Cricket Weekly #20: CRICKET IS BACK, NasservKey2 and Plunkett’s American Dream

Welcome to the 20th edition of Overtime’s Cricket Weekly Column, where we look at the week’s biggest stories and games.

This week we take a look at cricket returning with an unlikely country leading the charge, Rob Key v Nasser Hussain Round Two and the first edition of clip of the week.

Apologies for the long time away, due to university assessments and the ongoing pandemic, getting around to writing columns has not been easy. No matter though, as we are back, so sit back get some throw downs and enjoy.

Guernsey Leads the Way as Cricket Returns

So, the major news this week was that CRICKET WILL BE RETURNING IN ENGLAND. Yes the news every fan has been waiting for was announced on Thursday with the England Cricket Board releasing that England will go ahead with their planned three-match series versus West Indies with games to be played at Ageas Bowl on the 8th of July followed by two Tests at Old Trafford starting on the 16th and 24th of July.

For me, I have no clue whether this is a good idea and whether it is safe enough remains to be seen what with the governments confusing handling of the situation but with football coming back it has set a demand for other sports to return to, I’m just glad to see the return of the best sport in the world.

England were the first Test playing nation to announce resumption, but it was another miniscule cricketing nation who announced the first return of cricket globally, Guernsey.

The KGV Castle Ground in Castel staged the T20 match which was an exhibition game to raise money for the Covid-19 appeal, attracted over 84,000 views on YouTube.

Despite social distancing measures in place, the game between Andy Cornford’s XI (head of Guernsey cricket) and Olly Tapp’s XI (Guernsey Cricket Performance Coach) was still able to go ahead without issues with the former’s team running out winners by seven wickets.

England v West Indies: Stokes to Captain?

This week give birth to plenty of news surrounding the England versus West Indies series with some positive side effects of lockdown for one veteran swing bowler and the possibility of another major honour for Ben Stokes.

The first piece of news released was that Cricket West Indies players and staff will take a 50% pay cut on their tour of England due to the negative economical affects the coronavirus pandemic has had on cricket.

The players will still receive full match fees but a 50% cut for any professional will be tough to take but it is for the good of the game.

Following the announcement that the series was to resume, Joe Root announced that he may have to miss one or more Tests from the series to attend the birth of his child. Whilst this is excellent news for Joe, this leaves England with more quandaries.

With the return of Rory Burns from injury it leaves England with a dilemma at the top of the order after the recent good form of Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley. In my opinion, Crawley should retain his place but replace the out of form Joe Denly at three which would sort that problem out.

However, with Root’s absence that leaves a void at four, which gives England a few options. There has been a case to recall Jonny Bairstow despite his little to no improvement on his poor form in red-ball cricket, for me there should be zero possibility that this happens as he has hasn’t deserved a right to be recalled.

There should be only two possible candidates for the position, either Joe Denly is pushed down to four to accommodate Crawley, or England decide to blood someone new, my personal choice, Essex batsman Dan Lawrence.

Lawrence scored 725 runs at an average of 38.15 and has been impressing in the County Championship for numerous seasons.

Another selection dilemma for England is in the bowling department, with James Anderson announcing this week that the lengthened period in lockdown as given him a “break to lengthen his career.” With Mark Wood hitting some brilliant form in South Africa as well as Sam Curran, Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer on the side-lines, its going to be interesting to see who makes way. For me you play your best players, so a pace attack of Anderson, Archer and Stuart Broad in England would be lethal to any side.

The main problem with Root’s absence will be who will captain and there has been one name floating round everyone’s minds, Ben Stokes. Stokes is the obvious candidate to take over from Root, one the most experienced heads in the side and the best reader of the game as his previous innings last summer showed. Other candidates could include Broad, Anderson or even Burns who has played just 15 Tests but due to his experience in captaining his county Surrey to the County Championship title in 2018 he is certainly a viable option.

For me it has to be Stokes, I understand there is a worry that it could add extra pressure to his role but realistically it will be for two Tests maximum and it will give an insight to how England do with the GOAT at the helm.

Nasser Hussain v Rob Key Round Two

Since Cricket Weekly has been away Sky Sports have started up a new revolution in quarantine to adhere to the cricketing public, cricket simulation. Benedict Bermange, Sky Sports Cricket statistician created a simulator which considers players career averages, strike rates and ground records in order to create a virtual match situation.

