England v South Africa – T20I Series Preview

With England and South Africa both smarting from exiting the fifty-over ICC Champions Trophy prematurely earlier this month, they will be glad of the chance to move on to a new format and to put their disappointments behind them.

The sides play four Test matches later in the summer, but before that comes a full three-game T20 International series, with games scheduled to be played at The Rose Bowl, Southampton (Weds 21st June); Somerset’s County Ground in Taunton (Fri 23rd June); and Sophia Gardens in Cardiff (Sunday 25th June)

Neither side have played a T20 international since February, and both are resting several key men from their squads for these encounters. England are without first-choice players Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jake Ball, while South Africa are resting a similar number of top players in their usual T20 captain Faf du Plessis as well as Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, JP Duminy and Kagiso Rabada.

There are potential international debuts (in any format) for no less than five players in England’s squad – batsmen Liam Livingstone (Lancashire) and Dawis Malan (Middlesex), spinner Mason Crane (Hampshire) and quick bowlers Tom Curran (Surrey) and Craig Overton (Somerset). For their part, South Africa could hand T20I caps to spinner Tabraiz Shamsi and quick bowler Dwaine Pretorius.

With so much change from their usual squads, it is probably somewhat irrelevant that England are currently ranked second in the world in the shortest format as compared to the Proteas sixth place, and the fact that England won the ODI series 2-1 in May will count for little either. But both teams will be looking to get back to winning ways.

Individually, the players to watch out for as they approach personal milestones are as follows:

Eoin Morgan

England’s white-ball skipper currently has 1,568 T20 International runs to his credit, which is enough to see him in 11th place in the world for runs scored in the format. Such is the tight nature of the race ahead of him that 123 runs in the series could see Morgan rocket up the ladder to sixth place in the world, passing Pakistanis Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaid Mailk (1620 and 1626 in 10th and 9th respectively); the Proteas’s rested JP Duminy in 8th on 1684; Aussie David Warner in 7th on 1687; and another Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal in 6th on 1691.

Jos Buttler

England’s wicketkeeper has 943 T20I runs, so another 57 will see him pass the 1000 milestone

Alex Hales

Opening batsman Hales is the only England player yet to score a t20I century – one more will see him join New Zealander Brendon McCullum and Universe Boss Chris Gayle as the only players in the world with two hundreds in the 20-over game.

Imran Tahir

The South Africa spinner is currently the world’s highest ranked T20I bowler. He has 54 T20 International wickets in his ledger already, putting him in joint 11th place in the world alongside Sohail Tanvir and Dwayne Bravo. Another 5 wickets will see him move into joint tenth place alongside compatriot Dale Steyn and Blackcap Nathan McCullum, while six will see him into joint ninth place with Afghanistani all-rounder Mohammad Nabi.

Imran is one of six bowlers to have taken three four-wicket hauls in T20s – another such performance would move him joint first in the world with Pakistanis Unmar Gul and Saeed Ajmal, who both have four four-fors.

Scotland v Zimbabwe – ODI Series June 2017

The joy of following international cricket for me is not limited to the glare of publicity, TV & radio coverage, and endless column inches that are lavished on countless matches between the leading ICC full members. I love watching the associates do battle too and, always a fan of the underdog, where there is a chance for an associate to give a full member a bloody nose or two, my interest piques even more!

This week is one such chance as Scotland take on Zimbabwe in a two-game ODI series at The Grange in Edinburgh, with matches scheduled for both Thursday 15th June and Saturday 17th June. It is a rare bilateral series for the Scots against a Test-playing nation, and they’ll be looking to cause something of an upset.

Scotland enter the series with their form very much mixed. Just under a month ago they stunned a full-strength Sri Lanka by hammering them by seven wickets in a practice match at Beckenham in Kent. Unfortunately for the Scots, the match did not carry official ODI status as the ground was not deemed up to ICC standards, but that doesn’t take away from the magnitude of the achievement.

Sadly, they followed up that win with a nine-wicket loss to the Lankans in the second game of the series, and earlier this week suffered a shock home defeat to Namibia – a team that doesn’t currently have ODI status. Can they recapture the form of that first game in Kent? If they can, then Zimbabwe have every reason to be nervous.

