Unicorns (cricket team)
|Home ground:||Arundel Castle
Chester Road North, Kidderminster
Dean Park, Bournemouth
Sir Paul Getty's Ground, Wormsley
The Maer Ground, Exmouth
Unicorns is a cricket team in England that was formed in 2010 specifically to play in the Clydesdale Bank 40 limited overs competition. Members of the squad are all players without current full-time contracts with one of the regular first-class counties.
Provisionally called the ECB Recreation XI, the squad was selected by coach Philip Oliver, Mark Alleyne and Min Patel from a pool of 200 players recommended to the England and Wales Cricket Board in December 2009; the pool was reduced to 40 and 21 following training sessions over the winter. 15 members of the squad are former county cricket professionals. Team Manager Gordon Child said, "The Unicorns squad is a balance of youth and experience...For the younger players aspiring to play first-class cricket this is an opportunity to learn from their more experienced team mates and really test themselves and understand the attributes needed to succeed at this level." The squad is captained by experienced professional Keith Parsons, the former Somerset all-rounder, who was playing Minor Counties cricket for Cornwall.
2010 Clydesdale Bank 40
Unicorns played in Group A of the 2010 Clydesdale Bank 40, along with Glamorgan, Lancashire, Somerset, Surrey, Sussex and Worcestershire; The competition was created for the 18 first-class counties, plus Scotland, Ireland and a Recreational XI based on players from the Minor Counties. Ireland declined to compete, thus leaving the competition one team short for the proposed three groups of seven format; The Netherlands took their place. Unicorns were created to play representing the Minor Counties, thus giving a new opportunity for younger players to gain experience and to learn from experienced professionals. Unicorns have no fixed stadium, but will play their home games at six different outgrounds (stadiums with occasional use by first-class counties).
Their first competitive game was due to be against Surrey on 2 May 2010, but was abandoned without any play, due to rain. Both teams received one point. After a promising start in reply to Sussex's 255/8 at Hove, Unicorns collapsed from 207/4 to 211 all out, to lose their first full competitive game by 44 runs. Former England international bowler James Kirtley led the collapse, with four wickets in eight balls. Unicorns then lost by seven wickets to Somerset at Taunton.
In their fourth group game, on 16 May, Unicorns recorded their first win. Batting first against Glamorgan at Dean Park, Bournemouth, Unicorns scored 231/8, including a stand of 126 between Parsons and Knappett. Glamorgan were then restricted to 173. Unicorns then went on to hit the record books when they stunned Sussex, in complete contrast to their batting collapse against them earlier in the competition. Wes Durston smashed 117 from 68 balls as they chased down a target of 325 to set the highest score (327/4) for a team batting second in the history of 40-over cricket. The third-wicket partnership between Durston and Josh Knappett, both making their highest List A scores, made 165 in just 18 overs.
On resumption of the competition following the two-month break for Twenty20 matches, Unicorns suffered a nine-wicket defeat to Lancashire, before chasing another large total (277 runs), this time set by Worcestershire to win with two balls to spare; Michael O'Shea hit 90 from 62 balls.
The squad, composing of twenty one uncontracted cricketers, do not get paid; they only receive expenses. Two former county players, Carl Greenidge (son of West Indies player, Gordon) and Dave Burton were originally in the squad, but withdrew after insisting they received payment. "The ECB would not not agree, arguing that this is an opportunity for players to showcase their ability to the first-class counties. The squad has endured some criticism, not least for the Unicorns moniker; sports journalist Peter May said that what was intended to be a Minor Counties Select XI, featuring some of the best amateurs in the country has included a disproportionate number of players from London with MCC or ECB connections. "This was an opportunity to reward the best cricketers for amateur dedication...and at the same time provide the sternest possible challenge to the county sides. It is an opportunity missed."
