Panesar for Yorkshire!

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In my previous post, an audio cast about various things cricket, I touched upon Yorkshire’s necessity to acquire an experienced and quality spin bowler. England’s limited overs spinner Adil Rashid’s First Class future remains unclear, Azeem Rafiq seems to have fallen off the radar again and young Karl Carver continues to struggle. Whilst at work the other day, patrolling my stockroom as I do, a thought came to mind… Monty Panesar! That’s right, a romantic signing it would be but if Yorkshire were to snap up Monty and the fifty-Test veteran promptly spun a few county batsmen out during the second half of the County Championship, Panesar could then gate crash England’s tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies in one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/18655.html

On a serious note, it is often said that England lack depth in their spin bowling stocks however that simply isn’t the case. It’s such a shame that Jack Leach got injured and has now suffered concussion, meaning he’ll miss more Somerset matches. Following the original injury, he subsequently lost his England place to county teammate Dom Bess, who performed admirably in the Test series against Pakistan.

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Hampshire’s Mason Crane

Mason Crane had also been bowling well in limited overs cricket after missing England’s tour of New Zealand through injury. Remember that he displayed great temperament against South Africa in T20Is last year, keeping his head above water to dismiss AB de Villiers. Said injury returned however. When England tour this winter, they’ll ideally take all of Bess, Leach and Crane. That’s an offie, a leggie and a slow-left-armer. Moeen Ali (OS)and Liam Livingstone (LS) would then be sensible back-up batting options provided they bowl effective spin. Don’t forget Liam Dawson (SLA) who continues to perform well, whether it be in English county cricket, for England Lions or in the Pakistan Super League. Samit Patel (SLA) is another option but then just look at the genuine spinners England can consider in years to come… Matthew Parkinson (LS), Amir Virdi (OS), Matthew Carter (OS) (He’s very good!), Hamidullah Qadri (OS) and Ravi Patel (SLA), that’s on top of Bess, Leach and Crane, all of whom have more than ten years at the top remaining.

Moving onto pace bowling, I wonder if England are really looking into the injury situation. Many people wanted Oli Stone selected for England after one good game earlier this season but he’s hardly played since. Jamie Overton is another great hope but is always injured. Saqib Mahmood performed superbly in the North v South matches but hasn’t played all season. Experienced England internationals Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes are obviously missing the current ODI series against Australia off the back of rapidly trying to increase their workloads from four overs per match at the IPL to countless overs in Tests.

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Durham’s Mark Wood

Mark Wood is being rested from the T20I series, Reece Topley is limited to white-ball (List A/T20) cricket only, Toby Roland-Jones is a long-term absentee and particularly alarmingly, both Jake Ball and Tom Curran managed to get injured whilst with the England squad but not having actually played!

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Middlesex’s Toby Roland-Jones

It’s worth noting that TR-Js injury only came about post playing for England?! Other solid domestic players such as Jamie Porter, Liam Norwell and James Weighell have had their injury problems too. I really hope that behind the scenes some studies are being put in place to identify trends, manage player’s workloads and help keep players fit for England.

Anyway, as I was saying… Panesar for Yorkshire!

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2018

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The above is my first XI. It’s in the all-rounder roles that I’ve gambled with Rhodes and Rawlins. Rhodes has moved from Yorkshire to Warwickshire so should see increased game time and will be keen to show what he’s capable of. Rawlins made an impression in the North v South matches and this should be his breakout season. Simpson is a reliable wicketkeeper and I think there is real logic in the stumper being captain. I’ve plucked for a possibly slightly under the radar bowling attack and expect Mennie and hopefully Hutton to contribute runs too. I’ve very deliberately selected batsman that will at least occasionally bowl and should get opportunities in both formats of the game.

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For my second XI, I’ve gone for the two all-rounders that I consider guaranteed runs and wickets. I’ve opted for a reliable batting unit and expect Fell to return to form this year. Though my bowling unit may not be guaranteed outings in both codes, Coad and Footitt are wicket takers in the First Class format. Mahmood is coming into the campaign off the back of impressive performances in North v South and Nijjar, a useful spin bowler, has been opening the batting for Essex pre-season. What happens to Alastair Cook with England may determine Nijjar’s opportunities. If Roderick is available throughout the season, he should be steady away behind the stumps and with bat in hand.

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Have I ever mentioned that I like Ben Duckett?

