Cricket Captain 2017: 2022 T20I World Cup Review – McManus Magic Not Enough!

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Lewis McManus’ 225 runs @ 56.25 including 104 not out in England’s opening game set the tone for an encouraging tournament for the hosts.

Following McManus’ feat, county teammate Mason Crane claimed the almost absurdly good figures of 4-12 as Pakistan, not surprisingly, struggled to get to grips with the required run-rate.

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Further victories over both Australia and Zimbabwe then followed and despite defeat against South Africa in the final group game, England joined ‘The Proteas‘ in the semi-finals.

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Though England had India in peril at 44-3, having themselves posted 172, the home side contrived to lose a semi-final they had looked almost certain to win.

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The loss came despite Sussex’s Ben Brown backing up his debut fifty with another.

On the back of such a run-filled tournament, Hampshire’s McManus soared to a career high sixth place in the T20I batting rankings.

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T20I veteran Benny Howell has now accumulated 35 caps in the shortest format of the game and has been a vital cog in England’s recent development.

It’s now time to readjust to the grind of Test cricket however as England host West Indies for a five-match series.

MA 2 3 + JB 2 5 = EV

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I’ve done it. By Jove I’ve done it. I’ve done it I say. I’ve discovered the formula to solve England’s batting order equation. With the benefit of hindsight it really does seem oh so simple. I can’t believe that I didn’t solve it sooner, or that anybody else did for that matter. The solution is as follows:

MA 2 3 + JB 2 5 = EV

Moeen Ali batting at three added to Jonny Bairstow batting at five equals victory for England.

This formula not only acccomodates the likes of Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad and James Anderson at interjas 6-11 but also for any two of Toby Roland-Jones, Adil Rashid, Sam Curran or Mason Crane amongst other probabilities.

Like any good mathematical equation, we’re working backwards and by doing so we find messrs Cook, Stoneman (He rocks!) and Root positioned at interjas 1,2 and 4.

The simplicity of this formula is in the proposal that MA and JB bat in the very positions that they do at domestic level. The logic applied is located at the greatest extremity of the logic scale.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Morris’ Theorem.

Cricket Captain 2017: 2021-22 Season Review – The Year of Cricket, Cricket and Much More Cricket!

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16 Tests, 26 ODIs and 7 T20Is including an Ashes series and Champions Cup provided the England squad with a non-stop cricket packed campaign during the 2021-22 season. Here’s how things played out…

Home vs. Bangladesh

Tests: Drew 1-1 (Jack Leach captained the side in place of the injured Liam Livingstone)

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A comprehensive victory in the first Test, courtesy of Nick Gubbins and Gareth Roderick’s maiden Test hundreds as part of an all eleven double figures contribution was followed by a comprehensive defeat in the second!

ODIs: Lost 4-1

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Middlesex’s Harry Podmore claimed figures of 3-52 on his maiden ODI outing and adapted well to international cricket.

Captain Liam Livingstone as well as number three Sam Northeast each totalled well in excess of 200 runs in the series despite both being rested for the final match. England’s bowling lacked penetration however and Bangladesh ran out thoroughly deserving series winners.

T20I: Won 1-0 (Benny Howell captained the side in place of the rested Liam Livingstone)

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Maiden international fifties from Lewis McManus and Brad Taylor as well as a second T20I four-wicket haul for Mason Crane (4-33) helped England to a thrilling five-run victory.

Home vs. Australia

Tests: Lost 2-1 (Jack Leach captained the side in the final three Tests (LWL) in place of the injured Liam Livingstone)

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After two rain-effected draws, England just avoided the ignominy of being dismissed for double figures in the third Test courtesy of Ben Coad’s heroics but couldn’t avoid going 1-0 down in the series.

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Despite a poor career record against Australia, 34-year-old opening batsman Mark Stoneman was recalled for the fourth Test and went about emphatically setting that record straight. His 98 in his comeback innings was somewhat overshadowed though by Will Rhodes’ magnificent 191 as England squared the series.

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After dismissing Australia for just 120 in their second innings of the fifth Test, England lost four wickets late on the fourth day to severely dent their pursuit of 253 for Ashes glory. As a nation stood still, those with no previous interest in cricket, hell some even had a distain, stopped their work, their studies and their conversations but in the end the early clatter of wickets cost the home side and Australia clinched the urn by the minimal margin of just 52 runs!

