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:
Joe Root (C)
Jonny Bairstow (+)
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:
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.
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:
Hong 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.
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 🏴
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.
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.
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.
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
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)...
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.
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?
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.
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.
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:
Joe Root (C)
Jonny Bairstow (+)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
In my absence, the world of cricket awaits a major summer of cricket filled action as the World Cup kicks into gear on Thursday with pre tournament hosts and favourites England entertaining the South Africans at the Kia Oval. The inclusion of Jofra Archer, whilst highly inevitable, has created unknown realms of possibility with a gutted and determined David Willey exiled and sure to be playing some fierce cricket for Yorkshire.
With all 10 teams now in England for the highly anticipated World Cup, the numerous amounts of fans have rolled in, some booing the much discussed return of formerly banned Australian pair Steve Smith and David Warner. Players like Trent Boult, Virat Kohli, Andre Russell, Chris Gayle and Rashid Khan headlining, Cricket has never seen a more exciting year yet!
Cricket 19 is now officially out! I am really looking forward to getting my hands on this tomorrow when it arrives. Looking at initial videos, opinions in the enhanced and new game, I think we are in for a real treat. In terms of the blog, you can expect to see a variety of reports and posts about Cricket 19 including: (A rookie English career mode,Test World Championship (much like the Global Test Championship started on this blog under Ashes Cricket 17), A World Cup Mode,Scenario Modes and plenty of created Test matches, ODI’s and T20I as head coach of an international side…
Last ball of the Final Day in the Victoria – South Australia clash, hometown hero Hamilton finds the edge through to the keeper of the No.11 batsman to win and lift the Sheffield Shield! Make your own memories on Cricket 19 with an enhanced career mode, World Championship, Ashes modes and fully personal customisable competitions, tours and modes. What will you do?
The pinnacle of cricket that is Test Cricket will feature quite heavily in this blog with Cricket 19 at the helm. However, there are 3 Ashes Cricket Global Test Championship reports needing to be released in the imminent future alongside the final standings from the 6 games played. Plans for another Test League and Test Championship are looking very good and plausible in my mind along with handing out lots of caps to young and inexperienced players and also some returning faces.
Disclaimer: Being at secondary school has some limitations to the amount of posts I can get out regularly and I have some Year 10 Mocks from the start of June until late June (oh dear I have revealed my age) so to begin with posts will be when I have time but following that the grind to play, enjoy and report will certainly be in full swing. Playing cricket as well quite frequently won’t help my cause but might feature in the blog.
HOWZAT!!!!!! Probably going to miss all 3 as usual. Updates on the real world cricket will resume and be in full swing with a vast amount of games during a long English summer. Alongside the World Cup, the T20 Blast and 4 day County Cricket will still take place and my blog will possibly extend myself to opinions, previews, reports and predictions.
Back to the virtual console and PC world and Cricket Captain 2019 is released on the commence of the World Cup on Thursday. I am very indifferent about the game and it might feature sparsely on the blog as I would like to focus on the real world and Cricket 19.
As I end this “Under the Helmet” post, I want to thank and show my support for every single person that offers their help and hours to the XBOX and PS4 communities for these cricket games. They do an incredible job and the game would be nothing if it wasn’t for those guys – keep up the good work!
A rather late but important piece of news – Cricket 19 will be here with us on the 28th May!
More Joe Root hundreds coming your way and the understated news that players will take their helmets off when scoring a hundred… very minor but exciting nonetheless!
I think Cricket 19 will be my year for fielding but you can still guarantee the odd comical run out and dropped catches.
A delevoped career mode awaits us in fact as Big Ant CEO Ross Symons said: “Enhancements to the career mode build a story around your player; how you look in the news headlines affects your potential career trajectory.” In Ashes Cricket 17, I had completed a career mode which wasn’t posted due to my progress before I started blogging and I went from Canberra to New South Wales to Australian captain. Hopefully in Cricket 19, I will blog more often about my career mode from the outset.
Stand up out of chairs or your couch or sofa or whatever you are on and applaud this masterstroke genius of an innings from me taking a solid 4 hours but paying significant rewards. I’m pretty certain scores like this won’t be seen from any one individual again. A career mode where I begin in England as a batting all rounder with the handy leg spin or a quick bowler with lower order hitting – who knows?
With the real life Global Test Championship arriving to Cricket in 2020, I will be looking to continue my Test League into the new game with possibly two Test divisions consisting of 8 – 12 possible teams in it. As 80 nations have now been ranked in the T20I standings with plenty of new nations registered in status to play International T20 matches, I will explore the opportunity to have T20I and ODI leagues plus a World Cup mode.
