Big Bash Car Crash!

Watching highlights from the Big Bash, I’ve been shocked at how bad much of the bowling is. I keep hearing complaints that cricket is becoming too much in favour of the batsmen. Well if bowlers keep bowling waist high full tosses, conceding free hits and throw in a few too many over pitched leg-side deliveries as well then yeah, it will be a batsmen’s game.

The lack of bowling intelligence applied is staggering. A bowler is failing to execute deliveries as he’d like so what does he do? Try and gain some control by shaving a bit of pace off and bowling straight, make the batsmen do the work… no! He tries even harder to bowl faster or add further variation only to cock it up!

Also, the PowerSurge is a glorious opportunity for bowlers to claim wickets as batsmen throw away theirs for the sake of a point. Shouldn’t these batsmen be allowed to concentrate on winning the game. Look how Dawid Malan paced a recent innings for England. T20 shouldn’t be about hitting baseball shots off full tosses for 6 every ball. There should still be a place for more workmanlike innings. The contrast of that alongside a big hitter can be aesthetically pleasing. Do we really want a situation where teams are qualifying for knockout stages because they got enough bonus points to finish higher than a team that won more games?!

And as for the indulgent hyperbolic commentary… Jonathan Agnew, all is forgiven!

Edit: Following the latest match, two spinners have experienced an expensive first over. In usual circumstances, they might come back stronger but now their captain might just think, “Well, I just won’t bowl them again. I won’t let them display character and learn as a cricketer. I’ll just sub them for a batsman”. That might be the rules but I don’t think it’s healthy for cricket, player development or the integrity of the result!

Six to Watch: 2020 – Season Review

Obviously this season was a little different but still, here’s a review of the six players that I identified were worth watching this year. Remember that it was a transfer special!

Paul Coughlin, Durham

13 T20 Blast wickets at an average of 16.23 from just 20 overs back up north at Durham, was a healthy return for Coughlin. The all-rounder was injured almost as soon as he arrived at Nottinghamshire and just never really got going. He was an England Lion but despite his blast showing, is surely a long way from full international recognition. Averaged a whopping 101.33 with the ball in the Bob Willis Trophy!

Josh Shaw, Gloucestershire

Limited opportunity in the Blast but claimed 8 wickets at 41.00 with a best of 3-13 in the First Class format. Having finally made his frequent loans from Yorkshire to Gloucestershire permanent, he’s displayed wicket taking effectiveness in the past and should be an integral part of the Bristol based bowling attack moving forward.

Jack Leaning, Kent

After a tough debut, Leaning soon made a score of 220* in a record-breaking stand for Kent. That he only totalled 279 runs in eight innings however confirms what a struggle the campaign as a whole was! Clocked up a respectable 201 runs at 33.00 with a best of 55* in the T20s.

Luke Wood, Lancashire

Picked up seven wickets at 20.43 in the Blast but only three wickets in the Bob Willis Trophy. Still, an underrated left-armer with time on his side.

Dawid Malan, Yorkshire

Malan’s arrival in Yorkshire soon resulted in a First Class double ton and he’ll be pleased to have remained in the mix for England if only in white-ball cricket. Frustratingly, he really could’ve been a fine Test number four/five though. Failed to show up for Yorkshire in the T20 Blast however, scoring a paltry 36 runs at 9.00!

Haseeb Hameed, Nottinghamshire

Hameed registered a hugely encouraging 272 First Class runs at an average of 38.86 in seven innings. His top score was 87 and unlike Malan, he could yet play Test cricket again. Fingers crossed for one of sports great comeback stories!

Down in Tasmania!

Yorkshire and England batsman Dawid Malan has signed for Big Bash outfit Hobart Hurricanes.

33-year-old Malan currently tops the T20I batting rankings but still isn’t guaranteed a place in England’s XI if everybody’s fit. Malan has been unfortunate with injuries when it comes to ODIs and though he was rightly dropped, I still believe that there’s a Test player in him.

Malan’s chances of seeing a thylacine could yet be scupered or at least limited however. This is because England may yet be touring at the same time.

Disclaimer: Not my first Dawid Malan article. I do think that he’s a very good player!

Cricket Captain 2020 – Season Five

Finally, after five seasons in the job, things have started to progress. This season saw a fourth place finish in the County Championship but had we been able to turn a few frustrating draws into wins it could’ve been even better.

At the top of the order the combination of the stoic Matthew Revis and aggressive James Wharton complimented each other well.

Jon Baldwin topped the CC run charts with 1387 including a best of 277. Dennis Brindell came good too. He made four consecutive centuries in the latter stages of the campaign and fell only nineteen runs short of making it five. England Test cap Sam Cook claimed 51 wickets.

In the One-Day competition we finished fifth in our group. After a century in the opening game it was a huge shame that James Wharton missed the rest of the tournament through injury.

Jon Francis accumulated an impressive 547 runs with a best of 151, one of two centuries that he registered. Matthew Fisher, captain for the format in the absence of Jonny Tattersall (Playing in The Hundred) claimed a club best 16 wickets.

Sadly, we only mustered two victories in the T20 format. In an inglorious campaign we were even dismissed for 49!

Fred Albright did chalk up an encouraging 373 runs while Jared Warner made the most of a run in the side to claim 15 wickets.

All in all though, there was much improvement and much to build on.

Experienced duo Adam Lyth and Dawid Malan, neither of whom featured for the first team this season, have left the club. Getting said players off the wage bill has freed up funds for additional coaching and physio sessions.

Australian leg-spinning all-rounder Scott Collins, capped in both ODI/T20I cricket, replaces Rahkeem Cornwall as our overseas players. Sadly Scott will be unavailable initially as he’s been signed to play in the IPL. We’ve also added free agent Ken Wainwright, a batsman, to our squad to provide cover for The Hundred call-ups.