ODIs: Lost 3-2

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Having come from 2-0 down to level the five-match contest at 2-2, continuing to capture the hearts of the nation along the way following their Ashes efforts, England produced an underwhelming batting performance (228-8) in what was effectively a final. Despite Mason Crane’s outstanding figures of 10-2-14-3, England lost a wonderfully competitive series 3-2. The home side continued their trend of competing but falling at the last. There were positives however, including an almighty opening stand of 237 between Daniel Bell-Drummond and Mark Stoneman in the fourth ODI.

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Despite the defeat, England finished the series with two batsmen, captain Liam Livingstone and Sam Northeast ranked in the top ten ODI world willow wielders.

T20I: Lost 1-0 (Benny Howell captained the side in place of the rested Liam Livingstone)

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An inept outing with bat and ball. Azeem Rafiq’s figures of 3-0-47-0 actually constituted one of his better performances!

Champions Cup

Test: N/A

ODIs: WLL- Knocked out in the group stages.

T20Is: N/A

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The Champions Cup in India started with a ‘Build your hopes up’ five-wicket victory against South Africa. Skipper Liam Livingstone compiled his fifth ODI century whilst Ryan Higgins, rewarded for his impressive T20I performances with an ODI cap, made a composed 70 on debut.

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Unfortunately there then followed an abysmal showing against Bangladesh (146 all out) and a tournament terminating 101-run defeat in the crucial match against Pakistan, having restricted the opposition to just 263. Ryan Higgins underwhelmingly followed up his debut 70 by being run out for two and a third ball duck whilst other key batsmen failed to perform. After just three matches, England headed home.

Away vs. Sri Lanka

Tests: Lost 2-1

Despite witnessing Sri Lanka race to 201-0 in the first Test, England fought back magnificently to take a 1-0 series lead. Frustratingly for England fans however, their side could not alter a pattern of winning matches but not series. England lost the second Test having made what seemed like a sensible declaration. In the deciding match England’s spinners, Jack Leach and Mason Crane were once again inaffective. The loss of wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick through injury to the first delivery he received didn’t help England’s cause. This was highlighted when deputy gloveman Stevie Eskinazi dropped a routine chance off the bowling of Mason Crane. Having won the first Test, been in such a strong position in the second and even fought back well at times in the third, this was yet another ‘What could have been?’ series for England.

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One player who didn’t deserve to be on the losing side was Ben Coad. As well as claiming his third Test fifer and passing 100 Test scalps, he added another half-century to his tally. If only England’s spinners could have backed him up.

ODIs: Lost 3-0

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Centuries from Daniel Bell-Drummond (122) in the first match and Liam Livingstone (100) in the second couldn’t prevent England going 2-0 down in the three-match ODI series. In the third match Sri Lanka completed a whitewash but there was at least a welcome return to the visiting side for Sam Curran. Curran’s star has wained somewhat and he’d recently been left out of the side for the most part but 4-60 was a good showing out of the blue.

T20I: Lost 1-0

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England lost the T20I series (Or match) 1-0 but at least opening batsman and wicketkeeper Lewis McManus recorded the highest individual T20I score of the current England management reign.

The result meant England were placed a disappointing seventh in Test, ODI and T20I rankings.

Away vs. Bangladesh

Tests: Drew 1-1

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Having lost the first Test in Bangladesh, England dug deep in the second to secure a heartwarming Test victory and subcontinental series draw. Gareth Roderick (156 not out) shared record breaking stands with Ben Coad (82) and Mason Crane (68) before England bundled out the hosts for the second time in the match. Spin bowlers Jack Leach (9 wickets @ 21.44) and Mason Crane (11 wickets @ 25.36) both repaid the faith shown in them by the selectors by producing excellent series performances. Mark Stoneman’s 90 not out led England to victory and some revenge for last winter’s narrow series defeat.

In the euphoria of England’s victory, the touring side’s media went wild. Some of the best headlines included ‘Tigers Can’t Crack Coad’, ‘Crane Lifts England’ and ‘Stoneman Rocks!’.

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Ben Coad’s batting has been a revelation this winter. His career best 82 in England’s Test victory in Bangladesh was his third of the winter tours and fourth this season.

