It’ll Never Rayn Again!

Middlesex off-spinner Ollie Rayner has bid farewell to the professional game following his release from the London club.

Rayner claimed 313 First Class wickets and flirted with England selection but it wasn’t to be. He was also there or there abouts with Germany’s international side.

There certainly seems to have been a degree of animosity regarding his exit but the impression of Rayner remains that he was steady and reliable but only very occasionally spectacular.

He was an integral part of a County Championship winning outfit and as well as those 313 wickets chalked up two First Class tons. A career with pen (Or keyboard) in hand may await the thirty-four-year-old.

2018 FIFA World Cup XI

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Here are eleven international cricketers who were born in countries participating in the 2018 FIFA World Cup (But not born in Australia or England obviously!)

First XI

Jehan Mubarek (Sri Lanka) born in USA (Well they did participate in qualifying!)

George Headley (West Indies) born in Panama

Dick Westcott (South Africa) born in Portugal

Ted Dexter (England) born in Italy (Like USA, Italy didn’t actually qualify!)

Ken Weekes (West Indies) born in USA (Err, yeah… USA again!)

Freddie Brown (England) born in Peru

Donald Carr (England) born in Germany

Ashok Gandotra (India) born in Brazil

Moises Henriques (Australia) born in Portugal

John Traicos (Zimbabwe) born in Egypt

Amjad Khan (England) born in Denmark

On the tour

Buster Nupen (South Africa) born in Norway (Well they did qualify for France ’98!)

Benny Howell (England) born in France (Okay, he hasn’t won an England cap… yet!)

Ollie Rayner (England) born in Germany (Like Howell, he was capped by me on Cricket Captain 17!)

Malan Scammed… and Other Cricket Snippets

Dawid Malan

Hello and welcome to Silly Point. Please have a listen to my latest audio cast by clicking the play button just below…

England ODI/Lions Squads: https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/742530/sam-curran-and-craig-overton-added-to-england-odi-squad-and-chris-jordan-added-to-england-lions-squad

England T20I Squad: https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/738367/england-name-squad-for-it20s-against-australia-and-india

Dawid Malan: http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/236489.html

Jonny Tattersall: http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/517247.html

Six to Watch: T20I Status – Men’s Special

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From 1st January 2019, all Associate cricket nations will have full T20 International status. These are really exciting times for cricketers as well as fans throughout the globe. As I do each year when the county season comes around, I’ve identified six players to keep an eye on as T20 Internationals start to be played out across the world.

Simon Ateak (Ghana)

24-year-old Ghanaian Simon Ateak was Player of the Tournament at the 2018 ICC World Twenty20 African Sub Regional (North-Western) Qualifier. Ateak notched back-to-back fifties against Sierra Leone and Nigeria in Lagos. Ateak had actually been in poor form in ICC World Cricket League Division Five prior to the T20 Qualifier but delivered when needed to help Ghana reach the finals. Simon’s younger brother Vincent also chipped in with the ball during the Qualifier.

Harrison Carlyon (Jersey)

Still only seventeen-years-old, Jersey’s Harrison Carlyon made his international debut against Oman in Los Angeles at the tender age of just fifteen. The off-spinner’s father and uncle have both represented the island’c cricket team and injuries even meant that father and son turned out for the same side. Carlyon has since appeared for Jersey U-19s and made some useful contributions in ICC World Cricket League Division Four. He’s also been in and around the youth set ups at Sussex CCC.

Ahmad Faiz (Malaysia)

How about this for form: 50, 86, 20, 47, 45 & 50. Those were the batting contributions of Malaysian skipper Ahmad Faiz in ICC World Cricket League Division Four earlier this year. The right-handed batsman clearly enjoys the surface in Kuala Lumpur. Admittedly those were one-day matches and his T20 form beforehand wasn’t quite as strong but Malaysia will be relying on their former U-19 World Cup captain when it comes to run-getting.

Andrew Mansale (Vanuatu)

Andrew Mansale is Vanuatu’s experienced leader, having debuted for his country when just fifteen years of age. Now 29 and having gained experience of playing club cricket in Australia, Vanuatu will be looking to Mansale’s leadership as well as his right-hand batting and off-spin to help them rise to prominence in T20I cricket. Joshua Rasu, another right-hand bat who has played for the same Australian club as Mansale is another Ni-Vanuatu worth looking out for.

