Cricket 19: NWHTC – Found the Edge but Where’s Bono?

The Irish batsmen raise their bats to recognise the applause upon reaching their half-century… oh no, wait!

50 all out before lunch and having even gone off for rain!

Paul Stirling achieved duck avoidance with an edge for four but it was his only scoring shot and set the tone for what was to come. James Anderson, dancing on his home deck, had Stirling superbly caught in the slips by Rory Burns and things didn’t get any better for the visitors. Anderson soon doubled his tally when he bagged Andrew Balbirnie for a duck before Stuart Broad also struck twice. Surrey’s Sam Curran, our leading wicket taker in the competition, struck with his second delivery and thought he’d done so again the very next ball. The LBW decision was overturned however before we reviewed one ourselves the following delivery. It was an almost identical ball and was correctly given not out… just! Chris Woakes, fresh from being rested for the USA match then made an immediate impact by striking with the post rain-break’s premier delivery. Warwickshire’s Woakes went onto claim absurd analysis of 3-6 including the prize scalp of opening bat William Porterfield. Porterfield grafted for 18 from all of 70 deliveries, the only real resistance in the Irish batting effort though James McCollum made a pretty 11. Spin-bowler Moeen Ali got in on the act too courtesy of a sharp catch by gloveman Jonny Bairstow.

We’d expected to be presented with a real challenge from Ireland as both sides competed for second spot in the table and keeping table-topping Scotland in sights. We won the toss, chose to bowl in difficult batting conditions at Old Trafford and thoroughly exploited said conditions. Though ripping through a side is enjoyable we much prefer a challenge. It wasn’t a great start from Ireland but we knew there was still a long way to go.

Credit then to Ireland who surprised everybody by opening the bowling with spin and it soon did the trick. Rory Burns fell in all too familiar fashion, caught behind off the bowling of James Cameron-Dow for only 9. His dismissal left his place in the XI on a precipice.

Ben Duckett promptly took guard then relocated the ball into the outfield and off he set. Sadly Haseeb Hameed, fresh from a ton against America and hoping to repeat the feat on his home turf, was run out for 6 coming back for a second. Duckett then batted as he often has before, looking comfortable and striking two or three wonderful boundaries. At lunch he’d reached 33 from 36 meanwhile captain Joe Root had raced to a run-a-ball 44. The pair aided our recovery from 17-2 to 99-2. The question was could Root, having made a three fifties in the competition so far, go big and could Duckett save his Test career?

Root soon surpassed fifty and he and Duckett had compiled 113 when the captain nicked behind off the spin of Andy McBrine for 60. Then, just when Duckett seemed to have cemented his place for the immediate future, he ran himself out for 49. The Shamrock spinners stymied the left-hander’s scoring and he allowed the pressure to manifest itself. He was far too casual when trying to sneak a single and failed to ground his bat in time. It was a horrible end to an innings that had promised so much and rather summed up Duckett’s Test career so far.

Suddenly it was all going off as Jos Buttler, having made just one, was put down off the next ball. The drop didn’t prove costly as Buttler fell for only 6 before Moeen inexplicably joined the run out victims having made just 4. It was an embarrassing and unacceptable passage of play on our part.

The procession continued at break neck speed as Sam Curran was caught behind for 6 then Bairstow joined for only 10. YJB dragged on via his boot from possibly the slowest delivery in history. Broad was next to go, clean bowled for 8 to become part-timer Stirling’s (3-25) third wicket. When George Dockrell dismissed hometown hero Anderson for 6, we’d lost 8 wickets for 58 runs and our self-implosion was complete. We totalled 188, a lead of 138 with Chris Woakes stranded on 15. Despite a healthy lead the boys headed back to the changing room to take a long hard look at themselves and face some harsh truths!

After our batting collapse the team came out fired up and determined to right some wrongs. We soon made a crucial breakthrough before tea when local lad Anderson trapped Stirling (14) LBW and Ireland closed the session on 28-1. The final session was then entirely lost to rain. Though 21 wickets fell on the first day’s play, the NWHTC Pitch Inspection Squad were happy with the surface. Three of the wickets fell to run outs, our bowlers exploited a juicy deck on a damp morning before our batsmen then crumbled under pressure against spin. In short, the pitch wasn’t at fault.

