England’s Alternative ODI Squad!

As we approach the business end of the One-Day Cup and England commence their international summer, here’s an alternative England ODI squad based on domestic white-ball performances so far this summer:

Playing XI:

Varun Chopra, Essex (263r @ 87.67)

Billy Godleman, Derbyshire (479r @ 95.80)

Sam Hain, Warwickshire (301r @ 60.20)

Steven Croft, Lancashire (375r @ 125.00)

Jonny Tattersall, Yorkshire – Wicketkeeper (205r @ 51.25 / 10c/2s)

Liam Dawson, Hampshire – Captain (232r @ 46.40 / 13w @ 18.00)

Craig Overton, Somerset (146r @ 146 / 11w @ 12.09)

Nathan Sowter, Middlesex (15w @ 18.13)

Matt Coles, Essex (7w @ 17.14)

Luke Fletcher, Nottinghamshire (14w @ 17.93)

Saqib Mahmood, Lancashire (20w @ 15.85)

Squad Members:

Tom Westley, Essex (295r @ 49.17)

Tom Moores, Nottinghamshire – Wicketkeeper (196r @ 49.00 / 6c/2s)

Alex Thomson, Warwickshire (215r @ 53.75)

Stuart Meaker, Surrey (5w @ 24.20)

What are your thoughts?

Are there any players that I’ve omitted that you think merit recognition?

Cricket Captain 2018: Edinburgh Steal!

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As Coach and Selector of the England cricket team, for the one-off ODI against Scotland in Edinburgh, I made a brave but sensible call. Provided the volume of cricket on the horizon in all forms of the game and given the travel involved in crossing the border north, I rested our senior players. This presented those cricketers with the opportunity to find form at domestic level ahead of the ODI and T20I series against Australia. A thirteen-man squad made up of entirely uncapped players was selected for the Scotland encounter. This provided a great opportunity to breed competition amongst our ranks. Nottinghamshire all-rounder Steven Mullaney assumed the honour of captain on international debut. All-rounders Lewis Gregory and Ben Raine were the unlucky members of the squad who didn’t make the playing XI. Any suggestion that we were selling spectators short by not selecting our first choice XI was soon put to bed as one of the most absorbing ODIs in the history of the game played out before our eyes.

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Every single member of our batting unit made a contribution with Joe Clarke, fresh off the back of his 80 in the second Test against Pakistan, top scoring with a free flowing 52 from 64 deliveries. Some late hitting from skipper Steven Mullaney (49 not out) and Ed Barnard (21 not out) helped lift us to 266 for 6 from our allotted 50 overs. Looking back we could possibly have put our feet on the gas sooner in order to try and set a higher target.

Scotland looked well placed for victory courtesy of Calum MacLeod’s run-a-ball 60 at the top of the order but we turned the screws on the middle order as the home side’s hopes of a famous run chase slipped away.

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Gloucestershire recruit Ryan Higgins led the way with figures of 9-1-37-4.

Scotland seemed out of it at 221-9 before Safyaan Sharif (27) and Brad Wheal (24 not out) put on 45 for the last wicket. Ed Barnard was denied the winning wicket because of a no-ball call and there was also a dropped catch at slip. With Scotland needing just four runs to seal a seismic result, Essex’s Matt Coles trapped Sharif LBW to spare our blushes!

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Next we host Australia and India with regular first-team players likely to be recalled. Should injury strike then we’ve identified a strong pool of players from which to call up on.

#undefeated

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2018

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Here’s my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket team for the T20 competition.

Sticking to my tried and tested formula, I’ve selected batsmen that can bowl. Kent’s Joe Denly will surely contribute with the white ball and Ryan Higgins is definatley an all-rounder. He’s been opening the bowling for Gloucestershire in First Class cricket this year following his move from Middlesex. Ross Whiteley is a destructive T20 hitter who as broken into Worcestershire’s County Championship of late. He produced some strong innings in the One-Day Cup and has been collecting the odd wicket too. Sussex’s Harry Finch complete’s my batting line-up.

Tom Moores has seamlessly assumed Chris Read’s position behind the stumps at Nottinghamshire and he’s my gloveman this year.

Hampshire’s Liam Dawson has broke the record for England Lions One-Day bowling figures three times this year and fellow slow-left-armer Samit Patel performed superbly when opening the bowling in the Pakistan Super League last time out. With dry pitches all around the country these two should prosper and might be competing for a place on England’s tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies. Patel, with his all-round capabilities dons my captain’s armband.

AJ Tye didn’t have in easy against England in the ODI series or T20I but will come good for Gloucestershire at domestic level. Many county batsmen just can’t read what’s about to come out of his hand. Matt Coles has broke into the Essex XI and could actually be a useful option for England. He’ll take wickets and biff it with the bat too. Adam Zampa should enjoy the current Australian like English terrain Harry Brookes has broke into the Warwickshire side this year. He’s a capable willow wielder despite his listing s a bowler.

