Cricket 19: GODII – Semi-final

Only days after defeating the Dutch on home turf in London we jetted to neutral territory in the form of Perth, Australia to take them on once again in the first Global One-Day International Invitational semi-final.

We made one alteration to the playing XI that prospered in match 14 with Jofra Archer replacing the unfortunate Tom Curran. Archer’s inclusion ensured that we had all bases covered in terms of speed, swing, right and left-arm bowling for what looked an intriguing deck in Western Australia. Contrary to perceived wisdom we opted to bat first after Netherlands called incorrectly at the coin flip.

What followed was a haphazard batting performance that undermined all that we had achieved upto this point. Jonny Bairstow was run out for 3 which begun a procession of wickets and left us in peril on 77-7 on Perth’s unpredictable surface. Only an eighth-wicket partnership of 56 between James Hildreth (36) and Jofra Archer (38) lifted us to an ugly 136 all out. Paceman Paul van Meekeren claimed 3-40 while spinner Pluto Schmidt registered figures of 2-7.

Netherlands reached 28 without loss to put themselves firmly in control but slipped to 39-4 in a passage of breathtaking cricket. Chris Woakes fed the hands of James Hildreth twice and Moeen Ali had the thinnest edge in history pouched by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler from his second delivery after the skipper had dropped one off the bowler’s first. There was also a run out courtesy of a sensational throw from the boundary by Jofra Archer. The Dutch recovered somewhat but when Pluto Schmidt (22) needlessly fell to Liam Trevaskis attempting an unnecessary and unorthodox shot they looked in trouble again at 86-6. Bryan Long (26) and Suman Engels (23 not out) steadied the ship but Joe Root of all people prized out Long before Lewis Gregory returned to claim the eighth wicket with Netherlands on 121. Fred Klaassen (5 not out) saw them home alongside Engels however to take the Dutch to the inaugural Global ODI Invitational and send us packing.

Having won the North Western Hemisphere Test Championship to lose at the semi-final stage of the GODII was a bitter pill to swallow but we only have ourselves to blame for not applying ourselves better with the bat. Congratulations to the Netherlands who although we pushed them hard thoroughly deserved to win.

Netherlands, led by Bryan Long’s 98 not out, would go onto thrash an insipid Hong Kong in the final.

Disclaimer/Excuse: A recent patch has made the game harder. With a wife and children constantly walking around the room and clambering all over me I didn’t apply myself with the bat as I needed to. I’m going to play the game in shorter more committed chunks in future in order to post competitive totals. I also intend to take more control over field placings and possibly play on the hardest level. Having concluded my custom Test/ODI competitions I just need to decide how I’m going to play the game going forward.

Who Should Captain England? – The Results

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The results of my latest poll are in and… errr, we’re none the wiser!

To be fair to Joe Root, he’s tied at the top so possibly deserves to retain his place. Most of the votes were submitted in between the first and second Test in Aotearoa, so after England lost and before Root struck 226 as England drew the second match. I’m not convinced that this should effect whether or not he retains the captaincy. Of course Root was never likely to be stripped of the role mid-winter but with such a cramped international schedule the seasons almost role into one. Could a hiding in South Africa result in Root being out of a job (Or at least one of his roles) come Spring?

The alternatives are limited though. I backed Jos Buttler (As a player not to be captain) for the New Zealand series but South Africa may be the right time to get behind Ben Foakes as gloveman with Ollie Pope returning to solely batting duties. Is Ben Stokes fit enough to assume the role? Is Rory Burns proven and, not meaning to be rude, but respected enough by his teammates just yet to take on the burden? Would it really help Stuart Broad and the team to make him skipper?

Of course the system doesn’t really allow a player to be groomed as captain. The best players make their respective international sides when still young before domestic captaincy opportunities have presented themselves. If a player lingers at county or state level and does well as captain then they’re playing catch up in regards to proving themselves as international cricketers once selected.

Root will lead England in South Africa and likely for years to come. I’ll back him but like many I’m not convinced that leadership comes naturally to him. Just because his teammates like him isn’t really a good enough reason for him to remain captain, particularly when the side isn’t in the habit of winning!

Who Should Captain the England Test Team in South Africa?

