Malan Captaincy Conundrum

Dawid Malan

Only a few days ago, I posted an article regarding the fact that Sam Billings has been appointed as captain of Kent. This is despite the fact that he’ll miss a substantial chunk of the early season due to IPL commitments and probably further chunks because of England call-ups.

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2018/01/30/summer-of-sam-but-hopefully-not-actually-like-summer-of-sam/

Now Dawid Malan has been named captain of Middlesex. AC may score four ducks in the Test series in New Zealand and never play for England again but as things stand he’s part of the Test XI as well as ODI and T20I squads, so is it really practical to appoint him captain of a domestic side. Sam Robson will deputise in the First Class (County Championship) game. Wouldn’t it have been more sensible to make Robson the sheriff not just the deputy?

Hoping England’s Selectors Learn!

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England’s discarded Test batsmen of recent times:

Michael Carberry: 345 in 6 Tests @ 28.75 (1 x 50, 0 x 100) 1 Test in Bangladesh/5 against a rampant Australia

Sam Robson: 336 runs in 7 Tests @ 30.54 (1 x 50, 1 x 100)

Adam Lyth: 265 runs in 7 Tests @ 20.38 (0 x 50, 1 x 100)

James Vince: 212 runs in 7 Tests @ 19.27 (0 x 50, 0 x 100)

Ben Duckett: 110 runs in 4 Tests @ 15.71 (1 x 50, 0 x 100) All in the subcontinent

Keaton Jennings: 294 runs in 6 Tests @ 24.50 (1 x 50, 1 x 100)

England’s next discarded batsman?

Tom Westley: 141 runs in 4 Tests @ 20.14 (1 x 50, 0 x 100)

West Indies persevered with batsman of recent times:

Shai Hope: 391 runs in 11 Tests @ 18.62 (1 x 50, 0 x 100)

Then…

http://www.espncricinfo.com/series/10719/game/1031661/England-vs-West-Indies-2nd-Test

In the words of Kings of Convenience: “Failure is always the best way to learn”.

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!

27 Tests

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27 Tests. That’s how long it took Australia’s Steve Waugh to record his maiden Test hundred. That’s Steve Waugh, a man who has 10,927 Test runs at an average of 51.06 to his name. Oh and the century tally… 32!

http://www.espncricinfo.com/australia/content/player/8192.html

Do you think that any England batsmen debuting in the near future will be provided 27 Tests to score their first century?

Keaton Jennings scored one on debut just four Tests ago but already many people seem to want rid of him. Sam Robson then Adam Lyth each recorded a century in their seven (Not 27) Tests but it wasn’t enough to provide them with an extended run in the team.

England don’t really seem to know what they want at the moment, stoic resilience or explosive attacking? The selectors, coach and captain don’t appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Captain Joe Root campaigned for Gary Ballance, Dawid Malan clearly appeals to coach Trevor Bayliss, Tom Westley has demanded selection but needed injury to another to receive it and all the while the likes of Mark Stoneman and Daniel Bell-Drummond await their turn, not to mention Ben Duckett, Haseeb Hameed and… Sam Robson, again!

Unless somebody rocks up and averages 65.00+ from the get go and maintains those numbers then the England batting merry go round looks set to continue. I can’t help but think England’s Test summer isn’t structured in the best possible way to get the country’s premier batsmen on the plane to a land Down Under this winter. English willow wielders are currently struggling against a strong South African attack. If they’re dropped then newbies will come in against (No disrespect) a less threatening West Indies attack and surely have an increased chance of doing well but though they may gain confidence from doing so, will facing the likes of Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Miguel Cummins (No disrespect) really prepare them for the Ashes?

We’re five Tests away from the Ashes (If they go ahead?!) and the identity of Alastair Cook’s opening partner and the number three position remain anything from certain. Throw in an injury or some other misfortune to messrs Cook or Root and cue panic among the England selectorial Gods!

Borthwick vs. Stoneman

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Scott Borthwick380 County Championship runs @ 31.67

Mark Stoneman761 County Championship runs @ 58.54

I detailed in a previous post how many so called ‘experts’ have been crawling out of the woodwork claiming that they’ve been campaigning for ‘Stoneman for England’ for years…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/07/02/short-term-memories/

I’ll try to avoid ranting about them again but let’s be honest, it was Borthwick that people thought was relocating down south in order to enhance his England credentials, Stoneman was just tagging along for the ride. Oh how it’s transpired differently. If it wasn’t for the fact that Joe Root used to houseshare with Gary Ballance or even that Alastair Cook resigned the national captaincy then Mark Stoneman would be a Test cricketer by now. For Borthwick, his chances of an England recall seem as far away as ever. He seemed close to a Test spot last year but then had a horror show in a match against Yorkshire (4 & 0 including being run out). Of course it could all soon tick for the man Graeme Swann (One of those experts!) touted as England’s great spin hope to replace Swann himself. The runs may flow in the second half of the campaign or it could be that SB comes good next term. He is barely 27 so time is on his side. Middlesex’s Sam Robson was recently recalled to the England Lions so Borthwick shouldn’t give up hope but as pleased as he’ll be for Stoneman he must be a little bitter.

