2018 FIFA World Cup XI

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Here are eleven international cricketers who were born in countries participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup (But not born in Australia or England obviously!)

First XI

Jehan Mubarek (Sri Lanka) born in USA (Well they did participate in qualifying!)

George Headley (West Indies) born in Panama

Dick Westcott (South Africa) born in Portugal

Ted Dexter (England) born in Italy (Like USA, Italy didn’t actually qualify!)

Ken Weekes (West Indies) born in USA (Err, yeah… USA again!)

Freddie Brown (England) born in Peru

Donald Carr (England) born in Germany

Ashok Gandotra (India) born in Brazil

Moises Henriques (Australia) born in Portugal

John Traicos (Zimbabwe) born in Egypt

Amjad Khan (England) born in Denmark

On the tour

Buster Nupen (South Africa) born in Norway (Well they did qualify for France ’98!)

Benny Howell (England) born in France (Okay, he hasn’t won an England cap… yet!)

Ollie Rayner (England) born in Germany (Like Howell, he was capped by me on Cricket Captain 17!)

Six to Watch: T20I Status – Men’s Special

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From 1st January 2019, all Associate cricket nations will have full T20 International status. These are really exciting times for cricketers as well as fans throughout the globe. As I do each year when the county season comes around, I’ve identified six players to keep an eye on as T20 Internationals start to be played out across the world.

Simon Ateak (Ghana)

24-year-old Ghanaian Simon Ateak was Player of the Tournament at the 2018 ICC World Twenty20 African Sub Regional (North-Western) Qualifier. Ateak notched back-to-back fifties against Sierra Leone and Nigeria in Lagos. Ateak had actually been in poor form in ICC World Cricket League Division Five prior to the T20 Qualifier but delivered when needed to help Ghana reach the finals. Simon’s younger brother Vincent also chipped in with the ball during the Qualifier.

Harrison Carlyon (Jersey)

Still only seventeen-years-old, Jersey’s Harrison Carlyon made his international debut against Oman in Los Angeles at the tender age of just fifteen. The off-spinner’s father and uncle have both represented the island’c cricket team and injuries even meant that father and son turned out for the same side. Carlyon has since appeared for Jersey U-19s and made some useful contributions in ICC World Cricket League Division Four. He’s also been in and around the youth set ups at Sussex CCC.

Ahmad Faiz (Malaysia)

How about this for form: 50, 86, 20, 47, 45 & 50. Those were the batting contributions of Malaysian skipper Ahmad Faiz in ICC World Cricket League Division Four earlier this year. The right-handed batsman clearly enjoys the surface in Kuala Lumpur. Admittedly those were one-day matches and his T20 form beforehand wasn’t quite as strong but Malaysia will be relying on their former U-19 World Cup captain when it comes to run-getting.

Andrew Mansale (Vanuatu)

Andrew Mansale is Vanuatu’s experienced leader, having debuted for his country when just fifteen years of age. Now 29 and having gained experience of playing club cricket in Australia, Vanuatu will be looking to Mansale’s leadership as well as his right-hand batting and off-spin to help them rise to prominence in T20I cricket. Joshua Rasu, another right-hand bat who has played for the same Australian club as Mansale is another Ni-Vanuatu worth looking out for.

Calum MacLeod (Scotland)

Scotland’s Calum McLeod already has 28 T20I caps as well as double that amount of appearances in ODI Cricket where, for the record, he’s notched an impressive six centuries. His attacking nature was imperative in Scotland qualifying for the 2015 ODI World Cup and there were glimpses of his talent at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in March of this year. As with many Scots, he’s been around the English county second XI circuit, most recently representing Hampshire.

Carl Sandri (Italy)

34-year-old Carl Sandri’s experience will be vital if Italy are to develop as a T20I nation. Australian born Sandri, a right-hand bat and off-spin bowler represented Sydney Thunder in the 2013 edition of the Big Bash. He was Italy’s leading wicket taker in the most recent ICC World Cricket League Division Five. Peter Petricola, who has played alongside Sandri in Ozzie club cricket, is another old head that Italy will look at to spearhead their efforts.

