Afghanistan v West Indies World Cup ODI

It wasn’t quite as hot as Saturday but yet again Afghanistan flirted with the idea of causing an upset at Headingley only to fall short one more time. Three times in this competition they’ve could’ve achieved seismic victories but failed to do so.

West Indies were solid if unspectacular with the bat but still finished with enough to leave Afghanistan requiring in excess of a run-a-ball. Evin Lewis (58) was regaining his form, Shai Hope (77) was Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer (39) and Nicholas Pooran (58) upped the tempo and Jason Holder (45) with Carlos Brathwaite (14*) lifted the score to 311-6

After captain Gulbadin Naib’s World Cup horror show continued, Afghanistan were cruising courtesy of a 133-run partnership by Rahmat Shah (62) and Ikram Ali Khil. Never did I convince myself that they were actually going to win though. Every time the big screen informed those in the stadium that Afghanistan were ahead of where West Indies had been, you still knew that they needed to put their foot on the accelerator.

Shah was horrendously dropped by Sheldon Cottrell but fell soon after. I witnessed Ikram make a career best 24 (Previous best was 11) on Saturday and today, having been promoted to no. 3, he bested again with 86.

Cottrell, having not originally picked up that earlier drop, later claimed a very good catch and Fabian Allen, who’d already claimed one to silence the crowd, sealed the match with a stunner running backwards. The less said about his bowling or his career stats the better and the same goes for Hope’s atrocious wicketkeeping. Brathwaite claimed 4-63 but Kemar Roach (10-2-37-3) was the pick of the bowlers.

For the record, if I understood correctly from the multiple cries, the Caribbean colours draped West Indies fan sat next to me is not convinced by Jason Holder as captain. He got the blame for a no-ball when too many fielders were outside the circle, which seems fair enough. He also got the blame for Pooran’s run out!

As for the overall standard in the field…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/cricket/48876706

West Indies were going through the motions waiting for wickets and they predictably came. Perhaps I expected too much of Afghanistan at this tournament. They’ve come a long way and only lost this one by 23 runs.

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8039/game/1144524/afghanistan-vs-west-indies-42nd-match-icc-cricket-world-cup-2019

Too many of their players including the big names, notably Rashid Khan, haven’t stepped up though. Gulbadin Naib may have contributed to their journey but isn’t meriting a place in a losing team let alone being the captain.

West Indies have a potentially powerful batting unit if the hierarchy can keep them all interested and not lose them to more and more global franchise gigs. Afghanistan need to meet in the middle between the heroic generation that got them this far and the youngsters coming through.

Twenty20 Vision?!

England have named their squad for the T20I series against West Indies and I can’t say that I’m enthused…

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/1058447/sam-billings-and-dawid-malan-named-in-england-s-it20-squad

I back whoever plays for England (Unless there’s a serious reason that I shouldn’t. We’ll come to that!) but some of the selections in this squad are puzzling.

I’m a huge Dawid Malan fan but he’s hardly been tearing it up on the franchise circuit recently. Yes his international record is outstanding but he’s in no form whatsoever to maintain that record. This opportunity, as with his previous ones, have only come about because of squad rotation. He fully merited selection when he replaced a ‘rested’ Eoin Morgan however, in what was effectively at T20I final. Contrary to his recent franchise efforts, he had been tearing it up for England Lions. I just don’t feel that he’s primed to perform at international level right this moment. I hope that I’m wrong though and that a strong showing can put him back on the Test radar.

The selection of Chris Jordan is a generous one for me. He struggled in the Big Bash this season but is part of the T20I fabric for England. He benefits from the absence of senior bowlers to get game time in this format and of course he does take wickets. Anybody should be able to keep tallying wickets when the opposition are slogging away at the end though. He’s a good fielder but needs to take more wickets for less runs… obviously!

James Vince was superb in the Big Bash, Harry Gurney was steady away and Laurie Evans has backed up strong white-ball seasons in England by becoming an in-demand player on the franchise merry-go-round. None of the above make the squad but…

… Sam Billings does! I can understand the frustration for and with Sam Billings. It’s not easy when you’re a fill-in player, particularly in T20Is when there’s often just one match in a series. This series has three matches though, so Billings will desperately hope to bat in the top four to have a chance to impress. If he can hit the ground running then he could make the most of the series but then again, he’s just filling in. Like Malan, he’ll likely then get dropped again to accommodate the returning Roy, Buttler and Stokes.

I understand the logistical reasons but did England really need to name their squad so soon?

