The Global Test Tournament

Who will win the Europa League?


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Short Leg Cricket

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20th April 2020

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Here it is! The Europa League begins tomorrow and the 4 competing sides (England, Ireland, Netherlands and Scotland) will battle it out to become Europa League champion and automatically qualify for the upcoming Global Test Tournament along with the runner up. England start the tournament as clear favourites with their recent Test record (defeating South Africa 3-1 away) suggesting they have found a winning and working formula for the longer formatted game, led by the ever impressive and improving Joe Root. They will take on underdogs Scotland who beat the English two years ago albeit in a 50 over fixture and will be looking to use that confidence and fond memories to spur them on in their inaugural Test for the country. The encounter will be played at the Kia Oval in Surrey where local boys Rory Burns, Sam Curran and Ollie Pope will all be hopeful of selection in their familiar surroundings. England will have a lot of selection headaches particularly in the positions surrounding NO.3, wicketkeeper and spin bowler with a bank of players vying for selection most notably Zak Crawley and Ben Foakes. Scotland, on the other hand, will be debating whether to select wily all rounder Richie Berrington or opt for another specialist batsmen such as Michael Jones or Craig Wallace. The third seamer spot is also up for grabs, county cricket stars Brad Wheal and Rudihari Smith amongst others in contention, whilst the spinner selection looks set to come down to a battle between leggie Hamza Tahir or clever left arm orthodox bowler Mark Watt...

The other match in the league sees recently made Test nation Ireland take on another debuting nation in the Netherlands at the picturesque Malahide Cricket Ground. Ireland have a relatively small experience in Test match cricket, losing to Pakistan, Afghanistan and disappointingly to England last summer, but nonetheless they will enter the match with high spirits under the new captaincy of Andrew Balbirnie who has taken over from experienced character Will Porterfield. With new head coach Graham Ford alongside the intelligent Balbirnie, Ireland undoubtedly will be searching for qualification into the big time, into the Global Test Tournament, with a settled and talented squad including Paul Stirling, Kevin O'Brien, Mark Adair and potentially the uncapped Craig Young. Their opponents, the Netherlands, have appeared in many limited overs world tournaments but never in an official Test match and like Scotland will be making their opening bow into the arena of 5 day cricket. Whilst they might be new customers, they have a squad blended with experienced old heads and an exuberance of youth to spearhead the Dutch charge. Newly appointed captain and left handed all rounder Pieter Seelar is blessed with the pair of Ryan ten Doeschate and Roelof van der Merwe, whose longevity has rewarded them with a once in a lifetime Test cap which they will hope to expand on during the competition, who are going to bring a wealth of experience, skill and knowledge to the Dutch side. The Dutch are also gifted with the talent of Colin Ackermann and Brandon Glover who have plied their trade successfully in the English domestic seasons and they will be important if they are to progress into the GTT.

The Europa League is ready and raring to go! The Test Mini Leagues project begins in Surrey and Malahide and will set the benchmark for the other 4 Test Mini Leagues that will operate around the world in preparation and qualification for the ultimate showdown in the Global Test Tournament. The players are ready, the umpires have arrived, the fans are excited, the commentators are thrilled by this new Test Cricket home, the reporters are ready! Everyone is but Keaton Jennings and Jofra Archer ..... are you?!
 

Short Leg Cricket

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Its been a while. And I can't guarantee how much I can keep this up to date. However, four rounds have been played. The Europa League has been thrilling and exciting full of batting and bowling contests, runs, wickets, catches, run out and bugs! And that is just the Europa League, the African League has played up to expectation and more. Fans up and down the coasts and the oceans have been treated to great cricket action. Now it is time for me to recap the action, bring you up to speed with all of the stories, news and developments that have happened! Strap yourself in for a rollercoaster of cricket fun.

Recap:
England take on Scotland at the Kia Oval
Ireland take on Netherlands at Malahide
 

Short Leg Cricket

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21st APRIL 2020 - Toss



Ian Ward: Welcome to viewers around the world and those at home too, we are here at the sunny Kia Oval and we are here for the toss. Joe (Root) will be calling. Call is TAILS! Its a HEAD - Scotland win the toss, Kyle (Coetzer) please come and join us. What will you be doing?