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Elsewhere, could county players such as Middlesex’s Ollie Rayner (Germany) and Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell (France) be eligible to represent the countries of their birth?

Could Hampshire’s Gareth ‘Ice’ Berg return to the Italian side alongside Sandri and Petricola having played with them six years ago? Berg claimed figures of 4-20 against Uganda and scored 47 against Namibia in 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in UAE. He’s been an underrated performer on the English county circuit (First Class, List A, T20) for a number of years.

If USA can sort out their political infighting, could Durham’s Cameron Steel or Hampshire’s Ian Holland represent the Stars and Stripes in T20I Cricket? It seems inconceivable that USA aren’t a cricketing nation to be reckoned with.

Once T20I status has really taken ahold, look out for future posts to see how Ateak, Carlyon, Faiz, Mansale, McLeod and Sandri have got on… and who I should have previewed!

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In the near future, I’ll also be compiling a Six to Watch for the T20I Women’s game as well as a team special. Be sure to look out for those posts soon.

Archer’s Eligibility?

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England were missing an all-rounder during the Ashes, somebody who could have made significant contributions with both bat and ball, somebody who has been playing in that region this winter. No not Ben Stokes, Sussex’s Jofra Archer.

I’ve held off writing an article regarding Archer’s eligibility whilst I tried to research and understand it but I don’t so here we go anyway!

Barbados born Archer’s father is English yet he won’t be eligible to represent England until 2022. Of course Kevin Pietersen’s mother was English and he had to live and work in England in order to qualify to play international cricket for his mother’s country. Football is a different sport but the likes of Wilfried Zaha and Alex Iwobi seem to have been able to switch/choose allegiance on a whim. When Jamaica rocked up at the 1998 World Cup in France with a load of Englishmen, had Robbie Earle and Deon Burton etc had to reside and work in the Caribbean for years before pulling on the Reggae Boyz jersey? Did Danny Higginbotham and the rest have to live in Gibraltar before playing for their national football team? Did they already have Gibraltar passports or walk straight in based on their parents or grandparents? Chris Birchall anybody… there are many examples but football is different and seems to have varying criteria.

It really annoys me that players like Ryan Campbell (Australia/Hong Kong) and Luke Ronchi (Australia/New Zealand) have played international cricket for more than one nation. I thoroughly accept though that the world is constantly evolving and the determination of nationality needs to be more fluid and flexible than may have been the case at previous times in history. I doubt Nat Sciver considers herself Japanese and whilst the West Indies may not like it, why shouldn’t Bajan Archer be able to play for England now?

There’s a whole can of worms to be opened here. Mahela Jayawardene is able to play in England as a non-overseas player because of EU laws and the fact that his wife is Danish! My wife’s French, our daughter has two passports so am I correct in saying that she could play football for France immediately but not cricket… though a call-up for a one-year-old is admittedly unlikely either way!

Archer lives and works in England, he’s got an English parent and seems to be under the impression himself that he has ‘English residency’. He’s not classed an overseas player when he’s turning out for Sussex. So why can’t he play for England immediately???

It’s a Blogging World

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It’s been over a year now since I commenced writing this blog and like the world of cricket the globe has been constantly evolving.

It’s hardly surprising that the United Kingdom provides my most hits but that the USA comes second is interesting. Is there a growing interest in cricket in America or just a strong expatriate community in a large and diversley populated country?

If anybody should holiday in China, Iceland, Mexico, anywhere in either North Africa or South America then please don’t forget to view my site. I’d love to get my entire map coloured in and will be forever grateful to my one (To date) visitor from Lebanon, oh and the guy from Russia who painted nearly half my map in one click!