Liam Plunkett could be letting his World Cup place slip away though knowing him, he’ll probably take four wickets in the next ODI. If he fails to take a wicket and gets dropped during the series though, will he still be what England want in the T20Is?

What if Vince hits a couple of hundreds in the PSL between now and the start of the series? Could he be drafted into the squad? Ed Smith is sending out very mixed messages regarding Vince. He was pretty curt when he originally axed the Hampshire man, despite Vince making 76 in his previous Test innings. He did recall him because of injuries for a One-Day International, only for Vince to run himself out… again! Now following sparkling form in the Big Bash, he’s been omitted again.

Another player that’s been mentioned on forums is Joe Clarke. I think that a lot of people don’t know or don’t care why he’s been ignored. My understanding is that he wasn’t dropped from England Lions because of what a teammate may have got up to in his bed. He was dropped because of the list of women on his phone and the competitive element of that. If he matures then I’m quite happy for Joe Clarke to play for England in years to come. As it stands however, I (And that’s just me. I’m not speaking for anyone else) don’t want him anywhere near the England cricket team. Clarke can argue that he’s unfortunate it all came out and of course we don’t know what all players get up to away from work but… tuff!

Another thing that I may have mentioned before. ODIs are ODIs so I call the T20 version T20Is not IT20s… so there!

Edit:

James Vince next PSL innings: 84 off 41

Dawid Malan next PSL innings: 1 off 6

A Shame for Stone!

Fast bowler Olly Stone is out of England’s tour of West Indies courtesy of a stress fracture. Stone made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka last year but his chequered history of injuries has come back to haunt him. Jamie Overton, no stranger to injuries himself, could be promoted to the touring party whilst Jamie Porter, who has been a squad member in home Tests, could once again flirt with the opportunity of making his Test debut.

Hopefully Stone can recover and be back amongst the county wickets and international reckoning before too long.

Predicting England’s Next Test Cap

Who will be England Test cricketer number 690?

Silly Point has a go at guessing who will be next to don the Test whites (Or cream!) of England.

Will it be a player plucked from the county scene, a franchise star or a groomed England Lion?

Silly Point predicts that England’s next new Test cricketer will be… Jason Roy!

Whilst we’re at it, we may as well do ODIs as well.

Silly Point boldly predicts that England’s next debutante in One-Day International cricket will be… Jofra Archer!

In the past, some of England’s selections have been…. boggling! The days of picking rabbits out of hats seem in the distant past however. As for the team’s next new blood in T20Is, how about… Jamie Overton?

Such is both the competition and make-up of England’s current squads in each format, that it’s difficult to see how and where new players can sneak in. A recall for an already capped player wouldn’t necessarily be the backwards step that it would’ve been considered in the past, only an acknowledgement of England’s current riches.

Players such as Joe Clarke (Off-field activities) and Matthew Parkinson (Injury) would’ve been serious contenders but I was dissuaded due to their current circumstances. Of course they may yet be England’s next new caps!

Disclaimer: Please note that I’ve ignored players such as Joe Denly and Olly Stone who are uncapped at Test level but in the squad for the West Indies series. My selections are based on further ahead or if any other players are to be called up during said tour.

A Story of Sir Alastair, Keaton and Rory

If England win this summer’s Ashes or/and World Cup, then we could have a host of new MBEs!

The chances of Keaton Jennings playing in the World Cup are slim. The chances of Rory Burns doing so are… even slimmer!

The likelihood of the pair playing in the Ashes and possibly earning knighthoods will be defined on the Test tour of West Indies. No disrespect to the current Caribbean collective but if you offered an opening batsman an away destination to cement their place in their own team then West Indies would currently be high on most player’s list.

Jennings was previously dropped on the eve of a home series against West Indies. He’ll hope not to be dropped post a Caribbean encounter this time. He played spin well in Sri Lanka and was razor sharp in the field but questions of his ability against pace linger. Based on the evidence and scars inflicted by South Africa, answering those questions against Australia won’t be easy!

Burns performed well in the second Test in Sri Lanka after a disappointing debut. He failed in the final Test however and his aesthetics aren’t to everybody’s pleasure. If he leaves the door even slightly ajar and some young gun plunders runs on the county scene or even Surrey teammate Jason Roy produces a run gluttonous World Cup then Burns will follow another Surrey man, his opening partner Mark Stoneman, back to the county game and with little chance of a Jennings style recall.

Should KJ and RB perform well in West Indies, help England regain the Ashes, go on to score a few thousand Test runs and even captain England (They’ve got experience) then maybe they could yet join Alastair Cook by having a new prefix!