Tag Archives: Joe Root

England’s cricketers begin 2019 In the Caribbean

After completing a first Test series win in Sri Lanka in 17 years, England will look to build on their progress and begin 2019 with victory in the Caribbean.

This will be the 14th time England have toured the West Indies, and for many years the hosts had the upper hand.

However, most of their series victories came during the 1970s and 1980s, when their legion of fearsome fast bowlers featured the likes of Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Malcolm Marshall.

But from 1995, the wheel of dominance shifted more towards England.  The  main reason for this is that the West Indies have struggled to find a group of players who could possibly come close to replicating the success of those past teams.

Other than Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, there hasn’t been any batsman or bowler who has really made a name for themselves in all three formats, but especially in Test cricket which is still regarded as the pinnacle, despite the rise of Twenty20.

The West Indies cause also hasn’t been helped by a drift away from cricket among young people in the Caribbean, plus numerous instances of squabbling and strife between the players and their board in recent years.

England’s last Test series in the Caribbean was in April/May 2015 when the sides shared The Wisden Trophy with a 1-1 drawn series. Denesh Ramdin and Alistair Cook were the respective captains.

Test Captains  

Jason Holder

The captain of both the West Indies Test and one-day teams, the Jamaican all-rounder will lead out his side for the 28th time. Under Holder, the hosts have won just seven out of their last 27 Tests. This includes 15 defeats and five draws.

Holder replaced wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin as Test skipper in 2015, and his first series in charge was in Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, where the West Indies lost both games in a two-match series. The West Indies are currently a lowly eighth in the Test rankings, ahead of only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

However, there were signs for renewed optimism during their tour of England in 2017, when Holder and his side managed to achieve a dramatic five-wicket victory in the second Test at Headingley, with Barbadian Shai Hope scoring a century in both innings.

Holder, 27, also took over the captaincy of the ODI team from Dwayne Bravo after the Trinidadian was sacked as after six games due to a poor run of results.

Joe Root      

The England Test skipper had a 2018 remember. After being mauled in Australia and New Zealand, Root and England came back with a bang by winning the second Test against Pakistan followed by a 4-1 home series win last summer against top-ranked Test side India.

Root also guided England to their first-ever Test series victory in Sri Lanka last autumn. Can he lead his side to back-to-back series victories away from home in the Caribbean?

T20 Captains:

Carlos Brathwaite

Since the 2016 T20 World Cup in India, Carlos Brathwaite has made a name for himself in West Indian cricket. Brathwaite who helped his team cross the finishing line in the World T20 final was named captain after Darren Sammy’s departure in 2016.

The Jamaican all-rounder began his International captaincy career in a two-match T20 series against India in Florida, 2016 where his side took a 1-0 series victory following a washout in the second game.

The upcoming series against England could prove to be a tough nut to crack, can Brathwaite and the West Indies provide a steep test for England?

Eoin Morgan  

Middlesex’s Eoin Morgan will be in charge of England’s limited overs series in the West Indies.  Morgan took over the role following Alistair Cook’s withdrawal from captaincy in the one-day format in 2014.

He led England to the 2015 World Cup, where they were stunned by Bangladesh in a 15-run loss in a Pool A match which ultimately knocked them out of the tournament.

The stylish left-handed batsman also led England to the final of the 2016 ICC T20 World Cup in India, where they lost to the West Indies courtesy of Brathwaite’s four sixes in the penultimate over.

England form in white ball cricket has been quite impressive in the past two seasons, with series wins against New Zealand, Australia, India and Sri Lanka. Can Morgan lead his team to another successful one-day series?

One To Watch: Olly Stone

Warwickshire’s right-arm paceman Olly Stone, 25, made his ODI debut in Sri Lanka last autumn, but a rain-affected series meant he was only able to show glimpses of his talent.

As far as his performances in county cricket go, Stone picked up an eight-wicket hall in the first innings of a match against Sussex in April 2018.

