Hong Kong Sixes 2017: England Squad?

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The Hong Kong Sixes tournament is back on the cricket calendar after a five-year absence. The pint-sized cricket competition will make a welcome return this October.

http://www.hkcricket.org/en/hk-sixes/hong-kong-sixes-2017

Historically the various cricketing nations around the globe have treated the tournament with a variety of seriousness and not so seriousness, with some teams sending amateurs or ex-pros. England normally send a reasonable bunch of fringe limited overs players.

Silly Point has composed an England squad and put forward one or two other possible candidates as well. Remember that every player bar the wicketkeeper must bowl.

My squad is as follows:

Tim Bresnan, Yorkshire (Captain)

He bats, he bowls, he captains, he’s my selection to lead the side. I find it difficult to comprehend that Bresnan’s England career is over. He required surgery and is no longer the spring chicken that rocked up for Yorkshire’s first XI aged 15 but in limited overs cricket at least, he could surely still have a role to play for the national side. He’s led Yorkshire this year following injury to Gary Ballance and the other squad members would learn from his international experience and professionalism.

Ben Duckett, Northamptonshire (Wicketkeeper)

Duckett just pips Joe Clarke for the ‘keeping gloves. It would be a good way to reintegrate Duckett into England colours following a difficult winter. After a slow start to the domestic season he has started to make significant contributions with the bat as well as keeping wicket on occasions. Sam Billings, more of a genuine gloveman option in T20I/ODI cricket could also come into consideration.

Lewis Gregory, Somerset

Gregory made the England squad a few years back for a one-off ODI against Ireland. Unfortunately for the Somerset man, he was the one squad member to miss out on the final XI leaving him cap-less. A series of injuries have meant that he remains so but when fit Gregory possesses the all-round strengths that make him an extremely tempting selection in this format.

Ryan Higgins, Middlesex

Higgins has contributed some brutal batting displays for Middlesex in limited overs cricket this term and has also dislodged Ollie Rayner from the County Championship side. The Zimbabwe born former England Under-19s player is one of a handful of capable all-round players that make my squad.

Benny Howell, Gloucestershire

A shrewd performer for Gloucestershire, particularly in the shorter forms of the game. French born Howell has cropped up in both the BPL and PSL. His experience and all-round capabilities would make him a valuable asset to the the squad.

Liam Livingstone, Lancashire

LL’s introduction to international cricket was slightly underwhelming but he’s an almost irresistible selection for this tournament. His destructive batting, much improved bowling and reliable fielding win him a place in my squad. Like Bresnan, Livingstone has gained captaincy experience this season and is capable of coming back stronger following his tough international baptism.

Ross Whiteley, Worcestershire

Whiteley hit the headlines this term when he struck six sixes in an over against Yorkshire in a T20 match (I was there, remember?). Yes it was an extremely short boundary and yes it was a third choice spinner but rather audaciously, Whiteley sits in the top ten of the sixes per (T20) match ratio, modestly and unobtrusively placed alongside the likes of Brendon McCullum, David Warner and Chris Gayle. He would probably be the weakest bowling option in the team but has clocked up 29 First Class victims.

Some other players that could come into consideration:

Adam Lyth

Riki Wessels (Wicketkeeper)

Brett D’Oliveira

Liam Dawson

Paul Coughlin

Craig Overton

Tymal Mills

Cricket Captain 2017: 2018 Test Tour to Sri Lanka Squad Announcement

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England head to Sri Lanka shortly for a tough tour consisting of three Tests, five ODIs and curiously … no T20Is.

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Opening batsman Rory Burns returns to the squad after injury whilst there are also recalls for batsman James Hildreth and spin bowler Ollie Rayner, both of whom debuted last year. Dawid Malan, Toby Roland-Jones and Tom Curran, all capped at either ODI or T20I level, earn their first call ups to the Test squad. Uncapped John Simpson provides wicketkeeping cover for the second successive winter but disappointingly the in-form Liam Livingstone is unavailable through injury.

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The full Test squad is as follows:

Mark Stoneman, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Ben Duckett, Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow (w), Adil Rashid, Liam Norwell, Ben Coad, Jack Leach, Rory Burns, James Hildreth, Dawid Malan, John Simpson (w), Ollie Rayner, Toby Roland-Jones, Tom Curran

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2017 – Roderick Returns!

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I’m clinging onto a place in the top 10,000, currently lying in 9763rd position!

Skipper and stumper Gareth Roderick has returned to the field of play for Gloucestershire so his points (279), doubled for being captain (578), are propelling me towards… respectability?!

