Cricket 19: Semi-Final Super Over!

Following the huge progress that we’d we made and fantastic form that propelled us to the knockout stages, so the semi-final greeted us!

We won the toss and had no hesitation in choosing to bat first at home to Khulna. Regrettably, Jamal Peters (5), Phillipio (8) and Moses Okocha (7) were all soon back in the hut. That left us reeling on 37-3. For the second match in a row, vice-captain Mario Kuntz (33) fell when well set. Kim Lee-Soo made a run-a-ball 12 but captain Norshahrul Rashid used up six balls for just 2.

Wu Xu foolishly fell first ball but wicketkeeper Javier Jiminez stroked 40 from 36 deliveries to at least help put a score on the board. Mohamed El Mohamedy (9*) and Ambroise Anguissa (2*) took us to 128-8 with the welcome help of 12 extras.

Slow-left-armer El The Pharaoh Mohamedy (1-26) then struck in the first over but Khulna were soon on course for victory at 44-1. Xu’s (2-18) off-spin claimed two wickets in two balls outside of the powerplay (8th over) to drag the visitors back to 44-3 and put us in the box seat.

Kim’s (1-20) slingy right-arm bowling accounted for Shafiq (22) but captain Rashid, who uncharacteristically conceded 31 from his four overs to go with his miserable batting effort, later dropped a catch of the South Korean. In between, Hammond (15) was run out but a couple of silly overthrows and fatigued fielding would prove costly!

Left-arm pacer Roberto Biabini (0-10) conceded just one run from an almost immaculate penultimate over. Tall right-arm fast bowler Ambroise Anguissa had 15 runs to play with to put us in the final but began the 20th over with a wide. Tiredness and possibly pressure set in but the Cameroonian wasn’t helped by the efforts (Or lack of) by some of his fielders. Despite that, top scorer Ingram (46) was run out off the penultimate ball of the final over when going for the win. Anguissa (0-22) regained his nerve to finish with a dot and send the game into a super over… the crowd couldn’t believe what was happening before their eyes and many couldn’t bare to watch!

Egypt’s El Mohamedy ,well versed at bowling under pressure in the powerplay, rocked up to the wicket. Despite conceding a boundary early in the over, he responded superbly to limit Khulna to just 7-1.

There was little time to think about who should open the batting. Our minds were occupied with how we’d only scratched our way to a semi-competitive total after performing so well recently, before letting the win and a place in the final, slip away. It was felt that sending out a right and left-hander made sense and so it seemed appropriate to allow regular openers Jamal Peters and Mario Kuntz to take responsibility… they failed spectacularly!

Against right-arm medium pacer Asad Hashim, Peters made 2 from 3, meanwhile Kuntz wafted away horribly outside off stump, failing to connect with any of the three deliveries that he faced, only running a bye. All this came after Hashim had offered up a wide first ball… it was a heartbreaking end!

The fact of the matter is that we didn’t deserve to win. Congratulations to Khulna who did. Our top order were tense and went chasing runs, not sticking to our recent successful (Albeit old-fashioned) gameplan. Old bad habits resurfaced as we failed to make the most of the last few overs and barely scratched out a competitive total.

We then had the game in the bag, we were in a good position well into their innings but skipper Rashid was uncharacteristically expensive and Anguissa fell apart. There were three unnecessary overthrows, two atrocious pieces of fielding late on, one that cost a boundary, the other an extra run in the final over… not to mention the captain’s dropped catch or our batsmen’s failure to execute in the super over! Hard to stomach would be an understatement. We may now have to break a tag of chokers!

Our captain has led us superbly upto this point and shouldn’t be judged on one night… but like too many of our players, he failed to bring his A game to the big occasion. We will learn as a group and be stronger for it. There are many bad things happening in this world and at the end of the day, this is just sport. It will take some coming back from however!

Oh… typically Khulna got rolled over for just 90 in the final as Rajashahi ran out 9-wicket winners. Saleem Rad claimed ridiculous figures of 4-0! He claimed a hat-trick to finish off Khulna who had actually recovered from 50-6 to 90-6 before, well, you know! Sheikh Hudson then struck 61 not out from only 29 balls as the team that topped the table deservedly won the competition.

