It’s a Numbers Game!

200 followers!

What do you mean that half of them are spam?

What do you mean that the other half are friends and family who were forced to handover their e-mail address?

1000 T20Is

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19312/game/1187013/india-vs-bangladesh-1st-t20i-bangladesh-in-india-2019-20

17 matches, 1 innings, 1 ball faced for Lancashire but it took only 1 game for England for Saqib Mahmood to be required to bat and score his first runs in T20 cricket be it international or domestic!

http://m.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/643885.html

6, 6, 6 – Chris Jordan. 3-0-13-2 becomes 4-0-37-2 for Ish Sodhi!

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/19297/scorecard/1187666/new-zealand-vs-england-2nd-t20i-england-in-new-zealand-2019-20

199-0 (20.0) courtesy of Alyssa Healy and Elysse Perry!

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO46156

8-64/5-67 = 13-131. Could Chadd Sayers yet double his number of Test caps?

https://www.espncricinfo.com/series/8043/scorecard/1196121/south-australia-vs-new-south-wales-8th-match-marsh-sheffield-shield-2019-20

16 The current T20I ranking for Papua New Guinea who have qualified for the T20I World Cup in Australia.

https://www.icc-cricket.com/rankings/mens/team-rankings/t20i

Another String to Australia’s Bowe!

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Liam Bowe will play for Australia.

There, I’ve said it. Based on three overs in a T20 game, I think that nineteen-year-old slow-left-armer Liam Bowe will represent Australia. I want to put this out there so that in five or even ten years time when I’m proved correct, I can direct people to this post dated 10th January 2017.

Just look at his Cricinfo profile page. It is a thing of beauty in that there is currently no information on there that I couldn’t have told you myself…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/1076852.html

On Big Bash debut today playing for the Melbourne Stars, bespectacled Bowe claimed figures of 1-21 from three overs, his victim was the Adelaide Strikers versatile Ben Dunk. Having bowled two overs early in the piece his only bad ball was the first one of his second spell. Bowe arrowed the ball in at the batsmen on the full but with varying pace and looked completely in control of what he was doing. I’ll say it again. Liam Bowe will play for Australia. Don’t let me down Liam!

Another player that I’m going to back for international honours for the Ozzies is twentytwo-year-old opening batsman Jake Weatherald. Eleven runs from nine deliveries and a pretty ugly shot to get out might not seem like the sort of thing to get the pulses racing but based on what I saw this morning I’d put Jake Weatherald in the same category as somebody like Sam Curran. I think that he’s too good for T20 cricket. That’s not to say that I have a total disdain for T20 or that the best players in that format aren’t skilled but you should know by now that I’m a purist. Weatherald is a touch player and ran some good ones and twos today but due to the format he felt it necessary to attempt a big shot. Without the need to do so, he looks to me like a player that, if he can occupy the crease for extended periods of time can construct innings of magnitude. A quick glance at his Cricinfo profile page appears to back me up…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/781285.html

In nine First Class outings the left-hander already has a century to his name and a healthy average of 44.06 complimented by a strike rate of 60.75. In List A cricket he averages 47.33 with a top score of 141 at a strike rate of 108.81. That strike rate suggests that Weatherald can put his foot on the gas when he’s in and though I’m not expecting consistency in the T20 game in the immediate future, I still think that he’s capable of adapting and becoming a player of value in the shortest format, like I did for my team last year!

You may be wondering why I’m randomly putting forward a couple of names for international selection for Australia. Well the big flaw in my whole cricketing blogosphere is the lack of cricket that I actually see but what better way to spend a week off from work than watching some Big Bash action. Commercials appear after every over and after the fall of a wicket, not in-between every delivery like that time I watched the IPL on ITV4.

A word of advice to Ricky Ponting. When playing the cut shot, no I’m only joking. Don’t say things like “I texted him in the car last night” on global TV without specifying that you were either a passenger or parked!

Another player that I’m going to tout for an Ozzie call-up or a recall even is Marcus Stoinis. Yes he plays with his hair a lot, chews his gum voraciously and looks disturbingly like Jade Dernbach (Whose night out in Wellington buddy Evan Gulbis didn’t look too shabby either!), oh and only scored 1 run after recording figures of 0-28 from four overs but I saw enough in his bowling (First Class ave: 49.13, seriously, where are you going with this Paul?!) to think that with the right words in his ear, he could have something to offer. At 27 now though, he needs to get a move on and put together contributions of substance.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/325012.html

On to Gulbis, his stats are solid but unspectacular…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/381183.html

… and he kind of looked like a guy you’d play with in your local league who just rocked up to the Big Bash and said, not in a nasty way, “I’m playing tonight guys, alright?”.

He bowled effective bouncers without looking like he was trying too and his six off the immensely impressive Ish Sodhi was as cleanly struck shot as you’ll see, even if he did run out Kevin Pietersen the next ball. To be fair to Gulbis, the two was just about on and he made it there and back.

