Unlikely England Comeback?

11 ODI wickets at 39.27 (5.69 rpo)

3 T20I wickets at 18.33 (6.87 rpo)

8 wickets in this season’s Big Bash, his first, at 23.50 (7.23 rpo)

How about an England recall for Nottinghamshire and Melbourne Renegades left-arm pace bowler, Harry Gurney?

Gurney is 32 and his domestic stats are okay if not outstanding. He’s performed reliably for Melbourne Renegades this term and could be an option for the brains trust of Ed Smith and Eoin Morgan in white-ball cricket. David Willey is not always a threat and his batting often not required. Sam Curran doesn’t need overloading at this stage of his career so getting a year or two out of Gurney could be a viable option for England. The experience that he’s gained from playing in the Big Bash could serve him well for a return to the international fold.

Age may count against Gurney but it certainly wouldn’t be the most ridiculous selection. In Twenty20 Internationals, to pair the left-arm variety of Gurney alongside Tom Curran, who starred in the Big Bash, could provide respite for senior England players and result in a glut of wickets for England.

Cricket Captain 2018: Statistical Highlights… and Lowlights!

Five full years into my tenure as Coach/Selector of the England cricket team, here’s a round-up of the highs and lows that we’ve experienced as a collective thus far…

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Yes that does say 43 all out against Pakistan at Edgbaston! That’s an England all-time low and a slap in the face for our decision to bat exclusively (And optimistically) for a draw. The sweet success of 806 against Sri Lanka in Kandy seems a long time ago.

Joe Root’s 292 against India in Nottingham, came after he’d been dismissed for 230 twice during my tenure and in the same innings that James Vince briefly (Very briefly) held the record when making 246.

Leg-spinner Matthew Parkinson’s 7-82 against New Zealand, also at Edgbaston, are the best individual bowling figures in an innings while Stuart Broad’s 11-98 against West Indies in Jamaica in 2019 remain our best match analysis.

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The year before the 43 all out debacle, 436 against the same opponents in Leeds, had been a none too shabby effort in a One-Day International. In truth, our limited overs batting has regressed since then. As in the Tests, it’s former captain Joe Root who leads the way with a rare double ton (214) in the fifty over format, indeed it was in that innings of 436 against Pakistan in front of a packed and vibrant Headingley crowd.

Somerset speedster Jamie Overton claimed astonishing figures of 6-14 against Australia in the infancy of his international career but lost his way a little in ODIs. He is however averaging sub 30 in the Test format and has become a valuable option in the longer format. He’s no slouch with the bat either.

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Errrr, yeah, 41 all out against South Africa in a T20I. Like I said, highs and lows. Never an easy place to bat is Cape Town!

Alex Hales 124 against arch-enemy Australia in Bristol has been the best batting output in the format whilst the often economical Tom Curran’s 5-26 against West Indies in Delhi at the World Cup is our best individual bowling analysis.

It’d be great to post 1000 runs in a Test innings but with the need for declarations this can often only be feasible in a dead rubber. 500 in a ODI and 250 in T20Is would also be welcome. It’d also be great to see an individual batsman reach a triple ton in a Test match but should they approach Sir Len Hutton’s 364 then I might have to declare!

Currancy Converter?

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Brothers Tom and Sam Curran have already represented England, having been integral clogs in the Surrey machine of recent seasons, so imagine the pressure on middle brother Ben to carve out a decent career.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/910695.html

Seemingly more of an out and out batsman than his brothers, Ben has got himself up and running with a couple of T20 outings for Northamptonshire. Maybe the early signs and the fact that he’s not playing alongside his brothers at Surrey means that expectations aren’t quite so high for the left-handed batsman. It’s easy to accuse somebody in Ben’s position of being trapped in the shadows  of his siblings but even if national honours never come his way, Ben Curran can hopefully go onto fulfil a run-laden career on the domestic scene. The cricket landscape nowadays means that there’s more to being a non-international than just playing county cricket in England. It may yet be that Ben prospers and does go onto achieve full international honours but if not then there’s no disgrace in being a competent domestic player.

Brother Sam is likely to be a key component of England’s Test side for the next decade and it’s a real shame that Tom has had injury niggles this year. He’s been unable to follow-up the promising start he made to his international limited overs (ODI/T20I) career. Both Sam and Tom have chutzpah and Tom shouldn’t be written off as a Test player yet either. He’ll be in high demand in T20 franchises around the world however, which may lead to him focusing primarily on the white-ball formats.

Can the Curran’s convert their potential?

English fans will look forward to discovering so in the years to come…

Panesar for Yorkshire!

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In my previous post, an audio cast about various things cricket, I touched upon Yorkshire’s necessity to acquire an experienced and quality spin bowler. England’s limited overs spinner Adil Rashid’s First Class future remains unclear, Azeem Rafiq seems to have fallen off the radar again and young Karl Carver continues to struggle. Whilst at work the other day, patrolling my stockroom as I do, a thought came to mind… Monty Panesar! That’s right, a romantic signing it would be but if Yorkshire were to snap up Monty and the fifty-Test veteran promptly spun a few county batsmen out during the second half of the County Championship, Panesar could then gate crash England’s tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies in one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/18655.html

On a serious note, it is often said that England lack depth in their spin bowling stocks however that simply isn’t the case. It’s such a shame that Jack Leach got injured and has now suffered concussion, meaning he’ll miss more Somerset matches. Following the original injury, he subsequently lost his England place to county teammate Dom Bess, who performed admirably in the Test series against Pakistan.