Mitchell is as consistent as they come and bowls too. Smith has returned to Durham and I expect plenty of runs from the experienced head back up north. Alongside him, Brook is primed for his breakthrough campaign after debuting last term. Kuhn may not keep wicket but is a solid performer at domestic level. My bowling attack may receive England and England Lions call-ups but have runs as well as wickets in them in both formats. Bresnan is as solid an option as Patel and Bopara and van der Merwe is a destructive player.

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In my fourth XI, I’ve gone Warwickshire and England veteran heavy in my batting line-up, messrs Trott and Bell leading the charge. Bell-Drummond will be looking to kick-on and fingers crossed for a run-filled renaissance from Nick Compton. Like Kuhn, Pope may not always keep wicket but will be playing regularly and in the runs this year. Berg is as reliable as anyone with the ball and Procter prospered last term having relocated to Northamptonshire. I want a bit more from Barker and Rayner this year. Fletcher is back from injury and if Overton, rated 3!, can stay fit then he’s a shrewd selection.

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In my fifth XI are the other players that I like who I couldn’t squeeze into my first four teams. Northeast has moved to Hampshire but is as reliable as they come with the bat. Wells is solid in the First Class game as is Burns. Dent is an under rated player too. McManus gets the gloves with the experienced Clarke, back at Surrey, and less experienced but quick Chappell in the all-rounder roles. Hopefully Norwell has shrugged off any injury niggles. Ball will be left to play county cricket this term whilst Patterson is another of my reliable picks. Qadri made an impressive debut last year and will look to back it up.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve avoided selecting players that will be on England duty. It’s steady away county pros that you need sprinkled with one or two yet to be discovered gems just primed to be this year’s Ben Coad.

Let me know what you think about my teams and which one is likely to win me the massive cash prize of……….. £3,000!

https://fantasycricket.telegraph.co.uk/county

Disclaimer: I’ve since been tinkering away, so my teams don’t look quite the same as above. I’ll keep you up to date once the campaign commences!

England Test XI

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Please ignore any previous suggestions for England’s Test XI. Like any good selector, I’m prone to the odd wave change though of course some will criticise England’s selectors for not changing the side but now the selectors themselves are changing!

Here’s my England Test XI for the start of the summer. This does of course highlight the fact that I’m not picking a team based on the first few weeks of the First Class season.

Opening Batsmen

Haseeb Hameed and Ben Duckett

I genuinely think that the defensive/offensive contrast of messrs Hameed and Duckett could blossom for England. That’s not to say that I don’t think Hameed is capable of attacking when necessary and Duckett can’t survive when he has too. Yes I’ve criticised England for not preparing properly for New Zealand and Duckett is currently injured but he can be England’s David Warner. He has the ability to make big hundreds. He struggled in Asia but in home conditions against subcontinental opposition is the perfect scenario in which to just let him at ’em!

Number Three

Moeen Ali/Liam Livingstone

This is a tough one because I’ve always wanted Moeen to have a run in his domestic role but such has been his ineptitude recently that Livingstone is pushing his case. Both offer something with the ball to support my number one spinner (We’ll come to him later) but it’s for batting alone that we need to select a number three, though Livingstone is a bloody good fielder. Both are attacking batsman and could help England really get themselves ahead of the game by the time Joe Root comes to the crease. Joe Clarke and Daniel-Bell Drummond will be waiting in the wings should Mo and Livingstone fail to deliver.

Middle order

Joe Root and Dawid Malan

Move them back to four and five for goodness sake!

Root doesn’t want to bat at three and Malan has delivered at five so I just don’t understand the logic of moving them each up a position. Based on the XI that I’ve selected, I’m sticking with Root as skipper. If the top three can perform as I believe they can then the burden and pressure on Root will be eased. The captain can come out and play, enjoy himself and not just have to look to survive. With Hameed, Duckett and Moeen/Livingstone up top, Root can come to the crease with the score more 100-2 not 20-2, sometimes at least.

Malan performed well in Australia but must now back it up. I’m very content with him staying at five. I guess that it’s the easiest place in the order for a specialist batsman but he’s earned that right. There’s still enough to come after him for him to be able to make big scores.

Late Middle Order

Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes

A fully fit and focused Stokes at six helps England immensely with bat and ball. Now is the time for him to deliver some Flintoffesque performances.

Jonny Bairstow has been efficient behind the stumps and if he can transfer his ODI batting to the Test side, not that he’s been performing that badly in Tests, then England are in for a treat.

