Chris Rushworth will never play for England. Jamie Porter could do if James Anderson ever retires. Ben Coad might do in the years to come.
The above players are often dismissed as horses for courses. It’s said that they bowl well in England but won’t elsewhere. Well, England play half their games in England and James Anderson himself has shown that players can develop and perform overseas. Remember as well, that while James Anderson is considered great, he was selected at a young age and persevered with despite averaging over forty five years into his international career. He was allowed to become great. Toby Roland-Jones briefly displayed that a player who had honed their skills at domestic level could make a worthy contribution when selected at a slightly more ripe age.
Rushworth, Porter and Coad are not three-dimensional cricketers. They may not even be two-dimensional and tend to be pigeon holed as long format specialists… well, at domestic level anyway. They may actually be more than reasonable white-ball bowlers but are often preserved by Durham, Essex and Yorkshire respectively for four-day affairs.
Said players have not necessarily taken the usual route to first team regularity or potential England recognition. They have consistently performed however and in Porter’s case, similar to Anderson, have overcome serious injury hurdles. It’s unlikely that any of these players would let England down or be woefully out of their depth if at least provided a few games. Of course anybody can have a quiet debut.
As mentioned, for Rushworth, it won’t happen but for Porter and Coad, though they may seem way down the pecking order at present, the chance could yet come. Of course the opportunity to play any cricket would help their cause!
Most players can look good in highlights packages but watching Jhye Richardson bowl in the Big Bash only, errr… highlights how he can’t spend his career hiding away on the domestic circuit. Even the franchise circuit isn’t enough for the Perth Scorchers 24-year-old. If international cricket really is to remain the pinnacle then that’s where this lad needs to be.
An injury setback or two have, like so many, have hampered his progress but he’s steaming in now. Though he hasn’t clocked up many First Class appearances (Not an unusual thing for Australian cricketers), he has already played Tests. Yes T20 would seem the obvious avenue but I hope that we see Richardson playing in all formats… and I’m an England fan!
Australia and Perth Scorchers have historically produced a wide variety of pace bowling options (Have Australia tried too many?). Fingers crossed that Richardson can stay fit and push to the front of the queue because he really is a pleasure to watch.
Obviously this season was a little different but still, here’s a review of the six players that I identified were worth watching this year. Remember that it was a transfer special!
Paul Coughlin, Durham
13 T20 Blast wickets at an average of 16.23 from just 20 overs back up north at Durham, was a healthy return for Coughlin. The all-rounder was injured almost as soon as he arrived at Nottinghamshire and just never really got going. He was an England Lion but despite his blast showing, is surely a long way from full international recognition. Averaged a whopping 101.33 with the ball in the Bob Willis Trophy!
Josh Shaw, Gloucestershire
Limited opportunity in the Blast but claimed 8 wickets at 41.00 with a best of 3-13 in the First Class format. Having finally made his frequent loans from Yorkshire to Gloucestershire permanent, he’s displayed wicket taking effectiveness in the past and should be an integral part of the Bristol based bowling attack moving forward.
Jack Leaning, Kent
After a tough debut, Leaning soon made a score of 220* in a record-breaking stand for Kent. That he only totalled 279 runs in eight innings however confirms what a struggle the campaign as a whole was! Clocked up a respectable 201 runs at 33.00 with a best of 55* in the T20s.
Luke Wood, Lancashire
Picked up seven wickets at 20.43 in the Blast but only three wickets in the Bob Willis Trophy. Still, an underrated left-armer with time on his side.
Dawid Malan, Yorkshire
Malan’s arrival in Yorkshire soon resulted in a First Class double ton and he’ll be pleased to have remained in the mix for England if only in white-ball cricket. Frustratingly, he really could’ve been a fine Test number four/five though. Failed to show up for Yorkshire in the T20 Blast however, scoring a paltry 36 runs at 9.00!
Haseeb Hameed, Nottinghamshire
Hameed registered a hugely encouraging 272 First Class runs at an average of 38.86 in seven innings. His top score was 87 and unlike Malan, he could yet play Test cricket again. Fingers crossed for one of sports great comeback stories!
I was surprised to discover that Sussex have released 29-year-old batsman Luke Wells. Predominantly a red-ball cricketer, Wells has eighteen First Class tons to his name as well as having made handy contributions with his part-time spin.
Left-hander Wells is Sussex through and through but it’s to be hoped that he can find opportunities elsewhere on the county circuit. He’d walk into quite a few teams and I’m stunned that Sussex have not renewed his contract!
