Antarctic T20 Ice Blast! (Silly Point Ultra-Exclusive Story!)

1448adj 2

Cricket’s administrators recently proposed suggestions to help preserve Test cricket. This was in part due to the potential risk of some billionaire creating yet another global T20 franchise tournament and stealing players. Well those moves may have come too late because an unnamed mogul is rumoured to be ready to inject millions into the launching of a new T20 competition. The Antarctic Ice Blast is believed to be prepped for launch as early and appropriately as 2020. Like the identity of the league’s founder, the potential franchise owners remain unknown though TV’s Jon Snow, former Netherlands footballer Arron Winter and New Zealand cricketer Tim Southee are all rumoured to have put down a deposit. Silly Point has however seen the names of the proposed teams and they are as follows:

Bentley Subglacial Trench EmperorsLake Vostok LakersMcMurdo Station PinnipedsMount Erebus MountaineersOnyx River NematodesRiiser-Larsen Ice Shelf IcefishRoss Island Seals and Vinson Massif Explorers.

Englishmen Samit Patel, Ravi Bopara and Joe Denly are all rumoured to have signed up for the inaugural draft as is Test captain Joe Root. There is even a suggestion that recently retired Kevin Pietersen may come out of retirement for one last Blast. English players are perceived to be a vital addition to the franchises because of their experience of playing in cold conditions. Northerners in particular, players from the likes of Durham, Yorkshire and Lancashire are particularly sought after. Franchise owners are rumoured to have been dialling the mobile numbers of Steve Harmison, Darren Gough and Andrew Flintoff in audacious bids to lure the former England trio out of retirement.

West Indies’ Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, Indian skipper Virat Kohli, Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Australia’s Michael Klinger as well as former national skipper Steve Smith, are also rumoured to have put their names forward for the first draft. With Silly Point having seen exclusive advertising, we can advise that former Italy all-rounder Gareth Berg has already emerged as the league’s poster boy. Soon it’ll be hard to move around London Underground, Sydney Business District or the streets of Mumbai without seeing Berg’s flop of blond hair, his arms folded, in front of a mass of ice and a set of stumps… made of ice! That’s right, they’ll be replaced every time they’re broken or maybe they’re unbreakable ice!

It’s understood that the Blast’s benefactor is willing to contribute funds towards the building of renewable energy laden environmentally friendly stadiums for each franchise. These stadiums will have both training and accommodation facilities as well as purpose built wickets. Retractable roofs will come as standard.

Again, Silly Point has gained exclusive access to information and the names of the stadiums are set to be as follows:

Bentley Ballpark, Vostok Park, McMurdo Station, Erebus Arena, Onyx Bowl, Riiser-Larsen Cricket Ground (RLCG), Ross Dome and Vinson Field

The league’s creator is also set to launch their own airline, Antarctic Fantastic Air, to assist fans when travelling to matches.

Some in the cricket world are sceptical regarding the prospect of yet another T20 league in an already congested calendar, about the less than desirable cricket weather and how exactly fans will attach themselves to a team. For some though this is seen an excellent advert for spreading the global appeal of the game. Given the reduction of teams at the 2019 ODI World Cup, many cricket lovers as well as administrators are delighted to see cricket venture into an untapped market. The ICC are already lining up Antarctica as host for both an ODI World Cup and T20 World Cup as well as Champions Trophy venue post 2030.

One frustrating thing about the proposed tournament is that it’s expected to be played out behind a TV pay wall. Rumours are that the competition will have its own channel and will cost a one-off fee of around £250.00 before requiring subscribers to enter a 20 digit code followed by another 20 digit code on their remote control. Pommie Mbangwa, Michael Slater and everybody’s favourite insighter Graeme Swann, are tipped to be among the commentary and punditry team. Instagram and Dave are believed to have exclusive rights to highlights packages whilst if you sign up with the league founder’s rumoured planned new mobile phone company, Antarctic Connexions Mobile, you can gain exclusive access to almost immediate video wicket alerts! Continuing on the screen front, renowned film maker Werner Herzog is set to return to Antarctica and shoot a documentary about the competition’s inception, infancy and general learning to walk.

With some international teams still reluctant to travel to Pakistan for security reasons, Pakistan are rumoured to have already enquired about the possibility of playing home matches there following some disappointing results in UAE conditions. English county side Hampshire are said to be extremely frustrated to have missed out to Antarctica as an English Test venue. Because of the technicalities of Antarctic ownership, it’s understood that all nations could potentially play home games in Antarctica if they wish. Boyd Rankin, Ed Joyce and Johan Botha are believed to have already relocated to the southern continent in order to meet residency requirements ahead of rumoured bids to join the Antarctic national team. Peter Moores is slated as coach… slated, he will be if results don’t go too well! Essex are believed to have enquired about whether players, hell just people, could join them on Kolpak deals as soon as this summer.

Silly Point is delighted to present this exclusive story to you and will keep our loyal followers abreast of any further developments.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – Like a Rash!

