Bookends

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England’s long winter has reached its conclusion. It began with fifties for each of England’s Ashes virgins and it has ended the same way.

Mark Stoneman, James Vince and Dawid Malan have each bookended their Australasian adventure with half-centuries in Brisbane and Christchurch.

For Hampshire’s Vince, it began with 83, run out on that fateful day Down Under. The Ashes were lost there and then. It ended with 76 across the Tasman and in truth, there wasn’t a lot in between.

Dawid Malan

For Middlesex man Malan, there was the most extreme performance of the three. His 140 in Perth means that whatever happens, he has a Test ton to his name. He made three fifties in four innings in the T20Is as well. His one failure coming when he was fantastically run out by… David Warner! Though he contributed little in his first three innings in The Land of the Long White Cloud, he has at least rounded things of with a fifty.

Mark Stoneman

For Surrey’s Stoneman, well, he did what everybody expected and what his track record, particularly when he was up at Durham, suggested he would do. He fought, he battled, he occasionally punched a couple of boundaries in quick succession but he didn’t go on. He didn’t register a century.

Without fifties in their final innings of the tours, Vince almost certainly and Stoneman possibly, would have bid farewell to their Test careers. Even another failure for Malan could have proven critical provided England’s desperation to have Ben Stokes bat at five. Malan need only look as far as Stoneman’s former county colleague and opening partner Keaton Jennings to know that a hundred doesn’t necessarily keep you in the team for long.

Of course England are currently advertising for new selectors, so whether or not any of said three batsmen ever play for England again is very much up in the air!

Tying Batsmen in Knots

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Andrew James Tye is 31-years-old and has played only eight First Class matches. He’s not played many more List A matches but is closing in on 100 wickets in the T20 format. He’s been a consistent performer in both the Big Bash and IPL. Oh and he’s now a vital cog in Australia’s limited overs’ sides. If it weren’t for the Big Bash, AJ Tye probably wouldn’t exist.

Tye’s a player I’ve really liked since watching him represent Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash last season. He looks relaxed but not arrogant. When watching the latest T20I, I was surprised at how pessimistic the Australian commentators were about the Perth native’s future. Because of Tye’s penchant for a slower ball, they were insistent that he’ll need to bowl faster in future or risk going the same way as James Faulkner. Tye duly dismissed England’s James Vince with an immaculately executed… slower delivery!

There’s a skill in being able to resist bowling fast and Tye possesses that ability. In his first couple of ODIs against England he went wicketless but was economical. Then he claimed a five-wicket haul before bagging a four-for in a T20I against Tasman rivals New Zealand. Taking pace off the ball and making the batsmen have to generate power themselves puts the onus on them. As well as the bowler getting the batsman out, they might well get themselves out when trying to hit big shots only to find that they don’t actually have the strength to do so.

It seems logical that Tye will be less effective in the longest format and so far the stats back that up. His First Class bowling average is 36.81 compared with mightily impressive figures of just 21.29 and 19.64 in List A and T20 cricket.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/459508.html

It’s par for the course that most bowlers have lower averages in the shorter formats but there’s a hefty gulf in Tye’s figures. The First Class measurement is admittedly a small sample size and of course he may learn, adapt and lower his average. His measured approach should mean he stays fit as permanently semi-injured quicks, the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile are rotated around him.

Tye’s one of those non-superstar but effective players that I like, similar to Grant Elliot and I look forward to seeing how many international wickets he can claim.

JM Vince – Run Out: 83, 145-3 (59.3ov)

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145-2 when batting first in the curtain raiser Ashes Test in Australia. James Vince is run out for a career best 83. It is at this point that England lost the Ashes. The Hampshire man hinted (Vince hints a lot!) at silencing all the doubters and writing his place in history with a maiden Test century on Ashes debut. As it was he ran himself out, that most frustrating of dismissals and has barely scored a run since. He’ll probably never score a Test hundred and look back at that instant as the moment his career could have gone one of two ways but only begun its descent. It didn’t just cost James Vince, it cost England the Ashes. Had Vince compiled say 150, England may have posted a total in excess of 400 and possibly won the first Test. Could, had, may, possibly, clutching and desperate I know. As it is, England are 2-0 down and staring a whitewash in the face.