Calum MacLeod (Scotland)

Scotland’s Calum McLeod already has 28 T20I caps as well as double that amount of appearances in ODI Cricket where, for the record, he’s notched an impressive six centuries. His attacking nature was imperative in Scotland qualifying for the 2015 ODI World Cup and there were glimpses of his talent at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in March of this year. As with many Scots, he’s been around the English county second XI circuit, most recently representing Hampshire.

Carl Sandri (Italy)

34-year-old Carl Sandri’s experience will be vital if Italy are to develop as a T20I nation. Australian born Sandri, a right-hand bat and off-spin bowler represented Sydney Thunder in the 2013 edition of the Big Bash. He was Italy’s leading wicket taker in the most recent ICC World Cricket League Division Five. Peter Petricola, who has played alongside Sandri in Ozzie club cricket, is another old head that Italy will look at to spearhead their efforts.

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Elsewhere, could county players such as Middlesex’s Ollie Rayner (Germany) and Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell (France) be eligible to represent the countries of their birth?

Could Hampshire’s Gareth ‘Ice’ Berg return to the Italian side alongside Sandri and Petricola having played with them six years ago? Berg claimed figures of 4-20 against Uganda and scored 47 against Namibia in 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in UAE. He’s been an underrated performer on the English county circuit (First Class, List A, T20) for a number of years.

If USA can sort out their political infighting, could Durham’s Cameron Steel or Hampshire’s Ian Holland represent the Stars and Stripes in T20I Cricket? It seems inconceivable that USA aren’t a cricketing nation to be reckoned with.

Once T20I status has really taken ahold, look out for future posts to see how Ateak, Carlyon, Faiz, Mansale, McLeod and Sandri have got on… and who I should have previewed!

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In the near future, I’ll also be compiling a Six to Watch for the T20I Women’s game as well as a team special. Be sure to look out for those posts soon.

England Uncapped XI

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Imagine that England’s cricketers have gone on strike. They’re upset about that car sponsorship deal ending or they all want to play in the new Kazakhstan T20 league. England’s selectors are reluctant to return to players that’ve failed to produce the goods at international level before. They decide to select an extremely experienced squad so ignore the likes of Ollie Pope, Joe Clarke and Sam Curran amongst others. The below is what an England Test squad might then look like.

First XI

James Adams

Daryl Mitchell

Sam Northeast (Captain)

James Hildreth

Darren Stevens

Keith Barker

John Simpson (Wicketkeeper)

Ollie Rayner

Luke Fletcher

Steve Patterson

Chris Rushworth

12th Man

Steven Mullaney

Tourists

Luke Wells

Riki Wessels

Ben Brown (Wicketkeeper)

James Harris

Stand By

Chris Nash

Joe Leach

I’ve selected Northeast as captain so as not to burden either of my openers, Adams and Mitchell who make for a strong left-hand/right-hand combo. Hildreth is at four ahead of Stevens and Barker who provide all-round options with Barker’s left-arm variety essential. Simpson dons the gloves meanwhile Patterson and Rushworth take the new ball backed up by Fletcher as well as Barker and Stevens. Spin options are a bit limited but Luke Wells makes the touring party as spin back-up to Ollie Rayner. Steven Mullaney makes the squad as 12th man, providing strong all-round cover with bat and ball.

As well as Wells and Mullaney, Wessels and Harris provide a good variety of cover. Brown backs up behind the stumps whilst Wessels is also an emergency ‘keeping option.

Top order bat Chris Nash who can bowl decent spin and dependable all-rounder Joe Leach are officially on stand-by.

Disclaimer: The likes of Rory Burns, Benny Howell and Tom Bailey are among the unfortunate omissions. Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sam Hain, Liam Norwell, Lewis Gregory, Jamie Porter and Ben Coad join that list but I was generally plucking for the most experienced players.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2018

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The above is my first XI. It’s in the all-rounder roles that I’ve gambled with Rhodes and Rawlins. Rhodes has moved from Yorkshire to Warwickshire so should see increased game time and will be keen to show what he’s capable of. Rawlins made an impression in the North v South matches and this should be his breakout season. Simpson is a reliable wicketkeeper and I think there is real logic in the stumper being captain. I’ve plucked for a possibly slightly under the radar bowling attack and expect Mennie and hopefully Hutton to contribute runs too. I’ve very deliberately selected batsman that will at least occasionally bowl and should get opportunities in both formats of the game.

