Six to Watch: 2018 – Season Review

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A little premature with the season not quite concluded but here’s 2018’s Six to Watch Review. This year two players from my selection have been promoted to the full England side. One has already debuted and one likely will in Sri Lanka. For the others, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag but should get better.

Tom Fell  (Worcestershire)

Another difficult year for cancer survivor Fell. There were glimpses of his determination and ability but little consistency. Fell has registered only four fifties in 22 innings this term but two of them, including a season best 89, came in the same match against champions Surrey. He’s currently averaging a disappointing 27.82 in the County Championship. Despite an impressive career record in List A cricket, white-ball opportunities have been harder to come by. Fell has only ever played three T20s.

Ollie Pope (Surrey)

So good have been Pope’s numbers (He’s averaging 70.50 in CC2018) that he was fast tracked into the England team. Unlike some sceptics, I think that Ed Smith has got a lot of qualities but his decision to parachute Pope in at number four in England’s Test side was misguided. Pope had never batted higher than six for Surrey! The Chelsea born bat has a good head on his shoulders however and will be better for the experience. This year he’s a Championship winner and breeding that winning mentality can only be good for his development. He’s likely to commence the Sri Lanka tour on the bench but the opportunity to tour will serve him well.

Hamidullah Qadri (Derbyshire)

A frustrating year with limited opportunity and limited success for Afghan born Qadri. Last year the then sixteen-year-old announced his arrival with an outstandingly effective performance against Glamorgan to help Derbyshire win for the first time in… years!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8204/scorecard/1068618/glamorgan-vs-derbyshire-specsavers-county-championship-division-two-2017

This year’s appearances have been fleeting but four more County Championship appearances is more than most for a man his age. He’s claimed eight wickets at 39.88 in CC2018.

Delray Rawlins (Sussex)

Precocious talent Rawlins’ opportunities have been limited to limited overs cricket but his batting caught the eye of many in this year’s T20 Blast. Rawlins made it to the final with Sussex and made starts in both matches on Finals-Day. The Bermuda born bat ended the campaign with 203 runs at 25.38. His strike-rate was 146.04. Little was seen of his bowling however or the red ball this term. Rawlins could be a potentially good draft for a Big Bash or PSL franchise this winter.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire)

The move from Yorkshire to Warwickshire seems to have worked well for Rhodes. Yorkshire didn’t seem to know what to do with him and have had Harry Brook (Better suited to the middle order) opening while losing Alex Lees to Durham. Keeping and making the most of Rhodes may have been a good move by Yorkshire but Rhodes is yet another talent they failed to fully develop. Warwickshire are grateful to have been the beneficiaries of Yorkshire’s slacking. The Midlands outfit have persevered with Rhodes and former Surrey man Dominic Sibley as an opening pair, even when the runs haven’t flowed. Sibley can be feast or famine but Rhodes’ consistency has meant that he’s been one of the county circuit’s more successful openers this year. The left-hander has compiled three tons plus four fifties, a top score of 137 and is averaging a healthy 41.05. He’s also a viable bowling option.

Olly Stone (Warwickshire)

Rhodes’ Warwickshire ally Stone commenced the County Championship campaign with figures of 8-80 against Sussex, cue lots of calls for him to make the England side. Of course he promptly got injured again! Like his main rival for the speedster’s role, Somerset’s Jamie Overton, Stone has recently taken wickets in T20 and First Class cricket, crucially… he’s been on the pitch at all! The former Northamptonshire man has claimed 37 wickets in just six matches at a mightily impressive average of 12.27. With Liam Plunkett and his wedding arrangements undone by a flip of England’s tour schedule, Stone will go to Sri Lanka with both the ODI and Test side if not the T20I side. He should debut sometime on the tour and will have an eye on the West Indies trip too.

Cricket Captain 2018: England Career Update

It’s been a while since I provided an update of my England Career, two years to be exact!

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Heading into the summer of 2024, we sit in a respectable fourth place in the Test rankings…

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… a not quite as respectable seventh in the ODI table…

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… and a lousy tenth place in the T20I rankings. In fact, our T20I standing is so poor that we must play Bermuda and UAE in the early stages of the next T20I World Cup!

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Ollie Pope commenced last summer with centuries in three consecutive Tests against New Zealand. Then, following three quiet outings, he promptly hit two more tons in back-to-back Tests against South Africa.