Kyle Coetzer: Hey Wardy, we'll be having a bat first. The pitch looks pretty even with a bit of grass on top but with the baking sunshine, that should make conditions for batting easier against the new ball, which is always a big factor here in England plus we think the pitch will deteriorate over the coming days which will suit our bowling attack should we bat well and put pressure on England.

IW: You mention your bowling attack, who is in it and does it include Josh Davey?

KC: Yes Joshy is in it and is raring to go after spending some time on the side line. We have gone with 3 seamers and two spinners with Mark Watt and Leasky (Michael Leask) the ones chosen. Hamza Tahir is unfortunate to miss out but we felt like we needed some extra batting depth coming up against one of the best sides in Test Cricket which Leasky has in abduance and can bat anywhere in our top 7.

IW: A proud day for you, your team and all the Scottish fans as you make your debut in Test Cricket and get underway in the Europa League. What are your expectations for the next six games you have in store?

KC: It is a magical day, one that the lads playing today will never forget and we hope to mark our debut with a great contest and hopefully a win. But we will take each game, each day, each session at a time and try and perform at our best for as long as we can whilst also embracing and enjoying the experience. We have high hopes and are itching to get going.

IW: Thanks Kyle, good luck and go well! Joe (Root), bowling first what would you have liked to do?

JR: Hey Wardy, I am glad Kyle won the toss, I wouldn't have known what to have you chosen. I think it is a good toss to lose (laughter), we are happy bowling first, we are encouraged by the green patches at both ends and feel like we should be in a position where we are exploiting the early new ball conditions.

IW: Hahaha, you would have had some headaches last night picking the team, what have you gone for?

JR: Yeah we did, but that is only a positive and shows the amount of depth in talent and quality we have with the guys on the bench. Chris (Woakes) isn't quite ready for this match and we don't want to rush him in with five games to come in a shorter amount of time so Woody (Mark Wood) gets a go in home conditions. He has bowled a lot overs and played superbly overseas and it only seems fair to give him a home game (laughter), no he deserves an opportunity to prove his worth to the side! Dom (Bess) is our lone spinner and Denners (Joe Denly) will bat at number 3.

IW: Thank you Joe for your time go well! So that is the toss over and the news is that Scotland have won the toss in their debut Test match and will be batting first. Are you surprised Nasser that Scotland have batted first especially with the overhead conditions suggesting that bowling first today would be more beneficial?

Nasser Hussain: Erm no actually, I would have batted first too, I think they have looked at the forecast for the next few days and feel that their best way of winning is to be bowling last on a weary hard pitch. The selection of the two spinners albeit one frontline, one more of a part timer indicates that they think the pitch will be conducive to spin later in the piece. However, to do that as you say, they will have to score the runs up top in initial difficult conditions with the pitch offering some assistance that Broad and co will look to take advantage. England won't be too unhappy and will be pleased to be bowling first given their batting struggles at home on greener wickets. It will be interesting to see who takes the new ball, you imagine it will be Broad with one of Curran or Wood. Or they could be different and go with Stokes? It is a mystery....

Rob Key: Think you are kidding yourself there Nasser with Stokes, what did you eat for breakfast this morning (laughter) ...
NH: Cereal and porridge
RB: Of course of course very traditional, I like Scotland's approach and they have some exciting young batsman in their top order, Munsey is an entertaining short form player and it will be interesting to see how he will approach the longer format. England will be looking to grab the match by the scruff of the neck from ball 1 and put the debutants under extreme pressure. Good to see they have kept faith with Denly, he performed well without making a big score in South Africa and has been versatile when England have needed him to be.

NH: Another Kent plug, what is it with you boys? You got some sort of alliance, a secret group?
RK: You're jealous, you're not in it.
NH: Never
IW: We will leave you pondering that as we edge closer to the start of the match and the start of the Europa League, a tournament part of the ambition started by Nasser and good friend and colleague Ian Smith, to rejuvenate Test Cricket through a new format. A reminder of the two sides for you.

Scotland, making their Test debuts, will open with exciting young batsman George Munsey and stalwart Kyle Cotezer, with Callum McLeod, England's worst nightmare from their ODI loss a couple years ago, in at first blow. Craig Wallace, Dylan Budge and Matt Cross make up the engine room, Cross preferred to take the gloves ahead of Wallace. Into the all rounders with Leask and Somerset boy Josh Davey before Safyaan Sharif, county player Stuart Whittingham and the wily Mark Watt make up the Scottish XI.