On a rain interrupted second morning Ireland progressed to 57-1 before normality resumed. Anderson feasted in familiar surroundings having Balbirnie caught behind for 12, the crucial wicket of Porterfield played on for 53 then Kevin O’Brien inside edged to Bairstow first ball. Stumper Stuart Poynter survived until drinks but Ireland were 88-4, still half a century behind. Because of the rain and interruptions in play, Anderson and Broad bowled in tandem for the opening 23 overs of the innings before Curran and Woakes entered the fray. Woakes was soon in on the act picking up where he left off in the first innings. Poynter had reached 10 before he became yet another victim of the Bairstow catching machine, nicking a full and unplayable delivery from Woakes. Batting then got easier as the pitch dried out but take nothing away from the Irish batsmen who resisted well. In fact McCollum (56 not out) and Stuart Thompson (53 not out) did more than resist and lifted Ireland from 99-5 to 201-5 at tea, a lead of 63.

After a period of immense frustration for our side, Stuart Broad (1-66) finally split the partnership when he trapped McCollum plumb in front for an excellent 71. At 227-6 the Irish lead was up to 89. Sam Curran (1-53) then dismissed Dockrell for 9 before Moeen cruelly terminated Thompson’s innings twelve runs short of a maiden Test ton. Moeen (2-42) also accounted for McBrine on 11. Skipper Root then brought back Anderson in search of the final wicket and a five-wicket haul. It turned out to be a regrettable move as the Lancashire Express (4-70) sustained an injury when executing the final delivery of the over. Ireland closed day two on a commendable 294-9, a lead of 156 runs.

On the third day rain again delayed the start but after some overthrows helped get Cameron-Dow on strike, Woakes (2-39) duly snapped him up caught behind by Bairstow (10 catches in the match) for his second wicket of the innings. 308 was the Irish innings total meaning that we required a potentially tricky 171 to win. For under pressure opener Burns it had the potential to be a career defining day.

Haseeb Hameed’s hometown horror continued when he was clean bowled by Tim Murtagh for just 1. Something about a show and a Lord Mayor! Burns and Duckett then progressed to 36-1 when the heavens opened once again.

To the very first delivery after rain Burns swiped at a full length Murtagh delivery outside off stump that was angling away from him, nicked it to Poynter and having made only 16, walked off the field leaving us with a difficult decision to make for the trip to the Netherlands.

Duckett knuckled down however, kept the boundaries in his locker and ran his way to 51. He then edged behind off Dockrell but his match aggregate of 100 runs was absolutely essential. In this innings he stepped up under huge pressure and can hopefully build on this. Duckett’s departure brought Buttler to the crease and he and Root batted sensibly to move from 120-3 to 165-3 at tea. We tucked into our tea and scones just five runs from victory but with an eagle eye on the clouds.

In the second over after the interval Root (77 not out) and Buttler (20 not out), on his adopted home ground, reached their fifty partnership and saw us comfortably home for a seven-wicket victory.

There were some ups and downs in the match and Ireland made us work hard which was something we needed after a few relatively easy victories in previous matches. Our first innings batting performance was below par but the boys applied themselves well second time around. Root made fifties in both innings and the contributions of Ben Duckett were particularly welcome.

Clearly Rory Burns double failure was disappointing. His sequence of scores in the competition reads 26, 44, 9, 57, 34, 9 & 16 at an average of 27.86. That’s by no means a disgrace but Test cricket demands greater returns.

Our bowling unit maintained their high standards and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow has now claimed 32 dismissals in just four matches, ten clear of the next best in the competition.

Next up for us it’s a trip to the continent to take on the Dutch. It’s an opportunity for our batsmen to test themselves against one of the NWHTC’s leading bowlers in the form of Fred Klassen. Look out for our squad announcement soon.

Cricket 19: North Western Hemisphere Test Championship – Ottawan Odyssey

In the stunning surroundings of Ottawa Oval, home team Canada won the toss and elected to bat first. Our maple leaf dreams soon turned to nightmares as Rory Burns (9), Ben Duckett (8) and captain Joe Root (11) were all soon back in the pavilion. We’d slumped to 48-3 in what was all too familiar fashion. Haseeb Hameed (40) set about repairing the damage with some glorious cover drives before being superbly caught and bowled. His dismissal meant that our top three batsmen had all been dismissed in the forties in the competition but none had yet reached fifty.

