Cricket 19: Fourth Umpire… If Only!

Three days ago at Lords, eleven men became France’s first ever Test cricketers. Captain Xavier Le Tallec called heads but it was tails that faced skyward when the coin settled on the ground. On a frighteningly verdant deck, home skipper Joe Root had no hesitation in opting to bowl.

Left-handed batsman Jean-Luc Chevalier had the honour of facing the first ball in France’s Test history and immediately grasped the honour of scoring the team’s first ever run. Unfortunately soon after that he had another honour… that of being the first France wicket to fall in the history of Test cricket. Chevalier (5) pushed a little too hard at an over the wicket delivery from Stuart Broad (1-29), got turned inside out and edged to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler who gleefully snaffled the catch.

Fellow opener Enzo Petit, fresh from fifties in each innings against Middlesex on the same ground, was joined at the crease by Gilles Smith. The pair repelled the England attack until DRS drama intervened to shatter French dreams. In his first over, Jofra Archer successfully appealed for an LBW against Smith. It looked out but after some deliberation Smith opted to review, seemingly in hope more than anything. Replays soon confirmed however that the right-hander had actually hit the ball prior to impact with his pads. It might’ve been the back of the bat and barely a scrape but it was enough to merit a reversal. A stunned crowd audibly gasped when Smith (19) was given out once again on the big screen. He pleaded his case with the umpire and though we understand the fine dished out and the reasons why, we remain disappointed by it, as I know that many in the cricket community are. It wouldn’t be our last occasion in the match to be underwhelmed by the standard of officiating!

All-rounder Gabin Sauvage (8) survived alongside Petit (30) until the final delivery pre-drinks when the latter edged a beauty of a delivery from Ben Stokes (1-17) to Buttler… who dropped a pretty regulation chance! I’m sure that the beverages tasted better at 59-2 than they would’ve another wicket down.

Buttler’s butterfingers mattered little however as a promising beginning only led to an embarrassing collapse of epic proportions! 68-2 became 104-9 as our batsmen found all manner of ways to get out, namely playing unnecessarily attacking shots as the application we’d applied up to that point evaporated. Included in those dismissals were Zidane Thomas, run out for a third ball duck and captain Xavier Le Tallec, who had his stumps castled first ball by spinner Dom Bess (4-33). To say that those dismissals were an inglorious start to their Test careers would be an understatement. Last men standing Alexandre Rivière (11*) and Mehdi Qadri swung handsomely to at least ensure that we avoided the ignominy of being bowled out before lunch on our first day of Test cricket. 133-9 were the specifics come salad serving.

One ball after the interval and our first innings had reached its conclusion, Qadri (17) wildly edging to slip off Jofra Archer (2-9).

Rivière had the honour of claiming our nation’s first Test wicket when an unconvincing Dominic Sibley (5) edged an unplayable delivery to Zvonimir Pitko at Gully. The muscular Pitko displayed agility and rapid reflexes to execute a stunning catch. Joe Denly (16) played a couple of glorious shots but was run out courtesy of sharp work by Marwan Leroy behind the stumps. As our players appealed for LBW against Rory Burns, Denly scurried to the other end. Replays suggested that he’d completed the run but maybe the umpires were evening things out when they flashed ‘OUT’ on the board, much to Denly’s chagrin.

Despite regular edges that just wouldn’t carry, England progressed from 51-2 all the way to 203-2 courtesy of Burns and captain Joe Root. In the final session we turned to spin and after Qadri had bowled a promising premier over, with only his third delivery skipper Le Tallec rapped Burns on the pads. The left-hander was on 99 as the ball ricocheted off his pad, clearly hit his bat and was expertly caught by Leroy running forward. Burns didn’t move and the decision went upstairs. An LBW decision was rejected by the third umpire. Fair enough but what about the catch? The officials blatantly ignored it and as with the Smith decision in our innings we were left aghast. Our players had dug deep to find a breakthrough. Our captain had stepped up with a clever tactical change by introducing spin with Burns on 99 but the system or/and the officials had failed us and the sport as a whole.

Despite his reprieve it would be spin that extinguished Burns’ night. In truth the Surrey stalwart played an inexplicably poor shot that was swallowed by Sauvage at square leg. Burns fell for 110 and England were on double nelson three wickets down.