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Following a heavy defeat in the first Test in New Zealand the question marks over Joe Root’s captaincy are now firmly written in bold font and possibly in red ink! Root registered his lowest Test aggregate score, dropped out of the top ten batsmen in the world for the first time in five years (I’m surprised that it’s taken that long!) and was once again lacking inspiration in the field.

Does the Yorkshireman remain the best man to lead England or would he and the team as a whole be best served if he returned to being just one of the ranks?

Such a move has the potential to rid Root of the additional strain of leadership and allow him to thrive as the high quality batsman that we know he can be though in turn it obviously burdens someone else… or possibly brings out the best in them. Captaincy certainly isn’t bringing out the best in Joe Root.

Ben Stokes is currently vice-captain, Jos Buttler has stood in for limited overs matches, Stuart Broad has captained England in T20Is and Rory Burns is a County Championship winning captain.

Who do you think should lead England?

Cricket 19: NWHTC – Final Fling in the Valleys!

After ten rounds in the ring, or possibly cricket ground, two teams travelled to Wales to fight it out for the right to be crowned inaugural North Western Hemisphere Test Champion. An administrative error meant that the awe-inspiring Ottawa Oval in Canada had been double booked and so a quaint little ground in Glamorgan was the neutral territory selected to host the final between Scotland and ourselves. If nothing else, carbon emissions were limited and Greta could at least raise a smile!

Scotland had of course performed the double over us during the round robin stage, chasing down in excess of 400 on both occasions. Provided such history and having been presented with a lush swing inducing green deck, it was no surprise that having benefited from the fall of the coin, Scotland opted to insert us into bat on the grand finale’s premier morning.

To a chorus of rapturous applause from both the locals and travelling fans, opening batsmen Dawid Malan and Haseeb Hameed bounded to the wicket in confident mood but aware of the stern challenges that lay before them. Hameed, fresh from scores of 102 and 90 against Netherlands will have been disappointed to fall for only 20 in the final. Following a century of his own in said match, Dominic Sibley reverted to type with a promising but unfulfilling 38. Malan (74) continued to justify his selection as opener but like skipper Joe Root (84) will have been disappointed not to make a ton on such a magnificent occasion. Moeen Ali, excellent in all facets both in the final and the competition as a whole, made 65 but Sam Curran (4) missed out. It was a great shame for the Surrey youngster given his swashbuckling contributions in the competition up to that point. Chris Woakes (14), Jamie Overton (23), Stuart Broad (28) and James Anderson (10) all made handy contributions alongside a fine Jonny Bairstow (65 not out). There were contributions from throughout the batting line-up but it was disappointing that nobody went big and thus 427 only seemed a par total against a Scotland side that have regularly been amongst the runs during the NWHTC. Spin bowler Martin Law (3-96) and pace bowler Abdulrahmann Egan (3-111) stuck to task with the ball to claim three wickets apiece.

Having batted so well in the league stage of the tournament, Scotland simply failed to show up in the final. Opening batsman Mahdi Clay top scored with 42 as the Saltires crumbled from 90-2 to just 196 all out. Moeen (3-28) led the way with Broad (2-47) and Curran (2-23) collecting two wickets each. Our varied attack that consisted of pace, swing, spin as well as a mixture of right and left-arm helped keep Scotland on their toes and unable to settle. The efficient Martin Law was left stranded not out on 39. Some great bowling changes as well as an excellent decision review by Root helped limit Scotland’s total.

We opted to enforce the follow-on and Scotland were soon in trouble once again. First innings top scorer Clay was amateurishly run out for just 6 (Village!) and Scotland were soon 59-4 staring down the barrel at an innings loss. Once again Root was on the money with his bowling changes as the likes of Overton and Moeen struck almost if not immediately. Finally resistance came in the shape of Gene Moore (88) and Dorian Burke (73) as the right-hand/left-hand pair batted out the day before lifting the score to 205-4 on the third morning.

It seemed almost certain that we would be set a tricky total to chase but having spent the night dreaming of scoring a match-defining century in the final, Moore (88) was run out after fine work from Malan and Root on the boundary. Stuart Broad (4-46) then ran riot dismissing Law (2) in the same over followed by Skinner (1) and Watt (3) in the overs that followed.

It was the economical James Anderson (12.3-2-23-2) who had the honour of sealing the inaugural North Western Hemisphere Test Championship when he dismantled Carter Scott’s stumps to seal victory by an innings and six runs.

