Proposed England Test Squad

Hi all

Here’s my suggested England Test squad for the match against Ireland and ultimately the start of the Ashes…

Dominic Sibley

Rory Burns

Joe Root (Captain)

Dawid Malan

Jos Buttler

Ben Stokes

Jonny Bairstow (Wicketkeeper)

Mark Wood/Jofra Archer

Jack Leach

Stuart Broad

James Anderson/Chris Woakes

12th men

Moeen Ali

Sam Curran

The suggestion is that Archer and Woakes have injuries that need managing and may have to wait their turn. Of course Anderson is currently out of action and Wood is not going to play five consecutive Tests. Extremely good players are going to have to miss out and that may be the case for Sam Curran. I think that variety is essential in an attack but with slow left-armer Leach meriting selection ahead of Moeen that doesn’t help fellow leftie Curran’s case. I still believe in Moeen but he’s gone AWOL as a batsman and Leach should’ve played in West Indies. His batting and fielding have come on too. Moeen would be best served getting some county cricket under his belt. If somebody in the top/middle order fails after a few Tests then the others could be shuffled to accommodate Moeen as a second spinner or even allow Curran to come into the side. He himself is capable of batting at least as high as six.

On the batting front, Sibley merits selection. His ‘form’ isn’t just that. His sensational run started last year and included a hundred overseas. He clearly has a lot of ambition and concentration and could be just what England need. I’d have no concerns about tempo from the openers. Test matches last five days!

I also firmly believe that Malan is good enough to succeed at this level but his optimum batting position is number four. That’s why Root must move to three and embrace it. He might not like it but he’ll have a better team for it. Yes Malan has played before and averaged 27 like everybody else but he hinted at being good enough and is knocking the door down with an axe. You only have to look at the likes of Mark Butcher, Justin Langer and Marvan Atapattu, even Jonny Bairstow for players that came back stronger and age wise look at Mike Hussey, Kumar Sangakarra and Misbah-ul-Haq, even Andy Flower. Malan could yet have his peak years ahead of him. His inclusion helps maintain a good left-hand/right-hand balance throughout the batting order.

The likes of Gary Ballance and Toby Roland-Jones as well as Dom Bess could all be hitting form at the right time to keep incumbents on their toes. Sam Northeast is another one for whom a place in the XI is a genuine possibility. Like I say though, good players will have to miss out. That’s theory of numbers. Coad, Gregory, Porter, Denly and Roy etc, you cant squeeze them all in.

Regarding Roy, he simply can’t be trusted to be fit enough to field long enough to be allowed, in accordance with the rules of the game, to open the batting thus rendering his inclusion pointless if everybody else has to move higher up the order than they want too.

One more thing. What a shame that the England Lions players as well as most county squads can’t watch the World Cup final. Who scheduled this?!

Logan’s Run… or not as the case may be!

You’re the leading wicket taker in the history of your club’s academy. You made your First Class debut last season and got a few overs under your belt but now you’re primed for first team action. You claim excellent second innings figures of 4-22 in only your second professional match…

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8052/scorecard/1166938/yorkshire-vs-warwickshire-specsavers-county-championship-division-one-2019

What’s your reward? To get dropped and see your employers sign a South African for just three matches. Just when you thought that Yorkshire County Cricket Club couldn’t mess around another spinner… think again! To be fair, we understand that Adil Rashid has next to no interest in playing for Yorkshire. Azeem Rafiq got released, re-signed, did okay but got released again amidst personal pain and poor old Karl Carver. He’d actually done okay in a reasonable amount of first XI appearances but one bad day at the office in a T20 game was followed by a First Class fixture in which he batted at eleven and didn’t bowl. Stuart Broad got hit for six sixes once. Did it make hime a bad player? There was also the absolute panic and what has turned out to be disrespectful signing of Josh Poysden as well as a visit from Dom Bess. Bess is now back at Somerset and doing well so wouldn’t Yorkshire have been better investing in their own player?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/767447.html

Will James Logan get a run in the team?

Let’s hope so but given Yorkshire’s track record of failing to develop spinners, it’ll be interesting to see where he is in a decade’s time.

Disclaimer: Is Logan injured? He doesn’t appear to have played any cricket at all since the Warwickshire match but there’s nothing on the club website or mention of his absence in the squad announcement for the following match.

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!

Has Franklin got the Hump with Weighell?

To see a player as talented as James Weighell frozen out of Durham’s 1st XI and languishing in the second team is both frustrating and criminal. Durham have some good bowlers of varying age and experience. There’s the ever reliable old warhorse Chris Rushworth and the promising young gun Matty Potts amongst others. Weighell is a capable all-rounder though, a genuine wicket-taking threat who can also quickly take the game away from the opposition with the bat.

Ben Raine has made an ordinary start to his Durham career but has just begun to turn a corner with match figures of 8-90 against Derbyshire and and a knock of 82 against Northamptonshire. Maybe Franklin doesn’t think that he can accommodate both the weather and the animal kingdom in his XI. If he simply thinks that Weighell isn’t good enough then the former New Zealand underachieving bits and pieces cricketer is mistaken. Still only 25, Weighell has 51 First Class wickets to his name at a decent 27.94 apiece. He averages 25.25 with the bat and the sample sizes are big enough to make a judgment. His white-ball figures require a little enhancement but there’s enough there to know that he could contribute.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/571151.html

Given how many loan signings (Luke Wood, Ian Holland, Jamie Overton, Matt Coles and Jack Blatherwick) Northamptonshire have added to their bowling attack this season, it’s hard to fathom that Weighell hasn’t been snapped up for a game or two at Wantage Road!

It’s to be hoped that Weighell isn’t on his way out of Durham County Cricket Club. For whipping boys such as them that have lost the likes of Stoneman, Borthwick and Jennings in recent years, they’d be foolish to let such a talent leave. Durham’s loss would be another county’s gain however and I’m sure that James ‘Killer’ Weighell will tear it up wherever he lands.

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!

American Acquisitions!

What do Cameron Steel, Ian Holland, Rusty Theron and Xavier Marshall all have in common?

They’re all in the USA cricket squad of course and could soon win some Twenty20 International caps!

Nearly two years ago I wrote about about the possibility of English county cricketers Steel and Holland representing USA…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2017/04/27/first-class-americans/

https://sillypointcricket.com/2017/06/04/century-for-steel-stars-stripes-and-steel/

Steel has fallen out of favour at Durham under James Franklin’s take no prisoners approach. Even James ‘Killer’ Weighell can’t get a game. I digress. Holland, who won a sort of X Factor style cricket competition in Australia has, like Steel, struggled to hold down a place in domestic cricket this season. The Hampshire all-rounder had to head to Northamptonshire to get some game time. Now he’s heading to Los Angeles!

http://m.espncricinfo.com/southafrica/content/player/223642.html

I was surprised that Theron didn’t get more opportunities for South Africa but we may yet see more of him at international level.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/usa/content/player/52626.html

Former West Indies hit or miss swashbuckler Xavier Marshall has been part of USA cricket for a while now.

Steel and Holland are American born unlike Theron and Marshall but hopefully all of the above can inspire Americans to participate in the best bat and ball game there is… bases, pitchers… what?