Here’s my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket team for the T20 competition.
Sticking to my tried and tested formula, I’ve selected batsmen that can bowl. Kent’s Joe Denly will surely contribute with the white ball and Ryan Higgins is definatley an all-rounder. He’s been opening the bowling for Gloucestershire in First Class cricket this year following his move from Middlesex. Ross Whiteley is a destructive T20 hitter who as broken into Worcestershire’s County Championship of late. He produced some strong innings in the One-Day Cup and has been collecting the odd wicket too. Sussex’s Harry Finch complete’s my batting line-up.
Tom Moores has seamlessly assumed Chris Read’s position behind the stumps at Nottinghamshire and he’s my gloveman this year.
Hampshire’s Liam Dawson has broke the record for England Lions One-Day bowling figures three times this year and fellow slow-left-armer Samit Patel performed superbly when opening the bowling in the Pakistan Super League last time out. With dry pitches all around the country these two should prosper and might be competing for a place on England’s tours of Sri Lanka and West Indies. Patel, with his all-round capabilities dons my captain’s armband.
AJ Tye didn’t have in easy against England in the ODI series or T20I but will come good for Gloucestershire at domestic level. Many county batsmen just can’t read what’s about to come out of his hand. Matt Coles has broke into the Essex XI and could actually be a useful option for England. He’ll take wickets and biff it with the bat too. Adam Zampa should enjoy the current Australian like English terrain Harry Brookes has broke into the Warwickshire side this year. He’s a capable willow wielder despite his listing s a bowler.
They’ll be an update at the end of the T20 Blast to see how my team performed.
The day after a monumental occasion in Scottish cricketing history, please have a listen to my latest audio cast for a firsthand vocal review of how the epic day played out…
Just over a week after being mentioned in a Silly Point article as a player to watch, Calum MacLeod was the star of the show as Scotland’s cricketers turned the tables on England at The Grange in Edinburgh.
After MacLeod led Scotland to their highest ever total of 371-5, Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow seemed to have put England on course for a remarkable run-chase. The pair compiled a 129-run stand for the visitor’s first wicket on a beautiful day in the Scottish capital.
A special mention for Bairstow, whose 59-ball 105, his third consecutive ODI ton, I shamelessly neglected to mention in my audio cast!
After that excellent start however, England ultimately fell six runs short. Scotland claimed a thoroughly deserved victory and in doing so, contributed to a seismic day in cricket history!
As was to be expected and as touched upon in yesterday evening’s audio cast here at Silly Point, there are no surprises in the England parties. Gloveman Jos Buttler is rested for the match in Edinburgh, which provided his exploits in the IPL and having returned to the Test side, is understandable. Kent captain Sam Billings is named in the squad for the Scotland match only. Quite what happens if he scores a ton I don’t know… “Thanks Sam but we don’t need you against Oz!”.
Surrey’s Tom Curran is also added to the party for the Australia series. With Durham’s Mark Wood now in the Test side, England will be keen to manage his workload and so Curran, who performed well Down Under as well as in short bites in India, should get some playing time. Yorkshire’s Liam Plunkett, expensive in the IPL, also returns after injury.
Having been dropped from the Test side, Worcestershire spinner Moeen Ali retains his place in the ODI outfit, alongside fellow twirler Adil Rashid. Yorkshire’s Rashid, who is now solely focused on white-ball cricket, has been travelling at 6.38 runs per over in the One-Day Cup this year. The likes of Alex Hales, Chris Woakes and David Willey are a little short of match practice having done their fair share of bench warming at the IPL. England will hope that said players can hit the ground running and make the most of any One-Day Cup opportunities prior the the international matches.
Silly Point will be in Edinburgh for the Scotland match and will provide a write-up complete with photos following the match.
Former Middlesex and Kent batsman Ed Smith seems to have emerged as the favourite to be selected as… selector, the England National Selector that is.
Firstly, let’s address the obvious criticism. Smith played three Tests and there will be those who will suggest that he doesn’t have enough experience at the highest level to be qualified to perform the role. However we’ve seen numerous ex-professional players, extremely good ones at that, fail to transfer their skills to the commentary box and punditry arena. There’ve been many a successful football manager who didn’t have a particularly decorated domestic career but succeeded in management. Smith has immense experience of English county cricket and of observing the international game in his roles as commentator, pundit and writer. I’m of the impression that he’ll make a measured and methodical National Selector and for one will be happy and instilled with optimism for the England side, if Andrew Strauss provides him with the gig.
The County Championship has already been ushered towards the margins of the cricketing summer and its opening offerings of the 2018 season were a nail in the coffin of First Class cricket in England.
Kent were dismissed for 64, Northamptonshire for 71 and Gloucestershire won a match in which the top score was the lowest of any result match in eons. Nottinghamshire also lost four wickets when chasing… ten! Cue excitement around the country at the prospects of those bowlers that claimed a sackful of wickets receiving national call-ups. I’m completely opposed to this idea of the first few weeks of the season being perceived as the national side shop window. England shouldn’t be selecting players based on the first couple of weeks of the season.
As soon as 2020, the structure of domestic cricket in England is set to change even further, when rather appropriately, the city based T20 competition arrives. The current format of the County Championship is set to be done away with but I do like the idea of a knockout competition that involves the minor counties… very retro isn’t it?
I’m sure that there was some skilful bowling on show in the opening round of County Championship matches this term but so many low scores can’t help but devalue the competition. Some may argue that results are better than draws but if it’s batsmen that England are seeking then they’re going to struggle to find them at this rate!
Only a few days ago, I posted an article regarding the fact that Sam Billings has been appointed as captain of Kent. This is despite the fact that he’ll miss a substantial chunk of the early season due to IPL commitments and probably further chunks because of England call-ups.
Now Dawid Malan has been named captain of Middlesex. AC may score four ducks in the Test series in New Zealand and never play for England again but as things stand he’s part of the Test XI as well as ODI and T20I squads, so is it really practical to appoint him captain of a domestic side. Sam Robson will deputise in the First Class (County Championship) game. Wouldn’t it have been more sensible to make Robson the sheriff not just the deputy?