Cricket Captain 2018: Cook Serves Another Feast!

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My first series as Coach and Selector of the national side and it’s a thumping series win for the boys. Victory margins of 199-runs and ten-wickets confirm our dominance. Both victories were built around the monumental batting of stand-in skipper Alastair Cook. Chef followed his 160 not out at Lords with an epic 198 in Leeds.

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Pakistan actually won the toss and chose to bat but soon regretted it. Opening batsman Sami Aslam’s 24-ball duck was absolute torture. To their credit, the tourists recovered from 111-6 to a respectable 335 all out. As was the case at Lords, this was again in the main courtesy of their leader Sarfraz Ahmed. The wicketkeeper-batsman made his second ton (117) of the series.

We then posted 476 to gain a healthy first innings advantage. As well as Cook’s monster 198, James Vince again looked good for 66 and Joe Clarke made a magnificent 80 in only his second Test. Mohammad Amir was the pick of the bowlers though still expensive. He finished with analysis of 4-154.

Pakistan then made only 151 second time out. Again Ahmed top scored but this time with only 39. The in-form Mark Wood claimed Test best figures of 4-31.

Haseeb Hameed, recalled at the expense of Mark Stoneman (7 not out) and Dawid Malan (4 not out) then knocked off the mammoth victory target of eleven without loss. Hameed made only 17 in the first innings but batted for 99 minutes in compiling 50 with Alastair Cook. Having made only one in the first innings at Headingley, then it is Dawid Malan who’s place seems most vulnerable should Joe Root return to full fitness. Of course questions will be asked about the captaincy given Cook’s splendid showing in this series.

For the immediate future it’s the white-ball (ODI/T20I) affairs for the team. Next up is a one-off ODI against Scotland in Edinburgh. We may use the opportunity to rest senior players and explore our strength in depth.

You can Only Take ten Catches!

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I’ve previously written about naivety in sport and during the excellent commentary on Ireland’s inaugural Test match against Pakistan provided by Guerilla Cricket, there was, I’m sorry to say, a classic example of the sort of thing that really irks me!

The commentators were discussing the amount of dropped catches off the bowling of the likes of Mohammad Amir, Stuart Broad and Ravi Ashwin. They explained how because Amir had had say twenty-six catches dropped off his bowling, that he would have twenty-six more wickets to his name had those chances been held… but he wouldn’t! You can only take ten wickets in a match. Had some of those catches been claimed then some of the other chances that were dropped and even wickets that were taken would not have existed. If a team claims ten wickets in an innings then you can’t add another five dropped catches to a player’s potential wicket tally. Three dropped catches might have gone to ground when the opposition were nine wickets down. If for example, the very first drop had been taken then the whole sequence after would be different. Maybe a left-hander not a right-hander would have been on strike to the next ball, maybe the bowler wouldn’t have taken another wicket, been dropped from the team and never played again.

I’ll revert to the classic example of a football commentator saying that a team have missed three great chances in the first half, that they would be 3-0 up but the score is 0-0. If the first chance had been taken then the next passage of play would’ve been a kick-off not a goal-kick or continuation of open play, therefore the whole sequence there after changes. Yes the team might have created more chances and been 3-0 up but the opposition might have scored straight from kick off, the opposition might lead 4-2 at half-time.

As in any walk of life, even the slightest adjustment to events can result in a completely different chain of events and outcome. I’m going to stop short of providing countless examples but I guess that I don’t believe in fate or destiny, just the consequence of events or the ability to manipulate the future… or of course, maybe that is the fate or destiny?

Disclaimer: Sorry, this is supposed to be a cricket blog and I went down a rather profound path there!

International Duck Watch!

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The ever impressive Mitchell Marsh lasted all of one delivery whilst batting at the dizzy heights of number four in Australia’s second ODI against Pakistan in Melbourne. Pat Cummins lasted triple Marsh Jnr’s crease occupation but too fell to Mohammad Amir without troubling the scorers. A comfortable six-wicket win was a long awaited victory for the tourists and sees them level the five-match series at 1-1.

International Duck Watch!

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In a Test match in Wellington…

… just when you think that you’ve got no work to do, teenage sensation Mehedi Hasan falls to the very last ball of the day, courtesy of some very composed bowling from Neil Wagner!

In a Test match in Johannesburg…

… Temba Bavuma is starting to become a regular in this column and his continued selection will surely only heighten scepticism of South Africa’s selection policy. Rather surprisingly, our loyal club member Suranga Lakmal has so far been unable to get in on the action, leaving the work to Nuwan Pradeep. Pradeep was also responsible for the fall of a runless Vernon Philander who himself was then responsible for the fall of a runless Dimuth Karunaratne

In an ODI in Brisbane…

… Steven Smith, first ball. Mohammad Amir the bowler responsible. Serial Test run struggler Matthew Wade hit a run a ball 100 not out. Following our update on Michael Carberry yesterday, here’s another example of a cancer survivor providing inspiration to many.

Oh and a little extra. Though this column isn’t called International Double-Century Watch, Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan surely merits some recognition for his 217 against New Zealand, ably supported by Mushfiqur Rahim’s 159. Bangladesh seem to be holding it together a bit more in Tests at the moment than they do in the pyjama matches.

International Duck Watch!

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Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz (Again!) and Imran Khan all get a mention in today’s International Duck Watch. The Pakistan quartet faced a grand total of seventeen deliveries between them as the tourists collapsed from 131-0 to 230 all out in the second Test against New Zealand. The result sealed a 2-0 series victory for the hosts.

Like Pakistan, England also find themselves 2-0 down though they still have two Tests in which to restore parity. Ha!

Having survived last night, nightwatchman Gareth Batty fell for nought and fellow spinner Adil Rashid soon joined him. Indian opener Murali Vijay also failed to get off the mark as the hosts (Patel 67 not out) knocked off the runs for the loss of two wickets. A special mention to nineteen-year-old Haseeb Hameed (59 not out) who despite a tour ending finger injury managed to outscore all but one other batsman (Joe Root 78) in England’s second innings.

International Duck Watch!

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Welcome to Test cricket Nic Maddinson! One of three Australian debutantes Maddinson lasted twelve deliveries before falling victim to South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada in the third Test at Adelaide. For the record the home side’s other debutantes, Middlesbrough born opening batsman Matthew Renshaw and former Gloucestershire middle-order player Peter Handscomb faired little and much better, registering scores of 10 and 54 respectively. Let’s not forget that successful Test players such as Graham Gooch, Phillip Hughes and Marvan Atapattu all registered ducks on their Test bows so all is not yet lost for Maddinson though the state of the game could leave the twenty-four-year-old without a second innings opportunity.

In Hamilton New Zealand opening batsman Tom Latham fell first ball to Mohammad Amir in his side’s second Test against Pakistan. Latham made scores of 1 and 9 in the first Test so is currently averaging a mighty 3.33 in the series! New Zealand were 77-2 in their first innings when rain curtailed play.

Finally, in a crucial Tri-Series match in Zimbabwe the home team’s Sean Williams fell first ball to Ashley Nurse, caught by our man Shai Hope. As a result Williams will need nursing better! West Indies had their own goldie in the form of Johnson Charles. Charles was caught and bowled by Zimbabwe hero Tendai Chisoro. Chisoro scored 42 not out off 35 deliveries batting at number ten, putting on an unbroken stand of 91 with Sikander Raza before recording figures of 6-1-23-2 as Zimbabwe claimed a spot in the final.