Stoneman’s Struggles!

Since slipping away from England’s Test side, Surrey opening batsman Mark Stoneman has hardly made an insatiable case for a recall.

Last year was ordinary (660 CC runs at 33.00) though there were encouraging signs as the season progressed. This year the former Durham man made scores of 45 and 35 in his one and only County Championship outing to date. Those are the kind of knocks that he had a history of producing at Durham before one century laden summer at Surrey propelled him into the England team.  In this season’s One-Day Cup, Stoneman has struggled to even get started and has totalled only 79 runs at an average of 15.8. Now Stoneman is no bish bash bosher but does possess a List A average that until not long ago was north of forty…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/229954.html

The fact that number is in decline may tell us everything we need to know!

I understand that Stoneman had a son born with a heart defect. Without meaning to be rude, I’d be interested to know specifics just incase it happened to be the same condition as my daughter. If indeed the child has had or been waiting to have surgeries, it’s understandable how this could’ve affected the thirty-one-year-old’s focus.

In terms of furthering his Test career, Stoneman’s fielding performances during his England stint didn’t exactly aid his cause, not to mention getting to fifty five times but not surpassing sixty. In fact in his final innings in New Zealand, having reached fifty he almost looked intent on getting out rather than knuckling down and registering a maiden Test ton…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/10883/scorecard/1115781/new-zealand-vs-england-2nd-test-eng-tour-of-aus-and-nz-2017-18

There then followed a torturous outing at home to Pakistan…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/18025/scorecard/1119535/england-vs-pakistan-1st-test-pak-in-ire-eng-scot-2018

The fact that England lost the match meant that he couldn’t be afforded another chance in a two-Test series. Lack of runs combined with age mean that he’s unlikely to get another.

Leading by Example?!^*#¥?!!!

I believe that people make mistakes.

I believe that people can become better people after making mistakes.

I believe that people often deserve another chance.

I do not believe that Cameron Bancroft should be captaining a professional cricket team, not yet.

What example does his selection as skipper set to youngsters in and around the dressing room, to Jack Burnham returning from a drugs ban, to Durham fans?

No, not for me. He should be playing, seeking redemption and earning the right to captain, not having such an honour instantly handed to him free of charge.

Six to Watch: 2018 – Season Review

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A little premature with the season not quite concluded but here’s 2018’s Six to Watch Review. This year two players from my selection have been promoted to the full England side. One has already debuted and one likely will in Sri Lanka. For the others, it’s been a bit of a mixed bag but should get better.

Tom Fell  (Worcestershire)

Another difficult year for cancer survivor Fell. There were glimpses of his determination and ability but little consistency. Fell has registered only four fifties in 22 innings this term but two of them, including a season best 89, came in the same match against champions Surrey. He’s currently averaging a disappointing 27.82 in the County Championship. Despite an impressive career record in List A cricket, white-ball opportunities have been harder to come by. Fell has only ever played three T20s.

Ollie Pope (Surrey)

So good have been Pope’s numbers (He’s averaging 70.50 in CC2018) that he was fast tracked into the England team. Unlike some sceptics, I think that Ed Smith has got a lot of qualities but his decision to parachute Pope in at number four in England’s Test side was misguided. Pope had never batted higher than six for Surrey! The Chelsea born bat has a good head on his shoulders however and will be better for the experience. This year he’s a Championship winner and breeding that winning mentality can only be good for his development. He’s likely to commence the Sri Lanka tour on the bench but the opportunity to tour will serve him well.

Hamidullah Qadri (Derbyshire)

A frustrating year with limited opportunity and limited success for Afghan born Qadri. Last year the then sixteen-year-old announced his arrival with an outstandingly effective performance against Glamorgan to help Derbyshire win for the first time in… years!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8204/scorecard/1068618/glamorgan-vs-derbyshire-specsavers-county-championship-division-two-2017

This year’s appearances have been fleeting but four more County Championship appearances is more than most for a man his age. He’s claimed eight wickets at 39.88 in CC2018.

