2018 FIFA World Cup XI

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Here are eleven international cricketers who were born in countries participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup (But not born in Australia or England obviously!)

First XI

Jehan Mubarek (Sri Lanka) born in USA (Well they did participate in qualifying!)

George Headley (West Indies) born in Panama

Dick Westcott (South Africa) born in Portugal

Ted Dexter (England) born in Italy (Like USA, Italy didn’t actually qualify!)

Ken Weekes (West Indies) born in USA (Err, yeah… USA again!)

Freddie Brown (England) born in Peru

Donald Carr (England) born in Germany

Ashok Gandotra (India) born in Brazil

Moises Henriques (Australia) born in Portugal

John Traicos (Zimbabwe) born in Egypt

Amjad Khan (England) born in Denmark

On the tour

Buster Nupen (South Africa) born in Norway (Well they did qualify for France ’98!)

Benny Howell (England) born in France (Okay, he hasn’t won an England cap… yet!)

Ollie Rayner (England) born in Germany (Like Howell, he was capped by me on Cricket Captain 17!)

Six to Watch: T20I Status – Men’s Special

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From 1st January 2019, all Associate cricket nations will have full T20 International status. These are really exciting times for cricketers as well as fans throughout the globe. As I do each year when the county season comes around, I’ve identified six players to keep an eye on as T20 Internationals start to be played out across the world.

Simon Ateak (Ghana)

24-year-old Ghanaian Simon Ateak was Player of the Tournament at the 2018 ICC World Twenty20 African Sub Regional (North-Western) Qualifier. Ateak notched back-to-back fifties against Sierra Leone and Nigeria in Lagos. Ateak had actually been in poor form in ICC World Cricket League Division Five prior to the T20 Qualifier but delivered when needed to help Ghana reach the finals. Simon’s younger brother Vincent also chipped in with the ball during the Qualifier.

Harrison Carlyon (Jersey)

Still only seventeen-years-old, Jersey’s Harrison Carlyon made his international debut against Oman in Los Angeles at the tender age of just fifteen. The off-spinner’s father and uncle have both represented the island’c cricket team and injuries even meant that father and son turned out for the same side. Carlyon has since appeared for Jersey U-19s and made some useful contributions in ICC World Cricket League Division Four. He’s also been in and around the youth set ups at Sussex CCC.

Ahmad Faiz (Malaysia)

How about this for form: 50, 86, 20, 47, 45 & 50. Those were the batting contributions of Malaysian skipper Ahmad Faiz in ICC World Cricket League Division Four earlier this year. The right-handed batsman clearly enjoys the surface in Kuala Lumpur. Admittedly those were one-day matches and his T20 form beforehand wasn’t quite as strong but Malaysia will be relying on their former U-19 World Cup captain when it comes to run-getting.

Andrew Mansale (Vanuatu)

Andrew Mansale is Vanuatu’s experienced leader, having debuted for his country when just fifteen years of age. Now 29 and having gained experience of playing club cricket in Australia, Vanuatu will be looking to Mansale’s leadership as well as his right-hand batting and off-spin to help them rise to prominence in T20I cricket. Joshua Rasu, another right-hand bat who has played for the same Australian club as Mansale is another Ni-Vanuatu worth looking out for.

Calum MacLeod (Scotland)

Scotland’s Calum McLeod already has 28 T20I caps as well as double that amount of appearances in ODI Cricket where, for the record, he’s notched an impressive six centuries. His attacking nature was imperative in Scotland qualifying for the 2015 ODI World Cup and there were glimpses of his talent at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in March of this year. As with many Scots, he’s been around the English county second XI circuit, most recently representing Hampshire.

Carl Sandri (Italy)

34-year-old Carl Sandri’s experience will be vital if Italy are to develop as a T20I nation. Australian born Sandri, a right-hand bat and off-spin bowler represented Sydney Thunder in the 2013 edition of the Big Bash. He was Italy’s leading wicket taker in the most recent ICC World Cricket League Division Five. Peter Petricola, who has played alongside Sandri in Ozzie club cricket, is another old head that Italy will look at to spearhead their efforts.

