Stone Certainty?

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Warwickshire’s Olly Stone is a player who featured in Silly Point’s Six to Watch feature this year…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2018/01/14/six-to-watch 2018/

https://sillypointcricket.com/2018/09/22/six-to-watch-2018-season-review/

He follows in the footsteps of another player from this year’s selection, Surrey batsman Ollie Pope, to have now graced the international stage.

Coming off the back of a productive domestic campaign, Stone made his international debut for England in the ODI series in Sri Lanka that started last week. Both matches were affected by the rain but after not getting an opportunity in the first (Due to the weather in Dambulla), Stone collected his maiden England wicket in the second match.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18602/scorecard/1140379/sri-lanka-vs-england-1st-odi-eng-in-sl-2018-19

Stone possibly owes his chance in part due to the hosts flipping of the tour schedule, leaving Liam Plunkett (Wedding arrangements already made) high and dry. If the pictures are anything to go by, high and dry is not something that many Sri Lankan cricket grounds are at the moment. The rain has been of biblical proportions!

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Stone could be a real asset for England come next year’s World Cup and future Ashes tours. He’ll need to remain fit and it could be that another player with a history of injuries, Somerset’s Jamie Overton, could help provide some healthy competition for Stone. Then there are also the likes of Saqib Mahmood, Zak Chappell, George Garton and in time, Jofra Archer.

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Another player that I’m delighted to see get further opportunities in an England shirt is Hampshire’s Liam Dawson.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/211855.html

I felt that he was badly handled during his stint as a Test spinner. He performed admirably against India and South Africa, dismissing Hashim Amla twice but the England management buckled under media pressure and dropped the slow-left-armer. As a fill-in player, he’s been victim to attack when playing limited overs matches for England before but performed superbly in last year’s edition of the Pakistan Super League. He’s a constantly evolving player and England could do a lot worse than stick by him.

Malan Scammed… and Other Cricket Snippets

Dawid Malan

Hello and welcome to Silly Point. Please have a listen to my latest audio cast by clicking the play button just below…

England ODI/Lions Squads: https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/742530/sam-curran-and-craig-overton-added-to-england-odi-squad-and-chris-jordan-added-to-england-lions-squad

England T20I Squad: https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/738367/england-name-squad-for-it20s-against-australia-and-india

Dawid Malan: http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/236489.html

Jonny Tattersall: http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/517247.html

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – England vs. South Africa

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Following England’s win in Pakistan, the side hosted South Africa in a Global Test League top of the table clash at Sussex. The performances of Stuart Broad and James Anderson (Pictured above) would be crucial to England’s chances of success…

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David Willey (0 & 4) failed to make an impression with the bat but claimed some vital South African scalps (1-60 & 2-98) on Test debut.

The left-arm pace of David Willey replaced the left-arm spin of Liam Dawson following the Hampshire twirler’s wicketless display in Lahore. Unfortunately for Willey, the Yorkshire and former Northamptonshire all-rounder would be dismissed first ball on his maiden Test outing but did claim match figures of 3-158. Those figures might not sound too great but Willey snapped up the crucial dismissals of Quentin de Kock (35) in the first innings and Hashim Amla (96) in the second. Having made 104 in the first innings, Amla fell just four runs short of registering a century in each innings.

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Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj (6-115 & 3-67) was the key reason for some all too familiar England batting collapses.

Maybe Liam Dawson can learn from the tourist’s own left-arm spinner, Keshav Maharaj. Whilst pacers Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel failed to take a wicket between them, Maharaj finished with figures of 9-182.

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Former Essex stumper Ben Foakes compiled a maiden Test ton in only his third Test match.

Surrey gloveman Ben Foakes (112) scored a crucial maiden Test century. This was when England had slipped from 212-2 to 261-7. Keaton Jennings (113) also made a hundred, his fourth of the competition. It will be Stuart Broad (103) and James Anderson’s (56 not out) last wicket stand of 126 that will live long in the memory though. That’s 118 runs in seven innings without dismissal for Lancashire’s Anderson in the GTL.

