Mad as a Hatter!

There’s something about failure that appeals to me!

When a batsman rocks up on debut and is out for a duck or a bowler concedes over a ton of runs without taking a wicket, the thought of their Cricinfo profile page displaying those stats for eternity genuinely eats away at me. When others write them off and say “Never pick them again” or “Not good enough” I say “People learn from bad experiences”, “They’ve got imperfection out of their system” or “Marvan Atapattu”!

Why am I telling you this?

Step forward Nic Maddinson. Test average 6.25… and if you thought that Marcus Harris looked like a village cricketer when playing in the Ashes this year then Maddo wasn’t far behind when taking on South Africa a couple of years ago. Few players have looked so perfectly designed to fit the phrase ‘A rabbit in the headlights’ as the Victoria opening bat did against Kagiso Rabada and co. Redemption though could be on its way.

The 27-year-old has been named in the Cricket Australia XI to take on Pakistan in a three-day match and should he outscore incumbent Harris could realistically play in the first Test. Maddinson wasn’t an opener in his previous existence as a Test cricketer but with no time to stew on the balcony and things really not able to get much worse could the Nowra native make a belated impression on cricket’s greatest stage?

Burns & the Blast!

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Good morning loyal followers.

Please have a listen to my latest audio cast. Bear with, it’s a little bit football dominated for the first couple of minutes!

Many thanks

Maddinson Searches for Joy and Redemption!

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To say that the selection of batsman Nic Maddinson in Australia’s T20 squad to tour England and Zimbabwe has been met with scepticism is to put it mildly. A brief flirtation with social media is all one needs to do to sense that the Ozzie fans’ vibes aren’t great. To put his selection into context, please be aware that despite a decent finish to the Sheffield Shield season, Maddo has actually been released from his state contract with New South Wales. He has however recently transferred and signed a three-year deal with Melbourne Stars on the back of good Big Bash form. His last T20I cap came over three years ago but to say that he looked like the proverbial young buck in extra strong car headlights when he graced the Test arena would be an understatement. In that form of the game, Maddo averages just 6.75.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/333780.html

After a seemingly traumatic time, Maddinson even took time out from the game. Hopefully the shorter format is where he can relax, excel and prove the doubters wrong.

England’s Alex Hales and Adil Rashid are focusing on white-ball cricket only and there are other players out there such as Maddinson’s compatriot Ben Laughlin who only play T20 cricket. The fact that Maddinson doesn’t have a First Class or List A contract shouldn’t really matter when it comes to T20I selection.

I’m an England fan but never like to see someone struggle as horrendously as Maddinson did in Test cricket. Fingers crossed that the still only 26-year-old can make a mark as he and Australia seek redemption!

What Now?

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This is not the time for fancy headlines. Where does English cricket go from here?

Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad will surely score runs and take wickets in England for years to come but having been found wanting in Australia and with thoughts of our next trip to Oz, is it time to move on?

Many questioned the selections of England’s ‘newer’ players but it is the likes of Stoneman, Vince, Malan and Overton who whilst not doing brilliantly, have exceeded the performances of senior players such as Cook, Root, Woakes and Moeen not to mention Broad. Anderson has at least taken some wickets.

Regarding Australia’s selections, for a side that was in selectorial chaos just one year ago, their selectors deserve huge credit. The decisions to call-up Cameron Bancroft, Shaun Marsh and Tim Paine have been rewarded. Each player has made a significant contribution on at least one occasion in this series and though there are no guarantees that they’ll back it up, they’ve played their part in Australia’s Ashes success. At 2-0 to the good, it would’ve been easy to have persisted with a winning team but the hosts dropped Peter Handscomb and recalled Mitchell Marsh. Like the aforementioned players, he has contributed significantly. Looking back, none of the players that Australia called up one year ago, Matt Renshaw, Handscomb or Nic Maddinson played in the third Test but Australia were proven right in their selections. Even if Paine etc don’t last, if Oz keep rotating guys that come in and contribute and the team win then they’re doing something right.

Back to England, Steven Finn has suggested that the county grind is to blame for the absence of serious pace bowling options available to England. That’s why I’d bring to attention again my suggestion to restructure the English First Class game. The structure would be as follows:

Three divisions consisting of six teams

Each team plays the five other teams in their group both home and away

A total of ten games per side

Group winners and best 2nd place qualify for semi-finals

Final at Lords

Maximum twelve matches for any one team

Increased importance and more Test like matches

I’ve written before about the fickleness of the England fan, longing for the new but quickly turning against damaged goods. They want Crane but when he’s 0-100 on debut they’ll want Leach. They want Clarke but when he’s out first ball they’ll want Lawrence. They wanted Malan gone and dismissed his progress and potential to do better, then he scored a Test hundred!

