Zak Attack!

England have been desperately seeking a Test number three for some time. Someone with the resilience of an opener but enough stroke play and the right mindset to set the tempo. They want a player that can prevent the middle order stroke players from being exposed to the new ball and crucially leave Joe Root in his optimum number four position.

The player they’ve identified doesn’t have a bucket load of First Class centuries nor has he spent years being groomed in the England Lions. He’s been in and out of the England team, up and down the order but should now get a run at three where he’s already thriving. That’s particularly impressive given the lack of competitive preparation.

The player in question is not James Vince, Sam Northeast or any other celebrated or touted batsman… he’s Zak Crawley and he’s just struck his maiden Test ton…

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19495/game/1198243/england-vs-pakistan-3rd-test-england-v-pakistan-2020

It’s to be hoped that the tall twenty-one-year-old Kent player can score more Test centuries in front of packed out stadiums!

Cricket in the Time of Coronavirus!

Ben Duckett and Liam Livingstone are two players that I’m glad England haven’t given up on having named both in a 55-man trans-format training squad.

A wide variety of personnel are involved, many of whom have performed well for England Lions in recent times. The likes of Dan Lawrence for example thoroughly merit recognition whilst Will Jacks is an exciting proposition.

Amongst the recalled (It is only a training squad) players are James Vince, David Willey and perhaps most surprising of all… Reece Topley!

In the uncapped bracket both young and old are represented. Batsman Laurie Evans fully merits recognition having performed well both in England and overseas whilst Richard Gleeson may be a surprise to some but has been admired by the England hierarchy for some time.

Sam Northeast, Ben Coad and Harry Gurney will be among the disappointed ones having been omitted despite pressing their cases either on Lions duty, in county cricket or on the franchise circuit.

Other than those mentioned above there are lots more exciting players who could be called upon. Please see the link below for the full squad…

https://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/29239315/alex-hales-liam-plunkett-left-england-name-55-man-training-group

The Lions Share

There are some exciting selections in the England Lions squad for a tour of Australia commencing in January that follows the senior side’s series in South Africa.

Incumbent Test opener Dominic Sibley and fellow full England squad member Zak Crawley both make the four-day squad.

Keaton Jennings, tipped for a recall for the senior squad’s tour of Sri Lanka in March due to his two Test tons on Asian soil has the opportunity to enhance his game on demanding pace friendly pitches, the sort that a lot of people have previously felt that he’d be eaten alive on!

Already capped but almost forgotten Dom Bess as well as Surrey’s Amar Virdi are in with a genuine chance of making the full side’s trip to Sri Lanka if they can impress in Australia. With uncertainty surrounding Moeen Ali’s potential return both could yet make the tour. Bess, like his Somerset sparring partners Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton, feature in both the four-day and one-day squads.

Overton seems to be Mr Periphery for England having been recalled for an Ashes Test but ditched for the full winter tours. Gregory was provided little opportunity by skipper Eoin Morgan to perform in the T20I series in New Zealand.

Sam Northeast’s international ambition flame still flickers with the thirty-year-old named in the four-day squad. Gloucestershire’s James Bracey, who the selectors really like, makes both squads.

Another interesting selection is that of Richard Gleeson in both squads. He’s been touted as England material before but at 32 and a late comer to domestic cricket, it may be that caution applied to fellow injury prone quicks Olly Stone and Jamie Overton have aided his cause. Don’t get me wrong though, Gleeson excelled for Lancashire last term.

Tom Abell is yet another Somerset player in the one-day squad and he fully merits recognition. It’s good to see Tom Kohler-Cadmore in there too following any indiscretions.

Laurie Evans is no young pup but has made a name for himself on the franchise circuit and fully merits a place in the 50-over party.

Matt Milnes has had more success in First Class than List A cricket but a place in the one-day squad will allow the coaching staff to have a good look at him. He took regular wickets for Kent during a breakthrough County Championship season in 2019 but leaked runs too.

Under appreciated but deceptively effective in one-day cricket Mason Crane makes the white ball squad. Of course it was playing Grade Cricket in Australia that helped win him a Test cap.

Ollie Robinson (Kent) and Ollie Robinson (Sussex) both make the four-day party… freaky!

