Panesar for Yorkshire!

img_1465

In my previous post, an audio cast about various things cricket, I touched upon Yorkshire’s necessity to acquire an experienced and quality spin bowler. England’s limited overs spinner Adil Rashid’s First Class future remains unclear, Azeem Rafiq seems to have fallen off the radar again and young Karl Carver continues to struggle. Whilst at work the other day, patrolling my stockroom as I do, a thought came to mind… Monty Panesar! That’s right, a romantic signing it would be but if Yorkshire were to snap up Monty and the fifty-Test veteran promptly spun a few county batsmen out during the second half of the County Championship, Panesar could then gate crash England’s tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies in one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/england/content/player/18655.html

On a serious note, it is often said that England lack depth in their spin bowling stocks however that simply isn’t the case. It’s such a shame that Jack Leach got injured and has now suffered concussion, meaning he’ll miss more Somerset matches. Following the original injury, he subsequently lost his England place to county teammate Dom Bess, who performed admirably in the Test series against Pakistan.

IMG_3914

Hampshire’s Mason Crane

Mason Crane had also been bowling well in limited overs cricket after missing England’s tour of New Zealand through injury. Remember that he displayed great temperament against South Africa in T20Is last year, keeping his head above water to dismiss AB de Villiers. Said injury returned however. When England tour this winter, they’ll ideally take all of Bess, Leach and Crane. That’s an offie, a leggie and a slow-left-armer. Moeen Ali (OS)and Liam Livingstone (LS) would then be sensible back-up batting options provided they bowl effective spin. Don’t forget Liam Dawson (SLA) who continues to perform well, whether it be in English county cricket, for England Lions or in the Pakistan Super League. Samit Patel (SLA) is another option but then just look at the genuine spinners England can consider in years to come… Matthew Parkinson (LS), Amir Virdi (OS), Matthew Carter (OS) (He’s very good!), Hamidullah Qadri (OS) and Ravi Patel (SLA), that’s on top of Bess, Leach and Crane, all of whom have more than ten years at the top remaining.

Moving onto pace bowling, I wonder if England are really looking into the injury situation. Many people wanted Oli Stone selected for England after one good game earlier this season but he’s hardly played since. Jamie Overton is another great hope but is always injured. Saqib Mahmood performed superbly in the North v South matches but hasn’t played all season. Experienced England internationals Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes are obviously missing the current ODI series against Australia off the back of rapidly trying to increase their workloads from four overs per match at the IPL to countless overs in Tests.

IMG_3849

Durham’s Mark Wood

Mark Wood is being rested from the T20I series, Reece Topley is limited to white-ball (List A/T20) cricket only, Toby Roland-Jones is a long-term absentee and particularly alarmingly, both Jake Ball and Tom Curran managed to get injured whilst with the England squad but not having actually played!

Toby Roland-Jones

Middlesex’s Toby Roland-Jones

It’s worth noting that TR-Js injury only came about post playing for England?! Other solid domestic players such as Jamie Porter, Liam Norwell and James Weighell have had their injury problems too. I really hope that behind the scenes some studies are being put in place to identify trends, manage player’s workloads and help keep players fit for England.

Anyway, as I was saying… Panesar for Yorkshire!

Stoneman’s Rocky Patch!

Mark Stoneman

No sooner have you’ve released an audio recording proclaiming that England’s batting options are limited, do all the contenders go big right on cue!

Mark Stoneman’s grip on the England opener’s slot is rapidly slipping from his grasp, literally as he’s just grassed teammate (?) Jonny Bairstow in Surrey’s match against Yorkshire. Of course knowing my luck, he’ll register a double ton in the second dig and cement his place in the England XI. In my audio post I mentioned that Stoneman’s challenge could most likely come from his domestic partner Rory Burns. Burns made 193 in Surrey’s last match and many have wondered how, with a record far superior to Stoneman’s, that Rocky got the gig in the first place.

Middlesex man Nick Gubbins, who batted well in the North v South series has recovered from injury and made 99 last time out for the London outfit. He could be primed for the call. Another left-handed opener, Keaton Jennings, has ticked off a maiden ton for his new home side Lancashire. Stoneman desperately needs runs and soon.

