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Cricket 19: EHTL – Round Four Preview and Team Selection

After our clinical winning performance away in the happy country of Denmark, we return to home soils and will take on the South Pacific country of Fiji 🇫🇯 . Our match at the Kia Oval will be the premier pink ball day nighter showdown for the EHTL League and one we will hope becomes more of a regular fixture in our calendars. With this is in mind, myself, Ed Smith and James Taylor have selected a squad, via a video call, that will be tasked with the job of first and foremost winning and secondly closing the gap to leaders Hong Kong.

Our 14 man squad to take on the Fijians:

Rory Burns

Luke Wells

Joe Root (C)

Jonny Bairstow (+)

Ben Stokes

Jos Buttler

Moeen Ali

Liam Dawson

Sam Curran

Mark Wood

Jake Ball

Stuart Broad

Dawid Malan

Haseeb Hameed

Chris Woakes has been rested as a precautionary measure due to his long term knee niggle and we feel we have the strength in depth to be able to afford the Warwickshire seamer with a welcome break. He has taken 9 wickets @ 26.67 and his heavy workload so far on generally flatter wickets means we are giving him the opportunity to be fresh for our German adventure.

His replacement in the squad is Nottinghamshire’s Jake Ball who has the ability to replicate Woakes’ imperious precision and accuracy. Ball has only played 4 tests in his career – the last coming in the dire 2017 Ashes but has been lighting it up in the County Championship and he will compete with Mark Wood for the third or fourth seamer spot. 

Our under pressure and under firing openers, Burns and Wells have been retained and will both test their ability against the pink ball. Both lefties will need scores of substances to preserve their spot in the side. A decision on whether we need two spinners in the day night clash or whether we will play an extra seamer will be taken on the eve of the toss. Liam Dawson performed admirably in the Danish game in a holding role (1-45 from 18) so he has a chance of holding down his position. 

We are very excited for our day night clash with our South Pacific friends and hope that we can put on a spectacle that will light up the night skies. 

Round 3 Review and Table: 

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Hong Kong 🇭🇰 recorded a mammoth 569 run victory versus the luckless Papua New Guinea. All rounder Tanwir Afzal (117), MOM Babar Hayat (169 +71) and Kinchit Shah (126) all scored centuries as they plundered 399 and 374-8 dec with good contributions with the ball all round. PNG 🇵🇬 were bowled out for 111 and 79 in reply with only Lakshman Som making respectable scores of 31 and 40 whilst Carlos Ahuja took 4-28. 
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At the Fiji 🇫🇯 home ground of Suva, a much tighter affair played out with the touring side Germany 🇩🇪 scraping home in a 3 wicket win in an entertaining chase. Amir Mangal scored a century for the away side to give them an initial first innings lead of 72 runs. Fiji responded in the second innings with 255 (highest innings score across the three days) thanks to Sevoke Ravoka ton (114) and Joesph Rika 50 – Asad Mohammed taking incredible figures of 8-67 with his swinging seam deliveries. Chasing 184 to win, Mangal made 60 and keeper Weston made a virtually run a ball 57 but the middle order produced a twist and turn with a mini collapse including a double wicket maiden from Viliame Manakiwai. However, Ollie Rayner steered the Germans over the line with 3 wickets to spare gifting the travelling fans a few bratwursts in the stands.


After an entertaining and record breaking Round 3, this is the current Table standings:

D0D7BD40-0881-495F-845C-894A54C911A1Hong Kong are top after three dominating performances with run scoring paramount to their success. We are second after some indifferent performances with Germany hot on our heels after their narrow win in Fiji. The Fijians and Denmark are both very tight in the standings and have produced some entertaining and exciting cricket as well as some personal milestones. Unfortunately, Papua New Guinea are bottom and the only side to not put together a series of wickets or runs. 

Stats Snippet: 

Batting
Babar Hayat 🇭🇰 532 runs @ 133 HS: 212* vs 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 
Joe Root 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 263 runs @ 52.60 HS: 125 vs 🇩🇰 
Tanveer Ahmed 🇭🇰 251 runs @ 50.20 HS: 117 vs 🇩🇪
Metuisela Beitakai 🇫🇯 242 runs @ 40.33 HS: 136 vs 🇵🇬 
Karan Kumar 🇫🇯 232 runs @ 58 HS: 88 vs 🇵🇬 
Craig Meschede 🇩🇪 228 runs @ 76 HS: 134* vs 🇩🇰 
Amir Mangal 🇩🇪 216 runs @ 43.20 HS: 101 vs 🇫🇯  Tanwir Afzal 🇭🇰 213 runs @ 71 HS: 117 vs 🇵🇬 
Sevoke Ravoka 🇫🇯 175 runs @ 29.17 HS: 114 vs 🇩🇪 
Jos Buttler 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 173 runs @ 34.60 HS: 67 off 22 vs 🇭🇰 

Bowling
Sam Curran 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 20 wickets @ 16.80 BBI: 7-55 vs 🇩🇰 
Viliame Manakiwai 🇫🇯 19 wickets @ 10 BBI: 5-25 vs 🇩🇰 
Stuart Broad 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 17 wickets @ 18.65 BBI: 8-75 vs 🇵🇬 
Mohammad Ghazanfar 🇭🇰 13 wickets @ 13.38 BBI: 5-17 vs 🇩🇪 
Ehsan Khan 🇭🇰 12 wickets @ 18.75 BBI: 5-11 vs 🇩🇪 
Ehsan Nawaz 🇭🇰 12 wickets @ 19.50 BBI: 5-53 vs 🇩🇪 
Nirav Acharya 🇭🇰 11 wickets @ 16.36 BBI: 6-82 vs 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 
Carlos Ahuja 🇵🇬 11 wickets @ 23.27 BBI: 5-71 vs 🇩🇰 
Yash Christian 🇩🇰 11 wickets @ 16.73 BBI: 3-13 vs 🇫🇯 Atticus Norris 🇵🇬 11 wickets @ 28.27 BBI: 3-35 vs 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 

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Cricket 19: EHTL – Pastry Party on Root to Perfection! -Denmark vs England

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With both teams one from two and sitting comfortably in the middle of the table, something had to give as we contested Denmark at the picturesque and stunning ground of Hammerby Arena. As part of the EHTL philosophy, a lot of money was pumped into Danish cricket for their premier stadium which was primed to host a good battle between a top quality opponent and their home faithful. We took the bold route of offering Denmark to have a bat first upon winning the toss in the sunny coated skies but the boldest decision made at the toss was the exclusion of Mark Wood for the inclusion of a spinner in Liam Dawson. The conditions seemed to favour seam and swing but the home spinner Yash Christian had performed well on his home turf in Round 1 prompting Root to go with the Hampshire twirler.

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BOWLED HIM! 
Openers Marcus Kent and county cricket pro Ricardo Vasconcelos strode out to an avalanche of relentless line and length bowling from Curran and Broad. The score had trickled to 16 when Curran’s swinging red orb brushed the top of Kent’s stumps. Next batsman Kobi Larson was immediately under the pump and he only contributed a single boundary in a torrid 24 ball knock terminated by a precise yorker from the Surrey youngster.

Hammerby Arena providing a good wicket and lunch too!
Curran had his tail up at the pavilion end getting the ball to curve and swerve down the slope which did for new man Ellison his poor back foot drive landing in the safe mitts of a diving Jos Buttler for a duck. The new bowling pair of Curran and Broad caused ample problems for the Danish hitters with the seamers appearing to bounce off each other brilliantly both inducing false shots and edges with beautiful seam and swing. Broad was very unfortunate not to pick up a wicket in the first session, on numerous occasions beating the outside edge. Vasconcelos and fellow county pro Jonny Tattersall negotiated the rest of the attack with relative aplomb and despite some tight lbw calls from Woakes, the former reached a determined half-century from 82 balls lifting his side to 79-3 before feasting upon some traditional Aebleflaesk.

After the break, Root handed the ball to Curran who broke the 51 run stand by executing a beauty of a leg cutter which grazed the edge of Tattersall’s (16) bat through to Bairstow. Only 6 overs later, Denmark had lost their anchor in Vasconcelos (59) through some superb tight bowling from Broad leading to a small inside edge knocking over the ship. Keeper Gino Schneider and all-rounder Carl Fredericks combined together to produce a mini fightback as the second change bowlers entered the scene. Their 34 run partnership included some impressive shots and decision making something the top order could learn from. Broad ended Fredericks’ fun for 21 sending the stumps cartwheeling before striking again on the verge of the tea break with the crucial scalp of Gino caught well at gully by Stokes for a well made 34. Victor Kuipers and Yash Christian survived a barrage of swinging balls from Woakes and Stokes to reach tea 160-7.

Not too shabby for a 21 year old!

