It’ll Never Rayn Again!

Middlesex off-spinner Ollie Rayner has bid farewell to the professional game following his release from the London club.

Rayner claimed 313 First Class wickets and flirted with England selection but it wasn’t to be. He was also there or there abouts with Germany’s international side.

There certainly seems to have been a degree of animosity regarding his exit but the impression of Rayner remains that he was steady and reliable but only very occasionally spectacular.

He was an integral part of a County Championship winning outfit and as well as those 313 wickets chalked up two First Class tons. A career with pen (Or keyboard) in hand may await the thirty-four-year-old.

The Lions Share

There are some exciting selections in the England Lions squad for a tour of Australia commencing in January that follows the senior side’s series in South Africa.

Incumbent Test opener Dominic Sibley and fellow full England squad member Zak Crawley both make the four-day squad.

Keaton Jennings, tipped for a recall for the senior squad’s tour of Sri Lanka in March due to his two Test tons on Asian soil has the opportunity to enhance his game on demanding pace friendly pitches, the sort that a lot of people have previously felt that he’d be eaten alive on!

Already capped but almost forgotten Dom Bess as well as Surrey’s Amar Virdi are in with a genuine chance of making the full side’s trip to Sri Lanka if they can impress in Australia. With uncertainty surrounding Moeen Ali’s potential return both could yet make the tour. Bess, like his Somerset sparring partners Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton, feature in both the four-day and one-day squads.

Overton seems to be Mr Periphery for England having been recalled for an Ashes Test but ditched for the full winter tours. Gregory was provided little opportunity by skipper Eoin Morgan to perform in the T20I series in New Zealand.

Sam Northeast’s international ambition flame still flickers with the thirty-year-old named in the four-day squad. Gloucestershire’s James Bracey, who the selectors really like, makes both squads.

Another interesting selection is that of Richard Gleeson in both squads. He’s been touted as England material before but at 32 and a late comer to domestic cricket, it may be that caution applied to fellow injury prone quicks Olly Stone and Jamie Overton have aided his cause. Don’t get me wrong though, Gleeson excelled for Lancashire last term.

Tom Abell is yet another Somerset player in the one-day squad and he fully merits recognition. It’s good to see Tom Kohler-Cadmore in there too following any indiscretions.

Laurie Evans is no young pup but has made a name for himself on the franchise circuit and fully merits a place in the 50-over party.

Matt Milnes has had more success in First Class than List A cricket but a place in the one-day squad will allow the coaching staff to have a good look at him. He took regular wickets for Kent during a breakthrough County Championship season in 2019 but leaked runs too.

Under appreciated but deceptively effective in one-day cricket Mason Crane makes the white ball squad. Of course it was playing Grade Cricket in Australia that helped win him a Test cap.

Ollie Robinson (Kent) and Ollie Robinson (Sussex) both make the four-day party… freaky!

Check out the squads in full here…

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/1535797/england-lions-squads-confirmed-for-tour-of-australia

Ben Duckett, Liam Livingstone, Ben Foakes, Ben Coad and Jamie Porter are amongst the notable omissions. The selectors may feel that they know enough about Duckett, Livingstone and Foakes including knowing that they don’t need Duckett to be called up in spin friendly Sri Lanka! With an eye on Australia as well Coad and Porter are possibly pigeon holed as home condition bowlers only.

Who Should Captain the England Test Team in South Africa?

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Following a heavy defeat in the first Test in New Zealand the question marks over Joe Root’s captaincy are now firmly written in bold font and possibly in red ink! Root registered his lowest Test aggregate score, dropped out of the top ten batsmen in the world for the first time in five years (I’m surprised that it’s taken that long!) and was once again lacking inspiration in the field.

Does the Yorkshireman remain the best man to lead England or would he and the team as a whole be best served if he returned to being just one of the ranks?

Such a move has the potential to rid Root of the additional strain of leadership and allow him to thrive as the high quality batsman that we know he can be though in turn it obviously burdens someone else… or possibly brings out the best in them. Captaincy certainly isn’t bringing out the best in Joe Root.