Defeat was a sickener for the Scots having beaten us in both round robin matches but they flatlined in the final. Despite not quite been at our most ruthless with the bat and becoming sloppy in the field during the Moore/Burke partnership, our batsmen outperformed the opposition including finally getting on top of the spin combo of Law and Watt whilst our bowlers made breakthroughs at regular and crucial intervals.

The team, both players and backroom staff are honoured to claim this title and would like to place on record our support for the… support of our fans. As a reward for your undying support all official merchandise both in store and online has a 20% markdown for the immediate future and the players will be holding a meet and great at Lords in the next week or so.

I’d like to place on record my praise of the players in particular captain Joe Root whose captaincy has evolved greatly during the competition culminating in final success. Moeen Ali (824 runs at 63.38 and 28 wickets @ 24.14) beat off stiff competition most notably from the likes of Haseeb Hameed and Sam Curran to be named Player’s Player of the Competition.

Disclaimer: Unlike most match reports of recent times, this one was written entirely post match. Playing such match was obviously spread over a reasonable period of time with a lot of ‘life’ sandwiched in-between, hence it may not seem as in depth as other match reports. It’s a better way of playing the game though and slightly less obsessive way of writing up the report.

Cricket 19: NWHTC – Follow Me!

Captain Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat on an emerald green deck. The promise of sun gleamed run-producing days outweighing the early threat of swing, in our minds at least.

Dawid Malan (21) and Haseeb Hameed (12) applied themselves well at first in what felt like a proper Test match, such was the quality of the bowling courtesy of Tim Murtagh and Jerome Carpenter as well the magnitude of the occasion. Unfortunately both batsmen played appallingly out of place and particularly in Hameed’s case, out of character shots and were caught in the field off the bowling of Stanislav Tobin (1-25) and Murtagh respectively.

Debutant Dominic Sibley (42) soon showed why so many have craved his presence in the team. The right-hander timed the ball with grace all around the wicket and soon looked at home in the house of Test match cricket. The Warwickshire man struck three boundaries in the first over after drinks from Kaylan Ortiz (1-61) but then nicked behind to wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter when defending in the same over.

Moeen Ali joined Joe Root and arguably our player of the tournament so far (Sam Curran might argue!) helped rescue a hodgepodge morning from 84-3 to a more assertive 180-3 at lunch. The fluent batsmen feasted upon Ireland’s back-up bowlers with our skipper passing fifty for the eighth time in the tournament.

Post pasta Root and Moeen plowed on in measured fashion against some tight bowling from Ireland’s spin contingent.

The England skipper finally reached what had up to then remained an elusive North Western Hemisphere Test Championship century. With a positive result in this match certain to put us in the final and leave Ireland out of reach, it was a heck of a time for Joe to rise to the occasion.

Moeen (99) however fell in the nineties once again when… once again, trying to bring up three figures with an unnecessarily expansive shot. On a sun-kissed strip Arthur Munoz was the beneficial bowler as Moeen was made to Irish stew on what could’ve been. The partnership between Root and Moeen totalled 193 but Root (100) was caught behind off Paul Sterling without adding to his score and suddenly 277-3 slumped to 287-5.

Fears of a collapse were soon put to one side as Jonny Bairstow and Sam Curran danced to their own tune (And tempo!) in Dublin. The positive pair propelled the score to 350-5 come teatime with each wicket curiously coming courtesy of a different bowler.

In the day’s final passage of play Bairstow (50) hustled to a welcome half-century and a stand of 96 with Curran before being rather inelegantly bowled by Murtagh (2-135). Jos Buttler made the most of some inviting field settings to Irish cream a quick fire 31 before Gabriel Davis (1-74) claimed his wicket. Chris Woakes then assumed his place at the crease and soon found Irish climes to his taste. Woakes looked as good as anybody on the day and had made 42 when raising a fifty stand with a rampant but briefly backseated Curran.

Almost predictably Curran (115) brought up a second Test ton of the tournament to further demonstrate his insatiable talent. Sadly a full toss from Munoz proved his undoing soon after. Warwickshire’s Woakes went on to make an authority stating 68 but fell to Munoz (3-125) in the same over as Curran.

