Root Responds/Poysden Plucked!

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In a recent post, I touched upon the subject of Joe Root’s axing from the T20I side and how it could spur him on to a great Test series performance against India. What Root’s dropping has done so far has inspired him to a sensational spell in the ODI team. Having lost the first match of a three-tie affair, Root struck back-to-back centuries to lead England to yet another series victory and enhance their credentials as World Cup favourites. He’s also helped provide England with an edge at the start of the Test encounters.

Yorkshire’s Root has had his critics recently, both for his T20I performances and his consistent failure to convert Test fifties into hundreds. Batting averages of 52.28 and 51.61 in Test and ODI cricket help scoff any suggestions that Root is anything other than a top player. An average of 35.77 at a strike-rate of 128.59 in T20Is are also pretty impressive figures with which to get dropped. He’s got some wickets in him too. Yesterday’s ton was his thirteenth in ODIs which is a new record for an England batsman. Root surpassed Marcus Trescothick who was an essential asset of England’s side in the early part of this century.

Having seen Root go onto make a ton and captain Eoin Morgan get near, James Vince will rue a missed opportunity. As in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, Vince was run out, this time having laid the foundations for a strong knock. With both Jason Roy and Alex Hales injured, Vince gained an unlikely but merited opportunity. A score of 27 won’t be enough to put the cat amongst the selection pigeons however.

In further Yorkshire news and once again revisiting subjects that I’ve mentioned previously, Yorkshire take on Lancashire in the County Championship soon. It’s a heck of a match for Josh Poysden to be thrown into on a one-match loan deal. Whether or not a one-match loan should even be allowed, I’m not sure. With Adil Rashid excluding himself from the red-ball game and Azeem Rafiq and Karl Carver clearly not filling Yorkshire’s hierarchy with any confidence, they’ve plucked Poysden from Warwickshire’s 2nd XI to spin them to victory. The leg-spinner actually claimed a First Class career best of 5-29 in his last County Championship outing though his economy rate is exactly 4.00. At 26, Poysden really needs to crack on. I mentioned how Yorkshire would be in the market for a spinner and a good show from the twenty-six-year-old could seen him snapped up full-time, playing first division cricket and pushing for England honours.

Rory Burns missed out for England Lions versus India A but it was great to see Scott Borthwick amass 175 not out for Surrey against West Indies A. The former Durham man will need a lot more knocks like that in order to add to his solitary Test cap. Mark Stoneman’s struggles continued however. He made only one in the first innings but did at least hint at a return to form by making 44 second time around. His season to date has been the polar opposite of last year’s glutinous run-fest.

In other news, Zimbabwe were bowled out for 67 in an ODI against Pakistan in Bulawayo today!

Bookends

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England’s long winter has reached its conclusion. It began with fifties for each of England’s Ashes virgins and it has ended the same way.

Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan have each bookended their Australasian adventure with half-centuries in Brisbane and Christchurch.

For Hampshire’s Vince, it began with 83, run out on that fateful day Down Under. The Ashes were lost there and then. It ended with 76 across the Tasman and in truth, there wasn’t a lot in between.

Dawid Malan

For Middlesex man Malan, there was the most extreme performance of the three. His 140 in Perth means that whatever happens, he has a Test ton to his name. He made three fifties in four innings in the T20Is as well. His one failure coming when he was fantastically run out by… David Warner! Though he contributed little in his first three innings in The Land of the Long White Cloud, he has at least rounded things of with a fifty.

Mark Stoneman

For Surrey’s Stoneman, well, he did what everybody expected and what his track record, particularly when he was up at Durham, suggested he would do. He fought, he battled, he occasionally punched a couple of boundaries in quick succession but he didn’t go on. He didn’t register a century.

Without fifties in their final innings of the tours, Vince almost certainly and Stoneman possibly, would have bid farewell to their Test careers. Even another failure for Malan could have proven critical provided England’s desperation to have Ben Stokes bat at five. Malan need only look as far as Stoneman’s former county colleague and opening partner Keaton Jennings to know that a hundred doesn’t necessarily keep you in the team for long.

Of course England are currently advertising for new selectors, so whether or not any of said three batsmen ever play for England again is very much up in the air!

Batting Mentality

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Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes currently find themselves at positions six, seven and eight in England’s Test batting order. If it weren’t for the absence of Ben Stokes then Moeen would be at eight not six and Woakes would drop to as low as number nine.

At domestic level, in First Class cricket Moeen would either open or be first drop, JB would find himself positioned at four or five and Woakes would come in at six. If England are to get a grip or at least be competitive in the 2017-18 Ashes then each of the aforementioned players must remember that they are top order batsmen, regardless of where they sit in the England line-up. They each have many a First Class century to their name. Moeen and Bairstow obviously have a few at Test level too and Woakes is capable of achieving such.

It’s this supposed strength in depth of England’s batting order that should be crucial in helping the team compete in Australia. England’s tail, in particular Stuart Broad, have regressed over recent times and are likely to be peppered with short stuff for the remainder of the series. For that reason it’s even more important that England’s engine room deliver. Of course it’s understandable that when there is less batting to come, a player will be more inclined to be extra aggressive and risky but Moeen and JB should be comforted by the knowledge that they’ve still got one (Woakes for JB) or two (JB and Woakes for Mo) quality batsman behind them.

Australia will be cocksure after their victory in the first Test in Brisbane but England were on top on more than one occasion during the series opener. If the visitors can put the home side under pressure again then they are there for the taking.

Switching to the home side’s batting, Usman Khawaja is under extreme pressure to convince otherwise his international career may become like Shaun Marsh. Marsh is another man who remains under pressure and unloved by some, that’s despite a vital half-century in Brisbane. Wicketkeeper Tim Paine is also part of the Ozzies’ batting line-up and his domestic record won’t fill any home fans with confidence. England may need to turn to the likes of Mark Wood, Craig Overton or more excitingly Tom Curran, if they are to exploit Australia’s weaknesses.

It’s quite simple then. Bat like batsmen and bowl better. That’s England’s tactical pep talk ahead of the second Test in Adelaide. Come on boys!

International Duck Watch!

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In a Test match in Wellington…

… just when you think that you’ve got no work to do, teenage sensation Mehedi Hasan falls to the very last ball of the day, courtesy of some very composed bowling from Neil Wagner!

In a Test match in Johannesburg…

… Temba Bavuma is starting to become a regular in this column and his continued selection will surely only heighten scepticism of South Africa’s selection policy. Rather surprisingly, our loyal club member Suranga Lakmal has so far been unable to get in on the action, leaving the work to Nuwan Pradeep. Pradeep was also responsible for the fall of a runless Vernon Philander who himself was then responsible for the fall of a runless Dimuth Karunaratne

In an ODI in Brisbane…

… Steven Smith, first ball. Mohammad Amir the bowler responsible. Serial Test run struggler Matthew Wade hit a run a ball 100 not out. Following our update on Michael Carberry yesterday, here’s another example of a cancer survivor providing inspiration to many.

Oh and a little extra. Though this column isn’t called International Double-Century Watch, Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan surely merits some recognition for his 217 against New Zealand, ably supported by Mushfiqur Rahim’s 159. Bangladesh seem to be holding it together a bit more in Tests at the moment than they do in the pyjama matches.