Ben Stokes is currently vice-captain, Jos Buttler has stood in for limited overs matches, Stuart Broad has captained England in T20Is and Rory Burns is a County Championship winning captain.

Who do you think should lead England?

Malan the Man!

England T20I batsman Dawid Malan looks certain to complete what may seem a slightly surprising move north to Yorkshire.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bbc.co.uk/sport/amp/cricket/50056801

Malan’s long association with Middlesex seems at an end with the burden of captaincy and the need for a fresh start possibly playing a part in the decision.

England ambitions may also be a factor with Yorkshire playing in Division One of the County Championship whilst Middlesex continue to languish in Division Two. Malan is part of England’s squad for the T20I series in New Zealand and was possibly unlucky to miss out to Joe Denly in the summer’s Test squads. At 32, age might hinder the left-hander’s international ambitions but then again he’s younger than Denly. To be fair to Denly, he fought hard and went onto make some vital contributions for England.

With a line-up assembled from the likes of Lyth, Fraine, Ballance, Malan, Kohler-Cadmore, Brook, Tattersall, possibly Bairstow and occasionally even Root, Yorkshire’s batting could look extremely strong next season. It’s to be hoped that young players such as Brook benefit from the experience of playing alongside seasoned professionals such as Malan and don’t just find themselves confined to the Second XI.

As well as adding ballast to the four-day side Malan would be a welcome addition to Yorkshire’s white-ball outfit. Yorkshire have relied heavily on their top three (Lyth, TK-C and Willey) and once those guys have been dismissed the rest of the batting line-up have failed to fire. Mystifyingly and speaking as somebody who’s played in amateur leagues in Yorkshire, there’s been few signs of destructive young batsmen coming through the ranks. With the aforementioned batters at the top of the order Malan may have to settle for batting at four in List A and T20 cricket despite a history of opening in the shorter formats.

I’m a big fan of Dawid Malan and would love to see him at Yorkshire.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/236489.html

I’m not a fan of a busy transfer market in county cricket but appropriate and logical transfers that enhance sides and provide players with opportunities are welcome. If all goes through as anticipated then I look forward to seeing Malan in a Yorkshire shirt in 2020.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2019 – Season Review

I set myself the target of a top thousand finish and I’m pleased to say that I achieved it!

I can only repeat what I’ve said before: pick players who play, generally don’t pick England players and select batsmen who bowl or the reverse. Also, you need to find those gem cheaper selections that aren’t in everybody’s team. Look at Luis Reece below. Yes he’s ended up in 30% of people’s teams but he probably wasn’t initially. At a rating of 5 he’s been great value.

You must check team news, ideally fifteen minutes before the start of play, use your transfers but keep some in hand. Watch out for overseas players coming and going and injuries etc. These are my key tips.

If anything I tinkered a little too much during the one-day cup but still had transfers to play with come the season finale.

The above graphic displays the top points scorers. As you’ll see they’re generally all-rounders or bowlers who can bat. The highest scoring batsman was the next man on the list which is Marnus Labuschagne, a batsman who bowls. Remember that a bowler scores 25pts per wicket but a batsman only scored 1 pt per run (-20 for a duck). There are other caveats to the points scoring but clearly it’s a bowler’s game. Getting your captain right and changing him when appropriate is absolutely crucial.

I’ll be back next year (Depending on the domestic schedule I guess) with my sights firmly set on a top 500 finish.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2019 – Season Review

A disappointing T20 campaign with my best placed team only finishing as high as 2,228th place. The winner accumulated 12,566 points and won by a margin of 23 points.

In truth I should probably have tinkered a little more early on. Leaving as many as three/four captaincy changes unused is just wasteful.

See below for the best performing players. Note how many are batsmen who bowl.

I remain optimistic of at least one top thousand finish in the CC/ODC competition and will update after the final round of matches this week.