For their part, the Africans have not played an ODI since February, when they played another associate nation, Afghanistan, in a five game series in Harare, losing 4-1. They are using this series as a warm up to their tour of Sri Lanka later in the year, and will definitely be keen to get back to winning ways.

So, much to play for, but also keep a look out for the following personal milestones that players from both sides will be aiming for:

Scotland

Preston Mommsen

The former captain recently came out of international retirement and was back in the team that lost to Namibia earlier this week. He currently has 1101 ODI runs for the Scots, enough to hold down third place in the all-time scorers’ list for his country. He’ll be looking for 131 more to surpass former England/Scotland dual international Gavin Hamilton in second spot. The man who replaced Mommsen as captain, Kyle Coetzer, is in first place.

Josh Davey

Somerset spinner Davey is only available for the second game in the series, but he’ll be aiming for 4 wickets in that game to take him to 50 in the 50-over format.

Matt Cross

Keeper and opening batsman (and MCC Young Cricketer) Matt Cross has taken 47 catches in ODIs for Scotland, so just three more will notch up a half-century of grabs.

 

Zimbabwe

Chris Mpofu

Quick bowler Mpofu currently has 85 ODI wickets in his 76 appearances for Zimbabwe, a tally which sees him sit in seventh place in his country’s wicket takers list. Three more will see him overtake all-rounder Guy Whittall who took 88 wickets in his 147 games as part of Zimbabwe’s succesfull team of the late 1990s.

Graeme Cremer

Hot on the heels of both Chris and Guy is current skipper, spin bowler Graeme Cremer, who has 84 wickets in ODIs.

Malcolm Waller

Batsman Waller needs 36 runs to bring up 1000 in ODIs

West Indies v Afghanistan- June 2017 ODI Series Preview

Fresh from their clean sweep in the Twenty20 International series held earlier this month in St Kitts & Nevis, (see review here) the West Indies now host Afghanistan for three One-Dayers at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Ground in Gros Islet, St Lucia.

Whilst the Windies are reigning T20 world champions, their ODI status is far less impressive – currently ranked 9th in the world. They therefore missed out on qualification for the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy in the UK. Afghanistan sit just one place behind in 10th, comfortably the highest ranking Associate nation.

An intriguing series awaits, and thanks to a great initiative from the rebranded West Indies national board, you can watch it live and for free on the Cricket West Indies website (here).

From an individual player perspective, keep an eye on the following as they approach personal milestones:

Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)

Already Afghanistan’s leading run-scorer, wicket-taker, and appearance-maker in ODI cricket, all-rounder Mohammad Nabi needs just 98 runs in the series to become the first Afghani player to notch up 2000 runs in one day internationals.

Rahmat Shah (Afghanistan)

23-year old fellow all-rounder Rahmat Shah comes into the series in great form having scored an unbeaten century in Afghanistan’s most recent ODI against Ireland at their Greater Noida base in India in March.

He currently has 847 career runs from his 27 ODI appearances, requiring 153 to bring up his 1000.

Dawlat Zadran (Afghanistan)

Quick bowler Dawlat sits just two wickets behind Mohammad Nabi in second place in Afghanistan’s all-time ODI wicket-takers list, with 82 scalps to his name so far. It’s a shoot-out between the two of them for top spot!

Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

The 18-year old wunderkind spin bowler has made a stratospheric start to his career, both with Afghanistan and with his IPL franchise, Sunrisers Hyderabad.

He has already taken 53 ODI wickets from his 26 appearances, and needs just four more to overtake Hamid Hassan’s 56 and move into third place in Afghanistan’s wicket takers list.

Keiran Powell (West Indies)

West Indies have selected a very inexperienced squad for this series, and remarkably with 883 runs to his name, Nevis-born opening batsman Powell is the leading ODI run scorer within it.

He’ll be looking for 117 more to bring up his 1000.

 

Steven Finn called up by England.

With Chris Woakes ruled out of the rest of the Champions Trophy tournament with a side-strain, England today confirmed they have called up Middlesex fast bowler Steven Finn as his replacement in the squad.

Finny has played 69 ODIs for England, racking up 102 wickets in the process, enough for tenth place in England’s all time wicket takers list.