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For my second XI, I’ve gone for the two all-rounders that I consider guaranteed runs and wickets. I’ve opted for a reliable batting unit and expect Fell to return to form this year. Though my bowling unit may not be guaranteed outings in both codes, Coad and Footitt are wicket takers in the First Class format. Mahmood is coming into the campaign off the back of impressive performances in North v South and Nijjar, a useful spin bowler, has been opening the batting for Essex pre-season. What happens to Alastair Cook with England may determine Nijjar’s opportunities. If Roderick is available throughout the season, he should be steady away behind the stumps and with bat in hand.

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Have I ever mentioned that I like Ben Duckett?

Mitchell is as consistent as they come and bowls too. Smith has returned to Durham and I expect plenty of runs from the experienced head back up north. Alongside him, Brook is primed for his breakthrough campaign after debuting last term. Kuhn may not keep wicket but is a solid performer at domestic level. My bowling attack may receive England and England Lions call-ups but have runs as well as wickets in them in both formats. Bresnan is as solid an option as Patel and Bopara and van der Merwe is a destructive player.

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In my fourth XI, I’ve gone Warwickshire and England veteran heavy in my batting line-up, messrs Trott and Bell leading the charge. Bell-Drummond will be looking to kick-on and fingers crossed for a run-filled renaissance from Nick Compton. Like Kuhn, Pope may not always keep wicket but will be playing regularly and in the runs this year. Berg is as reliable as anyone with the ball and Procter prospered last term having relocated to Northamptonshire. I want a bit more from Barker and Rayner this year. Fletcher is back from injury and if Overton, rated 3!, can stay fit then he’s a shrewd selection.

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In my fifth XI are the other players that I like who I couldn’t squeeze into my first four teams. Northeast has moved to Hampshire but is as reliable as they come with the bat. Wells is solid in the First Class game as is Burns. Dent is an under rated player too. McManus gets the gloves with the experienced Clarke, back at Surrey, and less experienced but quick Chappell in the all-rounder roles. Hopefully Norwell has shrugged off any injury niggles. Ball will be left to play county cricket this term whilst Patterson is another of my reliable picks. Qadri made an impressive debut last year and will look to back it up.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve avoided selecting players that will be on England duty. It’s steady away county pros that you need sprinkled with one or two yet to be discovered gems just primed to be this year’s Ben Coad.

Let me know what you think about my teams and which one is likely to win me the massive cash prize of……….. £3,000!

https://fantasycricket.telegraph.co.uk/county

Disclaimer: I’ve since been tinkering away, so my teams don’t look quite the same as above. I’ll keep you up to date once the campaign commences!

Application for Role of National Selector

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https://www.ecb.co.uk/news/642891/ecb-announces-new-approach-for-england-men-s-selection

Dear Andrew Strauss

Please find enclosed my application for the role of National Selector as advertised on http://www.ecb.co.uk

On the MAC version of Cricket Captain 2017 (Admittedly on Easy Mode!), I was responsible for the selection of the England side that won the 2017 Champions Trophy on home turf. Who can forget David Willey’s 8-58 against Australia?! That summer, I had already made the brave decision to recall batsman Ben Duckett to the Test side despite his tough baptism the previous winter.

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Duckett repaid the faith by averaging 82.89 in the respectable 2017-18 2-2 away Ashes series draw.

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In 2018 I introduced Yorkshire seamer Ben Coad to Test cricket and he duly struck with his first delivery against Pakistan. Coad went on to claim just shy of 200 wickets as well as surpassing 1000 runs during my time as selector. As was the case with the recall of Duckett, there was resistance from some quarters towards the selection of Coad. Some in the media believed that I was applying Yorkshire bias and only selecting Coad because we were born in the same town. Proving the doubters wrong, his performances with bat and ball throughout his career confirmed that I possess nous when it comes to identifying under the radar talent.

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Mason Crane’s dismissals of three Indian batsmen, all first ball on T20I debut was another highlight of that summer.

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Another spinner, Adil Rashid, excelled in Sri Lanka where he famously followed up figures of 7-66 with a monumental knock of 161. Again, there were those that campaigned against the selections of said spinners, at least in the respective formats in which they would go onto succeed. Again, those doubters were silenced.

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Following our Champions Trophy success in 2017, we promptly won the 2019 ODI World Cup. Once again the nation were euphoric in their celebrations of home soil success.

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My insistence that Moeen Ali replace Jason Roy at the top of the order was both ruthless and crucial to our success. Moeen’s blazing knock of 112 from 80 deliveries in the final against India will live long in the memory of many.

