An Evening with Aggers and Tuffers

a-t-banner
Source: http://www.simonfielder.com/aggers-tuffers

 

For anyone who is obsessed with cricket like myself, or even just an interest in the sport, an evening with two sporting greats is not something that should be missed. If unaware, both Jonathan ‘Aggers’ Agnew and Phil ‘Tuffers’ Tufnell were well-known cricketers and retired decades ago. They are key figureheads of the game in terms of cricket commentating and personality.

Upon arriving at the theatre it felt rather strange. This was the first time I have been to the theatre and not seen a musical. Not only that, the audience was mostly men, a surprise – I think not! I do want to acknowledge there were women there! This completely changed the atmosphere, especially as it just felt so middle-class. I still, to this day, do not understand why. Many turned up in their suits and cricket ties! I was the youngest person there I could see by at least 10 years, but then does this matter?

I sat in stalls, right in the middle, which was by far the best seats I have ever had! Strange when only paying a little more than £20. Furthermore, any profits were going to the Professional Cricket Association (PCA) Benevolent Fund. This in short helps current and past players with support when misfortunes happen (if interested in finding out more see the video here). It is a very worthwhile charity. The staging was very simple, a table with two chairs and a projector screen behind them, but then what else would you expect.

The first half was simply about their anecdotes from not only in their playing career, but some very recent. It seemed like they had a tale for just about anything! Ranging from Aggers selection as a commentator of horse riding at the Rio Olympics to how Tuffers on an Ashes Tour ended up in a psychiatric ward. I cannot remember the last time I had laughed so much! Best of all, it was cricket humour!

Although you knew there were several of these performances over the country, they still personalised it, for example Hampshire is the local county team and referred to rising stars such as James Vince and it never felt scripted. It was simply fantastic! Some of the parts I remember most was how Tuffers had a hand gesture for just about everything, even dance moves for some, which I still do not understand till this day how he made them so funny. But then he is a born entertainer as was shown in his TV appearances in Strictly Come Dancing, I’m a Celeb etc., which, to note, stories were mentioned about!

On a few occasions, they used the projector to show various clips, mostly showing both their ‘moments to shine’ shall we say! I can remember listening to a commentary recording where Aggers had made some reference without realising and continued to go on digging a deeper hole, which was just hilarious! Being younger than the average audience member, some of the stories were before my time with players mentioned that I had heard of, but knew little about. I still enjoyed it!

As the second half approached, people had submitted topics/questions they wanted answered. Being as keen as ever, I had submitted on Twitter earlier! This went on for the entire second half and made you feel involved. The topics/questions were varied ranging from who should bat at number 3 for England to whether they agreed with Charlotte Edwards being forced to retire from the England Women’s team. It was so nice to hear the views and opinions from the professionals.

All in all, I had an amazing time! It was something different that I couldn’t recommend highly enough to anyone with an interest in cricket. It was a relaxing environment with such a nice bunch of people who share the same interests as you. You can only feel at home! Both Aggers and Tuffers have a way with the audience that simply does not for a moment leave you uninterested. Furthermore, it was cheap ticket and the proceeds go to a worthwhile cause! A win win in my books!

My ICC T20 Cricket World Cup 2016 Team of the Tournament

 

ICC-T20
Source: http://twenty20wiki.com/

After the T20 Cricket World Cup 2016, the ICC released their team of the tournament which, I have to admit, I did not agree with and so wanted to make and write about my own. So here it is:

 

Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh)

Quinton De Kock (wk) (South Africa)

Virat Kohli (India)

Joe Root (England)

Jos Butler (England)

Shane Watson (c) (Australia)

Andre Russell (West Indies)

Mitchell Santner (New Zealand)

Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan)

David Willey (England)

Samuel Badree (West Indies)

12th Man: Ish Sodhi (New Zealand)

 