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Hampshire’s Mason Crane

Mason Crane had also been bowling well in limited overs cricket after missing England’s tour of New Zealand through injury. Remember that he displayed great temperament against South Africa in T20Is last year, keeping his head above water to dismiss AB de Villiers. Said injury returned however. When England tour this winter, they’ll ideally take all of Bess, Leach and Crane. That’s an offie, a leggie and a slow-left-armer. Moeen Ali (OS)and Liam Livingstone (LS) would then be sensible back-up batting options provided they bowl effective spin. Don’t forget Liam Dawson (SLA) who continues to perform well, whether it be in English county cricket, for England Lions or in the Pakistan Super League. Samit Patel (SLA) is another option but then just look at the genuine spinners England can consider in years to come… Matthew Parkinson (LS), Amir Virdi (OS), Matthew Carter (OS) (He’s very good!), Hamidullah Qadri (OS) and Ravi Patel (SLA), that’s on top of Bess, Leach and Crane, all of whom have more than ten years at the top remaining.

Moving onto pace bowling, I wonder if England are really looking into the injury situation. Many people wanted Oli Stone selected for England after one good game earlier this season but he’s hardly played since. Jamie Overton is another great hope but is always injured. Saqib Mahmood performed superbly in the North v South matches but hasn’t played all season. Experienced England internationals Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes are obviously missing the current ODI series against Australia off the back of rapidly trying to increase their workloads from four overs per match at the IPL to countless overs in Tests.

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Durham’s Mark Wood

Mark Wood is being rested from the T20I series, Reece Topley is limited to white-ball (List A/T20) cricket only, Toby Roland-Jones is a long-term absentee and particularly alarmingly, both Jake Ball and Tom Curran managed to get injured whilst with the England squad but not having actually played!

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Middlesex’s Toby Roland-Jones

It’s worth noting that TR-Js injury only came about post playing for England?! Other solid domestic players such as Jamie Porter, Liam Norwell and James Weighell have had their injury problems too. I really hope that behind the scenes some studies are being put in place to identify trends, manage player’s workloads and help keep players fit for England.

Anyway, as I was saying… Panesar for Yorkshire!

Not Surprisingly no Surprises!

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England have named their ODI squads for the match against Scotland north of the border and the series hosting of Australia.

https://www.ecb.co.uk/england/men/news/694732/england-name-squads-for-scotland-and-australia-odis

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.

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Silly Point will be in Edinburgh for the Scotland match and will provide a write-up complete with photos following the match.

Could Gleeson Gleam?

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Not making your professional debut until the ripe old age of twenty-seven has a distinctly Australian vibe about it but no, Blackpool born former Cumberland representative and now England Lions wicket-taker Richard Gleeson is English and pushing for what would be an inspiring national selection.

Gleeson averages sub-28 in all three formats (First Class, List A and T20) at domestic level and has claimed ten wickets in four outings for England Lions in West Indies on the current tour.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/473191.html

This on a trip where it’s been the spinners that have done most damage but right-arm-fast-medium bowler Gleeson hasn’t been able to help himself.

As raw as he was in senior cricket in 2016, Gleeson got a gig with Rangpur Riders in the Bangladesh Premier League. There are some who may scoff at the notion of an England call-up for a thirty-year-old with less than sixty professional outings spread across the three formats to his name but it could be that having earned this chance, having waited so long that Gleeson wants it more than some, that in a way he’s younger than his years such will be his enthusiasm and passion to seize an opportunity that he may well have thought would never come. A full England cap for Gleeson would be an inspiring tale to all minor county cricketers out there and indeed to the equivalent in various countries the globe over. The likes of Chris Woakes, Tom Curran and Mark Wood etc won’t make it easy for Gleeson to win a full cap but given the injuries to the likes of Liam Plunkett and with some rotation likely in T20Is at least as England focus on the 2019 ODI World Cup, an England debut for Gleeson might not be as far fetched as some would have thought only a short time ago.

A Complete Restructure of International Cricket… Again!

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Following Australia’s annihilation of England in the 2017-18 Ashes, there’s surely no better time to once again campaign for my proposed changes to the structure of international cricket, namely the fact that all Test series should consist of three matches.

Here’s the link to my last foray into global alterations…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/08/31/a-complete-restructure-of-international-cricket-revisited/

Admittedly I keep struggling to remember why I ever thought an odd number of teams was appropriate but even with tweaks, this is the crux of it:

All tours consist of three matches of each format, that’s Tests, ODIs and T20Is. There is an amalgamated points table covering all three formats. There has to be, you can’t have different teams getting relegated and promoted in different formats. It just wouldn’t be logistically possible in future cycles of the competition. The top division would have Test, ODI and T20I status but the division below would only have First Class, List A and T20 status. Nobody should have a divine right to have top status and every country the world over should have the opportunity to work their way to the highest echelons of international cricket. Players, media and fans would have the chance to travel to ‘unvisited’ parts of the world. The league would also provide the very clear qualification process for both ODI and T20I World Cups. That’s that the top positioned teams in each format at the end of each cycle qualify for the respective tournament.

On a side note, it’d be fascinating to see the career statistics of players only in matches that matter. Should Tom Curran and Mason Crane be recorded as actually having played Test cricket? Does Don Bradman average 99.94 if you strip away ‘Dead rubbers’?

Returning to the restructure of the global game, the scaremongers will point to the possibility of Armenia touring Australia, or India (Or whoever?) and all the telly money being relegated but if Armenia did play Australia then the gap will have been closed over many years. Armenia will have played competitive cricket for sometime and earned the right to challenge the historical might. If India or whoever fell from the top table then maybe China, USA of Timbuckzimbaboutermongolialand will pump tons of money into the game.

There are some half-hearted nonsensical league formats coming into place in international cricket shortly but quite frankly they’re a joke. Cricket continues to embarrass itself with an inability to identify a fair structure. Well if you’re reading ICC…