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Alongside Moeen, Ben Duckett totalled 562 runs at 80.29, again this demonstrates my ability to get the best out of mischievous players. Many would’ve left the Northamptonshire batsman on the international scrapheap but his performances in both the Ashes and ODI World Cup were immense.

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Chris Woakes claimed twenty tournament wickets at just 12.55 apiece and please don’t ignore the contribution made by left field selection Luke Fletcher. This included a vital wicket in the final at Lords.

Yes we lost the 2019 Ashes 3-0. Thirty-five-year-old Daryl Mitchell failed to back-up his debut knock of 73. He didn’t make another fifty before being dropped for the fifth Test and James Harris (0-102) had an ignominious introduction to Test cricket. The selection of thirty-nine-year-old Jimmy Adams’ (34 runs @ 8.50) in T20I cricket didn’t work either.

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Nor did the selection of Ross Whiteley (99 runs @ 9.90). However, there would be over 200 Test wickets for Jack Leach, a Test century for Max Holden and many Test tons for Will Rhodes as well as numerous ODI tons for Daniel Bell-Drummond during my time as Selector. Sometimes you have to sift through the dirt to find the diamonds.

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I would like to think that the T20I career of sometime captain Benny Howell…

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… and ODI career of Ollie Rayner, the latter also earning two Test caps, will reflect well on my ability to identify talent and think outside the box when selecting the composition of a side. Even if these players didn’t excel statistically, they were under rated efficient contributors to the side.

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Other highlights during my tenure included: In Bangladesh in 2021, having lost the first Test by just one wicket courtesy of Jofra Archer’s no ball, we chased down 431 in the second Test to level the series. Liam Livingstone (122 & 166) and Will Rhodes (111 & 128*) famously made tons in each innings.

Middlesex’s Harry Podmore claimed figures of 3-51 on ODI debut but disappointingly we failed to progress from the round robin stage of the 2022 Champions Trophy. Paul Coughlin (Two six-wicket hauls) though was for a time the number one bowler in the world in ODI cricket.

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In the 2022 T20I World Cup we reached the semi-final before we were cruelly defeated by India. Hampshire’s Lewis McManus, another shrewd selection, contributed 225 runs at 56.25 including a swashbuckling ton against Pakistan.

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Another gloveman, Sussex’s Ben Brown, registered fifties in his first two T20I caps.

Unfortunately by the time 2023 came around we were ranked as low as 8th in ODI cricket and 9th in both Tests and T20Is. We scored 447 in the fourth innings of an Ashes Test but still lost!

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On the plus side, Surrey all-rounder Sam Curran, originally bravely selected whilst still in his teens, passed 100 wickets ODI cricket. Another find was Nottinghamshire batsman Billy Root, who stepped out of his brother’s shadow to register an ODI century against West Indies. I’m extremely proud of his selection because both the media and public were extremely sceptical.

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After a run of ten straight Test defeats, we did at least beat Zimbabwe 2-0 at home. Liam Livingstone and Ben Foakes’ partnership of 351 proving crucial.

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Somerset speedster Jamie Overton claimed nine wickets at just 15.56 upon his introduction to Test cricket.

Opening batsman Mark Stoneman went onto pass 4000 Test runs though we probably shouldn’t have allowed him so much opportunity to close in on 5000 when clearly past his sell by date!

Lewis McManus and Sam Northeast recorded a record-breaking partnership of 263 in an ODI and Sam Evans scored centuries in each of his first three Tests.

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Defeats against Namibia and Canada in the 2023 ODI World Cup was a disappointing way to bow out. Durham bowler James ‘Killer’ Weighell’s figures 0f 10-0-102-0 against the North American side were confirmation that I’d persisted with him too long.

I don’t think Hamidullah Qadri’s Test bowling average ever got below 60.00 and Mark Footitt (7 wickets in 5 Tests) was another one I probably got wrong. Don’t let those performances against associate nations, world rankings or runs of defeat after defeat deflect from my achievements though. A Champions Trophy and ODI World Cup win are not to be scoffed at, particularly when under the pressure of playing in front of the expectations of a home crowd. The selections and performances of Will Rhodes (Tests), Daniel Bell-Drummond (ODIs) and Lewis McManus (ODIs/T20Is) as well as Jack Leach, Ben Coad, Jofra Archer and Liam Norwell (Tests), Jamie Overton and Paul Coughlin (ODIs) demonstrate my ability to see beyond the obvious and identify players capable of succeeding at international level.

