Cricket 19: Wales – T20I Debut!

Our first full international upon us, England captain Eoin Morgan won the toss and chose to field in this one-off Twenty20 International.

Our top order, having batted safely in the practice matches, attempted to instil a little more gusto into our short form batting. That’s what the powerplay is for right? It didn’t work!

We were soon 34-5 with all the fallen batsmen failing to reach double figures. Left-arm pace bowler Sam Curran (4-14) was destroyer in chief. Teenager Maxwell Khan (30) and wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas (26) batted admirably however to save face and lift us to 76-6. After Thomas was bowled by Ben Stokes (3-12), Cai Hughes (13) batted with aggression alongside the more measured Khan but also fell to Stokes. The score 98 at the time. Our tail couldn’t wag and we finished a disappointing 104 all out from 19.1 overs on full international debut. Still, having been 34-5 it was a score of sorts at least.

In each of the first two overs of England’s chase, we conceded boundary overthrows as the visitors blitzed their way to 43-0. However, from that point on, we went about providing England with a scare!

Osain Williams (1-18) had the honour of claiming Wales’ first ever T20I wicket. The right-arm medium pacer clean bowled a frustrated Jason Roy for 14. Express paceman Dylan Alexander did the same for Jos Buttler (30).

Slow left-armer Cai Hughes then dismissed Jonny Bairstow (15) with his first delivery in international cricket. He then accounted for England skipper Eoin Morgan (11) as well. Leg-spinner Eifion Williams had Moeen Ali (7) caught behind to complete a trio of catches for gloveman Rhodri Thomas. The efficient stumper had pouched the edges of Bairstow and Morgan for both of Hughes’ wickets.

Ben Stokes (18*) and Chris Woakes (10*) saw England home by five wickets with 6.2 overs to spare. However, we can hold our heads up high after a nervous start with bat and ball. Clearly though, we need to inject more power into our T20 batting in order to post competitive totals.

Next up is a three-match ODI series against England. I’m confident that in that particular format, our batsmen possess the skillset to bat time and produce decent scores. Our bowling attack are clearly capable of keeping opposition batsmen on their toes if our own batsmen can play to their potential.

Thank you for your support and look out for a report on how the fifty-over affairs panned out come the conclusion of the series.

Cricket 19: Fourth Umpire… If Only!

Three days ago at Lords, eleven men became France’s first ever Test cricketers. Captain Xavier Le Tallec called heads but it was tails that faced skyward when the coin settled on the ground. On a frighteningly verdant deck, home skipper Joe Root had no hesitation in opting to bowl.

Left-handed batsman Jean-Luc Chevalier had the honour of facing the first ball in France’s Test history and immediately grasped the honour of scoring the team’s first ever run. Unfortunately soon after that he had another honour… that of being the first France wicket to fall in the history of Test cricket. Chevalier (5) pushed a little too hard at an over the wicket delivery from Stuart Broad (1-29), got turned inside out and edged to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler who gleefully snaffled the catch.

Fellow opener Enzo Petit, fresh from fifties in each innings against Middlesex on the same ground, was joined at the crease by Gilles Smith. The pair repelled the England attack until DRS drama intervened to shatter French dreams. In his first over, Jofra Archer successfully appealed for an LBW against Smith. It looked out but after some deliberation Smith opted to review, seemingly in hope more than anything. Replays soon confirmed however that the right-hander had actually hit the ball prior to impact with his pads. It might’ve been the back of the bat and barely a scrape but it was enough to merit a reversal. A stunned crowd audibly gasped when Smith (19) was given out once again on the big screen. He pleaded his case with the umpire and though we understand the fine dished out and the reasons why, we remain disappointed by it, as I know that many in the cricket community are. It wouldn’t be our last occasion in the match to be underwhelmed by the standard of officiating!

All-rounder Gabin Sauvage (8) survived alongside Petit (30) until the final delivery pre-drinks when the latter edged a beauty of a delivery from Ben Stokes (1-17) to Buttler… who dropped a pretty regulation chance! I’m sure that the beverages tasted better at 59-2 than they would’ve another wicket down.

Buttler’s butterfingers mattered little however as a promising beginning only led to an embarrassing collapse of epic proportions! 68-2 became 104-9 as our batsmen found all manner of ways to get out, namely playing unnecessarily attacking shots as the application we’d applied up to that point evaporated. Included in those dismissals were Zidane Thomas, run out for a third ball duck and captain Xavier Le Tallec, who had his stumps castled first ball by spinner Dom Bess (4-33). To say that those dismissals were an inglorious start to their Test careers would be an understatement. Last men standing Alexandre Rivière (11*) and Mehdi Qadri swung handsomely to at least ensure that we avoided the ignominy of being bowled out before lunch on our first day of Test cricket. 133-9 were the specifics come salad serving.

One ball after the interval and our first innings had reached its conclusion, Qadri (17) wildly edging to slip off Jofra Archer (2-9).

Rivière had the honour of claiming our nation’s first Test wicket when an unconvincing Dominic Sibley (5) edged an unplayable delivery to Zvonimir Pitko at Gully. The muscular Pitko displayed agility and rapid reflexes to execute a stunning catch. Joe Denly (16) played a couple of glorious shots but was run out courtesy of sharp work by Marwan Leroy behind the stumps. As our players appealed for LBW against Rory Burns, Denly scurried to the other end. Replays suggested that he’d completed the run but maybe the umpires were evening things out when they flashed ‘OUT’ on the board, much to Denly’s chagrin.

