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.

2019 Cricket World Cup

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I’ve thrown my e-mail address into the ticket ballot for the 2019 One-Day Cricket World Cup that is scheduled to take place in England next summer. Quite what this means I’m not sure. Could I end up with tickets to see Papua New Guinea vs. Bangladesh in Cardiff? I should probably point out that I’m a Yorkshire based England fan! Here’s the link to the ICC’s ticket page:

https://www.icc-cricket.com/media-releases/595204

The tournament qualifiers are currently taking place in Zimbabwe with two teams from ten progressing to the World Cup. Can you call it a World Cup when there’ll only be ten countries taking part? It’s a bit of a lottery as to which matches count as ODIs and which ones count as List A only. It’s pretty crucial stuff when a player registers a hundred or claims a five-for!

Many of the associate nations taking part at the qualifiers are missing key players because they’ve jumped ship and joined Test nations (Mark Chapman, Hong Kong to New Zealand) or because they’re working on doing the same (Michael Rippon, Netherlands to New Zealand). They’re also missing players because they can’t afford to play and need to work, e.g.: Preston Mommsen (Scotland) and Jamie Atkinson (Hong Kong).

Cricket needs to spread and develop the game globally. It could be that Test cricket will be saved by the associate nations. As players abandon the longest format for the T20 dollars and Test cricket becomes less competitive then the likes of Kenya and Nepal may join Afghanistan and Ireland in dining at the main table. Having said that, Rashid Khan and Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichane have already had a taste of the global T20 league so already even the second tier teams are potentially losing players from competing internationally to the domestic dollar competitions.

Back to the qualifiers, Scotland have already upset Afghanistan who were captained by nineteen-year-old Khan, whilst Zimbabwe posted nearly 400 in imposing defeat against Lamichane’s Nepal. You can keep up to date with proceedings here:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/_/id/8038/season/2018/icc-world-cup-qualifiers/

Hopefully next year’s World Cup will catch the fans’ attention like last year’s Champions Trophy did. Here’s to some fine English weather come 2019!

University Challenge

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Okay, they probably wouldn’t be allowed to call it that but at least you can get an idea where I’m going.

The fact that there are selected universities that have First Class status doesn’t sit well with some people. In a bygone era maybe but now it just doesn’t seem appropriate. When universities take on the counties in pre-season friendlies the match-ups are seen as nothing more than average boosters for the professionals and possibly an opportunity to score a longed for double-century or take a seven or eight-wicket haul.

Cricket is trying to recruit players through inner-city initiatives as well as many other schemes and whilst the game should always strive to distance itself from elitism, that should mean nobody is discriminated against, this includes universities.

Silly Point proposes that rather than selected universities having First Class status, they compete for it. The honour and the prestige should be earned not a given. It’s a simple idea, a knockout tournament for which only the final has First Class status.

Currently six universities have First Class status:

Cambridge

Cardiff

Durham

Leeds/Bradford

Loughborough

Oxford

Based on size let’s throw in Birmingham and Manchester to make eight teams in total though I can’t claim to have researched their cricket facilities or infrastructure. This would provide a straight forward quarter-final, semi-final and final tournament format. Of course ideally the competition should be open to all universities nationwide so could consist of 16, 32, 64, 128 or 256 etc university teams at the first round stage. This would of course put demands on umpires and scorers and crucially ensuring that umpires of integrity are employed at every match. First Class matches do last three or four days so alternatively or run side by side their could be a One-Day or T20 tournament for which the final is provided List A or official T20 status.

Another crucial factor about the latter stages of the tournament and definately the final is that it should be shown on national free-to-air television. Click on a TV set and you might stumble across college basketball or football in USA. In England we get a boat race. Let’s celebrate this tournament and make it a grand day in the annual cricket calendar. A stellar performance in the final could earn someone a county contract or at least a trial or maybe even a short term deal in a global T20 tournament and from there who knows what could be achieved?

Derby England’s New North!

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I’m looking forward to attending some cricket in 2017.

Maybe I’ll go and watch some matches at the Champions Trophy.

Oh wait, all matches will be played in either Birmingham, Cardiff or London.

Maybe I’ll go and watch some matches at the Women’s World Cup then.

Oh wait, all matches will be played in either Bristol, Derby, Leicester, London or Taunton.

That’s a minimum four-hour round trip for us Yorkshire folk. Pity any Durham fans that would like to see some major tournament action!