The Drop Shop

IMG_3140

I’ve previously written about the value of persisting with players, particularly batsmen, specifically Shai Hope. Now it’s the turn of his brother Kyle. The elder Hope sibling totalled 41 runs during the Test tour of England, his average a paltry 6.83. A Test series in Zimbabwe provides an excellent opportunity for Hope to enhance his average and book himself a few more international caps. In the first innings of the first Test in Bulawayo he’d made it to 16 before becoming Solomon Mire’s maiden Test victim. With his average raised to 8.14, Hope arrived at the crease in West Indies’ second innings for potentially the last time. Two balls later he was dropped at short leg. Had Craig Ervine held the chance then Hope’s average would have been 7.13 and likely remained that way for eternity. As it was, he went onto make a career best 43, putting him on exactly 100 career Test runs. Following his dismissal courtesy of his namesake, the returning home side’s pacer Kyle Jarvis, his average has risen to 12.50. That 43 must be frustrating both for Hope himself and the West Indies’ selectors. It was an improvement, albeit with a little fortune but he’s not the first batsman ever to benefit from a drop however just seven more runs could have earned him another few Tests and filled him with confidence and relief for the second match of the series. As it is, you can’t help but feel that he remains in the proverbial last chance saloon. Come the second Test, either a maiden half-century is needed or some extremely pretty, gritty, stoic, classic or match winning 30s and 40s are required in order to prolong his Test career.

Utterly bizarrely, and this only highlights Kyle Hope’s struggles, despite the fact that he bats at three and his brother Shai at four, over the course of eight innings they are yet to bat together in a Test match!

Wind in Their Sails!

img_2721

West Indies are currently taking on Zimbabwe in the first Test in Bulawayo and it’s great to see the tourists displaying faith in the team that narrowly lost 2-1 in England.

Following a difficult tour of the UK, the likes of Kieron Powell and Kyle Hope as well as gloveman Shane Dowrich have been presented with further opportunity to showcase their international credentials and with Zimbabwe benefiting from the return of some experienced players, it should be a competitive series.

Brendan Taylor and Kyle Jarvis are back in the international fold for the hosts and that should bode well for Graeme Cremer’s team. There is part of me that feels these guys had turned their back on the global game and shouldn’t just waltz back into their national side however it can be seen as an investment. They should be better players for having played regular professional cricket in England for a few years and if that contributes to Zimbabwe’s matches against any side being close encounters then that is good for the game. They’d displayed strong strides against a regressive Sri Lanka outfit and the addition of Taylor and Jarvis as well as a reimagining of Zimbabwean domestic cricket provides an optimistic horizon for ‘The Chevrons’.

Keep up to date with how things play out between the two sides @ http://www.cricinfo.com

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18076/game/1122886/Zimbabwe-vs-West-Indies-1st-Test-wi-in-zim-2017-18-2017-18

Patience Pays… Hopefully!

img_1776adj

This isn’t the first article I’ve written about Shai Hope and it probably won’t be the last. Here’s just one previous script about the Barbados born batsman.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/hope-for-west-indies/

Before this Test, Hope had 391 runs in 11 Tests at an average of just 18.61. In the first Test against England he registered scores of 15 and 4 yet here he is unbeaten on 147 against England’s two leading wicket takers of all time (James Anderson & Stuart Broad) who have nearly 1000 Test wickets between them. Some may argue that opportunity has only presented itself because of lack of interest on the part of the T20 franchise globe trotters but West Indies’ selectors deserve credit for persevering with Hope. I thought that he was picked too early but it may be that those experiences gained are what have helped him reap the rewards at Headingley. England’s selectors should take note. Maybe had they stuck with any of Sam Robson, James Vince, Ben Duckett or pick from many others then those players would be scoring Test centuries right now. Something about Steve Waugh and 27 Tests, Marvan Atapattu starting with five ducks and a single, I know I know, I sound like a broken record. There is no better way to learn than failure. Tom Westley might be struggling now but international cricket is a step up and you have to adapt. Let’s provide our batsmen with the opportunity to do so otherwise we will continue on this merry go round of English willow men. One positive for England that stems from Hope’s Headingley run-fest is that it means Stoneman, Westley and Dawid Malan will have another opportunity to show that they belong on the Test scene and really step up when it matters.

Hopefully (Sorry!) England’s selectors will realise that there comes a time when a horse needs backing. I’ve moaned before about people wanting the unblemished. That’s why we keep moving onto another uncapped batsman. All these people campaigning for Stoneman, already he’s damaged goods and they want to move onto the next guy. That’ll be say Joe Clarke but the notion of recalling Vince or Duckett etc and the thought that they might be better for their tough experiences is beyond the comprehension of many. Imagine if Australia had not recalled Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn or Justin Langer or Sri Lanka had not recalled Atapattu, a man with over 5000 Test runs including five double tons and a ridiculously good conversion rate.