So, will Cricket 19 be a six out of the park and a smashing success or will we be run out of ideas come August?!
After defeating Pakistan in the International T20 Tri Series final, we embarked a two match test series in the UAE against Pakistan in Short Leg’s first coaching role for a Test match. Coming into the series, speculation was rife concerning who would make the squad and who would be missing out including the injured. The squad decided by the Chairman of Selectors and assistants Ricky Ponting and Mark Waugh would be the team tasked with winning overseas without the big names:
1. Matt Renshaw 2. Joe Burns 3. Usman Khawaja 4. Peter Handscomb 5. Marnus Labuschagne 6. Travis Head 7. Tim Paine (C) (+) 8. Matthew Wade (+) 9. Glenn Maxwell 10. Mitchell Marsh 11. Steven O’Keefe 12. Nathan Lyon 13. Mitchell Starc 14. Josh Hazelwood 15. James Pattinson 16. Jhye Richardson 17. Jon Holland 18. Peter Siddle
When a Hafeezless Pakistan won the toss and opted to bowl first, their decision was looking good early on with Hasan Ali completing a superb caught and bowled to dismiss Burns. Pakistan used their home expertise to their advantage with the selection of 4 seamers and a batting all round spinner which they would hope would prove crucial at the conclusion of the match. Their seamers troubled the Australians initially but the Queensland pair of Renshaw and Khawaja battled defiantly to see the tourists through to Lunch and then Tea on Day 1. Khawaja was the aggressor of the pair and showed some fine form in his shot making vindicating his selection. His 84, including 9 fours and 1 six, kickstarted a remarkable Australian collapse losing 8 wickets for just 91.
Hasan Ali made two breakthroughs at 202 Handscomb falling for a second ball duck after Khawaja. Opener Renshaw had batted patiently and intelligently before a lapse in concentration ended a 249 ball knock and his chances of a second Test match hundred. Travis Head was the next highest scorer behind the Queensland duo with a solid but unspectacular 28 whilst Glenn Maxwell (19), on his return to Test cricket, and captain/keeper Tim Paine fell to Mohammed Abbas. The double A’s Amir and Abbas removed Pattinson and Lyon respectively leaving Australia 291-9 before a sharp Amir bouncer prematurely ended the innings of Australia and resigning fast bowler Josh Hazelwood to the medical table, where he stayed for the rest of the match.
The typical Matt Renshaw innings with a strong presence on the offside.
With the added blow of losing fast bowler Josh Hazelwood, Australia had to turn to James Pattinson on his long awaited return to 5 day cricket to take the new ball with Starc and both started unconvincingly. Off spinner Nathan Lyon also began poorly as openers Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali capitalised on a sluggish start until the score was 67 when all rounder Glenn Maxwell found Ali’s edge caught by Renshaw. Aslam pushed on towards the final session of Day 2 with support by the talented Babar Azam – it was going to be a long field day for the tourists!
Sami Aslam struck his 16th four consequently bringing up his impressive ton but he soon fell for 112 with Starc swinging the old ball into the pads at 190-2. Azam and Shafiq guided Pakistan to the close of Day 2 but the latter was soon dismissed by Lyon early into the morning finding more bounce which clipped the back pad. Bowling in pairs, Maxwell shortly removed Azam’s off stump for a well made 74 and had Pakistan 232-4. Debutant Hussain Talat began in fine form wonderfully caressing the ball to the boundary despite losing partners. Mitchell Starc removed Sohail (16) with Joe Burns taking the catch before seaming partner James Pattinson took a remarkable caught and bowled of Captain Safaraz Ahmed (13).
Talat and Ashraf extended the hosts lead with a 47 run partnership and Hasan Ali provided lower order runs in a 33 run partnership with Talat. Glenn Maxwell took the crucial wicket of Talat for 83 shortly after Ashraf played a wild slash to Renshaw at leg slip for 24. Highlighting Lyon’s lack of profligacy, Maxwell wrapped up the innings with figures of 6-100 Ali (15) and Abbas (0) falling in successive balls but left the hosts 103 runs ahead.