Delray Rawlins (Sussex)

Precocious talent Rawlins’ opportunities have been limited to limited overs cricket but his batting caught the eye of many in this year’s T20 Blast. Rawlins made it to the final with Sussex and made starts in both matches on Finals-Day. The Bermuda born bat ended the campaign with 203 runs at 25.38. His strike-rate was 146.04. Little was seen of his bowling however or the red ball this term. Rawlins could be a potentially good draft for a Big Bash or PSL franchise this winter.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire)

The move from Yorkshire to Warwickshire seems to have worked well for Rhodes. Yorkshire didn’t seem to know what to do with him and have had Harry Brook (Better suited to the middle order) opening while losing Alex Lees to Durham. Keeping and making the most of Rhodes may have been a good move by Yorkshire but Rhodes is yet another talent they failed to fully develop. Warwickshire are grateful to have been the beneficiaries of Yorkshire’s slacking. The Midlands outfit have persevered with Rhodes and former Surrey man Dominic Sibley as an opening pair, even when the runs haven’t flowed. Sibley can be feast or famine but Rhodes’ consistency has meant that he’s been one of the county circuit’s more successful openers this year. The left-hander has compiled three tons plus four fifties, a top score of 137 and is averaging a healthy 41.05. He’s also a viable bowling option.

Olly Stone (Warwickshire)

Rhodes’ Warwickshire ally Stone commenced the County Championship campaign with figures of 8-80 against Sussex, cue lots of calls for him to make the England side. Of course he promptly got injured again! Like his main rival for the speedster’s role, Somerset’s Jamie Overton, Stone has recently taken wickets in T20 and First Class cricket, crucially… he’s been on the pitch at all! The former Northamptonshire man has claimed 37 wickets in just six matches at a mightily impressive average of 12.27. With Liam Plunkett and his wedding arrangements undone by a flip of England’s tour schedule, Stone will go to Sri Lanka with both the ODI and Test side if not the T20I side. He should debut sometime on the tour and will have an eye on the West Indies trip too.

Lees of Life!

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Opening batsman Alex Lees has headed north to Durham from Yorkshire and made an encouraging start following a truly torturous end to his time at Yorkshire.

A career that had promised so much petered out with just fifty flimsy runs in eight First Class innings at a paltry average of 6.50 this term. However, the tide has turned for the twenty-five-year-old on Durham debut against Glamorgan in Cardiff. At the end of the first day’s play, Lees is unbeaten on a run-a-ball 53…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8204/game/1127714/glamorgan-vs-durham-specsavers-county-championship-division-two-2018

That’s right, more runs in one innings for his new county than in four matches for Yorkshire. Okay so he’s playing in Division Two now but as the old adage goes, “You can only beat what’s in front of you!”.

Alongside Lees is his new opening partner, everybody’s favourite American cricketer Cameron Steel. Cam from Cali is currently unbeaten on 22. Meanwhile another former Yorkshire opener, Warwickshire’s Will Rhodes, is currently 101 not out against Gloucestershire in Birmingham. That’s now three County Championship tons since heading south and two in his last two games. His average is soaring and at only twenty-three, like former county pal Lees, Rhodes’ best years should lie in waiting.

Adam Lyth has been an excellent contributor for Yorkshire over the years and his current opening partner Harry Brook, has already demonstrated that he’s got the temperament to succeed. Hopefully each of Lees, Rhodes and Brook can continue to blossom at their respective counties and possibly push for international honours in the years to come.

Transfer Madness!

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Not a day seems to pass without news of yet another transfer or rumoured transfer at least, on the English county cricket circuit. The county game really has become like football’s Premier League.

