Balbirnie Journey

Nothing endears a player to me more than ineptitude and so Irish batsman Andy Balbirnie’s pair on Test debut made him an instant favourite.

With Test outings for the Shamrock side few and far between, I’m desperately hoping that cricket’s not most famous AB gets another chance to shine. In the meantime he needs to dominate domestic and international white-ball cricket. Today, he did just that…

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.newsletter.co.uk/sport/cricket/andrew-balbirnie-shines-as-ireland-beat-afghanistan-1-8835562/amp

Fingers crossed that the Dublin Dabber gets to at least double his Test cap tally and turn his batting average into an integer… oh, it could be against England, against Jimmy and co. on a seaming green Lords deck!

Disclaimer: It escaped my mind that before they take on England, Ireland play another Test in Afghanistan. It won’t be easy but it will be an opportunity for Balbirnie to get up and running.

278-3 (20.0) – Enough Said!

Okay, so there’s a little more to be said…

Afghanistan have just totalled a record-breaking 278-3 in a Twenty20 International against Ireland. Opening batsman Hazratullah Zazai scored a whopping 162 (11×4, 16×6) from just 62 deliveries. He has form as I’ve mentioned more than once here at http://www.sillypointcricket.com. Strike stealing Mohammad Nabi denied Zazai the opportunity to topple Chris Gayle’s record individual T20 innings of 175* as well as Aaron Finch’s international record of 172… cheeky beggar! Zazai is one of the hottest young players anywhere in world cricket right now.

Looking forward to Ireland’s reply…

Cricket Captain 2018: Afghan Ascending!

Following our seismic victory against India on Test debut, we entertained Ireland for a limited overs only tour. We were ruthless against our old Associate adversaries, winning both series.

We claimed the T20I series 2-1, only losing when having already assumed an unassailable 2-0 lead. A magnificent undefeated partnership of 171 between Noor Ali Zadran (80*) and Najibullah Zadaran (85*) helped us recover from 4-2 to win the first match. Right-arm-quick Yamin Ahmedzai’s 5-29 led the way in the second.

We then emphatically won the ODI series 3-0. The scintillating form of our opening batsmen, Mohammad Shahzad and Usman Ghani, laid the foundations for our victory. The pair compiled partnerships of 109, 166 and 84 in the three matches. Ex-England duo Ed Joyce (107) and Boyd Rankin (7-46) could consider themselves extremely unfortunate to be on the losing side in the first match of the series. In the second, the record-breaking 166-run partnership between Shahzad (116) and Ghani (93) more than laid the foundations for a successful chase of 289. In the third match, part-time spin bowler Rahmat Shah claimed figures of 4-14 whilst Ghani (80) continued his strong ODI form after a disappointing T20I series to seal an emphatic whitewash. He has though thrown his wicket away on more than one occasion when a hundred looked on the cards.

Then came another great Test match, our first at home. The easy option would’ve been to select the XI that downed India but given the time that had elapsed since that glorious occasion and taking player form and conditions into consideration, we bravely made four changes. Najibullah Zadran and Hamza Hotak were dropped altogether, a decision based primarily on poor domestic form. Mohammad Nabi, who performed well with the ball in the white-ball matches but had been playing almost exclusively T20 cricket and Dawlat Zadran, who made a vital 53 against India, made the squad but not the playing XI. Without a club, Zadran may struggle to represent Afghanistan again.

Twenty-year-old batsman Nasir Shah beat off lots of competition for a middle order berth. Knocks of 234 and 84 in the most recent round of First Class matches cementing his place. Karim Janat, who performed well with the ball in the limited overs matches combined with scoring 126 in his last domestic match also debuted. Yamin Ahmadzai was rewarded for his five-wicket haul in a T20I and consistent threat with a Test debut at the expense of Zadran. Eighteen-year-old spin sensation Qais Ahmad held off more experienced internationals for the sole spin bowling spot. Rashid Khan failed to make the squad and still awaits a Test cap.

Having won the toss, we chose to bat but stumbled early on and at 276-7 the innings could’ve petered out.

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A breakdown of Haji Murad’s Test best innings of 96 in our first innings. As the above graphic demonstrates, the wicketkeeper cut well and scored heavily on the leg-side in front of square.

