Where are the Women?

The 2019 Official England Cricket calendar is on sale now and at first glance it appears to have the same layout as recent editions. There is one obvious omission though… women!

Surely it’s about time that the calendar featured England’s women cricketers. It’s arguable that they’re different teams and should have their own calendars and I can understand such a stance but… aren’t the men’s Test, ODI and T20I teams separate entities? Should we have separate calendars for each?

I think that it’d be great to see the captains on the front, Heather Knight centre stage flanked by messrs Root and Morgan.

There could be a move away from individual profile pages and more of a team presentation. There could for example be a wicketkeeper’s page featuring shots of Sarah Taylor, Ben Foakes, Amy Jones, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow. Action shots would be good but admittedly the page is only so big. The five players could be lined up alongside each other with for example Foakes at the front and centre, the ladies either side and slightly behind him with Buttler and Bairstow further back forming a V formation.

There could be pages that feature only the men or women but again let’s move away from individual player images. Months could feature two batters at the crease or the team celebrating a wicket or series victory.

Possibly the best performances of the previous year, a player registering a double-hundred or nine-wicket haul or alternatively a breakthrough or retiring player could earn a solo page. Another nice addition might be a legends month where players from years gone by takes centre stage.

Ultimately, men or women, England’s cricketers are there to inspire all. This wouldn’t be a token move for the times but a change accurate with equality and sense. It would be right and should be perceived as normal not groundbreaking. The fact that I’m saying this and that it hasn’t happened means that it’s still not!

Edit (An Important one!): I’ve since opened the calendar (!) and five women’s players do feature alongside men in an ensemble page at the centre with male players who didn’t earn a month of their own. It’s not a month of the year page though, so you’d have to hang it up as a poster and wake up not knowing what month it is! Still, great to see the likes of Anya Shrubsole and Nat Sciver in there.

Preparation Stagnation

England commence their long anticipated Test series in Sri Lanka very shortly but their preparation has lacked serious intensity. I appreciate that the climatic conditions have dealt an unfavourable hand but this scenario is nothing new to England’s cricketers.

I have always been in favour of a couple of official First Class matches on tour. These whole squad get involved matches are little more than a glorified net and are not treated as competitive matches. Whilst the individual element may seem like good prep, I strongly believe that an individual playing only one First Class warm-up rather than participating in two exhibition affairs, would be more akin to playing Test Cricket. Had Rory Burns and Keaton Jennings opened in the first of two official warm-up games in the knowledge that Joe Denly was to be presented with a chance in that slot in the second match, the pressure on them to perform would surely be more akin to actually playing Test cricket.

On the subject of Denly, he may well have played himself out of a Test debut with a shoddy performance in the warm-up matches. With mid-series tour matches almost eradicated, how do the likes of Denly or Ollie Pope restate their case for selection in situations such as these? This is a feeling that’s all too familiar to Gary Ballance!

As is often the case with any selection related article that I’ve scripted, either the landscape has changed very quickly or I was just completely misguided in my initial assessment. Surrey’s Ben Foakes now looks a likely Test debutant in the first Test and could really muddy the selection waters ahead of Jonny Bairstow’s return to fitness, by producing a good performance. Imagine if Jos Buttler falls twice to spin for single figure scores!

Somerset spinner Jack Leach also seems likely to return to skipper Joe Root’s XI and hopefully he and Foakes can convert consistent county career contributions to the international stage. England will be desperate to bounce back in Asia following their abysmal attempts in Bangladesh and India a couple of years ago.

Frustrated Foakes!

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Surrey’s Ben Foakes spent last winter warming the bench during a lengthy Ashes tour and could now be set to do the same in Sri Lanka. Since last winter, Jos Buttler has returned to the side not only as a specialist batsman but also as second choice wicketkeeper. As a result, even though Jonny Bairstow injured himself playing football, former Essex-man Foakes remains unlikely to play in the first Test. If Bairstow is anything shy of 100% fit then based on his attempts at playing when injured during last summer, he should be nowhere near the XI. The England management need to be brave enough to make the sort of calls that Italy’s football coach Arrigo Sacchi did with star player Roberto Baggio during the early stages of World Cup USA ’94. England also have Foakes’ Surrey teammates Ollie Pope and rather less likely, uncapped opening batsman Rory Burns as alternative wicketkeeping options. That’s just the five glovemen in the squad then!

Based on what we saw last winter, it’s quite possible that England’s XI in the third Test may be rather different to what we see in the first encounter. With little game time under his belt, Somerset spinner Jack Leach may be unlikely to start the series but if England fall behind then he may well be called upon. It may also be the case that the delicate Olly Stone benefits from not playing though you’d think some overs under his belt would be helpful.

Much maligned opening batsman Keaton Jennings missed out in his only opportunity on tour so far as did Joe Denly. Though Denly’s return to England’s T20I side went romantically well, the nature of the game means that he was able to claim wickets without bowling at his best. That is unlikely to be the case in the Test series. It’s tough to call but with rumours that Stuart Broad may be rested and Sam Curran’s left-arm variety useful, particularly if Leach is omitted, could England’s line-up in the first Test look like this?

