Cricket Captain 2018: Test Hat-trick!

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India, done! Ireland, done! Zimbabwe, done!

That’ll be three one-match Test series wins out of three then. Having previously benefited from an opposition bowler getting crippled in each of our first two Tests, this time it was ourselves who had the misfortune of going a bowler down. After an impressive World Cup, Rashid Khan finally won a Test cap but retired hurt having made 13 before even having a chance to bowl!

It mattered little though as yet again all our players contributed in one way or another. After losing both openers a little early, Nasir Khan, promoted to three after making 72 on debut, made 53 in an impressive partnership of 127 with another youngster, Waheedullah Shafaq.

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Shafaq won his Test cap on the back of impressive performances at the World Cup and went onto make 102 in his first Test innings.

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Captain Ashgar Stanikzai also picked up where he left off at the World Cup to make a national record 167. Zimbabwe spinner Graeme Cremer claimed a solitary wicket for all of 142 runs. Ouch!

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Left-arm pacer Shapoor Zadran, who after an impressive start to the World Cup failed to take a wicket in his last six matches, repaid the faith with fantastic figures of 5-30. That analysis, as well as his match figures of 6-82, were, like his skipper’s knock of 167, a new Test record for Afghanistan. He was far too hot for Zimbabwe’s cool batsmen.

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In the second innings, spin bowler Mujeeb Ur Rahman stepped up in the absence of Rashid Khan. Selected for the Test on the back of strong T20 form, Ur Rahman claimed figures of 3-31 to ensure that no batsman made forty let alone fifty in the entire match for the hosts.

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Having defeated bottom placed sides Ireland and Zimbabwe, next we set our sights on hauling ourselves above Bangladesh in the Test rankings. We also play West Indies before long and will be seeking World Cup revenge as well as Test superiority. First though are some white-ball games against the Chevrons.

Zim a Bad Way!

Play has been suspended in Zimbabwe’s First Class cricket competition. Such a move seems fair enough in light of the current situation in the troubled nation.

Civil unrest inspired by food and fuel shortages has led to beatings and abductions as well as a government enforced internet black out. At times like this, cricket just isn’t important. The practicality of players, officials and everybody involved being able to travel to matches safely just doesn’t exist.

Food and fuel shortages, civil unrest. Is this what we can expect in Britain when we do eventually rid ourselves of our European Union armbands and attempt to swim at the deep end, even though we haven’t attended all our lessons?!

Disclaimer: Yes I’ve used a variation of this headline before and yes I’ve brought the topics of politics and Brexit into my cricket blog. It’s my blog. I can do what I want!

International Duck Watch!

My long retired gimmick still gets the occasional outing and so in honour of Bangladesh batsman Fazle Mahmoud… here it is!

Mahmoud quacked on debut against Zimbabwe and today followed it up with another inglorious duck. Having debut ducked he was made to sit and wait second time around as his side’s opening batsman compiled a century stand that lasted in excess of twenty-six overs. Against such weak opposition as Zimbabwe, it’s not really an excusable start for Mahmoud. It’s a small sample size though and many legends of the game have come back stronger after inauspicious starts.

There’s one match left in the series and Bangladesh have recalled another batsman in the form of Soumya Sarkar but still retained Mahmoud. It’s Mahmoud style ineptitude that endears a player to me so I sincerely hope he has a third opportunity in the final ODI and makes some kind of score.

Cricket Captain 2018: No Target is out of Reach!

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When you chase down 390 two Test matches in a row…

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The year is 2031 and Brad Taylor is an integral part of the England side!

In the first Test in Zimbabwe, there were scores of 92 in each innings from captain Max Holden. The skipper now has in excess of 10,000 Test runs to his name and one eye on Alastair Cook’s national record.

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In the second Test, there was a five-wicket haul for pace bowler Josh Tongue, another undefeated innings from gloveman Jonny Tattersall and a rather fluctuating performance from the hosts’ spinner Brandon Mavuta. As if Holden’s pair of 92s wasn’t freaky enough, Mavuta claimed outstanding figures of 8-82 in the first innings but woeful analysis of 2-164 in the second. That’s the wickets quartered but the runs doubled… freaky!

