Six to Watch: T20I Status – Men’s 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.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Best Of!

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In anticipation of the release of Big Ant’s latest cricket game titled Ashes Cricket, slated to hit PS4s and XboX Ones come November 16th, I thought we’d celebrate by looking back at some of the highlights from Don Bradman Cricket 17. There were some classic matches featuring England against a variety of opposition from all corners of the globe. Some matches ended with victory for England, some ended with defeat… and some neither!

A Lyth Less Ordinary!

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Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth wrote his name in the history books as England totalled in excess of 300 when chasing against Nepal in a One-Day-International but was it enough…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/03/09/a-lyth-less-ordinary/

Trumped!

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Cancer survivor Michael Carberry returned to England colours for a T20I against USA…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/16/don-bradman-cricket-17-england-v-usa-t20i-trumped/

Greece Frightening!

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Haseeb Hameed batted slickly against Greece but could his teammates back him up in Corfu…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/05/30/don-bradman-cricket-17-greece-frightening/

Thai’d in Knots!

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Hameed continued his fine form against Thailand at London’s Olympic Stadium in ‘The Test of the Century so Far’…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/24/don-bradman-cricket-17-thaid-in-knots/

Paper, Scissors, Stoneman!

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On his international debut in Liverpool, Mark Stoneman batted like Mark Stoneman as England’s ODI against Vanuatu went to the wire…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/28/don-bradman-cricket-17-paper-scissors-stoneman/

Oh and this guy scored a couple of First Class centuries…

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World Cup Equality

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You’ll have to forgive me for committing the ultimate sin on a cricket blog but I’m about to ramble on (For quite some time!) about football. This is of course my blog so I can do what I want!

Qualification for the 2018 football World Cup in Russia has well and truly reached the business end. All that remains are the heartbreaking play-off matches to determine which counters join the likes of Panama, Iceland and Iran in Russia next year. I’ll hazard a guess that Iceland will find acclimatising to the Russian climate just a bit easier than Panama. It’s also safe to say that none of the three nations mentioned above will be qualifying for the cricket World Cup anytime soon.

Back to the footy, here’s a breakdown of the percentage of teams from each continental region that will qualify for the football World Cup:

South America: 4 out of 10 teams = 40%

Europe: 13 out of 54 teams = 24%

The Americas: 4 out of 35 teams = 11%

Africa: 5 out of 54 teams = 9%

Asia: 4 out of 46 teams = 9%

Oceania: 1 (And maybe not even that) out of 11 teams = 1%

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the above calculations are based on a couple of assumptions regarding who qualifies via the intercontinental play-offs. Oceania are not guaranteed a World Cup representative and for the record, Australia qualify through the Asian pathway because they got bored of thrashing Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa time and time again.

Referring to the percentages above, the tournament title of World Cup starts to lose some of its credibility. There’s clearly a disproportionate amount of teams that qualify from the historical footballing hotbeds of Europe and South America. That historical bias is of course something that is extremely prevalent on the international cricket stage too.

Back to the three nations mentioned earlier. Iran qualified for the football World Cup as far back as 1978 but for Panama and Iceland, 2018 will be their first time at the tournament. That variety of nations on the big stage and the novelty of seeing virgin World Cup competitors is part of what makes the tournament so special. USA beating England in 1950, North Korea beating Italy in 1966 and Senegal beating France in 2002. Without these results the football World Cup just wouldn’t be what it is. Admittedly there have been a few thrashings as the likes of Saudi Arabia (8-0 against Germany in 2002) and Zaire (9-0 against Yugoslavia in 1974) will attest too.

The 2019 Cricket World Cup is unlikely to see such a variety of international representatives or virgin teams as Russia will next year. There will only be ten teams, yes just ten teams at the ‘World’ Cup. Eight of these teams will have qualified as the highest ranked ODI nations. It’s great that the ODI rankings comprise more nations than just Test teams but no promotion/relegation profile is in existence at the upper echelons of international cricket. Referring to the historical bias detailed in football earlier, little scope is left for a changing of the guard as the years go by. The head honchos eat at the main table with one or two varying visitors from time to time.

I’ll be honest, every time I try to get my head around the meritocracy of lower division international cricket and World Cup qualification, I end up closing the page out of sheer bewilderment. From what I can gather, it’s possible that teams in ICC World Cricket League Division Two can qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup but some teams from Division One may not. Don’t quote me on that though! In all likelihood none of them will anyway, such is the convoluted qualification process.

