England Test XIs With Two Spinners

Some possible ways to incorporate two spinners into the England test team.

INTRODUCTION

This post is inspired by a post that appeared this morning on Toby’s Sporting Views. He was writing about an excellent bowling performance by Somerset’s spinners against Nottinghamshire on day two of their match, and I am looking specifically at an aspect he raised relating to this, namely two spinners playing for England in the Ashes tests this summer.

SETTING PARAMETERS

I am basing all my possible XIs around five specialist batters with Ben Foakes at six and wearing the gloves. The other fixed position, since he is indispensable in test cricket at present is James Anderson at no 11 and as one of new ball bowlers. Therefore the positions up for dispute are 7, 8, 9 and 10, which will be filled by two spinners and two quicks. Thus form my purposes each permutation will involve four cricketers, as I need not mention the others. Neither Adil Rashid nor Moeen Ali have done enough with the ball of late to merit consideration, and Lancashire’s Matthew Parkinson while promising is not as yet ready for elevation, so the two spinners would be Leach and Bess, becoming a latter day Lock and Laker.

1: THE PURE ENGLISH

In so far as such a line-up can be typical English this one is. It features Lewis Gregory at number 7, Sam Curran at number 8 and sharing the new ball with James Anderson, with Bess and Leach the two spinners at nos 9 and 10.

2: EXTRA PACE I

This one dispenses with Curran, and brings in either Jofra Archer or Mark Wood to bowl outright fast, sharing the new ball with Anderson.

3: EXTRA PACE II

This one dispenses with Gregory, having Curran move up to seven and playing one of Archer or Wood  along with the two spinners and Anderson. This is more of a gamble as it misses out on Gregory’s batting, which is better than that of any of the others.

4: THE OUTRIGHT GAMBLE

This one dispenses with both Curran and Gregory, and brings in both of the super-speedsters Wood and Archer, one of whom would perforce come on first change. This would likely mean Archer at no 7, Bess at no 8, Leach no 9, Wood no 10 and Anderson no 11, which is where the gamble is – there is no one who can really be called an all-rounder here, just five bowlers.

5: ANOTHER GAMBLE

My final possibility features picking Ben Stokes as a front-line batter and fill-in pacer, and having only four top-line bowlers, Curran, Bess, Leach and Anderson. If one of Curran or Anderson were to break down this side would then be using Stokes as a new-ball bowler, which makes it a very high risk strategy.

THOMAS’S PICK

Overall I would like one out and out ‘blitzman’ bowler in the team, and picking only two top line pacers for a test match is too rich even for my blood, so with all respect to Sam Curran I am going for Extra Pace I as my bowling combo. Injuries not intervening a possible line-up for match 1 if I was doing the selecting would be:

  1. Beaumont (see here for more on this controversial choice)
  2. Burns
  3. Roy (no 3 has been difficult for some time and Roy is at least in splendid form)
  4. *Root 
  5. Buttler
  6. +Foakes
  7. Gregory
  8. Archer
  9. Bess
  10. Leach
  11. Anderson

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Some Thoughts About Possible England Cricketers

Some thoughts about the possible make-up of the England team against Ireland later this year.

INTRODUCTION

In this post I will be looking at the claims of some potential England cricketers and at the end I will list those who at present would featurie in my plans for the summer. There will be some new names, because although it is only one match I believe that the game against Ireland represents an opportunity to give people a start at test match level, and I would prefer not to have give someone a debut against Australia, who are next up. Before looking at ‘potentials’, it is time clear the decks by first listing the…

SPINE OF THE TEAM

This, given the recent international retirement of Sir Alastair Cook and the lack of success of certain others comprises four names:

  • Rory Burns – He deserves more time to show what he can do at this level (here today, gone tomorrow selections plagued the 1990s when England were an aboslute embarrassment), so one of the openers slots is still his.
  • *Joe Root – The captain and finest batter in the side (and one of the finest in world cricket), his place is assured
  • +Ben Foakes – The best wicketkeeper around and averaging over 40 with the bat in his brief test career to date, I would regard his omission as a disgrace.
  • James Anderson – England’s all-time leading wicket taker and the leader of the bowling attack. As well as his bowling he should be working with the younger bowlers in the squad giving them the benefit of his vast experience and knowhow.

