Ticketmaster Disaster!

The ODI Cricket World Cup takes place in England next summer and I’m delighted to have got my hands on tickets for games involving Afghanistan, Pakistan and West Indies at Headingley… or at least I think that I have.

This week Ticketmaster sent e-mails to many fans who’d entered the ballot informing them that they’d won tickets. Some of those fans would’ve then paid for flights from all corners of the globe and booked accommodation only to then be informed that the e-mails had been sent in error and they hadn’t won tickets at all.

Well done Ticketmaster!

Cricket Captain 2018: Statistical Highlights… and Lowlights!

Five full years into my tenure as Coach/Selector of the England cricket team, here’s a round-up of the highs and lows that we’ve experienced as a collective thus far…

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Yes that does say 43 all out against Pakistan at Edgbaston! That’s an England all-time low and a slap in the face for our decision to bat exclusively (And optimistically) for a draw. The sweet success of 806 against Sri Lanka in Kandy seems a long time ago.

Joe Root’s 292 against India in Nottingham, came after he’d been dismissed for 230 twice during my tenure and in the same innings that James Vince briefly (Very briefly) held the record when making 246.

Leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson’s 7-82 against New Zealand, also at Edgbaston, are the best individual bowling figures in an innings while Stuart Broad’s 11-98 against West Indies in Jamaica in 2019 remain our best match analysis.

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The year before the 43 all out debacle, 436 against the same opponents in Leeds, had been a none too shabby effort in a One-Day International. In truth, our limited overs batting has regressed since then. As in the Tests, it’s former captain Joe Root who leads the way with a rare double ton (214) in the fifty over format, indeed it was in that innings of 436 against Pakistan in front of a packed and vibrant Headingley crowd.

Somerset speedster Jamie Overton claimed astonishing figures of 6-14 against Australia in the infancy of his international career but lost his way a little in ODIs. He is however averaging sub 30 in the Test format and has become a valuable option in the longer format. He’s no slouch with the bat either.

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Errrr, yeah, 41 all out against South Africa in a T20I. Like I said, highs and lows. Never an easy place to bat is Cape Town!

Alex Hales 124 against arch-enemy Australia in Bristol has been the best batting output in the format whilst the often economical Tom Curran’s 5-26 against West Indies in Delhi at the World Cup is our best individual bowling analysis.

It’d be great to post 1000 runs in a Test innings but with the need for declarations this can often only be feasible in a dead rubber. 500 in a ODI and 250 in T20Is would also be welcome. It’d also be great to see an individual batsman reach a triple ton in a Test match but should they approach Sir Len Hutton’s 364 then I might have to declare!

Yorkshire v Warwickshire T20 Match

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Yes that’s right, Yorkshire versus Warwickshire. I refuse to refer to them as Birmingham. If every other team can wear a county moniker then Warwickshire need be no different. Why on Earth would you want to alienate half your county?

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In truth the match was a rather one-sided affair. Adam Lyth does what Adam Lyth does, dispelling the notion of many have that he’s a dour First Class player. He has always been a superior white-ball cricketer. Tom Kohler-Cadmore confirmed that Ed Smith was right not to select Chris Woakes for the Tests against India. TK-C could yet be a white-ball (ODI/T20I) player for England, even if he can’t get anywhere near Yorkshire’s County Championship side. Chris Woakes will come good once he’s got a few more overs under his belt. Don’t rule him out of having an impact against India yet!

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David Willey scored a hundred the last time I attended Headingley. Last night he scored one minus the hundred. Kane Williamson displayed his class as did Gary Ballance briefly. Olly stone bowled eleven dot balls to keep him in those ‘Next time we got to Australia’ conversations!

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When it came Warwickshire’s turn to bat, Ed Pollock did what Ed Pollock does. He swung and missed, repeat, repeat, then mightily finely connected with a few before getting out to a ball he really needn’t have. 22 from 12 deliveries sums him up and scores of substance need to arrive soon. Ian Bell (42 from 33) and Adam Hose (43 from 31) laboured… and I mean laboured in the middle. There were some fine strikes to the boundary but too many failures to connect. Surely the midlands side would be better with the likes of New Zealand duo Colin de Grandhomme (38 not out from 19) and skipper Grant Elliot higher up the order in this format.

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Yorkshire ran out winners by 31 runs courtesy of the Duckworth Lewis Method.

I’ll be back next week to see Yorkshire host Northamptonshire so they’ll be another match report soon after.

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.

Cricket Captain 2018: Start as we Mean to go on!

