CricketXI – County Championship 2018: Season Review

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At the start of the year I stumbled upon CricketXI, an alternative fantasy cricket competition. This game focused purely on the County Championship (First Class) campaign.

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I selected a team of young guns and as you can see things went really well! It was great to see the likes of Jonny Tattersall, Zak Crawley and Will Jacks develop. Harry Brook, Ben Twohig (Love his name!) and Matthew Carter also made great strides.

Unfortunately Surrey pacer Matt Dunn got injured early in the campaign and disappeared from the professional radar once again. Wicketkeeper Lewis McManus lost his place in the Hampshire First XI. Teammate Asher Hart and Essex spinner Aron Nijjar (Who fooled me by playing in a pre-season university match!) couldn’t get near their respective first XIs. Neither could spinner Sukhjit Singh who was sadly released by Warwickshire at the end of the campaign. Warwickshire clearly have little interest in developing their own young players and much prefer to sign absolutely anybody. While that’s great for players like Will Rhodes and Olly Stone, it’s not for players like Singh and Andy Umeed.

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As well as my outfit of kids, I also selected a more ‘serious’ side but following early season injury, Sam Northeast failed to really get going having relocated from Kent to Hampshire and has fallen way down the England pecking order. Disappointingly, Sussex batsman Luke Wells and Nottinghamshire’s Riki Wessels failed to back-up productive 2017 campaigns.

On the plus side, James Hildreth was amongst the runs as ever, meanwhile Tom Bailey, Ben Sanderson and everybody’s favourite ex-England cricketer Jade Dernbach, contributed with the ball.

Well, there’s always next year!

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2018 – Season Review

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It says it all that my Fifth XI finished the 2018 County Championship campaign as my top team!

Tom Bailey (1912), Ryan Higgins (1819) and Morne Morkel (1636), when he eventually got going, led the way for me. However an overall position of 7454th is nothing to write home about!

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As the above graphic displays, Kent’s Kiwi quick Matt Henry, his domestic teammate and potential England Test debutant Joe Denly and Sussex’s former Yorkshire tearaway Ollie Robinson led the way in the overall points scoring. Ollie Robinson, oh look, another player that Yorkshire have either failed to develop or/and allowed to blossom elsewhere (Carver, Rhodes, Lees?)! There’s a theme developing here isn’t there?

Ed Barnard, Tom Bailey, Ryan Higgins and James Hildreth all made my England Ignored XI…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2018/09/27/england-ignored-xi/

… having been consistent performers throughout the campaign. Please remember that this competition was specific to the County Championship (First Class) and One-Day Cup (List A). The T20 Blast had a completely separate fantasy competition.

My five teams did at least resign my wife and daughter’s XIs to the bottom of the family table. Anyway, there’s always next year!

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!

Six to Watch: 2018 – Season Review

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A little premature with the season not quite concluded but here’s 2018’s Six to Watch Review. This year two players from my selection have been promoted to the full England side. One has already debuted and one likely will in Sri Lanka. For the others, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag but should get better.

Tom Fell  (Worcestershire)

Another difficult year for cancer survivor Fell. There were glimpses of his determination and ability but little consistency. Fell has registered only four fifties in 22 innings this term but two of them, including a season best 89, came in the same match against champions Surrey. He’s currently averaging a disappointing 27.82 in the County Championship. Despite an impressive career record in List A cricket, white-ball opportunities have been harder to come by. Fell has only ever played three T20s.

Ollie Pope (Surrey)

So good have been Pope’s numbers (He’s averaging 70.50 in CC2018) that he was fast tracked into the England team. Unlike some sceptics, I think that Ed Smith has got a lot of qualities but his decision to parachute Pope in at number four in England’s Test side was misguided. Pope had never batted higher than six for Surrey! The Chelsea born bat has a good head on his shoulders however and will be better for the experience. This year he’s a Championship winner and breeding that winning mentality can only be good for his development. He’s likely to commence the Sri Lanka tour on the bench but the opportunity to tour will serve him well.

Hamidullah Qadri (Derbyshire)

A frustrating year with limited opportunity and limited success for Afghan born Qadri. Last year the then sixteen-year-old announced his arrival with an outstandingly effective performance against Glamorgan to help Derbyshire win for the first time in… years!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8204/scorecard/1068618/glamorgan-vs-derbyshire-specsavers-county-championship-division-two-2017

This year’s appearances have been fleeting but four more County Championship appearances is more than most for a man his age. He’s claimed eight wickets at 39.88 in CC2018.