It may not get any better than this for Hope and he’ll continue to average around 20 but I believe that he’ll go onto average 30 plus and score a few Test hundreds. The West Indies now need to show the same sort of commitment to his brother Kyle and one or two others whilst England need do the same with their contingent… hopefully!

Baseball Back!

IMG_1772adj2

Kieron Powell, having turned his back on cricket for baseball but then turned his back on baseball for cricket, is, you guessed it… back in the West Indies ODI squad for the first time since March 2014. The left-handed opening batsman last appeared for West Indies in whites in June of the same year and has been in prolific form in domestic cricket in recent times, including striking three centuries in four innings in late January / early February. Powell possesses a top score of 83 in 28 ODI outings but has three Test centuries to his name. He averages over 27 but less than 28 in both forms.

For details of the squad to take on England in full then please click on the link below.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-england-2016-17/content/story/1083623.html

As detailed on Cricinfo, the likes of Kyle Hope, Montcin Hodge and Rahkeem Cornwall are amongst those selected for the WICB President’s XI to play the tourists in a practice match in St Kitts.

England ODI tour of West Indies:

Warm-up

WICB Pres. XI v England, St Kitts, Feb 27

ODI Series

West Indies v England, Antigua, March 3rd

West Indies v England, Antigua, March 5th

West Indies v England, Barbados, March 9th

Don Bradman Cricket 17: West Indies v England Test Match in L.A.

img_2718

Hi, my name is Stereo Mike.

Yeah, we got three tickets to the Bran Van concert…

After putting in a vastly improved performance against Kenya, the team headed to Los Angeles full of hope to take on West Indies. Ben Stokes and Mark Footitt were recalled at the expense of Ollie Rayner and James Anderson. Ben Duckett was provided one last chance to prove himself as a Test cricketer.

… happening this monday night at the Pacific Palisades.

img_2719

Despite the early losses of opening batsmen Haseeb Hameed (2) and Keaton Jennings (9), Duckett (40) and captain Joe Root (27) resisted. Duckett finally displayed the temperament required for Test match cricket but like James Hildreth (33) he could only assist a delivery from spinner Nikita Miller onto his stumps. Our total of 249 summed up the fact that nearly all our batsmen got starts but nobody reached 50. Sam Curran (Pictured above left) was frustratingly left 34 not out after Jack Leach (Pictured above right) was run out.

Give us a ring-ding-ding. It’s a beautiful day.

Needing to make inroads into the West Indies batting line-up late on day one, Sam Curran took a caught and bowled chance off debutant Kyle Hope after the ball ballooned into the air off the face of the bat. Outrageously, the decision was not given by the umpire and Hope refused to walk. He promptly went on to make 172 on Test debut and put on a double century stand for the opening wicket with Kraigg Brathwaite (143). Only an obsession with nightwatchman helped us claim four wickets as the Windies declared on exactly 500. Of the ten bowlers that we used, just Stuart Broad (2-107) and Mark Footitt (2-111) were able to claim any wickets.

img_2720

I got the fever for the flavour…

In our second innings we soon found ourselves in trouble at 27-3 but a stoic Keaton Jennings (Pictured above right) and a positive but not reckless James Hildreth (Pictured above left) put on 50 and battled through to lunch on day three.

… the payback will be later, still I need a fix.

img_2721

With my mind on my money…

For the second time in the match however our batsmen failed to build on solid starts. Jennings top scored with 44 after Hildreth (41) had fallen when sweeping for the second time in the match.

… and my money on my… beer, beer!

img_2722

In the end we went down by an innings and 47 runs. Hope got his comeuppance when, despite his epic innings, he missed out on the Man of the Match award to teammate Miguel Cummins (Cummins hit an undefeated half-century as well as recording match figures of 7-139).

The application of our batsmen in occupying the crease for excess of 60 overs in our first innings and the fact that we actually managed to take a game well into day three should at least bode well for the future. Though it may be hard to believe, there were signs of improvement in the bowling department too!

What the hell am I doing drinking in L.A?

Hope for West Indies

img_1776adj

It’s fair to say that since the turn of the century Caribbean cricket hasn’t been at it’s peak. The West Indies national side have not been the force they once were. Potential stars such as Kieron Powell packed the game in altogether to try their hand at baseball, though he’s recently returned to cricket whilst Darren Bravo’s future is in serious doubt following a recent Twitter outburst.

There is however a glimmer of hope for West Indies. When Shai Hope made his Test debut against England it was in truth probably a little too soon but a career best knock of 211 just prior to the Test got him the nod. Over eighteen months later he is still awaiting a Test match half-century but did make a career best 41 in his last Test outing before striking 47 on ODI debut earlier today.

It’s not just Shai either. His elder brother Kyle, four years Shai’s senior at 27 is still awaiting a First Class century but a batting average of 29.35 suggests that he has no problem getting going. He recently struck 107 for West Indies A against Sri Lanka A in a List A match.

Amongst others, the encouraging signs displayed by Roston Chase early in his Test career, Nicholas Pooran debuting in T20Is and Rahkeen Cornwall’s domestic performances also provide West Indies with optimism for the years ahead.