With these four names in mind we now have to decide on the rest, and the next section sets out what is…

REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE SQUAD

We have two specialist batters and a wicket keeper, and to augment them we need three more specialist batters and an all-rounder or four more specialist batters, one of whom is a regular opener. Only one bowler is listed, and we need a new-ball partner for him, at least two further pace bowlers and two front-line spinners so that we can pick an attack to meet all conditions. With this in mind I am going to start with the…

OPENING BATTER

As far as I am concerned Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings have both been found wanting at the highest level, so I strike them straight out. Not many openers have done big things in the first two rounds of county championship matches. Three who merit consideration are Haseeb Hameed who fared well against India before he was injured, but who has had two successive very poor seasons before coming into some runs against Middlesex to start this season, Zak Crawley who has had a superb match for Kent against Warwickshire, although his overall average is only just above 30 and his century in the match just completed was only his second in first-class cricket (from 39 innings) and Dominic Sibley whose 132 for Warwickshire in that same match was fifth century in as many games. Also worth a thought is Middlesex’s Nick Gubbins, who averages 34.92 in first class cricket with seven centuries from 61 innings, and who was one of the few Middlesex players to fare decently with the bat against Lancashire. Of these four my pick would be 25 year-old Gubbins, but with a note to look out for the scores of Hameed, Crawley and Sibley – if any of these start producing big scores on a consistent basis they could still challenge. However, I am not massively convinced by any of these potential openers, and continue to espouse the radical solution I have suggested elsewhere of giving Tammy Beaumont a go amongst the men.

THE NUMBER THREE SLOT

There are fewer options here – not many people have been scoring big at number three. I see the following possibilities:

  1. Persuade Joe Root to go in at number three, enabling an extra middle-order batter to be selected, which could work, but may end up adversely affecting Root’s performances.
  2. Treating him principally as a batter who will sometimes bowl short spells at high pace see if the new, responsible Ben Stokes can handle the number three slot.
  3. Picking him as a specialist batter give Jonathan Bairstow this slot.
  4. Although he does not bat there for his county cross one’s fingers and pitch Joe Clarke straight in at number three.
  5. Gamble on youth by selecting Ryan Patel of Surrey, whose 100 not out was the sheet anchor of their first innings against Essex, guiding them from 75-1 to 395 all out. Fine performance though it was, it was also his first first class hundred, though he is only 21. 

My personal order of preference for these options is as follows: 3, 2, 5, 1, 4 – I regard promoting Root as too much of a gamble and think that expecting someone who is not a regular no 3 to start doing that job at test level would be a big ask, and I think Patel needs a few more big performances be can be seriously entertained, but he is on my radar. 

THE REMAINING BATTERS/ ALL ROUNDERS

With the top four slots filled and a wicket-keeper in place we need either two more specialist batters or a specialist batter and an all-rounder. My possibles are as follows:

  • Joe Clarke – averages over 40 with the bat, started this season splendidly with 112 and 97 not out against Yorkshire, although he then failed twice against Somerset. I believe a place must be found for him, and that number five would be a good position for him to begin his test career from.
  • Ben Stokes – A position in the middle of the order would probably suit him better than number three, and having an all-rounder if they are genuinely good enough is always valuable. 
  • Ollie PopeThe Surrey man’s 251 in the Champion County game showed that he is the form of his life and made his case all but irrefutable.
  • Tom Abell – The Somerset captain has played two valuable innings this season, the 49 in the first innings against Kent and the hundred against Nottinghamshire when his side looked in trouble, but ended up going on to win by an innings.
  • Kiran Carlson – A sparkling century to start his season against Northamptonshire, albeit on a featherbed of a pitch (there were over 80 runs per wicket in that drawn match), and it was only his fourth in 49 first class innings. The 20 year-old is clearly very promising but he needs to do more to earn a place.
  • George Bartlett – Twice in their two matches this season Somerset were deep in trouble and on both occasions Bartlett was instrumental in hauling them out of it. In the second innings of their opener against Kent his 63, backed by some hefty blows from Jack Brooks at number 11 gave them something to bowl at and they duly dismissed Kent, while against Nottinghamshire he came in after the top three had all been dismissed cheaply and with his team initially looking down both barrels produced 133, his maiden first-class ton (note that Carlson was cashing in after two of his team mates had already smashed tons). The fact that he has twice made runs when they were desperately needed suggests that he has the right temperament, so he is definitely in the reckoning.