Check out the squads in full here…

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/1535797/england-lions-squads-confirmed-for-tour-of-australia

Ben Duckett, Liam Livingstone, Ben Foakes, Ben Coad and Jamie Porter are amongst the notable omissions. The selectors may feel that they know enough about Duckett, Livingstone and Foakes including knowing that they don’t need Duckett to be called up in spin friendly Sri Lanka! With an eye on Australia as well Coad and Porter are possibly pigeon holed as home condition bowlers only.

Potential England Lions Squads

Hi all

Please see below for my potential England Lions squads for any series in the near future. There don’t seem to be any fixtures listed but I understand that the Lions will be going on tour this winter. I’ve omitted fringe/new players that are in the full squad (Brown, Crawley, Gregory, Mahmood and Parkinson etc) who could yet be considered based on playing time and schedule. I’ve also omitted likely franchise players (Banton, Duckett, Livingstone and Evans etc) all of whom could come into consideration based on contracts and schedule.

Test

Daniel Bell-Drummond

Hassan Azad

Luis Reece

Sam Northeast

Tom Abell (Captain)

Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Ryan Higgins

Tom Bailey

Ben Coad

Jamie Porter

Amar Virdi

Chris Dent

Rob Keogh

Harvey Hosein (Wicketkeeper)

Liam Patterson-White

Ollie Robinson

Sam Cook

ODI

Daniel Bell-Drummond

Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Captain)

Nick Gubbins

Sam Hain

George Bartlett

Ben Foakes (Wicketkeeper)

Craig Overton

George Garton

Jamie Overton

Tom Helm

Matthew Carter

Dan Lawrence

Ryan Higgins

Ben Cox (Wicketkeeper)

Aaron Beard

Nathan Sowter

T20I

Tom Kohler-Cadmore

Will Jacks

Sam Hain

Daniel Lawrence

Tom Abell (Captain)

Ross Whiteley

Ben Cox (Wicketkeeper)

Liam Trevaskis

Toby Roland-Jones

Luke Wood

Richard Gleeson

Miles Hammond

Adam Wheater (Wicketkeeper)

Matthew Potts

Nathan Sowter

I’ve provided Tom Abell with the captaincy in Test and T20I formats but handed the role to Tom Kohler-Cadmore in the ODI format. I’ve avoided selecting players in all three forms of the game so this captaincy decision utilises Abell’s skill and expertise as well as Kohler-Cadmore’s potential but also allows the less experienced Kohler-Cadmore to not be burdened by the role in T20I cricket.

I think that my squads send out a message that if you perform at domestic level you’ll be considered for England. It’s not a development squad but a best of the rest. As well as omitting less experienced fringe first team players and possible franchise players I’ve ignored the likes of Gary Ballance, Dawid Malan and James Vince who England already know enough about. In the case of Malan and Vince they are in the full T20I squad and may well play franchise cricket this winter.

What are your thoughts and who do you think deserves England recognition?

Mahmood Marches On!

At the commencement of the One-Day Cup, I posted about how pleased I was to see Lancashire quick bowler Saqib Mahmood in action…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2019/04/17/mahmood-to-deliver/

The twenty-two-year-old has gone on to claim a tournament topping (At the time of writing) 13 wickets at 19.46 apiece in the competition thus far…

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

This includes a career best performance of 6-37 against Northamptonshire…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO45013

Hopefully Mahmood can continue his encouraging white-ball form as well transferring it to red-ball cricket. If he can fill the void when James Anderson is on England duty then the Lancashire faithful will be extremely grateful.

As well as Mahmood, it’s also been great to see the likes of Middlesex’s Tom Helm and Sussex’s George Garton as well as many other young bowlers getting game time and producing encouraging wicket-taking performances.

Mahmood, Helm and Garton have all represented England Lions and much has been expected of them. Technically Helm and Garton were even Ashes tourists, albeit briefly.

Messrs Anderson and Broad won’t be around for ever but England’s pace bowling cupboard is far from bare.

Mahmood to Deliver!

I’m absolutely delighted to see Lancashire quick bowler Saqib Mahmood take to the field in the opening round of the One-Day Cup today.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO44961

Mahmood performed well in the North v South matches (Remember them?) but then spent the entirety of last season battling injury niggles. Extremely frustratingly, he was then unable to assume his England Lions place for the tour of India. This was apparently due to visa issues on the part of his Pakistan heritage.