Surprisingly spin continued to dominate at Lords. Le Tallec (1-13) got the wicket he deserved when he forced Ben Stokes (7) to drag onto his stumps. England recovered from the departure of the Durham man and reached 240-4 at the close, 107 runs to the good. Root and Ollie Pope elevated England to 315-4 when the latter, on 41 at the time, should have been run out. Mehdi Qadri (1-52) inexplicably failed to break the stumps from just inches away. After the pair had compiled 112 in each other’s company, Alexandre Riviere required only three deliveries with the new cherry to induce Pope’s (52) edge and Leroy claimed a good diving catch.

Sam Curran (27*) was promoted ahead of Jos Buttler and alongside Root (177*) raised England to 405-5 come the declaration. Riviere (2-62) was the pick of the bowlers but messrs Pierre (0-67), Thomas (0-90) and Sauvage (0-88) endured tough Test initiations.

We commenced our second innings effectively -272-0!

By the time the first wicket went down that deficit had been reduced to 195 as Chevalier and Petit restored French pride. The duo constructed a hugely encouraging opening stand of 77 before Chevalier (18) was bowled by Ben Stokes. I have huge sympathy for Chevalier because such was Enzo Petit’s dominance of the strike that it wasn’t easy for an instinctive stroke player like him and he just lost his rhythm a little. At the time the left-hander was bowled by the 22nd delivery that he received (He didn’t score off his final four) Petit had faced 49 balls, more than double Chevalier. Still, the pair had put on 77 for the first wicket to plant seeds of optimism for the future of French cricket.

Frustratingly Petit (56) was caught behind in the final over of the session. He seemed surprised by the removal of Archer from the attack and change of ends and angle for Curran. You could debate over the choice of shot let alone the execution of the pull but Petit deserves nothing but praise for his efforts both in the warm-up matches and our first ever Test. 100-2 still 172 runs behind was the scenario at tea and scones on day two.

After the interval Sauvage (3) soon succumbed to Curran, caught off a leading edge that ballooned to mid-on. Shortly after Sauvage’s demise Smith (27) naively fell to Bess’ first over of spin, caught on the boundary by that man Curran when a score of substance seemed on the table.

We’d slipped to 114-4 but Zvonimir Pitko and Zidane Thomas began building a partnership that soon had even the home fans on their side. The duo showcased their discipline as well as array of stroke play and had added 142 when Thomas was plumb LBW to Bess’ first ball of a new spell. It was typical that Thomas’ (65) run-a-ball knock ended with him trying to defend when he may have been better attempting to score.

Leroy (1) fell in the same over bringing Le Tallec to the crease. The skipper avoided the ignominy of a pair on Test debut but nicked to the slips off the returning Curran (3-48) to be outstandingly caught by his opposing number Root for just a single.

Patrick Pierre (1) was foolishly run out before Alexandre Riviere smashed back-to-back maximums straight up off Bess. Those strikes ensured that England would have to bat again and we’d avoided an innings defeat (With a little help from a declaration!) on our Test bow.

Bess (5-51) got sweet revenge when Riviere fell for 25 off only eight deliveries before Pitko (73) was out next ball. To avoid an innings defeat was a superb effort from the team but 289 was a disappointing score having been 256-4. England required 18 runs to win the first Test. After limiting the score to just 3-0 from one over we did at least take the game into a third day.

Despite a few LBW shouts and an edge through the slips England won by all ten wickets.

We started well with the bat but lost our way. We stuck to task with the ball then committed as a unit with the bat second time around. Yes we collapsed in all too familiar fashion in both innings but three of our top six recorded fifties and we had two partnerships of real substance. That bodes well for the immediate future. Next up we host England for out first ever Test match on home shores. Gabin Sauvage and Patrick Pierre may be sweating over their places as we look to square the series. I’d like to provide players with plenty of opportunities but it may be necessary to freshen things up. We’ll take a look at the surface before making a decision. We can’t wait to entertain a home crowd who will have had their appetite wetted by a brave display at Lords.

The Lions Share

There are some exciting selections in the England Lions squad for a tour of Australia commencing in January that follows the senior side’s series in South Africa.

Incumbent Test opener Dominic Sibley and fellow full England squad member Zak Crawley both make the four-day squad.