Heroically, Haji Murad (96) found support from the lower order to lift the team to 398 all out. Yamin Ahmadzai (37) and Fareed Ahmad (28) provided excellent support. Wicketkeeper Murad, who performed so well against India, was cruelly denied a maiden Test century courtesy of an outstanding catch from Peter Chase. What the lanky quick was doing positioned at short leg is anybody’s guess but he held a stunning catch. The tireless Chase also stuck at his main task to finish with exhaustive figures of 4-157.

Ireland then reached 53 without loss before capitulating to 208-9. It should be noted that after suffering the dejection of so narrowly missing out on a Test century, gloveman Murad snaffled an outstanding leg-side catch to make the breakthrough when Ireland were going strong. Andy McBrine (50 not out) and Craig Young (27 not out) bookended the innings with another 53-run partnership to revive the tourists. Young was forced to retire hurt however so as was the case in our first Test against India, the opposition found themselves a bowler light for our second innings of the match. I hope that sceptics won’t point to Young’s misfortune as pivotal. We gained a 137-run lead on first innings after all.

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Debutant Karim Janat claimed the prize scalp of Irish veteran Ed Joyce with his first ball in Test cricket. Janat would fully justify his selection in the Test side with a strong all-round showing.

Absurdly, Karim Janat and Usman Ghani both claimed wickets with their first deliveries in Test cricket. Nasir Khan claimed one with his third and the part-timer went onto claim excellent figures of 3-25 to lift his confidence having only made 13 batting at four in the first innings. Qais Ahmad also didn’t have long to wait for his first Test wicket, striking after only a few overs.

We then posted 291-8 declared in our second innings. Messrs Shahzad (49) and Ghani (51) maintained their outstanding combo with an opening stand of 88.

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Debutant Nasir Khan’s measured knock of 72, dominant on the off-side, in our second innings helped put us firmly in the driving seat before a rush of blood to the head saw him frustratingly throw his wicket away!

Young Khan made 72 and looked destined for a debut ton but was rather foolishly stumped for 72. We lost a few wickets unnecessarily in the limited overs matches and need to eradicate occasional poor shot selection from our play. Khan compiled 121 with Karim Janat (61) who would fully justify his inclusion in the side via performances with both bat and ball. Spinner George Dockrell claimed match figures of 7-157 for Ireland. He was unlucky not to take more wickets and to finish on the losing side.

Staring down a daunting target but having made an encouraging start, Ireland then collapsed from 107-1 to 210 all out as we maintained our 100% winning record in Test cricket. We didn’t panic after Ireland made good progress early on before a double strike from Karim Janat (2-24) halted the visitor’s progress. Dave Rankin top scored with 48 but young spinner Qais Ahmad (3-50) wrapped things up after the pace bowlers had done their bit.

That’s two wins out of two in the Test arena and now it’s onto yet more more white-ball games against the side form the Emerald Isle. We’ll be looking to maintain our dominance against our friendly foes, continue to breed competition amongst the squad and develop our game in all formats.

A Brand Spanking New Audiocast!

IMG_3962

Hi all

It’s been a while but here’s a brand spanking new audiocast. Not much prep went in to this but I thought that the Commonwealth Games merited a mention. What a great opportunity it could be to help provide more exposure to Associate nations and cricket in general.

Many thanks for following and bye for now.

Silly Point

2018 Women’s World T20

In just under a week’s time on November 9th, the 2018 Women’s World T20 takes place in West Indies, the land of the defending champions.

Click on the link below for full details…

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_ICC_Women%27s_World_Twenty20

The hosts will hope to defend the title in their own backyard via performances from players such as Cheandra Nation and the destructive Deandra Dottin. Current World ODI Champions England will also be confident however. Their squad includes inventive players such as Nat Sciver and Danielle Wyatt while Amy Jones (Pictured above) will wear the ‘keeping gloves in the absence of Sarah Taylor.

In captain Meg Lanning, Australia have the women’s game’s best player but in truth, T20 isn’t her strongest suit. Ashleigh Gardner could be key in this format. Neighbours New Zealand have talented individuals such as run-machine Amy Satterthwaite and spin sensation Amelia Kerr to keep them competitive.

India, with players such as Mithali Raj and Smriti Mandhana, will have high hopes for the tournament, though their neighbours, an out of form Pakistan, seem less likely contenders. They’ll rely heavily on the exploits of Diana Baig.