Disclaimer: Celebratory image at the top of this article is probably a bit misleading!

Please see below for our statistical highlights from the competition.

Highest Team Total: 161-7 vs. Barisal at Comilla Cricket Ground

Highest Partnership: 121 (1st wicket) Jamal Peters (USA) and Mario Kuntz (Germany) vs. Khulna at Khulna Park

Leading Run-scorer: Mario Kuntz (Germany) 399

Best Batting Average: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 37.60 (Shoya Soma (Japan) averaged 89.00 from only four innings that included three not outs)

Best Batting Strike-rate: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 128.33

Best Batting Innings: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 69 not out vs. Chittagong/Mario Kuntz (Germany) 69 not out vs. Dhaka at Dragons Oval

Leading Wicket-taker: Mohammed El Mohamedy (Egypt) 14

Best Bowling Average: Roberto Biabini (Italy) 20.33 (Three players averaged less but claimed a maximum of only three wickets)

Best Bowling Strike-rate: Roberto Biabini (Italy) 18.44 (Again, players that claimed less than a handful of wickets were not considered)

Best Bowling Innings: Roberto Biabini (Italy) 4-21 vs. Barisal at Global Arena

Most Dismissals: Javier Jiminez (Mexico) 15 catches/0 stumpings

Most Catches (Non-wicketkeeper): Wu Xu (China) 6

Cricket 19: Global XI – Bangladesh Part Two

Starting the second round of fixtures, we posted a decent total of 149-3 at home to Chittagong. It was great to see Phillipio (63*) rack up his first half-century in a while as the Brazilian combined with Mexican gloveman Javier Jiminez (26*) for a combo of 67. The visiting side could only muster 138-4 and though a winning margin of eleven runs might sound close, fast bowler Ambroise Anguissa (0-24) and off-spinner Wu Xu (1-26) kept it tight in the last couple of overs to make it a relatively comfortable victory. Roberto Biabini (1-23) backed up his hat-trick and four-wicket haul in the previous match with some tight bowling too. The win elevated us to third in the table.

In the following game (And what a game!) we rested captain Norshahrul Rashid. Opening batsman Mario Kuntz (With a W1 L1 record) stepped into the role. Having lost the toss, the German endured a torrid time with the willow, being dismissed for just 5 from 14 deliveries. Fellow opener Jamal Peters (54) didn’t panic however and finally clocked up a half-century. It was an important chip off the American’s shoulder.

Nigerian Moses Okocha then came out with the right attitude, striking 31 from 21 deliveries before Phillipio (43*), backing up his fifty in the last match and Jiminez (8*) walked off at the conclusion of our 20 overs. We had lost only three wickets for the second game in a row as our top order continued their progression. We finished on 147-3… then for the bowling!

The opposition opener struck 28 from just 14 deliveries but El The Pharaoh Mohamedy (1-20) trapped him LBW with his slow-left-arm bowling. Part time slow-left-armer Okocha (1-19) then struck in the powerplay as young Kuntz displayed his brave captaincy.

Never out of the action Peters (1-2) effected a crucial and sensational direct hit run out then dismissed the other opening batsman for his first ever wicket as the match of his life continued!

Cameroon speedster Anguissa (1-23) and Chinese off-spinner Xu (1-5) both struck and kept things incredibly tight when under huge pressure. At one point, Dhaka had required 55 runs from 55 balls and plenty of wickets in hand. There was also a dropped catch from Kuntz off Anguissa which seemed to have handed the game to the team from the capital.

When it looked like it might really slip away from us as we missed a run out opportunity, we struck twice via run outs in the penultimate over bowled by the expensive Andryushkin (0-37). Roberto Biabini (0-14) kept it tidy enough in the final over though and when Xu, who earlier took an excellent catch at slip, kept his eye on the ball as it hurtled to the boundary then returned it to gloveman Jiminez, we’d won once again, by a margin of just two runs!

I’ve never been so proud of a performance as that one. Everybody contributed. Stand-in captain Kuntz led the side superbly despite having a poor match with the bat and in the field. And as for Jamal Peters, it’s been a long time coming but a first fifty, a first wicket and a direct hit run out made for an all action performance!