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Australian born Sam Hain, a player who scored 195 not out when opening the batting on Test debut, now averages 49.73 in Tests and an outstanding 59.82 in ODIs. Though sometimes the recipient of criticism for batting a little too slowly in the fifty over format, Hain, still only twenty-eight, has a remarkable 16 One-Day International tons!

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Leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson has now amassed 265 Test wickets at the tender age of only twenty-seven. He’s also passed a century of wickets in ODIs. This is despite often being rested from the Test side and hardly being a regular in ODIs. Still young for a spinner, Parkinson will be disappointed not to reach at least 500 Test scalps.

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In the shorter forms of the game, Tom Kohler-Cadmore has accumulated 2001 runs in 48 ODIs at an average of 44.47. That’s an impressive output for an opening batsman. His form has dipped however and the long impressive partnership of Kohler-Cadmore and Ed Pollock has been interrupted by Daniel Bell-Drummond (Two tons in seven ODIs).

Six to Watch: 2018

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It’s that time again. With the 2018 English county cricket season rapidly approaching (No it is, honestly!), Silly Point profiles six players to, as the name of the article suggests, watch this term.

Tom Fell (Worcestershire)

The one man on this list who was actually included in the 2017 edition of ‘Six to Watch’. Having battled back from cancer, Tom Fell sadly had a batting horror show in 2017. I guess you could say that his form rather ‘fell’ away! This year will surely be different for the Worcestershire right-hander. Still only twentyfour-years-old and with over 3000 First Class runs to his name, Fell’s most productive years should lie ahead.

Ollie Pope (Surrey)

Having dropped an extremely costly dolly off Alex Hales in the One-Day cup final last year, nineteen-year-old Pope bounced back to record a maiden First Class hundred at Hampshire before the season’s close. Highly regarded by those at Surrey, he should now expect more regular first team opportunities. Whether or not he’ll be required to do much wicketkeeping remains to be seen. That vocation may lie in whether or not Ben Foakes can squeeze into the England XI.

Hamidullah Qadri (Derbyshire)

Afghanistan born off-spinner Qadri arrived with an economical bang in 2017. His first 15 overs in First Class cricket cost a miserly 16 runs and he followed up that introduction with a five-wicket haul in the second innings of his debut match. Derbyshire may do well to retain his services but if they can and he can back up his early performances then the barely seventeen-year-old could help haul the unfashionable county out of the doldrums. Hopefully with him on board, they can avoid going another two years without a County Championship victory. No pressure Hamidullah!

Delray Rawlins (Sussex)

Having represented Bermuda, precocious talent Rawlins is now very much on England’s radar and having flirted with Sussex’s first team last season, will hope to cement a regular spot this term. He’ll want to be recognised as a specialist top-order batsman as well as offering plenty with his slow-left-arm bowling.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire)

A former England junior captain, it never really worked out for Rhodes at Yorkshire. There was a brief stint as a stoic opening batsman but maybe a lack of clarity over what exactly his role was. A capable all-rounder, Rhodes will hope to rekindle his career, like a few others, with Ashley Giles and co. at Warwickshire.

Olly Stone (Warwickshire)

Hopefully fully recovered from injury, Stone, another Warwickshire recruit and one of those players mentioned in dispatches as being a genuine pace bowler and even future Ashes tour candidate, will be desperate to get playing regularly and be amongst the timbers. Having returned from injury last year, the former Northamptonshire man conceded a half-century of runs in the T20 cup final and will be eager to put that performance and his injury hell firmly in the past.

Silly Point will revisit ‘Six to Watch’ both during and come the conclusion of the 2018 county cricket campaign to see how the sextet have performed.

Cricket Captain 2017: Summer 2018 Report

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We commenced the summer with a comfortable win against Pakistan in the first Test before following it up with an uncomfortable defeat in the second. In the absence of IPL duo Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes and following the decision to omit Stuart Broad and James Anderson from the Test squad, there were mixed performances from the likes of Sam Curran, Liam Plunkett, Jofra Archer and Ben Coad.

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Yorkshire’s Ben Coad struck with his first delivery in international cricket.

In the second Test both opening batsmen, Surrey duo Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns were fighting to save their international careers following lean Ashes series and appalling first Test performances. Having made 9 in the second innings Burns broke his rib and was understandably forced to retire hurt. Stoneman however dug deep to pass 1000 Test match runs. The former Durham left-hander reached fifty (74) for the first time in seven Tests to preserve his Test career.

