Who’d be a Selector?

WARNING: I’ve become the pessimistic cynic that I used to criticise!

Jason Roy won’t do any worse than those who have been chewed up and spat out before him but is he really going to do any better?

He’ll likely average 27 but is also likely to be more Aaron Finch than David Warner, in Tests anyway. Roy is a player with no recent history of playing First Class cricket let alone opening the batting. He was all at sea against a moving ball in the World Cup final and should he score a few breezy thirties will that really be of benefit? Will he score Test hundreds more often than Keaton Jennings (Once every 8.5 Tests!)?

Yes Ed Smith and co. have gone down this route before with Jos Buttler and credit to both because it’s worked so far. This selection however is even more cavalier. How will Roy approach it? Like it’s an ODI or will he cramp up like Hales and try to play a game he has no recent history of playing?

I consider myself a realistic optimist (Or optimistic realist) when it comes to English cricket but appreciate that I sound pessimistic regarding the selection of Surrey’s Roy. I’ll back nearly everybody who is picked for England but just like I put my head on the line by advocating my proposed selections of players that others would dismiss as preposterous, I’ll equally express my opinion when I’m not convinced by the ones that we have selected. I expect our Selection Panel to be practicing what they preach and analysing every potential selection in extreme detail.

Will Roy pull his hamstring, not be able to field then not be authorised to open the batting meaning that Joe Root has to move up to three anyway? If you’ve spent a career running 100 metre sprints then suddenly try to run a marathon then you’ll likely get injured. Roy has spent a career, or at least the latter part, playing One-Day and T20 cricket and has recently struggled to fulfil those requirements. Now we’re expecting him to last five days!

I sincerely hope that Jason Roy has a long and fruitful Test career averaging forty plus home and away and I’ll be the first to provide an honest assessment and say well done… but he wouldn’t be my pick!

England have also selected Lewis Gregory but what is the Somerset man’s point of difference? His selection seems reminiscent of recent eras where early season form precedes consistency over the years. Gregory might currently be doing a bit better than Ben Coad, Jamie Porter or even Chris Rushworth but is he really a long-term solution, is he really better than those players? It’s the same as picking Mark Stoneman because he averaged 80 one year in a career of averaging 30 but ignoring James Hildreth for only averaging 40 most years. The odd peak amongst troughs wins selection over year on year consistency. The Somerset man’s selection smacks of a token “Yes we value county cricket” by the selectors. They’ve rested the likes of Buttler and Ben Stokes and feel that they can get away with bringing in a bowling all-rounder who’s topping the domestic charts for one-match (Keep county fans happy) against Ireland. Don’t forget that Sam Curran is capable of batting higher than he has done.

Lewis Gregory is a fine player whose all-round abilities can be of use to England but I’m just uninspired by these unoriginal selections. England have also selected Olly Stone. If I’m questioning Jason Roy’s fitness then…

If these players perform against Ireland in home conditions does that tell us that they’re good enough to be Test cricketers? Will the same people that malign Woakes as a horse for a course celebrate these players as the finished article based on a fifty of fifer against a country that has just three domestic teams? What message does these selections send to opening batsman out there or domestic bowlers who perform year on year? They can only beat what’s in front of them!

I’m sorry. I’ve become the negative, cynical hypocrite that I never wanted to be but so be it. That’s what being an England cricket fan will do to you. It’s not by choice!

There are no Words… but here are some anyway!

Not actually an image from the World Cup final!

Only England could win the Cricket World Cup by not actually winning the match or the Super Over and losing more wickets than the opposition… and they needed a six that went along the ground that you’ll never see again in your life!

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8039/game/1144530/england-vs-new-zealand-final-icc-cricket-world-cup-2019

Huge respect to New Zealand who were immense.

Credit to Sky for letting everybody watch it. It’s been a long time but that was up there with Edgbaston ’05. Maybe Sky could allow a few more matches, even dead rubbers and the occasional day’s play from Tests on Channel 4. They might even gain some subscribers!