Meanwhile I’ve rejected offers to join both Durham and Otago. My heart lies with Yorkshire!

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?

Malan Can!

Dawid Malan and Lewis Gregory are two players that I’m pleased to see have made England’s squad for the T20Is against Pakistan.

Both seem to have been given some tough love by captain Eoin Morgan and are by no means guaranteed to feature in what, despite a number of absences, is a strong squad. Malan was criticised for not running off the last ball of the innings and possibly protecting his average in New Zealand whilst Gregory was provided little responsibility and didn’t even bowl in a couple of his previous appearances. If I was Malan, I’d be watching the last delivery of all England’s white ball innings and bringing to attention any lack of a scrambled run or run out. The former Middlesex man only has himself to blame for his Test demise but has been unfortunate with injuries when it’s come to ODIs. As good a start as he made in the shortest format, failure in this series could be terminal for Yorkshire’s new recruit.

It’s a shame that Liam Livingstone only makes the reserves but competition for places is intense. At least the Lancashire man, who offers something with bat, ball and in the field, is on the selectors radar. James Vince is omitted, whilst the ship that never sailed has probably done just that but left late bloomer Laurie Evans behind.

Please see the link below for details of the full squad…

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/1755234/national-selectors-name-squad-for-vitality-it20s-against-pakistan

Cricket Captain 2020 – Season Three

My third season in charge of my native Yorkshire followed a familiar pattern. We made a reasonable start to the County Championship before plummeting into the relegation zone. Last season’s star performer Nathan Ellis earning international (Australian) recognition didn’t help! We fought back however to stave off relegation and preserve our first division status once again.

We failed to buck the trend in white-ball cricket too. As usual we were stripped of nearly an entire playing XI come the One-Day competition as players sauntered off to The Hundred. We made an horrific start and genuinely looked like we’d struggle to win a single game. We did however as a number of young players displayed glimpses of quality and even hinted at consistency. Sadly though, we finished bottom of our group.

It was a similar story in the T20 format where, despite a few wins, we were left to dine using a wooden spoon!

Despite our white-ball travails, there were some hugely encouraging signs of progress from a number of our less experienced players. Our batting unit isn’t getting any younger (Lyth, Ballance, Malan) but we’ve already begun the transition phase and I’m confident that some players (Jon Baldwin & Jon Francis among them) can really push on next season.

Among this season’s highlights were match figures of 10-169 for rejuvenated off-spinner Jack Shutt who also notched a maiden First Class ton. All-rounder Ed Barnes scored a second County Championship century and claimed a maiden five-wicket haul in the same game while opener James Wharton produced a knock of 135 in a One-Day game.

We had to make some really tough decisions at the end of the season and I’m sorry to say that the following players have not had their contracts renewed: Will Fraine, Tom Loten, Adil Rashid, David Willey, Duanne Olivier, Matthew Pillans and Josh Poysden

We have however recruited Feroze Khushi, Sam Cook, Brett Hutton and Brett D’Oliveira who bring a strong skillset to compliment what we already have. Roll on 2023!

From the 55… Not Forgotten!

It was pleasing to see batsmen Dawid Malan and Ben Duckett in the runs in the County Championship yesterday, particularly Malan as he’s now playing for Yorkshire! The 32-year-old finished the day undefeated on 145 against an admittedly low-calibre Derbyshire bowling unit.

Duckett, another fringe England left-hander, made 116 against a slightly more formidable Lancashire attack.

Both were in the 55 but have a lot to do to gain further England recognition. Injuries have hampered former Middlesex man Malan’s chances, both last year on ODI debut and missing this summer’s 50-over games. His Test career is probably over and despite a stellar start, he’s by no means guaranteed to add to his T20I caps.

Duckett has far more time on his side but needs to relentlessly churn out big scores like he did a few years ago. He should be knocking the door down in all formats but at least the seeds of recovery have been planted. Despite the odd misdemeanour, he remains highly thought of enough to have made the 55.

Only time will tell if either Malan (An Ashes centurion/T20I batting average: 52.11!) or Duckett (ODI batting average: 41.00) will score another international run. As the divide between formats continues to grow, that might just aid their chances.

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.

Double (Or Triple?) Trouble!

There’s a suggestion that if any international cricket is played in the near future that England could field multiple teams in order to play different formats on the same day.

Now whether or not that would be a crossover between red and white ball cricket or that ODI and T20I could clash obviously remains unclear. Let’s assume that each and every format was being played on the same day. Who makes which team? Oh, and for ease we’ll select for matches played in England… at the risk of being rather optimistic!

Test

Rory Burns

Dominic Sibley

Zak Crawley

Joe Root (Captain)

Ollie Pope

Sam Curran

Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Mark Wood

Jack Leach

Stuart Broad

James Anderson

Sam Northeast

Jamie Porter

ODI

Dawid Malan (Captain)

Tom Banton

James Vince

Sam Hain

Dan Lawrence

Sam Billings (Wicketkeeper)

Craig Overton

Lewis Gregory

Oly Stone

Saqib Mahmood

Matt Parkinson

Liam Livingstone

David Willey

Dom Bess

T20I (Which I’ve prioritised over ODI due to the impending World Cup)

Jason Roy

Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper)

Jonny Bairstow

Eoin Morgan (Captain)

Ben Stokes

Moeen Ali

Tom Curran

Chris Jordan

Chris Woakes

Jofra Archer

Adil Rashid

Phil Salt

Joe Denly

Pat Brown

What are your thoughts on my selections? What would you do differently?