Cricket 19: First Class Livraison

In the majestic surroundings of our new home ground we won the toss and were inspired to bat.

It was always going to be a tough ask for Enzo Petit (3) to come in from the cold and open the batting and the right-hander soon nicked behind. Jean-Luc Chevalier (19) and Gilles Smith (42) put on 46 to enhance their reputation as a strong pairing. They’d compiled two sixty-something partnerships in as many warm-up games prior to our First Class debut. The recalled Gabin Sauvage looked a much improved player but Christophe Martinez and Zidane Thomas both fell first ball as Ben Coad claimed a hat-trick. Marwan Leroy (22) batted maturely but soon after his dismissal came the controversy that marred the very first morning of our professional existence…

Sauvage (40), having applied himself so well, was adjudged run out when scampering through for a leg bye following an LBW shout against our captain Xavier Le Tallec. Replays from multiple angles confirmed that Sauvage had grounded his bat before the stumps were broken. Please refer to the below image for evidence…

The decision was hugely frustrating for the player in question and the team as a whole. We’d underperformed but were fighting hard against the strongest opposition that we’ve faced so far.

Le Tallec soon fell for 13 courtesy of a catch at short leg when fending off a fierce bouncer from Coad (6-31). 89-2 ultimately subsided to 157 all out and we actually lost our last four wickets for the addition of only five runs. The middle order collapse was frightful but the application (If not the results!) was there and there were some hugely encouraging signs. The run out decision undermined all that however and though it was only one of ten wickets we were robbed of our most set batsman. We hope that the standard of officiating in the Tests will be of a higher calibre.

Moving on, our premier wicket in the First Class game wasn’t a brute that nicked the batsman’s edge or a sensational inswinging delivery that knocked over the stumps but a run out following some calamitous activity between the wickets. Three of the six wickets that we claimed on day one were achieved in such fashion and at times it was hard to distinguish which team were the experienced professionals.

Patrick Pierre had the honour of claiming our first bowler’s wicket with a full delivery that was far too good for Will Fraine and dismantled the batsman’s stumps. After slumping to 42-3 courtesy of two run outs (The big wickets of Kohler-Cadmore and Ballance) Harry Brook and Jonny Tattersall performed a high-quality rebuilding job. The young pair compiled 76 before the ever-reliable Pierre (2-76) got Brook (44) to edge behind to stumper Leroy in the first over after tea. There was another run out and a maiden First Class wicket for Zidane Thomas (1-75) but all the while the imperious Tattersall batted on. By the end of the first day’s play Yorkshire were already a healthy 51 runs ahead.

We made a scintillating start to the second day with Alexandre Rivière (2-53) striking twice in the first over.

First he had dangerman Tattersall (90) snapped up by Martinez in the slips before Poysden was superbly caught by Enzo Petit at gully off the very next delivery. Steve Patterson survived the hat-trick ball and having survived he thrived. Experienced Patterson (45) compiled 96 alongside Jared Warner before the former nicked behind to Leroy off Sauvage (1-60).

Another 41 frustrating runs were yielded by the last wicket pair but in the first over after lunch Petit (1-10) rolled his arm over for the second time in the match and promptly trapped Warner (78) LBW to terminate an excellent innings from the youngster. Ben Coad remained undefeated on 19. The sum total was 347 meaning that Petit would walk to the crease alongside Chevalier effectively -190-0! “Bonne Chance” to them we said.

With the help of a little extras, 25 by the end of the innings, the opening pair put on a hugely encouraging 29 for the first wicket before Petit (8) nicked a brute of a delivery to the ‘keeper. It was a huge shame as the debutant had applied himself well and got out trying to defend a ball that he could’ve left alone. A horrible misjudgment saw Gilles Smith trapped LBW first ball but there would be no second hat-trick for Coad. Chevalier (22) and Sauvage (26) looked in good touch but would’ve loved to have made scores of substance. As was the case first time around a decent score looked on the cards but from 66-2 we slipped to 125-8.

A knock of just 5 means that it’s the end of the road for Christophe Martinez but Zidane Thomas (21) and Marwan Leroy (15) hinted at better things to come.

The less said about Leroy’s brain freeze dismissal though the better!

Patrick Pierre registered a king pair on professional debut, a shame for him having made runs in the warm-up games. Captain Le Tallec was left undefeated on 17 after Alexandre Rivière whalloped 36 from 22 deliveries. The number ten, who had struggled for runs in the practice matches, sensibly got his eye in before feasting on Poysden’s spin though the leg-break bowler (3-35) ultimately had the last laugh. When Qadri was out to Coad (3-19) the game was up. We went down by an innings and 13 runs. It was bitterly disappointing not to make Yorkshire bat again but individually there were plenty of starts with the bat and collectively we bettered our first innings total.