IMG_3891

After our sensational victory over India at Lords, we traversed seas for the first time in the Global Test League and headed to Malahide to take on Ireland. Our hosts would push us hard in a high class day/night affair.

Again, we made one change to our side. Yorkshire spinner Adil Rashid was recalled at the expense of Chris Woakes. We were surprised to find the Irish terrain look so spin enticing and so included the leg-spin of Rashid to compliment Moeen Ali’s off-spin. It was Ireland’s spinners who would prosper first though. In our first innings, George Dockrell recorded cracking figures of 6-96 backed up by the part-time turn of Andy Balbirnie (2-27).

IMG_3885

In-form opening batsman Keaton Jennings was dropped behind on 92 and went onto register his maiden competition century (116). Up to this point KJ had made three fifties in four innings but this time (With a little help!) went onto post three figures. Our middle order was blown away by the left-arm hurricane Dockrell and only a counter-attacking knock of 74 from wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow lifted us to 313-9 before a cheeky declaration in the final session of the premier day’s play.

IMG_3886

James Anderson picked up 2-35 with the pink ball in Ireland’s first innings including the prize wicket of opener Ed Joyce. Joyce was peppered by back-to-back short balls before nicking behind when wafting outside off at a slower and fuller delivery. It was a well executed tactic by the head of England’s attack. Anderson’s ten wickets in three matches put him top of the wicket-taking charts for England.

IMG_3888

Adil Rashid returned to England colours with a point to prove and how he proved it. Many were surprised to see Rashid walk out to bat at number six but scores of 49 & 58 were vital to England’s cause. Rashid wore a heavy workload in Ireland’s first innings, bowling a total of 29.1 overs he returned figures of 3-88 followed by 3-54 in the second innings. Admittedly some of his wickets were courtesy of debatable umpiring decisions and it’s true that fortune favoured England throughout this match. Rashid built pressure though and deservedly won the ‘Player of the Match’ award. The contributions of Keaton Jennings (116 & 46) and Toby Roland-Jones (1 & 73, 1-58 & 2-62) in particular, the latter making a crucial double breakthrough in the hosts’ second innings, shouldn’t be underestimated however.

IMG_3889

Having made 99 against India at Lords, Moeen Ali defied the earthquaken like pitch and seemed set for immediate redemption in Malahide but fell to a poorly executed shot when on 98. A severe case of Michael Slateritis for the Worcestershire all-rounder!

IMG_3890

For England’s eighth wicket, Moeen put on 150 with Middlesex man Toby Roland-Jones in what turned out to be a vital second innings partnership. Disappointingly T R-J through his wicket away when on 73 and will surely rue a golden opportunity for a Test ton that went begging. His vital second innings wickets when Ireland were well set at 112-1 but slipped to 133-3 in their pursuit of what would have been a record breaking 520, combined with his batting contributions mean that Chris Woakes isn’t guaranteed an immediate recall to the side. As well as claiming key scalps at crucial moments in the match, that’s fifties in consecutive Tests for Roland-Jones.

IMG_3887

Gloveman Jonny Bairstow was good, bad and darn right ugly behind the stumps. In the first innings he dropped this sitter off the bowling of Roland-Jones. Dawid Malan couldn’t believe what he was seeing!

IMG_3892

Just when Roland-Jones thought his luck had changed after picking up a couple of wickets, remember he was robbed of some against India, Bairstow promptly dropped this dolly that ballooned into the air on the leg-side. Whether or not it was the pink ball, the poor light or just a lack of concentration from JB is unclear. His first innings knock of 74 was crucial to England’s success in this match but he was needlessly run out when seemingly destined for a century and his rather kamikaze second innings knock of 12 from four deliveries in England’s second innings wasn’t really what the team needed. Most crucially though, his butter fingered performance with the gloves mean that Ben Foakes will come into serious consideration ahead of the visit of New Zealand.

IMG_3897

In the end we won by 160 runs having declared both our innings. This was despite Paul Stirling’s stirling knock of 120 not out! Our second innings was a solid effort full of contributions throughout the order and we had enough runs on the board to not get too anxious when Ireland built some partnerships. The recalled Adil Rashid (6-142) led the way with the ball. We can’t deny that Ireland gifted us some silly run outs and the umpires were generous with some of their decisions. We missed a couple of run out chances and dropped easy catches too. No disrespect to Ireland but more experienced Test nations won’t be so generous. We did however improve dramatically with the bat against spin (Mark Stoneman aside) and witnessed not overly experienced bowlers claim vital scalps when required.

We currently sit atop the Global Test League but entertaining New Zealand at Birmingham won’t be easy.

A Dark Day for Cricket

img_1416

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?

