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.

This Article Would Have a Headline if Anything Appropriate Rhymed With Theunis de Bruyn!

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A duck and a cheap run out were how South Africa’s Theunis de Bruyn began his Test career and in truth it hasn’t got much better since… until now! Having been shunted up and down the order in between being dropped and recalled and with South Africa unable to clarify whether he should be an all-rounder at number six, a specialist batsman at number seven, (Yeah that’s right, Jos Buttler wasn’t the first!) de Bruyn has, over the last two days, suggested he might actually be a Test match number three.

Nothing endears a player to me more that woeful ineptness combined with being mishandled. Just 133 runs in eleven innings meant that I’ve been desperate for de Bruyn to demonstrate his class and oh how he did it in Colombo. He did so as experienced teammates around him floundered however one who didn’t was Temba Bavuma. It’s satisfying to see Bavuma get amongst the runs too as he’s another player that’s South Africa seem to have mucked around. Let’s also not forget spinner Keshav Maharaj’s first innings figures of 9-129. On the opposite side of the coin, it’s great to see Sri Lanka win a Test match (Sorry South Africa!). Sri Lanka have regressed horribly as a competitive outfit and given Zimbabwe’s recent limp efforts, the last thing international cricket requires is a lack of competition.

Root Responds/Poysden Plucked!

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In a recent post, I touched upon the subject of Joe Root’s axing from the T20I side and how it could spur him on to a great Test series performance against India. What Root’s dropping has done so far has inspired him to a sensational spell in the ODI team. Having lost the first match of a three-tie affair, Root struck back-to-back centuries to lead England to yet another series victory and enhance their credentials as World Cup favourites. He’s also helped provide England with an edge at the start of the Test encounters.

Yorkshire’s Root has had his critics recently, both for his T20I performances and his consistent failure to convert Test fifties into hundreds. Batting averages of 52.28 and 51.61 in Test and ODI cricket help scoff any suggestions that Root is anything other than a top player. An average of 35.77 at a strike-rate of 128.59 in T20Is are also pretty impressive figures with which to get dropped. He’s got some wickets in him too. Yesterday’s ton was his thirteenth in ODIs which is a new record for an England batsman. Root surpassed Marcus Trescothick who was an essential asset of England’s side in the early part of this century.

Having seen Root go onto make a ton and captain Eoin Morgan get near, James Vince will rue a missed opportunity. As in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, Vince was run out, this time having laid the foundations for a strong knock. With both Jason Roy and Alex Hales injured, Vince gained an unlikely but merited opportunity. A score of 27 won’t be enough to put the cat amongst the selection pigeons however.

In further Yorkshire news and once again revisiting subjects that I’ve mentioned previously, Yorkshire take on Lancashire in the County Championship soon. It’s a heck of a match for Josh Poysden to be thrown into on a one-match loan deal. Whether or not a one-match loan should even be allowed, I’m not sure. With Adil Rashid excluding himself from the red-ball game and Azeem Rafiq and Karl Carver clearly not filling Yorkshire’s hierarchy with any confidence, they’ve plucked Poysden from Warwickshire’s 2nd XI to spin them to victory. The leg-spinner actually claimed a First Class career best of 5-29 in his last County Championship outing though his economy rate is exactly 4.00. At 26, Poysden really needs to crack on. I mentioned how Yorkshire would be in the market for a spinner and a good show from the twenty-six-year-old could seen him snapped up full-time, playing first division cricket and pushing for England honours.

Rory Burns missed out for England Lions versus India A but it was great to see Scott Borthwick amass 175 not out for Surrey against West Indies A. The former Durham man will need a lot more knocks like that in order to add to his solitary Test cap. Mark Stoneman’s struggles continued however. He made only one in the first innings but did at least hint at a return to form by making 44 second time around. His season to date has been the polar opposite of last year’s glutinous run-fest.

In other news, Zimbabwe were bowled out for 67 in an ODI against Pakistan in Bulawayo today!

International Duck Watch… for One Night Only!

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Silly Point’s long-retired gimmick has today come out of retirement to celebrate the astounding ineptitude of Pakistan’s Sahibzada Farhan’s introduction to international cricket. The international virgin managed to get himself stumped off a wide from the very first delivery that he faced in Harare today. That’s right, the opening batsman’s inscription in the scorebook reads: Out 0, Balls Faced 0!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18633/scorecard/1142919/australia-vs-pakistan-final-zimbabwe-twenty20-tri-series-2018

I can emphasise with Farhan as I once did the same thing myself. It wasn’t quite on the same scale, the Harrogate and District Evening League probably isn’t comparable to international cricket! In my defence, I’d only played a handful of matches at the time and unlike Farhan, I’m not a professional cricketer who has been practicing day after day for a number of years!

All joking aside, congratulations to Farhan on representing his country and fingers crossed for him that they’ll be opportunities in the future to put things right.