I pick my England XI (constrained by the squad from which it will be picked) for the first test match v India which starts on Wednesday.
The first test in the England v India series for the Pataudi Trophy (The senior Nawab of Pataudi, Iftikhar Ali Khan, played for both England and India, playing for the former in 1932-3 and the latter in 1946 when he was captain, while his son, Mansur Ali Khan, played for India) starts on Wednesday. With that in mind I devote this post to selecting an England XI for that match. The squad from which the XI has to be chosen can be viewed here.
THE TOP THREE
The openers are open and shut – Burns and Sibley will occupy those slots. On the face of it there are several options for no3: Zak Crawley is the incumbent, Jonathan Bairstow has batted there in the past and Haseeb Hameed, in good form at the moment and with a century for a County Select XI v The Indians under his belt into the bargain would also be a logical choice. Restricting ourselves to these three, Crawley is in no sort of form and has played only one major test innings, the 267 against Pakistan which is receding ever further into the past. Bairstow’s recent test record is dire – since the start of 2018 he averages less than 25 at that level. Therefore, with the most obvious candidate for England no 3, Tom Abell, injured at present I go with Hameed, reckoning that he and Sibley are in a bat off for who opens alongside Burns once Abell can come into the side.
THE MIDDLE ORDER
Numbers four and five are clear cut, Root and Stokes. Number six is between Pope and Lawrence, and is a very close call. I plump for Lawrence – Pope at test level has developed an unfortunate habit of making impressive starts but then getting himself out before he manages a significant score. At no7, and keeping wicket in the absence of the injured Foakes, is Jos Buttler.
There are two logical candidates for no8, Ollie Robinson and Sam Curran. Although the latter’s left arm creates an extra bowling variation I plump for the former because I see him as more likely to take wickets at test level. At no9 I opt for Mark Wood, the only express pace bowler in the squad, and as such an automatic pick for me. Number 10 and sole specialist spinner is Jack Leach, who is the only serious candidate for that role at present (although there are some promising youngsters starting to emerge at county level). Rounding out the order is England’s all time leading test wicket taker, James Anderson. My feeling is that it would be foolhardy to select both veterans in the first match of a five test series, and I opt for Anderson ahead of Broad (the latter will then get fired up by his omission!).
THE XI IN BATTING ORDER
Tying all this together I present the XI in likeliest batting order as per the above text (I have no truck with XIs being presented in alphabetical order, which is meaningless in a cricketing context – it may be acceptable to present a squad from which the XI is selected in alphabetical order, but never the XI):
A look at cricket’s newest format, The Hundred and some photographs.
It has been a while since I last posted here, and it is time to rectify that omission. The new cricket competition, The Hundred got underway on Thursday evening, and I now offer my early thoughts on it.
ABOUT THE HUNDRED
The Hundred differs from other formats of cricket in the following ways:
No overs – there are blocks of five balls, a bowler may bowl either five balls or 10 balls at a stretch depending on the captain’s decision, and the players change ends every 10 balls. The total innings duration is 100 balls per side, hence the name. Commentator Dan Norcross made an intriguing Paris Metro based suggestion for naming these blocks – tickets on that transport are purchasable in blocks of five or ten and the word for such a block is ‘carnet’, pronounced ‘Car-nay’.
Each bowler may bowl up to 20 balls in the course of the innings.
The fielding captain is permitted to take one strategic time out lasting two and a half minutes at any time after the first 25 balls.
The first 25 balls are a Power Play in which only two fielders may be placed more than 30 yards from the bat, while for the rest of the innings five may be placed deep
If the fielding side have not started the last set of five balls by a certain preset tine they are punished by being required to bring one extra fielder in close.
PROS AND CONS
Many readers will be aware that when it was first mooted I was strongly opposed to The Hundred. I still think that it is cluttering up an already overcrowded calendar, and still have concerns about the absolute marginalization of the county championship, and I also feel that some of those pushing this competition have been unnecessarily antagonistic towards existing fans in their search for new ones. However, it is here to stay, it is very enjoyable. Also, it has undoubtedly been a huge boon for women’s cricket, with the women’s games an integral part of the tournament rather than a sideshow. On Saturday over 21,000 spectators watched the two women’s games, being respectively the largest and second largest ever audiences for a women’s domestic game in this country.