After losing the first ODI we hit back to record a 4-1 series win. The leg-spin duo of Adil Rashid (10 wickets @ 17.90) and Liam Livingstone (8 @ 21.25) shared plenty of wickets and a rejuvenated Liam Plunkett (9 @ 15.33) claimed a healthy amount of victims too. Bermuda born Delray Rawlins made an impressive 60 on debut.

Despite Somerset’s Craig Overton striking with his first ball in international cricket, the sole T20I ended in defeat.

At the end of Pakistan’s visit we had maintained our unbeaten series records in Tests and ODIs since the start of my tenure but following the New Zealand series, had lost back to back T20I series.

Next up came India and the first Test has gone down in history as one of the greatest of all time. Unfortunately for Liam Plunkett, he’ll be remembered as the man who dropped the match. The Yorkshire quick failed to grasp a straightforward match-winning caught and bowled chance in the penultimate over of the final day’s play before the visitors held on by just one wicket. By the time the series neared its end we led 1-0 but promptly lost the last match of a Test series for the third series in a row, resulting in a series draw for the third straight series. There were positives however, most notably Mark Stoneman’s return to form (418 runs @ 41.80 including 160 in the fourth Test) and Gloucestershire pacer Liam Norwell’s debut match figures of 7-89.

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Debutant Liam Norwell (7-89) made the most of good domestic form to lead England’s charge to victory in the third Test.

Others found things harder though. Having replaced the injured Rory Burns at the top of the order, Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond made scores of 98 and 54 on debut at Lords but failed to pass 21 in the next four Tests. Durham pacer James Weighell claimed 4-99 in the fourth Test but his 12 series victims came at more than 60 apiece with a strike rate in excess of 100!.

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Durham’s James Weighell found the step up to international cricket a big one.

The ODI series would prove frustrating as despite leading twice we failed to defend 331 in the final match thus resulting in a 3-2 series loss and our first ODI series defeat in nearly two years. Captain Chris Woakes found the going particularly tough.

Despite the defeat, there were plenty of positives to come out of an extremely competitive series. These included Sam Curran’s consistency with the ball. At just twenty-years-old, Curran already has 31 ODI wickets to his name at an average of just 25.90. On reflection, the decision to rest him from the fourth ODI was probably a misguided one.

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Surrey’s Sam Curran has taken to international cricket like a duck to water but may have to focus solely on ODIs for the immediate future.

Another positive was Liam Livingstone’s contribution to the cause. After performing tremendously well with the ball against Pakistan, Lancashire’s Livingstone, after a few cameos, upped the ante with the bat. This was more evident than ever in the fourth ODI when Livingstone produced a marvellous innings of 127 not out, his maiden international hundred.

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Lancashire’s Liam Livingstone (127 not out) showed he’s right at home in the international arena.

Kent’s Sam Northeast struck 72 on debut in the fifth ODI after replacing the struggling Delray Rawlins. Sussex’s Rawlins was twice run out in single figures during his four innings in the series and failed to pass 22. It was a disappointing follow up to the debut 60 he hit against Pakistan and he may be well served to return to domestic cricket to further his education before donning England colours again. His time will come.

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Adil Rashid: Best bowler in the world but can’t get a game!

It was also a frustrating summer for Adil Rashid. Having topped the Ashes bowling averages the Yorkshire leggie had to make do with 12th man duties for many of the Tests (Jack Leach the preferred spinner) and despite being ranked the number one ODI bowler in the world, he was unable to force his way into the limited overs XI against India. In truth, the pitches were not really crying out for spin. His frustration was probably exasperated when Hampshire’s Mason Crane claimed four wickets in four balls on T20I debut. Having gone around the park (0-33) in his first two overs, captain Eoin Morgan made the brave call to stick with Crane and the decision paid dividends. Crane finished with figures of 4-48 to display the sort of character and temperament required to prosper at international level. Cynics will say that the tail were slogging but Crane prevented India from getting away before the team classily chased down 186 to win the sole T20I and finish the summer on a high. At just twenty years of age, Crane should have an important part to play for England in all formats for the next decade or more.

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Hampshire’s Mason Crane (4-48) took four wickets in four balls on T20I debut!

Another youngster who impressed on debut was Worcestershire’s Joe Clarke. Coming into international cricket off the back of outstanding domestic form, Clarke hit 26 from just 9 deliveries to seal victory following Crane’s heroics.

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Joe Clarke: 9 balls, 26 runs. International Cricket: Easy!

