Cricket 19: Afghan Duty!

Test Squad: Enzo Petit, Jean-Luc Chevalier (Vice-captain), Christophe Martinez, Zvonimir Pitko, Louis Petit, Zidane Thomas, Marwan Leroy (Wicketkeeper), Xavier Le Tallec (Captain), Paco Georges, Anthony Toure, Mehdi Qadri, Timothee Clement, Maxime Bernard (Wicketkeeper), Aymerric Gautier, Louis Martin, Thibaut Keller

Only Test: Abu Dhabi

France 220 (Thomas 59, E Petit 35, Leroy 26/Ahmad 3-37, Khan 3-22, Ahmadzai 2-43)

Afghanistan 183 (Ahmad 45, Zazai 42/Qadri 5-23, Toure 3-36)

France 221 (Martinez 74, E.Petit 42, Georges 39/Khan 4-53, Nabi 3-32, Ahmad 2-51)

Afghanistan 259-4 (Shah 77, Afghan 42*, Ihsanullah 42/Chevalier 1-8, L.Petit 1-34, Qadri 1-77)

Lost by 6 wickets

ODI Squad: Hippolyte Gregory, Jean-Luc Chevalier (Vice-captain), Christophe Martinez, Matteo Phillipe, Maxime Bernard, Zidane Thomas, Marwan Leroy (Wicketkeeper), Xavier Le Tallec (Captain), Louis Petit, Paco Georges, Phillipe La Roux, Zvonimir Pitko, Aymerric Gautier, Anthony Toure, Mehdi Qadri

1st ODI: Abu Dhabi

France 113 (Bernard 33, Chevalier 14, L.Petit 11/Khan 5-12, Zadran 3-34)

Afghanistan 116-0 (Naib 64*/Shah 51*/L.Petit 0-13, Le Tallec 0-13)

Lost by 10 wickets*

*Please note that the players refunded our fans the cost of their tickets.

2nd ODI: Dubai

France 369-9 (Georges 76*, Bernard 47, L.Petit 45/Shirzad 2-62, Zadran 2-85)

Afghanistan 242-8 (Khan 82*, Shah 40, Shirzad 33*/ Georges 3-53, Qadri 2-41)

Won by 127 runs

3rd ODI: Dubai

France 149 (Bernard 26, Leroy 22, L.Petit 19/Nabi 3-25, Khan 2-34, Zadran 2-39)

Afghanistan 150-4 (Alikhil 62*, Shah 39, Nabi 21*/Le Tallec 1-23, La Roux 1-29)

Lost by 6 wickets

Lost the series 2-1

T20I Squad: Hippolyte Gregory, Jean Luc Chevalier (Vice-captain), Zidane Thomas, Matteo Phillipe, Maxime Bernard, Christophe Martinez, Marwan Leroy (Wicketkeeper), Xavier Le Tallec (Captain), Louis Petit, Paco Georges, Phillipe La Roux, Zvonimir Pitko, Maurice Noe, Anthony Toure, Mehdi Qadri

Only T20I: Dubai

France 245-9 (L.Petit 65, Phillipe 54, Gregory 38, Martinez 26/ul-Haq 3-30, Ur Rahman 3-53, Khan 3-61)

Afghanistan 178-6 (Zazai 55, Zadran 54*, Afghan 38/Thomas 1-22, La Roux 1-24, Martinez 1-26)

Won by 67 runs

Disclaimer: Please note that to reduce the risk of infection no warm-up matches were played.

Cricket in the Time of Coronavirus!

Ben Duckett and Liam Livingstone are two players that I’m glad England haven’t given up on having named both in a 55-man trans-format training squad.

A wide variety of personnel are involved, many of whom have performed well for England Lions in recent times. The likes of Dan Lawrence for example thoroughly merit recognition whilst Will Jacks is an exciting proposition.

Amongst the recalled (It is only a training squad) players are James Vince, David Willey and perhaps most surprising of all… Reece Topley!

In the uncapped bracket both young and old are represented. Batsman Laurie Evans fully merits recognition having performed well both in England and overseas whilst Richard Gleeson may be a surprise to some but has been admired by the England hierarchy for some time.

Sam Northeast, Ben Coad and Harry Gurney will be among the disappointed ones having been omitted despite pressing their cases either on Lions duty, in county cricket or on the franchise circuit.

