First Test Matches, Part One: Australia to New Zealand

This week, in the Dublin suburb of Malahide, Ireland will join an exclusive club, becoming just the eleventh side to play a full Men’s Test match, having been granted Full Member status by the ICC in June last year. When visitors Pakistan take to the field against William Porterfield’s team, they will welcome the first new Test team since 2000 when Bangladesh made their bow in the longest and most prestigious form of the international game.

Hopes are high that Ireland can cause an upset. They have a settled side packed with players with extensive international experience at ODI and T20I level and will hope that the swinging early season conditions will be unfamiliar to the visitors. If they do prevail, they will join an even more exclusive club of teams that have won their first Test. So far, only one team can claim to have done so.

To mark this historic event, I take at look at how each of the ten previous Test sides fared in their debut Test. In this first of two parts, I cover the maiden appearances at the top level of England, Australia, South Africa, the West Indies and New Zealand. Later, in Part Two, I will check out what happened when Test cricket expanded into the Indian Subcontinent and to Zimbabwe.

Test teams #1 and #2 – Australia and England.

First Test – Melbourne, Victoria – 15 March 1877

It was just over 141 years ago, on the 15 March 1877 in Melbourne, Victoria, that what became known as the first ever Test Match took place. The term “Test Match” didn’t exist at the time, and was only subsequently applied many years later, but this game is now universally accepted as the first official Test.

The venue for the inaugural contest was the venerable Melbourne Cricket Ground, meaning that the MCG – still in use today of course – can lay claim to being the oldest Test ground in the world.

The match was played between two representative sides – a team of professional cricketers, led by James Lilywhite Jr of Sussex, travelled by steamship from England to take on what was called at the time a Combined Australia XI, captained by Dave Gregory.

Australia as an independent nation did not exist in 1877 –  nationhood would come with Federation in 1901 – and the players featuring in Gregory’s squad were drawn from the then separate British colonies of New South Wales and Victoria.

Neither side was at what would today be called full-strength. Lilywhite’s squad did not include any of the amateur players who at that time represented some of England’s finest cricketers, meaning the likes of WG Grace did not grace the MCG for this fixture. For the combined Australians the best bowler in the colonies – the feared speed-demon Fred Spofforth from New South Wales – refused to play in protest at the non-selection for the game of the NSW wicketkeeper Billy Murdoch.

The game itself was a timeless Test eventually played out over four days, with a rest day in the middle, and using four-ball overs. Underarm bowling was still a thing. Australia ran out winners by 45 runs, meaning Australia can lay claim to be the only team in cricket history to win their first Test match.

Above: A scene from cricket’s first Test at the MCG, March 1877.

Aside from its obvious historical significance as the first ever Test match, the game is best remembered for the exploits of Australia’s opening batsman, Charles Bannerman. Born in Woolwich, Kent, England but having moved down under as a child, Bannerman had the honour of scoring the first ever Test run and went on to make 165 in the first innings, before retiring hurt with a split index-finger. Thus, he became cricket’s first Test centurion. His score remains, over 140 years later, as the highest on debut for an Australian.

Furthermore, Bannerman’s 165 represented 67% of all the runs in Australia’s total first innings score of 245 – which again remains the world record for the highest individual contribution to a team Test innings score, some 2,302 completed Tests later. To this day, when a batsman is dominating an innings while his compatriots collapse around him, commentators and fans go on alert or “Bannerman-watch” to see if cricket’s longest standing record can be broken. All have failed so far, a suitable legacy for Test cricket’s first run scorer and centurion!

Above: Charles Bannerman (right) alongside Combined Australia XI captain Dave Gregory

For the record, the first Test wicket was taken by Yorkshire’s Allen Hill, who bowled Australia’s Nat Thomson for 1.

England would not have to wait long for their own first Test win. The MCG match had been scheduled to be a one-off, but it was such a commercial success that a second match was hastily arranged a couple of weeks later at the same venue. This time, Spofforth and Murdoch did play for the Combined Australians, meaning England’s win by 4 wickets was all -the-more impressive.