Keaton Jennings, tipped for a recall for the senior squad’s tour of Sri Lanka in March due to his two Test tons on Asian soil has the opportunity to enhance his game on demanding pace friendly pitches, the sort that a lot of people have previously felt that he’d be eaten alive on!

Already capped but almost forgotten Dom Bess as well as Surrey’s Amar Virdi are in with a genuine chance of making the full side’s trip to Sri Lanka if they can impress in Australia. With uncertainty surrounding Moeen Ali’s potential return both could yet make the tour. Bess, like his Somerset sparring partners Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton, feature in both the four-day and one-day squads.

Overton seems to be Mr Periphery for England having been recalled for an Ashes Test but ditched for the full winter tours. Gregory was provided little opportunity by skipper Eoin Morgan to perform in the T20I series in New Zealand.

Sam Northeast’s international ambition flame still flickers with the thirty-year-old named in the four-day squad. Gloucestershire’s James Bracey, who the selectors really like, makes both squads.

Another interesting selection is that of Richard Gleeson in both squads. He’s been touted as England material before but at 32 and a late comer to domestic cricket, it may be that caution applied to fellow injury prone quicks Olly Stone and Jamie Overton have aided his cause. Don’t get me wrong though, Gleeson excelled for Lancashire last term.

Tom Abell is yet another Somerset player in the one-day squad and he fully merits recognition. It’s good to see Tom Kohler-Cadmore in there too following any indiscretions.

Laurie Evans is no young pup but has made a name for himself on the franchise circuit and fully merits a place in the 50-over party.

Matt Milnes has had more success in First Class than List A cricket but a place in the one-day squad will allow the coaching staff to have a good look at him. He took regular wickets for Kent during a breakthrough County Championship season in 2019 but leaked runs too.

Under appreciated but deceptively effective in one-day cricket Mason Crane makes the white ball squad. Of course it was playing Grade Cricket in Australia that helped win him a Test cap.

Ollie Robinson (Kent) and Ollie Robinson (Sussex) both make the four-day party… freaky!

Check out the squads in full here…

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/1535797/england-lions-squads-confirmed-for-tour-of-australia

Ben Duckett, Liam Livingstone, Ben Foakes, Ben Coad and Jamie Porter are amongst the notable omissions. The selectors may feel that they know enough about Duckett, Livingstone and Foakes including knowing that they don’t need Duckett to be called up in spin friendly Sri Lanka! With an eye on Australia as well Coad and Porter are possibly pigeon holed as home condition bowlers only.

Bess Heads North!

Somerset’s briefly England spin bowler Dom Bess has joined Yorkshire on loan in what seems like a smart move for all parties.

Bess is a talented young cricketer who just can’t get in the team at home county Somerset. He’s understandably behind the ever impressive Jack Leach in the county’s pecking order. Similarly to players such as county colleague Craig Overton, Bess more than hinted that he has the temperament and talent to succeed at the highest level when gracing the Test arena. Overton has been ripping it up on the county scene this year but is still some way off an England recall. Bess too, what with the aforementioned Leach as well as England’s no.1 Test spinner Moeen Ali present, Ali like Bess being an off-spinning all rounder, is a million billion trillion miles away from England’s Test side. Bess has failed to make an impression during the One-Day Cup this year but will hope to hit his straps pronto in the County Championship with Yorkshire. Extremely capable with the bat in hand as demonstrated during his two Test appearances, Bess could yet end up being a more batting-orientated player.

What Josh Poysden will make of this who knows?

Poysden was recruited by the white rose county last year when Adil Rashid’s future was uncertain. He’s done okay in the One-Day Cup this year (6w @ 50.50, 5.51rpo) but only okay. He possesses a reasonable First Class record but in truth has played little for a man of his age…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/464110.html

Yorkshire’s premier spinner, Adil Rashid, was informed by England Selector Ed Smith that he needs to play red-ball cricket in order to be selected for England’s Test side. It may be that following his one outing in the Caribbean earlier this year that that ship has already sailed. Come winter tours on the subcontinent however, Smith may still want to get funky and pick Rashid. In the short term of course, he’ll be at the World Cup.

I’m not a fan of transfers left, right and centre in county cricket but this is the sort of mutually beneficial deal that gets an immensely talented player on the field so should be welcomed. You wouldn’t want Bess to stand in the way of homegrown talent but in truth the likes of Karl Carver will benefit from more exposure to second XI cricket whilst James Logan is injured.