If he can notch up three more, he’ll overtake spinner Graeme Swann and move into ninth.

Eight wickets will move him one spot further up past Tim Bresnan into eighth, and if he can somehow get ten more he’ll nip past Paul Collingwood in seventh too!

Lots of incentive there for Watford’s finest if he can find himself a spot in the starting XI.

 

2017 ICC Champions Trophy – Group B

In this second post previewing the upcoming International Cricket Council Champions Trophy taking place in England and Wales, we look at the teams in Group B – India, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Read our preview of Group A here: 2017 ICC Champions Trophy – Group A

India

The ICC Champions Trophy holders, having won the last staging of this tournament in a reduced 20-overs a side final against England at Edgbaston in 2013, enter this year’s version as one of the favourites – and if they come through, they will be the second side to successfully defend their Champions Trophy title after Australia did so in 2009. No pressure.

These are the players to keep an eye on for India:

Virat Kohli

If India’s talismanic captain can rack up 245 runs over the next two weeks, he will move to 8,000 career ODI runs.

Virat also currently sits on 27 centuries in the ODI format, good enough for fourth place in the world. One more century in the tournament and he will draw level with Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya in third place.

MS Dhoni

The man Virat replaced as captain, MS Dhoni, is currently India’s fifth highest run scorer in One Day Internationals with 9275 runs. 104 more runs will see him overtake Mohammad Azharuddin’s 9378 and move up to fourth place.

Perhaps more excitingly for wicketkeeper fans, Dhoni has effected 94 stumpings in his One Day International (ODI) career, and needs an unlikely but not impossible six more to become the first ever keeper to reach a century of stumpings, and in doing so would surpass Sri Lankan great Kumar Sangakkara’s current world record of 99.

Yuvraj Singh

If India reach the semi-finals, and Yuvi plays in every game along the way, he will move from his current 296 ODI appearances to the milestone of 300 games for his country, the fifth Indian after Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Mohammad Azharuddin and Sourav Ganguly to reach those dizzying heights. That’s some very grand company.

Ravindra Jadeja

One of India’s two potentially game-changing spin-bowling all-rounders fittingly has his eye on both a batting milestone and a bowling one.

Wielding the blade, Ravindra requires 112 runs to move to 2000 ODI runs.

With the ball in hand, he needs six wickets on top of his current tally of 151 to move onto 157, enough to give him a share of tenth place in India’s all-time ODI wicket takers’ list with both Manoj Prabhakar and Ashish Nehra, passing Sachin Tendulkar’s 154 along the way.

Rohit Sharma

The holder of the world record for highest ever individual ODI score, Rohit currently has 5131 ODI runs in his career. A further 108 runs in this tournament will see him overtake Gautam Gambhir in eleventh spot in India’s all time list, while 229 will see him dislodge Ajay Jadeja from the top ten.

Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami

Finally, two of India’s quick bowlers, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami currently have 88 and 87 ODI wickets to their names respectively – needing 12 and 13 to move to the mark of a century of wickets each. Can either of them make it?

 

Pakistan

Although Pakistan have both a World T20 International (T20I) and a ODI World Cup title to their name, they have yet to make the final of a Champions Trophy, and only narrowly managed to qualify for this version, squeezing out the West Indies to claim the eighth and final qualifying spot. Hopes are not high for their chances this time around, but a few of their players will be seeking personal milestones at least:

Shoaib Malik

The all-rounder needs three more appearances to notch up 250 for his country, enough to move him into joint sixth place with Ijaz Ahmed in Pakistan’s all time ODI appearance list.

Mohammad Hafeez

Pakistan’s opening batsman needs 114 runs to move on to 5842 in his career, and to knock Rameez Raja out of Pakistan’s top ten runs scorers in the format.

Haris Sohail

Called in as a late replacement to Pakistan’s 15 man squad for the tournament, if Sohail can make 226 runs in the next two weeks, he will move to 1000 in the format for his country.

Junaid Khan

Pakistan’s quick bowler currently has 86 ODI wickets, so 14 more will take him to a nice round 100.

 

South Africa

Sssh, don’t mention the “C” word. South Africa will once again be looking to rid themselves of their storied curse in major ICC tournaments, although they can lay claim to winning the first ever staging of what became the Champions Trophy when they won the inaugural ICC Knockout Trophy in Bangladesh in 1998.

