X-Factor!

In this year’s edition of the Big Bash in Australia, teams will have the option to utilise an X-Factor replacement (Basically like the hugely successful supersub!).

Can you detect my lack of enthusiasm?

The rules are that the player been subbed out can’t have batted or bowled more than one over. The X-Factor can only be introduced after the 10th over of the first innings. Teams will have named a 12th and 13th player and can bring either person into the game.

For me, cricket is an eleven per-side sport. If a team has to turn to a batsman that doesn’t usually bowl for an over or two or a lower order batter has to come up trumps with some runs or even just hold an end up then that’s part of the beauty of the game. That’s how players increase their experience and skillset. If teams keep subbing in a batter for a bowler (I know it’s only if they bowled one over) when chasing in the second innings, bowlers will continue to regress as batsmen. Take England for example. We all know how capable Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood etc are with the bat but because they only very occasionally come out slogging at the end of a T20 innings, when they’re required to construct an innings following a collapse in a fifty-over game or perform in a Test match, they’re already struggling to do so. Stripping them and their peers of more batting opportunities may take us to a game where we literally do divide batsmen and bowlers… maybe batsmen bat twice and bowlers never do!

What does it say about a team’s preparation if they’re having to utilise this option and maybe admit that they got their team selection wrong or misread the surface?

I just feel that it will ruin the integrity of the game. Yes it’s the same and available to everyone but though we have tactical substitutes in other sports as well as concussion and currently Covid replacements in cricket, for me… X-Factor just isn’t cricket!

Cricket 19: Failing the First Test!

Following our hugely encouraging start to life in white-ball cricket, eleven men took to the field in Wales and upon doing so, assumed the honour of becoming the nation’s first ever Test cricketers. Captain Ioan Powell won the toss and led his men out in front of a packed and passionate home crowd. The hosting skipper hoped that his bowlers could exploit the conditions following a delayed start due to rain. England’s opening batsmen strode to the wicket as Test cricket’s most experienced nation commenced battle with its newest inductee.

England 253 (78.3) Broad 49, Burns 48, Root 44/Khan 3-28, E.Williams 3-32, Evans 2-61

Experienced England may be, they looked anything but when Keaton Jennings (1) was run out early in the piece. Left-arm pace bowler Rhys Evans (2-61), who effected the run out, then had the pleasure of taking our first proper wicket, when he got Jonny Bairstow (26) to edge behind to wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas.

Part-time medium pacer Dylan Roberts (1-10) then struck with his first ball in international cricket. Rory Burns (48), who up to that point had looked in good touch, nicked behind to Thomas before forlornly trudging back to the sheds.

Captain Joe Root (44) alongside Ben Stokes (30) then batted well and looked to be batting England into a commanding position. The duo combined for 63 but both fell with the score on 160. Jos Buttler (2) and Chris Woakes (4) soon followed at the hands of leg-spinner Eifion Williams (3-32). At that point the tourists had slumped from 160-3 to 171-7.

Following the clatter of wickets, Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad applied themselves extremely well in a partnership of 58 to frustrate our side. Broad was particularly effective when sweeping the spinners. Off-spinner Maxwell Khan managed to oust Archer (29) late in the day before England closed on 232-8.

It had been a riveting and engrossing first day of Test cricket and left everybody, players and fans, craving more!

On day two, Khan (3-28) soon wrapped up the England innings. First he trapped James Anderson (5) LBW. Then he had top scorer Broad (49) hole out to the one and only fielder on the leg side. We’d bowled England out for 253, an outstanding effort in our first innings in Test cricket.

Wales 152 (28.2) Roberts 59, Thomas 42, E.Williams 18/Leach 5-8, Broad 4-39, Anderson 1-39

Our opening batsmen both got off the mark in James Anderson’s first over. Sadly however, our Test bow quickly turned sour when Stuart Broad rolled his arm over. Not content with sweeping 49 runs, he tempted Stephen Shah (2) to edge a delivery that he needn’t have played at. Wicketkeeper Jos Buttler dived full stretch and down low to claim an outstanding grab. Two balls later, an ill-disciplined Aled Edwards (1) wafted away to give the Broad/Buttler combo a second wicket. Captain Ioan Powell then suffered the ignominy of registering a golden duck on Test debut. Fortunately, teenager Maxwell Khan then managed to see out the remainder of the over without further damage. Unfortunately he couldn’t see out the following James Anderson over and as a result, we were in dire straits at 9-4! By lunch, we’d progressed to 12-4.