England Cricket Trading Cards: eBay Listings

Hi guys

If you’re looking to complete your 2018 England Cricket Trading Cards collection then please check out my eBay listings. There’ll be more listings to come soon…

https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/paunie10/m.html?_nkw=&_armrs=1&_ipg=&_from=

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Heather-Knight-England-Cricket-Trading-Card/223167860395?hash=item33f5d74eab:g:N-8AAOSwAvpbr0U1

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https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Amy-Jones-England-Cricket-Trading-Card/223167857475?hash=item33f5d74343:g:eVkAAOSwBvRbr0Pz

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Jake-Ball-England-Cricket-Trading-Card/223167870549?_trkparms=aid%3D444000%26algo%3DSOI.DEFAULT%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20170221122447%26meid%3D4b84026e57f243369db350ccf6ba2672%26pid%3D100752%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D3%26sd%3D223167857475%26itm%3D223167870549&_trksid=p2047675.c100752.m1982

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Dom-Bess-England-Cricket-Trading-Card/223167875611?hash=item33f5d78a1b:g:bR4AAOSw0kRbr0l2

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Jos-Buttler-England-Cricket-Trading-Card/223167874563?_trkparms=aid%3D444000%26algo%3DSOI.DEFAULT%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20170221122447%26meid%3D5a04aa77b61c4d9c82544cce18e4982a%26pid%3D100752%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D3%26sd%3D223167873170%26itm%3D223167874563&_trksid=p2047675.c100752.m1982

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Liam-Plunkett-England-Cricket-Trading-Card/223167873170?_trkparms=aid%3D444000%26algo%3DSOI.DEFAULT%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20170221122447%26meid%3D1560236ade8346e0bc2dfcc1b74d47b7%26pid%3D100752%26rk%3D2%26rkt%3D3%26sd%3D223167870549%26itm%3D223167873170&_trksid=p2047675.c100752.m1982

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https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Mark-Stoneman-England-Cricket-Trading-Card/223167869583?hash=item33f5d7728f:g:owEAAOSw95Bbr0fI

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Ben-Stokes-England-Cricket-Trading-Card/223167867129?hash=item33f5d768f9:g:4OEAAOSwJGdbr0bE

Good luck completing your collections.

Where are you Anya Shrubsole?

Cricket Captain 2018: Personal Milestones

The year is 2032 and Alastair Cook need not sweat!

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The run-getting of captain Max Holden has been integral to England’s Test success. An unfortunate recent habit of getting run out, including twice in a sensational Ashes series victory in Australia, have contributed to his average returning to something near mortality. Not that long ago it exceeded sixty!

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Occasional gloveman Ollie Pope has been another reliable run getter. His conversion rate is particularly impressive and had until recently helped him maintain an average just shy of fifty.

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Sam Hain has also piled on the runs, not just in Tests but in ODIs and more recently T20Is as well. Like Pope, Hain’s Test conversion rate is outstanding as is the case for him in ODI cricket. Hain is England’s leading run-scorer ever in the fifty-over format.

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Joe Clarke, who like Pope has been known to don the gloves, has also chalked up plenty of runs if not quite finding the consistency he would’ve liked.

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Sam Curran’s averages might be a little disappointing but he’s been a crucial impact player and continues to improve with bat and ball in all formats of the game. He reached 200 Test wickets in the same innings as Josh Tongue who we’ll come to later.

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Spin-bowling all-rounder Brad Taylor…

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… and wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall, are two players who have been known to really step up to the plate when the chips have been down!

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After a woeful start to his international career, Matt Critchley silenced the doubters by going onto become one of England’s most reliable middle order Test batsman!

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Josh Tongue had to wait patiently whilst Jamie Porter (180) and Ben Coad (233) assumed the mantle from James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Now though Tongue has in excess of 200 wickets at both Test and ODI level as well as nearing 100 victims in T20Is. He’s some way ahead of second placed Jofra Archer (82) as England’s leading wicket-taker in the shortest format.

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Spinner Matthew Parkinson’s star had appeared to wane but he’s upped his performances once again to attain 665 Test wickets. That puts him ahead of James Anderson at the top of England’s all-time list of Test wicket-takers. He’s also performed effectively in white-ball cricket despite his workload been managed over the years. Parkinson has relegated the unfortunate Dom Bess (287 wickets @ 28.76) to the role of Stuart MacGill to his own Shane Warne.

