Big Bash Car Crash!

Watching highlights from the Big Bash, I’ve been shocked at how bad much of the bowling is. I keep hearing complaints that cricket is becoming too much in favour of the batsmen. Well if bowlers keep bowling waist high full tosses, conceding free hits and throw in a few too many over pitched leg-side deliveries as well then yeah, it will be a batsmen’s game.

The lack of bowling intelligence applied is staggering. A bowler is failing to execute deliveries as he’d like so what does he do? Try and gain some control by shaving a bit of pace off and bowling straight, make the batsmen do the work… no! He tries even harder to bowl faster or add further variation only to cock it up!

Also, the PowerSurge is a glorious opportunity for bowlers to claim wickets as batsmen throw away theirs for the sake of a point. Shouldn’t these batsmen be allowed to concentrate on winning the game. Look how Dawid Malan paced a recent innings for England. T20 shouldn’t be about hitting baseball shots off full tosses for 6 every ball. There should still be a place for more workmanlike innings. The contrast of that alongside a big hitter can be aesthetically pleasing. Do we really want a situation where teams are qualifying for knockout stages because they got enough bonus points to finish higher than a team that won more games?!

And as for the indulgent hyperbolic commentary… Jonathan Agnew, all is forgiven!

Edit: Following the latest match, two spinners have experienced an expensive first over. In usual circumstances, they might come back stronger but now their captain might just think, “Well, I just won’t bowl them again. I won’t let them display character and learn as a cricketer. I’ll just sub them for a batsman”. That might be the rules but I don’t think it’s healthy for cricket, player development or the integrity of the result!

Cricket 19: Global XI – More New Faces/Exhibition Matches Announcement!

Following our semi-final heartbreak in Bangladesh, we’ve strengthened our squad by adding two new faces.

15-year-old Peruvian (Half-English) wicketkeeper and left-handed batsman Esteban Ramirez-Holmes and 30-year-old left-arm Spanish speed merchant Gaston Garcia, become Global XI squad members number 19 and 20.

We don’t believe in having an excessively large squad but with the volume of competitions on the horizon and challenging circumstances for everybody around the world at the moment, these two additions to our playing squad are vital. Beyond our two gloveman, who obviously spend a lot of time training together, what with COVID-19 on the scene, it was essential to acquire another wicketkeeping option. The modern and free-spirited Ramirez-Holmes will develop his glovework quickly alongside messrs Jiminez and Sigthorsson.

Also, with Cameroon’s Ambroise Anguissa the only out and out express pace bowler in our group, it seemed sensible to recruit a left-arm option. Gaston Garcia is no spring chicken but is fit as a fiddle and will combine skill and guile with venomous speed!

Ramirez-Holmes and Garcia’s introduction to our squad is an exciting one. The duo will link up with their new teammates as we host England for what will be two fascinating T20 encounters. The reigning ODI World Champions were passing our way and were seeking practice matches in a bio-secure environment. We’re happy to provide and this will be a fascinating opportunity for our players to challenge themselves against the very best. It’s a huge honour and will be a great way to pick the guys up following our sad demise in Bangladesh.

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 – Bangladesh Part One

Having been bowled out for a team low 76 in our previous match, we promptly posted our highest ever total of 159-6 in Chittagong to kick off our Bangladesh foray.

We had actually lost both openers without a run on the board and were soon 13-3 before messrs Okocha and Jiminez riposted. Nigerian left-hander Okocha (69*) hit a long awaited maiden fifty that tied the highest individual innings by any our batsmen. Gloveman Jiminez (47) fell just short of a half-century of his own (What would’ve been his second) but the partnership of 115 was another team record.

We then restricted the hosts to 128-4 to seal a hugely encouraging 31-run victory. Egyptian slow-left-armer Mohamed El Mohamedy claimed 2-32 though was actually the most expensive of a hugely economical bowling effort.

Sadly, we lost our second game, failing to post a decent total despite being well placed at one stage. In our third game however, we fought back in record-breaking style.

In Dhaka, we restricted Dhaka Dragons to 118-9, which in truth was a little disappointing having had them on the back foot at 55-7. Russian seamer Roman Andryushkin (3-19) starred with the ball whilst captain Norshahrul Rashid nonchalantly claimed 2-1 with his leg-spin! El The Pharaoh Mohamedy (2-26) was in form in the powerplay once more.

The one advantage of conceding so many runs was the possibilities it afforded our opening batsmen. In a thoroughly professional run chase, American Jamal Peters (38*) and German Mario Kuntz (69*) both posted career best scores whilst at the same time producing the team’s highest ever partnership. The-right hand/left-hand duo finished on 119-0 with 5.5 overs in hand. Peters, for whom it had been a long road, actually made his highest score for the second consecutive match. Meanwhile vice-captain Kuntz ended a painfully lean run of form. Bizarrely, our three highest individual scores at this point in time were all 69 not out by Phillipio, Okocha and Kuntz whilst the latter also has a 68*.