They’ll be an update at the end of the T20 Blast to see how my team performed.

Cricket Captain 2017: 2020 T20I World Cup Review

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… or 2020 2020 Review if you prefer?

By the time England secured victory over Bangladesh in their final match of the Caribbean staged tournament, their fate had already been sealed.

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The welcome rare win had been preceded by defeats against India, South Africa and Pakistan. At least all the island hopping allowed England’s players to enjoy the sights and sounds of the West Indies! England’s batting throughout the competition was at best woeful. Only captain Liam Livingstone (101 runs @ 25.25) and Zimbabwe born Ryan Higgins (91 runs @ 22.75) walked away from the tournament with their reputations in tact. The likes of Dawid Malan, Riki Wessels and Joe Clarke all failed to really get going during the competition.

On the bowling front, Toby Roland-Jones repaid the optimistic faith (He averaged 167.00 not long ago!) shown in him by the selectors by claiming 11 scalps @ just 10.36 apiece including two four-wicket hauls.

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Having performed well on the tour of New Zealand winter past, the Middlesex man now looks set to be presented with the opportunity to lead England’s Test attack against South Africa this summer.

For others however, their international futures are uncertain. Ross Whiteley arrived on the international scene with a reputation for frequent six-hitting. The left-handed bat has however only mustered a paltry return of 99 runs in ten T20I innings to date. In truth, given that he can’t even get a game for his county side, he probably shouldn’t have been included in the World Cup squad at all.

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The likes of Matt Coles and Lewis Gregory will also be sweating over their international futures though Toby Roland-Jones’ redemption may help provide others with further opportunities.

Next for England it’s demanding back-to-back home and away series against South Africa before a challenging trip to Bangladesh. After an abysmal last twelve months for a beleaguered England side, it can only be hoped that the selectors make the right calls and the players apply themselves better than has recently been the case.

Batsmen Brett D’Oliveira, Aneurin Donald and Sam Hain as well as bowlers Tom Helm and Jamie Porter are among some of the players who could force their way into the international reckoning this season.

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Possible Test squad for the first Test against South Africa: Luke Wells, Max Holden, Tom Westley, Liam Livingstone (c), Riki Wessels, Sam Curran, John Simpson (w), James Harris, Jofra Archer, Toby Roland-Jones, Jack Leach, Hamidullah Qadri

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Trumped!

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There have been many dark days in English cricket. Today was one of those days. It was like being in the world’s longest tunnel without a torch or possibly with a torch but no batteries or the batteries had run out!

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Ben Duckett (30) put on 56 for the first wicket with Michael Carberry (26).

Having seemingly had the Trumpeteers under control at 117-5, we ‘allowed’ Team USA to post a competitive target of 170. A recalled Ajmal Shahzad was the pick of our bowlers. He claimed figures of 2-25 from his full allocation as well as having a chance dropped. Tom Curran also claimed two wickets (4-0-31-2). Matt Coles figures were less impressive: 4-0-40-0 and he would go onto compliment these with a golden duck!

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Michael Carberry (26) put on 56 for the first wicket with Ben Duckett (30).

We began our pursuit sedately, the intention to keep wickets intact and accelerate as the overs elapsed. We were aided early on by some wides and opening batsmen Ben Duckett and Michael Carberry posted a half-century stand to commence the chase. Duckett fell first, caught behind off a good delivery from the spinner having constructed a decent 30 from 24 deliveries. Captain Joe Root built a brisk 30 from 21 deliveries but was harshly adjudged LBW before the returning Michael Carberry was also dismissed in debatable fashion. By then, Carberry had grafted to 26 from 30 deliveries. His innings lacked fluency but did include one majestic leg-side flick for four. He was adjudged caught behind off the spinner though no edge was apparent. Why there were no reviews available in this T20 International remains unclear.

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Dawid Malan (7), Liam Livingstone (Run out for 2 to add to a dropped dolly!) and Liam Dawson (0 to compliment figures of 2-0-20-0) offered little to the chase. After Jos Buttler had struck a rapid 27 both Tom Curran and Ajmal Shahzad found the boundary on more than one occasion but ultimately Shahzad was unable to clear the ropes as required from the last ball of the match. Tom Curran (8) was run out and The Stars and Stripes ran out victors in Taunton by the small margin of just three runs.

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Maybe we got our tactics wrong. Possibly we should have attacked in the Powerplay but whilst we may have had more runs on the board early on, we would likely have lost more wickets too. To the loyal supporters of English cricket, the team offer their sincerest apologies for this result and promise to dig deep in the face of opposition to come.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: A Lyth Less Ordinary!

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After serially struggling to cobble together 200 runs in an innings, we made over 300 against Nepal… and still lost!

Nepal were tracking at a run a ball from the get go. El capitan Joe Root spilled a simple chance early doors and twelve overthrows (An improvement on the 16 conceded in our last match) would ultimately prove costly. Jamie Overton’s ten overs were also costly… 1-81!