PACE BOWLERS

We are looking for two or three guys to back up Anderson in this department. I see the following as especially worthy of consideration (in addition to Stuart Broad, whose claims need no amplification here):

  • Lewis Gregory – 5-18 in the second innings of the first match to bowl Kent out, 6-68 in the first innings against Nottinghamshire and a quick fifty to help boost the Somerset total past 400 in that same match. The 26 year old now has 223 wickets at 27.03 in first-class cricket from 76 matches and seems to have stepped things up a notch this season, with a total of 14-145 from two matches, average 10.36 per wicket.
  • Sam Curran –  after the way he burst on the scene against India last year he should feature strongly again. He has not been involved in the early county matches because he is currently playing IPL cricket in India (and has some good performances there to his name).
  • Mark Wood – A bowler who propels the ball at over 90mph, though he is injury prone. I think England need at least one bowler of extreme pace in their attack, and after his efforts against the West Indies he is the prime contender. If he gets injured than my choice in this role would be…
  • Olly Stone –  The Norfolk born quickie takes his wickets at 24 each in first-class cricket, and has the kind of extreme pace that only Wood among the others can match. 
  • Tom Bailey – The Lancashire fast-medium bowler has 161 wickets from his 48 first-class games at 26.15 each, including 5-67 in the Middlesex first innings this season, when his illustrious tem mate Anderson bagged three. The fact that he and Anderson have experience of bowling in tandem could be useful as well. 
  • Henry Brookes – He is just 19 years old, and his seven first class matches have brought him 24 wickets at 26.08 although he has yet to record a five-for. Also hbis ten first class innings have produced three fifty-plus scores, including a career best 84 against Kent that saved his side from an innings defeat, although Kent did manage to chase down the 124 they needed to win, an average of 29.33. He could well develop into a genuine allrounder and definitely merits consideration as a potential no 8.

From the bowlers I have named in this section Stuart Broad, Sam Curran, one out of Wood or Stone and Brookes are the ones I consider serious possibilities. I would consider Brookes if the conditions were such that I thought no spinner was warranted, in which case I would be picking four front-line quick bowlers, otherwise the question would be who missed out in the toss-up between Broad and Curran, and that would be Broad for my money, because he and Anderson are both nearing the end of their great careers, and I think Anderson can support the younger bowlers on his own. I would expect Anderson and Curran to share the new ball, with Mark Wood (if fit) or Olly Stone (otherwise) coming on first change, and Henry Brookes as fourth seamer if the pitch was a green top.

THE SPINNERS

Jack Leach with his 6-36 against Nottinghamshire made his case, strengthened by a maiden test five-for in Sri Lanka, irrefutable. In the absence of any other spinners pulling up trees Adil Rashid who also produced a maiden test five-for over the winter is the choice for the second spinner should conditions warrant such (unlikely, but in July when the next tets match takes place not impossible). Moeen Ali misses out for two reasons – he is not good enough in either department, a bits and pieces player rather than a true all rounder, and he is an off-spinner, and Joe Root (who should be encouraged to trust himself more in this area) can bowl a bit of off-spin if needed. Meanwhile I will be on the look out for a serious option to replace Rashid. Dominic Bess may get himself back into the reckoning as the season goes on, but for the moment two front-line spinners remains enough.