That honour was left first to the recalled Moeen Ali. Having replaced Ben Stokes after the Durham man’s ineffectual performance against Scotland, Moeen struck a positive but controlled 51 from 43 deliveries. Unfortunately having compiled a partnership of 97 with Jos Buttler, Moeen was out just before lunch and as a result we headed for our quinoa salads on 197-5.

After the break Buttler and Jonny Bairstow batted with intent through to the beverage break, ultimately contributing a partnership of exactly 100 runs. Buttler (102) would go onto reach our first hundred of the competition from just 80 deliveries but fell to Noah Dodd (4-106) almost immediately after. Despite the loss of Sam Curran (7) the runs continued to flow. After a poor showing with the bat at The Oval, Bairstow made a mature 66 before, like Hameed earlier in the piece, was excellently caught and bowled by Ned Daly (2-50). Chris Woakes (63) and Stuart Broad (35 not out) each maintained their good batting form to frustrate the Canadians. From 293-7 and 341-8, the lower order lifted us to a competitive first innings total of 405. Not a bad effort having been 48-3, 85-4 and half the team down at lunch!

Four deliveries into the home side’s first innings and they were a wicket down courtesy of James Anderson. They were soon 4-2 then 11-3 after Stuart Broad’s double strike. Niall Klein and Hamza Turner (26) resisted with a partnership worth 42. Sadly for them the Sam Curran show arrived in town and by the close of play Canada had subsided to 93-7. Curran’s full in swinging deliveries were just too much for the home side’s batsmen to handle. The hosts promptly lost a wicket to the very first ball of the second day’s play when Anderson doubled his innings tally before Curran (6-27) sealed a five-wicket haul.

The Surrey man then snaffled innings top scorer Niall Klein (42) as Bairstow claimed his fifth victim to terminate the Canadian innings on 105.

Though our bowlers were well rested we invited messrs Burns, Hameed and Duckett to cement their places in the team by opting not to enforce the follow-on. Despite effectively being 300-0, the pressure was on our top order to forge Test careers. They responded well.

Burns and Hameed surpassed their previous best opening stand of 37 and went onto compile 106 for the first wicket.

Left-hander Burns caressed a handful of glorious off-drives for four in his fluent knock of 57 before frustratingly falling to Noah Dodd’s first delivery. Hameed, just one run shy of a half-century, then fell to the first ball of Dodd’s second over. Despite their dismissals, both had done enough to secure their place in the team for the next match.

That meant that the pressure was on Ben Duckett and on it he thrived, becoming the next player to book himself another Test cap. The diminutive left-hander put on 103 with his captain before Joe Root was stumped on 54. Duckett was out for a hugely encouraging 58 and he and his skipper were only dismissed when upping the ante ahead of a declaration.

Moeen Ali (14) and Jonny Bairstow (For a golden duck) fell soon after but Sam Curran survived the hat-trick ball. In the quest for quick runs Jos Buttler (7) was caught behind and when Curran (17) was dismissed we declared on 278-8, a gargantuan lead of 578. In truth we gifted the Canadian bowlers some cheap wickets but our top order had at least discovered some rhythm.

Broad soon had the hosts one wicket down but Ned Daly and Niall Klein batted well thereafter. The pair combined for 96 for the second wicket despite the occasional edge. It was left to Moeen to claim our first wicket via spin in the competition when Daly (59) was trapped in front. Canada closed the day’s play on 121-2, still a whopping 457 runs behind.

In the morning session, though Moeen bowled some good deliveries the only wicket we claimed was that of Klein for 79 courtesy of Woakes. Despite that loss the hosts progressed steadily before the new ball helped turn the tide in the middle session. James Anderson dismissed his namesake Brooklyn (74) with a snorter that had the Canadian in a tangle before the red orb descended to dislodge the bails. New ball partner Broad then had Turner caught behind for a well earned but at times fortuitous 45. Turner’s termination was via yet another catch for YJB and suddenly there were two new batsmen at the crease with our hosts still over 300 runs in arrears.