The higher Chris Woakes bats the more England will get from him. Like Moeen, it’s about mentality and if you bat higher and closer to your domestic position then you’re more likely to bat appropriately. In England against India and Pakistan should be the sort of summer that Woakes enjoys with the ball.

Opening Bowlers

Ben Coad/Mark Footitt and James Anderson

James Anderson can and should still lead the line for England. His skill coupled with his current fitness mean that there’s no need to rush to replace him. I’ve dropped Stuart Broad. He could be recalled based on domestic form and rotating of the pacers. He could also very likely be in my ODI and possibly T20I side but I’d start the summer without him in the Test XI.

I see Ben Coad as a Josh Hazlewood type bowler. I mean this in the sense that he can go a little under the radar when batsman are worrying about Mitchell Starc, James Anderson or have been with Ryan Sidebottom at Yorkshire. I’m sure that lots of people would campaign for others. In fact Toby Roland-Jones would be mighty close and probably come into the equation during the summer.

I’ve campaigned for Footitt before. The variety of a left-armer in the attack would be welcomed by Joe Root. I’d just leave Sam Curran for now, probably introduce him in ODIs. I don’t see Footitt playing every Test or taking hundreds of wickets but as an occasional option to turn to from time to time, he could be invaluable. Yes he would leak a few runs but that can be tolerated if Anderson and Woakes etc are keeping it tidy and Footitt can deliver three or four unplayable wicket taking deliveries to see off opposition batsmen. Craig Overton is a little unlucky to miss out but would also be considered for ODIs. I don’t see Mark Wood as our saviour.

Spin Bowling

Jack Leach

He’s earned it, had more than just one good season now, returned from technical changes and should be provided the entire summer to take the rough with the smooth. There’s enough batting to not be concerned about that. So he took some tap in Australia on tour but so did Nathan Lyon. If anything, Leach’s main threat may come from his Somerset teammate Dom Bess but come trips to the subcontinent or West Indies, pairing the two of them together is the same applied logic as Dele Alli playing behind Harry Kane for England’s football team… although that’s a poor comparison because I’m hinting that Alli hasn’t really performed recently (Start a football blog Paul!).

There it is:

Hameed, Duckett, Mo/LL?, Root (C), Malan, Stokes, Bairstow (W), Woakes (VC), Coad/Footitt, Anderson, Leach

I’m certain that many people will scoff at the notion of players such as Duckett, Coad and Footitt being anywhere near the England team but I don’t want this new selection panel to sit on fences. They need to make big and brave calls. I believe the selectors should be seen more than they are. I mean that rather than television and newspaper reporters interviewing the coach it should be the selectors, the one at the top at least, that are interviewed. They should be very open and honest about players, those in the team and those that are not and players should be able to deal with what the selectors say in public.

That’s my team and I’d stick and run with it for the summer, only rotating one pacer every Test or two which I think is necessary.

Now let’s all watch Mark Stoneman score a century and Moeen Ali, Craig Overton and Stuart Broad each score fifties and take a five-for in the second Test in New Zealand!

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – Like a Rash!

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After our sensational victory over India at Lords, we traversed seas for the first time in the Global Test League and headed to Malahide to take on Ireland. Our hosts would push us hard in a high class day/night affair.

Again, we made one change to our side. Yorkshire spinner Adil Rashid was recalled at the expense of Chris Woakes. We were surprised to find the Irish terrain look so spin enticing and so included the leg-spin of Rashid to compliment Moeen Ali’s off-spin. It was Ireland’s spinners who would prosper first though. In our first innings, George Dockrell recorded cracking figures of 6-96 backed up by the part-time turn of Andy Balbirnie (2-27).

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In-form opening batsman Keaton Jennings was dropped behind on 92 and went onto register his maiden competition century (116). Up to this point KJ had made three fifties in four innings but this time (With a little help!) went onto post three figures. Our middle order was blown away by the left-arm hurricane Dockrell and only a counter-attacking knock of 74 from wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow lifted us to 313-9 before a cheeky declaration in the final session of the premier day’s play.

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James Anderson picked up 2-35 with the pink ball in Ireland’s first innings including the prize wicket of opener Ed Joyce. Joyce was peppered by back-to-back short balls before nicking behind when wafting outside off at a slower and fuller delivery. It was a well executed tactic by the head of England’s attack. Anderson’s ten wickets in three matches put him top of the wicket-taking charts for England.