The middle order is a little trickier, unless captain Joe Root will move to number three. Dawid Malan has made a ton and a seventy-odd in his last two County Championship matches but is best served staying at five for England. He deserves to stay in the team following his Ashes hundred, a fifty in England’s last Test (Stoneman and Vince made fifties in their last innings too!) and his domestic form. He may have to move to four though in order to accommodate either Surrey’s Ollie Pope of more likely, Worcestershire’s more experienced Joe Clarke. Both have made two Championship tons this term but neither are batting at number three. If England do select the obdurate Burns alongside Cook (Assuming Cook is in!) at the top of the order then that may save the more aggressive and fluent James Vince at number three, meaning Pope and Clarke will have to wait. If Pope and Clarke don’t get their chance now then they may do so in the future or they could become the next James Hildreth. The Somerset stalwart also now has two County Championship centuries this campaign. That’s just the 43 First Class tons at an average of… 43 for Hildreth then!

Of course picking players on early season form is what England did with Gary Ballance and Stoneman (And Ed Smith!) and look where we are now? When Stoneman hit the ground running last year, so many supposed experts came crawling out of the woodwork claiming that they’d campaigned for Stoneman for England for years. Where are they now? Weren’t they the same people that have been banging on about Hameed? Runs or no runs only serves to highlight how difficult Ed Smith’s job is. It’s so easy to be swayed. It’s not art or science but a little bit of both!

Quite frankly, I give up predicting England’s batting order for the first Test against Pakistan. Let’s just wait and see…

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: CC/ODC 2018

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 15.22.07

The above is my first XI. It’s in the all-rounder roles that I’ve gambled with Rhodes and Rawlins. Rhodes has moved from Yorkshire to Warwickshire so should see increased game time and will be keen to show what he’s capable of. Rawlins made an impression in the North v South matches and this should be his breakout season. Simpson is a reliable wicketkeeper and I think there is real logic in the stumper being captain. I’ve plucked for a possibly slightly under the radar bowling attack and expect Mennie and hopefully Hutton to contribute runs too. I’ve very deliberately selected batsman that will at least occasionally bowl and should get opportunities in both formats of the game.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 15.22.24

For my second XI, I’ve gone for the two all-rounders that I consider guaranteed runs and wickets. I’ve opted for a reliable batting unit and expect Fell to return to form this year. Though my bowling unit may not be guaranteed outings in both codes, Coad and Footitt are wicket takers in the First Class format. Mahmood is coming into the campaign off the back of impressive performances in North v South and Nijjar, a useful spin bowler, has been opening the batting for Essex pre-season. What happens to Alastair Cook with England may determine Nijjar’s opportunities. If Roderick is available throughout the season, he should be steady away behind the stumps and with bat in hand.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 15.22.45

Have I ever mentioned that I like Ben Duckett?

Mitchell is as consistent as they come and bowls too. Smith has returned to Durham and I expect plenty of runs from the experienced head back up north. Alongside him, Brook is primed for his breakthrough campaign after debuting last term. Kuhn may not keep wicket but is a solid performer at domestic level. My bowling attack may receive England and England Lions call-ups but have runs as well as wickets in them in both formats. Bresnan is as solid an option as Patel and Bopara and van der Merwe is a destructive player.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 17.44.56

In my fourth XI, I’ve gone Warwickshire and England veteran heavy in my batting line-up, messrs Trott and Bell leading the charge. Bell-Drummond will be looking to kick-on and fingers crossed for a run-filled renaissance from Nick Compton. Like Kuhn, Pope may not always keep wicket but will be playing regularly and in the runs this year. Berg is as reliable as anyone with the ball and Procter prospered last term having relocated to Northamptonshire. I want a bit more from Barker and Rayner this year. Fletcher is back from injury and if Overton, rated 3!, can stay fit then he’s a shrewd selection.

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 15.23.20

In my fifth XI are the other players that I like who I couldn’t squeeze into my first four teams. Northeast has moved to Hampshire but is as reliable as they come with the bat. Wells is solid in the First Class game as is Burns. Dent is an under rated player too. McManus gets the gloves with the experienced Clarke, back at Surrey, and less experienced but quick Chappell in the all-rounder roles. Hopefully Norwell has shrugged off any injury niggles. Ball will be left to play county cricket this term whilst Patterson is another of my reliable picks. Qadri made an impressive debut last year and will look to back it up.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve avoided selecting players that will be on England duty. It’s steady away county pros that you need sprinkled with one or two yet to be discovered gems just primed to be this year’s Ben Coad.

