Afghanistan v Pakistan World Cup ODI

I’ve just returned from a scorching Headingley where Pakistan’s senseless top order batsmen did their best to throw the match away but Afghanistan’s captain did instead!

To say that the atmosphere was vibrant would be an understatement… and that was just outside the ground!

Afghanistan ground their way to 227-9 and though Pakistan lost an early wicket they soon looked in command. Both Imam and Babar got out though when trying to force the pace even though the required rate was far less than a run-a-ball.

Needless run outs also contributed to Pakistan’s demise but Imad Wasim seized the initiative while Afghan skipper Gulbadin Naib conceded 18 in a torturous over before absurdly still bowling the final over. Though Hassan was injured and I’m not sure what happened to Rahmat who seemed set to come on at one point, any other bowler (Player even!) who bowled anything slower than Gulbadin would’ve been a more sensible choice.

It was the hottest day of the year but my three bottles of water and big hat helped me through. I still managed to get burnt and had to buy a t-shirt just to protect my legs!

The match went to the wire and for England and romantics out there, a Pakistan victory is disappointing but they scraped through in the end. Fair play!

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8039/game/1144518/afghanistan-vs-pakistan-36th-match-icc-cricket-world-cup-2019

This will take some coming back from for Afghanistan who also let victory slip away from them against India. It also leaves England likely needing to defeat both India and New Zealand to progress to the semi-finals.

England Pinch Salt!

Following injury to the unfortunate Dawid Malan, England have called up Sussex’s Philip Salt for the one-off Twenty20 International against Pakistan tomorrow.

Salt has a top score of 74 in domestic T20 cricket, spent some time on the franchise circuit during the winter and regardless of format, has a habit of getting Sussex off to some brisk starts. Hopefully he can do the same for England if he makes the playing XI.

Farewell Alex!

Following Alex Hales’ axing from the England squad, the selectoral hierarchy have made some amendments to the party for the upcoming internationals.

Firstly, there’s a recall for the potentially destructive Ben Duckett. Following a move from Northamptonshire to Nottinghamshire, Duckett hasn’t been consistent this season but from time to time has produced the sort of innings that can get people licking their lips. He’s had his own moments of madness but was reintegrated in the winter and it’s encouraging to see him in the frame.

Dawid Malan is another recalled left-hander and he’ll hope to actually get on the pitch unlike in the West Indies. Despite the burden of captaincy as well as opening for Middlesex in List A cricket, he’s been in good form this year.

Next up is James Vince. Ed Smith didn’t sound all too enthused about Vince’s ability when his first move as England selector was to drop the Hampshire skipper but Vince has responded well. Last year, both at home and in the Big Bash, he made match-winning contributions. He’s begun this year well though his 190 against Gloucestershire was scored against an attack far removed from what either Pakistan or Australia will offer.

Duckett and Malan come into the squads for the Ireland ODI and Pakistan T20I. Vince was already in those squads and now stays on for the Pakistan ODIs.

Disclaimer: There is a downside to all this. The absence of Duckett, Malan and Vince from the county scene for a week or two has completely scuppered my fantasy teams!

Stoneman’s Struggles!

Since slipping away from England’s Test side, Surrey opening batsman Mark Stoneman has hardly made an insatiable case for a recall.

Last year was ordinary (660 CC runs at 33.00) though there were encouraging signs as the season progressed. This year the former Durham man made scores of 45 and 35 in his one and only County Championship outing to date. Those are the kind of knocks that he had a history of producing at Durham before one century laden summer at Surrey propelled him into the England team.  In this season’s One-Day Cup, Stoneman has struggled to even get started and has totalled only 79 runs at an average of 15.8. Now Stoneman is no bish bash bosher but does possess a List A average that until not long ago was north of forty…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/229954.html

The fact that number is in decline may tell us everything we need to know!

I understand that Stoneman had a son born with a heart defect. Without meaning to be rude, I’d be interested to know specifics just incase it happened to be the same condition as my daughter. If indeed the child has had or been waiting to have surgeries, it’s understandable how this could’ve affected the thirty-one-year-old’s focus.

In terms of furthering his Test career, Stoneman’s fielding performances during his England stint didn’t exactly aid his cause, not to mention getting to fifty five times but not surpassing sixty. In fact in his final innings in New Zealand, having reached fifty he almost looked intent on getting out rather than knuckling down and registering a maiden Test ton…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/10883/scorecard/1115781/new-zealand-vs-england-2nd-test-eng-tour-of-aus-and-nz-2017-18

There then followed a torturous outing at home to Pakistan…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18025/scorecard/1119535/england-vs-pakistan-1st-test-pak-in-ire-eng-scot-2018

The fact that England lost the match meant that he couldn’t be afforded another chance in a two-Test series. Lack of runs combined with age mean that he’s unlikely to get another.

Saying Nay to Nepotism

Pakistan opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq has become the second fastest player to accumulate 1000 ODI runs and he’s done so at an average above 60!

http://stats.espncricinfo.com/wi/content/records/283174.html

http://m.espncricinfo.com/pakistan/content/player/568276.html

Imam is the nephew of Pakistan Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, so unoriginal and cynical sceptics had a field day when he was first called up for national duty! Of course Imam shouldn’t be selected because he’s Inzamam’s nephew but nor should he not be selected because so. I remember Darren Lehman talking nonsense about stepping out of the room if his son came up in conversation during Australian selection meetings. There’s just no logic to such a notion. You don’t make any selection without applying it to the whole of the team.

It’s a big ask for Imam to maintain such a great start but hopefully we’ll see more batsman re-writing the record books and averaging sixty plus, even if it’ll lead to groans about modern surfaces!

Imam will look to transfer his encouraging ODI performances to the Test arena, where’s he’s done okay but not yet set the world alight.