Wish Wells Well!

I was surprised to discover that Sussex have released 29-year-old batsman Luke Wells. Predominantly a red-ball cricketer, Wells has eighteen First Class tons to his name as well as having made handy contributions with his part-time spin.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/350126.html

Left-hander Wells is Sussex through and through but it’s to be hoped that he can find opportunities elsewhere on the county circuit. He’d walk into quite a few teams and I’m stunned that Sussex have not renewed his contract!

Hameed Needs to be Greedy Indeed!

It’s great to see Haseeb Hameed make an encouraging start to life at Nottinghamshire. The twenty-three-year-old clearly needed a move away from Lancashire to start afresh. Peter Moores might not have been everybody’s cup of tea as an international coach but seems to get the best out of players on the county circuit.

Hameed has registered scores of 68, 52, 21, 1, 22 and 87 in the Bob Willis Trophy this season and whilst it’s a little early to be talking about an England recall, it’ll be great if he can kick on and breed competition. He was so woefully out of form at Lancashire that to come back from that displays the sort of character that England originally liked in Hameed. It’d be a great shame if he ends up been a what if? but the seeds of recovery have been planted and are starting to grow.

Having made three fifties this season though, Hameed needs to be greedy indeed to really press his case to add to his three Test caps.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/632172.html

County Snippets!

A quick glance of the county scores this morning and a few names caught my attention.

James Killer Weighell, surprisingly underplayed then released by Durham, is turning out for Leicestershire. Meanwhile another all-rounder, Yorkshire’s Ed Barnes, is making his professional debut as a loanee at Derbyshire. Barnes was actually loaned out to Sussex last season but didn’t make it onto the field. Wicketkeeper Brooke Guest is also on loan at Derbyshire but his move will become permanent next season.

Tom Loten, George Hill and Jared Warner are among the reasons that the aforementioned Barnes has had to go out on loan. All are playing for Yorkshire, alongside more established young players such as Jordon Thompson and Harry Brook. Dawid Malan, fresh from a double ton but only just back from injury, joins Zimbabwe born Gary Ballance on the sidelines.

Fellow Zimbabwe born player Nathan Gilchrist is making his premier professional outing for Kent on loan from Somerset. Meanwhile Blake Cullen and Will Sheffield are also registering their professional debuts as Middlesex host Sussex.

Spinner Simon Kerrigan, infamously once capped at Test level for England, is representing Northamptonshire and the very best of luck to him and all the players mentioned above.

Isn’t it great to have some First Class county cricket to follow?

Zak Attack!

England have been desperately seeking a Test number three for some time. Someone with the resilience of an opener but enough stroke play and the right mindset to set the tempo. They want a player that can prevent the middle order stroke players from being exposed to the new ball and crucially leave Joe Root in his optimum number four position.

The player they’ve identified doesn’t have a bucket load of First Class centuries nor has he spent years being groomed in the England Lions. He’s been in and out of the England team, up and down the order but should now get a run at three where he’s already thriving. That’s particularly impressive given the lack of competitive preparation.

The player in question is not James Vince, Sam Northeast or any other celebrated or touted batsman… he’s Zak Crawley and he’s just struck his maiden Test ton…

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19495/game/1198243/england-vs-pakistan-3rd-test-england-v-pakistan-2020

It’s to be hoped that the tall twenty-one-year-old Kent player can score more Test centuries in front of packed out stadiums!

Cricket Captain 2020 – Yorkshire

I’ve purchased Cricket Captain 2020 and have commenced a career with my native Yorkshire. Prior to the new season, we added out of contract all-rounder Matt Coles to the squad. He should help make us more competitive in white-ball cricket whilst also providing an option with the red-ball.

Our first game was a pre-season fixture against Leeds MCCU. We took the opportunity to blood a number of youngsters, allowing them to breed competition and make a case for first team selection. Pretty much all of them did just that, which bodes extremely well for the future. Tom Loten and Matthew Revis both notched tons whilst Jordan Thompson claimed a five-wicket haul. There were however contributions from the entire XI.

