Ta-ra Zafar

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I wish Zafar Ansari the very best in whatever he does, personally and professionally, for the rest of his life… but he still made me a bit angry!

I’ve got no qualms with a professional sportsperson calling it quits sooner than is the norm and am a big believer that to be successful in anything… that you need other things. Dedicating and immersing yourself in your chosen career is great but the best preparation can sometimes be to do something completely different. Ansari always maintained that cricket wasn’t the be all and end all for him but what disappoints me is that, if he’s as intelligent as everybody claims, then didn’t he see this coming?

Surrey signed Scott Borthwick last year. Ansari surely knew that Borthwick would bat at three once he arrived at his new home. If Ansari sensed that his time was up then wasn’t he a bit selfish to go on tour with England?

Maybe I’m being selfish. He’s worked hard at junior and domestic level and maybe he merited the opportunity to play at the pinnacle but England’s selectors will surely look upon Ansari’s selection last winter with regret. They could have played somebody else and even if that player’s performances had been as underwhelming as Ansari’s, they may have been a better player for it and comeback stronger. Of course Liam Dawson might have played earlier, scored a pair, gone wicketless, never played again and therefore never scored that 66 not out. My reference to Ansari’s achievements in the Test arena as underwhelming are described in Test match standards however to have scored 49 Test runs and taken 5 Test wickets should be something to be really proud of… Is Ansari though?

I’m disappointed. It seems like a wasted selection that could have been spent on somebody else, somebody committed to the long term cause. That’s not to say I’m against selecting players well into their thirties either, as long as they intend to play for and are ideally contracted to, another couple of years in the game.

Is Ansari the answer?

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/is-ansari-the-answer/

No!

The Cricket Wheel of Fortune spins again…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/the-cricket-wheel-of-fortune/

Thanks for your efforts Zafar. All the very best in the years to come.

Ta-ra!

The Cricket Wheel of Fortune

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You are selected to tour with England. You get injured so miss the tour. The following year you are again selected to tour with England. You perform well in a tour match but in the Tests things don’t really go your way. You’re dropped and many perceive your international career to have been and gone but hopefully you’ll be better for the experience, will perform solidly on the county circuit and knock the door down for a recall. Your county however spend big bucks on some new players and come the first match of the county season you’ve lost your place to another spin bowling top order batsman. Step forward messrs Zafar Ansari and Scott Borthwick.

Of course Borthwick himself is one of many that has made his way through England’s selectorial revolving door and who ultimately has reinvented himself and re-locationed himself in order to knock the international door down again.

That’s cricket’s wheel of fortune ladies and gentlemen. Another example and another Surrey / Durham one at that: Opening batsman Rory Burns gets injured. Opening batsman Arun Harinath comes in and hits some hundreds but a year or so later Durham opening batsman Mark Stoneman heads south and Harinath joins Ansari in the Second XI.

Will the omitted players respond by making and taking runs and wickets galore in the second XI or will they go all Fabian Cowdrey on us and we’ll next see Zafar Ansari playing piano on The Voice? (Not as ridiculous as it sounds, honest!)

Could Ansari pop up at Sussex next year or Harinath at Leicestershire?

Of course I myself have suggested that Mark Footitt should make England’s XI (Before his 6-14 against Warwickshire I might add) but he left both Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire in order to keep another ex-England man Stuart Meaker out of the Surrey team. Michael Carberry is another example of a player who moved counties and who without doing so might not have donned the Three Lions jersey.

Anyway back to the point. In the space of less than a year Zafar Ansari has gone from being bridled with joy at being selected for England to presumably being a bit peeved at losing his place in the Surrey team. The problem for Ansari is a lack of cricketing identity. He’s tended to bat between numbers one and four but only has three First Class centuries. Those are great achievements, that’s three more than a lot of people but not good enough for a top order batsman with 115 innings under his belt. His bowling average of 35.18 is respectable enough but comes at an average of less than two wickets a match. This actually suggests a lack of responsibility rather than ability. Question marks linger over Ansari’s desire but when any professional sports player suggests that their game isn’t the be all and end all it can sound worse than it should. Some players immerse themselves in their profession to such an extent that it limits them but for others, getting away from the game can help them to relax and prepare for competition so long as they haven’t completely abandoned practice.

It will be interesting to see where in a decades time Zafar Ansari sits in the history of English cricket. Maybe he’ll be the next Gareth Batty!

Irish Lifeline for Duckett, Finn and Vince!

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Here at Silly Point we previously informed followers how England are due to host Ireland for two ODIs later this year.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/eire-exposure/

Now admittedly there are some ODIs against both India and West Indies beforehand as well as the North v South series that provides those selected with a great opportunity to put forward their case for selection but with the suggestion being that England are willing to allow some players to play in the IPL rather than the Irish ODIs we thought that we’d identify some of the candidates that could make up the numbers for England.

Eoin Morgan is expected to be told that he must captan the side having already skipped the Bangladesh tour and having gained plenty of IPL experience previously. Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Ben Stokes are all expected to be snapped up by franchises, if not already, come the IPL.

