Need I say more?
Okay then, if you insist!
Welcome back Joe Denly. After 384 matches and eight years in the international wilderness, the Kent all-rounder gate crashed England’s T20I against Sri Lanka in Colombo. earlier today. He promptly contributed 20 from 17 with the bat and claimed 4-19 with the ball.
It was really good to see Denly open the bowling. That’s what he does at domestic level so if it’s performances in that part of the game that got in him in the team then let him perform that role for the national side. It was also good to see England return to winning ways following the fifth ODI debacle. Another failure for Alex Hales however means that his international career stands at a crossroads.
The suggestion is that Denly claimed his wickets with some pretty ordinary deliveries so it remains to be seen whether or not this performance helps his Test cause.
At the start of the year I stumbled upon CricketXI, an alternative fantasy cricket competition. This game focused purely on the County Championship (First Class) campaign.
I selected a team of young guns and as you can see things went really well! It was great to see the likes of Jonny Tattersall, Zak Crawley and Will Jacks develop. Harry Brook, Ben Twohig (Love his name!) and Matthew Carter also made great strides.
Unfortunately Surrey pacer Matt Dunn got injured early in the campaign and disappeared from the professional radar once again. Wicketkeeper Lewis McManus lost his place in the Hampshire First XI. Teammate Asher Hart and Essex spinner Aron Nijjar (Who fooled me by playing in a pre-season university match!) couldn’t get near their respective first XIs. Neither could spinner Sukhjit Singh who was sadly released by Warwickshire at the end of the campaign. Warwickshire clearly have little interest in developing their own young players and much prefer to sign absolutely anybody. While that’s great for players like Will Rhodes and Olly Stone, it’s not for players like Singh and Andy Umeed.
As well as my outfit of kids, I also selected a more ‘serious’ side but following early season injury, Sam Northeast failed to really get going having relocated from Kent to Hampshire and has fallen way down the England pecking order. Disappointingly, Sussex batsman Luke Wells and Nottinghamshire’s Riki Wessels failed to back-up productive 2017 campaigns.
On the plus side, James Hildreth was amongst the runs as ever, meanwhile Tom Bailey, Ben Sanderson and everybody’s favourite ex-England cricketer Jade Dernbach, contributed with the ball.
Well, there’s always next year!
It says it all that my Fifth XI finished the 2018 County Championship campaign as my top team!
Tom Bailey (1912), Ryan Higgins (1819) and Morne Morkel (1636), when he eventually got going, led the way for me. However an overall position of 7454th is nothing to write home about!
As the above graphic displays, Kent’s Kiwi quick Matt Henry, his domestic teammate and potential England Test debutant Joe Denly and Sussex’s former Yorkshire tearaway Ollie Robinson led the way in the overall points scoring. Ollie Robinson, oh look, another player that Yorkshire have either failed to develop or/and allowed to blossom elsewhere (Carver, Rhodes, Lees?)! There’s a theme developing here isn’t there?
Ed Barnard, Tom Bailey, Ryan Higgins and James Hildreth all made my England Ignored XI…
… having been consistent performers throughout the campaign. Please remember that this competition was specific to the County Championship (First Class) and One-Day Cup (List A). The T20 Blast had a completely separate fantasy competition.
My five teams did at least resign my wife and daughter’s XIs to the bottom of the family table. Anyway, there’s always next year!
This year’s competition has reached its conclusion, Ben Cox, Jofra Archer and all but I’m no richer!
That’s right, I didn’t win. Admittedly not bothering to keep on top of transfers and having only one player in the final having had just as many in the semi-final didn’t help my cause!
Overall, I finished in 3178th position with a total of 5728 points.
Kent’s Joe Denly led the way for my outfit with 1159 points and therefore should’ve been my captain. That honour fell to Samit Patel who totalled only 471 points before being doubled. Denly’s reward for being the star in my team… an as predicted call-up to England’s Test team for the tour of Sri Lanka.
