Ben Duckett and Nelson Mandela in the same Sentence!

The last time that England’s cricketers were in Asia, batsman Ben Duckett was there. Despite scoring three fifties (ODIs/Tests) in Bangladesh, he had a torrid time of things in India then literally pissed off top brass the following winter in Oz. Whilst the senior team lap it up in Sri Lanka and the Lions travel to UAE, Duckett can be found playing in the Mzansi Super League in South Africa. It’s the latest T20 league to pop up on the global calendar (Yeah that’s right, Canada and Hong Kong had competitions before SA!).

Representing the wonderfully named Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, The stocky left-hander smashed 75 (5×4, 5×6) runs from just 45 deliveries. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come after some lean patches post that run-laden summer a couple of years ago. Next year he’ll join Ben Slater and Joe Clarke in an exciting new batting line-up for Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. He’s probably still quite some way off an England recall but the shoots of recovery have started sprouting.

Another left-handed batsman who’ll be hoping to use the Mzansi league as a springboard back to international selection is Dawid Malan. The discarded Middlesex stalwart will lead Cape Town Blitz while domestic colleague Eoin Morgan will turn out for Tshwane Spartans. Morgan is a left-hander who doesn’t need to work his way back into the England fold, he’s already there!

Solving Australia’s Batting Woes!

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Will Pucovski (243) and Josh Phillipe (41 & 104) were amongst the runs in the opening round of 2018-19 Sheffield Shield matches. It was good to see young batsman such as Sam Heazlett and Will Bosisto in their respective state XIs as well, even if they didn’t quite churn out Pucovskiesque innings. Question marks still linger over much of Australia’s batting line-up, what with Shaun Marsh’s inconsistency, Mitchell Marsh batting far too high at times and Usman Khawaja (Now injured) and Aaron Finch both needing to back-up encouraging performances against Pakistan in UAE, Pucovski could well have put himself to the front of the selection queue. With Peter Handscomb having fallen away horribly after a promising start to his Test career and Glenn Maxwell clearly not fancied by the selection panel, the twenty-year-old Victorian’s path to the national XI is being cleared of obstacles.

Another player that peaked interest in the opening round of this year’s Shield was leg-spinner Lloyd Pope. Not all that long ago, Pope terrorised England at the Under-19 World Cup with an eight-wicket haul that went viral. In truth, aside from that match-winning performance he had a quiet tournament. His maiden First Class wicket, trapping Steve O’Keefe LBW, saw him go viral again even though his two wickets cost in excess of a hundred runs. It was extremely alarming however to see the reaction of the Australian media. Labelling Pope as the “New Warne” is surely both unnecessary and unoriginal.

Back to batting and another player who could possibly solve Australia’s batting problems… Meg Lanning. There are some that say there’s no need to suggest women cricketers aim to play in men’s teams and that women’s cricket is a good enough sport on in its own right. I’m not necessarily suggesting that run-express Lanning represent her country’s men’s team but it’s worth pointing out just how good she is. Still only twenty-six, she has in excess of 3000 ODI runs from just 68 matches. She averages north of 53 with twelve tons and eleven fifties. She’s fresh off the back of another hundred against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur.

It’ll be interesting to see just how much Lanning can achieve in her international career and who lines up for Australia’s men’s team come next year’s Ashes encounter in England.

England Ignored XI

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England have named their Test and ODI squads for the winter tour of Sri Lanka as well as announcing the Lions squads for matches against Pakistan A in UAE:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_cricket_team_in_Sri_Lanka_in_2018–19

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/24802981/jason-roy-named-england-lions-four-day-squad

Here’s a party of players who must feel unfortunate not to have at least made the Lions cut…

First XI

Ben Slater (Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire) 349 CC runs @ 43.62 (Div 1) / 676 CC runs @ 42.75 (Div 2) / 386 ODC runs @ 55.14

Left-handed opening bat Slater’s consistent run plundering earned him a move from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire. He made runs in both the First Class (Divisions 1 & 2) and List A format. Next year he’ll hope to continue to go well amongst many new faces at Trent Bridge.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire) 972 CC runs @ 44.18

Having departed Yorkshire, Rhodes grew and grew at his new home finishing the campaign with four tons in the County Championship. He and Dominic Sibley look a strong foundation for a Warwickshire side that like a signing!