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Adil Rashid returned to England colours with a point to prove and how he proved it. Many were surprised to see Rashid walk out to bat at number six but scores of 49 & 58 were vital to England’s cause. Rashid wore a heavy workload in Ireland’s first innings, bowling a total of 29.1 overs he returned figures of 3-88 followed by 3-54 in the second innings. Admittedly some of his wickets were courtesy of debatable umpiring decisions and it’s true that fortune favoured England throughout this match. Rashid built pressure though and deservedly won the ‘Player of the Match’ award. The contributions of Keaton Jennings (116 & 46) and Toby Roland-Jones (1 & 73, 1-58 & 2-62) in particular, the latter making a crucial double breakthrough in the hosts’ second innings, shouldn’t be underestimated however.

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Having made 99 against India at Lords, Moeen Ali defied the earthquaken like pitch and seemed set for immediate redemption in Malahide but fell to a poorly executed shot when on 98. A severe case of Michael Slateritis for the Worcestershire all-rounder!

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For England’s eighth wicket, Moeen put on 150 with Middlesex man Toby Roland-Jones in what turned out to be a vital second innings partnership. Disappointingly T R-J through his wicket away when on 73 and will surely rue a golden opportunity for a Test ton that went begging. His vital second innings wickets when Ireland were well set at 112-1 but slipped to 133-3 in their pursuit of what would have been a record breaking 520, combined with his batting contributions mean that Chris Woakes isn’t guaranteed an immediate recall to the side. As well as claiming key scalps at crucial moments in the match, that’s fifties in consecutive Tests for Roland-Jones.

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Gloveman Jonny Bairstow was good, bad and darn right ugly behind the stumps. In the first innings he dropped this sitter off the bowling of Roland-Jones. Dawid Malan couldn’t believe what he was seeing!

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Just when Roland-Jones thought his luck had changed after picking up a couple of wickets, remember he was robbed of some against India, Bairstow promptly dropped this dolly that ballooned into the air on the leg-side. Whether or not it was the pink ball, the poor light or just a lack of concentration from JB is unclear. His first innings knock of 74 was crucial to England’s success in this match but he was needlessly run out when seemingly destined for a century and his rather kamikaze second innings knock of 12 from four deliveries in England’s second innings wasn’t really what the team needed. Most crucially though, his butter fingered performance with the gloves mean that Ben Foakes will come into serious consideration ahead of the visit of New Zealand.

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In the end we won by 160 runs having declared both our innings. This was despite Paul Stirling’s stirling knock of 120 not out! Our second innings was a solid effort full of contributions throughout the order and we had enough runs on the board to not get too anxious when Ireland built some partnerships. The recalled Adil Rashid (6-142) led the way with the ball. We can’t deny that Ireland gifted us some silly run outs and the umpires were generous with some of their decisions. We missed a couple of run out chances and dropped easy catches too. No disrespect to Ireland but more experienced Test nations won’t be so generous. We did however improve dramatically with the bat against spin (Mark Stoneman aside) and witnessed not overly experienced bowlers claim vital scalps when required.

We currently sit atop the Global Test League but entertaining New Zealand at Birmingham won’t be easy.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – Malan of the Match!

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Following the disappointing defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe at Old Trafford in the opening round of Global Test League fixtures, it was essential that we upped our game against India at Lords and register our first championship points.

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Records tumbled on day one as our batsmen recovered from a precarious position of 12-2 to make hay against an insipid India attack. No less than six willow wielders passed fifty but it was Dawid Malan who stood tallest on his home ground. The Middlesex man reached his maiden Test hundred before eventually being dismissed for a grand 133. Having made scores of 8 and 32 at Old Trafford, Malan seized the opportunity of playing on familiar ground to cement his immediate future in England’s middle order.

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The hosts had been 198-6 when Moeen Ali joined Malan at the crease but the pair combined to construct a mammoth partnership of 176 to deflate the Indian players. Moeen was cruelly denied a Test hundred, courtesy of a fantastic slower ball from Jasprit Bumrah that trapped the Worcestershire man in front. It was a rare piece of intelligent and well executed bowling from the away side. Bumrah, for his batting as much as his bowling, was one of the few Indian players to walk away from this match with their reputation enhanced.

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By the end of first day, we’d been dismissed for a mighty 536 and still had time to bowl a few overs at the visiting batsmen. The opening over, bowled by James Anderson as the sun set over London, was a sublime display of swing bowling. Having seen their side total a record breaking opening day score, the home fans had already received their money’s worth but were treated to Anderson’s torrid torture of India’s top order. Swinging the ball like no one before him, Anderson was close to claiming another two LBWs in his first over on top of trapping the dumbstruck Shikhar Dhawan. Dhawan would later fall to Anderson in the second innings, caught on the boundary in one of the most embarrassing displays of an international cricketer running scared ever seen!