Test team #3 – South Africa.

First Test vs England at Port Elizabeth, 12 March 1889

For the next twelve years or so, Test cricket was played exclusively between England and Australia. It was not until March 1889, when the next team, South Africa, made its debut.

Much debate has raged since about whether the inaugural two game series between a visiting England side and the South Africans should be recognised as Tests – given that they were played out between sides of dubious quality and that no South African had ever played First Class cricket at the time – but the matches were indeed subsequently granted Test status in 1897 and are in the record books as such. Who am I to argue?

The representative England side that travelled to the Eastern Cape did include a few players who had previously played in Tests against Australia, including Bobby Abel, Johnny Briggs and George Ulyett – the latter having also played in the first ever Test 12 years earlier. The rest of the squad was made up of a few county players and a number of club cricketers such as the Hon. Charles Coventry who had not even played First Class cricket in England before, and would not do so subsequently.

Like Australia in 1877 before it, South Africa did not exist as an independent nation at the time of its Test bow in 1889, and the side was drawn from the separate colonies of Eastern Province, Western Province, Transvaal and Natal.

Above: The South Africa XI, 1889.

The first Test, billed at the time as “Major Warton’s XI versus a South Africa XI” took place at what is now St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape Province, using 4-ball overs. It was a low-scoring affair, with “England” running out winners by 8 wickets within two days. South Africa’s first Test runs were scored by home-town batsman Bernard Tancred, and their first wicket by fellow Port Elizabethan Gus Kempis, who bowled Ulyett for 4.

The South Africans fared even worse in the second Test in Cape Town, losing by an innings and 202 runs, having scored less than a hundred runs across their two innings. Indeed, it wouldn’t be for another 17 years, in their twelfth Test, that South Africa would finally claim its first Test win, versus the English in Johannesburg.

An interesting aside is that Sir Aubrey Smith, England’s captain in the first Test playing his one and only match for England, went on to moderate fame, but not as a cricketer. He instead became an actor, first on the stage in London’s West End and later in motion pictures in Los Angeles, where he died in 1948. He even starred alongside Elizabeth Taylor in one movie! By strange coincidence, the South Africa XI captain in Port Elizabeth, Owen Dunell, also passed away in a far-flung non-cricketing locale – Lyons in France in his case – although whether he appeared in any French movies is unknown!

Above: Sir Aubrey Smith – England captain in 1889 and Hollywood movie star.

Test team #4 – West Indies.

First Test vs England at Lord’s, London – 23 June 1928

If the gap of twelve years between the first Test and South Africa’s debut seemed long, it was nothing in comparison to the wait for our next Test playing team. It was an astonishing 39 years before the next cab off the rank came along, the West Indies in June 1928. This gap remains a record in between debuts of Test teams.

Several touring representative sides from England had toured the Caribbean since the late 1880s, and likewise teams from the islands had visited England in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until the West Indies Cricket Board was elected to the ICC (then standing for the Imperial Cricket Conference) in 1926 that the West Indies became eligible to play official Tests. New Zealand and India were also voted in to the ICC in 1926 but would have to wait slightly longer for their Test debuts.

The West Indies represented a collection of British Caribbean islands who were all in 1926 still part of the British Empire. They would later become the separate independent states of Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana, although they continue to join forces alongside several other Caribbean nations and islands for international cricket purposes to this day.

Post acceptance as a member of the ICC, the West Indies were invited to tour England in the summer of 1928 for a three game Test series, with the first match taking place at the home of cricket, Lord’s starting on 23 June 1927.

Unlike the side put up against South Africa in 1889, England’s team was full of players of the highest quality – Wally Hammond and Herbert Sutcliffe to name but two – and it was not really a surprise that the West Indies were outplayed, losing by an innings and 58 runs. Similar innings defeats occurred in the remaining two Tests of the tour at Old Trafford and the Oval.