Jamie Overton (10) and Stuart Broad (17*) made sure that everybody reached double figures before the former was caught off Sterling (2-71). The luckless Carpenter (0-75), who like Murtagh bowled extremely well early in the piece, cruelly ended wicketless. The cumulative sum of our efforts totalled a formidable 569.

By the end of a pulsating first day Ireland had raced along to 33-1. Captain Pittman (2) the man to fall when he nicked behind off Broad. Gloveman for this match Buttler didn’t need to move an inch to take the catch.

Immediately on the second morning Joe Root displayed his developing captaincy capacity by applying the shock factor of using Jonny Bairstow as a bowler. The Yorkshireman, free of wicketkeeping duties, promptly recorded a wicket maiden with Ayonide Barry (7) the batsman suffering the horrible ignominy. Bairstow (1-26) basked in the Irish sun and the knowledge that he’d forever be a Test wicket taker just like McGrath, Walsh or Imran Khan!

Paul Sterling and Josiah McDonaugh then defied our bowlers with Sterling his usual attacking self. Once again however it was a bowling change that led to a wicket as Sam Curran returned to strike with the first ball of a new spell. For the second time in the innings Buttler didn’t need to move an inch as Sterling succumbed for a shamrocking 86. Ortiz was bowled for 1 in the same Curran (2-53) over before Poynter (4) fell to Moeen’s first delivery on Irish soil. England’s two best players of the competition were battling hard for the MVP mantle. 127-1 had become 134-5 as the luck of the Irish appeared to have been lost in the Irish Sea.

After the beverage break Root was immediately at it again, this time bringing Woakes (1-33) back into the attack to have Tobin (3) caught low at slip by the skipper himself. Gabriel Davis then joined McDonaugh and the pair halted the procession with an assured 59-run stand. Jamie Overton (1-48) eventually got in on the action though by sending McDonaugh’s (84) stumps cartwheeling as a second Irish batter couldn’t quite reach three figures. Nonetheless it had been an excellent display of batsmanship by McDonaugh, more measured than the ultra-aggressive Sterling but providing a beautiful contrast.

With only fourteen more runs added Munoz (7) was run out despite the throw originally going to the wrong end. A tracer bullet from Buttler soon had the ball down the other end however and Munoz was done for.

Davis was worked over at times but went on to make a more than useful 39 before Moeen (2-56) turned one past his outside edge and clipped the top of off stump. The fall of Davis saw Moeen rise to 200 Test wickets. Number eleven Murtagh joined Carpenter at the crease with Ireland placed at 257-9. Carpenter (60) defied our bowlers and batted like a top order player in a last-wicket stand of 70 alongside Murtagh (31*). Their combined effort lifted Ireland to 327 before Broad (2-60), new ball in hand, followed up a couple of full deliveries with a shorter one that Carpenter inside edged to Buttler.

Having used our spinners with the old ball before Broad’s wicket and only a few overs left in the day, we opted to enforce the follow-on and send Ireland into bat once again still 242 runs from parity. Pittman and Sterling symmetrically accumulated eight runs from twelve deliveries to reach the close at 16-0, the deficit down to just 226!

Midway through the second over of the third day and the first delivery that Overton bowled to Pittman, the Irish captain edged to Buttler for just 8 to complete a disappointing match for the home skipper. Sterling (17) perished in similar fashion to the same Overton (2-34)/Buttler combination before Ireland proceeded to self-implode on home turf. First McDonaugh (4) called for a single from the non-striker’s end but Hameed threw down his stumps from gully before the Irishman could make his ground. Barry (14) then completed a torrid match by being run out by Buttler having been bowled out by Bairstow in the first innings. Ortiz and Poynter batted well however to restore home pride and move the score on from 51-4 to 88 before the latter inside edged to an athletic diving Buttler off Curran.

Chris Woakes (1-38) trapped Tobin LBW for 1 having dismissed the same batsman for only 3 less than twenty four hours earlier. Soon after that Curran (2-38) sent Davis’ (7) stumps flying in all directions before Ortiz passed fifty courtesy of some overthrows.

Ortiz didn’t stop there and with the obdurate application of Munoz alongside him made it all the way to 91 and within sight of a Test ton in Dublin. Cue captain Root and his now not so secret weapon Jonny Bairstow (1-4). Ortiz’s timbers were soon toppled and a partnership of 66 broken. Carpenter (8) thick edged Broad (1-64) to Curran in the slips before Murtagh (10*) helped Munoz drag the score to 202.

