Cricket Captain 2018: White Ball Wonders… Well Almost!

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Having already defeated Scotland 1-0 in the ODI format, we went undefeated in three further white-ball series before coming a cropper in the final limited overs duel of the summer.

Firstly we saw off Australia in an ODI series, sealing the honours in what was effectively a final in the fifth match. That victory resulted in us assuming the world number one ranking in the fifty over format.

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Newcomer Jamie Overton claimed the best ever haul by an Englishman in ODI cricket. The Somerset quick snaffled amazing analysis of 6-14 to help us win the 3rd match with Australia crumbling for just 105. Overton finished the series with 10 victims at 11.40 apiece.

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In the one-off T20I that followed, 42-year-old Darren Stevens made a long awaited international debut and promptly stole the show. With us in trouble at 93-6, the Kent all-rounder promptly put on an undefeated 57 with fellow debutant Lewis Gregory (18 not out) of Somerset. Stevens finished 49 not out from 34 balls. It seemed as though it was written in stars!

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Next came India where we ran out 2-1 winners in the T20I series. Each of our top three, Dawid Malan, Alex Hales and Jason Roy registered a half-century during the competition. Darren Stevens continued to enjoy the international environment. The county veteran concluded the series with six victims at just 15.80.

Unfortunately in the final limited overs affair of the summer, the ODI series against India, the wheels rather came off. We went down 3-0, struggling to readapt to the fifty over game and failing to post competitive totals. The bowling efforts of twenty-year-old Josh Tongue (4 @ 25.00) as well as the recalled Liam Dawson (6 @ 28.67) were encouraging however.

Now it’s back to the five-day format for a mouth watering five-match series against India. India will have gained confidence from their ODI series win but in truth our Test team is an almost different XI entirely and we’re still buoyed from the emphatic victory against Pakistan.

Cricket Captain 2018: Edinburgh Steal!

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As Coach and Selector of the England cricket team, for the one-off ODI against Scotland in Edinburgh, I made a brave but sensible call. Provided the volume of cricket on the horizon in all forms of the game and given the travel involved in crossing the border north, I rested our senior players. This presented those cricketers with the opportunity to find form at domestic level ahead of the ODI and T20I series against Australia. A thirteen-man squad made up of entirely uncapped players was selected for the Scotland encounter. This provided a great opportunity to breed competition amongst our ranks. Nottinghamshire all-rounder Steven Mullaney assumed the honour of captain on international debut. All-rounders Lewis Gregory and Ben Raine were the unlucky members of the squad who didn’t make the playing XI. Any suggestion that we were selling spectators short by not selecting our first choice XI was soon put to bed as one of the most absorbing ODIs in the history of the game played out before our eyes.

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Every single member of our batting unit made a contribution with Joe Clarke, fresh off the back of his 80 in the second Test against Pakistan, top scoring with a free flowing 52 from 64 deliveries. Some late hitting from skipper Steven Mullaney (49 not out) and Ed Barnard (21 not out) helped lift us to 266 for 6 from our allotted 50 overs. Looking back we could possibly have put our feet on the gas sooner in order to try and set a higher target.

Scotland looked well placed for victory courtesy of Calum MacLeod’s run-a-ball 60 at the top of the order but we turned the screws on the middle order as the home side’s hopes of a famous run chase slipped away.

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Gloucestershire recruit Ryan Higgins led the way with figures of 9-1-37-4.

Scotland seemed out of it at 221-9 before Safyaan Sharif (27) and Brad Wheal (24 not out) put on 45 for the last wicket. Ed Barnard was denied the winning wicket because of a no-ball call and there was also a dropped catch at slip. With Scotland needing just four runs to seal a seismic result, Essex’s Matt Coles trapped Sharif LBW to spare our blushes!

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Next we host Australia and India with regular first-team players likely to be recalled. Should injury strike then we’ve identified a strong pool of players from which to call up on.