Four deliveries into the post tea session saw spinner Christian (7) walking back after gifting Curran his fifth for the innings and his second five wicket haul in 3 matches courtesy of a magnificent diving cath by Stokes at point. Kuipers decided to take on the swing in order to gain some quick runs and as the old adage goes – fortune favours the brave. His bravery was rewarded with some stylish boundaries through cover and down the ground. Shortly after reaching a first class high of 34, the innings was unfortunately closed by the ever present Surrey speedster who removed Rohit (6) and debutant Lotter (0) within a couple of overs to end the Danes innings on 190.

It was Curran and Broad who snared the 10 wickets with Curran’s special 7-55 creating a new Hammerby Arena record as well as a brilliant personal achievement. He has had an exceptional tournament t so far with bat and ball and has been the shining light for Root and his men particularly with the absence of Jimmy Anderson.

Another start without going on for Rory!
A tricky hour session awaited batters, Wells and Burns, as the sunset dawned in Denmark. Debutant left arm swinger Tyler Lotter replicated the seam movement Curran gained and with the shining yet delicate rock in hand he executed a superb caught and bowled to remove Wells (1). Rooty accompanied Burns at the crease and the pair squashed any threat of further loss by batting with healthy intent. Despite some tight lbw calls going in our favour, the Danish struggled to combine sustained pressure which saw the boys head into Day 2 50-1 on a commanding day.

Spin played little part in the first day’s proceedings but that didn’t stop Yash Christian getting the ball in his hand and making a difference early on. Burns had begun to show signs of pulling together a fluent, stylish inning until he was faced with Christian’s off spin. Christian beat both edges on at least five times before finally reaping the reward for his consistency by spinning out Burns for 34. Burns’ dismissal caps another start without going on a current theme of our batting lineup. Christian secured his second a dozen overs later breaking the Yorkshire men stand for 39 – Bairstow nicking off to keeper Gino.

Classic drive from Rooty!
Ben Stokes arrived to the wicket to a barrage of short balls and wides as the Danish lost their line and control with spinner Christian being hauled off. He and Root capitalised on the variety of lengths and directions being served up by the home bowlers and powered towards the lunch session in a strong position just behind the lead.

Lunch had ended yet the Root and Stokes show had just kicked into third gear with the 100 run partnership brought up with a sublime stroke through the onside by Root. The skipper had reached the 50 milestone before lunch from 76 balls and continued his dominance with an array of shot making. Stokes played a second fiddle role to Root but still enabled the partnership to blossom.

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Second top EHTL run scorer behind Babar Hayat (532 runs @ 133) 

Root looked to be closing in on a first ETHL century and was given a life by some fortuitous umpiring. Lotter had wrapped Root deep in his crease seemingly adjacent to leg stump on 97 but was turned down by umpire Ross Symons. A Danish review was set to remove Root yet the third umpire’s intervention went in favour of the Yorkshiremen citing there was a small inside edge. Replays suggested the spike on snicko was from Root hitting his back pad and not the bat… It would leave the Danes infuriated with the umpiring decisions to follow and Root fuelled that fire by whipping Lotter later in the over for four to celebrate another century of the highest quality.

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Applauding a packed home and away support!
Denmark brought on medium pacer 
Ricardo Vasconcelos and instantly saw their fire stoked in the removal of the Durham man for a satisfactory 37 from 78 caught by the luckless Matt Ellison at second slip. Jos Buttler’s attacking arrival to the crease didn’t faze the Danes who managed to apply pressure towards Root and finally secured his departure via an instinctive reaction catch by Lotter. He then castled Moeen Ali (5) stumps sending us into the last session 292-6 with a 102 run lead.

The platform set through the hard graft of Stokes, Burns and centurion Root paved the way for Buttler and Curran to take it to the hosts. 3 balls into the session Buttler was taking it back to the pavilion – the Lancastrian innovator falling for a combative 35 from 30 holing a Victor Kuipers’ off cutter into the mitts of deep square leg. Chris Woakes counterattacked his way to a quickfire 27 only to be ended by a sharp return catch from Kuipers – the third caught and bowled in the innings.

The recalled Liam Dawson (23) crunched a couple of fours through the off side and looked in impressive form until he chipped a leg side half volley into the hands of leg slip. All the while Curran had built a mature innings lifting us over 400 helped by a total of 66 extras including 58 wides. With his sights set on fifty, he hesitated whilst going for a comfortable second to the boundary and found himself at the same end as Broad allowing star bowler Lotter the chance to whip off the bails and end our entertaining batting innings on 413.

A comical end to a batting performance of two styles that combined to reach a pleasing total. Burns and Root dug deep initially and played a session of attritional cricket before upping the tempo into the second day’s play. We were aided by some wayward bowling at times but it was the partnerships of Root and Burns and Root and Stokes which gave a license to our middle and lower order batters to play their natural expansive game to further the lead. A particular mention for Root who silenced the critics by converting to a wonderful Test ton

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Bairstow completing a deflected catch off the left arm spin of Dawson – his 16th catch of the tournament.

In addition to our encouraging batting display, we made an early breakthrough and a vital breakthrough. The top scorer from the first dig Vasconcelos (8) was the victim of a cracking catch by Moeen Ali, who flung himself to his left and stuck out one hand as the ball landed straight into his outstretched palm, the rampant Curran the beneficiary. Marcus Kent and Kobi Larson, however, managed to fight their way to the close of play without further loss leaving them 187 in the red. Could we take the remaining 9 wickets or would Denmark produce a fightback and force us to bat once more?

Denmark’s overnight pair commenced the day in true test match batting style grinding our opening bowlers down through patience, grit and at times a slice of luck. The pair reached an admirable 50 run stand but that was as far as the stand would go as the relentless Curran steamed in and wrapped Marcus Kent on the pads for 27 to make the crucial inroad. What would be more frustrating for the Danes other than the loss of a set batsman would be the ball barely brushing the top off the stumps on ball tracking? How does it go – by the barest of margins (being a Kiwi in England that’s been drilled into me)...

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Bruns holding onto to dismiss the dangerous Fredericks keeping us in with a chance of an innings victory.

68-2 turned to 125-6 as the floodgates opened in more than one way with a record number of fans capitalising on the EHTL Day 4 free admission programme. The new man in Matt Ellison was jived and foxtroted out by the spin of Moeen for to keep his miserable run going (18 @ 3) including 4 ducks!! Broad continued the obliteration of the middle order at the other end nicking off Larson two short of a deserved half ton. A couple of overs later Broad had sent Tattersall back to the sheds for 6 with a superbly executed leg cutter finding the edge through to Bairstow. Gino Schneider and Carl Fredericks reunited and much like the first innings, they were in desperate need of a partnership which had only reached six when cometh the minute before lunch, Liam Dawson found Gino’s inside edge which deflected up to a puzzled Bairstow who eventually found his bearing to complete the catch. This curtailed a clinical hour of play where we persisted against the early rearguard to take five important scalps.

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Runs and wickers for the skipper!
Denmark trudged off to tenderloin beef and schnitzel 125-6 a further 108 runs behind before evening anticipating making us bat again – food for thought for sure. Fredericks and Yash Christian withstood the pace trio of Woakes, Broad and Curran who in their short spells were negotiated comfortably without any danger. The fans cheered with the announcement of free beers and burgers for all and seemed to not recognise the personal high scores of Fredericks and Christian as both methodically passed 20.

There was little cheering though afterwards when part time Root fizzed one into Christian’s pole for a hard fought 21. Root, in fact, started and completed 14 overs from one end at an incredibly economy of 0.8 with 10 maidens. His economy was rewarded with two further wickets, first removing the last noticeable batsmen in Fredericks who was well caught by Burns under the helmet at short leg. His 24 whilst not huge displayed a great amount of courage and fight which was rightfully acknowledged by the boozed up fans. The second and Root’s third saw Victor Kuipers fall for 11 via a tumbling catch by Curran. NO11 Tyler Lotter seized the opportunity of trying to make us bat again by swashbuckling his way to tea 15 not out from 17 a direct contrast to Patrick Rohit’s stoic defence of 0 from 15. A remarkable session where the fans had a good time watching their side battle to scoring 68 runs inside 29 potentially frustrating overs for the loss of only 3 wickets.

Shortly after tea, Root brought himself off with figures of (17-10-18-3) and opted for Ali and Broad to attempt to finish off the job. Lotter swung to the hills and connected with three more boundaries moving the hosts within 30 of escaping an innings defeat. Meanwhile, Rohit unlike his Indian namesake plodded and prodded like a village batsman on a splodgy wicket seemingly indicating he believed the draw was still on the cards with two days and a session to play. With the new ball only a couple of overs left and Ali causing several problems, Broad switched to around the wicket and first beat the edge of an uncomfortable Rohit – would he survive this angle?

