Cricket 19: NWHTC – By the Skin(ner) of Their Teeth!

Brexit uncertainty continues, power outages frustrate and flooding wreaks havoc. Food prices go up as does fuel but protestors are shot down. TV shows reach their season finale, VAR prevents a goal and people find themselves unemployed after years of dedicated service. House prices go up as does the cost of your holiday but trees still fall. Promiscuous youngsters are considered role models, endangered animals go extinct before our very eyes and uncontacted tribes become contacted and face the possibly deadly consequences. Despite all this, cricket continues…

After seven ODIs on the bounce we returned to the Test format in the territory of arch-rivals Scotland. The players survived the treacherous voyage north of the borderline but found re-adapting to the game’s longest format challenging. Maybe we need to rethink our selection policy and have fewer players straddle dual formats.

Dawid Malan (25) displayed promise at the top order in an opening stand of 49 with Haseeb Hameed but committed the schoolboy error of not having a look when part-timer Roman Bruce came onto bowl and immediately became only Braveheart’s second Test victim.

Ben Stokes, who you might have anticipated would be a little more at home in the alien conditions provided his familiarity with northern surfaces, was bowled when opting to leave having made only 8 (My wife walking up to me with our youngest daughter in hand contributing to the Durham man’s demise!). Leader of men Joe Root was caught at slip for 11 before Hameed and Moeen Ali set about repairing the damage. Hameed (67) was needlessly run out however when a century beckoned and Moeen (51) was caught behind the very delivery post posting fifty.

Jonny Bairstow was bowled first ball but an under pressure Jos Buttler (75) alongside Sam Curran (56) batted maturely to propel us from 180-6 to 295-7. Chris Woakes was less mature when caught behind for 6 which left last men standing Stuart Broad and James Anderson to extend the score. Coming together at 301-9, Broad was dropped just three runs later and Scotland were made to pay somewhat. Our opening bowlers lifted us to 329 with Anderson falling for 18 and Broad left not out on 10.

It was a rather juxtaposed innings with a number of batsmen looking in glorious touch and executing some majestic shots but only Moeen and Curran can really say that they were got out. Spin duo Martin Law and Mark Watt astonishingly claimed identical figures of 3-57.

In Scotland’s first venture to the crease, Stuart Broad soon dismissed opener Mahdi Clay (5) to leave the home side 9-1 before the ultra-aggressive Kyle Coetzer (150) alongside a more steady away Caden McCarthy (81) batted for the rest of the day. Possibly distracted by thoughts of a century, McCarthy soon fell to Broad the following morning. The impressive Broad then claimed a third victim when he trapped Burke (6) LBW before Chris Woakes stoked the fire further by claiming three wickets of his own. Coetzer was roughed up by Sam Curran bowling around the wicket before Woakes terminated his expansive innings. Out of nowhere Warwickshire’s Woakes was suddenly bowling at his peak. Curran himself as well as Stokes then both got in on the wicket taking action as Scotland collapsed from 195-1 to 302-8 at the end of day two.

Scotland’s tail wagged a little the following morning before Watt (21) and Abdulrahman Egan (12) fell to the excellent Broad (4-59) and Anderson (1-51) respectively. The home side’s efforts equated to 318 meaning that we effectively commenced our second innings on 11-0.

Dawid Malan (37) and Haseeb Hameed compiled 63 second time around before Malan edged a tame chance skyward when trying to deflect to leg. The Middlesex man had once again laid the foundations but only produced a promising not substantial innings. Ben Stokes made a brisk 31 whilst compiling 67 with Hameed before Hameed himself, who’d gone over the top a few times, inside edged when attempting another grand shot and looked rather ugly in falling for 76. 175-3 was the score come the respite.

The evening session’s premier delivery resulted in Root (13) edging behind and Jos Buttler (14) didn’t last much longer. The unheralded medium-pacer Roman Bruce (3-111) was chief-tormentor yet again. Jonny Bairstow should’ve been out to the next delivery but Scotland’s close fielders inexplicably failed to attempt the catch despite replays confirming that the ball had deflected off the Yorkshireman’s glove. As a result, YJB avoided the ignominy of a king pair but it mattered little as he soon succumbed to spin for just 2.

Just as Scotland sniffed a serious chance of making their run chase more manageable, Moeen Ali and Sam Curran (60) combined for an exhilarating 104-run partnership to seemingly take the game away from the hosts. Chris Woakes fell for a breezy 11 when attempting a maximum but to the next delivery Moeen Ali performed something possibly unique. The left-hander reached a century from only 56 deliveries courtesy of an all run 5!

Stuart Broad (14) briefly entertained before becoming Martin Law’s (4-76) fourth victim of the innings. Moeen (120 not out) and James Anderson (12 not out) lifted the score to 399-9 before we declared. Bizarrely, spinner Mark Watt wasn’t called upon to bowl during our second innings. Scotland were set 410 for victory with a few overs to negotiate at the end of day three.