The first Test was also notable from an England perspective as it saw the debut of a certain Douglas Jardine, playing alongside a man with whom he was to become forever entwined in cricket folklore four years later in the Bodyline series in Australia, Nottinghamshire quick Harold Larwood.

For the West Indies, the series saw the start of the international career of arguably their first superstar, Trinidad’s Learie “Connie” Constantine, who took West Indies first ever Test wicket in England’s first innings and recorded impressive figures of 4/82. Constantine would go on to have a fabulous career as a club professional in England, leading Nelson to eight Lancashire league titles. He became Lord Constantine MBE and a freeman of Nelson.

Above: Lord Learie “Connie” Constantine, MBE.

The West Indies fared much better when they hosted England in the Caribbean just two years later, drawing the first test in Bridgetown, Barbados and winning the third in Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana) in 1930, with the chief damage being done by Constantine. The West Indies duly had their first Test win in just their sixth Test.

Test team #5 – New Zealand.

First Test vs England at Christchurch, New Zealand – 10 January 1930

As mentioned above, New Zealand had been accepted as a member of the ICC in 1926, and duly became cricket’s fifth Test nation four years later when an England side visited for a four-game series.

Bizarrely, England also sent a touring side to the West Indies at exactly the same time as the New Zealand tour, meaning that the teams on both tours were severely depleted. For the New Zealand tour, only Frank Woolley with 55 caps had anything like an experienced career, and six England players were making their debuts. It didn’t help New Zealand though, as they were beaten by eight wickets in the first test which was held at  Lancaster Park in that most English of New Zealand cities, Christchurch.

That first Test is perhaps best remembered statistically for Maurice Allom taking four wickets in five balls for England on debut, including a hat-trick, and for Matthew Henderson taking a wicket with his first ball for New Zealand in what would be his only appearance for his country. The New Zealanders also included two players – George Dickinson and Curly Page – who were dual sport internationals who also played for the country’s storied national rugby union team, the All Blacks.

Above: The New Zealand Test team, 1930.

The rest of the Test matches in the series, held in Wellington and Auckland, were drawn. The Kiwis would go on to have the longest and most agonisingly drawn out wait for a first Test win of all nations – astonishingly not winning a match until their 45th Test match in 1956, 26 years after admission to the top table of cricketing nations.

Coming soon in Part Two – the test debuts of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

 

 

South Africa v Australia Test Series Preview

One of the closest match-ups in recent Test cricket history rejoins battle over the next five weeks, with South Africa hosting Australia for a four-match Test series. The first game takes place at Durban’s Kingsmead ground starting on Thursday 1st March – followed over the next 30 days by matches in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg.

The Proteas are ranked second in the world in Tests, with Australia hot on their heels in third. Added to that, both are coming off series wins over major nations – South Africa winning 2-1 over India, and the Aussies smashing England to smithereens in a 4-0 Ashes thumping. So whilst both sides’ one-day form has been variable of late, they will be high on confidence with a red ball in hand.

Also of note is that whilst there has been a growing worldwide trend over recent times for home teams to dominate in Tests, the opposite seems  to hold true with these particular combatants – the last three series being won by the away side, most recently by South Africa in Australia in 2017. The conditions in both southern hemisphere nations are very similar, with fast bouncy tracks to the fore. So players from both sides will feel comfortable, and an intriguing month awaits.

Both sides have named two potential debutants in their squads for the series – the Australians have named young quick Jhye Richardson alongside perpetual baggy=green-in-waiting Chadd Sayers in their bowling ranks, whilst South Africa find a place for all-rounder Willem Mulder and back up keeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen in their armoury.

There are plenty of individual milestones to keep an eye on as well as the series unfolds:

Morne Morkel (South Africa)

The in-form tall quick shocked everyone over the weekend by announcing his retirement from all international cricket at age 33 at the end of this series. Known affectionately as The Giraffe, Morkel has notched up 294 wickets in Tests so far, so will be looking for just six more to become only the 5th South African to join the 300-club. Ending his career in the company of Messrs Pollock, Steyn, Ntini and Donald would be a fitting way to sign off for the popular fast bowler.