Our phlegmatic number three, Dylan Roberts and enigmatic number six, Eifion Williams, then applied themselves superbly to save us from complete ignominy. The pair posted 44 before Williams joined the Broad/Buttler procession. Possibly surprised by the bounce, he probably didn’t need to play at the delivery. From there, gloveman Rhodri Thomas knuckled down alongside Roberts. By the time beverages were served, the duo had helped haul us from the depths of despair on debut to a far more respectable 92-5.

Roberts and Thomas took their partnership to 62 before the former made a regrettable decision. After scoring a single from spinner Jack Leach’s first delivery then watching from the non-striker’s end as the Somerset man turned the ball away from the batsman, he opted to leave the first delivery of the Leach’s second over. The ball promptly spun the other way, stumps shattered and Roberts was gone. Still, after posting two fifties in the ODI series, Roberts (59) had looked like a batsman of Test calibre to rescue his team from the undesirable score of 9-4.

Cai Hughes (5) then failed to overturn an LBW decision as Leach and England turned the screw. Dwayne Alexander (15), who attacked briefly, Rhys Evans (0), who suffered the same fate as his skipper, and finally Thomas (42), who had batted extremely well, all fell to Leach, as he claimed astonishing figures of 5-8. Jofra Archer didn’t even bowl!

We finished 152 all out from only 28.2 overs but having been 9-4, it was a commendable effort in our first ever Test innings. In truth, we probably over achieved in the ODI series and facing the likes of Anderson and Broad with a red ball, not to mention Leach, taught us some harsh truths!

England 334 (95.3) Jennings 81, Buttler 61, Burns 59/Evans 3-70, Hughes 2-49, Powell 1-6

England then cemented their authority courtesy of a far too easy 93-run opening stand between lefties Burns and Jennings. Not long before the close, leggie Eifion Williams (1-61) did at least force Burns (59) to drag onto his stumps but by the end of day two, England had moved to 105-1, a lead of 206.

Day three started like the two before it, delayed because of rain!

Jennings and Bairstow then ploughed on into the middle session before we effected a mini-fightback. First, Rhys Evans had Jennings (81) nick to slip, then he accounted for Root (12), caught behind. In between, Bairstow (39), was run out via a direct hit from Cai Hughes. England had stuttered from 173-1 to 196-4 but the lead had swelled to over 300.

Stokes (19) and the more assertive Buttler then steadied England with a fifty partnership before the former edged to slip. His dismissal ended an unusually subdued innings and provided Hughes with a maiden Test wicket. At tea on day three, England were 264-5, the small matter of 364 runs ahead!

Not content with one wicket, Hughes (2-49) promptly doubled his tally immediately after tea. The left-arm spinner had Woakes (1) caught behind to the very first delivery of the evening session. He was unlucky not to send Jofra Archer packing too. Buttler soon passed fifty however but failed to convert. Captain Ioan Powell boldly chose to take the new ball and just three deliveries later, Evans (3-70) had his third innings of the wicket when Buttler (61) swung wildly and edged to Thomas.

Archer (21) then needlessly ran himself out. Hughes the thrower from the deep once again! Captain Powell (1-6) then returned for a trundle and should’ve had James Anderson LBW as his first Test wicket. The umpire wasn’t in the mood however but did at least give Broad (20) out in the same over. Express pace bowler Dwayne Alexander (1-53) did then tempt the officials to adjudge Anderson (14) LBW as he too claimed a maiden Test victim. Sadly, opening bowler Osain Williams remained wicketless just as in the first innings. His match figures read 31-1-97-0. We had however performed admirably to restrict England to 335 after they had been 173-1. Unfortunately, that still left us requiring 436 to win!

Wales 198 (44.4) Hughes 31, Khan 30, Thomas 24/Broad 3-41, Archer 2-22, Anderson 2-37

Only four over remained in the day’s play but sadly Aled Edwards (8) couldn’t survive. The left-hander was caught at slip by Jennings off the bowling of Anderson in the third over. Stephen Shah and Dylan Roberts made it to the close on 25-1.

After yet another rain delay and negating a James Anderson over on day four, Shah (17) was trapped plumb LBW in Broad’s first over of the morning. He’d looked comfortable up to that point but was done for pace and even a review couldn’t save him. Captain Ioan Powell, on a pair, strode to the crease with his team 33-2.