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Home Nations ODI Series

img_2513

In the first match of the series against Ireland in Malahide, ODI caps were presented to Daniel Bell-Drummond, Aneurin Donald, Sam Curran and Tom Curran.

img_2488

Jake Ball struck with the very first delivery of the match but our hosts went about laying a solid platform thanks in the main to Ed Joyce. Once we dismissed Joyce we ripped through the Irish middle order and had them well and truly on the ropes however an immensely frustrating 8th wicket partnership between Boyd Rankin (67 not out) and George Dockrell (57 not out) saw Ireland propel themselves to 294-7. Needing to score at nearly a run-a-ball, a number of our batsmen made starts but failed to convert them into a big score and we went down by a mammoth 120 runs.

img_2492

Having headed north to Scotland our batsmen displayed a welcome ability to battle through some probing periods of bowling and convert cameos into innings of substance.

img_2500

Ben Duckett in particular displayed a Test match temperament in making 63 from 88 deliveries before eventually falling to Con de Lange. De Lange would finish the innings with devil like figures of 6-66.

img_2503

Having risked wasting the efforts of Duckett, we were indebted to Liam Dawson who top scored with 71 not out batting at number nine.

img_2508

Surrey teenager Sam Curran impressed with figures of 2-47…

img_2511

… but it was Jake Ball (3-50) who led the way again as we held off the Scots to claim a 30-run victory and our first points of the series.

Aneurin Donald 1

After getting a first win under our belt we were confident of putting on a better showing against the Irish on home territory at Headingley. Our nemesis Boyd Rankin (64 not out) had other ideas however. For the second match in a row between the sides he was ably supported by George Dockrell to take Ireland past 300 despite the ever impressive Sam Curran’s 3-55. After Daniel Bell-Drummond (30) and Ben Duckett (28) put on 50 for the first wicket, Rankin (4-24) and Dockrell (5-31) sent our middle order packing in the blink of an eye. Aneurin Donald’s series continued to peter out, the young Welshman falling first ball, one of George Dockrell’s five victims.

img_2519

The sum of all parts added up to a 172-run mauling at the hands of our Irish enemies.

img_2523

Following another thrashing at the hands of the Irish it was felt necessary to make changes for the second match against Scotland at Trent Bridge. Moeen Ali, Aneurin Donald and Tom Curran were all dropped. Adil Rashid was also axed following a poor showing on his home ground. ODI Debuts were handed out to Middlesex duo Dawid Malan and Ollie Rayner whilst there were international recalls for Sam Billings and Chris Jordan. Replacing Moeen at number three, Malan hinted at international quality when striking a run-a-ball 20 and would later prove effective with the ball.

img_2536

German born off-spinner Ollie Rayner had almost immediate success, striking in the first over of his ODI career.

img_2540

The psychological scars from the Irish trauma were too much to bear though and after Daniel Bell-Drummond was run out for the second time in four innings and Jos Buttler threw away an impressive start we collapsed to a paltry 149 all out. That man Con de Lange leading the charge again with impressive figures of 4-14. Despite some tight bowling from part-time leg-spinner Dawid Malan (1-9) and Rayner’s debut wicket we went down by six wickets.

img_2541

A bottom of the table finish was not what we had expected at the start of the tournament but hopefully our young players will have benefited from some harsh lessons ahead of even sterner tests in the future.

Getting Sentimental on New Year’s Eve!

img_2404

A few months ago I started writing a blog about cricket. If you’ve found your way here then you probably already know that. The idea was to occasionally write an in-depth article about one or two theories, ideas or proposals I have about the game and to compose the odd book or DVD review.

However I struck upon the idea of International Duck Watch and due to the incompetence of batsmen around the world the said gimmick has kept me rather busy.

In the new year I intend to continue providing my thoughts, crap headlines, nursery school standard drawings and general ramblings about our sport and Shai Hope that any readers out there appreciate my attempt to strike a chord between seriousness and humour (No really, I have attempted to be humorous on this blog!), between being a professional journalist (Which I’m not!) and an amateur blogger (Which I am).

Please accept my double-century of thanks for the time that anybody has taken to even leg glance at my words, particularly the guy from Russia who in one viewing helped me colour in almost half my visitor map!

Wishing all my followers and occasional visitors the very best in 2017, a year in which we can expect the landscape of cricket to continue to evolve with such things as:

Due to unprecedented monsoons in United Arab Emirates, the first ever Test match is played on the Moon. Though the pink ball is easy to see, England’s batsmen still fail to reach 200 in the series as Pakistan’s spinners run riot on the turning pitches!

On Jane McGrath day, Australia’s batsmen all use a pink bat!

Peter Moores is made coach of England… again!

Silly Point himself bludgeons 99 not out from just 20 deliveries in the dizzy heights of division six of his local T20 league!

Boyd Rankin and Ed Joyce make themselves available for England again and are immediately recalled to the side to play against Ireland in the Emerald Isle’s first ever Test match. However the match is a complete washout so Rankin and Joyce return to Irish colours for a winter jaunt to an even newer Test nation… Ibiza!

Peter Moores is sacked as coach of England… again!

Umpires are replaced by robots.

England return to the Moon for a triangular ODI series with Pakistan and Venus and recall 218-year-old spin bowler Shaun Udal in the hope that he can repeat his Indian heroics!

Bravo for England!

img_2087

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?