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.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Jersey Creamed!

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Gary Ballance (123, foreground) compiled a 146-run stand with debutant Ben Foakes (62, background) to propel England to an encouraging first innings total of 367.

Following our Greek tragedy in Corfu, we headed to yet more exotic isles, this time Jersey shores. Unfortunately the home side milked our bowling ’til the cows came home and we went down by nine wickets. It was the familiar fable of building up our hopes only to have them knocked back down again. We posted a very respectable 367 in our first innings, courtesy in the main to an epic 146-run partnership between Gary Ballance (123) and debutant Ben Foakes (62). The recalled Toby Roland-Jones came next in the scoring charts with 43. Eight of our wickets fell to spin.

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Debutant stumper Ben Foakes made scores of 62 and 44, claimed three catches and effected a run out.

We then had the home side in peril at 155-6 but somehow they went on to total 445. Sam Curran (3-99) bowled exceptionally well whilst Liam Plunkett (3-108) and Roland-Jones (2-75) plugged away. Despite Moeen Ali taking a wicket in his first over, the last ball before lunch, our spinners again disappointed. Foakes dropped a regulation chance early on but responded by claiming two catches, one each off pace and spin, as well as performing a clever run out. Captain Joe Root held four catches.

In our second innings we simply fell apart. Once again batsmen got starts but only the impressive debutant Foakes really looked comfortable. He made 44, Root 33 and Haseeb Hameed 22… for the second time in the match. Sadly the next highest score wasn’t 11!

Jersey were left requiring 91 to win and we presented our spinners with the opportunity to save their Test careers as the match headed into a fourth day. Adil Rashid did at least snap up a wicket (Another catch for Foakes) and Liam Dawson was economical but the Test careers of both of them as well as Moeen and batsman Ben Duckett (20 & 15) now hang by a thread.

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It is with great shame that I find myself once again defending the efforts of our players when the performance as a whole simply wasn’t good enough for this level. In truth, we should have selected an extra pace bowling option at the expense of either a spinner or the extra batsman we had at number six. Wholesale changes will be made come our next outing. We can’t go on like this!

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!