Wish Wells Well!

I was surprised to discover that Sussex have released 29-year-old batsman Luke Wells. Predominantly a red-ball cricketer, Wells has eighteen First Class tons to his name as well as having made handy contributions with his part-time spin.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/350126.html

Left-hander Wells is Sussex through and through but it’s to be hoped that he can find opportunities elsewhere on the county circuit. He’d walk into quite a few teams and I’m stunned that Sussex have not renewed his contract!

Borthwick’s Back!

Surrey batsman (Or all-rounder) Scott Borthwick is rumoured to be heading back to Durham at the end of the season.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/310519.html

Borthwick deserted Durham when things were going to pot on and off the pitch. He wasn’t the only one. The one-time Test cap had aspirations of getting back in the England team but it was fellow Durham deserter and Surrey teammate Mark Stoneman who settled in quicker at The Oval to win England honours. Stoneman dried up and since being dropped by England has never really got going again. Since heading south Borthwick has never really got going at all. He’s done okay but not nearly enough to return to England contention and that ship has surely sailed for both. Would it even be a surprise if Stoneman followed Borthwick back up north?

Hameed Needs to be Greedy Indeed!

It’s great to see Haseeb Hameed make an encouraging start to life at Nottinghamshire. The twenty-three-year-old clearly needed a move away from Lancashire to start afresh. Peter Moores might not have been everybody’s cup of tea as an international coach but seems to get the best out of players on the county circuit.

Hameed has registered scores of 68, 52, 21, 1, 22 and 87 in the Bob Willis Trophy this season and whilst it’s a little early to be talking about an England recall, it’ll be great if he can kick on and breed competition. He was so woefully out of form at Lancashire that to come back from that displays the sort of character that England originally liked in Hameed. It’d be a great shame if he ends up been a what if? but the seeds of recovery have been planted and are starting to grow.

Having made three fifties this season though, Hameed needs to be greedy indeed to really press his case to add to his three Test caps.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/632172.html

County Snippets!

A quick glance of the county scores this morning and a few names caught my attention.

James Killer Weighell, surprisingly underplayed then released by Durham, is turning out for Leicestershire. Meanwhile another all-rounder, Yorkshire’s Ed Barnes, is making his professional debut as a loanee at Derbyshire. Barnes was actually loaned out to Sussex last season but didn’t make it onto the field. Wicketkeeper Brooke Guest is also on loan at Derbyshire but his move will become permanent next season.

Tom Loten, George Hill and Jared Warner are among the reasons that the aforementioned Barnes has had to go out on loan. All are playing for Yorkshire, alongside more established young players such as Jordon Thompson and Harry Brook. Dawid Malan, fresh from a double ton but only just back from injury, joins Zimbabwe born Gary Ballance on the sidelines.

Fellow Zimbabwe born player Nathan Gilchrist is making his premier professional outing for Kent on loan from Somerset. Meanwhile Blake Cullen and Will Sheffield are also registering their professional debuts as Middlesex host Sussex.

Spinner Simon Kerrigan, infamously once capped at Test level for England, is representing Northamptonshire and the very best of luck to him and all the players mentioned above.

Isn’t it great to have some First Class county cricket to follow?

Cricket Captain 2020 – Season Review

After commencing the County Championship with a comprehensive win, we struggled to clinch more victories. Our batting was generally strong but a little slow and it was often when attempting to up the tempo and push for victory that we opened the door for our visitors to snatch the result away from us. Our bowlers struggled a little in the first half of the campaign too.

We won two out of our last three matches however to preserve our division one status. Off-spinner Jack Shutt (6-50) bowled us to victory against neighbours Lancashire and then made 44 not out alongside wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall (84*) to see us over the line against Hampshire when under huge pressure. Despite losing against Surrey in our final game, we survived!

The less said about our One-Day campaign the better. We were without as many as ten players due to England call-ups/franchise gigs but many of our youngsters gained experience. Teenage opener James Wharton (146) did at least register a maiden century while signing Matt Coles excelled when bowling at the death.

Though our T20 campaign was also ultimately fruitless, we did improve as the competition went on. Matthew Waite was a revelation with the ball.

Adam Lyth finished the County Championship with a competition topping 1573 runs including a top score of 199*. Jack Shutt’s aforementioned 6-50 against Lancashire was our best bowling effort whilst Ben Coad concluded the season well to top the club charts with 40 wickets.

Opener Will Fraine seized his opportunity due to numerous injuries/absences to clock up 380 runs in the fifty-over format. Matt Coles claimed a club best 12 wickets with a best of 6-36.

In the T20 format Tom Kohler-Cadmore registered an impressive 440 runs (And would earn an England ODI call-up) meanwhile Dawid Malan found form to make a high score of 110. Again Matt Coles excelled in white-ball cricket (That’s why we bought him!), claiming best figures of 5-22 but the effective Matthew Waite topped the club efforts with 15 wickets.

First Class captain Steven Patterson has retired and frustratingly talks with Toby Roland-Jones broke down. He opted to make the short move from Middlesex to Surrey instead. We would’ve like to have signed Chris Rushworth from northern neighbours Durham or re-sign Ben Sanderson but whilst we were failing to negotiate with Roland-Jones those players signed elsewhere. Jamie Overton was another who slipped by. 26-year-old Australia Nathan Ellis will therefore join us for 2021.