I’m extremely confident that I can transfer my success (Mediocrity, call it what you will!) in virtuality to reality and excel in the role of National Selector. I’m available for interview at any time and await your response with much anticipation.

Yours faithfully

 

Paul Morris

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2017 – Season Review

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9,748th place, a comfortable finish in the top 10,000! The team I picked for my daughter finished in 11,213th place, so at worst I was in the bottom 1,500. Who knows? Maybe there were over a million players!

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Starting with my captain, Gloucestershire gloveman Gareth Roderick.

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I simply got his selection completely wrong. Had he been fit or whatever he needed to be to play then he would have made serious contributions but he missed the early part of the season for ‘unknown reasons’ and later broke a finger. To be fair, he dug deep to score 78 not out with the damaged digit. Before you consider the double points element, if you’re captain isn’t your top scorer then you’ve messed up. South African born Roderick registered 400 runs at a respectable average of 36.36 as well as claiming 24 dismissals but just didn’t play enough.

Steven Croft basically doesn’t bowl anymore. Lancashire seem to have an array of spin bowlers, whether they be part- or full-time (Parkinson, Parry, Livingstone, Kerrigan – who himself went out on loan) and like Roderick, Croft missed significant chunks of the season. Aside from a blast of a knock early in the campaign and a score in the final round of matches, Croft just didn’t contribute anywhere near significantly enough. The White Rose’s skipper’s figures: 409 runs at an underwhelming 29.21.

Huge kudos to Worcestershire’s Tom Fell for battling back from cancer and hopefully, with a new contract under his belt, he can score big next year.

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This year was a horror show however. He failed to reach fifty nor did he ever don the gloves. Fell totalled 323 runs at a paltry 14.68 in the County Championship. Contrary to the above image, his form (Or lack of!) didn’t earn him and England call up!

Welsh willow wielding wizard Aneurin Donald didn’t hit the heights hoped for this campaign but did manage four First Class fifties either side of being mucked around by Glamorgan, batting as low as seven in One-Day Cup matches.

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For the record ‘Ducky’ totalled 487 County Championship runs at 25.63. In One-Day cricket he scored 20 runs at an average of just 4.00!

It’s a funny old game. My most successful batsman was the one I expected the least from. I had anticipated Riki Wessels might deliver for me in limited overs matches but didn’t really expect him to play regularly in the First Class game. In a pre-season university fixture, he followed a duck with a hundred and went on to score three centuries with a top score of 202 not out in the County Championship. He had a mare though in the One-Day Cup final where he dropped a catch off the first ball of the match and made only six runs but away from the cameras he delivered. He also claimed a couple of catches when standing in as wicketkeeper. Across the County Championship (832) and One-Day Cup (302) the Nottinghamshire batsman totalled 1,134 runs.

Worcestershire’s Brett D’Oliveira doesn’t have a great average for an opening batsman but I think that there’s an element of the old Trescothick/Vaughan vibe about him. He could be better suited to the higher level. This year he made three First Class hundreds but lacked consistency. He didn’t claim a single wicket in the County Championship but snared seven in the One-Day Cup. His best years could yet be ahead of him. In 2017 BDO notched up 891 County Championship runs alongside 222 in the 50-over game.

Ravi Bopara will have been in many people’s teams but will probably suffer from that very thing I’ve moaned about previously when it comes to Bopara. He’s done okay but you can’t help but want more from him. 576 County Championship runs at 32.00 puts him way down title-winning Essex’s run charts. He claimed a disappointing twelve wickets in fourteen matches in the same competition. He did however rack up 329 One-Day Cup runs at 54.83 and claimed nine wickets but didn’t win a recall to England’s ODI side!

Keith Barker is another one who did well without sparkling. Six fifties at 29.78 is a really useful contribution with the willow but just 26 County Championship wickets this term is a bit disappointing for a left-armer many thought should’ve been on England’s radar. Of course Warwickshire’s season as a whole was a torrid one.

Off-spinner Ollie Rayner did well for England Lions last winter but never really got going this year.

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His twenty First Class wickets in eleven matches cost nearly 40 apiece. For reference, Middlesex teammate Ravi Patel totalled fourteen victims in two outings.

Durham’s James ‘Killer’ Weighell surprised many this season but injuries dogged him. He wasn’t in the County Championship side at the start of term but took wickets aplenty (18 @ 23.11) in the One-Day Cup. Unfortunately he got injured and so didn’t play as many First Class games as he would have liked but when he did he made some decent contributions with the bat (162 @ 40.50) to go with his eleven wickets. If he can stay fit, he could be essential to Durham’s hopes of a renaissance in the upcoming years.