#undefeated

Cricket Captain 2018: Cook Serves Another Feast!

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My first series as Coach and Selector of the national side and it’s a thumping series win for the boys. Victory margins of 199-runs and ten-wickets confirm our dominance. Both victories were built around the monumental batting of stand-in skipper Alastair Cook. Chef followed his 160 not out at Lords with an epic 198 in Leeds.

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Pakistan actually won the toss and chose to bat but soon regretted it. Opening batsman Sami Aslam’s 24-ball duck was absolute torture. To their credit, the tourists recovered from 111-6 to a respectable 335 all out. As was the case at Lords, this was again in the main courtesy of their leader Sarfraz Ahmed. The wicketkeeper-batsman made his second ton (117) of the series.

We then posted 476 to gain a healthy first innings advantage. As well as Cook’s monster 198, James Vince again looked good for 66 and Joe Clarke made a magnificent 80 in only his second Test. Mohammad Amir was the pick of the bowlers though still expensive. He finished with analysis of 4-154.

Pakistan then made only 151 second time out. Again Ahmed top scored but this time with only 39. The in-form Mark Wood claimed Test best figures of 4-31.

Haseeb Hameed, recalled at the expense of Mark Stoneman (7 not out) and Dawid Malan (4 not out) then knocked off the mammoth victory target of eleven without loss. Hameed made only 17 in the first innings but batted for 99 minutes in compiling 50 with Alastair Cook. Having made only one in the first innings at Headingley, then it is Dawid Malan who’s place seems most vulnerable should Joe Root return to full fitness. Of course questions will be asked about the captaincy given Cook’s splendid showing in this series.

For the immediate future it’s the white-ball (ODI/T20I) affairs for the team. Next up is a one-off ODI against Scotland in Edinburgh. We may use the opportunity to rest senior players and explore our strength in depth.

Flying Scots Scorch England!

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The day after a monumental occasion in Scottish cricketing history, please have a listen to my latest audio cast for a firsthand vocal review of how the epic day played out…

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Just over a week after being mentioned in a Silly Point article as a player to watch, Calum MacLeod was the star of the show as Scotland’s cricketers turned the tables on England at The Grange in Edinburgh.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18513/scorecard/1124639/scotland-vs-england-only-odi-england-tour-of-scotland-2018/

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After MacLeod led Scotland to their highest ever total of 371-5, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow seemed to have put England on course for a remarkable run-chase. The pair compiled a 129-run stand for the visitor’s first wicket on a beautiful day in the Scottish capital.

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A special mention for Bairstow, whose 59-ball 105, his third consecutive ODI ton, I shamelessly neglected to mention in my audio cast!

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After that excellent start however, England ultimately fell six runs short. Scotland claimed a thoroughly deserved victory and in doing so, contributed to a seismic day in cricket history!

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Scenes!!!

Not Surprisingly no Surprises!

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England have named their ODI squads for the match against Scotland north of the border and the series hosting of Australia.

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/694732/england-name-squads-for-scotland-and-australia-odis

As was to be expected and as touched upon in yesterday evening’s audio cast here at Silly Point, there are no surprises in the England parties. Gloveman Jos Buttler is rested for the match in Edinburgh, which provided his exploits in the IPL and having returned to the Test side, is understandable. Kent captain Sam Billings is named in the squad for the Scotland match only. Quite what happens if he scores a ton I don’t know… “Thanks Sam but we don’t need you against Oz!”.

Surrey’s Tom Curran is also added to the party for the Australia series. With Durham’s Mark Wood now in the Test side, England will be keen to manage his workload and so Curran, who performed well Down Under as well as in short bites in India, should get some playing time. Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett, expensive in the IPL, also returns after injury.

