Cricket 19: GODII – States of Play!

We posted 354-8 from our fifty overs before a confused American outfit delivered their Second Class reply.

The Trumpets spent about 45 overs of their chase seemingly under the impression that despite the coloured clothing (Their kit was beautiful by the way!) and white ball that this was a Test match, summed up no more so than opening batsman J-J Morrison’s 26 from, wait for it… 114 deliveries! “TEST MATCH”. They then switched into T20 mode for the final few overs led by Henry Wilks (54 not out from 61 balls) but still fell an agonising… 203 runs short!

All our batters chipped in after Dawid Malan (51) and Liam Livingstone (66) had compiled an opening stand worth 98. After that, Joe Root (69) and Moeen Ali (59) put on 120 in tandem. Spin bowler Tahla Pittman claimed figures of 10-0-74-2 with the cork and leather before later making a decent 22 with the willow. Rufus Suarez also collected a brace finishing with analysis 8-0-47-2 and was the visitors’ most economical bowler.

As regards our bowling unit, all were impressive: Stokes (2-23) was the pick whilst Moeen (2-41) and Archer (2-39) also snapped up two wickets each. Liam Dawson’s figures of 10-2-22-0 were also impressive and some consolation after he was run out without facing a ball. Moeen was superb in the field and Jos Buttler also had plenty of running to do.

Gloveman Jonny Bairstow claimed another seven (7SEVEN!) catches to cement his position as the world’s leading wicketkeeper.

That’s three wins from three and now it’s onto Edgbaston to take on opposition from the Orient in the form of Hong Kong.

Proposed England Test Squad

Hi all

Here’s my suggested England Test squad for the match against Ireland and ultimately the start of the Ashes…

Dominic Sibley

Rory Burns

Joe Root (Captain)

Dawid Malan

Jos Buttler

Ben Stokes

Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)

Mark Wood/Jofra Archer

Jack Leach

Stuart Broad

James Anderson/Chris Woakes

12th men

Moeen Ali

Sam Curran

The suggestion is that Archer and Woakes have injuries that need managing and may have to wait their turn. Of course Anderson is currently out of action and Wood is not going to play five consecutive Tests. Extremely good players are going to have to miss out and that may be the case for Sam Curran. I think that variety is essential in an attack but with slow left-armer Leach meriting selection ahead of Moeen that doesn’t help fellow leftie Curran’s case. I still believe in Moeen but he’s gone AWOL as a batsman and Leach should’ve played in West Indies. His batting and fielding have come on too. Moeen would be best served getting some county cricket under his belt. If somebody in the top/middle order fails after a few Tests then the others could be shuffled to accommodate Moeen as a second spinner or even allow Curran to come into the side. He himself is capable of batting at least as high as six.

On the batting front, Sibley merits selection. His ‘form’ isn’t just that. His sensational run started last year and included a hundred overseas. He clearly has a lot of ambition and concentration and could be just what England need. I’d have no concerns about tempo from the openers. Test matches last five days!

I also firmly believe that Malan is good enough to succeed at this level but his optimum batting position is number four. That’s why Root must move to three and embrace it. He might not like it but he’ll have a better team for it. Yes Malan has played before and averaged 27 like everybody else but he hinted at being good enough and is knocking the door down with an axe. You only have to look at the likes of Mark Butcher, Justin Langer and Marvan Atapattu, even Jonny Bairstow for players that came back stronger and age wise look at Mike Hussey, Kumar Sangakarra and Misbah-ul-Haq, even Andy Flower. Malan could yet have his peak years ahead of him. His inclusion helps maintain a good left-hand/right-hand balance throughout the batting order.

The likes of Gary Ballance and Toby Roland-Jones as well as Dom Bess could all be hitting form at the right time to keep incumbents on their toes. Sam Northeast is another one for whom a place in the XI is a genuine possibility. Like I say though, good players will have to miss out. That’s theory of numbers. Coad, Gregory, Porter, Denly and Roy etc, you cant squeeze them all in.

Regarding Roy, he simply can’t be trusted to be fit enough to field long enough to be allowed, in accordance with the rules of the game, to open the batting thus rendering his inclusion pointless if everybody else has to move higher up the order than they want too.

One more thing. What a shame that the England Lions players as well as most county squads can’t watch the World Cup final. Who scheduled this?!

Cricket 19: North Western Hemisphere Test Championship – American… AmeriCan’t!

