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?

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2019 – Season Review

I set myself the target of a top thousand finish and I’m pleased to say that I achieved it!

I can only repeat what I’ve said before: pick players who play, generally don’t pick England players and select batsmen who bowl or the reverse. Also, you need to find those gem cheaper selections that aren’t in everybody’s team. Look at Luis Reece below. Yes he’s ended up in 30% of people’s teams but he probably wasn’t initially. At a rating of 5 he’s been great value.

You must check team news, ideally fifteen minutes before the start of play, use your transfers but keep some in hand. Watch out for overseas players coming and going and injuries etc. These are my key tips.

If anything I tinkered a little too much during the one-day cup but still had transfers to play with come the season finale.

The above graphic displays the top points scorers. As you’ll see they’re generally all-rounders or bowlers who can bat. The highest scoring batsman was the next man on the list which is Marnus Labuschagne, a batsman who bowls. Remember that a bowler scores 25pts per wicket but a batsman only scored 1 pt per run (-20 for a duck). There are other caveats to the points scoring but clearly it’s a bowler’s game. Getting your captain right and changing him when appropriate is absolutely crucial.

I’ll be back next year (Depending on the domestic schedule I guess) with my sights firmly set on a top 500 finish.

County Lines

The County Championship returns tomorrow and not soon enough. I appreciate the skills required in white-ball cricket but just love the twists, turns and infinite possibilities that First Class cricket provides. Its return presents a great opportunity for numerous batsmen to make a case for an Ashes call given the indifferent form of some of England’s incumbent Test batters.

It also means keeping an eye on things in the hope of performing a late surge up the Telegraph Fantasy Cricket table.

Hopefully the weather will be kind up and down the land. Enjoy your cricket folks!

Yorkshire vs. Derbyshire T20 Match

On Sunday I went to see Yorkshire Vikings host Derbyshire Falcons in the T20 Blast…

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8053/game/1167204/yorkshire-vs-derbyshire-north-group-vitality-blast-2019

Yorkshire are so reliant on their top three of Adam Lyth, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and David Willey that if those three don’t fire then they struggle to post anything near competitive totals.

The white rose side played three spinners in the form of South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj, loanee Dom Bess and young Jack Shutt. None of them impressed nor did pace bowler Duanne Olivier. Admittedly the South African England hopeful (!) had a chance dropped but figures of 3-0-47-0 are pretty painful.

Yorkshire don’t seem to understand what they want to be in white-ball cricket. Are there no young and modern minded attacking batsmen coming thorough the ranks? Still, soon it’s back to the four-day affairs where the Headingley outfit should be much stronger… I mean they do tend to actually select their best players for that one!

First Class Honours… Nope!

University matches are set to lose First Class status and rightly so. Such an honour should be reserved for competitive matches as well as some tour and A Team etc games. To have university matches hold First Class status compromises the integrity of professional cricket.

Don’t get me wrong, the university system has a part to play in the development of our cricketers and more should be done to put a competition in place…

https://sillypointcricket.com/2016/12/10/university-challenge/

… just like more could be done for those that don’t attend university.

Yes it’s a thrill for those involved to be able to look at their Cricinfo profile page in years to come but it’s without merit, untidy and illogical. This is a welcome move by cricket’s hierarchy though if history is anything to go by then they’ll probably flip it again in a few years!

Cricket 19: Career Mode – First Class Travel!

Our man Buster van Dunk put the negative press to one side this week and made his First Class debut for Centurion at the impressive Highveld Oval. Some pessimists in the media have criticised the teenager’s selection following some middling performances on the club circuit but the talent is clearly there in abundance.

BVD looked at ease against pace in his first innings, soon dispatching national spearhead Kagiso Rabada to the boundary but operated less comfortably against spin. He’d made 22 batting at 8 before an inauspicious end, out caught at slip when failing to execute a reverse sweep as intended.

The off-spinner then toiled for 34 fruitless overs. He traveled at only two per over before leaking a little when experimenting with bowling around the wicket to the left-handed batsman but figures of 34-7-77-0 were by no means a disaster. Hosts Highveld declared just shy of 500 having lost only five wickets in a chastening experience for the Centurion bowlers. Experienced internationals Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen were amongst the runs. Generally Buster bowled with control and whilst the threat wasn’t persistent he did at least beat the bat on a few occasions.

It was van Dunk’s 35 not out from only 26 deliveries in Centurion’s second innings that ensured Highveld would have to bat again. They wobbled somewhat losing three wickets when chasing only 16 runs for victory but the result was never in doubt.

Next up it’s a home debut against Bloemfontein as Buster goes in search of his maiden professional wicket in front of his home fans.

Who’d be a Selector?

WARNING: I’ve become the pessimistic cynic that I used to criticise!

Jason Roy won’t do any worse than those who have been chewed up and spat out before him but is he really going to do any better?

He’ll likely average 27 but is also likely to be more Aaron Finch than David Warner, in Tests anyway. Roy is a player with no recent history of playing First Class cricket let alone opening the batting. He was all at sea against a moving ball in the World Cup final and should he score a few breezy thirties will that really be of benefit? Will he score Test hundreds more often than Keaton Jennings (Once every 8.5 Tests!)?