England play their 1023rd Test match and will lineup with promising duo Rory Burns and Dom Sibley at the top of the order, a style of batting made for batting long and scoring big. As Rob Key said, Joe Denly is still in at 3, captain Joe Root the lynchpin and most consistent batsman in the side is at 4 with the superstar Ben Stokes at 5, youngun Ollie Pope at 6 and Jos Buttler at 7 with the gloves pipping out Ben Foakes for the keeper role. Sam Curran is at 8 playing at his home ground with Mark Wood or the Durham de Villiers at 9, his batting ability improving so much he has been plumped up ahead of Dom Bess at 10 as the sole spinner before Stuart Broad adopts his new role as the lead bowler in the side at 11. Broad will be crucial with the new ball to set the tone for the match and the tournament.
 

Short Leg Cricket

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I have been inspired by the recent flurry of activity and entertainment generated from the 90's featuring @Dale88 @blockerdave and @Dutch as well as @wasteyouryouth getting an easy ride bowling to Bermuda with a top quality New Zealand side, to write up the Global TEST Tournament starting off with the Europa League and the first five of six rounds that have been played. Hope you can join me on this ride as I play and manage as England against Ireland, Scotland and Netherlands in Test double headers to try and qualify for the Hussain and Smith Global Test Tournament. Confused?

Well, head to the first page for all of the competitions, formats and everything you might want to know about this. Also, key reading is to read the England vs Scotland preview and toss/line up reveal above.

Lets go!! :eng: vs :sco:
 

Short Leg Cricket

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Round 1: 21st April 2020

:eng:
vs :sco:

Day 1:
Scotland's captain Kyle Coetzer won the toss and strode out to bat with attacking batsman George Munsey looking to set the tone for the rest of the competition with a positive start. That is exactly what they got as the Scots raced to a 50 run partnership within the first 12 overs. The new ball pair of Mark Wood and Sam Curran struggled to create chances, rarely beating the bat and allowing the batsmen to get off to a flier. Even the introduction of usual red ball opener Stuart Broad into the attack couldn't stop the procession from the Scots, treating the divided UK crowd to an excellent display of batting.

Coetzer passed 50 however Munsey fell short as (who else but) Ben Stokes with his beautiful
out swinger nipping off the seam nicking off GM to Buttler for 42. England headed into Lunch on the front foot with Stokes at the forefront again clean bowling MacLeod for a 4 ball duck.

Lunch: Scotland 102-2 (30.0) Coetzer 51*, Munsey 42 ; Stokes 2-12

Scotland regained momentum after Lunch with Craig Wallace taking up the mantle of aggressive batting taking advantage of the dry Oval pitch. Spinner Dom Bess began to string some maidens together and create some pressure particularly on Coetzer however to no luck as the pair reached their fifty partnership with a stonkingly huge six from Wallace deposited into the members pavilion.

With the pair slowly frustrating England with their smart batting, Wood sparked chaos and brought the game back into life with some pace and bounce. Coming around the wicket, Wood bumped Coetzer hitting him on the shoulder before executing an even more fierce bouncer which Coetzer hammered to Bess at deep square leg to end his 125 ball 77. Wood's final four balls prompted plays and misses and ducking, seemingly waking the crowd into cheers and roars. Despite the pressure from Bess and Curran at the other end, Wallace and Dylan Budge played confidently to negotiate the Scots to 205-3 at Tea.

Tea: 205-3 (60.0) Coetzer 77, Wallace 47* ; Stokes 2 wickets, Wood 1 wicket

A fired up England rolled onto the field still in some surprise at their opponents approach with the run rate climbing and the pitch drying out. Root rotated his bowlers around after Tea using Wood in short sharp spells, Broad and Stokes in a more wicket taking manner allowing Bess and Curran to bowl long tight spells. The Scots seemed undeterred by this, Budge playing conventional cricket strokes with smooth cover drives and on drivers and Wallace improvising against the awkward left arm angle from Curran.

England's resistance though was rewarded as Dom Bess clattered Wallace's stumps on 72 and then forcing Matt Cross to slog sweep straight to short mid wicket where a gleeful Wood accepted the low catch. 270-3 had become 270-5 and momentum had shifted! Budge passed fifty but failed to go on, his mature innings ended when Joe Denly entered the attack and produced a ripping leg spinner shaving the off stump bail. Denly also accounted for Leask (24) in an eight over spell yielding 4 maidens 2 wickets and only 8 runs as the new ball was delayed in the hope of wickets with spin.

