Peter Della Penna: Inside the Selection Room Book Review

I’ve long been an admirer of Peter Della Penna’s work. I’ve read articles by him on Cricinfo that focus on Associate Cricket with USA often at the forefront of his efforts. When I saw that he had a book out that was about selecting a team beyond the Test world, I just had to get my hands on it…

And so it was that a 453 page tomb in size 10 (Maybe ?!) font arrived through my door! Even I felt daunted but it turned out to be right up my street.

The book details the trial and selection process for an ICC Americas XI that competed in the West Indies domestic 50-over competition in 2015. We’re provided with back stories of the players and later, a Where are they Now? section. If you’re not already aware, this book highlights the fact that cricket beyond the Test world relies heavily on players from celebrated cricketing nations, namely in Asia. It also pinpoints what those players are up against in a constantly changing and often poorly organised system both in their own countries and in international tournaments. As well as all this, it highlights, as is one of the main points of the book, that T20 franchise cricket could be an absolute game changer for some of these players and inspire many more from all over the world.

Cover star Ali Khan is the, errr… star of the book. The chapter surrounding IPL auction day highlights how many people are interested beyond the player themselves and the pressure this brings. His desire for opportunity on the franchise circuit whilst being in demand to represent USA, does showcase the challenging and often fixture clashing environment that players face. Of course this happens for Test players too but an Associate player having to decide between what competition to play in can have serious consequences… good or bad!

I suppose one criticism could be that the book displays a hint of repetition when referencing players’ past achievements etc. To be fair, so many player’s histories straddle the same events that it’s unavoidable.

This book isn’t for everybody but if your a stats freak who is passionate about cricket beyond Test stars and even T20 icons then it could be for you.

https://m.facebook.com/pages/category/Journalist/Peter-Della-Penna-302791379550/

Peter Della Penna’s Inside the Selection Room is unlucky to be caught at square leg for… 88!

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!

On Top of the World!

How great is it to see Reece Topley playing regularly and amongst the wickets?

Topley has eleven wickets at 12.64 in this year’s T20 Blast for Sussex including figures of 4-33 taken in his comeback match against former employers Hampshire. The Suffolk born left-armer has ten ODI and six T20I caps to his name but it would be foolish to be thinking about England consideration so soon after returning to first team action. It’ll be great if the twenty-five-year-old can go onto play List A and First Class cricket but if not then he could still make a healthy buck specialising in the shortest format.

It’s also encouraging to see another left-arm quick bowler in the form of Topley’s teammate Tymal Mills playing regularly and being amongst the wickets too. Mills may only have seven wickets but an average of 17.14 is healthy and most notably, his economy rate is just 6.32. This compares favourably against a career economy rate of 7.82.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/english-twenty20/averages

Looking through the averages another left-armer caught my eye. Nottinghamshire’s Harry Gurney has already committed to a white-ball world having made an impression at both the Big Bash and IPL. Soon he’ll be turning out in the Euro T20 Slam. In this year’s Blast he’s picked up 13 wickets at 15.85 including a career best 5-30 against Derbyshire. He’s leaking runs at an eye-watering 9.36 per over though so will want to temper that.

It’s not impossible that the above players could yet turn out for England again. David Willey has never dominated for England as would’ve been hoped and hasn’t (To be fair often hasn’t been able to) make his batting provide him with an edge. To say that he’s been ordinary in this year’s Blast would be an understatement as he comes to terms with his World Cup omission.

Can Notts Take any Moores?

To look at Nottinghamshire’s team, it’s hard to fathom that they’ve failed to win any of seven County Championship matches this season.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/county-championship-division-one/table

They’ve got genuine young talent in Matthew Carter, the recently acquired Ben Duckett and coach Peter Moores’ son Tom behind the stumps. They also posses proven internationals like Stuart Broad and James Pattinson, granted they may not play every game. In addition they have thoroughly decent county pros, the likes of Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney and Luke Fletcher. Not to mention Samit Patel and Jake Ball! But they’re bottom of the County Championship and sometimes struggling to post 100 let alone 200. Is their coach to blame? Twice England coach Peter Moores wasn’t Kevin Pietersen’s cup of tea and didn’t have a glittering career let alone an international one. We’ll save ourselves the trouble of listing great sporting coaches who hadn’t had amazing playing careers mind. Let’s not forget that Moores has coached two separate counties to County Championship success and basically in two separate eras.

Perversely, defending champions Surrey, led by England great Alec Stewart are also winless. Yes they’ve had injuries and lost players to both England and the IPL but they’ve still fielded a near full international side (Burns, Elgar, Foakes, Meaker, Morkel etc) sprinkled with high quality young players such as Ryan Patel. Don’t forget the wise old heads of Rikki Clarke and Gareth Batty in amongst those international players either. Though not as successful or prolonged at international level as they would’ve liked they are serious contributors at domestic level.

So what’s going wrong?

This is where I should summarise and explain why but… who knows? I certainly don’t. What do you think I am? Some sort of cricket expert!

What are your thoughts on how two such talented teams have failed to win in thirteen matches between them in 2019?

Dawson and Vince Hard Done by ECB not ICC!

