Flying in the Face of Unoriginal Opinion!

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Hampshire’s James Vince has been recalled to the England squad for this winter’s Ashes campaign and it’s not unreasonable to say that the reaction has generally been one of an underwhelming sensation.

I’m going to propose a radical notion in this world of scepticism… let’s back him! Let’s back him to do what many others including the likes of Justin Langer, Marvin Atapattu and Mark Butcher have done, to be a better player second time around.

Let’s back Ballance too whilst we’re at it.

All these people, whether they be pundits or fans, wanting players with First Class averages of 50+. Those players don’t exist and it doesn’t mean anything anyway, as past selections have told us.

We’d all select different squads but let’s stop moaning and back the players that are on the jet plane. There’s bound to be injuries and the like so I’m sure some people will get their wishes anyway.

Hopefully England’s lineup will be invincibly balanced come the first Ashes Test!

Patience Pays… Hopefully!

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This isn’t the first article I’ve written about Shai Hope and it probably won’t be the last. Here’s just one previous script about the Barbados born batsman.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/16/hope-for-west-indies/

Before this Test, Hope had 391 runs in 11 Tests at an average of just 18.61. In the first Test against England he registered scores of 15 and 4 yet here he is unbeaten on 147 against England’s two leading wicket takers of all time (James Anderson & Stuart Broad) who have nearly 1000 Test wickets between them. Some may argue that opportunity has only presented itself because of lack of interest on the part of the T20 franchise globe trotters but West Indies’ selectors deserve credit for persevering with Hope. I thought that he was picked too early but it may be that those experiences gained are what have helped him reap the rewards at Headingley. England’s selectors should take note. Maybe had they stuck with any of Sam Robson, James Vince, Ben Duckett or pick from many others then those players would be scoring Test centuries right now. Something about Steve Waugh and 27 Tests, Marvan Atapattu starting with five ducks and a single, I know I know, I sound like a broken record. There is no better way to learn than failure. Tom Westley might be struggling now but international cricket is a step up and you have to adapt. Let’s provide our batsmen with the opportunity to do so otherwise we will continue on this merry go round of English willow men. One positive for England that stems from Hope’s Headingley run-fest is that it means Stoneman, Westley and Dawid Malan will have another opportunity to show that they belong on the Test scene and really step up when it matters.

Hopefully (Sorry!) England’s selectors will realise that there comes a time when a horse needs backing. I’ve moaned before about people wanting the unblemished. That’s why we keep moving onto another uncapped batsman. All these people campaigning for Stoneman, already he’s damaged goods and they want to move onto the next guy. That’ll be say Joe Clarke but the notion of recalling Vince or Duckett etc and the thought that they might be better for their tough experiences is beyond the comprehension of many. Imagine if Australia had not recalled Ricky Ponting, Damien Martyn or Justin Langer or Sri Lanka had not recalled Atapattu, a man with over 5000 Test runs including five double tons and a ridiculously good conversion rate.

It may not get any better than this for Hope and he’ll continue to average around 20 but I believe that he’ll go onto average 30 plus and score a few Test hundreds. The West Indies now need to show the same sort of commitment to his brother Kyle and one or two others whilst England need do the same with their contingent… hopefully!

Chasing Hope

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The West Indies made it to within one over of a series draw against Pakistan before the Angel Gabriel had his wings clipped by Yasir Shah.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/west-indies-v-pakistan-2017/engine/match/1077955.html

The hosts’ failings were all too familiar. Batsmen failing to make significant scores (I know how you feel boys!) and despite having an array of spin bowlers possessive of outlandish First Class bowling averages, Devendra Bishoo only really came to the party late in the day… and just to ruin the farewells of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan!

I’m not convinced that opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite should be playing ODIs. It compromises his strength, that is to occupy the crease in the longest form of the game. He failed to pass 50 and averaged sub 17 in the series.

