Twenty20 Vision?!

England have named their squad for the T20I series against West Indies and I can’t say that I’m enthused…

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/1058447/sam-billings-and-dawid-malan-named-in-england-s-it20-squad

I back whoever plays for England (Unless there’s a serious reason that I shouldn’t. We’ll come to that!) but some of the selections in this squad are puzzling.

I’m a huge Dawid Malan fan but he’s hardly been tearing it up on the franchise circuit recently. Yes his international record is outstanding but he’s in no form whatsoever to maintain that record. This opportunity, as with his previous ones, have only come about because of squad rotation. He fully merited selection when he replaced a ‘rested’ Eoin Morgan however, in what was effectively at T20I final. Contrary to his recent franchise efforts, he had been tearing it up for England Lions. I just don’t feel that he’s primed to perform at international level right this moment. I hope that I’m wrong though and that a strong showing can put him back on the Test radar.

The selection of Chris Jordan is a generous one for me. He struggled in the Big Bash this season but is part of the T20I fabric for England. He benefits from the absence of senior bowlers to get game time in this format and of course he does take wickets. Anybody should be able to keep tallying wickets when the opposition are slogging away at the end though. He’s a good fielder but needs to take more wickets for less runs… obviously!

James Vince was superb in the Big Bash, Harry Gurney was steady away and Laurie Evans has backed up strong white-ball seasons in England by becoming an in-demand player on the franchise merry-go-round. None of the above make the squad but…

… Sam Billings does! I can understand the frustration for and with Sam Billings. It’s not easy when you’re a fill-in player, particularly in T20Is when there’s often just one match in a series. This series has three matches though, so Billings will desperately hope to bat in the top four to have a chance to impress. If he can hit the ground running then he could make the most of the series but then again, he’s just filling in. Like Malan, he’ll likely then get dropped again to accommodate the returning Roy, Buttler and Stokes.

I understand the logistical reasons but did England really need to name their squad so soon?

Liam Plunkett could be letting his World Cup place slip away though knowing him, he’ll probably take four wickets in the next ODI. If he fails to take a wicket and gets dropped during the series though, will he still be what England want in the T20Is?

What if Vince hits a couple of hundreds in the PSL between now and the start of the series? Could he be drafted into the squad? Ed Smith is sending out very mixed messages regarding Vince. He was pretty curt when he originally axed the Hampshire man, despite Vince making 76 in his previous Test innings. He did recall him because of injuries for a One-Day International, only for Vince to run himself out… again! Now following sparkling form in the Big Bash, he’s been omitted again.

Another player that’s been mentioned on forums is Joe Clarke. I think that a lot of people don’t know or don’t care why he’s been ignored. My understanding is that he wasn’t dropped from England Lions because of what a teammate may have got up to in his bed. He was dropped because of the list of women on his phone and the competitive element of that. If he matures then I’m quite happy for Joe Clarke to play for England in years to come. As it stands however, I (And that’s just me. I’m not speaking for anyone else) don’t want him anywhere near the England cricket team. Clarke can argue that he’s unfortunate it all came out and of course we don’t know what all players get up to away from work but… tuff!

Another thing that I may have mentioned before. ODIs are ODIs so I call the T20 version T20Is not IT20s… so there!

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.

InVincible!*

England’s most frustrating batsman of modern times, Hampshire’s James Vince, walloped 75 from just 46 deliveries for Sydney Sixers against Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash in Sydney today…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8044/scorecard/1152546/sydney-sixers-vs-brisbane-heat-36th-match-big-bash-league-2018-19

But what are England to do with him? Is he really going to find a place in England’s destructive white-ball teams? With so few places for specialist batsmen up for grabs, is he likely to get another chance at Test level?

In a world of T20 franchise cricket, does it really matter? Is international cricket still the pinnacle?

Regardless, today’s innings was a demonstration of how much value Vince can add to a team, of his skill and stroke-playing prowess. Maybe we’re yet to see the best of him in an England shirt. Maybe the soon to turn twenty-eight-year-old could yet gatecrash England’s World Cup and Ashes summer!

*Disclaimer: A completely unoriginal headline that I and many others have used before. Sorry!

A Shame for Stone!

Fast bowler Olly Stone is out of England’s tour of West Indies courtesy of a stress fracture. Stone made his ODI debut against Sri Lanka last year but his chequered history of injuries has come back to haunt him. Jamie Overton, no stranger to injuries himself, could be promoted to the touring party whilst Jamie Porter, who has been a squad member in home Tests, could once again flirt with the opportunity of making his Test debut.

Hopefully Stone can recover and be back amongst the county wickets and international reckoning before too long.

Cricket Captain 2018: Suggestions for 2019 – Revisited

Hi readers

As promised in Upcoming Articles, here’s my audio cast detailing my suggestions for alterations and enhancements to the extremely addictive Cricket Captain series…

Here’s my previous written work too…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2018/09/12/cricket-captain-2018-suggestions-for-2019/

What would you like to see in the game?

Many thanks for reading and following and I look forward to reading your feedback.

Vince Voyages Trans-Tasman

James Vince played a typically James Vince-like innings today. The sometime England batsman made 28 from 25 deliveries for Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8044/scorecard/1152540/perth-scorchers-vs-sydney-sixers-30th-match-big-bash-league-2018-19

Vince has cut short his time with New Zealand side Auckland Aces to represent his second Sydney side and I have to say I’m disappointed in him. Having signed for the Kiwi outfit, you’d like to think that he would’ve fulfilled his contract but no! He got a better offer from a more fashionable side in a more glamorous league in the same city he’s represented before but for a different team and negotiated a way out. Maybe it was already in his contract that he could depart for the razzmatazz of the Big Bash.

We see these sort of short stints from overseas players in England and aside from T20s, Australians in particular have always had no qualms about representing a different county from summer to summer but even in a global franchise world, you’d like to think that there can be a place for some sort of loyalty and honour?!

Predicting Englandā€™s Next Test Cap

Who will be England Test cricketer number 690?

Silly Point has a go at guessing who will be next to don the Test whites (Or cream!) of England.

Will it be a player plucked from the county scene, a franchise star or a groomed England Lion?

Silly Point predicts that England’s next new Test cricketer will be… Jason Roy!

Whilst we’re at it, we may as well do ODIs as well.

Silly Point boldly predicts that England’s next debutante in One-Day International cricket will be… Jofra Archer!

In the past, some of England’s selections have been…. boggling! The days of picking rabbits out of hats seem in the distant past however. As for the team’s next new blood in T20Is, how about… Jamie Overton?

Such is both the competition and make-up of England’s current squads in each format, that it’s difficult to see how and where new players can sneak in. A recall for an already capped player wouldn’t necessarily be the backwards step that it would’ve been considered in the past, only an acknowledgement of England’s current riches.

Players such as Joe Clarke (Off-field activities) and Matthew Parkinson (Injury) would’ve been serious contenders but I was dissuaded due to their current circumstances. Of course they may yet be England’s next new caps!

Disclaimer: Please note that I’ve ignored players such as Joe Denly and Olly Stone who are uncapped at Test level but in the squad for the West Indies series. My selections are based on further ahead or if any other players are to be called up during said tour.