Spare a thought for the guy moaning towards the very end on the BBC online comments section who seemingly didn’t know that the match was being shown on Channel 4. If he was for real… ouch!

Cricket 19: GODII – States of Play!

We posted 354-8 from our fifty overs before a confused American outfit delivered their Second Class reply.

The Trumpets spent about 45 overs of their chase seemingly under the impression that despite the coloured clothing (Their kit was beautiful by the way!) and white ball that this was a Test match, summed up no more so than opening batsman J-J Morrison’s 26 from, wait for it… 114 deliveries! “TEST MATCH”. They then switched into T20 mode for the final few overs led by Henry Wilks (54 not out from 61 balls) but still fell an agonising… 203 runs short!

All our batters chipped in after Dawid Malan (51) and Liam Livingstone (66) had compiled an opening stand worth 98. After that, Joe Root (69) and Moeen Ali (59) put on 120 in tandem. Spin bowler Tahla Pittman claimed figures of 10-0-74-2 with the cork and leather before later making a decent 22 with the willow. Rufus Suarez also collected a brace finishing with analysis 8-0-47-2 and was the visitors’ most economical bowler.

As regards our bowling unit, all were impressive: Stokes (2-23) was the pick whilst Moeen (2-41) and Archer (2-39) also snapped up two wickets each. Liam Dawson’s figures of 10-2-22-0 were also impressive and some consolation after he was run out without facing a ball. Moeen was superb in the field and Jos Buttler also had plenty of running to do.

Gloveman Jonny Bairstow claimed another seven (7SEVEN!) catches to cement his position as the world’s leading wicketkeeper.

That’s three wins from three and now it’s onto Edgbaston to take on opposition from the Orient in the form of Hong Kong.

Proposed England Test Squad

Hi all

Here’s my suggested England Test squad for the match against Ireland and ultimately the start of the Ashes…

Dominic Sibley

Rory Burns

Joe Root (Captain)

Dawid Malan

Jos Buttler

Ben Stokes

Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)

Mark Wood/Jofra Archer

Jack Leach

Stuart Broad

James Anderson/Chris Woakes

12th men

Moeen Ali

Sam Curran

The suggestion is that Archer and Woakes have injuries that need managing and may have to wait their turn. Of course Anderson is currently out of action and Wood is not going to play five consecutive Tests. Extremely good players are going to have to miss out and that may be the case for Sam Curran. I think that variety is essential in an attack but with slow left-armer Leach meriting selection ahead of Moeen that doesn’t help fellow leftie Curran’s case. I still believe in Moeen but he’s gone AWOL as a batsman and Leach should’ve played in West Indies. His batting and fielding have come on too. Moeen would be best served getting some county cricket under his belt. If somebody in the top/middle order fails after a few Tests then the others could be shuffled to accommodate Moeen as a second spinner or even allow Curran to come into the side. He himself is capable of batting at least as high as six.

On the batting front, Sibley merits selection. His ‘form’ isn’t just that. His sensational run started last year and included a hundred overseas. He clearly has a lot of ambition and concentration and could be just what England need. I’d have no concerns about tempo from the openers. Test matches last five days!

I also firmly believe that Malan is good enough to succeed at this level but his optimum batting position is number four. That’s why Root must move to three and embrace it. He might not like it but he’ll have a better team for it. Yes Malan has played before and averaged 27 like everybody else but he hinted at being good enough and is knocking the door down with an axe. You only have to look at the likes of Mark Butcher, Justin Langer and Marvan Atapattu, even Jonny Bairstow for players that came back stronger and age wise look at Mike Hussey, Kumar Sangakarra and Misbah-ul-Haq, even Andy Flower. Malan could yet have his peak years ahead of him. His inclusion helps maintain a good left-hand/right-hand balance throughout the batting order.

