Why Won’t Walton Win?

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Another domestic hundred for West Indies’ wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton, in an important match too. In West Indies One-Day competition, Walton made 104 against Guyana, having made 169 against Leeward Island’s two matches prior. The Jamaica native previously recorded a List A century against England in a tour match but just hasn’t been able to transfer his domestic progress to the international arena.

The Caribbean stumper’s international batting stats make for horrific reading:

Tests: 13 @ 3.25

ODIs: 53 @ 6.62

T20s: 160 @ 12.30

Walton’s domestic batting stats linger in the twenties but have been progressively on the up. His four List A hundreds have all come since the start of 2017. However, at the age of 32, the proverbial ship, at international level at least, has surely sailed for Walton. He opens the batting in limited overs cricket, so you would think that he is used to facing the best bowlers that opposition have to offer. The step up to international cricket can be a big one though. Meaning no disrespect to those named but does facing the likes of Romario Shepherd, Paul Wintz, Mervin Matthew and Nino Henry really prepare you to face the likes of Trent Boult and co.?

Walton can continue to shine in the CPL where Guyana Amazon Warriors snapped him up for $110,000 last term as well as dominating for Jamaica in the Regional Super 50. Whether or not he could earn one last chance to crack the highest level remains to be seen…

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A Rash Decision?/Leach Sucking Blood!

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I can’t say that I’m not disappointed. I thought that on the back of good white ball contributions for England and potentially backed up by a good county season, Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid could push for a Test recall. That now seems highly unlikely given that he’s committed to a white-ball only contract with his county this term. Rashid is only 29 and though he didn’t claim a hatful of County Championship wickets (10 @ 50.00) last term, he’s also played a vital hand with the bat for Yorkshire over the years, batting and batting successfully as high as number six in First Class cricket.

Meanwhile Jack Leach may reap the benefits of not being rushed into the England first team too soon. It seemed as though he wasn’t the selectors preferred choice and has had to remodel his action. He’s just put in a record-breaking shift (8-110) for England Lions in an unofficial Test against West Indies ‘A’. Admittedly Jomel Warrican and Rahkeem Cornwall bagged plenty of wickets too and the Caribbean is the home of many spin bowlers with averages in the teens but ‘The Bloodsucker’s’ figures and current confidence are highly encouraging. Curiously and in contrast to Rashid, the Somerset spinner has, at the age of 26, never played a T20 match and clocked up only fifteen List A appearances. In 52 First Class outings however, he’s totalled 175 wickets at 25.89. For the record, Mason Crane has 77 at… 46.07! Adil Rashid has 490 (Yes 490!) First Class wickets as well as ten centuries.

What Rashid’s decision means for him, Yorkshire, England and cricket in general remains to be seen. If the longer format of the game does survive, it’s looking as though it and T20 might be considered completely different sports entirely. As for the man in the middle, List A and ODIs, you can’t help but fear a slow but certain death!

Tying Batsmen in Knots

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Andrew James Tye is 31-years-old and has played only eight First Class matches. He’s not played many more List A matches but is closing in on 100 wickets in the T20 format. He’s been a consistent performer in both the Big Bash and IPL. Oh and he’s now a vital cog in Australia’s limited overs’ sides. If it weren’t for the Big Bash, AJ Tye probably wouldn’t exist.

Tye’s a player I’ve really liked since watching him represent Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash last season. He looks relaxed but not arrogant. When watching the latest T20I, I was surprised at how pessimistic the Australian commentators were about the Perth native’s future. Because of Tye’s penchant for a slower ball, they were insistent that he’ll need to bowl faster in future or risk going the same way as James Faulkner. Tye duly dismissed England’s James Vince with an immaculately executed… slower delivery!

There’s a skill in being able to resist bowling fast and Tye possesses that ability. In his first couple of ODIs against England he went wicketless but was economical. Then he claimed a five-wicket haul before bagging a four-for in a T20I against Tasman rivals New Zealand. Taking pace off the ball and making the batsmen have to generate power themselves puts the onus on them. As well as the bowler getting the batsman out, they might well get themselves out when trying to hit big shots only to find that they don’t actually have the strength to do so.

It seems logical that Tye will be less effective in the longest format and so far the stats back that up. His First Class bowling average is 36.81 compared with mightily impressive figures of just 21.29 and 19.64 in List A and T20 cricket.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/459508.html

It’s par for the course that most bowlers have lower averages in the shorter formats but there’s a hefty gulf in Tye’s figures. The First Class measurement is admittedly a small sample size and of course he may learn, adapt and lower his average. His measured approach should mean he stays fit as permanently semi-injured quicks, the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile are rotated around him.

Tye’s one of those non-superstar but effective players that I like, similar to Grant Elliot and I look forward to seeing how many international wickets he can claim.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – Plate Princes!

