Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – England vs. South Africa

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Following England’s win in Pakistan, the side hosted South Africa in a Global Test League top of the table clash at Sussex. The performances of Stuart Broad and James Anderson (Pictured above) would be crucial to England’s chances of success…

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David Willey (0 & 4) failed to make an impression with the bat but claimed some vital South African scalps (1-60 & 2-98) on Test debut.

The left-arm pace of David Willey replaced the left-arm spin of Liam Dawson following the Hampshire twirler’s wicketless display in Lahore. Unfortunately for Willey, the Yorkshire and former Northamptonshire all-rounder would be dismissed first ball on his maiden Test outing but did claim match figures of 3-158. Those figures might not sound too great but Willey snapped up the crucial dismissals of Quentin de Kock (35) in the first innings and Hashim Amla (96) in the second. Having made 104 in the first innings, Amla fell just four runs short of registering a century in each innings.

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Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj (6-115 & 3-67) was the key reason for some all too familiar England batting collapses.

Maybe Liam Dawson can learn from the tourist’s own left-arm spinner, Keshav Maharaj. Whilst pacers Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel failed to take a wicket between them, Maharaj finished with figures of 9-182.

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Former Essex stumper Ben Foakes compiled a maiden Test ton in only his third Test match.

Surrey gloveman Ben Foakes (112) scored a crucial maiden Test century. This was when England had slipped from 212-2 to 261-7. Keaton Jennings (113) also made a hundred, his fourth of the competition. It will be Stuart Broad (103) and James Anderson’s (56 not out) last wicket stand of 126 that will live long in the memory though. That’s 118 runs in seven innings without dismissal for Lancashire’s Anderson in the GTL.

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England skipper Joe Root dropped Hashim Amla on 49 in South Africa’s second innings. Amla went onto make 96. In all, the home side dropped four catches in the visitor’s second dig!

After South Africa had been dismissed for 330 (Amla 104, Broad 3-63) and England for 565 (Jennings 113, Maharaj 6-115), South Africa set about erasing the defecit and went onto set England a testing total of 313 to win. The visitors having made 547 in their second innings. As mentioned before, Amla followed up his first innings 104 with 96 but it was the scintillating AB de Villiers, whose knock of 266 not out took him ahead of Jennings to the top of the competition run charts and helped get South Africa back in the match. James Anderson stuck to the task though and was rewarded for pitching the ball up and getting some movement. He claimed the home side’s first ever Global Test league five-wicket haul (5-121) and finished with match analysis of 7-198 to go with his undefeated half-ton. With 20 victims in total, Anderson is England’s top GTL wicket-taker.

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Dawid Malan (58 not out) and Stuart Broad (5 not out) saw England home though the result was not without a fright!

For the second time in the match, England’s opening batsmen, Keaton Jennings (73) and Mark Stoneman (53) put together a century partnership to lay the foundations for England’s run-chase. They were dismissed in quick succession however before England suffered an all too familiar batting collapse. Jonny Bairstow, recalled to the side at number three at the expense of James Vince and playing as a specialist batsman, followed his first innings seven with just nine. He did at least claim a maiden Test wicket in the match, Keshav Maharaj the unfortunate victim. Chris Woakes looked to be taking England to victory but fell for 53 with just five runs required. Dawid Malan remained composed however and finished 58 not out, fittingly being joined by first innings centurion Stuart Broad, who would hit the winning runs and secure England their fifth straight victory following the shock opening round loss at home to Zimbabwe.

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England now stand alone at the top of the inaugural Global Test League.

Next up for England are West Indies in the Caribbean. In terms of selection for that match, though Mark Stoneman failed to convert scores of 59 and 53 into a maiden Test hundred against South Africa, two century opening stands alongside Keaton Jennings mean that his place is safe for now. Jonny Bairstow will have to wait and see if he gets another chance at three following his double failure. Chris Woakes struggled with the ball but made a vital half-century in England’s run chase and though David Willey didn’t set the world on fire, he did claim some vital scalps on Test debut. Liam Dawson may get one more chance to prove himself in helpful conditions though Moeen Ali will be considered for a recall and Mason Crane could even win a Test cap. Until next time…

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – Pakistan vs. England

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Another match, another win. That’s four in a row now for the team. Next up we host South Africa in a top of the table clash at Sussex. Like us, they’ve won four matches and lost only one.

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We were pleased to be pushed hard by Pakistan. We’ve performed well to win four consecutive matches but would’ve welcomed stronger opposition. We got that from Pakistan, well, for three quarters of the match at least.

In our first innings, opening batsman Keaton Jennings (125) cemented his place at the top of the Global Test League run charts with yet another hundred. Dawid Malan (80 & 142) stayed in touching distance of Jennings with a counter attacking ton in our second outing. Jennings now has 712 tournament runs to Malan’s 688 despite Malan having four tons to Jennings’ three.