Back to his stats, his First Class career best of 229 is his sole hundred and a batting average of 24.35 is just weird for someone that has a double-century to their name. He suffers from the usual Australian domestic cricketer syndrome in that despite being thirty years of age, he just hasn’t played that much top-flight cricket (Career Apps: FC: 20, LA: 33, T20: 30). A quick scroll down on the ever reliable Cricinfo tells us that he didn’t debut domestically until the age of 25 and the pros of a club to state system have been seriously questioned in recent times as the national side continue to provide debuts to thirty somethings.

Wes Agar had a tough baptism for the Strikers (3-0-36-0) and in truth, his captain Brad Hodge should have had the courage to take him off, even after he only conceded a single in his second over, having gone for sixteen in his first.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/959833.html

He should however be a better player for the experience and has done well in the few List A games that he has played.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/959833.html

Ben Laughlin (3-19) looked like a player who could have won more than five ODI and three T20I caps but at the time when he was in the international mix the competition was a lot fiercer. A First Class bowling average of 60.45 probably didn’t help. You do wonder what players like Laughlin, who last played First Class cricket as far back as 2012 when aged just thirty, would be doing without the Big Bash.

Well there you go Australia. There’s some hunches from an unqualified talent identifier who thought that Jimmy Ormond was destined to take 200 Test wickets for England!

Guptill Gone!

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New Zealand have dropped opening batsman Martin Guptill from their Test squad for the upcoming visit of Pakistan. Guptill will kick himself for having being run out when on 72 in New Zealand’s last Test against India as a fourth Test match century would surely have saved him from the axe. The thirty-year-old made scores of 56 and 128 not out in his most recent First Class turn out for Auckland but it wasn’t enough to save him from international omission. Guptill averages 42.35 with the bat in ODIs and 34.73 in T20Is. In the longest form of the game however and having had plenty of opportunities (47 Tests) Guptill’s average is 29.38 and that simply isn’t good enough to hold down a spot opening the batting in the Test arena. Guptill will be replaced in the squad by his domestic opening partner Jeet Raval. Guptill actually outscored Raval (84 and 19) in their last First Class match but 5156 First Class runs at 43.69 including fourteen centuries are the sort of numbers that the New Zealand selectors could no longer ignore. Raval was on the tour to India but didn’t make the final XI.

Todd Astle also returns to the frame for New Zealand and Colin de Grandhomme, capped in both limited overs formats earns a Test call-up too. Mark Craig and Mitchell Santner are amongst those injured for New Zealand whilst Jeetan Patel and Ish Sodhi are amongst the others to miss out for the Black Caps.

England’s Spin Dearth Myth

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English cricket often seems to be accused of having a dearth of talent when it comes to spin bowling. The national team’s first choice spinner in all forms of the game, Moeen Ali, is a batsman who bowls and 39-year-old Gareth Batty (Test Match bowling average: 66) has just been recalled to the Test squad. Such things contribute to the assumption that there are no genuine quality spin bowlers on the English county scene. Silly Point assesses whether or not such an assumption is a fair one.

Moeen is England’s first choice spinner in all forms of the game but averages in excess of forty in both Tests and ODIs. England’s second choice spinner Adil Rashid also averaged in excess of forty in both forms of the game before dragging his ODI numbers down during an excellent series for him personally in Bangladesh this month. In doing so he might now be considered England’s number one spinner at least in ODIs. The next couple of weeks will determine whether or not that will, for the first time be the case in Test Match cricket as well. Liam Dawson has made only a couple of international appearances and averages thirty-five plus in First Class and List A cricket. His value to Hampshire is primarily with the bat. James Tredwell, no longer required by England, averages below thirty in both Tests and ODIs! All these players are considered all-rounders and their ability with the bat plays a crucial role in getting them into the team. If we explore the other options available to England in the county game we’ll quickly see that England’s perceived dearth of spin talent is a myth. Ollie Rayner, though no mug with the bat and Jack Leach might not be expected to contribute the volume of runs that the likes of Moeen and Rashid might but if they were to take international wickets at fewer apiece than England’s current incumbents are they not more worthy of a place in the team?

This is not to belittle the likes of Moeen and Rashid both of whom have a lot to offer England in all facets and all forms of the game but England’s reluctance to select specialists and or explore alternative options can be frustrating.

Let’s start with off-spinner Rayner who to be fair can bat a bit (First class average 22.00 including two centuries) The German born thirty-year-old has 254 First Class wickets to his name at a more than respectable average of 32.74. That’s about two runs less per wicket than Rashid (34.70) and nine, yes nine runs less than England’s first choice spinner Moeen (41.62)! Moeen’s Test average is even higher at 42.03 but he compliments this with more than handy batting figures of 1,454 runs at 34.61 including three centuries. In 2013 Rayner recorded analysis of 15-118 including 8-46, both career bests, against Surrey at The Oval. In 2016 Rayner’s best effort was 6-79, one of three five-wicket hauls as he finished Middlesex’s victorious County Championship Division One campaign with 51 wickets from thirteen matches at just 23.57. His age, thirty, is no reason to dismiss him. He could be primed to put together all that he has learnt during his domestic career and take it on to a five-year plus international one. If not for England then surely he can get a game for Germany!