When the new ball was taken, Josh Davey batted patiently against the swing before bursting into life with some lofted shots flying back over the bowler wowing the fans with his enterprising batsmanship. Sam Curran picked up his first with a rip snorting swinging ball hitting Sharif's stumps for a 12 ball duck. Davey and Whittingham saw the Scots out to close on their inaugural day of Test cricket at 350-8!

Close: 350-8 Coetzer 77, Wallace 72, Budge 53 ; Stokes, Bess and Denly 2 wickets
 
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Short Leg Cricket

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Europa League, 1st Round - Kia Oval, Surrey

Close Day 2
England vs Scotland

Scotland 370 Kyle Coetzer 77, Craig Wallace 72, Ben Stokes 3-64, Dom Bess 2-51
England 234-3, Joe Denly 63, Joe Root 58*, Stuart Whittingham 2-41

Day 2:

Root handed the slightly roughed up new ball to Stokes and Wood, the dynamic Durham duo, and they duly delivered curtailing the Scots innings for a fantastic 370, a wicket apiece. Josh Davey's composed innings of 37 lifted the Scots up above 300 but it was the contributions and big partnerships between Coetzer and Munsey, Coetzer and Wallace and then Wallace and Cross which fired the Scots into a commanding position by the midway point of the first session on Day 2. Root and England would have been pleased to have wrapped up the innings quickly but would be disappointed with their bowling returns, Wood and Broad both going at over 4 an over and producing only 1 wicket. Stokes, Bess and even Joe Denly's economic and wicket taking cameo saved England plenty of runs - the question remained on this good Oval pitch, whether England could bat deep and well enough to force a positive result.

Those questions were answered when Burns and Sibley trotted off to lunch unbeaten in an assured opening partnership totalling 40. New ball seamers Sharif and Davey were a little too eager to produce the magic wicket taking ball and allowed some easy runs for Burns off his pads and some comfortable cover drives from Sibley. Their consistency improved with the introduction of Whittingham, who had the ball talking and beating the outside edge and spinner Watt who kept the former Surrey pair squeezed with his tight left arm spin. The sun baked second session that awaited would be crucial in the progression of the match.

Burns had been more free flowing in his run scoring and picked that up straight after sandwiches with a trio of excellent on drives that had the young and the old purring with delight. His home crowd were then stunned to see him trudge off on 41 when a reverse sweep off Watt kicked off his foot and gobbled up into the six foot gangly silly point of Whittingham. A fluent innings cruelly ended by unfortunate luck but early signs suggested Burns was in fine nick and would be in a strong position to consolidate his opening birth.

Dentury arrived to the crease and formed a stoic partnership with Sibley, compiling 55 and averting any murmurs of a traditional English collapse in fine fashion. Denly looked the most comfortable, playing some exquisite strokes off the metronomic Whittingham and Watt, the back foot punch elegant and stylish as David Gower in his hay day. Slowly but surely, the Scots devised some tactical nous and dried up the runs and with Sibley on 42, he succumbed to the pressure hooking Whittingham straight down fine leg's throat moments before tea. Sibley's limited stroke play is often analysed studiously by pundits, so they would have been surprised to see him take the pull shot on against Whittingham particularly with the extra bounce and pace off the pitch as much as the Scots were - the elation on the face was visible to see as tea arrived.

Starting the sunsetting final session, skipper Joe Root put the motor on from ball one, punishing width and length short and full. An array of off drives were hammered off the New Balance bat past the less chirpy Scotsman fielders and he didn't let up reaching fifty off only 75 balls. He complimented Denly's back foot game to frustrate the Scots. Root's selection of shots and picking up of length was exceptional throughout the session and was in imperious touch in a formidable partnership with under pressure Denly. With the runs ticking along nicely and the pressure getting to the visitors, Stuart Whittingham stepped up to the plate in the dying overs, finding some reverse swing and just enough to tempt Denly into another cut which caught the edge to a flying Craig Wallace. In an electric 4 over spell, he also tested Root and new batsman Stokes and was unfortunate not to have Root lbw in the final over, umpire's call thwarting him of removing the England captain. The frenetic end to the day left England 234-3, Root moving onto 58 and Stokes on 11, and the Scots with a sniff at maintaining a first innings lead going into moving day on Day 3.
 