Despite regular edges that just wouldn’t carry, England progressed from 51-2 all the way to 203-2 courtesy of Burns and captain Joe Root. In the final session we turned to spin and after Qadri had bowled a promising premier over, with only his third delivery skipper Le Tallec rapped Burns on the pads. The left-hander was on 99 as the ball ricocheted off his pad, clearly hit his bat and was expertly caught by Leroy running forward. Burns didn’t move and the decision went upstairs. An LBW decision was rejected by the third umpire. Fair enough but what about the catch? The officials blatantly ignored it and as with the Smith decision in our innings we were left aghast. Our players had dug deep to find a breakthrough. Our captain had stepped up with a clever tactical change by introducing spin with Burns on 99 but the system or/and the officials had failed us and the sport as a whole.

Despite his reprieve it would be spin that extinguished Burns’ night. In truth the Surrey stalwart played an inexplicably poor shot that was swallowed by Sauvage at square leg. Burns fell for 110 and England were on double nelson three wickets down.

Surprisingly spin continued to dominate at Lords. Le Tallec (1-13) got the wicket he deserved when he forced Ben Stokes (7) to drag onto his stumps. England recovered from the departure of the Durham man and reached 240-4 at the close, 107 runs to the good. Root and Ollie Pope elevated England to 315-4 when the latter, on 41 at the time, should have been run out. Mehdi Qadri (1-52) inexplicably failed to break the stumps from just inches away. After the pair had compiled 112 in each other’s company, Alexandre Riviere required only three deliveries with the new cherry to induce Pope’s (52) edge and Leroy claimed a good diving catch.

Sam Curran (27*) was promoted ahead of Jos Buttler and alongside Root (177*) raised England to 405-5 come the declaration. Riviere (2-62) was the pick of the bowlers but messrs Pierre (0-67), Thomas (0-90) and Sauvage (0-88) endured tough Test initiations.

We commenced our second innings effectively -272-0!

By the time the first wicket went down that deficit had been reduced to 195 as Chevalier and Petit restored French pride. The duo constructed a hugely encouraging opening stand of 77 before Chevalier (18) was bowled by Ben Stokes. I have huge sympathy for Chevalier because such was Enzo Petit’s dominance of the strike that it wasn’t easy for an instinctive stroke player like him and he just lost his rhythm a little. At the time the left-hander was bowled by the 22nd delivery that he received (He didn’t score off his final four) Petit had faced 49 balls, more than double Chevalier. Still, the pair had put on 77 for the first wicket to plant seeds of optimism for the future of French cricket.

Frustratingly Petit (56) was caught behind in the final over of the session. He seemed surprised by the removal of Archer from the attack and change of ends and angle for Curran. You could debate over the choice of shot let alone the execution of the pull but Petit deserves nothing but praise for his efforts both in the warm-up matches and our first ever Test. 100-2 still 172 runs behind was the scenario at tea and scones on day two.

After the interval Sauvage (3) soon succumbed to Curran, caught off a leading edge that ballooned to mid-on. Shortly after Sauvage’s demise Smith (27) naively fell to Bess’ first over of spin, caught on the boundary by that man Curran when a score of substance seemed on the table.

We’d slipped to 114-4 but Zvonimir Pitko and Zidane Thomas began building a partnership that soon had even the home fans on their side. The duo showcased their discipline as well as array of stroke play and had added 142 when Thomas was plumb LBW to Bess’ first ball of a new spell. It was typical that Thomas’ (65) run-a-ball knock ended with him trying to defend when he may have been better attempting to score.

Leroy (1) fell in the same over bringing Le Tallec to the crease. The skipper avoided the ignominy of a pair on Test debut but nicked to the slips off the returning Curran (3-48) to be outstandingly caught by his opposing number Root for just a single.

Patrick Pierre (1) was foolishly run out before Alexandre Riviere smashed back-to-back maximums straight up off Bess. Those strikes ensured that England would have to bat again and we’d avoided an innings defeat (With a little help from a declaration!) on our Test bow.

Bess (5-51) got sweet revenge when Riviere fell for 25 off only eight deliveries before Pitko (73) was out next ball. To avoid an innings defeat was a superb effort from the team but 289 was a disappointing score having been 256-4. England required 18 runs to win the first Test. After limiting the score to just 3-0 from one over we did at least take the game into a third day.

Despite a few LBW shouts and an edge through the slips England won by all ten wickets.

We started well with the bat but lost our way. We stuck to task with the ball then committed as a unit with the bat second time around. Yes we collapsed in all too familiar fashion in both innings but three of our top six recorded fifties and we had two partnerships of real substance. That bodes well for the immediate future. Next up we host England for out first ever Test match on home shores. Gabin Sauvage and Patrick Pierre may be sweating over their places as we look to square the series. I’d like to provide players with plenty of opportunities but it may be necessary to freshen things up. We’ll take a look at the surface before making a decision. We can’t wait to entertain a home crowd who will have had their appetite wetted by a brave display at Lords.

Cricket 19 – NWHTC – Final Statistics

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Having reached the conclusion of the inaugural North Western Hemisphere Test Championship here are our statistical highlights…

Highest Team Total: 619 vs. Canada at Lords

Highest Individual Innings: Haseeb Hameed – 154 vs. USA at Edgbaston

Highest Batting Average: Moeen Ali – 63.38 (Minimum 500 runs)

Leading Run-scorer: Haseeb Hameed – 942

Most Catches: Jonny Bairstow – 59

Best Bowling (Innings): Sam Curran – 6-26 vs. USA at Edgbaston

Best Bowling (Match): Sam Curran – 10-127 vs. Canada at Ottawa Oval

Best Bowling Average: Jamie Overton – 18.28 (Minimum 10 wickets)

Leading Wicket Taker: Sam Curran – 39

Cricket 19: NWHTC – Follow Me!

Captain Joe Root won the toss and chose to bat on an emerald green deck. The promise of sun gleamed run-producing days outweighing the early threat of swing, in our minds at least.