With a large deficit in front of them the Aussies needed a solid start and had a comfortable opening before at 36-1 Burns was caught and bowled again this time by Amir. The reunion of Renshaw and Khawaja caused problems for the Pakistan as they looked to settle into their innings albeit some poor fielding and dropped catches. As reverse swing became a factor, Renshaw on 38 succumbed to Abbas’s in dipper and left the Australians 2 down and still behind their lead. Peter Handscomb quickly got himself of a pair and showed great maturity and composure. The ominous partnership reached 84 before Abbas this time held onto one from Khawaja (61) off his own bowling. Travis Head endured a tricky Test debut falling for 1 to Amir before a counter attacking knock from Maxwell was swiftly complete compiling 32 from 37 but exiting as the Aussies reached 207-5.
Cometh the hour when Australia needed a big and vital partnership, Handscomb and leader of men Tim Paine joined together in a 156 run stand prompting Pakistan frustration and disappointment in the field. Handscomb completed his ton with a splendid on drive and soon Paine had his half century, knocking the ball around expertly. Paine’s resistance was ended by Hasan Ali for 75 which was added by the departure of Handscomb for 134 to Ashraf completing the Pakistan fightback as Australia were 373-7. A valuable 41 runs were added between Starc, Pattinson and Lyon therefore pushing the score beyond 400 and leaving a 312 run chase on a degrading Day 5 pitch.
Amir’s 4 wicket haul giving Pakistan a strong chance at successfully chasing down 312 after Captain Paine’s hard fought resilience.
Encountering a difficult but manageable chase in home conditions on the final day, Pakistan set out their stall with aggressive but calculated batting from the openers against Starc and Pattinson’s pace and swing. Soon after an early 50 partnership, first inning centurion Sami Aslam (34) provided a thin edge for Paine to hold on to for Nathan Lyon’s first wicket. Another 50 run partnership between Azam and Azhar Ali had put Pakistan in a commanding position but were swiftly pegged back as Maxwell and Renshaw combined for the dismissal of Ali (39). Approaching 50 himself, Azam was at a loss to explain his decision to slog Pattinson which saw his stumps dismantled.
From 140-3, Talat and Shafiq gave Pakistan a fantastic platform to win from with an aggressive and quickfire 103 run partnership which took with it the diminishing hope of an Australian victory. Talat played a heavily off sided game in contrast to Shafiq’s leg side game ultimately creating a harder task for the tourists. However, the ever reliable Mitchell Starc through the game up in the air with back to back dismissals. Shafiq played on for 56 at 243 before 19 runs later Talat departed for 70 after being pinned on the pads. A mini lower order collapse was caused with Sohail (8) and Ashraf (1) falling to the deadly duo of Lyon and Starc. Hovering at 269-7 still requiring 42 to win in the final 11 overs, Lyon took the key wicket of the last remaining “batsman” in Safaraz Ahmed (10) at 280-8. However, Mohammed Amir and Hasan Ali remained strong in defence and resiliently blocked out the remaining half a dozen overs to end this classic Test match in a well fought out draw.
Almost but not quite for Pakistan who couldn’t get over the line!
Lyon and Starc were the key bowlers in Australia’s quest for a win ending in a draw.
Usman Khawaja produced two defiant, determined and profitable innings assisting Australia to a well earnt draw. In general, we played some fantastic cricket and the 156 run stand between Handscomb and Paine was crucial for setting Pakistan a total with the hope of bowling them out. As a team, we stood together firmly and strongly and helped to provide a spectacular Test match which ebbed and flowed. The loss of fast bowler Josh Hazelwood before he had bowled a ball hampered our chances but our main bowlers were ably supported by Glenn Maxwell and part time options which all contributed to a pleasing performance.
Heading into the final Test match of 2 in the series, it is likely that Hazelwood will miss the match supplying an opportunity for seamers Jhye Richardson and Peter Siddle to deputise or alternatively spin with Steve O’Keefe and Jon Holland waiting in the wings. Mitchell Marsh could come into contention as a bowling allrounder meanwhile Travis Head’s poor debut showing puts pressure on his spot in the side. Revisit the site to see the outcome of the second test match between Pakistan and Australia which will be a mouth watering contest to decide the victor of the series! The team are overwhelmed by the support.
With a rather bleak and disappointing looking table following our three consecutive losses in the Global Test Championship, England travel to Afghanistan looking to beat the rising and potentially great test side containing spin aplomb.
Whilst we will not name the official XI to encounter 3rd placed Afghanistan, we can confirm that Somerset’s left arm spinner Jack Leach will add to his caps gained in New Zealand and Sri Lanka (real life) and make his GTC debut. His left arm off spin gives us a different dimension to our line up which will be boosted by Leach’s consistency and variety with the pink ball.
