Cricket 19: Welsh One-Day Wizards!

After tasting defeat in our inaugural Twenty20 International, please read below for details of how our first One-Day International series played out. All matches were played at The Stadium of Wales.

1st ODI:

Wales 273 (49.5) E.Williams 78*, Roberts 55, Powell 39/Stokes 4-42, Archer 3-37, Rashid 2-59

A brace of boundaries from opener Aled Edwards (16) got us going but we were indebted to a third-wicket partnership of 80 between Dylan Roberts (55) and captain Ioan Powell (39) to lay the foundations of our innings. Teenager Maxwell Khan (22) fought hard before Eifion Williams (78*) scored at more than run-a-ball. Jofra Archer (3-37) struck twice in two balls to limit our chances of posting 300 but last man Osain Williams (14) added 34 with his namesake to take us to a respectable 273. This of course against the world champions in our first ever ODI.

England 240 (48.3) Root 57, Moeen 56, Bairstow 31/O.Williams 3-34, R. Evans 3-56, E. Williams 1-34

Just as in our inaugural T20I, right-arm pace bowler Osain Williams (3-44) bowled Jason Roy (9) for Wales’ first ever ODI wicket. Jonny Bairstow (31) was needlessly run out and to the following delivery, left-arm pacer Rhys Evans (3-56) bowled England skipper Eoin Morgan for a golden duck. Despite excellent innings from Joe Root (57) and Moeen Ali (56), we regularly kept England in check. When wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas took a sensational catch off the bowling of Evans to dismiss Chris Woakes (20) at the start of the powerplay, the writing was on the wall. When he did the same off last man Adil Rashid (11), we’d won our first ever ODI by 33 runs. Remember that our last wicket stand contributed 34.

There were emotional scenes as tears flowed both on and off the pitch in a small but sold out stadium. An outstanding team performance had resulted in victory over the reigning world champions in our nation’s first ever ODI. There were however, two more matches to be played in the series.

Won by 33 runs

2nd ODI:

England 141-7 (33.4) Buttler 54, Woakes 33*, Root 13/O.Williams 4-39, Hughes 2-27, R.Evans 1-36

England called correctly and despite the raindrops, chose to bat. When they found themselves 47-5 then 69-6, you can assume that they regretted that decision! Osain Williams (4-39) bowled outstandingly. Among his victims were, for the third time in three consecutive internationals, his rabbit Roy, Jason Roy (6).

Jos Buttler set about rescuing the visitors and compiled a fifty partnership with Chris Woakes (33*). Buttler (54) survived a shocking LBW decision when on 38 off the bowling of slow-left-armer Cai Hughes (2-27). He would eventually fall however in that fashion to said bowler. The rain then got heavier and despite an attempt to get back out on the field of play, England’s innings ended on 141-7 from 33.4 overs.

Wales 135-5 (27.1) Edwards 66*, Shah 31, E.Williams 22*/Stokes 3-16, Moeen 1-25, S.Curran 0-16

Our opening batsmen set about achieving a seismic series win with minimal fuss. The right-hand left-hand combo of Stephen Shah and Aled Edwards pretty much got us halfway there with a partnership of 71. Shah (31) edged behind to Buttler off the final delivery of Moeen Ali’s (1-25) first over however and that sparked a terrifying collapse!

Dwayne Alexander (4) was promoted up the order to raise the tempo and get us safely ahead of the required run rate. He promptly struck his first ball from Ben Stokes for four but holed out the very next delivery off the same bowler. Dylan Roberts (1) and captain Ioan Powell (0) both edged to Eoin Morgan at slip off the bowling of the outstanding Stokes (3-16) during a sensational double wicket maiden from the Durham all-rounder. When Maxwell Khan (5) was run out, we’d slipped from 71-0 to 95-5 and were at serious risk of throwing away a first ever ODI series win.

Amongst all the carnage however, Edwards was unfazed. He was joined by first match hero Eifion Williams in an assured and undefeated partnership of 40. Williams finished 22 not out from 18 deliveries whilst the impregnable Edwards carried his bat for 66 not out from 84 balls with 19 deliveries of the innings remaining.

The Welsh crowd couldn’t contain themselves and burst onto the playing surface. England captain Eoin Morgan and his team were gracious in defeat. We’d beaten the reigning world champions in our first two One-Day Internationals in a ground-breaking series win that reverberated around a now bigger cricketing world.