Delray Rawlins (Sussex)

Precocious talent Rawlins’ opportunities have been limited to limited overs cricket but his batting caught the eye of many in this year’s T20 Blast. Rawlins made it to the final with Sussex and made starts in both matches on Finals-Day. The Bermuda born bat ended the campaign with 203 runs at 25.38. His strike-rate was 146.04. Little was seen of his bowling however or the red ball this term. Rawlins could be a potentially good draft for a Big Bash or PSL franchise this winter.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire)

The move from Yorkshire to Warwickshire seems to have worked well for Rhodes. Yorkshire didn’t seem to know what to do with him and have had Harry Brook (Better suited to the middle order) opening while losing Alex Lees to Durham. Keeping and making the most of Rhodes may have been a good move by Yorkshire but Rhodes is yet another talent they failed to fully develop. Warwickshire are grateful to have been the beneficiaries of Yorkshire’s slacking. The Midlands outfit have persevered with Rhodes and former Surrey man Dominic Sibley as an opening pair, even when the runs haven’t flowed. Sibley can be feast or famine but Rhodes’ consistency has meant that he’s been one of the county circuit’s more successful openers this year. The left-hander has compiled three tons plus four fifties, a top score of 137 and is averaging a healthy 41.05. He’s also a viable bowling option.

Olly Stone (Warwickshire)

Rhodes’ Warwickshire ally Stone commenced the County Championship campaign with figures of 8-80 against Sussex, cue lots of calls for him to make the England side. Of course he promptly got injured again! Like his main rival for the speedster’s role, Somerset’s Jamie Overton, Stone has recently taken wickets in T20 and First Class cricket, crucially… he’s been on the pitch at all! The former Northamptonshire man has claimed 37 wickets in just six matches at a mightily impressive average of 12.27. With Liam Plunkett and his wedding arrangements undone by a flip of England’s tour schedule, Stone will go to Sri Lanka with both the ODI and Test side if not the T20I side. He should debut sometime on the tour and will have an eye on the West Indies trip too.

Lees of Life!

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Opening batsman Alex Lees has headed north to Durham from Yorkshire and made an encouraging start following a truly torturous end to his time at Yorkshire.

A career that had promised so much petered out with just fifty flimsy runs in eight First Class innings at a paltry average of 6.50 this term. However, the tide has turned for the twenty-five-year-old on Durham debut against Glamorgan in Cardiff. At the end of the first day’s play, Lees is unbeaten on a run-a-ball 53…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8204/game/1127714/glamorgan-vs-durham-specsavers-county-championship-division-two-2018

That’s right, more runs in one innings for his new county than in four matches for Yorkshire. Okay so he’s playing in Division Two now but as the old adage goes, “You can only beat what’s in front of you!”.

Alongside Lees is his new opening partner, everybody’s favourite American cricketer Cameron Steel. Cam from Cali is currently unbeaten on 22. Meanwhile another former Yorkshire opener, Warwickshire’s Will Rhodes, is currently 101 not out against Gloucestershire in Birmingham. That’s now three County Championship tons since heading south and two in his last two games. His average is soaring and at only twenty-three, like former county pal Lees, Rhodes’ best years should lie in waiting.

Adam Lyth has been an excellent contributor for Yorkshire over the years and his current opening partner Harry Brook, has already demonstrated that he’s got the temperament to succeed. Hopefully each of Lees, Rhodes and Brook can continue to blossom at their respective counties and possibly push for international honours in the years to come.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2018

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The above is my first XI. It’s in the all-rounder roles that I’ve gambled with Rhodes and Rawlins. Rhodes has moved from Yorkshire to Warwickshire so should see increased game time and will be keen to show what he’s capable of. Rawlins made an impression in the North v South matches and this should be his breakout season. Simpson is a reliable wicketkeeper and I think there is real logic in the stumper being captain. I’ve plucked for a possibly slightly under the radar bowling attack and expect Mennie and hopefully Hutton to contribute runs too. I’ve very deliberately selected batsman that will at least occasionally bowl and should get opportunities in both formats of the game.