Sky have trialled this simulator with some of the series that haven’t been able to happen during to the pandemic such as England’s tour of Sri Lanka. Since most other series have not gone ahead at all, Sky have made their own series with former England captain Nasser Hussain facing off against former England and Kent batsman Rob Key.

The two faced off once before with both pundits drafting two all-time England XI’s with Nasser running out the winner.

This week Key looked to get revenge as the two faced of in the battle of the era’s with Nasser picking players from 1990 to 2004 and Key picking 2004 onwards.

Below is the draft of both teams with some controversial choices for Key including Pat Cummins over players such as Vernon Philander, Mitchell Johnson and Trent Boult.

Despite Nasser’s team including players such as Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Matthew Hayden, Key’s XI ran out comfortable winners by 76 runs.

Plunkett’s American Dream

He may have been a World Cup winner with England last year, but it is clear to some that Liam Plunkett has been mistreated by the selectors. The 35-year-old has not made an appearance since the World Cup Final and many questions must raise as to why. For me England are building towards the future and realistically Plunkett will be 39 by the time of the next World Cup and so by playing him means halting the progress of the younger bowlers such as Tom Curran and Saqib Mahmood.

However, why he hasn’t been included in the squads at all doesn’t make sense to me as one of the most underrated bowlers in the world.

Plunkett, who has spoken about the situation often on Twitter is thought to be interested in playing for America as he has thought of moving over there with his kids and American wife. It would take three years for him to earn residency and thus a call-up but he would prove valuable to a fast moving cricketing setup in the US.

BBC say bye to Boycott as live cricket returns

For the first time in 20 years, live cricket will return to the BBC with highlights of each day of each Test of the series between England and West Indies.

Former Womens World Cup winner with England Isa Guha will lead the coverage along with input from former England captains Michael Vaughan and Alastair Cook, cult hero and former England leg spinner Phil Tufnell, West Indian T20 World Cup hero Carlos Brathwaite and broadcaster Alison Mitchell.

Whilst this is brilliant news for those such as myself who have been campaigning for cricket to return to free-to-air television, the choice of presenters seems very strange. Guha is a superb commentator there is no doubt, but it will feel a punch in the gut to radio broadcaster Jonathan Agnew who has led the BBC’s coverage of cricket for many years. Mark Nicholas one of the most famous voices in cricket commentary and presenting the last 25 years has also been ignored and despite my differing views on him, Michael Vaughan is also a big voice in the game and has been for some time so for me there is a distinct lack of host which could spoil the coverage.

There was also more bad news for fans of Test Match Special as veteran commentator and former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott announced he was to leave the show after 14 years on the air. Boycott was known for his no nonsense approach to analysing the performances of any side and coined numerous terms across his years in the commentary box.

Boycott announced his contract expired at the end of the last cricketing summer and being aged 79 would be unlikely to commentate this summer due to being in the risk group for people affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Personally, I loved listening to Boycott especially when paired with Agnew, the two had such in depth cricketing knowledge as well as the ability to make people laugh even when England were 30/3.

Clip of the Week – Liam Plunkett Last Ball Six Versus Sri Lanka

Introducing the first of a new feature for Cricket Weekly where I take a look at one player who has been in the news and pick out the best moment or my favourite moment of their career.

This week its Liam Plunkett and there is only one clip that I can talk about, his last ball six versus Sri Lanka.

Plunkett has proven his worth with the ball for many years with England but one aspect of his game that is very underappreciated is his batting. It many not be beautiful, but Plunkett can hit a long ball and is sometimes crucial when England fall away.

With England collapsing early on Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes had hauled them back into the game in the opener of the series in 2016 but when the former was removed after some tight bowling from Nuwan Pradeep, Plunkett needed to come in clutch and hit the last ball of the game for six to tie the game.

Long story short Pradeep missed Plunkett hit but Nasser Hussain’s commentary is what tops it off.

Hope you enjoyed and be sure to remain indoors as cricket begins to return!

Check out the last Cricket Weekly where I discuss the #QuarantineCup and more!

For more cricket content click here or for football content click here.

Leave a Comment