Let me know what you think about my teams and which one is likely to win me the massive cash prize of……….. £3,000!

https://fantasycricket.telegraph.co.uk/county

Disclaimer: I’ve since been tinkering away, so my teams don’t look quite the same as above. I’ll keep you up to date once the campaign commences!

Malan With a Plan!

IMG_3452 2

Dawid Malan. It’s now or never, boom or bust!

England captain Eoin Morgan said that all squad players would get a game during the three-match T20I series against South Africa. Following the second match and with just one encounter remaining, Morgan said that there’ll definitely be one more debutant in the third match. This may be a bit concerning for Morgan’s Middlesex colleague Dawid Malan, given that another uncapped player, Somerset’s Craig Overton joined up with the party after the first match.

Surely the England management aren’t  going to turn around to Malan now and say “Sorry mate but we’ve changed our mind. You’re not playing”. Remember that Malan made the squad for the one-off T20I against Sri Lanka last year only to miss out on the final XI.

Malan has performed admirably well in limited overs cricket for England Lions, appeared in the recent PSL final and most notably pummelled runs in the North v South Series thus demanding selection. Malan’s 196 runs at an average of 98.00 at a strike rate of 104.81 with a top score of 109 not out saw him top the run scoring charts. To have omitted him following those performances would have brought into serious question the whole point of North v South.

Maybe Malan hasn’t had that big domestic season but sometimes those 1000+ runs campaigns that a batsman has can be misleading. I’ll always revert to Ed Smith and that one season he had making hundred after hundred but was he good enough to be a Test cricketer? To be fair his Test career is too small a sample size to judge. For the record, Smith did a great job at short leg against South Africa and I really like his insightful and balanced commentary.

Malan bowls useful leg-spin too but if he does play in the final T20I you can’t help but think he either needs a half-century or if he makes late twenties/early thirties then it needs to be struck at around 200% if he’s to ever wear the jersey a second time. A single figure score may well be the beginning and the end of Malan’s international career all in one. At the age of 29 a considerable international career could lay ahead but it’s easy to sense that England felt slightly forced to select him than actually wanting to. Andy Flower has vehemently campaigned for his call-up. That may be unfair on the England management but such is the competition amongst the batting ranks that as much as England want to mix things up selection could almost become convoluted. It’s arguable whether providing players with odd matches is any use at all as Sam Billings’ fill-in the gaps international career displays.

Growing up in the nineties and early 2000s I saw the likes of Mike Hussey and Darren Lehmann have to wait domestic run-glutinous years for a run in the Australian Test side and for Jamie Cox to not get a chance at all.

There’s nothing worse than seeing a batsman get one chance and fall for nought so fingers crossed that Malan at least gets some runs on the board if selected as promised.

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket: T20 Blast 2017

Screen Shot 2017-07-20 at 08.27.53

Telegraph Fantasy Cricket run an exclusive T20 Blast competition, separate to the County Championship/One-Day Cup combo. It would make more sense to me for them to have three separate competitions, each with a winner as well as having an overall winner.

IMG_3429

Anyway, three players from my CC/ODC side make it into my T20 side. They are Riki Wessels, wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick and Basil’s grandson Brett D’Oliveira. D’Oliveira is an opening batsman who bowls and is listed, fairly enough, as an all-rounder in the CC/ODC game but is down as a bowler in the T20 comp.

I’ve very deliberately (Wessels aside) selected players that aren’t in many people’s teams. It’s no good having the same players as everybody else because you simply don’t gain any advantage. To be successful at fantasy sports, it’s imperative that you identify and select players not picked by many but who will go onto put in the performances.

Mark Cosgrove and Ryan Higgins are listed as batsman but Higgins in particular, after a good showing on First Class debut recently, should contribute with the ball.

Dominic Sibley (T20 bat ave: 49.40) hit the headlines with a double hundred in the County Championship in 2013 aged just eighteen and has become a dynamic batsman at the top of the order for Surrey.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-cricket-2013/content/story/674737.html

California born bat Cameron Steel has come to the fore for Durham this year and should be provided with an opportunity in the shorter form of the game on the back of his CC/ODC efforts. He bowls a bit of leg-spin too.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/century-for-steel-stars-stripes-and-steel/

Ex-England men Stephen Parry (Now a CC regular) and Jade Dernbach lead my bowling attack. Dernbach is a player despised by many and therefore ignored by a number of Telegraph selectors but if not for injury he would likely have qualified for next year’s North v South encounters. Chris Liddle is also a fly under the radar pick. A journeyman pro and holder of an unhealthy First Class average, his limited overs stats are respectable though and he could be a surprise performer. Like Dernbach, he wasn’t far away from automatic North v South selection.

