England Crumble to Chase in… Chase!

A massive well done to West Indies on comprehensively and deservedly defeating England in the first Test.

We could talk about selection until the cows come home but can’t you always?

There’s no doubt that England’s preparation was pathetic. These everybody has a bat affairs don’t promote competitiveness. It would be far better to have a couple of eleven-a-side First Class fixtures, actually breed some competition between the players and put some pressure on them for their place, as there should be in Test Cricket. There’s value in the new buzzword, destigmatising being dropped but some intensity between teammates is needed in order to be successful. There is of course an argument about volume of cricket and time with family but maybe this highlights the need for different squads for different formats and the longer form almost becoming a completely separate sport.

As is typical with English pundits, a player who took an eight-wicket haul still got criticised and derided for being nothing more than a village cricketer. Maybe England should select some village cricketers. If so, I’m available!

The selection of Darren Bravo doesn’t say a lot about the state of willow wielders in West Indies cricket. He was selected based on history but wasn’t primed to perform given how little regional four-day cricket he’s played in recent times. Having said that, it’s probably a bit rich for an England supporter to be criticising the home team’s batting. He’ll likely score a ton now in the second Test. What a Test match for debutant John Campbell to be part of too!

It’s hard to see Adil Rashid playing in the next Test and Sam Curran might be struggling too but please don’t write him off. Please don’t lump him in the “Only good in home conditions” category, after one underwhelming performance.

Keaton Jennings will probably survive as Joe Denly has hardly made a case…

… and the likelihood of Moeen Ali being promoted to open after a pair is slim. Rory Burns did at least make strides and can hopefully back that up during the rest of the tour.

Fingers crossed for a couple more fascinating Test matches in the Caribbean. Oh, should probably mention Jason Holder too… well batted!

A Dark Day for Cricket

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Do I even need to mention the subject?

I can understand Rilee Rossouw’s frustrations. He can’t get in the team because black players (And by black we mean at least two black Africans and four non-whites) such as Temba Bavuma and Jean-Paul Duminy, get selected ahead of him even if (When!) they fail, fail and fail again. This is not to say that Bavuma will not be stronger for his struggles and go on to have an outstanding career or that Duminy hasn’t had his moments. Oh and Rossouw claims this had nothing to do with his relocating but that he “need(s) to buy groceries”!

http://www.cricketcountry.com/news/kyle-abbott-rilee-rossouw-retire-from-international-cricket-sign-kolpak-deal-with-hampshire-564091

For Kyle Abbott the scenario seems somewhat stranger as he is currently in the South African Test XI (Or was) though admittedly full fitness to one or two others might have relegated him to 12th man duties. In recent times Simon Harmer, Stiaan van Zyl and Hardus Viljoen have also joined English counties on Kolpak deals.

Of course we can strip it right back and say that South African national sport teams should be full of black players but by that rational then all black and Asian players need be removed from England teams and Australian national teams would definitely be struggling for players.

Regarding the signatures of Abbott and Rossouw, exactly what message does this send to young cricketers in the county of Hampshire?

For youngsters that aspire to play for their home county, they are now likely to think that their county doesn’t want them and that they’d rather sign experienced South African pros. There will be young English Hampshire players sat in the pavilion or at home when their South African infused team take to the field in 2017.

With the new English domestic season approaching at pace, we are surely headed for another Leicestershire v Northamptonshire episode where most of the players aren’t even eligible to represent England, and on that note…

… I recently wrote an article about the possibility of Darren Bravo playing for England…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/bravo-for-england/

… in truth, the qualification period is now seven years, so this should allay any fears of Abbott and co. gatecrashing the England team anytime soon at least. I previously addressed my understanding of the way that people move around the world these days and how it is not always as straight forward as some people would like to label a person with a nationality but I sincerely hope that the capped South African players arriving in our game this year never don the Three Lions shirt. Luke Ronchi and Ryan Campbell provide recent examples of players that have switched international allegiance post being internationally capped. Imagine if Wayne Rooney retired from international football then moved to the MLS but in five years time became eligible to represent the USA, did so and played against England at the World Cup! If anybody feels that this is xenophobic on my part then so be it. These situations differ dramatically from those of Pietersen, Prior or Trott, or of Robson, Shah and even Joyce but I’ll repeat my comment from my Bravo article that once you’ve made your international bed you must lie in it.

Are you listening Johan Botha?

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?

Hope for West Indies

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It’s fair to say that since the turn of the century Caribbean cricket hasn’t been at it’s peak. The West Indies national side have not been the force they once were. Potential stars such as Kieron Powell packed the game in altogether to try their hand at baseball, though he’s recently returned to cricket whilst Darren Bravo’s future is in serious doubt following a recent Twitter outburst.

There is however a glimmer of hope for West Indies. When Shai Hope made his Test debut against England it was in truth probably a little too soon but a career best knock of 211 just prior to the Test got him the nod. Over eighteen months later he is still awaiting a Test match half-century but did make a career best 41 in his last Test outing before striking 47 on ODI debut earlier today.

It’s not just Shai either. His elder brother Kyle, four years Shai’s senior at 27 is still awaiting a First Class century but a batting average of 29.35 suggests that he has no problem getting going. He recently struck 107 for West Indies A against Sri Lanka A in a List A match.

Amongst others, the encouraging signs displayed by Roston Chase early in his Test career, Nicholas Pooran debuting in T20Is and Rahkeen Cornwall’s domestic performances also provide West Indies with optimism for the years ahead.

International Duck Watch!

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Zimbabwe’s Craig Ervine joins the club today, aided in no small part by our old friend Suranga Lakmal. Ervine was out second ball as Zimbabwe limped to 154 all out (Moor 47 / Gunaratne 3-21) against Sri Lanka in Harare. Sri Lanka then knocked off the runs for the loss of only two wickets in just 24.3 overs with Dhananjaya de Silva hitting a career best 78 not out.

The next match in the series sees Sri Lanka take on a Darren Bravoless West Indies on November 16th.