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Unfortunately for the hosts, he couldn’t resist a little flirt at a worn battered orb with the catch being pouched by Bairstow ending his 46 ball vigil amounting 3 runs and ending the game with an innings defeat. Lotter ended up second top scorer with an entertaining 29 not out.

The scoreline is not an honest reflection of how the match played out and it doesn’t do the Danes any justice. They recorded two fifty run stands as well as a two 30+ run stands across both innings however they failed to push on and make a big contribution which was the telling difference in between the sides mirrored with the gulf of batting class we displayed through the likes of Root and Stokes. On the bowling front the decision to play Tyler Lotter seems to have been a masterstroke and a real positive for them to take away from the encounter as he took 4 wickets with his left arm boomerangs albeit at an expensive rate of 6.75 an over (4-189 from 28). Whilst they couldn’t sustain pressure and bowled on the whole too many wides they are a young nation with room to improve.

Match Analysis:

Denmark 190 (Vasconcelos 59, Kuipers 34; Curran 7-55, Broad 3-57) 

England 413 (Root 125, Curran 40, Stokes 37 ; Lotter 4-189, Christian 2-60)

Denmark 210 (Larson 48, Lotter 29* ; Root 3-18, Broad 3-40, Curran 2-64) 

MOM: Sam Curran 

After the humbling loss to Hong Kong, we are very pleased to get back on the winning train. Joe Root’s 125 and better display of captaincy was a big plus for us as well as two clinical showings with the garnish red ball. Sam Curran has been instrumental in our bowling showings with 20 wickets so far backed up by messer Broad with 17 and Woakes’ 9. One blemish from our performance was the opening positions with Luke Wells (117 @ 23.4) and Rory Burns (90 @ 18) not scoring enough runs of substance. Haseeb Hameed and Dawid Malan are waiting in the wings should the runs continue to dry up.

I’m proud of the team for ignoring the negative press and pulling through in an almost complete performance with stick and rock
. Fair play to the Danes who played well in parts and gave us a good challenge over the three days of play. We would like to thank both sets of fans for their support and engagement in the match which put EHTL on the map. The Barmy Army and the England faithful have been brilliant and we would like to thank them extensively for their songs and support!

Next up, we will be facing the surprise packages of the tournament Fiji 🇫🇯 (W1 L2) who have contested in some tight and thrilling games. We will announce the squad for the Oval clash very soon.

 

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Cricket 19: EHTL – Round Three Preview and Squad Selection

Following our discouraging drubbing at the hands of Hong Kong we now take a fun journey to Denmark for round three of the inaugural Eastern Hempsihere Test League. We have played two matches so far both at Lords’ and we are 1 from 2 hoping to make it two from three at the newly made test venue of the Hammerby Arena. With this in mind, myself, Ed Smith and James Taylor have devised a 13 man squad to throw down the gauntlet on Danish land.

Our squad for the EHTL contest in Denmark is:

Rory Burns

Luke Wells

Joe Root (C)

Jonny Bairstow (+)

Ben Stokes

Jos Buttler 

Moeen Ali

Sam Curran

Chris Woakes

Stuart Broad

Mark Wood

Liam Dawson

Dawid Malan

We have reintegrated experienced batsman Dawid Malan back into the England setup. He will provide good batting cover and will be pushing to break into the lineup through our net sessions and warm-up match against a Danish academy side. He also offers the option of an extra bowler with his more than handy leggies.

Depending on the type of conditions that greet us in Northwest Europe, Hampshire spinner Liam Dawson could come into contention to make his fourth test cap and his first in over three years. Dawson’s left arm angle could trump quick bowler Mark Wood who struggled to find any rhtyhm or rhyme in twelve wicketless overs against Hong Kong.

We are though expecting the game to be a competitive challenge against a strong Danish side full of county pros and happy individuals.

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In Round Two fixtures, Fiji recorded their premier win as a test nation with a crushing 449 run demolition away in Papua New Guinea. Opening batsman Metuisela Beitaki hit 136* and 62 along with runs from keeper Karan Kumar (88* and 82*) to rack up two scores above 300 before Villame Yabaki and Villiame Manakiwai both took five wickets in seperate innings to dispatch PNG.

Meanwhile at the Bochum Ground in Germany, the home side thrased opponents Denmark by an innings and 157 runs. All rounder Craig Meschede (134*) and Izatullah Dawlatzai (105) both scored centuries to amount 464. Meschede then took 5-56 in Denmark’s second reply as they could only muster 107 and 200 in their two digs, Gino Schneider the shining light with a dogged 62.

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Cricket 19: EHTL – Hong Kong Humilation!

England vs Hong Kong

Lords’ was the venue again as we returned to the Test arena against a jubilant Hong Kong side who made the long voyage to our Brexit turbulent seas after thumping the Germans. Durham’s Mark Wood travelled from the north to replace Lancastrian James Anderson in a five-man seam attack backed up with the turn of Moeen Ali. Spin would have a massive influence on the contest as the pitch offered intriguingarray of cracks s from the early indication.

Captain Root won the toss and our premier duo Rory Burns and Luke Wells strode out to the crease to safely negotiate the early bowler friendly conditions. Wells (18) had been lucky early on to Tanwir Afzal but his luck ran out as he miscued a pull shot straight into leg gully’s pouches. Root came out of the blocks with a hiss and a roar the fiery red orb flying to the smaller boundaries. Hong Kong’s bowlers strayed to short to the dismissive Root – jet lag maybe setting in for the visitors. Burns blocked and prodded enabling Root to move to his first EHTL fifty at a swift strike rate of 160. England’s confidence continued when Root overturned an lbw decision on the penultimate ball of the session leaving Hong Kong bemused walking off to their red pepper soup.

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A change of session provided a change of fortune for the visitors as Burns curtailed his lengthy 101 ball stay for 27 nicking off to the left arm spin of Nirav Acharya falling just shy of a hundred partnership with the skipper. It was an odd innings for Burns as he failed to develop any fluidity leading to the rash shot. Jonny Bairstow (3) edged to the keeper soon after and Hong Kong smelt some fear when Root’s (87) fast-paced knock was ended by Acharya who extracted some extra bounce to remove the skipper.

Acharya (6-82) was the shining light for the visitors in the premier innings first unravelling Ben Stokes (18) and then removing Moeen Ali for 11. Seamer Ghazanfar (1-83) claimed an expensive wicket of Jos Buttler for an attacking yet unsubstantial 18 completing the second session subsidy. It was a disappointing hour for us succumbing to the opposition twirlers despite amassing 140 runs in the session. Sam Curran’s talent after his breakthrough performance with the ball against PNG started to show with the bat with boundary shots racing into the Lords pavilion. His 45 not out at tea provided food for thought about a promotion up the order and with Chris Woakes (23*), we were 280-7 scoring at over 4 and a half an over.

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Chris Woakes (32) batted maturely to compile an 85 partnership with Curran propelling us to 298-8, seamer Afzal enticing the Warwickshire all-rounder into a lazy drive catching the outside edge through to the keeper. Curran raced to his fourth Test half-century off just 27 balls and dominated a 60 run partnership with Stuart Broad (21*). Curran had advanced through the eighties for a new high score thanks to bizarre field placements and overthrows and he entered the nervous nineties with consecutive nerveless slog sweeps of spinner Eshan Khan (0-112), who endured a chastening 15 overs with the ball.

Surely, could he reach his ton? The field setting was strange and offputting: 3 slips, a leg slip, a silly point with no mid-on. Curran, on 97, faced up against chief tormentor Acharya and defended the first four balls with aplomb. Then the moment came! A worn red orb kissed the sun stroked surface met by the ferocious blade of Curran agonisingly sueezed over cover which then sprinted off the surface one bounce into the rapturous crowd to claim his maiden Test century. Jubilation swiftly followed to dismay in the space of a ball when Curran skied his attempted sweep to the keeper to depart for a wonderful 101.

Wood was the final one dismissed (4) but it was the Surrey man’s 101 which would earn lavish praise in propelling us up to a more respectable total of 370 on a batting favoured pitch.

Woakes 5 for vs HK

Our swift run rate presented us the freedom to have an hour barrage of hostile bowling in order to gain some early wickets in the late diminishing daylight. Initially, openers Scott McKenchie and Tanveer Ahmed had provided a strong rearguard against the swing and seam of Curran and Broad until Curran’s change of angle to around the wicket paid instant dividend trapping Ahmed in front (13). Captain Root made an instinctive switch to Woakes from Broad and his skiddy seamers ignited into flames for McKechnie (23) whose edge narrowly carried to Bairstow. Woakes soon doubled his tally when he bagged Shahid Wasif at gully for 3 approaching the end of the day. Skipper Babar Hayat (16*) and Kinchit Shah (5*) guided the away side to close on 63-3 from 17 pulsating overs in a highly enthralling first day.

