Cricket Randoms

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There’s nothing we love more here at Silly Point than seeing our game gain global appeal, reaching out to untouched corners of the big blue and green. No pressure on Durham debutant Cameron Steel then! The California born bat has racked up appearances for Western Australia’s youth sides and has already tasted First Class cricket on half a dozen occasions when representing Durham MCCU. To date he has three First Class fifties including one against Durham last year. We’ll see how he gets on when it comes his turn to wield the willow, probably tomorrow.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-championship-division-2-2017/content/player/633301.html

On the subject of USA, Kieron Powell is back in West Indies whites. The man who gave it all up for baseball is currently holding the fort as WI slide into the abyss against Pakistan in Jamaica. Powell is undefeated on 33 at lunch with Windies precariously placed at 71-4.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-pakistan-2017/engine/match/1077953.html

In another corner of the world, well maybe not a corner but another location. Come to think of it, unless the world is flat then there probably aren’t really corners on the globe… are there?

Where was I going?

Zimbabwe!

Natsai M’Shangwe’s 8-91 for Mountaineers against Mid West Rhinos merits a mention. Performances such as this might provide the twenty-six-year-old with the opportunity to bring his Test match bowling average of 62.14 down to something a little more respectable in future. Opposition bowler James Bruce snapped up five wickets on First Class debut, suggesting that he might be better in real life than he was when I led Zimbabwe on International Cricket Captain!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1070906.html

One more for you, regarding my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket team that goes by the name of Roderick Brotherhood. Things could have been going a bit flat in the absence of my captain and moniker inspiration Gareth Roderick. Rodders is still suffering from his ‘mystery’ pre-season illness but fortunately… step forward Mr Riki Wessels. 202 not out from 177 deliveries including 22 fours and 7 sixes, thanks in no small part to the supporting act of Nottinghamshire’s lower order, has surely propelled me to the top of the table… at least in my family!

Other County Championship performances worth noting today:

James Vince: 143 not out. Pencilled in for an England recall against Ireland?

Haseeb Hameed: A duck… again!

Sam Robson: 144 not out. Anything you can do Vincey, I can do one better! Set for a recall against South Africa at the expense of Hameed?????

Liam Livingstone: 68 out of a total of 109 all out for Lancashire’s stand-in skipper. Penned in in permanent marker for a full international debut against Ireland!

Harry Dearden: 87 for Leicestershire’s teenage opener. His first fifty in his eleventh First Class innings. Not quite set for an international call-up!

Adam Barton: 11-0-81-0. Like Durham’s Steel, he’s making a proper debut having previously played Uni stuff. With Sussex currently 7-3 following Wessels double hundred, Barton might need to enhance his Chris Martinesque batting average of 2.12 from ten innings! There’s no sign of Silly Point favourite Ajmal Shahzad in the Sussex XI.

Ian Westwood: 153. Westwood for England anybody?

Ben Duckett: 45 not out out of a total of 102-6 and needing to go big given the performances of the likes of Vince, Robson and Livingstone. Penned in in biro for a recall against Ireland.

Tom Abell: 1 to follow 1 & 0 in Somerset’s opening match of the 2017 campaign for the new young skipper.

P.S. Powell’s just fallen second ball after lunch!

The Cricket Wheel of Fortune

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You are selected to tour with England. You get injured so miss the tour. The following year you are again selected to tour with England. You perform well in a tour match but in the Tests things don’t really go your way. You’re dropped and many perceive your international career to have been and gone but hopefully you’ll be better for the experience, will perform solidly on the county circuit and knock the door down for a recall. Your county however spend big bucks on some new players and come the first match of the county season you’ve lost your place to another spin bowling top order batsman. Step forward messrs Zafar Ansari and Scott Borthwick.

Of course Borthwick himself is one of many that has made his way through England’s selectorial revolving door and who ultimately has reinvented himself and re-locationed himself in order to knock the international door down again.

That’s cricket’s wheel of fortune ladies and gentlemen. Another example and another Surrey / Durham one at that: Opening batsman Rory Burns gets injured. Opening batsman Arun Harinath comes in and hits some hundreds but a year or so later Durham opening batsman Mark Stoneman heads south and Harinath joins Ansari in the Second XI.

Will the omitted players respond by making and taking runs and wickets galore in the second XI or will they go all Fabian Cowdrey on us and we’ll next see Zafar Ansari playing piano on The Voice? (Not as ridiculous as it sounds, honest!)

Could Ansari pop up at Sussex next year or Harinath at Leicestershire?

Of course I myself have suggested that Mark Footitt should make England’s XI (Before his 6-14 against Warwickshire I might add) but he left both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in order to keep another ex-England man Stuart Meaker out of the Surrey team. Michael Carberry is another example of a player who moved counties and who without doing so might not have donned the Three Lions jersey.