Munoz (18) became the third run out victim in the innings and he himself was dismissed in such fashion for the second time in the match. It was a disappointing end to a stoic 71-ball vigil but limp second innings effort from Ireland. Ortiz’s 91 represented 45% of Ireland’s second innings score as we claimed victory by an innings and 40 runs.

Victory guarantees us a place in the final and presents an opportunity to rest some players ahead of the grand showpiece against Scotland. Though great for us it’s a shame for the tournament as a whole and in particular the fans that there isn’t more on the line in the final round of matches.

Disclaimer: Apologies if some of the images have quite prominent lines on them. They were taken under artificial light so particularly if viewing in colour on a larger screen can look a bit weird!

Cricket 19: NWHTC – New York, Same Old Story!

USA were victorious at the tossing of the coin and once play had commenced they progressed efficiently to 30 without loss. In the space of three deliveries though they faltered to 30-2 and were soon struggling further at 48-3.

c Bairstow b J Overton

c Bairstow b J Overton

c Bairstow b J Overton

Get used to the above folks!

Messrs Potter (17), star man Trujillo (0) and the stoic Morrison (13) all fell to the above combo. Overton was making the most of the hard deck and delivering one of the most threatening spells in the competition. America’s batsmen were simply blown away.

Following the triple strike USA resisted courtesy of a 40-run stand between Ayan Jeffries and Tahla Pittman. With more than a little fortune Ben Stokes accounted for Pittman (19) after the ball deflected off various parts of the batsman’s body before he inadvertently back-heeled it onto his stumps. Jackson North then joined Jeffries to take the score to 106-4 at lunch. USA’s score benefited from an alarming amount of extras, our quicker bowlers getting a little bit giddy on such a lethal deck.

Jeffries and North went onto compile a fifty partnership but a struggling Sam Curran thought he’d dismissed North LBW immediately after switching to around the wicket. Unsurprisingly the right-hander reviewed and the rather poor on-field decision was quite correctly overturned. The pair then went past 100 as a duo before Joe Root turned to his new go-to man in the shape of Overton. Immediately upon the Somerset man’s return things started to happen. With the final delivery of his new over he executed a perfect slower ball to dismantle North’s (52) timber. Root then immediately brought Moeen Ali (1-17) onto bowl and he knocked over a bitterly dejected Jeffries’ (76) middle stump via a delivery that left the batsman clueless. Henry Wilks could possibly have protected the set batsman so soon before tea. Following stand-in skipper Jos Buttler’s sharp captaincy against Canada, Root brought his tactical nous to the fore. 202-6 were the details at the second interval.

Just three deliveries after the break Overton induced Wilks to nick behind and claim his first five-wicket haul at Test match level. The decision to bowl from around the wicket to the left-hander was justified as USA slipped to 202-7. Rufus Suarez then played Overton straight back down the ground for a glorious four, the shot of the match up to that point but then edged to Moeen at gully the very next ball as Overton’s rampage continued at full steam.

Root then continued his captaincy evolution with a successful decision to review an LBW shout. Having given Shaurya Napier (4) not out the on-field umpires were forced to change a decision for a second time. As a result Chris Woakes (1-32) gained a confidence boosting wicket having beaten Napier four balls in a row.

Sam Curran returned to bowl a much better second spell but Niall Kerr (8*) and Asher Kennedy frustrated for a while before Kennedy (10) became Rob Keogh’s maiden Test wicket. Once again Keogh (10.5-3-15-1) had kept things exceptionally tight and in his second Test finally claimed that elusive wicket courtesy of a well executed arm-ball. USA finished on 229 but we gifted them 23 extras.

Undoubtedly the star of the show was Jamie Overton. The tall express paceman bowled an electrifying opening spell then returned to break a threatening partnership. 6-37 were his figures backing up the 4-41 he recorded on debut. Test batsmen across the globe are struggling to sleep at night because of Overton!

By the close of play on day one, opening batsmen Dawid Malan and Haseeb Hameed had reached 117-0 with no alarm whatsoever.

On day two is wasn’t too long before Malan frustratingly fell for 71 with the score double that at 142. Malan was acrobatically caught and bowled by left-arm pacer Napier (1-66). Ben Stokes (20) made another breezy but unsubstantial knock at number three but was given out LBW to the spin of Pittman. Despite opting to review, the Durham man had to go.

