England’s Alternative Batting Options

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James Hildreth (Somerset)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/15348.html

Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Yorkshire)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/470633.html

Ross Whiteley (Worcestershire)

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/288617.html

Malan’s the Man!

Not content with notching up Test hundreds in computer games, Dawid Malan’s only gone and got one in real life!

Although fellow England newbie Mark Stoneman hasn’t registered a century yet and is developing a penchant for contributing both classy and at the same time gritty fifty-somethings, I sincerely hope that England stick with these guys post Ashes and don’t just move onto their next new toy like they did after Michael Carberry. These thirty-somethings have developed their game on the county circuit and having been presented with the obvious fact that Test cricket is a step up, they’re raising their game and learning to adapt. Come home series against subcontinental sides, you’d like to think that ‘Rocky’ and ‘AC’ will now feel at home in the England shirt and can prosper. As for James Vince…

It’s not just against India or Pakistan at home that you’d like to think Stoneman and Malan could deliver. Having displayed their skills and character in ‘The Land of Oz‘, they’ve shown they might posses the required nous to adapt against all sides, home and away. Of course touring places like Bangladesh is like playing on another planet.

Mike Hussey didn’t arrive on the Test scene until he was aged thirty, Andy Flower blossomed around thirty-two and the likes of Kumar Sangakarra and Misbah-ul-Haq peaked much later. Here’s hoping and believing that Stoneman and Malan follow suit and inspire those players who aren’t bred through the normal modern development channels. As for James Vince…

On a serious note, hopefully Vince can be inspired by the the efforts of Stoneman and Malan. If the Hampshire man can adapt where necessary but trust his own game where appropriate, he could register the sort of scores that win matches and earn long careers.

Chasing Hope

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The West Indies made it to within one over of a series draw against Pakistan before the Angel Gabriel had his wings clipped by Yasir Shah.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-pakistan-2017/engine/match/1077955.html

The hosts’ failings were all too familiar. Batsmen failing to make significant scores (I know how you feel boys!) and despite having an array of spin bowlers possessive of outlandish First Class bowling averages, Devendra Bishoo only really came to the party late in the day… and just to ruin the farewells of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan!

I’m not convinced that opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite should be playing ODIs. It compromises his strength, that is to occupy the crease in the longest form of the game. He failed to pass 50 and averaged sub 17 in the series.

Kieron Powell’s flame flickered. He made starts but like Brathwaite failed to find 50. An average of 26.83 tells its own story. He made starts but failed to go on. That’s no fifty in sight for Windies openers across 12 innings. Of course maybe if things had been handled differently then KB and KP could have been opening for WI for years already. A few years ago they contrasted well and could have developed into a lethal pair. KP got disillusioned then and it will be interesting to see if the selectors persist with him. They’ll probably have to and should do because they might feel it necessary to make changes elsewhere in the order.

20-year-old Shimron Hetmyer clearly has talent but he also has only one First Class century. He’s a very attack minded player. Was first drop the right place to baptise him on the international stage? His top score: a quarter century at an average of 16.00. Even if he’s not retained for the time being his time can come again.

Domestic dominant and Zimbabwe slaying Shai Hope did at least at last record a maiden Test half century, a 90 in fact. In his five other innings he totalled 59 runs combined.

Vishaul Singh was supposed to be the middle order rock. The middle order sandcastle with the tide coming in fast more like. He made 32 runs in one innings but only 31 across the other five. He’s 28 years old and his First Class batting average is an underwhelming 33.45. His conversion rate is good though: 6 centuries to 9 fifties but can he get to fifty in the international arena in the first place? His First Class strike rate is literally 34 runs slower than Hetmyer’s. Call me old fashioned but maybe they would have each prospered had they been positioned the other way around.

Wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich made 56 in one innings but didn’t total 56 across the other five. There’s a theme developing here isn’t there? These guys have got the ability but not the consistency, not yet anyway.

Then there’s Roston Chase. Wow, just wow! How good is this guy? Ten Tests into his career and he’s got three hundreds to two in the First Class game. Some people just thrive the tougher the challenge. He’s averaging 48.53 as well as claiming a more than useful 17 wickets at 52.23 apiece. At the risk of raining on the parade, I’m going to hazard a guess that in a year’s time that figure of 48.53 will have dipped. I hope that it doesn’t but he’s really going to have to excel to maintain such a strong start.

