Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – England vs. South Africa

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Following England’s win in Pakistan, the side hosted South Africa in a Global Test League top of the table clash at Sussex. The performances of Stuart Broad and James Anderson (Pictured above) would be crucial to England’s chances of success…

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David Willey (0 & 4) failed to make an impression with the bat but claimed some vital South African scalps (1-60 & 2-98) on Test debut.

The left-arm pace of David Willey replaced the left-arm spin of Liam Dawson following the Hampshire twirler’s wicketless display in Lahore. Unfortunately for Willey, the Yorkshire and former Northamptonshire all-rounder would be dismissed first ball on his maiden Test outing but did claim match figures of 3-158. Those figures might not sound too great but Willey snapped up the crucial dismissals of Quentin de Kock (35) in the first innings and Hashim Amla (96) in the second. Having made 104 in the first innings, Amla fell just four runs short of registering a century in each innings.

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Left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj (6-115 & 3-67) was the key reason for some all too familiar England batting collapses.

Maybe Liam Dawson can learn from the tourist’s own left-arm spinner, Keshav Maharaj. Whilst pacers Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel failed to take a wicket between them, Maharaj finished with figures of 9-182.

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Former Essex stumper Ben Foakes compiled a maiden Test ton in only his third Test match.

Surrey gloveman Ben Foakes (112) scored a crucial maiden Test century. This was when England had slipped from 212-2 to 261-7. Keaton Jennings (113) also made a hundred, his fourth of the competition. It will be Stuart Broad (103) and James Anderson’s (56 not out) last wicket stand of 126 that will live long in the memory though. That’s 118 runs in seven innings without dismissal for Lancashire’s Anderson in the GTL.

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England skipper Joe Root dropped Hashim Amla on 49 in South Africa’s second innings. Amla went onto make 96. In all, the home side dropped four catches in the visitor’s second dig!

After South Africa had been dismissed for 330 (Amla 104, Broad 3-63) and England for 565 (Jennings 113, Maharaj 6-115), South Africa set about erasing the defecit and went onto set England a testing total of 313 to win. The visitors having made 547 in their second innings. As mentioned before, Amla followed up his first innings 104 with 96 but it was the scintillating AB de Villiers, whose knock of 266 not out took him ahead of Jennings to the top of the competition run charts and helped get South Africa back in the match. James Anderson stuck to the task though and was rewarded for pitching the ball up and getting some movement. He claimed the home side’s first ever Global Test league five-wicket haul (5-121) and finished with match analysis of 7-198 to go with his undefeated half-ton. With 20 victims in total, Anderson is England’s top GTL wicket-taker.

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Dawid Malan (58 not out) and Stuart Broad (5 not out) saw England home though the result was not without a fright!

For the second time in the match, England’s opening batsmen, Keaton Jennings (73) and Mark Stoneman (53) put together a century partnership to lay the foundations for England’s run-chase. They were dismissed in quick succession however before England suffered an all too familiar batting collapse. Jonny Bairstow, recalled to the side at number three at the expense of James Vince and playing as a specialist batsman, followed his first innings seven with just nine. He did at least claim a maiden Test wicket in the match, Keshav Maharaj the unfortunate victim. Chris Woakes looked to be taking England to victory but fell for 53 with just five runs required. Dawid Malan remained composed however and finished 58 not out, fittingly being joined by first innings centurion Stuart Broad, who would hit the winning runs and secure England their fifth straight victory following the shock opening round loss at home to Zimbabwe.

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England now stand alone at the top of the inaugural Global Test League.

Next up for England are West Indies in the Caribbean. In terms of selection for that match, though Mark Stoneman failed to convert scores of 59 and 53 into a maiden Test hundred against South Africa, two century opening stands alongside Keaton Jennings mean that his place is safe for now. Jonny Bairstow will have to wait and see if he gets another chance at three following his double failure. Chris Woakes struggled with the ball but made a vital half-century in England’s run chase and though David Willey didn’t set the world on fire, he did claim some vital scalps on Test debut. Liam Dawson may get one more chance to prove himself in helpful conditions though Moeen Ali will be considered for a recall and Mason Crane could even win a Test cap. Until next time…

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – Feasting in First Class!

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Following on from my previous career mode update, post my captaincy heroics at club level, I entered the professional circuit. I was delighted that my debut came at home for Yorkshire against strong opposition in the shape of Kent County Cricket Club.

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I’d attempted to stay grounded and not get carried away with my recognition. The match against Kent could’ve been the only First Class match that I ever played and after being dismissed for 8 in the first innings and running my partner out off my first ball in the second innings, it seriously looked like that might be the case. I’d be just a footnote in history. I dug deep though, all those years on the Northern amateur circuit have served me well. I combined in an epic partnership with my teammate, falling only one-run short of a double-century stand and five shy of a hundred on First Class debut. Of course I would’ve loved a hundred but my 95 showcased both my ability and character after my poor first impressions. Most importantly, we went onto win the match.