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5,507 would be a decent career tally of runs for a Test batsman. The USA would be proud to total 505 all out. India would take 359 on a difficult pitch and England would love to dismiss Australia for 279. Italy would have liked a little more than 107 in any format and unless it was this ‘new’ T10 stuff then South Africa would be disappointed with 103 all out. My family in France have progressed to 68 (We’ll say without loss!) but Pakistan will be bitterly disappointed to have been rolled over for just 63. Germany scratched their way to 57 whilst Canada totalled 55. To be fair, that’s a lot more than they usually rack-up at major tournaments!

Many thanks to all who have viewed my blog and to cricket enthusiasts in Madagascar, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea… if you’re out there!

World Cup Equality

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You’ll have to forgive me for committing the ultimate sin on a cricket blog but I’m about to ramble on (For quite some time!) about football. This is of course my blog so I can do what I want!

Qualification for the 2018 football World Cup in Russia has well and truly reached the business end. All that remains are the heartbreaking play-off matches to determine which counters join the likes of Panama, Iceland and Iran in Russia next year. I’ll hazard a guess that Iceland will find acclimatising to the Russian climate just a bit easier than Panama. It’s also safe to say that none of the three nations mentioned above will be qualifying for the cricket World Cup anytime soon.

Back to the footy, here’s a breakdown of the percentage of teams from each continental region that will qualify for the football World Cup:

South America: 4 out of 10 teams = 40%

Europe: 13 out of 54 teams = 24%

The Americas: 4 out of 35 teams = 11%

Africa: 5 out of 54 teams = 9%

Asia: 4 out of 46 teams = 9%

Oceania: 1 (And maybe not even that) out of 11 teams = 1%

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the above calculations are based on a couple of assumptions regarding who qualifies via the intercontinental play-offs. Oceania are not guaranteed a World Cup representative and for the record, Australia qualify through the Asian pathway because they got bored of thrashing Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa time and time again.

Referring to the percentages above, the tournament title of World Cup starts to lose some of its credibility. There’s clearly a disproportionate amount of teams that qualify from the historical footballing hotbeds of Europe and South America. That historical bias is of course something that is extremely prevalent on the international cricket stage too.

Back to the three nations mentioned earlier. Iran qualified for the football World Cup as far back as 1978 but for Panama and Iceland, 2018 will be their first time at the tournament. That variety of nations on the big stage and the novelty of seeing virgin World Cup competitors is part of what makes the tournament so special. USA beating England in 1950, North Korea beating Italy in 1966 and Senegal beating France in 2002. Without these results the football World Cup just wouldn’t be what it is. Admittedly there have been a few thrashings as the likes of Saudi Arabia (8-0 against Germany in 2002) and Zaire (9-0 against Yugoslavia in 1974) will attest too.

The 2019 Cricket World Cup is unlikely to see such a variety of international representatives or virgin teams as Russia will next year. There will only be ten teams, yes just ten teams at the ‘World’ Cup. Eight of these teams will have qualified as the highest ranked ODI nations. It’s great that the ODI rankings comprise more nations than just Test teams but no promotion/relegation profile is in existence at the upper echelons of international cricket. Referring to the historical bias detailed in football earlier, little scope is left for a changing of the guard as the years go by. The head honchos eat at the main table with one or two varying visitors from time to time.

I’ll be honest, every time I try to get my head around the meritocracy of lower division international cricket and World Cup qualification, I end up closing the page out of sheer bewilderment. From what I can gather, it’s possible that teams in ICC World Cricket League Division Two can qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup but some teams from Division One may not. Don’t quote me on that though! In all likelihood none of them will anyway, such is the convoluted qualification process.