Meaning no disrespect to Josh Poysden, his one-match loan deal from Derbyshire to Yorkshire really shouldn’t have been allowed, certainly not when Yorkshire have spinners of their own. Poysden has now joined Yorkshire permanently from next season but is available for them in the County Championship this season however he remains a Derbyshire T20 player for the rest of this term. With players signing white-ball only contracts and some jumping from franchise to franchise, it’ll be interesting to see if we end up with English players signing a red-ball contract for one county and a white-ball contract for another. Quite how they’d work out which training facilities they could use and when, who knows!

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Some of the global franchise brigade have already jumped ship from the T20 Blast to head to the Caribbean Premier League… and this even during our scorching summer! What do you mean that the beaches of Brighton, St. Ives and… Scarborough don’t compare to Barbados, Jamaica or St. Kitts?

West Indies opening bat Kraigg Brathwaite, who turned out in a couple of games for Yorkshire a year or two ago, will now spend a few weeks with Nottinghamshire. Liam Plunkett will join his third county when he migrates south to Surrey from Yorkshire whilst Northamptonshire duo Ben Duckett and Richard Gleeson seem likely to follow David Willey’s path to Yorkshire. Loyalty, a quality already nearly all but lost in football, is rapidly vanishing from cricket. Provided the transfer free for all that’s already ongoing, could a draft system be implimented to keep English domestic cricket competitive? Could it be that counties retain a proportion of players born within their borders but compliment them with draft selections? As it stands, the potential move to Yorkshire seems a smart one for Duckett and Gleeson. With Yorkshire losing Alex Lees to Durham, Duckett could do as Lees hopefully will further north and reignite his career and international ambitions. Late bloomer Gleeson, if he can remain injury free, could be a really viable option for Yorkshire with the ball not least because former Northamptonshire player Jack Brooks could be heading to Somerset… are you keeping up?

Jordan Clark from Lancashire to Surrey, Matthew Pillans from Surrey to Yorkshire, Ben Slater from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire and Liam Norwell from Gloucestershire to recruitment reliant Warwickshire, are all likely transfers during the off-season, if they haven’t already been finalised. Oh and guess who Alex Lees’ opening partner up at Durham could be… Australian master tactician Cameron Bancroft!

You can keep up to date with all the migrations by clicking below…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/41154332

Root Responds/Poysden Plucked!

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In a recent post, I touched upon the subject of Joe Root’s axing from the T20I side and how it could spur him on to a great Test series performance against India. What Root’s dropping has done so far has inspired him to a sensational spell in the ODI team. Having lost the first match of a three-tie affair, Root struck back-to-back centuries to lead England to yet another series victory and enhance their credentials as World Cup favourites. He’s also helped provide England with an edge at the start of the Test encounters.

Yorkshire’s Root has had his critics recently, both for his T20I performances and his consistent failure to convert Test fifties into hundreds. Batting averages of 52.28 and 51.61 in Test and ODI cricket help scoff any suggestions that Root is anything other than a top player. An average of 35.77 at a strike-rate of 128.59 in T20Is are also pretty impressive figures with which to get dropped. He’s got some wickets in him too. Yesterday’s ton was his thirteenth in ODIs which is a new record for an England batsman. Root surpassed Marcus Trescothick who was an essential asset of England’s side in the early part of this century.

Having seen Root go onto make a ton and captain Eoin Morgan get near, James Vince will rue a missed opportunity. As in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane, Vince was run out, this time having laid the foundations for a strong knock. With both Jason Roy and Alex Hales injured, Vince gained an unlikely but merited opportunity. A score of 27 won’t be enough to put the cat amongst the selection pigeons however.

In further Yorkshire news and once again revisiting subjects that I’ve mentioned previously, Yorkshire take on Lancashire in the County Championship soon. It’s a heck of a match for Josh Poysden to be thrown into on a one-match loan deal. Whether or not a one-match loan should even be allowed, I’m not sure. With Adil Rashid excluding himself from the red-ball game and Azeem Rafiq and Karl Carver clearly not filling Yorkshire’s hierarchy with any confidence, they’ve plucked Poysden from Warwickshire’s 2nd XI to spin them to victory. The leg-spinner actually claimed a First Class career best of 5-29 in his last County Championship outing though his economy rate is exactly 4.00. At 26, Poysden really needs to crack on. I mentioned how Yorkshire would be in the market for a spinner and a good show from the twenty-six-year-old could seen him snapped up full-time, playing first division cricket and pushing for England honours.