There’s now a healthy run of County Championship matches before any limited overs cricket. I’ll let you know how the season played out once completed!

Disclaimer: Cricket Captain is available online at a cost of £19.99… and I play on easy!

New Faces

The 2020 County Championship isn’t how anybody expected it to be but that appears to be to the benefit of young cricketers up and down the country.

With a shortened campaign, many players away with multiple England squads and no threat of relegation, a number of unfamiliar names appear on scorecards on the opening day of the season. Whether it’s the likes of Ben Aitchison at Derbyshire, Durham’s David Bedingham or Lancashire’s Tom Hartley, it’s great to see. Feroze Khushi at Essex and Tom Lammonby at Somerset are also getting game time, as is Saif Zaib, so often on the fringes, at Northamptonshire.

I’m delighted that Harry Brook and Jack Shutt are featuring for Yorkshire and Haseeb Hameed has made an encouraging start to life at Nottinghamshire. This can only be good for English cricket. Whilst it may be the result of societal dark times and overseas contracts unable to be fulfilled, the next couple of months present a fantastic opportunity for young English cricketers.

Please see below for the scores…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scores-fixtures

Close of Play for Meschede!

German international Craig Meschede has been forced to retire due to injury.

The South African born Glamorgan and former Somerset all-rounder is suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome.

Meschede made two First Class tons and claimed one five-wicket haul. His best List A bowling figures were an incredible 4-5 but he’ll be disappointed that his top score was only 45. His best figures in T20s were 3-9 and with the bat he scored over a thousand runs at a strike-rate of 134.08. It was in the latter format (T20I) that he earned international recognition with Germany, his father’s homeland.

He duly impressed with a top score of 67 and averaged 44.75 striking at a mighty 155.65! Throw in six wickets at just 19.16 apiece and the German selectors will be gutted that the 28-year-old won’t be donning the German kit again.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/362565.html

Meschede advises that he’s “… lost about 80% strength in my upper arm” and that he requires “… (a) procedure to improve my everyday life.”

I sincerely hope that the procedure goes to plan and that Meschede is able to find fulfilment away from playing cricket.

It’ll Never Rayn Again!

Middlesex off-spinner Ollie Rayner has bid farewell to the professional game following his release from the London club.

Rayner claimed 313 First Class wickets and flirted with England selection but it wasn’t to be. He was also there or there abouts with Germany’s international side.

There certainly seems to have been a degree of animosity regarding his exit but the impression of Rayner remains that he was steady and reliable but only very occasionally spectacular.

He was an integral part of a County Championship winning outfit and as well as those 313 wickets chalked up two First Class tons. A career with pen (Or keyboard) in hand may await the thirty-four-year-old.

The Lions Share

There are some exciting selections in the England Lions squad for a tour of Australia commencing in January that follows the senior side’s series in South Africa.

Incumbent Test opener Dominic Sibley and fellow full England squad member Zak Crawley both make the four-day squad.

Keaton Jennings, tipped for a recall for the senior squad’s tour of Sri Lanka in March due to his two Test tons on Asian soil has the opportunity to enhance his game on demanding pace friendly pitches, the sort that a lot of people have previously felt that he’d be eaten alive on!

Already capped but almost forgotten Dom Bess as well as Surrey’s Amar Virdi are in with a genuine chance of making the full side’s trip to Sri Lanka if they can impress in Australia. With uncertainty surrounding Moeen Ali’s potential return both could yet make the tour. Bess, like his Somerset sparring partners Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton, feature in both the four-day and one-day squads.

Overton seems to be Mr Periphery for England having been recalled for an Ashes Test but ditched for the full winter tours. Gregory was provided little opportunity by skipper Eoin Morgan to perform in the T20I series in New Zealand.

Sam Northeast’s international ambition flame still flickers with the thirty-year-old named in the four-day squad. Gloucestershire’s James Bracey, who the selectors really like, makes both squads.

