Cricket Captain 2018: Edinburgh Steal!

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As Coach and Selector of the England cricket team, for the one-off ODI against Scotland in Edinburgh, I made a brave but sensible call. Provided the volume of cricket on the horizon in all forms of the game and given the travel involved in crossing the border north, I rested our senior players. This presented those cricketers with the opportunity to find form at domestic level ahead of the ODI and T20I series against Australia. A thirteen-man squad made up of entirely uncapped players was selected for the Scotland encounter. This provided a great opportunity to breed competition amongst our ranks. Nottinghamshire all-rounder Steven Mullaney assumed the honour of captain on international debut. All-rounders Lewis Gregory and Ben Raine were the unlucky members of the squad who didn’t make the playing XI. Any suggestion that we were selling spectators short by not selecting our first choice XI was soon put to bed as one of the most absorbing ODIs in the history of the game played out before our eyes.

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Every single member of our batting unit made a contribution with Joe Clarke, fresh off the back of his 80 in the second Test against Pakistan, top scoring with a free flowing 52 from 64 deliveries. Some late hitting from skipper Steven Mullaney (49 not out) and Ed Barnard (21 not out) helped lift us to 266 for 6 from our allotted 50 overs. Looking back we could possibly have put our feet on the gas sooner in order to try and set a higher target.

Scotland looked well placed for victory courtesy of Calum MacLeod’s run-a-ball 60 at the top of the order but we turned the screws on the middle order as the home side’s hopes of a famous run chase slipped away.

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Gloucestershire recruit Ryan Higgins led the way with figures of 9-1-37-4.

Scotland seemed out of it at 221-9 before Safyaan Sharif (27) and Brad Wheal (24 not out) put on 45 for the last wicket. Ed Barnard was denied the winning wicket because of a no-ball call and there was also a dropped catch at slip. With Scotland needing just four runs to seal a seismic result, Essex’s Matt Coles trapped Sharif LBW to spare our blushes!

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Next we host Australia and India with regular first-team players likely to be recalled. Should injury strike then we’ve identified a strong pool of players from which to call up on.

#undefeated

Cricket Captain 2018: Cook Serves Another Feast!

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My first series as Coach and Selector of the national side and it’s a thumping series win for the boys. Victory margins of 199-runs and ten-wickets confirm our dominance. Both victories were built around the monumental batting of stand-in skipper Alastair Cook. Chef followed his 160 not out at Lords with an epic 198 in Leeds.

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Pakistan actually won the toss and chose to bat but soon regretted it. Opening batsman Sami Aslam’s 24-ball duck was absolute torture. To their credit, the tourists recovered from 111-6 to a respectable 335 all out. As was the case at Lords, this was again in the main courtesy of their leader Sarfraz Ahmed. The wicketkeeper-batsman made his second ton (117) of the series.

We then posted 476 to gain a healthy first innings advantage. As well as Cook’s monster 198, James Vince again looked good for 66 and Joe Clarke made a magnificent 80 in only his second Test. Mohammad Amir was the pick of the bowlers though still expensive. He finished with analysis of 4-154.

Pakistan then made only 151 second time out. Again Ahmed top scored but this time with only 39. The in-form Mark Wood claimed Test best figures of 4-31.

Haseeb Hameed, recalled at the expense of Mark Stoneman (7 not out) and Dawid Malan (4 not out) then knocked off the mammoth victory target of eleven without loss. Hameed made only 17 in the first innings but batted for 99 minutes in compiling 50 with Alastair Cook. Having made only one in the first innings at Headingley, then it is Dawid Malan who’s place seems most vulnerable should Joe Root return to full fitness. Of course questions will be asked about the captaincy given Cook’s splendid showing in this series.

For the immediate future it’s the white-ball (ODI/T20I) affairs for the team. Next up is a one-off ODI against Scotland in Edinburgh. We may use the opportunity to rest senior players and explore our strength in depth.

Flying Scots Scorch England!

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The day after a monumental occasion in Scottish cricketing history, please have a listen to my latest audio cast for a firsthand vocal review of how the epic day played out…

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Just over a week after being mentioned in a Silly Point article as a player to watch, Calum MacLeod was the star of the show as Scotland’s cricketers turned the tables on England at The Grange in Edinburgh.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18513/scorecard/1124639/scotland-vs-england-only-odi-england-tour-of-scotland-2018/

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After MacLeod led Scotland to their highest ever total of 371-5, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow seemed to have put England on course for a remarkable run-chase. The pair compiled a 129-run stand for the visitor’s first wicket on a beautiful day in the Scottish capital.

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A special mention for Bairstow, whose 59-ball 105, his third consecutive ODI ton, I shamelessly neglected to mention in my audio cast!