SOME OF THE MATCHES
The highest score of the competition to date came from Jemimah Rodrigues, who with the top order crumbling around her so that the score at one point was 19-4 chasing 131 to win scored 94 not out off 42 balls to carry her side to victory. Alice Capsey, the youngest player involved in the tournament, lit up Lord’s on Saturday morning with a glorious 59 off 41 balls. Yesterday at Manchester saw a bowling dominated day – in the women’s match Birmngham Phoenix tallied 113 batting first, which proved enough to win by 20 runs. Then in the men’s match Phoenix became the first side to be bowled out inside 100 balls, managing a measly 87 off 86 balls. Matt Parkinson for the home side, the Manchester Originals, took 4-9 from 19 balls, finishing the innings by taking three in four balls including as good a ball as a bowler of his type can produce – pitched on leg stump it tilted the middle stump backwards. Just to ensure that the total would never trouble the Originals Phil Salt gave the reply a flying start with 22 off 11 balls, as half the required runs were knocked off in the 25 ball Power Play. Thereafter there was no way for Phoenix to apply any pressure, although Benny Howell, a crafty medium pacer, bowled well for them.
YOUNGSTERS TO THE FORE
At the same time as the new competition is going on, so is the Royal London Cup 50 overs per side competition. With so many first choice players not available to them the counties have had no option but to select quite a number of youngsters. Yesterday’s match between Yorkshire and Leicestershire saw Harry Duke at the age of 19 rack up his first professional century, helping his side to a convincing victory.
My thoughts on the new ODI squad that England have had to select, and some photographs.
The original England ODI squad for the upcoming series against Pakistan has had to go into self isolation due to seven positive covid-19 tests among their number. A new squad, to be captained by Ben Stokes, who was originally being eased back from injury and had therefore not been called up. In this post I look at the new squad, and provide some thoughts on it. This is the worst disruption faced by England cricket in my lifetime, beating even that caused by the rebel tours of Apartheid South Africa in 1982 and 1989, and overall the ECB have handled it well.
THE NEW SQUAD
The 18 names in the new squad are as follows (courtesy of the ECB website):
Ben Stokes (Durham, captain) Jake Ball (Nottinghamshire) Danny Briggs (Warwickshire) Brydon Carse (Durham) Zak Crawley (Kent) Ben Duckett (Nottinghamshire) Lewis Gregory (Somerset) Tom Helm (Middlesex) Will Jacks (Surrey) Dan Lawrence (Essex) Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire) Dawid Malan (Yorkshire) Craig Overton (Somerset) Matt Parkinson (Lancashire) David Payne (Gloucestershire) Phil Salt (Sussex) John Simpson (Middlesex) James Vince (Hampshire)
Most of these names are fairly uncontroversial in the circumstances. The strangest selection among the 18 is John Simpson, a good cricketer but not my idea of international quality. I am also mistrustful of James Vince, whose England record is not impressive. Brydon Carse is a hugely exciting selection – he is in the same pace bracket as his county colleague Mark Wood and can handle a bat. Danny Briggs has a good limited overs record but I would preferred to see Dan Moriarty capped.
The omission of Sam Hain who averages almost 60 and has a strike rate of 86 in List A cricket almost defies understanding. I would have liked to see a call up for the veteran Darren Stevens. Also the ECB would do themselves a favour if they actually fronted up and said in as many words that they will not pick Alex Hales – the announcement of this squad makes it clear what their actual attitude is and it is just silly to keep pretending that the door has not been shut on an England recall for him.
PICKING AN XI
This XI will almost certainly not happen, but this is the way I would from the selected squad:
My opening pair would be Will Jacks and Phil Salt, with the latter keeping wicket, while the former’s off spin may well enter the equation. At number three I would have Dawid Malan, batting in his best position. Dan Lawrence, needed on ground of prior international experience would bat four. Skipper Stokes gets the no5 slot. In view of the make up of the squad I would play Gregory at six, Carse at seven and Craig Overton at eight (all three can bat very effectively), David Payne whose left arm pace offers a variation would be at nine, with Mahmood and Parkinson rounding out the order.
England are by no means out of this series even after having to select a completely new squad just before it starts.