Farewell Alex!

Following Alex Hales’ axing from the England squad, the selectoral hierarchy have made some amendments to the party for the upcoming internationals.

Firstly, there’s a recall for the potentially destructive Ben Duckett. Following a move from Northamptonshire to Nottinghamshire, Duckett hasn’t been consistent this season but from time to time has produced the sort of innings that can get people licking their lips. He’s had his own moments of madness but was reintegrated in the winter and it’s encouraging to see him in the frame.

Dawid Malan is another recalled left-hander and he’ll hope to actually get on the pitch unlike in the West Indies. Despite the burden of captaincy as well as opening for Middlesex in List A cricket, he’s been in good form this year.

Next up is James Vince. Ed Smith didn’t sound all too enthused about Vince’s ability when his first move as England selector was to drop the Hampshire skipper but Vince has responded well. Last year, both at home and in the Big Bash, he made match-winning contributions. He’s begun this year well though his 190 against Gloucestershire was scored against an attack far removed from what either Pakistan or Australia will offer.

Duckett and Malan come into the squads for the Ireland ODI and Pakistan T20I. Vince was already in those squads and now stays on for the Pakistan ODIs.

Disclaimer: There is a downside to all this. The absence of Duckett, Malan and Vince from the county scene for a week or two has completely scuppered my fantasy teams!

CricketXI: Sheffield Shield 2018-19 – Season Review (Or non-review!)

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Errr… ?

I’d provide a review but the scores have already disappeared from the website. I appreciate that I’m a few days off the pace what with hospital stays and the like but…

I guess that they’ve had a clear down as it’s all IPL/County Cricket now. Needless to say, I was as appalling in the Sheffield Shield as I’m set to be in the IPL! For the English domestic scene, I’ve been focusing on my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket teams (Cash prizes) but will endeavour to be competitive on CricketXI as some of you have kindly joined my league and I don’t want to be shown up!

Cricket Captain 2018: Four Hundreds!

 

A completely random post of an epic batting effort by my team in my Afghanistan career mode on CC18.

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Imran actually finished 69 not out in the first dig only to be run out second time around.

I’ve scored higher team totals as well as having a few players chalk up sizeable double tons during my Afghanistan efforts but even in my England careers over the years, I don’t think that I’ve achieved four centuries in one innings!

Disclaimer: It wasn’t Tim Paine bowling!

2019 Women’s Ashes

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The Women’s Ashes takes place this summer and it’s certain to be hotly contested by two extremely talented sides. The multi-format series starts in early July with three ODIs before a single Test and a further three T20Is.

In captain Heather Knight as well as the likes of Anya Shrubsole, Nat Sciver and Katherine Brunt, England possess genuine world class professionals throughout their side.

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Not to mention super stumper Sarah Taylor!

For Australia, Captain Meg Lanning and the ridiculously effective all-round star Ellyse Perry will be key to their chances but their strength goes far beyond those two. The likes of Nicole Bolton, Ashleigh Gardner and Megan Schutt will help the visitors pose a severe threat to the home side.

With the men’s ODI World Cup and Ashes series taking place in England this summer, it’s to be hoped that the women’s encounters gain the exposure that they deserve.

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Since the multi-format points system came into place, the urn has alternated between holders with home advantage playing a pivotal role. England won at home in 2013, Australia won down under in 2014, England again won at home in 2015 before Australia regained the title on home turf in 2017. England will be hoping that Australia don’t buck the trend this year!

Charlie and Billy go Glamping!

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Glamorgan have added batsman Charlie Hemphrey to their batting ranks for the 2019 campaign. The Doncaster born bat has done okay on the Australian domestic scene and a stint in county cricket should serve him well. The Welsh county have already acquired fellow Yorkshireman Billy Root and as a result they should be more of a force this term.

Nottinghamshire didn’t really seem to know what to do with Root. You could check three scorecards in a week and find him batting at three, then at nine playing primarily as a spin bowler then batting at five. The opportunity to play week in week out should help bring out the best of a player who has demonstrated that he’s good enough to carve out a career at county level.

As a batsman who bowls a bit and likely to get regular first team opportunities, Root is a player to consider come the 2019 edition of Telegraph Fantasy Cricket. Look out for my YouTube video of how to go about selecting your team soon!

Oz go Backwards to go Forwards… or Sideways… or Backwards Again?!

Australia have gone all retro-England on us with their latest ODI squad selection. Potential but inconsistent T20 performers Chris Lynn, D’arcy Short and Ben McDermott have all been ditched to make way for the likes of less explosive but more reliable players such as Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja. Though Marsh has done well in the IPL, you can’t help but think that Australia have pushed the panic button… and kept pressing! The selectors can’t seem to make their mind up about Peter Handscomb and one innings from him in the Big Bash seems to have confused them even further. All this fuels pressure on their bowling attack to limit opposition to totals that were the norm five years ago but not today.

