Can Notts Take any Moores?

To look at Nottinghamshire’s team, it’s hard to fathom that they’ve failed to win any of seven County Championship matches this season.

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

They’ve got genuine young talent in Matthew Carter, the recently acquired Ben Duckett and coach Peter Moores’ son Tom behind the stumps. They also posses proven internationals like Stuart Broad and James Pattinson, granted they may not play every game. In addition they have thoroughly decent county pros, the likes of Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney and Luke Fletcher. Not to mention Samit Patel and Jake Ball! But they’re bottom of the County Championship and sometimes struggling to post 100 let alone 200. Is their coach to blame? Twice England coach Peter Moores wasn’t Kevin Pietersen’s cup of tea and didn’t have a glittering career let alone an international one. We’ll save ourselves the trouble of listing great sporting coaches who hadn’t had amazing playing careers mind. Let’s not forget that Moores has coached two separate counties to County Championship success and basically in two separate eras.

Perversely, defending champions Surrey, led by England great Alec Stewart are also winless. Yes they’ve had injuries and lost players to both England and the IPL but they’ve still fielded a near full international side (Burns, Elgar, Foakes, Meaker, Morkel etc) sprinkled with high quality young players such as Ryan Patel. Don’t forget the wise old heads of Rikki Clarke and Gareth Batty in amongst those international players either. Though not as successful or prolonged at international level as they would’ve liked they are serious contributors at domestic level.

So what’s going wrong?

This is where I should summarise and explain why but… who knows? I certainly don’t. What do you think I am? Some sort of cricket expert!

What are your thoughts on how two such talented teams have failed to win in thirteen matches between them in 2019?

Somerset Dunn For!

During a campaign where a star studded if sometime injury hit Surrey side have serially struggled, there’s a bright shining star among the dark night.

Matt Dunn’s figures of 5-43 against table topping Somerset must’ve provided Alec Stewart with a great deal of satisfaction…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8052/report/1166930/day/3/surrey-vs-somerset-specsavers-county-championship-division-one-2019

If it weren’t for international call-ups and injuries then it’s unlikely fans at The Oval would’ve seen much of Dunn in action this year. Having said that, if it weren’t for injuries then they may have seen a lot more of the right-arm pacer in recent years.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/414108.html

Dunn has represented England at youth level as well as making his sole List A outing for an England Development XI. It’s believed he’s eligible to represent Ireland but at 27 would probably need to leave London and drop anchor in the Emerald Isle. That’s a big sacrifice, to abandon a county career given the paucity of Ireland’s international schedule.

If twenty-seven-year-old Dunn can keep fit then he could yet help Surrey rescue what has so far been an abysmal campaign.

Immortal Batsmen… for now at Least!

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Here’s a quick look at the pack in terms of England’s preferred future batting options. All are very much on England’s radar and some have staggering statistics.

Sam Hain (Warwickshire) List A batting average: 67.59 (39 innings)

Hong Kong born, Ozzie Bred but an England Lion, Warwickshire’s Hain currently possesses an absurdly good average in the one-day format. Curiously though, Hain has underwhelmed in red-ball cricket over the past couple of seasons. This is despite an excellent conversion rate of 8:8 when it comes to converting half-centuries into three figures. This highlights how often he’s been dismissed cheaply given that his career average is less than half his List A figure at 32.25. Hain’s List A strike-rate is 88.22 but remember, that’s against domestic attacks. At international level, there’s no respite provided by facing mediocre bowlers. It may be that Hain has to up the tempo to keep up with the current crop of England’s white-ball willow wielders. It may yet be that he flourishes in Test cricket.

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Ollie Pope (Surrey) First Class batting average: 66.00 (19 innings)

Pope’s career is in its infancy and he’ll do well to maintain an average of World Cup winning proportions but it’s a heck of a start. As things stand, the twenty-year-old has twice as many tons as he does fifties, 4:2. The real test will come when he plays Test cricket. If he suffers a Tom Westleyesque start, a beginning where one technical flaw is identified, domestic bowlers will then prey upon his wounds. How will it effect him and will he bounce back? With Alec Stewart to provide guidance, he has at least got a proven international player to help him develop.

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Joe Clarke (Worcestershire) First Class batting average: 42.65 (92 innings)

Clarke’s average is more mortal than Hain and Pope’s but provides an insight into what is likely to happen to Hain and Pope’s figures over time. Clarke’s average of 42.65 is still more than respectable for a barely twentytwo-year-old spread over 92 innings. Like Hain, Clarke converts well, 12:13 at First Class level.

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Hain, Clarke and Pope would seem like an impressive middle order at numbers three, four and five for England, not that anybody’s writing Joe Root off just yet.