Immediately on the second day, Hayat led the response for his side driving through the covers convincingly on two separate occasions. His partner Shah (9) however couldn’t replicate instead falling over plumb in front off the jubilant centurion Curran (3-45). Hayat had an incredible aura that was felt around the ground and in the Hong Kong faithful who rested all their faith on their skipper as he intended to be the glue to their batting. However, as fifty loomed in the sunny summer skies of London, Hayat was undone six short of a half century by a ripping delivery from Moeen Ali – pundits alike rejoiced at the off spinner’s success.

We then pressed on in our attempt to force Hong Kong to follow on – Curran and Ali picking up one apiece at 144-7. No 8, Tanwir Afzal, decided to switch on the motor and attacked against the sluggish Wood and Broad proving that his average of 30 in first class cricket was not to be ignored. Fresh off his brace the night before, Woakes returned to the stage and saw early joy in removing Khan (13) at the other end. Afzal released the shackles and his attacking mentality purchased a stylish fifty to put his side clear of the follow on target.

Metronomic Woakes (5-47) cleaned up the ultra aggressive Afzal (55) through the deception of a slower ball before a stroke of brilliance at gully by Ben Stokes ended the innings exactly on 200. Stokes, as shown above, proved his remarkable abilities as a fielder flying himself to his right before holding onto a screamer which gifted Woakes his 4th five for.

After recording a 171 run lead, we were guilty of being naive and a tad complacent in our stroke play especially our openers. In a short yet high quality 12 over burst, Hong Kong had us stumbling at 37-3. Wells (11) highlighted his vulnerability against the short ball fending a rising Nawaz delivery to Hayat at slip. Root (3) succumbed to a beauty from Mohammed Ghanzafar before Burns (12) skied a pull on the stroke of tea gifting the seamer a simple return catch.

Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes led a recovery and both had contrasting experiences against the spin duo of Khan and Acharya. Stokes and the spinners enjoyed a battle resulting in an absorbing period in the final session. Sweeps and reverse sweeps were counteracted by some tight lines from the twirlers who valiantly hung in the contest. They were rewarded with the scalp of Stokes (45) who tried one too many sweeps and was trapped adjacent to the stumps ending a pulsating knock and opening up another one.

Jos Buttler looked in excellent touch from his first ball and combined with fellow keeper Bairstow (who passed 50 shortly after Buttler) for a swashbuckling 96 run partnership. Buttler’s half century became the fastest ever test fifty providing the fans a unique and special moment and proved his credentials as a Test batsman. His maximums inside out over cover and a slog sweep took the sting out of the toiling bowlers who were spell blinded by the Lancastrian Freak. Unfortunately, approaching the close of play, Buttler couldn’t resist another chance for a six and holed out at cow corner for 67 off just 25 balls. Mark Wood was promoted to night watchmen and he comfortably saw out the day at 219-5.

The next morning we collapsed in true English style. Wood (4) set the tone nicking off to the premier delivery of the day before Bairstow (60) and Curran (13) succumbed to spinner Eshan Khan (4-49). Khan also picked up Woakes for nine and helped to effect the curtailing run out when Mo failed to ground his bat summing up our innings efforts and his fortunes with the bat. Not all was doom and gloom though with the insurmountable 438 left for Hong Kong to chase on a degrading Lords’ pitch with one and a half days left- right…..

It was 31-0 again when déjà vu struck, Curran’s left arm boomerang catching the snippet of McKechnie’s bat through to a gleeful Bairstow. This brought in crowd favourite Babar who along with opener Tanveer Ahmed seized upon some wayward bowling to mount a hefty partnership. Both played with flair and sophistication highlighting a growing belief that they could force a positive result. Ahmed, in particular, executed a series of stylish boundaries in his progression past half a ton mainly off the lacklustre Wood and Broad. The partnership was, however, terminated through the one and only Ben Stokes, whose sharp bouncer hurried Ahmed who could only watch in despair as the ball clipped his bat face to Bairstow. Ahmed (77) may have departed but he had set a template to how the remaining batters should play.

Stokes, (who had already had two caught behinds wrongly rejected by the third umpire) maintained his hostile bowling in the penultimate over of the session and he was rewarded with the scalp of Wasif (0). Wasif looked troubled at his short stay at the crease by Stokes’ ability to change up his lengths and lines accurately which resulted in a third snaffle for Bairstow. Maybe the bread and butter pudding was too tempting!

The question on many members lips at tea was whether Hong Kong could sustain their run scoring freedom and keep their wickets intact as their lord and saviour Babar remained at the crease. By the end of play, Hong Kong had racked up 105 runs in only 29 sunsetting overs for the loss of a singular wicket.

Despite the early wicket of Shah (16) courtesy of a Stuart Broad out-swinger, Babar spearheaded the battering and the bruising of our bowlers slowly caressing boundaries at aplomb. He gained the support of left hander Narinder Karpe who thwarted our fatigued bowling attack. Captain Root tried to mix and match his bowlers to produce a wicket but we struggled to find any penetration on a lifeless strip. A combination of overturned decisions from the third umpire, mainly off Mo, and some excellent batting from the pair put Hong Kong on 254-4 at the close of play. Babar reached his hundred in the final over to complete a pleasing and positive day for the opposition.

Joe Root came under some fire at the close of play for his decision to not bowl Stokes at all in the last session and only giving leading spinner Ali 15 out of 70 overs so far. He would look to make amends on the next day with Hong Kong still requiring 174 runs to pull of a mindblowing chase.

Babar and Karpe picked off where they left on Day 4 punishing more seam up bowling and nullifying the effect of swing or spin. Karpe had flown under the radar for much of his innings but was rewarded for his patience and stoic batting when he celebrated a well crafted 50. An inspired decision from Root followed briefly afterwards to hand the ball to the economic Woakes who duly responded with the scalp of Karpe (60) pouched well by heavily criticised skipper Root. Another leg cutter fooled the resilient leftie giving Woakes his sixth victim of the match. Ghanzafar (4*) joined Babar (140*) at the crease and guided the side to roasted lamb without any further loss. Pressure had suddenly been mounted onto us rapidly and there was an increasing belief that Hong Kong could pull this off especially if Babar was at the crease.

The resumption after lamb saw Mo take the ball and extract some unbelievable turn and bounce yet none inducing a false shot or providing a crucial wicket. He was not backed up though at the other end as Root alongside his seamers were releasing pressure when shots off Babar’s bat motored towards the rowdy away support.

The target steadily kept reducing like the hands on a clock and with it seemingly went our small hopes and thoughts. Ali continually racked up maiden after maiden unfortunately without any breakthrough until he produces an almighty swipe from Ghanzafar which caught the inside edge bobbling up to leg slip. Yet Stokes had already moved himself to slip during the delivery and the edge landed safely to the despair and frustration of many in the arena. A couple more half chances were presented by the relentless Ali but eventually to no avail.

Numerous records were smashed when Hong Kong reached 400 for 5 but captain Babar remained intent on seeing the job through. He needed partners with him to guide them home and worry surely would have flooded his mind when Broad delivered an in-swinging seed to trap Ghanzafar lbw for a gritty 27 from 90 balls,. Maybe there was a chance for England – maybe the floodgates would open…

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It wasn’t to be though as Babar first reached 200 with a helicopter six off Stokes warmly received by all sections of the ground. First innings top scorer Afzal came together with Babar and whacked a quickfire 18 not out putting the tourists a boundary away from a mesmerising win. Ali (0-64 from 33) delivered two maidens to ramp up some late pressure but it was off the bowling of Curran where Babar seized the moment and caressed a half volley into the Lords’ advertising to send Hong Kong into euphoria.

Hong Kong had done it!  Every field tactic,  bowling combination, change of angle were all dispatched in a ruthless and incredible display of batting from the tourists duly led by their amazing skipper Babar Hayat who finished 212 not out.

After effectively being 171-0 at the start of our second innings our collapse was frustrating but definitely not match-defining. Our lack of potency and attack with the ball coupled with an abysmal fielding effort, poor decision making and genius batting from Babar meant we were resigned to a shocking loss in our backyard. Moeen Ali and Joe Root were very unlucky to not pick up a wicket in the second innings after extracting fruitful turn and bounce on the final day. Our main seamers and strike force were largely ineffectual in our second dig with Wood only completing 12 expensive and wicketless overs in the match.

Full credit though must go to the Asian side who applied themselves in a perfect manner to stun the cricketing world and chase down a world record total at the Home of Cricket. Babar Hayat as captain marshalled his troops well in their bowling comeback but importantly led from the front with the blade in hand in an unbelievable knock that will go down in history no doubt as one of the greatest innings ever.