By the time USA, having won the toss and chosen to bat reached 41 without loss, our frustration was growing. We’d conceded unnecessary overthrows and failed to review an LBW shout that would’ve gone in our favour. Eventually Stuart Broad delivered the pink orb on target with the stumps before they too lit up a shade of pink, fluorescent pink. What the Edgbaston faithful made of such modern gimmicks one can only wonder! The wonderfully named John-James Morrison’s knock of 12 was double his Test average but his end meant that Stuart Trujillo, averaging north of fifty, strode to the crease. Moeen Ali soon put the paid to those numbers however. After a difficult game in Canada, Moeen was on the mark straight away. Jonny Bairstow, who hadn’t exactly covered himself in glory upto that point in the innings, claimed a sharp catch to remove Trujillo. Replays were inconclusive as to whether or not the left-hander’s bat actually connected with the ball. Following the LBW reprieve earlier in proceedings, maybe we could call it evens. The anticipation of precipitation then proved correct. Sky water descended with USA 57-2.

By the time the heavens opened for a second time, the visitors had reached 73 still only two wickets down. Then, after James Anderson completed his over, Sam Curran struck with the first delivery of his. Martin Potter (45) was the victim, trapped LBW. Potter had benefited from a few overthrows early in his innings but cast a spell on our bowlers, displaying the sort of wizardry that his namesake Harry would’ve been proud of. The interruptions in play may have unsettled him and contributed to his demise.

Next man Tahla Pittman struggled against Curran from the get go and was soon excellently caught and bowled for 6 off a leading edge by the Surrey teenager. Curran then sent Jackson North south for a duck, rearranging his timber in the same over. Another left-armer, the recalled Liam Dawson then snaffled Henry Wilks for just 1. Dawson was benefiting from the long term injury absence of the unfortunate Jack Leach. The wicket was courtesy of more sharp work behind the stumps from Bairstow after he and Daws had already gone close in the same over. The baton then passed back to Curran who outed Ayan Jeffries (14) as the American procession continued at pace. Shaurya Napier (4) was next to have his woodwork remodelled as Curran claimed a second five-wicket haul in as many matches. After some brief resistance James Anderson terminated Rufus Suarez’s 29-ball vigil on 5 before Asher Kennedy (4 from 47) and Niall Kerr (14 not out) dug in to haul the Americans to 113. Fittingly, it was young Curran who claimed the final wicket of the innings not long after the floodlights had been switched on. It had been an outstanding effort by our bowling attack after USA had reached 77-2 only to lose eight wickets for just 36 runs. Our spinners dried up the runs (Moeen 8-5-4-1/Dawson 8-3-8-1) but it was Curran (6-26) who was on fire for the second Test in a row. Take out the overthrows and USA wouldn’t have even reached three digits.

Buoyed by their performances in the previous match, our opening combo of Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed had reached 70 without loss when Burns drove gloriously through the covers for four. The very next ball however he pushed at a Rufus Suarez delivery that was a bit straighter and pitched up resulting in a nick to the ‘keeper. Replays suggested that the ball didn’t carry but in truth it was a poor shot and Burns’ innings was extinguished. Like Burns, Ben Duckett looked set for a big score but dragged onto his stumps having amassed 23 to leave us 111-2, two runs from parity.

Hameed went onto record his first fifty of the competition and at the close of play on a rain affected first day, had helped guide us to 159-2, a lead of 46.

Following further sky streams on the second day, the start of play was delayed by over an hour. A shortened session though it was, Hameed and Root played low risk cricket against a disciplined bowling unit and improved field placings to progress to inversions of each other’s score, 83 & 38 respectively.

Hameed would go on to register an emotional maiden Test hundred. There were surely times when the Lancastrian thought another opportunity at the highest level wouldn’t present itself but having been given the chance he’s made the most of it.

Hameed and Root compiled a partnership of 123 before the skipper was out caught behind off the bowling of Jackson North. The fall of a wicket came as a surprise to everybody but credit to North for a probing delivery. Having reached fifty exactly, I know that Joe was disappointed not to kick on and emulate Hameed’s efforts.

Like Burns and Duckett before him, Jos Buttler looked in insatiable touch (Not surprising after his ton in Canada), effortlessly reaching 30 from only 23 deliveries before falling to Pittman. Buttler made a horrible misjudgement, leaving a delivery that pitched in the rough and spun back in. Moeen Ali continued the trend of looking in excellent rhythm and soon after the illuminations had been turned on, headed off to tea alongside Hameed who was just one shy of 150.

Following the interval and having added 94 with Moeen, Hameed finally fell for a marvellous 154 from 189 deliveries. It was an epic innings that should serve as the template for our top order batsmen.