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Tom Kohler-Cadmore is England’s leading run-scored in T20I cricket and has been known to really turn it on at World Cups both in T20I and ODI cricket. Like the next man we’ll come too, his averages have dipped over time but a renaissance in the twilight of his career has been welcome..

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Alongside TK-C at the top of the order in limited overs cricket, Ed Pollock has had his moments but an ODI batting average that once exceeded forty has declined dramatically. He recently compiled a ninth ODI century to feast following famine!

Players such as Ed Barnard, Ryan Higgins, Saqib Mahmood, Feroze Khushi and Jack Plom are amongst those to have remained part of the squad over time and had their moments in the sun.

England Cricket Trading Cards

Who’s the guy top left? He doesn’t play for England!

Dawid Malan, Tom Helm, Katherine Brunt: Where are you? There’s only so many Dom Bess and Fran Wilsons that I can stand! In fact, I’ve got more Keaton Jennings than Keaton Jennings has got runs this year!

Ben Duckett, Haseeb Hameed, Nick Gubbins: Why is it so hard to find an English opening batsman?

One England opening batsman I have found is no longer an England opening batsman!

In summary, I’ve got most of the standard cards. The missing few are:

Men’s Test: Jonny Bairstow, Ben Duckett, Steven Finn (I have the shiny version but not the white version), Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes

England Lions: Haseeb Hameed, Joe Clarke, Nick Gubbins, Alex Davies, Tom Helm, Sam Curran

Women’s: Katherine Brunt, Laura Marsh, Any Shrubsole

Though Amy Jones is one of my favourite players, I don’t need one of her for every day of the week!

Men’s ODI: Sam Billings, Steven Finn, Alex Hales

Men’s T20I: Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Liam Dawson

Actually that’s more than a few. What Sam Billings’ repeated absence tells us about his international career is unclear!

Fire & Ice: James Anderson/Joe Root, Danielle Hazell/Heather Knight

Here’s where it gets patchy…

Milestones: Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Joe Root, Alex Hales

Portraits: Joe Root, Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad, Heather Knight, Ben Stokes,

Patch Card: Stuart Broad Reemption, Stuart Broad Patch Card… there’s one selling on ebay for £500.00 though. I’m keen but I’m not that keen!

Spinning Around!

Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Jack Leach, Dom Bess, Liam Dawson, Mason Crane, Matthew Parkinson, Sukhjit Singh, Hamidullah Qadri, Matthew Carter, Amir Virdi, Ben Twohig, Matthew Critchley, Josh Poysden, Adam Riley…

There is an oft-repeated myth that English cricket lacks a healthy stock of spin bowlers. That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no doubting the abundance of talent on the county cricket scene. Admittedly many of the aforementioned players are far from the finished article. They are young guns and it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll be presented with the opportunity to develop as one would hope. If they are, then the competition for places in the England team will be intense!

Through misfortune (AKA injury), England have accidentally bred competition. Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid have returned to the Test side. Jack Leach has quite rightly been left to rediscover his groove at Somerset and Mason Crane was making promising strides in white-ball (List A/T20) cricket before injury recurred its ugly head. It’s been great to witness Adam Riley return to the Kent fold and Matthew Parkinson is surely a candidate for at least England’s T20I side in the short term. Josh Poysden has relocated to Yorkshire where he can hopefully blossom (Like a white rose!). If Nottinghamshire provide him with opportunity then England may want to get Carter (See what I did there?!). Fingers crossed that Sukhjit Singh and the rest can break into their respective county first XIs sooner rather than later. Meanwhile the much maligned Liam Dawson is one of the most ever-improving cricketers in the English game. He did little wrong during his Test outings (With the ball at least. His batting went awol post debut), suffered from being a fill-in player under attack from the opposition but performed admirably well in the Pakistan Super League.

England don’t want to make any RASH decisions, go down a dark ALI, succumb to blood sucking LEACHes. They want to get the BESS out of their spin bowlers by POYSDENing the opposition batsmen. They want to PARKinson up and SINGH from the hills. They don’t want to be CARTERed around, they want to go at no more than TWOhig an over. They want to CRANE over the opposition and live a life of RILEY!