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In my second match, away at Sussex, a side containing the likes of Vernon Philander and Jofra Archer in their bowling attack, I immediately set course to right the wrongs of my century shortcomings on debut. I surpassed my career best 95 but had an uneasy tea whilst 99 not out. In truth I dealt with Test bowler Philander as well as Archer with moderate ease. It was the less heralded left-armer George Garton and Scotland’s Stuart Whittingham who carried more threat. The home side lacked real penetration on the spin front though and I soon chalked up a maiden First Class hundred in only my second game. I proved a lot to myself by carrying my club form into the professional game. The same teammate and I shared another century partnership and I went past 200. As you’ll see from the image above, when I went past 300, I just couldn’t contain my excitement. This was despite my energy reserves running low.

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I eventually fell for 325 having re-written many record books in the process of the innings. This was only the start of things however. In pursuit of 195 for victory in the second innings, we were soon on the back foot at 57-3. A few hours later though, with only two overs of the match remaining, I helped get us over the line by four wickets with a composed and measured 96 not out. To see my name spread across the headlines, both online and on paper was truly humbling. I knew though that such a performance so early in my career served only to increase the pressure and expectation on me to go on have a rewarding professional existence. Some in the media brought up the word ‘England’ but let’s not get carried away!

Northampton away in the next match was definitely something akin to a Lord Mayor’s Show. My reward for my performance of 421-1 against Sussex was to be demoted in the batting order from four to five to accommodate the return of England Test captain Joe Root. Gary Ballance, successful skipper against Sussex, actually had to make way. I made just 18 & 9 with South Africa spinner Tabraiz Shamsi causing me problems.

Come the final match of the season in Wales against Glamorgan, I knew I needed a score before the season was out to prove I was no one-match wonder. As was the case on my debut, I had a little luck in my innings when the wikcetkeeper actually prevented the ball from rolling onto the stumps. I made him pay and went onto notch another First Class hundred. Not only that, I made it a double but inexcusably threw my wicket away immediately after, falling for 202. A tired 12 in the second innings was my limp farewell to a season of huge success for me.

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My First Class scores so far read: 8, 95, 325, 96*, 18, 9, 202 & 12. All but the first match were played away from home.

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I actually topped the First Class division one batting averages with 765 runs at a Bradman dwarfing 109.29. If only I could have hit the campaign trail earlier!

I’m delighted to say that I’ve accepted offers to be part of both Yorkshire’s First Class and List A squad for next season. There are rumours of one or two T20 franchises around the world keeping an eye on my progress too. In 2023, I’ll endeavour to back-up the encouraging start I’ve made to my professional career and help my beloved Yorkshire win some silverware.

International Duck Watch!

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In a Test match in Wellington…

… just when you think that you’ve got no work to do, teenage sensation Mehedi Hasan falls to the very last ball of the day, courtesy of some very composed bowling from Neil Wagner!

In a Test match in Johannesburg…

… Temba Bavuma is starting to become a regular in this column and his continued selection will surely only heighten scepticism of South Africa’s selection policy. Rather surprisingly, our loyal club member Suranga Lakmal has so far been unable to get in on the action, leaving the work to Nuwan Pradeep. Pradeep was also responsible for the fall of a runless Vernon Philander who himself was then responsible for the fall of a runless Dimuth Karunaratne

In an ODI in Brisbane…

… Steven Smith, first ball. Mohammad Amir the bowler responsible. Serial Test run struggler Matthew Wade hit a run a ball 100 not out. Following our update on Michael Carberry yesterday, here’s another example of a cancer survivor providing inspiration to many.

Oh and a little extra. Though this column isn’t called International Double-Century Watch, Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan surely merits some recognition for his 217 against New Zealand, ably supported by Mushfiqur Rahim’s 159. Bangladesh seem to be holding it together a bit more in Tests at the moment than they do in the pyjama matches.

International Duck Watch!

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Suranga Lakmal just can’t keep out of the action, whether or not he’s the duckee or the inflictor of duckness. Today he lasted three deliveries before falling to Vernon Philander (4-27) in Cape Town. Nuwan Pradeep also ducked in the second Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka, very first ball, Philander again the man responsible.

In Art Deco Land or Napier if you prefer, a trio of ducks were spotted in the first T20I between hosts New Zealand and visitors Bangladesh. For the tourists, Imrul Kayes fell second ball and Soumya Sarkar lasted exactly half that amount of deliveries. In the Black Caps’ response Colin Munro ducketed second ball but the hosts still claimed a six-wicket victory.