If… James Vince rattles off a ton in Perth and England go onto win the Ashes 3-2, I’ll eat my hat, be as chuffed as anybody for Vince and co. and will have witnessed the greatest sporting comeback of all time!

Ashes Extras

It’s been a while since the last Extras post but here’s an Ashes treat. It’s a kind of quiz question special!

Bye: Should Peter Handscomb make way for Glenn Maxwell?

Handscomb looks jittery at the crease while Maxwell is performing well in the Sheffield Shield. There’s an old adage that ‘You shouldn’t change a winning team’ and with Oz 2-0 to the good, this could be a good opportunity to let Handscomb ride out the tempest. Some however may argue that you should make changes when you’re winning if those alterations strengthen the side.

Leg Bye: Should England drop Moeen Ali?

He’s probably not fully fit, looks ineffectual with the ball and limp with the bat. His potential to score runs though makes a straight swap with Mason Crane seem unlikely.

No Ball: Can Dawid Malan convert starts?

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Malan seems to be winning over some doubters with his effort and application but teens and twenties won’t keep him in the Test side forever. The Middlesex man will be seeking at least a half-century in Perth.

Wide: Would Jake Ball be better off with England Lions?

Jake Ball

If JB3 is now only around to serve beverages then he may as well get some game time with the back-up brigade. If any of the senior bowlers trip up on the morning of a Test, is Ball next in-line anyway?

No Buzz Without Woody!

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If the buzz is to be believed, England are set to turn to Durham’s Mark Wood in the hope that his ‘express’ pace can help them stay competitive in the Ashes. Because one wicket in two Tests earlier this year and an inability to make it through a Test match without injury really cries out ‘Saviour’!

England’s best bowlers are already on the pitch. They just need to bowl better. Their performances in the second innings of the second Test suggest they’ve cottoned onto that fact.

Surrey’s Tom Curran is in the squad and along with Liam Plunkett and Mark Footitt, I’d have them in the team sooner than I would, err… Wood! I’d have re-integrated Footitt earlier this season and couldn’t care less that Plunkett rarely dons whites for Yorkshire. Hell I’d pick Joe Leach and Steve Patterson before Wood! I’ll back any player that wears England colours but Mark Wood is not the great hope. England seem to be in the habit of letting themselves gain the impression that the player who is absent is their star command!

Best bowlers bowl better + Batsman bat better = Competitiveness

I don’t mean to sound too harsh regarding Wood but he’s not Allan Donald is he?

Having said all that, if Woody travels lightyears, rocks up in Perth and claims 7-43 then I’ll be more than happy to eat pie with extra generous dollops of humble!

‘To infinity and beyond!’

Beau Casson: Tetralogy of Fallot, Heart Surgery and Meeting Ajmal Shahzad!

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Spin bowler Beau Casson played a solitary Test for Australia in West Indies back in 2008…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/319141.html

… bouncing back to claim three second innings wickets after a chastening first innings experience. Three years later however, at the age of just 28, Casson was forced to retire from the game after collapsing during what turned out to be his final First Class appearance. That collapse was a consequence of the congenital heart condition that terminated the Perth native’s career, the condition is called Tetralogy of Fallot. It happens to be the same condition that my six-month old daughter suffers from and having already undergone heart surgery aged just six weeks, she’ll be undergoing open heart surgery in around two to three months time. Just over a week ago, she went to hospital for what was supposed to be the ‘in-between’ surgery. Unfortunately the operation didn’t go smoothly, hence my absence from the blogosphere for the past week or two. Fortunately the Silly Pointettes and I are now back home and catching up with PSL dramas and other cricket Jazz!

Back to Casson, I’ve read contradictory articles regarding Beau Casson, one that stated he underwent three open heart surgeries by the time he reached his first Birthday and another that advised he wasn’t diagnosed until he was twelve. If the second is true then he’s extremely fortunate to be alive, especially provided the life expectancy we were informed our daughter would have if she hadn’t undergone her first surgery.