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Registering scores of just five and three, Chris Woakes clearly had a disappointing match with the bat and the experimentation of him batting at number six may have to come to an end. The Warwickshire man made a solid contribution with the ball however, collecting match figures of 25-8-64-3 and easing the burden on messrs Broad and Anderson.

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Seamer Toby Roland-Jones, called into the side at the expense of spinner Liam Dawson, joined Middlesex colleague Malan in making a positive impression on his home ground. Having recored a maiden Test half-century (61) in England’s epic first innings, T R-J claimed three catches as India’s batsmen were suckered into the same trap time and time again. With his international career still in its infancy, the county veteran finished with match figures of 25.4-10-62-3. Like Woakes, Roland-Jones confirmed that England’s back-up brigade of pace bowlers are blessed with plenty of skill and wicket taking nous.

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Though we were keen to enforce the follow-on, a miscommunication (A bug!) with the officials resulted in us having to bat again. Provided the rapid nature of our first innings batting and as a result, the amount of time left in the match, we weren’t too concerned about having to do so. Of all the England players, only opening bat Mark Stoneman (7 & 8) will walk away from the match disappointed but fellow opener Keaton Jennings (73 & 51) made fifties in both innings. That’s three in four in the inaugural GTL for the new Lancashire recruit. Hampshire’s James Vince made an attacking 92 before Dawid Malan, not content with one Test century on his home ground, promptly made another. There are many great players never to have made the honours board at Lords but Malan etched his name twice in the space of a couple of days. He fell soon after as England presented the undeserving Hardik Pandya (3-55) with three cheap (And I mean very cheap!) wickets in one over, as thoughts turned towards a declaration. Despite there being ample time left in the match, it was felt unnecessary to have our bowlers exert energy whilst batting. There’s another twelve rounds of Test fixtures and the workload of the pace bowlers in particular must be managed accordingly.

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Few would have thought that James Vince would lead the way with the ball in India’s second innings but with captain Joe Root letting senior bowlers, the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Broad take it easy in the field, Vince followed up his batting exploits with figures of 2-40 from ten overs. Freakishly, India were dismissed for 208 in both innings. In truth, it may only have been England’s decision to rest senior bowlers second time around that allowed India to ascend from 98-8 and total that many.

This was a truly emphatic and utterly dominant display from England. The 455-run margin of victory was the sixth highest in the history of Test cricket. Our first innings total of 536 was the highest ever score reached on the opening day of a Test match and the second most runs scored on any day in Test history. There were contributions from throughout the side and standards have now been set extremely high. There’s excitement amongst the players as they seek to be the leading run-scorers or wicket-takers respectively in the Global Test League. Malan currently sits third on the overall batting charts and Anderson leads the way for England with the ball. That friendly competition is good for the team and the tournament as a whole. After a disappointing outing against Zimbabwe, it will be pleasing for captain Joe Root to have made 55 in the first innings but even more pleasing to see all those around him perform so productively.

Our next match sees us voyage overseas for the first time, not far though, just a short traverse of the Irish Sea to take on Ireland in Malahide. We’ll review conditions prior to confirming any amendments to the squad.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – England Squad Announcement

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Following the disappointing defeat at the hands of Zimbabwe in the opening round of Global Test League fixtures, England now take on India in another home encounter, this time at Lords.

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We’ve opted to make one alteration to the squad and one change to the XI. Spinner Liam Dawson bowled well in patches but struggled for effectiveness at Old Trafford and against a side strong against spin, Liam will be better served honing his skills in domestic cricket.

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Toby Roland-Jones steps up from 12th man to compliment our seam bowling attack and is expected to do well on his home ground.

Liam Plunkett is another pace bowling option that still has something to offer in the longest format of the game and joins the squad as 12th man.

Be sure to revisit the site to see if Joe Root and his men can bounce back from defeat against Zimbabwe and pick up their first ever Global Test League points with a positive result against the mighty India. Many thanks for your support.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League

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Top of the Global Test League… but for how long?

The Global Test League is here folks!

Unfortunately due to contractual issues neither Australia or Sri Lanka feature in the competition. There are eight teams (England, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, West Indies and Zimbabwe) and each side will play each other home and away. That’s a total of fourteen matches per side to decide the best Test team on the globe.