ODIs: Won 3-0

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England carried forward their momentum from the victory in the second Test into the ODI series and went 2-0 up courtesy of two successful run chases. England rotated the squad in the third match where Aneurin Donald (126) and Tom Westley (111 not out) both hit career bests to highlight England’s bench strength. Ryan Higgins wasn’t dismissed in three innings and numbers seven and below didn’t get a chance to bat in the entire series!

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Jamie Overton also claimed a career best 4-55 to help the tourists seal a resounding 3-0 series whitewash.

T20Is: Lost 2-0

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A disappointing end to the tour, particularly having been well placed to win the second match after Dawid Malan and Benny Howell had both made half-centuries.

Away vs. West Indies

Tests: Drew 1-1

One of the greatest Test series ever or/and twenty days of cricket that ended in a draw.

In the first Test a woeful England display led to them deservedly falling behind in the series before they improved markedly in the second match. At times England seemed well placed to win but in the end held off West Indies by just 21 runs as the Test went the distance and finished a thrilling draw. For the third Test, an emboldened England made a couple of changes to the line-up and went on to secure a series-levelling victory. Captain Liam Livingstone, having suffered the leanest patch of his Test career, clocked up scores of 110 and 76 having been dropped on 8 in the first innings. Gareth Roderick (135) continued his impressive winter meanwhile Liam Norwell (51 not out) contributed a maiden international fifty.

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In the deciding match, England looked on course for a comfortable draw but following a strong start to their second innings they capitulated from 111-0 to 205 all out. The sum of all parts left West Indies requiring just 160 for victory in a little over two sessions. Via great captaincy from Liam Livingstone, combined with disciplined bowling and committed fielding, England somehow prevented the hosts from reaching their target and held onto a match and series draw by just four runs.

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Will Rhodes’ bowling at the death, backed up by a rejuvenated Sam Curran, cemented his place as a star in the Test arena.

ODIs: Lost 4-3

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In the final ODI of the seven-match series, England secured a thrilling victory with just one delivery remaining. The recalled Ryan Higgins struck a career best 85 not out while Paul Coughlin blasted an undefeated 29 from just 15 deliveries. The Durham native had endured a tough series with the bat up to that point but struck three boundaries in the final over. Aneurin Donald, another recalled player, had earlier contributed 84. The only shame about this dramatic climax to the series is that it was actually somewhat of an anti-climax. The series had already been decided. Despite being in some great positions at times, England had stumbled too often and were already 4-2 down going into the final match. The consolation win was a spirit lifter however ahead of the T20I leg of the tour.

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The underrated and sometimes underused Paul Coughlin has been a surprise hit in England’s ODI side. After ten matches his economy rate is a sensational 4.64 per over and his boundary hitting in the seventh ODI showcased his all-round potential.

T20Is: Lost 2-0

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Spirit lifter, what spirit lifter?

A long and arduous campaign culminated with yet another T20I series defeat. One positive though was Brett D’Oliveira’s unbeaten 35 on debut.

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England captain Liam Livingstone finished the season ranked the fourth best batsman in Tests and 2nd in ODIs. He instilled in the team a competitiveness that has brought some excellent results and a little more consistency from those around him and England might start to ascend the rankings. As it is they finished the year placed 7th in Tests, 5th in ODIs and 8th in T20Is.

Best Batting:

Tests: Will Rhodes 191

ODIs: Daniel Bell-Drummond 137

T20Is: Lewis McManus 80

Best Bowling

Tests: Jofra Archer 5-114

ODIs: Jamie Overton 4-55

T20Is: Mason Crane 4-33

Reign Over!

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Off-spinner Ollie Rayner, capped twice at Test level and 24 times in ODIs has announced his retirement. German born Rayner has been a valued part of England’s squad in recent seasons, notably in One-Day internationals. The Middlesex man claimed 30 ODI wickets at 41.77 per victim but it was his impressive economy rate of 5.61 that the England management so valued.

Moving forward, the 2022-23 season brings with it a T20I World Cup as well as an Ashes tour. A Rayner-less England will look to build on the progress made during the 2021-22 campaign.

Cricket Captain 2017: Summer 2018 Report

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We commenced the summer with a comfortable win against Pakistan in the first Test before following it up with an uncomfortable defeat in the second. In the absence of IPL duo Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes and following the decision to omit Stuart Broad and James Anderson from the Test squad, there were mixed performances from the likes of Sam Curran, Liam Plunkett, Jofra Archer and Ben Coad.

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Yorkshire’s Ben Coad struck with his first delivery in international cricket.