THE FINAL RECKONING

My squad is as follows, starting with the likely first eleven assuming normal conditions:

  1. Rory Burns
  2. Tammy Beaumont
  3. Jonny Bairstow
  4. *Joe Root
  5. Joe Clarke
  6. +Ben Foakes
  7. Ben Stokes
  8. Sam Curran
  9. Jack Leach
  10. Mark Wood/ Olly Stone according to fitness.
  11. James Anderson

The reserves and circumstances in which I would consider picking them are:

  • Adil Rashid – plays if two spinners are needed.
  • Henry Brookes – plays on a green-top if no specialist spinner is deemed necessary.
  • George Bartlett – plays at no7 if Stokes is unavailable, on the understanding that his off-spin will come into the equation.
  • Stuart Broad – slots into his accustomed role as Anderson’s new ball partner if Sam Curran is injured, would also replace Anderson as senior bowler if he was injured, and may start if neither of our extra-fast bowlers is available.
  • Ollie Pope – in the event of injury to any of my suggested nos 3-6 he is the next cab off the rank.
  • Dominic Sibley – if one of my preferred openers is injured he gets the nod.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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The County Championship Second Round

Some thoughtd on the recently concluded round of County Champ;ionship matches.

INTRODUCTION

The second round of County Championship cricket matches of 2019 has just finished, with Kent completing an eight-wicket win over Warwickshire. In this post I will look at each match in turn for points of interest and singificance.

THE MATCHES

I will deal with the drawn matches first.

  • Glamorgan v NorthamptonshireGlamorgan 570-8 declared and 70-1, Northants 750
    A travesty of a game. 1390 runs for 17 wickets, an average of 81.76 runs per wicket tells its own story of a pitch that quite clearly never offered anything to any bowler of any description. Glamorgan should be slapped with a hefty points deduction to punish them for producing such a pitch. With a maximum of 24 points available from a single game I suggest a 50 point penalty, to make this offence worth slightly more than two maximum point victories. This sort of match is far worse than a low scoring affair that finishes early.
  • Gloucestershire v Derbyshire– Derbyshire 291 and 388-3 declared, Gloucestershire 350
    Slow batting here combined with a surface that offered little to bowlers saw a match that looked like a draw from a long way out. Wayne Madsen scored a double century for Derbyshire today and Alex Hughes reached a century.
  • Surrey v Essex Surrey 395 and 324-6 declared, Essex 448 and 0-0
    Surrey made the game safe, with 98 from Rory Burns, 69 from Ollie Pope and 54 from Will Jacks, before declaring to get in a quick over at Essex in order avoid being docked a point for slow over rates. There was some interference from the weather during the four days.

Now we have the games at which defnite results were achieved.