Dawid Malan (21) and Haseeb Hameed (12) applied themselves well at first in what felt like a proper Test match, such was the quality of the bowling courtesy of Tim Murtagh and Jerome Carpenter as well the magnitude of the occasion. Unfortunately both batsmen played appallingly out of place and particularly in Hameed’s case, out of character shots and were caught in the field off the bowling of Stanislav Tobin (1-25) and Murtagh respectively.

Debutant Dominic Sibley (42) soon showed why so many have craved his presence in the team. The right-hander timed the ball with grace all around the wicket and soon looked at home in the house of Test match cricket. The Warwickshire man struck three boundaries in the first over after drinks from Kaylan Ortiz (1-61) but then nicked behind to wicketkeeper Stuart Poynter when defending in the same over.

Moeen Ali joined Joe Root and arguably our player of the tournament so far (Sam Curran might argue!) helped rescue a hodgepodge morning from 84-3 to a more assertive 180-3 at lunch. The fluent batsmen feasted upon Ireland’s back-up bowlers with our skipper passing fifty for the eighth time in the tournament.

Post pasta Root and Moeen plowed on in measured fashion against some tight bowling from Ireland’s spin contingent.

The England skipper finally reached what had up to then remained an elusive North Western Hemisphere Test Championship century. With a positive result in this match certain to put us in the final and leave Ireland out of reach, it was a heck of a time for Joe to rise to the occasion.

Moeen (99) however fell in the nineties once again when… once again, trying to bring up three figures with an unnecessarily expansive shot. On a sun-kissed strip Arthur Munoz was the beneficial bowler as Moeen was made to Irish stew on what could’ve been. The partnership between Root and Moeen totalled 193 but Root (100) was caught behind off Paul Sterling without adding to his score and suddenly 277-3 slumped to 287-5.

Fears of a collapse were soon put to one side as Jonny Bairstow and Sam Curran danced to their own tune (And tempo!) in Dublin. The positive pair propelled the score to 350-5 come teatime with each wicket curiously coming courtesy of a different bowler.

In the day’s final passage of play Bairstow (50) hustled to a welcome half-century and a stand of 96 with Curran before being rather inelegantly bowled by Murtagh (2-135). Jos Buttler made the most of some inviting field settings to Irish cream a quick fire 31 before Gabriel Davis (1-74) claimed his wicket. Chris Woakes then assumed his place at the crease and soon found Irish climes to his taste. Woakes looked as good as anybody on the day and had made 42 when raising a fifty stand with a rampant but briefly backseated Curran.

Almost predictably Curran (115) brought up a second Test ton of the tournament to further demonstrate his insatiable talent. Sadly a full toss from Munoz proved his undoing soon after. Warwickshire’s Woakes went on to make an authority stating 68 but fell to Munoz (3-125) in the same over as Curran.

Jamie Overton (10) and Stuart Broad (17*) made sure that everybody reached double figures before the former was caught off Sterling (2-71). The luckless Carpenter (0-75), who like Murtagh bowled extremely well early in the piece, cruelly ended wicketless. The cumulative sum of our efforts totalled a formidable 569.

By the end of a pulsating first day Ireland had raced along to 33-1. Captain Pittman (2) the man to fall when he nicked behind off Broad. Gloveman for this match Buttler didn’t need to move an inch to take the catch.

Immediately on the second morning Joe Root displayed his developing captaincy capacity by applying the shock factor of using Jonny Bairstow as a bowler. The Yorkshireman, free of wicketkeeping duties, promptly recorded a wicket maiden with Ayonide Barry (7) the batsman suffering the horrible ignominy. Bairstow (1-26) basked in the Irish sun and the knowledge that he’d forever be a Test wicket taker just like McGrath, Walsh or Imran Khan!

Paul Sterling and Josiah McDonaugh then defied our bowlers with Sterling his usual attacking self. Once again however it was a bowling change that led to a wicket as Sam Curran returned to strike with the first ball of a new spell. For the second time in the innings Buttler didn’t need to move an inch as Sterling succumbed for a shamrocking 86. Ortiz was bowled for 1 in the same Curran (2-53) over before Poynter (4) fell to Moeen’s first delivery on Irish soil. England’s two best players of the competition were battling hard for the MVP mantle. 127-1 had become 134-5 as the luck of the Irish appeared to have been lost in the Irish Sea.

After the beverage break Root was immediately at it again, this time bringing Woakes (1-33) back into the attack to have Tobin (3) caught low at slip by the skipper himself. Gabriel Davis then joined McDonaugh and the pair halted the procession with an assured 59-run stand. Jamie Overton (1-48) eventually got in on the action though by sending McDonaugh’s (84) stumps cartwheeling as a second Irish batter couldn’t quite reach three figures. Nonetheless it had been an excellent display of batsmanship by McDonaugh, more measured than the ultra-aggressive Sterling but providing a beautiful contrast.

With only fourteen more runs added Munoz (7) was run out despite the throw originally going to the wrong end. A tracer bullet from Buttler soon had the ball down the other end however and Munoz was done for.

Davis was worked over at times but went on to make a more than useful 39 before Moeen (2-56) turned one past his outside edge and clipped the top of off stump. The fall of Davis saw Moeen rise to 200 Test wickets. Number eleven Murtagh joined Carpenter at the crease with Ireland placed at 257-9. Carpenter (60) defied our bowlers and batted like a top order player in a last-wicket stand of 70 alongside Murtagh (31*). Their combined effort lifted Ireland to 327 before Broad (2-60), new ball in hand, followed up a couple of full deliveries with a shorter one that Carpenter inside edged to Buttler.