Scotland’s chase got off to an inauspicious start when Clay was comically stumped by Bairstow of the bowling of Anderson to the last delivery of the first over. 0-1 soon became 13-2 when Anderson struck again. This time it was was key man Coetzer trapped LBW for only 7. McCarthy and Bruce resisted despite Stokes originally winning an LBW appeal before it was overturned however Moeen Ali struck first ball to dismiss McCarthy (40). Bairstow pouched the edge to end the 74-run combo with Scotland still a mammoth 324 runs shy of victory. Unbelievably, Moeen then repeated the trick with the first ball of his second over. Left-hander Gene Moore was caught behind without scoring to complete a disappointing Test match for the left-hander and another dismissal for Bairstow.

On the fourth morning the home batsmen saw off James Anderson but Dorian Burke perished to the Moeen/Bairstow combo having crafted an elegant 29. Roman Bruce then converted form with the ball into form with the bat by compiling a magnificent career best 148. Bruce compiled a 167-run stand with Martin Law and really opened up having passed the century mark. However, with 104 still runs required for victory, Bruce was bowled by Moeen off the second ball of day five. Captain Joe Root, whose captaincy on day three was heavily criticised in the media, deserves huge credit for starting the day with Moeen when the ball was only ten overs old.

Law then added an immensely frustrating 70 runs with the resolute Saul Skinner as Scotland closed in on victory. Eventually, having switched to bowling around the wicket, Sam Curran got Law to play on to his stumps via an unnecessarily excessive forward defensive shot. Law (127) had finally fallen having contributed a superb maiden Test ton to put his side within touching distance of a famous win.

James Anderson soon snapped up Mark Watt for 1 courtesy of Joe Root in the slips with Scotland still 30 runs shy of victory and suddenly we looked like favourites. It wasn’t to be…

With Scotland requiring 7 runs for victory, Moeen Ali and James Anderson bowled back to back maidens before we gifted the home side four overthrows. More maidens followed but Scotland went onto win by two wickets with a composed Saul Skinner (39 not out) and Abdulrahman Egan (18 not out) seeing them home. Huge respect to Skinner in particular who endured a chastening game with the ball but faced 119 deliveries to seal an amazing run chase.

To say that Moeen Ali didn’t deserve to be on the losing side would be an understatement of epic proportions.

For us, it’s back to the drawing board after another defeat against a Scotland side that we failed to defend a total in excess of 400 against for a second time in this competition. That’s six wins from six for the Scots and, with us level on points with Ireland, means there’s little room for manoeuvre if we hope to make the final where we’ll almost certainly take on Scotland once again. Next up we host Canada (W3L3) at Lords. Our squad for that match will be announced soon.

Cricket 19: NWHTC R6 – Squad Announcement

Your England squad for the North Western Hemisphere Test Championship Round Six match against Scotland at Scotland Cricket Ground is as follows:

Dawid Malan

Haseeb Hameed

Ben Stokes

Joe Root (Captain)

Moeen Ali

Jos Buttler

Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)

Sam Curran

Chris Woakes

Stuart Broad

James Anderson

Liam Dawson

Jamie Porter

Dawid Malan returns to Test cricket after impressing in the first half of the Global ODI Invitational. Though not normally an opener in this format Dawid is a seasoned opening batsman in limited overs cricket, already has Test experience and we believe is an adaptable cricketer capable of thriving at the top of the order in Test cricket.

James Anderson returns to the squad having been rested for our last Test but Jamie Porter retains his place after performing well on debut. Liam Dawson provides another spin bowling option having performed superbly in the early stages of the Global ODI Invitational.

The team are looking forward to the business end of the inaugural North Western Hemisphere Test Championship and pushing for a place in the final. The players are extremely grateful for the continued support of our committed fan base.

We’ll see you in Scotland!

Cricket 19: NWHTC/GODII Update

Hi all

I just wanted to provide an update regarding my efforts as England on Cricket 19. Having lost the first Test that we played, we’ve since won all four Tests and seven ODIs with extreme ease.

When trialling difficulty level having just bought the game I found it difficult to judge what level I should play at. I played a few muck about Five5 matches as England and started a career as a weak player so it was difficult to judge. I did try playing some trial longer matches but settled for Medium/Pro when struggling on some of the harder stuff. Clearly I’m currently playing on a level that isn’t presenting a sufficient challenge and therefore compromises my enjoyment. Though I’m obviously trying hard, wickets come too easily and the opposition just aren’t trying hard enough to post competitive totals. Regarding batting, it’s actually the easy nature that leads to me throwing wickets away but still winning with ease.

I’ve played some absolute hum-dingers of matches on previous Big Ant games, just failing to chase 330 odd against Nepal in an ODI and staving off Thailand’s pursuit of over 400 in a Test by just ten runs but haven’t experienced such thrillers on Cricket 19.

For the second half of the North Western Hemisphere Test Championship and Global One-Day Invitational I’ll be upping the difficulty level to Hard which is effectively level 4/5 rather than 3.