My batsmen continue to underwhelm. Steven Croft (548 points) seems to have given up bowling too. Riki Wessels (1054) is leading the way but had a disappointing ODC final. Tom Fell’s horror show continues. He’s registered just 268 points. Inconsistent Aneurin Donald has 556 points to his name.

In the all-rounder slots, Brett D’Oliveira has reached a respectable if not spectacular 892 points whilst the ever reliable Ravi Bopara has 1227.

Onto bowling and the Boparesque reliable Keith Barker has 995 points to his name. Ollie Rayner (520) has seriously disappointed and James ‘Killer’ Weighell’s injury problems have limited him to 619 points despite displaying some good form. Then there’s Jofra Archer. His 1665 points lead the way for my team Roderick Brotherhood.

Please remember that this is for the County Championship and One-Day Cup only. There’s a separate competition for the Natwest T20 Blast. An update on Silly Pointers’ failings will be provided in due course.

The End of the Rhodes

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Yorkshire’s Will Rhodes will leave the county for pastures new at the end of the 2017 campaign. The twenty-two-year-old has totalled almost 60 appearances across the three formats but has had to head out on loan (to Essex) in order to get game time. Recent first team opportunities at Yorkshire have been few and far between and he’ll be a Warwickshire employee come next season.

The Headingley outfit recently signed Tom Kohler-Cadmore from Worcestershire to cement their status as a buying club… Ballance, Brooks, Hodd, Plunkett, Willey…?

The White Rose’s second XI is full of players who only seem to be on the county’s books incase of a flu epidemic or all the first team players going on holiday at the same time!

The likes of Ryan Gibson, Johnny Read, James Wainman and Jared Warner must acquiesce themselves with the role of professional second XI cricketer. At 24, Wainman has three professional outings to his name. Another player, Josh Shaw, has rejoined Gloucestershire on loan in order to gain further exposure. Meanwhile Surrey’s Sam Curran has 84 first team appearances to look back on and Hampshire’s Mason Crane now in excess of fifty.

Yorkshire have clearly developed outstanding young talent and theory of numbers means that not all will become first team regulars. The limited first XI opportunities provided to some however, as other players are purchased from left, right and center is quite frustrating. Many players that move counties never really get going and drift out of the game or find themselves failing to settle/succeed and even having to move on again (Briggs, Peng, Harris). Let’s hope for Rhodes that his move turns out more like Rayner, Read or Stevens at the least.

Hopefully from now on everything will go smoothly for Will and there’ll be no bumps in the road!

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2017 – Early Season Update

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We’ll start by getting the elephant out of the room. My captain hasn’t made a single first team appearance this season. His absence put down to personal reasons. He’s made a hundred for the seconds this month so fingers crossed he’ll be back in the Gloucestershire outfit very soon. The advantage of this is that when he returns nobody else is likely to have him in there team (He’s actually only in 0.21% of teams in the game). It’s all well and good having the best players in your team but it’s no good just having a side composed of the most selected players because you really don’t gain any advantage.

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The contribution of my batting line-up has been frustrating. Steven Croft was injured for a few weeks but did strike a blistering 127 against Warwickshire in the One-Day Cup. I had hoped he’d contribute with the ball but that hasn’t been the case so far. Lancashire are well stocked for spinners.

Glamorgan’s Aneurin Donald has hit a few fifties in the County Championship but had a torrid time in the One-Day Cup, reaching double figures just once. Being shunted down the order and batting as low as seven probably didn’t help and seemed a bit odd for such a potentially destructive batsman. Donald has been selected in barely 3% of teams meaning that there’s not many selectors gaining his points when he does deliver.

Tom Fell did well to return from cancer with a century last year but just hasn’t got going this term. He’s made a double hundred for the seconds but is yet to reach a quarter double hundred for the firsts. He’s not keeping wicket either. Those catches could have been a brucy bonus.

Nottinghamshire batsman Riki Wessels has led the way with an undefeated double century in the County Championship followed by a series of starts in the One-Day Cup followed by another century once back to the First Class format. With Chris Read injured last week, RW snapped up some catches behind the stumps as well.

In the all-rounder slots, Ravi Bopara of Essex has been steady if unspectacular. Lots of 30s, 40s and fifties and two or three-wicket hauls. They all add up though and he did make an undefeated 92 in the ODC.