Yes Ed Smith and co. have gone down this route before with Jos Buttler and credit to both because it’s worked so far. This selection however is even more cavalier. How will Roy approach it? Like it’s an ODI or will he cramp up like Hales and try to play a game he has no recent history of playing?

I consider myself a realistic optimist (Or optimistic realist) when it comes to English cricket but appreciate that I sound pessimistic regarding the selection of Surrey’s Roy. I’ll back nearly everybody who is picked for England but just like I put my head on the line by advocating my proposed selections of players that others would dismiss as preposterous, I’ll equally express my opinion when I’m not convinced by the ones that we have selected. I expect our Selection Panel to be practicing what they preach and analysing every potential selection in extreme detail.

Will Roy pull his hamstring, not be able to field then not be authorised to open the batting meaning that Joe Root has to move up to three anyway? If you’ve spent a career running 100 metre sprints then suddenly try to run a marathon then you’ll likely get injured. Roy has spent a career, or at least the latter part, playing One-Day and T20 cricket and has recently struggled to fulfil those requirements. Now we’re expecting him to last five days!

I sincerely hope that Jason Roy has a long and fruitful Test career averaging forty plus home and away and I’ll be the first to provide an honest assessment and say well done… but he wouldn’t be my pick!

England have also selected Lewis Gregory but what is the Somerset man’s point of difference? His selection seems reminiscent of recent eras where early season form precedes consistency over the years. Gregory might currently be doing a bit better than Ben Coad, Jamie Porter or even Chris Rushworth but is he really a long-term solution, is he really better than those players? It’s the same as picking Mark Stoneman because he averaged 80 one year in a career of averaging 30 but ignoring James Hildreth for only averaging 40 most years. The odd peak amongst troughs wins selection over year on year consistency. The Somerset man’s selection smacks of a token “Yes we value county cricket” by the selectors. They’ve rested the likes of Buttler and Ben Stokes and feel that they can get away with bringing in a bowling all-rounder who’s topping the domestic charts for one-match (Keep county fans happy) against Ireland. Don’t forget that Sam Curran is capable of batting higher than he has done.

Lewis Gregory is a fine player whose all-round abilities can be of use to England but I’m just uninspired by these unoriginal selections. England have also selected Olly Stone. If I’m questioning Jason Roy’s fitness then…

If these players perform against Ireland in home conditions does that tell us that they’re good enough to be Test cricketers? Will the same people that malign Woakes as a horse for a course celebrate these players as the finished article based on a fifty of fifer against a country that has just three domestic teams? What message does these selections send to opening batsman out there or domestic bowlers who perform year on year? They can only beat what’s in front of them!

I’m sorry. I’ve become the negative, cynical hypocrite that I never wanted to be but so be it. That’s what being an England cricket fan will do to you. It’s not by choice!

Logan’s Run… or not as the case may be!

You’re the leading wicket taker in the history of your club’s academy. You made your First Class debut last season and got a few overs under your belt but now you’re primed for first team action. You claim excellent second innings figures of 4-22 in only your second professional match…

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8052/scorecard/1166938/yorkshire-vs-warwickshire-specsavers-county-championship-division-one-2019

What’s your reward? To get dropped and see your employers sign a South African for just three matches. Just when you thought that Yorkshire County Cricket Club couldn’t mess around another spinner… think again! To be fair, we understand that Adil Rashid has next to no interest in playing for Yorkshire. Azeem Rafiq got released, re-signed, did okay but got released again amidst personal pain and poor old Karl Carver. He’d actually done okay in a reasonable amount of first XI appearances but one bad day at the office in a T20 game was followed by a First Class fixture in which he batted at eleven and didn’t bowl. Stuart Broad got hit for six sixes once. Did it make hime a bad player? There was also the absolute panic and what has turned out to be disrespectful signing of Josh Poysden as well as a visit from Dom Bess. Bess is now back at Somerset and doing well so wouldn’t Yorkshire have been better investing in their own player?

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/767447.html

Will James Logan get a run in the team?

Let’s hope so but given Yorkshire’s track record of failing to develop spinners, it’ll be interesting to see where he is in a decade’s time.

Disclaimer: Is Logan injured? He doesn’t appear to have played any cricket at all since the Warwickshire match but there’s nothing on the club website or mention of his absence in the squad announcement for the following match.

Will Doesn’t ReFraine!

He’s been around the counties a bit having been on the books of Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire as well as representing Durham MCCU but at home county Yorkshire Will Fraine has finally announced himself.

Having recently replaced a struggling Harry Brook at the top of the order for the Yorkies, against an attack led by Morne Morkel and Sam Curran, Fraine has today recorded not only a maiden professional fifty but gone onto score a hundred in sunny Scarborough…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO44763

Having just turned twenty-three Fraine now has an opportunity to really go on and have a decent career in the professional game.

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/870785.html

Yorkshire and the Headingley (And Scarborough… and York) faithful will be hoping that he does just that!