With Hales and Roy putting themselves up for auction, a recall for Ben Duckett is surely in the pipeline. Despite his struggles in Tests, Duckett was unlucky to be dropped from England’s ODI squad after two half-centuries in three outings in Bangladesh. The Ireland matches are a fantastic opportunity to reintegrate Duckett. England haven’t completely given up on James Vince who has played in the Big Bash this winter either, whilst the likes of Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone, both part-time spin bowlers, could also be considered.

On the pace bowling front, both Curran brothers, right-arm Tom and left-arm Sam will surely come into consideration whilst the absence of senior players may also provide Steven Finn with an opportunity to reignite his international career after a difficult winter. Like Duckett he was dropped for the limited overs matches in India. Another bowling option could be Toby Roland-Jones who made the Test squad in the summer.

If any of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid or Liam Dawson head to the IPL then Zafar Ansari, like Finn, could be provided with an opportunity to put a tough winter behind him. In this format of the game Ollie Rayner may be preferred to Jack Leach though Mason Crane could also come into consideration.

England’s squad could look something like this:

Eoin Morgan (C), Moeen Ali, Jake Ball, Jonny Bairstow (W), Liam Dawson, Ben Duckett, Steven Finn, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Toby Roland-Jones, Joe Root, James Vince, David Willey, Chris Woakes

The All-Rounder Index

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Cricket is a sport that brings with it endless statistics but endless isn’t enough for Silly Point.

Introducing the All-Rounder Index.

Career runs ÷ Career wickets = ARI

E.g. Jason Holder’s All-Rounder Index in Tests is:

801 ÷ 31 = 25.84

This means that for every wicket Jason Holder claims in Test cricket he himself scores 25.84 runs.

By contrast Australia’s Mitchell Starc’s Test ARI is as follows:

839 ÷ 129 = 6.50

But what does this mean and which player is better?

Here are some more past and present player’s Test ARI in descending order:

Martin Guptill: 2586 ÷ 8 = 323.25

Mark Butcher: 4288 ÷ 15 = 285.87

Steven Smith: 4311 ÷ 17 = 253.59

Shahid Afridi: 1716 ÷ 48 = 35.75

Graeme Cremer: 411 ÷ 37 = 11.11

Ajit Agarkar: 571 ÷ 58 = 9.84

Zafar Ansari: 49 ÷ 5 = 9.80 (Which coincidentally is his batting average!)

Chaminda Vaas: 3089 ÷ 355 = 8.70

Liam Plunkett: 238 ÷ 41 = 5.80

Chris Martin: 123 ÷ 233 = 0.53

Is Martin Guptill a better cricketer than Steven Smith or Chaminda Vaas?

Was Mark Butcher of more value to his team than Shahid Afridi or Chris Martin?

Is Martin Guptill’s Test ARI of 323.25 better than Chris Martin’s 0.53 or is Martin’s (That’s Chris’) lower number better?

Answers on a postcard please!

Up Dawson’s Creek Without a Paddle!

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No I never used to watch Dawson’s Creek either, honest!

Forty-year-old’s trying to look eighteen (Comeback from the album Barely Famous Hits by The Warren Brothers). You’ve heard it, you know you have!

England are 2-0 down in India with two Tests to play and neither Zafar Ansari’s double first in politics and sociology or his piano playing ability have yielded much on the cricket pitch (Series Ave’s, Bat: 12.00, Bowl: 54.33). He was sick, he’s hurt his finger again or maybe his back now and he’s going home. Anyway, at least England can finally call up the man who was statistically the best English bowler in the County Championship last season, Somerset’s Jack Leach (65 Div. 1 wickets at 21.88).

Oh no, wait. Leach’s Somerset skipper Chris Rogers suggested that Leach wasn’t emotionally ready for Test cricket. So now we’re letting ex-Ozzie players select our squads!

The England management have called up Liam Dawson (20 Div. 1 wickets at 43.85) instead!

In all seriousness Dawson has put in some pretty decent batting efforts for Hampshire in recent times and has been playing (Albeit T20) in Bangladesh. If ‘Daws’ does debut in India, Silly Point wishes him the very best and the same goes for Zafar Ansari. He only need look as far as Adil Rashid (0-169 on Test Debut) to see an example of someone who didn’t quite set the world alight straight away but has since flourished. Ansari may yet come back stronger.

Good luck to Keaton Jennings too ahead of a likely Test debut in the fourth Test. You can’t argue with the volume of runs (1548) that he scored in County Championship Division One last term.

International Duck Watch!

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A torturous 16-ball nought for Ben DUCKett probably means termination of his Test career, at least for now. An 11-baller for Zafar Ansari will likely mean the same outcome for him too. Also, spare a thought for James Anderson, he might bat at number eleven but he takes his batting extremely seriously. Unfortunatley he registered England’s first king pair in 110 years!

That all adds up to a 246-run Test match victory for India and a 1-0 series lead with three matches left to play.

Zimbabwe are currently taking on Sri Lanka in a Tri-Series ODI in Bulawayo so Silly Point will provide a further IDW update later today… if necessary.

International Duck Watch!

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India’s Amit Mishra is our sole inductee into the International Duck Watch Hall of Fame today. The Nightwatchman (Or not as it turned out!) was dismissed second ball by England’s Zafar Ansari in the first Test in Rajkot. The hosts finished the day on 319-4 still 218 runs behind England’s first innings total of 537. Murali Vijay (126) and Cheteshwar Pujara (124) led the way for India making it five centuries in the match so far.