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The 2023 season commenced with my introduction to List A cricket in Yorkshire blue. I disappointingly ducked on debut and followed that up with only four in the next match. After starting my First Class career so impressively, I was desperate to show that I could transfer my ability to the professional one-day game. A knock of 72 in my third outing demonstrated that I belonged but in truth I blew a great chance of a century.

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I righted that wrong in the next match however but was again gutted to get out. Being dismissed at anytime is frustrating but there’s something really criminal about falling immediately after reaching a milestone. I backed up a maiden List A ton with 68 in my next innings to make it three scores of fifty plus on the bounce.

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I then clocked up another ton and this time started to go on. I had made 129 from just 80 deliveries before committing another criminal act by running myself out. Annoyingly, as much as a double ton had been real possibility against Northamptonshire.

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My impressive performances at number three in the order saw me promoted to open the batting but my form dipped as a result. I made scores of 23 then 29 in a thrilling run-chase that ended in a tie courtesy of an epic hundred by Gary Ballance. That result qualified us for the One-Day Plate final against Derbyshire but come the big day, our expectation exceeding opposition failed to show. Ben Coad claimed four wickets to rip through the underdogs and limit them to a paltry total of just 178 all out. Again, I got started but got out. I really thought that I could carry the team to victory on the big stage but made only 19. Joe Root (81 not out) however, led the way as we comprehensively won the 2023 One-Day Plate by 8 wickets.

I finished my inaugural List A campaign with 444 runs at an average of 49.33 complete with strike-rate of 162.04… and a winner’s medal of course. Next up is a return to the First Class stage where I’ll look to maintain my lofty average of over 100!

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – Feasting in First Class!

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Following on from my previous career mode update, post my captaincy heroics at club level, I entered the professional circuit. I was delighted that my debut came at home for Yorkshire against strong opposition in the shape of Kent County Cricket Club.

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I’d attempted to stay grounded and not get carried away with my recognition. The match against Kent could’ve been the only First Class match that I ever played and after being dismissed for 8 in the first innings and running my partner out off my first ball in the second innings, it seriously looked like that might be the case. I’d be just a footnote in history. I dug deep though, all those years on the Northern amateur circuit have served me well. I combined in an epic partnership with my teammate, falling only one-run short of a double-century stand and five shy of a hundred on First Class debut. Of course I would’ve loved a hundred but my 95 showcased both my ability and character after my poor first impressions. Most importantly, we went onto win the match.

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In my second match, away at Sussex, a side containing the likes of Vernon Philander and Jofra Archer in their bowling attack, I immediately set course to right the wrongs of my century shortcomings on debut. I surpassed my career best 95 but had an uneasy tea whilst 99 not out. In truth I dealt with Test bowler Philander as well as Archer with moderate ease. It was the less heralded left-armer George Garton and Scotland’s Stuart Whittingham who carried more threat. The home side lacked real penetration on the spin front though and I soon chalked up a maiden First Class hundred in only my second game. I proved a lot to myself by carrying my club form into the professional game. The same teammate and I shared another century partnership and I went past 200. As you’ll see from the image above, when I went past 300, I just couldn’t contain my excitement. This was despite my energy reserves running low.

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I eventually fell for 325 having re-written many record books in the process of the innings. This was only the start of things however. In pursuit of 195 for victory in the second innings, we were soon on the back foot at 57-3. A few hours later though, with only two overs of the match remaining, I helped get us over the line by four wickets with a composed and measured 96 not out. To see my name spread across the headlines, both online and on paper was truly humbling. I knew though that such a performance so early in my career served only to increase the pressure and expectation on me to go on have a rewarding professional existence. Some in the media brought up the word ‘England’ but let’s not get carried away!

Northampton away in the next match was definitely something akin to a Lord Mayor’s Show. My reward for my performance of 421-1 against Sussex was to be demoted in the batting order from four to five to accommodate the return of England Test captain Joe Root. Gary Ballance, successful skipper against Sussex, actually had to make way. I made just 18 & 9 with South Africa spinner Tabraiz Shamsi causing me problems.

Come the final match of the season in Wales against Glamorgan, I knew I needed a score before the season was out to prove I was no one-match wonder. As was the case on my debut, I had a little luck in my innings when the wikcetkeeper actually prevented the ball from rolling onto the stumps. I made him pay and went onto notch another First Class hundred. Not only that, I made it a double but inexcusably threw my wicket away immediately after, falling for 202. A tired 12 in the second innings was my limp farewell to a season of huge success for me.

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My First Class scores so far read: 8, 95, 325, 96*, 18, 9, 202 & 12. All but the first match were played away from home.

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I actually topped the First Class division one batting averages with 765 runs at a Bradman dwarfing 109.29. If only I could have hit the campaign trail earlier!

