Century Seeking Siaka Seriously Stalling!

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No that’s not Papua New Guinea batsman Lega Siaka’s mobile number. It’s his last seven innings in ODI cricket! His contribution to Papua New Guinea’s attempt to reach the 2019 ODI World Cup has been a pretty limp one. His most recent outing against Zimbabwe, caught in the field having accrued just 7 from all of 31 deliveries when batting at three with his team chasing 264, pretty much sums up where he’s at at the moment.

This is an especially frustrating time for the island nation’s great hope, one of the few associate cricket teams to actually field mostly if not entirely indigenous players. Siaka has an ODI ton against Hong Kong early in his career but now averages just 17.47 from 17 innings. Remove his 109 against Hong Kong from the equation and Siaka becomes fiftyless and would average 11.75. I’m always wary of chopping and changing a player’s statistics, it’s a little unfair but put that one extreme career best aside and Siaka has struggled big time. The Port Moresby native actually has three List A tons but an average of only 25.27. Again this highlights the extremes of his scoring pattern. It’s either feast or famine but the feasts are rare, like at Christmas or on your birthday!

Siaka is twentyfive-years-old. He’s not a kid, has represented Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash and turned out for the Australian Prime Minister’s XI. Of course the problem for associate players such as Siaka is the quality and volume of cricket they’re playing between tournaments. Siaka has represented Essendon in rookie cricket Down Under but compare that to the likes of Netherlands’ Ryan ten Doeschate and Roelof van der Merwe, both of whom are regulars on the English county circuit or Afghanistan’s young skipper Rashid Khan playing in the IPL and Big Bash and the experience aquired just doesn’t compare. It may be that Siaka is more suited to the longer format, he averages 32.69 in First Class cricket but in truth, that’s not the format to prosper in if you’re an associate player. That of course opens a whole can of worms regarding developing Test cricket around the world but I’ve written plenty on that already!

Fingers and toes crossed that if Siaka is presented with another chance in the ICC World Cup Qualifier that he can reach double figures and then clock up at least a second ODI half-century.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/440990.html

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Jake has a Ball!

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A squad of twelve jetted into Adelaide to take on Papua New Guinea. We made just one change to the team following the humbling defeat at the hands of West Indies. Jake Ball, 12th man in LA, came into the XI at the expense of Mark Footitt. Spinner Jack Leach, who went wicketless against the Windies, kept his place.

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Jake Ball (32 not out) and Jack Leach (11) put together a vital last wicket partnership of 48 in our first innings total of 212.

Our first innings was a familiar story of twenties, thirties and forties. Two run outs, including that of skipper Joe Root didn’t help our cause. Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow top scored with 42 and Jake Ball made a crucial 32 not out from number ten, ably supported by number eleven Jack Leach (11) in a heartening last wicket stand of 48.

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Jake Ball, having belted 32 not out with the bat in our first innings, then recorded figures of 5-43 with the ball in PNG’s.

Ball was then the chief destroyer with the… ball, claiming excellent figures of 5-43 but PNG, in making 213, edged ahead by one run. They may have made more had Charles Amini not shockingly allowed himself to be run out to the very last ball of the day. In PNG’s second innings he would also be dismissed to the final ball of a session, playing an inexplicably expansive shot on the cusp of tea!

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In our second innings, captain Joe Root lead from the front with 57 from just 44 deliveries.

In our second innings we lost both openers, Keaton Jennings (5) and Haseeb Hameed (10) early but Ben Duckett (29) and captain Joe Root (57) put on a match defining combination that totalled 65 before the former was run out. Not for the first time Duckett wasted a promising start in the Test arena. Bairstow (27) hit two huge sixes and Sam Curran (23) and Stuart Broad (39), in a partnership worth 54, bolstered our total to a competitive 249. That meant that PNG would need to make 248 to claim a famous victory.

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Lega Siaka determinedly scored Papua New Guinea’s first ever half-century in Test match cricket.

Though we chipped away at the PNG batting line-up with regular wickets, composed opening batsman Lega Siaka stood firm, compiling his country’s first ever half-century in the Test arena.

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It would be Jake Ball however, who for the second time in the match would cause panic amongst the PNG side. Despite the best efforts of our fielders to prevent him from claiming a ten-for, a catch was eventually held to take us to our first Test victory and Ball (5-48) to Man of the Match figures of 10-91. Ben Stokes also stepped up, finishing with match figures of 5-80. It was a tougher experience for spinner Jack Leach though, the Taunton twirler ended the match with analyses of 25-3-85-0. That’s now two wicketless Tests in a row for Leach and questions will have to be asked regarding his place in the team come the selection meeting ahead of our next Test outing. In truth he looked extremely inaffective with the ball. His support of Jake Ball in a last wicket stand of 48 in our first innings in a match that we won by just 44 runs should not be forgotten though.

On behalf of the team, I’d like to thank those fans that flew to Adelaide and indeed all our followers, after what has been a string of frustrating results. We look forward to finding some consistency now and providing our supporters with more positive results in the future.