County Championship Round Up

An account of goings on the County Championship, a brief mention of physio at Tapping House and lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The County Championship matches currently in progress are now on day 3 of 4. In this post I will look at all of them before sharing some more of my photos.

THE STATE OF PLAY IN
THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

This is what is happening around the country…

  • Nottinghamshire v Essex Nottinghamshire 187 and 157, Essex 241 and 81-1, Essex need a further 24 to win.
    The Nottinghamshire batting has failed twice, leaving Essex a fairly clear run to victory. No Nottinghamshire batter topped 50 in either innings. Nick Browne made 67 in the Essex first dig, while spinner Simon Harmer destroyed the Notts second innings with 6-50. Tom Westley is on the verge of only the second half-century of the match and is being staunchly supported by the only knight of the realm currently playing first class cricket. Joe Clarke of my “Five to Follow” made 48 and 1 for Notts.
  • Kent v YorkshireYorkshire 210 and 328-4, Kent 296.
    Kent took what would have looked a useful first innings lead, but Yorkshire have turned this one around in their second innings. They will now be eyeing up a declaration to give Kent an awkward period of batting before the close today and then the whole of tomorrow. 81 for Zak Crawley and 103 from wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson were Kent’s main batting efforts, while Gary Ballance is 143 not out in the second Yorkshire innings. Ben Coad and Duanne Olivier each took three wickets for Yorkshire.
  • Surrey v SomersetSurrey 380 and 19-2, Somerset 398.
    This one could go a long way to deciding the ultimate destiny of the title as it features the defending champions (Surrey) and the form side thus far this year (Somerset). So far this shaping up as Lewis Gregory’s match – three wickets in the first innings, a magnificent 129 not out, including 10 fours and five sixes to give Somerset a first innings lead and already has a second innings wicket (the other second innings wicket has gone to the Devonian giant Craig Overton). Somerset have quite a tradition of pace bowlers who love to give the ball a wallop – Sammy Woods, Arthur Wellard, Maurice Tremlett (grandfather of Chris, father of Tim), the one with whom we do not compare up and coming allrounders because it gives them an impossible benchmark and a few other lesser names, and Gregory with the development of his batting bids fair to join them. It would be a big ask for anyone to start out in an Ashes series, but I certainly hope that Gregory will be in the winter touring parties. George Bartlett failed in the Somerset first innings but may get a second chance, if Somerset bowl Surrey out.
  • Warwickshire v HampshireHampshire 354 and 186-3, Warwickshire 233.
    I suspect that Hampshire will be looking at batting until there is an hour to go in this day’s play before sticking Warwickshire back in to face a huge target in the fourth innings. The fact that they are going at over five an over in a four-day game tells me that they are looking very definitely at victory. Alsop made 150 in the first Hampshire innings, Sibley carried his bat through the Warwickshire first innings for his sixth century in as many matches. 23 year-old Oliver Soames scored 62 in the second Hampshire innings, 22 year-old Joe Weatherley 46, while Northeast and Rossouw are currently batting together.
  • Glamorgan v GloucestershireGlamorgan 250 and 184-1, Gloucestershire 463.
    Glamorgan are making a fight of this in their second innings, but probably need to bat until teatime tomorrow to save this one after conceding such a huge first innings deficit. Ryan Higgins matched James Bracey’s century in the Gloucestershire innings, while Hemphrey and Wagg made fifties in the Glamorgan first innings. Hemphrey has made another fifty in the second innings while Nicholas Selman is on 83 not out. 20 year-old offspinner George Drissell took 4-83 in the Glamorgan first innings.
  • Lancashire v NorthamptonshireNorthamptonshire 230 and 54-3, Lancashire 415.
    Lancashire are in control of this one. Jennings and Vilas each contributed 97 to the Lancashire first innings, while Luke Wood took 5-72. Temba Bavuma and Rob Keogh are batting together for Northamptonshire at present.
  • Middlesex v LeicestershireMiddlesex 349 and 147-8, Leicestershire 268.
    After taking a useful looking first innings lead Middlesex are making an utter Horlick’s of their second innings, giving Leicestershire a way back into the match. Sixties for Ackerman and Dearden were the principal scores for Leicestershire, while no one has reached 40 in the Middlesex second innings. Tom Taylor and Chris Wright each have three wickets.
  • Worcestershire v DurhamDurham 273 and 107-5, Worcestershire 390.
    Durham are deep in trouble in this one. A century for Wessels and 61 for 21 year old Some  helped Worcestershire to a substantial first innings lead. In the Durham second innings Burnham and Liam Trevaskis are together, the latter having picked up a wicket with his slow left-arm in the Worcestershire innings.