Match Analysis: 

England 371 (S Curran 101, Root 87, Woakes 32; Acharya 6-82, Afzal 3-36)

Hong Kong 200 (Afzal 55, Babar 44, McKenchie 23; Woakes 5-47, S Curran 3-41)

England 266 (Buttler 67, Bairstow 60, Stokes 45; E Khan 4-49, Ghanzanfar 2-45)

Hong Kong 440-6 (Babar 212*, Ahmed 77, K Shah 60; Stokes 2-48, Broad 2-84)

Hong Kong win by 4 wickets MOM: Babar Hayat

The result is going to haunt us for a while and will hopefully provide a learning curve so we can improve and put in substantially better performances in order to put ourselves back in contention for the EHTL title. Despite the loss, there are positives to take from this game most notably the explosive nature of Jos Buttler, the all-round talents of Sam Curran demonstrated via a wonderful maiden century and the reliability of Chris Woakes with the orb.

Our next battle will see us venture across Europe where we will be entering the heart of cricket in Denmark at the Hammerby Arena. We will be pondering some personnel changes off the back of this defeat and the uncertain conditions that we will encounter in the happiest country in the world. Thank you for the continued support and we will endeavour to return emphatically to winning ways very soon.

Jamie Hamilton (Coach and Selector of England)

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Cricket 19: Career Mode – Steady Scores!

When in Richmond , we were destroyed by double centurion Harry Koch in the limited overs showdown but home fortunes and the return of the longer format proved too strong for Koch and his side.

In the top of the table clash, wily spinner Axel Dickson led the way in front of the ever developing and growing Twickers army’ with 4-48 including the vital scalp of Koch for 39 and opener Roy for 72. Dickson was well supported by the other 4 main bowlers as I wasn’t required to roll my arm over for some little twirlers in either innings.

Usually, we have been at similar levels with the ball in our sweaty palms and when we have had the stick in hand but crucially we secured a 60 run advantage spearheaded by skipper Jace Young’s fluent instrumental knock of 93 ably supported by the compact sturdy defence of opener Carter Flynn with 73. My contribution was as brief as the length of my innings 1 off 2 deliveries before nicking off. Nate Knight took my wicket and the bustling left arm bowler was the knight in shining armour collecting 7-43 to cause an unfortunate collapse.

Just when the Richmond resistance and fight back seemed to have sprung into life, it was decimated within the space of a session! Wickets tumbled and were spread pretty evenly as John Barker continued his searing hot form. The marvel Maverick Cook at the age of 31 contributed 3-13 in 4 overs as his off breakers provoked a late innings subside leading to a slender 62 run leverage. Our batting was safe and measured and meant that my recent good 3 day form was not needed as we cruised to a second day victory taking us top of the table.

Our extra day rest granted us the chance to play another round of four ball golf which much like my cricket against Richmond was long yet successful as Mildenhall and I defeated Young and Barker 3&2 to level up the mini series.

We made the 40 minute journey the following day up to the Brent Park Bowl via the A406 and prepared ourselves to go toe to toe with the 50 over leaders. So far, we had lost both of our opening games in the limited overs format and that rot unfortunately continued despite an improved outing.

Young won the toss and inserted the home side which looked initially like a very good decision when Cook dismissed both in form batsman Micah Wesley (36) and Lachlan Lyon (8).

My leg breaks had been expensive with small reward in all competitions but that all changed when I induced a reckless attempt at a slog from other opener Austin Garrett which resulted in his turmoil – stumped by Mildenhall for 34. Despite probing away, middle order batter Hudson Cunningham (129*) slowly manipulated the turn and the bounce to single handily plunder the hosts to 280-7 in their 50 overs. After some tough spells with the orb, I feel like I am getting the ball ripping in the right areas and the 1-21 from 10 was a good sign of that.

Left arm newly Middlesex bowler Muhammad Wiley removed Hempenstall and Lawson in the first over and we were teetering when I joined the crease at 31-3. I decided to slowly get myself in and bat time whilst wickets seemed to fall at the other end. In particular the Wiley led pacers were extracting varying degrees of bounce and swing even after the opening power play and forced me in turn to play more conservatively to rebuild.

With the arrival of Maverick Cook to the crease at 67-4, I tried to up my scoring rate and push more singles and twos to apply some more pressure to the on top fielding side. Cook looked in ominous form which allowed me to settle in with more time to adapt to the fruitful bounce. However, on 29 after a few quick singles, a gap opened up at short third man and despite my best efforts to execute a reverse sweep on numerous occasions, I managed to glove behind to the keeper. It was a disappointing end to my innings but I felt I was forced to showcase attacking intent to provide us an opportunity to push the match deeper.

Chasing 100 off the last 10 with only Mildenhall left as a recognised batsman, the challenge appeared impossible yet Mildenhall dismantled the Brent Park attack launching 65 off 5 overs including 6 maximums. Surely he couldn’t…. and cruelly he didn’t when No.11 John Barker fell to Wiley (4-64) to curtail our innings with a minor 35 run deficit.

From the last T20 super over thriller, captain Young won the toss and elected to pad up first on a inviting pitch for batting. Gael Dunkley’s hectic first game saw him called up to the Middlesex squad so Juan Hempenstall made his T20 debut. After two early losses of the skipper (7) and Lawson (13), Flynn and Hempenstall reached a fifty run partnership to steady the ship. Two runs later though, I was facing the music replacing Flynn (23) looking to prove my worth in the shorter format. Unfortunately, I was quickly involved with the run out of Hempenstall for 28 – not an ideal start.

I was keen to make up for that lapse in judgment and I was determined to value you my wicket and be the batsman to take the innings deep to enable the more attacking minded players the chance to express their shots. Cook showed glimpses of that in his 14 before his failed attempt at a dive pushing for 2 spelt his downfall. Keeper and golf partner Mildenhall joined me and instantly the tempo was increased as the runs steadily flowed.

Once I passed my run a ball 20, I felt better at the crease and promptly whacked two fours through mid wicket adding to the stack of runs being plundered by Mildenhall. With two overs to go, I went ultra aggressive to try and accumulate as many runs as possible however it backfired with my off pole flying through the air. I didn’t need to worry as Mildenhall (37* off 15) and Tristan Hunter (20* off 9) pumped us up to a ominous looking 190.

Hampstead had other ideas and attacked from ball 1 dismissing all of our frontline bowlers into the car park over and over again. The introduction of spin with myself and Axel Dickson turned the tide of the match when Dickson had set batsman Lachlan Williams (47 off 29) and Parker Hester (59 off 47) caught Cook and trapped lbw. 105-0 turned to 116-2.

116-2 changed to 183-3 in the 16th over as I eventually induced Eli Andrews (35 from 19) out of his crease stumped safely by Mildenhall to cause some small panic in the Hampstead dressing room. They didn’t have to worry though as off my bowling in the 18.3 over, Hudson Wallace counter attacking 36* guided the opposition to a comfortable victory.

To lose all 3 of our shorter format matches in both competitions is bitterly disappointing especially after our amazing performances in the 3 day season. Personally, I am starting to find my feet in the limited overs format as the anchor man who can bowl some handy overs when needed. I am enjoying my journey and the varying challenges I land into in the club cricket circuit.

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Cricket 19: Career Mode – First and Last Super Over!

Hamilton bowled 0 (2)

The wild scenes of the week before where we produced an unbelievable team comeback led by seamer John Barker, who took 6 wickets for 11 runs to provide a stunning 3 day victory, were soon forgotten when we took to the field for the limited overs double header.

Attempting to chase down 290, we stumbled to 30-3 as Aiden Aitken ripped through the opening pair. I entered the TCG cauldron hoping to rebuild a platform for the team however Aitken’s rip roaring pace saw my stumps cartwheeling off to fine leg resulting in a 2 ball duck. We ended up falling 120 shy despite another solo half century innings from wicketkeeper Hayden Mildenhall, who has become my new golf partner!

The final showdown against Watford came on the T20 scene. Captain Jace Young correctly called the coin toss and stuck the pads on. Opening pair Lucas Lawson and Carter Flynn propelled us to 60 from the opening powerplay as Watford’s bowlers looked visibly fatigued from their gruelling past encounters. Both soon fell after the powerplay and wickets became a regular occurrence throughout the innings. Young and I contributed a quick scoring 50 run partnership and as I began to aim to be expansive, I was caught and bowled by spinner Kayden McKnight for 22 looking to lift it over the top of the infield. 3 day bowling star John Barker demonstrated his all round ability with a quick fire 20* from 6 contributing to 46 from the last 5 overs to boost our score up to 186-8 in our 20 overs. Young finished 64 not out in a typical captain’s innings!

