go our way and it’s hard to fathom why. Having made 10 from 8 balls, Phillipio was adjudged LBW on review when replays confirmed that the ball had hit his bat. Then, the final wicket, the run out of Biabini (3) after Xu (5*) changed his mind about a single, was also a dismissal that compromised the integrity of the result. The Italian had clearly grounded his bat. Of course we’d still have required 42 runs from 24 deliveries with only one wicket left but those errors were frustrating for our team and cricket fans in general. For the record, in-form opener Jamal Peters (48) by far and away top scored but his dismissal began a terrifying collapse as we lost 6 wickets for a paltry 14 runs.

The termination of our hot streak and victory for Rajashani left them top of the pile with ourselves and Khulna two wins behind. We both remained two wins ahead of the next three teams but a lot could happen in the last four rounds (One a bye for us) as the race for semi-final places hotted up!

Following the humbling defeat, we made a few changes to the XI for the next game. French batsman Xavier Robert and Icelandic gloveman Ogmundar Sigthorsson came into the side. The pair couldn’t make much of an impression though… both being caught behind first ball!

South Korean Kim Lee-Soo also fell for a duck whilst four batsmen were dismissed between 12 and 18. Those dismissals left us 42-5 then staring down the barrel at 71-7. Wu Xu (38*) and Ambroise Anguissa (28) both made career bests however in a hugely mature eighth-wicket partnership of 56. We’re well aware that both players are capable batsmen and it was great to see them seize the opportunity to rescue the team. We finished on 137-8 which was a respectable total given that three figures seemed out of reach at one stage.

Despite having been under the cosh early in our innings, it turned out to be a case of back to batting first, back to winning!

Israeli medium-pacer Shon Solomon (2-30), who had only bowled one over in the competition before this match, dismissed both openers. He should’ve had a third wicket but, not for the first time recently, vice-captain Mario Kuntz dropped a catch. To be fair to the young German, he later held one and effected a run out.

The unheralded Kim (2-13) also claimed two wickets whilst renaissance man Biabini (1-21) and a run out accounted for the other. Robert (0-17) responded to his golden duck by holding a catch under the lights and bowling tightly. Rangpur closed on 119-6, a match deciding deficit of 18 runs.

The win elevated us to joint second in the table, three wins clear of four tied teams and almost certainly secure of a place in the semi-final.

Results then went our way so we made wholesale changes for our next match at home to Sylhet. Abdulfattah Al-Owaishir (3-27) claimed his first ever wickets, each one courtesy of the gloves of Ogmundar Sigthorsson. At one stage, the Saudi-Arabian was actually on a hat-trick. We’ve lost count of how many times that’s happened during this competition! The visitors could only compile 109-9 with all our bowlers keeping things tight.

Jamal Peters and Shoya Soma then showed the way in an undefeated 110-run partnership to record our second ever ten-wicket win. Peters (42*) was a little scratchy early on but has the experience now to keep his head. Soma (62*), who had a previous highest score of just 21, led the way as we ran out victorious with more than a couple of overs to spare.

The players that came in did exactly what we asked, which is to breed competition and make selection decisions extremely difficult.

In our final league match, we posted our highest ever score of 161-7. This was after hosts Barisal surprised everybody by choosing to field first. Ahead of the semi-finals, it turned out to be really useful batting practice as lots of batsmen made twenties and thirties at a decent rate. Kuntz (36), Okocha (31) and Phillipio (28) laid the platform before captain Rashid smoked 24 not out from just ten balls!

We then limited Barisal to 132-6. To be fair, they responded well having slipped to 13-3. Four of their batsmen were run out and their top scorer retired hurt. Wu Xu (1-26) dismissed their opener for a golden duck, caught the other and effected three direct hit run outs! It would’ve been nice to have bowled them out but we couldn’t complain about a 29-run win!

That victory, our eleventh of the campaign and eighth in our last nine matches, propelled us to a second place finish in the table. It meant that we would entertain third placed Khulna in the semi-finals.

In the first semi-final, table topping Rajashahi chased down a whopping 182 with one ball to spare in a thrilling encounter at home to Rangpur. A 51-ball 82 from their opener proved vital.

And so… onto our semi-final!

Cricket 19: Global XI – Bangladesh Part One

Having been bowled out for a team low 76 in our previous match, we promptly posted our highest ever total of 159-6 in Chittagong to kick off our Bangladesh foray.

We had actually lost both openers without a run on the board and were soon 13-3 before messrs Okocha and Jiminez riposted. Nigerian left-hander Okocha (69*) hit a long awaited maiden fifty that tied the highest individual innings by any our batsmen. Gloveman Jiminez (47) fell just short of a half-century of his own (What would’ve been his second) but the partnership of 115 was another team record.