Won by 5 wickets

3rd ODI:

England 299-5 (50) Root 162, Morgan 61, Billings 26/Evans 4-73, Khan 1-37, Hughes 0-25

Despite England having reached 91 by the fall of the second wicket, off-spinner Maxwell Khan’s first at international level, we hadn’t let England get away from us. However, a third-wicket stand of 129 by two England captains changed that. Test skipper Joe Root struck 162 high calibre runs from only 139 deliveries, meanwhile ODI leader Eoin Morgan was at his dynamic best, striking 61 innovative runs. Left-arm pacer Rhys Evans (4-73) dug deep to claim career best figures but wickets were hard to come by for the rest of our attack.

How debutante Rhys Davies (10-1-42-0) walked off the pitch wicketless was difficult to comprehend. Two LBW decisions that should’ve gone his way didn’t and a couple of catches off his right-arm medium bowling also went to ground. Fellow debutante, left-arm pacer Morgan Price (7-0-52-0) found life much harder. He kept plugging away however and claimed a good catch to terminate Morgan’s knock. Ben Stokes (16*) and Moeen Ali (17*) helped England set a total of a run-a-ball to defend.

Wales 204 (43.1) Roberts 64, Hughes 27*, Thomas 24/T. Curran 4-50, Archer 2-27, Wood 1-23

Tom Curran, brought into the visiting side at the expense of his brother, soon had us on the back foot in our run chase. The Surrey man accounted for both openers, Edwards (11) and Shah (14) as well as captain Powell (3). Despite middle order wickets continuing to fall, including young Price (8) to complete a difficult debut, Dylan Roberts (64) persevered to reach fifty for the second time in the series. Sadly, he would soon become Curran’s (4-50) fourth wicket of the innings.

Wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas (24), spinner Cai Hughes (27*) and debutante Seth Davies (17) helped haul us from 104-5 to 198-7 but we were always clutching at straws in regards to the required run rate. We lost our final three wickets for just 6 runs to succumb to 204 all out and a 95-run defeat.

Credit to England, they were superior in all departments and thoroughly deserved to win. Not for the first time, a lack of oomph in our batting was cruelly exploited.

Lost by 95 runs

Win the series 2-1

The result in the third ODI didn’t prevent us from winning the series though. After losing the T20I, a 2-1 win against the reigning world champions in our first ever ODI series is something to be extremely proud of. There were contributions from throughout our squad and much to build on.

Next up, it’s our inaugural Test match. Look out for a full match report at the conclusion of the historic event. After seeing the way that the limited overs matches have played out, it should be a good contest!

Cricket 19: Wales – T20I Debut!

Our first full international upon us, England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and chose to field in this one-off Twenty20 International.

Our top order, having batted safely in the practice matches, attempted to instil a little more gusto into our short form batting. That’s what the powerplay is for right? It didn’t work!

We were soon 34-5 with all the fallen batsmen failing to reach double figures. Left-arm pace bowler Sam Curran (4-14) was destroyer in chief. Teenager Maxwell Khan (30) and wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas (26) batted admirably however to save face and lift us to 76-6. After Thomas was bowled by Ben Stokes (3-12), Cai Hughes (13) batted with aggression alongside the more measured Khan but also fell to Stokes. The score 98 at the time. Our tail couldn’t wag and we finished a disappointing 104 all out from 19.1 overs on full international debut. Still, having been 34-5 it was a score of sorts at least.

In each of the first two overs of England’s chase, we conceded boundary overthrows as the visitors blitzed their way to 43-0. However, from that point on, we went about providing England with a scare!

Osain Williams (1-18) had the honour of claiming Wales’ first ever T20I wicket. The right-arm medium pacer clean bowled a frustrated Jason Roy for 14. Express paceman Dylan Alexander did the same for Jos Buttler (30).

Slow left-armer Cai Hughes then dismissed Jonny Bairstow (15) with his first delivery in international cricket. He then accounted for England skipper Eoin Morgan (11) as well. Leg-spinner Eifion Williams had Moeen Ali (7) caught behind to complete a trio of catches for gloveman Rhodri Thomas. The efficient stumper had pouched the edges of Bairstow and Morgan for both of Hughes’ wickets.

Ben Stokes (18*) and Chris Woakes (10*) saw England home by five wickets with 6.2 overs to spare. However, we can hold our heads up high after a nervous start with bat and ball. Clearly though, we need to inject more power into our T20 batting in order to post competitive totals.