Hamilton caught and bowled T20

Upcoming star Marcus Jennings continued to inflict pain to our bowlers as he commenced his innings in an ultra attacking style blitzing the ball to the boundary. Our seamers struggled to contain the stroke play of Jennings but following the powerplay, I bowled in tandem with fellow spinner Axel Dickson to restrict the run rate considerably. The pressure of a run chase slowly began to overwhelm the Watford top order with Dickson taking 2 quick wickets (2-24 from 4).

Jennings stood firm though and with Wyatt Walter built a partnership taking them to 10 from the final two overs – not quite super over territory or was it? Cue captain Young who used his tactical nous to bring me on with Jennings on strike and it worked instantly as he chipped a simple return catch straight to me ending his 70 run knock. Walter and Parsons needed one from four but it was wily seamer again John Barker who delivered 3 dot balls and a run out to send us to the first ever South East Cup Super Over! I finished with figures of 1-20 from 4 overs.

Marcus Jennings and Charles Mullaney scored 15 from John Barker’s 6 balls which left Carter Flynn and Jace Young requiring 16 to win. 

Watford T20 team celebration

2 1 1 1 4 6 – the pulsating over finished with two Young boundaries however due to Watford losing less wickets in their first innings, the visitors reigned out victorious on comeback.

An epic week of club cricket was sadly over but would never be forgotten in hard core Twickers army fans memories, following scintillating hattricks super overs and golden ducks all contributing to a fantastic image for Middlesex’s future stars. Personally, I was unhappy to have not made a telling score with the bat as my form from the 3 day cricket showed signs of translating into the limited overs. However, the main focus for me from this week was the enjoyment that these exciting, finger biting matches have given all of Twickenham.

After the triple header showdown, the results left us joint top of the 3 day circuit with 2 wins from 2. On the other hand, the limited overs formats have produced good personal highlights but no team wins and we sit bottom of the 50 over and 20 Over Cups in this early stage of the competiton.

Thank you for reading the latest instalment of Cricket 19 Career Mode in Middlesex and keep following the blog for the next update on the club cricket travels and the outcome of the next fourball competition for my team…

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Cricket 19: EHTL – Round Two Squad Selection

Bairstow - Stokes fist bump

Following our opening round victory at the hands of Papua New Guinea, we return to a familiar venue, the Home of Cricket, to entertain Hong Kong with the aim to win consecutive games on the bounce.

After consulting with Ed Smith and James Taylor, we have decided to alter our squad slightly with the aim of using home advantage and knowledge of conditions to bring a winning formula. Test great and our stalwart James Anderson has retired following the PNG match and we would like to take the chance to congratulate Jimmy on his fantastic record breaking career and note he will be sorely missed in our future plans.

The playing squad for our EHTL math against Hong Kong is: 

Joe Root (Captain)

Rory Burns

Luke Wells

Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)

Ben Stokes

Jos Buttler

Moeen Ali

Chris Woakes

Liam Dawson

Sam Curran

Stuart Broad

Mark Wood

Additional Squad Members: David Malan, Ben Foakes, Jake Ball

Fast bowler Mark Wood makes his eagerly anticipated return to Test Cricket in place of Anderson. Wood’s hostility and extra pace/bounce will make him a valuable asset to our bowling group as Lords is quite two paced. The Durham man is a dynamic player who provides a different point of attack which could be crucial against a strong Hong Kong outfit should he make the XI. 

Hampshire’s Liam Dawson retains his place and provides healthy competition for incumbent spinner Moeen Ali and should Lords take a twist towards spin favouring conditions, Dawson is more than capable of stepping up.

The team look forward to gracing the field again in the inaugural Eastern Hemisphere Test League and are excited by the competition created for spots which should push our players to their best. We are extremely grateful and thankful for the support shown in the opening match and hope the fan base can deliver once again whilst we hope to have two wins on the bounce.

Jamie Hamilton, Selection Drafter and Designer, England

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Cricket 19: Career Mode – Golden Ducks!

Twickenham - Watford 3 day

After my man of the match winning performance at Enfield, we returned to our home cauldron for our triple header week starting with a 3 day match against visitors Watford. Captain Jace Young won the toss and opted to bat first bodily inviting debutant Juan Hempenstall to bat at 4 replacing batting all rounder Eric Leon. I joined the crease at 91-3 with spin certainly playing a decisive role taking the scalps of the openers and Young. I had to be watchful early on with left arm spinner Kayden McKnight getting fruitful bounce and turn which did for Hempenstall (10) just after my arrival. It was my 11th ball which sprung me into life as I began to feel more comfortable against the spin.

Hamilton 47 (69) ran out

White ball star Hayden Mildenhall was soon in with me at 116-5 and we settled into our partnership well. I decided to look to drive off the seamers through the covers which brought instant success – the ball racing to the boundary. However, the frightening forties this time took its toll on me as I pushed the ball to extra cover and took off only to be ran out by a direct hit. Replays confirmed I was marginally out – very frustrating! After making 3 good contributions to the 3 day team,  I was annoyed I couldn’t add to my starts with a big score. Keeper Mildenhall 62NO steered us to a respectable 238 as McKnight exploited the spinning surface with 6-70.

Mullaney bowled by Hamilton.jpg

Watford found themselves reduced to 52-2 when my leg break abolished the stumps, Mullaney playing all around a straight delivery. No.3 Marcus Jennings demonstrated his early season form as he anchored the Watford innings skilfully bashing boundaries and pinching singles. We did superbly to try and restrict his fluency by dismissing his partners but it didn’t prevent him notching a magnificent 129. His wicket though sparked the Watford collapse as seamer Ashton Kenny wrapped up the tail to leave them 20 short of our total.

Hamilton 5 (16)

Day three’s early start hampered us as we were reduced to 24-3 before debutant Hempenstall inexplicably ran himself out for a 10 ball duck. The lowest score in the South East cup was on the horizon when Maverick Cook was dismissed for a second ball duck – 25-5! Myself and Mildenhall set about settling into the innings and providing a healthy lead to defend on the wearing TCG pitch. A cover drive narrowly fell short of the close fielder on the off side but Kettleborough soon had me unsuccessfully driving as I aimed to replicate the shot that had brought me some success in my short career, this time finding Mullaney in the slips. 49-6 became 102 all out as Mildenhall played a counter attacking gem of an innings of 69NO leaving Watford a tricky 123 run chase.

Short leg catch

Duck was on the menu at lunch and it needed to be repeated on the field if we were going to force an unlikely memorable victory. Mullaney (8) and Watkin (12) avoided duck and went for geese instead before Walter (6) opted for lamb (enough of the jokes) as a result the victim of a great grab by Hunter at short leg. Walter gave me my second wicket of the match and reduced Watford to 41-3. Unfortunately first innings centurion Jennings was an immoveable object and alongside Johnson, they put on 67 valuable runs. The Twickers Army were in full voice and provided entertaining and encouraging support.

Watford 2nd innings 119.jpg

Wily seamer John Barker was brought on by captain Young in a last ditch effort to save the game and what an inspired decision that was! Barker first removed the Jennings – Johnson partnership before letting loose on the tail including a scintillating hat trick with rip roaring pace bowling. An astonished Twickers army raised their voice and were being treated to an epic climax as I held my nerve delivering a maiden at Parsons. Barker decimated the final three within 4 balls as I held the catch on the square leg boundary for the final wicket sparking wild celebrations and scenes in the local Twickenham bar!

Dismal batting and skilful bowling between both sides added to the excitement and entertainment for the club cricket crowd and ultimately Mildenhall’s two counter attacking knocks hugely contributed to our second 3 day victory. Personally, I was happy with my first innings score but knew that on a pitch that you have to play yourself into to make runs, I should have gone onto to score more. My second innings dismissal was disappointing but we put a line through the sand and move on. I am satisfied to be picking up the odd wicket to aid our bowling performance.

Match Analysis:

Twickenham 238 (Mildenhall 62*, Flynn 52, Hamilton 47/ McKnight 6-70, Johnson 1-26, Parsons 1-49)

Watford 218 (Jennings 129, Mullaney 23, Walter 22/ Kenny 3-53, Dickson 2-38, Barker 1-35)

Twickenham 102 (Mildenhall 69*, Flynn 10, Young 7/ Aitken 4-41, Parsons 3-10, Kettleborough 2-28)

Watford 119 (Jennings 61*, Johnson 20, Watkin 12 / Barker 8-32, Hamilton 1-12, Kenny 1-17)

Twickenham won by 3 runs MOM: Marcus Jennings

Thanks for the continued support and be sure to check out the next career update when we take on Watford in a double header limited overs showdown!

 

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Cricket 19: EHTL Fortnightly – Danish Delight and Hong Kong Hammering!

Hong Kong vs Germany Kowloon.jpg

The Eastern Hemisphere Test League is all about spreading the beautiful game of cricket across the world and giving smaller nations exposure to the top levels of the game and mixing it in with the best. Hong Kong vs Germany pulled in record crowds of over 4,000 supporters as both nations made their Test debuts at the Kowloon ground. Throughout the 2 days of cricket, the supporters were treated to plenty of wickets and exciting action which will set the tone for the rest of the competition.