Hashim Amla (South Africa)

One of South Africa’s all time great batsmen has a host of records  and milestones in sight during a series in which he will turn 35.

Firstly, if he plays in all four games he will join former skipper Graeme Smith on 117 Test appearances for the Proteas, enough for third all-time behind only the legendary Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher.

Secondly, sitting on 8,786, he is 214 runs shy of joining the 9,000 Test runs club, and if he makes it will become the third South African to do so after Kallis and Smith.

And finally, his safe hands will be confident of taking the one more catch at slip he requires to bring up a century in that category.

Nathan Lyon (Australia)

Not far behind Morkel in the career wickets category is man the Aussies like to call the GOAT, spinner Nathan Lyon. His 290 Test wickets are enough for seventh place all-time for Australia, and two more scalps will see him overtake Craig McDermott into sixth.

Ten wickets over the series will see him become only the sixth Australian after Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Dennis Lillee, Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee to achieve the 300.

Vernon Philander (South Africa)

The burly quick bowler will be looking for just 12 wickets of his own over the series to bring up 200 for his country.

Steve Smith (Australia)

Having scored 6,057 in Tests, 3,431 in ODIs and 431 in T20Is, Australia’s skipper has 9,919 international runs so far. Given his form and Test average of 60-plus, it seems a foregone conclusion that he will achieve 10,000 over the next few weeks!

Shaun and Mitchell Marsh (Australia)

The Marsh brothers each have a batting milestone in sight, with Shaun looking for 79 runs to bring up 2,000 and the younger sibling Mitchell just 6 runs to notch up his first 1,000 for his country.

Dean Elgar (South Africa)

Opener and one-time stand in captain Elgar currently has 2,861 Test runs to his name, so will be confident he can find the 139 he needs for 3,000.

Australia vs England – 1st Ashes Test preview

The waiting game is almost over, and after a seemingly endless build up, attention can finally turn to action on the cricket field, as Australia prepares to host its oldest and most intense rival, England, in a five match Ashes series.

The venue for the first test, staring tomorrow, is the Brisbane Cricket Ground in the suburb of Woolloongabba, Brisbane. Not many people call it that though – it is to all cricket fans simply the Gabba, or to nascent cricket journalists looking for a catchy tag-line, the Gabbatoir, owing to Australia’s enviable record at the ground. And it is this record more than anything that will have England worried as they look to start their defence of the Ashes they won at home in 2015 – Australia have won 63% of the 59 tests they have played at the ground, and England have only ever won there four times in 20 attempts.

England of course have the much better recent record in matches between the two teams – that 2015 win being one of four of the last five Ashes series that England have won, with the hosts only win in that period a 5-0 drubbing in 2013/14 which left England rattled and shorn of many of its established stars. The Australian media, and even the most mild-mannered of their players, are making great talk of repeating this series and opening up scars of old English wounds,  but if the truth be told these are two almost completely different sides, with few player remaining in either side from that encounter. What psychological damage lingers from four years ago remains to be seen, but Australia have set themselves up in their fans’ eyes as strong favourites with a win over the old enemy almost certain. They will hope they can walk the Ashes walk as well as they can talk the talk, otherwise egg will very much be on Antipodean faces.

It’s not doubted that both squads have their fair share of inexperience to them. England have no fewer than five uncapped players in their 17-man squad (Mason Crane, Sam Curran, Ben Foakes, George Garton and Craig Overton) with the bowling looking especially vulnerable to any injury to the first choice starting arsenal. That said, they have three players in the squad with over 100 caps each, and will hope that the mix of seasoned old-hands and fresh-faced exuberance will be one  that can carry them forward.