Next up is a three-match ODI series against England. I’m confident that in that particular format, our batsmen possess the skillset to bat time and produce decent scores. Our bowling attack are clearly capable of keeping opposition batsmen on their toes if our own batsmen can play to their potential.

Thank you for your support and look out for a report on how the fifty-over affairs panned out come the conclusion of the series.

Malan Can!

Dawid Malan and Lewis Gregory are two players that I’m pleased to see have made England’s squad for the T20Is against Pakistan.

Both seem to have been given some tough love by captain Eoin Morgan and are by no means guaranteed to feature in what, despite a number of absences, is a strong squad. Malan was criticised for not running off the last ball of the innings and possibly protecting his average in New Zealand whilst Gregory was provided little responsibility and didn’t even bowl in a couple of his previous appearances. If I was Malan, I’d be watching the last delivery of all England’s white ball innings and bringing to attention any lack of a scrambled run or run out. The former Middlesex man only has himself to blame for his Test demise but has been unfortunate with injuries when it’s come to ODIs. As good a start as he made in the shortest format, failure in this series could be terminal for Yorkshire’s new recruit.

It’s a shame that Liam Livingstone only makes the reserves but competition for places is intense. At least the Lancashire man, who offers something with bat, ball and in the field, is on the selectors radar. James Vince is omitted, whilst the ship that never sailed has probably done just that but left late bloomer Laurie Evans behind.

Please see the link below for details of the full squad…

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/1755234/national-selectors-name-squad-for-vitality-it20s-against-pakistan

Double (Or Triple?) Trouble!

There’s a suggestion that if any international cricket is played in the near future that England could field multiple teams in order to play different formats on the same day.

Now whether or not that would be a crossover between red and white ball cricket or that ODI and T20I could clash obviously remains unclear. Let’s assume that each and every format was being played on the same day. Who makes which team? Oh, and for ease we’ll select for matches played in England… at the risk of being rather optimistic!

Test

Rory Burns

Dominic Sibley

Zak Crawley

Joe Root (Captain)

Ollie Pope

Sam Curran

Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Mark Wood

Jack Leach

Stuart Broad

James Anderson

Sam Northeast

Jamie Porter

ODI

Dawid Malan (Captain)

Tom Banton

James Vince

Sam Hain

Dan Lawrence

Sam Billings (Wicketkeeper)

Craig Overton

Lewis Gregory

Oly Stone

Saqib Mahmood

Matt Parkinson

Liam Livingstone

David Willey

Dom Bess

T20I (Which I’ve prioritised over ODI due to the impending World Cup)

Jason Roy

Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper)

Jonny Bairstow

Eoin Morgan (Captain)

Ben Stokes

Moeen Ali

Tom Curran

Chris Jordan

Chris Woakes

Jofra Archer

Adil Rashid

Phil Salt

Joe Denly

Pat Brown

What are your thoughts on my selections? What would you do differently?

England’s Wasted Tour of New Zealand

What did England actually learn during their T20I triumph in Aeotorea?

Not a lot!

Players we already knew were good that reaffirmed as much and gained even more confidence:

Dawid Malan, Eoin Morgan, Chris Jordan

Players that did okay:

Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Adil Rashid

Players that aren’t yet good enough but are hopefully better for the experience and will come back stronger.

Saqib Mahmood, Pat Brown

Players that have had enough chances and have reached their ceiling limit:

James Vince, Sam Billings

Players that took wickets when defending a massive total:

Matt Parkinson

(This is not a criticism. We can only analyse the opportunities presented and Parkinson definitely has qualities)

Players the captain doesn’t rate:

Joe Denly now add Lewis Gregory

Players who did well out of this series:

Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Ben Foakes, Liam Livingstone and countless others.

To be fair to Morgan and England, despite missing numerous senior players and constantly rotating including in the final, England won!

Unlikely England Comeback?

11 ODI wickets at 39.27 (5.69 rpo)

3 T20I wickets at 18.33 (6.87 rpo)

8 wickets in this season’s Big Bash, his first, at 23.50 (7.23 rpo)

How about an England recall for Nottinghamshire and Melbourne Renegades left-arm pace bowler, Harry Gurney?

Gurney is 32 and his domestic stats are okay if not outstanding. He’s performed reliably for Melbourne Renegades this term and could be an option for the brains trust of Ed Smith and Eoin Morgan in white-ball cricket. David Willey is not always a threat and his batting often not required. Sam Curran doesn’t need overloading at this stage of his career so getting a year or two out of Gurney could be a viable option for England. The experience that he’s gained from playing in the Big Bash could serve him well for a return to the international fold.

