West Indies v Afghanistan – June 2017 bilateral T20I series

The West Indies host Afghanistan for a three game bilateral T20I series, starting on 2nd June, with all three games to be played at the Warner Park ground in Basseterre, the capital of St Kitts and Nevis.

With the Champions Trophy under way in the UK, the series will fall well below the radar for many outside of the Caribbean or Afghanistan, but it is no less important to the two competing teams.

The Windies are the reigning World T20I champions, and smarting from their failure to qualify for the big show going on in England and Wales, will be very keen to demonstrate their dominance in the shortest form of the game.

Leading Associate nation Afghanistan on the other hand will relish a rare bilateral series against a full ICC member, and although they will start as underdogs, have shown they are no mugs competing at the top level, and won their only warm up game against a strong West Indies Cricket Board XI earlier in the week.

Keep an eye on the following:

Afghanistan

Mohammed Nabi

With current leading appearance maker, keeper-batsman Mohammad Shahzad, out of the squad for this series, all-rounder Nabi has a chance to move joint equal with Shahzad at the top of the appearance table for his country – having made 55 T20I starts compared to his compatriot’s 58.

Ashgar Stanikzai and Samiullah Shenwari

Shahzad is currently the only Afghanistan batsman to score 1000 T20I runs for his country. Captain Stanikzai and all-rounder Shenwari stand an outside chance of joining him with 842 and 841 runs to their name respectively.

Shahzad is also the only Afghani to make a T20I century, so if any of his teammates can clock one up in this series, they’ll move joint top of a very short list!

West Indies

Marlon Samuels

With top scorer and walking T20 God (in his own eyes at least) Chris Gayle not in the squad for this series, Samuels has an outside chance of overhauling him at the top of the Windies all-time T20I scoring list. Gayle currently has 1519 runs in the shortest format, so Marlon would need a whopping 243 to topple him, but stranger things have happened.

Lendl Simmons

Simmons needs 131 runs to reach 1000 international runs in the T20I format.

Samuel Badree

The Twenty20 specialist spinner currently has 47 wickets in the format, and sits in second place in the all-time T20 wicket-takers list for his country. He needs three more scalps to reach 50, and a further three to overtake Dwayne Bravo (52) as the Windies’ top bowler.

Sunil Narine

Not far behind Badree though is Narine, with 44 wickets in his column – enough for joint third place with Darren Sammy. He’ll be looking to take third place outright and put pressure on Badree and Bravo above him.

Evin Lewis

The young Trinidadian is one of only two West Indians to score a T20I century. The aforementioned Gayle is the other, and he has two. If Lewis can notch up a century not only will he draw level with the “Universe Boss”, but he’ll become only the third batsman worldwide to score two in the short format.

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.

The Opening Statsman takes guard for the first delivery

Hello, and welcome to my new site, which I hope you will find entertaining and informative!

First up, let’s address the elephant in the room – yes, this is another cricket statistics website, and yes I’m aware there are bigger and more comprehensive ones out there that are much more well-known and beloved of most cricket fans. I know that because I love those sites too, and that’s kind of why we’re here!

I have been a fan of international cricket since I was a child. I don’t come from a cricket-playing or cricket-loving family, and none of my friends growing up either played or were even slightly interested in the sport, but I fell in love with it through the medium of BBC Televisions’s Test match broadcasts in the long and usually wet school summer holidays of the mid-Eighties, when I’d sit mesmerised by the scenes being piped in from Trent Bridge, Edgbaston or Lord’s to our huge valve-powered colour TV.

It will come as no surprise that as a future accountant, one of the things that fascinated me the most about watching the cricket back then was the scorecards, graphs and charts that would pop up during the day’s coverage.  Now, I appreciate as much as the next man a good drive though the covers,  a shoulder-high bouncer, or a stunning one handed grab at second slip,  but I also loved seeing those yellow numbers superimposed over the action, ever so slowly changing at the end of every over throughout the day’s play. My first knowledge of the statistical concept of an average was taught to me not by my teacher at school, but by the wonderful Tony Lewis discussing Bob Willis’s bowling figures!

As I’ve grown up, so has the depth of statistical knowledge and information available. Television now has all manner of sophisticated charts to display in real time, radio commentators cut to regular stats based insights from scorers such as Andrew Sampson or Andy Zaltsman, and of course specialist websites such as the unbeatable ESPNCricinfo’s Statsguru database grant us access to practically anything we could wish to find out if only we’re willing to spend the time framing the question correctly.

To some fans, stats are just a by-product of the sport not to be much bothered with, but to others such as myself they are integral to our enjoyment. As I watch or listen to a game, I will also sit refreshing the live scorecard on my computer waiting to see if a player has clocked-up a significant milestone, or moved into the top ten for his country or even the world for a particular statistical category. Country records fascinate me, world records more so. In a sport with such a great history, seeing a modern-day player emulate or overtake a great of the game’s past achievement brings me tremendous pleasure, whoever they play for.

Because of my fascination with stats, and partly as a hobby project to keep my computer skills sharpened through a period of unemployment a few years ago, I managed to build from scratch (with the assistance of my software developer wife) my own basic database of historical statistics, focusing largely on international players rather than the teams they play for. I loaded up every male Test, ODI and T20I player to ever play international cricket into my database with a basic summary of their key batting, bowling and fielding stats, which I now update after each international match to keep current.

At some stage, after more fine-tuning and web design to make it look shiny, I may publish that database for others to see, but in the meantime what I noticed through playing with my data was that by filtering and sorting after each update, I could spot upcoming statistical milestones in players’ careers, or whether they were coming close to overtaking historical players in one area of the game or another. For instance, ahead of yesterday’s third ODI between England and South Africa, I knew that Hashim Amla only needed 23 more runs to pass 7000 ODI runs, and only 13 runs to overtake Graeme Smith as South Africa’s fourth highest ODI runs scorer of all time (he duly achieved both!). Knowing these potential milestones ahead of time enhances my enjoyment of watching a game – not only do I get to enjoy the game itself, but I get to keep an eye on a particular players’ achievements within it and to silently urge them on to pass that marker, whether or not the player is even aware that he is approaching it!

So, I thought to myself if I enjoy keeping an eye out for these things, then surely some other cricket fans would too – so here we are!

Ahead of each match or series, I will aim to publish a brief update as to what player stats and milestones to keep an eye on in the game. For Test matches, I will do this ahead of each individual match, however for bilateral ODI and T20I series, I will post as a minimum ahead of each series (just to manage workload – I now have a proper job which eats into my stats time!) and more often if possible. For major tournaments, starting with this week’s Champions Trophy, I will conduct reviews for each team participating and post a collective summary ahead of the tournament. I will include stats for those countries that have official International Cricket Council status for the particular form of the game – Test, One Day International or T20 International.

I will also publish a summary after each Test Match or ODI/T20I series/tournament highlighting which players reached their milestones as anticipated, and which will have to wait that little while longer.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I intend to enjoying writing it!