Moving on… another game, another win! We made 84-2 (Kuntz 36*/Okocha 32*) from 11.3 overs at home to Dhaka’s other team, before rain curtailed our innings, so another match with no batting for our lower order!

Dhaka were set 71 from 7 overs though peculiarly our bowlers could only deliver one over each. Anguissa (2-6) struck from consecutive balls in his as we eased home by 13 runs. That made it four wins on the bounce however it was a shame that the likes of Vito Vaga and Shon Solomon had so little opportunity when provided a rare outing.

Looking to make it five consecutive wins, we posted 141-3 at Khuna Park. Opening duo Peters and Kuntz broke their own record for the team’s highest 1st wicket partnership. After taking so long to get one, Peters brought up his second fifty in three matches before launching a vicious assault on Khulna’s Hannan. The American slapped the medium-pacer for back-to-back sixes before Hannan got revenge as Peters (65) threw the kitchen sink at finishing the over with a third, only to nick behind.

Kuntz (59) fell off the penultimate ball of the innings whilst Jiminez (2*) continued his healthy obsession of walking off undefeated. By only totalling 141 though, we hadn’t quite put the game out of reach, which was slightly disappointing given the opening stand had accelerated throughout after we’d been put into bat. Peters’ failure to execute a third six meant that still no batsmen in a Global shirt had ever reached 70!

El Mohamedy (1-19) and Xu (1-33) both struck in the powerplay before Anguissa (2-29) struck twice in two balls for the second consecutive match. Firstly, captain Rashid (0-16) made great judgement to appeal an LBW decision before Anguissa welcomed the new batsman by immediately bowling him around around his legs. It was a stunning delivery!

Khulna did fightback from 58-4 to 106-4 at which point Xu produced an outstanding piece of fielding to send opener and top score Handal (55) packing. Somehow, the Chinese all-rounder prevented a boundary before returning the ball to the bowler’s end. Then cue a couple more run outs, something we’ve developed a good habit of effecting and so the hosts fell 8 runs short on 133-8.

The win was our fifth in a row and fourth consecutive match where we’d batted first and won by thirteen runs or less. The start of the run was a 23-run win. It’s worth pointing out that we’d often been put into bat as oppose to luckily winning the toss in favourable conditions. We’ve got nerve and bottle!

Come the next game at home to table topping Rajashani, we were finally made to field first. The visitors compiled 141-6 despite a good all round bowling effort. Roberto Biabini (2-34) was struck for four off each of the final three deliveries of his third over but displayed great character to claim two wickets in his fourth.

Sadly, we were bowled out for a disheartening 99 in our chase. It’s important to be clear that Rajashani were deserved victors with the contrast of their change express pace and dibbly dobbly bowlers ripping through our undercooked batting unit. Remember that nobody lower than five had batted in our last four matches. However, the game hinged on a couple of decisions that didn’t go our way and it’s hard to fathom why. Having made 10 from 8 balls, Phillipio was adjudged LBW on review when replays confirmed that the ball had hit his bat. Then, the final wicket, the run out of Biabini (3) after Xu (5*) changed his mind about a single, was also a dismissal that compromised the integrity of the result. The Italian had clearly grounded his bat. Of course we’d still have required 42 runs from 24 deliveries with only one wicket left but those errors were frustrating for our team and cricket fans in general. For the record, in-form opener Jamal Peters (48) by far and away top scored but his dismissal began a terrifying collapse as we lost 6 wickets for a paltry 14 runs.

The termination of our hot streak and victory for Rajashani left them top of the pile with ourselves and Khulna two wins behind. We both remained two wins ahead of the next three teams but a lot could happen in the last four rounds (One a bye for us) as the race for semi-final places hotted up!

Following the humbling defeat, we made a few changes to the XI for the next game. French batsman Xavier Robert and Icelandic gloveman Ogmundar Sigthorsson came into the side. The pair couldn’t make much of an impression though… both being caught behind first ball!

