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!

Immortal Batsmen… for now at Least!

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Here’s a quick look at the pack in terms of England’s preferred future batting options. All are very much on England’s radar and some have staggering statistics.

Sam Hain (Warwickshire) List A batting average: 67.59 (39 innings)

Hong Kong born, Ozzie Bred but an England Lion, Warwickshire’s Hain currently possesses an absurdly good average in the one-day format. Curiously though, Hain has underwhelmed in red-ball cricket over the past couple of seasons. This is despite an excellent conversion rate of 8:8 when it comes to converting half-centuries into three figures. This highlights how often he’s been dismissed cheaply given that his career average is less than half his List A figure at 32.25. Hain’s List A strike-rate is 88.22 but remember, that’s against domestic attacks. At international level, there’s no respite provided by facing mediocre bowlers. It may be that Hain has to up the tempo to keep up with the current crop of England’s white-ball willow wielders. It may yet be that he flourishes in Test cricket.

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Ollie Pope (Surrey) First Class batting average: 66.00 (19 innings)

Pope’s career is in its infancy and he’ll do well to maintain an average of World Cup winning proportions but it’s a heck of a start. As things stand, the twenty-year-old has twice as many tons as he does fifties, 4:2. The real test will come when he plays Test cricket. If he suffers a Tom Westleyesque start, a beginning where one technical flaw is identified, domestic bowlers will then prey upon his wounds. How will it effect him and will he bounce back? With Alec Stewart to provide guidance, he has at least got a proven international player to help him develop.

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Joe Clarke (Worcestershire) First Class batting average: 42.65 (92 innings)

Clarke’s average is more mortal than Hain and Pope’s but provides an insight into what is likely to happen to Hain and Pope’s figures over time. Clarke’s average of 42.65 is still more than respectable for a barely twentytwo-year-old spread over 92 innings. Like Hain, Clarke converts well, 12:13 at First Class level.

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Hain, Clarke and Pope would seem like an impressive middle order at numbers three, four and five for England, not that anybody’s writing Joe Root off just yet.

Aneurin Donald (Glamorgan) First Class batting average: 30.68 (71 innings)

When Welshman Aneurin Donald scored 234 off just 136 balls in a County Championship match aged just 19, there were high hopes that he would go onto represent England. There’s only been one ton since however and his white-ball efforts have been diabolical with averages of just 14.65 (List A) and 22.52 (T20). Constantly been shunted up and down the order probably hasn’t helped but its been Glamorgan Second XI cricket of late and not international matches. Like Hain, Pope and Clarke, Donald has the ability. Still only twenty-one-years of age, it’s to be hoped that Donald can come back stronger and compete for a spot in England’s middler order over the years to come.

Six to Watch: T20I Status – Women’s Special

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Following on from my men’s and team articles and ahead of the Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier commencing next week, here’s a look at some women players to lookout for now that all associate cricket nations have been granted T20I status as of today.

Louise Little (Ireland)

Fifteen-year-old Irish girl Louise Little’s ODI bowling average currently stands at a whopping 358.00. This is a result of her mauling at the hands of a rampant and record-breaking New Zealand side earlier this year.

Little was actually five days shy of being fourteen when she made her international bow last year. It is to be hoped that the Dublin born medium-pacer will be better for the experience and soon come of age on the international stage. They’ll be no immediate opportunity for Little to prosper having been omitted form Ireland’s squad for the 2018 Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier. This may be the best thing for her and time is very much on her side. Hopefully the Dublin native can improve little by little!

Mariko Hill (Hong Kong)

Hong Kong’s Mariko Hill was just seventeen when she won the Hong Kong Women Cricketer of the Year trophy way back in 2013. The right arm-medium bowler was effective with the cork and leather at the ASEAN Women’s T20 Open Tournament in Bangkok earlier this year and Hong Kong will be seeking further fine contributions from Hill. Given her tender years, she’s far from over the hill!

Pauke Siaka (Papua New Guinea)

Siaka will captain PNG when the Women’s World T20 Qualifier commences in the Netherlands next weekend. Siaka previously led her nation at the 2017 ODI Cricket World Cup Qualifier where she claimed a team high eight wickets. PNG will be looking to their skipper for inspiration as well as contributions with both bat and ball.

Naruemol Chaiwai (Thailand)

Naruemol Chaiwai will turn 27 tomorrow and she’ll surely intend to celebrate her birthday with some stellar performances in the Women’s World T20 Qualifier having been named in Thailand’s squad last month. Chaiwai was Thailand’s leading run scorer at the 2018 Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup and will hope to transform that form the full T20 Internationals.

Rubina Chhetry (Nepal)

As seems to be standard on this list, Nepal’s Rubina Chhetry is a right-hand-bat and right-arm-medium bowler. Only twnetyfour-years of age, Chhetry made some handy contributions with the ball including figures of 3-11 and 3-12 at the Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifying Series Asia Region last year. Nepal will look to Chettry to continue claiming wickets to help them progress as their male counterparts have done in recent times.

Cher van Slobbe (Netherlands)

Hermes DVS Women all-rounder Van Slobbe has made some handy contributions with the bat for the Dutch against the likes of Dorset and Cornwall in the Women’s One-Day Cup and will shortly win her maiden full international caps. She’ll also expect to contribute with the ball as 2018 Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier hosts Netherlands look to make full use of home advantage. Van Slobbe and her Dutch teammates Believe they’re Strong Enough to compete in a Woman’s World. They’ll hope that the opposition will be Moonstruck so as to Mask any mistakes from the home side and hopefully the home spectators will witness The Very Best of Cher!