Next up it’s Middlesex at Lords, our final preparation for our Test debut!

Filling the Void

James Anderson and Stuart Broad won’t be around forever, so who can fill the void for England when these two have rolled into retirement?

In English conditions then Chris Woakes and Sam Curran should be reliable options but overseas it’s a different story.

Could any of the following step up for England with the new ball in the future…

Jamie Porter 275 First Class wickets @ 23.78

Is Porter destined to be a nearly man?

He continues to take wicket upon wicket at domestic level but by the time Anderson and Broad have departed, will the ship have sailed for Porter?

The spearhead of Essex’s attack has overcome injury, not unlike Anderson and could be primed to fill the void.

Ben Coad 103 @ 19.70

Yorkshireman Coad is behind Porter in the pecking order and is absurdly still awaiting Lions recognition. Any suggestions of him being a one season wonder have already been dispelled. Another campaign of the sort he’s had in recent seasons should surely see him knocking the door down.

Tom Bailey 155 @ 26.05

Anderson’s Lancashire colleague Bailey had nearly slipped under the radar despite his regular ripping up of wickets on the county scene. This winter however he got the recognition he deserved with a call-up to the England Lions squad.

Has he learnt a few tricks from England’s record wicket taker that he can bring to the Test arena himself?

Jamie Overton 130 @ 33.22

Were it not for injuries then Somerset’s Jamie Overton may have already debuted for England. His extra pace and bounce would be welcomed on Australian decks (Hopefully by England, not Australian batsman!) but can he last five days or even ten overs?

Steven Finn 531 @ 28.96

254 international wickets but little case can be made for selecting Middlesex man Finn. If he can hit the ground running in 2019 however and snaffle a giant bag full of wickets then maybe England could yet get the best out of him.

There are plenty of other options and it will be interesting to see who England turn to when the time comes to… fill the void!

Cricket Captain 2018: Personal Milestones

The year is 2032 and Alastair Cook need not sweat!

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The run-getting of captain Max Holden has been integral to England’s Test success. An unfortunate recent habit of getting run out, including twice in a sensational Ashes series victory in Australia, have contributed to his average returning to something near mortality. Not that long ago it exceeded sixty!

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Occasional gloveman Ollie Pope has been another reliable run getter. His conversion rate is particularly impressive and had until recently helped him maintain an average just shy of fifty.

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Sam Hain has also piled on the runs, not just in Tests but in ODIs and more recently T20Is as well. Like Pope, Hain’s Test conversion rate is outstanding as is the case for him in ODI cricket. Hain is England’s leading run-scorer ever in the fifty-over format.

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Joe Clarke, who like Pope has been known to don the gloves, has also chalked up plenty of runs if not quite finding the consistency he would’ve liked.

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Sam Curran’s averages might be a little disappointing but he’s been a crucial impact player and continues to improve with bat and ball in all formats of the game. He reached 200 Test wickets in the same innings as Josh Tongue who we’ll come to later.

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Spin-bowling all-rounder Brad Taylor…

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… and wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall, are two players who have been known to really step up to the plate when the chips have been down!

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After a woeful start to his international career, Matt Critchley silenced the doubters by going onto become one of England’s most reliable middle order Test batsman!

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Josh Tongue had to wait patiently whilst Jamie Porter (180) and Ben Coad (233) assumed the mantle from James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Now though Tongue has in excess of 200 wickets at both Test and ODI level as well as nearing 100 victims in T20Is. He’s some way ahead of second placed Jofra Archer (82) as England’s leading wicket-taker in the shortest format.

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Spinner Matthew Parkinson’s star had appeared to wane but he’s upped his performances once again to attain 665 Test wickets. That puts him ahead of James Anderson at the top of England’s all-time list of Test wicket-takers. He’s also performed effectively in white-ball cricket despite his workload been managed over the years. Parkinson has relegated the unfortunate Dom Bess (287 wickets @ 28.76) to the role of Stuart MacGill to his own Shane Warne.

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Tom Kohler-Cadmore is England’s leading run-scored in T20I cricket and has been known to really turn it on at World Cups both in T20I and ODI cricket. Like the next man we’ll come too, his averages have dipped over time but a renaissance in the twilight of his career has been welcome..