  • Nottinghamshire v SomersetNottinghamshire 263 and 126, Somerset 403, Somerset won by an innings and 14 runs
    Somerset’s victory was created principally by the efforts of four players. Lewis Gregory with 6-68 in the first Nottinghamshire innings and a quickfire 50 with the bat, George Bartlett and Tom Abell came who came together after Somerset had lost three quick wickets in their innings and put on 223 together, Bartlett making 133 and Abell 101, and Jack Leach with 6-36 in the Nottinghamshire second innings did the business for Somerset. Joe Clarke failed twice for Nottinghamshire, and although there were some decent scores in the first Nottinghamshire innings no one looked capable of making the sort of runs that Clarke can when he gets going. Somerset go into the one-day tournament with two wins from two, the only team to have managed that. 
  • Hampshire v Yorkshire Yorkshire 554-7 declared, Hampshire 302 and 208, Yorkshire won by an innings and 44 runs
    This was nearly even worse for Hampshire than the actual result – at one stage they were 59-8 in their second innings before Liam Dawson (92) and Keith Barker (64) staged a resistance act that put the pitiful efforts of the Hampshire top order into perspective. 
  • Warwickshire v KentKent 504-9 declared and 124-2, Warwickshire 346 and 280, Kent won by eight wickets.
    Warwickshire were probably nine first innings runs short of escaping with a draw – that being the margin by which they avoided the follow-on. At one stage an innings victory for Kent looke likely, when Warwickshire were 121-7 in their second innings, but Tim Ambrose (107) and 19 year old Henry Brookes (84, a new career best), put on 144 together, which meant that Kent had a run chase to finish the game, something they never looked like failing to do. Opener Zak Crawley had a fine match with scores of 108 and 45 for Kent, and Warwickshire opener Dominic Sibley scored 132 in their first innings, his fifth hundred in as many games. Brookes is selected for his bowling (now 24 wickets at 26.08 from seven first class games), but this 84 was his third fifty in ten first innings, and he now averages 29.33 with the bat as well – a more than handy second string to his bow.
  • Durham v Sussex Durham 224 and 189, Sussex 202 and 212-4, Sussex won by six wickets
    Stian van Zyl scored an unbeaten century to guide Sussex to victory in this match. Liam Trevaskis made 54 in the first Durham innings, and South Africa Gareth Harte 74 not out in their second, while Luke Wells hit 98 not out in the first Sussex innings. 
  • Leicestershire v WorcestershireWorcestershire 553-6 declared, Leicestershire 302 and 233, Worcestershire won by an innings and 18 runs.
    After Worcestershire piled up a huge total Josh Tongue with 4-46 and Ed Barnard with 3-40 did most of the damage in the Leicestershire first innings, and then Charlie Morris took a career best 7-45 in their second. 
  • Middlesex v LancashireMiddlesex 265 and 200, Lancashire 427 and 39-3, Lancashire won by seven wickets
    Middlesex were flattered by this result – two of the three wickets they took before Lancashire completed victory fell to the rarely used bowling of Sam Robson. A target of 39 presented no opportunities for big scores, but Haseeb Hameed followed up on his first innings hundred by remaining unbeaten. Glen Maxwelwas the destroyer in the Middlesex second innings, the Aussie’s off-spin snaring five victims. Haseeb’s return to form has generated considerable excitement because he did well for England before an injury interrupted his progress, but he has had two successive very poor seasons before starting this one well, and it needs more than one big performance to earn an England recall – I certainly put Zak Crawley ahead of him in the pecking order, and regular readers know that I have my own unorthodox solution to England’s top order woes as well, so Hameed is definitely not above third in my personal pecking order for opening options.

I will look tomorrow at some players who could be considered for England (and bear in mind that the next test match is not until July, and is against Ireland, surely an opportunity to blood some new players) and will pick out a suggested squad.

PHOTOGRAPHS

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100 Cricketers – Bringing Up the Century

The final post in my “100 cricketers” series, with updates from the County Cham;pionship and some of my photographs. Also features a complete listing of the 100 cricketers.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the final post in my “100 cricketers series“, which completes the century of cricketers with a player who frequently completed centuries. The introductory post to the series can be found here and the most recent post can be found here. Before the big reveal it is time for a…

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP UPDATE

The second round of matches are now into their third day of four, and the situations are:

  • Hampshire v YorkshireYorkshire 554-7D, Hampshire 223-5
    Sam Northeast continues his fine start to the season, currently being on 85 not out, while he is getting support from Liam Dawson (39 not out). Ben Coad has taken two wickets for Yorkshire. If Hampshire reach 405 and avoid the follow-on this game will definitely be drawn. If they do not then Yorkshire should enforce the follow-on and hope to bowl them out a second time – failure to do so would be to accept a secon successive draw.
  • Nottinghamshire v Somerset Nottinghamshire 263 and 111-7, Somerset 403
    Nottinghamshire are in a spin, and it it is looking like a second straight victory for Somerset. Jack Leach, Somerset and England’s slow left-armer has taken 5-22 so far, the other two second innings wickets going to Jack Brooks. Will George Bartlett (one of my Five to Follow) get a chance to deploy his off-spin? Lewis Gregory (another of the five) augmented his first innings 6-68 with a quickfire 50 yesterday, but has not added to his wickets tally in this innings. Joe Clarke (the third of the five to be involved in this game) suffered a second failure, being out for 2 again.
  • Surrey v EssexSurrey 395, Essex 368-6
    A massive fightback by Essex has them almost on terms. Dan Lawrence made 93 and Essex skipper Ryan Ten Doeschate is 124 not out. Tom Curran has three wickets for Surrey and Morne Morkel two. 
  • Kent v WarwickshireKent 504-9 declared, Warwickshire 262-7
    There are two results on the cards – a Kent win if they get Warwickshire out before the total reaches 355 (follow-on avoidance target) and enforce the follow-on and bowl them out a second time, or a draw if Warwickshire get to or beyond 355. Dominic Sibley, opneing the innings, is 128 not out, and Warwickshire’s hopes of escape rest largely on his shoulders. Matt Milnes has three wickets and Harry Podmore and Darren ‘Benjamin Button’ Stevens (he is now 43 years old) have two each.
  • Durham v Sussex Durham 224 and 159-9, Sussex 202
    A nailbiter in the making – Durham have fought back somewhat from 106-7 in their second kinnings. Liam Trevaskis could not follow up on his first innings 50, collecting a blob this time. This means that of my Five to Follow only Philip Salt, who will be batting before too long remains to contribute. David Wiese has five wickets for Sussex.