Canadian captain Dougie Jordan came out all guns blazing though, striking a Test best 32 from only 28 deliveries including three consecutive fours off Curran. Jordan dominated a stand of 35 with Dodd before Curran gained his revenge when DJ nicked behind. Dodd (49) in tandem with Subhran Breen (54 not out) frustrated us with an eighth-wicket partnership of 80 before yet another in swinging Curran yorker did for Dodd. When Curran bowled Rico Ewing via his legs for six the Surrey teenager secured a ten-for in the match, a fantastic achievement. Not long after that though number eleven Sidney Napier scored a single off the last delivery of the day to take the game into another.

Finally, on the fourth morning Chris Woakes trapped Napier (9) LBW and we had our first North Western Hemisphere Test Championship points on the board. We won by a convincing margin of 155 runs having declared our second innings and managed the workload/experimented with our bowlers in the final innings. Every player bar Bairstow had a trundle. Credit to the Canadians for posting 423 in pursuit of what would’ve been a record-breaking run chase. Our bowlers stuck to the task however with Sam Curran, match figures of 10-127 the stand out performer. We were able to rid ourselves of some of the scars inflicted upon us during the Scotland defeat but Moeen Ali’s match return of 1-148 is a cause for concern.

Next up for us are Canada’s neighbours USA in a day/night encounter at Edgbaston. USA ran out surprise winners against the Dutch, winning a thriller by just 17 runs. Fred Klaassen, who claimed first innings figures of 8-42 seems rather unfortunate to have ended on the losing side. Scotland top the table after defeating the Irish to make it two wins from two for them.

We thank you for your support and advice that our squad for the entertaining of the United States in Birmingham will be announced shortly.

Cricket 19: North Western Hemisphere Test Championship – Watt on Earth?!

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Eleven players took to the field for England’s first ever North Western Hemisphere Test Championship match against Scotland at The Oval. Such was the state of the pitch that we bravely (Naively?) chose to omit our main spin threat of Moeen Ali. That left the part-time efforts of captain Joe Root as the only spin bowling option available to… captain Joe Root. On his home ground it was felt essential to select the effervescent Sam Curran. The left-arm seamer provides our attack with a crucial point of difference.

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Having won the toss we chose to bat first and local boy Rory Burns (26) alongside Haseeb Hameed (23) laid a solid foundation in reaching 37 without loss before Burns was caught when attempting a pull. Ben Duckett soon followed for just 1 and the rest of our wickets continued to fall with alarming regularity. This was despite 98 minutes of stoicism from Lacnashire’s Hameed. We also benefited from skipper Joe Root (9) having earned a reprieve when dropped in the slips on just 2 but he added only a further seven runs before being dismissed. 37-0 became an embarrassing 121 all out before lunch on the first day at The Oval.

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A reverse-sweep filled counter-attacking innings of 34 from only thirty deliveries courtesy of Jos Buttler was pivotal to us even reaching three figures. Buttler struck 18 (44244.) from left-arm spinner Mark Watt’s first over before Watt struck back to claim figures of 3-26. Fellow twirler Martin Law bettered that with analysis of 4-19. Having ourselves omitted our number one spinner, seven of the wickets to fall on the first morning fell to spin! A word too for Scottish gloveman Mahdi Clay who claimed six dismissals in the innings.

Following that and having reached 39 without loss, the visitors looked well placed to gain a substantial first innings lead. Opener Kyle Coetzer’s 49 from 55 balls led the way but enter Stuart Broad. Broad thought he had Clay trapped LBW on 13 but the decision was correctly overturned.

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It mattered little though as without another run added Broad sent Clay’s stumps shattering in all directions. Promisingly placed at 63-1, Scotland subsided to 166 all out. A few batsmen got starts but none could kick on. Chris Woakes (5-42) led the way, striking in his first over and claiming three key wickets in his premier spell before returning to finish the job later in the innings. Broad would finish with figures of 3-47. Jonny Bairstow went some way to redeeming himself after being dismissed for a golden duck in England’s first innings, the result of appalling shot selection in the circumstances, by claiming four sharp catches. A lead of 45 runs was healthy for Scotland but not necessarily game defining.