In the second Test both opening batsmen, Surrey duo Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns were fighting to save their international careers following lean Ashes series and appalling first Test performances. Having made 9 in the second innings Burns broke his rib and was understandably forced to retire hurt. Stoneman however dug deep to pass 1000 Test match runs. The former Durham left-hander reached fifty (74) for the first time in seven Tests to preserve his Test career.

After losing the first ODI we hit back to record a 4-1 series win. The leg-spin duo of Adil Rashid (10 wickets @ 17.90) and Liam Livingstone (8 @ 21.25) shared plenty of wickets and a rejuvenated Liam Plunkett (9 @ 15.33) claimed a healthy amount of victims too. Bermuda born Delray Rawlins made an impressive 60 on debut.

Despite Somerset’s Craig Overton striking with his first ball in international cricket, the sole T20I ended in defeat.

At the end of Pakistan’s visit we had maintained our unbeaten series records in Tests and ODIs since the start of my tenure but following the New Zealand series, had lost back to back T20I series.

Next up came India and the first Test has gone down in history as one of the greatest of all time. Unfortunately for Liam Plunkett, he’ll be remembered as the man who dropped the match. The Yorkshire quick failed to grasp a straightforward match-winning caught and bowled chance in the penultimate over of the final day’s play before the visitors held on by just one wicket. By the time the series neared its end we led 1-0 but promptly lost the last match of a Test series for the third series in a row, resulting in a series draw for the third straight series. There were positives however, most notably Mark Stoneman’s return to form (418 runs @ 41.80 including 160 in the fourth Test) and Gloucestershire pacer Liam Norwell’s debut match figures of 7-89.

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Debutant Liam Norwell (7-89) made the most of good domestic form to lead England’s charge to victory in the third Test.

Others found things harder though. Having replaced the injured Rory Burns at the top of the order, Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond made scores of 98 and 54 on debut at Lords but failed to pass 21 in the next four Tests. Durham pacer James Weighell claimed 4-99 in the fourth Test but his 12 series victims came at more than 60 apiece with a strike rate in excess of 100!.

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Durham’s James Weighell found the step up to international cricket a big one.

The ODI series would prove frustrating as despite leading twice we failed to defend 331 in the final match thus resulting in a 3-2 series loss and our first ODI series defeat in nearly two years. Captain Chris Woakes found the going particularly tough.

Despite the defeat, there were plenty of positives to come out of an extremely competitive series. These included Sam Curran’s consistency with the ball. At just twenty-years-old, Curran already has 31 ODI wickets to his name at an average of just 25.90. On reflection, the decision to rest him from the fourth ODI was probably a misguided one.

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Surrey’s Sam Curran has taken to international cricket like a duck to water but may have to focus solely on ODIs for the immediate future.

Another positive was Liam Livingstone’s contribution to the cause. After performing tremendously well with the ball against Pakistan, Lancashire’s Livingstone, after a few cameos, upped the ante with the bat. This was more evident than ever in the fourth ODI when Livingstone produced a marvellous innings of 127 not out, his maiden international hundred.

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Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone (127 not out) showed he’s right at home in the international arena.

Kent’s Sam Northeast struck 72 on debut in the fifth ODI after replacing the struggling Delray Rawlins. Sussex’s Rawlins was twice run out in single figures during his four innings in the series and failed to pass 22. It was a disappointing follow up to the debut 60 he hit against Pakistan and he may be well served to return to domestic cricket to further his education before donning England colours again. His time will come.

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Adil Rashid: Best bowler in the world but can’t get a game!

It was also a frustrating summer for Adil Rashid. Having topped the Ashes bowling averages the Yorkshire leggie had to make do with 12th man duties for many of the Tests (Jack Leach the preferred spinner) and despite being ranked the number one ODI bowler in the world, he was unable to force his way into the limited overs XI against India. In truth, the pitches were not really crying out for spin. His frustration was probably exasperated when Hampshire’s Mason Crane claimed four wickets in four balls on T20I debut. Having gone around the park (0-33) in his first two overs, captain Eoin Morgan made the brave call to stick with Crane and the decision paid dividends. Crane finished with figures of 4-48 to display the sort of character and temperament required to prosper at international level. Cynics will say that the tail were slogging but Crane prevented India from getting away before the team classily chased down 186 to win the sole T20I and finish the summer on a high. At just twenty years of age, Crane should have an important part to play for England in all formats for the next decade or more.

