Six to Watch: Revisited

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Please find my original article entitled ‘Six to Watch’ by clicking the link below…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/six-to-watch/

Here’s an early season follow-up on the players that were identified in that piece.

Jofra Archer, 22, Sussex, All-Rounder

If Archer is eligible to represent England now, then he could be an outside bet for an Ashes trip though he hasn’t graced the Lions squad yet and provided England’s penchant to have a look first, it might be that he has to settle for England’s bench squad for the time being.

Archer has 18 CC wickets at 24.56 including two five-wicket hauls. Couple that with two half-centuries to help him total 223 runs at 55.75 and you’ve got a very destructive all-rounder. After a slightly expensive start there were wickets and runs in the List A competition too and Archer  is surely a player that spectators and selectors will be following closely.

Daniel Bell-Drummond, 23, Kent, Right-Handed Opening Batsman

DBD started the First Class campaign with… starts but went on to make back to back hundreds in the Royal London One Day Cup. He then followed up a duck blip with 90 and totalled 443 runs at an average of 63.29 in the competition. His strike rate was a healthy 87.38. That’s good but the very top batsman are striking at 100% as a bare minimum. He’ll look to the England Lions games to press his case and could make the ODI squad this season if England choose to experiment and rotate ahead of an Ashes tour.

Dom Bess, 19, Somerset, Off-Spin Bowler

Bess was nowhere to be seen in the early stages of the county season and had a quiet introduction to the County Championship. He didn’t make the one-day games either but has this afternoon just snapped up a maiden 2017 County Championship victim. Hopefully he can now kick on.*

Jack Burnham, 20, Durham, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

With Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick gone to Surrey, it looked as though Durham would be looking to Burnham to pile on the runs. He scored 150 against Durham MCCU in April but followed it up with only 15 and 4 in the opening round of County Championship matches against a strong Nottinghamshire line-up. He doesn’t appear to have played any second XI games so may well be injured. In the meantime the likes of Graham Clark and Cameron Steel have had their chance in the first team and progressed steadily.

Nick Compton, 33, Middlesex, Right-Handed Middle Order Batsman

Injuries and poor form have combined to mean that Compton just hasn’t got going this term. He’s got runs in the second XI including a century and against MCC in Abu Dhabi but hasn’t reached 40 in competitive cricket this season. In truth he’s probably struggling to hold down a spot in the Middlesex first XI at the moment.

Mark Footitt, 31, Surrey, Left-Arm Fast Medium Bowler

Footitt went viral when he kicked off the campaign with 6-14 against Warwickshire. Since then he’s continued to claim victims but has gone at around four an over on occasions. With Test series against South Africa, West Indies and in Australia on the horizon, alongside the quality of Anderson, Broad, Woakes and Stokes, Footitt could be a great weapon to slot into the side for the odd Test from time to time. He’s not in the Surrey line-up for their current match though and constant injury niggles may cost him an international career, as might the ability of fellow left-armers, county teammate Sam Curran and Sussex’s George Garton, both of whom have made the Lions squad though admittedly that squad is specifically for limited overs matches.

For the record, Footitt has 20 County Championship Division One victims in four matches this term at 23.65 apiece but at a leaky 3.77 runs per over.

Here’s Footitt on his way to his 21st First Class five-wicket haul earlier this season, Lancashire the victims.

We’ll catch up with the six later in the campaign to see which players seasons have flourished, which have faltered and which had pressed their case or even reached international honours.

*Bess would actually go on to claim match figures of 10-162 including second innings career best figures of 7-117!

Balancing Invincibility

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Two batsman are setting the county circuit alight this season and both of them are last term’s England cast-offs. One of them has assumed the captaincy of his employer and has revelled in the responsibility. The other has, at least in part, relinquished the leadership of his county. Both are making a strong case for a rapid recall to the national side this summer.

I am of course talking about Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance and Hampshire’s James Vince. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that many wanted both these batsman out of the England side. Starts but no substance for Vince. Single figure struggles for Ballance. Such glutinous run scoring as that displayed in the past month or so though, both in the County Championship and the Royal London One-Day Cup means that both batsman could don the Three Lions jersey again very soon. It could be that Ballance is more likely a recall to the Test side and Vince in ODIs. These possibilities depend however on how England choose to balance their Test side and whether they actually need a ‘new’ batsman at number five in the order. The all-round capabilities of the likes of Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes provide England with lots of options.

The management seem likely to experiment with the ODI squad post Champions Trophy. Winter Lions and North and South performers such as Liam Dawson, Dawid Malan, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Liam Livingstone, seem likely to be provided full international honours. Let’s not forget Ben Duckett either.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Not everybody hits the ground running when it comes to international cricket. In Ballance’s case he actually did, only to wobble later. Vince just couldn’t get out of second gear. A second or third coming for these two batsman could spell the start of substantial international careers.