South Africa have some high quality cricketers, Laura Wolvaardt and Sune Luus amongst them but will need to discover consistency if they’re to challenge for this year’s crown. Chamari Atapattu will lead Sri Lanka’s charge.

It’ll be interesting to see how competitive the likes of Bangladesh and Ireland can be. Both teams had to make it through the qualifier to get this far. For Bangladesh, keep an eye out for eighteen-year-old spinner Nahida Akter. For Ireland, who took an almighty battering at the hands of New Zealand in ODIs not all that long ago, look out for talented all-round sportswoman Mary Waldron. Not content with representing her nation at cricket, she’s played football at international level as well as playing hockey to a high standard.

Here’s hoping for a great tournament to further develop and promote the women’s game.

Cricket Captain 2018: From One Extreme to the Other!

2020-21 Season Review

West Indies Tests: Won 3-0

Australia ODIs: Lost 2-1 (Sam Hain 145, 105 and 88)

Australia T20Is: Lost 2-1 (Tom Kohler-Cadmore 101, maiden ODI century)

Pakistan Tests: Lost 2-1 (Ed Barnard match figures 9-85)

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Alastair Cook and Haseeb Hameed opening partnership 346.

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43 all out!

Pakistan T20Is: Lost 3-0

Ireland ODIs: Won 2-1 (Tom Kohler-Cadmore 133, century on ODI debut, 62 and 141)

India ODIs: Lost 3-0 (Ed Pollock 102, maiden ODI century)

India T20Is: Lost 3-0

T20I World Cup: Won 1, Lost 3 – Knocked out at group stage (Jofra Archer 4-21 vs. West Indies)

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India Tests: Won 4-0 (Achieved highest ever run chase in history of Test cricket: 489-2 (Vince 204*, Root 198*))

South Africa ODIs: Lost 2-1

South Africa T20Is: Lost 3-0

Tests:

Won: 8 Drew/Tied: 1 Lost: 2

ODIs:

Won: 4 Drew/Tied: 0 Lost: 8

T20Is:

Won: 2 Drew/Tied: 0 Lost: 14

Cricket Captain 2018: Shamrocked!

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As Coach and Selector of the England cricket team, I accept full responsibility for the seismic Test defeat against Ireland in Dublin, a result that sent shockwaves throughout the global cricket community and beyond. First of all, please let me offer my sincerest congratulations to our Irish counterparts. They fully deserved their maiden Test match victory which brought to an end both an undefeated record and a run of four consecutive Test series wins during my tenure.

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The decision to rest a number of senior players for this one-off Test match was made with a view to the upcoming demanding schedule that we face this summer. There are six limited overs internationals to be played against Pakistan, a lengthy World Cup as well as both white-ball matches and the marquee Ashes series against Australia. By selecting the squad that I did, I helped us to breed competition and identify players good enough to contribute to our cause in the future. Ultimately however, the efforts, or at least the application of our players, was extremely underwhelming. This was despite a sensational innings of 125 from twentytwo-year-old Joe Clarke in his first Test as captain. Other players, notably Ollie Pope as well as Ben Coad on debut, enhanced their reputations but some failed to seize the opportunity presented to them.

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Our first choice spinner, Lancashire’s Matthew Parkinson (4-64), also performed well to restrict Ireland to 259 in their second innings. However to lose by a margin of 70 runs, having opted to bowl first and having been 86 without loss in response to Ireland’s first innings total of 297, was unacceptable. I’d like to add that the decision to bowl first was not made by stand-in skipper Joe Clarke alone but by the full leadership team. Having dismissed our hosts for sub 300 in cloudy conditions, the decision to field first was not the reason for our defeat.

County Championship (First Class) performances will now be crucial in regards to selection for Ashes places following a busy white-ball period.

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On the subject of white-ball cricket, I was delighted with how our players responded to the Test defeat. Players such as Sam Hain and Ed Barnard amongst others played in both fixtures and were crucial to our first ODI series victory in four, thus maintaining our number one world ranking. Other players that came into the side, such as limited overs specialists Alex Hales and Jason Roy as well as the ever effective Chris Wood, helped lift the side from the Dublin depths of despair. Ben Stokes, who claimed figures of 3-45, was named Man of the Match.

We now take on Pakistan in a five-match ODI series as well as a one-off T20I encounter prior to the 2019 ODI World Cup. Thank you for your support and once again, congratulations to Irish cricket!