I’m delighted to say that I’ve accepted offers to be part of both Yorkshire’s First Class and List A squad for next season. There are rumours of one or two T20 franchises around the world keeping an eye on my progress too. In 2023, I’ll endeavour to back-up the encouraging start I’ve made to my professional career and help my beloved Yorkshire win some silverware.

Ashes Cricket (PS4): Career Mode – Captain Fantastic!

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Following the disappointment of the one-day cup final defeat at the hands of Scarborough in my first match as captain, the team headed into the T20 competition determined to go one step further. As was the case with my team selection for the fifty-over final, I made bold changes to the XI for the T20 campaign, ignoring the scars of the final defeat. In our first two matches at Bradford and Sheffield, such was the application of our side that I wasn’t even required to bat as we notched back-to-back victories. It was against Scarborough again that we would come undone, this was despite my 26 from 14 deliveries. My swashbuckling 45 from just 15 balls helped us get back to winning ways at home to York before we then beat Hull in the final round of matches, again with me not required to bat. That meant another final against guess who? That’s right, an opportunity for revenge against Scarborough. Again, a ruthless alteration to the team was made and we restricted the seaside side to just 121-9 from their allotted overs. Soon though, we were 15-3 and in real trouble. My 46 from 35 deliveries however helped steady the ship but I was gutted to be dismissed with just four runs required for victory. It didn’t matter though, as we ran out winners by four wickets. Without doubt, it was the proudest day in my Leeds career. It won’t only be Leeds that I’ll be playing for in the future though…

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I’m delighted to announce that I’ve accepted a First Class contract offer from Yorkshire County Cricket Club. I’m reliably informed that I’m not too far away from joining the List A and T20 sides either. I’m due to make my First Class debut at home against Kent and there are three First Class matches remaining after that. It’s up to me to take my best ever club form into the professional arena and earn the right to play for the mighty Yorkshire for years to come. I’m delighted to sign off this campaign for Leeds in style but it’s onto the professional circuit for me now!

Six to Watch: 2018

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It’s that time again. With the 2018 English county cricket season rapidly approaching (No it is, honestly!), Silly Point profiles six players to, as the name of the article suggests, watch this term.

Tom Fell, Worcestershire

The one man on this list who was actually included in the 2017 edition of ‘Six to Watch’. Having battled back from cancer, Tom Fell sadly had a batting horror show in 2017. I guess you could say that his form rather ‘fell’ away! This year will surely be different for the Worcestershire right-hander. Still only twentyfour-years-old and with over 3000 First Class runs to his name, Fell’s most productive years should lie ahead.

Ollie Pope, Surrey

Having dropped an extremely costly dolly off Alex Hales in the One-Day cup final last year, nineteen-year-old Pope bounced back to record a maiden First Class hundred at Hampshire before the season’s close. Highly regarded by those at Surrey, he should now expect more regular first team opportunities. Whether or not he’ll be required to do much wicketkeeping remains to be seen. That vocation may lie in whether or not Ben Foakes can squeeze into the England XI.

Hamidullah Qadri, Derbyshire

Afghanistan born off-spinner Qadri arrived with an economical bang in 2017. His first 15 overs in First Class cricket cost a miserly 16 runs and he followed up that introduction with a five-wicket haul in the second innings of his debut match. Derbyshire may do well to retain his services but if they can and he can back up his early performances then the barely seventeen-year-old could help haul the unfashionable county out of the doldrums. Hopefully with him on board, they can avoid going another two years without a County Championship victory. No pressure Hamidullah!

Delray Rawlins, Sussex

Having represented Bermuda, precocious talent Rawlins is now very much on England’s radar and having flirted with Sussex’s first team last season, will hope to cement a regular spot this term. He’ll want to be recognised as a specialist top-order batsman as well as offering plenty with his slow-left-arm bowling.

Will Rhodes, Warwickshire

A former England junior captain, it never really worked out for Rhodes at Yorkshire. There was a brief stint as a stoic opening batsman but maybe a lack of clarity over what exactly his role was. A capable all-rounder, Rhodes will hope to rekindle his career, like a few others, with Ashley Giles and co. at Warwickshire.

Olly Stone, Warwickshire

Hopefully fully recovered from injury, Stone, another Warwickshire recruit and one of those players mentioned in dispatches as being a genuine pace bowler and even future Ashes tour candidate, will be desperate to get playing regularly and be amongst the timbers. Having returned from injury last year, the former Northamptonshire man conceded a half-century of runs in the T20 cup final and will be eager to put that performance and his injury hell firmly in the past.

Silly Point will revisit ‘Six to Watch’ both during and come the conclusion of the 2018 county cricket campaign to see how the sextet have performed.