Essex have completed their win over Nottinghamshire. Westley fell for 49, but Dan Lawrence and the knight saw Essex home, the latter finishing with 40 not out. Jack Leach has just bagged a wicket with his slow-leftarmers, reducing Surrey to 43-3, a mere 24 runs on – defo looking good for Somerset.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Some of these photographs were taken at Tapping House where I had a physio session on Tuesday. All the exercises went well, highlighted by the arms only part of cycling, where I clocked up the equivalent of a mile in three minutes.

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These are the Tappin House shots…

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The last of the Tapping House shots.

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A moon in a daytime sky

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Another shot of the moon in a daytime sky.

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The Royal London Cup Round 2 Fixtures

A look at what is happening in the Royal London Cup, complete with predictions. Also some of my photopgraphs.

INTRODUCTION

The seven daytime Royal London Cup Fixtures taking place today have all reached the halfway stage, and as in this post, where I was 3/5 on predictions I will be essaying predictions as to the outcomes of these fixtures, as well as drawing attention to noteworthy efforts within the matches. Wihtou further ado…

THE ROYAL LONDON CUP 19/4

  • Derbyshire v NorthamptonshireDerbyshire 268-6 from 50 overs
    This total represents a fightback by Derbyshire, as at one stage they were 137-5. This and the fact that the sides batting first all won their games last time out influences me to call this one in Derbyshir’s favour. Billy Godleman played the anchor role for Derbyshire with 87 off 124 balls, while Matt Critchley scored 64 not out off 51 balls, having come in at 137-5. Blessing Muzurabani picked up 2-54 and Jason Holder 2-62. 
  • Warwickshire v YorkshireWarwickshire 270-8 from 50 overs
    Various Warwickshire players got starts, but only Tim Ambrose (77 off 108 balls) made a really significant score. Matthew Pillans added another three wickets to the five he took in the opening game, while Bresnan and Poysden took two each. I would expect Yorkshire to make it two wins out of two – all it will take is two of their top order play significant innings.
  • Durham v Leicestershire Leciestershire 233-9 from 50 overs
    Leicestershire were 112-7 at the low water mark of their innings, so this score represents a fight back. However, although it runs contrary to my hopes given their awful choice of captain I expect Durham to win this fairly easily and make it two wins from two. Tom Taylor made 59 off 63 balls and Dieter Klein, also mainly a bowler, scored 46 off 71 balls in the latter stages. Brydon Carse took 3-58, while Liam Trevaskis had 2-37 from his full 10 overs.
  • Hampshire v GlamorganGlamorgan 292-9 overs
    This is a tough one to call – Glamorgan’s total looks quite good, but none of their batters got more than 68 (achieved by David Lloyd off 62 balls and Graham Wagg off 57 balls). Kyle Abbott took 3-47 and Liam Dawson 2-57. Bearing in mind the successes of sides batting first so far this season I am going to predict a win for Glamorgan. 
  • Notinghamshire v Lancashire Nottinghamshire 417-7 from 50 overs
    A monster score by Nottinghamshire. Cricket is a glorious game precisely because it is wonderfully unpredictable, but it will the story of the day if Lancashire chase these down. My prediction is therefore a Nottinghamshire victory. Joe Clarke made 139 off 99 balls at the top off the order, Ben Slater hit 74 off 82, Tom Moores 74 off 39 and Luke Fletcher 46 not out off 17 at the end. Graham Onions managed 2–70 from his 10, quite an achievement in such a huge score, and Saqib Mahmood, a young medium pacer, collected 2-88 from his 10.
  • Somerset v Kent Somerset 358-9 from 50 overs
    A big total for Somerset, and one that I confidently expect them to defend. Tom Banton, a 20 year old keeper-batter scored 107 off 79 balls at the top of the Somerset order, Lewis Gregory contributed 51 from 45, and Craig Overton scored 66 not out off 36 at the death. Stevens, Podmore, Klassen and Milnes each took two wickets, the veteran Stevens managing to go for only 50 from his ten overs.
  • Essex v MiddlesexMiddlesex 366-8 from 50 overs
    A great effort by Middlesex. Dawid Malan led off with 95 from 102 balls, and Nick Gubbins with 56 off 57 kept things going when Middlesex might have got into trouble, before George Scott, a 23 year old right hander, scored 63 off just 28 balls to give the total a late boost. Peter Siddle took 3-71 and Dan Lawrence’s leg spin brought him 2-63 – his batting will be needed later if Essex are to get anywhere near chasing this total down. I expect Middlesex to win this one, especially given that teams batting first have done so well so far this season.