My captain is another ‘to be scoffed at by many’ selection. What Moises Henriques was doing batting at four for Australia at the 2017 Champions Trophy as Chris Lynn sat on the bench nobody knows. Well actually, it was because he bowls a bit of dibbly dobbly and at domestic level he’s an intelligent and belligerent batsman who will not be representing Surrey for the first time.

I will reiterate my key tips from previous posts for selecting a fantasy cricket team:

  1. Select batsman that bowl
  2. Select bowlers that can bat
  3. Select players that aren’t in many people’s teams

I’m advocating faith when it comes to selection for my CC/ODC team but transfers will be a crucial part of the T20 comp come Finals Day. Don’t be left with few players playing additional matches. When the crunch comes ensure that your side is full of players participating for silverware!

Balancing Invincibility

IMG_3144adj

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 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.

Extras

img_2143

Bye: Napoleon Einstein!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/india/content/player/279540.html

Leg Bye: England outcast Ben Duckett is amongst those named in an MCC squad to play the annual county season precursor in Abu Dhabi. The MCC side will take on 2016 County Championship prevailers Middlesex in a match that commences on 26th March. With the North v South fixture also now part of the season, there are plenty of opportunities for fringe England players to put forward a case to the national selectors. Uncapped spin bowlers Mason Crane and Jack Leach are also amongst those in the MCC squad. For the full party please refer to the link below…

https://www.lords.org/news/2017/january/hameed-and-duckett-to-feature-for-mcc/

… and on the subject of the MCC, if anybody’s looking for a job…

https://www.lords.org/news/2017/january/chief-executive-and-secretary/

No Ball: A little precursor to our review of Roy Morgan’s Real International Cricket (Which won’t be for a while due to the small font size!)…

 

IMG_2931

Poor Fraser, out for a duck when absolutely everybody else made double figures!

Wide: Tune into this YouTube channel from a fellow cricket blogger…

Irish Lifeline for Duckett, Finn and Vince!

img_2078

Here at Silly Point we previously informed followers how England are due to host Ireland for two ODIs later this year.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/11/28/eire-exposure/

Now admittedly there are some ODIs against both India and West Indies beforehand as well as the North v South series that provides those selected with a great opportunity to put forward their case for selection but with the suggestion being that England are willing to allow some players to play in the IPL rather than the Irish ODIs we thought that we’d identify some of the candidates that could make up the numbers for England.

Eoin Morgan is expected to be told that he must captan the side having already skipped the Bangladesh tour and having gained plenty of IPL experience previously. Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Jason Roy and Ben Stokes are all expected to be snapped up by franchises, if not already, come the IPL.

With Hales and Roy putting themselves up for auction, a recall for Ben Duckett is surely in the pipeline. Despite his struggles in Tests, Duckett was unlucky to be dropped from England’s ODI squad after two half-centuries in three outings in Bangladesh. The Ireland matches are a fantastic opportunity to reintegrate Duckett. England haven’t completely given up on James Vince who has played in the Big Bash this winter either, whilst the likes of Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone, both part-time spin bowlers, could also be considered.

On the pace bowling front, both Curran brothers, right-arm Tom and left-arm Sam will surely come into consideration whilst the absence of senior players may also provide Steven Finn with an opportunity to reignite his international career after a difficult winter. Like Duckett he was dropped for the limited overs matches in India. Another bowling option could be Toby Roland-Jones who made the Test squad in the summer.

If any of Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid or Liam Dawson head to the IPL then Zafar Ansari, like Finn, could be provided with an opportunity to put a tough winter behind him. In this format of the game Ollie Rayner may be preferred to Jack Leach though Mason Crane could also come into consideration.

England’s squad could look something like this:

Eoin Morgan (C), Moeen Ali, Jake Ball, Jonny Bairstow (W), Liam Dawson, Ben Duckett, Steven Finn, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Toby Roland-Jones, Joe Root, James Vince, David Willey, Chris Woakes