Age may count against Gurney but it certainly wouldn’t be the most ridiculous selection. In Twenty20 Internationals, to pair the left-arm variety of Gurney alongside Tom Curran, who starred in the Big Bash, could provide respite for senior England players and result in a glut of wickets for England.

Where are the Women?

The 2019 Official England Cricket calendar is on sale now and at first glance it appears to have the same layout as recent editions. There is one obvious omission though… women!

Surely it’s about time that the calendar featured England’s women cricketers. It’s arguable that they’re different teams and should have their own calendars and I can understand such a stance but… aren’t the men’s Test, ODI and T20I teams separate entities? Should we have separate calendars for each?

I think that it’d be great to see the captains on the front, Heather Knight centre stage flanked by messrs Root and Morgan.

There could be a move away from individual profile pages and more of a team presentation. There could for example be a wicketkeeper’s page featuring shots of Sarah Taylor, Ben Foakes, Amy Jones, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow. Action shots would be good but admittedly the page is only so big. The five players could be lined up alongside each other with for example Foakes at the front and centre, the ladies either side and slightly behind him with Buttler and Bairstow further back forming a V formation.

There could be pages that feature only the men or women but again let’s move away from individual player images. Months could feature two batters at the crease or the team celebrating a wicket or series victory.

Possibly the best performances of the previous year, a player registering a double-hundred or nine-wicket haul or alternatively a breakthrough or retiring player could earn a solo page. Another nice addition might be a legends month where players from years gone by takes centre stage.

Ultimately, men or women, England’s cricketers are there to inspire all. This wouldn’t be a token move for the times but a change accurate with equality and sense. It would be right and should be perceived as normal not groundbreaking. The fact that I’m saying this and that it hasn’t happened means that it’s still not!

Edit (An Important one!): I’ve since opened the calendar (!) and five women’s players do feature alongside men in an ensemble page at the centre with male players who didn’t earn a month of their own. It’s not a month of the year page though, so you’d have to hang it up as a poster and wake up not knowing what month it is! Still, great to see the likes of Anya Shrubsole and Nat Sciver in there.

Ben Duckett and Nelson Mandela in the same Sentence!

The last time that England’s cricketers were in Asia, batsman Ben Duckett was there. Despite scoring three fifties (ODIs/Tests) in Bangladesh, he had a torrid time of things in India then literally pissed off top brass the following winter in Oz. Whilst the senior team lap it up in Sri Lanka and the Lions travel to UAE, Duckett can be found playing in the Mzansi Super League in South Africa. It’s the latest T20 league to pop up on the global calendar (Yeah that’s right, Canada and Hong Kong had competitions before SA!).

Representing the wonderfully named Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, The stocky left-hander smashed 75 (5×4, 5×6) runs from just 45 deliveries. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come after some lean patches post that run-laden summer a couple of years ago. Next year he’ll join Ben Slater and Joe Clarke in an exciting new batting line-up for Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. He’s probably still quite some way off an England recall but the shoots of recovery have started sprouting.

Another left-handed batsman who’ll be hoping to use the Mzansi league as a springboard back to international selection is Dawid Malan. The discarded Middlesex stalwart will lead Cape Town Blitz while domestic colleague Eoin Morgan will turn out for Tshwane Spartans. Morgan is a left-hander who doesn’t need to work his way back into the England fold, he’s already there!

Cricket Captain 2018: Pakistand and Deliver!

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For the ODI series against Pakistan, a series that was crucial preparation for this summer’s World Cup, I opted to make a big call to enhance our chances of tournament success. Eoin Morgan was removed from his position as ODI skipper and dropped from the squad. This followed a poor string of results last year coupled with disappointing individual performances by Eoin himself. Joe Root was handed the captaincy for the Pakistan series, the 2019 World Cup and likely beyond. Eoin remains in charge of the T20I side.

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With gloveman Jos Buttler absent through injury, things started badly but after falling 2-0 behind in the series, skipper Joe Root came to the fore with a national record 214 not out. Root struck 25 fours plus eleven sixes in his innings that was constructed from just 126 deliveries. Sam Hain (107) also made a ton, his second ODI century to help us post a gargantuan 436-9 from our allotted 50 overs. We would then go onto win the fourth match by a massive 145 runs and it seemed that momentum was truly on our side for the decider. Sam Billings, who acquired the gloves from Jonny Bairstow midway through the series, was simply sensational behind the stumps.