Aneurin Donald (Glamorgan) First Class batting average: 30.68 (71 innings)

When Welshman Aneurin Donald scored 234 off just 136 balls in a County Championship match aged just 19, there were high hopes that he would go onto represent England. There’s only been one ton since however and his white-ball efforts have been diabolical with averages of just 14.65 (List A) and 22.52 (T20). Constantly been shunted up and down the order probably hasn’t helped but its been Glamorgan Second XI cricket of late and not international matches. Like Hain, Pope and Clarke, Donald has the ability. Still only twenty-one-years of age, it’s to be hoped that Donald can come back stronger and compete for a spot in England’s middler order over the years to come.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Global Test League – New Zealand Run Out… of Ideas!

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When your bowlers need claim only fourteen wickets, you can’t help but think that Test match victories shouldn’t come quite so easily!

Post victory in the Shamrock state, Warwickshire’s Chris Woakes was recalled to the side for the hosting of New Zealand at Edgbaston. Woakes soon snaffled a wicket on his home ground, that of Kiwi opener Jeet Raval, caught behind for seven by debutant wicketkeeper Ben Foakes. That’d be bowled Woakes caught Foakes then! Brought into the side at the expense of Jonny Bairstow following the Yorkshireman’s shabby showing against Ireland in Malahide, Foakes duly put in an exemplary performance behind the timbers. Surrey head honcho Alec Stewart will be proud.

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Woakes made the most of his familiarity with the surroundings. With the new ball in hand whilst Stuart Broad sat this match out, Woakes claimed impressive figures of 3-28 as New Zealand capitulated to 143-9 in their first innings. Only a last wicket stand of forty between Neil Wagner and Trent Boult helped lift the visitors to a slightly more respectable 183 all out. New Zealand’s ineptitude with the bat on such a run-welcoming surface was soon highlighted by England’s willow wielders, not to mention the Kiwis’ own efforts come their second innings.

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Mark Stoneman compiled a career best 82 in an opening partnership of 186 with former Durham colleague Keaton Jennings but was rightly gutted on missing out on a maiden Test century. The Surrey lefty played an unnecessary and inexplicably expansive shot when three figures were peeping above the horizon whilst crying out “Come and get me Mark, please!”.

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Perennially in-form Jennings made no such mistake. His monumental 222 was a dominational knock that left him sitting pretty at the top of the Global Test League run charts whilst averaging an epic 83.29! #Bradmanesque was soon trending on social media. In the interest of fairness, Roston Chase, Dean Elgar and Ross Taylor have all clocked up higher GTL scores in the first four rounds of games.

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Dawid Malan registered his third hundred of the GTL, the most by any individual thus far in the inaugural edition of the competition. The Middlesex man fell for a Test best 155, his partnership of 194 with Adil Rashid was England’s competition high so far as was the team cumulative of 765-9. Regarding the bowling, Neil Wagner claimed absurd figures of 3-256!

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Following his reintegration to the Test side against Ireland, Adil Rashid continued his authoritative all-round performance and seemed destined for a maiden Test century. The Yorkshireman was controversially adjudged run out when on 79 however, though in truth it was an almightily risky run, even if the cameras suggested he’d made his ground.

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As was the case against Ireland, England saw their opposition produce a strong second innings batting display. It was only day three and the pitch was still a good one. How much more the Kiwis 410 could have been if it were not for five run outs in the innings, added to one in their first, will forever remain unknown. Had the tourists not conceded such village dismissals (No disrespect to village cricketers across the land!) and had they applied themselves better in their first innings then this could have been a far more evenly contested high scoring affair. Tim Southee’s run out for a career best 87, a dismissal that sealed the home side’s victory was disappointing, embarrassing, amateur, heart-breaking and inevitable all at the same time. Even the England fans wanted to see him reach a ton.

Moving on from my journalistic report and bringing to the fore my role as Team Manager and Chairman of Selectors of the England national side, we’d prefer to have to work harder for our wickets, even if we can claim to have applied pressure to bring them about. Our performance against spin, Jeetan Patel finished with figures of 0-98 on his home ground, was extremely encouraging. Pakistan in Lahore however will be a different kettle of the proverbial fish. We look forward to the challenge though. We currently sit joint top of the GTL table alongside South Africa and India. They too have won three matches and lost one. Entertaining ‘The Proteas’ at home will follow the trip to Pakistan.

The squad to travel to Pakistan will be named after careful consideration has been provided. Rotation of our pace bowlers continues to be of paramount importance as we look to sustain our intensity throughout the duration of the competition. Thoughts of adding additional spin options to the XI will be weighed up as will selecting spin-skilled batsmen. The players continue to be humbled by the support of the fans.

Transfer Saga

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This guy only ever played for one club, in reality and virtuality. The same can not be said of others.

More than ever, domestic cricket in England seems to be following its football counterpart, particularly in regards to the transfer market. I believe that there was a time, long before I discovered an interest in cricket, in fact long before I was even born, that players remained loyal to one county for the entirety of their career. Of course some still do but it is no longer necessarily the norm. That’s not to say that transfers didn’t happen in the past, of course they did but they’ve become far more frequent in modern times. More than a decade ago now, Jimmy Ormond, whilst on tour with England, famously posed with his new Surrey shirt following his move from Leicestershire. I recall there being suggestions back then that the cricket transfer market was becoming like football’s and it’s certainly the case today.