Jonny Bairstow (23) also got a start but the thinnest of edges saw him caught behind off the bowling of Pittman. Before long Moeen brought up a majestically mastered hundred but Sam Curran (16) was caught and bowled by the persistent if inconsistent Jackson North. Immediately after bludgeoning the premier six of the match, Moeen (125) was caught off a full toss off the bowling of Asher Kennedy. We declared on 493-8, a lead of 380 runs and welcomed the visitors to bat again under lights late on day two.

A word again though for messrs Hameed and Moeen. Hameed built on the starts he’d made in the previous match and was unaffected by any wickets that fell around him. He didn’t just pass 100 either, he went big! Moeen was assertive but measured. He struck some stunning boundaries but worked the gaps too. The rest of our batting order, all of whom made starts, should learn from their peers.

We were unable to claim a wicket in the five overs before close and lost over an hour to the showers again at the start of day three. By lunch however James Anderson had dismissed first innings top scorer Martin ‘The Wizard’ Potter for just 4. There’d be no magic shows from him this time. Abracadabra!

JJ Morrison defended stoically (And at times painfully!) meanwhile Stuart Trujillo took the attack to our… attack and was undefeated on 37 when the kettles were boiled.

JJ Morrison’s resistance soon came to an end. Thoroughly worked over by Moeen, he was put out of his misery when his stumps were demolished and his torturous 78-ball 9 was over. Jeffries (14) hung around but was out to Broad before Moeen thought he had Pittman LBW second ball but the decision was correctly overturned. Moeen kept his head up though and terminated top-scorer Trujillo’s bold knock of 75. Liam Dawson then got in on the act and deservedly so. Tahla Pittman was the victim, nicking behind on 21 when you could smell that tea was ready! USA sat down for their platters on a respectable 135-5 but still a mammoth 245 runs in the red.

In the final session, Stuart Broad knocked over the American batting line-up like the proverbial deck of cards. Sadly for the visitors, it was Broad who held the ace up his sleeve! Wilks (8), North (26), Napier (4) and Kennedy for a golden duck were all victims as Broad claimed 5-50 as a result of some high class bowling. Moeen Ali claimed the other remaining wicket to finish with fabulous figures of 3-45 from 16 overs of consistent probing. it was an excellent response in the face of criticism from some quarters following his performance in Canada. Jonny Bairstow added five more victims in the innings to what now stands as a tournament topping tally of 22.

In the end the margin of victory was a whopping innings and 209 runs. Credit to the USA who stuck to task with the ball and improved second time around with willow but it was never going to be enough against our most complete performance so far.

Scotland remain top of the tree after thrashing the Dutch. A Kyle Coetzer century and yet more wickets for Mark Watt paved the way for a win.

Next up for us we entertain Ireland at Old Trafford. Like us they’ve won two matches and lost one so it’s a huge game as we try to stay within sight of the Scots. Look out for our squad announcement tomorrow afternoon.

Cricket 19: North Western Hemisphere Test Championship – Ottawan Odyssey

In the stunning surroundings of Ottawa Oval, home team Canada won the toss and elected to bat first. Our maple leaf dreams soon turned to nightmares as Rory Burns (9), Ben Duckett (8) and captain Joe Root (11) were all soon back in the pavilion. We’d slumped to 48-3 in what was all too familiar fashion. Haseeb Hameed (40) set about repairing the damage with some glorious cover drives before being superbly caught and bowled. His dismissal meant that our top three batsmen had all been dismissed in the forties in the competition but none had yet reached fifty.

That honour was left first to the recalled Moeen Ali. Having replaced Ben Stokes after the Durham man’s ineffectual performance against Scotland, Moeen struck a positive but controlled 51 from 43 deliveries. Unfortunately having compiled a partnership of 97 with Jos Buttler, Moeen was out just before lunch and as a result we headed for our quinoa salads on 197-5.

After the break Buttler and Jonny Bairstow batted with intent through to the beverage break, ultimately contributing a partnership of exactly 100 runs. Buttler (102) would go onto reach our first hundred of the competition from just 80 deliveries but fell to Noah Dodd (4-106) almost immediately after. Despite the loss of Sam Curran (7) the runs continued to flow. After a poor showing with the bat at The Oval, Bairstow made a mature 66 before, like Hameed earlier in the piece, was excellently caught and bowled by Ned Daly (2-50). Chris Woakes (63) and Stuart Broad (35 not out) each maintained their good batting form to frustrate the Canadians. From 293-7 and 341-8, the lower order lifted us to a competitive first innings total of 405. Not a bad effort having been 48-3, 85-4 and half the team down at lunch!