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Elsewhere, could county players such as Middlesex’s Ollie Rayner (Germany) and Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell (France) be eligible to represent the countries of their birth?

Could Hampshire’s Gareth ‘Ice’ Berg return to the Italian side alongside Sandri and Petricola having played with them six years ago? Berg claimed figures of 4-20 against Uganda and scored 47 against Namibia in 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in UAE. He’s been an underrated performer on the English county circuit (First Class, List A, T20) for a number of years.

If USA can sort out their political infighting, could Durham’s Cameron Steel or Hampshire’s Ian Holland represent the Stars and Stripes in T20I Cricket? It seems inconceivable that USA aren’t a cricketing nation to be reckoned with.

Once T20I status has really taken ahold, look out for future posts to see how Ateak, Carlyon, Faiz, Mansale, McLeod and Sandri have got on… and who I should have previewed!

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In the near future, I’ll also be compiling a Six to Watch for the T20I Women’s game as well as a team special. Be sure to look out for those posts soon.

Antarctic T20 Ice Blast! (Silly Point Ultra-Exclusive Story!)

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Cricket’s administrators recently proposed suggestions to help preserve Test cricket. This was in part due to the potential risk of some billionaire creating yet another global T20 franchise tournament and stealing players. Well those moves may have come too late because an unnamed mogul is rumoured to be ready to inject millions into the launching of a new T20 competition. The Antarctic Ice Blast is believed to be prepped for launch as early and appropriately as 2020. Like the identity of the league’s founder, the potential franchise owners remain unknown though TV’s Jon Snow, former Netherlands footballer Arron Winter and New Zealand cricketer Tim Southee are all rumoured to have put down a deposit. Silly Point has however seen the names of the proposed teams and they are as follows:

Bentley Subglacial Trench EmperorsLake Vostok LakersMcMurdo Station PinnipedsMount Erebus MountaineersOnyx River NematodesRiiser-Larsen Ice Shelf IcefishRoss Island Seals and Vinson Massif Explorers.

Englishmen Samit Patel, Ravi Bopara and Joe Denly are all rumoured to have signed up for the inaugural draft as is Test captain Joe Root. There is even a suggestion that recently retired Kevin Pietersen may come out of retirement for one last Blast. English players are perceived to be a vital addition to the franchises because of their experience of playing in cold conditions. Northerners in particular, players from the likes of Durham, Yorkshire and Lancashire are particularly sought after. Franchise owners are rumoured to have been dialling the mobile numbers of Steve Harmison, Darren Gough and Andrew Flintoff in audacious bids to lure the former England trio out of retirement.

West Indies’ Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, Indian skipper Virat Kohli, Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Australia’s Michael Klinger as well as former national skipper Steve Smith, are also rumoured to have put their names forward for the first draft. With Silly Point having seen exclusive advertising, we can advise that former Italy all-rounder Gareth Berg has already emerged as the league’s poster boy. Soon it’ll be hard to move around London Underground, Sydney Business District or the streets of Mumbai without seeing Berg’s flop of blond hair, his arms folded, in front of a mass of ice and a set of stumps… made of ice! That’s right, they’ll be replaced every time they’re broken or maybe they’re unbreakable ice!

It’s understood that the Blast’s benefactor is willing to contribute funds towards the building of renewable energy laden environmentally friendly stadiums for each franchise. These stadiums will have both training and accommodation facilities as well as purpose built wickets. Retractable roofs will come as standard.

Again, Silly Point has gained exclusive access to information and the names of the stadiums are set to be as follows:

Bentley Ballpark, Vostok Park, McMurdo Station, Erebus Arena, Onyx Bowl, Riiser-Larsen Cricket Ground (RLCG), Ross Dome and Vinson Field

The league’s creator is also set to launch their own airline, Antarctic Fantastic Air, to assist fans when travelling to matches.