Two County Championship wickets at over 100 apiece for Borthwick suggest that he isn’t even going to knock the much maligned Liam Dawson off his perch.

Maybe it shouldn’t be Borthwick vs. Stoneman. They’re teammates after all but when it comes to national reckoning it appears that England have room for no more than four specialist batsmen. Ben Duckett, Haseeb Hameed and James Vince are good enough to come again. Joe Clarke, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Tom Westley crave a chance too. Jimmy Adams, Nick Browne and James Hildreth will probably never get close.

Hopefully Borthwick can turn on the run show in the near future but theory of numbers means that England can’t and shouldn’t pick everyone. Durham bred Borthwick has had the honour, privilege and presumably amazing experience of representing England. There’s no shame if carving out a productive domestic career at Surrey is as good as it gets from here on in. Many many players have become more complete upon the termination of their international careers.

In regards to Stoneman, I touched upon aspects of his credentials in the article linked towards the top of this post. Is he just in form or is he primed to become an international cricketer having just turned thirty? He’s been dropped in the field a few times this season but maybe the likes of Ballance and Vince have too. MS looked particularly unruffled in the One-Day Cup Final but it will only take a Test or two without significant run scoring for his technique to be torn to shreds by the ‘experts’ and non experts for that matter.

Experts, rubbish commentators, unoriginal and lacking insight pundits… there’s an article in that isn’t there?

Robbed!

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At the commencement of the 2017 county campaign, Leicestershire ruthlessly decided that they wanted opening batsman Angus Robson out of the First XI. They opted to pair young Harry Dearden with not so young Paul Horton at the top of the order and so Robson departed in rather unceremonious fashion. Leicestershire appear to have since given up on Dearden, temporarily at least. They’ve snapped up Surrey stalwart Arun Harinath on loan. No disrespect to Harinath but that doesn’t really add up does it?

The early season headlines seemed to suggest that Robson had joined Sussex but it soon became clear that it wasn’t quite so straight forward. Robson had joined the Hove outfit but only on a season long Second XI trial. If anything that was probably a bit embarrassing for a determined twentyfive-year-old with just shy of 3000 First Class runs. Anyway, it looks as though Robson might get a chance in the Sussex first team in 2018, possibly at the expense of Chris Nash. Nash has been a good servent to Sussex but hasn’t hit his straps this year when opening alongside young Harry Finch. Bermuda born Delray Rawlins is also part of the equation now.

Back to Robson, his recent outings for Sussex 2s have been pretty productive:

97, 15*, 34, 31*, 0, 66, 70*, 63*, 110*, 35, 59*

That first score of 97 may confirm why he finds himself in his current predicament. In the First Class game he has 27 half-centuries but only two hundreds. That’s possibly the difference between his average of 31.52 and maybe 35 plus. To be fair, reviewing those Second XI scores shows us that he’s finished undefeated on quite a few occasions as well as registering a century.

We’ve recently seen his brother Sam get back into the England Lions fold, hopefully next term we can see little brother Angus can regain a place on the First Class circuit.

Also at Sussex, former England paceman Ajmal Shahzad has left the club. I met Shahzad earlier this year outside of cricket and he was kind enough to ‘talk cricket’ with me. Hopefully he’ll find a new home, stay fit and have three of four years racking up the wickets.

Could he go to Surrey?

I’ll admit it, I’ve given up hope of Mark Footitt playing for England. Going to Division Two won’t help his chances though to be fair, returning to Nottinghamshire he’ll be surrounded by internationals. With Luke Fletcher out for the season and Stuart Broad and Jake Ball in the England reckoning as well as James Pattinson’s future uncertain then Footitt will have a part to play. Hold on! Surrey are well stocked with quicks so could Shahzad even return to Notts?

English county cricket becomes more like the Premier League everyday when it comes to transfers. Maybe Footitt and Shahzad could be opening the bowling at Trent Bridge before the summer is out!