We then restricted the hosts to 128-4 to seal a hugely encouraging 31-run victory. Egyptian slow-left-armer Mohamed El Mohamedy claimed 2-32 though was actually the most expensive of a hugely economical bowling effort.

Sadly, we lost our second game, failing to post a decent total despite being well placed at one stage. In our third game however, we fought back in record-breaking style.

In Dhaka, we restricted Dhaka Dragons to 118-9, which in truth was a little disappointing having had them on the back foot at 55-7. Russian seamer Roman Andryushkin (3-19) starred with the ball whilst captain Norshahrul Rashid nonchalantly claimed 2-1 with his leg-spin! El The Pharaoh Mohamedy (2-26) was in form in the powerplay once more.

The one advantage of conceding so many runs was the possibilities it afforded our opening batsmen. In a thoroughly professional run chase, American Jamal Peters (38*) and German Mario Kuntz (69*) both posted career best scores whilst at the same time producing the team’s highest ever partnership. The-right hand/left-hand duo finished on 119-0 with 5.5 overs in hand. Peters, for whom it had been a long road, actually made his highest score for the second consecutive match. Meanwhile vice-captain Kuntz ended a painfully lean run of form. Bizarrely, our three highest individual scores at this point in time were all 69 not out by Phillipio, Okocha and Kuntz whilst the latter also has a 68*.

We then fell to Earth with an almighty bump by losing our next two matches, the second of which was hard to stomach. We posted 138-4, led by in-form Okocha (48) as well as Phillipio (25), who hinted at a return to form. Both were run out, Okocha off the last delivery of the innnings.

We then had Rajshahi in trouble at 75-5 after the ever reliable El Mohamedy (2-35) and in-form Andryushkin (2-27) did their bit in the powerplay. Somehow though, we contrived to let them win by four wickets with one ball to spare and highlight how much we have to learn!

Highlighting our consistent inconsistency, we then won a rain affected 16 overs per side match in Rangpur. Following our incredibly frustrating defeat in the previous match, we made a number of changes to our playing XI although these were mainly due to the wet conditions. We won a crucial toss and limited the home side to just 87-3. That man Andryushkin conceded just 10 runs from 3 overs and were it not for overthrows, would’ve commenced proceedings with a maiden.

Though our openers couldn’t repeat their 10-wicket win heroics from earlier in the competition, Phillipio (23*) and the man of the moment Okocha (45*) eased us home with 3.3 overs to spare. The boys showed great character following the rollicking they received after the painful loss only days before.

What was that about consistent inconsistency?

In our next match, we restricted Sylhet to 136-6 (Wu 2-26) but in hindsight were a bit generous with our bowling changes and accommodated them too many runs. 123-8 (Kuntz 36) was a decent chase by our standards but we felt we could’ve pushed the opposition even closer and like I say, could’ve limited the required total in the first place. A 13-run defeat was thoroughly underwhelming.

In our following game at home to Barisal, opening batsmen Peters and Kuntz posted a dominant opening stand of 98. Peters (33) fell in the thirties yet again however, blowing a golden opportunity to finally bring up a maiden fifty. Kuntz soon reached 69, remember that our three top innings to date were 69* as well as Kuntz having a 68*. Would you believe he was spectacularly caught and bowled for… 69?! With a whopping 7.2 overs remaining, a hundred was there for the taking. Will anybody ever reach 70?! The rest of our batsmen came out and applied themselves well to take us to our highest ever score of 165-4, only five of which were extras.

To be fair to Barisal, they had a go at chasing down the total and reached 61 before losing their first wicket. Italian left-arm quick Roberto Biabini, who hadn’t seen much first team action in recent times, then stepped up to the plate. He claimed a sensational hat-trick, courtesy of two outstanding grabs by gloveman Jiminez after the Italian had angled full deliveries across the right-handed batsmen. Come crunch time, Peters, who had held two similar catches in the previous match, pouched a steepler to write Biabini’s name in history. It was our team’s first ever hat-trick and the Italian finished with team record bowling figures of 4-21! It was nice that it should happen on our home ground as we romped home by 23 runs.

At the halfway stage of the competition, eight games played and eight to play (Obviously!), we sat in 5th (Or joint 4th) place with Barisal, with four wins and four losses to our name. Moses Okocha was our leading runscorer to date but some way short of the league leaders. Mohamed El Mohamedy was our team topper on the bowling front.

Look out for the next round up at the conclusion of the campaign.

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!

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!

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.