American Acquisitions!

What do Cameron Steel, Ian Holland, Rusty Theron and Xavier Marshall all have in common?

They’re all in the USA cricket squad of course and could soon win some Twenty20 International caps!

Nearly two years ago I wrote about about the possibility of English county cricketers Steel and Holland representing USA…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2017/04/27/first-class-americans/

https://sillypointcricket.com/2017/06/04/century-for-steel-stars-stripes-and-steel/

Steel has fallen out of favour at Durham under James Franklin’s take no prisoners approach. Even James ‘Killer’ Weighell can’t get a game. I digress. Holland, who won a sort of X Factor style cricket competition in Australia has, like Steel, struggled to hold down a place in domestic cricket this season. The Hampshire all-rounder had to head to Northamptonshire to get some game time. Now he’s heading to Los Angeles!

http://m.espncricinfo.com/southafrica/content/player/223642.html

I was surprised that Theron didn’t get more opportunities for South Africa but we may yet see more of him at international level.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/usa/content/player/52626.html

Former West Indies hit or miss swashbuckler Xavier Marshall has been part of USA cricket for a while now.

Steel and Holland are American born unlike Theron and Marshall but hopefully all of the above can inspire Americans to participate in the best bat and ball game there is… bases, pitchers… what?

Lees of Life!

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Opening batsman Alex Lees has headed north to Durham from Yorkshire and made an encouraging start following a truly torturous end to his time at Yorkshire.

A career that had promised so much petered out with just fifty flimsy runs in eight First Class innings at a paltry average of 6.50 this term. However, the tide has turned for the twenty-five-year-old on Durham debut against Glamorgan in Cardiff. At the end of the first day’s play, Lees is unbeaten on a run-a-ball 53…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8204/game/1127714/glamorgan-vs-durham-specsavers-county-championship-division-two-2018

That’s right, more runs in one innings for his new county than in four matches for Yorkshire. Okay so he’s playing in Division Two now but as the old adage goes, “You can only beat what’s in front of you!”.

Alongside Lees is his new opening partner, everybody’s favourite American cricketer Cameron Steel. Cam from Cali is currently unbeaten on 22. Meanwhile another former Yorkshire opener, Warwickshire’s Will Rhodes, is currently 101 not out against Gloucestershire in Birmingham. That’s now three County Championship tons since heading south and two in his last two games. His average is soaring and at only twenty-three, like former county pal Lees, Rhodes’ best years should lie in waiting.

Adam Lyth has been an excellent contributor for Yorkshire over the years and his current opening partner Harry Brook, has already demonstrated that he’s got the temperament to succeed. Hopefully each of Lees, Rhodes and Brook can continue to blossom at their respective counties and possibly push for international honours in the years to come.

Six to Watch: T20I Status – Men’s Special

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From 1st January 2019, all Associate cricket nations will have full T20 International status. These are really exciting times for cricketers as well as fans throughout the globe. As I do each year when the county season comes around, I’ve identified six players to keep an eye on as T20 Internationals start to be played out across the world.

Simon Ateak (Ghana)

24-year-old Ghanaian Simon Ateak was Player of the Tournament at the 2018 ICC World Twenty20 African Sub Regional (North-Western) Qualifier. Ateak notched back-to-back fifties against Sierra Leone and Nigeria in Lagos. Ateak had actually been in poor form in ICC World Cricket League Division Five prior to the T20 Qualifier but delivered when needed to help Ghana reach the finals. Simon’s younger brother Vincent also chipped in with the ball during the Qualifier.

Harrison Carlyon (Jersey)

Still only seventeen-years-old, Jersey’s Harrison Carlyon made his international debut against Oman in Los Angeles at the tender age of just fifteen. The off-spinner’s father and uncle have both represented the island’c cricket team and injuries even meant that father and son turned out for the same side. Carlyon has since appeared for Jersey U-19s and made some useful contributions in ICC World Cricket League Division Four. He’s also been in and around the youth set ups at Sussex CCC.

Ahmad Faiz (Malaysia)

How about this for form: 50, 86, 20, 47, 45 & 50. Those were the batting contributions of Malaysian skipper Ahmad Faiz in ICC World Cricket League Division Four earlier this year. The right-handed batsman clearly enjoys the surface in Kuala Lumpur. Admittedly those were one-day matches and his T20 form beforehand wasn’t quite as strong but Malaysia will be relying on their former U-19 World Cup captain when it comes to run-getting.

Andrew Mansale (Vanuatu)

Andrew Mansale is Vanuatu’s experienced leader, having debuted for his country when just fifteen years of age. Now 29 and having gained experience of playing club cricket in Australia, Vanuatu will be looking to Mansale’s leadership as well as his right-hand batting and off-spin to help them rise to prominence in T20I cricket. Joshua Rasu, another right-hand bat who has played for the same Australian club as Mansale is another Ni-Vanuatu worth looking out for.

Calum MacLeod (Scotland)

Scotland’s Calum McLeod already has 28 T20I caps as well as double that amount of appearances in ODI Cricket where, for the record, he’s notched an impressive six centuries. His attacking nature was imperative in Scotland qualifying for the 2015 ODI World Cup and there were glimpses of his talent at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in March of this year. As with many Scots, he’s been around the English county second XI circuit, most recently representing Hampshire.