Australia for their part have sprung a host of last-minute selection surprises – dropping opening batsman Matt Renshaw (depriving him of a chance to play against the country of his birth) in favour of uncapped Cameron Bancroft as well as recalling Shaun Marsh to the middle order for his ninth (yes, ninth…ninth!) attempt at proving he is worthy of a test place. The biggest surprise was probably the recalling of Tim Paine as wicketkeeper after several years in the wilderness. The Australian selectors have copped a bit of flak in the rabid local press, so there is reason to be nervous for the hosts too.

Both sides have also been in indifferent and inconsistent  form in Tests over the last two years. Australia, ranked fifth in the ICC rankings, have won only one of their last five Test series, losing at home to South Africa and away to Sri Lanka and India. England (ranked third) while winning their last two series at home against the West Indies and South Africa, also lost heavily to India. Both sides have recent test defeats to Bangladesh to be proud of.

So, aside from home advantage, there is actually very little to choose between two middle-ranking teams in transition. Both bowling attacks are reasonably settled, both batting line-ups anything but. So all will come down to who steps up when it matters when the bats and ball finally get their chance to do the talking.

Whilst the main prize will of course be first blood in the battle for that famous 3-and-a half inch high urn, and the bragging rights that go with it for the next two years, there are plenty of individual milestones are stats to keep a watch out for:

Alastair Cook (England)

Former skipper Cook, winner of three Ashes series so far, has 11,629 test runs to his name from his 147 tests. The runs total puts him ninth in the all-time world listings, 185 runs behind Sri Lanka’s master-batsman Mahela Jayawardene in eighth place. How he would love to take a huge stride towards that target at the Gabba.

To do so, he would most likely need his 31st test century, and if he were to notch up a tonne in Brisbane he would move into the world top ten for that particular stat too, alongside Steve Waugh, erstwhile captain of the hosts.

Cookie has also scored 14,894 runs in all formats of international cricket, needing just 106 more to break the 15,000 barrier.

Jimmy Anderson (England)

England’s leading all-time wicket-taker has 506 test scalps so far, and 793 in all international formats, so will be on the prowl looking for seven more victims of his vicious swinging balls to bring up 800 wickets.

Stuart Broad (England)

Second only to Jimmy in England’s all time wicket-takers list is Australian fan-favourite Broad with 388 wickets. What price 12 more at the Gabba to become only the 14th bowler in Test history to take 400?

Steven Smith (Australia)

Ranked number one Test batsman in the world, just ahead of his English counterpart Joe Root, captain Smith already has a mightily impressive 20 Test centuries to his name. one more will move him up alongside David Boon and Neil Harvey into Australia’s all time top ten century-maker rankings.

David Warner (Australia)

When he’s not running his mouth off to the press declaring war on England, vice-captain Warner is also quite adept at running between the wickets, and has also notched up 20 Test centuries, so he too will be eyeing a top ten spot.

 

Bangladesh v Australia – 1st Test Preview

When Steve Smith’s Australian side take the field tomorrow at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, Mirpur in the suburbs of Bangladesh’s capital Dhaka, it will be a rare sight indeed. It is 11 years, and four cancelled tours, since Australia last deemed Bangladesh worthy of playing in a Test match.

Not they bothered to play them much before then either – this two-match series is only the third ever between the two sides, and only Australia’s second visit to Bangladesh since the Tigers were admitted as a Test side 17 years ago.

Of those paltry four matches played between the sides, Australia have won all four, but much has changed since 2006, and the hosts will be no pushover this time around. Although Bangladesh have only won nine of their 100 Test matches played since their elevation to Full member status in 2000, two of those wins have come in the last twelve months – a first ever win against England at home and an away victory against Sri Lanka. They have also taken great strides in one-day cricket, and are especially dangerous in home conditions. They will be confident they can push Australia hard and cause an upset.

Australia have not played Test cricket since their series loss in India in March, and will be hoping that they can emulate their performance in the first test of that series in Pune rather than the following three.

An intriguing series awaits. There are a few significant personal milestones likely to be established also:

Nathan Lyon (Australia)

Australia’s leading spin bowler, the most-capped player in the squad, will be hoping subcontinental conditions are to his liking – you would certainly back him to take the three wickets he needs to bring up 250 for his country in Tests.