  1. Tamim Iqbal – He was the leading run scorer of the tournament with 295 runs and one of two players to make a century (103*). He was highly consistent with an average of 73.75. With such consistency, he was one of the best batsmen in the tournament. He even had the most sixes, with 14.
  2. Quinton De Kock (wk) – He is the first choice keeper and opening batsman of South Africa, so I picked him for mine. He was consistent with the bat, with 153 runs in 4 matches and a good strike rate of 142.99. He scored in every game and was able to score off the opening bowlers.
  3. Virat Kohli – He was named player of the tournament and it was clear why. He had more fifty’s than any other player with 3 and an amazing average of 136.50. Not only that, he scored 273 runs (highest runs in Stage 2/Super 10). India’s top order was not in particularly good form and it was frequently left to Kohli to see India through, which he did.
  4. Joe Root – He was the back bone of England’s batting with an average of 49.80 and 249 runs in 6 matches. He showed tremendous consistency and that he is a top player in the world in all 3 formats. He did not only star with the bat, but in the final picked up 2 wickets in his over.
  5. Jos Buttler – He scored 191 runs in 6 matches with an average of 47.75. He had one of the highest strike rates with 159.2, meaning he was someone who really took it to the bowlers. He was extremely useful at picking up the run rate and I cannot recall a score of less than 20 from him, again showing consistency.
  6. Shane Watson (c) – He is the one of the best and most experienced all rounder’s in all formats. He averaged 48 with the bat and took 5 wickets at 20.60 with an economy rate of 7.35. He actually retired from International Cricket after the tournament, which saddens me considering I was a big fan of his, and he has been the heart of the Australia team for quite some time! He will captain my team with all his experience.
  7. Andre Russell – He is another all rounder. He averaged 30.33 with the bat and has a strike of 142.18. In terms of bowling, he took 9 wickets and had an economy rate of 7.87. He was the West Indies death bowler who handled those handled high pressure moments, like bowling the final overs.
  8. Mitchell Santner – He is a left arm orthodox bowler who was extremely affective with getting wickets and slowing down the run rates. He took 10 wickets in 5 matches with a economy rate of only 6.27. Not only that, he is an all rounder who may not have scored many runs, but with how New Zealand were playing and his bowling, he was not required!
  9. Mohammad Nabi – He bowls right arm off breaks and took a staggering 12 wickets (highest of any player) with an impressive economy rate of 6.07. Furthermore, he was handy with the bat, scoring 52 against Zimbabwe.
  10. David Willey – He was the pick of the English bowling attack attack by not only opening the bowling, but he seemed to always pick up early wickets, taking an impressive 10. Being a left arm swing bowler, he had a lot of success swinging it into the right handers and with his swing being late, he was a handful!
  11. Samuel Badree – You could argue he was the best bowler of the tournament and a big part of the West Indian success. For a right arm leg spinner to open the bowling is strange. Despite this he took 9 wickets with an outstanding economy rate of 5.39.
  12. Ish Sodhi – He is right arm leg break bowler who took 10 wickets with an economy rate of only 6.1. He showed real consistency and success for New Zealand. As much as I would like to put him in my starting 11, I would have too many spinners.

 

I wanted to end with honourable mentions: Jason Roy was great throughout, and in particular his 78 for England to advance them to the finals. The only reason he did not make the first 11 was that he was out for a duck in the final. Another mention goes to Chris Gayle, who made a century against England for West Indies, which was incredible and undoubtedly the best innings of the tournament. Unfortunately, this was his only good score. Finally, Mohammad Shahzad for Afghanistan in Stage 1 was easily a top two batsman with Tamim Iqbal and showed Afghanistan to be a force not to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, when he came into Super 10/Stage 2, he was unable to replicate to the same extent.