South Korean Kim Lee-Soo also fell for a duck whilst four batsmen were dismissed between 12 and 18. Those dismissals left us 42-5 then staring down the barrel at 71-7. Wu Xu (38*) and Ambroise Anguissa (28) both made career bests however in a hugely mature eighth-wicket partnership of 56. We’re well aware that both players are capable batsmen and it was great to see them seize the opportunity to rescue the team. We finished on 137-8 which was a respectable total given that three figures seemed out of reach at one stage.

Despite having been under the cosh early in our innings, it turned out to be a case of back to batting first, back to winning!

Israeli medium-pacer Shon Solomon (2-30), who had only bowled one over in the competition before this match, dismissed both openers. He should’ve had a third wicket but, not for the first time recently, vice-captain Mario Kuntz dropped a catch. To be fair to the young German, he later held one and effected a run out.

The unheralded Kim (2-13) also claimed two wickets whilst renaissance man Biabini (1-21) and a run out accounted for the other. Robert (0-17) responded to his golden duck by holding a catch under the lights and bowling tightly. Rangpur closed on 119-6, a match deciding deficit of 18 runs.

The win elevated us to joint second in the table, three wins clear of four tied teams and almost certainly secure of a place in the semi-final.

Results then went our way so we made wholesale changes for our next match at home to Sylhet. Abdulfattah Al-Owaishir (3-27) claimed his first ever wickets, each one courtesy of the gloves of Ogmundar Sigthorsson. At one stage, the Saudi-Arabian was actually on a hat-trick. We’ve lost count of how many times that’s happened during this competition! The visitors could only compile 109-9 with all our bowlers keeping things tight.

Jamal Peters and Shoya Soma then showed the way in an undefeated 110-run partnership to record our second ever ten-wicket win. Peters (42*) was a little scratchy early on but has the experience now to keep his head. Soma (62*), who had a previous highest score of just 21, led the way as we ran out victorious with more than a couple of overs to spare.

The players that came in did exactly what we asked, which is to breed competition and make selection decisions extremely difficult.

In our final league match, we posted our highest ever score of 161-7. This was after hosts Barisal surprised everybody by choosing to field first. Ahead of the semi-finals, it turned out to be really useful batting practice as lots of batsmen made twenties and thirties at a decent rate. Kuntz (36), Okocha (31) and Phillipio (28) laid the platform before captain Rashid smoked 24 not out from just ten balls!

We then limited Barisal to 132-6. To be fair, they responded well having slipped to 13-3. Four of their batsmen were run out and their top scorer retired hurt. Wu Xu (1-26) dismissed their opener for a golden duck, caught the other and effected three direct hit run outs! It would’ve been nice to have bowled them out but we couldn’t complain about a 29-run win!

That victory, our eleventh of the campaign and eighth in our last nine matches, propelled us to a second place finish in the table. It meant that we would entertain third placed Khulna in the semi-finals.

In the first semi-final, table topping Rajashahi chased down a whopping 182 with one ball to spare in a thrilling encounter at home to Rangpur. A 51-ball 82 from their opener proved vital.

And so… onto our semi-final!

Cricket 19: Global XI – New Faces!

We’ve now participated in two Twenty20 competitions in India and Pakistan and will soon depart for a third tournament, this time in Bangladesh.

Having gained a good understanding of the abilities of our players and the balance of our team, we feel that now is an appropriate time to compliment our squad with new players. Though we expect Bangladesh will offer similar playing surfaces to those encountered in India and Pakistan, a nine-team tournament means an extra six matches to be played. We have a strong spin-bowling attack as well as some extremely competent back-up options. We’d also like to back our under-performing batsmen to come good. Therefore, we’ve recruited two medium-pace bowling all-rounders to ensure that we’ve got all bases covered.

Introducing Global XIs latest recruits…

Abdulfattah Al-Owaishir (Saudi Arabia) 24-year-old LHB/RMF

Vito Vaga (Samoa) 28-year-old RHB/LMF

We look forward to welcoming the duo the the squad and their contributions.

Disclaimer: I actually snook in a knockout tournament after the Pakistan games but… err, we got knocked out… in the first round!