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For my second XI, I’ve gone for the two all-rounders that I consider guaranteed runs and wickets. I’ve opted for a reliable batting unit and expect Fell to return to form this year. Though my bowling unit may not be guaranteed outings in both codes, Coad and Footitt are wicket takers in the First Class format. Mahmood is coming into the campaign off the back of impressive performances in North v South and Nijjar, a useful spin bowler, has been opening the batting for Essex pre-season. What happens to Alastair Cook with England may determine Nijjar’s opportunities. If Roderick is available throughout the season, he should be steady away behind the stumps and with bat in hand.

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Have I ever mentioned that I like Ben Duckett?

Mitchell is as consistent as they come and bowls too. Smith has returned to Durham and I expect plenty of runs from the experienced head back up north. Alongside him, Brook is primed for his breakthrough campaign after debuting last term. Kuhn may not keep wicket but is a solid performer at domestic level. My bowling attack may receive England and England Lions call-ups but have runs as well as wickets in them in both formats. Bresnan is as solid an option as Patel and Bopara and van der Merwe is a destructive player.

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In my fourth XI, I’ve gone Warwickshire and England veteran heavy in my batting line-up, messrs Trott and Bell leading the charge. Bell-Drummond will be looking to kick-on and fingers crossed for a run-filled renaissance from Nick Compton. Like Kuhn, Pope may not always keep wicket but will be playing regularly and in the runs this year. Berg is as reliable as anyone with the ball and Procter prospered last term having relocated to Northamptonshire. I want a bit more from Barker and Rayner this year. Fletcher is back from injury and if Overton, rated 3!, can stay fit then he’s a shrewd selection.

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In my fifth XI are the other players that I like who I couldn’t squeeze into my first four teams. Northeast has moved to Hampshire but is as reliable as they come with the bat. Wells is solid in the First Class game as is Burns. Dent is an under rated player too. McManus gets the gloves with the experienced Clarke, back at Surrey, and less experienced but quick Chappell in the all-rounder roles. Hopefully Norwell has shrugged off any injury niggles. Ball will be left to play county cricket this term whilst Patterson is another of my reliable picks. Qadri made an impressive debut last year and will look to back it up.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve avoided selecting players that will be on England duty. It’s steady away county pros that you need sprinkled with one or two yet to be discovered gems just primed to be this year’s Ben Coad.

Let me know what you think about my teams and which one is likely to win me the massive cash prize of……….. £3,000!

https://fantasycricket.telegraph.co.uk/county

Disclaimer: I’ve since been tinkering away, so my teams don’t look quite the same as above. I’ll keep you up to date once the campaign commences!

Application for Role of National Selector

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https://www.ecb.co.uk/news/642891/ecb-announces-new-approach-for-england-men-s-selection

Dear Andrew Strauss

Please find enclosed my application for the role of National Selector as advertised on http://www.ecb.co.uk

On the MAC version of Cricket Captain 2017 (Admittedly on Easy Mode!), I was responsible for the selection of the England side that won the 2017 Champions Trophy on home turf. Who can forget David Willey’s 8-58 against Australia?! That summer, I had already made the brave decision to recall batsman Ben Duckett to the Test side despite his tough baptism the previous winter.

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Duckett repaid the faith by averaging 82.89 in the respectable 2017-18 2-2 away Ashes series draw.

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In 2018 I introduced Yorkshire seamer Ben Coad to Test cricket and he duly struck with his first delivery against Pakistan. Coad went on to claim just shy of 200 wickets as well as surpassing 1000 runs during my time as selector. As was the case with the recall of Duckett, there was resistance from some quarters towards the selection of Coad. Some in the media believed that I was applying Yorkshire bias and only selecting Coad because we were born in the same town. Proving the doubters wrong, his performances with bat and ball throughout his career confirmed that I possess nous when it comes to identifying under the radar talent.

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Mason Crane’s dismissals of three Indian batsmen, all first ball on T20I debut was another highlight of that summer.

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Another spinner, Adil Rashid, excelled in Sri Lanka where he famously followed up figures of 7-66 with a monumental knock of 161. Again, there were those that campaigned against the selections of said spinners, at least in the respective formats in which they would go onto succeed. Again, those doubters were silenced.

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Following our Champions Trophy success in 2017, we promptly won the 2019 ODI World Cup. Once again the nation were euphoric in their celebrations of home soil success.