Only seven players took more County Championship Division One wickets than Rayner last term. The only English spinner to do so was Somerset’s slow-left-armer Jack Leach. The twenty-five-year old accumulated 65 wickets at 21.88 including five five-wicket hauls as Somerset pushed Rayner’s side for the title ‘til the very last day of the season. For the record only Jeetan Patel took more County Championship Division One wickets than Leach last term. 2016 was Leach’s breakthrough season as he more than doubled his career First Class wicket tally, now 107 at 25.68. Maybe he needs to show that this season wasn’t a one-off before he gets the England call and his Somerset captain Chris Rogers’ less than ringing endorsement can’t have helped his international chances. On the batting front however the likes of Haseeb Hameed and Ben Duckett were picked for England on the back of one good season though both have spent time with England Lions or underage sides. Leach hasn’t and Simon Kerrigan’s introduction to Test cricket means that the England selectors like to get a close up of their potential international players first so that they can judge their character let alone their ability. Leach joins Rayner in the England Lions squad this winter.

On the subject of Kerrigan, he has 305 First Class victim to his name and his First Class bowling average of 30.05 is lower than Rayner (32.74) another forgotten man in Danny Briggs (33.70) current Bangladesh tourist, Zafar Ansari (34.45) Rashid (34.70) Scott Borthwick (35.75) Liam Dawson (37.47) Samit Patel (39.39) and of course Moeen (41.62). Ravi Patel, Josh Poysden, Stephen Parry, Adam Riley, Rob Keogh, Graeme White and Jack Taylor also all average a lower than Moeen sub forty in First Class cricket. Last year Kerrigan took 35 County Championship Division One wickets at an average of 37.89. Not brilliant but by no means a disgrace. He’s still only twenty-seven-years-old. It was a chastising international debut (8-0-53-0) against Australia at The Oval in 2013 for Kerrigan but where as many England supporters thought that the national team had progressed from a time where players were written off after one poor performance Kerrigan seems to have been well and truly left behind. Last year on Test Match debut and on spinning terrain, Adil Rashid recorded record-breakingly bad figures of 34-0-163-0. Of course unlike Kerrigan the Yorkshire leg-spinner got a second innings chance and on a worn pitch took 5-64.

Back to Leach’s Somerset. It was another Taunton man, nineteen-year-old Dom Bess that topped the County Championship Division One bowling averages last season (See previous post: Six to Watch for more about the England Under-19 International)

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/six-to-watch/

The off-spinner only made two appearances in the County Championship but his performances courted plenty of attention. He recorded figures of 6-28 against Warwickshire on debut before taking 5-43 against Nottinghamshire, both at Taunton. Former England batsmen Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Michael Lumb just some of his victims in those two matches. As a result of his 2016 performances Bess has 13 career wickets at 20.30 per victim.

Bess isn’t the only youngster tearing down the spin dearth myth. Kerrigan’s Lancashire’s teammate, nineteen-year-old leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson exploded onto the scene in 2016, recording figures of 5-49 against Warwickshire on debut. Like Bess, Jonathan Trott was among his debut victims. Parkinson’s First Class stats currently read 10 wickets at 36.30.

Another nineteen-year-old leggie is Hampshire’s Mason Crane. 31 wickets at 45.45 with a best of 3-19 in 2016 may seem a little underwhelming but to gain that experience in County Championship Division One at such a young age will only have helped his development. His career figures currently stand at 45 wickets at 40.75 apiece. These are early days in the careers of Bess, Parkinson and Crane so of course there statistics are a small sample size.

Having focused primarily on First Class and Test Match cricket lets switch our attention to the short stuff. In limited overs cricket it is expected that a player’s bowling average will be lower than in First Class cricket. It’s also more understandable that batting credentials might come into the equation. Liam Dawson averages 32.38 with the bat in List A cricket and 35.84 with the ball. He’s next in line in the pajama stuff after Moeen (26.16 and 44.34 in ODIs) and Rashid (27.25 and 35.17)

Northamptonshire’s Graeme White averages 25.79 with the ball in List A cricket, Gloucestershire’s Jack Taylor averages 28.03 and 24.25 with the bat, Surrey’s Zafar Ansari 31.97 and 34.12.

If we consider a broader spectrum, amongst the other Test playing nations, do the likes of Australia’s Jon Holland and Steve O’Keefe, New Zealand’s Mark Craig and Ish Sodhi, South Africa’s Dane Piedt and Simon Harmer, West Indies Sulieman Benn and Devendra Bishoo or Zimbabwe’s Graeme Cremer or John Nyumbu leave English spinners in the shade?

Of course there are less players from smaller populations representing fewer teams in most of the other Test nations mentioned than in England’s eighteen team First Class structure but the quality spin representation at domestic level is proportional.

As for England, the players are out there. Some can bat, some can’t. Some are in their teens, some are in their thirties. Some have played for England before, some haven’t. Some may have already produced their best, some haven’t.

When there’s eleven players in the team and the aim of the game is to score as many runs as possible, somebody’s got to keep wicket, the climate is accommodating to and the pitches are tailored to suit fast bowling then there are only going to be so many spinners around, some of which will be better than others. There may not be as many quality spinners as there are grains of sand on a beach but there are enough diamonds in the rough!