Tour Schedule:

Tour Match

15-18th Jan: three-day warm-up game vs WI Board, Three WS Oval, Barbados     Local Time:10:00    GMT: 14:00

Test Series

23-27th  Jan: 1st Test, Kensington Oval, Barbados     Local Time: 10:00    GMT: 14:00

31stJan -4th Fab: 2nd Test, Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua      Local Time: 10:00    GMT: 14:00

9-13th Feb: 3rd Test,  Darren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia      Local Time: 10:00    GMT: 14:00

Tour Match

17 February: One- day warm up game vs Vice Chancellor’s XI, Three WS Oval, Barbados      Local Time: 10:00    GMT: 14:00

One-Day Series

20th February: 1st ODI,  Kensington Oval      Local Time: 11:00     GMT: 15:00

22nd February: 2nd ODI, Kensington Oval     Local Time: 11:00     GMT: 15:00

25th February: 3rd ODI, National Stadium, Grenada     Local Time: 09:30    GMT: 13:30

27th February: 4th ODI,  National Stadium     Local Time: 09:30    GMT: 13:30

2nd March 2019 5th ODI, Darren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia     Local Time: 11:00   GMT: 15:00

T20 Series 

5th March: 1st T20,  Darren Sammy Stadium, St Lucia   Local Time: 16:00  GMT: 20:00

8th March: 2nd T20, Warner Park, St Kitts & Nevis     Local Time: 16:00  GMT: 20:00

10th March: 3rd T20, Warner Park, St Kitts & Nevis    Local Time: 16:00  GMT: 20:00

Squads

England have announced their squads for the Test and One-Day Series:

Test squad: Joe Root (Yorkshire) (captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Sam Curran (Surrey), Joe Denly (Kent), Ben Foakes (Surrey), Keaton Jennings (Lancashire), Jack Leach (Somerset), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Olly Stone (Warwickshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)

ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (Middlesex) (captain), Moeen Ali (Worcestershire), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Tom Curran (Surrey), Joe Denly (Kent), Alex Hales (Nottinghamshire), Liam Plunkett (Yorkshire), Adil Rashid (Yorkshire), Joe Root (Yorkshire), Jason Roy (Surrey), Ben Stokes (Durham), David Willey (Yorkshire), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham)

 

 

Eyes on the prize: the 2018 Elephant Sport cricket awards

As 2018 draws to a close, we reveal our pick of the cricketers who have had a huge impact on their sport in the past year.

Batsman of the Year: Virat Kohli (India)

It has been a year in which ball has dominated bat, especially in England, and only one top order batsman has looked a class above everyone else.

India skipper Virat Kohli endured a torrid time during India’s last tour of England in 2014, when he had issues with poking at balls pitched just outside his off stump.

This meant that he had to work on his technique and in particular, the positioning of his feet, both inside and outside the batting crease.

The changes made by there 30-year-old benefitted him immensely as it has enabled him to consistently score runs in all three formats in 2018.

He went past 1,000 runs for third consecutive season, and is international cricket’s leading scorer in 2018. Can he continue to dominate in Australia on India’s current tour and in 2019?

Captain of the Year: Joe Root (England)

It has been an interesting year for the England Test skipper. Having lost the 2017-18 Ashes series down under, defeat in New Zealand was followed by a drawn home series with Pakistan, questions were asked about inconsistent decision-making in both Root’s captaincy and batting.

During his first news conference as Test captain, he talked about wanting to make his team more aggressive in terms of the style of play, but there is a difference between being aggressive and reckless.

The series win against India was crucial for him as captain. Had England lost it, more questions would have been raised over his appointment, especially after the drawn Pakistan series.

But the 27-year-old proved the critics wrong by guiding England to a 4-1 home series win against India, who were the No.1 ranked team in Tests, followed by a first Test series victory in Sri Lanka in which they earned a 3-0 whitewash.  

Bowler of the Year: James Anderson (England)  

It has been another great year for England’s highest wicket-taker in Test matches.

Anderson surpassed Glen McGrath’s record of 563 wickets to become the most successful fast bowler in the longer format. It came when he knocked over Mohammad Shami to seal victory in the penultimate test of the summer against India at The Oval, and he went on to make it 565 in Sri Lanka.

His next target is former Indian leg spinner Anil Kumble, who is third on the all-time list with 619 wickets in 132 Tests. However, England’s No.1 strike bowler is now 36 years old, so how long can he continue to thrive at the highest level?