Worcestershire’s Brett D’Oliveira made a slow start to the season but has found form of late. This included reaching 150 in the last round of County Championship matches. BD isn’t even in 1.5% of teams in the game so when he’s contributing it’s great to know that not many other Telegraph Fantasy Cricket players are benefiting from his performances. It’s a good example of why you should stick with someone that has a poor start. If you changed him and went with a form player then you’re just getting the same points as everybody else but if you stick with a player that’s not in many people’s teams then that players points can be decisive.

Onto the bowling department and Durham’s James Weighell (Rated 2 out of 10, team max is 60) has been a shreud selection. He wasn’t initially in the County Championship side but took wickets for fun in the One-Day Cup (18 @ 23.11) and recorded a maiden half-century in his last First Class outing. Weighell is in less than 10% of teams (That will have gone up since the start). As mentioned before, it’s these sort of under the radar performers that you need in your team… from the start.

I deliberately selected bowlers that can bat. Keith Barker and Jofra Archer should probably be considered all-rounders but maybe the fact that they open the bowling led to them been labelled exclusively as bowlers in the game. Sussex’s Archer’s has racked up two fifers and two fifties in the longer format and Barker, though not quite setting the world on fire, has been steadily chipping away in both the runs and wickets columns and it was a bonus to see him get so much game time in the One-Day Cup.

Ollie Rayner has slightly underwhelmed so far. He didn’t get much action in the One-Day Cup but as pitches around the country seem to be turning spin friendly and teams return to the longer format of the game then hopefully the wickets will come soon. I expect him to contribute with the bat too.

I’m currently in 9605th position! It’s a marathon not a sprint. Hare and the tortoise and all that. We’ll revisit things later in the campaign to see if I’ve ascended the table.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2017

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I’ve selected my team for this year with, once again, the ever reliable Gloucestershire wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick as my captain hence the team moniker Roderick Brotherhood.

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Tom Fell (Post cancer) and Aneurin Donald (A full season under his belt) are both capable of having productive seasons with the bat. Riki Wessels is destructive in one-day cricket but I might need an injury or two for him to get regular game time in the County Championship. Steven Croft, though listed as a batsman should chip in with the ball as well. On the flip side of that, at least three of my bowlers, Keith Barker, Jofra Archer and Ollie Rayner should make decent contributions with the bat and could all make a case for being considered all-rounders. It’s these sort of players (multi discipline/format) that you need to get into your team though first and foremost they need to be productive in their primary discipline. James Weighell could sneak under the radar though somebody seems to have being playing with his Wikipedia page…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Weighell

Ravi Bopara is a must in the all-rounder slot and Brett D’Oliveira made great strides with the bat last year and contributes with his spin-bowling.

I’ve intentionally picked a team of players that I expect to have uninterrupted county seasons. I haven’t picked temporary overseas players or players that are around the England squad. Only Ollie Rayner would currently be considered close to the national side but even he is probably some way down the pecking order.

If you wanna play then I’ve provided the link to the website below…

http://fantasycricket.telegraph.co.uk

But be warned, you might need to remortgage your house to do so, entry starts at £8.00 per team!

There is at least a ‘whopping’ £3,000.00 prize for the overall winner, I’m off to spend it already… !

P.S. I’ve helped my daughter select a team and my wife has selected one as well, so if I don’t provide many updates you’ll know that I’m in third place!

Living the Dream!

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Liam Livingstone hit the headlines in early 2015 when he struck 350 off 128 deliveries in a club match…

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/cricket/liam-livingstone-world-record-350-9078151

Then he hit the headlines again later that year when he got glassed in a fight…

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/cricket/lancashires-liam-livingstone-lucky-injuries-9875869

A few weeks later he didn’t hit the headlines when he was dismissed first ball in the T20 Blast final…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/natwest-t20-blast-2015/engine/current/match/804711.htmlhttp://www.espncricinfo.com/natwest-t20-blast-2015/engine/current/match/804711.html

He hadn’t exactly hit the ground running in the shortest format of the game and still averages below 20 but he didn’t half hit the ground running in the County Championship last year. Though his season tailed off slightly, he still finished with in excess of 800 runs at an average of just over 50. Having played a lot of club and second XI cricket and in an era where many players make their professional breakthrough whilst in their teens, I was hesitant to the idea of Livingstone being rushed into the England set-up too soon. The structure of the England Lions however provides great opportunity for he and others to acquire more experience and develop. Oh and how he’s developed! In England Lions current match against a decent Sri Lanka A outfit, LL has made scores of 105 and 140 not out…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO41600

His First Class batting average has now soared to 54.52 and recalling England’s batting horror show in India, it’s encouraging to see a batsman prospering in the sub-continent. England head to Oz next winter for the Ashes but even if Livingstone doesn’t make the breakthrough to the full national side soon, it could be that he’s saved for the next time England head to spinning terrain.