Having used our spinners with the old ball before Broad’s wicket and only a few overs left in the day, we opted to enforce the follow-on and send Ireland into bat once again still 242 runs from parity. Pittman and Sterling symmetrically accumulated eight runs from twelve deliveries to reach the close at 16-0, the deficit down to just 226!

Midway through the second over of the third day and the first delivery that Overton bowled to Pittman, the Irish captain edged to Buttler for just 8 to complete a disappointing match for the home skipper. Sterling (17) perished in similar fashion to the same Overton (2-34)/Buttler combination before Ireland proceeded to self-implode on home turf. First McDonaugh (4) called for a single from the non-striker’s end but Hameed threw down his stumps from gully before the Irishman could make his ground. Barry (14) then completed a torrid match by being run out by Buttler having been bowled out by Bairstow in the first innings. Ortiz and Poynter batted well however to restore home pride and move the score on from 51-4 to 88 before the latter inside edged to an athletic diving Buttler off Curran.

Chris Woakes (1-38) trapped Tobin LBW for 1 having dismissed the same batsman for only 3 less than twenty four hours earlier. Soon after that Curran (2-38) sent Davis’ (7) stumps flying in all directions before Ortiz passed fifty courtesy of some overthrows.

Ortiz didn’t stop there and with the obdurate application of Munoz alongside him made it all the way to 91 and within sight of a Test ton in Dublin. Cue captain Root and his now not so secret weapon Jonny Bairstow (1-4). Ortiz’s timbers were soon toppled and a partnership of 66 broken. Carpenter (8) thick edged Broad (1-64) to Curran in the slips before Murtagh (10*) helped Munoz drag the score to 202.

Munoz (18) became the third run out victim in the innings and he himself was dismissed in such fashion for the second time in the match. It was a disappointing end to a stoic 71-ball vigil but limp second innings effort from Ireland. Ortiz’s 91 represented 45% of Ireland’s second innings score as we claimed victory by an innings and 40 runs.

Victory guarantees us a place in the final and presents an opportunity to rest some players ahead of the grand showpiece against Scotland. Though great for us it’s a shame for the tournament as a whole and in particular the fans that there isn’t more on the line in the final round of matches.

Disclaimer: Apologies if some of the images have quite prominent lines on them. They were taken under artificial light so particularly if viewing in colour on a larger screen can look a bit weird!

Cricket 19: NWHTC – New York, Same Old Story!

USA were victorious at the tossing of the coin and once play had commenced they progressed efficiently to 30 without loss. In the space of three deliveries though they faltered to 30-2 and were soon struggling further at 48-3.

c Bairstow b J Overton

c Bairstow b J Overton

c Bairstow b J Overton

Get used to the above folks!

Messrs Potter (17), star man Trujillo (0) and the stoic Morrison (13) all fell to the above combo. Overton was making the most of the hard deck and delivering one of the most threatening spells in the competition. America’s batsmen were simply blown away.

Following the triple strike USA resisted courtesy of a 40-run stand between Ayan Jeffries and Tahla Pittman. With more than a little fortune Ben Stokes accounted for Pittman (19) after the ball deflected off various parts of the batsman’s body before he inadvertently back-heeled it onto his stumps. Jackson North then joined Jeffries to take the score to 106-4 at lunch. USA’s score benefited from an alarming amount of extras, our quicker bowlers getting a little bit giddy on such a lethal deck.

Jeffries and North went onto compile a fifty partnership but a struggling Sam Curran thought he’d dismissed North LBW immediately after switching to around the wicket. Unsurprisingly the right-hander reviewed and the rather poor on-field decision was quite correctly overturned. The pair then went past 100 as a duo before Joe Root turned to his new go-to man in the shape of Overton. Immediately upon the Somerset man’s return things started to happen. With the final delivery of his new over he executed a perfect slower ball to dismantle North’s (52) timber. Root then immediately brought Moeen Ali (1-17) onto bowl and he knocked over a bitterly dejected Jeffries’ (76) middle stump via a delivery that left the batsman clueless. Henry Wilks could possibly have protected the set batsman so soon before tea. Following stand-in skipper Jos Buttler’s sharp captaincy against Canada, Root brought his tactical nous to the fore. 202-6 were the details at the second interval.

Just three deliveries after the break Overton induced Wilks to nick behind and claim his first five-wicket haul at Test match level. The decision to bowl from around the wicket to the left-hander was justified as USA slipped to 202-7. Rufus Suarez then played Overton straight back down the ground for a glorious four, the shot of the match up to that point but then edged to Moeen at gully the very next ball as Overton’s rampage continued at full steam.

Root then continued his captaincy evolution with a successful decision to review an LBW shout. Having given Shaurya Napier (4) not out the on-field umpires were forced to change a decision for a second time. As a result Chris Woakes (1-32) gained a confidence boosting wicket having beaten Napier four balls in a row.

Sam Curran returned to bowl a much better second spell but Niall Kerr (8*) and Asher Kennedy frustrated for a while before Kennedy (10) became Rob Keogh’s maiden Test wicket. Once again Keogh (10.5-3-15-1) had kept things exceptionally tight and in his second Test finally claimed that elusive wicket courtesy of a well executed arm-ball. USA finished on 229 but we gifted them 23 extras.

Undoubtedly the star of the show was Jamie Overton. The tall express paceman bowled an electrifying opening spell then returned to break a threatening partnership. 6-37 were his figures backing up the 4-41 he recorded on debut. Test batsmen across the globe are struggling to sleep at night because of Overton!

By the close of play on day one, opening batsmen Dawid Malan and Haseeb Hameed had reached 117-0 with no alarm whatsoever.

On day two is wasn’t too long before Malan frustratingly fell for 71 with the score double that at 142. Malan was acrobatically caught and bowled by left-arm pacer Napier (1-66). Ben Stokes (20) made another breezy but unsubstantial knock at number three but was given out LBW to the spin of Pittman. Despite opting to review, the Durham man had to go.