Pakistan gained a healthy first innings lead of 105 however, courtesy of three batsmen (A Shehzad 132, H Sohail 109 & J Khan 100) scoring centuries. This was despite the efforts of our opening bowlers, messrs Broad (3-87) and Woakes (3-101). Adil Rashid (2-86) also claimed two victims to add to his first innings knock of 61. The Yorkshireman has cemented his place as both England’s number six batsman and number one spinner. Rumours of him focusing on white ball cricket only are purely that. Fellow twirler Liam Dawson, 43-7-147-0, toiled however.

After a difficult start to our second innings, Malan (142) and Rashid (40) put together a combo of 201 for the fifth wicket. This was our highest partnership of the competition thus far. Moeen Ali stroked a useful 43 not out to help set the hosts 318 for victory.

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They couldn’t have got off to a worse start with first innings centurion Ahmed Shehzad run out first ball. Their next two wickets were also run outs and they were soon 21-4 before stumbling to 89-7. Gloveman Sarfraz Ahmed contributed a well fought but stylish 43 before Junaid Khan (51 not out) and Imad Wasim (47) showed resistance and ability in the lower order. If only their top three hadn’t gotten themselves out in such shambolic circumstances, then this could have been a great Test match. Adil Rashid (2-18) claimed ‘Player of the Match’ and this was probably deservedly so, despite competition from the likes of Dawid Malan. Stuart Broad wrapped things up in Lahore. The above DRS confirming that there was no doubt about the final wicket. He and Chris Woakes both bowled well and look in good form ahead of the hosting of fellow table toppers South Africa.

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As for Liam Dawson however, his match figures of 61-10-210-0 leave him with a Global Test League average of 328.00. It seems unlikely that the Hampshire all-rounder (He made just 4 & 10 with the bat), will wear England whites again anytime soon.

Crane Soars… but will Crane Reign?

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Could this week get any better for Mason Crane?

Not only is he likely to be called up to the England side for the Global Test League match against Pakistan in Lahore, a virtual Test debut but a Test debut in reality awaits too! Crane will step out for England against Australia in the fifth Test in Sydney. We don’t want another Scott Borthwick episode though. I would like to have seen Crane play earlier rather than a “Why the hell not?” selection in the final match. That is no slight on Borthwick, a more than decent cricketer who claimed wickets in his sole Test outing, only to raise the example that he’s never played again and certainly not come close to doing so in that role. Crane would definitely welcome four wickets on Test debut ala Borthwick.

Meanwhile AJ Tye and Jhye Richardson make the cut for Australia’s ODI squad. Both have played T20Is and I’ve enjoyed watching them in the Big Bash. Tye doesn’t look special but is a clever bowler. Richardson is an exciting young cricketer and is well worth the investment.

Jhye Richardson

In other news, West Indies Chadwick Walton got another international duck. Walton, a player I like, clocked up a century against England in a tour match but his international stats make for extremely grim reading…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/player/315586.html

At 32, there are unlikely to be any more chances for the Jamaica native.

Back to Crane, there are no guarantees that things will go swimmingly for the Hampshire spinner but hopefully even if he suffers a Simon Kerriganesque debut, England will be brave enough to go back to him.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – New Zealand Run Out… of Ideas!

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When your bowlers need claim only fourteen wickets, you can’t help but think that Test match victories shouldn’t come quite so easily!

Post victory in the Shamrock state, Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes was recalled to the side for the hosting of New Zealand at Edgbaston. Woakes soon snaffled a wicket on his home ground, that of Kiwi opener Jeet Raval, caught behind for seven by debutant wicketkeeper Ben Foakes. That’d be bowled Woakes caught Foakes then! Brought into the side at the expense of Jonny Bairstow following the Yorkshireman’s shabby showing against Ireland in Malahide, Foakes duly put in an exemplary performance behind the timbers. Surrey head honcho Alec Stewart will be proud.

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Woakes made the most of his familiarity with the surroundings. With the new ball in hand whilst Stuart Broad sat this match out, Woakes claimed impressive figures of 3-28 as New Zealand capitulated to 143-9 in their first innings. Only a last wicket stand of forty between Neil Wagner and Trent Boult helped lift the visitors to a slightly more respectable 183 all out. New Zealand’s ineptitude with the bat on such a run-welcoming surface was soon highlighted by England’s willow wielders, not to mention the Kiwis’ own efforts come their second innings.

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Mark Stoneman compiled a career best 82 in an opening partnership of 186 with former Durham colleague Keaton Jennings but was rightly gutted on missing out on a maiden Test century. The Surrey lefty played an unnecessary and inexplicably expansive shot when three figures were peeping above the horizon whilst crying out “Come and get me Mark, please!”.

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Perennially in-form Jennings made no such mistake. His monumental 222 was a dominational knock that left him sitting pretty at the top of the Global Test League run charts whilst averaging an epic 83.29! #Bradmanesque was soon trending on social media. In the interest of fairness, Roston Chase, Dean Elgar and Ross Taylor have all clocked up higher GTL scores in the first four rounds of games.