All-Rounder of the Year: Rashid Khan (Afghanistan)

There are many contenders who can make a claim for being the best all-rounder of 2018, but we rarely see anyone from an associate nation who has the ability to become a high-quality player in the space of a calendar year.

Afghanistan have produced a mystery wrist spinner in Rashid Khan, who in his first season in the Indian Premier League bamboozled almost every batsman with his variation of deliveries.

Khan, 20, also played some crucial cameos with the bat to help his IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad post some scores which they could defend with their high-quality bowling attack.

It will be interesting to see how he adapts to red ball cricket, especially after Afghanistan played their first official Test against India early this year.      

Fielder of The Year: Kane Williamson (New Zealand) 

Great fielding is needed by bowlers to help them put batsmen under pressure, but before the Jonty Rhodes era, it was always ranked a poor third among the skills required to be a professional cricketer.

South Africa’s Rhodes played a huge role in raising the standards of fielding, with his countless memorable diving catches and direct-hit run-outs.

Nowadays, most of the top teams have some really good athletic fielders, such as New Zealand captain Williamson, 28, who has taken some great catches this year.

The best of them came during the first Test against England where he took a fantastically acrobatic catch at gully to dismiss Stuart Broad.

Female Cricketer of the Year: Elyse Perry (Australia)

Women’s cricket continued to make great strides in 2018, and nowhere was this more apparent than in an exciting 2018 Women’s  Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies.

Perry’s Australia defeated Heather Knight’s England in the final to claim their fourth World T20 title in the last five tournaments.

Perry, 28, is an all-rounder who bats right-handed and bowls right arm fast. In 2018, she became the first Aussie player – male or female – to notch up 100 international T20 matches.

Test and ODI Teams of the Year

Test: Joe Root (Eng, Captain), Aiden Markram (SA), Usman Khawaja (Aus) Virat Kohli (Ind), Jos Buttler WK (England, wkt),  Ben Stokes (Eng), Adil Rashid (Eng), Jasprit Bumrah (Ind), James Anderson (Eng), Moeen Ali (Eng), Mohammad Abbas (Pak); 12th man Sam Curran (Eng).

ODI: Rohit Sharma (Ind), Jason Roy (Eng) Virat Kohli (Ind, Captain), Joe Root (Eng), Jos Buttler (Eng, wkt),  AB de Villiers (SA), Ben Stokes (Eng), Kuldeep Yadav (Ind), Andrew Tye (Aus), Rashid Khan (Afg).

2019 Prospects

Sam Curran (England) Age: 20

Since making his Test debut in the second Test of the summer against Pakistan, Curran has played a huge role for England with both bat and ball, especially in the series against India.

The left-handed all-rounder played a pivotal role down the order, where made some useful scores to get England out of trouble, especially when their top order failed to produce.

It was he, along with Buttler and Stokes, who frustrated the Indian bowlers as they managed to get England out of  a tricky situation and into a position of strength.

Curran also claimed some important wickets, including India vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane.  He scored a total of 272 runs, including two scores of 50 or more. His highest was 78, which he achieved in the first innings of the fourth Test at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton.

Although Curran had an average tour of Sri Lanka, he is surely one of the players to watch in 2019.

Prithvi Shaw (India) Age: 19

Indian cricket has been blessed with high-class and talented batsmen including the likes of Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Kohli. In terms of the next generation, Shaw is classed as one of the potential stars of the future.

He started his Test career against West Indies, scoring his maiden Test century in the first match in Rajkot in November. He was then selected for India’s team to tour Australia but sprained his ankle in a practice match against a Cricket Australia XI.

This meant he missed out on an opportunity to play in the first Test in Adelaide. Will he be able to feature in any of the three remaining Tests down under?

Rishabh Pant (India) Age: 21

Another of India’s future prospects is wicketkeeper batsman Pant. During India’s victory in the first Test against the Aussies, Pant took 11 catches, which equals the highest number by a wicketkeeper in a Test match after AB de Villiers and former England gloveman Jack Russel.