Currently sitting on 247, he also needs just one to draw level with the legendary Richie Benaud in eighth spot in Australia’s all time wicket takers list – a wonderful achievement for the man from Young in New South Wales.

If the pitch is a real turner, he might even take the 12 wickets he needs to move up one spot higher, alongside Jason Gillespie’s 259 in seventh place.

Steve Smith (Australia)

With his unorthodox but evidently highly effective batting action, captain Smith has already notched up a remarkable 20 centuries for the Australians in Tests. Just one more in this test will see him move into joint ninth place for his country alongside the fabulously mustachioed David Boon and Neil Harvey.

Shakib-Al-Hasan and Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh)

Bangladesh’s two leading test run-scorers will both notch up their 50th Test appearances in this first test.

Shakib is also far and away the Tigers’ leading wicket-taker too, and sits proudly as the ICC’s highest ranked all-rounder in Tests (and ODIs and T20Is for that matter!) A hugely underrated player on the world stage, he will be hoping to add to his 179 wickets.

 

2017 ICC Women’s World Cup – Preview

For the second time this month, England plays host to a major ICC tournament – with the 11th staging of the Women’s World Cup roaring into life on Saturday, bringing together the top eight teams to do battle for the most important trophy in Women’s ODI cricket.

The month-long tournament of 31 matches will be played out at five county grounds around England, with Bristol, Taunton, Derby and Leicester staging the group stages and semi finals before the final is held at the home of cricket, Lord’s, on Sunday 23rd July. The eight teams will all play each other once in the round-robin group stage. The top four teams then progress to the semi-finals, with the winners of those two games meeting in the final on Sunday 23rd July.

Over the ten previous stagings of the Women’s World Cup, only three teams have won the tournament in its history – Australia claiming six titles, England three and the New Zealanders one, on home soil, in 2000.

Those three teams are the strong favourites again, alongside India, although if the other ICC tournament held in the UK this month has taught us anything it is that favourites can often falter and an outsider can land the prize against all odds!

From an individual player perspective, the following players will be looking to reach personal milestones throughout the tournament:

Ellyse Perry (Australia)

A dual football and cricket international, allrounder and superstar of the women’s game, Perry needs just 101 runs in the tournament to bring up 2000 ODI runs for Australia.

Alex Blackwell (Australia)

The Australian vice-captain has made 133 ODI appearances for her country. If Australia make it all the way to the final as expected, and Blackwell appears in all nine games, she will move ahead of former captain Karen Rolton as Australia’a all-time leading appearance-maker in ODIs.

Tammy Beaumont (England)

England batter Beaumont needs 182 runs to bring up 1000 in the 50-over format for her country.

Natalia Sciver (England)

Another England player looking to notch up 1000 runs for her country is Japan-born all-rounder Sciver, who currently has 837 career ODI runs and will be looking for 163 to make the mark.

Katherine Brunt (England)

The spearhead of England’s attack sits just three wickets behind her teammate Jenny Gunn as the host nation’s all-time leading ODI wicket taker, with 120 wickets to Gunn’s 123. They’ll be spurring each other on to do battle at the top of that tree.

Mithali Raj (India)

The tournament could see history made in the Women’s game, with India’s captain sitting on 5781 ODI runs, 211 behind the current world record run scorer in the 50 over format, England’s former captain Charlotte Edwards. With potentially nine games in which to overhaul Edwards, the chase is very much on.

Another 8 further runs will see Raj become the first woman to pass 6000 One-Day International runs.

Jhulan Goswana (India)

Seam bowler Goswana needs 15 wickets with the ball, and 73 runs with the bat to reach 200 wickets and 1000 runs respectively.

Suzie Bates (New Zealand)

The White Ferns’ captain needs just two more games to notch up 100 for her country.