All-rounder Sam Curran, recalled at the expense of batsman Tom Fell, claimed figures of 3-53 from his ten overs, providing two dismissals to stumper Gareth Roderick. The ever impressive Matt Coles finished with outstanding analysis of 2-34 from his full allocation and Liam Livingstone claimed three catches to add to the four he held against Afghanistan.

In pursuit of 313 for victory, a little over a run a ball, openers Adam Lyth and Dawid Malan put on 85 for the first wicket before Malan was clean bowled for 38 in exactly the same manner as in the last match, i.e. stepping outside off and trying to flick to leg. Malan is good for a thirty or forty but will he ever go big?

Brett D’Oliveira used up 37 deliveries in making 25 and skipper Root wasted six costly balls in making… 0!

Liam Livingstone made a busy 15 and Sam Curran a brisk 33. Lyth was run out early in the second powerplay for an excellently paced 120. He got bogged down in the eighties but fought back however his run out may well have been crucial. Spinner Liam Dawson followed another wicketless outing: 5-0-29-0 with 9 runs before being run out. In the circumstances, both Lyth and Dawson’s run outs were as acceptable as getting run out comes but if Lyth in particular could have avoided being so… ?

Matt Coles was harshly dismissed LBW for 6 to follow his debatable stumping against Pakistan. Jamie Overton made 5, one beautiful sweep included and Tom Curran would finish 1 not out. Wicketkeeper Roderick swept well but missed out on ones and twos when attempting to hit boundaries. 17 were needed from the final over for us to secure an epic chase. A dot ball was followed by Curran getting off the mark with a single. Roderick then hit a four to bring the equation down to 12 from 3. Nepal then bowled a wide but to the next ball Roderick was unable to clear the field and was caught at mid off. Agonisingly, despite a vastly improved performance and having totalled in excess of 300 with the bat, we fell just eleven runs short of victory with two balls to spare. Overthrows, Matt Coles LBW decision, Adam Lyth’s run out, they’re all moments in the game that we can look back on and consider costly.

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As a team, we neither celebrate nor are we content with defeat but we do recognise improvement. The team can hold their heads high after this effort but it’s imperative that we maintain this standard as we move forward.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Debacles, Despairs and Disasters, the Travails of a DBC17 Addictee!

Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan. It doesn’t really matter who we play, we’re destined for defeat!

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I’ve almost blotted out the ODI against Pakistan from my memory. Cancer survivor Tom Fell was amongst the debutants and in a sign of things to come, I think made somewhere between 10 and 20. Tom Curran was the standout performer with figures of 3-43 or something of that ilk.

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Matt Coles also debuted and having accumulated 9 runs was the victim of the most appalling stumping decision ever. Let’s just watch about a thousand replays over the course of FIVE minutes that all confirm he’s not out then watch the big screen flash up with the word ‘OUT’!

Coles would go on to claim figures of 4-42 from 10 overs in the humbling 59-run defeat at the hands of Afghanistan. Those figures could have been even more impressive if it were not for our generous concession of overthrows.

Jamie Overton debuted against Afganistan and claimed his first ODI wicket in his very first over. He bowled a superb opening spell though the Afghans hounded him come the second powerplay later in the innings. Unfortunately, after having the visitors in trouble at 186-7, our composite fifth bowler of Adam Lyth, Brett D’Oliveira and Dawid Malan couldn’t stem the lower order flow of runs as Afghanistan recovered to post a competitive 282-7 from their 50 overs.

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Debutants Lyth (10) and D’Oliveira (17) set the tone for the innings in that they made starts but got out. After captain Joe Root (6) fell cheaply, Tom Fell also fell after a busy 17. Liam Livingstone lasted all of one delivery but Dawid Malan looked to be heading towards a hard fought but determined maiden international half-century before missing a straight one having reached a career best 46. Malan (35) had also top scored against Pakistan but that inability to convert a solid platform into a score of substance runs deep into the grain of our team.

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Another debutante, wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick, got giddy after hitting a boundary and was caught in the deep on 21. Liam Dawson (35 not out) and Matt Coles (29) took advantage of some strange field settings to put on 50 before Coles played an unnecessarily ambitious shot after we’d got the target down to less than a run a ball. To be fair to Afghanistan, the field setting that brought about the downfall of Coles deserves credit. Jamie Overton also took advantage of the Afghan spinners vacant leg-side field but having made 22 was needlessly run out. Tom Curran soon followed and that was that, 221 all out. If our top order batsman could have stayed in then they may have been able to cash in against Afghanistan’s strange fielding tactics late in the innings but in truth it was our poor bowling in the final 10 overs of Afghanistan’s innings and the lack of a genuine fifth bowling option that cost us. 16 overthrows didn’t help the cause either. 267 would have appeared a lot more attainable than 283.

Afghanistan deserved their victory. Three of their batsman passed 50 including the specialist that they had as low down as seven in the order.

Where we go from here I don’t know. Hopefully not Australia or India!