Not all of the above will be at…

http://www.wikiwand.com/en/2018_ICC_Women%27s_World_Twenty20_Qualifier

… but there’ll be a follow-up article sometime in the future to see how messrs Chaiwai, Chhetry, Hill. Little, Siaka and van Slobbe have fared.

Disclaimer: Apologies to Cher and her fans but I just couldn’t resist putting DMA’s version on here instead!

Century Seeking Siaka Seriously Stalling!

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No that’s not Papua New Guinea batsman Lega Siaka’s mobile number. It’s his last seven innings in ODI cricket! His contribution to Papua New Guinea’s attempt to reach the 2019 ODI World Cup has been a pretty limp one. His most recent outing against Zimbabwe, caught in the field having accrued just 7 from all of 31 deliveries when batting at three with his team chasing 264, pretty much sums up where he’s at at the moment.

This is an especially frustrating time for the island nation’s great hope, one of the few associate cricket teams to actually field mostly if not entirely indigenous players. Siaka has an ODI ton against Hong Kong early in his career but now averages just 17.47 from 17 innings. Remove his 109 against Hong Kong from the equation and Siaka becomes fiftyless and would average 11.75. I’m always wary of chopping and changing a player’s statistics, it’s a little unfair but put that one extreme career best aside and Siaka has struggled big time. The Port Moresby native actually has three List A tons but an average of only 25.27. Again this highlights the extremes of his scoring pattern. It’s either feast or famine but the feasts are rare, like at Christmas or on your birthday!

Siaka is twentyfive-years-old. He’s not a kid, has represented Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash and turned out for the Australian Prime Minister’s XI. Of course the problem for associate players such as Siaka is the quality and volume of cricket they’re playing between tournaments. Siaka has represented Essendon in rookie cricket Down Under but compare that to the likes of Netherlands’ Ryan ten Doeschate and Roelof van der Merwe, both of whom are regulars on the English county circuit or Afghanistan’s young skipper Rashid Khan playing in the IPL and Big Bash and the experience aquired just doesn’t compare. It may be that Siaka is more suited to the longer format, he averages 32.69 in First Class cricket but in truth, that’s not the format to prosper in if you’re an associate player. That of course opens a whole can of worms regarding developing Test cricket around the world but I’ve written plenty on that already!

Fingers and toes crossed that if Siaka is presented with another chance in the ICC World Cup Qualifier that he can reach double figures and then clock up at least a second ODI half-century.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/440990.html

Chapman Flappin’!

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Welcome to international cricket Mark Chapman! Well, proper and regular international cricket against Test opposition anyway. It’s all well and good scoring an ODI century against United Arab Emirates but having switched allegiance from the country of his birth, Hong Kong, to New Zealand and despite being in good touch at domestic level, the twenty-three-year-old left-hander has produced innings of 8, 1 & 0 in his three ODI outings for his adopted home so far. It’s been a pretty inauspicious introduction to New Zealand colours in the fifty-over format.

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Meanwhile his ex, Hong Kong, are at present attempting to qualify for the 2019 World Cup in England. They’re one of ten nations currently competing in the ICC World Cup Qualifier in Zimbabwe. What they would give to have Chappers in their batting line-up when competing against mostly other associate nations.

You can keep track of how the Road to 2019 is progressing here:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/_/id/8038/season/2018/icc-world-cup-qualifiers/

Given New Zealand’s small pool of depth, the country has a population of just shy of 4.7 million people and not all of them are cricketers (No really, not all of them are!), Chapman, who did at least make starts in the T20I matches, will likely get another opportunity but unlike against England in the past couple of weeks, he’d better seize the chance with both hands.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/newzealand/content/player/438563.html

2019 Cricket World Cup

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I’ve thrown my e-mail address into the ticket ballot for the 2019 One-Day Cricket World Cup that is scheduled to take place in England next summer. Quite what this means I’m not sure. Could I end up with tickets to see Papua New Guinea vs. Bangladesh in Cardiff? I should probably point out that I’m a Yorkshire based England fan! Here’s the link to the ICC’s ticket page:

https://www.icc-cricket.com/media-releases/595204

The tournament qualifiers are currently taking place in Zimbabwe with two teams from ten progressing to the World Cup. Can you call it a World Cup when there’ll only be ten countries taking part? It’s a bit of a lottery as to which matches count as ODIs and which ones count as List A only. It’s pretty crucial stuff when a player registers a hundred or claims a five-for!

Many of the associate nations taking part at the qualifiers are missing key players because they’ve jumped ship and joined Test nations (Mark Chapman, Hong Kong to New Zealand) or because they’re working on doing the same (Michael Rippon, Netherlands to New Zealand). They’re also missing players because they can’t afford to play and need to work, e.g.: Preston Mommsen (Scotland) and Jamie Atkinson (Hong Kong).

Cricket needs to spread and develop the game globally. It could be that Test cricket will be saved by the associate nations. As players abandon the longest format for the T20 dollars and Test cricket becomes less competitive then the likes of Kenya and Nepal may join Afghanistan and Ireland in dining at the main table. Having said that, Rashid Khan and Nepal’s Sandeep Lamichane have already had a taste of the global T20 league so already even the second tier teams are potentially losing players from competing internationally to the domestic dollar competitions.

Back to the qualifiers, Scotland have already upset Afghanistan who were captained by nineteen-year-old Khan, whilst Zimbabwe posted nearly 400 in imposing defeat against Lamichane’s Nepal. You can keep up to date with proceedings here:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/_/id/8038/season/2018/icc-world-cup-qualifiers/

Hopefully next year’s World Cup will catch the fans’ attention like last year’s Champions Trophy did. Here’s to some fine English weather come 2019!

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???