Having lost a crucial toss, we succumbed for our record low score of 76 (Okocha 30) on a raging turner of a deck. Both our opening bowlers struck with their first ball however to keep Northamptonshire on their toes. We reduced the English side to 0-2 and 4-3 before they recovered to 57 when the fifth wicket went down. With the score on 63, Frenchman Xavier Robert dropped a sitter off the bowling of captain Rashid. Part-time leg-spinner Robert then struck for a second time (2-9) but the hosts got home with four wickets to spare.

It was a chastening defeat. Being dismissed in double figures is always a bitter pill to swallow. Once again our top order batsmen struggled however the pitch was extreme and our spin bowlers maintained their high standards. Wicketkeeper Javier Jiminez pouched five catches. The Mexican knows full well that Ogmundar Sightorsson is breathing down his neck for a place in the team!

Cricket 19: Global XI – Form Swings in Pakistan!

Following four wins in our final six matches in India and therefore full of optimism, we moved onto nearby Pakistan. That optimism soon evaporated however as we regressed horribly. In our first three matches, we simply didn’t put enough runs on the board, struggling to reach even a run-a-ball. This was particularly frustrating as we did manage to take a few wickets in each match but were consistently short of posting competitive totals.

We then floundered further, suffering heavy defeats in our next two games, struggling to chase bigger scores. That left us without a win in five matches at the halfway point of the competition. Japanese opening batsman Shoya Suma had yet to reach double figures despite playing all five games.

After yet another below par defeat when we once again barely crept over the hundred run mark, it was seventh time lucky when we secured a famous win in Punjab. We restricted the hosts to just 90-9 from their twenty overs on a minefield of a surface. Egyptian slow-left-armer Mohamed El Mohamedy, who had done incredibly well to force his way back into the playing XI and bravely take on the responsibility of bowling in the powerplay, claimed astonishing figures of 4-1-6-2. Part time slow-left-armers Moses Okocha (4-0-19-2) and the much maligned Soma (4-1-7-1), backed up the effective slow-left-arm theme. Despite a slightly expensive final over from Cameroon quick bowler Ambroise Anguissa (1-0-13-0), we’d given ourselves a great chance of ending our rut. We’d also backed up our decision to bowl first so as to know what we needed to score. Icelandic gloveman Ogmundar Sigthorsson, having replaced Javier Jiminez behind the stumps, held five catches, completed one stumping and effected two run outs!

Our batsmen then backed up the team’s outstanding work with the ball. Run shy opening duo Soma and Mario Kuntz had actually both failed to make double figures in our first four matches. Following a slight recent improvement, the pair batted through the powerplay and recorded our first ever half-century opening stand. With the score on 55, Soma (21) edged behind but he’d laid the foundations and helped avoid any early wobbles. Vice-captain Kuntz (44*) and Phillipio (15*) saw us to a much needed and spirit lifting 9-wicket win. It really was a wonderful team performance and a huge relief to show those in Pakistan that we weren’t completely out of our depth!

What’s that saying about buses? After losing six in a row, we made it back-to-back victories with a home win against Islamabad. This time we batted first and made our highest score of the competition to date. The win against Punjab had clearly had a positive effect on our players as our batsmen came out with much greater intent than had been the case in the first half of the tournament. Phillipio (41) and Moses Okocha (26) led the way before Jamal Peters (18*), now batting in the middle order and captain Norshahrul Rashid (13*) lifted us to a decent total of 138-5.

We soon had the visitors in trouble at 16-2 before they fought back to 56-2 and 108-4. Off-spinner Wu Xu (2-23) bowled with great character and ability on the first occasion that he’d bowled from the off. All our bowlers kept their heads, including young Russian right-arm medium-pacer Roman Andreyushkin at the death. Despite having a bowling average of 123 coming into the match, he claimed 1-6 having bowled the seventeenth and nineteenth over. It was another excellent win after our torrid form in the early part of the competition.

Sadly we reverted to type in our penultimate match then made a right mess of the last couple of overs when batting first in our final match. We scored only three runs to finish on 123-8 which Khyber were able to knock off with plenty of deliveries to spare. Still, it was a far more competitive effort than only weeks prior.

