This is what happens when you drop James Vince. At least he would have hit a couple of glorious cover drives before nicking off.. and don’t get me started on moving Root and Malan up the order!
This is what happens when you drop James Vince. At least he would have hit a couple of glorious cover drives before nicking off.. and don’t get me started on moving Root and Malan up the order!
Victoria batsman Will Pucovski recently retired hurt from a Sheffield Shield match after being hit on the head by a delivery from New South Wales quick bowler Sean Abbott.
Pucovski has a bit of a track record for getting hit and of course for Abbott, the bowler of the delivery that tragically terminated Phillip Hughes’ life, it must have been particularly distressing.
Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash would chew gum when batting and if he was not out overnight, he would stick the gum to the top of the bat handle then carry on chewing it the following morning. I’ve previously written about why I think all players should where a helmet when batting even if the spinners are on.
At the risk of drawing you to the obvious, I don’t think any athlete should chew gum when playing sport.
Imagine a batsman is at the crease and is chewing gum, they get hit by the ball or even when diving for the crease they accidentally allow the gum to fall down the back of the throat. It could become lodged and they could choke. The other players and medical team might not be aware that the player was chewing gum. It may seem like one of those once in a blue moon scenarios but it could happen and it’s just not worth the risk.
In football (Soccer), a player chewing gum may jump for the ball, get a knock to the head from an opposition player and choke on their gum. It’s just not worth the risk. Is the gum enhancing the player’s performance? No!
Domestic cricket in Ireland has had First Class, List A and T20 status since the start of 2017 but only has three teams. They are: Leinster Lightning, Northern Knights and North West Warriors. There are two other cricket unions in Ireland (Connaught and Munster) but they aren’t qualified to compete at official level. They need helping to do so because with five teams Irish cricket would have more value. With three teams it’s… sorry but a little bit of a joke!
If there were five teams and we first suggest applying a straight forward home and away league structure in each format of the game then that’s eight First Class matches, Eight List As and Eight T20s. You could possibly add a final to each or at least the limited overs tournaments. That volume of games wouldn’t be too much or too little and should help breed competitive cricket that is better preparation for international and particularly Test level for the players. To aid with the development of the game, each side could be allowed to sign an English county pro, maybe one sick of the long slog of the English season as well as a loan or two of younger players during the course of the campaign. It’d be great for an English county second-teamer to get some game time in Ireland to push for a place in their county first XI and bring some experience of professionalism to Ireland. That’s not meant as a slight on the Irish, just that the experience of having being groomed in a professional county environment could be passed onto the players in Ireland. Building those relationships may also contribute to Irish players getting signed up by English county sides or other teams around the globe as a result of their connections gained.
Repeating the notion that three teams isn’t enough, quite simply it just doesn’t breed competitiveness. The other recent addition to Test cricket, Afghanistan, have a far greater number of teams but also a much larger population. Some amy argue that the fourteen or sixteen matches a season per format in the English County Championship is too much and the the six state structure of Australia is more ideal. Actually, New Zealand, a country that has an almost identical population as Ireland (Around 4.7 million) also has six domestic teams and provides an excellent example for Irish cricket. Said number of teams equates to enough matches to identify the superior team and allow players to find form but not too many so as to alleviate the risk to injury and general wear and tear of, in particular, fast bowlers.
Zimbabwe’s domestic cricket has been a disaster in recent times but hopefully Ireland’s can continue to grow, provide a competitive competition (Isn’t that the least you’d expect in a competition?) and furnish the national side with quality.
Whilst Cameron Bancroft does okay opening the batting for Australia’s Test outfit, his predecessor Matt Renshaw is sniffing for a recall at the earliest opportunity. Since the turn of the year the nearly twentytwo-year-old has reeled off First Class scores of 56, 32, 170, 0, 112, 12, 3, 143* & 8. If the opposition get him early then fair enough but if they don’t then the Middlesbrough lad cashes in. Remember that he’s got a Test high of 184 and averages just shy of 37.