Feel free to put me to shame and figure the whole thing our for yourself…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Cricket_World_Cup_Qualifier

Teams such as Papua New Guinea and Ireland could be there though the likes of West Indies and possibly Afghanistan will be favoured to qualify for the ten team tournament. Surely a straight forward main tournament of sixteen teams comprised of four groups of four followed by quarter-finals etc would be logical. Yes there have been some horribly one-sided encounters at cricket World Cups, think Namibia at the hands of Australia in 1970 and one or two Canadian performances (36 & 45 all out in 2003 and 1979) but there has also been Zimbabwe beating Australia in 1983, Kenya beating West Indies in 1996 and Ireland beating Pakistan in 2007.

There are so few teams at the Cricket World Cup that a comparison with football for regional disproportionateness is completely irrelevant. In fact to be fair, there isn’t really a geographic disproportion, just a lack of global representatives in general.

Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is that regardless of sport, a World Cup should be exactly that, a tournament that has a fair and even distribution of teams from across the globe. The football World Cup isn’t perfect but hopefully in the future cricket will allow for the Senegals and North Koreas of the footballing world to have the opportunity at least to produce some shocks that will reverberate around the cricket world.

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Cricket Captain 2017: South Africa, South Africa!

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Following England’s early exit from the 2020 T20I World Cup, it was South Africa all the way for Liam Livingstone’s men. From the darkest seeds of cricketing despair grew firstly the shoots of competitiveness before blossoming into fully blown victoriousness… before a couple of T20I defeats at the end!

Having lost the opening dual of the summer, England secured a rare Test win in the second battle, thanks in no small part to Toby Roland-Jones’ 49-ball 75 to compliment captain Livingstone’s masterly knock of 147. Middlesex’s Roland-Jones recorded a tenth-wicket stand of 76 with number eleven Jack Leach (0 from 13 deliveries) to help the hosts square the series but the home side were unable to back that performance up. Two more defeats were followed by a draw in the fifth and final Test thus ‘The Proteas’ claimed a 3-1 series win.

In the ODI matches, England were 2-1 up and headed for series victory before making a ‘right pig’s ear’ of a run chase and therefore conspiring to lose the fourth ODI by 16 runs. The home side didn’t recover from letting a golden chance slip and rather predictably failed to win the deciding match as South Africa claimed the series 3-2. The visitors also won the sole T20I match.

England vs. South Africa series results:

Tests: Lost 3-1

ODIs: Lost 3-2

T20I: Lost 1-0

Encouraged by their increasing competitiveness though, England followed South Africa home and experienced what can only be described as a renaissance or resurgence or redemption or…

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While in South Africa, Somerset spinner Jack Leach reached 100 Test wickets!

Going into the third and final Test 1-0 down in the series, England recorded a famous victory to seal a more than respectable away series draw. Persisted with young opening batsman Max Holden produced a career best maiden Test century (121) in the tourists’ second innings while debutant Will Rhodes was one of a trio of players to have scored 54 in England’s first venture to the crease. One of the others to do so was Ben Coad. The recalled quick bowler claimed two four-wicket hauls (8 wickets @ 18.75) in the series and registered a valuable maiden fifty in his 23rd Test. The bold decision to ‘drop’ Sam Curran was justified with the aforementioned Rhodes also claiming match figures of 4-73 with the ball.

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Daniel Bell-Drummond has excelled in ODI cricket but will have to wait for a Test recall.

In the ODI series, England maximised momentum and raced into an unassailable 2-0 lead. Opening batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond maintained his excellent form in fifty-over cricket since his debut last year. Having recorded back to back centuries in the home ODIs, the Kent batsman struck his fifth ODI career hundred in the first match of the series before Middlesex’s Dawid Malan blitzed 87 to help England win the second.

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Benny Howell has become an essential member of England’s T20I outfit, even captaining the side on a couple of occasions.

The T20I series was lost 2-0 but England still showed increased signs of competitiveness. Despite falling short of their target, England passed 200 in the second match, courtesy of two career best performances: Ryan Higgins’ 79 not out and Benny Howell’s 58 not out. The Zimbabwe/France born duo manufactured an audacious unbroken partnership of 128.

