Predicting Englandā€™s Next Test Cap

Who will be England Test cricketer number 690?

Silly Point has a go at guessing who will be next to don the Test whites (Or cream!) of England.

Will it be a player plucked from the county scene, a franchise star or a groomed England Lion?

Silly Point predicts that England’s next new Test cricketer will be… Jason Roy!

Whilst we’re at it, we may as well do ODIs as well.

Silly Point boldly predicts that England’s next debutante in One-Day International cricket will be… Jofra Archer!

In the past, some of England’s selections have been…. boggling! The days of picking rabbits out of hats seem in the distant past however. As for the team’s next new blood in T20Is, how about… Jamie Overton?

Such is both the competition and make-up of England’s current squads in each format, that it’s difficult to see how and where new players can sneak in. A recall for an already capped player wouldn’t necessarily be the backwards step that it would’ve been considered in the past, only an acknowledgement of England’s current riches.

Players such as Joe Clarke (Off-field activities) and Matthew Parkinson (Injury) would’ve been serious contenders but I was dissuaded due to their current circumstances. Of course they may yet be England’s next new caps!

Disclaimer: Please note that I’ve ignored players such as Joe Denly and Olly Stone who are uncapped at Test level but in the squad for the West Indies series. My selections are based on further ahead or if any other players are to be called up during said tour.

A Story of Sir Alastair, Keaton and Rory

If England win this summer’s Ashes or/and World Cup, then we could have a host of new MBEs!

The chances of Keaton Jennings playing in the World Cup are slim. The chances of Rory Burns doing so are… even slimmer!

The likelihood of the pair playing in the Ashes and possibly earning knighthoods will be defined on the Test tour of West Indies. No disrespect to the current Caribbean collective but if you offered an opening batsman an away destination to cement their place in their own team then West Indies would currently be high on most player’s list.

Jennings was previously dropped on the eve of a home series against West Indies. He’ll hope not to be dropped post a Caribbean encounter this time. He played spin well in Sri Lanka and was razor sharp in the field but questions of his ability against pace linger. Based on the evidence and scars inflicted by South Africa, answering those questions against Australia won’t be easy!

Burns performed well in the second Test in Sri Lanka after a disappointing debut. He failed in the final Test however and his aesthetics aren’t to everybody’s pleasure. If he leaves the door even slightly ajar and some young gun plunders runs on the county scene or even Surrey teammate Jason Roy produces a run gluttonous World Cup then Burns will follow another Surrey man, his opening partner Mark Stoneman, back to the county game and with little chance of a Jennings style recall.

Should KJ and RB perform well in West Indies, help England regain the Ashes, go on to score a few thousand Test runs and even captain England (They’ve got experience) then maybe they could yet join Alastair Cook by having a new prefix!

Cricket Captain 2018: 2019 World Cup

For many years it was South Africa who wore the tag of ‘Chokers’ in international cricket. It’s now safe to say that we’ve assumed that unenviable title! Having blown opportunities to win ODI series against both West Indies and Pakistan by failing to perform in the final match of said series, we crumbled when it mattered most at the 2019 World Cup. After a long slog of nine games where we suffered a heartbreaking one-wicket defeat against Afghanistan, fell apart in a run chase to end with only a tie against Sri Lanka and failed to defend 340 against Australia, we meekly limped to 229 when chasing just 253 against New Zealand. Sam Billings ten ball duck was a torturous end to his World Cup!

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As a consequence, we failed to reach the knockout stages of our very own World Cup. There were positives however, three straight successes against Pakistan, Bangladesh and West Indies were a welcome response to defeat at the hands of South Africa in our opening match. Frustratingly, we then contrived to win only one (Versus India) of our final five matches.

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For the record, Jos Buttler who came into the competition with next to no match fitness following injury, topped our batting charts with 454 runs at a healthy average of 75.67. The ruthless axing of Alex Hales and Jason Roy at the top of the order, replaced by Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow hinted at being the right one but didn’t quite come off. Moeen’s place in the side certainly helped us from a bowling perspective.