They’ll be a statistical update shortly with Max Holden, Sam Hain and Ollie Pope’s run-getting as well as Matthew Parkinson’s 600 plus Test wickets particular highlights!

The Rise and Fall… and Rise? of Haseeb Hameed

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Less than two years ago and whilst still a teenager, a stoic but adaptable young batsman from Lancashire made his Test bow in India. He promptly made 82 on debut and even made 59 not out when batting with a fractured finger in his last Test. Despite requiring surgery, it seemed as though England had found an opening batsman for the next decade or more. That man was Bolton-born Haseeb Hameed and when Keaton Jennings, Hameed’s injury replacement scored a ton on his debut, it looked as though some competition for the years to come had really been bred. Jennings however has been found wanting at Test level ever since and the same can be said of Hameed, if only at domestic level. Hameed’s performances in the County Championship have been so woeful that you seriously have to question whether or not he’ll add to his three Test caps. Given that England seem unlikely to ever drop Alastair Cook regardless of form, it could be that Cook will still be at the top of England’s order for another twenty years!

In 2017, Hameed totalled 513 runs in 21 County Championship innings, He averaged 28.50 with a top score of 88. After a horrendous start that made him unselectable for the national side, he did at least recover slightly. Unfortunately, he’s gone completely the opposite way during the current campaign. In 17 innings this term, Hameed has compiled a limp 165 runs at a miserable 9.71. His highest score is just 31. This is an opening batsman don’t forget! No matter how many times he returns to the second XI, scores a big ton and comes back (Full of confidence?), he just can’t translate his abilities to the First Class arena. His career average is now only just above thirty at 30.91

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/632172.html

Current incumbent Keaton Jennings has seventeen First Class tons with an average of 34.02 and just look how much he’s struggled in home conditions in Test cricket. It could be that Hameed is, like the oft-used examples of Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan, more suited to the higher level and that it brings out the best in him. In order to be presented with the opportunity to prove that though, he’s going to have to score SOME runs at county level. If Rory Burns can’t get a game given the amount of runs that he compiles year after year then Hameed is a long way from England selection. The romantics will push for his recall however and they’ll point to that Test average of 43.80 (From six innings!).

Will Hameed, in the words of former Zimbabwe player Henry Olonga ‘Rise Again’?

We’ll have to wait and see but let’s hope so.

Cricket Captain 2018: 2024-25 Season Review

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New Zealand in England

Tests: Drew 1-1

ODIs: Lost 4-1

T20I: Won 1-0

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South Africa in England

ODIs: Lost 3-0

T20Is: Lost 3-0

Tests: Won 3-2 (Including captain Max Holden’s epic 307 not out as per the image above!)

T20I World Cup

Won all three Qualifying matches but lost all four Super Ten matches!

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England in Zimbabwe

Test: Won 1-0 (Courtesy of the epic comeback detailed in the image above!)

ODIs: Won 3-0

T20I: Won 1-0

England in Pakistan

Tests: Lost 2-1

ODIs: Lost 4-1

T20I: Lost 1-0

The Brad Wadlan Conundrum

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Brad Wadlan for a county gig anybody?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/295397.html

67 First Class wickets at just 18.98 apiece, coupled with a batting average of 31.26 suggest that English counties would be silly to ignore the Welshman’s credentials. A List A economy of 4.19 isn’t too shabby either.

Okay okay, so he’s achieved his impressive stats courtesy of performing for Mid West Rhinos in Zimbabwe. Sceptics may scoff but in whatever guise it’s been at various times, the Zimbabwean domestic circuit is is bristling with talent to the same volume that a beehive possesses honey!

Still only twenty-nine, young for a spinner, Wadlan could surely compliment a few county sides. He’s admitted to frustration at not being presented with a chance himself but there are other Minor Counties players who’ve gone on to grace the professional circuit in England. Richard Oliver is just one example.

Wadlan could even Captain a Welsh national side if it ever got off the ground!

Yorkshire are one side in desperate need of spin reinforcements, what with Karl Carver ineffective in the longer form of the game and Azeem Rafiq regressing in the T20 format. Monty Panesar has been canvassing for another chance in the English game. He’s one slow-left-arm option but Wales’ Wadlan is certainly another.