The likes of Gary Ballance and Toby Roland-Jones as well as Dom Bess could all be hitting form at the right time to keep incumbents on their toes. Sam Northeast is another one for whom a place in the XI is a genuine possibility. Like I say though, good players will have to miss out. That’s theory of numbers. Coad, Gregory, Porter, Denly and Roy etc, you cant squeeze them all in.

Regarding Roy, he simply can’t be trusted to be fit enough to field long enough to be allowed, in accordance with the rules of the game, to open the batting thus rendering his inclusion pointless if everybody else has to move higher up the order than they want too.

One more thing. What a shame that the England Lions players as well as most county squads can’t watch the World Cup final. Who scheduled this?!

James Buttler: Following On Book Review

This book is a decent read. Buttler has interviewed a number of players, past and present but also relies on second hand information.

I found his Joe Bloggs question a little lacking in logic if you really think it about and there’s a few errors in the text, missing words etc that I always find frustrating when you think how many people must’ve read a book before it hits the shelves.

My enjoyment of the book may have suffered from me reaching a tipping point having feasted on so much cricket literature. There’s definitely food for thought if you have children and it provides quite an insight into Jonny Bairstow’s ‘The whole world is against me’ mindset. If you’ve been sheltered and protected throughout your life then it’s no wonder that when you receive criticism aged 28 you respond like a fourteen-year-old!

Buttler does make an astute point about sometimes asking not well thought out questions but how cricketers/coaches can save them with an interesting answer but a football player/manager may be less inclined to do so.

James Buttler’s Following On scores…

65

The Sky is not the Limit!

Sky Sports are responsible for the demise of cricket in our country. There are other factors mainly revolving around families and Saturday night TV but ultimately Sky Sports is responsible. They took the game away from our screens and denied children the opportunity to witness cricket and be inspired. They’ve robbed us of a whole generation of both fans and players.

Fair play to them though… if only for one day!

They’ve allowed the 2019 Cricket World Cup final to be aired on free to air TV. England’s players have one day to inspire a nation. If kids watch the match, pick up a bat, go into the garden with their family, to a local club or strangers playing in a park end up playing together then it was worth it. I guarantee that at least one future professional player will exist because they saw Saturdays match when they otherwise wouldn’t have.

You can tell me that Sky took cricket into schools but when you don’t have idols to follow the inspiration isn’t always there. You can tell me that Sky funds a chunk of the England player’s salary but so be it. Take that chunk out and see if the players still want to play. There are plenty of other potential sponsors who will fill the void if their company name is going to be regularly shown on free to air TV.

The monster that is Sky Sports has robbed a generation but for one day cricket can inspire a nation!

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2019

Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 11.07.06

Here are my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket teams for the 2019 edition of the T20 Blast:

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After a disappointing World Cup with Afghanistan, can spin bowler Rashid Khan lead Kings of Khan to glory?

Aside from Rashid, paceman Tom Helm is highly thought of while the likes of Steven Mullaney and Wayne Parnell should make all-round contributions. Wicketkeeper Ben Cox is another proven performer in the shortest format while teammate Callum Ferguson excelled in the latest edition of the Big Bash.

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Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone will lead 2020 Vision and hope to catch the eye of the England selectors having fallen of the radar somewhat. It may be the last time that we see Michael Klinger in action and David Willey will want to prove that he should still be in England’s T20I squad having missed out on selection for the ODI World Cup. Pat Brown will also hope to back up some impressive performances in previous seasons having being touted as an England candidate while the likes of Laurie Evans (Prominent on the franchise circuit), Ryan Higgins and Ollie Robinson could also make a case for an England call-up.

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One of the season’s stars in Somerset’s Tom Banton will skipper Ghetto Blasters. Tom Curran and Liam Dawson will want to put the frustrations of sitting on the sidelines at the World Cup behind them whilst the likes Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan as well as possibly Sam Northeast, the precociously talented Delray Rawlins and even Banton himself might hope to catch Ed Smith’s eye.

I’ll let you know how I got on come the competition’s conclusion.