His definite inclusion means that a change at least will occur in our bowling attack with experienced seamer Stuart Broad at risk ,after taking two wickets @ 180, of losing his place if we decide the pitch favours spinners over seamers. Alternatively, the option to replace a batter remains on the table with both openers under pressure with the certainty that both Moeen Ali ( 11 wickets) and Adil Rashid ( 10 wickets) will feature heavily with the ball.
Reflecting on our first innings struggles with the bat (winning the toss and bowling would be preferred), Joe Denly is yet again included and could replace either Jennings (93 runs @ 15.50 ) or Burns (99 runs @ 16.50) as a predominately opening batsman but also the option of some handy leg spin. He joins Sam Curran, who was incidentally picked as a batsman and fast bowler Mark Wood in the 15 man squad touring to Asia.
With pressure certainly increases on all concerned in the England setup, a win wouldn’t go a miss but will no doubt be very tricky against a capable Afghanistan who have already shocked Australia so far in the GTC. The imminent threat of spin trio Mohammed Nabi, Rashid Khan and Mujeeb Ur Rahman will definitely not be an exciting prospect for our batsman but we will need to be on top of them to ensure victory. Left arm seamer Ahmed is also a threat with the new and old ball whilst opening duo Inshullah and Ahmadi will be hoping to continue their imperious form. Stay tuned for Game 4 of the Global Test Championship and the round up of the other fixtures right her eon the website in the short future.
England have survived plenty of storms in the past but this storm brought from the legendary Christopher Henry Gayle was too powerful and blew away the English in a hammering 7 wicket win for the West Indies in the latest round of Global Test Championship fixtures in the inaugural season – coming into this game, both teams were winless!
In true GTC fashion, the opposition won the toss and inserted us into a surprisingly bouncy and sprightly Old Trafford pitch. England set their stall out early to be determined and defensive against the new ball which backfired when Burns (8) edged Alzarri Joseph to the keeper at 23-1. West Indies captain Jason Holder exploited the bounce dismissing his opposite captain Root (5) after bouncing out home born Lancashire opener Keaton Jennings for 25. GTC debutant Bairstow stood firm and rode out a tricky lively opening session from the West Indies quicks and spinners with reminiscence of the glory West Indies days with Courtney Walsh and Micheal Holding. Spin proved the downfall of promoted batsman Moeen Ali (5) and Jos Buttler (20) arriving at Lunch five down for the third successive match.
Boundaries were hard to come by for England but wicket keepers Foakes and Bairstow built a 66 run partnership to ease the pressure on the batsman in the shed and the increasingly frustrated supporters. Bairstow reached 50 despite scoring no boundaries which was the theme for the majority of batsmen in the game (bar a few) and Foakes was seemingly following his understudy to a half ton before oddly attempting a sweep to a pretty straight delivery. Surrey keeper Foakes scored 85 against the Proteas but since then has struggled for a consistency with the bat which has contributed to the occasional drop with the gloves. His spot is safe for the moment…
As regular wickets fell in the innings, England were indebted to a gritty Adil Rashid 20 as he hung around long enough prompting Bairstow to increase his scoring rate. After Rashid’s dismissal, leg spinner Bishoo wrapped up Broad and just had Jimmy Anderson to go. But, Anderson confidently blocked and left which allowed Bairstow to reach his three figures containing only four fours – Anderson was soon out but it was Bairstow’s innings which propelled England up to a respectable total after an accomplished display from the West Indies bowlers. – (England 253 Bairstow 103NO Foakes 43 ; Bishoo 3-41 Joseph 3-60)
West Indies started brightly taking advantage of the wayward lines provided by Broad and Anderson. Chris Gayle on his Test return began an onslaught of hitting, attacking each length and line. Our seamers couldn’t extract the same pace and bounce the Windies bowlers found and soon the tourists raced to a 100 partnership. Top English GTC wicket taker Moeen Ali removed Braithwaite (41) at the end of play with a smart catch by Foakes. Day 2 came and the momentum hadn’t changed as Gayle motored to his 150! 226 was the next wicket with Ali and Foakes combining to dismiss Mohammad (43).
