Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – New Zealand Run Out… of Ideas!

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When your bowlers need claim only fourteen wickets, you can’t help but think that Test match victories shouldn’t come quite so easily!

Post victory in the Shamrock state, Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes was recalled to the side for the hosting of New Zealand at Edgbaston. Woakes soon snaffled a wicket on his home ground, that of Kiwi opener Jeet Raval, caught behind for seven by debutant wicketkeeper Ben Foakes. That’d be bowled Woakes caught Foakes then! Brought into the side at the expense of Jonny Bairstow following the Yorkshireman’s shabby showing against Ireland in Malahide, Foakes duly put in an exemplary performance behind the timbers. Surrey head honcho Alec Stewart will be proud.

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Woakes made the most of his familiarity with the surroundings. With the new ball in hand whilst Stuart Broad sat this match out, Woakes claimed impressive figures of 3-28 as New Zealand capitulated to 143-9 in their first innings. Only a last wicket stand of forty between Neil Wagner and Trent Boult helped lift the visitors to a slightly more respectable 183 all out. New Zealand’s ineptitude with the bat on such a run-welcoming surface was soon highlighted by England’s willow wielders, not to mention the Kiwis’ own efforts come their second innings.

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Mark Stoneman compiled a career best 82 in an opening partnership of 186 with former Durham colleague Keaton Jennings but was rightly gutted on missing out on a maiden Test century. The Surrey lefty played an unnecessary and inexplicably expansive shot when three figures were peeping above the horizon whilst crying out “Come and get me Mark, please!”.

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Perennially in-form Jennings made no such mistake. His monumental 222 was a dominational knock that left him sitting pretty at the top of the Global Test League run charts whilst averaging an epic 83.29! #Bradmanesque was soon trending on social media. In the interest of fairness, Roston Chase, Dean Elgar and Ross Taylor have all clocked up higher GTL scores in the first four rounds of games.

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Dawid Malan registered his third hundred of the GTL, the most by any individual thus far in the inaugural edition of the competition. The Middlesex man fell for a Test best 155, his partnership of 194 with Adil Rashid was England’s competition high so far as was the team cumulative of 765-9. Regarding the bowling, Neil Wagner claimed absurd figures of 3-256!

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Following his reintegration to the Test side against Ireland, Adil Rashid continued his authoritative all-round performance and seemed destined for a maiden Test century. The Yorkshireman was controversially adjudged run out when on 79 however, though in truth it was an almightily risky run, even if the cameras suggested he’d made his ground.

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As was the case against Ireland, England saw their opposition produce a strong second innings batting display. It was only day three and the pitch was still a good one. How much more the Kiwis 410 could have been if it were not for five run outs in the innings, added to one in their first, will forever remain unknown. Had the tourists not conceded such village dismissals (No disrespect to village cricketers across the land!) and had they applied themselves better in their first innings then this could have been a far more evenly contested high scoring affair. Tim Southee’s run out for a career best 87, a dismissal that sealed the home side’s victory was disappointing, embarrassing, amateur, heart-breaking and inevitable all at the same time. Even the England fans wanted to see him reach a ton.

Moving on from my journalistic report and bringing to the fore my role as Team Manager and Chairman of Selectors of the England national side, we’d prefer to have to work harder for our wickets, even if we can claim to have applied pressure to bring them about. Our performance against spin, Jeetan Patel finished with figures of 0-98 on his home ground, was extremely encouraging. Pakistan in Lahore however will be a different kettle of the proverbial fish. We look forward to the challenge though. We currently sit joint top of the GTL table alongside South Africa and India. They too have won three matches and lost one. Entertaining ‘The Proteas’ at home will follow the trip to Pakistan.

The squad to travel to Pakistan will be named after careful consideration has been provided. Rotation of our pace bowlers continues to be of paramount importance as we look to sustain our intensity throughout the duration of the competition. Thoughts of adding additional spin options to the XI will be weighed up as will selecting spin-skilled batsmen. The players continue to be humbled by the support of the fans.

Cricket Captain 2017: 2022 T20I World Cup Review – McManus Magic Not Enough!

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Lewis McManus’ 225 runs @ 56.25 including 104 not out in England’s opening game set the tone for an encouraging tournament for the hosts.

Following McManus’ feat, county teammate Mason Crane claimed the almost absurdly good figures of 4-12 as Pakistan, not surprisingly, struggled to get to grips with the required run-rate.

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Further victories over both Australia and Zimbabwe then followed and despite defeat against South Africa in the final group game, England joined ‘The Proteas‘ in the semi-finals.

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Though England had India in peril at 44-3, having themselves posted 172, the home side contrived to lose a semi-final they had looked almost certain to win.

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The loss came despite Sussex’s Ben Brown backing up his debut fifty with another.

On the back of such a run-filled tournament, Hampshire’s McManus soared to a career high sixth place in the T20I batting rankings.

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T20I veteran Benny Howell has now accumulated 35 caps in the shortest format of the game and has been a vital cog in England’s recent development.

It’s now time to readjust to the grind of Test cricket however as England host West Indies for a five-match series.

Cricket Captain 2017: South Africa, South Africa!