Four deliveries into the home side’s first innings and they were a wicket down courtesy of James Anderson. They were soon 4-2 then 11-3 after Stuart Broad’s double strike. Niall Klein and Hamza Turner (26) resisted with a partnership worth 42. Sadly for them the Sam Curran show arrived in town and by the close of play Canada had subsided to 93-7. Curran’s full in swinging deliveries were just too much for the home side’s batsmen to handle. The hosts promptly lost a wicket to the very first ball of the second day’s play when Anderson doubled his innings tally before Curran (6-27) sealed a five-wicket haul.

The Surrey man then snaffled innings top scorer Niall Klein (42) as Bairstow claimed his fifth victim to terminate the Canadian innings on 105.

Though our bowlers were well rested we invited messrs Burns, Hameed and Duckett to cement their places in the team by opting not to enforce the follow-on. Despite effectively being 300-0, the pressure was on our top order to forge Test careers. They responded well.

Burns and Hameed surpassed their previous best opening stand of 37 and went onto compile 106 for the first wicket.

Left-hander Burns caressed a handful of glorious off-drives for four in his fluent knock of 57 before frustratingly falling to Noah Dodd’s first delivery. Hameed, just one run shy of a half-century, then fell to the first ball of Dodd’s second over. Despite their dismissals, both had done enough to secure their place in the team for the next match.

That meant that the pressure was on Ben Duckett and on it he thrived, becoming the next player to book himself another Test cap. The diminutive left-hander put on 103 with his captain before Joe Root was stumped on 54. Duckett was out for a hugely encouraging 58 and he and his skipper were only dismissed when upping the ante ahead of a declaration.

Moeen Ali (14) and Jonny Bairstow (For a golden duck) fell soon after but Sam Curran survived the hat-trick ball. In the quest for quick runs Jos Buttler (7) was caught behind and when Curran (17) was dismissed we declared on 278-8, a gargantuan lead of 578. In truth we gifted the Canadian bowlers some cheap wickets but our top order had at least discovered some rhythm.

Broad soon had the hosts one wicket down but Ned Daly and Niall Klein batted well thereafter. The pair combined for 96 for the second wicket despite the occasional edge. It was left to Moeen to claim our first wicket via spin in the competition when Daly (59) was trapped in front. Canada closed the day’s play on 121-2, still a whopping 457 runs behind.

In the morning session, though Moeen bowled some good deliveries the only wicket we claimed was that of Klein for 79 courtesy of Woakes. Despite that loss the hosts progressed steadily before the new ball helped turn the tide in the middle session. James Anderson dismissed his namesake Brooklyn (74) with a snorter that had the Canadian in a tangle before the red orb descended to dislodge the bails. New ball partner Broad then had Turner caught behind for a well earned but at times fortuitous 45. Turner’s termination was via yet another catch for YJB and suddenly there were two new batsmen at the crease with our hosts still over 300 runs in arrears.

Canadian captain Dougie Jordan came out all guns blazing though, striking a Test best 32 from only 28 deliveries including three consecutive fours off Curran. Jordan dominated a stand of 35 with Dodd before Curran gained his revenge when DJ nicked behind. Dodd (49) in tandem with Subhran Breen (54 not out) frustrated us with an eighth-wicket partnership of 80 before yet another in swinging Curran yorker did for Dodd. When Curran bowled Rico Ewing via his legs for six the Surrey teenager secured a ten-for in the match, a fantastic achievement. Not long after that though number eleven Sidney Napier scored a single off the last delivery of the day to take the game into another.

Finally, on the fourth morning Chris Woakes trapped Napier (9) LBW and we had our first North Western Hemisphere Test Championship points on the board. We won by a convincing margin of 155 runs having declared our second innings and managed the workload/experimented with our bowlers in the final innings. Every player bar Bairstow had a trundle. Credit to the Canadians for posting 423 in pursuit of what would’ve been a record-breaking run chase. Our bowlers stuck to the task however with Sam Curran, match figures of 10-127 the stand out performer. We were able to rid ourselves of some of the scars inflicted upon us during the Scotland defeat but Moeen Ali’s match return of 1-148 is a cause for concern.

Next up for us are Canada’s neighbours USA in a day/night encounter at Edgbaston. USA ran out surprise winners against the Dutch, winning a thriller by just 17 runs. Fred Klaassen, who claimed first innings figures of 8-42 seems rather unfortunate to have ended on the losing side. Scotland top the table after defeating the Irish to make it two wins from two for them.