Other than those mentioned above there are lots more exciting players who could be called upon. Please see the link below for the full squad…

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/29239315/alex-hales-liam-plunkett-left-england-name-55-man-training-group

Cricket 19: Which Way? Zimbabwe

Only T20I: Corsica

France: 195-9 (Phillipe 81/Williams 4-??)

Zimbabwe: ???-?

Won by ?? runs

Errr, sorry, made a mess of saving the scorecard but we won… honest!

1st ODI: Corsica

France 252 (Chevalier 37, Phillipe 27/Raza 3-24, Mpofu 3-32)

Zimbabwe 203 (Ervine 66/La Roux 2-37)

Won by 49 runs… courtesy of an extreme volume of extras!

2nd ODI: Corsica

Zimbabwe 208 (Masakadza 59, Raza 53*, Burl 46*/Chevalier 2-31)

France 214-2 (Gregory 103*, Chevalier 55/Chisoro 1-43, Ngarava 1-51)

Won by 8 wickets

Nearly made a mess of getting Gregory to his nation’s first ever ton in a full international but with the scores tied he got there with a six!

3rd ODI: Nantes

France 333 (Bernard 112, Chevalier 49/Chatara 4-99)

Zimbabwe 313-6 (Burl 65, Kamunhukamwe 58*, Musakanda 53/La Roux 1-47, L.Petit 1-50, Toure 1-59)

Won by 20 runs

A century on ODI debut for Maxime Bernard. Like Gregory he nearly didn’t get there but an epic last wicket stand of 71 with Anthony Toure (22*) elevated his and the team score. Had Zimbabwe played their reserves in the first two matches then maybe the series would’ve been more competitive.

Only Test: Nantes

France 247 (Le Tallec 75, Thomas 73, Georges 30/Mpofu 3-32, Ngarava 3-82, Raza 2-16)

Zimbabwe 241 (Masakadza 120, Taylor 51/Qadri 4-37, Toure 2-51)

France 117 (Chevalier 41, Thomas 22/Mpofu 5-47, Mavuta 4-29)

Zimbabwe 125-1 (Masakadza 83*, Taylor 25*/Qadri 1-22)

Lost by 9 wickets

We recovered from 41-5 in our first innings and they collapsed from 146-1 in theirs. As for our second innings… don’t ask! Having performed a clean sweep in the white-ball games, it was disappointing not to complete the set by winning the Test.

Next we head to Afghanistan for one Test, three ODIs and a single T20I with serious question marks hanging over our struggling batting line-up!

Disclaimer: Apologies but I just needed a break from full on match reports of every game!

A New Playing Field

Hi all

If cricket doesn’t provide enough ball action for you then please head over to my new football (Soccer) related site. You can arrive at the pitch by clicking here… http://www.leftbackfooty.com

If you’ve enjoyed reading my thoughts on cricket then hopefully you’ll do the same regarding football. There’ll be a variety of articles taking to the pitch soon and please share the links to both my sites with all your friends and families on social media.

http://www.sillypointcricket.com

http://www.leftbackfooty.com

Many thanks and stay safe!

Out of the Darkness!

In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, counties continue to cancel the contracts of overseas players. If there is any cricket played this summer then it could be that local/English players are presented with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

There are great benefits of experienced overseas players representing counties but far too many of those signings are nowadays made with a short term view. They’re a quick fix and more likely to delay the development of a young local lad than aid it.

If we do witness any county cricket this year then we could see some unfamiliar names taking to the field. Some will flounder never to be seen again and soon turn to working in the city etc but for some, they’ll seize the chance and go onto make a career that they might not have had. We’ll wait and see…

Cricket 19: Signing Off in Style!

In the one-off T20I against Australia in Sydney, we started in a way that encapsulated the hit and miss nature of our tour. Following a double mis-field off the first delivery off the match, we ran David Warner out without facing a ball! Australia had opted to bat but for the second Sydney innings in a row, Warner blobbed having made 140 in the first Test in Perth.

From 0-1 Australia hardly got going as we effected three run outs in the innings. Captain Xavier Le Tallec set astute field placings as we reduced the hosts to 82-8. A stand of 40 between McDermott (34*) and Behrendorff (21*) lifted Australia to a potentially competitive 122-8 from their 20 overs. Skipper Aaron Finch top scored with 38 meanwhile Le Tallec was outstanding with the ball, claiming figures of 3-17. Georges (1-26) and Petit (1-15) also struck.