Expectations are high this time around, with the Proteas ranked number one in the world in ODI’s and heavily tipped to make the final. Keep a watchful brief on the following players as they work their way through the tournament:

Morne Morkel

If the big quick can break into the side, he needs 12 more wickets to move to 193, and into fifth place all time for the Proteas, leapfrogging Lance Klusener in the process.

Wayne Parnell

The all-rounder will be looking for six wickets to bring up his 100 in the format, currently having taken 94.

David Miller

With 96 appearances to his name, South Africa’s big-hitting middle order batsman will be hoping his side makes at least the semi-finals with him in the team, as he needs four more appearances to bring up 100.

AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla

Two of the undoubted stars of the modern game, Hashim Amla and AbdV both have 24 One day International centuries to their name, sharing sixth place in the world’s all time list of century-makers. They’ll both be looking to hit one more to reach 25 and move level in fifth place with Kumar Sangakarra , or just maybe bag two to move ahead of the master Sri Lankan.

 

Sri Lanka

The islanders have a World Cup title to their name in both ODI and T20I formats, and can also boast a joint Champions Trophy success when they shared the trophy with India in 2002 following a washed out final on their home turf of Colombo.

Although always dangerous in tournaments, they are not expected to do too well this time around with a side very much in transition, but pay attention to the performances of a few of their players as they approach the following milestones:

Lasith Malinga

Malinga the Slinger currently has 291 ODI wickets in the bag, needing nine more to reach a fabulous 300. Should he reach the target, he will become just the 13th player in the history of the game to do so, and the third Sri Lankan after Chaminda Vaas and Sanath Jayasuriya.

Nuwan Kulasekera

Malinga’s fellow quick is much closer to his personal milestone, needing just one more wicket to reach 200.

Upul Tharanga

Tharanga needs 71 more runs to reach 6000 ODI runs for Sri Lanka.

Chamara Kapugedera

If Chamara appears in all three of Sri Lanka’s group games, he will move from 97 to 100 ODI appearances in the blue and yellow uniform.

2017 ICC Champions Trophy – Group A

The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, to be played in England and Wales, starts this Thursday with the opening game between hosts England and Bangladesh at The Oval in London.

In this first post I take a look at the possible milestones to be reached by players from the four teams in Group A – Australia, Bangladesh, England and New Zealand.

Each team can play a maximum of five games in this tournament – three in the group stages, a semi-final and the final – so I have considered possible milestones that may be reached in that time-frame, barring a freak run of double centuries or ten-wicket hauls. Anything is possible of course, but I’m trying to be as realistic as possible!

For a preview of Group B, have a look over here.

Australia

The Aussies are perennial winners of ICC 50-over tournaments, and again enter this one as one of the favourites. Currently ranked second in the world in ODIs, they are the only team to have won more than one Champions Trophy outright, lifting the silverware in 2006 and 2009. Watch out for the following as the tournament unfolds:

Steven Smith

If Australia reach the final, and their captain plays in every game, Steve Smith will bring up 100 ODI appearances for the boys in yellow, currently having 95 to his name.

David Warner

One of the possible stars of the tournament needs just 54 runs to bring up 4000 career ODI runs. Barring injury, it’s hard to see this milestone not being added to the record books.

Glenn Maxwell

Mercurial all-rounder, and self-styled “Big Show”, needs 43 runs to clock up 2000 for his country in ODIs.

Mitchell Starc

The Australians’ main strike bowler is 13 wickets shy of matching Jason Gillespie’s 142 for his country, enough to move him up to joint tenth place in the list of Australia’s all-time ODI wicket takers. 14 Starc wickets in the tournament will relegate poor Dizzy to eleventh.

Matthew Wade

Although playing as wicketkeeper gives him something of an unfair advantage over the man he might replace, the Aussie gloveman needs just two catches to move to 105 career catches and match the record of Mike Hussey, who currently holds down tenth spot in all-time ODI catches for his country.