I’ve also written before about Mark Wood. Only ever semi-fit and one wicket in two Tests this year, is he really the answer? Well maybe given that the Ashes are gone and the Ozzies might just switch off. David Warner hasn’t been at his best at the top of the order so could be vulnerable but may now just go hell for leather. In regards to our batting, I’d prefer a right-hander to partner Stoneman at the top of the order but it’s Jennings and Gubbins who are playing for the Lions.

How about this XI for the next Test:

Stoneman

Jennings

Vince

Root (Captain)

Malan

Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)

Woakes

Curran

Wood*

Anderson

Crane

*Assuming Craig Overton is unfit.

Moving Woakes up the order might bring out the best in his batting. Might?

How about this one at the start of next summer:

Stoneman

Bell-Drummond/Hameed

Root

Malan

Bairstow

Stokes

Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Woakes (Captain)

Overton.C

Curran

Leach

This is of course dependent on the performances in the Australia matches. If Keaton Jennings comes in and scores four Ashes hundreds then I’m not suggesting he gets dropped. There’s a good right-hand/left-hand mix in the top six of my above composition. Bairstow above Malan is however an option. James Anderson and Stuart Broad don’t have to necessarily be banished forever and their experience could still be useful in home conditions. England might like to rotate in order to limit injury to the likes of Overton and co. I’d like Liam Livingstone to be there or thereabouts too.

Can English cricket’s phoenix rise from the ashes?

Disclaimer: I rather inconveniently forgot that there’s a post Ashes tour of New Zealand but maybe one opening batsman aside, my team for next summer needn’t be that far off.

Bell ‘n’ Brez Bash it Big!

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England discards Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan led from the front as Perth Scorchers claimed the 2016-17 Big Bash crown in resounding style.

Bresnan recorded figures of 4-0-40-3 as Sydney Sixers stumbled to only 141-9. Bell then saw the Scorchers comfortably over the line with a whopping 25 deliveries to spare, striking 31 not out from 25 balls.

No doubt Bresnan has had a little injury trouble but you would have thought given his experience and past performances in an England shirt that in the free spirited Trevor Bayliss era, England could still find room at least in their limited overs squads for a player possessing his all-round abilities. He seems, like Ravi Bopara, to be a player that having gained plenty of international experience, England just gave up on too soon and decided to start all over again with somebody else. Bresnan was only in the Scorchers squad as a replacement for current England squad member David Willey but the new Yorkshire vice-skipper made a positive impression on the west coast.

As well as Bresnan and Bell there was another Englishman that helped propel the Scorchers to victory. Doncaster born wicketkeeper Sam Whiteman clubbed 41 from just 21 balls including three sixes at the top of the order to jet start the Scorchers pursuit of the Sixers’ below par total. Whiteman moved to Oz aged three and has already represented Australia at various levels. He’s tipped to follow another Yorkshireman, Matthew Renshaw, into the Australian national side.

Another Englishman was involved in today’s final but for Sixers’ opener Michael Lumb, a former Yorkshire player of course, his 15-minute 5-run vigil at the top of the order, an innings that also included the run out of Nic Maddinson, helped the Scorchers more than it did the Sixers. Still, his ODI batting average of 55.00 is superior to both Bell (37.87) and Bresnan (19.79). It’s also higher than Nic Maddinson’s Test average of 6.75!

The Perth franchise’s other star performers in today’s final are at different ends of the playing career spectrum. 36-year-old Gloucestershire run-machine Michael Klinger carried his bat in making 71 not out from just 49 deliveries including five fours and an equal amount of sixes. It seems incredible that Klinger will finish his career without an international cap (We’ll come to that later), incredible but likely, in which case days such as these and 2015’s One-Day cup victory at Lords with Gloucestershire (Although Klinger ducked in the final after a monstrous tournament) will be days to saviour for a fine batsman.

Paceman Jhye Richardson is, at 20, nearly half Klinger’s age. He has just one First Class and only one List A appearance to his name but now has a grand total of nine T20 exposures under his belt. His 3-30 in the final saw him snap up the Man of the Match award and English batsman will surely have to face him at international level in the future.