Petit was unfortunate to have a chance dropped by wicketkeeper Maxime Bernard but the gloveman redeemed himself with a run out and catch soon after. The luckless Phillipe La Roux finished with figures of 3-0-23-0 that included 8 overthrows… would they prove costly? Zidane Thomas’s (3-0-25-0) struggles with the ball continued but Christophe Martinez’s leg spin was a revelation. The Reunion Islander conceded just 15 runs from three overs. We required just over a run-a-ball to claim our first ever limited overs victory and end a tough tour on a huge high note…

Jean-Luc Chevalier and Hippolyte Gregory started sensibly before Gregory feasted on Adam Zampa’s vegan leg-spin. Gregory struck each of Zampa’s first three deliveries over the ropes for 6 as Zampa conceded 31 from his first over. Credit to Zampa, who only conceded 34 from his next three overs but his performance was costly! Having helped compile 49 for the first wicket, Chevalier (15) top edged a pull off Jhye Richardson to wicketkeeper Alex Carey. It hasn’t all been roses on this tour for Chevalier but he’s got enough about him to be better for it.

Gregory went onto make a career best 35 from 28 deliveries before being bowled by Coulter-Nile with the score 90-2. The run flow stymied somewhat as Matteo Phillipe batted sensibly but possibly got a little bogged down. He’d made 7 from 17 balls when he reviewed an LBW against Glenn Maxwell. Phillipe, like the rest of us on the balcony, was spewing his supper when he was given out. This was despite the video evidence clearly confirming that he’d got bat on ball before being struck on the pad. He’d flown a long way for just 7 runs and desperately wanted to be there at the end.

From 108-3 the supremely composed Zidane Thomas finished a tough winter by edging the ball… time stood still as everybody turned their gaze… for four to seal our first ever white-ball win. Thomas finished 49 not out from 44 deliveries with Zvonimir Pitko undefeated on 3 alongside him. The Iceman Pitko was of course at the crease when we won our first Test. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Australia’s bowlers: Behrendorff (4-0-10-0), Coulter-Nile (4-0-13-1), Richardson (3.1-0-14-1), Maxwell (2-0-8-1)and Short (1-0-2-0) all of whom keep things tight but Gregory’s onslaught on Zampa won us the match. That’s not to undermine what was a consummate team performance with contributions throughout.

Australia skipper Aaron Finch was humble in defeat but didn’t regret choosing to bat first. We struck immediately and never let Australia get away from us then batted sensibly without a hint of panic when chasing an historic victory.

The home fans were superb and for our supporters who’d travelled all the way from Europe, it was a special moment to be shared by all. President Macron was on the phone immediately… he’s never shy to share any glory!

This winter hasn’t always been easy but we’ve won a Test in India and a T20I in Australia. We’re ahead of where we expected to be. Bring on the summer!

Cricket 19: Sinking in Sydney!

Following defeat in Perth we made two changes to the playing XI for the second Test in Sydney. Out went run shy middle order batsman Youssef Rizvi as well as anonymous pace bowler Louis Martin. In their place came middle order batsman Christophe Martinez and genuine express pace bowler Anthony Toure. Both were making their bow at Test level.

We lost the toss and were inserted to bat but made a fluent start courtesy of Jean-Luc Chevalier. After scores of just 10 and 1 in Perth, the left-hander raced to 25 before edging to slip off Hazlewood. Gilles Smith, who had batted so well in the second innings out west, then edged to Burns who spilled the chance. Sadly for Smith (2) his opposing namesake dived and caught the ball!

Debutant Martinez (5) played a couple of nice shots but he too fell to the rampant Hazlewood. Zvonimir Pitko (14), who made only 5 and 1 in Perth, then knuckled down alongside opener Enzo Petit (21). The duo lifted us from 37-3 to 76-3 but both soon fell to the relentless Hazlewood.

Wicketkeeper Marwan Leroy made only 2 before becoming Hazlewood’s sixth victim of the innings. Hazlewood’s analysis of 6-42 followed his first innings figures of 7-63 and ten-wicket match haul in Perth. As was the case in Australia’s west, Zidane Thomas and captain Xavier Le Tallec took the attack to the home bowlers. The pair raised us from 92-6 to 129-6 before Thomas (21) was caught in the outfield off Mitchell Starc. Paco Georges (0) couldn’t repeat his Perth heroics, seeing his stumps demolished by off-spinner Nathan Lyon first ball. Lyon (2-41) also accounted for Toure (8) before last man Mehdi Qadri joined his skipper. Qadri hung around long enough for Le Tallec (50) to register a second half-century of the series. The captain clubbed 50 from just 24 deliveries before Starc (2-34) returned to terminate the innings on just 163. It was another sorry showing with the bat.