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My insistence that Moeen Ali replace Jason Roy at the top of the order was both ruthless and crucial to our success. Moeen’s blazing knock of 112 from 80 deliveries in the final against India will live long in the memory of many.

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Alongside Moeen, Ben Duckett totalled 562 runs at 80.29, again this demonstrates my ability to get the best out of mischievous players. Many would’ve left the Northamptonshire batsman on the international scrapheap but his performances in both the Ashes and ODI World Cup were immense.

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Chris Woakes claimed twenty tournament wickets at just 12.55 apiece and please don’t ignore the contribution made by left field selection Luke Fletcher. This included a vital wicket in the final at Lords.

Yes we lost the 2019 Ashes 3-0. Thirty-five-year-old Daryl Mitchell failed to back-up his debut knock of 73. He didn’t make another fifty before being dropped for the fifth Test and James Harris (0-102) had an ignominious introduction to Test cricket. The selection of thirty-nine-year-old Jimmy Adams’ (34 runs @ 8.50) in T20I cricket didn’t work either.

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Nor did the selection of Ross Whiteley (99 runs @ 9.90). However, there would be over 200 Test wickets for Jack Leach, a Test century for Max Holden and many Test tons for Will Rhodes as well as numerous ODI tons for Daniel Bell-Drummond during my time as Selector. Sometimes you have to sift through the dirt to find the diamonds.

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I would like to think that the T20I career of sometime captain Benny Howell…

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… and ODI career of Ollie Rayner, the latter also earning two Test caps, will reflect well on my ability to identify talent and think outside the box when selecting the composition of a side. Even if these players didn’t excel statistically, they were under rated efficient contributors to the side.

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Other highlights during my tenure included: In Bangladesh in 2021, having lost the first Test by just one wicket courtesy of Jofra Archer’s no ball, we chased down 431 in the second Test to level the series. Liam Livingstone (122 & 166) and Will Rhodes (111 & 128*) famously made tons in each innings.

Middlesex’s Harry Podmore claimed figures of 3-51 on ODI debut but disappointingly we failed to progress from the round robin stage of the 2022 Champions Trophy. Paul Coughlin (Two six-wicket hauls) though was for a time the number one bowler in the world in ODI cricket.

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In the 2022 T20I World Cup we reached the semi-final before we were cruelly defeated by India. Hampshire’s Lewis McManus, another shrewd selection, contributed 225 runs at 56.25 including a swashbuckling ton against Pakistan.

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Another gloveman, Sussex’s Ben Brown, registered fifties in his first two T20I caps.

Unfortunately by the time 2023 came around we were ranked as low as 8th in ODI cricket and 9th in both Tests and T20Is. We scored 447 in the fourth innings of an Ashes Test but still lost!

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On the plus side, Surrey all-rounder Sam Curran, originally bravely selected whilst still in his teens, passed 100 wickets ODI cricket. Another find was Nottinghamshire batsman Billy Root, who stepped out of his brother’s shadow to register an ODI century against West Indies. I’m extremely proud of his selection because both the media and public were extremely sceptical.

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After a run of ten straight Test defeats, we did at least beat Zimbabwe 2-0 at home. Liam Livingstone and Ben Foakes’ partnership of 351 proving crucial.

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Somerset speedster Jamie Overton claimed nine wickets at just 15.56 upon his introduction to Test cricket.

Opening batsman Mark Stoneman went onto pass 4000 Test runs though we probably shouldn’t have allowed him so much opportunity to close in on 5000 when clearly past his sell by date!

Lewis McManus and Sam Northeast recorded a record-breaking partnership of 263 in an ODI and Sam Evans scored centuries in each of his first three Tests.

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Defeats against Namibia and Canada in the 2023 ODI World Cup was a disappointing way to bow out. Durham bowler James ‘Killer’ Weighell’s figures 0f 10-0-102-0 against the North American side were confirmation that I’d persisted with him too long.

I don’t think Hamidullah Qadri’s Test bowling average ever got below 60.00 and Mark Footitt (7 wickets in 5 Tests) was another one I probably got wrong. Don’t let those performances against associate nations, world rankings or runs of defeat after defeat deflect from my achievements though. A Champions Trophy and ODI World Cup win are not to be scoffed at, particularly when under the pressure of playing in front of the expectations of a home crowd. The selections and performances of Will Rhodes (Tests), Daniel Bell-Drummond (ODIs) and Lewis McManus (ODIs/T20Is) as well as Jack Leach, Ben Coad, Jofra Archer and Liam Norwell (Tests), Jamie Overton and Paul Coughlin (ODIs) demonstrate my ability to see beyond the obvious and identify players capable of succeeding at international level.