We commenced our second innings late on day one and lost Hameed for 12 before the close but the standard had been set for a more disciplined batting effort second time around. Hameed’s exit meant that the small matter of 21 wickets had fallen on the first day. Such statistics will no doubt have caught the eye of the NWHTC Pitch Inspection Squad or PIS.

Burns (44) and Duckett (46), who was dropped at slip in the first over of the day, compiled 92 before the latter fell courtesy of a top edge when reverse sweeping. Duckett was just starting to open up and we’ve selected him to play his own game but it was a disappointing end to an innings that could’ve cemented his place in the team long term. As it was both Burns and Duckett performed well enough to secure their place in the side for the next match but not sufficiently to confirm that they’re the answer to our long-standing top order conundrum. Duckett’s departure opened the floodgates as 118-1 became 185-6 at sandwiches.

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Captain Joe Root perished soon after for 63 before Sam Curran (63), in front of his home fans and Chris Woakes (68), not content with a five-wicket haul, seemed to take the game away from the visitors. The pair put on 117 for the eighth wicket however Woakes was out to the first ball after tea. Just when Scotland thought they’d done enough to stay in the match they could only watch in horror as our last wicket pair of Stuart Broad (39 not out) and James Anderson (50) compiled 90 runs for the final wicket. The latter registering only his second Test half-century though he promptly fell to the very next delivery. Scots’ spinner Mark Watt added figures of 4-121 to his first innings triplicate to complete the match with bowling analysis of 7-147. Stumper Mahdi Clay snaffled another five victims taking his match total to eleven. All that equated to Scotland requiring the small matter of 401 runs for victory. Surely that would be out of reach?!

As was the case the night prior, the batting side lost one wicket before the close of play. Sam Curran, promoted to opening the bowling, cleaned up first innings top scorer Coetzer with an unplayable inswinger for just 6. Mahdi Clay and Caden McCarthy looked in good rhythm during the rest of the evening session however and Scotland progressed serenely to 54-1 at the close of the second day’s play.

Despite our best efforts the following morning, the visitors picked up where they had left off and batted throughout the session without losing a wicket. McCarthy (105) and Clay (113) went onto record maiden Test hundreds. Their partnership was worth 191 and set Scotland well on their way to a headline making victory. Roman Bruce (108 not out) also passed three figures and was there at the end as the Celtic side claimed a seismic and historic Test match win. Though we claimed a few wickets we were never really in the hunt as Scotland achieved the fourth highest run chase in Test history, although they did have to come back on day four to knock off the remaining nine runs required, finishing on an astonishing 402-4! If the North Western Hemisphere Test Championship needed something special in its first round of fixtures to get people excited… boy did it get it!

A special mention for the administrators at The Oval who welcomed spectators through the gates free of charge on the fourth morning.

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Extremely late in the piece, Jonny Bairstow couldn’t maintain his first innings standards and what would’ve been a first over maiden international wicket for Haseeb Hameed went begging!

Match Analysis

England 121 (Buttler 34, Burns 26, Hameed 23/Law 4-19, Watt 3-26, Egan 2-22)

Scotland 166 (Coetzer 49, Bruce 24, Burke 19/Woakes 5-42, Broad 3-47, Curran.S 1-14)

England 445 (Woakes 68, Root 63, Curran.S 63/Watt 4-121, Law 2-31, Scott 2-70)

Scotland 402-4 (Clay 113, Bruce 108*, McCarthy 105/Curran.S 2-82, Broad 1-78, Woakes 1-82)

Scotland won by six wickets

Maybe in part because it was hard to choose between three centurions, though wicketkeeper Mahdi Clay scored his as opener as well as claiming eleven dismissals in the match, spin bowler Mark Watt’s match figures of 7-147 saw him awarded the Player of the Match award.

Match bowling figures of 1-104 for James Anderson and 0-77 for Ben Stokes, who also contributed only five runs with the bat, mean that their places in the team for the next match may have to be reviewed. Spinner Moeen Ali among others waits in the wings.

Congratulations to Scotland on an epic victory. Like us they applied themselves much better with the bat second time around but we now know that we must do even better both with willow in hand and with the ball in order to be successful in this new competition.

