On Top of the World!

How great is it to see Reece Topley playing regularly and amongst the wickets?

Topley has eleven wickets at 12.64 in this year’s T20 Blast for Sussex including figures of 4-33 taken in his comeback match against former employers Hampshire. The Suffolk born left-armer has ten ODI and six T20I caps to his name but it would be foolish to be thinking about England consideration so soon after returning to first team action. It’ll be great if the twenty-five-year-old can go onto play List A and First Class cricket but if not then he could still make a healthy buck specialising in the shortest format.

It’s also encouraging to see another left-arm quick bowler in the form of Topley’s teammate Tymal Mills playing regularly and being amongst the wickets too. Mills may only have seven wickets but an average of 17.14 is healthy and most notably, his economy rate is just 6.32. This compares favourably against a career economy rate of 7.82.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/english-twenty20/averages

Looking through the averages another left-armer caught my eye. Nottinghamshire’s Harry Gurney has already committed to a white-ball world having made an impression at both the Big Bash and IPL. Soon he’ll be turning out in the Euro T20 Slam. In this year’s Blast he’s picked up 13 wickets at 15.85 including a career best 5-30 against Derbyshire. He’s leaking runs at an eye-watering 9.36 per over though so will want to temper that.

It’s not impossible that the above players could yet turn out for England again. David Willey has never dominated for England as would’ve been hoped and hasn’t (To be fair often hasn’t been able to) make his batting provide him with an edge. To say that he’s been ordinary in this year’s Blast would be an understatement as he comes to terms with his World Cup omission.

Agonising Agnew!

Having watched a few clips of the 2019 Cricket World Cup final via BBC Online, it hit me why Channel 4’s coverage had been so good… it was because we didn’t have to listen to Jonathan Agnew’s excruciating tone and insight! Nor did we have to endure Graeme Swann. We were treated to nearly everybody else in a game of musical commentary chairs as some people popped in from Sky for short stints and they contributed to a great spectacle for television viewers.

We all have voices and minds that we prefer or dislike just like music, the movies and various other things in life. How Jonathan Agnew gets away with being the voice of cricket on BBC I have no idea. I can’t quite put my finger on one word to describe what it is about him but if he were the face of free to air television coverage then it wouldn’t help cricket appeal to young or any potential new fans.

There are no Words… but here are some anyway!

Not actually an image from the World Cup final!

Only England could win the Cricket World Cup by not actually winning the match or the Super Over and losing more wickets than the opposition… and they needed a six that went along the ground that you’ll never see again in your life!

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8039/game/1144530/england-vs-new-zealand-final-icc-cricket-world-cup-2019

Huge respect to New Zealand who were immense.

Credit to Sky for letting everybody watch it. It’s been a long time but that was up there with Edgbaston ’05. Maybe Sky could allow a few more matches, even dead rubbers and the occasional day’s play from Tests on Channel 4. They might even gain some subscribers!

Spare a thought for the guy moaning towards the very end on the BBC online comments section who seemingly didn’t know that the match was being shown on Channel 4. If he was for real… ouch!

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?!

The Sky is not the Limit!

Sky Sports are responsible for the demise of cricket in our country. There are other factors mainly revolving around families and Saturday night TV but ultimately Sky Sports is responsible. They took the game away from our screens and denied children the opportunity to witness cricket and be inspired. They’ve robbed us of a whole generation of both fans and players.

Fair play to them though… if only for one day!

They’ve allowed the 2019 Cricket World Cup final to be aired on free to air TV. England’s players have one day to inspire a nation. If kids watch the match, pick up a bat, go into the garden with their family, to a local club or strangers playing in a park end up playing together then it was worth it. I guarantee that at least one future professional player will exist because they saw Saturdays match when they otherwise wouldn’t have.

You can tell me that Sky took cricket into schools but when you don’t have idols to follow the inspiration isn’t always there. You can tell me that Sky funds a chunk of the England player’s salary but so be it. Take that chunk out and see if the players still want to play. There are plenty of other potential sponsors who will fill the void if their company name is going to be regularly shown on free to air TV.

The monster that is Sky Sports has robbed a generation but for one day cricket can inspire a nation!