The skipper avoided the ignominy of a pair on Test debut but when his team needed their leader to set the standard, he played a horrible drive, away from his body to the last ball of a Broad over and trudged back to the pavilion with only six runs to his name. Roberts (20) then soon edged Archer’s first ball of the match (?!) to leave us in peril at 56-4. Another brief little partnership ensued but just as things were looking up, Eifion Williams (5) defended a ball that he could’ve left and feathered Archer (2-22) to Buttler, giving the Sussex man two wickets in as many overs. That left us 74-5.

Maxwell Khan (30) compiled 41 with wicketkeeper Thomas but like too many batsmen before him, edged a ball that he didn’t need to play at. After bedding in and surviving Jack Leach’s first over, Khan was possibly looking to up the tempo when just plodding on against the returning Anderson (2-37) would’ve been better.

Thomas was another who couldn’t resist the corridor of uncertainty. To be fair to the wicketkeeper, his was probably a little narrower as Leach (1-26) probed for what would be a first wicket of the innings. Thomas (24) could hold his head up high however after an excellent effort both with bat and gloves on Test bow.

Cai Hughes and Dwayne Alexander then put together another partnership of sorts. Alexander (22) chopped onto his stumps however with the score on 149 to gift Chris Woakes his first wicket of the Test. After yet another mini-partnership, Woakes (2-56) accounted for innings top scorer Hughes (39) before Broad (3-41) wrapped up the match by having Evans (22) nick to slip. Our total of 198 from 44.4 overs was a healthy improvement on our first innings effort both in terms of runs scored and duration. From 74-5 we achieved 198. In fact, in our second innings seven of our dismissed batsmen reached double figures. Our lower order put some of our specialist batsmen to shame. It was just frustrating that with so many players getting starts, nobody passed 31. Seven batsmen were dismissed between 17 and 31.

Lost by 237 runs

Despite what looks a thumping loss on the face of it, we performed admirably in our first ever Test. Against a full strength England side, we bravely chose to bowl, dismissed them for sub 300, recovered from 9-4 to score 152, hauled them back from 173-1 to 334 then improved second time around with the bat. It won’t get much tougher than facing England in those conditions. Thank you to all those who supported the Welsh team in the country’s inaugural Test match.

Next up is likely a short T20I tour of the Netherlands. Look out for a report from the continent soon.

Double (Or Triple?) Trouble!

There’s a suggestion that if any international cricket is played in the near future that England could field multiple teams in order to play different formats on the same day.

Now whether or not that would be a crossover between red and white ball cricket or that ODI and T20I could clash obviously remains unclear. Let’s assume that each and every format was being played on the same day. Who makes which team? Oh, and for ease we’ll select for matches played in England… at the risk of being rather optimistic!

Test

Rory Burns

Dominic Sibley

Zak Crawley

Joe Root (Captain)

Ollie Pope

Sam Curran

Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Mark Wood

Jack Leach

Stuart Broad

James Anderson

Sam Northeast

Jamie Porter

ODI

Dawid Malan (Captain)

Tom Banton

James Vince

Sam Hain

Dan Lawrence

Sam Billings (Wicketkeeper)

Craig Overton

Lewis Gregory

Oly Stone

Saqib Mahmood

Matt Parkinson

Liam Livingstone

David Willey

Dom Bess

T20I (Which I’ve prioritised over ODI due to the impending World Cup)

Jason Roy

Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper)

Jonny Bairstow

Eoin Morgan (Captain)

Ben Stokes

Moeen Ali

Tom Curran

Chris Jordan

Chris Woakes

Jofra Archer

Adil Rashid

Phil Salt

Joe Denly

Pat Brown

What are your thoughts on my selections? What would you do differently?

Proposed England Squads for Tour of New Zealand

England tour New Zealand this winter with five T20Is and two Tests scheduled.

My squads are listed below roughly in batting order followed by reserves but particularly in the Test format Sibley or Pope could slot in whilst a bowler is rotated/rested. I’d also anticipate some workload management for players such as Stokes, Woakes and Archer in the T20Is and particularly Stokes and Broad in Tests.

T20I

Jason Roy

Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper)*

Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)*

Eoin Morgan (Captain)

Ben Stokes

Moeen Ali

Sam Curran

Tom Curran

Chris Woakes

Jofra Archer

Adil Rashid

Tom Banton

Liam Livingstone

Liam Dawson

Saqib Mahmood

*Can both be deployed as wicketkeeper during the series.