Another interesting selection is that of Richard Gleeson in both squads. He’s been touted as England material before but at 32 and a late comer to domestic cricket, it may be that caution applied to fellow injury prone quicks Olly Stone and Jamie Overton have aided his cause. Don’t get me wrong though, Gleeson excelled for Lancashire last term.

Tom Abell is yet another Somerset player in the one-day squad and he fully merits recognition. It’s good to see Tom Kohler-Cadmore in there too following any indiscretions.

Laurie Evans is no young pup but has made a name for himself on the franchise circuit and fully merits a place in the 50-over party.

Matt Milnes has had more success in First Class than List A cricket but a place in the one-day squad will allow the coaching staff to have a good look at him. He took regular wickets for Kent during a breakthrough County Championship season in 2019 but leaked runs too.

Under appreciated but deceptively effective in one-day cricket Mason Crane makes the white ball squad. Of course it was playing Grade Cricket in Australia that helped win him a Test cap.

Ollie Robinson (Kent) and Ollie Robinson (Sussex) both make the four-day party… freaky!

Check out the squads in full here…

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/1535797/england-lions-squads-confirmed-for-tour-of-australia

Ben Duckett, Liam Livingstone, Ben Foakes, Ben Coad and Jamie Porter are amongst the notable omissions. The selectors may feel that they know enough about Duckett, Livingstone and Foakes including knowing that they don’t need Duckett to be called up in spin friendly Sri Lanka! With an eye on Australia as well Coad and Porter are possibly pigeon holed as home condition bowlers only.

Potential England Lions Squads

Hi all

Please see below for my potential England Lions squads for any series in the near future. There don’t seem to be any fixtures listed but I understand that the Lions will be going on tour this winter. I’ve omitted fringe/new players that are in the full squad (Brown, Crawley, Gregory, Mahmood and Parkinson etc) who could yet be considered based on playing time and schedule. I’ve also omitted likely franchise players (Banton, Duckett, Livingstone and Evans etc) all of whom could come into consideration based on contracts and schedule.

Test

Daniel Bell-Drummond

Hassan Azad

Luis Reece

Sam Northeast

Tom Abell (Captain)

Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Ryan Higgins

Tom Bailey

Ben Coad

Jamie Porter

Amar Virdi

Chris Dent

Rob Keogh

Harvey Hosein (Wicketkeeper)

Liam Patterson-White

Ollie Robinson

Sam Cook

ODI

Daniel Bell-Drummond

Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Captain)

Nick Gubbins

Sam Hain

George Bartlett

Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Craig Overton

George Garton

Jamie Overton

Tom Helm

Matthew Carter

Dan Lawrence

Ryan Higgins

Ben Cox (Wicketkeeper)

Aaron Beard

Nathan Sowter

T20I

Tom Kohler-Cadmore

Will Jacks

Sam Hain

Daniel Lawrence

Tom Abell (Captain)

Ross Whiteley

Ben Cox (Wicketkeeper)

Liam Trevaskis

Toby Roland-Jones

Luke Wood

Richard Gleeson

Miles Hammond

Adam Wheater (Wicketkeeper)

Matthew Potts

Nathan Sowter

I’ve provided Tom Abell with the captaincy in Test and T20I formats but handed the role to Tom Kohler-Cadmore in the ODI format. I’ve avoided selecting players in all three forms of the game so this captaincy decision utilises Abell’s skill and expertise as well as Kohler-Cadmore’s potential but also allows the less experienced Kohler-Cadmore to not be burdened by the role in T20I cricket.

I think that my squads send out a message that if you perform at domestic level you’ll be considered for England. It’s not a development squad but a best of the rest. As well as omitting less experienced fringe first team players and possible franchise players I’ve ignored the likes of Gary Ballance, Dawid Malan and James Vince who England already know enough about. In the case of Malan and Vince they are in the full T20I squad and may well play franchise cricket this winter.

What are your thoughts and who do you think deserves England recognition?