Cricket Captain 2018: CrAshed and Burned!

Firstly, prior to the 2019 Ashes series, there was an oddly scheduled trio of T20I matches of which we managed to lose each one. Well at least we were consistent!

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Alex Hales’ 124 from just 64 deliveries in the third encounter was a rare highlight. The next highest score in the innings was Ross Whiteley’s career best 10 from six balls.

Onto the Ashes and the first Test ended in a frustrating rain-affected draw. Having bowled Australia out for 250 (Footitt 4-45), we compiled a mammoth 594-9 (Bairstow 173). Australia managed to hold out though and finished on 286-7. In doing so the visitors acquired the momentum for the matches forth.

In the second Test, we again had Australia in strife but Travis Head’s excellent 126 was the difference between the two sides as the visitors assumed a series lead courtesy of a brutal 272-run victory.

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Then, the darkest of days. There have been many bad days in the history of the England cricket team but few Tests have been lost from a position of such supremacy. Having dismissed Australia for 325, Alastair Cook (153) and Haseeb Hameed (140) compiled an opening partnership of exactly 300 (THREE HUNDRED!). Even though an archetypal English collapse ensued, James Vince (113) ensured that each of our top three registered tons to provide us with a first innings lead of 171. The tourists then made a strong second innings score of 368 but that still meant we only needed 198 to square the series. We didn’t even get close, bowled out for a pathetic 124!

In the fourth Test there was at least a return to form for captain Joe Root. The Yorkshireman made 114 in another draw that meant Australia sealed the 2019 Ashes.

The series then ended like it began, with a frustrating draw. In the fifth and final Test Australia compiled 454 in their first innings but we responded with 469. Root (162) maintained his return to form whilst Somerset spinner Dom Bess (79) made an entertaining maiden international fifty. We then bowled Australia out for 327 in their second innings. Essex debutant Jamie Porter responded to a wicketless (23-1-101-0) first innings showing by claiming figures of 3-83. The equation boiled down to us requiring 312 for victory. We committed to go for it. We may as well have lost the series 3-0 than 2-0 playing for a draw. We got mightily close (286-9) and only for the final four overs did we abandon the chase and shut up shop in an attempt to avoid another defeat.

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2-0 is not a thrashing. If time had been limitless we would’ve won the first Test. We should’ve won the 4th but fair play to Australia because they did and we didn’t. We had a real go and came almightily close to winning the fifth. In the early part of the series we dominated their top order but allowed their lower order to score runs. In the latter matches we allowed the top order to make big runs but limited the contribution of the tail. Yes we lost the series and to lose the third Test in the manner that we did was inexcusable. However we regularly competed and are not a million miles away from where Australia are.

For the record: Joe Root (485) topped our run charts, closely followed by Alastair Cook (477) and James Vince (445). Ben Stokes topped the averages with 55.43.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad, with 22 and 18 wickets respectively, silenced their critics. It was a young spinner with 11 wickets at 26.00 who topped the averages however…

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Dom Bess, recalled part way through the series, made an encouraging impression not only with the ball but with the bat too. Our immediate tours however are to New Zealand and South Africa so not necessarily spin paradises. We’re spoilt for choice on the spin front so we’ll see what happens this winter before a short trip to Sri Lanka.

At the conclusion of the Ashes there was a trio of ODI matches. I’m delighted that we restored some pride with a deserved 2-1 win.

Jos Buttler’s 127 not out paved the way for a win in the first match but Australia fought back in the second. Buttler again top scored with 82 but our bowling lacked penetration. David Warner feasted on some insipid deliveries to finish unbeaten on a dominant 161.

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Cometh the hour cometh the man! In the deciding ODI, Surrey starlet Sam Curran, having been dismissed for a duck and gone wicketless on debut in the second encounter. struck 27 from 24 deliveries before claiming astonishing analyse of 6-37!

Another newcomer, Warwickshire tearaway Ed Pollock, followed scores of 2 and 21 with 70 from 77 deliveries at the top of the order. Ben Stokes, promoted to three in place of the recalled James Vince who suffered a disappointing return, made 87 from just 79 deliveries. Jos Buttler again made runs with 54 off 51 in his new position at number five. Having players of the quality of Stokes and Buttler so high in the order rather than leaving them at six or seven is the way forward. After Chris Wood had dismissed danger man David Warner first ball, Aaron Finch was run out off a free hit before Sam Curran took over. #priderestored

International Duck Watch!