South Africa vs. England series results:

Tests: Drew 1-1

ODIs: Won 2-1

T20Is: Lost 2-0

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Tom Curran has started to look the part in the international environment whilst his brother Sam should return a better player after being ‘rested’.

Next for Liam Livingstone and his troops, it’s onto Bangladesh for a tough assignment. England supporters will be hopeful that the likes of Tom Curran and company can continue to display their improved showings. The selectors however have some tough calls to make in all forms of the game when selecting the Bangladesh touring party.

Hong Kong Sixes 2017: England Squad?

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The Hong Kong Sixes tournament is back on the cricket calendar after a five-year absence. The pint-sized cricket competition will make a welcome return this October.

http://www.hkcricket.org/en/hk-sixes/hong-kong-sixes-2017

Historically the various cricketing nations around the globe have treated the tournament with a variety of seriousness and not so seriousness, with some teams sending amateurs or ex-pros. England normally send a reasonable bunch of fringe limited overs players.

Silly Point has composed an England squad and put forward one or two other possible candidates as well. Remember that every player bar the wicketkeeper must bowl.

My squad is as follows:

Tim Bresnan, Yorkshire (Captain)

He bats, he bowls, he captains, he’s my selection to lead the side. I find it difficult to comprehend that Bresnan’s England career is over. He required surgery and is no longer the spring chicken that rocked up for Yorkshire’s first XI aged 15 but in limited overs cricket at least, he could surely still have a role to play for the national side. He’s led Yorkshire this year following injury to Gary Ballance and the other squad members would learn from his international experience and professionalism.

Ben Duckett, Northamptonshire (Wicketkeeper)

Duckett just pips Joe Clarke for the ‘keeping gloves. It would be a good way to reintegrate Duckett into England colours following a difficult winter. After a slow start to the domestic season he has started to make significant contributions with the bat as well as keeping wicket on occasions. Sam Billings, more of a genuine gloveman option in T20I/ODI cricket could also come into consideration.

Lewis Gregory, Somerset

Gregory made the England squad a few years back for a one-off ODI against Ireland. Unfortunately for the Somerset man, he was the one squad member to miss out on the final XI leaving him cap-less. A series of injuries have meant that he remains so but when fit Gregory possesses the all-round strengths that make him an extremely tempting selection in this format.

Ryan Higgins, Middlesex

Higgins has contributed some brutal batting displays for Middlesex in limited overs cricket this term and has also dislodged Ollie Rayner from the County Championship side. The Zimbabwe born former England Under-19s player is one of a handful of capable all-round players that make my squad.

Benny Howell, Gloucestershire

A shrewd performer for Gloucestershire, particularly in the shorter forms of the game. French born Howell has cropped up in both the BPL and PSL. His experience and all-round capabilities would make him a valuable asset to the the squad.

Liam Livingstone, Lancashire

LL’s introduction to international cricket was slightly underwhelming but he’s an almost irresistible selection for this tournament. His destructive batting, much improved bowling and reliable fielding win him a place in my squad. Like Bresnan, Livingstone has gained captaincy experience this season and is capable of coming back stronger following his tough international baptism.

Ross Whiteley, Worcestershire

Whiteley hit the headlines this term when he struck six sixes in an over against Yorkshire in a T20 match (I was there, remember?). Yes it was an extremely short boundary and yes it was a third choice spinner but rather audaciously, Whiteley sits in the top ten of the sixes per (T20) match ratio, modestly and unobtrusively placed alongside the likes of Brendon McCullum, David Warner and Chris Gayle. He would probably be the weakest bowling option in the team but has clocked up 29 First Class victims.

Some other players that could come into consideration:

Adam Lyth

Riki Wessels (Wicketkeeper)

Brett D’Oliveira

Liam Dawson

Paul Coughlin

Craig Overton

Tymal Mills