I’m looking forward to being tested more and the pressure being on particularly as we strive to reach the knockout stages of each competition. This may even lead to me having to drop players as oppose to generally just rotating them.

Cricket 19: GODII Statistical Update

Having reached the halfway point of the round robin stage of the inaugural Global ODI Invitational, here are some statistical highlights from our performances.

Highest Team Total: 510-7 vs. Namibia at Namibia Stadium

Highest Individual Innings: Dawid Malan – 163 vs. Hong Kong at Edgbaston

Highest Batting Average: Sam Curran – 84.00

Leading Run-scorer: Dawid Malan – 387

Most Catches: Jonny Bairstow – 31

Best Bowling (Innings/Match): Tom Curran, 5-19 vs. Hong Kong at Edgbaston

Best Bowling Average: Matthew Carter – 6.00

Leading Wicket Taker: Tom Curran – 13

Cricket 19: GODII – Going Dutch!

In Amsterdam we reduced our hosts to 74-7 before Suman Engels (29 not out from 25) and Shane Snater (28 not out from 22) belatedly put their feet on the pedal for the Netherlands.

Sam Curran (2-28), Ben Stokes (2-7) and Tom Curran (2-22) led the way with the ball. Ben Foakes seized his opportunity behind the stumps by claiming five catches including a couple of absolute stunners.

Disappointingly we lost a few wickets in the chase but Joe Root (39 not out) led us to a six-wicket win after Ben Stokes had top scored with 44.

At the halfway stage of the inaugural Global ODI Invitational we stand undefeated and two wins clear of second place the Netherlands who’ve now lost their last two matches.

Disclaimer: This is a short write-up. Please look out for an update on my plans and how I intend to play the game given that things have become a little easy.

Cricket 19: GODII – Squad Announcement

Your England squad for the Global One-Day International Round Seven match against the Netherlands in Amsterdam is as follows:

Dawid Malan

Liam Livingstone

Ben Stokes

Joe Root

Moeen Ali

Jos Buttler (Captain)

Sam Curran

Liam Dawson

Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Tom Curran

Jofra Archer

Lewis Gregory

Matthew Carter

Jos Buttler returns to captain the side having been rested from our last match against Nepal. It’s now the turn of Jonny Bairstow, who led the side in said match to take a well earned respite. That presents an opportunity for Ben Foakes to finally get on the field having performed 12th man duties recently. The Surrey man will don the gloves for this fixture. Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer also return to the travelling party with Chris Woakes rested. Lewis Gregory and Matthew Carter retain their places in the squad having impressed on debut against Nepal.

Cricket 19: GODII – Nepalling!

From an encouraging 34 without loss visitors Nepal freefalled to collapse to just 77 all out from 45.4 overs in Leeds. The side from the mountains actually scored at four runs per over for the first few overs and hinted at providing us with a rare contest but 34-0 became 34-3 in the blink of an eye and then deteriorated to 50-8 in a lot more blinks. Nepal dragged the innings out the best they could, highlighted no more so than by Reginald Purcell’s 71-minute 58-ball innings of 9.

Chris Woakes led the demolition with 3-18 while fellow new-ball bowler, debutante Lewis Gregory (1-22) claimed his first international wicket. After conceding one run in his first over, another debutante in the form of spin bowler Matthew Carter (1-6) bowled five consecutive maidens. Having already had the possible final wicket dropped (An absolute sitter by Dawid Malan!) the Nottinghamshire youngster provided captain for the day Jonny Bairstow with yet another tournament catch.

Surrey’s Sam Curran (2-8) picked up two wickets whilst brother Tom (1-11), Ben Stokes (1-4) and Liam Dawson (1-0) snaffled one each.

Nepal’s limp effort was particularly disappointing after opening pair Gamesha Murthy (22) and Akanksha Shroff (12) had started reasonably productively. Adopted Nepali Lyle Bradley contributed an encouraging 18 not out from number nine.

In pursuit of the small victory target Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone compiled 53 for the opening wicket before the former was deceived by a Pramod Kapadia slower ball and trapped plumb LBW for 21. The world’s worst review couldn’t save the Middlesex man! Lancashire’s Livingstone was scratchy at first but had moved to 32 from 27 before top edging and being caught by slip behind the keeper again of the impressive bowling of Kapadia (2-17). Joe Root (9*) and Jonny Bairstow (15*) were promoted up the order to provide their county fans with a rare glimpse of their homegrown stars and the experienced duo guided us to an eight-wicket victory.

Some of Nepal’s players come from the country’s capital Kathmandu but the men on the field could do nothing to save their nation from a heavy defeat. The batting of Murthy and Bradley as well as the bowling of Kapadia should at least provide some encouragement to one of Asia’s emerging cricket nations.

We now stand alone at the top of the table after the Netherlands failed to chase exactly 200 in Canada. Of course it’s a trip to Amsterdam for us next in the final ODI before returning to the Test format. Look out for our squad announcement soon.