Incumbent Australian Test opener Joe Burns is suffering from a chronic fatigue disorder.
Burns recently cut short a County Championship stint at Lancashire after just one match. It’s to be hoped that the Queensland right-hander recovers in order to take his place at the top of the order come the Ashes because it just won’t be the same without Burns opening on both sides.
Meanwhile Burns one cap compatriot Chadd Sayers has signed for Gloucestershire after they lost another Ozzie, Dan Worrall to injury!
When it comes to selecting England’s XI for the first Ashes Test and indeed the one-off Ireland encounter that precedes it, it is the top three batting positions that England’s selectors will be spending the most time debating.
Somerset’s James Hildreth (Admittedly batting at four) led Somerset to victory in the One-Day Cup final today…
Having never won international recognition, it’s wonderful to see a player of so much ability perform on a big stage. In the article below, Hildreth makes an extremely astute observation, one that is correct and really does highlight the sort of naivety that you’d hope the England selectors would be beyond…
Mark Stoneman would be the perfect example of a player doing exactly what Hildreth speaks of, of averaging in the twenties and thirties year after year then being selected for England on the back of one productive campaign.
I’ve been amazed at some of the English batsmen who’ve been batting at four or below this year when the England vacancies clearly lie in the top three. Players such as Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond have even allowed Ashes contender Matt Renshaw to bat ahead of him at three!
Back to today’s West Country hero Hildreth, the Somerset stalwart will need a stellar County Championship from this point forth to twist Ed Smith’s arm.
Disclaimer: Apologies for the poor quality image at the top of the piece. It was from the early days of all this gaming and blogging lark.
Following on from my latest audiocast where I touched upon the subject of Liam Dawson and James Vince being unable to represent Hampshire in the One-Day Cup final, I feel that it’s necessary to look into things a bit further.
It’s a huge shame that these two players, both of whom are likely to more often than not be sub-fielding and carrying drinks for England (But you never know what can happen?!) can’t play in the domestic season’s marquee showpiece. It is of course only appropriate in the interest of fairness that they can’t. It would be unfair for them to be getting match practice, keeping their eye in, staying in form and gaining confidence when the players of the other World Cup participants can’t do so. You do have to question the ECB’s structuring of the English county season though as it is they who should’ve seen this coming and prevented it from happening. The One-Day Cup was played in an exclusive block up to a couple of weeks ago so why on Earth did we then return to First Class cricket for a couple of weeks before the One-Day final randomly slots in to the fixture list?
It’s a shame for the players in question and a kick in the teeth for devoted fans of a county game that in most people’s eyes is seriously struggling as a spectator sport. Remember that Vince is Hampshire’s captain and Dawson has been their star player this year.
Regarding Dawson, there are rumours that he’s been courted by Warwickshire but also that he may have hinted to Hampshire that he only wants a white-ball contract in the future. I’m disappointed to hear that but realistically he’s probably struggling to play Test cricket again. He’s been mightily effective in the PSL for a couple of years and if he can get IPL and CPL gigs as well as playing One-Day and Twenty20 cricket in England then there’s just about enough cricket to occupy him in the summer. This is before we consider the PSL, BPL and Big Bash etc in the winter time, not to mention the Hong Kong Blitz, Global T20 Canada and whatever pops up next! The riches of these gigs are far greater than the county game and a lot less gruelling so the appeal is understandable but it’s also confirmation that the standard of the four-day game in England in particular will continue to decline. If the best players desert it when still in their twenties, we could be left with only young players pre peak and old players post peak to fill the teams.
As for Vince, his appearances in an England shirt this summer have been exactly what everyone expected of him. Pretty but unsubstantial. Not out of his depth but not excelling. How will bench warming for England help him press his case for a top three Test vacancy come the Ashes?
Hopefully Dawson and Vince will get some game time at the World Cup. I’m a big fan of involving the whole squad when it comes to major tournaments but whether or not the structure of the 2019 competition and England’s results will allow it only time will tell.
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.
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.
At the commencement of the One-Day Cup, I posted about how pleased I was to see Lancashire quick bowler Saqib Mahmood in action…
The twenty-two-year-old has gone on to claim a tournament topping (At the time of writing) 13 wickets at 19.46 apiece in the competition thus far…
This includes a career best performance of 6-37 against Northamptonshire…
Hopefully Mahmood can continue his encouraging white-ball form as well transferring it to red-ball cricket. If he can fill the void when James Anderson is on England duty then the Lancashire faithful will be extremely grateful.
As well as Mahmood, it’s also been great to see the likes of Middlesex’s Tom Helm and Sussex’s George Garton as well as many other young bowlers getting game time and producing encouraging wicket-taking performances.
Mahmood, Helm and Garton have all represented England Lions and much has been expected of them. Technically Helm and Garton were even Ashes tourists, albeit briefly.
Messrs Anderson and Broad won’t be around for ever but England’s pace bowling cupboard is far from bare.
I’ve previously written about Joe Clarke and how I didn’t want him in the England team anytime soon…
This followed unsavoury revelations about his personal life in light of the Alex Hepburn rape trial. Fair play to Clarke though. What he needed to do was let his cricket do the talking and make his case for selection extremely difficult to ignore.
Clarke has not committed a crime or been accused of one. I previously said that given time and maturity then I’d have no qualms about him representing England.
He has commenced the 2019 campaign with scores of 112 and is currently 97 not out on his competitive debut for new employers Nottinghamshire…
Should he carry on like this then an Ashes call, though he’d probably have to move up to three, could be almost certain.
As touched upon in my article posted earlier today…
English batsmen up and down the land are putting their hands up and demanding international recognition. It’s a welcome change to recent seasons.