STOP PRESS! Somerset have made it two from two, beating Nottinghamshire by an innings and 14. Jack Leach took 6-36 and Jack Brooks 4-22, as Nottinghamshire sank for 126. This means two wins out of two as they go into a month’s break in the championship for a one-day tournament. Somerset are looking very strong contenders, although they will need their top order to score a few runs somewhere along the way. This effort in his first bowling spell of the new season has surely confirmed Leach’s place in the England squad. Now back to the regular updates…

  • Glamorgan v NorthamptonshireGlamorgan 570-8 declared, Northamptonshire 403-3
    This one is being capsized by an overload of runs. Vasconcelos (South African) and Newton shared a triple century opening stand for Northamptonshire, the former making 184. The bowlers have had no chance on this pitch, so I will not quote a\ny figures.
  • Gloucestershire v DerbyshireDerbyshire 291, Gloucestershire 350-9
    Gloucestershire’s advantage in this match stems from three significant innings – Wicketkeeper Roderick making 98, Higgins 74 to follow up his bowling efforts and Bracey 65. For Derbyshire Luis Reece has 3-65. 
  • Leicestershire v WorcestershireWorcestershire 553-6 declared, Leicestershire 302 and 10-1 (following on)
    Another one that looks like the pitch is too favourable for batting for its own or the game’s good. Worcestershire have given themselves a chance by bowling Leicestershire out and enforcing the follow-on. Tongue (a 21 year old seamer who came into this match with a bowling average of 24) took 4-46 in the first Leicestershire innings, and was backed up by Barnard (a 23 year old who came into this match averaging 28 with both bat and ball) with 3-40.
  • Middlesex v LancashireMiddlesex 265, Lancashire 333-4
    Yesterday Haseeb Hameed claimed headlines with his 117 (196 balls, 298 minutes), today’s play has been disrupted by the weather. He had had two very quiet years prior to this season and I reckon he needs more than one century to earn a recall to the England side. Jones is currently 82 not out and Vilas 50 not out. If the weather does not win this one then Lancashire will.

Now we are ready for the…

BIG REVEAL

All I have told you about the player who completes the century is that it is somebody who often did just that. So who is it? It is…

CLAIRE TAYLOR

15 Test matches yielded her 1,030 runs in 27 innings, with four centuries (just better than one per seven innings) and an average of 41.20, highest score 177. 126 ODIs produced 4,101 runs at 40.20 with eight centuries and a best of 156 not out. She was also a history maker, being the first English female cricketer to have a professional contract (yes, this distinction was achieved by someone born as late as 1975!). Claire Taylor’s successes blazed a trail for others to follow, and all the top England Women now have professional contracts, as opposed to having to combine playing at the top level with earning a living doing something else, which used to be the case. Her great record would earn her a place of honour in any case, but her historic importance makes the case unassailable. 

