Ben Duckett and Nelson Mandela in the same Sentence!

The last time that England’s cricketers were in Asia, batsman Ben Duckett was there. Despite scoring three fifties (ODIs/Tests) in Bangladesh, he had a torrid time of things in India then literally pissed off top brass the following winter in Oz. Whilst the senior team lap it up in Sri Lanka and the Lions travel to UAE, Duckett can be found playing in the Mzansi Super League in South Africa. It’s the latest T20 league to pop up on the global calendar (Yeah that’s right, Canada and Hong Kong had competitions before SA!).

Representing the wonderfully named Nelson Mandela Bay Giants, The stocky left-hander smashed 75 (5×4, 5×6) runs from just 45 deliveries. Hopefully it’s a sign of things to come after some lean patches post that run-laden summer a couple of years ago. Next year he’ll join Ben Slater and Joe Clarke in an exciting new batting line-up for Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. He’s probably still quite some way off an England recall but the shoots of recovery have started sprouting.

Another left-handed batsman who’ll be hoping to use the Mzansi league as a springboard back to international selection is Dawid Malan. The discarded Middlesex stalwart will lead Cape Town Blitz while domestic colleague Eoin Morgan will turn out for Tshwane Spartans. Morgan is a left-hander who doesn’t need to work his way back into the England fold, he’s already there!

England Ignored XI

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England have named their Test and ODI squads for the winter tour of Sri Lanka as well as announcing the Lions squads for matches against Pakistan A in UAE:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_cricket_team_in_Sri_Lanka_in_2018–19

http://www.espncricinfo.com/story/_/id/24802981/jason-roy-named-england-lions-four-day-squad

Here’s a party of players who must feel unfortunate not to have at least made the Lions cut…

First XI

Ben Slater (Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire) 349 CC runs @ 43.62 (Div 1) / 676 CC runs @ 42.75 (Div 2) / 386 ODC runs @ 55.14

Left-handed opening bat Slater’s consistent run plundering earned him a move from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire. He made runs in both the First Class (Divisions 1 & 2) and List A format. Next year he’ll hope to continue to go well amongst many new faces at Trent Bridge.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire) 972 CC runs @ 44.18

Having departed Yorkshire, Rhodes grew and grew at his new home finishing the campaign with four tons in the County Championship. He and Dominic Sibley look a strong foundation for a Warwickshire side that like a signing!

Daryl Mitchell (Worcestershire) Captain 957 CC runs @ 38.81

With a lot on his plate off the field, Mitchell made four tons in Division One having previously been criticised for scoring the majority of his centuries in Division Two. He’s a more than handy asset with the ball too and could captain the side.

James Hildreth (Somerset) 1089 CC runs @ 45.38 / 438 ODC runs @ 62.57

Runs, more runs for the Somerset veteran, not just in the First Class arena but with the white-ball too. Somehow he remains ignored by yet another selection panel.

Tom Abell (Somerset) Vice-Captain 883 CC runs @ 40.41 / 19 wickets @ 25.89

Similar to Mitchell in that he’s a batsman come all-rounder, Abell’s batting has started to fall into place again and he and Mitchell would make a good leadership brains trust.

Ed Barnard (Worcestershire) 516 CC runs @ 23.45 / 49 CC wickets @ 23.22 / 153 ODC runs @ 76.50 / 16 ODC wickets @ 28.88

It’s utterly absurd that Barnard’s efforts haven’t been recognised by the selectors this season. With both bat and ball and in red and white-ball cricket, Barnard has  consistently starred.

Ryan Higgins (Gloucestershire) 48 CC wickets @ 18.38 / 195 ODC runs 65.00

Like Rhodes, a move has been a good move for Higgins and like Barnard, he’s performed in all facets in all formats having joined Gloucestershire from Middlesex.

Ben Brown (Sussex) Wicketkeeper 912 CC runs @ 43.43 (52ct/1st)

Another strong campaign from the Sussex gloveman. A genuine top six willow wielder and has handy captaincy experience to support Mitch and Abell behind the stumps.

Matthew Carter (Nottinghamshire) 16 CC wickets @ 32.81 / 13 ODC wickets @ 15.23

Carter didn’t rack up phenomenal stats but the potential is there and it was good to see him get more experience under his belt. England should ‘Get Carter’! Sorry, I’ve used that one before but couldn’t resist!

Tom Bailey (Lancashire) 64 CC wickets @ 19.66

Bailey’s consistent wicket-taking means that he’s another odd one to be so obviously neglected. He poses a constant threat for batsman and averaged sub 20 with the ball in County Championship Division One.

Ben Coad (Yorkshire) 48 CC wickets @ 16.33

Like his Lancashire rival and in this squad, opening bowling partner, Coad is another strange one to miss out. Despite his excellent Division One performances he’s rarely mentioned in England dispatches. There’s possibly a reluctance on the part of the selectors to pick another Yorkshireman.

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The following players could also make the squad with some selections geared towards limited overs cricket in particular.

Ian Cockbain (Gloucestershire) 208 ODC runs @ 69.33

Laurie Evans (Sussex) 243 CC runs @ 60.75 / 614 T20B runs @ 68.22

Ben Cox (Worcestershire) Wicketkeeper 396 ODC runs @ 79.20 (18ct)

Sam Cook (Essex) 27 CC wickets @ 25.33

Ben Sanderson (Northamptonshire) 60 CC wickets @ 16.70

Amir Virdi (Surrey) 39 CC wickets @ 30.36

Even beyond this squad there are yet more England qualified players to have been neglected. Maybe Ed Smith and crew will pull another surprise on us soon!