Spin was proving to be more beneficial on a degrading pitch with leg spinner Adil Rashid pitching in with the wicket of dangerous Shai Hope (25) – Foakes with a blinder! Gayle remained at the crease despite all possible tactics from captain Root and the bowling attack which proved to be at no avail. Rashid picked up his second at 315-4, Hetmyer departing (20) before the moment all Caribbean fans had been wishing for…
A remarkable innings rightly deserved after showing an unusual side to his game with patience blended in with amazing ball striking to perplex the England side. Blackwood (5) was Ali’s third victim and soon followed Gayle falling for 217 from 277 balls to a googly from Rashid – a match winning knock. England had restored some pride in their game and had successfully brought the game at least back to some small credibility. Keeper Shane Dowrich played an attacking innings of 70 to lift the West Indies into a 238 run lead which saw Ali and Rashid take 4 wickets each. (West Indies 491 Gayle 217 Dowrich 70 ; Ali 4-99 Rashid 4-110)
Staring down the barrel of a crushing home defeat, Jennings fell to Joesph for just 2 poorly attempting the pull, summing up our lack of runs. Other incumbent opener Burns showed his first sign of form in the GTC after being well set on 41 but his solid defence was ripped apart from part time off break bowler Braithwaite. Braithwaite was soon jumping for joy and had West Indies in hot pursuit of a wicket win catching Root LBW on his first ball.
Jonny Bairstow backed up his maiden GTC hundred with 78 at a high scoring rate and was the only real positive from this English display. Still about 100 runs behind, England then slipped to 169-7 with Foakes (4) and Ali (1) falling to the successful short ball theory from Holder before Woakes’ (7) resistance was ended by Bishoo. Jos Buttler and Adil Rashid added valuable lower order runs to the England side with Buttler closing in on a maiden GTC century in a return to form. But…
Buttler’s fantastic innings was ended by seamer Joseph whose extra height and pace troubled Buttler and sent him back for an impressive 87. When Rashid departed for a solid 42 to double centurion Chris Gayle, England were looking at setting a 50 run lead at best.
Broad and Anderson rolled back the years with two swashbuckling knocks to add some pressure to the top order batsman of the tourists successfully upping the total to chase a much better, respected total of 158 and ending the English resistance at all out for 395. (England 395 Buttler 87 Bairstow 78 ; Joseph 3-67 Braithwaite 2-22)
For the third game in a row, our opponents were chasing a total under 200 to win but we had early hope when Woakes zipped one through to the “Universe Boss” which found the edge to Foakes. England continued to add pressure and checked the tourists progress with Burns superbly running out Braithwaite (35). A 95 run partnership effectively ruined England’s chances of pulling off a massive victory with catches going down in the slips and the outfield. Shai Hope was removed for 49 on the cusp of victory by Anderson but Roston Chase (52 not out) and Shimron Hetmyer (7 not out) guided the West Indies to a famous away victory and more importantly their first win of the championship.
Relatively new opening batsman Rory Burns has struggled to adapt to the pink ball in this championship so far scoring 99 runs @ 16.50 with a high score of 41. His form has improved since his opening matches and look composed in his 41 and was unfortunate to be dismissed. That innings may have boosted his chances of making the trip to Afghanistan where changes will need to be made to overturn this horrendous start. His batting partner Keaton Jennings place is also under question with 93 runs @ 15.50 with one fifty whilst batting order changes to our middle order will (hopefully) be the trick into scoring more runs especially in the first innings.
England need to get going in the Global Test Championship quickly in order to have any chance of finishing in a competitive spot aiming of course for the final. With the host’s pitch looking very conducive and beneficial to spin, the playing XI and squad of England will be no doubt intriguing and fascinating to see. An opportunity arises for our two main spinners Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid to continue their excellent wicket taking during the GTC. They could be accompanied by Somerset’s left arm spinner Jack Leach who comes into contention for a start alongside team mate Dom Bess and Hampshire spinner Mason Crane. Opening batsman Burns and Jennings will be sweating over their places with Joe Denly and Haseeb Hameed waiting in the wings but a recall for Sam Curran amongst others looks unlikely at this stage. Ben Stokes remains injured and will miss the following Trent Bridge encounter with the Australians but the focus shifts to England with the bid to score their first points of the Championship against the youthful and talent boasting Afghanistan squad.
Following last week’s teaser of a new console Cricket game, today England Cricket Twitter page confirmed the new game with the title of Cricket 19 with Big Ant Studios. This game is subjected to be released in May of this year, so well before the Ashes start and just before the beginning of the Cricket World Cup. Just the fact there is a new Cricket game to spend hours playing is simply fantastic and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I will link in the two videos with some analysis and the link of the information from the England Cricket website. Enjoy your days and week and I will be back at some stage next week.