NottinghamSure are a Buying Side!

Clearly they don’t produce batsman in Nottinghamshire. The Trent Bridge outfit’s reliance on signing players from across county borders is akin to a Premier League football side. On the batting front the two Bens, Slater and Duckett, have arrived from Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, followed by Joe Clarke from Worcestershire. All-rounder Zac Chappell has also joined from Leicestershire. Of course Notts have history here. They acquired both Stuart Broad and the retired James Taylor from The Foxes. It’s a shame that a player such as Worcestershire’s Clarke deems it necessary to relocate to a more ‘fashionable’ county from one that not only plays in the same County Championship division but just won one of the country’s three domestic competitions. If international ambitions are more easily recognised by being at Notts then that’s a sorry advert for the county game. Worcestershire seem far more qualified at developing young players anyway and count England regular Moeen Ali amongst their ranks.

I wish Clarke and the other new recruits at Trent Bridge all the best but Surrey, slagged off for being successful, have built their success around young homegrown talent as well as shrewd recruitment. They’ve got the balance right. Yorkshire, a county reliant on signings but who missed out on Duckett and and his ex-Northants teammate Richard Gleeson, could learn something from The Oval side. The White Rose county have failed to develop the likes of the appallingly handled Karl Carver and have been shown up by the strong performances of Jonny Tattersall, a player they originally let go after just one List A innings!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/517247.html

Glamorgan are another county who have mucked around a young talent and now lost him. Hopefully Aneurin Donald’s move to South Africa, sorry Hampshire, will reignite his stagnated but still embryonic career.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/562281.html

English cricket’s transfer system continues to come closer to resembling football’s Premier League. Players representing more than one county in the same season is becoming all too common a sight. With new horizons constantly appearing on both the domestic and global cricket front, it’ll be fascinating to see how the future of cricket’s transfer market evolves. With both old-fashioned contract meetings and now draft systems a part of things, the future, like cricket in general, is anything but certain!

Transfer Madness!

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Not a day seems to pass without news of yet another transfer or rumoured transfer at least, on the English county cricket circuit. The county game really has become like football’s Premier League.

Meaning no disrespect to Josh Poysden, his one-match loan deal from Derbyshire to Yorkshire really shouldn’t have been allowed, certainly not when Yorkshire have spinners of their own. Poysden has now joined Yorkshire permanently from next season but is available for them in the County Championship this season however he remains a Derbyshire T20 player for the rest of this term. With players signing white-ball only contracts and some jumping from franchise to franchise, it’ll be interesting to see if we end up with English players signing a red-ball contract for one county and a white-ball contract for another. Quite how they’d work out which training facilities they could use and when, who knows!

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Some of the global franchise brigade have already jumped ship from the T20 Blast to head to the Caribbean Premier League… and this even during our scorching summer! What do you mean that the beaches of Brighton, St. Ives and… Scarborough don’t compare to Barbados, Jamaica or St. Kitts?

West Indies opening bat Kraigg Brathwaite, who turned out in a couple of games for Yorkshire a year or two ago, will now spend a few weeks with Nottinghamshire. Liam Plunkett will join his third county when he migrates south to Surrey from Yorkshire whilst Northamptonshire duo Ben Duckett and Richard Gleeson seem likely to follow David Willey’s path to Yorkshire. Loyalty, a quality already nearly all but lost in football, is rapidly vanishing from cricket. Provided the transfer free for all that’s already ongoing, could a draft system be implimented to keep English domestic cricket competitive? Could it be that counties retain a proportion of players born within their borders but compliment them with draft selections? As it stands, the potential move to Yorkshire seems a smart one for Duckett and Gleeson. With Yorkshire losing Alex Lees to Durham, Duckett could do as Lees hopefully will further north and reignite his career and international ambitions. Late bloomer Gleeson, if he can remain injury free, could be a really viable option for Yorkshire with the ball not least because former Northamptonshire player Jack Brooks could be heading to Somerset… are you keeping up?