Cast in Stone

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It now looks certain that England will turn to Surrey’s Mark Stoneman come the first Test against South Africa commencing July 6th. The former Durham opening batsman registered scores of 58 and 86 for England Lions against South Africa A this week.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/1097115.html

Any previous posts by yours truly that made wild predictions of England Test line-ups can likely be forgotten…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/will-england-take-the-plungekett/

With Haseeb Hameed’s run pool run dry and despite Moeen Ali’s not so subtle hints that he’d like to bat at five (He’s likely to stay at eight), England’s batting department at Lords will probably look like this:

Alastair Cook

Mark Stoneman

Keaton Jennings

Joe Root (C)

Gary Ballance

Ben Stokes

Jonny Bairstow (W)

Moeen Ali

After that it becomes a bit of blur dependent on fitness to the men in possession, messrs Anderson, Broad and Woakes.

Returning to Stoneman, he’s a player that I’ve wanted to see capped before but felt that whilst at Durham he was too often dismissed in the thirties and forties. A First Class career average of 34.20 (And that’s gone up this year) confirms such. The left-hander averages a healthy 39.20 in List A cricket. The journey south (Remember them?)…

and a reuniting with his coach, former Ozzie ODI opener Michael Di Venuto, has seen Stoneman prosper and usurp Durham to Surrey twin Scott Borthwick in the international pecking order. It seems unlikely that Adil Rashid will get to play a Test on home soil soon and that when England do require a second spinner, it will be Mason Crane. That leaves Moeen down at eight for the time being. Gary Ballance demands selection and with Joe Root expected to bat at four, Keaton Jennings will be at three. Hameed will be left to pick up the pieces in the County Championship and possibly for the Lions come the winter. England have gone through many opening batsman in recent times, from Sam Robson (Called up to the Lions today) to Adam Lyth, Michael Carberry to Ben Duckett and Nick Compton to Alex Hales. When they do select Stoneman, they need to make a commitment to stick with him, invest in the failures and opportunity to learn and play him throughout the South Africa and West Indies series and the Ashes as well as into next summer. Only then should they consider jettisoning him if they haven’t reaped the rewards. To pick another opener for between four and seven Tests, maybe even see him score a hundred, then move onto someone else would be a failure to live and learn on the part of the England hierarchy.

http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/player/229954.html

Let’s hope Mark rolls like a stone!

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!

A Dark Day for Cricket

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Do I even need to mention the subject?

I can understand Rilee Rossouw’s frustrations. He can’t get in the team because black players (And by black we mean at least two black Africans and four non-whites) such as Temba Bavuma and Jean-Paul Duminy, get selected ahead of him even if (When!) they fail, fail and fail again. This is not to say that Bavuma will not be stronger for his struggles and go on to have an outstanding career or that Duminy hasn’t had his moments. Oh and Rossouw claims this had nothing to do with his relocating but that he “need(s) to buy groceries”!

http://www.cricketcountry.com/news/kyle-abbott-rilee-rossouw-retire-from-international-cricket-sign-kolpak-deal-with-hampshire-564091

For Kyle Abbott the scenario seems somewhat stranger as he is currently in the South African Test XI (Or was) though admittedly full fitness to one or two others might have relegated him to 12th man duties. In recent times Simon Harmer, Stiaan van Zyl and Hardus Viljoen have also joined English counties on Kolpak deals.

Of course we can strip it right back and say that South African national sport teams should be full of black players but by that rational then all black and Asian players need be removed from England teams and Australian national teams would definitely be struggling for players.

Regarding the signatures of Abbott and Rossouw, exactly what message does this send to young cricketers in the county of Hampshire?

For youngsters that aspire to play for their home county, they are now likely to think that their county doesn’t want them and that they’d rather sign experienced South African pros. There will be young English Hampshire players sat in the pavilion or at home when their South African infused team take to the field in 2017.

With the new English domestic season approaching at pace, we are surely headed for another Leicestershire v Northamptonshire episode where most of the players aren’t even eligible to represent England, and on that note…

… I recently wrote an article about the possibility of Darren Bravo playing for England…

https://sillypointcricketsite.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/bravo-for-england/

… in truth, the qualification period is now seven years, so this should allay any fears of Abbott and co. gatecrashing the England team anytime soon at least. I previously addressed my understanding of the way that people move around the world these days and how it is not always as straight forward as some people would like to label a person with a nationality but I sincerely hope that the capped South African players arriving in our game this year never don the Three Lions shirt. Luke Ronchi and Ryan Campbell provide recent examples of players that have switched international allegiance post being internationally capped. Imagine if Wayne Rooney retired from international football then moved to the MLS but in five years time became eligible to represent the USA, did so and played against England at the World Cup! If anybody feels that this is xenophobic on my part then so be it. These situations differ dramatically from those of Pietersen, Prior or Trott, or of Robson, Shah and even Joyce but I’ll repeat my comment from my Bravo article that once you’ve made your international bed you must lie in it.

Are you listening Johan Botha?