Having been dropped from the Test side, Worcestershire spinner Moeen Ali retains his place in the ODI outfit, alongside fellow twirler Adil Rashid. Yorkshire’s Rashid, who is now solely focused on white-ball cricket, has been travelling at 6.38 runs per over in the One-Day Cup this year. The likes of Alex Hales, Chris Woakes and David Willey are a little short of match practice having done their fair share of bench warming at the IPL. England will hope that said players can hit the ground running and make the most of any One-Day Cup opportunities prior the the international matches.

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Silly Point will be in Edinburgh for the Scotland match and will provide a write-up complete with photos following the match.

Duckett’s Despair!

Hello loyal followers.

Please find my latest audio cast regarding one of England’s forgotten men and a little about the upcoming ODI against Scotland right here…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/521637.html

England’s Alternative Batting Options

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James Hildreth (Somerset)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/15348.html

Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Yorkshire)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/470633.html

Ross Whiteley (Worcestershire)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/288617.html

Dawson’s Creek’s Banks Haven’t Burst!

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File photo: Liam Dawson brings up his maiden ODI fifty against Scotland in Edinburgh.

That’s right, a headline announcing that something hasn’t happened!

Water gently meandering along a creek, a tranquil and serene scene. The water levels rise though and the creek’s banks burst. For Liam Dawson however, the banks haven’t burst, the water levels haven’t risen and there’s been no drowning. The water has consistently gently meandered along.

2-129 in India on debut got him up and running. There have been worse starts to Test careers. Figures of 2-67, 2-34, 0-26 and 1-42 against South Africa leave Dawson with a more than respectable bowling average for a spinner of 33.80 in Test cricket in England. Along with a penchant for dismissing Hashim Amla, that’s a decent start. Dawson is 27, an age where he’s gained experience but should have his best years ahead of him. England’s selectors however have regressed, pressured by the public and media, they’ve already ditched ‘Daws’ and moved onto Mason Crane. Should 20-year-old Crane be left with a bowling average of 42.57 after four Tests and average a healthy 33.80 in England will he too be ditched?

Dawson’s axing on the cue of social media opinion reminds of the time that Ian Blackwell was chipping in with wickets and Anthony McGrath was keeping things tight for England. They weren’t setting the world on fire but they were, understatedly, making a contribution. An article in a newspaper questioned their returns and they were ditched never to be seen in England colours again.

I’ll bore myself let alone my readers if I repeat previous sentiment about English fans always wanting the new and undamaged goods as well as how investing and persisting in a player is of value but to cut through the trees to get to the wood… I’m suggesting that Dawson, like many players, may have been given up on too soon. Still, if he’s lucky, he might earn an England recall and carve out a decent international career when Ashes Cricket arrives on the PS4 in November…

Disclaimer: For the uneducated, please be aware that the lines between reality and virtuality on my blog often become very blurred, so much so that I can’t remember if Haseeb Hameed’s twin centuries against Thailand at London’s Olympic Stadium were in real life or only in my living room!

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/don-bradman-cricket-17-thaid-in-knots/

Don Bradman Cricket 17: England v Namibia Test Match

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After our battering at the hands of the Scots north of the border, we were grateful to return to home comforts when we entertained Namibia in Arundel. Tom Curran and Jack Leach were dropped from the XI, with Jake Ball recalled to the side and Toby Roland-Jones handed a Test debut.

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Toby Roland-Jones snapped up his first Test victim.

Such was the unrelenting quality performed by the opening bowlers, Roland-Jones had to wait until after lunch for his opportunity but soon claimed his first Test wicket. In truth however, it was his Middlesex colleague Steven Finn (5-34), man of the match against the Scots, who really shone, ably supported by the returning Jake Ball (3-24).

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Aneurin Donald (16), was unlucky to be given out LBW in the first over of the final session.

After restricting the visitors to just 110 in their first innings, for the second match in a row Kent opener Daniel Bell-Drummond held things together before being run out for 46. Stumper Jonny Bairstow (35) and fellow Yorkie, captain Joe Root (30), both innings consisting of just twenty deliveries, complimented DBD to lift us to a slightly underwhelming 173 all out but a vital lead of 53.