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England skipper Joe Root dropped Hashim Amla on 49 in South Africa’s second innings. Amla went onto make 96. In all, the home side dropped four catches in the visitor’s second dig!

After South Africa had been dismissed for 330 (Amla 104, Broad 3-63) and England for 565 (Jennings 113, Maharaj 6-115), South Africa set about erasing the defecit and went onto set England a testing total of 313 to win. The visitors having made 547 in their second innings. As mentioned before, Amla followed up his first innings 104 with 96 but it was the scintillating AB de Villiers, whose knock of 266 not out took him ahead of Jennings to the top of the competition run charts and helped get South Africa back in the match. James Anderson stuck to the task though and was rewarded for pitching the ball up and getting some movement. He claimed the home side’s first ever Global Test league five-wicket haul (5-121) and finished with match analysis of 7-198 to go with his undefeated half-ton. With 20 victims in total, Anderson is England’s top GTL wicket-taker.

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Dawid Malan (58 not out) and Stuart Broad (5 not out) saw England home though the result was not without a fright!

For the second time in the match, England’s opening batsmen, Keaton Jennings (73) and Mark Stoneman (53) put together a century partnership to lay the foundations for England’s run-chase. They were dismissed in quick succession however before England suffered an all too familiar batting collapse. Jonny Bairstow, recalled to the side at number three at the expense of James Vince and playing as a specialist batsman, followed his first innings seven with just nine. He did at least claim a maiden Test wicket in the match, Keshav Maharaj the unfortunate victim. Chris Woakes looked to be taking England to victory but fell for 53 with just five runs required. Dawid Malan remained composed however and finished 58 not out, fittingly being joined by first innings centurion Stuart Broad, who would hit the winning runs and secure England their fifth straight victory following the shock opening round loss at home to Zimbabwe.

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England now stand alone at the top of the inaugural Global Test League.

Next up for England are West Indies in the Caribbean. In terms of selection for that match, though Mark Stoneman failed to convert scores of 59 and 53 into a maiden Test hundred against South Africa, two century opening stands alongside Keaton Jennings mean that his place is safe for now. Jonny Bairstow will have to wait and see if he gets another chance at three following his double failure. Chris Woakes struggled with the ball but made a vital half-century in England’s run chase and though David Willey didn’t set the world on fire, he did claim some vital scalps on Test debut. Liam Dawson may get one more chance to prove himself in helpful conditions though Moeen Ali will be considered for a recall and Mason Crane could even win a Test cap. Until next time…

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/

Maiden Test Wicket for Roland-Jones!

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Middlesex legend Toby Roland-Jones, aka Toblerone has snapped up his first Test victim in the third Test against South Africa. Dean Elgar had the honour of being TR-J’s maiden Test scalp and at the time of writing Roland-Jones has added Heino Kuhn and Hashim Amla to his list of Test dismissals. His figures currently read 3-8 to add to the 25 runs he posted in England’s innings.

Start as you mean to go on Toby!

Toby Rolls In!

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I’ll admit that TRJ’s latest call-up to the England squad on the eve of the third ODI against South Africa had passed me by, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a thoroughly deserving county stalwart’s name on the scorecard when I got home from work yesterday. It eased the pain of the scorecard as a whole.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1031429.html

Toby Roland-Jones made England’s Test squad last summer but not the XI. He performed admirably with bat and ball for the Lions in the winter and has been a consistent performer on the domestic circuit for a number of years. He played a huge part in Middlesex’s final day County Championship title clinch last season and possibly the fact that Middlesex haven’t played a match this week and that the third ODI was at his domestic home ground of Lords probably helped he and Steven Finn make the squad. England had niggles to the likes of Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali and clearly decided not to take any risks with their other fit but injury prone first choice pacers. Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood were rested. Liam Dawson, perennial 12th man was also added to the squad but not surprisingly provided the greenness of the pitch, he again failed to take the XI. Jake Ball responded to his figures of 0-81 in the second ODI by claiming two wickets at Lords and back to Roland-Jones, he came out swinging (Not slogging!) to hit a run-a-ball 37 not out on debut after England had been 22-6 inside five overs! TRJ also took his and England’s first wicket. Hashim Amla is not a bad maiden international victim. It says bowled in the scorebook and mentions nothing about playing on!

