Zazai to Fly!

One of the reasons that I’m looking forward to seeing a couple of Afghanistan matches at Headingley come this year’s ODI World Cup is… Hazratullah Zazai!

I’ve detailed the destructive opening batsman’s abilities previously…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2018/10/14/if-theres-one-to-watch/

He’s started the Bangladesh Premier League in some style by smacking 78 from just 41 deliveries for Dhaka Dynamites against Rajshahi Kings.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8653/scorecard/1169380/dhaka-dynamites-vs-rajshahi-kings-2nd-match-bangladesh-premier-league-2018-19

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s Thisara Perera walloped 140 from only 74 balls but still ended up on the losing side against New Zealand today. In Colin Munro and Jimmy Neesham, New Zealand have some destructive hitters of their own.

Trans-Tasman, Australia’s Marcus Stoinis is producing the goods for Melbourne Stars in this season’s Big Bash.

All around the world there’s some big hitting talent that will be congregating in England this summer. Could we see some record-breaking performances come the World Cup?

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

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

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – 2024 Season

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Here’s a quick round up of the 2024 campaign.

In the One-Day Cup, I commenced the season with scores of 79 and a List A best of 174 from 86 deliveries at the top of the order. I then scored 27 and was promptly dropped to number four! I was pretty peeved at the demotion and some low scores then ensued. After only 21 runs in four outings, I then walloped 90 off 28 having reached 50 from 14 whilst passing 1000 career List A runs in the process.

I made a quick fire 46 in the quarter-final against Durham but that was as far as we got. I totalled 433 runs at 54.13 in the competition.

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I finally got the call to the Yorkshire T20 side and after a slow start, made 76 from 43 against Sussex.

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I dominated a rather one-sided partnership against Middlesex having equalled the world record for fastest fifty alongside Chris Gayle and Yuvraj Singh, just the twelve deliveries required. Later in the season, I went onto register a maiden ton from just 32 balls, two deliveries short of equalling Gayle’s record. I had a fantastic opportunity to smash the fifty record against Northamptonshire but having raced to 46 from nine, missed a free hit then failed to connect with the following two deliveries.

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I would go onto record another hundred, a career best 115 from just forty balls against Somerset. I was dismissed in the forties in both the quarter-final against Essex and semi-final against Derbyshire. Despite being favourites, we failed to get past Derbyshire in the semi and so yet again, there was to be no big day out for us.

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There were hundreds galore in the First Class arena. After a slightly slow start, I made 175 in a partnership of 209 against a Northamptonshire attack that included Australia’s Josh Hazlewood and my South African nemesis Tabraiz Shamsi.

Against Nathan Lyon and company at Worcestershire, I scored 175… again!

I made 99 against Surrey before being bowled around my legs. Having made 27 in the second innings I got dropped to four again. There must be something about the score of 27 and getting demoted from opener to four!

After a few low scores I was back to run-getting with 153 against Kagiso Rabada’s Derbyshire, then made 189 versus Leicestershire and 102 against Surrey. I reached fifty from twelve balls against Nottinghamshire and was then promoted back to opener. Against Glamorgan, I contributed my season high 216 having reached a century from just thirty deliveries. I fell for 95 in the second innings before scoring 92 in the final match of the season against Durham. I actually reached my half-century in a record breaking ten deliveries!

I was really satisfied with my ability to convert centuries into at least 150s more often than not. Unfortunately, as soon as the season finished, I was off to Australia and so couldn’t see the final County Championship standings or run charts! (Sort that out please Big Ant!)

I’ve signed as captain with Tasmania for the Sheffield Shield but then joined Auckland in the New Zealand T20 competition. This means that I’ll miss a load of Sheffield Shield matches. I’ve decided to sign up to as many T20 franchises as possible this winter to see how it works then review it and maybe be more selective next winter. I’ve signed for Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash and Khulna in the Bangladesh Premier League but it looks like I’ll only play snippets of each competition. I’m guessing that if I sign up for the Ireland T20 that I’ll miss some of the English county season. Like I said, I’ll sign up to every league possible this term then try and manage things better the following season.

For the record, my career record is as follows:

First Class: 3963 @ 66.05 incl. 14×50 & 12×100, TS: 325

List A: 1134 @ 59.68 incl. 4×50 & 5×100, TS: 174

T20: 757 @ 42.06 incl. 3×50 & 2×100, TS: 115

Denly’s Destiny?

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England Test captain Joe Root has opted to take a break from international cricket during the upcoming T20I Tri-Series against Australia and New Zealand. With all-rounder Ben Stokes also likely to be unavailable, there could be a vacancy for a batsman who bowls a bit, someone who has been in form whilst playing in the Bangladesh Premier League and Big Bash recently, somebody who has improved dramatically since last floundering in international T20 cricket against Australia. Look no further than another Joe, Kent’s Joe Denly.