Last winter we saw the likes of Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman depart Durham for Surrey. This season Angus Robson went on trial with Sussex whilst some mid-season transfers have tasted a little bitter. Tom Kohler-Cadmore agreed to depart Worcestershire for Yorkshire and though it wasn’t supposed to happen until next season, it was clear that Worcestershire had no interest in fielding TK-C when his future lay elsewhere and so the deal was brought forward.

Meanwhile one-time England squad member Mark Footitt has returned to Nottinghamshire from Surrey. He has also previously represented Derbyshire.

Former England cap Ajmal Shahzad must be one of the most serial county swappers. He can now list Yorkshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Leicestershire as county teams for whom he has represented their first XIs.

Dominic Sibley, Will Rhodes and Adam Hose have all headed to Warwickshire while Rikki Clarke swapped with Sibley to go back to Surrey. Sibley wanted guarantees about batting in the top three in all forms of the game. Surrey’s Alec Stewart wouldn’t provide but Ashley Giles would and so Sibley arrived amid bitter frustration on Surrey’s part.

Jos Buttler of course moved from Somerset to Lancashire whilst my home county, Yorkshire, have acquired many players from other counties in recent years:

Gary Ballance (Derbyshire)

Jack Brooks (Northamptonshire)

Andrew Hodd (Sussex)

Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Worcestershire)

Liam Plunkett (Durham)

Ryan Sidebottom (Returned from Nottinghamshire)

David Willey (Northamptonshire)

Players such as six-hitter Ross Whiteley and England Lions spinner Ollie Rayner are among others to have migrated at one time or another during their playing days.

The midseason activity this term, complete with more than subtle hints of acrimony and contract squabbles seem to be taking the game of bat and ball firmly into football territory.

Should mid-season transfers be allowed at all?

Should loans be allowed?

Should squads have a maximum number of players like the Premier League?

Returning to Angus Robson, he was released by Leicestershire because they wanted play youngster Harry Dearden. After Dearden failed to set the County Championship alight he was firstly replaced by Arun Harinath who had arrived on loan from Surrey before another loanee, Michael Carberry arrived at Grace Road too. In a funny way, the domestic circuit is becoming like the England team with counties failing to invest in players and deciding it’s necessary to pinch from the competition… and don’t get me started on Hampshire! I’ve touched upon their South African acquisitions before and the effect it will have on local talent.

This is the point in the article where I’m supposed to provide some sort of summary but I’ll leave it to the cricket followers of the world to make of it what you will…?

… and who could forget Monty Panesar’s transfer sagas? (Errrr… Me!)

Steve James: The Art of Centuries Book Review

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I’d like to think that I’ve provided two pretty decent (Honest, thoughtful and reasonably professional) book reviews on this blog so far.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/tim-brooks-cricket-on-the-continent-book-review/

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/jonathan-trott-unguarded-my-autobiography-book-review/

This won’t be one of them!

Any professional cricketer and one that represented England at that, who is happy to reveal that he got out deliberately, if he ever was in my estimation, tumbles to the bottom of it. Maybe I’ll be accused of being naive and possibly I’m being harsh on James. If what he meant was that he thought the batsman still to come in after him could score quicker than he could, so he then attempted to hit every ball for six and mostly was dismissed to the very next delivery then fine. But if he is genuinely saying that he lobbed a catch to the fielder at will or allowed the ball to hit the stumps then for me that is a big difference.

There’s the odd brag which Glamorgan stalwart James apologises for but after five or six occasions the brag can drag. To be fair, a batsman writing about batting is obviously going to refer to his own efforts. 15,890 First Class runs at an average of 40.63 including 47 centuries and 58 half-centuries (That’s an extremely, extremely good conversion rate!) with a top score of 309 not out suggests that James was unlucky to play only two Tests for England. On Test debut however he allowed Alec Stewart to talk him into wearing extra protection that he wouldn’t normally. You would have thought that an experienced professional (31 at the time) would have known better. James advises that he felt “uncomfortable” and was soon dismissed.

You’d think that Matthew Maynard (87 Test runs @ 10.87) was the greatest batsman in the history of the game judging by the way James waxes lyrical though obviously if you think about it a professional and primarily domestic cricketer will see a lot of his teammates play but probably not actually see a lot of other cricket, not during the summer months anyway and they would obviously see even the best players less often. For the record, Maynard has 24,799 First Class runs at 42.53 and this is mightily impressive.

In the words of Jason Gillespie “Look” and in my own words, this isn’t the worst book in the world, it’s just that James didn’t quite grab my affection the way that some writers have done in the past.

James has an excellent half-century to century conversion rate in First Class cricket but that’s not the case with his score here. Silly Point provides James’ The Art of Centuries with an innings score of…

62

In my previous book reviews I think that both scores were not out. That’s not the case with James. He was dismissed, possibly by his own design!

I’m also not sure how this book will help me turn my career best 47 into 100. If I ever do record a century then I’ll come back and add a few runs to James’ 62!