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!

Immortal Batsmen: Revisited

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Following on from a quick little article that I posted the other day, here are some more English batsmen with healthy batting averages.

Ben Slater (Derbyshire) List A batting average: 51.84 (29 innings)

Derbyshire’s Slater has been in such good form this term that he’s courted the attention of Nottinghamshire, a club not shy of a signing and he looks likely to be at Trent Bridge next year. If Slater does have England ambitions then he’d be a fool not to recognise that moving from an unfashionable county to a fashionable one and a County Championship First Division side at that, will enhance his chances of representing the full England team.

Ed Pollock (Warwickshire) T20 batting average: 31.44 (9 innings)

Clearly it’s a very small sample size but Pollock has demonstrated a consistent ability to get his team off the a flying start. A strike rate of 174.69 confirms such. Pollock is averaging eighteen deliveries per innings which combined with his strike-rate equates to his average of 31.44 but just imagine if he could stay at the crease even longer without compromising his attacking nature. If he could bat for twice as long, which if he faced half the strike would take him into the twelfth over then he’d be up towards 70. Bat out the entire innings and he’d pass 100. The T20 Blast commences today and Pollock could be one of the stars!

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Michael Burgess (Sussex) First Class batting average: 47.56 (28 innings)

Leicestershire didn’t want him but Sussex have made the most of him… or have they? A wicketkeeper by trade, Burgess is having to settle for a Jos Buttler style specialist number seven batting role. He’s helping a strong Sussex tail eke out big totals and it’ll be interesting to see where Burgess ends up in the order and how his career progresses.

Varun Chopra (Essex) List A batting average: 44.12 (106 innings)

Chopra’s average is impressive as it straddles over a hundred innings however a career strike-rate of 76.08 highlights how the game has evolved in recent times and what levels of tempo are necessary at domestic level compared to the current international environment. Chopra is also closing in on 10,000 First Class runs complete with ten tons. A former England Under-19 captain, he’s never quite been able to put himself towards the front of the queue in regards to staking an international claim.

Don Bradman Cricket 17: Home Nations ODI Series

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In the first match of the series against Ireland in Malahide, ODI caps were presented to Daniel Bell-Drummond, Aneurin Donald, Sam Curran and Tom Curran.

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Jake Ball struck with the very first delivery of the match but our hosts went about laying a solid platform thanks in the main to Ed Joyce. Once we dismissed Joyce we ripped through the Irish middle order and had them well and truly on the ropes however an immensely frustrating 8th wicket partnership between Boyd Rankin (67 not out) and George Dockrell (57 not out) saw Ireland propel themselves to 294-7. Needing to score at nearly a run-a-ball, a number of our batsmen made starts but failed to convert them into a big score and we went down by a mammoth 120 runs.

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Having headed north to Scotland our batsmen displayed a welcome ability to battle through some probing periods of bowling and convert cameos into innings of substance.

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Ben Duckett in particular displayed a Test match temperament in making 63 from 88 deliveries before eventually falling to Con de Lange. De Lange would finish the innings with devil like figures of 6-66.

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Having risked wasting the efforts of Duckett, we were indebted to Liam Dawson who top scored with 71 not out batting at number nine.

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Surrey teenager Sam Curran impressed with figures of 2-47…

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… but it was Jake Ball (3-50) who led the way again as we held off the Scots to claim a 30-run victory and our first points of the series.

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After getting a first win under our belt we were confident of putting on a better showing against the Irish on home territory at Headingley. Our nemesis Boyd Rankin (64 not out) had other ideas however. For the second match in a row between the sides he was ably supported by George Dockrell to take Ireland past 300 despite the ever impressive Sam Curran’s 3-55. After Daniel Bell-Drummond (30) and Ben Duckett (28) put on 50 for the first wicket, Rankin (4-24) and Dockrell (5-31) sent our middle order packing in the blink of an eye. Aneurin Donald’s series continued to peter out, the young Welshman falling first ball, one of George Dockrell’s five victims.

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The sum of all parts added up to a 172-run mauling at the hands of our Irish enemies.

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Following another thrashing at the hands of the Irish it was felt necessary to make changes for the second match against Scotland at Trent Bridge. Moeen Ali, Aneurin Donald and Tom Curran were all dropped. Adil Rashid was also axed following a poor showing on his home ground. ODI Debuts were handed out to Middlesex duo Dawid Malan and Ollie Rayner whilst there were international recalls for Sam Billings and Chris Jordan. Replacing Moeen at number three, Malan hinted at international quality when striking a run-a-ball 20 and would later prove effective with the ball.

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German born off-spinner Ollie Rayner had almost immediate success, striking in the first over of his ODI career.

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The psychological scars from the Irish trauma were too much to bear though and after Daniel Bell-Drummond was run out for the second time in four innings and Jos Buttler threw away an impressive start we collapsed to a paltry 149 all out. That man Con de Lange leading the charge again with impressive figures of 4-14. Despite some tight bowling from part-time leg-spinner Dawid Malan (1-9) and Rayner’s debut wicket we went down by six wickets.

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A bottom of the table finish was not what we had expected at the start of the tournament but hopefully our young players will have benefited from some harsh lessons ahead of even sterner tests in the future.