A LOOK BACK ON THE SERIES

No two people attempting a project like this would come up with the same answers, and I expect that all the cricket fans among my readers have people in mind who I have omitted and they would have selected. The problem with these exercises is the embarrassment of riches that one faces – I could have selected many more than 100. A number of young players have stood up to be counted in the early stages of this year’s County Championship. 

FOLLOWING ON FROM THIS SERIES

I have a few ideas for following on from this series, which I shall be thinking about while this round of Championship matches heads to its conclusion. I will finish this part of the post by presenting for the first time the whole 100 names in one place:

100 cricketers100 Cricketers Full List

LINKS, PICTURES AND OTHER STUFF

From The Pileus on twitter, a great quote on rail privatisation:

 

Chakraborty.jpg

Now comes a mathematical teaser from brilliant.org:

trickshot q

We end with my usual sign off…

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100 Cricketers – First X1 Bowlers and introducing the second X1

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series and taking the opportunity to say 750 thankyous.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers series“. In this post I complete the coverage of my first XI (see here, here and here for the other posts about this XI) and introduce my second XI in batting order. However, before I get to the main part of this post I would like to say…

750 THANKYOUS

This blog has been steadily gaining followers, and today the milestone of 750 was reached. I am honoured that so many of you take an interest in an eccentric personal blog. I have been blogging for almost eight years now, and that comprises two very distinct periods. From when I started in 2011 through to the first part of 2014 I was producing blog posts but was not doing anything else. Then from the second part of 2014 I learned from the good examples of other bloggers, such as Anna, and started to interact more, visiting blogs and leaving likes and where I deemed it appropriate comments. I have gone in the second period of my blogging life from being a plain blogger to being part of a blogging community, and the latter is much more satisfying. Now back to my cricketers…

JACK LEACH

When England won the series in Sri Lanka at the back end of 2018, their first victory in that part of the world since 2001, it was notable because it was achieved largely by England’s spinners outbowling their Sri Lankan counterparts in their own backyards. Part of this achievement saw Jack Leach record his first five wicket innings haul in a test match, and with 20 wickets at 24.90 from the four test matches he has played so far he seems certain to have a fine international career ahead of him. With all due respect to Moeen Ali, who fared reasonably well in the losing series against the West Indies, I believe that England’s first two choices for spinner’s roles at the moment should be Leach and Adil Rashid, who also recorded his first test match five-for against Sri Lanka. A further candidate who may force himself back in to the picture is Leach’s Somerset team mate Dominic Bess who may yet form a long standing England partnership with Leach, given that Rashid and Ali are both closer to the end than the beginning of their careers.

It is also possible that a new spinner will emerge from somewhere to make a case for themselves, but at the moment, unless the match is being played on a green-top and a spinner is clearly not going to be required Jack Leach would be my first choice as the front line spinner.

JAMES ANDERSON

When he first appeared on the scene James Anderson sported some ridiculous hairstyles (though never one quite as awful as Pietersen’s 2005 “Dead Skunk” effort) and recorded some quite horrible looking bowling figures. For a few years he was good if the ball swung and absolutely innocuous if it did not.

In the second phase of his career, starting with the 2010-11 Ashes series, he was absolutely magnificent in all circumstances, and it was a great moment when he finished England’s 4-1 beating of India (who only a few months later beat Australia in Australia) by becoming the all-time leading test wicket taker among pace bowlers, moving ahead of Glenn McGrath.

2019 could be his last home season as an England bowler (he is now 36 years old, and a home Ashes series would be a great stage on which to make his final curtain call), but so long as he remains fit and motivated he should definitely be among the first names on the team sheet. He has earned the right for his career to end at a moment of his own choosing.

I hope that as well as continuing to bowl well he uses his vast experience to assist younger swing bowlers such as Sam Curran, passing on the knowledge he has built up over the course of 15 years in international cricket.