Last term, even if he wasn’t making runs, his name was all over the scorecards as he claimed catch after catch (31 in 17 FC outings to date) and his leg-spin bowling has some potential.

Elsewhere for England Lions, Toby Roland-Jones has led the line and contributed with the bat whilst the Curran brothers (Tom and Sam) have continued to enhance their reputation. It’s been a bleak winter for Jack Leach however. The Somerset man has struggled with the required adjustments to his action and was left out of the Lions side because of those struggles. Upon his return, his first innings figures of 18-1-97-1 don’t make for pleasant reading. The winter has not been so bleak for the consistently penetrative Ollie Rayner however. The German turner has surely usurped Leach in the England spin queue.

It’s been good to see that the Lions set-up hasn’t just been for the kids and that seasoned county players such as Roland-Jones and Middlesex colleague Rayner have been presented with the opportunity to press their case for international selection. If they did so, they wouldn’t be the first players to have successful international careers having only entered the stage around the age of thirty mark… Mike Hussey, Chris Rogers, Adam Voges and Misbah-ul-Haq amongst them.

Update: Jack Leach immediately responded to my bleak assessment of his winter by claiming figures of 2-3 as England Lions nearly pulled off a marvellous heist in Dambulla. Stumper Ben Foakes also claimed ten dismissals (8c / 2s) and contributed scores of 30 and 54 in this match.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1080255.html

Don Bradman Cricket 17: West Indies v England Test Match in L.A.

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Hi, my name is Stereo Mike.

Yeah, we got three tickets to the Bran Van concert…

After putting in a vastly improved performance against Kenya, the team headed to Los Angeles full of hope to take on West Indies. Ben Stokes and Mark Footitt were recalled at the expense of Ollie Rayner and James Anderson. Ben Duckett was provided one last chance to prove himself as a Test cricketer.

… happening this monday night at the Pacific Palisades.

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Despite the early losses of opening batsmen Haseeb Hameed (2) and Keaton Jennings (9), Duckett (40) and captain Joe Root (27) resisted. Duckett finally displayed the temperament required for Test match cricket but like James Hildreth (33) he could only assist a delivery from spinner Nikita Miller onto his stumps. Our total of 249 summed up the fact that nearly all our batsmen got starts but nobody reached 50. Sam Curran (Pictured above left) was frustratingly left 34 not out after Jack Leach (Pictured above right) was run out.

Give us a ring-ding-ding. It’s a beautiful day.

Needing to make inroads into the West Indies batting line-up late on day one, Sam Curran took a caught and bowled chance off debutant Kyle Hope after the ball ballooned into the air off the face of the bat. Outrageously, the decision was not given by the umpire and Hope refused to walk. He promptly went on to make 172 on Test debut and put on a double century stand for the opening wicket with Kraigg Brathwaite (143). Only an obsession with nightwatchman helped us claim four wickets as the Windies declared on exactly 500. Of the ten bowlers that we used, just Stuart Broad (2-107) and Mark Footitt (2-111) were able to claim any wickets.

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I got the fever for the flavour…

In our second innings we soon found ourselves in trouble at 27-3 but a stoic Keaton Jennings (Pictured above right) and a positive but not reckless James Hildreth (Pictured above left) put on 50 and battled through to lunch on day three.

… the payback will be later, still I need a fix.

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With my mind on my money…

For the second time in the match however our batsmen failed to build on solid starts. Jennings top scored with 44 after Hildreth (41) had fallen when sweeping for the second time in the match.

… and my money on my… beer, beer!

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In the end we went down by an innings and 47 runs. Hope got his comeuppance when, despite his epic innings, he missed out on the Man of the Match award to teammate Miguel Cummins (Cummins hit an undefeated half-century as well as recording match figures of 7-139).

The application of our batsmen in occupying the crease for excess of 60 overs in our first innings and the fact that we actually managed to take a game well into day three should at least bode well for the future. Though it may be hard to believe, there were signs of improvement in the bowling department too!

What the hell am I doing drinking in L.A?

Don Bradman Cricket 17: England v Kenya Test Match

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After the Ireland and Hong Kong results the boys and myself had some pretty intense discussions about where we want to be as a cricketing nation. I’m proud to say that the team really stepped up in this match and displayed the sort of qualities that we hope will keep our supporters believing that the England cricket team can summit some huge peaks in the future.