Back to Bancroft. He produced one good knock during the 2017-18 Ashes and under huge pressure for his place, has made starts and got one fifty in South Africa. It’s a good little battle for the Australian selectors to have being played out. Western Australia’s Bancroft has three or four years on Renshaw and experience of opening at county level in England for Gloucestershire that will serve him well. Queensland’s Renshaw is clearly made of tough stuff though, even if he recently rather naively conceded five penalty runs!
Don’t forget Renshaw’s domestic partner Joe Burns either. He had a bit of a stinker in his last Test but he’s still only 28 and has three Test tons to his name. South Australia’s Jake Weatherald is another one to keep an eye on, though he’s failed to convert starts this term. Travis Dean is another who despite not backing up the absurdly good start to his First Class career, has recently notched up a couple of hundreds. His average is a disappointing 34 exactly but six tons seven fifties is a good conversion rate. Remember that opening the batting isn’t easy. I should know because I’ve done it in Division Seven of the Nidderdale League and Division Five of the Harrogate and District Evening League!!!
Like Renshaw, another player from the north of England worth keeping tabs on is Charlie Hemphrey. Despite a duck on First Class debut, the Doncaster native registered a century early in his Australian domestic career and following a difficult time thereafter, has made hundreds in each of his last two outings. Twentyeight-year-old Hemphrey has produced these performances batting at four for Queensland. Burns, Renshaw and Hemphrey helping contribute to a strong batting order.
Current Test incumbent David Warner is only thirty-one so there’s life in the old dog yet and unlike some, he seems committed to the Test cause and not yet seeking a purely T20 franchise existence.
Competition for the opening slots for Australia’s Test side is scorching hot and the selectors will be chuffed at the tough decisions to be made.
Dear Andrew Strauss
Please find enclosed my application for the role of National Selector as advertised on http://www.ecb.co.uk
On the MAC version of Cricket Captain 2017 (Admittedly on Easy Mode!), I was responsible for the selection of the England side that won the 2017 Champions Trophy on home turf. Who can forget David Willey’s 8-58 against Australia?! That summer, I had already made the brave decision to recall batsman Ben Duckett to the Test side despite his tough baptism the previous winter.
Duckett repaid the faith by averaging 82.89 in the respectable 2017-18 2-2 away Ashes series draw.
In 2018 I introduced Yorkshire seamer Ben Coad to Test cricket and he duly struck with his first delivery against Pakistan. Coad went on to claim just shy of 200 wickets as well as surpassing 1000 runs during my time as selector. As was the case with the recall of Duckett, there was resistance from some quarters towards the selection of Coad. Some in the media believed that I was applying Yorkshire bias and only selecting Coad because we were born in the same town. Proving the doubters wrong, his performances with bat and ball throughout his career confirmed that I possess nous when it comes to identifying under the radar talent.
Mason Crane’s dismissals of three Indian batsmen, all first ball on T20I debut was another highlight of that summer.
Another spinner, Adil Rashid, excelled in Sri Lanka where he famously followed up figures of 7-66 with a monumental knock of 161. Again, there were those that campaigned against the selections of said spinners, at least in the respective formats in which they would go onto succeed. Again, those doubters were silenced.
Following our Champions Trophy success in 2017, we promptly won the 2019 ODI World Cup. Once again the nation were euphoric in their celebrations of home soil success.
My insistence that Moeen Ali replace Jason Roy at the top of the order was both ruthless and crucial to our success. Moeen’s blazing knock of 112 from 80 deliveries in the final against India will live long in the memory of many.
Alongside Moeen, Ben Duckett totalled 562 runs at 80.29, again this demonstrates my ability to get the best out of mischievous players. Many would’ve left the Northamptonshire batsman on the international scrapheap but his performances in both the Ashes and ODI World Cup were immense.
Chris Woakes claimed twenty tournament wickets at just 12.55 apiece and please don’t ignore the contribution made by left field selection Luke Fletcher. This included a vital wicket in the final at Lords.
Yes we lost the 2019 Ashes 3-0. Thirty-five-year-old Daryl Mitchell failed to back-up his debut knock of 73. He didn’t make another fifty before being dropped for the fifth Test and James Harris (0-102) had an ignominious introduction to Test cricket. The selection of thirty-nine-year-old Jimmy Adams’ (34 runs @ 8.50) in T20I cricket didn’t work either.