In last season’s T20 Blast, the former Middlesex man totalled a whopping 567 runs at an average of 43.62 complete with strike-rate of 150.80. Nobody aggregated more runs than the thirty-one-year-old. The Canterbury native averaged a decent 31.16 at 105.64 for Dhaka Dynamites in Bangladesh before Christmas and has just smashed 73 not out from 45 deliveries for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash, leaving him with a tournament average of 72.00 from four games. He was only dismissed twice during his short Sydney stint. It’s not just the shortest format that Denly has improved at either, last season he averaged 55.48 in the County Championship. The right-hander contributed 1168 runs including four centuries and five half-tons. His domestic career stats aren’t great, generally averaging mid-thrities and neither are his international figures all too impressive: 20 runs in five T20I innings and an average below 30.00 in ODIs.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/12454.html

That was nine years ago however and Denly wouldn’t be the first player to reinvent himself and improve. He’s a useful spin bowling option too and if the England selectors fancied trying the same selection policy as Australia, i.e. picking players on BBL form, then Denly is well worth a shout. If Gary Ballance and James Vince etc can have recall after recall then surely Denly merits another opportunity. Having been included in the Test squad for New Zealand, it could be that Liam Livingstone earns a return to the T20I side and I’d have no qualms about that. Off the back of such form for Denly in Oz though, a recall for the Kent man seems like a no-brainer!

It’ll be Alright on the Sylhet Night!

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Ross Whiteley playing for Worcesterhsire Rapids against Yorkshire Vikings at Headingley last summer.

The 2017 instalment of the Bangladesh Premier league is under way and there are a few England players, some more household names than others to keep an eye on.

England limited overs regulars Adil Rashid and Liam Plunkett are both there. Of course there are many who would have had at least one of the Yorkshire duo in their Ashes Squad.

Joe Denly and Sam Hain are amongst some of the other England qualified players to be participating in the tournament. Denly has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance in English county cricket though an international recall still seems rather unlikely. Hain has long been touted as an international prospect but some underwhelming domestic campaigns have left him well down the pecking order.

It’s Worcestershire’s Ross Whiteley who could benefit most from the exposure however. I was at the match against Yorkshire where he took spinner Karl Carver to the cleaners. Truth be told it was a ridiculously short boundary but Whiteley, despite a modest career record, possesses a fearsome reputation for clearing the ropes. Even if he doesn’t regularly make massive scores, if his twenties and thirties are scored at 200% plus then he can be of real value to his side. A good showing for Sylhet Sixers in the BPL could earn him gigs in the Pakistan Super League or Big Bash. Come the end of a long Ashes tour and five-match ODI series, there’s some T20Is in the shape of the Trans-Tasman Tri-Series that involves New Zealand as well as England and Australia. If he can pull the trigger to effect on the global franchise scene then left-hand-bat Whiteley could be in with a realistic shout of winning a T20I cap.

Hong Kong Sixes 2017: England Squad?

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

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

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

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

My squad is as follows:

Tim Bresnan, Yorkshire (Captain)

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

Ben Duckett, Northamptonshire (Wicketkeeper)

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

Lewis Gregory, Somerset

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

Ryan Higgins, Middlesex

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

Benny Howell, Gloucestershire

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

Liam Livingstone, Lancashire

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

Ross Whiteley, Worcestershire

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

Some other players that could come into consideration:

Adam Lyth

Riki Wessels (Wicketkeeper)

Brett D’Oliveira

Liam Dawson

Paul Coughlin

Craig Overton

Tymal Mills

England to Name Squads for India ODIs/T20Is

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England will name their squads for the post Christmas ODI and T20I series’ against India, both three-match affairs, on monday. England are likely to avoid too much experimentation and save that for the matches against West Indies and Ireland in February and May. That’s not to say that there won’t be a little squad rotation.

Captain Eoin Morgan as well as opening batsman Alex Hales will come straight back into the side after opting out of the Bangladesh tour because of security concerns. Joe Root, rested for the limited overs leg of that tour will also return. That means that for the ODIs at least, perennial starter James Vince will pay the price for not going onto makes scores of substance. England will be keen to persist with many of their limited overs specialists and provide opportunity to those that have mostly sat on the bench during the Bangladesh / India Test tours. That means Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow, both of whom are burdened with great responsibility in the Test arena may be amongst those that have earned a respite.

Adil Rashid’s continued progress may grant him further responsibility in the ODIs without the safety net of Moeen to back him up. Liam Dawson, who has been playing T20 in the Bangladesh Premier League and was this week added to the Test squad, will be in the party and Joe Root can provide an occasional off-spin option.

Sam Billings recorded a maiden ODI fifty (62) in the deciding match in Bangladesh but will have to drop down the order to make way for the return of Hales and Jason Roy who was injured for that match. Both deserve to recombine at the top of the order for England. Billings of course provides wicket-keeping cover for Jos Buttler as does Ben Duckett who despite his travails in Test match cricket merits retaining his place in the ODI side. He made scores of 60, 0 and 63 in Bangladesh and like Billings will hope to avoid being dropped the match after registering a career best. All that adds upto Jonny Bairstow sitting out. Scores of 0,35 and 15 in Bangladesh didn’t quite make Bairstow demand a regular place in the ODI side as ridiculous as it might seem to omit him.