Despite our underwhelming effort with the willow, we made a cracking start with the ball! Paco Georges found the edge of David Warner’s bat and the ball bulleted to Pitko at point. The Iceman held a sensational grab to send Perth centurion Warner back to the sheds without having troubled the scorers.

Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne put on 79 together but the latter in particular wasn’t always convincing. That said, he played some lovely shots before falling LBW for 47 to the unheralded medium pace of Enzo Petit. Petit (2-20) then doubled his Test wicket tally when he bowled the mighty Steven Smith for just 4. Australia had slipped from 80-1 to 92-3 but at the interval had reached 108-3.

In the first day’s final session Burns and Travis Head marched on. The duo took Australia into the lead on 177 when Georges returned to oust Head (45). The left-hander nicked to slip where Chevalier held a good high catch. Mitchell Marsh joined Burns who later reached his ton and the hosts closed day one on 228-4, already 65 ahead.

We made a fantastic start on day two as everything just clicked like you always hope it will. With just three runs added to the overnight score, Georges forced Marsh (21) to inside edge to Leroy. Then came a special moment for debutant Anthony Toure. The teenage tearaway had Paine (17) sensationally caught by the ever reliable Pitko at point. It was a wonderful moment for us all to share as Toure claimed his maiden Test wicket, that of the Australian captain at the SCG. He bowled much better than figures of 1-78 suggest. Georges then accounted for Cummins for a duck. The wicket was the result of a wonderful full delivery that Chevalier at first slip did magnificently to dive low to his left and grasp. Joe Burns then needlessly ran himself out for what had been a chanceless 135. All of a sudden Australia had lost four for 46 and been restricted to 277-8. Just when we had ambitions that we could mop the innings up, Starc and Hazlewood hung around and refused to be ousted. At lunch they’d passed fifty and lifted Australia to 330-8.

Eventually, after Starc and Hazlewood had combined for an enormously frustrating 85, Zvonimir Pitko (1-14) bowled Hazlewood (36) with only the second ball of a new spell. Starc (58*) reached a half-century but couldn’t prevent Paco Georges from claiming a five-wicket haul at the SCG. With the score on 381, Georges (5-126) angled a delivery across Lyon (11) who nicked behind to Leroy. We would commence our second innings 218 in the red.

We soon lost Chevalier (1) LBW in the first over to complete a miserable series with the bat (37 @ 9.25) for our vice-captain. Smith (2) then fell for said score for the second time in the match as Starc’s (2-13) double strike reduced us to 6-2.

Martinez resisted briefly and made a Test best 7 but hung his bat out when he needn’t and edged to Paine off Hazlewood (1-11). Then Petit (15) was turned inside out and superbly caught by Labuschagne at point off Cummins (1-24). We were in extreme peril at 31-4 but Pitko and Thomas did at least take us through to tea and the score upto 62-4.

Pitko and Thomas combined for 58 before Thomas (25) played one shot too many and was caught by Starc off the fortuitous Marsh. Leroy (0) was then caught by Paine off Lyon to complete a woeful series with the bat (0, 5, 2 & 0). Le Tallec (0) was stumped in the same over. The captain had scored fifties in the first innings of both Tests but failed to score in the second. Georges completed a pair to contrast his first Test fifty and five-wicket haul in this Test. Again it was the lucky Marsh (2-32) who gained a wicket. From the seeds of a fightback at 89-4 we’d whimpered to 91-8.

Pitko, who had struck a monstrous 131-metre six off Cummins, perished to Lyon for 31, the score now 97-9. Toure (1) then followed suit as Lyon bettered his first Test second innings figures of 4-5 by claiming a scarcely believable 4-4! That meant 97 all out having lost 6 wickets for 8 runs. The margin of defeat was an innings and 121 runs which was slightly worse than the first Test.

After the euphoria of our maiden Test match victory in India our tour of Australia has been a sobering one thus far. We’ve produced a couple of spells with the ball where we’ve ripped out a few Australian wickets quickly but never scored enough runs to truly compete. Gilles Smith’s 87 in Perth and Paco Georges’s 5-126 in Sydney are obvious highlights. Our captain Xavier Le Tallec also made two fifties and Zvonimir Pitko’s six that nearly traversed Sydney Harbour will live long in the memory. Now we switch gears for the solitary T20I preceded by a warm-up fixture.