We then fell to Earth with an almighty bump by losing our next two matches, the second of which was hard to stomach. We posted 138-4, led by in-form Okocha (48) as well as Phillipio (25), who hinted at a return to form. Both were run out, Okocha off the last delivery of the innnings.

We then had Rajshahi in trouble at 75-5 after the ever reliable El Mohamedy (2-35) and in-form Andryushkin (2-27) did their bit in the powerplay. Somehow though, we contrived to let them win by four wickets with one ball to spare and highlight how much we have to learn!

Highlighting our consistent inconsistency, we then won a rain affected 16 overs per side match in Rangpur. Following our incredibly frustrating defeat in the previous match, we made a number of changes to our playing XI although these were mainly due to the wet conditions. We won a crucial toss and limited the home side to just 87-3. That man Andryushkin conceded just 10 runs from 3 overs and were it not for overthrows, would’ve commenced proceedings with a maiden.

Though our openers couldn’t repeat their 10-wicket win heroics from earlier in the competition, Phillipio (23*) and the man of the moment Okocha (45*) eased us home with 3.3 overs to spare. The boys showed great character following the rollicking they received after the painful loss only days before.

What was that about consistent inconsistency?

In our next match, we restricted Sylhet to 136-6 (Wu 2-26) but in hindsight were a bit generous with our bowling changes and accommodated them too many runs. 123-8 (Kuntz 36) was a decent chase by our standards but we felt we could’ve pushed the opposition even closer and like I say, could’ve limited the required total in the first place. A 13-run defeat was thoroughly underwhelming.

In our following game at home to Barisal, opening batsmen Peters and Kuntz posted a dominant opening stand of 98. Peters (33) fell in the thirties yet again however, blowing a golden opportunity to finally bring up a maiden fifty. Kuntz soon reached 69, remember that our three top innings to date were 69* as well as Kuntz having a 68*. Would you believe he was spectacularly caught and bowled for… 69?! With a whopping 7.2 overs remaining, a hundred was there for the taking. Will anybody ever reach 70?! The rest of our batsmen came out and applied themselves well to take us to our highest ever score of 165-4, only five of which were extras.

To be fair to Barisal, they had a go at chasing down the total and reached 61 before losing their first wicket. Italian left-arm quick Roberto Biabini, who hadn’t seen much first team action in recent times, then stepped up to the plate. He claimed a sensational hat-trick, courtesy of two outstanding grabs by gloveman Jiminez after the Italian had angled full deliveries across the right-handed batsmen. Come crunch time, Peters, who had held two similar catches in the previous match, pouched a steepler to write Biabini’s name in history. It was our team’s first ever hat-trick and the Italian finished with team record bowling figures of 4-21! It was nice that it should happen on our home ground as we romped home by 23 runs.

At the halfway stage of the competition, eight games played and eight to play (Obviously!), we sat in 5th (Or joint 4th) place with Barisal, with four wins and four losses to our name. Moses Okocha was our leading runscorer to date but some way short of the league leaders. Mohamed El Mohamedy was our team topper on the bowling front.

Look out for the next round up at the conclusion of the campaign.

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!

Amateurish Agnew!

WARNING: RANT ALERT!

It’s comments like this that confirm how rubbish Jonathan Agnew is!

He’s the lead commentator on BBC Cricket coverage, though I notice that they did keep him away from the televised matches this summer when very keenly trying to attract a younger audience with The Hundred and other televised matches to come next year. I digress, he should know who George Linde is!

The spinner has played for South Africa before and whilst I wouldn’t expect him to know the shoesize or even batting average of every player off the top of his head, to have not even heard of him just isn’t good enough!

As for the score…

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19939/game/1237122/south-africa-vs-england-1st-t20i-south-africa-v-england-2020-21

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!

Cricket 19: Finding Netherland!

T20I tour of Netherlands.

1st T20I

Netherlands 134-6 (20.0) Schmidt 39*, Claessens 32, Long 32/E.Williams 2-27, Evans 2-34, O.Williams 1-22

Wales 100 (18.2) Thomas 24, Edwards 19, Evans 10/Keene 5-21, Stokes 2-16, Vargas 1-16

Lost by 34 runs

2nd T20I

Wales 131-7 (20.0) Thomas 23, Powell 22, E. Williams 20/van Keulen 3-27, Vargas 1-15, Zweers 1-19

Netherlands 129-6 (20.0) Beelen 32, Long 28, Vargas 24*/Evans 2-31, Hughes 1-8, Davies 1-20

Won by 2 runs

Drew the series 1-1

There’s not a lot to say about the first match. We simply weren’t good enough, were given a rude awakening and deserved to lose. We learnt fast however and come the second game, raised ours!

Opening batsman Stephen Shah and off-spinning all-rounder Maxwell Khan made way, replaced by debutantes Steffan Schmidt and Seth Davies. Batsmen Marcus Duke kept his place after debuting in the opening match.