Daryl Mitchell (Worcestershire) Captain 957 CC runs @ 38.81

With a lot on his plate off the field, Mitchell made four tons in Division One having previously been criticised for scoring the majority of his centuries in Division Two. He’s a more than handy asset with the ball too and could captain the side.

James Hildreth (Somerset) 1089 CC runs @ 45.38 / 438 ODC runs @ 62.57

Runs, more runs for the Somerset veteran, not just in the First Class arena but with the white-ball too. Somehow he remains ignored by yet another selection panel.

Tom Abell (Somerset) Vice-Captain 883 CC runs @ 40.41 / 19 wickets @ 25.89

Similar to Mitchell in that he’s a batsman come all-rounder, Abell’s batting has started to fall into place again and he and Mitchell would make a good leadership brains trust.

Ed Barnard (Worcestershire) 516 CC runs @ 23.45 / 49 CC wickets @ 23.22 / 153 ODC runs @ 76.50 / 16 ODC wickets @ 28.88

It’s utterly absurd that Barnard’s efforts haven’t been recognised by the selectors this season. With both bat and ball and in red and white-ball cricket, Barnard has  consistently starred.

Ryan Higgins (Gloucestershire) 48 CC wickets @ 18.38 / 195 ODC runs 65.00

Like Rhodes, a move has been a good move for Higgins and like Barnard, he’s performed in all facets in all formats having joined Gloucestershire from Middlesex.

Ben Brown (Sussex) Wicketkeeper 912 CC runs @ 43.43 (52ct/1st)

Another strong campaign from the Sussex gloveman. A genuine top six willow wielder and has handy captaincy experience to support Mitch and Abell behind the stumps.

Matthew Carter (Nottinghamshire) 16 CC wickets @ 32.81 / 13 ODC wickets @ 15.23

Carter didn’t rack up phenomenal stats but the potential is there and it was good to see him get more experience under his belt. England should ‘Get Carter’! Sorry, I’ve used that one before but couldn’t resist!

Tom Bailey (Lancashire) 64 CC wickets @ 19.66

Bailey’s consistent wicket-taking means that he’s another odd one to be so obviously neglected. He poses a constant threat for batsman and averaged sub 20 with the ball in County Championship Division One.

Ben Coad (Yorkshire) 48 CC wickets @ 16.33

Like his Lancashire rival and in this squad, opening bowling partner, Coad is another strange one to miss out. Despite his excellent Division One performances he’s rarely mentioned in England dispatches. There’s possibly a reluctance on the part of the selectors to pick another Yorkshireman.

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The following players could also make the squad with some selections geared towards limited overs cricket in particular.

Ian Cockbain (Gloucestershire) 208 ODC runs @ 69.33

Laurie Evans (Sussex) 243 CC runs @ 60.75 / 614 T20B runs @ 68.22

Ben Cox (Worcestershire) Wicketkeeper 396 ODC runs @ 79.20 (18ct)

Sam Cook (Essex) 27 CC wickets @ 25.33

Ben Sanderson (Northamptonshire) 60 CC wickets @ 16.70

Amir Virdi (Surrey) 39 CC wickets @ 30.36

Even beyond this squad there are yet more England qualified players to have been neglected. Maybe Ed Smith and crew will pull another surprise on us soon!

Cricket Captain 2018: England Career Update

It’s been a while since I provided an update of my England Career, two years to be exact!