The contributions from the likes of Crane and Clarke will have been of huge relief to T20I captain Eoin Morgan. Speculation about his position had been mounting following back to back series defeats and no win in four matches but Morgan led the charge both in the field and with the bat on one of English cricket’s greatest nights.

Next for the team is a tough tour to Sri Lanka. The Test squad will be announced exclusively here at Silly Point later today!

Robbed!

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At the commencement of the 2017 county campaign, Leicestershire ruthlessly decided that they wanted opening batsman Angus Robson out of the First XI. They opted to pair young Harry Dearden with not so young Paul Horton at the top of the order and so Robson departed in rather unceremonious fashion. Leicestershire appear to have since given up on Dearden, temporarily at least. They’ve snapped up Surrey stalwart Arun Harinath on loan. No disrespect to Harinath but that doesn’t really add up does it?

The early season headlines seemed to suggest that Robson had joined Sussex but it soon became clear that it wasn’t quite so straight forward. Robson had joined the Hove outfit but only on a season long Second XI trial. If anything that was probably a bit embarrassing for a determined twentyfive-year-old with just shy of 3000 First Class runs. Anyway, it looks as though Robson might get a chance in the Sussex first team in 2018, possibly at the expense of Chris Nash. Nash has been a good servent to Sussex but hasn’t hit his straps this year when opening alongside young Harry Finch. Bermuda born Delray Rawlins is also part of the equation now.

Back to Robson, his recent outings for Sussex 2s have been pretty productive:

97, 15*, 34, 31*, 0, 66, 70*, 63*, 110*, 35, 59*

That first score of 97 may confirm why he finds himself in his current predicament. In the First Class game he has 27 half-centuries but only two hundreds. That’s possibly the difference between his average of 31.52 and maybe 35 plus. To be fair, reviewing those Second XI scores shows us that he’s finished undefeated on quite a few occasions as well as registering a century.

We’ve recently seen his brother Sam get back into the England Lions fold, hopefully next term we can see little brother Angus can regain a place on the First Class circuit.

Also at Sussex, former England paceman Ajmal Shahzad has left the club. I met Shahzad earlier this year outside of cricket and he was kind enough to ‘talk cricket’ with me. Hopefully he’ll find a new home, stay fit and have three of four years racking up the wickets.

Could he go to Surrey?

I’ll admit it, I’ve given up hope of Mark Footitt playing for England. Going to Division Two won’t help his chances though to be fair, returning to Nottinghamshire he’ll be surrounded by internationals. With Luke Fletcher out for the season and Stuart Broad and Jake Ball in the England reckoning as well as James Pattinson’s future uncertain then Footitt will have a part to play. Hold on! Surrey are well stocked with quicks so could Shahzad even return to Notts?

English county cricket becomes more like the Premier League everyday when it comes to transfers. Maybe Footitt and Shahzad could be opening the bowling at Trent Bridge before the summer is out!

First Class Americans

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Last week Durham debutant Cameron Steel got a mention here at Silly Point…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/21/cricket-randoms/

The Cali born bat put in a more than respectable showing against Gloucestershire on County Championship debut, producing scores of 31 and 17 not out with the willow. He also claimed figures of 1-34 with the ball.

Today, Wisconsin born Ozzie Ian Holland made his List A debut for Hampshire against Kent in the One-Day Cup. ‘Dutchy’ as he’s known (I don’t need to explain why… do I?) claimed the wickets of Sam Northeast and Adam Rouse on his way to figures of 10-0-57-2. The twenty-six-year-old has arrived late on the professional circuit. He has one First Class appearance for Victoria to his name, an outing that only came earlier this year. He was actually the winner of the 2012 Australian reality TV show Cricket Superstar but has had to wait or more precisely work hard in the cricketing backwaters in order to register First Class and List A outings.

Sri Lanka’s Jehan Mubarek was born in Washington DC. He failed to record a fifty in 17 Tests and averaged only early twenties in ODIs and T20Is.

Bart King is America’s most celebrated cricketer. He claimed 415 First Class wickets at just 15.66 apiece and has a FC century to his name.

Here’s a great little article about another American born First Class cricketer, Charles H Braithwaite…

http://www.cricketcountry.com/articles/charles-brathwaite-the-american-first-class-cricketer-who-lived-a-hundred-years-471354

Steel and Holland seem to be available for England and Australia respectively but if that doesn’t happen they might follow the examples of players like Bermuda’s David Hemp and represent the country of their birth and maybe, just maybe, provide USA cricket with some heroes to help inspire a nation!