After sluggishly accumulating only 100 runs for the loss of all ten wickets in the first T20I, we posted an improved 131-7 having chosen to bat in the second. Wicketkeeper Rhodri Thomas, promoted to number five, top scored for the second match in a row. He put on 30 with captain Ioan Powell (22), though the skipper foolishly ran himself out. Eifion Williams (20) was the next highest scorer. The total was still some way short of the sort of scores that we’ve set our sights on but we new it was enough to provide us with a chance of levelling the series. It was only just less than the Dutch had posted in the first match and this time they’d be under scoreboard pressure!

Osain Williams (1-27) and debutante Seth Davies (1-20), both made breakthroughs. The latter having far more luck than he had done on ODI debut when nothing had gone his way. Sadly, left-arm pacer Rhys Evans, who had performed so well in the Test match against England, bowled seven wides in the innings! After a third wicket fifty partnership however, he struck twice in his final over to turn the game. Credit must go to captain Powell for sticking by his opening bowler. Evans’ (2-31) adventure continued to ebb and flow though, much to the chagrin of fast bowler Dwayne Alexander. Alexander thought he’d pretty much won the game when he got in on the wicket taking act but Evans fell apart in the field, committing mis-field after mis-field to ruin Alexander’s (1-36) figures and keep the hosts in the game. Mercurial slow left-armer Cai Hughes (3-0-8-1) bowled outstandingly however to leave the Dutch requiring ten from the final over.

Step up leg-spinner Eifion Williams for his first bowl of the match! He promptly got hit for four off his premier delivery but the home side could only manage two runs from the next three. With Netherlands needing four to win, would you believe Williams (1-0-7-0) lobbed up a wide (Our 10th of the innings!). He kept his composure though to follow up with two dots and seal a sensational first ever T20I victory for his country.

This short and ultimately successful tour was important for our development. We displayed great character to bounce back and win the second game but in truth, were fortunate to some degree. Having managed a reasonable improvement with the bat, Thomas being the best of an at best mediocre bunch, we bowled far too many wides and committed an alarming amount of fumbles and mis-fields that very nearly cost us dear. Marcus Duke, a wicketkeeper by trade, was a mixed bag in the field though Aled Edwards was a dime. The less said about Evans in the field the better but we did hold our catches in the second match.

Next we travel across the Atlantic for an exciting and immersive tour of USA. We’ll play a two-day friendly followed by one Test, three ODIs and two T20Is. We hope to see some Welsh shirts in the crowd!

Disclaimer: It’s highly likely that I’ve used the above headline before when playing a previous Don Bradman/Ashes game… but I couldn’t think of anything better even though I like to avoid repeating headlines. Sorry!

T20I: Where in the World?

Hi guys

I thought that it’d be interesting to take a look at the latest Twenty20 International rankings and see which teams have made an impact since T20I status was applied across the globe.

Obviously Test teams lead the way with the historically strong Associate nations next inline. I’ve touched upon Singapore’s progress before whilst the likes of Namibia and Canada are trying to make their presence felt in the global game once again.

In 22nd place sit Qatar. Ex-pats have made a crucial contribution to developing cricket in many countries but of course it’s always great to see national cricket teams have a strong local representation. Now Qatar’s population is a little unusual. It fluctuates based on season and there are actually few Qatari citizens. People from places such as traditional cricket strongholds Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh provide a healthy part of the country’s population. It’s no surprise then that they should provide a good foothold for Qatar and its cricket team.

The Arab nation have made an encouraging start to T20I life and are amongst the teams to have qualified for the 2019-21 ICC Cricket World Cup (50 over/List A) Challenge League.

Jersey, population less than 100,000 but with a history of being there or there abouts on the Associate circuit, sit 25th. Of course you would expect the very best players from the small island to make themselves available for England. The Channel Island side previously required special dispensation to name Jonty Jenner in their side after he made a substitute appearance in a Test match for England.

Italy, often on the fringes, lie in 27th with Saudi Arabia an unfamiliar cricketing name one place below.

Uganda, who have hinted at doing well in the past, are in 31st. That’s three places ahead of the shabbily run massive missed opportunity that is USA.

A number of teams are yet to win a game. They include China, who’ve lost all six matches that they’ve played while Gibraltar are winless in seven.

https://www.icc-cricket.com/rankings/mens/team-rankings/t20i

In the Women’s rankings, there’s a surprise name just outside the top ten. Thailand currently reside in a healthy 11th place. They’ve won 25 out of 39 T20Is and qualified for this year’s T20I World Cup (So maybe not such a surprise then!). Not unexpectedly they had a tough time in Australia but had it not been for rain, they would likely have given Pakistan a run for their money after posting 150 from 20 overs.

They appear to have a strong homegrown contingent with players recruited from a variety of sporting backgrounds. Their progress so far will hopefully inspire more Thai women to take up cricket.

Samoa are another ‘new’ name in 16th place. They’ve actually won 10 out 12 T20I matches played so far.

France sit in 30th and though the ship has probably sailed for my wife, I have high hopes that my daughters can push for selection in a few years time. That’s if they’re not playing for England of course!

https://www.icc-cricket.com/rankings/womens/team-rankings/t20i

When it comes to Women’s cricket, it’s probably worth keeping an eye on this self-explanatory named website…https://femalecricket.com