Thus my calls in these games are: Derbyshire, Yorskhire, Durham, Glamorgan, Nottinghamshire, Somersert and Middlesex. The Surrey v Sussex match is at too early a stage for a prediction as it is a day/night game. Surrey are 206-4 in the 40th over. Will Jacks made 56 for Surrey, Foakes has 41 not out and Pope, just starting to hit the launchpad, is 32 not out. None the Sussex bowlers have really noteworthy figures. If Foakes and Pope keep going and propel Surrey to something in the vicinity of 300 they will be favourites, while if Sussex keep Surrey below about 270 they will have a good chance. Update – Pope has just gone for 33, making 209-5, swinging things back towards Sussex. Rikki Clarke has joined Foakes. 

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 Ninth XI – Two Unlucky County Stalwarts

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, featuring two county stalwarts who I considewr unlucky not have had higher honours, Tony Cottey and Colin Metson. Also features some thoughts on the first round of county championship matches of 2019 including a “Five to Follow” feature that I shall be revisiting.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series. In the spotlight today are two of my most controversial selections. Before getting into the main meat of the “100 cricketers” part of the post I am going to look back briefly at the first round of County Championship matches in the 2019 season. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the ninth XI here and the most recent post in the series here.

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND ONE RETROSPECTIVE

Six matches were played, four had definite reults and two were drawn (see yesterday’s post for more details). Here I am going to pick out what I consider points of interest from each game and pick out five players who I shall be looking out for through the season.

  • Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire – Nottinghamshire 408 and 329-5 declared, Yorkshire 291 and 277-2, match drawn
    The second innings batting efforts of Root and Ballance for Yorkshire notwithstanding this match was dominated by the performance of Nottinghamshire’s Joe Clarke (112 and 97 not out). In the end the pitch won this contest comfortably, but Nottinghamshire were right to give themselves a whole day to attempt to bowl Yorkshire out a second time, even though Clarke was close to his second hundred of the match – the team counts for more than the individual. Neither of these sides impressed me overall, and with Joe Clarke clearly a probably for England selection in the near future Nottinghamshire in particular are likely to find this season a long, tough one.
  • Somerset v Kent – Somerset 171 and 243 beat Kent 209 and 131 by 74 runs
    Listening to the commentary on the closing stages of this match was a privelege and pleasure – the tension was palpable as Somerset pushed for victory and Kent did their best to resist. The first day was lost to the weather, and Kent had the better of both the next two days. 21 year old George Bartlett, helped by veteran Jack Brooks in a substantial last wicket stand gave Somerset something to defend on the final morning, and Lewis Gregory did most of the rest. It is great news for Somerset that they are off to a winning start, and the fact that they have never won the champtionship inclines me as a natural supporter of the underdog to root for them somewhat, but they will need runs from the top order if they are to maintain their good start – the middle and lower order cannot rescue you every time. Kent seem likely to struggle – facing a target of 206 in this match they responded to being under serious pressure for the first time in the contest by slumping to 48-6 from which position it was only a matter of time.
  • Hampshire v EssexHampshire 525-8 declared beat Essex 164 and 274 by an innings and 88 runs.
    An injury prevented Adam Wheater from batting in either innings for Essex, but this cannot be dressed up as anything other than a thorough thrashing for them. Sam Northeast had the star performance of the game with 169 in the Hampshire innings. West Indian Fidel Edwards and South African Kolpak player Kyle Abbott bowled well for Hampshire. Hampshire seem likely to fare well, while Essex along with Nottinghamshire and Kent seem booked for a struggle to avoid relegation.
  • Sussex v LeicestershireLeicestershire 252 and 232-3 beat Sussex 173 and 308 by 7 wickets
    Full credit to Leicestershire for what was in the end a comfortable win. The feature performance of the game came from young Sussex opener Philip Salt who made 80 in his team’s second innings. Neither of these teams showed enough for me to venture predictions regarding their promotion chances, although Leicestershire having got away to a winning start have more to be happy about than Sussex.
  • Northamptonshire v  Middlesex – Northants 445 and 10-0, Middlesex 271 and 317-4 declared – match drawn
    Northants did the right thing enforcing the follow-on and attempting to squeeze out a victory, but Middlesex got themselves out of trouble, largely thanks to their captain Dawid Malan (160 not out). All the evidence from this match suggests that these sides have batting aplenty but lack strength in bowling, and that is likely to mean a tough season – by and large to win a first class match you need to capture 20 wickets.
  • Derbyshire v Durham – Derbyshire 197 and 334 beat Durham 171 and 235 by 125 runs.
    A comfortable win for Derbyshire, and good news for those of us (including me) who think that Durham’s decision to give the captaincy to Cameron Bancroft of ‘sandpapergate’ infamy was an appalling one. Until and unless Durham repent and find someone else to captain I for one will be rooting for their opponents every time. I expect as well as hope that this will be a difficult season for Durham, while Derbyshire may yet do well. Now it is time for…

FIVE TO FOLLOW

Most of my five nominations are speculative in nature, in some cases very speculative, and I go through them from least to most speculative. 

  • Joe Clarke (Nottinghamshire) – I will be very surprised if he is not an England player before the end of this season. At the moment his record stands at 4,174 first class runs at 40.92, with 14 centuries and that 97 not out in the second innings in 112 visits to the crease, and he is still only 22. He was obviously a class apart from any of his team mates in the match against Yorkshire. 
  • Lewis Gregory (Somerset) – There will soon be vacancies for pace bowlers in the England team, and the 26 year-old has 217 first-class wickets at 27.31 from his 75 matches, with a best of 6-47. He is also not the worst lower order batter, with an average of 20.57. After his team dug themselves out of a big hole against Kent he bowled thgem to victory with 5-18. 
  • Philip Salt (Sussex) – The 22 year-old had a couple of headline making innings last year, and has 80 against Leicestershire in the first match of this season may well have impressed some in high places. I would like to see him score a few more centuries before he is seriously considered, but England do have problems at the top of their order at the moment, which can only be good news for a youngster who is scoring runs up top at present. I do not expect him feature at international level this season, but a really strong showing might earn him a winter tour spot, and would be surprised if he does not play for England somewhere along the line.
  • George Bartlett (Somerset) – He holds the record innings score for an England under 19 player abroad with 179. He is now 21, and started this season in a match that he had not expected to be playing in by scoring a crucial 63 to help give his side something to bowl at, and it proved to be enough. His off-spin has hardly been used in first-class cricket, but he may possibly develop it in time. He needs an extended run in the first team and some big scores to be seriously considered for England, but the way he responded to his team being put under severe pressure in the match against Kent augurs well for the future – he clearly has the right temperament.
  • Liam Trevaskis (Durham) – This one is a complete flyer on my part, picked with eyes focussed fully on the future. The 19 year old slow left-armer played just his second first class match against Derbyshire, had match figures of 1-59 and contributed 42 runs for once out in a losing cause. April is not usually a kind month to spinners of any kind, so even one wicket represents an achievement, and his second innings 27 not out, when most of his team mates surrendered tamely showed character as well. I will be in the sort of position Neville Cardus found himself in about Victor Trumper – Cardus used to pray that Trumper would score a century in an Australian total of 137 all out! I fo not pray being an atheist, but will be hoping that Trevaskis gets among the wickets and runs but that his team Durham get beaten.