Where WI go from here, who knows? Actually, it would appear not very far, they’re hosting Afghanistan for some T20Is and ODIs. Then post Champions Trophy they take on England. Jermaine Blackwood could come back in but the others out there in the domestic game all seem much of a muchness, averaging in the mid twenties. That’s even the case for Jason Mohammed despite his success in recent ODI fair. Vishaul Singh had stepped up to the plate in A and Board or Chairman XIs but didn’t deliver against Pakistan. Remember though that both Hetmyer and Singh have had far better starts to their Test careers than five time Test double centurion Marvan Atapattu. I think that the West Indies selectors will do well to persist with these players and provide them further opportunity. Even the likes of Jacques Kallis, Steve Waugh and Matthew Hayden didn’t hit the ground running in the Test arena.

The West Indies might not be Singhing but they can always Chase Hope!

Living the Dream!

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Liam Livingstone hit the headlines in early 2015 when he struck 350 off 128 deliveries in a club match…

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/cricket/liam-livingstone-world-record-350-9078151

Then he hit the headlines again later that year when he got glassed in a fight…

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/cricket/lancashires-liam-livingstone-lucky-injuries-9875869

A few weeks later he didn’t hit the headlines when he was dismissed first ball in the T20 Blast final…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/natwest-t20-blast-2015/engine/current/match/804711.htmlhttp://www.espncricinfo.com/natwest-t20-blast-2015/engine/current/match/804711.html

He hadn’t exactly hit the ground running in the shortest format of the game and still averages below 20 but he didn’t half hit the ground running in the County Championship last year. Though his season tailed off slightly, he still finished with in excess of 800 runs at an average of just over 50. Having played a lot of club and second XI cricket and in an era where many players make their professional breakthrough whilst in their teens, I was hesitant to the idea of Livingstone being rushed into the England set-up too soon. The structure of the England Lions however provides great opportunity for he and others to acquire more experience and develop. Oh and how he’s developed! In England Lions current match against a decent Sri Lanka A outfit, LL has made scores of 105 and 140 not out…

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/scorecard/ECKO41600

His First Class batting average has now soared to 54.52 and recalling England’s batting horror show in India, it’s encouraging to see a batsman prospering in the sub-continent. England head to Oz next winter for the Ashes but even if Livingstone doesn’t make the breakthrough to the full national side soon, it could be that he’s saved for the next time England head to spinning terrain.

Last term, even if he wasn’t making runs, his name was all over the scorecards as he claimed catch after catch (31 in 17 FC outings to date) and his leg-spin bowling has some potential.

Elsewhere for England Lions, Toby Roland-Jones has led the line and contributed with the bat whilst the Curran brothers (Tom and Sam) have continued to enhance their reputation. It’s been a bleak winter for Jack Leach however. The Somerset man has struggled with the required adjustments to his action and was left out of the Lions side because of those struggles. Upon his return, his first innings figures of 18-1-97-1 don’t make for pleasant reading. The winter has not been so bleak for the consistently penetrative Ollie Rayner however. The German turner has surely usurped Leach in the England spin queue.

It’s been good to see that the Lions set-up hasn’t just been for the kids and that seasoned county players such as Roland-Jones and Middlesex colleague Rayner have been presented with the opportunity to press their case for international selection. If they did so, they wouldn’t be the first players to have successful international careers having only entered the stage around the age of thirty mark… Mike Hussey, Chris Rogers, Adam Voges and Misbah-ul-Haq amongst them.

Update: Jack Leach immediately responded to my bleak assessment of his winter by claiming figures of 2-3 as England Lions nearly pulled off a marvellous heist in Dambulla. Stumper Ben Foakes also claimed ten dismissals (8c / 2s) and contributed scores of 30 and 54 in this match.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1080255.html

P’Tang Yang Kipperbang!

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I struck the ball in the dark, off the bowling of Mitchell Starc.

I hit the ball over the rope, evading the dive of Shai Hope.

I deflected the ball with an edge so fine, off the bowling of Dale Steyn.

I glanced the ball for four, evading the gloves of PJ Moor.

I played a shot that was just stellar, out of the reach of Niroshan Dickwella.