Pant, who is usually associated with Twenty20, made his debut during the third Test against England at Trent Bridge in August 2018. He then scored a swashbuckling maiden Test century in the fifth Test of the England series at The Oval.

Although his ton was for a losing cause, his innings showed glimpses of the kind of talent he has to succeed in the game, especially in the one-day and T20 formats.

The left-hander has already made a great start to his career by achieving small milestones such as being the first Indian batsman to hit a six off his first ball in Test cricket.

What will 2019 bring for this exciting youngster?

Is it time for captain Cook to go?

He is England’s most capped player, their highest-ever scorer, longest-serving Test captain, and is a double Ashes-winning skipper.

But all good things must come to an end, and Alastair Cook’s leadership of England’s Test team looks set to end ahead of the summer.

“Captaincy always brings pressure… when things do not go your way, instantly questions will be asked of you”

After this winter’s tour struggles in Bangladesh and India, is the time right for the Essex man to step down?

Joe Root, the current vice-captain of the Test side and Cook’s most likely successor, has loyally expressed his desire for him to remain as skipper.

“I do think he’ll make a decision in the best interests of the team, and in my opinion it would be great if he did stay on and lead it forward. I think he’s got a lot to offer.

“Regardless of what decision he makes – whether he’s captain or not – he will continue to be a massive leader and a focal part of this team moving forward.”

Pressure

Former Ashes-winning England captain Michael Vaughan does, however, expect Cook to resign. He told BBC Sport: “His body language over the last three matches [Against India, all ending in defeat]… he looks like he might be thinking of calling it a day.”

Cook without a doubt is one of England’s greatest cricketers, having amassed over 11,000 Test runs. His average as captain in Test cricket is an impressive 47.84, but his recent form in the series in Bangladesh and India has dented that.

Cook’s top score in the series in India, at Rajkot in November, was 130. One century in your last 14 innings is not good enough.

Captaincy always brings pressure. You are expected to thrive in every match but when things do not go your way, instantly questions will be asked of you.

Nothing left to prove?

One example would be Angelo Mathews being captain of the Sri Lankan team. In Test cricket, Mathews’s average has sky-rocketed to 50.94 as captain when critics have been on his back for not scoring runs.

“The pressure onSangakkara was lifted and he was freed up to focus on delivering match-winning performances for his team”

This shows that Mathews has the ability to handle pressure as captain and continue to score runs and produce hundreds.

This situation on the England Test captaincy is similar to when MS Dhoni gave up the leading India during their Test series against Australia in 2014, with Virat Kohli succeeding him.

After a stellar career at Test level, Dhoni probably felt he had nothing left to prove, and the negative of the job had begun to outweigh the positives.

Cook won’t want to step down after a bad winter for England, but he’s achieved so much and has cemented his place in England’s cricket history.

Match-winning performances

Of course, no-one is suggesting Cook should actually stop playing for England as well. As Root says, he still has a lot to offer, and with the pressures and responsibilities of the captaincy removed, he can just focus on his batting.

Cook’s best Test innings came pre-captaincy in 2011 against India when he scored a mammoth 294. Giving up being skipper has benefited other players, including Sri Lanka’s Kumar Sangakkara.

In 15 matches as Test captain, Sangakkara scored seven Test hundreds with one double century. Pretty good, but after he gave up the captaincy in 2011, he became a run machine that could not be stopped.

He scored another 13 hundreds, with three double centuries and one triple ton between June 2011 and August 2015.

The pressure was lifted and he was freed up to focus on delivering match-winning performances for his team.

Inspiring young players

Another reason why Cook should give up the captaincy but remain in the side is because it will benefit up-and-coming Test players, with his experience helping inspire the likes of Haseeb Hameed.

“Root will surely become England’s captain and has the potential to lead them to even greater heights than Cook”

The possibility of him giving up Test cricket completely can’t be totally ruled out, and it would allow younger players a chance to get into the side.

Personally, I think England should want to keep Cook in the Test side, freed from the stresses and strains of the captaincy.

Less pressure will be on him, he can focus on his main strength which is his batting, whilst also helping younger players who are finding their feet at Test level.

But Root will surely become England’s captain and has the potential to lead them to even greater heights than Cook.