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Hampshire’s Mason Crane (4-48) took four wickets in four balls on T20I debut!

Another youngster who impressed on debut was Worcestershire’s Joe Clarke. Coming into international cricket off the back of outstanding domestic form, Clarke hit 26 from just 9 deliveries to seal victory following Crane’s heroics.

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Joe Clarke: 9 balls, 26 runs. International Cricket: Easy!

The contributions from the likes of Crane and Clarke will have been of huge relief to T20I captain Eoin Morgan. Speculation about his position had been mounting following back to back series defeats and no win in four matches but Morgan led the charge both in the field and with the bat on one of English cricket’s greatest nights.

Next for the team is a tough tour to Sri Lanka. The Test squad will be announced exclusively here at Silly Point later today!

Cricket Captain 2017

Wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, children, pets, studies, work, real life… prepare to be neglected!

Cricket Captain’s latest release, available on Steam, Mac, Android and iOS is imminent.

All those England fans calling for Hameed instead of Jennings, Stoneman in place of Ballance or Crane at the expense of Dawson, you can have your way.

Be warned Silly Point loyalists, my Don Bradman Cricket 17 exploits might be about to go on the back burner as the most addictive cricket game around returns.

Short Term Memories

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Warning! The following article strays into rant territory.

So Joe Root’s first England Test squad has been announced and all hell has broken loose on the bottom of BBC Sport, Cricinfo and the likes’ web pages.

Even on commentary of the ODC Final yesterday, former England batsman James Taylor was querying why Keaton Jennings has been moved from three to opener and you’d think that Mark Stoneman had a fan club who’ve been campaigning for his selection for years. Funny that, I haven’t heard many people push for Stoneman to be in the England squad before but half a season of runs and everybody claims they’ve wanted him in since time began.

“What’s Liam Dawson doing in the squad?” many people are asking.

“Gary Ballance has had enough (Two) chances. It’s a step backwards” is the sort of thing that people are saying.

“Why isn’t Mason Crane in the squad?” they ask.

I’m relieved that we’ve got selectors who sit down and discuss things thoroughly before selecting a squad, otherwise we’d have a different XI for every match.

Let’s clear things up. Keaton Jennings opened for England in their last two Tests. He scored a century on debut and a fifty in the next match. We’ve selected and dumped enough opening batsmen (Even ones that have scored centuries). Let’s stick with one for a change!

Hameed hasn’t scored a First Class fifty all season. He doesn’t merit selection.

Mark Stoneman averaged 32 in First Class cricket before this season. To put that in perspective, his fellow Surrey opener Rory Burns averages in excess of 40. Have you ever heard anyone call for Burns to be selected for national honours?

Stoneman is a good player and having just turned thirty years of age, it may be that he’s put everything he’s learned together and is ready to be the new Mike Hussey. Hopefully age wasn’t a factor in his omission as some people have suggested. He could have at least five or six years scoring thousands of runs in the international arena but at this moment in time there simply isn’t a requirement to select him because we’ve already got two openers. Cook doesn’t deserve to be dropped and neither does Jennings. Jennings has done okay not brilliant in domestic cricket this year but as I said before, we’ll be changing the XI every match if we’re making decisions based solely on domestic form. Some of the same people that want Stoneman selected on form and Jennings dropped on form want out of form Hameed selected on potential!

In the case of the middle order vacancy then domestic form does come into the equation because there’s a vacancy! Gary Ballance is by far and away the player that merits selection and the fact he has played Test cricket before is a positive not a negative. He’s got four Test hundreds for goodness sake! He was actually quite harshly dropped the first time. We’re looking for a middle order batsman not an opener so correctly the selectors have selected Ballance not Stoneman. The likes of Steve Waugh and Jacques Kallis didn’t just rock up to Test cricket and average 55.00 from the get go. English fans always seem to want the new but when they don’t average 60.00 with the bat or 20.00 with the ball then they move onto their new favourite toy.

In the case of Dawson, he scored 66 not out on Test debut in England’s last Test. Maybe, just maybe the England selectors think that two players (Jennings and Dawson) scoring fifties in the team’s last match are the sort of performances that keep you in the team not get you dropped. Shall we just drop every player that doesn’t score a century or take a five-for?

As for Mason Crane, his last two First Class matches (For Hampshire and England Lions) have been against South Africa A and South Africa and how many wickets did he take?… 0 (Zero), none, zilch!