Family Roots

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Some people say that it’s not easy to be the younger sibling of a superstar. Fortunately I don’t have a younger sibling so no poor sod has to carry that burden!

Billy Root however has to try and carve out a career of his own in the shadow of his elder brother, England Test captain Joe Root. Billy hit the headlines last week when brother Joe smacked him for six to win a one-day game but actually Root Jnr. is starting to scratch out a decent career for himself at Nottinghamshire.

Will he make his home county Yorkshire curse the fact that he’s not on their books?

Maybe being away from home territory and his elder brother isn’t a bad thing. He’s already got a First Class hundred to his name, made for Leeds/Bradford MCCU against Sussex and today he tonked 107 not out from 93 deliveries (10 fours, 2 sixes) against a Warwickshire attack that included Rikki Clarke, Keith Barker and Jeetan Patel. Root compiled more runs than Michael Lumb, Riki Wessels, Samit Patel and Brendan Taylor combined.

Whether or not Billy can become the Mark to Joe’s Steve remains to be seen (That’s a Waugh reference by the way!) but regardless, he’s at least hinted that a decent domestic career could lay ahead.

Don’t get carried away Billy. Stay grounded or… rooted you might say!

Ta-ra Zafar

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I wish Zafar Ansari the very best in whatever he does, personally and professionally, for the rest of his life… but he still made me a bit angry!

I’ve got no qualms with a professional sportsperson calling it quits sooner than is the norm and am a big believer that to be successful in anything… that you need other things. Dedicating and immersing yourself in your chosen career is great but the best preparation can sometimes be to do something completely different. Ansari always maintained that cricket wasn’t the be all and end all for him but what disappoints me is that, if he’s as intelligent as everybody claims, then didn’t he see this coming?

Surrey signed Scott Borthwick last year. Ansari surely knew that Borthwick would bat at three once he arrived at his new home. If Ansari sensed that his time was up then wasn’t he a bit selfish to go on tour with England?

Maybe I’m being selfish. He’s worked hard at junior and domestic level and maybe he merited the opportunity to play at the pinnacle but England’s selectors will surely look upon Ansari’s selection last winter with regret. They could have played somebody else and even if that player’s performances had been as underwhelming as Ansari’s, they may have been a better player for it and comeback stronger. Of course Liam Dawson might have played earlier, scored a pair, gone wicketless, never played again and therefore never scored that 66 not out. My reference to Ansari’s achievements in the Test arena as underwhelming are described in Test match standards however to have scored 49 Test runs and taken 5 Test wickets should be something to be really proud of… Is Ansari though?

I’m disappointed. It seems like a wasted selection that could have been spent on somebody else, somebody committed to the long term cause. That’s not to say I’m against selecting players well into their thirties either, as long as they intend to play for and are ideally contracted to, another couple of years in the game.

Is Ansari the answer?

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/is-ansari-the-answer/

No!

The Cricket Wheel of Fortune spins again…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/the-cricket-wheel-of-fortune/

Thanks for your efforts Zafar. All the very best in the years to come.

Ta-ra!

Why Not Wales?

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Ireland have their own cricket team and so do Scotland, so why are Wales silently tagged on with England?

It’s the England and Wales Cricket Team you know?

ECB stands for England and Wales Cricket Board but surely Welsh cricketers deserve the right to represent their home nation at international level, not just play for their big neighbours.

Should New Zealand’s cricketers have to scrap to get a gig for Australia?

Wales performed well at the 1979 ICC Trophy then between 1993 and 2001 played against Ireland and Scotland in the British Isles Chmpionships. Of course Ireland and Scotland joined the elite (Well almost!) and Wales were left to fend for themselves… so on themselves that they haven’t played competitively since. The Dragons (Maybe they’re called that?) played a few one-day games against England in the early 21st century and courtesy of former England opener Steve James they actually won the first meeting in 2002.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/2062244.stm

A couple of years later they beat Denmark in the C&G Trophy. A quick Google search suggests that the question of an independent Welsh cricket nation is often brought up, particularly at http://www.walesonline.co.uk. Of course the notion opens a can of worms regarding Glamorgan’s existence or at least their place in the English county structure and whether or not domestic cricket in Wales needs ramping up a level. Only recently and with only three teams were Ireland granted First Class status.

Maybe one day we’ll see some Welsh willow wielders wearing the Wales name!

Cricket Randoms

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There’s nothing we love more here at Silly Point than seeing our game gain global appeal, reaching out to untouched corners of the big blue and green. No pressure on Durham debutant Cameron Steel then! The California born bat has racked up appearances for Western Australia’s youth sides and has already tasted First Class cricket on half a dozen occasions when representing Durham MCCU. To date he has three First Class fifties including one against Durham last year. We’ll see how he gets on when it comes his turn to wield the willow, probably tomorrow.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-championship-division-2-2017/content/player/633301.html

On the subject of USA, Kieron Powell is back in West Indies whites. The man who gave it all up for baseball is currently holding the fort as WI slide into the abyss against Pakistan in Jamaica. Powell is undefeated on 33 at lunch with Windies precariously placed at 71-4.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-pakistan-2017/engine/match/1077953.html

In another corner of the world, well maybe not a corner but another location. Come to think of it, unless the world is flat then there probably aren’t really corners on the globe… are there?