Mohammad Ghazanfar 5-17 from 6

England beware – Mohammad Ghazanfar is in deadly form! A ripping display of fast bowling decimated the middle to lower order of the Germans batting as they were rolled out for 63. Targeting the pads, Ghazanfar used his probing lines and lengths to assists Germany’s collapse from 34-3 to 63 all out! Tanveer Ahmed (117) proved the pitch wasn’t as bad as the Germans batting display showed and held the Hong Kong first innings together to guide them to 307 before bowling Germany out for 63. Unsurprisingly, the Germans were sent in for a second dig on a free admission second day’s play and fared slightly better scoring 96 all out. Spinner Ehsan Khan took figures of 9 – 5 – 11 – 5 and was well supported by other seamer Ehsan Nawaz 9.4 – 0 – 53 – 5. All rounder Craig Meschede (18 + 23) and opener Amir Mangal ( 10 + 12) were the only two batsman to pass double figures in both innings as their were 6 ducks for the Germans.

Hong Kong vs Germany Scorecard

A thumping win for Hong Kong who travel to Lords to play England whilst Germany head back to the nets to score some more runs!

Denmark vs Fiji Hammerby Arena

The Hammerby Arena also became a new Test ground as nations Denmark and Fiji contested in an entertaining and exciting match over the course of 2 days. Spinner Yash Christian 3-22 and seamer Victor Kuipers 3-43 gave the hosts the upper hand as Fiji were bowled out for 151 in the opening two sessions – credit due to top scorer Sakiusa Dokosobau’s 123 ball vigil for 37.

Villiame Manakiwai 5 for 37 from 11.1.jpg

Fiji exploited the first day bowling conditions and promptly bowled out Denmark for 166 yielding just a slender 15 run lead for the hosts. Seamer Villaime Manakiwai bowled superbly and led the Danish collapse of the lower order with some precise lengths and lines. However, the free admission crowd on Day 2 for all (well done EHTL administrators) witnessed some fantastic bowling and abysmal batting as Fiji crumbled to 67 all out incidentally the 4th score of under 100 across the league. Christian yet again starred with 3-13 as only Sekove Ravoka (13) and Karan Kumar (10) passed double figures as bowling headlined the first round of fixtures.

Denmark had struggled early on in the chase of 54 falling to 20-3 at the hands of Manakiwai (3-25) but it was English county cricket regulars Vasconcellos and Tattersall who guided the Danish home in front of their jubilant home fans. Both teams played a fair and tough contest and the score line doesn’t represent well how Fiji played.

Denmark vs Fiji scorecard.jpg

Yorkshire’s Jonny Tattersall played two important knocks of 62 and 15* to give Denmark their first ever Test match victory. 

Following our (England) 4 wicket victory at the expense of Papua New Guinea, Hong Kong’s Tanveer Ahmed leads the batting statistics from his only innings of 117. Luke Wells is our leading run scorer after his Test debut whilst Stuart Broad (9 wickets) tops the chart narrowly ahead of Fiji seamer Manakiwai (8 wickets). The EHTL prides itself on bringing through the lesser and new nations and giving them a taste of Test cricket and providing a platform to expand International cricket and the game itself. It is pleasantly encouraging to see players like Manakiwai go toe to toe with the likes of the highly respected and brilliant Broad. As a team, I am delighted we decided to participate in this competition and we hope to bring home the glory come the finals stage.

Round 1 Table.jpg

Papua New Guinea will look to bounce back from their narrow 4 wicket defeat against England and head towards home advantage at Port Moresby against Fiji – the battle of the bottom two. Bochum ground becomes the first ever ground in Germany to host a cricket match let alone a Test match as the Germans will look to exploit and face their new conditions and ground to land victory against the delighted Danish side. Finally, England will lock horns with Hong Kong as Lords holds its second EHTL match (a fixtures bug of England home stadiums). Sam Curran and Stuart Broad will no doubt be aiming to take more wickets in the absence of Anderson whilst captain Joe Root leads the batting ranks.

Thanks for the continued support!

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Cricket 19: Eastern Hemisphere Test League – PNG Pummelling!

England vs Papua New Guinea Lineup

22 players stood proudly in front of the retrospective flags at the iconic Lords ground  awaiting an exciting new preposition.  England and Papua New Guinea took the field at the Home of Cricket to begin the inaugural Eastern Hemisphere Test League match.  The dry and hard surface that was presented to us meant that second spinner Liam Dawson was omitted from the playing XI for left arm seamer Sam Curran.  Sussex’s opening batsman Luke Wells was invited to open alongside Rory Burns whilst a makeshift top order took place with captain Joe Root at NO.3 and wicket keeper Jonny Bairstow at an unfamiliar NO.4 role.  However, the wait would continue to see the English batting order as the opponents won the toss and elected to bat.

In his final game before retirement, James Anderson set the tone perfectly dismissing captain Carlos Ahuja inside the opening over for a 6 ball duck.  The visitors, slightly jaded from the 22 hour flight, negotiated the first 10 overs without the loss of a further wicket and paused for rain.  Stuart Broad, though had other ideas and accounted for the second PNG wicket after the rain delay bowling Shekar Biswas for 13.  Lakshman Som and Kaiden Donahue combined together through until lunch in a shortened session.  The resumption of the session saw the outcome of the game dramatically change in the space of an hour.  Left armer Sam Curran struck with Donahue departing LBW for a patient 12 before bowling Marnus Dave two balls later.  At the other end, Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes entered the attack immediately trapping Timothy Upadhyay (1) LBW and then removing Akbar Vig for a three ball duck curtailing the extraordinary collapse of 4 wickets for just the 1 run in 9 balls!  Som had watched wickets fall at the non strikers end and that probably had affected his shot selection as he tamely edged Surrey’s Curran through to Jonny Bairstow for a spirited 20.  Som and Donahue’s 24 run partnership through rain and beverage breaks was the highest in the innings.  Jos Buttler took two smart catches at second slip off Curran and then Woakes to leave PNG hovering at 67-9 (Sandhu 5 Norris 3) before fittingly Curran sealed his five wicket haul and wrapped up the innings with the wicket of Jayant Rege (7) – 69 all out!

Sam Curran 5 for 18

After beginning as the 4th choice seamer, Sam Curran had increased his stocks with a devastating spell of out and in swinging deliveries unsettling the PNG batsman in their rain affected innings.  Woakes bowled with good accuracy and finished with outstanding figures of (5-2-7-3).  We dominated in early home favouring conditions but there was an even contest between bat and ball until the end of the Som – Donahue partnership.  Papua New Guinea gifted a too many easy wickets to us especially in the nine ball period where Curran and Woakes rained havoc with disciplined lines and length which got our rewards.  We were happy to have rolled PNG over but would have liked more of a challenge however the game was certainly not over.

A tricky 40 minute session before lunch was ideal for the confidence of the incumbent Rory Burns and debutant Luke Wells but the pressure told. Papua New Guinea had bravely opted not to bowl left arm seamer Naryaan Palla and went with Caspar Sandhu and Rege which worked with instant success as Burns played all around a straight Rege delivering dismantling his stumps for 3.  The removal of our opening combo saw captain Joe Root stride to the crease and he started freely and flowingly with his trademark cover drives on show. Disappointingly, Root could not build on his early platform as he edged behind off the relentless Sandhu for 15 in the final over of the second session.

Luke Wells fifty vs PNG

Teas and scones had been gobbled and now it was back to the task in hand at 30-2 to build a healthy first innings lead. Wells and Jonny Bairstow batted with patience and determinedness to see off the threat of seamers Sandhu and Rege. With evident seam movement and bounce on show it was definitely a tricky pitch to get a start on. On debut, Wells (51) ploughed through to register his maiden Test match fifty with a gorgeous leg glance which pierced the boundary rope but celebrations were short lived as a leading edge found bowler Rege’s diving hands. The introduction of slow seamer Atticus Norris had dire effects…

Norris first removed Bairstow (42) with a deceiving slower ball cheaply chipped into the hands of mid off before Ali dragged on for a 2 ball duck. In the midst of that, Ben Stokes (2) was guilty of casually grounding his bat and Ahuja exploited that with a direct throw. From 117-2 we had plummeted to 126-6 in an abysmal middle order batting display. More measured and sensible batting followed by Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes however the latter was dismissed in the final over of the day by Naryaan Palla to leave us at stumps on 158-7 (41). An epic 17 scalps had taken place over the course of the first day however EHTL pitch inspectors and head groundsmen were satisfied with the pitch citing batsman errors on both sides and consistent nagging bowling lengths culminating in the downfall of wickets.