Short Leg Cricket

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Post Day 2 Press Interviews:

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IW: Joe Denly joins us now, "Hey Joe, thank you for coming down, pleasure to have you here, a good day for you personally and a good day for the team too. How would you assess your innings?
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JD: "Hey Wardy, Nasser, yeah it was fantastic to have a partnership with Rooty and it is disappointing that it couldn't go on. Personally, I felt in decent nick, the Championship games in the build up were good to get my eye back in and score some runs but I have always had the confidence instilled in me that I can play at this level from the faith from Joe and the selectors have shown in me since my second debut, you could say. It was nice to make it to fifty but to not kick on and make a big hundred will be something I will look to change in the second dig.

IW: "You mention the faith and the selectors, did you feel under pressure coming into this game from the outside noises?"

JD: "Outside noise is unescapable in international sport and previously I have let that get to me a bit. At the moment, I have just got to keep trusting the process and keep learning from the guys and the excellent coaches we have got and keep improving and trying to ignore the stuff on the outside. I think players like Joe spur you onto to keep improving and keep learning when he just makes it look easy and effortless.

IW: "Haha, your partnership with Joe has helped you lift to 234-3, how well do you feel placed in the game after today?

JD: "Yeah, I think yesterday the template for batting was shown by the Scots who batted extremely smartly and well in difficult conditions and it was just about keeping the scoreboard ticking and taking little risks early on and then really making it count when you get in. They bowled really well throughout the day and probably deserved more than the 3 wickets they got, but we are happy with our position and will look to hammer it home tomorrow and then make some early inroads with the ball.

IW: "Thank you for joining us Joe and well done today. Nasser, Shane what have we learned today and where do you see the game going?"
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NH: "I think the game is finely poised, Scotland will be delighted with their late wicket and Whittingham bowled superbly all day and has been a real star with the ball. England will be satisfied with their day's work but must not be content with this start and must press on tomorrow with Root and Stokes. The first session tomorrow is crucial and will go a long way to determining who is ahead in the game after the first digs."
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SW: "Nasser makes a good point, England are in a commanding position with the bat with two of the best batsman in the world currently at the crease and one set in Root. They need to make a statement for the rest of this competition that they can bat deeper and score big hundreds with more challenges ahead. I was really impressed with Whittingham today his control more than anything, stifling the batsman of run scoring opportunities and then setting up Sibley and Denly very smartly. Looks like a very impressive bowler who has got a good future for the Scots, who should not be disheartened by today and should come back tomorrow knowing they can create 7 more chances and take a lead into their second bat."

NH: "England have certainly won the day but you don't win Test matches in one session or one day's play, you can only really lose it. Both captains have had good games with bat and in the field and Coetzer today was good but will need to give a bit more support and get some more overs into his spinners who will come into the game in the next few days as the pitch starts to wear."

SW: "Yeah Nasser, spinners were a nightmare for you!"

NH: "Days before DRS were where spin was really gritted out."

SW: "Just because you could stick your pad out, no shot, not out. As a fellow spinner, seeing Watt pin down the English was pleasing and hopefully he can grow in the game, his natural off break and top spinners have very good flight and revolutions so if he can continue to rip the ball, he should be assisted by the pitch and take a few polls!"

IW: "That's all from us today, I'll leave Warney and Nasser in their spin debate and tell you that we are in for a cracker and please join us tomorrow as England look to take control in the match and Scotland will aim to take some early wickets and have a nice lead to consolidate on.
 

Short Leg Cricket

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If you are lost in the madness of this thread and the complexities of it, I am too, please head to the first post where the page are summarised.
Currently we are in the Europa League comprised of Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland and England and we are covering the first round between England and Scotland - I am playing as England.
The Europa League is part of the qualification for the Global Test Tournament which you can see on the first page.
We will cover the other continent leagues too.
Hopefully this helps you catch up if you are new to the thread or have liked the thread before, I am at create a new thread or a new link to make it easier to distinguish Leagues and formats. There will be a stats page too which is hopefully going to give you all a great look at everything across all of the leagues.
Thanks for reading and I will hopefully have the first round of fixtures completed by the end of this week (please note images are in short supply because for part of this I am writing in retrospect)
:):wave
 

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