Nor did the selection of Ross Whiteley (99 runs @ 9.90). However, there would be over 200 Test wickets for Jack Leach, a Test century for Max Holden and many Test tons for Will Rhodes as well as numerous ODI tons for Daniel Bell-Drummond during my time as Selector. Sometimes you have to sift through the dirt to find the diamonds.
I would like to think that the T20I career of sometime captain Benny Howell…
… and ODI career of Ollie Rayner, the latter also earning two Test caps, will reflect well on my ability to identify talent and think outside the box when selecting the composition of a side. Even if these players didn’t excel statistically, they were under rated efficient contributors to the side.
Other highlights during my tenure included: In Bangladesh in 2021, having lost the first Test by just one wicket courtesy of Jofra Archer’s no ball, we chased down 431 in the second Test to level the series. Liam Livingstone (122 & 166) and Will Rhodes (111 & 128*) famously made tons in each innings.
Middlesex’s Harry Podmore claimed figures of 3-51 on ODI debut but disappointingly we failed to progress from the round robin stage of the 2022 Champions Trophy. Paul Coughlin (Two six-wicket hauls) though was for a time the number one bowler in the world in ODI cricket.
In the 2022 T20I World Cup we reached the semi-final before we were cruelly defeated by India. Hampshire’s Lewis McManus, another shrewd selection, contributed 225 runs at 56.25 including a swashbuckling ton against Pakistan.
Another gloveman, Sussex’s Ben Brown, registered fifties in his first two T20I caps.
Unfortunately by the time 2023 came around we were ranked as low as 8th in ODI cricket and 9th in both Tests and T20Is. We scored 447 in the fourth innings of an Ashes Test but still lost!
On the plus side, Surrey all-rounder Sam Curran, originally bravely selected whilst still in his teens, passed 100 wickets ODI cricket. Another find was Nottinghamshire batsman Billy Root, who stepped out of his brother’s shadow to register an ODI century against West Indies. I’m extremely proud of his selection because both the media and public were extremely sceptical.
After a run of ten straight Test defeats, we did at least beat Zimbabwe 2-0 at home. Liam Livingstone and Ben Foakes’ partnership of 351 proving crucial.
Somerset speedster Jamie Overton claimed nine wickets at just 15.56 upon his introduction to Test cricket.
Opening batsman Mark Stoneman went onto pass 4000 Test runs though we probably shouldn’t have allowed him so much opportunity to close in on 5000 when clearly past his sell by date!
Lewis McManus and Sam Northeast recorded a record-breaking partnership of 263 in an ODI and Sam Evans scored centuries in each of his first three Tests.
Defeats against Namibia and Canada in the 2023 ODI World Cup was a disappointing way to bow out. Durham bowler James ‘Killer’ Weighell’s figures 0f 10-0-102-0 against the North American side were confirmation that I’d persisted with him too long.
I don’t think Hamidullah Qadri’s Test bowling average ever got below 60.00 and Mark Footitt (7 wickets in 5 Tests) was another one I probably got wrong. Don’t let those performances against associate nations, world rankings or runs of defeat after defeat deflect from my achievements though. A Champions Trophy and ODI World Cup win are not to be scoffed at, particularly when under the pressure of playing in front of the expectations of a home crowd. The selections and performances of Will Rhodes (Tests), Daniel Bell-Drummond (ODIs) and Lewis McManus (ODIs/T20Is) as well as Jack Leach, Ben Coad, Jofra Archer and Liam Norwell (Tests), Jamie Overton and Paul Coughlin (ODIs) demonstrate my ability to see beyond the obvious and identify players capable of succeeding at international level.
I’m extremely confident that I can transfer my success (Mediocrity, call it what you will!) in virtuality to reality and excel in the role of National Selector. I’m available for interview at any time and await your response with much anticipation.