Anyway back to the point. In the space of less than a year Zafar Ansari has gone from being bridled with joy at being selected for England to presumably being a bit peeved at losing his place in the Surrey team. The problem for Ansari is a lack of cricketing identity. He’s tended to bat between numbers one and four but only has three First Class centuries. Those are great achievements, that’s three more than a lot of people but not good enough for a top order batsman with 115 innings under his belt. His bowling average of 35.18 is respectable enough but comes at an average of less than two wickets a match. This actually suggests a lack of responsibility rather than ability. Question marks linger over Ansari’s desire but when any professional sports player suggests that their game isn’t the be all and end all it can sound worse than it should. Some players immerse themselves in their profession to such an extent that it limits them but for others, getting away from the game can help them to relax and prepare for competition so long as they haven’t completely abandoned practice.

It will be interesting to see where in a decades time Zafar Ansari sits in the history of English cricket. Maybe he’ll be the next Gareth Batty!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Career Heading North!

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Yes I designed that bat and yes it looks great doesn’t it? Thank you very much!

After nearly a decade on the T20 club circuit, the call finally came. Yorkshire County Cricket Club selected the Leeds captain Paul Morris in their County Championship side. No messing about with the pyjama stuff for me. They sent me straight in at the deep end without any armbands to take on Australian pace ace Mitchell Starc.

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Always happy to provide free promotion to my friends at UNICEF.

I made my way to 8 runs on my First Class debut before Starkers came onto bowl. Three deliveries later I was back in the pavilion. After safely negating his first two deliveries via solid defensive shots, I then pushed at the third, got a nick and the ball flew (And I mean flew!) to third slip.

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Wouldn’t wanna get sunburnt!

I went onto dismiss Pakistan Test batsman Umar Akmal in Leicestershire’s second innings, my maiden First Class wicket.

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Day One pre lunch strike rate: 170.0. Let that sink in for a minute!

Derbyshire didn’t have Mitchell Starc and so I promptly made hay against their attack. Having registered only four half-centuries in ten years on the club scene, I smacked 61 before lunch on the first morning of my second professional outing but was disappointed to be out in the last over of the session. I’d arrived signed, sealed and delivered as a First Class cricketer then promptly got out to the last ball of the day for a duck in the second innings!

After a quiet third match, I batted really well against former England Test spinner James Tredwell and co. in making 48 against Kent but again was out to the very last ball before an interval, in this case lunch. I did however settle things after a wobble in our second innings by striking a composed 33 not out in partnership with skipper Gary Ballance.

I hope to get a call-up to the one-day (List A) side soon. If my international ambitions are to be realised then I really need to make headway at domestic level pronto.

It’s been a long hard slog on the club scene for the last decade and though I’ve been sincerely honoured to represent and captain the city of Leeds, to have finally played First Class cricket for my home county of Yorkshire has fulfilled a lifetime’s ambition and to have made a small contribution to the team so far provides me with great pride. I still have work to do to cement my place at this level and to have a fulfilling career as well as chasing international ambitions but I’d like to take this opportunity to put on record my gratitude to all that have supported me in my career thus far. Many thanks to you all.

Paul Morris

Leeds and Yorkshire Cricket

A Complete Restructure of Domestic Cricket in England

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Remember that time I completely restructured world cricket?

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/a-complete-restructure-of-international-cricket/

Well I’ve realised that I was just showing off, so I’m stripping it back and today I’m just going to completely restructure domestic cricket in England!

First Class (County Championship, 4-day matches)

Three regional divisions, sorry, conferences, that seems to be the buzzword nowadays. Six teams in each, as follows:

North – Derbyshire, Durham, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire

Central – Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Worcestershire, Warwickshire

South – Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Middlesex, Surrey, Sussex

Each team plays each other team in their regional conference twice per season, once at home and once away, totalling ten matches. Regardless of whether or not we adopt any alterations to the points system, the top team from each conference after the ten matches qualifies for the semi-finals as does the best second placed team. The semi-finals could either be held at a neutral but geographically equidistant venue or the two highest points scorers of the three top placed teams in each conference could have home advantage. In the semi-finals, the team that qualified as the best second placed team would not be allowed to play the team that topped their conference. The final could then be played at Lords.

Ten guaranteed First Class matches per season with the potential for an eleventh and twelfth, the twelfth being a grandiose final, would provide great value upon each match and the semi-finals and final in particular could really help prepare players for the intensity of Test match cricket. There are enough matches to genuinely separate the strong from the weak and gauge the ability of players when it comes to international selection but not so many matches so as to increase both the risk of wear and tear injuries and mid to late season matches that lack value. In a small country such as England (Compared with Australia or India) though regional conferences are logistically and environmentally advantageous, it may be that simply mixing up the three conferences year to year may be worthwhile if purely for variety’s sake. Breeding rivalries is good but as we’ve seen with the Ashes, the same teams playing each other too regularly can devalue things somewhat.

Okay, I lied. It’s not a complete restructure of domestic cricket in England but merely a restructure of First Class cricket. To be fair, the One-Day Cup is structured… you’ll be stunned, quite logically and probably wouldn’t need to stray too far from its current format, particularly if a newly employed First Class structure did adopt a regionally organised base.