In the other matches in Round One, Canada brushed aside neighbours USA by 86 runs. This was despite being bowled out for only 48 in their second innings however they then bundled the States themselves out for a paltry 44. Subhan Breen’s second innings figures of 6-10 may take some beating in the competition.

Ireland thrashed the Netherlands by an innings and 191 runs with the Dutch crumbling for 69 in their second dig. There were contributions from throughout Ireland’s XI though Stuart Poynter’s undefeated 95 led the way.

Next up for us it’s a long and arduous trip to Canada. Though the Mapleleafs defeated the Stars and Stripes, surely we can get our first victory near the Arctic. Playing conditions will be alien to us though and as such we’ll need to get the composition of our playing XI spot on. We’ve sent a pitch scout across the Atlantic already and the feedback is that though the surface is hard it’s also dry with some cracks. Our travelling squad for the trip will be announced shortly.

Thank you for your support and apologies for our opening result. It was not for the want of trying!

Paul Morris, Selection Architect, England Men’s Cricket Team

Disclaimer: Firstly, please be aware that I’m playing on Pro difficulty level with specific settings at medium. Please also be aware that due the the current state of play with the Academy and downloading players, opposition teams are a mixture of real and fake names and I’ll be referring to them however they appear on the scorecard.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC – Post ODC Update

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Hi followers

The graphic above displays my standings now that the group stage of the One-Day Cup has reached its conclusion. International call-ups, injuries and squad rotation have all played their part in scuppering my best laid plans. I’ve been reasonably aggressive with captaincy changes and have tinkered with transfers to get as many players on terra firma as possible. I’ve kept half my captaincy changes for the rest of the County Championship and for the most part have two thirds plus of my transfer allocation left. Now it’s about making sure that my XIs consist of long-term certain starters and saving transfers for the occasional uncontrollable. I do have to bear in mind players such as Marnus Labuschagne who won’t be around for the duration of the summer. Some players have arrived especially for the second phase of the County Championship (Bavuma/Rahane) or have returned from the IPL (Curran.S/Livingstone).

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Livingstone is a batsman who bowls and a good catcher. Curran is listed as a bowler not an all-rounder and with him not being in England’s World Cup squad, both are worth consideration.

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Leading points scorers

Across my teams my star performers have been Hampshire’s Liam Dawson (1027 pts), Sussex’s David Wiese (805) and Kent’s Matt Milnes (748).

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Dawson is now the third most selected player and Milnes is now in 17% of people’s teams but I’ve had him in from the beginning when he was in few people’s XIs so I was gaining points that few TFC participants were. The aforementioned Labuschagne (Listed as a batsman) hasn’t always fired with the bat but has regularly chipped in with the white orb. That’s the advantage of selecting a batsman who bowls because even if they fail with the bat (Remember a duck scores -20) they can still break even or contribute positively with the ball.  Yorkshire’s Jonny Tattersall, listed as a batsman but crucially keeping wicket regularly so claiming catches (10pts) and stumpings (15pts) has totalled 538 points. Some people have cottoned on but he’s still in only 5% of teams. Obviously some of my points scored have been doubled when said individual has been made captain, for example: Dawson has always captained for me when playing so has contributed 2054 points for me.

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Most selected players

At the other end of the spectrum, I’ve always advised picking players that have been selected by few participants of the game.

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Having returned from injury, I slotted Essex’s Matt Coles in to one of my teams. He’s been picked by only 0.3% of TFC participants but has gained 280 points for me (Some doubled) from only a few appearances. Dean Elgar (A useful bowling option come CC long summer days) and Mohammad Abbas are a couple of 1%ers that I’ve snuck in recently. Following his temporary relocation up north, Dom Bess is another player that I might transfer in before next week.

My minimum target is for one of my teams to finish in the top 1000 but disappointingly I’ve just slipped out of the top 1k! Hopefully I can get back up there and will keep you posted later this summer!

Unlikely England Comeback?

11 ODI wickets at 39.27 (5.69 rpo)

3 T20I wickets at 18.33 (6.87 rpo)

8 wickets in this season’s Big Bash, his first, at 23.50 (7.23 rpo)

How about an England recall for Nottinghamshire and Melbourne Renegades left-arm pace bowler, Harry Gurney?