I stole a run like a thief, off the bowling of Steve O’Keefe.

I belted the ball out of the ground, off the bowling of Toby Roland-Jones, such a sweet shot oh what a sound, all the way to The Road of Bones.

I searched the internet for batting tips, so looked at the faq, flicked the ball off my hips, past the outstretched Misbah-ul-Haq.

I defended the ball then ran a single, straight past my partner no time to mingle.

I ran three at Adelaide, off the bowling of Tony Dodemaide.

I avoided a bouncer from Brett Lee, on a sunday morning at the SCG.

I pulverised the bowling at the WACA, off the ball came the lacquer.

I scored a double century at Perth, took me a week or two to come back to Earth.

My stumps were shattered, oh what a pain, clean bowled all that mattered, bloody Mark Alleyne!

Used to watch Serie A on Channel 4, lots of goals by Beppe Signori, went to New Zealand on tour, got clean bowled by Daniel Vettori.

I punched the ball with lots of power, off the bowling of Grant Flower.

I swatted the ball with a bang, off the bowling of Bryan Strang.

I bowled the ball, it was a ripper, did for the off-stump of Trevor Gripper.

Running in week after week, ever so dependable was Heath Streak.

A crocodile under the bed, it wasn’t so little, eight foot long they said, guest of Guy Whittall.

The batsman was far too ponderous, nicked one behind at The Wanderers.

Batting at Scarborough, put the ball in the sea, Ian Salisbury’s leg-spin, no mystery to me.

Woke from my slumber, when I received a beamer from Carl Mumba.

You need a wicket, if you want to play cricket!

International Duck Watch!

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South Africa have taken a 1-0 series lead in their home Test series against Sri Lanka with a comfortable win in Port Elizabeth. Dushmantha Chameera was the tourists’ sole second innings ducker but Sri Lanka still went down by 206 runs.

Meanwhile in Melbourne, Australia have assumed an unassailable 2-0 series advantage in their home Test series against Pakistan. Ducks from captain Misbah-ul-Haq, Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah didn’t help the tourists’ cause.

Moving onto the third and final Test, Australia have recalled Steve O’Keefe, who would have replaced a now rejuvenated Nathan Lyon against South Africa but for injury and have dropped Nic Maddinson (Test batting ave: 6.75), despite the young batsman registering a career best 22 in this match. Ashton Agar has also been recalled for the dead rubber third Test…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia-v-pakistan-2016-17/content/story/1074685.html

… meaning that I wasn’t so crazy after all! (Please see below)

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/07/australia-0-1-south-africa/

Six to Watch: 2017

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It may only seem like yesterday that the 2016 English domestic campaign reached its dramatic conclusion but it’s never too early to start looking ahead. With only six months until the 2017 season begins, Silly Point has identified six players to watch out for. It’s not just youngsters trying to make their way in the game that Silly Point has taken a look at either. Seasoned veterans receive a going over too with Silly Point predicting some renaissances in 2017.

Jofra Archer, 21, Sussex, All-Rounder

When you Google Barbadian born Archer and this is know joke, he was born on April Fools Day, he appears to be draped in West Indies colours. He wouldn’t be the first Sussex man to have departed Caribbean shores and gone on to play for England however, Chris Jordan anybody! Archer arrived on the English county scene with a bang last season, recording figures of 4-49 on First Class debut against the touring Pakistanis at Hove. Mohammad Hafeez, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali and Misbah-ul-Haq all fell victim to the twenty-one-year-old. Sussex’s six other first innings bowlers managed just a sole wicket between them and it was only Archer who managed to bag second time around when he sent Hafeez back to the pavilion once again. Archer displayed his batting credentials with a knock of 73 against Essex in the County Championship at Colchester, recorded two more four wicket hauls before the season’s completion and took 5-42 against Somerset in a one-day match at Taunton. Sussex will rely heavily on Archer’s contributions in 2017 if they’re to haul themselves up to Division One in both the County Championship and One-Day Cup.