Bangladesh

The Tigers enter the tournament ranked joint sixth in the world and qualify for their first Champions Trophy since 2006. These are the players to keep an eye on stats-wise over the next two weeks:

Mashrafe Mortaza

The Bangladesh ODI captain has currently played 175 ODIs for his country, enough to put him second on the list of all-time highest appearances for the Tigers. He needs just two more games to equal Mohammad Ashruful (177) at the top of the tree, and if he plays in all three groups games he will move clear at the top.

Shakib Al Hasan

The man tipped to replace Mashrafe as captain once he retires at the end of the tournament is currently two games behind his skipper with 173 appearances. He will need the Tigers to get to the semis to equal Ahsraful’s 177, and to the final to surpass him and move into second place outright (assuming Mashrafe plays in all the games Shakib does)

Shakib is also 185 runs shy of reaching 5000 ODI runs for Bangladesh, currently tallying 4815 runs from his 173 appearances.

Imrul Kayes

The opening batsman needs 127 runs to reach 2000 ODI runs for Bangladesh.

Soumya Sarkar

Soumya currently sits on 925 ODI runs, needing just 75 to notch up his first 1000 runs.

Rubel Hossain

The quick bowler needs 9 scalps to bring up a century of wicket for Bangladesh in ODIs, having taken 91 victims in his career to date.

England

The host nation have an unenviable and well-known record of having never won a 50-over ICC tournament, despite making it to no less than five finals, including the last Champions Trophy in 2013 where they lost to India. This time, they are in-form, at home, and enter the tournament as the bookies’ favourites. What can possibly go wrong?! These are the players to monitor:

Eoin Morgan

England’s white-ball captain Morgan is approaching a few milestones in this tournament. The following all relate to his record for England alone, noting that he did make 23 ODI appearances for his native Ireland before switching allegiance to England.

Morgan has made 157 ODI appearances in England colours, needing two more to equal Darren Gough (currently in fifth place in England’s all time appearance list on 159) and four to match Ian Bell’s 161 in fourth place. If England make the final, then Eoin will claim fourth place all for himself, assuming he plays in every game.

Eoin also needs 180 runs to bring up his 5000 for England in ODIs, and currently sits on 10 centuries for England. He needs two more centuries to match Marcus Trescothick’s 12 at the top of England’s rankings.

 

Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali

Two of England’s crucial allrounders both need 3 wickets to tally 50 ODI victims for their country, currently sitting together on 47 wickets.

Chris Woakes

Another all-rounder, Woakes needs 11 wickets to mark 100 for England

New Zealand

The final team in Group A (alphabetically speaking) are New Zealand. The Blackcaps won this trophy (then known as the ICC Knockout Trophy) in Kenya in 2000, and of course dazzled the world on their way to the 2015 World Cup Final before meekly losing in the final against Australia. A strong Group A will be difficult to escape from, but the Blackcaps are capable of beating anyone on their day, so cannot be ruled out completely.

The NZ players with upcoming personal milestones are as follows:

Kane Williamson

The skipper currently has 4362 ODI runs to his name, sitting in eleventh spot for NZ. He needs just 17 runs to match the wonderfully named Chris Zinzan Harris on 4379 and move into the top ten, and 121 runs to equal Scott Styris in ninth place.

Ross Taylor

A long-time key batsman for the Blackcaps, LPRU Taylor needs just two more appearances to overtake Styris’ 188 and move himself into eighth place for NZ.

Tim Southee

The Blackcaps’ quick bowler current has 155 ODI wickets, needing four more to overtake New Zealand’s finest ever fast bowler Sir Richard Hadlee for sixth place in the all time list for their country.

Neil Broom

Recently recalled after a long absence, Broom needs 126 runs to mark up 1000 in the format for New Zealand.

Trent Boult

The fast bowler needs 13 wickets to move to 100 in ODI uniform for the Blackcaps.

Jeetan Patel and Mitchell Santner

Another player to find himself back in the national side after a long absence, Jeetan Patel needs just one more wicket to mark 50 for his country. Fellow slow bowler Mitchell Santner needs seven scalps to bring up the same milestone, currently sitting having 43 to his name.

Luke Ronchi

And last but not least, with 97 grabs already in the record book, keeper-batsman Ronchi needs just three more catches to reach 100 for his second international country, having previously played a handful of ODIs for Australia.