I’m extremely confident that I can transfer my success (Mediocrity, call it what you will!) in virtuality to reality and excel in the role of National Selector. I’m available for interview at any time and await your response with much anticipation.

Yours faithfully

 

Paul Morris

Six to Watch: 2018

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It’s that time again. With the 2018 English county cricket season rapidly approaching (No it is, honestly!), Silly Point profiles six players to, as the name of the article suggests, watch this term.

Tom Fell (Worcestershire)

The one man on this list who was actually included in the 2017 edition of ‘Six to Watch’. Having battled back from cancer, Tom Fell sadly had a batting horror show in 2017. I guess you could say that his form rather ‘fell’ away! This year will surely be different for the Worcestershire right-hander. Still only twentyfour-years-old and with over 3000 First Class runs to his name, Fell’s most productive years should lie ahead.

Ollie Pope (Surrey)

Having dropped an extremely costly dolly off Alex Hales in the One-Day cup final last year, nineteen-year-old Pope bounced back to record a maiden First Class hundred at Hampshire before the season’s close. Highly regarded by those at Surrey, he should now expect more regular first team opportunities. Whether or not he’ll be required to do much wicketkeeping remains to be seen. That vocation may lie in whether or not Ben Foakes can squeeze into the England XI.

Hamidullah Qadri (Derbyshire)

Afghanistan born off-spinner Qadri arrived with an economical bang in 2017. His first 15 overs in First Class cricket cost a miserly 16 runs and he followed up that introduction with a five-wicket haul in the second innings of his debut match. Derbyshire may do well to retain his services but if they can and he can back up his early performances then the barely seventeen-year-old could help haul the unfashionable county out of the doldrums. Hopefully with him on board, they can avoid going another two years without a County Championship victory. No pressure Hamidullah!

Delray Rawlins (Sussex)

Having represented Bermuda, precocious talent Rawlins is now very much on England’s radar and having flirted with Sussex’s first team last season, will hope to cement a regular spot this term. He’ll want to be recognised as a specialist top-order batsman as well as offering plenty with his slow-left-arm bowling.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire)

A former England junior captain, it never really worked out for Rhodes at Yorkshire. There was a brief stint as a stoic opening batsman but maybe a lack of clarity over what exactly his role was. A capable all-rounder, Rhodes will hope to rekindle his career, like a few others, with Ashley Giles and co. at Warwickshire.

Olly Stone (Warwickshire)

Hopefully fully recovered from injury, Stone, another Warwickshire recruit and one of those players mentioned in dispatches as being a genuine pace bowler and even future Ashes tour candidate, will be desperate to get playing regularly and be amongst the timbers. Having returned from injury last year, the former Northamptonshire man conceded a half-century of runs in the T20 cup final and will be eager to put that performance and his injury hell firmly in the past.

Silly Point will revisit ‘Six to Watch’ both during and come the conclusion of the 2018 county cricket campaign to see how the sextet have performed.

Cricket Captain 2017: 2021-22 Season Review – The Year of Cricket, Cricket and Much More Cricket!

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16 Tests, 26 ODIs and 7 T20Is including an Ashes series and Champions Cup provided the England squad with a non-stop cricket packed campaign during the 2021-22 season. Here’s how things played out…

Home vs. Bangladesh

Tests: Drew 1-1 (Jack Leach captained the side in place of the injured Liam Livingstone)

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A comprehensive victory in the first Test, courtesy of Nick Gubbins and Gareth Roderick’s maiden Test hundreds as part of an all eleven double figures contribution was followed by a comprehensive defeat in the second!

ODIs: Lost 4-1

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Middlesex’s Harry Podmore claimed figures of 3-52 on his maiden ODI outing and adapted well to international cricket.

Captain Liam Livingstone as well as number three Sam Northeast each totalled well in excess of 200 runs in the series despite both being rested for the final match. England’s bowling lacked penetration however and Bangladesh ran out thoroughly deserving series winners.