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Heading into the summer of 2024, we sit in a respectable fourth place in the Test rankings…

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… a not quite as respectable seventh in the ODI table…

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… and a lousy tenth place in the T20I rankings. In fact, our T20I standing is so poor that we must play Bermuda and UAE in the early stages of the next T20I World Cup!

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Ollie Pope commenced last summer with centuries in three consecutive Tests against New Zealand. Then, following three quiet outings, he promptly hit two more tons in back-to-back Tests against South Africa.

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Australian born Sam Hain, a player who scored 195 not out when opening the batting on Test debut, now averages 49.73 in Tests and an outstanding 59.82 in ODIs. Though sometimes the recipient of criticism for batting a little too slowly in the fifty over format, Hain, still only twenty-eight, has a remarkable 16 One-Day International tons!

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Leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson has now amassed 265 Test wickets at the tender age of only twenty-seven. He’s also passed a century of wickets in ODIs. This is despite often being rested from the Test side and hardly being a regular in ODIs. Still young for a spinner, Parkinson will be disappointed not to reach at least 500 Test scalps.

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In the shorter forms of the game, Tom Kohler-Cadmore has accumulated 2001 runs in 48 ODIs at an average of 44.47. That’s an impressive output for an opening batsman. His form has dipped however and the long impressive partnership of Kohler-Cadmore and Ed Pollock has been interrupted by Daniel Bell-Drummond (Two tons in seven ODIs).

Six to Watch: T20I Status Special

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From 1st January 2019, all Associate cricket nations will have full T20 International status. These are really exciting times for cricketers as well as fans throughout the globe. As I do each year when the county season comes around, I’ve identified six players to keep an eye on as T20 Internationals start to be played out across the world.

Simon Ateak (Ghana)

24-year-old Ghanaian Simon Ateak was Player of the Tournament at the 2018 ICC World Twenty20 African Sub Regional (North-Western) Qualifier. Ateak notched back-to-back fifties against Sierra Leone and Nigeria in Lagos. Ateak had actually been in poor form in ICC World Cricket League Division Five prior to the T20 Qualifier but delivered when needed to help Ghana reach the finals. Simon’s younger brother Vincent also chipped in with the ball during the Qualifier.

Harrison Carlyon (Jersey)

Still only seventeen-years-old, Jersey’s Harrison Carlyon made his international debut against Oman in Los Angeles at the tender age of just fifteen. The off-spinner’s father and uncle have both represented the island’c cricket team and injuries even meant that father and son turned out for the same side. Carlyon has since appeared for Jersey U-19s and made some useful contributions in ICC World Cricket League Division Four. He’s also been in and around the youth set ups at Sussex CCC.

Ahmad Faiz (Malaysia)

How about this for form: 50, 86, 20, 47, 45 & 50. Those were the batting contributions of Malaysian skipper Ahmad Faiz in ICC World Cricket League Division Four earlier this year. The right-handed batsman clearly enjoys the surface in Kuala Lumpur. Admittedly those were one-day matches and his T20 form beforehand wasn’t quite as strong but Malaysia will be relying on their former U-19 World Cup captain when it comes to run-getting.

Andrew Mansale (Vanuatu)

Andrew Mansale is Vanuatu’s experienced leader, having debuted for his country when just fifteen years of age. Now 29 and having gained experience of playing club cricket in Australia, Vanuatu will be looking to Mansale’s leadership as well as his right-hand batting and off-spin to help them rise to prominence in T20I cricket. Joshua Rasu, another right-hand bat who has played for the same Australian club as Mansale is another Ni-Vanuatu worth looking out for.

Calum MacLeod (Scotland)

Scotland’s Calum McLeod already has 28 T20I caps as well as double that amount of appearances in ODI Cricket where, for the record, he’s notched an impressive six centuries. His attacking nature was imperative in Scotland qualifying for the 2015 ODI World Cup and there were glimpses of his talent at the ICC World Cup Qualifier in March of this year. As with many Scots, he’s been around the English county second XI circuit, most recently representing Hampshire.

