Dawson and Vince Hard Done by ECB not ICC!

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.

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.

Mahmood Marches On!

At the commencement of the One-Day Cup, I posted about how pleased I was to see Lancashire quick bowler Saqib Mahmood in action…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2019/04/17/mahmood-to-deliver/

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…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/english-one-day/averages

This includes a career best performance of 6-37 against Northamptonshire…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO45013

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.

Clarke’s Case

I’ve previously written about Joe Clarke and how I didn’t want him in the England team anytime soon…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2019/01/11/first-class-cricketers-but-without-the-class/

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…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8052/game/1166914/nottinghamshire-vs-yorkshire-specsavers-county-championship-division-one-2019

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…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2019/04/07/northeast-finds-direction/

English batsmen up and down the land are putting their hands up and demanding international recognition. It’s a welcome change to recent seasons.

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.

Test Match not so Special!

Warning! Extremely long sentence and moan coming!

I’ve touched upon my frustrations with BBC Test Match Special before but before we consider the arrogance, distance and general stuck-upness of many of the commentators on there, the lack of insight, intelligence or articulateness, particularly amongst the ex-players, this is despite having played the game for many years, there’s one thing that I particularly can’t stand… it’s the fact that they rarely correct each other when they make a mistake! (And breathe!)

Isn’t to be corrected something that we all welcome? Particularly in a public working environment. Don’t we all want to enhance our knowledge and have it pointed out if we’re wrong or lost our concentration? Of course somewhere along the line with so much going on your mind and mouth are going to go out of sync but isn’t that why there’s somebody sat next you mr/miss commentator? The co-commentator should politely and jovially point out the error. This can usually be done in a nice way and actually enhance the listening experience for the… err, listener.

I find the habit of ignoring these errors, particularly getting somebody’s name wrong, distracting and unprofessional. It’s going to happen somewhere, mistake a player for another or muddle a name, I get that but it should be limited.

If BBC maintain the rights, particularly during a World Cup and Ashes summer, where such potentially inspiring competitions are absent from free to air TV (But don’t worry, your kid is supposedly being taught cricket at school!) then let’s hope that they can up their game!

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!