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Following England’s early exit from the 2020 T20I World Cup, it was South Africa all the way for Liam Livingstone’s men. From the darkest seeds of cricketing despair grew firstly the shoots of competitiveness before blossoming into fully blown victoriousness… before a couple of T20I defeats at the end!

Having lost the opening dual of the summer, England secured a rare Test win in the second battle, thanks in no small part to Toby Roland-Jones’ 49-ball 75 to compliment captain Livingstone’s masterly knock of 147. Middlesex’s Roland-Jones recorded a tenth-wicket stand of 76 with number eleven Jack Leach (0 from 13 deliveries) to help the hosts square the series but the home side were unable to back that performance up. Two more defeats were followed by a draw in the fifth and final Test thus ‘The Proteas’ claimed a 3-1 series win.

In the ODI matches, England were 2-1 up and headed for series victory before making a ‘right pig’s ear’ of a run chase and therefore conspiring to lose the fourth ODI by 16 runs. The home side didn’t recover from letting a golden chance slip and rather predictably failed to win the deciding match as South Africa claimed the series 3-2. The visitors also won the sole T20I match.

England vs. South Africa series results:

Tests: Lost 3-1

ODIs: Lost 3-2

T20I: Lost 1-0

Encouraged by their increasing competitiveness though, England followed South Africa home and experienced what can only be described as a renaissance or resurgence or redemption or…

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While in South Africa, Somerset spinner Jack Leach reached 100 Test wickets!

Going into the third and final Test 1-0 down in the series, England recorded a famous victory to seal a more than respectable away series draw. Persisted with young opening batsman Max Holden produced a career best maiden Test century (121) in the tourists’ second innings while debutant Will Rhodes was one of a trio of players to have scored 54 in England’s first venture to the crease. One of the others to do so was Ben Coad. The recalled quick bowler claimed two four-wicket hauls (8 wickets @ 18.75) in the series and registered a valuable maiden fifty in his 23rd Test. The bold decision to ‘drop’ Sam Curran was justified with the aforementioned Rhodes also claiming match figures of 4-73 with the ball.

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Daniel Bell-Drummond has excelled in ODI cricket but will have to wait for a Test recall.

In the ODI series, England maximised momentum and raced into an unassailable 2-0 lead. Opening batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond maintained his excellent form in fifty-over cricket since his debut last year. Having recorded back to back centuries in the home ODIs, the Kent batsman struck his fifth ODI career hundred in the first match of the series before Middlesex’s Dawid Malan blitzed 87 to help England win the second.

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Benny Howell has become an essential member of England’s T20I outfit, even captaining the side on a couple of occasions.

The T20I series was lost 2-0 but England still showed increased signs of competitiveness. Despite falling short of their target, England passed 200 in the second match, courtesy of two career best performances: Ryan Higgins’ 79 not out and Benny Howell’s 58 not out. The Zimbabwe/France born duo manufactured an audacious unbroken partnership of 128.

South Africa vs. England series results:

Tests: Drew 1-1

ODIs: Won 2-1

T20Is: Lost 2-0

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Tom Curran has started to look the part in the international environment whilst his brother Sam should return a better player after being ‘rested’.

Next for Liam Livingstone and his troops, it’s onto Bangladesh for a tough assignment. England supporters will be hopeful that the likes of Tom Curran and company can continue to display their improved showings. The selectors however have some tough calls to make in all forms of the game when selecting the Bangladesh touring party.

Cook to Come in from the Cold?

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120, 32, 98 & 70*. That’s what opening batsman Stephen Cook scored for South Africa A in their competitive series against India’s second string recently. I closely analysed Cook’s performance in Australia in a series of previous articles…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/cook-in-command-no-not-that-one/

and despite registering a century in that series, ‘The Proteas’ selectors soon lost patience and initially replaced him with Theunis De Bruyn in New Zealand before bringing in Heino Kuhn against England. Kuhn was selected on the back of an undefeated double hundred in a tour game but made only 113 fifty-less runs at a paltry average of 14.12 in the series. As we’ve seen from the efforts of West Indies batsmen, big runs against second string county sides don’t always translate into international runs.

Prior to the England Test series, Cook had been playing in England for Durham and had been steady in the County Championship without quite being outstanding but surely that experience and acclimatisation would have served him well. It was an odd decision to replace him with non-opener De Bruyn in the first place, only to then move onto another elder statesman in Kuhn. Kuhn (33) and Cook (34) are about the same age. Having invested in Cook it may have made more sense to have persevered with him. All this chopping and changing will sound familiar to England followers. Judging by his response in the A series Cook is, as we already know, a determined fighter. Back to De Bruyn, South Africa don’t really seem to know what he is (opener, middle-order bat, all-rounder?) and mucked him around during the Test series in England.

South Africa host Bangladesh next this September. They may see this as an opportunity to blood a young gun, the likes of Aiden Markram who was back-up in the summer and has struck a couple of 70s in the India A series. They may also decide that it’s worth sticking with Kuhn and good luck to him if they do. Having said that, if Cook is in the A squad then he must be in with a serious shout of a recall. He’s a gritty non-showy type of player, my type of player. I’ve always had a thing for stoic opening batsmen and would love to see Cook win a return to the international fold. He’d surely back his chances of closing in on 1000 Test runs at home against Bangladesh.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/southafrica/content/player/44656.html