Hildreth on the Ball!

When it comes to selecting England’s XI for the first Ashes Test and indeed the one-off Ireland encounter that precedes it, it is the top three batting positions that England’s selectors will be spending the most time debating.

Somerset’s James Hildreth (Admittedly batting at four) led Somerset to victory in the One-Day Cup final today…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO45111

Having never won international recognition, it’s wonderful to see a player of so much ability perform on a big stage. In the article below, Hildreth makes an extremely astute observation, one that is correct and really does highlight the sort of naivety that you’d hope the England selectors would be beyond…

https://www.thecricketer.com/Topics/banner/james_hildreth_moves_up_no3_bid_finally_prove_selectors_worth_england_chance.html

Mark Stoneman would be the perfect example of a player doing exactly what Hildreth speaks of, of averaging in the twenties and thirties year after year then being selected for England on the back of one productive campaign.

I’ve been amazed at some of the English batsmen who’ve been batting at four or below this year when the England vacancies clearly lie in the top three. Players such as Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond have even allowed Ashes contender Matt Renshaw to bat ahead of him at three!

Back to today’s West Country hero Hildreth, the Somerset stalwart will need a stellar County Championship from this point forth to twist Ed Smith’s arm.

Disclaimer: Apologies for the poor quality image at the top of the piece. It was from the early days of all this gaming and blogging lark.

Six to Watch: 2019

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The 2019 English domestic cricket season is nearly upon us, beginning as it does as soon as April 5th. The campaign consists of the County Championship (First Class), One-Day Cup (List A) and T20 Blast (T20) competitions. Players will be pushing for international recognition in the Test, ODI and T20I formats or if not that then at least England Lions places. County players should be spurred on by the knowledge that a spectacular start to the season could see them gatecrash England’s (Or other nations’) squads for the 2019 ODI Cricket World Cup or Ashes series. England Women have their multi-format Ashes encounter this summer too.

This is the last season of English cricket as we know it because next year we’ll have The Hundred… yay! I know that we all can’t wait for some unofficial exhibition cricket in 2020!

Here are this year’s http://www.sillypointcricket.com’s Six to Watch:

Daniel Bell-Drummond, Kent

Daniel Bell-Drummond featured in my 2017 edition of Six to Watch. Two years on, he’s earned a recall!

It was against a touring Australia side a few years past that DBD scored a hundred and seemed a shoe-in as a future England opener. It was in Australia this past winter that the right-hander popped up in club cricket and hit the headlines hitting a hundred when David Warner and Steven Smith faced off. In the intervening years DBD hasn’t spectacularly failed but neither has he made an insatiable case for national recognition. Too inconsistent for Tests and possibly unfairly perceived as not quite destructive enough for ODIs, he even spent the end of last season in the middle order for Kent. With players such as Haseeb Hameed hoping to rediscover their golden touch and push for an England recall, Bell-Drummond needs to plunder runs and make himself the next cab off the rank. Given the all-round abilities of England’s current squad, opportunities for specialist batsman are few and far between but top order vacancies are there for the taking.

Welsh Willow Wizard Aneurin Donald, having relocated from Glamorgan to Hampshire as well as Ben Duckett, who has journeyed from Northamptonshire to Nottinghamshire and dispatched some demons on England Lions’ tour of India, are other batsmen worth keeping an eye on this year.

Danny Briggs, Sussex

It’s been a while since slow-left-armer Briggs donned England (ODI/T20I) colours but he was a surprise selection for England Lions this last winter so maybe National Selector Ed Smith has seen something he likes in the former Hampshire man. It’s hard to see Briggs knocking Jack Leach off his perch but if his white-ball competition is Liam Dawson then a strong campaign could see Briggs earn a romantic recall ala Joe Denly. Briggs has been generally economical and got plenty of overs under his belt for England Lions this winter even if he hasn’t taken a bucket load of wickets.

On the spin front, hopefully Mason Crane and Matthew Parkinson can put injury problems behind them and create a cluster of competition for England places.

Jack Burnham, Durham

I’m not being lazy, honest, but like Bell-Drummond, Burnham has featured before. He missed the entirety of the 2018 campaign having failed a hat-trick of drugs (Recreational) tests.

In 2019 Durham need Burnham to come out from the cold and warm the hearts of their most loyal supporters with a run-laden summer.

Amy Jones, Warwickshire

Jones has displayed hints of her talent at international (ODI/T20I) level, particularly behind the stumps but her batting continues to cause frustration. She’s got over fifty international caps to her name now so must kick on with the willow at international level. She made some really encouraging contributions in the latest edition of the Big Bash but it’ll be interesting to see how things play out at England level when Sarah Taylor’s around. Taylor is unarguably first choice with the gloves and though she may seek respite due to her health on occasions, if Jones isn’t pulling up trees with the bat then she’s at risk of not being in the first choice XI. That’s not where she’ll want to be during an Ashes summer!

Jack Plom, Essex

After seeing that Plom had taken a few-wickets in an England Under-19 game, I picked him as my protege in my England career on International Cricket Captain 2018. If not exactly a regular, he was reliable and never let me down. In truth, 2019 might be a bit soon for first team action but Plom might surprise me, get selected and bowl with… aplomb!

Other pace bowlers who’ll hopefully see more action this year include Lancashire’s Saqib Mahmood, Middlesex’s Tom Helm and Sussex’s George Garton.

Issy Wong, Worcestershire

The women’s game continues to go from strength to strength and to be honest, probably merits a Six to Watch of its own. For now though, having already mentioned Amy Jones, Worcestershire’s Issy Wong was one of just thirty-nine 13-20 year-olds selected for the 2018 ECB School Games National Finals. She’s already contributed some significant performances for Worcestershire and could well have England honours in her sights! A bit of a wildcard selection but it’ll be interesting to follow her progress.