My ICC T20 Cricket World Cup 2016 Overview

West Indies Final
West Indies Winning Celebrations (Source: http://www.icc-cricket.com/world-t20/news/2016/news/94586/west-indies-v-england-icc-world-t20-2016-press-conference)

Since the ICC T20 Cricket World Cup 2016 finished not long ago (as a write this) and the fact that I wrote a blog earlier with predictions (see here), I thought it would be a good idea to give an overview of what happened, how close my predictions were, who performed and underperformed and so on. The outcome of the tournament, as I am sure most of you are aware, was West Indies beat England in the final. The full results were as follows:

1st West Indies

2nd England

3rd – 4th New Zealand and India

5th – 6th South Africa and Australia

7th – 8th Sri Lanka and Pakistan

9th – 10th Afghanistan and Bangladesh

11th – 12th Netherlands and Zimbabwe

13th – 14th Oman and Scotland

15th – 16th Ireland and Hong Kong

To find out the format of the tournament see here. In my predictions, I was correct in picking Bangladesh and Afghanistan to make it into Stage 2. Then I had England, South Africa, India and New Zealand making the Semi-Finals, where the only difference was I picked South Africa instead of West Indies. Finally, I had India winning the Final against South Africa, which I got completely wrong. All in all, I was happy with how close I was and clearly my logic for the most part paid off!

The final was very close, which required the West Indies to get 19 runs off the final over, which for any team is no easy task, besides Carlos Brathwaite who decided to hit the first 4 balls for 6 to win! Both teams prior to the tournament were probably not expected to reach the final and it was nice to see something different! Both teams played extremely well throughout the tournament, beating very strong teams on the way, so it was well deserved and it gives both the teams some credibility that, England in particular, they were starting to lose.

The biggest let-down for me was South Africa. They have been a top T20 team for quite some time and I was shocked when they did not advance through to the Semi-Finals. In terms of the players, some performed very well like Quinton De Kock and Imran Tahir, but more than half did not perform as well as they should have such as AB De Villiers and Francois Du Plessis. I am sure they are highly disappointed, but then I guess what is in their favour was the two best teams in the world were in their group. I still expected more and believed they could have gone further.

New Zealand in the group stage were amazing! To win all their games was impressive especially in what I considered to be the toughest group. I was very surprised when Tim Southee and Trent Boult (two well known and brilliant seamers) were not picked for any of the games, which at the start I did not agree with. They went with a spin heavy approach which clearly worked out in their favour. Some very clever captaining. Their bowling attack in the group stage was unmatched. It was a surprise to me when they lost to England in the Semi-Finals. I thought they were unstoppable. It seemed their batting may have let them down. I always feel for New Zealand, as they have a habit of coming out strong and falling in the final moments like they did before in the ODI World Cup 2015 final.

Bangladesh and Afghanistan came into the World Cup with little to no expectation on their shoulders. They were the underdogs. Although they both did not go far, they proved to the world that they are both very good teams and can put on a show even against the best. If you look at Afghanistan, they are the only team to have beaten the champions, West Indies. A great achievement for any team! A lot of their games I saw were close. A few players had breakout tournaments as well and are starting to become more well known and considered some of the best players in the World like Mohammad Shahzad, Mohammad Nabi and Tamim Iqbal.

It was Oman’s first World Cup. Although they did not make it through, they put on a fight and did very well for themselves. I fully expect in the future to see them go further in the future as they have a lot of talent. The West Indies are the first team to win the World Cup twice. It was made even more special when the West Indies’ Women won their World Cup as well! Congratulations to them both!

The tournament itself met all my expectations and more. I was glued to my twitter feed keeping up with the scores and there was so many memorable moments that I personally will not forget for a while. I can only imagine the emotions all the players will be going through and how privileged they must be to have been a part of it!

ICC T20 Cricket World Cup 2016 Predictions

icc-world-cup-t20-2016-official-logo
Source: http://www.t20worldcup2016schedule.org/

Anyone who is a fan of cricket will know that the T20 Cricket World Cup started a couple of days ago (8th March). For me this is an exciting time of the year when all the top teams battle it out to see who is the best in T20 format. I find my twitter feed full to the brink with all the latest news and scores, which I have to admit makes me very happy. Around this time, I find myself addicted to twitter, having to know every drop of detail on the subject and score updates. I thought it would be a good idea to write about my predictions and players to watch out for etc.