Test

Rory Burns

Joe Denly

Joe Root (Captain)

Ben Stokes

Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Jos Buttler*

Sam Curran

Chris Woakes

Jack Leach

Jofra Archer

Stuart Broad

James Anderson

Dominic Sibley

Ollie Pope*

Dom Bess

Jamie Porter

*Jos Buttler and Ollie Pope can both act as wicketkeeping cover for this two-match series.

Jonny Bairstow would be dropped from the Test side. Players can be rested/rotated where necessary during each series as oppose to being omitted entirely.

Some extremely good players (Too many to mention) miss out. A variety of spin bowlers have made cases particularly in the T20 format but Dom Bess remains a better back-up option for now in Tests despite a less than stellar domestic season. Numerous other players pushed for selection in both formats and those players would be selected for England Lions in the appropriate format.

2nd Test – Day One Round-Up

A fantastic day for England’s cricketers at Lords as they batted throughout its entirety without losing a single wicket. Opening batsmen Rory Burns and Jason Roy looked untroubled against the Australian bowling attack in reaching the close of play undefeated and will hope to build tomorrow.

Alternatively:

A chastening day for England’s cricketers at Lords as they bowled throughout its entirety without claiming a single wicket. The likes of debutant Jofra Archer and spinner Jack Leach never looked like taking an Australian wicket so will desperately hope to come back stronger tomorrow.

Take your pick!

Cricket 19: GODII – Squad Announcement

Your England squad for the Global One-Day International Round Seven match against the Netherlands in Amsterdam is as follows:

Dawid Malan

Liam Livingstone

Ben Stokes

Joe Root

Moeen Ali

Jos Buttler (Captain)

Sam Curran

Liam Dawson

Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Tom Curran

Jofra Archer

Lewis Gregory

Matthew Carter

Jos Buttler returns to captain the side having been rested from our last match against Nepal. It’s now the turn of Jonny Bairstow, who led the side in said match to take a well earned respite. That presents an opportunity for Ben Foakes to finally get on the field having performed 12th man duties recently. The Surrey man will don the gloves for this fixture. Moeen Ali and Jofra Archer also return to the travelling party with Chris Woakes rested. Lewis Gregory and Matthew Carter retain their places in the squad having impressed on debut against Nepal.

Cricket 19: GODII – Squad Announcement

Your England squad for the Global One-Day Invitational Round Six match against Nepal at Headingley is as follows:

Dawid Malan

Liam Livingstone

Ben Stokes

Joe Root

Sam Curran

Liam Dawson

Jonny Bairstow (Captain/Wicketkeeper)

Tom Curran

Chris Woakes

Lewis Gregory

Matthew Carter

Ben Foakes

I’m delighted to announce that Jonny Bairstow will captain the side for the first time on his home ground. Congratulations also to Matthew Carter who comes into the squad for the first time and Lewis Gregory who returns to the national set-up after a long absence and will hope to win his first cap.

Captain Jos Buttler as well as all-rounder Moeen Ali have been rested from this fixture. Both players have been an integral part of the ODI and Test side of late. With one more ODI to follow before returning to the Test format for the business end of the North Western Hemisphere Test Championship, the decision has been made to rest said players as we have done with the likes of Joe Root, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes in recent matches. Jofra Archer also drops out of the side that won convincingly in Namibia.

Predicting England’s Next Caps: Revisited

A while ago, I predicted England’s next caps in each format of the game…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2019/01/12/predicting-englands-next-test-cap/

Here’s how my predictions fared…

Test: Prediction: Jason Roy, Actual: Jason Roy and Olly Stone

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18774/game/1152839/england-vs-ireland-only-test-ireland-tour-of-england-2019

ODI: Prediction: Jofra Archer, Actual: Jofra Archer, Ben Foakes and Dawid Malan

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18956/scorecard/1161014/ireland-vs-england-only-odi-england-tour-of-ireland-2019

T20I: Prediction: Jamie Overton, Actual: Jofra Archer, Ben Duckett and Ben Foakes

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18664/scorecard/1152840/england-vs-pakistan-only-t20i-pakistan-in-eng-2019

As you can see, there were multiple debuts in each instance but ultimately I got two out of three correct and we all know that “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad”!

Cricket 19: GODII – Canadian Capitulation!

Don’t worry England fans. It was our hosts that capitulated in the majestic surroundings of Ottawa Oval. Such a picturesque setting deserved far better than the syrup served up by the home team. Please don’t blame messrs Curran or Woakes though. They were only doing their job. Spare a thought for Joe Root as well. The Yorkshire lad flew all that way and didn’t bat or bowl.