Some in the cricket world are sceptical regarding the prospect of yet another T20 league in an already congested calendar, about the less than desirable cricket weather and how exactly fans will attach themselves to a team. For some though this is seen an excellent advert for spreading the global appeal of the game. Given the reduction of teams at the 2019 ODI World Cup, many cricket lovers as well as administrators are delighted to see cricket venture into an untapped market. The ICC are already lining up Antarctica as host for both an ODI World Cup and T20 World Cup as well as Champions Trophy venue post 2030.

One frustrating thing about the proposed tournament is that it’s expected to be played out behind a TV pay wall. Rumours are that the competition will have its own channel and will cost a one-off fee of around £250.00 before requiring subscribers to enter a 20 digit code followed by another 20 digit code on their remote control. Pommie Mbangwa, Michael Slater and everybody’s favourite insighter Graeme Swann, are tipped to be among the commentary and punditry team. Instagram and Dave are believed to have exclusive rights to highlights packages whilst if you sign up with the league founder’s rumoured planned new mobile phone company, Antarctic Connexions Mobile, you can gain exclusive access to almost immediate video wicket alerts! Continuing on the screen front, renowned film maker Werner Herzog is set to return to Antarctica and shoot a documentary about the competition’s inception, infancy and general learning to walk.

With some international teams still reluctant to travel to Pakistan for security reasons, Pakistan are rumoured to have already enquired about the possibility of playing home matches there following some disappointing results in UAE conditions. English county side Hampshire are said to be extremely frustrated to have missed out to Antarctica as an English Test venue. Because of the technicalities of Antarctic ownership, it’s understood that all nations could potentially play home games in Antarctica if they wish. Boyd Rankin, Ed Joyce and Johan Botha are believed to have already relocated to the southern continent in order to meet residency requirements ahead of rumoured bids to join the Antarctic national team. Peter Moores is slated as coach… slated, he will be if results don’t go too well! Essex are believed to have enquired about whether players, hell just people, could join them on Kolpak deals as soon as this summer.

Silly Point is delighted to present this exclusive story to you and will keep our loyal followers abreast of any further developments.

It’s a Blogging World

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It’s been over a year now since I commenced writing this blog and like the world of cricket the globe has been constantly evolving.

It’s hardly surprising that the United Kingdom provides my most hits but that the USA comes second is interesting. Is there a growing interest in cricket in America or just a strong expatriate community in a large and diversley populated country?

If anybody should holiday in China, Iceland, Mexico, anywhere in either North Africa or South America then please don’t forget to view my site. I’d love to get my entire map coloured in and will be forever grateful to my one (To date) visitor from Lebanon, oh and the guy from Russia who painted nearly half my map in one click!

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5,507 would be a decent career tally of runs for a Test batsman. The USA would be proud to total 505 all out. India would take 359 on a difficult pitch and England would love to dismiss Australia for 279. Italy would have liked a little more than 107 in any format and unless it was this ‘new’ T10 stuff then South Africa would be disappointed with 103 all out. My family in France have progressed to 68 (We’ll say without loss!) but Pakistan will be bitterly disappointed to have been rolled over for just 63. Germany scratched their way to 57 whilst Canada totalled 55. To be fair, that’s a lot more than they usually rack-up at major tournaments!

Many thanks to all who have viewed my blog and to cricket enthusiasts in Madagascar, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea… if you’re out there!

World Cup Equality

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You’ll have to forgive me for committing the ultimate sin on a cricket blog but I’m about to ramble on (For quite some time!) about football. This is of course my blog so I can do what I want!

Qualification for the 2018 football World Cup in Russia has well and truly reached the business end. All that remains are the heartbreaking play-off matches to determine which counters join the likes of Panama, Iceland and Iran in Russia next year. I’ll hazard a guess that Iceland will find acclimatising to the Russian climate just a bit easier than Panama. It’s also safe to say that none of the three nations mentioned above will be qualifying for the cricket World Cup anytime soon.