Cricket Captain 2020 – Yorkshire

I’ve purchased Cricket Captain 2020 and have commenced a career with my native Yorkshire. Prior to the new season, we added out of contract all-rounder Matt Coles to the squad. He should help make us more competitive in white-ball cricket whilst also providing an option with the red-ball.

Our first game was a pre-season fixture against Leeds MCCU. We took the opportunity to blood a number of youngsters, allowing them to breed competition and make a case for first team selection. Pretty much all of them did just that, which bodes extremely well for the future. Tom Loten and Matthew Revis both notched tons whilst Jordan Thompson claimed a five-wicket haul. There were however contributions from the entire XI.

There’s now a healthy run of County Championship matches before any limited overs cricket. I’ll let you know how the season played out once completed!

Disclaimer: Cricket Captain is available online at a cost of £19.99… and I play on easy!

Dawson Disaster!

Poor Liam Dawson. He did okay with the ball in Tests, providing something to build upon (Even if he batted abysmally after a strong start) only for England to go old school, succumb to media pressure and… drop him!

He’s thrived in the Pakistan Super League and performed well batting as high as five for Hampshire but… he only carried the drinks at the World Cup before doing the same in the recent ODI series against Ireland. Now he’s ruptured his achilles in his first game back for Hampshire and will surely miss the rest of this truncated county campaign. It’s such a shame for Dawson and a huge blow for the second White Rose County (Yorkshire being the first of course!).

Fingers crossed that Dawson can regain fitness as soon as possible and feature in whatever cricket is available upon his return, whether that’s next season or if any franchise jaunts are possible.

Out of the Darkness!

In the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, counties continue to cancel the contracts of overseas players. If there is any cricket played this summer then it could be that local/English players are presented with opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

There are great benefits of experienced overseas players representing counties but far too many of those signings are nowadays made with a short term view. They’re a quick fix and more likely to delay the development of a young local lad than aid it.

If we do witness any county cricket this year then we could see some unfamiliar names taking to the field. Some will flounder never to be seen again and soon turn to working in the city etc but for some, they’ll seize the chance and go onto make a career that they might not have had. We’ll wait and see…

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: Howzat!

It’s the end of an era for Telegraph Fantasy Cricket!

The official line is that the demand just isn’t there, that interest in the county game has fallen so much that the competition isn’t sustainable/viable. I can’t help but think that the new structure of the domestic game, what with The Hundred and player availability (Or lack of) across four different competitions, will have made it quite complex for the Telegraph to create a fair competition.

It’s a shame because I really enjoyed it and you did need to use some nous but it’s over and out for TFF!

Meanwhile I’ve logged into CricketXI (www.cricketxi.com) but there’s currently no sign of any English cricket on there either. We’ll have to wait and see if it’s bitten the dust too or just not up and running yet. The county campaign commences on 19th April 2020 so there’s still time?!

Six to Watch: 2020 – Transfer Special!

Paul Coughlin, Durham

Following an injury hit couple of years at Nottinghamshire former England Lions all-rounder Paul Coughlin has returned north to home team Durham. It appears to be a sensible move to help reignite his stalled career. Coughlin is a bowling all-rounder and Nottinghamshire’s bowling attack has extreme depth so chances at Trent Bridge would be limited Durham have some useful all-rounders with the likes of Ben Raine and James Weighell so Coughlin will be a further assett.

Josh Shaw, Gloucestershire

Shaw has almost existed as a co-owned player switching between Yorkshire and multiple loan stints at Gloucestershire in recent seasons. Opportunities have been few and far between at home county Yorkshire what with Coad and Olivier etc but Shaw’s seemed at home in Bristol and now being a fully fledged Gloucestershire player should make their bowling attack stronger.

Jack Leaning, Kent

Following the theme of players seeking fresh challenges Leaning, like Shaw, has departed the ‘White Rose County’ for pastures new at Canterbury. Leaning previously featured in the North v South series, has been highly rated for some time and at 26 could yet come good. He’s an underused spin-bowler and a fresh start could be just what he requires.

Luke Wood, Lancashire

Wood has grown frustrated at Nottinghamshire where he’s often found himself down the pecking order amongst a strong attack year after year. The left-armer is a capable First Class bowler, can bat and made great strides in the T20 format. He’s had useful loan stints at Northamptonshire and should be a great asset for Lancashire. For me, he’s a dark horse for England selection in the shortest format particularly if Sam Curran were to get injured.

Dawid Malan, Yorkshire

A player who has travelled in the opposite direction to Shaw and Leaning, Malan has ended a long association with Middlesex to try and regain an England place. Yorkshire, particularly in the shortest format, desperately need more firepower though Malan may have to settle for a place at number four behind Lyth, Kohler-Cadmore and Willey. He and Gary Ballance help provide ballast in the four-day game and should help the likes of Harry Brook, Matthew Revis and Tom Loten develop.

Haseeb Hameed, Nottinghamshire

Another batsman hoping to reignite an England career… but one step at a time, is Haseeb Hameed. Hameed has suffered an alarming fall following early success with England and there’s no doubt that a fresh start is what’s required. Coach Peter Moores might not have had great success at international level but he could be just what Hameed needs. Nottinghamshire have the likes of Ben Duckett, Ben Slater and Joe Clarke, all batsmen who’ve voyaged to Trent Bridge, are competing for top order spots and England recognition so it’ll be interesting to see where Hameed fits in both in the order and in each format.