When and if Hameed, Stoneman and Crane get their chance, I’ll back them to the hilt. They’re all good enough and deserve a shot but the selectors have pretty much picked the right squad. We’d all pick a different team. I like the variety of having a left-armer in the attack but nobody can deny that Toby Roland-Jones deserves a chance. He hasn’t been in sparkling form recently but it’s not about form. Form often clouds the mind of people. It’s about ‘Is this person good enough for international cricket?’. If the fact that this week’s match is on his home ground has come into the equation then good. England need to rotate their pacers anyway so let’s maximise the chances of players performing well and England winning.

Maybe I’m a hypocrite, just another person putting forward his team but I’ve seen it all before, the fickle nature of the fan. All those campaigning for Stoneman and Crane, as soon as those players don’t do well then they’ll move onto shouting out for somebody else and later say “Oh we can’t pick them again, it’s a retrograde step”.

The selectors have done their job, now let’s back the chosen ones.

Disclaimer: Well there we go. I’ve probably just alienated myself from about two thirds of England’s cricket fan base. Though to be fair, if two thirds of England’s fan base are following this blog then I have come a long way!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: French Exam

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If this was an exam then England aced it. In truth, the channel hoppers weren’t really tested at Paris Cricket Ground. France succumbed for a pitiful 73 in their virginal venture to the crease. James Anderson and Stuart Broad claimed three victims apiece, Ben Stokes and Sam Curran backed them up with two each.

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Keaton Jennings (54) and captain Joe Root (69) constructed a second-wicket partnership of 112 in England’s first innings.

Haseeb Hameed (2) and Gary Ballance (9) will be frustrated to have been the only England batsmen to have missed out on runs but can at least console themselves that they’re the only batsmen in the side to have contributed centuries in recent times.

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Keaton Jennings (54) battled hard for a much needed fifty and in reaching so, probably saved his Test career.

As for the rest of the willow wielders, under pressure Keaton Jennings was hardly fluent but recorded a much needed half-century (54) in partnership with captain Joe Root. Root himself was in sparkling form, striking 69 from just 50 deliveries as he and Jennings compiled 112 for the second wicket. The pair fell in quick succession before Ballance missed out however Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes then set about putting England out of sight of their French hosts. Stokes reached a long awaited half-century but was harshly adjudged run out when on 60. The Durham dynamo had put together 120 with Bairstow who would fall in the eighties (84) for the second Test in a row. This was the first Test in four that England have failed to have a centurion but the first in a long time that as many as four individuals have passed 50.

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Ben Stokes (60) was controversially run-out, even though replays suggested that he might have grounded his bat before the stumps were broken.

England’s innings petered out somewhat before the visitors, having reached 333-9, declared for the third Test innings in a row. England posses a ruthless nature when it comes to day/night cricket and know that their pace bowlers are capable of making inroads into opposition batting line-ups with the pink ball under floodlights, hence the trend for late night declarations.

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Mason Crane (17-1-55-0) bowled his entire spell unchanged but in truth he served only to provide respite for French cricketers.

It was probably only the fact that England chose to bowl Hampshire spinner Mason Crane unchanged throughout the entire first session of the second day that France were able to reach three figures second time around. Crane finished with respectable but generally unthreatening figures of 17-1-55-0 and despite England winning back to back Tests for the first time in memory, his place in the XI may well come under threat.

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Sam Curran (File photo) recorded match analysis of 17-6-39-8!

As it was, skipper Joe Root opted to provide senior members of the bowling attack some respite and let Crane twirl away alongside Sam Curran. Curran would repay his captain’s faith in sensational style. The teenager claimed career best figures of 6-27 with wicketkeeper and Surrey team-mate Ben Foakes holding all six catches (A world record?). The former Essex stumper held a world record eight catches in France’s second innings to add to the first three wickets to fall he had been responsible for in the hosts’ first innings. The eleven dismissals in the match for Foakes equalled the Test record. So obvious is it to Jonny Bairstow that he won’t be required to keep wicket for England anytime soon courtesy of Foakes’ phenomenal start to his Test career behind the stumps, that in France’s second innings JB bowled six perfectly respectable overs for the concession of just eleven runs.

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Many players will have gained confidence from their Parisian excursion but England will hope for a sterner Test the next time they take to the field.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Paper, Scissors, Stoneman!

