County Lines

The County Championship returns tomorrow and not soon enough. I appreciate the skills required in white-ball cricket but just love the twists, turns and infinite possibilities that First Class cricket provides. Its return presents a great opportunity for numerous batsmen to make a case for an Ashes call given the indifferent form of some of England’s incumbent Test batters.

It also means keeping an eye on things in the hope of performing a late surge up the Telegraph Fantasy Cricket table.

Hopefully the weather will be kind up and down the land. Enjoy your cricket folks!

Will Doesn’t ReFraine!

He’s been around the counties a bit having been on the books of Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire as well as representing Durham MCCU but at home county Yorkshire Will Fraine has finally announced himself.

Having recently replaced a struggling Harry Brook at the top of the order for the Yorkies, against an attack led by Morne Morkel and Sam Curran, Fraine has today recorded not only a maiden professional fifty but gone onto score a hundred in sunny Scarborough…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO44763

Having just turned twenty-three Fraine now has an opportunity to really go on and have a decent career in the professional game.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/870785.html

Yorkshire and the Headingley (And Scarborough… and York) faithful will be hoping that he does just that!

Can Notts Take any Moores?

To look at Nottinghamshire’s team, it’s hard to fathom that they’ve failed to win any of seven County Championship matches this season.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/county-championship-division-one/table

They’ve got genuine young talent in Matthew Carter, the recently acquired Ben Duckett and coach Peter Moores’ son Tom behind the stumps. They also posses proven internationals like Stuart Broad and James Pattinson, granted they may not play every game. In addition they have thoroughly decent county pros, the likes of Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney and Luke Fletcher. Not to mention Samit Patel and Jake Ball! But they’re bottom of the County Championship and sometimes struggling to post 100 let alone 200. Is their coach to blame? Twice England coach Peter Moores wasn’t Kevin Pietersen’s cup of tea and didn’t have a glittering career let alone an international one. We’ll save ourselves the trouble of listing great sporting coaches who hadn’t had amazing playing careers mind. Let’s not forget that Moores has coached two separate counties to County Championship success and basically in two separate eras.

Perversely, defending champions Surrey, led by England great Alec Stewart are also winless. Yes they’ve had injuries and lost players to both England and the IPL but they’ve still fielded a near full international side (Burns, Elgar, Foakes, Meaker, Morkel etc) sprinkled with high quality young players such as Ryan Patel. Don’t forget the wise old heads of Rikki Clarke and Gareth Batty in amongst those international players either. Though not as successful or prolonged at international level as they would’ve liked they are serious contributors at domestic level.

So what’s going wrong?

This is where I should summarise and explain why but… who knows? I certainly don’t. What do you think I am? Some sort of cricket expert!

What are your thoughts on how two such talented teams have failed to win in thirteen matches between them in 2019?

Clarke Biting but Without the Bark!

I’ve scripted a few articles about batsman Joe Clarke. His previous indiscretions rightly leave him officially unselectable for England at present. Off-field misdemeanours are not the only reason why Clarke doesn’t merit international recognition. Scores of 48, 1, 29, 0, 7, 0, 6, 12 & 0 since the restart of the County Championship are pretty abysmal. His season average will drop into the mid-twenties at the conclusion of Nottinghamshire’s current match and even that is elevated by a debut hundred scored quite some time ago. Why Clarke continues to get a mention as a soon to be England player is beyond me. At the risk of repeating myself, he hasn’t committed a crime and we don’t know what every player gets up to behind closed doors but Clarke is not fit to represent his country at professional sport. In time, I have no problem with him displaying development both as a player and a person and winning England recognition but not now.

Are Clarke’s performances being affected by what is supposedly still an ongoing investigation on the part of the ECB into his conduct? Possibly and if so… tough! He has to deal with it. I don’t for one second believe that all England cricketers or footballers etc, male or female are saints and have never done anything wrong. It’s by doing wrong things that you learn. We don’t want perfect people around us because they’re probably less perfect than those who’ve messed up somewhere along the line. On that note, I wish that the tone of commentators following the Women’s football world cup would stop turning matches into X-Factor sob stories. We know that people have an agenda where they want to make out that women footballers are better idols than the men but it’s condescending, often inaccurate and painful to listen too. Just commentate on the action!

Time up for Tres?

Fair play, a man who was playing when cricket was still on terrestrial television, who I vividly remember watching on Test debut when my passion for cricket was still in its infancy, is still playing domestic cricket.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/21585.html

However for a man who scored 5825 Test runs at an average of 43.8 (That’s right youngsters, English batsmen used to average that much!), 86 runs at 10.75 with a top score of 23 isn’t really what’s required from a County Championship Division One opening batsman.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/county-championship-division-one/averages

If Marcus Trescothick is nearing the end then respect to the man. He faced his demons, scored runs around the world and opened up to help others. He’s not standing in anybody’s way, that wouldn’t be his way. He’s still opening for Somerset because he’s the best man for the job.

He’ll probably score a hundred next week but it’s been tough so far for a man whose age has caught up with his batting average.

Somerset Dunn For!

During a campaign where a star studded if sometime injury hit Surrey side have serially struggled, there’s a bright shining star among the dark night.

Matt Dunn’s figures of 5-43 against table topping Somerset must’ve provided Alec Stewart with a great deal of satisfaction…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8052/report/1166930/day/3/surrey-vs-somerset-specsavers-county-championship-division-one-2019

If it weren’t for international call-ups and injuries then it’s unlikely fans at The Oval would’ve seen much of Dunn in action this year. Having said that, if it weren’t for injuries then they may have seen a lot more of the right-arm pacer in recent years.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/414108.html

Dunn has represented England at youth level as well as making his sole List A outing for an England Development XI. It’s believed he’s eligible to represent Ireland but at 27 would probably need to leave London and drop anchor in the Emerald Isle. That’s a big sacrifice, to abandon a county career given the paucity of Ireland’s international schedule.

If twenty-seven-year-old Dunn can keep fit then he could yet help Surrey rescue what has so far been an abysmal campaign.