Under pressure batsman Ben Duckett was retained, as was spin bowler Ollie Rayner after an impressive debut against Hong Kong. The Old Trafford pitch caught us by surprise so unfortunately for left-arm seamer Mark Footitt, he missed out and a debut was given to another spinner, Somerset’s Jack Leach. From the Hong Kong match, Mason Crane also missed out.

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Our first innings followed a familiar pattern as wickets tumbled all around. Opening batsman Keaton Jennings batted defiantly until the very end when after debutant Jack Leach managed to eek out a single to get off strike, Jennings, rather than selfishly take an easy single to reach his half-century, was dismissed for 49 as he tried to clear the ropes, therefore narrowly missing out on carrying his bat through the entire innings.

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Positive contributions from lower order batsman Ollie Rayner (28) and an in-form Stuart Broad (34) helped us stumble to a disappointing 141 all out.

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Broad (2-106) then put in a much improved showing with the ball and debutant Jack Leach looked right at home in the Test arena, claiming figures of 3-81. Kenya declared on 394-6, rather cruelly leaving their not out batsman stranded on 93 and 82 with plenty of time still left in the game and little threat of rain.

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In our second innings we lost early wickets again, including that of Duckett for 3. His Test future will have to come under great scrutiny ahead of our next match. Our batsman committed to a positive brand of cricket however and despite an almighty close LBW call whilst in the 90s, captain Joe Root produced a magnificent 132 to lead us to a second innings total of 422.

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Haseed Hameed (75), Jonny Bairstow (61) and James Hildreth (54) also made half-centuries.

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That left Kenya with a target of 170 for victory. All our bowlers bowled well, particularly young Sam Curran who went at just 3.88 an over but ultimately our limp first innings effort cost us.

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Kenya sealed a seven-wicket victory but for the third match in a row we improved and if we can bat as we did in our second innings of this match twice in our next match then we will finally provide ourselves with a real chance of tasting success.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: King Kong’d by Hong Kong!

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Following the debacles of both the Irish Test and Home Nations ODI tri-series, the boys looked to restore some pride to English cricket when we hosted Hong Kong at Scarborough. Test debuts were presented to teenagers Sam Curran and Mason Crane as well as county veteran Ollie Rayner.

After James Anderson made the early breakthrough, Hong Kong applied themselves well but we checked them with regular wickets. Though Stuart Broad found the going tough, Ollie Rayner tightened things up with back to back maidens to commence his Test career. He soon had his first wicket and went onto claim impressive debut figures of 3-93. However the less said about his batting (4 and 0, both run outs, the latter without facing) the better!

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James Anderson struck in consecutive deliveries under lights and Mason Crane was unfortunate to only claim the one wicket on debut as Hong Kong looked to attack the young leg-spinner.

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Frustratingly, a recurring theme occurred for us as we let the tail get far too many. Hong Kong’s Haseeb Amjad made 131 batting at number nine before we eventually dismissed the tourists for 498!

Our openers Haseeb Hameed (42) and Keaton Jennings (64) put on 103 for the first wicket but the loss of Jennings started a steady decline. Ben Duckett fell to the very next ball and only an assured 45 from Sam Curran helped lift the score to 268.

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Rather embarrassingly we were invited to follow on and soon lost KJ first ball.

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He could possibly have reacted quicker and cleared the ball away from his stumps!

Under pressure Duckett, having being dismissed for a golden duck in the first innings, looked comfortable in composing 18 but lasted only two deliveries against spin, missing a sweep and looking back to see his stumps shattered.

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With wickets tumbling around him, James Hildreth displayed the value of years of toil on the county circuit. However the right-hander was dismissed the very ball after reaching a maiden Test half-century.

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Tail-enders Stuart Broad (38) and James Anderson (38 not out) helped us make the visitors bat again.

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After a disappointing match with the bat (0 and 18), Ben Duckett was presented with a surprise opportunity to open the bowling and clearly surprised the Hong Kong batsman as Kinchit Shah fell in single figures for the second time in the match, caught and bowled by the off-spinning all-rounder Duckett!

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It was too little too late though as Hong Kong knocked off the mammoth eight runs required for victory to seal a humbling nine-wicket win.

P.S. The Share button on the PS4 controller has come to my attention so I hope to make use of this and possibly YouTube in the future rather than taking photographs of the computer screen!