Credit the ECB that have some good pieces on their website. It won’t let me post links to the specific video pages but only the main page. Have a look at the post match interview with TRJ and the match highlights that are a decent nearly six minutes long and available soon after the match conclusion, providing the frustrated fan with some action in an era of no bat ‘n’ ball on free to air television. Hopefully that’s about to change!

https://www.ecb.co.uk

Ahead of the Ashes this winter, England seem likely to experiment with their squad come the ODIs against West Indies later this summer and will probably rotate their seamers before taking plenty of them Down Under. Roland-Jones could yet don the full England kit again soon.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/370535.html

International Duck Watch!

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In the third Test in Sydney, Babar Azam was the sole duckee as Pakistan commenced their pursuit of Australia’s first innings total of 538-8 declared. The tourists finished the day on 126-2 so still trailing by 412 runs.

In Cape Town, South Africa look destined for a comfortable win against Sri Lanka despite ducks from serial form lackers Hashim Amla and Temba Bavuma. Our good friend Suranga Lakmal was the man responsible for Amla’s dismissal whilst Temba Bavuma committed the perennial Test match sin of being run out.

We’ll be back tomorrow but only if Emilio Estevez can find us some more Mighty Ducks!

Triple Time for England!

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In case you missed the statistical highlight from the fifth Test in Chennai, it was, drumroll please… Moeen Ali’s 1-190 from 41 overs.

Only joking! It was Karun Nair’s 303 not out. Nair had been run out for four on Test debut earlier in the series and made 13 in his second outing. Had it not been for injuries he may not have even played this match. As it turned out he struck a maiden Test century and duly converted to into a triple… as you do!

England’s last Test triple century was Graham Gooch’s 333 way back in 1990. Since then Australia, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies have all had at least two Test triple centurions and New Zealand have had one. Only Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and England have not had an individual reach 300 in the last twenty-six years!

Whilst England may not have scored any Test triple centuries in the last twenty-six years, I’ll let Silly Point’s loyal following hazard a guess as to which nation have been the victim of the most triple tons in that time…

… yes you’ve guessed it, it’s England themselves. First Brian Lara, then Lara again followed by Hashim Amla and now Nair. Clearly England need fear any batsman with a surname consisting of only four letters!

Surely that means that Alastair Cook, Joe Root and… Adam Lyth are fabricated for Test triple tons. Cook came close with 294 against India, made 263 against Pakistan and 235 not out against Australia. Root made 254 against Pakistan having previously made 200 not out against Sri Lanka. Lyth had made 107 against New Zealand and looked destined for a Test triple ton but went and got himself run out!

England will likely have a long wait, if twenty-six years wasn’t already long enough, for another Test triple because their next Test isn’t until July, unless of course somebody strokes 300 in a day tomorrow!

Anatomy of Trying to Save a Test Career

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South Africa’s Stephen Cook had to wait a long time to play international cricket. Despite scoring run upon run at domestic level year after year the selectors had ignored him. Finally at the age of 33 the right-handed opening batsman made his debut against England earlier this annum. Representing South Africa A he had carried his bat for an unbeaten 53 in a warm-up match against the tourists before eventually getting the call-up to the full side following failures by the likes of Stiaan van Zyl.