Following on from my latest audiocast where I touched upon the subject of Liam Dawson and James Vince being unable to represent Hampshire in the One-Day Cup final, I feel that it’s necessary to look into things a bit further.

It’s a huge shame that these two players, both of whom are likely to more often than not be sub-fielding and carrying drinks for England (But you never know what can happen?!) can’t play in the domestic season’s marquee showpiece. It is of course only appropriate in the interest of fairness that they can’t. It would be unfair for them to be getting match practice, keeping their eye in, staying in form and gaining confidence when the players of the other World Cup participants can’t do so. You do have to question the ECB’s structuring of the English county season though as it is they who should’ve seen this coming and prevented it from happening. The One-Day Cup was played in an exclusive block up to a couple of weeks ago so why on Earth did we then return to First Class cricket for a couple of weeks before the One-Day final randomly slots in to the fixture list?

It’s a shame for the players in question and a kick in the teeth for devoted fans of a county game that in most people’s eyes is seriously struggling as a spectator sport. Remember that Vince is Hampshire’s captain and Dawson has been their star player this year.

Regarding Dawson, there are rumours that he’s been courted by Warwickshire but also that he may have hinted to Hampshire that he only wants a white-ball contract in the future. I’m disappointed to hear that but realistically he’s probably struggling to play Test cricket again. He’s been mightily effective in the PSL for a couple of years and if he can get IPL and CPL gigs as well as playing One-Day and Twenty20 cricket in England then there’s just about enough cricket to occupy him in the summer. This is before we consider the PSL, BPL and Big Bash etc in the winter time, not to mention the Hong Kong Blitz, Global T20 Canada and whatever pops up next! The riches of these gigs are far greater than the county game and a lot less gruelling so the appeal is understandable but it’s also confirmation that the standard of the four-day game in England in particular will continue to decline. If the best players desert it when still in their twenties, we could be left with only young players pre peak and old players post peak to fill the teams.

As for Vince, his appearances in an England shirt this summer have been exactly what everyone expected of him. Pretty but unsubstantial. Not out of his depth but not excelling. How will bench warming for England help him press his case for a top three Test vacancy come the Ashes?

Hopefully Dawson and Vince will get some game time at the World Cup. I’m a big fan of involving the whole squad when it comes to major tournaments but whether or not the structure of the 2019 competition and England’s results will allow it only time will tell.

CricketXI: IPL 2019 – Season Review

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What can I say?

I don’t follow the IPL all that closely but as a self confessed cricket nut who regularly hands out fantasy cricket selection advice…  I should probably try harder next time!

Disclaimer: Not sure about the winner’s team name. Should’ve been disqualified if you ask me then I’d have finished in a far more respectable sixteenth place!

Northeast Finds Direction!

Following a frustrating injury hit first campaign with his adopted county, former Kent captain Sam Northeast commenced the new season with an impressive knock of 169 for Hampshire against Essex.

It’s easy to assume that Northeast has fallen down the pecking order in terms of England selection but if he can back up his opening knock with more of the same then there’s no reason why he couldn’t gatecrash the Ashes. Incumbent Joe Denly is currently sat on the bench at the IPL. He is very much an Ed Smith selection however. Denly made 69 in his last Test innings but then James Vince made 76 in his. With Northeast performing at three and Vince opening, could the Hampshire duo both make England’s next Test squad?

Yorkshire’s Adam Lyth made runs too. He’s a very good player but the fact that previous Test shortcomings occurred against Australia in England will probably count against him. There’ll be a clamour for Joe Clarke who let his cricket do the talking when making a debut ton for Nottinghamshire meanwhile Haseeb Hameed registered a double century against the students.

Ultimately the early season signs are that unlike recent seasons, England might have some difficult selection choices to make but in a good way.

CricketXI: Sheffield Shield 2018-19 – Season Review (Or non-review!)

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Errr… ?

I’d provide a review but the scores have already disappeared from the website. I appreciate that I’m a few days off the pace what with hospital stays and the like but…

I guess that they’ve had a clear down as it’s all IPL/County Cricket now. Needless to say, I was as appalling in the Sheffield Shield as I’m set to be in the IPL! For the English domestic scene, I’ve been focusing on my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket teams (Cash prizes) but will endeavour to be competitive on CricketXI as some of you have kindly joined my league and I don’t want to be shown up!

Mankad? – Mancan!

No introduction needed…

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Take care followers.

Edit: I neglected to say that I have no qualms about it being a pre-determined tactic either. Just like teams prepare to ball short stuff to a batsman with a dodgy track record against short pitched bowling then well done if they’ve done their homework and identified a batsman susceptible to being ‘Mankaded’.

CricketXI: IPL 2019

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Hi followers

Above is my CricketXI fantasy team for this year’s edition of the IPL.

Feel free to join my 2019 IPL Morris Invitational League at…

https://cricketxi.com

If required the join code is OQQZBKBF

Don’t forget that I’ve created two other Leagues, 2019 CC Morris Invitational and 2019 ODC Morris Invitational for the County Championship and One-Day Cup in England. If you win then you might see your name in bright lights on this site. That’s the best prize I can offer, oh and maybe I’ll provide the link to your blog… a free hit if you will!

Many thanks and happy blogging!