Below are our statistical highlights from the competition:

Highest Team Total: 138-5 vs. Islamabad at Global Arena

Highest Partnership: 62 (3rd wicket) Phillipio (Brazil) and Moses Okocha (Nigeria) vs. Islamabad at Islamabad Stadium

Leading Run-scorer: Phillipio (Brazil) 181

Best Batting Average: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 50.33

Best Strike-rate: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 112.68

Best Batting Innings: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 53 not out vs. Punjab at Global Arena

Leading Wicket-taker: Mohamed El Mohamedy (Egypt) 8

Best Bowling Average: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 13.20

Best Strike-rate: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 12.00

Best Bowling Innings: Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 3-26 vs. Sindh at Global Arena

Most Dismissals: Ogmundar Sighthorsson (Iceland) 11 (10 catches/1 stumping)

Most Catches (Non wicketkeeper): Moses Okocha (Nigeria) 2

Next up we remain in Asia but for a far more exhaustive nine-team tournament in Bangladesh. We’ve got a strong contingent of spin bowlers, some talented all-rounders and a capable captain. However a number of specialists both in the batting and pace bowling front need to up their game soon. Maybe the conditions aren’t favourable for quick bowlers but our batsmen really have to find a way. Too often it’s been left to our skipper to lift us to a barely competitive score.

Cricket 19: Global XI – Improvement in India!

It was a huge honour to lead the newly formed Global XI in India’s domestic Twenty20 competition (Not the IPL).

The team consists of a 16-man squad made up of players from beyond the Test world. Norshahrul Rashid of Malaysia, a leg-spinning all-rounder, is captain of the side.

We lost our first three games but recorded our first win at the fourth attempt. At home to Western Wolves, Cameroon fast bowler Ambroise Anguissa claimed figures of 3-22. In pursuit of our target of 133, German opening batsmen Mario Kuntz (68*), ably supported by Nigerian Moses Okocha (33*), saw us to victory with an undefeated partnership of 90.

We sadly made a mess of a similar run chase in our next game. Despite skipper Rashid’s 42 not out, we fell 13 runs short of chasing down 131 away to Northern Tigers.

We won our sixth game at home to Central Foxes, defending our highest score to date, 148-5. Debutante Brazilian batsman Phillipio struck 48 from just 40 balls whilst Mexican wicketkeeper Javier Jimenez boosted our total with 43 from 34 deliveries. Our entire bowling unit then played their part as we held on for victory by 10 runs.

We then lost a couple of games, the first being our heaviest defeat, the second a game we really should’ve won. Defending 146-7, in the main courtesy of a second-wicket partnership of 107 by Kuntz (50) and Phillipio (55), we had Eastern Buffalo in peril at 98-5 but they got home with four balls to spare.

Stand-in skipper Kuntz then captained us to victory in our penultimate game. Though we only took one wicket as Western Wolves posted 142-1, in-form Phillipio (69*) aided by a 17-ball 28 from Okocha, saw us to a seven-wicket win with 15 deliveries to spare.

Captain Rashid then returned to lead us to our fourth victory of the competition. A solid bowling (And fielding) performance all round saw us restrict Northern Tigers to just 119-6. Despite slipping to 35-3 come the chase, that man Phillipo (58*) and Chinese off-spinner Wu Xu (25*), who earlier claimed figures of 2-19 from four overs, put on 44 undefeated runs to get us over the line.

Below are some of our statistical highlights from the competition:

Highest Team Score: 148-5 vs. Central Foxes at Global Arena

Highest Partnership: 107 (2nd wicket), Mario Kuntz (Germany) and Phillipio (Brazil) vs. Eastern Buffalo at Global Arena

Leading Run-scorer: Phillipio (Brazil) 232

Best Batting Average: Phillipio (Brazil) 77.33

Best Strike-rate: Phillipio (Brazil) 119.58

Best Batting Innings: Phillipio (Brazil) 69* (51b) vs Western Wolves at Western Park

Leading Wicket-taker: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 9

Best Bowling Average: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 16.78

Best Strike-rate: Norshahrul Rashid (Malaysia) 15.33

Best Bowling Innings: Ambroise Anguissa (Cameroon) 3-22 vs Western Wolves at Global Arena

Most Dismissals: Javier Jiminez(Mexico) 10 catches/0 stumpings

Most Catches (Non wicketkeeper): Ambroise Anguissa (Cameroon) 2

After starting the competition with three defeats when we fell a bit short of being genuinely competitive, the team improved immensely as they gained more and more experience. There’s still a lot of work to do, a little more bite from our opening bowlers would be nice whilst a couple of batsmen particularly struggled. However, I’d like to thank those in India that made it possible for our players to gain such fantastic exposure at the same time as helping develop cricket across the globe.