Jordan Clark from Lancashire to Surrey, Matthew Pillans from Surrey to Yorkshire, Ben Slater from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire and Liam Norwell from Gloucestershire to recruitment reliant Warwickshire, are all likely transfers during the off-season, if they haven’t already been finalised. Oh and guess who Alex Lees’ opening partner up at Durham could be… Australian master tactician Cameron Bancroft!

You can keep up to date with all the migrations by clicking below…

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/41154332

Selection, Transfers, Drafts and Other Cricket Ramblings

Gareth Southgate selects the England football team… all by himself.

“Football again. I thought this was a cricket blog!”

England cricket coach Trevor Bayliss doesn’t select the team but definitely has an input from time to time. In cricket it’s the norm, certainly in England, for a selection panel to choose the national squad. There’s normally three or four people that spend their days scouting the domestic circuit before getting together to decide if changes to the first XI (Test/ODI & T20I) are necessary and if so, who’s good enough to step up. There’ll normally be one selector who is in position to have the final say. They’ll possibly be referred to as the ‘chairman of’ or ‘chief’ selector(s).

Would such a set-up be beneficial in football?

The main difference between football and cricket, at least in England, is that our national football coach does actually have the time to watch all the domestic players perform. Gareth Southgate can spend a whole weekend watching all of the Premier League matches (Not live obviously) then watch the English teams in Europe during the week. However for the person at the helm of a side such as Australia, where the national side’s players are playing throughout various leagues across the globe, it actually becomes much harder. It’s in these instances where the notion of a selection panel could be worthwhile. On the cricket front, one person would struggle to watch all four days of each of the eighteen English county cricket teams’ County Championship matches, let alone limited overs encounters. That’s even if they were on the telly! Watching selected highlights packages would definitely not be a very good way to go about selecting a national cricket team. This is why a panel of selectors as opposed to just one lone selector is essential in cricket.

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On the subject of the eighteen counties: Only once in a blue moon will Gareth Southgate select a second tier player for the English football team, so should County Championship (First Class) second division players even be considered for England’s Test side?

If they aren’t, we’ll continue to see the Premier League style transfers that are now common place in cricket. Just like in football the supposed better players will join the first division teams but they won’t always play. The second division will get the cast offs, also-rans and not quite good enoughs. At this point it’s worth contemplating what’s more important: The national side or the quality of the product (Sorry, ICC marketing speak!) at domestic level. Loyalty from player to county will also near non-existence and on that subject…

Could county cricket follow the trend of the global T20 leagues and the history of American sport (Including Baseball, Basketball and Ice Hockey) by becoming a drafted league?

Returning to the Premier League but staying on the subject of drafts: Can you imagine the owners of Manchester City, United or Chelsea thinking “Let’s try and make the league a level playing field and have a draft system?”

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At the moment, it’s easy to imagine the likes of Durham, Leicestershire and Derbyshire welcoming a draft system. The likes of Nottinghamshire, Essex and Surrey would likely be less keen. The upcoming city based franchise system will have a draft pick. I’ve mentioned before how this will impact counties as players from the weaker teams will enjoy the better coaching and facilities at other grounds before possibly seeking a transfer in county cricket. To implement a draft system in county cricket would be radical and anything but traditional. As with my proposals for a restructure of world cricket (Or what I’m now referring to as the Global Cricket League or GCL for short), sometimes potential changes to what has been for many years are worth exploring. I’m not suggesting that a draft pick is the way to go in county cricket but it’s a thought and not beyond the realms of possibility in the future.

This isn’t one of those articles that’s going to be rounded off with a conclusion or whatever formal ending an article should have but as the title indicates, I hope that you enjoyed rambling with me!

Transfer Saga

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This guy only ever played for one club, in reality and virtuality. The same can not be said of others.