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Given the dry summer of 2019, we were heavily reliant on our spin bowlers. Each of Matthew Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and captain Joe Root did their bit. Root, who replaced Eoin Morgan as ODI captain earlier in the summer, marshalled the troops superbly. As per usual, Somerset quick Jamie Overton struggled to maintain a strong start but kept bustling in, meanwhile left-arm paceman Chris Wood continued to enhance his reputation as one of the leading bowlers in ODI cricket.

As for the competition as a whole, the magnificent Afghanistan finished joint top of the group with Australia but it was South Africa (No longer chokers!) who ran out competition winners.

Next up for us are yet more ridiculously scheduled limited overs (T20I/ODI) matches with white-ball affairs against Australia either side of the marquee Ashes Test series.

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!

Cricket Captain 2018: Sri Lanka Success!

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The less said about the ODI series the better. We were thrashed 4-1, only winning a match after the series had been lost (We’ll come to why this article is proclaimed a success later!). Quick bowlers Jamie Overton (1-236) and Josh Tongue (2-212) particularly struggled. Warwickshire batsman Sam Hain wasted a golden opportunity to cement a place in the team by being run out twice in five innings. There were positives to come out of the series however. Hampshire’s Chris Wood struck 66 not out from just 42 deliveries in the fourth ODI before Ed Barnard (6-66) stole the headlines in our one and only victory. Barnard then struck 71 not out in the fifth and final match to earn himself a place in the Test squad. Back to Wood, the left-arm pacer was a constant threat, claiming seven wickets in the series and keeping things tight, going at less than a run-a-ball. Moeen Ali, ineffective in the summer, performed well enough enough to earn a Test recall, whilst gloveman Jos Buttler registered three consecutive fifties. Despite the 4-1 loss coming hot off the heels of the India series defeat, somehow we remain top of the ODI rankings. It’s imperative that we get back to winning ways in the West Indies ahead of the 2019 World Cup on home turf.

The one-off T20I encounter was won courtesy in the main because of Jason Roy (65) and Liam Plunkett (4-27).

Then came a truly phenomenal Test series. We lost the first encounter by ten wickets as our top order batsmen looked all at sea in alien terrain. Joe Clarke (113) demonstrated his class in making a maiden Test ton as wickets tumbled all around him. Moeen Ali, recalled in place of the injured Jack Leach, justified my decision with 76. Despite those performances, we were well and truly outplayed and our hosts thoroughly deserved their comprehensive victory.

In the second Test we complied the highest score of my tenure. Alastair Cook (134) and Haseeb Hameed (88) batted for all of the first day before Hameed, having justified his retention in the team, fell without adding to his career best the following morning. Rory Burns, having totalled just six runs on Test debut, then batted for in excess of eleven hours before cruelly being last man dismissed for a epic 199.

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Burns had taken the place of Hampshire’s James Vince who like Leach, missed the tour through injury.

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It was a strange series for Burns however, who either side of his near double ton, scored only another 15 runs. A tough decision lies ahead come the first Test in West Indies. Jonny Bairstow also made 134 in our only innings, meaning that we had three centurions in one innings. Lancashire spin sensation Matthew Parkinson then went on to bowl us to victory with figures of 6-53 in the home side’s second innings.

In the deciding match, captain Joe Root led the way with scores off 119 and for the second time this year, 230. Those performances backed up scores of 23, 98 and 91 in the first two Tests. Jonny Bairstow also made 121. There were contributions all round with the ball as we ran out winners by a mammoth margin of 503 runs.

Let’s not forget the pace bowling trio of Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Ben Stokes, who was only working his way back to full fitness, claimed wickets at vital times in the series to keep us in strong positions.

Worcestershire’s Joe Clarke now averages 41.00 with the bat from ten Tests meanwhile leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson averages just 18.93 with the ball. I’d like to think that these individual performances as well as the team’s success display that I’m performing well in my role as Selector and Coach of our national side. Clearly the ODI performances need to pick up but I’m confident we can do well in all formats against a West Indies side that admittedly were no pushover the last time they toured our land.

Cricket Captain 2018: White Ball Wonders… Well Almost!

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Having already defeated Scotland 1-0 in the ODI format, we went undefeated in three further white-ball series before coming a cropper in the final limited overs duel of the summer.

Firstly we saw off Australia in an ODI series, sealing the honours in what was effectively a final in the fifth match. That victory resulted in us assuming the world number one ranking in the fifty over format.