He made 115 on his first Test outing and added 25 in the second innings. At home to New Zealand Cook recorded scores of 20, 56 and 4. He has struggled to get going down under registering contributions of 0,12 and 23 in the first two Tests. All this added up to Cook needing to deliver in the third and final Test, a pink ball day/night affair against Australia in Adelaide. Though South Africa have already won the series there is still much to lose… or gain for Cook. Remember that star batsman AB de Villiers is absent through injury and will almost certainly be immediately reinstated to the side. The other aspect that Cook is up against (Other than Australia’s bowlers!) is South Africa’s selection quota. Current regulations state that they must have six ‘black’ players in the XI. Stand-in captain Faf du Plessis certainly isn’t getting dropped and Cook’s fellow opener Dean Elgar probably has enough in the bank too. Basically Cook needed to go big in the third Test.

Did he?

I’ll admit that when I got up early doors to watch the Test I had hoped to watch a fellow Yorkshireman, Middleborough born debutant Matthew Renshaw opening the batting for Australia but it was the tourists that won the toss and chose to bat. Having got off the mark with a streaky boundary Cook was soon the very definition of plumb LBW to Mitchell Starc. He shook his head as Dean Elgar hinted at a review and marched towards the pavilion. But hold on!

Is it a no ball?

The big screen replays suggest that it might be. Cook is stopped from crossing the boundary rope. Had he done so he would not have been allowed to return. He looks up at the screen but he’s not sure, he looks rather bewildered and the episode goes on for what seems like an eternity. Part of you thinks that he doesn’t particularly want to go back. Almost with a sigh of resignation he returns to face Starc again. You sense that this is Cook’s moment. That dismissal could have been his Test career dead and buried but for an epic second innings century. He would have been stuck in the field for a day or two mulling over all that he’s worked towards slipping away from him when he’s barely had a sip. Now he has the chance to go on and make a score, plunder thousands of Test runs from this moment forth and look back on that no-ball as the moment that changed his entire life.

Before long Dean Elgar is out. Hashim Amla and Jean-Paul Duminy both follow soon after, all freakishly for five runs. This seems to be shaping up as a Stephen Cook type innings, it is everything that he is designed for, him to just stay there as wickets tumble at the other end. The commentators, nearly all past Australian players are tearing his technique to shreds but hold on, he’s the one that’s still there and runs are starting to flow. Cook is having a torrid time against Starc. He is averaging 46 against right-arm bowlers in Test cricket but just ten against left-armers, i.e. Starc & co. Josh Hazlewood is bowling really well too but Jackson Bird’s opening spell is a pressure reliever and when Nathan Lyon, wicketless for about a fortnight comes on, skipper du Plessis and Cook step to off and work singles on the leg-side. At lunch Cook has made it to 40 and soon after he and du Plessis register a fifty partnership but Cook just can’t get going again and following some not so subtle field changes he’s expecting a short one. He doesn’t get it and edges Starc to Steven Smith at second slip. Cook punches his bat in frustration.

In all probability he needed at least another ten runs to save his Test career, fine margins. One senses that at 33 once he’s gone he’s gone. Barring an Australian batting debacle he’ll have one more innings in this match but will need to get toward triple figures to ensure that it isn’t his last in Test cricket.

Hopefully he can cook Bird, starve Lyon, send Starc around the park and …err… get Hazlewood… err… stuck in the mud!

International Duck Watch!

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There was excitement in Tasmania earlier today when what was thought to be a Pacific Black Duck (Anas Superciliosa) was spotted in Hobart however it turned out that it was actually Australian batsman Adam Voges being dismissed first ball in the second Test.

Australia were bowled out for a woeful 85 with captain Steven Smith (48 not out) scoring more than half the runs. The only other batsman to make double figures was Joe (Not too) Mennie who made 10. Remember that bowler Mennie was selected ahead of Jackson Bird because of his superior batting ability. Debutant Callum Ferguson who featured in a recent post (See previous post: Ferguson Not Forgotten)…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/ferguson-not-forgotten/

… highlighted the batting horror show by being run out for just three!

In response to the host’s abject display South Africa finished day one on 171-5 (Amla 47, Starc 3-49).