Having batted so well Haseeb Hameed (86) succumbed to a beautifully drifted and angling in delivery from Pittman that went between bat and pad before clipping the very summit of off stump. Moeen, having been dropped on 4, made 24 before edging behind to wicketkeeper J-J Morrison. Jonny Bairstow’s lean run continued when he was caught at mid-wicket first ball before Root (58) was caught at first slip off an attempted reverse sweep to present Pittman with a five-wicket haul.

Rob Keogh made a career best 11 before lazily nicking behind to give Jeffries a first wicket in the innings. Sam Curran (24) then fell to Pittman (6-68) in the same manner, a third catch for gloveman Morrison. Jamie Overton (18) had a good time if not a long time before Woakes (12) joined the list of those who could’ve done better. Both Woakes and Overton fell to the unheralded spin of Jeffries (3-79). James Anderson finished unbeaten on 13. To collapse from 142-0 to 342 all out, losing all ten wickets for exactly 200 runs after such a strong start was extremely underwhelming. All but the first wicket fell to spin and that’s something our batsmen clearly need to work on. Still, we’d constructed a lead of 113.

In their second dig, USA progressed productively to 35 without loss but Sam Curran seemed to have made the breakthrough when he trapped Potter LBW. The decision was overturned however, Potter surviving by a matter of millimetres and Curran left frustrated once again. It mattered little though as Chris Woakes sent Potter’s (21) stumps cartwheeling the very next over, Woakes’ first, and there’d be little point in reviewing that!

Stuart Trujillo walked to the wicket determined to make amends for missing out in the first innings and was quickly into his stride. Curran did soon get a wicket after all when he lured Morrison (21) into an edge that was held by Stokes at gully.

USA then resisted but to continue the theme of overturned decisions we reviewed a not out decision against Jeffries (6) and the on-field umpire was forced to give Jamie Overton a wicket just as the Americans approached parity.

Ben Stokes (1-79) bowled Pittman (19) as he’d done in the first innings to leave USA 148-4. Jackson North batted well alongside the imperious Trujillo to lift the score to 194-4 at the close of day two. Trujillo (Test best 99) would sleep on 94 with the lead a healthy 81.

Only one wicket fell during the premier session of the third day’s play, that of Jackson North (49), edging to Bairstow off the impressive Woakes. Trujillo marched on though with Wilks for company and the lead was up to a frightening 194 at lunch with five wickets still in hand.

Soon after the interval the new ball paid dividends as Curran (2-64) had the big wicket off Trujillo caught by Woakes at gully for a magnificent if at times fortuitous 177. After another frustrating passage of play Jamie Overton (2-61) knocked over Rufus Suarez’s (26) stumps and not too long after that Woakes (3-50) won an LBW shout against Wilks. Left-hander Wilks resisted for 105 deliveries in making 38 valuable runs. James Anderson (2-79), having conceded over a ton of runs in the match eventually claimed a wicket, that of Napier (13) caught by Bairstow after the batsman nicked a rising delivery. Anderson then clean bowled Kerr (8) to wrap things up for 393 leaving a challenging chase of 281 for victory. It was a delight to see Chris Woakes return to form and Joe Root’s inspired captaincy.

After surviving one over before tea, our run chase ultimately got off to a horrible start when Hameed (2) was outstandingly caught and bowled by Asher Kennedy. Kennedy (3-77) then had Stokes (11) foolishly caught on the boundary and Malan (23) caught at slip following a horrible slash outside off stump. Kennedy bowled an exceptional line outside off that moved away off the seam and lured the batsmen into the drive. Moeen (37) also fell to an ugly waft outside off and captain Joe Root (23) didn’t cover himself in glory when being caught at mid-wicket. Napier (1-52) and Suarez (1-43) the respective bowlers.

An under pressure Jonny Bairstow (32) steadied the ship with some responsible batting in a partnership of 95 with Sam Curran to lift us from 101-5 to 196-6. Seemingly intent on seeing the team home Bairstow nicked behind to Morrison off the much improved Wilks but was at least ‘Got out’ by the bowler.

Rob Keogh’s (Caught behind off Pittman for 2) travails continued and it may be that Test cricket is too much of a step up for the Northamptonshire man. Having bowled magnificently Chris Woakes (1), failed to replicate that standard with the bat. The Warwickshire all-rounder provided the immaculate Morrison with a fourth catch of the innings off the bowling of Wilks (2-39). Jamie Overton (35*) then put our top order batsmen to shame by compiling 54 with Curran (88*) to reach the close with us an agonising 13 runs shy of victory.

Rather anti-climatically following a sleepless night for all, the nail-biting two-wicket win came with little threat posed the following morning. Number ten Jamie Overton, playing in only his second Test finished unbeaten on 41 whilst Curran finished heroically yet cruelly 97 not out and denied the possibility of Test tons in consecutive matches.

Huge respect to USA for an amazing Test match and pushing us right to the wire. I’m hugely proud of our team though for pulling through in the end. There were some excellent performances throughout the side from individuals under pressure both in regards to the match situation and their place in the team.

In the other matches Scotland thrashed Netherlands in Edinburgh by ten wickets thanks in part to Saul Skinner’s second innings 6-17. In Ottawa Canada helped our and their own cause by defeating Ireland by 64 runs. Batsman Brooklyn Anderson notching another ton whilst Sydney Napier claimed 8-108 in the match.

Our next match away in Ireland could see us seal a place in the final or alternatively let Ireland stay in the hunt!

Disclaimer: Though the match was played in New York the way the match played out wasn’t a familiar tale. I love the headline though so am sticking with it!