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Debutant Mark Stoneman’s ‘Monkey Jive’ catch celebration has since gone viral!

Earlier today, England hosted Vanuatu for a 50/50 dual on Merseyside, the first ever international contest to be hosted at Liverpool Arena.

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International newcomer Mark Stoneman compiled 77 from 81 balls.

After the early departure of Adam Lyth (3), debutant Mark Stoneman (77) and captain Joe Root (51) put together a stand of 110. Stoneman looked untroubled by the early loss of his partner or the build-up of any dot balls. All in all, he looked at home in the international arena and did his claims for a place in the Test side no harm whatsoever.

Dawid Malan (25) got going as usual but also got out as usual! / Liam Livingstone struck 44 from just 37 deliveries.

Dawid Malan (25) and Liam Livingstone (44) both looked in good nick but will be disappointed not to have really kicked on. Sam Curran (35) also batted well before England, with notions as lofty as 350 in their sights, derailed drastically. Some late bludgeoning from Liam Plunkett (25) got them to 298 with 32 deliveries unused!

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Mason Crane (2-60) celebrates finally breaking the visitors’ opening stand.

Set all but a run a ball for victory, the tourists were steady away. After dropping no less than four catches (No really!) and missing a run out chance, England eventually made the breakthrough with the score on 98. The wicket came courtesy of young spinner Mason Crane. Crane didn’t have the best of times in the thrilling Test match victory over Thailand last week but displayed great character in the ‘Pool Arena today.

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Liam Livingstone effects a crucial run out.

Not content with his positive batting, Liam Livingstone picked up a wicket and effected the run out of Vanuatu’s top scorer (Mansdale, 80) to swing things in England’s favour.

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Adam Lyth prepares to take a vital catch late in the piece.

Chris Woakes (8-2-35-0) and Sam Curran (8-0-55-1) bowled with guts before Toby Roland-Jones (7-1-30-0) and the luckless Liam Plunkett (7-0-55-1) kept things tight at the death. Keeper of the wicket Jos Buttler also contributed with a stunning diving catch. With the Ni-Vanuatuans requiring just 7 runs to win from the final over, Plunkett delivered four dots before conceding a six. He followed that up with another dot however, resulting in a thrilling and extremely rare tie.

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It’s hard to decide whether to see this as a good or bad result. Ultimately the dropped catches early in Vanuatu’s innings were critical to our chances of success. The performances of debutant Stoneman with the bat and the all-round exploites of Liam Livingstone who is still finding his feet at international level, were extremely encouraging. I guess you could say that “The stones are rolling”. The bowling of both spinner Mason Crane as well as all our pacers in the final throws of this match combine to present many positives. Despite a seemingly quiet match on paper, Adam Lyth’s efforts in the field shouldn’t go without mention.

We remain undefeated in any of our newly designed kits and just like after the Thailand Test, we don’t anticipate many changes to the XI for our next ODI. Our gratitude for your support remains as humble as ever. Forever England, forever the fans!!!

The End of the Rhodes

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Yorkshire’s Will Rhodes will leave the county for pastures new at the end of the 2017 campaign. The twenty-two-year-old has totalled almost 60 appearances across the three formats but has had to head out on loan (to Essex) in order to get game time. Recent first team opportunities at Yorkshire have been few and far between and he’ll be a Warwickshire employee come next season.

The Headingley outfit recently signed Tom Kohler-Cadmore from Worcestershire to cement their status as a buying club… Ballance, Brooks, Hodd, Plunkett, Willey…?

The White Rose’s second XI is full of players who only seem to be on the county’s books incase of a flu epidemic or all the first team players going on holiday at the same time!

The likes of Ryan Gibson, Johnny Read, James Wainman and Jared Warner must acquiesce themselves with the role of professional second XI cricketer. At 24, Wainman has three professional outings to his name. Another player, Josh Shaw, has rejoined Gloucestershire on loan in order to gain further exposure. Meanwhile Surrey’s Sam Curran has 84 first team appearances to look back on and Hampshire’s Mason Crane now in excess of fifty.

Yorkshire have clearly developed outstanding young talent and theory of numbers means that not all will become first team regulars. The limited first XI opportunities provided to some however, as other players are purchased from left, right and center is quite frustrating. Many players that move counties never really get going and drift out of the game or find themselves failing to settle/succeed and even having to move on again (Briggs, Peng, Harris). Let’s hope for Rhodes that his move turns out more like Rayner, Read or Stevens at the least.