It’s great to see Haseeb Hameed make an encouraging start to life at Nottinghamshire. The twenty-three-year-old clearly needed a move away from Lancashire to start afresh. Peter Moores might not have been everybody’s cup of tea as an international coach but seems to get the best out of players on the county circuit.
Hameed has registered scores of 68, 52, 21, 1, 22 and 87 in the Bob Willis Trophy this season and whilst it’s a little early to be talking about an England recall, it’ll be great if he can kick on and breed competition. He was so woefully out of form at Lancashire that to come back from that displays the sort of character that England originally liked in Hameed. It’d be a great shame if he ends up been a what if? but the seeds of recovery have been planted and are starting to grow.
Having made three fifties this season though, Hameed needs to be greedy indeed to really press his case to add to his three Test caps.
A quick glance of the county scores this morning and a few names caught my attention.
James Killer Weighell, surprisingly underplayed then released by Durham, is turning out for Leicestershire. Meanwhile another all-rounder, Yorkshire’s Ed Barnes, is making his professional debut as a loanee at Derbyshire. Barnes was actually loaned out to Sussex last season but didn’t make it onto the field. Wicketkeeper Brooke Guest is also on loan at Derbyshire but his move will become permanent next season.
Tom Loten, George Hill and Jared Warner are among the reasons that the aforementioned Barnes has had to go out on loan. All are playing for Yorkshire, alongside more established young players such as Jordon Thompson and Harry Brook. Dawid Malan, fresh from a double ton but only just back from injury, joins Zimbabwe born Gary Ballance on the sidelines.
Fellow Zimbabwe born player Nathan Gilchrist is making his premier professional outing for Kent on loan from Somerset. Meanwhile Blake Cullen and Will Sheffield are also registering their professional debuts as Middlesex host Sussex.
Spinner Simon Kerrigan, infamously once capped at Test level for England, is representing Northamptonshire and the very best of luck to him and all the players mentioned above.
Isn’t it great to have some First Class county cricket to follow?
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…
I’ve purchased Cricket Captain 2020 and have commenced a career with my native Yorkshire. Prior to the new season, we added out of contract all-rounder Matt Coles to the squad. He should help make us more competitive in white-ball cricket whilst also providing an option with the red-ball.
Our first game was a pre-season fixture against Leeds MCCU. We took the opportunity to blood a number of youngsters, allowing them to breed competition and make a case for first team selection. Pretty much all of them did just that, which bodes extremely well for the future. Tom Loten and Matthew Revis both notched tons whilst Jordan Thompson claimed a five-wicket haul. There were however contributions from the entire XI.
There’s now a healthy run of County Championship matches before any limited overs cricket. I’ll let you know how the season played out once completed!
Disclaimer: Cricket Captain is available online at a cost of £19.99… and I play on easy!
The 2020 County Championship isn’t how anybody expected it to be but that appears to be to the benefit of young cricketers up and down the country.
With a shortened campaign, many players away with multiple England squads and no threat of relegation, a number of unfamiliar names appear on scorecards on the opening day of the season. Whether it’s the likes of Ben Aitchison at Derbyshire, Durham’s David Bedingham or Lancashire’s Tom Hartley, it’s great to see. Feroze Khushi at Essex and Tom Lammonby at Somerset are also getting game time, as is Saif Zaib, so often on the fringes, at Northamptonshire.
I’m delighted that Harry Brook and Jack Shutt are featuring for Yorkshire and Haseeb Hameed has made an encouraging start to life at Nottinghamshire. This can only be good for English cricket. Whilst it may be the result of societal dark times and overseas contracts unable to be fulfilled, the next couple of months present a fantastic opportunity for young English cricketers.
German international Craig Meschede has been forced to retire due to injury.
The South African born Glamorgan and former Somerset all-rounder is suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome.
Meschede made two First Class tons and claimed one five-wicket haul. His best List A bowling figures were an incredible 4-5 but he’ll be disappointed that his top score was only 45. His best figures in T20s were 3-9 and with the bat he scored over a thousand runs at a strike-rate of 134.08. It was in the latter format (T20I) that he earned international recognition with Germany, his father’s homeland.
He duly impressed with a top score of 67 and averaged 44.75 striking at a mighty 155.65! Throw in six wickets at just 19.16 apiece and the German selectors will be gutted that the 28-year-old won’t be donning the German kit again.