Peter Della Penna: Inside the Selection Room Book Review

I’ve long been an admirer of Peter Della Penna’s work. I’ve read articles by him on Cricinfo that focus on Associate Cricket with USA often at the forefront of his efforts. When I saw that he had a book out that was about selecting a team beyond the Test world, I just had to get my hands on it…

And so it was that a 453 page tomb in size 10 (Maybe ?!) font arrived through my door! Even I felt daunted but it turned out to be right up my street.

The book details the trial and selection process for an ICC Americas XI that competed in the West Indies domestic 50-over competition in 2015. We’re provided with back stories of the players and later, a Where are they Now? section. If you’re not already aware, this book highlights the fact that cricket beyond the Test world relies heavily on players from celebrated cricketing nations, namely in Asia. It also pinpoints what those players are up against in a constantly changing and often poorly organised system both in their own countries and in international tournaments. As well as all this, it highlights, as is one of the main points of the book, that T20 franchise cricket could be an absolute game changer for some of these players and inspire many more from all over the world.

Cover star Ali Khan is the, errr… star of the book. The chapter surrounding IPL auction day highlights how many people are interested beyond the player themselves and the pressure this brings. His desire for opportunity on the franchise circuit whilst being in demand to represent USA, does showcase the challenging and often fixture clashing environment that players face. Of course this happens for Test players too but an Associate player having to decide between what competition to play in can have serious consequences… good or bad!

I suppose one criticism could be that the book displays a hint of repetition when referencing players’ past achievements etc. To be fair, so many player’s histories straddle the same events that it’s unavoidable.

This book isn’t for everybody but if your a stats freak who is passionate about cricket beyond Test stars and even T20 icons then it could be for you.

https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Journalist/Peter-Della-Penna-302791379550/

Peter Della Penna’s Inside the Selection Room is unlucky to be caught at square leg for… 88!

Let’s Get Associated!

I’m currently reading The Selection Room by Peter Della Penna. The book revolves around the selection, performance and post tournament careers of a number of trialists attempting to get into an ICC Americas XI that competed in the West Indies domestic 50-over competition.

Could a similar idea work elsewhere to help promote cricket in Europe, Africa or anywhere else in the world?

It would probably make sense to focus on the T20 format. That’s the logical vehicle that is helping get the game going in many corners of the world. Most nations now have international status in said format.

Could a squad of fifteen players from the likes of Sweden, Germany and Greece compete in England’s T20 competition… or even two teams if we need to stick to round numbers?

Could players from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria compete in South African cricket? Namibia certainly have done. Could the Big Bash accommodate a team consisting of players from Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji? They seem set on introducing two new teams so maybe alongside a new city based team, an Oceania Associate XI could be introduced. The same could be done in one or two leagues in Asia with players from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Korea etc comprising a team. Just imagine a Chinese player taking a prize wicket in the PSL or a Spaniard striking a six-laden fifty in England’s T20 Blast. Such performances would make headlines and inspire kids across the globe to start playing cricket.

The franchise circuit is there and could truly be filled with players from across the globe. That would then lead to national T20 teams from Mexico to Malaysia getting stronger and to cricket having a proper T20I WORLD Cup!

For too long cricket has given with one hand but taken with the other when it comes to developing the sport across the globe. This could be a fantastic opportunity to unearth talent, change lives and gets kids (And adults!) in Israel, Chad and who knows where, picking up a cricket bat. Imagine a Japanese guy performing for an Asian Associate XI in the BPL then getting a contract in the CPL or Big Bash, then playing for Japan against West Indies or Australia in a T20I series, then playing in the T20I World Cup, gaining fans for him, his team and the sport all along the way. Stars would be born!

It may be that a team could have two/three players from a Test playing nation in their squad to provide experience and pass on knowledge. So say for example a European Associate XI with players from Czech Republic and Italy etc are competing in the T20 Blast. They might be able to recruit a player who is looking to move into coaching, an out of contract player or even a full international, just to make sure that some quality is there and like I say, help develop players throughout the continent.

Another vehicle might be an FA Cup style competition, well, with some sort of group stage to guarantee the Associate team at least a few games. Maybe it could be a Europe XI and World XI competing in the T20 Blast. Maybe the Irish league could have a team feature in their T20 competition. Heck, they’ve only got three teams!

There must be so much talent out there, so much opportunity. At the risk of being a bit corporate, untapped markets could become, well… tapped!

What do you think? How would you help cricket grow around the globe? Do you even want cricket to grow or are you content with watching the same players from the same countries?

Why Won’t Walton Win?

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Another domestic hundred for West Indies’ wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton, in an important match too. In West Indies One-Day competition, Walton made 104 against Guyana, having made 169 against Leeward Island’s two matches prior. The Jamaica native previously recorded a List A century against England in a tour match but just hasn’t been able to transfer his domestic progress to the international arena.

The Caribbean stumper’s international batting stats make for horrific reading:

Tests: 13 @ 3.25

ODIs: 53 @ 6.62

T20s: 160 @ 12.30

Walton’s domestic batting stats linger in the twenties but have been progressively on the up. His four List A hundreds have all come since the start of 2017. However, at the age of 32, the proverbial ship, at international level at least, has surely sailed for Walton. He opens the batting in limited overs cricket, so you would think that he is used to facing the best bowlers that opposition have to offer. The step up to international cricket can be a big one though. Meaning no disrespect to those named but does facing the likes of Romario Shepherd, Paul Wintz, Mervin Matthew and Nino Henry really prepare you to face the likes of Trent Boult and co.?

Walton can continue to shine in the CPL where Guyana Amazon Warriors snapped him up for $110,000 last term as well as dominating for Jamaica in the Regional Super 50. Whether or not he could earn one last chance to crack the highest level remains to be seen…