The tournament is set out in a few stages. Stage 1 has 2 groups of 4 who all play everyone in their group and the winner of each progress to the stage 2. These are the teams that are not ranked in the top 8 and had to qualify. The groups are as follows:

Group 1                                              Group 2

Bangladesh                                       Zimbabwe

Netherlands                                      Scotland

Ireland                                               Hong Kong

Oman                                                  Afghanistan

For Group 1, I find this to be a very easy decision on who will take the group. Without a doubt in my mind, Bangladesh should cruise through the group without too much trouble, especially if players such as Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan maintain their current form.

For Group 2, I am sure most would choose Zimbabwe with such great players as Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza, but I believe the rapidly improving side of Afghanistan will cause an upset. They have been playing very well recently and with the amazing form of Mohammad Shahzad, I believe they can do it.

With this being said, I am now onto Stage 2, which involves another 2 groups with 5 teams and the top 2 teams from each will proceed to the semi-finals, where Group 1 Winner plays Group 2 Runner Up and Group 1 Runner Up plays the Group 2 Winner. The groups are as follows:

Group 1                                               Group 2

Sri Lanka                                               India

South Africa                                         Pakistan

West Indies                                         Australia

England                                                 New Zealand

Afghanistan                                         Bangladesh

 

I want to start by saying, at this stage in the tournament, I do not think Afghanistan and Bangladesh will stand a chance. What I will say is that I do not believe Bangladesh will come bottom of their group, as they always seem to cause an upset. Excluding these two teams, I will go through each team starting Group 1:

Sri Lanka – This for me is very hard to say if they will proceed or not. They have really talented players such as Angelo Matthews and Tillakaratne Dilshan, but as team they have not been playing well in T20 format. My gut says they will not.

South Africa – I believe they will top the group, especially when you have such talented players as the one and only AB de Villiers, the new young sensational bowler in Kagiso Rabada and the ever so consistent Hasim Amla.

West Indies – Originally, they would have been my second pick, but unfortunately due to the several injuries and pull outs recently in Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine etc, I do not think their squad is strong enough to pull through this tough group. What I would say is, watch out for Chris Gayle as I expect him to have a great tournament!

England – Being an England supporter myself I know of the squad very well and I believe the squad has potential to go far in the tournament. If Alex Hales can keep up his amazing form alongside the ‘Mr Consistent’ Joe Root, the batting should be fine. In terms of bowling, it may be a surprise to some of you, but to me the key bowler is Reece Topley. It is a toss up here for me between Sri Lanka and England taking the second spot, but I think England have shown some great form as of recently that I hope will follow through.

Group 2 in my opinion, is extremely hard for prediction. There is so much talent:

India – Being the host nation, they do have the home advantage and with so many talented players such as Virat Kohli and Ravichandran Ashwin, I believe they will power through in first place! They are currently the number one ranked team in T20 and I believe they will show exactly why.

Pakistan – This is hard as Pakistan have some great players, in particular Mohammad Amir and Shahid Afridi who I expect to do very well, but overall, I do not feel as though when the moment comes, they will do enough.

Australia – I never like not putting Australia through, when they have the number 1 T20 batsman in the world in Aaron Finch and so many other talented players, but I feel for some reason they just cannot figure T20 out and get up to the level required to get onto the next stage. They are known to pull it out of the bag when needed most, but I think with such a stacked group, they will struggle.

New Zealand –The New Zealand squad I believe is really underrated with the likes of Trent Boult, Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson who are just amazing players. I believe that New Zealand will pull through this group onto the semi-finals in second. I just find them to very consistent and to work really well as a team.

Semi-finals:

South Africa Vs New Zealand and India Vs England

The first match I believe will be very close, but the South African’s will just take it, maybe if Imran Tahir can get some turn on the pitch. The second match I think will be somewhat close, with India winning.

This sets up an India Vs South Africa final!

My gut says India will win the tournament. I believe they are unstoppable in T20 and feel they have what it takes to go all the way.

Please let me know what your predictions are and if you agree with mine!