Having batted so well Haseeb Hameed (86) succumbed to a beautifully drifted and angling in delivery from Pittman that went between bat and pad before clipping the very summit of off stump. Moeen, having been dropped on 4, made 24 before edging behind to wicketkeeper J-J Morrison. Jonny Bairstow’s lean run continued when he was caught at mid-wicket first ball before Root (58) was caught at first slip off an attempted reverse sweep to present Pittman with a five-wicket haul.

Rob Keogh made a career best 11 before lazily nicking behind to give Jeffries a first wicket in the innings. Sam Curran (24) then fell to Pittman (6-68) in the same manner, a third catch for gloveman Morrison. Jamie Overton (18) had a good time if not a long time before Woakes (12) joined the list of those who could’ve done better. Both Woakes and Overton fell to the unheralded spin of Jeffries (3-79). James Anderson finished unbeaten on 13. To collapse from 142-0 to 342 all out, losing all ten wickets for exactly 200 runs after such a strong start was extremely underwhelming. All but the first wicket fell to spin and that’s something our batsmen clearly need to work on. Still, we’d constructed a lead of 113.

In their second dig, USA progressed productively to 35 without loss but Sam Curran seemed to have made the breakthrough when he trapped Potter LBW. The decision was overturned however, Potter surviving by a matter of millimetres and Curran left frustrated once again. It mattered little though as Chris Woakes sent Potter’s (21) stumps cartwheeling the very next over, Woakes’ first, and there’d be little point in reviewing that!

Stuart Trujillo walked to the wicket determined to make amends for missing out in the first innings and was quickly into his stride. Curran did soon get a wicket after all when he lured Morrison (21) into an edge that was held by Stokes at gully.

USA then resisted but to continue the theme of overturned decisions we reviewed a not out decision against Jeffries (6) and the on-field umpire was forced to give Jamie Overton a wicket just as the Americans approached parity.

Ben Stokes (1-79) bowled Pittman (19) as he’d done in the first innings to leave USA 148-4. Jackson North batted well alongside the imperious Trujillo to lift the score to 194-4 at the close of day two. Trujillo (Test best 99) would sleep on 94 with the lead a healthy 81.

Only one wicket fell during the premier session of the third day’s play, that of Jackson North (49), edging to Bairstow off the impressive Woakes. Trujillo marched on though with Wilks for company and the lead was up to a frightening 194 at lunch with five wickets still in hand.

Soon after the interval the new ball paid dividends as Curran (2-64) had the big wicket off Trujillo caught by Woakes at gully for a magnificent if at times fortuitous 177. After another frustrating passage of play Jamie Overton (2-61) knocked over Rufus Suarez’s (26) stumps and not too long after that Woakes (3-50) won an LBW shout against Wilks. Left-hander Wilks resisted for 105 deliveries in making 38 valuable runs. James Anderson (2-79), having conceded over a ton of runs in the match eventually claimed a wicket, that of Napier (13) caught by Bairstow after the batsman nicked a rising delivery. Anderson then clean bowled Kerr (8) to wrap things up for 393 leaving a challenging chase of 281 for victory. It was a delight to see Chris Woakes return to form and Joe Root’s inspired captaincy.

After surviving one over before tea, our run chase ultimately got off to a horrible start when Hameed (2) was outstandingly caught and bowled by Asher Kennedy. Kennedy (3-77) then had Stokes (11) foolishly caught on the boundary and Malan (23) caught at slip following a horrible slash outside off stump. Kennedy bowled an exceptional line outside off that moved away off the seam and lured the batsmen into the drive. Moeen (37) also fell to an ugly waft outside off and captain Joe Root (23) didn’t cover himself in glory when being caught at mid-wicket. Napier (1-52) and Suarez (1-43) the respective bowlers.

An under pressure Jonny Bairstow (32) steadied the ship with some responsible batting in a partnership of 95 with Sam Curran to lift us from 101-5 to 196-6. Seemingly intent on seeing the team home Bairstow nicked behind to Morrison off the much improved Wilks but was at least ‘Got out’ by the bowler.