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Australia have assumed an unassailable 3-1 lead in their ODI series at home against Pakistan. The hosts totalled a formidable 353-6 (Warner 130, Maxwell 78, Head 51) then dismissed the tourists 86 runs short of their total, despite Sharjeel Khan’s 74 from 47 deliveries at the top of the order.

Our sole duckee at the Sydney Cricket Ground was Junaid Khan, the last wicket to fall as Josh Hazlewood (3-54) wrapped up victory. Spin bowler Adam Zampa, who has been omitted from Australia’s Test squad to tour India because the selectors accuse him of being a defensive bowler, claimed figures of 3-55 from his full allocation. Zampa now has 33 wickets in 20 ODIs at a very healthy average of just 26.93 but he’s too defensive for Test cricket so the selectors picked Mitchell Swepson instead. Well you can never have enough Mitchells!

Meanwhile in Johannesburg, Sri Lanka have levelled their 3-match T20I series against hosts South Africa. Skipper Angelo Mathews’ 54 not out was the deciding factor and only South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo merits a mention in today’s edition of IDW.

Follow the Yellow Brick Road!

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In a sign of the times, Australia’s cricketers have a T20I scheduled into their calendar less than 24 hours before the commencement of a Test match. Said matches will take place on different continents with the three-match T20I series being played in Australia and Australia’a Test side on tour in India.

Australia’s Test squad will be as strong as it can be so there will be opportunities for some unfamiliar faces in the T20I squad. The series will take place not long after the conclusion of the 2016-17 Big Bash so Silly Point thought it was worth having a look at some of the contenders for the vacancies in Australia’s T20I squad.

Please be aware that I’m not naming a squad as such and players like James Faulkner, Travis Head and Chris Lynn are amongst those that I consider almost certainties (Assuming that they don’t get a Test call-up of course). It’s more players that would be coming in out of the international cold that I’m listing here.

Those who’ve played before, whether it be T20I, ODI or Test:

Michael Beer: No I haven’t been drinking! Two Test cap Michael Beer has been consistently economical when opening the bowling in the Big Bash and a call-up would be well merited.

Ben Dunk: Slam funk da Ben Dunk. He bats, he bowls, he keeps wicket. Won three T20I caps in late 2014. Could a recall for versatile Dunk be on the cards?

George Bailey / Aaron Finch: Both only recently jettisoned from the ODI squad but this fixture clash could provide an opportunity for these two to make a swift return to the international fold and possibly for one of them, as captain.

Callum Ferguson / Moises Henriques / Nic Maddinson: All players that’ve failed miserably in the Test arena in recent times but who will be hoping to get chances to redeem themselves in the pyjama plays.

Brad Hogg: With senior members of the bowling unit in India, could a recall for Hogg, who’ll turn 46 before the series begins really happen?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/5681.html

Tim Paine: A man with an ODI century and Test best 92 to his name, Paine previously couldn’t find consistency at international level (Injuries didn’t help) but has been prolific throughout Big Bash history.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/engvaus2009/engine/match/350048.html

Rob Quiney: Had a bit of a horror show during his brief Test career which included a pair in his second Test though he did bowl ridiculously economically. That Test batting average of 3.00 may well have cost him caps in limited overs cricket but his run-scoring in the current Big Bash demands selection.

http://www.melbournestars.com.au/players/rob-quiney

Cameron White: An unfulfilled talent at international level, White’s chances may depend on how keen Australia are to win or how much they see this as an opportunity to blood youngsters.

A few other names that may come into consideration: Sean Abbott, Fawad Ahmed, Scott Boland, Clint McKay, Marcus Stoinis and AJ Tye.

Those who haven’t played before:

Tom Cooper: Last played for Netherlands in March of last year. Surely wouldn’t say no to a call-up from the country of his birth.

http://www.bigbash.com.au/video#videoId=5278578932001

Michael Klinger: Yes he’s 36 but Australia aren’t opposed to selecting ageing debutantes and if they do select a number of uncapped players, Klinger’s experience albeit at domestic level may count for something.

Ben McDermott: Would be a selection basically based on one innings and he looked rather pot luck early on against spin but who knows?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/engine/match/1023627.html

A few other names that may come into consideration: Ben Dwarshuis, Daniel Hughes, Kurtis Patterson, Jhye Richardson and D’Arcy Short.

http://www.bigbash.com.au/#gender=men