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I’m delighted to announce that my England side have commenced the summer with victory in the first Test against Pakistan at Lords. With captain Joe Root unfortunately unavailable through injury, the sensible option to entrust experienced former skipper Alastair Cook with the armband was one that I made without hesitation. Worcestershire’s twentyone-year-old right-handed batsman Joe Clarke was provided the honour of becoming the 685th England Test cricketer.

After fifties in the last Test before my tenure, the second Test in New Zealand, batsmen Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Dawid Malan as well as pace bowler Mark Wood, all retained their places. Despite playing no First Class cricket this term, Ben Stokes IPL form was enough to earn him selection provided the quality batting and bowling options around him. The uncapped duo of Lancashire leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson and Nottinghamshire left-arm quick Mark Footitt also made the squad. Parkinson was rewarded for outstanding form in the County Championship whilst Footitt’s left-arm pace provides the squad with a point of difference.

Alastair Cook won the toss and we opted to bat but were soon in trouble at 17-3. Cook himself was first to go, clean bowled for one. Mark Stoneman made eight and unfortunately debutant Clarke was caught at point without scoring. James Vince (89) and Dawid Malan (49) repaired the damage with a fantastic partnership, both justifying their retentions in the team. Malan was frustratingly run out when trying to reach his fifty however, a single that was optimistic at best and foolish at worst. Jonny Bairstow made a brisk 44 and Ben Stokes cracked some boundaries late in the piece before falling for an excellent 92. That helped lift us to what we thought was a par score of 307.

Maybe 307 was above par however as Pakistan succumbed to 209 all out. The visitors’ skipper Sarfraz Ahmed made a magnificent 104 from number seven. The next highest score was just 23! Mark Wood (4-63) led the way but their were contributions from throughout our bowling attack.

In our second innings, stand-in skipper Alastair Cook produced one of his masterclasses, batting throughout the entire innings and finishing undefeated on 160. Cook weathered the tempest when Stoneman (Again!) and Vince fell in single figures. Joe Clarke made a counter-attacking 28 to get off the mark in Test cricket and with Joe Root still injured, will likely keep his place for the second Test. Jonny Bairstow rapidly caught up with Cook and surpassed him to register the first Test ton of my tenure as selector/coach. Jonny B fell for a crowd-pleasing 111 before all the bowlers chipped in around Cook.

Pakistan set about their chase of over 500 well but when the second wicket fell their batting line-up collapsed like a deck of cards in a full force gale! Somerset spinner Jack Leach was entrusted with lots of responsibility and finished with Test best figures of 3-94. Yet another example of a player justifying his selection. There were even maiden Test wickets for Dawid Malan and James Vince, to compliment his Test best batting effort and supreme fielding display.

All that equated to a thumping 199-run win for us and we look forward to the challenge that Pakistan will respond with in the second Test at Headingley. Surrey’s Mark Stoneman may have some sleepless nights, what with Haseeb Hameed breathing down his neck.

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Burns & the Blast!

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Good morning loyal followers.

Please have a listen to my latest audio cast. Bear with, it’s a little bit football dominated for the first couple of minutes!

Many thanks

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Scintillating Sciver Can’t Save England!

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England Women succumbed to a chastening 302-run defeat against New Zealand at Headingley in a one-off ODI earlier today.

New Zealand’s opening batsmen were utterly dominant on a gorgeous day in Leeds. Susie Bates (212) and Sophie Devine (144) put on 283 for the visitor’s first wicket. Amy Satterthwaite added 129 not out from just 49 deliveries as the home side claimed only two wickets in 50 overs. New Zealand’s total of 493-2 was a new world record in Women’s ODI cricket, passing the previous high of 455-2 also set by the White Ferns.

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Two dropped catches by stumper Sarah Taylor (Who was also dismissed first ball!) didn’t help England’s cause, although in truth a lot of the damage had already been done. England also missed an easy run out opportunity when the ball was inexplicably thrown to the wrong end!

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All-rounder Natalie Sciver, who despite bowling two maidens finished with record breakingly bad figures of 0-111 from her full allocation, finished the day four runs to the good after spanking a marvellous 115. Her 67-ball affair contained 13 sixes, most of which were reverse sweeps. In current cricket terminology, Sciver is probably England’s ‘Point of Difference’! Only Katherine Brunt (21) and captain Heather Knight (17) were able to provide any kind of support for Surrey’s scintillating Sciver.

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Sciver’s batting exploits did at least save England from complete ignominy and the side will look to bounce back next time they take to the field of play.

Disclaimer: I should probably point out that I was playing as England. In my defence, I’m now tackling veteran level (ie: Level 4/5)!