Could it all click for Oz at this summer’s World Cup or will their fall continue?

Please don’t forget to check out my YouTube channel…

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE7Dc2rxjmHdT09xofaoAXg

A Story of Sir Alastair, Keaton and Rory

If England win this summer’s Ashes or/and World Cup, then we could have a host of new MBEs!

The chances of Keaton Jennings playing in the World Cup are slim. The chances of Rory Burns doing so are… even slimmer!

The likelihood of the pair playing in the Ashes and possibly earning knighthoods will be defined on the Test tour of West Indies. No disrespect to the current Caribbean collective but if you offered an opening batsman an away destination to cement their place in their own team then West Indies would currently be high on most player’s list.

Jennings was previously dropped on the eve of a home series against West Indies. He’ll hope not to be dropped post a Caribbean encounter this time. He played spin well in Sri Lanka and was razor sharp in the field but questions of his ability against pace linger. Based on the evidence and scars inflicted by South Africa, answering those questions against Australia won’t be easy!

Burns performed well in the second Test in Sri Lanka after a disappointing debut. He failed in the final Test however and his aesthetics aren’t to everybody’s pleasure. If he leaves the door even slightly ajar and some young gun plunders runs on the county scene or even Surrey teammate Jason Roy produces a run gluttonous World Cup then Burns will follow another Surrey man, his opening partner Mark Stoneman, back to the county game and with little chance of a Jennings style recall.

Should KJ and RB perform well in West Indies, help England regain the Ashes, go on to score a few thousand Test runs and even captain England (They’ve got experience) then maybe they could yet join Alastair Cook by having a new prefix!

Something in the Genes!

They’re not bad these Curran brothers are they?

I don’t actually think that most diehard cricket fans were surprised at how Surrey’s Sam Curran has taken to Test cricket. He’s an absolute star, capable of batting at six (Maybe higher) and opening the bowling for his country. His left-arm variety will be essential to England’s attack and compensates for any perceived lack of pace. I previously said that he is the axis around which England should build their team but given England’s abundance of all-round talent, just to be a cog will suffice. He’s already made his buck courtesy of the IPL (He’s been snapped up by Kings XI Punjab) but hopefully he’ll keep his feet on the ground and stay engaged with the longest form of the game as well as the pyjama affairs.

Brother Tom struggled for wickets in the 2017-18 Ashes series in Australia but displayed chutzpah with both bat and ball. He performed well in white-ball (ODI/T20I) cricket and it’s a shame that injuries limited his England outings in 2018. He’s been on absolute fire for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash this winter, already claiming a hat-trick of three-wicket hauls and scoring a swashbuckling half-century. I still think he’s capable of being a viable Test option for England at least in home conditions. He and Sam clearly have attitude which I like. It’s not ugly but there’s a little bit of ‘In your face!’ and that’s healthy against some competitors.

Then there’s brother Ben. It would be easy to get discouraged by being a little behind his brothers or for him to be the butt of jokes but BC has won a contract with Northamptonshire on the back of an encouraging showing late last season. That included signing off with a match-winning 83 not out against Sussex in the County Championship and he’ll be keen to kick on this term for a side that have lost Ben Duckett to Nottinghamshire. How far BC can go remains to be seen. There’s no disgrace in having a solid county career without international recognition but whilst Sam and Tom might look destined for greatness, remember how compatriot Steven Finn as well as India’s Irfan Pathan sadly fell away. In the case of Ben, we might yet see a Mike Hussey style post thirty Test debut followed by thousands of runs!

It’s Back to the Cricket…

Face it folks, Christmas is over… so it’s back to the cricket and there are Test matches galore all over the globe this Boxing Day…

Australia are hosting India where Mayank Agarwal has registered an encouraging 76 on debut for the touring side:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18693/scorecard/1144995/australia-vs-india-3rd-test-india-in-aus-2018-19

Sri Lanka take on New Zealand for whom Tim Southee struck a typically Tim Southee-like 68 to rescue his side from the depths of 64-6 to what will be a competitive 178. He then went onto claim three wickets before Sri Lanka planted the seeds of recovery:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18812/scorecard/1153839/new-zealand-vs-sri-lanka-2nd-test-sri-lanka-in-nz-2018-19

Meanwhile in South Africa, Imam-ul-Haq is already back in the hutch having dined on duck not turkey for visitors Pakistan:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18649/scorecard/1144153/south-africa-vs-pakistan-1st-test-pak-in-sa-2018-19