 

Daniel Bell-Drummond, 23, Kent, Right-Handed Opening Batsman

747 County Championship runs at 53.36, 332 One-Day Cup runs at 41.50 (S/R 86.23) and 171 off 139 deliveries for England Lions against Sri Lanka A in a one-day match… yet somehow DBD’s progress in 2016 seemed to go somewhat under the radar, a mid-season injury didn’t help. Last year DBD smacked 127 from just 112 balls against a touring Australian side whose bowling attack included Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris. You can go as far back as 2013 to find former Kent skipper Rob Key proclaiming that DBD could be a “… 100-test cricketer…”. Despite a more than reasonable 2016, Northamptonshire’s prolific Ben Duckett, Lancashire’s record breaking Roses match teenager Haseeb Hameed and maybe even Durham’s Keaton Jennings have all usurped twenty-three-year-old Bell-Drummond. DBD will hope to press his case for full honours when representing England Lions this winter against the UAE in three one-day games in Dubai and against Afghanistan in a three-day match in Sharjah.

Dom Bess, 19, Somerset, Off-Spin Bowler

Topping the County Championship Division One bowling averages last term with thirteen wickets at 10.46 apiece including two five wicket hauls, 6-28 against Warwickshire and 5-43 against Nottinghamshire, both at Taunton, suggest that Somerset have a real find on their hands in England U-19 international Bess. Of course not all of those that arrive on the scene with a bang live up to the hype, Mathew Sinclair anybody! Some of the mystery of Bess will have evaporated as batsmen have had both the opportunity to face him and to study the videos during the winter. Not that Shane Warne or Muttiah Muralitharan got any easier to play and Bess will remain a mystery to many that have yet to encounter him. The real test for Bess will come when (if?) he finishes with figures of 0-150 and how he responds to doing so.

Look out for my upcoming article ‘England’s Spin Dearth Myth’ for more on Bess.

Jack Burnham, 19, Durham, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

Stoneman, gone. Borthwick, gone. Muchall, gone. Mustard gone. No pressure on 19-year-old Jack Burnham then! The 2016 Under-19 World Cup’s leading run scorer registered 630 County Championship Division One runs at 27.39 in 2016 but his limited overs campaigns were rather fruitless. Despite the departures of senior batsmen Burnham will still have the likes of Keaton Jennings and Paul Collingwood alongside him and following Durham’s relegation after an ECB bailout he’ll be playing County Championship cricket in Division Two this term. Durham will be seriously hoping that the teenager can kick on in 2017 and break the 1000 run barrier in the County Championship’s bottom division to help get Durham back into the upper echelons of English cricket.

Nick Compton, 33, Middlesex, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

@Compdog’s axing from England first time around was a bitter affair. Second time it was just horrible to watch, to witness English cricket’s Marmite fall apart. There was no bemoaning the selectors this time around. Compton knew he’d had his chance. After commencing the South Africa series with a Comptonesque 85 at Durban, mixed messages from coach Trevor Bayliss resulted in Compton trying to go out all guns blazing to seal victory in the Johannesburg test and ultimately forget how to play the very sort of innings that had earned him international recognition in the first place. It’s questionable whether an experienced cricketer such as Compton should have ever allowed his coaches public comments to affect his game and after returning to the county game he rather alarmingly took a break from cricket altogether. He did however return to the Middlesex ranks and of course finished the season as a title winner. After the fall there were glimpses of his run making ability like his innings of 131 against Durham at Lords in August. With even the man himself surely beyond thinking about international selection, if he can just enjoy himself at the county he felt it necessary to return to then Middlesex will surely reap the benefits.

Mark Footitt, 30, Surrey, Left-Arm Fast Medium Bowler

It would be easy to assume that the proverbial ship has long since sailed for Mark Footitt, at least on the international front. If he wasn’t going to make the England XI in South Africa then maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. He was seen as the County Championship’s marquee signing pre last term but injuries disrupted the left arm seamer’s opportunity to make an immediate impact at Surrey. However as the season progressed and he eventually rid himself of injury he didn’t half come good. The wickets tumbled in the latter stages of the season and Footitt finished the campaign with 34 Division One wickets at 26.85 including career best figures of 7-62 against Lancashire at The Oval followed up by 6-161 against Hampshire at the same ground and 5-90 against Durham at Chester-Le-Street. If he can stay fit he will surely prove a major asset for Surrey and with the international attraction to left arm seamers maybe an England cap could still be within the thirty-year-old’s reach.