Back to the footy, here’s a breakdown of the percentage of teams from each continental region that will qualify for the football World Cup:

South America: 4 out of 10 teams = 40%

Europe: 13 out of 54 teams = 24%

The Americas: 4 out of 35 teams = 11%

Africa: 5 out of 54 teams = 9%

Asia: 4 out of 46 teams = 9%

Oceania: 1 (And maybe not even that) out of 11 teams = 1%

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the above calculations are based on a couple of assumptions regarding who qualifies via the intercontinental play-offs. Oceania are not guaranteed a World Cup representative and for the record, Australia qualify through the Asian pathway because they got bored of thrashing Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa time and time again.

Referring to the percentages above, the tournament title of World Cup starts to lose some of its credibility. There’s clearly a disproportionate amount of teams that qualify from the historical footballing hotbeds of Europe and South America. That historical bias is of course something that is extremely prevalent on the international cricket stage too.

Back to the three nations mentioned earlier. Iran qualified for the football World Cup as far back as 1978 but for Panama and Iceland, 2018 will be their first time at the tournament. That variety of nations on the big stage and the novelty of seeing virgin World Cup competitors is part of what makes the tournament so special. USA beating England in 1950, North Korea beating Italy in 1966 and Senegal beating France in 2002. Without these results the football World Cup just wouldn’t be what it is. Admittedly there have been a few thrashings as the likes of Saudi Arabia (8-0 against Germany in 2002) and Zaire (9-0 against Yugoslavia in 1974) will attest too.

The 2019 Cricket World Cup is unlikely to see such a variety of international representatives or virgin teams as Russia will next year. There will only be ten teams, yes just ten teams at the ‘World’ Cup. Eight of these teams will have qualified as the highest ranked ODI nations. It’s great that the ODI rankings comprise more nations than just Test teams but no promotion/relegation profile is in existence at the upper echelons of international cricket. Referring to the historical bias detailed in football earlier, little scope is left for a changing of the guard as the years go by. The head honchos eat at the main table with one or two varying visitors from time to time.

I’ll be honest, every time I try to get my head around the meritocracy of lower division international cricket and World Cup qualification, I end up closing the page out of sheer bewilderment. From what I can gather, it’s possible that teams in ICC World Cricket League Division Two can qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup but some teams from Division One may not. Don’t quote me on that though! In all likelihood none of them will anyway, such is the convoluted qualification process.

Feel free to put me to shame and figure the whole thing our for yourself…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Cricket_World_Cup_Qualifier

Teams such as Papua New Guinea and Ireland could be there though the likes of West Indies and possibly Afghanistan will be favoured to qualify for the ten team tournament. Surely a straight forward main tournament of sixteen teams comprised of four groups of four followed by quarter-finals etc would be logical. Yes there have been some horribly one-sided encounters at cricket World Cups, think Namibia at the hands of Australia in 1970 and one or two Canadian performances (36 & 45 all out in 2003 and 1979) but there has also been Zimbabwe beating Australia in 1983, Kenya beating West Indies in 1996 and Ireland beating Pakistan in 2007.

There are so few teams at the Cricket World Cup that a comparison with football for regional disproportionateness is completely irrelevant. In fact to be fair, there isn’t really a geographic disproportion, just a lack of global representatives in general.

Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is that regardless of sport, a World Cup should be exactly that, a tournament that has a fair and even distribution of teams from across the globe. The football World Cup isn’t perfect but hopefully in the future cricket will allow for the Senegals and North Koreas of the footballing world to have the opportunity at least to produce some shocks that will reverberate around the cricket world.