As Team Manager and Chairman of Selectors of the England team, it’s my responsibility to keep you up to date with how the side perform during the competition. So here it goes…

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Liam Dawson (1-83 & 0-65) struck early in Zimbabwe’s first innings but was a juxtaposition of maidens and expensive overs from there on.

Our first match of the inaugural Global Test League was a home fixture against Zimbabwe at Old Trafford. Many observers rather disrespectfully suggested that the result was a formality. It turned out to be anything but!

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James Anderson (3-107) didn’t immediately find his groove but came back in sensational style, at one point being on a hat-trick!

Zimbabwe won the toss and batted first. At 344-4 early on the second day, the visitors seemed destined for a huge score. James Anderson (3-107) had other ideas however as the Lancashire quick found another gear on his home ground. Zimbabwe lost their last six wickets for just 38 runs to subside to 384 all out (Masakadza 106, Raza 88). A still decent total but not as imposing as they would have liked given their position before Anderson’s exploits.

In our first innings, we seemed guaranteed to claim a first innings lead when a 126-run partnership between Mark Stoneman (77) and James Vince (71) took us to 162-1. Both batsmen were naively run out though and there then followed what can only be described as kamikaze batting by the home side. 162-1 rapidly became 239 all out. A loss of nine wickets for just 77 runs. This included the fall of captain Joe Root for a golden duck. Part-time spinner Sean Williams (4-31) was the chief destroyer, backed-up by seamer Chris Mpofu (3-61).

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Craig Ervine survived a clear glove behind as Zimbabwe set England a mammoth 471 to win the Test match.

Zimbabwe then maintained the pattern of the batting side laying a strong platform and had reached 167-1 before Dawid Malan (2-32) intervened. The part-time Middlesex spinner struck with his second delivery immediately after the interval and went onto claim a further wicket as well as effect a run out and take a catch. Malan’s success with the ball only served to highlight Liam Dawson’s lack of penetration. England then took regular wickets but not in clusters as the away side totalled 327 (Mire 90, Broad 3-75) second time around. Not wanting to be bitter, we were frustrated by some of the umpiring decisions during Zimbabwe’s second innings, not least the clear glove behind by Craig Ervine (See image above) that was given not out.

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James Vince, having been run out for 71 in the first innings, posted a maiden Test hundred in the second.

Ultimately that left us needing to score a world record 471 to win the Test match. At various intervals including when positioned on 127-1, 221-3 and 375-6 we had high hopes of making history. James Vince (107) led the way with a maiden Test century at a little over a run-a-ball but the Hampshire man was dismissed not long after reaching his hundred.

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Moeen Ali smashed the record for Test match cricket’s fastest ever half-century in a thrilling demonstration of clean hitting entertainment for the loyal but bedraggled England following.

Alongside Jonny Bairstow (71 from 45), Moeen Ali had the home crowd struggling to believe their eyes as we dared to pull off cricket’s greatest ever heist. The Worcestershire all-rounder clobbered 58 from just 17 deliveries. Though it was part-timer Sean Williams that dismissed Moeen, it was Zimbabwe captain Graeme Cremer who held his nerve as we went on the attack in our quest for victory. In regards to field placements, the away side’s bold skipper didn’t panic in the face of Moeen and JB’s onslaught. Cremer would finish the innings with sensational figures of 7-105 and deservedly claim the Player of the Match award!

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Our tail were soon back in the pavilion as Zimbabwe claimed a deserved victory, one that has sent shockwaves around the cricket world. The margin of defeat a mere 78 runs. We’re obviously disappointed to have lost but I’m proud of the team for sticking at it with the ball in each of Zimbabwe’s innings and restricting them to sub 400 totals on both occasions. I’m also proud of the boys for scoring nearly 400 on a worn and degrading pitch in the fourth innings of a Test match. It was our inept batting display in our first innings though that has cost us the match. Things won’t get any easier next up against India at Lords, as we go in pursuit of  our first Global Test League points. Despite the loss we don’t anticipate wholesale changes to the side. A squad for that Test match will be named in due course with Toby Roland-Jones possibly coming into contention on his home ground.

Disclaimer: The simulation of other teams’ matches crashed when Australia featured and the on-disc Sri Lanka team has not yet been complimented with genuine players, hence their absence from the Global Test League. As the old adage goes: “You can only beat what’s in front of you”, or not as the case may be!