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After that excellent start however, England ultimately fell six runs short. Scotland claimed a thoroughly deserved victory and in doing so, contributed to a seismic day in cricket history!

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Scenes!!!

Not Surprisingly no Surprises!

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England have named their ODI squads for the match against Scotland north of the border and the series hosting of Australia.

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/694732/england-name-squads-for-scotland-and-australia-odis

As was to be expected and as touched upon in yesterday evening’s audio cast here at Silly Point, there are no surprises in the England parties. Gloveman Jos Buttler is rested for the match in Edinburgh, which provided his exploits in the IPL and having returned to the Test side, is understandable. Kent captain Sam Billings is named in the squad for the Scotland match only. Quite what happens if he scores a ton I don’t know… “Thanks Sam but we don’t need you against Oz!”.

Surrey’s Tom Curran is also added to the party for the Australia series. With Durham’s Mark Wood now in the Test side, England will be keen to manage his workload and so Curran, who performed well Down Under as well as in short bites in India, should get some playing time. Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett, expensive in the IPL, also returns after injury.

Having been dropped from the Test side, Worcestershire spinner Moeen Ali retains his place in the ODI outfit, alongside fellow twirler Adil Rashid. Yorkshire’s Rashid, who is now solely focused on white-ball cricket, has been travelling at 6.38 runs per over in the One-Day Cup this year. The likes of Alex Hales, Chris Woakes and David Willey are a little short of match practice having done their fair share of bench warming at the IPL. England will hope that said players can hit the ground running and make the most of any One-Day Cup opportunities prior the the international matches.

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Silly Point will be in Edinburgh for the Scotland match and will provide a write-up complete with photos following the match.

Upcoming Articles

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With the recent addition to the blog of audio casts to compliment the written word and with lots of cricket being played at all levels around the world, there’s much to look forward to at Silly Point throughout the rest of 2018.

Topics for future posts may include but not be limited to: The inaugural edition of Global T20 Canada, T20I status provided to all Associate Cricket nations, Telegraph Fantasy Cricket updates, the release of Cricket Captain 18, further Ashes Cricket (PS4) reports, book reviews, the author’s own efforts on the village circuit, first hand accounts of men’s and women’s ODI cricket (Trips to The Grange, Edinburgh and Headingley are booked!) and thoughts on England’s Test side’s continued woeful run of form (For the pessimists!)/renaissance (For the optimists!).

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Next year Silly Point will bring you match reports from the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England and there’s sure to be many posts to keep readers and listeners occupied in the meantime.

Dawson’s Creek’s Banks Haven’t Burst!

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File photo: Liam Dawson brings up his maiden ODI fifty against Scotland in Edinburgh.

That’s right, a headline announcing that something hasn’t happened!

Water gently meandering along a creek, a tranquil and serene scene. The water levels rise though and the creek’s banks burst. For Liam Dawson however, the banks haven’t burst, the water levels haven’t risen and there’s been no drowning. The water has consistently gently meandered along.

2-129 in India on debut got him up and running. There have been worse starts to Test careers. Figures of 2-67, 2-34, 0-26 and 1-42 against South Africa leave Dawson with a more than respectable bowling average for a spinner of 33.80 in Test cricket in England. Along with a penchant for dismissing Hashim Amla, that’s a decent start. Dawson is 27, an age where he’s gained experience but should have his best years ahead of him. England’s selectors however have regressed, pressured by the public and media, they’ve already ditched ‘Daws’ and moved onto Mason Crane. Should 20-year-old Crane be left with a bowling average of 42.57 after four Tests and average a healthy 33.80 in England will he too be ditched?

Dawson’s axing on the cue of social media opinion reminds of the time that Ian Blackwell was chipping in with wickets and Anthony McGrath was keeping things tight for England. They weren’t setting the world on fire but they were, understatedly, making a contribution. An article in a newspaper questioned their returns and they were ditched never to be seen in England colours again.

I’ll bore myself let alone my readers if I repeat previous sentiment about English fans always wanting the new and undamaged goods as well as how investing and persisting in a player is of value but to cut through the trees to get to the wood… I’m suggesting that Dawson, like many players, may have been given up on too soon. Still, if he’s lucky, he might earn an England recall and carve out a decent international career when Ashes Cricket arrives on the PS4 in November…

Disclaimer: For the uneducated, please be aware that the lines between reality and virtuality on my blog often become very blurred, so much so that I can’t remember if Haseeb Hameed’s twin centuries against Thailand at London’s Olympic Stadium were in real life or only in my living room!

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/don-bradman-cricket-17-thaid-in-knots/