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Alongside TK-C at the top of the order in limited overs cricket, Ed Pollock has had his moments but an ODI batting average that once exceeded forty has declined dramatically. He recently compiled a ninth ODI century to feast following famine!

Players such as Ed Barnard, Ryan Higgins, Saqib Mahmood, Feroze Khushi and Jack Plom are amongst those to have remained part of the squad over time and had their moments in the sun.

England Ignored XI

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England have named their Test and ODI squads for the winter tour of Sri Lanka as well as announcing the Lions squads for matches against Pakistan A in UAE:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_cricket_team_in_Sri_Lanka_in_2018–19

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/24802981/jason-roy-named-england-lions-four-day-squad

Here’s a party of players who must feel unfortunate not to have at least made the Lions cut…

First XI

Ben Slater (Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire) 349 CC runs @ 43.62 (Div 1) / 676 CC runs @ 42.75 (Div 2) / 386 ODC runs @ 55.14

Left-handed opening bat Slater’s consistent run plundering earned him a move from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire. He made runs in both the First Class (Divisions 1 & 2) and List A format. Next year he’ll hope to continue to go well amongst many new faces at Trent Bridge.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire) 972 CC runs @ 44.18

Having departed Yorkshire, Rhodes grew and grew at his new home finishing the campaign with four tons in the County Championship. He and Dominic Sibley look a strong foundation for a Warwickshire side that like a signing!

Daryl Mitchell (Worcestershire) Captain 957 CC runs @ 38.81

With a lot on his plate off the field, Mitchell made four tons in Division One having previously been criticised for scoring the majority of his centuries in Division Two. He’s a more than handy asset with the ball too and could captain the side.

James Hildreth (Somerset) 1089 CC runs @ 45.38 / 438 ODC runs @ 62.57

Runs, more runs for the Somerset veteran, not just in the First Class arena but with the white-ball too. Somehow he remains ignored by yet another selection panel.

Tom Abell (Somerset) Vice-Captain 883 CC runs @ 40.41 / 19 wickets @ 25.89

Similar to Mitchell in that he’s a batsman come all-rounder, Abell’s batting has started to fall into place again and he and Mitchell would make a good leadership brains trust.

Ed Barnard (Worcestershire) 516 CC runs @ 23.45 / 49 CC wickets @ 23.22 / 153 ODC runs @ 76.50 / 16 ODC wickets @ 28.88

It’s utterly absurd that Barnard’s efforts haven’t been recognised by the selectors this season. With both bat and ball and in red and white-ball cricket, Barnard has  consistently starred.

Ryan Higgins (Gloucestershire) 48 CC wickets @ 18.38 / 195 ODC runs 65.00

Like Rhodes, a move has been a good move for Higgins and like Barnard, he’s performed in all facets in all formats having joined Gloucestershire from Middlesex.

Ben Brown (Sussex) Wicketkeeper 912 CC runs @ 43.43 (52ct/1st)

Another strong campaign from the Sussex gloveman. A genuine top six willow wielder and has handy captaincy experience to support Mitch and Abell behind the stumps.

Matthew Carter (Nottinghamshire) 16 CC wickets @ 32.81 / 13 ODC wickets @ 15.23

Carter didn’t rack up phenomenal stats but the potential is there and it was good to see him get more experience under his belt. England should ‘Get Carter’! Sorry, I’ve used that one before but couldn’t resist!

Tom Bailey (Lancashire) 64 CC wickets @ 19.66

Bailey’s consistent wicket-taking means that he’s another odd one to be so obviously neglected. He poses a constant threat for batsman and averaged sub 20 with the ball in County Championship Division One.

Ben Coad (Yorkshire) 48 CC wickets @ 16.33

Like his Lancashire rival and in this squad, opening bowling partner, Coad is another strange one to miss out. Despite his excellent Division One performances he’s rarely mentioned in England dispatches. There’s possibly a reluctance on the part of the selectors to pick another Yorkshireman.

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The following players could also make the squad with some selections geared towards limited overs cricket in particular.

Ian Cockbain (Gloucestershire) 208 ODC runs @ 69.33

Laurie Evans (Sussex) 243 CC runs @ 60.75 / 614 T20B runs @ 68.22

Ben Cox (Worcestershire) Wicketkeeper 396 ODC runs @ 79.20 (18ct)

Sam Cook (Essex) 27 CC wickets @ 25.33

Ben Sanderson (Northamptonshire) 60 CC wickets @ 16.70

Amir Virdi (Surrey) 39 CC wickets @ 30.36

Even beyond this squad there are yet more England qualified players to have been neglected. Maybe Ed Smith and crew will pull another surprise on us soon!