Feel free to put me to shame and figure the whole thing our for yourself…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Cricket_World_Cup_Qualifier

Teams such as Papua New Guinea and Ireland could be there though the likes of West Indies and possibly Afghanistan will be favoured to qualify for the ten team tournament. Surely a straight forward main tournament of sixteen teams comprised of four groups of four followed by quarter-finals etc would be logical. Yes there have been some horribly one-sided encounters at cricket World Cups, think Namibia at the hands of Australia in 1970 and one or two Canadian performances (36 & 45 all out in 2003 and 1979) but there has also been Zimbabwe beating Australia in 1983, Kenya beating West Indies in 1996 and Ireland beating Pakistan in 2007.

There are so few teams at the Cricket World Cup that a comparison with football for regional disproportionateness is completely irrelevant. In fact to be fair, there isn’t really a geographic disproportion, just a lack of global representatives in general.

Anyway, I guess what I’m getting at is that regardless of sport, a World Cup should be exactly that, a tournament that has a fair and even distribution of teams from across the globe. The football World Cup isn’t perfect but hopefully in the future cricket will allow for the Senegals and North Koreas of the footballing world to have the opportunity at least to produce some shocks that will reverberate around the cricket world.

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Don Bradman Cricket 17: Paper, Scissors, Stoneman!

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Debutant Mark Stoneman’s ‘Monkey Jive’ catch celebration has since gone viral!

Earlier today, England hosted Vanuatu for a 50/50 dual on Merseyside, the first ever international contest to be hosted at Liverpool Arena.

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International newcomer Mark Stoneman compiled 77 from 81 balls.

After the early departure of Adam Lyth (3), debutant Mark Stoneman (77) and captain Joe Root (51) put together a stand of 110. Stoneman looked untroubled by the early loss of his partner or the build-up of any dot balls. All in all, he looked at home in the international arena and did his claims for a place in the Test side no harm whatsoever.

Dawid Malan (25) got going as usual but also got out as usual! / Liam Livingstone struck 44 from just 37 deliveries.

Dawid Malan (25) and Liam Livingstone (44) both looked in good nick but will be disappointed not to have really kicked on. Sam Curran (35) also batted well before England, with notions as lofty as 350 in their sights, derailed drastically. Some late bludgeoning from Liam Plunkett (25) got them to 298 with 32 deliveries unused!

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Mason Crane (2-60) celebrates finally breaking the visitors’ opening stand.

Set all but a run a ball for victory, the tourists were steady away. After dropping no less than four catches (No really!) and missing a run out chance, England eventually made the breakthrough with the score on 98. The wicket came courtesy of young spinner Mason Crane. Crane didn’t have the best of times in the thrilling Test match victory over Thailand last week but displayed great character in the ‘Pool Arena today.

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Liam Livingstone effects a crucial run out.

Not content with his positive batting, Liam Livingstone picked up a wicket and effected the run out of Vanuatu’s top scorer (Mansdale, 80) to swing things in England’s favour.

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Adam Lyth prepares to take a vital catch late in the piece.

Chris Woakes (8-2-35-0) and Sam Curran (8-0-55-1) bowled with guts before Toby Roland-Jones (7-1-30-0) and the luckless Liam Plunkett (7-0-55-1) kept things tight at the death. Keeper of the wicket Jos Buttler also contributed with a stunning diving catch. With the Ni-Vanuatuans requiring just 7 runs to win from the final over, Plunkett delivered four dots before conceding a six. He followed that up with another dot however, resulting in a thrilling and extremely rare tie.

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It’s hard to decide whether to see this as a good or bad result. Ultimately the dropped catches early in Vanuatu’s innings were critical to our chances of success. The performances of debutant Stoneman with the bat and the all-round exploites of Liam Livingstone who is still finding his feet at international level, were extremely encouraging. I guess you could say that “The stones are rolling”. The bowling of both spinner Mason Crane as well as all our pacers in the final throws of this match combine to present many positives. Despite a seemingly quiet match on paper, Adam Lyth’s efforts in the field shouldn’t go without mention.

We remain undefeated in any of our newly designed kits and just like after the Thailand Test, we don’t anticipate many changes to the XI for our next ODI. Our gratitude for your support remains as humble as ever. Forever England, forever the fans!!!