At least Jos Buttler got to toss a coin! To think that there were those that questioned the decision to bowl. Though paying fans may wish that we’d batted first.

If it weren’t for two out of control top edges off ‘throw the kitchen sink’ hook shots from Darcy Harris off the hostile bowling of Jofra Archer then Canada wouldn’t have even totalled the paltry 38 all out that they did.

New ball duo Chris Woakes (3-11) and Sam Curran (3-3) did the damage at the top of the order before slow-left-armer Liam Dawson, having replaced Tom Curran in the side, chipped in with 2-8. Archer (1-14) then got in on the act before Moeen Ali struck first ball. It’ll come as no surprise to anyone that wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow took the innings ending catch to make it seven for the day (A new ODI record!) and already into double figures just two outings into the competition.

Dawid Malan (19 not out) and Liam Livingstone (18 not out) saw us comfortably to a ten-wicket win.

Such as a one-sided affair has led to questioning the integrity of the competition from some quarters. We’re only two matches in and there have already been some reasonably high scoring close encounters so far in the tournament. We’re participating in order to help promote the game across the globe. I guarantee that Canada will perform better when we meet again later in the competition.

Next for us we host USA at Old Trafford. You can expect a strong squad to be named for that one.

Cricket 19: GODII – Living the Dream!

We commenced the Global ODI Invitational with a resounding 177-run victory over Papua New Guinea at The Oval. It was a long trip for PNG and that may have taken it’s toll, particularly on their batsmen who looked severely jet lagged.

Having been put into bat we posted 272 but were disappointed to be bowled out in just 39.4 overs. Nearly all our batsmen need to reflect on their dismissals and ask themselves if they could’ve avoided getting out at that stage of the game. It’s only game one though in this format and ultimately we produced enough runs to win the match but we’ll likely face sterner tests (Or ODIs!) as the tournament progresses.

Liam Livingstone and Dawid Malan were our new opening combo and the pair batted with measured intent to reach 55 without loss. Lancashire’s Livingstone (33) was given out caught behind and frustratingly replays seemed to suggest that had he reviewed then the decision would’ve been overturned. Following the debutante’s departure, Ben Stokes was needlessly run out for 27 before Joe Root nicked behind for 10.

Soon after, Dawid Malan, who looked on course for a century, inexplicably through his wicket away having compiled 64 from only 56 deliveries. Moeen Ali (29) was another who got started but soon got out. He, the first wicket to fall to the persistent Caspar Sandhu.

Sandhu would finish with impressive figures of 5-64 and also claimed an excellent catch on the boundary to dismiss skipper Jos Buttler for 56.

Right-arm medium-pacer Sandhu ripped through our lower order adding the scalps of Jonny Bairstow (8), Tom Curran (15), Sam Curran (4) and Chris Woakes (1) to that of Buttler. Meaning no disrpesect to Sandhu but all our batters could’ve avoided getting out. Jofra Archer was dropped early on but finished undefeated on 19.

In pursuit of overhauling our total Papua New Guinea started reasonably well before Kaidan Donahue (11) nicked behind off Chris Woakes with the score on 17. Bairstow claimed his first competition catch and would go onto claim three in the innings.

The Yorkshireman has forty-one catches in only five North Western Hemisphere Test Championship matches and transferred that form to the GODII. As the competition progresses however we may occasionally rest our premier gloveman both from keeping and/or the playing XI altogether.

Wickets fell at regular intervals but amongst the chaos opening batsman Carlos Ahuja (49) bounced back from a tough time with the ball (7-0-51-0) but fell agonisingly short of a deserved fifty when he was caught by one Curran brother, Sam, off the bowling of another, Tom, both of whom were playing on their home turf.

Jayant Rege (13) was the only other batsman to reach double figures.

Livingstone (2-7) wrapped things up with some impressive leg-spin while Woakes (2-27) and Sam Curran (2-10) also picked up two wickets each.

Moeen, Stokes, Archer and Tom Curran all claimed one wicket each as PNG folded for just 95.

It was a decent start to the ODI festivities but our batsmen will need to kick on and last the full allocation in future if we’re to post the sort of seismic scores we strive for.

Next up for us it’s Canada away. We thoroughly enjoyed playing a Test match in the beautiful surroundings of Ottawa Oval and look forward to revisiting the area. We’ll take a reasonable touring party with us as travelling so far from home we need to cover for all eventualities.