Cricket Captain 2018: Test is Best but One Day we won’t be Limited!

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To be honest, I’ve forgotten what year it was and have also tried to forget nearly all our limited overs performances!

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Somewhere and somehow, Somerset’s Craig Overton claimed astonishing analysis of 4-0-6-2 in a T20 International. Unfortunately his twin brother Jamie hasn’t been able to back-up an impressive start to his international career which included figures of 6-14 against Australia in a ODI a few years back. He’s failed to take a wicket in three T20I appearances to date.

There was another T20I World Cup, we didn’t win but we did at least win the Ashes in Australia. Against a home side that changed their openers more often that their players changed their underwear as well as constantly shuffling their middle order, we sealed a 3-1 (Or was it just 2-1?) series win. The less said about Will Pucovski’s batting for the hosts the better but he’s welcome to play against us anytime!

Following the euphoria of Ashes success, we took an experimental side to the West Indies and having won the first match comfortably, subsided to defeat in the second by a margin somewhere in the region of 500 runs!

The new season commences with a three-match home Test series against everybody’s second favourite team, New Zealand. Alastair Cook, who performed admirably in Australia and reached the epic milestone of 200 Tests when playing in the fifth and final Test before being rested for the tour of West Indies is again omitted. Haseeb Hameed has come of age and Max Holden will debut alongside him at the top of the order. Sam Hain who replaced James Vince in the Caribbean, maintains his place. Joe Root will continue to skipper the Test side at number four while Ollie Pope keeps Joe Clarke out at number five. Clarke will be disappointed to have fallen for so many forties in recent times. Still only tweny-five, his time will come again but for now he will be better served playing the domestic game. Gloucestershire’s Ryan Higgins, who swashbuckled 97 not out on Test debut in the fifth Ashes Test will bat at six. Jonny Bairstow keeps the gloves at seven while the new Broad and Anderson, Jamie Porter and Ben Coad, will each hope to reach 100 Test wickets during the series. They’ll be backed up by the ever-improving Josh Tongue and Matthew Parkinson (159 Test wickets to his name) is our sole spinner.

Cricket Captain 2018: Heading North Down South… then Heading South Again!

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I’m delighted to announce that the England cricket team, selected and coached by myself, sealed a magnificent 2-0 Test series win in South Africa.

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Following draws in the first two Tests, our strength in depth, particularly in our pace bowling depths, helped us claim a sensational series win.

In the first two Tests, opposition opening batsmen Aiden Markram (195 in the first Test) and Dean Elgar (251 in the second Test) prevented us from being able to gain anything more than a draw. This was despite Alastair Cook (105), Joe Root (135) and Haseeb Hameed (104) all registering tons in the first match. We were perilously placed at 29-4 in the second Test but again skipper Root (121) as well as Jonny Bairstow (117) ensured we avoided defeat.

In the third Test, we bravely opted to bowl first. James Vince (182) and Joe Clarke (195) both recorded career best performances in a partnership worth 268. Clarke’s innings was particularly satisfying following a lean spell after which he’d been left out of the XI. He performed well in the warm-up match to get the nod ahead of Ollie Pope and after a quiet first two Tests, stepped up to surpass 1000 Test runs.

Olly Stone claimed 3-51 on Test debut before we went onto win by six wickets in the final session of the match. Bairstow (27) and Ben Stokes (4) opened the batting with Joe Clarke (4 not out) and Dom Bess (5 not out) promoted to number six, seeing us to a famous win.

In the fourth Test we again bowled first. Yorkshire’s Ben Coad was recalled and swung the ball prodigiously in claiming Test best figures of 4-40. Hameed (93), Vince (82) and Root (77) led the way with the bat before Jamie Porter, who like Coad was brought into this match for the first time in the series having been extremely unfortunate to miss out in the first three Tests, took 4-57. The old wise heads of Alastair Cook (70 not out) and Joe Root (40 not out) saw us home in a fashion far more comfortable than our run chases sometimes are.

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As the above graphic shows, all our senior batsmen averaged in excess of forty.

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We rotated our bowlers well, making bold decisions to rest players when it would’ve been tempting to stick with them and risk burning them out. James Anderson (14 wickets @ 24.79) continued to defy his age as the younger bowlers ran in hard alongside him. Stuart Broad, dropped after a wicketless first Test, has an uncertain future given that our next tour is just a two-match trip to Sri Lanka. He may come into contention for selection in the ODIs.