It’s obviously a shame that Casson had to retire probably ten years earlier than could be expected for a spinner but given his condition, I’m sure that his rise to play professional international sport can serve as an inspiration to many.

Please see the links below for further information on Beau Casson and Tetralogy of Fallot.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/4825.html

http://www.chfed.org.uk/how-we-help/information-service/heart-conditions/tetralogy-of-fallot-fallots-tetralogy/

In amongst all the dramas of last week, my path unexpectedly happened to cross that of Sussex and former Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and England bowler, Ajmal Shahzad.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/21431.html

Needless to say, it wasn’t an appropriate occasion to request an autograph or selfie but it was, for a cricket fanatic like me, a bizarre experience at a ridiculously random time. We spoke about the difficulty of catching the train after a late night Yorkshire T20, Sussex hosting women’s internationals and fielding on the boundary in Adelaide. He seemed like an easy going guy, though whilst I myself exhausted the menu, I’m not sure what effect a week of dining in Costa all day every day will have taken on a professional sportsman.

I’ll be keeping an eye on Shahzad’s performances come the county season with added interest and he might even sneak into my fantasy team, as that’d be just the sort of sentimental, heart over head selection that I tend to go for but always let me down!

Bell ‘n’ Brez Bash it Big!

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England discards Ian Bell and Tim Bresnan led from the front as Perth Scorchers claimed the 2016-17 Big Bash crown in resounding style.

Bresnan recorded figures of 4-0-40-3 as Sydney Sixers stumbled to only 141-9. Bell then saw the Scorchers comfortably over the line with a whopping 25 deliveries to spare, striking 31 not out from 25 balls.

No doubt Bresnan has had a little injury trouble but you would have thought given his experience and past performances in an England shirt that in the free spirited Trevor Bayliss era, England could still find room at least in their limited overs squads for a player possessing his all-round abilities. He seems, like Ravi Bopara, to be a player that having gained plenty of international experience, England just gave up on too soon and decided to start all over again with somebody else. Bresnan was only in the Scorchers squad as a replacement for current England squad member David Willey but the new Yorkshire vice-skipper made a positive impression on the west coast.

As well as Bresnan and Bell there was another Englishman that helped propel the Scorchers to victory. Doncaster born wicketkeeper Sam Whiteman clubbed 41 from just 21 balls including three sixes at the top of the order to jet start the Scorchers pursuit of the Sixers’ below par total. Whiteman moved to Oz aged three and has already represented Australia at various levels. He’s tipped to follow another Yorkshireman, Matthew Renshaw, into the Australian national side.

Another Englishman was involved in today’s final but for Sixers’ opener Michael Lumb, a former Yorkshire player of course, his 15-minute 5-run vigil at the top of the order, an innings that also included the run out of Nic Maddinson, helped the Scorchers more than it did the Sixers. Still, his ODI batting average of 55.00 is superior to both Bell (37.87) and Bresnan (19.79). It’s also higher than Nic Maddinson’s Test average of 6.75!

The Perth franchise’s other star performers in today’s final are at different ends of the playing career spectrum. 36-year-old Gloucestershire run-machine Michael Klinger carried his bat in making 71 not out from just 49 deliveries including five fours and an equal amount of sixes. It seems incredible that Klinger will finish his career without an international cap (We’ll come to that later), incredible but likely, in which case days such as these and 2015’s One-Day cup victory at Lords with Gloucestershire (Although Klinger ducked in the final after a monstrous tournament) will be days to saviour for a fine batsman.

Paceman Jhye Richardson is, at 20, nearly half Klinger’s age. He has just one First Class and only one List A appearance to his name but now has a grand total of nine T20 exposures under his belt. His 3-30 in the final saw him snap up the Man of the Match award and English batsman will surely have to face him at international level in the future.

Both Klinger and Richardson merited a mention in a previous article here at Silly Point about the possible make-up of Australia’s T20I squad for the Sri Lanka series that clashes with the Test series in India…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/01/14/follow-the-yellow-brick-road/

Performances such as those from Richardson and even no spring chicken Klinger, in a match of such magnitude must surely put them in with a chance of making the cut.