England have been desperately seeking a Test number three for some time. Someone with the resilience of an opener but enough stroke play and the right mindset to set the tempo. They want a player that can prevent the middle order stroke players from being exposed to the new ball and crucially leave Joe Root in his optimum number four position.
The player they’ve identified doesn’t have a bucket load of First Class centuries nor has he spent years being groomed in the England Lions. He’s been in and out of the England team, up and down the order but should now get a run at three where he’s already thriving. That’s particularly impressive given the lack of competitive preparation.
The player in question is not James Vince, Sam Northeast or any other celebrated or touted batsman… he’s Zak Crawley and he’s just struck his maiden Test ton…
The time has come for England to move on from Joe Denly. Denly has fought hard and contributed useful innings but he’s also been extremely (And I mean extremely) lucky. You only have to count the amount of times that he’s been dropped (I mean by fielders) in his career.
With Joe Root certain to return to the England side the following batting line-up: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, Root, Stokes and Pope can not only hopefully be a top six for a number of years but have provided enough evidence to suggest that we can do more than hope.
As for Denly, the likes of James Hildreth and Sam Northeast amongst others will despair at the opportunities that he’s had. I’ll say it again though, Denly has contributed and he’s tried his best but with Dan Lawrence and co. waiting in the wings, it’s time to put a full stop on Denly’s Test career.
The results are in but there’s not much to choose between incumbent Joe Denly and the 2019 County Championship’s leading run-scorer Dominic Sibley.
57% of you voted for Warwickshire’s Sibley to stroll straight into the opening slot whilst 43% want Kent’s Denly to retain his position. Of course if Sibley does open alongside Rory Burns in New Zealand then Denly is still likely to retain a place in the XI at number three. Captain Joe Root is almost certain to yo-yo to number four once more.
Needless to say that Zak Crawley, another Kent man, will need to outperform the competition in the warm-up matches if he’s to convince http://www.sillypointcricket.com followers that he should play in the first Test.
Many thanks for voting and look out for my next poll soon.
At the start of the year I stumbled upon CricketXI, an alternative fantasy cricket competition. This game focused purely on the County Championship (First Class) campaign.
I selected a team of young guns and as you can see things went really well! It was great to see the likes of Jonny Tattersall, Zak Crawley and Will Jacks develop. Harry Brook, Ben Twohig (Love his name!) and Matthew Carter also made great strides.
Unfortunately Surrey pacer Matt Dunn got injured early in the campaign and disappeared from the professional radar once again. Wicketkeeper Lewis McManus lost his place in the Hampshire First XI. Teammate Asher Hart and Essex spinner Aron Nijjar (Who fooled me by playing in a pre-season university match!) couldn’t get near their respective first XIs. Neither could spinner Sukhjit Singh who was sadly released by Warwickshire at the end of the campaign. Warwickshire clearly have little interest in developing their own young players and much prefer to sign absolutely anybody. While that’s great for players like Will Rhodes and Olly Stone, it’s not for players like Singh and Andy Umeed.
As well as my outfit of kids, I also selected a more ‘serious’ side but following early season injury, Sam Northeast failed to really get going having relocated from Kent to Hampshire and has fallen way down the England pecking order. Disappointingly, Sussex batsman Luke Wells and Nottinghamshire’s Riki Wessels failed to back-up productive 2017 campaigns.
On the plus side, James Hildreth was amongst the runs as ever, meanwhile Tom Bailey, Ben Sanderson and everybody’s favourite ex-England cricketer Jade Dernbach, contributed with the ball.
You appear to be able to play a traditional fantasy format as well as head to head leagues. They’re also set to have an IPL (T20) version of the game having already run an Australian Sheffield Shield (First Class) tournament.
For now at least, I’ve avoided selecting a proper team for the 2018 County Championship (First Class) and have selected the above side. My team’s moniker is The Kids Are Alright. I’ll probably compose another team along the lines of my Telegraph outfit in due course and on that note…