Though the young spin duo of Matthew Parkinson and Dom Bess didn’t excel statistically, they stuck to their task hard and will hope to reap the fruits of their labours as we seek another second Sri Lanka away series win during my tenure.

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We’ll need a win to retain third place in the Test ranking. Only three points separate ourselves, Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand down in sixth place.

Unfortunately, come the limited overs matches, we reverted to type and lost both the ODI and T20I series by 2-1 scorelines.

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Warwickshire opener Ed Pollock was in scintillating form in the ODIs. He accumulated 251 runs at an average of 83.67. His series contrasted with Alex Hales, who though he scored runs, they were rather laboured innings. The pair compiled back-to-back century stands (153 and 109) in the second and third ODIs.

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Joe Root’s rollicking 92 not out from just 43 deliveries did at least seal us a phenomenal consolation victory in the third and final ODI. Jonny Bairstow (61 not out from 41 balls) also made a welcome limited overs contribution. Disappointingly Stuart Broad went wicketless in two outings having been recalled to the ODI team.

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The T20Is were lost 2-1 having gone 1-0 up. Sussex’s Jofra Archer continued his encouraging introduction to international cricket, as the above graphic highlights. The recalled Jake Ball was in outstanding form. He claimed seven wickets in three matches at just 10.71 apiece. Joe Root again demonstrated why he should be an automatic selection in the limited overs side by striking 84 not out from 59 deliveries… but we still lost.

Next it’s to Sri Lanka for two Tests but no white-ball matches.

Cricket Captain 2018: A Sinking Feeling in New Zealand!

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We ended a run of six Tests without a win by defeating New Zealand in the first Test in the Land of the Long White Cloud. This was despite our hosts, who opted to bat first, been in a position of extreme supremacy when placed at both 150-0 and 217-1. Much like his debut in the Ashes, Jamie Porter endured a wicketless first spell but came back to deliver senational figures of 6-71 with New Zealand collapsing to just 290 all out. Ben Stokes’ magnificent 148 then lifted us to 399 before Porter (3-54) again and left-armer Mark Footitt (4-82) dismissed the hosts for a second time, leaving us requiring 186 for victory. We knocked them off for the loss of four wickets to assume a 1-0 series lead.

In the second Test, with a tour of South Africa on the horizon, we rested Stuart Broad and recalled Yorkshire’s Ben Coad. Having won the toss, we opted to bowl first and Mark Footitt maintained his strong from with career best Test figures of 5-36 to help bowl the home side out for a paltry 204. At 244-5 we seemed well set for a healthy first innings lead but there was no wag in our tail as we collapsed to just 254 all out. New Zealand then made 337 in their second dig, despite Mark Footitt (4-79) causing yet more havoc! Requiring 287 runs for victory, yet again we put ourselves in pole position. We were 91-0 and 155-1 courtesy of Alastair Cook (94) and Haseeb Hameed (75). Hameed hung around as wickets fell but again our tail offered next to nothing. We folded for 256 and to a 31-run defeat.

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As is often the case, we competed, we got ourselves in good positions but let them slip. What could’ve been an excellent away Test series win ended in a disappointing draw.

For the record: Ben Stokes topped the run charts for our side with 241 at 80.33 whilst Mark Footitt, 13 wickets at 20.00 was our leading bail knocker.

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There then followed a five-match T20I series in which the only senior played rested was Test and ODI skipper Joe Root. Unfortunately, following a 3-0 defeat at home to Australia in the summer, new T20I captain Ben Stokes is still seeking his first win. We went down 5-0 in New Zealand and found all manner of ways to lose. Among the positives were Tom Kohler-Cadmore’s 179 runs at 44.75, Jofra Archer’s six wickets at 14.83 as well as a swashbuckling 49 not out from 25 deliveries on debut as well as Ben Sanderson’s five series wickets at just 10.40 apiece. Unfortunately the likes of Matt Critchley and Ross Whiteley endured tough series. Derbyshire’s Critchley conceded 20 from his first over in international cricket whilst Whiteley has a highest T20I score of just 16. Dawid Malan possibly saved his place in the side with a rapid 53 (29) in the fifth and final match, a match lost by just 3 runs!

Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Alex Hales broke the record for our T20I first wicket stand but despite putting on 134, we still managed to mess that match up too!

Bring on South Africa. We’ve always wanted to go on safari!