Rory Burns

Keaton Jennings

Joe Denly

Joe Root (c)

Ben Stokes

Jos Buttler (w)

Moeen Ali

Chris Woakes

Sam Curran

Adil Rashid

James Anderson

If the weather allows, England basically now have a one-day game before the first Test. Wickets for the likes of Broad and Leach or runs for Pope or Foakes could yet have a bearing on the make-up of England’s XI. Of course if Buttler were to get injured during a Test, it’d be perverse if Foakes and Pope were sat on the bench alongside Bairstow whilst Rory Burns assumed the gloves on what would turn out to be a heck of a demanding introduction to international cricket for the Surrey skipper.

England Cricket Trading Cards: eBay Listings 3 and a Thank You!

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Hi followers

If you still need to furnish your 2018 England Cricket Trading Cards collection then please check out my eBay salesroom. There are reductions across the board…

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Next year the card’s creators, TapNPlay, are expected to release 2019 Cricket World Cup and Ashes editions as a follow up to this year’s England cards.

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Moving on, as http://www.sillypointcricket.com reaches two years of age and as we approach 5,000 unique visitors as well as 15,000 views (For the most part without the help of social media!), many thanks to everybody who has viewed, commented on and liked the site.

Silly Point

Malan Scammed… and Other Cricket Snippets

Dawid Malan

Hello and welcome to Silly Point. Please have a listen to my latest audio cast by clicking the play button just below…

England ODI/Lions Squads: https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/742530/sam-curran-and-craig-overton-added-to-england-odi-squad-and-chris-jordan-added-to-england-lions-squad

England T20I Squad: https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/738367/england-name-squad-for-it20s-against-australia-and-india

Dawid Malan: http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/236489.html

Jonny Tattersall: http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/517247.html

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – Calypso Calapsyco!

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Calypso music originated in Trinidad and that’s where England’s cricketers collapsed in epic fashion to squander a first innings lead and succumb to defeat against West Indies in the latest round of Global Test League fixtures.

Disclaimer: Let’s step aside from pretending this is all real for a moment. Ashes Cricket’s developers Big Ant Studios released a mid-match patch whilst I was sailing to victory against the home side. Ultimately Big Ant have made the game harder/better. Batting in Tests is now actually like batting in Tests in real life. Well maybe not quite but you get what I mean! I’m looking forward to playing more and adapting my game, having to graft with the bat but in regards to this match, when you’ve become used to smacking the ball to all parts, it’s a difficult habit to break.

In the first innings of the match, England reached 60-0 having chose to bat but lost both openers (Jennings 38/Stoneman 22) in quick succession before being bundled out for 222. Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes top scored with 55 and England were indebted to a career best 34 from Durham pacer Mark Wood on Global Test League debut.

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West Indies lost opener Kraigg Brathwaite before a run was scored and the wickets were shared around as England gained a 50-run first innings lead. The Caribbean side were aggrieved at a couple of umpiring decisions, including the one above that was given out would you believe? After David Willey claimed his first victim of the match, England actually took a team hat-trick that included back-to-back run outs!

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Mark Wood (11-3-34-2) claimed two wickets in two balls to mop up the West Indies’ tail in their first innings.

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As well as Wood, James Anderson (2-39), Stuart Broad (2-32) and the critic silencing David Willey (2-25) each claimed two scalps as did run outs.

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It soon went all wrong for England though. The visitors were 32-6 at one stage in their second innings before Dawid Malan (34) and Mark Wood (24) grafted 63 for the sixth wicket. On GTL debut, Wood put a number of senior batsmen to shame. Captain Joe Root’s horror show of a competition continued. Scores of just 5 and 1 bring the Yorkshireman’s tournament total to a paltry 211 runs at a woeful average of 16.23. This is the worst of any specialist batsman in the inaugural Global Test League. Root has been able to get away with this whilst his team have been winning but when the team starts losing, both his captaincy and place in the team will come under scrutiny.

West Indies were left needing 154 for victory and though England occasionally checked the hosts’s progress and hinted at pulling off a heist when reducing the home side to 107-4, a missed run out chance put paid to their chances. Shai Hope (54 not out) and Roston Chase (24 not out) saw West Indies to a famous victory.

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Young Hampshire spinner Mason Crane bowled respectably enough in the West Indies first innings but was let down by numerous misfields in the second. Crane finished with figures of 16-1-66-0 but in truth there was little threat. His Hampshire team-mate Liam Dawson (17 & 1) failed with the bat having been promoted to number six and barely turned his arm over (7.3-2-24-0) in this match. He now averages a competition high 382.00. A record not to be proud of!

Congratulations to West Indies on a thoroughly deserved victory. England now head to Zimbabwe having lost to them at home in the opening round of the competition. England need to get back to winning ways immediately at the race for the title of Global Test Champions hots up. With the hosts’ pitch expected to favour spin, the composition of England’s XI will be fascinating and may present an opportunity for England’s spinners to finally prove their worth. Mark Stoneman will be sweating over his place while the likes of Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid amongst others will hope for a recall.