Chasing Hope

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The West Indies made it to within one over of a series draw against Pakistan before the Angel Gabriel had his wings clipped by Yasir Shah.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-pakistan-2017/engine/match/1077955.html

The hosts’ failings were all too familiar. Batsmen failing to make significant scores (I know how you feel boys!) and despite having an array of spin bowlers possessive of outlandish First Class bowling averages, Devendra Bishoo only really came to the party late in the day… and just to ruin the farewells of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan!

I’m not convinced that opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite should be playing ODIs. It compromises his strength, that is to occupy the crease in the longest form of the game. He failed to pass 50 and averaged sub 17 in the series.

Kieron Powell’s flame flickered. He made starts but like Brathwaite failed to find 50. An average of 26.83 tells its own story. He made starts but failed to go on. That’s no fifty in sight for Windies openers across 12 innings. Of course maybe if things had been handled differently then KB and KP could have been opening for WI for years already. A few years ago they contrasted well and could have developed into a lethal pair. KP got disillusioned then and it will be interesting to see if the selectors persist with him. They’ll probably have to and should do because they might feel it necessary to make changes elsewhere in the order.

20-year-old Shimron Hetmyer clearly has talent but he also has only one First Class century. He’s a very attack minded player. Was first drop the right place to baptise him on the international stage? His top score: a quarter century at an average of 16.00. Even if he’s not retained for the time being his time can come again.

Domestic dominant and Zimbabwe slaying Shai Hope did at least at last record a maiden Test half century, a 90 in fact. In his five other innings he totalled 59 runs combined.

Vishaul Singh was supposed to be the middle order rock. The middle order sandcastle with the tide coming in fast more like. He made 32 runs in one innings but only 31 across the other five. He’s 28 years old and his First Class batting average is an underwhelming 33.45. His conversion rate is good though: 6 centuries to 9 fifties but can he get to fifty in the international arena in the first place? His First Class strike rate is literally 34 runs slower than Hetmyer’s. Call me old fashioned but maybe they would have each prospered had they been positioned the other way around.

Wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich made 56 in one innings but didn’t total 56 across the other five. There’s a theme developing here isn’t there? These guys have got the ability but not the consistency, not yet anyway.

Then there’s Roston Chase. Wow, just wow! How good is this guy? Ten Tests into his career and he’s got three hundreds to two in the First Class game. Some people just thrive the tougher the challenge. He’s averaging 48.53 as well as claiming a more than useful 17 wickets at 52.23 apiece. At the risk of raining on the parade, I’m going to hazard a guess that in a year’s time that figure of 48.53 will have dipped. I hope that it doesn’t but he’s really going to have to excel to maintain such a strong start.

Where WI go from here, who knows? Actually, it would appear not very far, they’re hosting Afghanistan for some T20Is and ODIs. Then post Champions Trophy they take on England. Jermaine Blackwood could come back in but the others out there in the domestic game all seem much of a muchness, averaging in the mid twenties. That’s even the case for Jason Mohammed despite his success in recent ODI fair. Vishaul Singh had stepped up to the plate in A and Board or Chairman XIs but didn’t deliver against Pakistan. Remember though that both Hetmyer and Singh have had far better starts to their Test careers than five time Test double centurion Marvan Atapattu. I think that the West Indies selectors will do well to persist with these players and provide them further opportunity. Even the likes of Jacques Kallis, Steve Waugh and Matthew Hayden didn’t hit the ground running in the Test arena.

The West Indies might not be Singhing but they can always Chase Hope!

Cricket Randoms

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There’s nothing we love more here at Silly Point than seeing our game gain global appeal, reaching out to untouched corners of the big blue and green. No pressure on Durham debutant Cameron Steel then! The California born bat has racked up appearances for Western Australia’s youth sides and has already tasted First Class cricket on half a dozen occasions when representing Durham MCCU. To date he has three First Class fifties including one against Durham last year. We’ll see how he gets on when it comes his turn to wield the willow, probably tomorrow.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-championship-division-2-2017/content/player/633301.html

On the subject of USA, Kieron Powell is back in West Indies whites. The man who gave it all up for baseball is currently holding the fort as WI slide into the abyss against Pakistan in Jamaica. Powell is undefeated on 33 at lunch with Windies precariously placed at 71-4.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-pakistan-2017/engine/match/1077953.html

In another corner of the world, well maybe not a corner but another location. Come to think of it, unless the world is flat then there probably aren’t really corners on the globe… are there?

Where was I going?

Zimbabwe!

Natsai M’Shangwe’s 8-91 for Mountaineers against Mid West Rhinos merits a mention. Performances such as this might provide the twenty-six-year-old with the opportunity to bring his Test match bowling average of 62.14 down to something a little more respectable in future. Opposition bowler James Bruce snapped up five wickets on First Class debut, suggesting that he might be better in real life than he was when I led Zimbabwe on International Cricket Captain!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1070906.html

One more for you, regarding my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket team that goes by the name of Roderick Brotherhood. Things could have been going a bit flat in the absence of my captain and moniker inspiration Gareth Roderick. Rodders is still suffering from his ‘mystery’ pre-season illness but fortunately… step forward Mr Riki Wessels. 202 not out from 177 deliveries including 22 fours and 7 sixes, thanks in no small part to the supporting act of Nottinghamshire’s lower order, has surely propelled me to the top of the table… at least in my family!

Other County Championship performances worth noting today:

James Vince: 143 not out. Pencilled in for an England recall against Ireland?

Haseeb Hameed: A duck… again!

Sam Robson: 144 not out. Anything you can do Vincey, I can do one better! Set for a recall against South Africa at the expense of Hameed?????

Liam Livingstone: 68 out of a total of 109 all out for Lancashire’s stand-in skipper. Penned in in permanent marker for a full international debut against Ireland!

Harry Dearden: 87 for Leicestershire’s teenage opener. His first fifty in his eleventh First Class innings. Not quite set for an international call-up!

Adam Barton: 11-0-81-0. Like Durham’s Steel, he’s making a proper debut having previously played Uni stuff. With Sussex currently 7-3 following Wessels double hundred, Barton might need to enhance his Chris Martinesque batting average of 2.12 from ten innings! There’s no sign of Silly Point favourite Ajmal Shahzad in the Sussex XI.

Ian Westwood: 153. Westwood for England anybody?

Ben Duckett: 45 not out out of a total of 102-6 and needing to go big given the performances of the likes of Vince, Robson and Livingstone. Penned in in biro for a recall against Ireland.

Tom Abell: 1 to follow 1 & 0 in Somerset’s opening match of the 2017 campaign for the new young skipper.

P.S. Powell’s just fallen second ball after lunch!