Carl Sandri (Italy)

34-year-old Carl Sandri’s experience will be vital if Italy are to develop as a T20I nation. Australian born Sandri, a right-hand bat and off-spin bowler represented Sydney Thunder in the 2013 edition of the Big Bash. He was Italy’s leading wicket taker in the most recent ICC World Cricket League Division Five. Peter Petricola, who has played alongside Sandri in Ozzie club cricket, is another old head that Italy will look at to spearhead their efforts.

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Elsewhere, could county players such as Middlesex’s Ollie Rayner (Germany) and Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell (France) be eligible to represent the countries of their birth?

Could Hampshire’s Gareth ‘Ice’ Berg return to the Italian side alongside Sandri and Petricola having played with them six years ago? Berg claimed figures of 4-20 against Uganda and scored 47 against Namibia in 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in UAE. He’s been an underrated performer on the English county circuit (First Class, List A, T20) for a number of years.

If USA can sort out their political infighting, could Durham’s Cameron Steel or Hampshire’s Ian Holland represent the Stars and Stripes in T20I Cricket? It seems inconceivable that USA aren’t a cricketing nation to be reckoned with.

Once T20I status has really taken ahold, look out for future posts to see how Ateak, Carlyon, Faiz, Mansale, McLeod and Sandri have got on… and who I should have previewed!

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In the near future, I’ll also be compiling a Six to Watch for the T20I Women’s game as well as a team special. Be sure to look out for those posts soon.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2017 – Season Review

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The T20 Blast has reached its conclusion but I’m no richer. In my original article regarding my selection for the competition, I spoke about the importance of making transfers come the knock-out stages…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/telegraph-fantasy-cricket-t20-blast/

Unfortunately, what with a certain hospital visit and whatnot, I didn’t stay on top of things and so my team rather went through the motions. Anyway, it’s only fair to provide the promised round-up.

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Riki Wessels, Gareth Roderick and Brett D’Oliveira were the players who made both my County Championship/One-Day Cup team and my T20 Blast XI. Clearly the selection of Roderick as stumper was a misguided one. Having recently returned from absence for ‘unspecified reasons’ the Gloucestershire gloveman didn’t feature in the quick fire format at all. Wessels maintained his good form in all competitions however and D’Oliveira contributed some useful performances.

Mark Cosgrove, Ryan Higgins, Dominic Sibley (Who transferred from Surrey to Warwickshire during the competition), a belatedly arrived Moises Henriques as well as D’Oliveira all totalled 500odd points.

Durham’s Cameron Steel, Lancashire’s Stephen Parry, Gloucestershire’s Chris Liddle and due to injury, Surrey’s Jade Dernbach, were provided little opportunity to impress.

The sum of all parts meant that at least I registered more points than my wife’s and daughter’s teams but finished way down the overall league. Come the end of the 2017 CC/ODC competition, I’ll let you know how I finished in that too.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2017

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Telegraph Fantasy Cricket run an exclusive T20 Blast competition, separate to the County Championship/One-Day Cup combo. It would make more sense to me for them to have three separate competitions, each with a winner as well as having an overall winner.

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Anyway, three players from my CC/ODC side make it into my T20 side. They are Riki Wessels, wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick and Basil’s grandson Brett D’Oliveira. D’Oliveira is an opening batsman who bowls and is listed, fairly enough, as an all-rounder in the CC/ODC game but is down as a bowler in the T20 comp.

I’ve very deliberately (Wessels aside) selected players that aren’t in many people’s teams. It’s no good having the same players as everybody else because you simply don’t gain any advantage. To be successful at fantasy sports, it’s imperative that you identify and select players not picked by many but who will go onto put in the performances.

Mark Cosgrove and Ryan Higgins are listed as batsman but Higgins in particular, after a good showing on First Class debut recently, should contribute with the ball.

Dominic Sibley (T20 bat ave: 49.40) hit the headlines with a double hundred in the County Championship in 2013 aged just eighteen and has become a dynamic batsman at the top of the order for Surrey.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-cricket-2013/content/story/674737.html

California born bat Cameron Steel has come to the fore for Durham this year and should be provided with an opportunity in the shorter form of the game on the back of his CC/ODC efforts. He bowls a bit of leg-spin too.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/century-for-steel-stars-stripes-and-steel/

Ex-England men Stephen Parry (Now a CC regular) and Jade Dernbach lead my bowling attack. Dernbach is a player despised by many and therefore ignored by a number of Telegraph selectors but if not for injury he would likely have qualified for next year’s North v South encounters. Chris Liddle is also a fly under the radar pick. A journeyman pro and holder of an unhealthy First Class average, his limited overs stats are respectable though and he could be a surprise performer. Like Dernbach, he wasn’t far away from automatic North v South selection.

My captain is another ‘to be scoffed at by many’ selection. What Moises Henriques was doing batting at four for Australia at the 2017 Champions Trophy as Chris Lynn sat on the bench nobody knows. Well actually, it was because he bowls a bit of dibbly dobbly and at domestic level he’s an intelligent and belligerent batsman who will not be representing Surrey for the first time.