Carl Sandri (Italy)

34-year-old Carl Sandri’s experience will be vital if Italy are to develop as a T20I nation. Australian born Sandri, a right-hand bat and off-spin bowler represented Sydney Thunder in the 2013 edition of the Big Bash. He was Italy’s leading wicket taker in the most recent ICC World Cricket League Division Five. Peter Petricola, who has played alongside Sandri in Ozzie club cricket, is another old head that Italy will look at to spearhead their efforts.

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Elsewhere, could county players such as Middlesex’s Ollie Rayner (Germany) and Gloucestershire’s Benny Howell (France) be eligible to represent the countries of their birth?

Could Hampshire’s Gareth ‘Ice’ Berg return to the Italian side alongside Sandri and Petricola having played with them six years ago? Berg claimed figures of 4-20 against Uganda and scored 47 against Namibia in 2012 ICC World Twenty20 Qualifier in UAE. He’s been an underrated performer on the English county circuit (First Class, List A, T20) for a number of years.

If USA can sort out their political infighting, could Durham’s Cameron Steel or Hampshire’s Ian Holland represent the Stars and Stripes in T20I Cricket? It seems inconceivable that USA aren’t a cricketing nation to be reckoned with.

Once T20I status has really taken ahold, look out for future posts to see how Ateak, Carlyon, Faiz, Mansale, McLeod and Sandri have got on… and who I should have previewed!

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In the near future, I’ll also be compiling a Six to Watch for the T20I Women’s game as well as a team special. Be sure to look out for those posts soon.

Antarctic T20 Ice Blast! (Silly Point Ultra-Exclusive Story!)

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Cricket’s administrators recently proposed suggestions to help preserve Test cricket. This was in part due to the potential risk of some billionaire creating yet another global T20 franchise tournament and stealing players. Well those moves may have come too late because an unnamed mogul is rumoured to be ready to inject millions into the launching of a new T20 competition. The Antarctic Ice Blast is believed to be prepped for launch as early and appropriately as 2020. Like the identity of the league’s founder, the potential franchise owners remain unknown though TV’s Jon Snow, former Netherlands footballer Arron Winter and New Zealand cricketer Tim Southee are all rumoured to have put down a deposit. Silly Point has however seen the names of the proposed teams and they are as follows:

Bentley Subglacial Trench EmperorsLake Vostok LakersMcMurdo Station PinnipedsMount Erebus MountaineersOnyx River NematodesRiiser-Larsen Ice Shelf IcefishRoss Island Seals and Vinson Massif Explorers.

Englishmen Samit Patel, Ravi Bopara and Joe Denly are all rumoured to have signed up for the inaugural draft as is Test captain Joe Root. There is even a suggestion that recently retired Kevin Pietersen may come out of retirement for one last Blast. English players are perceived to be a vital addition to the franchises because of their experience of playing in cold conditions. Northerners in particular, players from the likes of Durham, Yorkshire and Lancashire are particularly sought after. Franchise owners are rumoured to have been dialling the mobile numbers of Steve Harmison, Darren Gough and Andrew Flintoff in audacious bids to lure the former England trio out of retirement.

West Indies’ Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, Indian skipper Virat Kohli, Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan and Australia’s Michael Klinger as well as former national skipper Steve Smith, are also rumoured to have put their names forward for the first draft. With Silly Point having seen exclusive advertising, we can advise that former Italy all-rounder Gareth Berg has already emerged as the league’s poster boy. Soon it’ll be hard to move around London Underground, Sydney Business District or the streets of Mumbai without seeing Berg’s flop of blond hair, his arms folded, in front of a mass of ice and a set of stumps… made of ice! That’s right, they’ll be replaced every time they’re broken or maybe they’re unbreakable ice!

It’s understood that the Blast’s benefactor is willing to contribute funds towards the building of renewable energy laden environmentally friendly stadiums for each franchise. These stadiums will have both training and accommodation facilities as well as purpose built wickets. Retractable roofs will come as standard.