Rob Keogh’s (Caught behind off Pittman for 2) travails continued and it may be that Test cricket is too much of a step up for the Northamptonshire man. Having bowled magnificently Chris Woakes (1), failed to replicate that standard with the bat. The Warwickshire all-rounder provided the immaculate Morrison with a fourth catch of the innings off the bowling of Wilks (2-39). Jamie Overton (35*) then put our top order batsmen to shame by compiling 54 with Curran (88*) to reach the close with us an agonising 13 runs shy of victory.

Rather anti-climatically following a sleepless night for all, the nail-biting two-wicket win came with little threat posed the following morning. Number ten Jamie Overton, playing in only his second Test finished unbeaten on 41 whilst Curran finished heroically yet cruelly 97 not out and denied the possibility of Test tons in consecutive matches.

Huge respect to USA for an amazing Test match and pushing us right to the wire. I’m hugely proud of our team though for pulling through in the end. There were some excellent performances throughout the side from individuals under pressure both in regards to the match situation and their place in the team.

In the other matches Scotland thrashed Netherlands in Edinburgh by ten wickets thanks in part to Saul Skinner’s second innings 6-17. In Ottawa Canada helped our and their own cause by defeating Ireland by 64 runs. Batsman Brooklyn Anderson notching another ton whilst Sydney Napier claimed 8-108 in the match.

Our next match away in Ireland could see us seal a place in the final or alternatively let Ireland stay in the hunt!

Disclaimer: Though the match was played in New York the way the match played out wasn’t a familiar tale. I love the headline though so am sticking with it!

The Hundred! (Not even bothering to come up with a title!)

2020. What a fantastic year to launch a new Twenty20 cricket competition. It’s a marketing dream but wait, here in England, where we’re led to believe that cricket was invented, they’re not launching a new Twenty20 competition. Eh?! They, the cricket hierarchy geniuses and marketing supremos that’ve been drafted in are launching an unofficial (*), overly-complicated, snack food sponsored tournament.

* By unofficial I mean that the matches won’t have T20, List A or First Class status. Are Cricinfo going to create a new row in the Player Statistics section? I doubt it!

https://www.thehundred.com/

THEY told us that they wanted to simplify cricket and just count down from one hundred balls. I can handle that, it’s not actually a terrible concept but how is having varying lengths of overs and different opportunities to bowl from one end or the other, sometimes halfway through an ‘over’ simpler than allocations of six alternating from each end every six deliveries?

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cricket365.com/the-hundred/the-hundred-kits-ranked-and-rated/amp/

AND THE KITS! If you thought that it was bad in Australia with KFC sprawled on the front well look out for Joe Root (Will he actually play?) wearing a Skips packet. They may as well have put gambling companies on the front!

People can spout unoriginal opinions such as “You’re just scared of change” but what I’m scared of is inconsistency and our sport embarrassing itself. The fact that it’ll be on terrestrial television could be great but not if the product is compromised and therefore of poor quality. Of course it’ll be the same players hitting, picking and throwing the ball so at its core, it will still be cricket. The fact that Jonathan Agnew could be presenting it certainly won’t help attract the untapped market the ECB head honchos would like. Hopefully they and the BBC will have the foresight to get Ebony Rainford-Brent or heck, even Graeme Swann at the forefront.

Franchise sport and drafts bring an end to the already dying concept of player loyalty in sport but they do, in theory, help keep teams even and prevent the sort of Barcelona and Real Madrid dominance that you’ll find in La Liga as just one example. The financial aspect if relegation is involved in a draft selected team sport is probably for a whole other post.

Let’s be clear, this tournament is not about creating history and legacy like our game has leant itself too so magnificently. It’s about forgetful entertainment to compete with X-Factor and Dancing on Ice etc that you’ve forgotten about by the following afternoon at the latest.

The Hundred is nearly here folks and I don’t like it. Give me Test Cricket, ODI Cricket, T20 Cricket even T10, Beach, Indoor and Cage but the inconsistency of this format bites away at me. Can you tell?!

Will I be watching? Of course. It’s an opportunity to see some cricket. Will I purchase a Northern Superchargers shirt? Maybe. The shirts are kind of cool in a tragic way and may be a collector’s item in a few years.

This is a muddled article. Even as I write I’m coming around to part of it. The draft and kit launch etc should and are exciting but the adjustment to the rules irk me. Roll on 2020 for our new Twenty20 comp… er, I mean The Hundred!