Cricket 19: GODII – Namibian Amphibians Flounder on Dry Land!

After four wins from four we headed south of the equator for the next stop on our global ODI adventure.

Hosts Namibia won the toss, chose to bowl and reduced us to 121-4 and 219-6 only to see Sam Curran (150) and Liam Dawson (125 not out) compile a record-breaking seventh wicket partnership of 284 (The previous record was 177!). The duo’s combo propelled us to a world record ODI score of 510-7!

The competition’s leading run-scorer Dawid Malan (54), Ben Stokes (54), Jonny Bairstow (53) and Moeen Ali (43) all scored quickly but blew golden opportunities to make a big score. Liam Livingstone (3) and skipper Jos Buttler (7) completely missed out whilst Test captain Joe Root was rested from the long voyage to Southern Africa.

Corben Cassim (1-119) set an undesirable new record for worst ODI bowling figures though Jayden-Lee Fitzpatrick (0-116) pushed him hard. Spinner Zaki George finished 0-99 from his ten overs (Would you like a flake on that?) but Magnus Mahomed (3-86) claimed 3 wickets. Rarely, all his dismissals were caught & bowled.

Namibia began their improbable run chase with all eyes on Lennox Larson. Larson had made two tons in the competition before this match and briefly displayed his ability before being clean bowled by Chris Woakes (2-22) for 13. Woakes then accounted for Mario Dollie for a duck. An example of the flow of runs well and truly running dry in the Namib Desert for the man they call Kart Sheep! (Kart Sheep, because of Mario Kart and Dolly the Sheep. Get it? Aargh forget it!)

Philip Yvonne (57) and Jayden-Lee Fitzpatrick (29) lifted the home side from 21-2 to 100-2 with a strong batting display. Stokes (2-26) accounted for Fitzpatrick however and Moeen (2-45) terminated Yvonne’s career best knock.

Stokes added another victim before it became the Tom Curran show for the second match running. The Surrey star ripped through the middle lower order to finish with figures of 4-17. Moeen then claimed the final wicket courtesy of supreme stumper Jonny Bairstow’s fifth catch of the innings. Though the match was played in Cheetah country, all wickets were taken legitimately!

154 all out was the sum total of Namibia’s batting efforts meaning an earth-shattering 356-run margin of victory. Their top order batsmen have talent but with such a weak bowling attack it makes it difficult for the likes of the imaginatively monikered Henrik Larson to prosper. For the record, all our players returned to England safely. We left no skeletons on the coast!

There were some competitive matches elsewhere in the competition with much improved run getting from the emerging nations. With five wins from five, we sit joint top alongside European rivals the Netherlands. They travel to Canada next whilst we host Nepal at Headingley. Will we both still be unbeaten when we meet in round seven, the final ODI before returning to the Test format?

Cricket 19: GODII – Canadian Capitulation!

Don’t worry England fans. It was our hosts that capitulated in the majestic surroundings of Ottawa Oval. Such a picturesque setting deserved far better than the syrup served up by the home team. Please don’t blame messrs Curran or Woakes though. They were only doing their job. Spare a thought for Joe Root as well. The Yorkshire lad flew all that way and didn’t bat or bowl.

At least Jos Buttler got to toss a coin! To think that there were those that questioned the decision to bowl. Though paying fans may wish that we’d batted first.

If it weren’t for two out of control top edges off ‘throw the kitchen sink’ hook shots from Darcy Harris off the hostile bowling of Jofra Archer then Canada wouldn’t have even totalled the paltry 38 all out that they did.

New ball duo Chris Woakes (3-11) and Sam Curran (3-3) did the damage at the top of the order before slow-left-armer Liam Dawson, having replaced Tom Curran in the side, chipped in with 2-8. Archer (1-14) then got in on the act before Moeen Ali struck first ball. It’ll come as no surprise to anyone that wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow took the innings ending catch to make it seven for the day (A new ODI record!) and already into double figures just two outings into the competition.

Dawid Malan (19 not out) and Liam Livingstone (18 not out) saw us comfortably to a ten-wicket win.

Such as a one-sided affair has led to questioning the integrity of the competition from some quarters. We’re only two matches in and there have already been some reasonably high scoring close encounters so far in the tournament. We’re participating in order to help promote the game across the globe. I guarantee that Canada will perform better when we meet again later in the competition.

Next for us we host USA at Old Trafford. You can expect a strong squad to be named for that one.

Cricket 19: GODII – Living the Dream!

We commenced the Global ODI Invitational with a resounding 177-run victory over Papua New Guinea at The Oval. It was a long trip for PNG and that may have taken it’s toll, particularly on their batsmen who looked severely jet lagged.

Having been put into bat we posted 272 but were disappointed to be bowled out in just 39.4 overs. Nearly all our batsmen need to reflect on their dismissals and ask themselves if they could’ve avoided getting out at that stage of the game. It’s only game one though in this format and ultimately we produced enough runs to win the match but we’ll likely face sterner tests (Or ODIs!) as the tournament progresses.

Liam Livingstone and Dawid Malan were our new opening combo and the pair batted with measured intent to reach 55 without loss. Lancashire’s Livingstone (33) was given out caught behind and frustratingly replays seemed to suggest that had he reviewed then the decision would’ve been overturned. Following the debutante’s departure, Ben Stokes was needlessly run out for 27 before Joe Root nicked behind for 10.

Soon after, Dawid Malan, who looked on course for a century, inexplicably through his wicket away having compiled 64 from only 56 deliveries. Moeen Ali (29) was another who got started but soon got out. He, the first wicket to fall to the persistent Caspar Sandhu.

Sandhu would finish with impressive figures of 5-64 and also claimed an excellent catch on the boundary to dismiss skipper Jos Buttler for 56.