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Dawid Malan registered his third hundred of the GTL, the most by any individual thus far in the inaugural edition of the competition. The Middlesex man fell for a Test best 155, his partnership of 194 with Adil Rashid was England’s competition high so far as was the team cumulative of 765-9. Regarding the bowling, Neil Wagner claimed absurd figures of 3-256!

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Following his reintegration to the Test side against Ireland, Adil Rashid continued his authoritative all-round performance and seemed destined for a maiden Test century. The Yorkshireman was controversially adjudged run out when on 79 however, though in truth it was an almightily risky run, even if the cameras suggested he’d made his ground.

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As was the case against Ireland, England saw their opposition produce a strong second innings batting display. It was only day three and the pitch was still a good one. How much more the Kiwis 410 could have been if it were not for five run outs in the innings, added to one in their first, will forever remain unknown. Had the tourists not conceded such village dismissals (No disrespect to village cricketers across the land!) and had they applied themselves better in their first innings then this could have been a far more evenly contested high scoring affair. Tim Southee’s run out for a career best 87, a dismissal that sealed the home side’s victory was disappointing, embarrassing, amateur, heart-breaking and inevitable all at the same time. Even the England fans wanted to see him reach a ton.

Moving on from my journalistic report and bringing to the fore my role as Team Manager and Chairman of Selectors of the England national side, we’d prefer to have to work harder for our wickets, even if we can claim to have applied pressure to bring them about. Our performance against spin, Jeetan Patel finished with figures of 0-98 on his home ground, was extremely encouraging. Pakistan in Lahore however will be a different kettle of the proverbial fish. We look forward to the challenge though. We currently sit joint top of the GTL table alongside South Africa and India. They too have won three matches and lost one. Entertaining ‘The Proteas’ at home will follow the trip to Pakistan.

The squad to travel to Pakistan will be named after careful consideration has been provided. Rotation of our pace bowlers continues to be of paramount importance as we look to sustain our intensity throughout the duration of the competition. Thoughts of adding additional spin options to the XI will be weighed up as will selecting spin-skilled batsmen. The players continue to be humbled by the support of the fans.

White Ferns Call on Kerr to Curb Run Flow

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New Zealand Women have selected teenage spin bowler Amelia Kerr in their World Cup squad for the tournament that commences next month in England. The Wellington Wizard was just fourteen years of age when she popped up on YouTube, the great hope for New Zealand Women’s cricket. Of course courting such attention at that age can have a detrimental effect (Freddy Adu anybody?). Kerr though has clocked up ten wickets in 7 ODIs to date, at an average of just 22.90. The Wellington native has already claimed two four-wicket hauls in those 7 appearances and gone at less than four runs per over, 3.89 to be precise.

There’s something utterly bizarre about looking at a person’s Cricinfo profile page and seeing a birthday in the 2000s!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/newzealand/content/player/803971.html

Here’s a Trans World Sport feature on the leg-spinner who can bat too. She struck 119 for Wellington Women against Otago Women as recently as February.

Cricket runs in the Kerr family. Amelia’s sister plays alongside her at domestic level, both parents played the game and grandfather Bruce Murray clocked up 13 Test caps for the Black Caps. Murray’s career best 90 came in Lahore when New Zealand beat Pakistan for the first time.

http://www.howstat.com/cricket/Statistics/Matches/MatchScorecard.asp?MatchCode=0663

That was nearly half a century ago. Kerr will hope to create some historic moments of her own in the sport in the years and even decades to come.

Disclaimer: Irrelevant lyrics, relevant title!

Super Duper Stan!

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The 2nd edition of the Pakistan Super League commences on 5th February…

http://www.psl-t20.com

Silly Point takes a look at the English brigade that will be turning out for the five franchises:

Islamabad United

Sam Billings

Ben Duckett

Billings will look to further enhance his reputation on the franchise stage and help cement his England place. Duckett will aim to put his spin pains behind him after a difficult winter in India.

Peshawar Zalmi

Chris Jordan

Eoin Morgan

Samit Patel

A resurgent Chris Jordan joins England skipper Eoin Morgan at Peshawar Zalmi. Samit Patel will fly in as cover for Bangladesh bat Tamim Iqbal (International commitments) come the latter stages of the tournament.

Lahore Qalanders

Jason Roy

England’s Mr Consistency at the top of their limited overs teams will be the sole Anglo representative in Lahore.

Karachi Kings

Ravi Bopara

The forgotten man of English cricket, Bopara is vastly experienced on the franchise circuit and will surely be a useful member of the Karachi Kings party.

Quetta Gladiators

Tymal Mills

Kevin Pietersen

David Willey

Luke Wright

T20 franchise brothers Kevin Pietersen and Luke Wright will turn out for the Quetta Gladiators for a second year, after recently representing their loyal Big Bash side, Melbourne Stars. Left-arm duo Tymal Mills and David Willey will help form a strong English quota in Quetta.