More than ever, domestic cricket in England seems to be following its football counterpart, particularly in regards to the transfer market. I believe that there was a time, long before I discovered an interest in cricket, in fact long before I was even born, that players remained loyal to one county for the entirety of their career. Of course some still do but it is no longer necessarily the norm. That’s not to say that transfers didn’t happen in the past, of course they did but they’ve become far more frequent in modern times. More than a decade ago now, Jimmy Ormond, whilst on tour with England, famously posed with his new Surrey shirt following his move from Leicestershire. I recall there being suggestions back then that the cricket transfer market was becoming like football’s and it’s certainly the case today.

Last winter we saw the likes of Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman depart Durham for Surrey. This season Angus Robson went on trial with Sussex whilst some mid-season transfers have tasted a little bitter. Tom Kohler-Cadmore agreed to depart Worcestershire for Yorkshire and though it wasn’t supposed to happen until next season, it was clear that Worcestershire had no interest in fielding TK-C when his future lay elsewhere and so the deal was brought forward.

Meanwhile one-time England squad member Mark Footitt has returned to Nottinghamshire from Surrey. He has also previously represented Derbyshire.

Former England cap Ajmal Shahzad must be one of the most serial county swappers. He can now list Yorkshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex and Leicestershire as county teams for whom he has represented their first XIs.

Dominic Sibley, Will Rhodes and Adam Hose have all headed to Warwickshire while Rikki Clarke swapped with Sibley to go back to Surrey. Sibley wanted guarantees about batting in the top three in all forms of the game. Surrey’s Alec Stewart wouldn’t provide but Ashley Giles would and so Sibley arrived amid bitter frustration on Surrey’s part.

Jos Buttler of course moved from Somerset to Lancashire whilst my home county, Yorkshire, have acquired many players from other counties in recent years:

Gary Ballance (Derbyshire)

Jack Brooks (Northamptonshire)

Andrew Hodd (Sussex)

Tom Kohler-Cadmore (Worcestershire)

Liam Plunkett (Durham)

Ryan Sidebottom (Returned from Nottinghamshire)

David Willey (Northamptonshire)

Players such as six-hitter Ross Whiteley and England Lions spinner Ollie Rayner are among others to have migrated at one time or another during their playing days.

The midseason activity this term, complete with more than subtle hints of acrimony and contract squabbles seem to be taking the game of bat and ball firmly into football territory.

Should mid-season transfers be allowed at all?

Should loans be allowed?

Should squads have a maximum number of players like the Premier League?

Returning to Angus Robson, he was released by Leicestershire because they wanted play youngster Harry Dearden. After Dearden failed to set the County Championship alight he was firstly replaced by Arun Harinath who had arrived on loan from Surrey before another loanee, Michael Carberry arrived at Grace Road too. In a funny way, the domestic circuit is becoming like the England team with counties failing to invest in players and deciding it’s necessary to pinch from the competition… and don’t get me started on Hampshire! I’ve touched upon their South African acquisitions before and the effect it will have on local talent.

This is the point in the article where I’m supposed to provide some sort of summary but I’ll leave it to the cricket followers of the world to make of it what you will…?

… and who could forget Monty Panesar’s transfer sagas? (Errrr… Me!)

Robbed!

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At the commencement of the 2017 county campaign, Leicestershire ruthlessly decided that they wanted opening batsman Angus Robson out of the First XI. They opted to pair young Harry Dearden with not so young Paul Horton at the top of the order and so Robson departed in rather unceremonious fashion. Leicestershire appear to have since given up on Dearden, temporarily at least. They’ve snapped up Surrey stalwart Arun Harinath on loan. No disrespect to Harinath but that doesn’t really add up does it?