Kieron Powell’s flame flickered. He made starts but like Brathwaite failed to find 50. An average of 26.83 tells its own story. He made starts but failed to go on. That’s no fifty in sight for Windies openers across 12 innings. Of course maybe if things had been handled differently then KB and KP could have been opening for WI for years already. A few years ago they contrasted well and could have developed into a lethal pair. KP got disillusioned then and it will be interesting to see if the selectors persist with him. They’ll probably have to and should do because they might feel it necessary to make changes elsewhere in the order.

20-year-old Shimron Hetmyer clearly has talent but he also has only one First Class century. He’s a very attack minded player. Was first drop the right place to baptise him on the international stage? His top score: a quarter century at an average of 16.00. Even if he’s not retained for the time being his time can come again.

Domestic dominant and Zimbabwe slaying Shai Hope did at least at last record a maiden Test half century, a 90 in fact. In his five other innings he totalled 59 runs combined.

Vishaul Singh was supposed to be the middle order rock. The middle order sandcastle with the tide coming in fast more like. He made 32 runs in one innings but only 31 across the other five. He’s 28 years old and his First Class batting average is an underwhelming 33.45. His conversion rate is good though: 6 centuries to 9 fifties but can he get to fifty in the international arena in the first place? His First Class strike rate is literally 34 runs slower than Hetmyer’s. Call me old fashioned but maybe they would have each prospered had they been positioned the other way around.

Wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich made 56 in one innings but didn’t total 56 across the other five. There’s a theme developing here isn’t there? These guys have got the ability but not the consistency, not yet anyway.

Then there’s Roston Chase. Wow, just wow! How good is this guy? Ten Tests into his career and he’s got three hundreds to two in the First Class game. Some people just thrive the tougher the challenge. He’s averaging 48.53 as well as claiming a more than useful 17 wickets at 52.23 apiece. At the risk of raining on the parade, I’m going to hazard a guess that in a year’s time that figure of 48.53 will have dipped. I hope that it doesn’t but he’s really going to have to excel to maintain such a strong start.

Where WI go from here, who knows? Actually, it would appear not very far, they’re hosting Afghanistan for some T20Is and ODIs. Then post Champions Trophy they take on England. Jermaine Blackwood could come back in but the others out there in the domestic game all seem much of a muchness, averaging in the mid twenties. That’s even the case for Jason Mohammed despite his success in recent ODI fair. Vishaul Singh had stepped up to the plate in A and Board or Chairman XIs but didn’t deliver against Pakistan. Remember though that both Hetmyer and Singh have had far better starts to their Test careers than five time Test double centurion Marvan Atapattu. I think that the West Indies selectors will do well to persist with these players and provide them further opportunity. Even the likes of Jacques Kallis, Steve Waugh and Matthew Hayden didn’t hit the ground running in the Test arena.

The West Indies might not be Singhing but they can always Chase Hope!

International Duck Watch!

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Welcome to Test cricket Nic Maddinson! One of three Australian debutantes Maddinson lasted twelve deliveries before falling victim to South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada in the third Test at Adelaide. For the record the home side’s other debutantes, Middlesbrough born opening batsman Matthew Renshaw and former Gloucestershire middle-order player Peter Handscomb faired little and much better, registering scores of 10 and 54 respectively. Let’s not forget that successful Test players such as Graham Gooch, Phillip Hughes and Marvan Atapattu all registered ducks on their Test bows so all is not yet lost for Maddinson though the state of the game could leave the twenty-four-year-old without a second innings opportunity.

In Hamilton New Zealand opening batsman Tom Latham fell first ball to Mohammad Amir in his side’s second Test against Pakistan. Latham made scores of 1 and 9 in the first Test so is currently averaging a mighty 3.33 in the series! New Zealand were 77-2 in their first innings when rain curtailed play.

Finally, in a crucial Tri-Series match in Zimbabwe the home team’s Sean Williams fell first ball to Ashley Nurse, caught by our man Shai Hope. As a result Williams will need nursing better! West Indies had their own goldie in the form of Johnson Charles. Charles was caught and bowled by Zimbabwe hero Tendai Chisoro. Chisoro scored 42 not out off 35 deliveries batting at number ten, putting on an unbroken stand of 91 with Sikander Raza before recording figures of 6-1-23-2 as Zimbabwe claimed a spot in the final.