Now on to the “100 cricketers” part of this post, starting with…

TONY COTTEY

277 first class appearances brought him 14,567 runs at 36.69, with 31 centuries and a best score of 203. I saw him live when Glamorgan took on Somerset at the St Helens Ground in Swansea in 1995 (for the record I was sitting at the town end of the ground, looking straight down the wicket towards to sea). Glamorgan were three down for about 80 when he came out to bat, and could have found themselves in trouble on what was a decent pitch. Cottey, with his team needing runs, reached a century in almost exactly three hours, being out for 115 in just under 200 minutes. It was a superb innings, and the only chance he offered was the one that was finally taken to end it. Glamorgan reached just over 300. Somerset headed this, but not by a signifcant amount, as Andy Hayhurst snailed his way to 96 in almost six hours on the second day, and the second top score came from Peter Bowler (73), not exactly known for entertainment value either. Somerset paid for their slow scoring on day 2, when Robert Croft spun through them in their second innings on day 4 (6-78 in the innings). The performance that made it all possible for Glamorgan though was Cottey’s on the first day when he took the match by the scruff of the neck with that innings – from that time on Glamorgan were right in the game. 

Given some of the people who did get selected for England in the 1990s and given England’s record at that time (which varied between poor and downright dreadful depending on the year) I feel that Tony Cottey, a battler who tended to score his runs, as on the occasion I have mentioned, when they were most needed, was unlucky to miss out, and I had no hesitation in naming him in my 100 cricketers.

+COLIN METSON

232 first class matches yielded him 4,,032 runs at 17.43 with a best score of 96 and saw him take 561 catches and effect 51 stumpings. He was at his best just as selectors were starting to look first and foremost and what keepers did with the bat and put their keeping skills in second place. Although he was undeniably a modest practitioner with the bat Metson did tend to score such runs as he made when they were most needed (earlier in the 1995 season mentioned above it was he, together with left-arm slow bowler Neil Kendrick, who rescued Glamorgan from 140-8 on a green top against Sussex, getting them up to 212, which was sufficient for a first innings lead, although the game ended up a draw due to the weather). As a keeper he was excellent, making very few if any mistakes. Most of the wicketkeepers I have named in the course of this series of posts have been genuinely front line batters as well, but I wanted to feature a specialist keeper as well, and my thoughts turned naturally to the perenially unlucky Colin Metson, who saw a succession of inferior practitioners selected on the basis of supposed batting skills that most of them failed to deliver on at the highest level.

LOOKING AHEAD

I have three more posts lined up for ninth XI and a stand alone post to complete the hundred (have a guess if you dare at who will feature in that one), in which I will also publish the entire list in one place – that last post will tie the whole series together. I will then have to decide on a new project for this blog to replace the “100 cricketers” series. The “Five to Follow” named in this post will feature again through the cricket season as I look at their performances. That leaves me one more thing to complete this post…

PHOTOGRAPHS

Yes, we are at the end of another post, and for those who have made it all the way, here is my usual sign off…

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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).