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A Complete Restructure of International Cricket

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Some teams play each other twice, some three, four or even five times. The team with the most points isn’t top of the table and the team at the bottom doesn’t get relegated. Well that makes a lot of sense! I could go on but I’m going to assume that if you’ve come this far and you plan on going any further that you share my opinion and what appears to be the general consensus that international cricket requires a complete overhaul or as the players themselves call it: context. Here are my plans:

International Championship

10 teams

Test, ODI and T20I status

Australia

Bangladesh

England

India

New Zealand

Pakistan

South Africa

Sri Lanka

West Indies

Zimbabwe

 

International Division One

10 teams

First Class, List A and T20 status

Afghanistan

Hong Kong

Ireland

Kenya

Namibia

Nepal

Netherlands

Papua New Guinea

Scotland

United Arab Emirates

 

International Division Two

10 teams

First Class, List A and T20 status

Bermuda

Canada

Denmark

Italy

Jersey

Malaysia

Oman

Singapore

Uganda

Unites States of America

 

Please note that the selected countries are based on various status and rankings not all of which seem in sync thus highlighting the need for such drastic restructure in the global game. Whether or not further divisions would merit First Class, List A or T20 status would require additional research and consideration.

All teams in any one division play each other in either one or two Super Series (explained later) consisting of the following:

Three Tests (The middle one is always a day/night match)

Three ODIs

Three T20Is

All tours are structured in the order listed above.

Points are awarded as follows:

Test match win: 5pts

Test match draw: 2pts

Test match loss: 0pts

Test series win: 10pts (On top of match points)

Test series draw: 5pts (On top of match points)

Test series loss: 0pts (On top of match points)

ODI match win: 3pts

ODI match draw: 1pts

ODI match loss: 0pts

ODI series win: 5pts (On top of match points)

ODI series draw: 2pts (On top of match points)

ODI series loss: 0pts (On top of match points)

T20I match win: 2pts

T20I match draw: 1pts

T20I match loss: 0pts

T20I series win: 3pts (On top of match points)

T20I series draw: 1pts (On top of match points)

T20I series loss: 0pts (On top of match points)

If each team were to play each other home and away they would each be required to play 54 matches in each format meaning a five or six year cycle. At a stretch four years may be achievable but would not help guard against injury and in-turn product quality. Alternatively teams could play five home series and five away series providing a total of 27 matches in each format. This would mean that a three-year cycle is achievable. This shorter cycle would help maintain the interest of players below International Test Championship. Please consider hemispheres when entertaining the idea of teams playing more regularly. I would also like to make clear that I’m completely opposed to the notion of some journalists in world media that have suggested the possibility of teams playing just one match against each other. I think that this is unethical and that international cricket would be a stain (literally!) on the global environment if this were the case. Squad members would also soon lose interest and head for the T20 leagues.

At the end of the cycle the team in tenth place in each division would be relegated and the team in first place of the division below be promoted. Obviously for teams moving between International Championship and International Division One this means the gaining of or losing of Test, ODI and T20I status. To prevent mid to latter cycle stagnation it could be that two teams are promoted / relegated or even that a play-off between teams placed in positions IC9 and IDO2, consisting of one match in each format is put in place.

One Day and T20I World Cups could each be held once every three years. The ten teams (incl. relegated team) in International Championship would automatically qualify. From International Division One the six teams with the most points in the respective format at the end of the cycle would also qualify for the respective tournament. Each tournament would consist of a straightforward four groups of four with each team playing each other once and gaining football style points (as per ODI series points proposal). The top two teams from each group would progress to the quarter-finals and the rest of the tournament would follow a self-explanatory format. The winner would host the following tournament. A measure would need to be put in place for a team winning a major tournament and subsequently finishing in for example eighth place in International Division One at the end of the following cycle. Also if a smaller nation won it may not be practical for them to host a whole, or even part of a tournament.

Long term these changes to world cricket would provide players, support staff, fans and media etc. the opportunity to experience parts of the world and cultures that previously cricket wouldn’t have allowed. It would also be a structure that provides consistency, equilibrium, meritocracy and a necessity for equal importance to be placed on each format of the game. Ultimately it would also make cricket a truly global game complete with the current buzz word… context!

Believe it or not this was supposed to be a trimmed down version of a previous attempt at writing this post. I could go on (No really I could!) and detail who would play who home and away (Odds and evens) in the 27 match cycle etc. etc. but I’ll stop there and will attempt to answer any questions if any uncertainty is identified… or take this post down if someone explains that it just wouldn’t work!

Many, many thanks if you made it this far!