 

My Top 5 England International Cricket Players

Source: http://worldcricketwatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/england-cricket-team.jpg
Source: http://worldcricketwatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/england-cricket-team.jpg

Cricket is a big passion of mine and I have been playing since 2005. Since then I have continued to follow the sport, in particular my favourite teams (Surrey and England) which has of course lead to favouritism:

Jason Roy

Source: http://www.london24.com/sport/cricket/surrey_star_jason_roy_enjoys_best_bowling_return_but_warwickshire_batsmen_pile_on_the_runs_1_2226396
Source: http://www.london24.com/sport/cricket/surrey_star_jason_roy_enjoys_best_bowling_return_but_warwickshire_batsmen_pile_on_the_runs_1_2226396

He is a limited overs player for England. In addition, he is an opening batsman and has already seen success for England with his consistency even though he joined the squad in May this year. During a T20 game this year, he made an incredible 122* for Surrey against Somerset. I was lucky enough to be spectating and I have to say it was the most incredible batting display I have ever seen. What makes him special is that I saw him develop through County Cricket right up to his England call up. It should be no surprise that a Surrey player made it onto the list!

James Anderson

Source: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01958/james-anderson2_1958017c.jpg
Source: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01958/james-anderson2_1958017c.jpg

I am sure that many people would agree that James Anderson has been a key bowler for England for a while. In fact, he is England’s leading wicket taker in test cricket at 426 wickets which equates to being the 8th highest wicket taker of all time. He has been in the squad since 2003 and is still playing today. His swing bowling is just deadly and with his consistency, batsmen struggle. The best example of this was his 7-43 against New Zealand in 2008 where he ripped apart their top order batsmen. For a player to be at the top of his game for 12 years and to even today to be the 2nd best test bowler in the world (ICC rankings) is quite an achievement. How could someone of this calibre not make it?

Stuart Broad

Source:http://cf.c.ooyala.com/ZuMTVydjqk_hVDEhQA9OoE-vbPVX39Kb/promo263130710
Source: http://cf.c.ooyala.com/ZuMTVydjqk_hVDEhQA9OoE-vbPVX39Kb/promo263130710

I consider Stuart Broad and James Anderson to be a bowling duo. To have these two opening the bowling for England, you can only feel sympathy for what is about to come the batsman’s way. In my eyes they are the best bowling pair England has had since 2005. There is without a doubt no better example of his than during the Ashes Test this year (Fourth Test). He took 8-15. To really hit home just how dominant he was here, Australia were bowled out for only 60! Although many believe he has a baby face, he is a volatile and feisty player that will make your life a nightmare when batting. Furthermore, he is the 4th best bowler in the world (ICC Rankings) and rightly so!

Ian Bell

Photo credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images
Photo credit: IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images

Ian Bell has been my favourite player ever since I first got into cricket. His debut was in 2004 and has been a vital part of the English Batsmen ever since. I think what made me like him so much was his batting technique – it is very unique. I also feel like my batting technique is somewhat similar to his. I rely very much on my drives and my square cuts and I try to be very cautious with my shots. I find him to be extremely sensible with his shot selection. Even when he is not scoring runs, I still see very clear contact with the ball as well as good placement whilst using a full technique. His best performance has to have been during the 2013 Ashes Test, where he was named ‘Man of the Series’ for his three centuries. Even when he was not making centuries, he still put up good numbers. Although many are questioning his place in the squad right now, he brings such experience and when needed – he delivers!

Andrew Strauss

Source: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/files/2012/08/andrew-strauss_1444846c.jpg
Source: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/files/2012/08/andrew-strauss_1444846c.jpg

To me, when I think of Andrew Strauss, I think of the opening pair consisting of himself and Alistair Cook. I feel this was the best opening pair England has had in a long time. He had his debut in 2003. Anyone who knows of Andrew Strauss, will have heard about his struggles and his lack of form time to time, but in the end he only came back stronger than ever. When he took over as captain in 2009, I was very excited as I knew all along that he was perfect for the role. I like the fact he was very intelligent and you could tell he was always analysing his game to improve. He had a very successful captaincy, with numerous wins throughout. Now that he has retired and taken on the role of the Director of Cricket, I know he will continue to do big things!