Gurney is 32 and his domestic stats are okay if not outstanding. He’s performed reliably for Melbourne Renegades this term and could be an option for the brains trust of Ed Smith and Eoin Morgan in white-ball cricket. David Willey is not always a threat and his batting often not required. Sam Curran doesn’t need overloading at this stage of his career so getting a year or two out of Gurney could be a viable option for England. The experience that he’s gained from playing in the Big Bash could serve him well for a return to the international fold.

Age may count against Gurney but it certainly wouldn’t be the most ridiculous selection. In Twenty20 Internationals, to pair the left-arm variety of Gurney alongside Tom Curran, who starred in the Big Bash, could provide respite for senior England players and result in a glut of wickets for England.

Filling the Void

James Anderson and Stuart Broad won’t be around forever, so who can fill the void for England when these two have rolled into retirement?

In English conditions then Chris Woakes and Sam Curran should be reliable options but overseas it’s a different story.

Could any of the following step up for England with the new ball in the future…

Jamie Porter 275 First Class wickets @ 23.78

Is Porter destined to be a nearly man?

He continues to take wicket upon wicket at domestic level but by the time Anderson and Broad have departed, will the ship have sailed for Porter?

The spearhead of Essex’s attack has overcome injury, not unlike Anderson and could be primed to fill the void.

Ben Coad 103 @ 19.70

Yorkshireman Coad is behind Porter in the pecking order and is absurdly still awaiting Lions recognition. Any suggestions of him being a one season wonder have already been dispelled. Another campaign of the sort he’s had in recent seasons should surely see him knocking the door down.

Tom Bailey 155 @ 26.05

Anderson’s Lancashire colleague Bailey had nearly slipped under the radar despite his regular ripping up of wickets on the county scene. This winter however he got the recognition he deserved with a call-up to the England Lions squad.

Has he learnt a few tricks from England’s record wicket taker that he can bring to the Test arena himself?

Jamie Overton 130 @ 33.22

Were it not for injuries then Somerset’s Jamie Overton may have already debuted for England. His extra pace and bounce would be welcomed on Australian decks (Hopefully by England, not Australian batsman!) but can he last five days or even ten overs?

Steven Finn 531 @ 28.96

254 international wickets but little case can be made for selecting Middlesex man Finn. If he can hit the ground running in 2019 however and snaffle a giant bag full of wickets then maybe England could yet get the best out of him.

There are plenty of other options and it will be interesting to see who England turn to when the time comes to… fill the void!

England Crumble to Chase in… Chase!

A massive well done to West Indies on comprehensively and deservedly defeating England in the first Test.

We could talk about selection until the cows come home but can’t you always?

There’s no doubt that England’s preparation was pathetic. These everybody has a bat affairs don’t promote competitiveness. It would be far better to have a couple of eleven-a-side First Class fixtures, actually breed some competition between the players and put some pressure on them for their place, as there should be in Test Cricket. There’s value in the new buzzword, destigmatising being dropped but some intensity between teammates is needed in order to be successful. There is of course an argument about volume of cricket and time with family but maybe this highlights the need for different squads for different formats and the longer form almost becoming a completely separate sport.

As is typical with English pundits, a player who took an eight-wicket haul still got criticised and derided for being nothing more than a village cricketer. Maybe England should select some village cricketers. If so, I’m available!

The selection of Darren Bravo doesn’t say a lot about the state of willow wielders in West Indies cricket. He was selected based on history but wasn’t primed to perform given how little regional four-day cricket he’s played in recent times. Having said that, it’s probably a bit rich for an England supporter to be criticising the home team’s batting. He’ll likely score a ton now in the second Test. What a Test match for debutant John Campbell to be part of too!

It’s hard to see Adil Rashid playing in the next Test and Sam Curran might be struggling too but please don’t write him off. Please don’t lump him in the “Only good in home conditions” category, after one underwhelming performance.

Keaton Jennings will probably survive as Joe Denly has hardly made a case…

… and the likelihood of Moeen Ali being promoted to open after a pair is slim. Rory Burns did at least make strides and can hopefully back that up during the rest of the tour.

Fingers crossed for a couple more fascinating Test matches in the Caribbean. Oh, should probably mention Jason Holder too… well batted!