T20I: Won 1-0 (Benny Howell captained the side in place of the rested Liam Livingstone)

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Maiden international fifties from Lewis McManus and Brad Taylor as well as a second T20I four-wicket haul for Mason Crane (4-33) helped England to a thrilling five-run victory.

Home vs. Australia

Tests: Lost 2-1 (Jack Leach captained the side in the final three Tests (LWL) in place of the injured Liam Livingstone)

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After two rain-effected draws, England just avoided the ignominy of being dismissed for double figures in the third Test courtesy of Ben Coad’s heroics but couldn’t avoid going 1-0 down in the series.

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Despite a poor career record against Australia, 34-year-old opening batsman Mark Stoneman was recalled for the fourth Test and went about emphatically setting that record straight. His 98 in his comeback innings was somewhat overshadowed though by Will Rhodes’ magnificent 191 as England squared the series.

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After dismissing Australia for just 120 in their second innings of the fifth Test, England lost four wickets late on the fourth day to severely dent their pursuit of 253 for Ashes glory. As a nation stood still, those with no previous interest in cricket, hell some even had a distain, stopped their work, their studies and their conversations but in the end the early clatter of wickets cost the home side and Australia clinched the urn by the minimal margin of just 52 runs!

ODIs: Lost 3-2

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Having come from 2-0 down to level the five-match contest at 2-2, continuing to capture the hearts of the nation along the way following their Ashes efforts, England produced an underwhelming batting performance (228-8) in what was effectively a final. Despite Mason Crane’s outstanding figures of 10-2-14-3, England lost a wonderfully competitive series 3-2. The home side continued their trend of competing but falling at the last. There were positives however, including an almighty opening stand of 237 between Daniel Bell-Drummond and Mark Stoneman in the fourth ODI.

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Despite the defeat, England finished the series with two batsmen, captain Liam Livingstone and Sam Northeast ranked in the top ten ODI world willow wielders.

T20I: Lost 1-0 (Benny Howell captained the side in place of the rested Liam Livingstone)

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An inept outing with bat and ball. Azeem Rafiq’s figures of 3-0-47-0 actually constituted one of his better performances!

Champions Cup

Test: N/A

ODIs: WLL- Knocked out in the group stages.

T20Is: N/A

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The Champions Cup in India started with a ‘Build your hopes up’ five-wicket victory against South Africa. Skipper Liam Livingstone compiled his fifth ODI century whilst Ryan Higgins, rewarded for his impressive T20I performances with an ODI cap, made a composed 70 on debut.

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Unfortunately there then followed an abysmal showing against Bangladesh (146 all out) and a tournament terminating 101-run defeat in the crucial match against Pakistan, having restricted the opposition to just 263. Ryan Higgins underwhelmingly followed up his debut 70 by being run out for two and a third ball duck whilst other key batsmen failed to perform. After just three matches, England headed home.

Away vs. Sri Lanka

Tests: Lost 2-1

Despite witnessing Sri Lanka race to 201-0 in the first Test, England fought back magnificently to take a 1-0 series lead. Frustratingly for England fans however, their side could not alter a pattern of winning matches but not series. England lost the second Test having made what seemed like a sensible declaration. In the deciding match England’s spinners, Jack Leach and Mason Crane were once again inaffective. The loss of wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick through injury to the first delivery he received didn’t help England’s cause. This was highlighted when deputy gloveman Stevie Eskinazi dropped a routine chance off the bowling of Mason Crane. Having won the first Test, been in such a strong position in the second and even fought back well at times in the third, this was yet another ‘What could have been?’ series for England.

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One player who didn’t deserve to be on the losing side was Ben Coad. As well as claiming his third Test fifer and passing 100 Test scalps, he added another half-century to his tally. If only England’s spinners could have backed him up.

ODIs: Lost 3-0

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Centuries from Daniel Bell-Drummond (122) in the first match and Liam Livingstone (100) in the second couldn’t prevent England going 2-0 down in the three-match ODI series. In the third match Sri Lanka completed a whitewash but there was at least a welcome return to the visiting side for Sam Curran. Curran’s star has wained somewhat and he’d recently been left out of the side for the most part but 4-60 was a good showing out of the blue.

T20I: Lost 1-0

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England lost the T20I series (Or match) 1-0 but at least opening batsman and wicketkeeper Lewis McManus recorded the highest individual T20I score of the current England management reign.