Amy Satterthwaite (New Zealand)

New Zealand’s vice-captain will have her eye on two personal milestones as the group stage of the Women’s World Cup unfolds.

She currently has 2970 runs in the record books, needing just 30 more to reach 3000. Those runs have come in 95 appearances, so she’ll be celebrating her hundred during her fifth game of the tournament.

Javeira Khan (Pakistan)

Batsman Khan needs just 41 more runs to bring up 2000 in ODIS for Pakistan.

Sana Mir (Pakistan)

Spin bowler and Pakistani captain Sana Mir will reach 100 appearances for her country if she appears in five further games.

Mignon du Preez (South Africa)

The stakes are high for South Africa’s all-time leading run scorer and appearance maker, as she needs just one more game to bring up 100 for the Proteas.

Trisha Chetty (South Africa)

The Proteas’ wicketkeeper-batsman is the world=record holder for catches in women’s ODIs, with 91 grabs to her name. She’ll be looking for nine more to bring up a century.

Coincidentally, Chetty also needs nine appearances to bring up that hundred too – but South Africa will have to make it all the way to the final if she is to achieve that milestone in this tournament.

Shashikala Siriwardene (Sri Lanka)

if all-rounder Siriwardene appears in all seven of Sri Lanka’s round robin stage games, she will notch up 100 appearances for the Islanders.

Chamari Polgampola (Sri Lanka)

Chamari will be looking to hit 31 more runs to move from her current tally of 969 to 1000 for her country.

Stafanie Taylor (West Indies)

One of the likely stars of the Women’s World Cup, the West Indies’ Jamaican captain needs just two games to bring up 100 appearances in ODIs for the Caribbean federation.

She also needs 268 runs to bring up 4000 – which with an average of over 44 is not beyond the realms of possibility by any means.

Deandra Dottin (West Indies)

The Windies’ quick bowler also needs just two more appearance to bring up 100.

 

ICC Champions Trophy – Who will qualify for the semi-finals?

Isn’t cricket wonderful? With all teams now having played two games each, and with one round of games in the group stage to go, all eight can still qualify for the semi-finals of cricket’s second-most prestigious one day international tournament!

Here are the qualification scenarios ahead of the final group games

Group A

The Group A table is currently looking like this:

Team Played Wins Points Net Run Rate
England 2 2 4 1.069
Australia 2 0 2 0.0
Bangladesh 2 0 1 -0.407
New Zealand 2 0 1 -1.74

England have an unassailable lead at the top of the table, regardless of their result against Australia at Edgbaston on Saturday.

The tie-breaker rules take into account number of wins first, and then Net Run Rate (NRR), and with England sitting on two wins and the only team that can catch them on points, Australia, having no wins, England cannot be overhauled. They will therefore play the runners up from Group B in the first semi-final at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff on 14th June.

So all that remains in Group A is to decide which of the other three teams will qualify to join the hosts in the semis. Here’s how it might play out:

If England beat Australia (or there is a no-result in this game due to rain) AND there is a result in the other game between New Zealand and Bangladesh, then the winner of that other game will finish second and will go through to face the winners of Group B at Edgbaston on the 15th June.

(Note: if there is no result between England and Australia, the winner of NZ/Bangladesh and the Australians would both have 3 points, but Australia would have no wins, and would therefore be relegated to third on the tie-breaker)

If England beat Australia, but the NZ/Bangladesh game is a wash-out, all 3 of Australia, Bangladesh and New Zealand would have 2 points. The BlackCaps will finish bottom of the group, as their NRR is the lowest of the three, and it won’t change so they can’t overtake Bangladesh. It will then come down to NRR between Australia and Bangladesh as to who finishes second. If England beat Australia by a greater margin than they beat Bangladesh, then Bangladesh go through. If they win by a lesser margin than against the Tigers, then the Aussies will scrape through.

If Australia beat England, then Australia will qualify second on 4 points, and both NZ and Bangladesh will be eliminated regardless of the result in their game.