Look out for my follow-up article once the season is complete.

Cricket Captain 2018: England Career Update

It’s been a while since I provided an update of my England Career, two years to be exact!

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Heading into the summer of 2024, we sit in a respectable fourth place in the Test rankings…

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… a not quite as respectable seventh in the ODI table…

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… and a lousy tenth place in the T20I rankings. In fact, our T20I standing is so poor that we must play Bermuda and UAE in the early stages of the next T20I World Cup!

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Ollie Pope commenced last summer with centuries in three consecutive Tests against New Zealand. Then, following three quiet outings, he promptly hit two more tons in back-to-back Tests against South Africa.

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Australian born Sam Hain, a player who scored 195 not out when opening the batting on Test debut, now averages 49.73 in Tests and an outstanding 59.82 in ODIs. Though sometimes the recipient of criticism for batting a little too slowly in the fifty over format, Hain, still only twenty-eight, has a remarkable 16 One-Day International tons!

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Leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson has now amassed 265 Test wickets at the tender age of only twenty-seven. He’s also passed a century of wickets in ODIs. This is despite often being rested from the Test side and hardly being a regular in ODIs. Still young for a spinner, Parkinson will be disappointed not to reach at least 500 Test scalps.

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In the shorter forms of the game, Tom Kohler-Cadmore has accumulated 2001 runs in 48 ODIs at an average of 44.47. That’s an impressive output for an opening batsman. His form has dipped however and the long impressive partnership of Kohler-Cadmore and Ed Pollock has been interrupted by Daniel Bell-Drummond (Two tons in seven ODIs).

Cricket Captain 2018: Edinburgh Steal!

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As Coach and Selector of the England cricket team, for the one-off ODI against Scotland in Edinburgh, I made a brave but sensible call. Provided the volume of cricket on the horizon in all forms of the game and given the travel involved in crossing the border north, I rested our senior players. This presented those cricketers with the opportunity to find form at domestic level ahead of the ODI and T20I series against Australia. A thirteen-man squad made up of entirely uncapped players was selected for the Scotland encounter. This provided a great opportunity to breed competition amongst our ranks. Nottinghamshire all-rounder Steven Mullaney assumed the honour of captain on international debut. All-rounders Lewis Gregory and Ben Raine were the unlucky members of the squad who didn’t make the playing XI.¬†Any suggestion that we were selling spectators short by not selecting our first choice XI was soon put to bed as one of the most absorbing ODIs in the history of the game played out before our eyes.

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Every single member of our batting unit made a contribution with Joe Clarke, fresh off the back of his 80 in the second Test against Pakistan, top scoring with a free flowing 52 from 64 deliveries. Some late hitting from skipper Steven Mullaney (49 not out) and Ed Barnard (21 not out) helped lift us to 266 for 6 from our allotted 50 overs. Looking back we could possibly have put our feet on the gas sooner in order to try and set a higher target.

Scotland looked well placed for victory courtesy of Calum MacLeod’s run-a-ball 60 at the top of the order but we turned the screws on the middle order as the home side’s hopes of a famous run chase slipped away.

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Gloucestershire recruit Ryan Higgins led the way with figures of 9-1-37-4.

Scotland seemed out of it at 221-9 before Safyaan Sharif (27) and Brad Wheal (24 not out) put on 45 for the last wicket. Ed Barnard was denied the winning wicket because of a no-ball call and there was also a dropped catch at slip. With Scotland needing just four runs to seal a seismic result, Essex’s Matt Coles trapped Sharif LBW to spare our blushes!

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Next we host Australia and India with regular first-team players likely to be recalled. Should injury strike then we’ve identified a strong pool of players from which to call up on.

#undefeated

England Uncapped XI

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Imagine that England’s cricketers have gone on strike. They’re upset about that car sponsorship deal ending or they all want to play in the new Kazakhstan T20 league. England’s selectors are reluctant to return to players that’ve failed to produce the goods at international level before. They decide to select an extremely experienced squad so ignore the likes of Ollie Pope, Joe Clarke and Sam Curran amongst others. The below is what an England Test squad might then look like.

First XI

James Adams

Daryl Mitchell

Sam Northeast (Captain)

James Hildreth

Darren Stevens

Keith Barker

John Simpson (Wicketkeeper)

Ollie Rayner

Luke Fletcher

Steve Patterson

Chris Rushworth

12th Man

Steven Mullaney

Tourists

Luke Wells

Riki Wessels

Ben Brown (Wicketkeeper)

James Harris

Stand By

Chris Nash

Joe Leach

I’ve selected Northeast as captain so as not to burden either of my openers, Adams and Mitchell who make for a strong left-hand/right-hand combo. Hildreth is at four ahead of Stevens and Barker who provide all-round options with Barker’s left-arm variety essential. Simpson dons the gloves meanwhile Patterson and Rushworth take the new ball backed up by Fletcher as well as Barker and Stevens. Spin options are a bit limited but Luke Wells makes the touring party as spin back-up to Ollie Rayner. Steven Mullaney makes the squad as 12th man, providing strong all-round cover with bat and ball.

As well as Wells and Mullaney, Wessels and Harris provide a good variety of cover. Brown backs up behind the stumps whilst Wessels is also an emergency ‘keeping option.

Top order bat Chris Nash who can bowl decent spin and dependable all-rounder Joe Leach are officially on stand-by.

Disclaimer: The likes of Rory Burns, Benny Howell and Tom Bailey are among the unfortunate omissions. Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sam Hain, Liam Norwell, Lewis Gregory, Jamie Porter and Ben Coad join that list but I was generally plucking for the most experienced players.