Where was I going?

Zimbabwe!

Natsai M’Shangwe’s 8-91 for Mountaineers against Mid West Rhinos merits a mention. Performances such as this might provide the twenty-six-year-old with the opportunity to bring his Test match bowling average of 62.14 down to something a little more respectable in future. Opposition bowler James Bruce snapped up five wickets on First Class debut, suggesting that he might be better in real life than he was when I led Zimbabwe on International Cricket Captain!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1070906.html

One more for you, regarding my Telegraph Fantasy Cricket team that goes by the name of Roderick Brotherhood. Things could have been going a bit flat in the absence of my captain and moniker inspiration Gareth Roderick. Rodders is still suffering from his ‘mystery’ pre-season illness but fortunately… step forward Mr Riki Wessels. 202 not out from 177 deliveries including 22 fours and 7 sixes, thanks in no small part to the supporting act of Nottinghamshire’s lower order, has surely propelled me to the top of the table… at least in my family!

Other County Championship performances worth noting today:

James Vince: 143 not out. Pencilled in for an England recall against Ireland?

Haseeb Hameed: A duck… again!

Sam Robson: 144 not out. Anything you can do Vincey, I can do one better! Set for a recall against South Africa at the expense of Hameed?????

Liam Livingstone: 68 out of a total of 109 all out for Lancashire’s stand-in skipper. Penned in in permanent marker for a full international debut against Ireland!

Harry Dearden: 87 for Leicestershire’s teenage opener. His first fifty in his eleventh First Class innings. Not quite set for an international call-up!

Adam Barton: 11-0-81-0. Like Durham’s Steel, he’s making a proper debut having previously played Uni stuff. With Sussex currently 7-3 following Wessels double hundred, Barton might need to enhance his Chris Martinesque batting average of 2.12 from ten innings! There’s no sign of Silly Point favourite Ajmal Shahzad in the Sussex XI.

Ian Westwood: 153. Westwood for England anybody?

Ben Duckett: 45 not out out of a total of 102-6 and needing to go big given the performances of the likes of Vince, Robson and Livingstone. Penned in in biro for a recall against Ireland.

Tom Abell: 1 to follow 1 & 0 in Somerset’s opening match of the 2017 campaign for the new young skipper.

P.S. Powell’s just fallen second ball after lunch!

Don Bradman Cricket 17: England v USA T20I: Trumped!

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There have been many dark days in English cricket. Today was one of those days. It was like being in the world’s longest tunnel without a torch or possibly with a torch but no batteries or the batteries had run out!

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Having seemingly had the Trumpeteers under control at 117-5, we ‘allowed’ Team USA to post a competitive target of 170. A recalled Ajmal Shahzad was the pick of our bowlers. He claimed figures of 2-25 from his full allocation as well as having a chance dropped. Tom Curran also claimed two wickets (4-0-31-2). Matt Coles figures were less impressive: 4-0-40-0 and he would go onto compliment these with a golden duck!

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We began our pursuit sedately, the intention to keep wickets intact and accelerate as the overs elapsed. We were aided early on by some wides and opening batsmen Ben Duckett and Michael Carberry posted a half-century stand to commence the chase. Duckett fell first, caught behind off a good delivery from the spinner having constructed a decent 30 from 24 deliveries. Captain Joe Root built a brisk 30 from 21 deliveries but was harshly adjudged LBW before the returning Michael Carberry was also dismissed in debatable fashion. By then, Carberry had grafted to 26 from 30 deliveries. His innings lacked fluency but did include one majestic leg-side flick for four. He was adjudged caught behind off the spinner though no edge was apparent. Why there were no reviews available in this T20 International remains unclear.

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Dawid Malan (7), Liam Livingstone (Run out for 2 to add to a dropped dolly!) and Liam Dawson (0 to compliment figures of 2-0-20-0) offered little to the chase. After Jos Buttler had struck a rapid 27 both Tom Curran and Ajmal Shahzad found the boundary on more than one occasion but ultimately Shahzad was unable to clear the ropes as required from the last ball of the match. Tom Curran (8) was run out and The Stars and Stripes ran out victors in Taunton by the small margin of just three runs.

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Maybe we got our tactics wrong. Possibly we should have attacked in the Powerplay but whilst we may have had more runs on the board early on, we would likely have lost more wickets too. To the loyal supporters of English cricket, the team offer their sincerest apologies for this result and promise to dig deep in the face of opposition to come.