Finally, onto Sussex’s Jofra Archer. My team should’ve been Archer’s Army not Roderick Brotherhood. Archer was by far and away my top points scorer with nearly double the next man’s total. His 638 County Championship runs came at 45.57 including five fifties at a whopping strike rate of 88.00! His 61 wickets came at 25.30 and if it weren’t for lack of eligibility (Damn ineligibility!) he could well have being headed to Australia for the Ashes. No seriously, he’s that good but a few years away from qualifying having migrated from the West Indies. Whether or not he could join up with England Lions as early as this winter is an interesting consideration. Actually, I should save this for my ‘Six to Watch – Season Review’ article as Archer is one of the six!

I’ll repeat what I’ve said previously about how I think The Telegraph should alter their game. Currently there’s one competition for the County Championship and One-Day Cup combined and a separate one for the T20 Blast. I propose amending it to three individual competitions so that you can select three different teams. Some players specialise in only First Class or List A cricket so grouping the two together does require skill in one way but is limiting in another. There could be three first place finish prizes and an overall winner prize.

For me, any prize remains allusive. There’s always next year…

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.

Transfer Saga

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This guy only ever played for one club, in reality and virtuality. The same can not be said of others.

More than ever, domestic cricket in England seems to be following its football counterpart, particularly in regards to the transfer market. I believe that there was a time, long before I discovered an interest in cricket, in fact long before I was even born, that players remained loyal to one county for the entirety of their career. Of course some still do but it is no longer necessarily the norm. That’s not to say that transfers didn’t happen in the past, of course they did but they’ve become far more frequent in modern times. More than a decade ago now, Jimmy Ormond, whilst on tour with England, famously posed with his new Surrey shirt following his move from Leicestershire. I recall there being suggestions back then that the cricket transfer market was becoming like football’s and it’s certainly the case today.

Last winter we saw the likes of Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman depart Durham for Surrey. This season Angus Robson went on trial with Sussex whilst some mid-season transfers have tasted a little bitter. Tom Kohler-Cadmore agreed to depart Worcestershire for Yorkshire and though it wasn’t supposed to happen until next season, it was clear that Worcestershire had no interest in fielding TK-C when his future lay elsewhere and so the deal was brought forward.

Meanwhile one-time England squad member Mark Footitt has returned to Nottinghamshire from Surrey. He has also previously represented Derbyshire.

Former England cap Ajmal Shahzad must be one of the most serial county swappers. He can now list Yorkshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Leicestershire as county teams for whom he has represented their first XIs.

Dominic Sibley, Will Rhodes and Adam Hose have all headed to Warwickshire while Rikki Clarke swapped with Sibley to go back to Surrey. Sibley wanted guarantees about batting in the top three in all forms of the game. Surrey’s Alec Stewart wouldn’t provide but Ashley Giles would and so Sibley arrived amid bitter frustration on Surrey’s part.

Jos Buttler of course moved from Somerset to Lancashire whilst my home county, Yorkshire, have acquired many players from other counties in recent years:

Gary Ballance (Derbyshire)

Jack Brooks (Northamptonshire)

Andrew Hodd (Sussex)

Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Worcestershire)

Liam Plunkett (Durham)

Ryan Sidebottom (Returned from Nottinghamshire)

David Willey (Northamptonshire)

Players such as six-hitter Ross Whiteley and England Lions spinner Ollie Rayner are among others to have migrated at one time or another during their playing days.

The midseason activity this term, complete with more than subtle hints of acrimony and contract squabbles seem to be taking the game of bat and ball firmly into football territory.

Should mid-season transfers be allowed at all?

Should loans be allowed?

Should squads have a maximum number of players like the Premier League?

Returning to Angus Robson, he was released by Leicestershire because they wanted play youngster Harry Dearden. After Dearden failed to set the County Championship alight he was firstly replaced by Arun Harinath who had arrived on loan from Surrey before another loanee, Michael Carberry arrived at Grace Road too. In a funny way, the domestic circuit is becoming like the England team with counties failing to invest in players and deciding it’s necessary to pinch from the competition… and don’t get me started on Hampshire! I’ve touched upon their South African acquisitions before and the effect it will have on local talent.

This is the point in the article where I’m supposed to provide some sort of summary but I’ll leave it to the cricket followers of the world to make of it what you will…?

… and who could forget Monty Panesar’s transfer sagas? (Errrr… Me!)