Both Klinger and Richardson merited a mention in a previous article here at Silly Point about the possible make-up of Australia’s T20I squad for the Sri Lanka series that clashes with the Test series in India…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/follow-the-yellow-brick-road/

Performances such as those from Richardson and even no spring chicken Klinger, in a match of such magnitude must surely put them in with a chance of making the cut.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

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In a sign of the times, Australia’s cricketers have a T20I scheduled into their calendar less than 24 hours before the commencement of a Test match. Said matches will take place on different continents with the three-match T20I series being played in Australia and Australia’a Test side on tour in India.

Australia’s Test squad will be as strong as it can be so there will be opportunities for some unfamiliar faces in the T20I squad. The series will take place not long after the conclusion of the 2016-17 Big Bash so Silly Point thought it was worth having a look at some of the contenders for the vacancies in Australia’s T20I squad.

Please be aware that I’m not naming a squad as such and players like James Faulkner, Travis Head and Chris Lynn are amongst those that I consider almost certainties (Assuming that they don’t get a Test call-up of course). It’s more players that would be coming in out of the international cold that I’m listing here.

Those who’ve played before, whether it be T20I, ODI or Test:

Michael Beer: No I haven’t been drinking! Two Test cap Michael Beer has been consistently economical when opening the bowling in the Big Bash and a call-up would be well merited.

Ben Dunk: Slam funk da Ben Dunk. He bats, he bowls, he keeps wicket. Won three T20I caps in late 2014. Could a recall for versatile Dunk be on the cards?

George Bailey / Aaron Finch: Both only recently jettisoned from the ODI squad but this fixture clash could provide an opportunity for these two to make a swift return to the international fold and possibly for one of them, as captain.

Callum Ferguson / Moises Henriques / Nic Maddinson: All players that’ve failed miserably in the Test arena in recent times but who will be hoping to get chances to redeem themselves in the pyjama plays.

Brad Hogg: With senior members of the bowling unit in India, could a recall for Hogg, who’ll turn 46 before the series begins really happen?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/5681.html

Tim Paine: A man with an ODI century and Test best 92 to his name, Paine previously couldn’t find consistency at international level (Injuries didn’t help) but has been prolific throughout Big Bash history.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/engvaus2009/engine/match/350048.html

Rob Quiney: Had a bit of a horror show during his brief Test career which included a pair in his second Test though he did bowl ridiculously economically. That Test batting average of 3.00 may well have cost him caps in limited overs cricket but his run-scoring in the current Big Bash demands selection.

http://www.melbournestars.com.au/players/rob-quiney

Cameron White: An unfulfilled talent at international level, White’s chances may depend on how keen Australia are to win or how much they see this as an opportunity to blood youngsters.

A few other names that may come into consideration: Sean Abbott, Fawad Ahmed, Scott Boland, Clint McKay, Marcus Stoinis and AJ Tye.

Those who haven’t played before:

Tom Cooper: Last played for Netherlands in March of last year. Surely wouldn’t say no to a call-up from the country of his birth.

http://www.bigbash.com.au/video#videoId=5278578932001

Michael Klinger: Yes he’s 36 but Australia aren’t opposed to selecting ageing debutantes and if they do select a number of uncapped players, Klinger’s experience albeit at domestic level may count for something.

Ben McDermott: Would be a selection basically based on one innings and he looked rather pot luck early on against spin but who knows?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/engine/match/1023627.html

A few other names that may come into consideration: Ben Dwarshuis, Daniel Hughes, Kurtis Patterson, Jhye Richardson and D’Arcy Short.

http://www.bigbash.com.au/#gender=men

International Duck Watch!

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South Africa have taken a 1-0 series lead in their home Test series against Sri Lanka with a comfortable win in Port Elizabeth. Dushmantha Chameera was the tourists’ sole second innings ducker but Sri Lanka still went down by 206 runs.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, Australia have assumed an unassailable 2-0 series advantage in their home Test series against Pakistan. Ducks from captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah didn’t help the tourists’ cause.

Moving onto the third and final Test, Australia have recalled Steve O’Keefe, who would have replaced a now rejuvenated Nathan Lyon against South Africa but for injury and have dropped Nic Maddinson (Test batting ave: 6.75), despite the young batsman registering a career best 22 in this match. Ashton Agar has also been recalled for the dead rubber third Test…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia-v-pakistan-2016-17/content/story/1074685.html

… meaning that I wasn’t so crazy after all! (Please see below)

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/australia-0-1-south-africa/