Jake Ball (4-31) led the way as we made early breakthroughs in Namibia’s second innings. Hampshire spinner Mason Crane (2-36) struck in the first over of the day and was a constant threat whilst debutant Toby Roland-Jones (2-45) looked like taking a wicket at any point before eventually doing so, claiming two more victims on Test debut. Namibia recovered well from 67-5 but Keith Barker (11-5-31-0) built pressure with his economical and consistent line before Steven Finn (2-42) removed both the African side’s top scorers, Bagel (69) and wicketkeeper Gardiner (32). After they were gone, Namibia collapsed from 176-6 to 189 all out. The number of maidens that we bowled was a vast improvement on past efforts as was our catching, only letting ourselves down on a couple of occasions late in the piece. Credit must also go to skipper Joe Root, his bowling changes or even non changes and tactics as a whole, were outstanding.

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Sam Northeast (55 not out) recorded a maiden Test fifty and in doing so, led his country to victory.

Ben Duckett (0) and Aneurin Donald (5) were amongst those soon back in the hut as we slipped to 59-4 in pursuit of 127 for victory. Despite strong performances in the field, their Test futures now hang by the finest of threads. The fact that it may be fair to stick with a winning side will possibly, possibly save them. The likes of Liam Livingstone (12th man in this match), Alastair Cook, Nick Compton and Scott Borthwick to name a few, wait in the wings should we opt to make changes. Number three Sam Northeast showed how it should be done, as he put on a fifty partnership with Warwickshire’s Keith Barker (28) to alleviate any fears of an England slip-up. Barker was needlessly run out before Jonny Bairstow (8 not out) clobbered the winning runs. It was Kent batsman Northeast’s composure though, in striking a maiden Test fifty (55 not out) in only his second Test match to lead the side to victory, that can provide an example beacon to others in England’s batting line-up.

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A five-wicket win was a welcome response to the Scottish episode. Though some places in the team are still up for grabs, many players have really placed two hands on their position in our strongest XI.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Scotch Whisky, Tango, Foxtrot!

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Well, there’s no disgrace in losing to Scotland by 373 runs. Oh no, wait!

I won’t lie. I’m not quite as enthused about writing this article as I normally would be. A 373-run defeat at the hands of the mighty Scots can, I’ve found, have a rather enthusiasm draining effect.

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We dismissed the hosts for 270 then were ourselves dismissed for 259 in reply. Up to this point our efforts were basically a one man show. Steven Finn, playing his first Test match during my reign, recorded fantastic figures of 6-42 before striking an equally fantastic fifty, exactly. Jonny Bairstow also made bang on fifty. We may have reached parity had number eleven Mason Crane not been adjudged caught at short leg when he hit the ball into the ground and it then ricocheted up, hit his bat again and was caught. Despite reviewing, the Hampshire spinner was still given out. From that point on, we simply fell apart. Captain Joe Root dropped a catch in the first over of Scotland’s second innings and eighty overs later, a chance would be put down in Finn’s first over with the second new ball. In between the two drops off the bowling of Finn, eighty overs apart, we must have dropped approximately 13,578,921 chances!

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Scots skipper Kyle Coetzer (145) and Richie Berrington (163) both hit chanceless (Ha!) centuries before we eventually dismissed our Northern neighbours for a whopping 512, just one wicketless delivery shy of the arrival of a second new ball!

Ben Duckett’s (22) attempt at a David Warnesque chase, lasted all of nine deliveries before Kent duo Daniel Bell-Drummond (53) and debutant Sam Northeast (27) appeared to lay the foundations for a record run chase. Not for the first time in the match though, Northeast threw his wicket away and DBD aside, our batting subsided as we collapsed to 150 all out and a mammoth 373-run defeat.

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As both selector and coach of the side, this result leaves me with much to ponder in regards to whether or not I really am the right man to lead this side in the future…

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