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As was the case in West Indies, we failed to deliver when a series was within our grasp. We had Pakistan in peril at 222-9 but allowed them to reach 259-9. That last wicket stand proved the difference as we succumbed for just 234. A series draw in West Indies and loss at home to Pakistan could have so easily been two series victories.

The 3-2 result was hard on many of our players who had really lifted the hearts of the nation with two stunning performances. The exploits of our bowling attack: Matthew Parkinson (10 wickets @ 18.90), Chris Wood (9 @ 32.22), Ben Stokes (8 @ 37.75), and a much improved return from Jamie Overton (9 @ 23.44) went unrewarded. Joe Root’s series aggregate of 371 runs at 92.75 also deserved more than to lose the series at the last.

There was then a needless T20I sandwiched in-between the ODI series and ODI World Cup. To remove the risk of injury to World Cup players, certain picks for the tournament were not selected for the T20I. As it was, a reserve side crumbled to 94 all out and lost by nine wickets. Craig Overton top scored with 36 and Mason Crane claimed the sole wicket. There was also a debut for Yorkshire’s Tom Kohler-Cadmore. I apologise to our fans for a disappointing night but insist that the composition of the side was appropriate with the ODI World Cup on the horizon. Our squad for that tournament will be named shortly.

Cricket Captain 2018: Caribbean Cruise!

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Another Test series, another victory and a comprehensive one at that. We comfortably saw off our hosts by a whitewashing scoreline of 3-0.

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Having assumed a 2-0 series lead, courtesy in no small part due to Alastair Cook’s mammoth 238, the highest individual Test score of my tenure so far, the opportunity to perform some squad rotation was performed in the third Test.

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In the final match of the series, debuts were presented to Sam Hain, Ollie Pope, Ed Barnard and Dom Bess. Despite the absence of many senior players, our strength in depth was highlighted with yet another victory. Hain hit a magnifienct 195 not out at the top of the order, Ollie Pope sealed victory with 43 not out in the second innings, Ed Barnard made 90 and spinner Dom Bess claimed his maiden Test wicket.

Nottinghamshire’s Stuart Broad led the way with 16 series wickets at just 10.44 apiece. Left-arm quick Mark Footitt also stepped in and claimed 9 victims at 23.22. That’s four consecutive Test series wins  for the team during my tenure.

The ODI series wasn’t quite as successful and ultimately began and finished with frustration. Despite losing only two wickets, we messed up a run chase of just 230 in the first encounter. Well set to assume a series lead, we somehow contrived to only tie the match. West Indies then gained the upperhand before we fought back to lead 2-1. Having posted 314 in the decider, we were confident of sealing a much needed series win. Disappointingly, West Indies knocked off the required runs with consummate ease, leaving the score all square at 2-2.

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A series draw is however a step in the right direction, coming as it was off the back of two series defeats. The left-field selection of Chris Wood continued to prove one of my shrewdest selections to date. The Hampshire left-armer claimed two four-fors in the series and finished with 9 wickets at 28.44. He has been a constant wicket taking threat throughout his short England career so far and provides a point of difference for the team.

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A familiar pattern emerged for Wood’s new-ball partner Jamie Overton however. Once again the Somerset quick started well before falling apart at the seams. Figures of 10-0-96-0 in the final match of the series confirmed that Overton is a player whose workload requires managing. He has claimed wickets since coming into the side though and needs to remain part of the squad even if not playing in every match.

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Worcestershire all-rounder Ed Barnard’s versatile qualities in both multi-innings and limited overs cricket have been a vital addition to our composition. Still only 23, Barnard should bring a lot to our culture in the future.

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Following the ODIs, we emphatically won the T20I series with a scoreline that mirrored the Test series result, 3-0. Alex Hales totalled 214 series runs at an average of 71.33. This included a top score of 116. Middlesex man Dawid Malan returned to the squad following injury and promptly blitzed 60 and 77 not out before being run out for 42. Those runs were achieved at a whopping strike-rate of 182.6! Josh Tongue claimed figures of 4-23 on debut whilst Olly Stone claimed 3 series victims at 15.67 in his international induction. Craig Overton and Yorkshire wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall also made their T20I debuts.

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The series result was a great one for skipper Eoin Morgan but he has struggled for runs in both the ODI and T20I format throughout the past year. Without an ODI series win in three, the Irishman’s place in the team comes under serious scrutiny ahead of the 2019 World Cup.