The early season headlines seemed to suggest that Robson had joined Sussex but it soon became clear that it wasn’t quite so straight forward. Robson had joined the Hove outfit but only on a season long Second XI trial. If anything that was probably a bit embarrassing for a determined twentyfive-year-old with just shy of 3000 First Class runs. Anyway, it looks as though Robson might get a chance in the Sussex first team in 2018, possibly at the expense of Chris Nash. Nash has been a good servent to Sussex but hasn’t hit his straps this year when opening alongside young Harry Finch. Bermuda born Delray Rawlins is also part of the equation now.

Back to Robson, his recent outings for Sussex 2s have been pretty productive:

97, 15*, 34, 31*, 0, 66, 70*, 63*, 110*, 35, 59*

That first score of 97 may confirm why he finds himself in his current predicament. In the First Class game he has 27 half-centuries but only two hundreds. That’s possibly the difference between his average of 31.52 and maybe 35 plus. To be fair, reviewing those Second XI scores shows us that he’s finished undefeated on quite a few occasions as well as registering a century.

We’ve recently seen his brother Sam get back into the England Lions fold, hopefully next term we can see little brother Angus can regain a place on the First Class circuit.

Also at Sussex, former England paceman Ajmal Shahzad has left the club. I met Shahzad earlier this year outside of cricket and he was kind enough to ‘talk cricket’ with me. Hopefully he’ll find a new home, stay fit and have three of four years racking up the wickets.

Could he go to Surrey?

I’ll admit it, I’ve given up hope of Mark Footitt playing for England. Going to Division Two won’t help his chances though to be fair, returning to Nottinghamshire he’ll be surrounded by internationals. With Luke Fletcher out for the season and Stuart Broad and Jake Ball in the England reckoning as well as James Pattinson’s future uncertain then Footitt will have a part to play. Hold on! Surrey are well stocked with quicks so could Shahzad even return to Notts?

English county cricket becomes more like the Premier League everyday when it comes to transfers. Maybe Footitt and Shahzad could be opening the bowling at Trent Bridge before the summer is out!

Stateside Smash

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English cricket has an identity crisis. It needs a franchise system, one like that currently employed in Australia (Only six First Class teams) to get people attending cricket matches and specifically Twenty20 matches. It can’t do it though. It can’t do it because of fear, a fear that runs through the veins of each of the eighteen English counties, or at least the less glamorous ones. The general consensus is that eighteen teams is too many. Tradition is preventing English cricket from progressing. If English cricket were to introduce a franchise system that has six, eight, ten or even twelve city based franchises then what will happen to the counties that are not represented?

I did attempt to answer this question but then realised that it’s a whole other post, one for another time maybe!

Back to the matter in hand. English cricket has an identity crisis. American cricket does not!

Okay, it probably does but not in the same way that English cricket does. For all it’s travails, poor administration and despite brief flirtations to make cricket popular in the US, cricket stateside is effectively a blank canvas. It’s therefore amazing that some eccentric billionaire hasn’t yet invented the Stateside Smash. India has the IPL, South Africa the Ram Slam, Australia the Big Bash and the USA could and should have the Stateside Smash. A northern hemisphere clash with the English game and lack of facilities are the major stumbling blocks. There are limited cricket facilities in the USA but if somebody really wanted it to happen, it could happen.

If we hypothetically start on a small scale with just six teams, six state based franchises. Let’s say California, Florida, Indiana, New York, Texas and Washington. This provides a reasonable national geographical split as well having teams located somewhere near supposedly existing cricket stadiums. Basically we’re looking for some big money backers to get these franchises up and running, amongst other things potentially funding the construction of purpose built stadia. Lauderhill’s Central Broward Regional Park (Florida) is the only purpose built cricket stadium in the entire US. The USA is a big country (No really it is!) so unlike most domestic sports competitions the tournament could be held World Cup style in just one city. There could be two or even three matches a day on the same ground. This happens on T20 Finals Day in England and could still involve less wear and tear than a First Class or List A match. A six team tournament with each team playing each other once in the group stage and including a semi-final and third place play off would require eighteen matches so even with non game days for ground reparation / player respite, a tournament could be completed in two or certainly three weeks time. The winner of the tournament could then host the following year’s competition or there could be a preplanned rotational hosting.