Again, Silly Point has gained exclusive access to information and the names of the stadiums are set to be as follows:

Bentley Ballpark, Vostok Park, McMurdo Station, Erebus Arena, Onyx Bowl, Riiser-Larsen Cricket Ground (RLCG), Ross Dome and Vinson Field

The league’s creator is also set to launch their own airline, Antarctic Fantastic Air, to assist fans when travelling to matches.

Some in the cricket world are sceptical regarding the prospect of yet another T20 league in an already congested calendar, about the less than desirable cricket weather and how exactly fans will attach themselves to a team. For some though this is seen an excellent advert for spreading the global appeal of the game. Given the reduction of teams at the 2019 ODI World Cup, many cricket lovers as well as administrators are delighted to see cricket venture into an untapped market. The ICC are already lining up Antarctica as host for both an ODI World Cup and T20 World Cup as well as Champions Trophy venue post 2030.

One frustrating thing about the proposed tournament is that it’s expected to be played out behind a TV pay wall. Rumours are that the competition will have its own channel and will cost a one-off fee of around £250.00 before requiring subscribers to enter a 20 digit code followed by another 20 digit code on their remote control. Pommie Mbangwa, Michael Slater and everybody’s favourite insighter Graeme Swann, are tipped to be among the commentary and punditry team. Instagram and Dave are believed to have exclusive rights to highlights packages whilst if you sign up with the league founder’s rumoured planned new mobile phone company, Antarctic Connexions Mobile, you can gain exclusive access to almost immediate video wicket alerts! Continuing on the screen front, renowned film maker Werner Herzog is set to return to Antarctica and shoot a documentary about the competition’s inception, infancy and general learning to walk.

With some international teams still reluctant to travel to Pakistan for security reasons, Pakistan are rumoured to have already enquired about the possibility of playing home matches there following some disappointing results in UAE conditions. English county side Hampshire are said to be extremely frustrated to have missed out to Antarctica as an English Test venue. Because of the technicalities of Antarctic ownership, it’s understood that all nations could potentially play home games in Antarctica if they wish. Boyd Rankin, Ed Joyce and Johan Botha are believed to have already relocated to the southern continent in order to meet residency requirements ahead of rumoured bids to join the Antarctic national team. Peter Moores is slated as coach… slated, he will be if results don’t go too well! Essex are believed to have enquired about whether players, hell just people, could join them on Kolpak deals as soon as this summer.

Silly Point is delighted to present this exclusive story to you and will keep our loyal followers abreast of any further developments.

Extras

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Bye: The upcoming World XI matches which are to be held in Pakistan have been granted full international status. Talk about devaluing international cricket. Aaaaargh!!!

Leg Bye: The Indoor Cricket World Cup which will take place in Dubai, UAE, is less than a month away…

http://www.worldindoorcricketfederation.com/news.html

No Ball: Nottinghamshire duo Billy Root and Luke Fletcher have both signed new deals with the county. England captain Joe’s brother Billy has rarely disappointed when been presented with first XI opportunities and Luke Fletcher (A star of my England ODI side on Cricket Captain 2017) is one of those underrated but throughly effective players plying their trade on the county circuit. Hopefully he’s well on the way to recovery following his nasty head injury.

Wide: Ashton (Or Ash98?) Agar is penned in for a return to Australia’s Test XI come the first Test against Bangladesh. Only an extremely capable ink eraser can deny him his first Test outing in over four years. Agar has been steadily developing on the domestic scene since his headline hitting international debut during the 2013 Ashes series in England…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/12088/scorecard/566932/England-vs-Australia-1st-Test

He’s since made a couple of pyjama outings (T20I) and as well as his bowling and batting abilities, he’s an excellent fielder. Agar seems a phlegmatic character and the sort of player that international cricket will be better for having amongst its ranks.