If both games are abandoned as no-results, then again Australia will qualify second, and the Tigers and Blackcaps will have to pack their bags.

Group B

The Group B table currently looks like this:

Team Played Wins Points Net Run Rate
India 2 1 2 1.272
South Africa 2 1 2 1.000
Sri Lanka 2 1 2 -0.879
Pakistan 2 1 2 -1.544

 

Conventional wisdom was that this group would be a walk in the park for two of the pre-tournament favourites, India and South Africa. Someone forgot to tell Sri Lanka and Pakistan that though, and after two stunning upset results in the last two days (here) and (here) the group is very much wide open.

Cats are very much amongst the pigeons at this stage, and one of the group’s “big two” is very likely going home early.

With India playing South Africa next, and Pakistan up against Sri Lanka, those two games effectively become quasi-quarterfinals, with the winners progressing to the semi-finals and the losers heading to Heathrow airport.

Of course, results on the field have only been one part of the story of this tournament, with the weather being the winner in two games so far. So what happens if either or both remaining Group B games also get abandoned as no-results? Let’s look at each scenario:

India v South Africa game has a result, but Sri Lanka v Pakistan is washed out

The winner of India v South Africa will go through as group winners on 4 points and face the Group A runner-up at Edgbaston on the 15th of June. The loser is eliminated.

Sri Lanka will have 3 points but qualify as runners-up due to their superior Net-Run-Rate over Pakistan, and will face Group A winner England in the semi-final at Cardiff on the 14th June. Pakistan will be eliminated.

India v South Africa is a no-result, but there is a winner between Sri Lanka and Pakistan

The winner of Sri Lanka v Pakistan will go through as group winners on 4 points and face the runner up of Group A at Edgbaston on the 15th June. Loser is eliminated.

India will qualify as runners-up on 3 points due to their superior Net-Run-Rate over South Africa, and will face Group A winner England in the semi-final at Cardiff on the 14th June. South Africa will be eliminated.

Both games are washed out as no-results

All four teams will end up on 3 points, with one win apiece, and the group positions will therefore be decided on Net-Run-Rate alone.

As per the table above, India will win the group and play the Group B runners up, and South Africa will finish second and face England in Cardiff for a place in the final.

This is the only scenario whereby both India and South Africa can qualify.

ICC Champions Trophy – Review of first round of matches.

The first round of matches in the Champions Trophy over in England are now in the record books, with each of the eight participating teams having played one game each.

The perfect time to have our first look back and see which players have notched up a personal milestone in the tournament so far.

Joe Root (England)

The England Test captain’s 133 not out in the comfortable Group A win against Bangladesh on Thursday was his highest score in 50-over internationals. This was Root’s tenth ODI century, moving him up to joint second place in England’s all time one-day century makers list, alongside current white-ball captain Eoin Morgan. Both are closing in on Marcus Trescothick’s England record of 12.

Ross Taylor (New Zealand)

When Ross took the field in Friday’s rain-ruined Group A match against Trans-Tasman rivals Australia, it was his 188th appearance for the Blackcaps in ODIs, enough to give him a share of eighth place in NZ’s all time appearance list with Scott Styris. He’ll likely claim that spot outright on Tuesday against England.

Kane Williamson (New Zealand)

The Blackcaps’ skipper scored a nice round 100 in the aborted game against Australia, his ninth ODI century, and moved his career total on to 4461 runs – bumping Chris Zinzan Harris out of New Zealand’s all-time top ten list in the process. He now sits just 22 behind Styris in ninth spot.

Josh Hazlewood (Australia)

Hazlewood’s mightily impressive 6 for 52 against New Zealand was his third five-wicket haul in ODIs, becoming only the seventh Australian to bag that many “Michelles”.

Hashim Amla (South Africa)

Hashim Amla’s 103 in his side’s 96-run Group B win against Sri Lanka on Saturday was his 25th ODI tonne for the Proteas, in just his 151st innings.

This century moved him alongside Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakarra in joint fifth place in the world.

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.