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Newcomer Jamie Overton claimed the best ever haul by an Englishman in ODI cricket. The Somerset quick snaffled amazing analysis of 6-14 to help us win the 3rd match with Australia crumbling for just 105. Overton finished the series with 10 victims at 11.40 apiece.

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In the one-off T20I that followed, 42-year-old Darren Stevens made a long awaited international debut and promptly stole the show. With us in trouble at 93-6, the Kent all-rounder promptly put on an undefeated 57 with fellow debutant Lewis Gregory (18 not out) of Somerset. Stevens finished 49 not out from 34 balls. It seemed as though it was written in stars!

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Next came India where we ran out 2-1 winners in the T20I series. Each of our top three, Dawid Malan, Alex Hales and Jason Roy registered a half-century during the competition. Darren Stevens continued to enjoy the international environment. The county veteran concluded the series with six victims at just 15.80.

Unfortunately in the final limited overs affair of the summer, the ODI series against India, the wheels rather came off. We went down 3-0, struggling to readapt to the fifty over game and failing to post competitive totals. The bowling efforts of twenty-year-old Josh Tongue (4 @ 25.00) as well as the recalled Liam Dawson (6 @ 28.67) were encouraging however.

Now it’s back to the five-day format for a mouth watering five-match series against India. India will have gained confidence from their ODI series win but in truth our Test team is an almost different XI entirely and we’re still buoyed from the emphatic victory against Pakistan.

Root Responds/Poysden Plucked!

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In a recent post, I touched upon the subject of Joe Root’s axing from the T20I side and how it could spur him on to a great Test series performance against India. What Root’s dropping has done so far has inspired him to a sensational spell in the ODI team. Having lost the first match of a three-tie affair, Root struck back-to-back centuries to lead England to yet another series victory and enhance their credentials as World Cup favourites. He’s also helped provide England with an edge at the start of the Test encounters.

Yorkshire’s Root has had his critics recently, both for his T20I performances and his consistent failure to convert Test fifties into hundreds. Batting averages of 52.28 and 51.61 in Test and ODI cricket help scoff any suggestions that Root is anything other than a top player. An average of 35.77 at a strike-rate of 128.59 in T20Is are also pretty impressive figures with which to get dropped. He’s got some wickets in him too. Yesterday’s ton was his thirteenth in ODIs which is a new record for an England batsman. Root surpassed Marcus Trescothick who was an essential asset of England’s side in the early part of this century.

Having seen Root go onto make a ton and captain Eoin Morgan get near, James Vince will rue a missed opportunity. As in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, Vince was run out, this time having laid the foundations for a strong knock. With both Jason Roy and Alex Hales injured, Vince gained an unlikely but merited opportunity. A score of 27 won’t be enough to put the cat amongst the selection pigeons however.

In further Yorkshire news and once again revisiting subjects that I’ve mentioned previously, Yorkshire take on Lancashire in the County Championship soon. It’s a heck of a match for Josh Poysden to be thrown into on a one-match loan deal. Whether or not a one-match loan should even be allowed, I’m not sure. With Adil Rashid excluding himself from the red-ball game and Azeem Rafiq and Karl Carver clearly not filling Yorkshire’s hierarchy with any confidence, they’ve plucked Poysden from Warwickshire’s 2nd XI to spin them to victory. The leg-spinner actually claimed a First Class career best of 5-29 in his last County Championship outing though his economy rate is exactly 4.00. At 26, Poysden really needs to crack on. I mentioned how Yorkshire would be in the market for a spinner and a good show from the twenty-six-year-old could seen him snapped up full-time, playing first division cricket and pushing for England honours.

Rory Burns missed out for England Lions versus India A but it was great to see Scott Borthwick amass 175 not out for Surrey against West Indies A. The former Durham man will need a lot more knocks like that in order to add to his solitary Test cap. Mark Stoneman’s struggles continued however. He made only one in the first innings but did at least hint at a return to form by making 44 second time around. His season to date has been the polar opposite of last year’s glutinous run-fest.

In other news, Zimbabwe were bowled out for 67 in an ODI against Pakistan in Bulawayo today!