The result meant England were placed a disappointing seventh in Test, ODI and T20I rankings.

Away vs. Bangladesh

Tests: Drew 1-1

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Having lost the first Test in Bangladesh, England dug deep in the second to secure a heartwarming Test victory and subcontinental series draw. Gareth Roderick (156 not out) shared record breaking stands with Ben Coad (82) and Mason Crane (68) before England bundled out the hosts for the second time in the match. Spin bowlers Jack Leach (9 wickets @ 21.44) and Mason Crane (11 wickets @ 25.36) both repaid the faith shown in them by the selectors by producing excellent series performances. Mark Stoneman’s 90 not out led England to victory and some revenge for last winter’s narrow series defeat.

In the euphoria of England’s victory, the touring side’s media went wild. Some of the best headlines included ‘Tigers Can’t Crack Coad’, ‘Crane Lifts England’ and ‘Stoneman Rocks!’.

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Ben Coad’s batting has been a revelation this winter. His career best 82 in England’s Test victory in Bangladesh was his third of the winter tours and fourth this season.

ODIs: Won 3-0

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England carried forward their momentum from the victory in the second Test into the ODI series and went 2-0 up courtesy of two successful run chases. England rotated the squad in the third match where Aneurin Donald (126) and Tom Westley (111 not out) both hit career bests to highlight England’s bench strength. Ryan Higgins wasn’t dismissed in three innings and numbers seven and below didn’t get a chance to bat in the entire series!

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Jamie Overton also claimed a career best 4-55 to help the tourists seal a resounding 3-0 series whitewash.

T20Is: Lost 2-0

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A disappointing end to the tour, particularly having been well placed to win the second match after Dawid Malan and Benny Howell had both made half-centuries.

Away vs. West Indies

Tests: Drew 1-1

One of the greatest Test series ever or/and twenty days of cricket that ended in a draw.

In the first Test a woeful England display led to them deservedly falling behind in the series before they improved markedly in the second match. At times England seemed well placed to win but in the end held off West Indies by just 21 runs as the Test went the distance and finished a thrilling draw. For the third Test, an emboldened England made a couple of changes to the line-up and went on to secure a series-levelling victory. Captain Liam Livingstone, having suffered the leanest patch of his Test career, clocked up scores of 110 and 76 having been dropped on 8 in the first innings. Gareth Roderick (135) continued his impressive winter meanwhile Liam Norwell (51 not out) contributed a maiden international fifty.

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In the deciding match, England looked on course for a comfortable draw but following a strong start to their second innings they capitulated from 111-0 to 205 all out. The sum of all parts left West Indies requiring just 160 for victory in a little over two sessions. Via great captaincy from Liam Livingstone, combined with disciplined bowling and committed fielding, England somehow prevented the hosts from reaching their target and held onto a match and series draw by just four runs.

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Will Rhodes’ bowling at the death, backed up by a rejuvenated Sam Curran, cemented his place as a star in the Test arena.

ODIs: Lost 4-3

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In the final ODI of the seven-match series, England secured a thrilling victory with just one delivery remaining. The recalled Ryan Higgins struck a career best 85 not out while Paul Coughlin blasted an undefeated 29 from just 15 deliveries. The Durham native had endured a tough series with the bat up to that point but struck three boundaries in the final over. Aneurin Donald, another recalled player, had earlier contributed 84. The only shame about this dramatic climax to the series is that it was actually somewhat of an anti-climax. The series had already been decided. Despite being in some great positions at times, England had stumbled too often and were already 4-2 down going into the final match. The consolation win was a spirit lifter however ahead of the T20I leg of the tour.

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The underrated and sometimes underused Paul Coughlin has been a surprise hit in England’s ODI side. After ten matches his economy rate is a sensational 4.64 per over and his boundary hitting in the seventh ODI showcased his all-round potential.

T20Is: Lost 2-0

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Spirit lifter, what spirit lifter?

A long and arduous campaign culminated with yet another T20I series defeat. One positive though was Brett D’Oliveira’s unbeaten 35 on debut.

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England captain Liam Livingstone finished the season ranked the fourth best batsman in Tests and 2nd in ODIs. He instilled in the team a competitiveness that has brought some excellent results and a little more consistency from those around him and England might start to ascend the rankings. As it is they finished the year placed 7th in Tests, 5th in ODIs and 8th in T20Is.