Right-arm medium-pacer Sandhu ripped through our lower order adding the scalps of Jonny Bairstow (8), Tom Curran (15), Sam Curran (4) and Chris Woakes (1) to that of Buttler. Meaning no disrpesect to Sandhu but all our batters could’ve avoided getting out. Jofra Archer was dropped early on but finished undefeated on 19.

In pursuit of overhauling our total Papua New Guinea started reasonably well before Kaidan Donahue (11) nicked behind off Chris Woakes with the score on 17. Bairstow claimed his first competition catch and would go onto claim three in the innings.

The Yorkshireman has forty-one catches in only five North Western Hemisphere Test Championship matches and transferred that form to the GODII. As the competition progresses however we may occasionally rest our premier gloveman both from keeping and/or the playing XI altogether.

Wickets fell at regular intervals but amongst the chaos opening batsman Carlos Ahuja (49) bounced back from a tough time with the ball (7-0-51-0) but fell agonisingly short of a deserved fifty when he was caught by one Curran brother, Sam, off the bowling of another, Tom, both of whom were playing on their home turf.

Jayant Rege (13) was the only other batsman to reach double figures.

Livingstone (2-7) wrapped things up with some impressive leg-spin while Woakes (2-27) and Sam Curran (2-10) also picked up two wickets each.

Moeen, Stokes, Archer and Tom Curran all claimed one wicket each as PNG folded for just 95.

It was a decent start to the ODI festivities but our batsmen will need to kick on and last the full allocation in future if we’re to post the sort of seismic scores we strive for.

Next up for us it’s Canada away. We thoroughly enjoyed playing a Test match in the beautiful surroundings of Ottawa Oval and look forward to revisiting the area. We’ll take a reasonable touring party with us as travelling so far from home we need to cover for all eventualities.

Cricket 19: NWHTC – Statistical Update

Having reached the halfway point of the round robin stage of the inaugural North Western Hemisphere Test Championship, here are some statistical highlights from our performances. Remember that we lost to Scotland in our opening match but have gone onto beat Canada, USA, Ireland and Netherlands.

Highest Team Total: 493-8 dec vs. USA at Edgbaston

Highest Individual Innings: Haseeb Hameed – 154 vs. USA at Edgbaston

Highest Batting Average: Joe Root – 52.25

Leading Run-scorer: Joe Root – 418

Most Catches: Jonny Bairstow – 41 (Forty-One!!!)

Best Bowling (Innings): Sam Curran – 6-26 vs. USA at Edgbaston

Best Bowling (Match): Sam Curran – 10-127 vs. Canada at Ottawa Oval

Best Bowling Average: Sam Curran – 13.50

Leading wicket taker: Sam Curran – 28

Cricket 19: NWHTC – Finding Netherland is Nether Easy!

Snowcapped mountains, palm trees and Warnesque spin bowlers. Quite what part of the Netherlands we were in we still have no idea but it hosted some thoroughly good cricket!

On the first morning (Or afternoon, it was a day/nighter) we were untroubled at 54 without loss just one ball before the beverage break and looked destined for a big first innings total. Ben Duckett, not content with just liquid refreshment, couldn’t resist a nibble however and out of nowhere we were one wicket down. His replacement at the wicket, another Ben in the form of the recalled Ben Stokes then went on the attack to carry us to 102-1. In the blink of an eye though that became 108-4! Stokes dragged on after striking a punchy 39, Jos Buttler (4) executed an awful leave for the second time in the competition and Haseeb Hameed, who made 39 in 56 deliveries more than it took Stokes, was caught both in two minds and behind. Moeen Ali looked in excellent touch once again but fell for 34 before captain Joe Root and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow batted brilliantly to brighten our outlook.

The Yorkshire pair lifted us from the wreckage of 158-5 to 287-5 when Root (62) was bowled courtesy of a Buttler-like leave soon after tea. That was Root’s sixth half-century of the North Western Hemisphere Test Championship (A competition best) but his top score remains 77 not out.

Bairstow’s batting bloomed however and the white rose flowered amongst the tulips. His innings of 104 was a composed and truly masterful innings that in part made you frustrated at how poor his batting returns have been in the competition up to this point. Let’s celebrate the now though. It was a class knock that demonstrated ability, intelligence and application.

Sam Curran (10) and Stuart Broad (1) joined YJB in departing in a hurry before we declared on 345-9 from 75 overs. Chris Woakes finished unbeaten on 16 alongside debutante Jamie Porter on 5.

The Dutch openers, not a fifty in sight in their Test careers to date, then danced to the floodlit wicket. Darren Toonen, top score 16 and averaging 4.25 in four Tests was worked over by England’s new new ball pair of Broad and Anderson prototype Porter but got off the mark with an edge for four.

Having reached an average enhancing 7, he nicked via pad towards Root who sprinted forward from the slips and helped Essex man Porter become a Test match wicket-taker. Our hosts had reached 32-1 when at 9pm the floodlights were switched off to conserve energy. The NWHTC actively supports and promotes efficient energy usage and environmental respect.

On day two Netherlands progressed to 67-1 before opener Shaun Mortier, having compiled a career best 42, was outstandingly caught behind by Jonny Bairstow off the bowling of Ben Stokes. Due to a lack of bounce on the wicket, Bairstow was stood up to the stumps but somehow managed to cling onto the pink ball high to his left. Nobody had expected to have to wait until round five for Ben Stokes to claim his maiden NWHTC wicket but he was finally up and running. Keen to make up for lost time the Durham tyrant then had Dutch captain Warren Beelen caught by Bairstow again for a second ball quack quack.

