Sensational Sibley Sizzles… for England?

Warwickshire’s Dominic Sibley is making an almost irresistible case to be the next man to open the batting for England’s Test side. The twenty-three-year-old Epsom born bat has notched up six First Class tons in as many matches spread over this season and last. He’s currently averaging 83.00 in the County Championship having clocked up a total of 249 runs. Crucially those runs have been scored in Division One.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/county-championship-division-one/averages

Right-handed Sibley hit the headlines early in his career when compiling an innings of 242 for home team Surrey but felt it necessary to seek new pastures in order to guarantee first team cricket. He set sail to Warwickshire and joined former Yorkshire player Will Rhodes at the top of the order. The pair didn’t quite hit it off at first but have developed into a reliable opening pair for the Edgbaston outfit.

England Selector Ed Smith should know as well as anyone that form doesn’t always translate to Test quality but Sibley has maintained his standards for some time now. If he can continue his run-glut then he could debut against Ireland at Lords later this summer.

Lancashire’s Haseeb Hameed has shown signs of a resurgence albeit in Division Two meanwhile Nottinghamshire recruit Ben Duckett is settling into life at new home Trent Bridge. Neither are getting anywhere near Sibley’s consistency however. Uncapped Middlesex left-hander Nick Gubbins could also come into the equation though like Hameed he’s playing in Division Two and like Duckett he’s often to be found batting first drop. Of course both positions are up for grabs in England’s Test side. Incumbents Keaton Jennings and Joe Denly could yet be saved if England are reluctant to blood or bring in from the cold, two batsmen in the top three one Test before the Ashes.

Sibley can only keep churning out runs on all pitches against a variety of opposition and await the call.

Stoneman’s Struggles!

Since slipping away from England’s Test side, Surrey opening batsman Mark Stoneman has hardly made an insatiable case for a recall.

Last year was ordinary (660 CC runs at 33.00) though there were encouraging signs as the season progressed. This year the former Durham man made scores of 45 and 35 in his one and only County Championship outing to date. Those are the kind of knocks that he had a history of producing at Durham before one century laden summer at Surrey propelled him into the England team.  In this season’s One-Day Cup, Stoneman has struggled to even get started and has totalled only 79 runs at an average of 15.8. Now Stoneman is no bish bash bosher but does possess a List A average that until not long ago was north of forty…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/229954.html

The fact that number is in decline may tell us everything we need to know!

I understand that Stoneman had a son born with a heart defect. Without meaning to be rude, I’d be interested to know specifics just incase it happened to be the same condition as my daughter. If indeed the child has had or been waiting to have surgeries, it’s understandable how this could’ve affected the thirty-one-year-old’s focus.

In terms of furthering his Test career, Stoneman’s fielding performances during his England stint didn’t exactly aid his cause, not to mention getting to fifty five times but not surpassing sixty. In fact in his final innings in New Zealand, having reached fifty he almost looked intent on getting out rather than knuckling down and registering a maiden Test ton…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/10883/scorecard/1115781/new-zealand-vs-england-2nd-test-eng-tour-of-aus-and-nz-2017-18

There then followed a torturous outing at home to Pakistan…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18025/scorecard/1119535/england-vs-pakistan-1st-test-pak-in-ire-eng-scot-2018

The fact that England lost the match meant that he couldn’t be afforded another chance in a two-Test series. Lack of runs combined with age mean that he’s unlikely to get another.

Northeast Finds Direction!

Following a frustrating injury hit first campaign with his adopted county, former Kent captain Sam Northeast commenced the new season with an impressive knock of 169 for Hampshire against Essex.

It’s easy to assume that Northeast has fallen down the pecking order in terms of England selection but if he can back up his opening knock with more of the same then there’s no reason why he couldn’t gatecrash the Ashes. Incumbent Joe Denly is currently sat on the bench at the IPL. He is very much an Ed Smith selection however. Denly made 69 in his last Test innings but then James Vince made 76 in his. With Northeast performing at three and Vince opening, could the Hampshire duo both make England’s next Test squad?

Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth made runs too. He’s a very good player but the fact that previous Test shortcomings occurred against Australia in England will probably count against him. There’ll be a clamour for Joe Clarke who let his cricket do the talking when making a debut ton for Nottinghamshire meanwhile Haseeb Hameed registered a double century against the students.

Ultimately the early season signs are that unlike recent seasons, England might have some difficult selection choices to make but in a good way.

Duckett Double/InVincible!

Two batsmen that are hoping to return to England colours and gatecrash the Ashes this summer have made the most of their university warm-up match opportunities today.

New Nottinghamshire recruit Ben Duckett produced the sort of innings that got him noticed in the first place, making a mighty 216 from only 180 balls against a toiling Cambridge.

Meanwhile Hampshire captain James Vince, having moved to opener because he believes the feedback that he’s had from the England hierarchy is that performing there will increase his chances of another recall, compiled 139 from 185 deliveries against Cambridge’s foes Oxford.

Now of course the quality of the opposition isn’t the best but it’s a form finding start just a few days before the county campaign commences for two aspiring England batsmen.

About Duanne Olivier and my Wife!

As you well know, in-form South African paceman Duanne Olivier has packed his bags for the land of tea, water and Emmerdale… Yorkshire!

That move is disappointing in itself. I’m a Yorkshireman but maintain romantic notions when it comes to international sport. I’d like to see a top player want to perform for his/her country.

The quota system in South Africa probably requires a post of its own. Maybe I don’t even understand it properly.

Olivier, capped ten times at Test level, now says that he wants to play for England. Well I don’t want him to! Does that make me xenophobic and/or a hypocrite? Possibly.

My wife is not from England. She has come to this country and worked here, therefore potentially denying a willing English person that job. Regardless of Olivier denying an Englishman a place in the Yorkshire team or enhancing the quality of the league, he has represented South Africa as an adult. My opinion is that once you’ve made your bed then you must lie in it.

I can understand sportsmen and women switching allegiance from junior level. Nationality is not always as simple as people being born in one country to parents both from said country and being brought up there until adulthood. My daughters are English born to an English father but will still be exposed to a lot of French culture and language here in England before we even consider their visits to France. If they become athletes, I’d have no qualms about them representing France. Of course Jofra Archer, despite having an English parent (And see KP etc) has to qualify to play for England.

Of course there are many previous examples all with varying circumstances but I’m very uncomfortable with the possibility of Olivier pulling on an England shirt.

I have absolutely no problem with a person from any country living and working, including next door or alongside me, in this country but if they relocated as an adult then I wouldn’t expect them to represent our nation at international sport. If I lived in any other country, I wouldn’t say that I was that nationality just because I’d spent two thirds of each of three years living and working there.

There’s an argument that international sport needn’t exist. That we shouldn’t divide ourselves in such ways. There’s no balance between populations, it’s just politics and land grabbing. But if international sport does exist, I don’t think that you can change your mind in your late twenties and switch allegiance. My wife might gain British citizenship but she’ll have been here a lot longer than Olivier.

That’s my piece and I’ve said it.

Cricket Captain 2018: Four Hundreds!

 

A completely random post of an epic batting effort by my team in my Afghanistan career mode on CC18.

Screen Shot 2019-03-18 at 19.31.28

Imran actually finished 69 not out in the first dig only to be run out second time around.

I’ve scored higher team totals as well as having a few players chalk up sizeable double tons during my Afghanistan efforts but even in my England careers over the years, I don’t think that I’ve achieved four centuries in one innings!

Disclaimer: It wasn’t Tim Paine bowling!

Numbers Up!

Numbers on shirts during the Ashes. Farewell tradition!

Now obviously players participating in the County Championship wear numbers on their shirts and I can understand the logic in that. In Test match cricket though, I’m not so sure. Beamed on TV players are easily identifiable and even for those at the ground, isn’t trying to figure out the identity of the players part of the beauty of attending? The scoreboard will tell you who is batting and bowling. You know who the wicketkeeper is and can soon figure out regular field placements.

I think that the qualities of both Test and T20I cricket are enhanced by maintaining as much difference between them as possible. Keep the flashing bails, coloured clothing and names on shirts away from the most testing form of the game please.

Oh, errr, ignore my custom kit creation in the pic above… hypocrite!