England will be keen to provide Jake Ball (5-51 on ODI debut Bangladesh) and Steven Finn with game time as well as Liam Plunkett. Plunkett was injured for the first two matches of the Bangladesh series and didn’t have a game to remember (0-51) in his sole outing in the third but merits retention in the squad. David Willey (15-2-82-0 in the series) is another one who didn’t have an outstanding time against the Tigers but his left-arm provides variety in the attack and again he is one who England will feel it is worth further investment. England may also be tempted to rest Chris Woakes and that could benefit Surrey’s Tom Curran. The Surrey man recently took 5-16 as well as scoring 40 with the bat for England Lions against UAE in Dubai.

For the T20Is summer debutant Tymal Mills, currently playing in New Zealand and like Dawson having played in the BPL last month will come into the squad and could simply be an addition rather than sending anyone home. If England do decide to tinker then Dawid Malan who made the squad but not the XI in the summer and has produced a couple of match winning innings in the BPL could also come in. Moeen and Woakes would likely come back in for Duckett and Curran with the likes of Adil Rashid and Ben Stokes taking a rest. James Vince might also sneak back into the T20I squad.

What was I saying about avoiding too much experimentation?!

Predicted ODI Squad:

Eoin Morgan (Captain), Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Ben Duckett, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey

Predicted T20I squad:

Eoin Morgan (Captain), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Liam Dawson, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Tymal Mills, Liam Plunkett, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Vince, David Willey, Chris Woakes

Bravo for England!

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No seriously, think about it. Darren Bravo has fallen out with the West Indies board (There’s a first for everything!). He didn’t get the contract offer that he wanted and to be fair to Bravo, a Grade C contract was probably a little harsh for a guy that seemed one of the more committed West Indies players, i.e. one that tended to choose the hidden backwaters of Test cricket ahead of the glitz, glamour and razzmatazz of global T20 tournaments. Now he’s suing the WICB!

So what does the future hold?

Bravo isn’t generally perceived to be your stereotypical Twenty20 basher, though to be fair his domestic record (Ave 33.60, S/R 118.01) is pretty reasonable. Even if he wants to play in the Big Bash, BPL, IPL or whatever, Bravo comes across as the sort of guy that will want a little more substance to his career.

Could he be destined for the County Championship?

The appeal of Bravo, a man with 3400 Test runs at an average of exactly 40.00 including eight centuries, to an English county is an obvious one, particularly if he’s rid of international commitments and likely to be available for most of the season.

Fast forward three or four years (Or whatever the qualification period is?) and could Bravo even play Test cricket for England?

The idea isn’t as far fetched as you might think and he’s not the only one that could be in such a position. I hope that my fellow blogger Bimal won’t mind me posting the link to his article about someone already in the hypothetical national allegiance switching position I’ve considered for Bravo…

Botha open to playing for Australia

In England we’ve seen the likes of Ed Joyce and Boyd Rankin represent the country of their birth and heritage, Ireland before qualifying to play for England. Their moves were understandable as they had been playing domestic cricket in England for some years and it was the only way that they could play Test cricket (Apart from doing the same in another country of course) Once they lost their places, Joyce quite harshly and Rankin after one abysmal but rather set-up to fail Test and despite an excellent showing in ODIs, they soon returned to Irish colours.

In football, Brazilian born Diego Costa represented his home country before joining Spain and Ivory Coast born England cap Wilfired Zaha has now ‘signed up’ for the country of his birth more than three years after his second and last England appearance. There are many examples of players who if born elsewhere would have won more international caps.

Imagine if uncapped Australian batsman Jamie Cox (FC runs: 18,614 incl. 51 centuries) had been born across the Tasman in New Zealand and not Tasmania? (Of course if he’d been born in New Zealand he might not have been a cricketer at all but you get my drift).

The world is constantly changing, people move, children are born to parents of different nationalities (Just like my own) who may then relocate and relocate again. There are many reasons and examples of why international selection isn’t as straight forward as some people would like it to be but this isn’t club football. The global T20 leagues don’t lend themselves to loyalty, one only needs to look at the list of teams that the likes of Chris Gayle has represented to see that but international selection should bring with it the afore-mentioned loyalty. In my humble opinion, once you’ve represented a nation then you’ve made your bed and you must lie in it.

Back to Bravo, for all we know they’ll be a kiss and make-up soon enough but if his Test career has ended at the age of just 27 then 3400 runs at an average of 40.00 including eight centuries with a top score of 218 in 49 appearances are figures that many would crave but for Bravo they’ll leave a lingering sense of unfulfillment and what if?