Hopefully from now on everything will go smoothly for Will and there’ll be no bumps in the road!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Thai’d in Knots!

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Some are already dubbing it ‘The Greatest Test Match of All Time’. Thailand’s first ever foray into cricket’s ultimate battle, played out in the surrounds of another Test debutant, London’s Olympic Stadium, a match that would go all the way to the proverbial wire.

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Haseeb Hameed (141 and 132) reaches his first century of the match.

England reached 330-9 (Hameed 141, Bairstow 85) in their first innings before declaring in order to attack the tourists with the new ball under lights. James Anderson (5-38) exploited the conditions as Thailand tumbled to 29-4. Wicketkeeper Ben Foakes claimed the first four catches in the evening session. Thailand recovered to 81-4 before Ryan Raina threw his wicket away to the final delivery of the premier day’s play. Raina’s 27 was the second highest score of the tourists’ first innings, making Mohammed Haque’s 112 not out even the more incredible. The Thai’s last wicket stand produced 51 runs as they trickled to 191 all out.

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Gloveman Ben Foakes snaffled Thailand’s first four wickets and would go onto double that total in the match.

England were 173-2 at one stage in their second innings and looked well set to put Thailand out of sight however the usual collapse occurred before the home side once again chose to avoid the ignominy of being bowled out, declaring this time on 280-9. Just like in the hosts’ first innings, all dismissals were exclusively via spin. Haseeb Hameed then followed up his first innings 141 by writing his name in the record books. The Lancashire willow wielder eventually succumbed for 132 this time around. An outstanding achievement on the part of the young Lancastrian, to have registered a century in each innings of a Test match. He probably wishes that England could play all their Tests at the Olympic Stadium. No other batsman passed 50 in England’s second outing.

All that equated to Thailand requiring 420 to win their first ever Test match. Achieving it would be the third highest Test run chase ever. At 62-4 the visitors looked dead and buried but had reached the halfway point, 210 before losing their fifth wicket. Captain Joe Root deserves great credit for the move as part-timer Keaton Jennings it was who claimed the vital scalp of Daniel Jacobs (107) and in doing so, possibly gave himself one more match to save his Test career. Mason Crane (Match analysis: 38-6-146-2) then doubled his match wicket tally as Thailand slipped into the abyss at 226-6. They made their way to 267 late in the day before Stuart Broad (5-84) struck to provide England’s players with a more comfortable night’s sleep than would have been the case with only six wickets down.

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Unusual suspect Keaton Jennings (7-1-20-1) terminated a 148-run partnership.

England were made to work hard on the fourth day but no sooner had Thailand accumulated 300 they lost their eighth wicket and at 318-9 were being read the last rights. By the time they posted 400-9 English hearts were a flutter. Lower order batsman Pengkumpta (106 not out), wicketless and run less in the match prior to the fourth innings, brought up the fifth century of the match, the fourth batsman to score one and the third for Thailand. With his side on 410, just ten runs short of arguably the most astounding result in the history of Test cricket and with England skipper Joe Root possibly regretting both declarations, Pengkumpta’s partner, number eleven Sungnard, who fought hard with both bat and ball in the match, went for one big shot too many and as a nation, two nations, even the world held its collective breath… Gary Ballance held the catch on the boundary. England running out victorious by the minor margin of just 9 runs.

Haseeb Hameed aggregated 273 runs in the match, James Anderson (6-105) and Stuart Broad (6-132) both claimed a fifer and stumper Ben Foakes totalled eight victims. We did drop a few too many catches, including the Anderson/Crane slip combo that went viral but there were contributions throughout the composition with Ben Stokes (3-111) and Sam Curran (2-77) backing up a rejuvenated Anderson and Broad.

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James Anderson and Mason Crane combined to squander a chance in the slips.

On behalf of the England team, I’d like to congratulate our guests Thailand, on being part of an epic few days in the history of Test cricket. I’m proud of our side for coming through though, particularly after the difficult results of recent times. I’m pleased to say that we don’t expect wholesale changes to the side come our next outing as we head off on the quest for consistency.

We can even laugh about moments such as these…

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Err… boys. Some interesting running between the wickets!

Maybe our new kit was part of the reason for our inspired performance. We’ll be sure to don it again next time we take to the crease.

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