Cricket Captain 2018: White Ball Wonders… Well Almost!

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Having already defeated Scotland 1-0 in the ODI format, we went undefeated in three further white-ball series before coming a cropper in the final limited overs duel of the summer.

Firstly we saw off Australia in an ODI series, sealing the honours in what was effectively a final in the fifth match. That victory resulted in us assuming the world number one ranking in the fifty over format.

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Newcomer Jamie Overton claimed the best ever haul by an Englishman in ODI cricket. The Somerset quick snaffled amazing analysis of 6-14 to help us win the 3rd match with Australia crumbling for just 105. Overton finished the series with 10 victims at 11.40 apiece.

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In the one-off T20I that followed, 42-year-old Darren Stevens made a long awaited international debut and promptly stole the show. With us in trouble at 93-6, the Kent all-rounder promptly put on an undefeated 57 with fellow debutant Lewis Gregory (18 not out) of Somerset. Stevens finished 49 not out from 34 balls. It seemed as though it was written in stars!

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Next came India where we ran out 2-1 winners in the T20I series. Each of our top three, Dawid Malan, Alex Hales and Jason Roy registered a half-century during the competition. Darren Stevens continued to enjoy the international environment. The county veteran concluded the series with six victims at just 15.80.

Unfortunately in the final limited overs affair of the summer, the ODI series against India, the wheels rather came off. We went down 3-0, struggling to readapt to the fifty over game and failing to post competitive totals. The bowling efforts of twenty-year-old Josh Tongue (4 @ 25.00) as well as the recalled Liam Dawson (6 @ 28.67) were encouraging however.

Now it’s back to the five-day format for a mouth watering five-match series against India. India will have gained confidence from their ODI series win but in truth our Test team is an almost different XI entirely and we’re still buoyed from the emphatic victory against Pakistan.

England Uncapped XI

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Imagine that England’s cricketers have gone on strike. They’re upset about that car sponsorship deal ending or they all want to play in the new Kazakhstan T20 league. England’s selectors are reluctant to return to players that’ve failed to produce the goods at international level before. They decide to select an extremely experienced squad so ignore the likes of Ollie Pope, Joe Clarke and Sam Curran amongst others. The below is what an England Test squad might then look like.

First XI

James Adams

Daryl Mitchell

Sam Northeast (Captain)

James Hildreth

Darren Stevens

Keith Barker

John Simpson (Wicketkeeper)

Ollie Rayner

Luke Fletcher

Steve Patterson

Chris Rushworth

12th Man

Steven Mullaney

Tourists

Luke Wells

Riki Wessels

Ben Brown (Wicketkeeper)

James Harris

Stand By

Chris Nash

Joe Leach

I’ve selected Northeast as captain so as not to burden either of my openers, Adams and Mitchell who make for a strong left-hand/right-hand combo. Hildreth is at four ahead of Stevens and Barker who provide all-round options with Barker’s left-arm variety essential. Simpson dons the gloves meanwhile Patterson and Rushworth take the new ball backed up by Fletcher as well as Barker and Stevens. Spin options are a bit limited but Luke Wells makes the touring party as spin back-up to Ollie Rayner. Steven Mullaney makes the squad as 12th man, providing strong all-round cover with bat and ball.

As well as Wells and Mullaney, Wessels and Harris provide a good variety of cover. Brown backs up behind the stumps whilst Wessels is also an emergency ‘keeping option.

Top order bat Chris Nash who can bowl decent spin and dependable all-rounder Joe Leach are officially on stand-by.

Disclaimer: The likes of Rory Burns, Benny Howell and Tom Bailey are among the unfortunate omissions. Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sam Hain, Liam Norwell, Lewis Gregory, Jamie Porter and Ben Coad join that list but I was generally plucking for the most experienced players.

The End of the Rhodes

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Yorkshire’s Will Rhodes will leave the county for pastures new at the end of the 2017 campaign. The twenty-two-year-old has totalled almost 60 appearances across the three formats but has had to head out on loan (to Essex) in order to get game time. Recent first team opportunities at Yorkshire have been few and far between and he’ll be a Warwickshire employee come next season.

The Headingley outfit recently signed Tom Kohler-Cadmore from Worcestershire to cement their status as a buying club… Ballance, Brooks, Hodd, Plunkett, Willey…?

The White Rose’s second XI is full of players who only seem to be on the county’s books incase of a flu epidemic or all the first team players going on holiday at the same time!

The likes of Ryan Gibson, Johnny Read, James Wainman and Jared Warner must acquiesce themselves with the role of professional second XI cricketer. At 24, Wainman has three professional outings to his name. Another player, Josh Shaw, has rejoined Gloucestershire on loan in order to gain further exposure. Meanwhile Surrey’s Sam Curran has 84 first team appearances to look back on and Hampshire’s Mason Crane now in excess of fifty.

Yorkshire have clearly developed outstanding young talent and theory of numbers means that not all will become first team regulars. The limited first XI opportunities provided to some however, as other players are purchased from left, right and center is quite frustrating. Many players that move counties never really get going and drift out of the game or find themselves failing to settle/succeed and even having to move on again (Briggs, Peng, Harris). Let’s hope for Rhodes that his move turns out more like Rayner, Read or Stevens at the least.

Hopefully from now on everything will go smoothly for Will and there’ll be no bumps in the road!