We thank you for your support and advice that our squad for the entertaining of the United States in Birmingham will be announced shortly.

Bess Heads North!

Somerset’s briefly England spin bowler Dom Bess has joined Yorkshire on loan in what seems like a smart move for all parties.

Bess is a talented young cricketer who just can’t get in the team at home county Somerset. He’s understandably behind the ever impressive Jack Leach in the county’s pecking order. Similarly to players such as county colleague Craig Overton, Bess more than hinted that he has the temperament and talent to succeed at the highest level when gracing the Test arena. Overton has been ripping it up on the county scene this year but is still some way off an England recall. Bess too, what with the aforementioned Leach as well as England’s no.1 Test spinner Moeen Ali present, Ali like Bess being an off-spinning all rounder, is a million billion trillion miles away from England’s Test side. Bess has failed to make an impression during the One-Day Cup this year but will hope to hit his straps pronto in the County Championship with Yorkshire. Extremely capable with the bat in hand as demonstrated during his two Test appearances, Bess could yet end up being a more batting-orientated player.

What Josh Poysden will make of this who knows?

Poysden was recruited by the white rose county last year when Adil Rashid’s future was uncertain. He’s done okay in the One-Day Cup this year (6w @ 50.50, 5.51rpo) but only okay. He possesses a reasonable First Class record but in truth has played little for a man of his age…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/464110.html

Yorkshire’s premier spinner, Adil Rashid, was informed by England Selector Ed Smith that he needs to play red-ball cricket in order to be selected for England’s Test side. It may be that following his one outing in the Caribbean earlier this year that that ship has already sailed. Come winter tours on the subcontinent however, Smith may still want to get funky and pick Rashid. In the short term of course, he’ll be at the World Cup.

I’m not a fan of transfers left, right and centre in county cricket but this is the sort of mutually beneficial deal that gets an immensely talented player on the field so should be welcomed. You wouldn’t want Bess to stand in the way of homegrown talent but in truth the likes of Karl Carver will benefit from more exposure to second XI cricket whilst James Logan is injured.

Frustrated Foakes!

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Surrey’s Ben Foakes spent last winter warming the bench during a lengthy Ashes tour and could now be set to do the same in Sri Lanka. Since last winter, Jos Buttler has returned to the side not only as a specialist batsman but also as second choice wicketkeeper. As a result, even though Jonny Bairstow injured himself playing football, former Essex-man Foakes remains unlikely to play in the first Test. If Bairstow is anything shy of 100% fit then based on his attempts at playing when injured during last summer, he should be nowhere near the XI. The England management need to be brave enough to make the sort of calls that Italy’s football coach Arrigo Sacchi did with star player Roberto Baggio during the early stages of World Cup USA ’94. England also have Foakes’ Surrey teammates Ollie Pope and rather less likely, uncapped opening batsman Rory Burns as alternative wicketkeeping options. That’s just the five glovemen in the squad then!

Based on what we saw last winter, it’s quite possible that England’s XI in the third Test may be rather different to what we see in the first encounter. With little game time under his belt, Somerset spinner Jack Leach may be unlikely to start the series but if England fall behind then he may well be called upon. It may also be the case that the delicate Olly Stone benefits from not playing though you’d think some overs under his belt would be helpful.

Much maligned opening batsman Keaton Jennings missed out in his only opportunity on tour so far as did Joe Denly. Though Denly’s return to England’s T20I side went romantically well, the nature of the game means that he was able to claim wickets without bowling at his best. That is unlikely to be the case in the Test series. It’s tough to call but with rumours that Stuart Broad may be rested and Sam Curran’s left-arm variety useful, particularly if Leach is omitted, could England’s line-up in the first Test look like this?

Rory Burns

Keaton Jennings

Joe Denly

Joe Root (c)

Ben Stokes

Jos Buttler (w)

Moeen Ali

Chris Woakes

Sam Curran

Adil Rashid

James Anderson

If the weather allows, England basically now have a one-day game before the first Test. Wickets for the likes of Broad and Leach or runs for Pope or Foakes could yet have a bearing on the make-up of England’s XI. Of course if Buttler were to get injured during a Test, it’d be perverse if Foakes and Pope were sat on the bench alongside Bairstow whilst Rory Burns assumed the gloves on what would turn out to be a heck of a demanding introduction to international cricket for the Surrey skipper.