OLLY STONE

This pick is a look to the future. The Norfolk born paceman has 116 first class wickets at 24.20, and is well capable of propelling a cricket ball at 90mph and above. Having seen how Mark Wood shook the West Indies up in the last match of what was otherwise a shocking series for England and also how Jasprit Bumrah and Pat Cummins both impacted the Australia v India series with their extra pace I feel that England need some serious pace at their disposal, as well as crafty swing bowlers like Anderson and Sam Curran, and of course in appropriate conditions spinners such as Leach and Rashid. 

Incidentally, although Norfolk has never been a first class county a number of Norfolk born players have achieved high honours in the game – five members of the Edrich family, led by Bill and John of that ilk, played first class cricket, Middlesex stalwarts Peter Parfitt and Clive Radley (test avergae 48.10) were both Norfolk born, and going back to the very early days, the leading batsman of the 1830s and 40s, Fuller Pilch, was also Norfolk born.

INTRODUCING THE SECOND XI

Preparing the ground for the continuation of this series, here in batting order is my second XI

    1. SMRITI MANDHANA
    2. CHRIS GAYLE

 

  1. SACHIN TENDULKAR
  2. *ALLAN BORDER
  3. AMELIA KERR
  4. IAN BOTHAM
  5. +SARAH TAYLOR
  6. SHANE WARNE
  7. WASIM AKRAM
  8. WAQAR YOUNIS
  9. MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN

I came up with the cricketers who will feature in this series of posts during one of my recent spells in hospital, and because I want this series to be fully authentic I am sticking to the choices I made then, and presenting them in the order in which I made them. As this series continues to unfold I offer a couple of challenges to those who follow it sufficiently closely:

  • Once I have presented the full 100 players pick your best Men’s XI
  • Your best Women’s XI
  • And your best mixed XI 

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are a couple of of my photographs for those who have made it through the entire post:

P1210771P1210772

 

Ashes Selections

On Ashes selections…

INTRODUCTION

The cricket section of the BBC website gives you a chance to pick your XI for the opening ashes match this winter. It is not a free selection – they give you a pool of names to pick from, which is why I am producing this post.

MY SELECTION ON THE BBC WEBSITE

Restricted by the BBC website I selected the following XI:

Cook, Stoneman, Joe Clarke, Root, Liam Livingstone, Stokes, Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Roland-Jones, Anderson, Leach – yes I overlooked Stuart Broad, but I was being deliberately controversial…

VARIOUS POSSIBLE XIs

In actual fact, depending on conditions my selections could vary considerably. England spinners have rarely enjoyed themselves at Brisbane, so in practice I would probably not select two spinners for that particular match, while at Perth I might even consider leaving out Moeen Ali. At Adelaide, where the pitch tends to be exceedingly batsman friendly I would want more bowling options, and if the pitch was obviously going to favour spin then Moeen might even be third spinner in the XI. Thus here are some possible XIs, unerestricted by the BBC website’s preselections:

Normal conditions: Cook, Stoneman, Westley, Root (C), Dan Lawrence, Stokes, Bairstow (WK), Moeen Ali, Roland-Jones, Broad, Anderson.

Fast bowlers’ paradise (Perth would be a possible): Cook, Stoneman, Westley, Root (C), Lawrence, Stokes, Bairstow, (WK), Woakes, Roland-Jones, Broad, Anderson.

On a ‘bunsen’ (rhyming slang, bunsen burner = turner) – unlikely in Oz but you never know: Cook, Stoneman, Westley, Root (C), Lawrence, Stokes, Bairstow (WK), Moeen Ali, Dominic Bess, Jack Leach, Anderson (this is a colossal gamble, relying on Anderson and Stokes to do all the fast bowling between them, a more cautious approach still catering for lots of spin would see Broad retain his place and Ali and Bess or Bess and Leach have the spin bowling roles).

For the batsman’s paradise (e.g Adelaide, or the Bellerive Oval, Hobart): Cook, Stoneman, Root (C), Lawrence, Stokes, Moeen Ali, Bairstow (WK), Roland-Jones, Bess, Broad, Anderson (note that to play the extra bowler I move Ali up two places, keeping Bairstow at 7 – there is a reason why Gilchrist never moved up from number 7 in Australia’s great days).