Jos Buttler 50 vs PNG.jpg

On the second morning, Curran joined Buttler who looked in impressive form. A counter attacking lofted offside innings was the key to the limited overs batsman’s success as Papua New Guinea eased the pressure with some poor field setting and numerous dropped catches. Left arm pacer Naryaan Palla (3-32) was thumped into the members pavilion twice in a row from Buttler to bring up his fifty but much like Wells he fell the following ball attempting to repeat his shot making. Palla was on a hattrick as first innings bowling demon Curran (13) edged behind off the fellow left armer and despite Jimmy Anderson smashing the hattrick ball for a huge maximum, he fell for 8 bowled by Norris to curtail our innings.

The 205 had come from just the 50 overs and had subsided dramatically from 117-2. Only double JB and Wells converted their starts and demonstrated the fair even wicket Lords had produced for ball and bat. Poor shot choices and lack of application didn’t aid our cause with Bairstow’s clumsy dismissal the cornerstone of our batting effort. In our opening EHTL match, we had already collapsed in true English fashion but were on the whole content with our 136 run lead.

Broad and England team celebration

Sandwiches had been eaten and the debrief was completed when we returned to the field and had an instant impact with the promoted inform Sam Curran striking in the 5th over, Ahuja (3) the victim of a vicious in swinging delivery which found the edge to Bairstow.  Wicketkeeper Kaiden Donahue was joined by the new man Biswas and began to look comfortable against the swinging ball from Curran and Anderson abolishing the near memory of the first innings.  The pair combined for a healthy 55 runs but were fortunate to be on the receiving end of overthrows and the edges dropping short.  In a 10 over spell, Curran ended on a high note breaking the partnership, rearranging Biswas’s stumps for a respectable 26.  Top scorer of the first innings, Som entered the field and safely negotiated Papua New Guinea over the dreaded 69 total to warm cheers from all sections of the Lords crowd.  Som batted with the most fluency of any PNG batsman and took advantage of Stokes and Woakes’ bad balls to relive the pressure.  Donahue’s patient innings payed off securing a well fought 50 but as the partnership had reached 51, on the stroke of tea, Stuart Broad bounced back from his poor first spell with a ripping over of swing and seam bowling which accounted for Som’s (25) departure via Root at first slip. Having been 69 all out in the first dig, Papua New Guinea had reached a much improved 119-3 at tea but still 17 runs away from possibly making us bat again…

In the final session, Broad had begun in very similar fashion seaming and swinging the ball round the PNG batsman who had little reply.  Marnus Dave avoided a pair but just made 10 before Buttler took a smart catch at 3rd slip to remove the all rounder.  Broad then struck again soon finding the edge of Timothy Upadhyay (8) through to keeper Bairstow.  Donahue meanwhile resisted well against the fired up Broad who had his fourth victim of the innings when Akbar Vig (4) well caught by Bairstow. And when Donahue grew frustrated at the lack of batsman applying themselves against the moving ball, he took a wild swing at a loose Broad ball which landed in Bairstow’s gloves ending his 135 ball vigil for 82. Next man Casper Sandhu smoked the ball to the boundary on three occasions only to become Broad’s sixth victim and Bairstow’s fifth catch a short while later. Sandhu’s wicket had restricted Papua New Guinea to 183-8 in an all too familiar collapse of the middle order. Atticus Norris (10NO) and Jayant Rege (2NO) prevented any more wickets from falling as they steered PNG to the close of play at 196-8 with a 59 run lead to sit on.

A quick word for Broad whose blistering 12 over spell accounted for 6 Papua New Guinea wickets in a display of high class quality bowling. Regularly beating the bat and constantly causing concerns to the stumps was the cornerstone of Broad’s bowling as he obliterated the middle order including the crucial wicket of well set Donahue for 82. He was ably backed up by Woakes (0-47 from 12), Ali (0-21 from 8) , Curran (2-84 from 22) and Stokes (0-7 from 3) at the other end who dried up the runs effectively.

Stuart Broad 8 for 75.jpg

The jubilant scenes from the previous day seemed to be forgotten when Norris and Rege demonstrated resilient batting against the older and wearing ball. Broad’s threat from Day 2 had been diminishing with Norris in particular playing some fine strokes. These fine strokes along with his entertaining batting technique culminated in a maiden Test match fifty which was richly deserved and set the example for how the middle order should have played. Rege had fallen beforehand for a gallant 25 from 44 balls with the returning Broad and Bairstow combination striking once more.

At 235-9 Papua New Guinea had a small 99 run lead but a partnership of 55 runs between Norris (58NO) and Naryaan Palla (14 from 66 balls) catapulted PNG to 290. Skipper Joe Root persisted with the seam prolonged attack and it paid off at 290 when Broad pierced Palla’s edge through to Bairstow for the 5th time in the innings. A good bowling performance by us was spearheaded from the sensational Broad who bowled immaculately and consistently to remove PNG batsman via their outside edge. 290 had become the top score in the match and would give England an achievable but potentially dangerous 154 runs to wrap up the Test match.

Burns and Wells opened up for us hoping to cement their places and add some valuable runs to their current position. PNG were searching for early wickets with attacking and sometimes bizarre field settings at stages aimed to bamboozle the openers. Norris backed up his superb 58NO in the second innings by immediately striking as the second change bowler nicking off Burns (14) to second slip at 29-1. Captain Root settled instantly and began to up the run rate with quick running and glorious cover drives for 4 the key to his innings. Seemingly in control at 72-1, we became 111-5 and still 43 runs short of a victory.

Luke Wells lbw hotspot

Joe Root’s counter attacking 33 from 31 balls was ended by Jayant Rege (1-30 from 6) who found Root’s edge through to keeper Donahue. Fellow keeper Bairstow fell quickly for 6, Sandhu the wicket taker, before Luke Wells’ dogged nature was cruelly and wrongly ended by the third umpire following a bat pad review off the seamer Sandhu (2-16 from 9). Replays seem to suggest that Wells had edged the ball onto his pad but the third umpire thought otherwise and he was judged lbw for 36. Jos Buttler ambitiously attempting to sweep leg spinner Ahuja away but was pinned plumb in front for 3. Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali steadied the ship but didn’t relent from their attacking mindset in getting the game completed.

England 4 wicket win vs PNG.jpg

Though Ali fell for 6 abysmally edging to keeper Donahue from Ahuja (2-30) however it was Chris Woakes (15NO from 9) who hammered the ball over the fence to secure victory by 4 wickets in the opening EHTL contest. Ben Stokes found some form finishing up on 34NO from 45 in an encouraging knock for him but most importantly guiding us home despite wickets walking around him.

Match Analysis: 

Papua New Guinea 69 (Som 20, Biswas 13, Donahue 12/ S Curran 5-18, Woakes 3-7, Anderson 1-18)

England 205 (Wells 51, Buttler 50, Bairstow 42/ Palla 3-32, Norris 3-50, Rege 2-36)

Papua New Guinea 290 (Donahue 82, Norris 58*, Biswas 26/ Broad 8-75, S Curran 2-84, Ali 0-21)

England 155-6

England win by 4 wickets 

Despite our victory, there are a lot of areas to improve on as Papua New Guinea gave us a very good test after seemingly looking very distant second bests after their first knock. However, they applied themselves fantastically (Donahue and Norris in particular) in the second innings to post a difficult and tough chase for us. We didn’t bat well in both innings and failed to apply ourselves well enough to secure a emphatic win and instead found ourselves creeping towards victory. Our bowling was spot on in both innings led by Sam Curran and Stuart Broad who both obliterated promising partnerships and found the outside edge towards the slips and Bairstow on several occasions. This means that we have very suitable candidates to step up in Anderson’s absence and shape the future of English bowling for good. 

In the other two matches, Hong Kong thrashed Germany by an innings and 148 runs with a Tanveer Ahmed century leading the way whilst Mohammad Ghazanfar (5-17) and Ehsan Khan (5-10) demolishing an English county studded German line up. The Hammerby Arena hosted Denmark versus Fiji and saw the home side cruise to a 7 wicket victory. Yorkshire’s Jonny Tattersall starred with bat (62) whilst spinner Yash Christian (6-36) put the icing on the Danish cake. Fiji’s bowler Villaime Manakiwai was unfortunate to be on the losing side after figures of 5-37 and 3-25.

Next up for us is Hong Kong yet again at the Home of Cricket with a fixture error leaving our first 3 home games at Lords…. We will ponder team changes and will have one enforced with the retirement of Jimmy Anderson. Scouts and analysts were sent to the Hong Kong – Germany match to gain insight and knowledge to where we can be successful against the tourists. The team are grateful and thankful for the support in the newly formed league and look forward to our upcoming match aiming to right the wrongs from our victory against PNG.

Jamie Hamilton ( Selection Drafter/Designer for England)