From 67-3 Netherlands moved onto 75 before the controversial episode that sent shockwaves throughout the cricket community. Batsman Bryan Long, on 1 at the time, pulled the ball behind square and never left his crease. Moeen simply lobbed the ball back towards the stumps and by accident rather than design it dislodged the bails. There was no appeal from our team but the umpires took the decision upstairs. Despite replays clearly showing that Long was in and had never left his ground, ‘OUT’ appeared on the big screen. Captain Joe Root, backed by his teammates, politely but passionately protested with the umpires. This is not how we want to take wickets! Umpire Symons insisted that Long must leave the field of play however and despite further protestations from our players, Netherlands slumped to 75-4. I’d like to reiterate that none of our players appealed for the wicket and the team were unanimous both at the time and now that Long should not have been given out. It was disappointing officiating and a unnecessary stain on the inaugural North Western Hemisphere Test Championship.

Feeling aggrieved, the bottom of the table side regained their composure and recovered to reach 107-4 before Moeen, legitimately, accounted for Maxwell Rabe. Rabe batted well for 18 but nicked behind a ball that spun off the blades of green grass protruding terra firma more than the blades on a Dutch windmill! Broad then gave Bairstow yet another dismissal when he tempted Pluto Schmidt to play away from his body and edge behind. Pluto might not be a planet anymore but Schmidt’s bowling (3-48) was out of this world. Unfortunately his batting failed to launch!

Our hosts then displayed some Dutch courage with a partnership of 61 between the defiant Shuman Engels (19) and Bradley Claessens (91). Ahhh, the classic inverted innings! Engels was athletically caught at short leg by Moeen off Sam Curran before Claessens suffered his heartbreak. Having passed fifty for the first time in Test cricket, the left-hander was within sight of a hundred when a bowling change caught him off guard. To the second ball of a new Stokes spell, he edged to Hameed in the slips to end his dreams of a Test ton, for now anyway. Shane Snater (5) then fell in the same over, a fifth catch for Bairstow to give him more NWHTC dismissals than some of the Dutch batsmen have runs! Last men standing Klassen (17 not out) and van Meekeren (2) lifted the Netherlands to a respectable 212 before Jamie Porter (2-55) terminated the innings. Stokes was by far the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4-55 and wickets taken at crucial times.

Come our second dig, messrs Duckett and Hameed, as has been the case many times before, looked at ease in reaching 44-0 before Duckett fell in the first over of spin. The left-hander looked sprightly in making 24 and executed a glorious reverse sweep for four before being dismissed the very next ball. He looked good, built up everybody’s hopes but got out. It was all too familiar and Ben will now be better served returning to domestic cricket. That is the harsh truth but we can persist no more.

Stokes was then superbly caught and bowled by van Meekeren for just 6 before Hameed and Root set about repairing the damage. The pair combined for 61 before Root (32) dragged on in Toonen’s first over. Unfortunately there then followed a horrible little episode late in the day. Hameed, struggling with injury, was slow to get on his bike and thus run out for 61 before Buttler (7) fell in single figures again. After a promising start to the competition, he’ll need a good showing in the first stage of the Global ODI Invitational to be in with a chance of retaining his Test spot. Moeen (8 not out) and Bairstow (4 not out) survived until the close. We finished day two on an underwhelming 147-5 but a healthy 280 runs to the good.

The following morning was pretty inglorious with Moeen soon run out for 29. Run outs have crept into our batting and need eradicating quickly. Bairstow (23) was then caught behind off a horrendous swoosh off Snater. Woakes (13) also edged to Engels and Broad was caught and bowled for 1 with both men falling to van Meekeren (3-70). We were keen to get on with things on day three, what with the threat of rain and an opportunity to potentially have an extra couple of days rest ahead of the ODIs but our batsmen could’ve applied themselves better. Thankfully Sam Curran (27 not out) and Jamie Porter (11 not out) lifted us to 239-9 and we declared at drinks. Curran’s innings included an all run five! Netherlands were left requiring 373 for a duck breaking win in the competition.

As in the first innings the home team made some sort of start by reaching 22 without loss before messrs Broad and Porter accounted for openers Mortier (11) and Toonen (12). Then in the first over after lunch, captain Root handed the ball to Sam Curran. Curran, our leading wicket-taker in the competition but a little quiet in recent innings, promptly clean bowled first innings hero Bradley Claessens (5) with his and the session’s first delivery, had the luckless Long caught in the slips for a golden duck and despite Rabe negotiating the hat-trick ball, Curran sent him back to the pavilion for just 2 with the final delivery of the over. Curran didn’t stop there, soon trapping Dutch captain Beelen (9) plumb LBW before Stokes got in on the act when Schmidt (20) nicked behind. Schmidt had lifted the homeside from the wreckage 47-6 to a slightly more respectable 76-7 and looked a good player on both sides of the wicket.

Snater (11) then dug in with Engels to help the hosts pass three figures before being clean bowled by Moeen. Next man Klassen didn’t dig in as like Curran, Moeen (2-22) struck twice in as many deliveries.

Curran then returned to claim his third five-wicket haul (5-29) of the NWHTC. Van Meekeren had held out for seventeen deliveries but edged to Bairstow for only 1 in the first over under lights. Gloveman Engels, who applied himself extremely well, was left undefeated on 38 from 83 balls. Netherlands were all out for just 112 meaning a crushing 260-run win for us. It was another positive result for us but we’d still like our batsmen to kick on more and apply a little gloss to our victories.

Our fourth consecutive win leaves us 10 points behind the unbeaten Scots and 10 ahead of Ireland at the halfway stage of the inaugural North Western Hemisphere Test Championship. Netherlands remain winless and on course for the wooden spoon. We now take a respite from the rigours of the longest format and turn our attention to the early rounds of the Global ODI Invitational. Look out for our squad announcement soon.