Best Batting:

Tests: Will Rhodes 191

ODIs: Daniel Bell-Drummond 137

T20Is: Lewis McManus 80

Best Bowling

Tests: Jofra Archer 5-114

ODIs: Jamie Overton 4-55

T20Is: Mason Crane 4-33

Reign Over!

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Off-spinner Ollie Rayner, capped twice at Test level and 24 times in ODIs has announced his retirement. German born Rayner has been a valued part of England’s squad in recent seasons, notably in One-Day internationals. The Middlesex man claimed 30 ODI wickets at 41.77 per victim but it was his impressive economy rate of 5.61 that the England management so valued.

Moving forward, the 2022-23 season brings with it a T20I World Cup as well as an Ashes tour. A Rayner-less England will look to build on the progress made during the 2021-22 campaign.

Cricket Captain 2017: 2021 Bangladesh Test Tour – Nearly the Greatest Series of All Time!

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After the huge strides made in South Africa, a trip to Bangladesh was always going to be an awkward proposition for England. The first Test between the two sides was one of the greatest matches in the history of cricket. Had England’s resolve held out a little longer in the second match then it could have been one of the greatest series of all time. The sum of all parts however was a 2-0 loss for England.

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Opening batsman Max Holden (97) and wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick (91) helped England total 380 in their first innings of the series. Jack Leach (4-76) then led the way as England restricted Bangladesh to 424 all out in theirs. The tourists then cancelled out the 44-run defect (Gubbins 91 not out)and managed to set the hosts 184 for victory. Again spin bowler Leach (4-64) was the star on a turning track but England were left to rue the run out of Will Rhodes when well set in their first innings as well as a dropped catch by captain Liam Livingstone. The missed opportunity by the normally reliable skipper in the home side’s first innings paved the way for ‘The Tigers” tail to wag. Most crucially however England will rue the no-ball bowled by Jofra Archer that had it not been a no-ball would have a been an LBW decision in England’s favour and one of those rarest things in Test cricket, a tie. It wasn’t to be however and Bangladesh, via just one wicket, assumed a series lead.

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In the second Test England again batted first and again posted a decent total, this time 352. Captain Liam Livingstone (122) and Will Rhodes (111) both struck centuries. In Rhodes’ case it was his first in only his third Test outing but no other batsmen passed fifty. Like in the first Test the hosts gained a useful first innings lead by totalling 415 all out. Jack Leach (5-90) completed a long awaited second Test five-wicket haul in his 37th Test. History was made in England’s second innings as Liam Livingstone (166) and Will Rhodes (128 not out) both hit career bests as they both recorded centuries in both innings. For Rhodes of course it was hundred numbers one and two. The battle for the all-rounder spot in this England team between Rhodes (A better batsman) and Sam Curran (A better bowler) should make for a compelling future. Back to the second Test and England declared on 431-5 leaving Bangladesh requiring a mammoth 369 for victory. Following their exploits in South Africa and having competed so intensely upto this point in Bangladesh, England simply ran out of gas as the hosts chased down the imposing total for the loss of just three wickets. In hindsight, the selection of Hamidullah Qadri (1-80 & 0-101) as second spinner looked a severely misguided one by the England management. First choice twirler Jack Leach claimed 14 series victims at 23.00 apiece but only one in the final innings of the series.

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Jofra Archer will hope not just to be remembered for being the player to bowl ‘that’ no ball in the first Test of this series. His 81 on Test debut and current tally of 51 Test wickets at an average of 31.55 suggest that he won’t be. Archer is capable of quadrupling his Test wicket tally at the least and playing a vital role in England’s endeavours for years to come.

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Captain Liam Livingstone has ascended to fifth in the Test batting rankings whilst spinner Jack Leach is just outside the top ten of the bowling rankings. He’s currently placed eleventh

There’s a three-match ODI series followed by a two-match T20I series to complete the tour. On the Test front, the arrival of Will Rhodes on the scene, development of Max Holden and progress of the likes of Tom Curran and Jofra Archer bode well for England’s Test side next summer. This was however a disappointing loss for Liam Livingstone and his men.

Later edit: Aneurin Donald hit a six off the final delivery of the third ODI to win the game for England, which would have been great had they not failed to defend in excess of 380 in the second match and were therefore already 2-0 down in the series. The T20I series (0-2) was also lost.