Next it’s onto Pakistan for another six-team Twenty20 competition with the domestic (Non PSL) teams and it looks like the standard of opposition may be a little bit tougher. We’ve retained the same squad but some players will need to display signs of improvement before the competition that follows Pakistan!

X-Factor!

In this year’s edition of the Big Bash in Australia, teams will have the option to utilise an X-Factor replacement (Basically like the hugely successful supersub!).

Can you detect my lack of enthusiasm?

The rules are that the player been subbed out can’t have batted or bowled more than one over. The X-Factor can only be introduced after the 10th over of the first innings. Teams will have named a 12th and 13th player and can bring either person into the game.

For me, cricket is an eleven per-side sport. If a team has to turn to a batsman that doesn’t usually bowl for an over or two or a lower order batter has to come up trumps with some runs or even just hold an end up then that’s part of the beauty of the game. That’s how players increase their experience and skillset. If teams keep subbing in a batter for a bowler (I know it’s only if they bowled one over) when chasing in the second innings, bowlers will continue to regress as batsmen. Take England for example. We all know how capable Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood etc are with the bat but because they only very occasionally come out slogging at the end of a T20 innings, when they’re required to construct an innings following a collapse in a fifty-over game or perform in a Test match, they’re already struggling to do so. Stripping them and their peers of more batting opportunities may take us to a game where we literally do divide batsmen and bowlers… maybe batsmen bat twice and bowlers never do!

What does it say about a team’s preparation if they’re having to utilise this option and maybe admit that they got their team selection wrong or misread the surface?

I just feel that it will ruin the integrity of the game. Yes it’s the same and available to everyone but though we have tactical substitutes in other sports as well as concussion and currently Covid replacements in cricket, for me… X-Factor just isn’t cricket!

Is Emily Smith’s Ban the Appropriate Length?

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An hour before the official release of the team sheet for what would ultimately be a rained off match, Hobart Hurricanes wicketkeeper Emily Smith posted an Instagram video displaying her side’s playing XI. It’s unlikely that there was any sinister corruption related motive to this and only that Smith was killing time and boredom when drawing attention to her lowly position in the batting order.

In Ed Hawkins ‘Bookie, Gambler, Fixer, Spy’ he alludes to a seemingly innocent conversation in the pool with Ian Bell that could ultimately have been perceived as the England batsman revealing information that could be abused by match-fixers. This highlights how careful players must be. Don’t under estimate how much money rides on Women’s Big Bash matches either!

Hurricanes’ Smith seems to have been naive rather than sinisterly motivated but the words of Cricket Australia when banning her…

“We have been working with Emily throughout the process and Emily now understands the mistake she made”.

… suggest that she’s struggled to grasp the severity of the situation. Why Smith had her phone on her at the time is another question given the current protocol. Team management should already have confiscated it. However, despite the excuses provided by some, let’s be clear that Smith is not a kid but 24-years-old and has been playing regularly at the top level of domestic women’s cricket for some time. She also can’t say that she wasn’t warned. Corruption education has been exhaustive. If it were a male non-Australian cricketer would the likes of Andrew Symonds be offering a defence?

Smith has received a year-long ban but nine months of that are suspended. She’ll miss the remainder of the Women’s Big Bash League and Women’s National League. Ultimately she can’t play any cricket, not even amateur cricket, for the remainder of the Australian summer.

What do you think? Is this ban the right amount? Should she have been let off or suffered an even more severe punishment?

Would You Rather?

Hi all

Here’s my latest poll. It’s a chance to have your say on something extremely relevant happening in cricket right now. Please share with your friends so that we can really get a feel for public opinion on this…

 

Many thanks for voting and be sure to look out for the results in a week’s time.

Silly Point