I will reiterate my key tips from previous posts for selecting a fantasy cricket team:

  1. Select batsman that bowl
  2. Select bowlers that can bat
  3. Select players that aren’t in many people’s teams

I’m advocating faith when it comes to selection for my CC/ODC team but transfers will be a crucial part of the T20 comp come Finals Day. Don’t be left with few players playing additional matches. When the crunch comes ensure that your side is full of players participating for silverware!

Century for Steel: Stars, Stripes and Steel!

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I previously wrote an article about Americans that have played First Class cricket…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/27/first-class-americans/

Well today one of them, Durham’s Cameron Steel, recorded his maiden First Class century. The likes of Middlesex and Somerset, each of whom had the Stateside born bat in their 2nd XI ranks at one time, might be regretting letting him slip through their nets.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-championship-division-2-2017/content/player/633301.html

Steel’s 128 today was pivotal in putting Durham in with a chance of victory in their County Championship Division Two encounter against Northamptonshire at Chester-le-Street.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-championship-division-2-2017/engine/match/1068607.html

You may of course wonder about my obsession with the America/Cricket combo. I believe the phrase the ICC use is ‘Untapped market’. Of course USA has been tapped but the water just doesn’t pour. It’s a nation crying out to be a force in international cricket and to have a major domestic scene…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/stateside-smash/

Back to Steel, he’s played junior cricket Down Under and University Cricket here in England but was born in Cali. He’s helping Durham ease the pain of their points deduction and the loss of senior top order batsmen Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick.

Six to Watch: 2017 – Revisited

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Please find my original article entitled ‘Six to Watch’ by clicking the link below…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/six-to-watch/

Here’s an early season follow-up on the players that were identified in that piece.

Jofra Archer, 22, Sussex, All-Rounder

If Archer is eligible to represent England now, then he could be an outside bet for an Ashes trip though he hasn’t graced the Lions squad yet and provided England’s penchant to have a look first, it might be that he has to settle for England’s bench squad for the time being.

Archer has 18 CC wickets at 24.56 including two five-wicket hauls. Couple that with two half-centuries to help him total 223 runs at 55.75 and you’ve got a very destructive all-rounder. After a slightly expensive start there were wickets and runs in the List A competition too and Archer  is surely a player that spectators and selectors will be following closely.

Daniel Bell-Drummond, 23, Kent, Right-Handed Opening Batsman

DBD started the First Class campaign with… starts but went on to make back to back hundreds in the One Day Cup. He then followed up a duck blip with 90 and totalled 443 runs at an average of 63.29 in the competition. His strike rate was a healthy 87.38. That’s good but the very top batsman are striking at 100% as a bare minimum. He’ll look to the England Lions games to press his case and could make the ODI squad this season if England choose to experiment and rotate ahead of an Ashes tour.

Dom Bess, 19, Somerset, Off-Spin Bowler

Bess was nowhere to be seen in the early stages of the county season and had a quiet introduction to the County Championship. He didn’t make the one-day games either but has this afternoon just snapped up a maiden 2017 County Championship victim. Hopefully he can now kick on.*

Jack Burnham, 20, Durham, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

With Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick gone to Surrey, it looked as though Durham would be looking to Burnham to pile on the runs. He scored 150 against Durham MCCU in April but followed it up with only 15 and 4 in the opening round of County Championship matches against a strong Nottinghamshire line-up. He doesn’t appear to have played any second XI games so may well be injured. In the meantime the likes of Graham Clark and Cameron Steel have had their chance in the first team and progressed steadily.

Nick Compton, 33, Middlesex, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

Injuries and poor form have combined to mean that Compton just hasn’t got going this term. He’s got runs in the second XI including a century and against MCC in Abu Dhabi but hasn’t reached 40 in competitive cricket this season. In truth he’s probably struggling to hold down a spot in the Middlesex first XI at the moment.

Mark Footitt, 31, Surrey, Left-Arm Fast Medium Bowler

Footitt went viral when he kicked off the campaign with 6-14 against Warwickshire. Since then he’s continued to claim victims but has gone at around four an over on occasions. With Test series against South Africa, West Indies and in Australia on the horizon, alongside the quality of Anderson, Broad, Woakes and Stokes, Footitt could be a great weapon to slot into the side for the odd Test from time to time. He’s not in the Surrey line-up for their current match though and constant injury niggles may cost him an international career, as might the ability of fellow left-armers, county teammate Sam Curran and Sussex’s George Garton, both of whom have made the Lions squad though admittedly that squad is specifically for limited overs matches.

For the record, Footitt has 20 County Championship Division One victims in four matches this term at 23.65 apiece but at a leaky 3.77 runs per over.

Here’s Footitt on his way to his 21st First Class five-wicket haul earlier this season, Lancashire the victims.

We’ll catch up with the six later in the campaign to see which players seasons have flourished, which have faltered and which had pressed their case or even reached international honours.

*Bess would actually go on to claim match figures of 10-162 including second innings career best figures of 7-117!