The T20 disorganised chaos however…

… that’s probably another post. City franchises, Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy, Forestry Commission areas, who knows how we could divide English cricket in the shortest format of the game?!

Oh! Don’t forget my plans for university cricket as well…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/university-challenge/

A Dark Day for Cricket

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Do I even need to mention the subject?

I can understand Rilee Rossouw’s frustrations. He can’t get in the team because black players (And by black we mean at least two black Africans and four non-whites) such as Temba Bavuma and Jean-Paul Duminy, get selected ahead of him even if (When!) they fail, fail and fail again. This is not to say that Bavuma will not be stronger for his struggles and go on to have an outstanding career or that Duminy hasn’t had his moments. Oh and Rossouw claims this had nothing to do with his relocating but that he “need(s) to buy groceries”!

http://www.cricketcountry.com/news/kyle-abbott-rilee-rossouw-retire-from-international-cricket-sign-kolpak-deal-with-hampshire-564091

For Kyle Abbott the scenario seems somewhat stranger as he is currently in the South African Test XI (Or was) though admittedly full fitness to one or two others might have relegated him to 12th man duties. In recent times Simon Harmer, Stiaan van Zyl and Hardus Viljoen have also joined English counties on Kolpak deals.

Of course we can strip it right back and say that South African national sport teams should be full of black players but by that rational then all black and Asian players need be removed from England teams and Australian national teams would definitely be struggling for players.

Regarding the signatures of Abbott and Rossouw, exactly what message does this send to young cricketers in the county of Hampshire?

For youngsters that aspire to play for their home county, they are now likely to think that their county doesn’t want them and that they’d rather sign experienced South African pros. There will be young English Hampshire players sat in the pavilion or at home when their South African infused team take to the field in 2017.

With the new English domestic season approaching at pace, we are surely headed for another Leicestershire v Northamptonshire episode where most of the players aren’t even eligible to represent England, and on that note…

… I recently wrote an article about the possibility of Darren Bravo playing for England…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/bravo-for-england/

… in truth, the qualification period is now seven years, so this should allay any fears of Abbott and co. gatecrashing the England team anytime soon at least. I previously addressed my understanding of the way that people move around the world these days and how it is not always as straight forward as some people would like to label a person with a nationality but I sincerely hope that the capped South African players arriving in our game this year never don the Three Lions shirt. Luke Ronchi and Ryan Campbell provide recent examples of players that have switched international allegiance post being internationally capped. Imagine if Wayne Rooney retired from international football then moved to the MLS but in five years time became eligible to represent the USA, did so and played against England at the World Cup! If anybody feels that this is xenophobic on my part then so be it. These situations differ dramatically from those of Pietersen, Prior or Trott, or of Robson, Shah and even Joyce but I’ll repeat my comment from my Bravo article that once you’ve made your international bed you must lie in it.

Are you listening Johan Botha?

County Championship Night and Day

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England take on West Indies in a Day/Night Test match at Edgbaston in August of next year and as a precursor the County Championship will include a round of day/night matches, pink ball and all to wet the appetite.

2017 County Championship Day/Night fixtures

Matches to be played 26th-29th June

Division One

Essex v Middlesex

Hampshire v Somerset

Warwickshire v Lancashire

Yorkshire v Surrey

Division Two

Durham v Worcestershire

Glamorgan v Derbyshire

Northamptonshire v Leicestershire

Nottinghamshire v Kent

Sussex v Gloucestershire

No I don’t know what Nottinghamshire are doing in Division Two either!

Malan Mauls Vikings

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England hopeful Dawid (AC) Malan smacked 78 not out from just 48 deliveries to guide Barisal Bulls to a seven-wicket victory over Chittagong Vikings in the Bangladesh Premier League earlier today. Middlesex’s Malan struck three fours and seven (Yes seven!) sixes. He shared a partnership of exactly 150 with Sharhriar Nafees (65) after his fellow opener, another Englishman, Leicestershire’s Josh Cobb had been dismissed for just six. Malan had made starts in his previous outings for the Bulls (16, 26 and 13) but crucially went big today. Malan was included in England’s T20I squad to play Sri Lanka earlier this year but didn’t make the final XI. The twenty-nine-year-old will be hoping that the England management are keeping an eye on any Englishmen that are plying their trade in the various T20 tournaments being played across the globe this winter. Given the competition bread by the performances of players like Ben Duckett and Sam Billings during the ODI series in Bangladesh last month, Malan may be reliant on England resting some players come the ODI / T20I series’ against India at the conclusion of the five-match Test series if he’s to have any chance of making either squad.

Tymal Mills is another Englishman currently plying their trade in Bangladesh. Limited overs exclusive Mills, who did make his T20I debut against Sri Lanka earlier this year has picked up wickets in both of his appearances for the Vikings so far but was absent from the match against Malan’s Bulls.

Ravi Bopara, Matt Coles, Liam Dawson, Richard Gleeson, Benny Howell, Samit Patel and Riki Wessels are some of the other England qualified players signed up in Bangladesh though some of the less experienced players on that list are still awaiting their first outing.