This might get things up and running but of course meritocracy and complete regional representation would be required to get all of the country involved and have a team to root for. There are fifty states in the USA (No really, there are!). These could be divided into six divisions. North East, North West, North Central, East Central, South East and South West with two groups of nine and four groups of eight teams for the preliminary rounds providing a regional qualifier and six-team national finals competition representatives. For the preliminaries a league only format would be employed, no finals, top of the table goes through, simple as that. A nine-team group would require 72 matches if each team played each other home and away but only 36 if the home and away element were alternated annually. An eight-team group would require either 56 matches or just 28.

Of course a state such as California has more than one big city, examples being Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego and San Francisco and Nevada’s capital is Carson City not Las Vegas. Potential backers from each of these cities might like a piece of the action. If the infrastructure is put in place teams could have more than one home ground during the preliminaries to attract fans from various cities and could therefore have more than one stadium per state. This could lessen the strain on the just one ground finals tournament idea.

A city-based franchise is an appealing option and has been successful in Australia and India but the opportunity to provide an equal geographical proportion is ultimately limited. Of course no city is under any obligation to create a team and if ten city based franchises were created in Florida but none in Chicago then so be it. Whilst it would be great to commence a new era in USA cricket with a nationwide equilibrium, ultimately meritocracy would be decisive. In Premier League football Manchester has two clubs in the Premier League whilst Sheffield’s leading clubs are currently outside the country’s top division. Paris, France has many football teams. In basketball Los Angeles has the LA Lakers and LA Clippers. It could be that the Stateside Smash commences with six city based franchises rather than state sides. These teams might be LA Angels, Los Angeles CC, San Francisco 17s (Year of foundation) New York City Pioneers, Fort Lauderhill Gators and Philadelphia Bats. That’s six teams with three from one state and two from one city. This doesn’t help gain nationwide appeal but if financial backers and cricket enthusiasts got these hypothetical teams off the ground first then they would be the six teams to compete in the Stateside Smash.

Not only would said teams need financial backers they would also need… players! Even if the Stateside Smash clashed with the start of the English county season and the IPL there would still be English players who aren’t involved in the IPL and aren’t quite expected to be in their county’s first XI at the start of the season or maybe some players that retired at the conclusion of the previous campaign but can handle a few weeks of Twenty20. Even if not the cream of the crop these players could help professionalise the American game. Domestic players from other parts of the world too could participate but it’s essential that American nationals are presented with the opportunity to work and play alongside these players and help provide national identity for Native American fans and ultimately provide a strong national team. Maybe the teams could have sixteen-man squads that contain a maximum of four international players and a minimum of twelve local players. There would surely be players nearing or having already reached the end of their playing careers keen to gain coaching experience. A month long stint in the US could be an ideal place to start.

It would be easy to write cricket’s prospects off in a country so fanatical about baseball but the success of soccer and its continued growth when competing with American football, baseball and basketball amongst other sports is an example of how a new generation can learn to love a new sport. It may be that like soccer, cricket can gain a strong female following and help the women’s game blossom.

In Tim Wigmore and Peter Miller’s ‘Second XI: Cricket in its Outposts’ Miller provides a chapter on USA. Miller writes “USA had all the ingredients needed for the creation of a Test-playing nation” but also details the administrative strife that cricket in America has been through. Tim Brooks also provides a chapter to the book (Nepal) and his exhaustively detailed ‘Cricket on the Continent’ provides many parallels to cricket in the USA’s position. Competition from other sports, regional concentration (activity, facilities and leagues) and the balance between being competitive (selecting expats) and developing local talent are just some of the issues that an emerging cricket nation must contend with.

In truth the idea of a Stateside Smash requires even more research and attention than I have provided but hopefully this article provides a slice of the pie in regards to what could be for cricket across the pond.