Record Watch (Jan 2018)

Monthly update on upcoming Test records/milestones and ones achieved this month

As the Test series roll on, record and milestones tumble for players from all sides. While these might seem like statistical oddities, they often say quite a lot about the longevity of a player or the rapidity of their rise.

Players featured 

  • Australia: Steve Smith, David Warner, Nathan Lyon
  • England: Alastair Cook, James Anderson, Stuart Broad

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Joe Root, the future England captain

Back in 2014, Martin Crowe singled out four young batsmen, who he believed would “take turns as the number one Test batsman” in the future. This “Fab Four” consisted of Virat Kohli, Kane Williamson, Steve Smith and, of course, Joe Root. Fast forward two years later and this quartet are now at the forefront of Test batting: in the ICC ranks, three of the top four positions are filled by them, while Virat Kohli, currently at position 14, will likely surge up the list, given his double hundred today against the West Indies.

But, in addition to his prediction of their batting supremacy, Crowe also foretold that “all four will go on to captain their countries.” Again this has largely come true: Williamson and Smith were installed as Test captains, helped along by their predecessors’ dodgy backs; Kohli stepped in once the strain of playing year-round cricket finally got to MS Dhoni. Joe Root, despite probably entertaining the most talk of his potential leadership abilities out of these four, is the only one without the “c” symbol next to his name. So, the question is: when will he be England captain? Prompted by his performance today, I predict he will be one by the end of the year.

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World T20 2016: Team of the Tournament

As with every ICC event, the time has come for the obligatory post on the team of the tournament for the World Twenty20 2016. In a tip to their efforts in pushing their sides to the final, the side includes four Englishmen and two West Indians. From the other nations, we have two from Bangladesh and one each from Afghanistan, India and New Zealand. Read on to find out:

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Stokes seizes the moments

World T20 2016, 29th Match: England v Sri Lanka at Delhi, March 26, 2016

Although I have written before that Test cricket is not a game of moments, Twenty20 matches are decidedly different affairs. Given the compact nature of the format and the usually slender margins for victory, seizing an opportunity can be the difference between a win or a loss. The 2015 Indian Premier League had a particularly apt catchphrase of “One Big Over”, which succinctly captures how easily the momentum of a Twenty20 match can be captured.

While Jos Buttler received the player-of-the match award – and deservedly so – for his unbeaten 66 off 36 balls, there were several moments in which Ben Stokes’ involvement ensured that England would have a spot in the World T20 semi-finals. Below is a look at some of these moments.

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The Stokes dilemma

In cricket, when a pundit praises a player as an ‘impact player’, there is almost always an implied criticism in this appraisal. While said pundit might fawn over this player’s ability to change the game in an instant or to wrest that elusive thing they call momentum from the opposition, what the pundit is leaving out is that they believe that this player is not a consistent contributor, that is, the random brilliant batting or bowling performance makes up for the times they fail to turn up.

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Ben Stokes’ chance to be England’s hero

In the aftermath of the BBC’s decision not to include any cricketers in the 2015 Sports Personality of the Year Award, there is no doubt that the ECB is meticulously preparing an “extroversion initiative” to ensure that this slight to cricket does not occur again. English cricketers will be fed prepared anecdotes to tell at post-play press conferences. Ian Botham will be brought into the team for thirty days as a “humour” consultant. Perhaps Jos Buttler can be coached to “accidentally” let slip some colourful sledges into the stump microphone.

But, if there is one English cricketer with the potential to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award, it is that hard-hitting, fast bowling all-rounder Ben Stokes.

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England Test tour of UAE against Pakistan 2015 (preview)

"Panorama Abu Dhabi 02 977" by Ijanderson977 - Own work. Licenced under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panorama_Abu_Dhabi_02_977.JPG#/media/File:Panorama_Abu_Dhabi_02_977.JPG
“Panorama Abu Dhabi 02 977” by Ijanderson977 – Own work. Licenced under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Panorama_Abu_Dhabi_02_977.JPG#/media/File:Panorama_Abu_Dhabi_02_977.JPG

When England last played Pakistan away from home in 2012, Andrew Strauss was the English captain and Kevin Pietersen was an integral member of a Test side that was ranked number one in the world. Such has been the turbulence of English cricket that Strauss is now the Director of Cricket for England who has effectively blacklisted Pietersen from ever playing Test cricket again. Even more remarkable, given the tumult of English cricket over the past three years, is that the English Test side is now one of the most exciting teams in Test cricket and that this Test series against Pakistan will be a genuine contest.

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