Finally, he’s back on the field playing first team cricket. Hopefully he can snap up some wickets and make a significant impression during the competition.

Filling the Void

James Anderson and Stuart Broad won’t be around forever, so who can fill the void for England when these two have rolled into retirement?

In English conditions then Chris Woakes and Sam Curran should be reliable options but overseas it’s a different story.

Could any of the following step up for England with the new ball in the future…

Jamie Porter 275 First Class wickets @ 23.78

Is Porter destined to be a nearly man?

He continues to take wicket upon wicket at domestic level but by the time Anderson and Broad have departed, will the ship have sailed for Porter?

The spearhead of Essex’s attack has overcome injury, not unlike Anderson and could be primed to fill the void.

Ben Coad 103 @ 19.70

Yorkshireman Coad is behind Porter in the pecking order and is absurdly still awaiting Lions recognition. Any suggestions of him being a one season wonder have already been dispelled. Another campaign of the sort he’s had in recent seasons should surely see him knocking the door down.

Tom Bailey 155 @ 26.05

Anderson’s Lancashire colleague Bailey had nearly slipped under the radar despite his regular ripping up of wickets on the county scene. This winter however he got the recognition he deserved with a call-up to the England Lions squad.

Has he learnt a few tricks from England’s record wicket taker that he can bring to the Test arena himself?

Jamie Overton 130 @ 33.22

Were it not for injuries then Somerset’s Jamie Overton may have already debuted for England. His extra pace and bounce would be welcomed on Australian decks (Hopefully by England, not Australian batsman!) but can he last five days or even ten overs?

Steven Finn 531 @ 28.96

254 international wickets but little case can be made for selecting Middlesex man Finn. If he can hit the ground running in 2019 however and snaffle a giant bag full of wickets then maybe England could yet get the best out of him.

There are plenty of other options and it will be interesting to see who England turn to when the time comes to… fill the void!

Evans Above & InVincible Encore!

In the past few days I posted about a couple of England qualified batsman going large on the franchise circuit and it turns out that they just can’t stop!

James Vince followed up seventy-odd for Sydney Sixers with another seventy-odd, this time undefeated…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8044/game/1152550/sydney-sixers-vs-hobart-hurricanes-40th-match-big-bash-league-2018-19

Meanwhile in Bangladesh, Laurie Evans followed his hundred for Rajshahi Kings with a firework filled fifty, a Vincesque seventy-odd actually…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8653/scorecard/1169405/chittagong-vikings-vs-rajshahi-kings-27th-match-bangladesh-premier-league-2018-19

It doesn’t stop there! Even Sam Billings (104 not out) has been amongst the runs, as were most of the batsmen to some extent, for England Lions in India…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19084/game/1169338/india-a-vs-england-lions-1st-unofficial-odi-eng-lions-in-india-2018-19

These are the guys that can’t get in the England team! To be fair, Vince and Billings have never grabbed the chance with both hands. Maybe these experiences will spur them on to bigger things at international level.

First Class Cricketers but Without the Class!

Firstly, let’s be clear, neither Joe Clarke or Tom-Kohler-Cadmore are on trial but as soon as the former’s name popped up in Alex Hepburn rape trial articles, you couldn’t help but think it could cost him. It has! He and TKC have been dropped from the England Lions squad.

Consent is consent and not everybody settles down with a partner for life. Whether it’s in the clubs, online or wherever, people hook up for sex then move on to the next person. Clarke may consider himself unfortunate that this has all come out but the WhatsApp element of this story is particularly unsavoury. It’s embarrassing for Worcestershire even though Clarke and TKC have moved on. The suggestion is that a number of young Worcestershire cricketers are in the group.

Clarke has just relocated to Nottinghamshire and has long been touted for England honours by ex-skipper Michael Vaughan. He might have to try even harder to achieve such an honour now. For Yorkshire recruit TKC, a player who is a genuine top order white-ball option for England, he’s just fallen down the pecking order too.

Lions Ready to Roar!

Batsman Ben Duckett has been recalled to the England fold meanwhile there is also a fully merited call-up for Lancashire seamer Tom Bailey and an exciting selection in spinner Matthew Carter for England Lions’ tour of India this winter.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/25565122/ben-duckett-returns-england-lions-tour-india

With an ODI World Cup and Ashes series on the horizon next year, this is as good a time as any to stand up and be counted for ‘The Pride’!