I recently went hiking and not until over a week later did I realise that I’d forgotten to take my old mate L.B. Wilson with me. As a result, I’ve been feeling quite guilty, like a fielder who’s dropped a catch. The truth is though that little Leo’s never been the same since my wife, when vacuuming, hit the CD storage facility that he resides in and as a result of the fall, decapitated him! Though an attempt at reconstructive surgery was made, Leo’s future has long been in the balance. Combine Leo’s injury with the fact that I’m clearly not responsible enough to remember to take him out with me whenever I go hiking, I’ve decided that L.B. must go the same way as my other retired gimmick, International Duck Watch.
R.I.P. L.B 2016-2018
Following our One-Day Plate success, we, Yorkshire, turned our attention back to the First Class format. The knockout stages of the One-Day competition were actually played intertwined with the First Class season. Obviously there was a lot of attention around how I would back-up last year’s introduction to the four-day game given my epic knock of 325 against Sussex.
In the first round of matches against Middlesex, I got up and running with a first innings knock of 40 but that was only a prelude of what was to come. Come the second innings, I shared a partnership of 332 of which my contribution was all of 269. I was actually thinking about overhauling the 325 I had made last year but it wasn’t to be. The most frustrating element to this innings was that it would remain my highest knock of the 2023 campaign.
My reward for another double hundred was to be promoted up the order from five to three which suited me fine. I went on to make 118 and 32 against Glamorgan before enduring a frustrating period with the bat. My next run of scores was as follows: 30 & 32, 0 (1st ball!), 2 & 18 and run out for six before scratchily making 54 in the second innings of that match against Durham. Things improved thereafter as I went on to make at least a fifty in each of the next five matches (And in six out of seven in total). With the fixtures now in reverse, against Durham again, I registered scores of 27 and 67 before really enjoying myself against Kent. As was the case against Middlesex on the opening day, I dominated a lop-sided partnership of 246. I contributed 192 to the combo but went onto make another double century. Rather embarrassingly, I ran myself out with a lazy bit of work when returning for the second having been on 199. I’d reached 200 with the first run but the dismissal kind of took the gloss off any celebrations. With centuries in each innings of the match insight, I was gutted when I failed to execute a shot properly having made 87 in the second innings. I followed those knocks up with scores of 1 and 143 against Mitchell Starc’s Leicestershire.
Despite my List A and First Class contributions, I failed to earn a T20 gig with Yorkshire so returned to the club scene with Leeds. In the only outing that I was required to bat, I only faced the last two balls of the match. I promptly hit the penultimate ball of the game for six to tie the scores then ran two to seal victory. It was great to really give something back to Leeds and not be seen as some big show for whom professional cricket had gone to his head. I still care about my club side and the amateur game in general. It groomed me to be the professional that I’ve become.
Upon my return to Yorkshire and off the back my my recent knocks of 67, 200, 87, 1 and 143 I was promptly demoted in the order to number four in the batting line-up. I wasn’t particularly enthused about that. Following demotion, I fell for just eight against my Northamptonshire nemesis, South African spinner Tabraiz Shamsi. I was his victim again in the second innings but did at least briefly take him to the cleaners before falling for 54. There then followed solid knocks of 50 and 80 against Derbyshire but disappointment at failing to convert them into more hundreds. In the penultimate match of the season against Glamorgan, I batted abysmally and was deservedly mopped up for scores of just 1 and 17. Following that one poor performance, I went full circle, demoted back to number five in the batting order and so finished the campaign where I had started. There was no double ton against Middlesex this time but scores of 64 and 15 took me to a season tally of 1472 runs in First Class cricket. I finished as seventh highest run scorer in the top division though my average of 54.52 was some way down the rankings.
It was a disappointing season in the longest format for Yorkshire. Winning our final two matches restored some pride but we finished in an unacceptable sixth place, way, way off challenging for the title.
As for my career, I now total 2237 First Class runs at an impressive average of 65.79. I’ve reorder six centuries complimented by nine half-tons. Of those six hundreds, three have been doubles and one a triple. I’m very proud of those performances. I also average a healthy 63.73 in List A cricket but am under no illusion regarding the challenge ahead to maintain those figures. I’ve signed up with Yorkshire for both First Class and List A cricket in 2024 but do hope to finally win a professional T20 contract. If I can get some T20 game time with Yorkshire then I can push for gigs in the Irish or Afghan T20 competitions.
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