There were contributions from throughout my side with Patel’s Nottinghamshire teammate Tom Moores (710) my next highest scorer. Liam Dawson, Ryan Higgins and Ross Whiteley all contributed in excess of 500 points.
I’ve already decided on a change of tack for next year that will involve a more active approach to transfers. Roll on 2019…
Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Jack Leach, Dom Bess, Liam Dawson, Mason Crane, Matthew Parkinson, Sukhjit Singh, Hamidullah Qadri, Matthew Carter, Amir Virdi, Ben Twohig, Matthew Critchley, Josh Poysden, Adam Riley…
There is an oft-repeated myth that English cricket lacks a healthy stock of spin bowlers. That assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. There is no doubting the abundance of talent on the county cricket scene. Admittedly many of the aforementioned players are far from the finished article. They are young guns and it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll be presented with the opportunity to develop as one would hope. If they are, then the competition for places in the England team will be intense!
Through misfortune (AKA injury), England have accidentally bred competition. Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid have returned to the Test side. Jack Leach has quite rightly been left to rediscover his groove at Somerset and Mason Crane was making promising strides in white-ball (List A/T20) cricket before injury recurred its ugly head. It’s been great to witness Adam Riley return to the Kent fold and Matthew Parkinson is surely a candidate for at least England’s T20I side in the short term. Josh Poysden has relocated to Yorkshire where he can hopefully blossom (Like a white rose!). If Nottinghamshire provide him with opportunity then England may want to get Carter (See what I did there?!). Fingers crossed that Sukhjit Singh and the rest can break into their respective county first XIs sooner rather than later. Meanwhile the much maligned Liam Dawson is one of the most ever-improving cricketers in the English game. He did little wrong during his Test outings (With the ball at least. His batting went awol post debut), suffered from being a fill-in player under attack from the opposition but performed admirably well in the Pakistan Super League.
England don’t want to make any RASH decisions, go down a dark ALI, succumb to blood sucking LEACHes. They want to get the BESS out of their spin bowlers by POYSDENing the opposition batsmen. They want to PARKinson up and SINGH from the hills. They don’t want to be CARTERed around, they want to go at no more than TWOhig an over. They want to CRANE over the opposition and live a life of RILEY!
Having already defeated Scotland 1-0 in the ODI format, we went undefeated in three further white-ball series before coming a cropper in the final limited overs duel of the summer.
Firstly we saw off Australia in an ODI series, sealing the honours in what was effectively a final in the fifth match. That victory resulted in us assuming the world number one ranking in the fifty over format.
Newcomer Jamie Overton claimed the best ever haul by an Englishman in ODI cricket. The Somerset quick snaffled amazing analysis of 6-14 to help us win the 3rd match with Australia crumbling for just 105. Overton finished the series with 10 victims at 11.40 apiece.
In the one-off T20I that followed, 42-year-old Darren Stevens made a long awaited international debut and promptly stole the show. With us in trouble at 93-6, the Kent all-rounder promptly put on an undefeated 57 with fellow debutant Lewis Gregory (18 not out) of Somerset. Stevens finished 49 not out from 34 balls. It seemed as though it was written in stars!
Next came India where we ran out 2-1 winners in the T20I series. Each of our top three, Dawid Malan, Alex Hales and Jason Roy registered a half-century during the competition. Darren Stevens continued to enjoy the international environment. The county veteran concluded the series with six victims at just 15.80.
Unfortunately in the final limited overs affair of the summer, the ODI series against India, the wheels rather came off. We went down 3-0, struggling to readapt to the fifty over game and failing to post competitive totals. The bowling efforts of twenty-year-old Josh Tongue (4 @ 25.00) as well as the recalled Liam Dawson (6 @ 28.67) were encouraging however.
Now it’s back to the five-day format for a mouth watering five-match series against India. India will have gained confidence from their ODI series win but in truth our Test team is an almost different XI entirely and we’re still buoyed from the emphatic victory against Pakistan.