Players with previous first-class/List A appearances are listed in bold (Correct as of 2 May 2010)
|No.||Name||Nat||Birth date||Batting Style||Bowling Style||Notes|
|1||Jahid Ahmed||ENG||20 February 1986||Right-handed||Right arm medium pace|
|2||Arfan Akram||ENG||17 November 1983||Right-handed||Right arm leg break|
|3||Luke Beaven||ENG||31 August 1989||Right-handed||Slow left-arm orthodox|
|4||Chris Benham||ENG||24 March 1983||Right-handed||Right arm off break|
|5||Chris Brown||ENG||16 August 1974||Right-handed||Right arm off break|
|6||Ned Eckersley||ENG||9 August 1989||Right-handed||—||Wicket-keeper|
|7||Neil Hancock||ENG||13 April 1976||Right-handed||Right arm fast-medium|
|8||Mark Hardinges||ENG||5 February 1978||Right-handed||Right arm medium pace|
|9||Josh Knappett||ENG||15 April 1985||Right-handed||—||Wicket-keeper|
|10||Tom Mees||ENG||8 June 1981||Right-handed||Right arm medium-fast|
|11||Chris Murtagh||ENG||14 October 1984||Right-handed||Right arm off break|
|12||Michael O'Shea||ENG||4 September 1987||Right-handed||Right arm off break|
|13||Sean Park||ENG||24 April 1980||Right-handed||Right arm fast-medium|
|14||Keith Parsons||ENG||2 May 1973||Right-handed||Right arm medium pace||Club captain|
|15||Chris Peploe||ENG||26 April 1981||Left-handed||Slow left arm orthodox|
|16||Glen Querl||ZIM||4 April 1988||Right-handed||Right arm medium pace|
|17||Zoheb Sharif||ENG||22 February 1983||Left-handed||Leg break|
|18||Duncan Snell||ENG||14 October 1984||Left-handed||Left arm medium-fast|
|19||Jackson Thompson||OMN||7 February 1986||Left-handed||Right arm off break||Represented Oman Under-17s|
|20||Jonathan Miles||ENG||21 February 1986||Right-handed||Left arm medium pace||Replaced Burton in original squad|
|–||Neil Saker||ENG||20 September 1984||Right-handed||Left arm medium pace||Was not in the original squad|
|–||Tom Sharp||ENG||7 November 1977||Right-handed||Right arm off break||Was not in the original squad|
|–||Atiq-ul-Rehman||ENG||8 November 1981||Right-handed||Right arm medium-fast||Replaced Young in squad|
Former squad members
|No.||Name||Nat||Birth date||Batting Style||Bowling Style||Notes|
|4||Dave Burton||ENG||23 August 1985||Right-handed||Right arm medium-fast||Quit before season|
|7||Carl Greenidge||ENG||20 February 1978||Right-handed||Right arm medium-fast||Quit before season|
|5||Wes Durston||ENG||6 October 1980||Right-handed||Right arm off break||Joined Derbyshire during 2010 season|
|–||Ed Young||ENG||21 May 1989||Right-handed||Slow left arm orthodox||Replaced Durston in squad; subsequently joined Gloucestershire during season|
- Clydesdale Bank 40 2010 Fixtures, Cricinfo Retrieved on 2 May 2010
- Durston ton sets up Unicorns' record chase Cricinfo, 23 May 2010, Retrieved on 25 May 2010
- Bolton, Paul Wes Durston to play for Unicorns Telegraph, 8 April 2010, Retrieved on 2 May 2010
- Parsons to captain Unicorns AOL Sport, 14 April 2010, Retrieved on 2 May 2010
- Cricinfo staff, Unicorns name squad for Clydesdale Bank 40 Cricinfo, 13 April 2010, Retrieved on 2 May 2010
- Unicorns in shop window BBC Sport, 27 April 2010, Retrieved on 2 May 2010
- Clydesdale Bank 40 2010, Cricinfo. Retrieved on 2 May 2010.
- Ireland decline Englands 40-over invite Cricinfo blogs, 29 September 2009, Retrieved on 25 May 2010
- Rod Lyall Dutch Pro40 spot remains a possibility Cricket Europe, 26 September 2009, Retrieved on 25 May 2010
- Rod Lyall, Irish withdrawal gives Dutch their Pro40 chance Cricket Europe, 28 September 2009, Retrieved on 25 May 2010
- Surrey and Unicorns hit by rain BBC Sport, 2 May 2010, Retrieved on 2 May 2010
- Sussex v Unicorns in 2010, 3 May 2010, CricketArchive. Retrieved on 4 May 2010.
- Somerford, Matt. Kirtley Sparks Unicorns Slump Sporting Life, 3 May 2010; Retrieved on 16 May 2010
- Unicorns v Glamorgan CricketArchive, 16 May 2010, Retrieved on 16 May 2010
- Unicorns v Sussex CricketArchive, 23 May 2010, Retrieved on 25 May 2010
- Worcs stunned by Unicorns chase, 26 July 2010, BBC Sport. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
- Geoffrey Dean, Ivo Tennant, Patrick Kidd Dispute overshadows first sighting of Unicorns Times Online, 2 May 2010, Retrieved on 3 May 2010
- May, Peter, Minor scandal hits county circuit Cricket365, 13 April 2010, Retrieved on 21 May 2010
- Unicorns Squad Cricinfo, Retrieved on 2 May 2010
- Lyles, Christopher, "Unicorns for real", The Wisden Cricketer May 2010, 95