How great is it to see Reece Topley playing regularly and amongst the wickets?
Topley has eleven wickets at 12.64 in this year’s T20 Blast for Sussex including figures of 4-33 taken in his comeback match against former employers Hampshire. The Suffolk born left-armer has ten ODI and six T20I caps to his name but it would be foolish to be thinking about England consideration so soon after returning to first team action. It’ll be great if the twenty-five-year-old can go onto play List A and First Class cricket but if not then he could still make a healthy buck specialising in the shortest format.
It’s also encouraging to see another left-arm quick bowler in the form of Topley’s teammate Tymal Mills playing regularly and being amongst the wickets too. Mills may only have seven wickets but an average of 17.14 is healthy and most notably, his economy rate is just 6.32. This compares favourably against a career economy rate of 7.82.
Looking through the averages another left-armer caught my eye. Nottinghamshire’s Harry Gurney has already committed to a white-ball world having made an impression at both the Big Bash and IPL. Soon he’ll be turning out in the Euro T20 Slam. In this year’s Blast he’s picked up 13 wickets at 15.85 including a career best 5-30 against Derbyshire. He’s leaking runs at an eye-watering 9.36 per over though so will want to temper that.
It’s not impossible that the above players could yet turn out for England again. David Willey has never dominated for England as would’ve been hoped and hasn’t (To be fair often hasn’t been able to) make his batting provide him with an edge. To say that he’s been ordinary in this year’s Blast would be an understatement as he comes to terms with his World Cup omission.
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.
Remember that Wright was extremely close to winning a Test cap in South Africa some years ago but England plumped for Ian Bell.
If anything Wright was rather perversely both ahead of his time but also picked too soon. At a time when England, despite inventing it, had no idea how to play T20 cricket but belatedly attempted to select a squad somewhere near resembling a T20 outfit, Wright was sent out to swashbuckle from ball one and promptly scored a paddle of ducks at the World Cup.
Strip away ODI and T20I career bests against then Associates Afghanistan and Netherlands and his stats make for even grimmer reading than they already do. A lack of a consistent defined role may not have always helped him. Was he an all-rounder or just a batsman who bowled? He bowled that last over against New Zealand alright!
Despite his international struggles, Wright was making a name for himself on the franchise circuit long before many of his compatriots. His performances in the Big Bash were record-breaking and over a sustained period of time, confirmed his ability. It’s a shame that it had been lost on England by then.
If Australia need another pace bowling option then they need look no further than the twenty-four-year-old.
In this season’s Big Bash, Kelly claimed eleven wickets at 19.00 apiece whilst tracking at under eight runs per over. In this season’s Sheffield Shield, he’s claimed thirty victims in ten matches at 28.53. That’s taken the former under-19 international up to 54 First Class career victims at 25.66 per scalp. Remember that due to the number of teams, many Australian players don’t get their break until a little later than in England and tend not to rack up as many career appearances.
Kelly has definitely displayed good temperament and ability during his career so far and could well make the step up. With state teammates Jason Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Jhye Richardson getting game time for the national team though, theory of numbers could cost him!
The Big Bash could be set to expand come the 2020-21 campaign but which cities could adopt new franchises and assume a place in the league?
How about Canberra and Darwin?
Canberra is the capital city of Australia but the state of New South Wales already has two Sydney based franchises. Canberra technically lies within the Australian Capital Territory which is entirely encompassed within New South Wales. To complicate matters, current BBL participants Sydney Thunder, actually play at Manuka Oval which is located in Canberra. For a team moniker, how about Canberra Centurions, Canberra Cricket Cosmos or just Canberra Cosmos, Canberra Conventional Swingers, Canberra Cover-Drivers or Canberra Cyclones.
The Northern Territory isn’t currently represented in the Big Bash so state capital Darwin could fill the void. Marrara Oval has hosted international cricket matches before. There’s a whole host of team names the city could choose from: Darwin Ducks, Darwin Dot-Ballers, Darwin Drifters, Darwin Diamonds, Darwin Drivers or Darwin Drinks-Breakers. Darwin needs a Big Bash of its own!
Cairns, Launceston and Alice Springs are other possible locations for new franchises. Oh and how about the Norfolk Island Knights?
Disclaimer: Whilst writing my article, I became heavily distracted by this one…
England coach Trevor Bayliss has all but confirmed that Jofra Archer will win his first cap for England in the home ODI series against Pakistan. Presumably Selector Ed Smith is on the same page as Bayliss but what if Archer doesn’t merit selection? What if he’s only taken two One-Day Cup wickets @ 92.50 when the series comes around?
Archer is a good player but whether or not he’s worth all the furore remains to be seen. English cricket has a habit of demanding undamaged goods but should Archer record figures of 10-0-87-0 on international debut and go onto claim only a few wickets at 50 apiece in the series, will it be seen as part of his development or will he be written off as another tried and tested player who didn’t cut it?
Mark Wood has cemented his place (Fitness providing) and good for him. As for Liam Plunkett, Tom Curran and even Chris Woakes, their World Cup places suddenly don’t seem so certain. As for David Willey, who couldn’t even get on the pitch in the West Indies ODIs, a strong showing in the shortest format is vital. I was particularly disappointed for Curran. He was a star in the Big Bash but couldn’t impose himself in the ODIs.
When England line-up against West Indies in the World Cup, it’ll be interesting to see which personnel form their pace bowling attack. How has it come to this on the eve of the World Cup? Did England’s attack peak a year or two too early? Will Barbados born Jofra Archer take to the field in English colours against the maroon of West Indies that he wore at youth level?
Hi loyal followers… and new visitors, here’s my latest audio cast. Please have a listen to my thoughts on South African bowler Duanne Olivier’s Kolpak deal with Yorkshire, Sri Lankan legend Sanath Jayasuriya’s suspension from all things cricket and the release of Ashes Cricket 19.