Rory Burns missed out for England Lions versus India A but it was great to see Scott Borthwick amass 175 not out for Surrey against West Indies A. The former Durham man will need a lot more knocks like that in order to add to his solitary Test cap. Mark Stoneman’s struggles continued however. He made only one in the first innings but did at least hint at a return to form by making 44 second time around. His season to date has been the polar opposite of last year’s glutinous run-fest.

In other news, Zimbabwe were bowled out for 67 in an ODI against Pakistan in Bulawayo today!

Panesar for Yorkshire!

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In my previous post, an audio cast about various things cricket, I touched upon Yorkshire’s necessity to acquire an experienced and quality spin bowler. England’s limited overs spinner Adil Rashid’s First Class future remains unclear, Azeem Rafiq seems to have fallen off the radar again and young Karl Carver continues to struggle. Whilst at work the other day, patrolling my stockroom as I do, a thought came to mind… Monty Panesar! That’s right, a romantic signing it would be but if Yorkshire were to snap up Monty and the fifty-Test veteran promptly spun a few county batsmen out during the second half of the County Championship, Panesar could then gate crash England’s tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies in one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/18655.html

On a serious note, it is often said that England lack depth in their spin bowling stocks however that simply isn’t the case. It’s such a shame that Jack Leach got injured and has now suffered concussion, meaning he’ll miss more Somerset matches. Following the original injury, he subsequently lost his England place to county teammate Dom Bess, who performed admirably in the Test series against Pakistan.

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Hampshire’s Mason Crane

Mason Crane had also been bowling well in limited overs cricket after missing England’s tour of New Zealand through injury. Remember that he displayed great temperament against South Africa in T20Is last year, keeping his head above water to dismiss AB de Villiers. Said injury returned however. When England tour this winter, they’ll ideally take all of Bess, Leach and Crane. That’s an offie, a leggie and a slow-left-armer. Moeen Ali (OS)and Liam Livingstone (LS) would then be sensible back-up batting options provided they bowl effective spin. Don’t forget Liam Dawson (SLA) who continues to perform well, whether it be in English county cricket, for England Lions or in the Pakistan Super League. Samit Patel (SLA) is another option but then just look at the genuine spinners England can consider in years to come… Matthew Parkinson (LS), Amir Virdi (OS), Matthew Carter (OS) (He’s very good!), Hamidullah Qadri (OS) and Ravi Patel (SLA), that’s on top of Bess, Leach and Crane, all of whom have more than ten years at the top remaining.

Moving onto pace bowling, I wonder if England are really looking into the injury situation. Many people wanted Oli Stone selected for England after one good game earlier this season but he’s hardly played since. Jamie Overton is another great hope but is always injured. Saqib Mahmood performed superbly in the North v South matches but hasn’t played all season. Experienced England internationals Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes are obviously missing the current ODI series against Australia off the back of rapidly trying to increase their workloads from four overs per match at the IPL to countless overs in Tests.

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Durham’s Mark Wood

Mark Wood is being rested from the T20I series, Reece Topley is limited to white-ball (List A/T20) cricket only, Toby Roland-Jones is a long-term absentee and particularly alarmingly, both Jake Ball and Tom Curran managed to get injured whilst with the England squad but not having actually played!

Toby Roland-Jones

Middlesex’s Toby Roland-Jones

It’s worth noting that TR-Js injury only came about post playing for England?! Other solid domestic players such as Jamie Porter, Liam Norwell and James Weighell have had their injury problems too. I really hope that behind the scenes some studies are being put in place to identify trends, manage player’s workloads and help keep players fit for England.

Anyway, as I was saying… Panesar for Yorkshire!