A look at such action as there has been in the county championship, a teaser, a few links and plenty of photographs.
There has not been much action in the county championship due to poor weather in various areas but I look at the little there has been.
GAMES NOT STARTED YET
Four of the six games have yet to see any action: Essex v Derbyshire, Yorkshire v Glamorgan, Middlesex v Hampshire and what should be the tie of the round, Somerset v Surrey.
Sussex v Kent did get underway but they have gone off for the light (inexcusable – find a ball of a colour that is easier to see under floodlights and keep playing). Kent are 74-3. Jofra Archer claimed two wickets in a fiery new ball burst and has subsequently bowled a second spell of four overs (his opening burst was also of four overs, suggesting that someone from England’s management has told Sussex to use him in short spells), while the third wicket, that of Jordan Cox, went to Oliver Edward Robinson who produced a corker of a ball that uprooted the youngster’s off stump. That brought Oliver Graham Robinson, the Kent keeper and middle order batter to the crease, but before there was time for a duel between the two almost homonymous cricketers the light intervened.
This means that the only game in progress is up at Chester-le-Street where Durham are 97-3 against Worcestershire. Bedingham, the South African born batter who has been scoring very heavily for Durham went for just 24 today, but Lees, the former Yorkshire left hander, is on 39 and Jack Burnham has 5. Charlie Morris has two wickets and Joe Leach one.
A MATHEMATICAL TEASER
This one from brilliant.org is not too difficult, though I am removing the multi-choice options, deeming them unneccessary. Solution/ explanation in my next post:
LINKS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
Three interesting links before my usual sign off:
This piece from the space academy details the discovery of the first planet to have been identified outside our galaxy. Click here to read the full piece.
Durham have moved on while I have been working on this post to 121-3, and Lees has reached 50, the 50th time in his FC career he has done as much, but he has only converted 17 of the previous 49 into 100s.
A look ahead to Ashes, focussing especially on the bowling.
This piece was prompted by a little discussion on twitter this morning about this subject. Somebody who tweets as The Slog Sweeper was advocating the selection of five specialist bowlers, Archer, Stone, Wood, Leach and Anderson, all of whom I firmly believe should be in that tour party if fit, in the team at one the same time. I can understand the logic, but it seems to me to be too high risk, with virtually no runs coming from the second half of the innings. I am going to look at possible combinations for that series in more detail here.
THE ROLE OF THE SPINNER
Jack Leach is established as England’s no1 test spinner. Given that English off spinners have generally fared poorly in Australia and the paucity of options with even respectable first class records the only remotely likely choice for the role of second spinner would be Matt Parkinson (FC bowling average 25). Back for Leach in the role of left arm orthodox spinner is hard to find at present, unless Sophie Ecclestone gets offered her chance to try her stuff alongside the men. I have examined the role of left arm slow to medium paced bowlers in successful Ashes campaigns down under elsewhere on this blog. The only regular test venue in Australia that is remotely likely to warrant the selection of two specialist spinners is Sydney. It could well be the case that no spinner is selected in Perth, and at the other three venues Leach will be the chosen spinner.
BALANCING ATTACKS TO SUIT LOCAL CONDITIONS
At the Gabba for the series opener the right bowling attack would feature two out and out speedsters, Leach and Anderson. At Adelaide, where pitches are often favourable for batting there might be a case for slightly weakening the batting order in an effort to get 20 wickets and playing Woakes at seven, two of the speedsters, Leach and either Broad or Anderson depending on form and fitness. At Perth I might well gamble on all three out and out speedsters and a toss up between Leach and Broad for the fourth specialist bowler. The MCG is the one Aussie ground where I would be happy without two out and out speedsters and would pick whichever of the three is bowling best, both veterans and Leach, or possibly Woakes in place of one of the veterans. At the SCG I am either going two out and out speedster and two spinners (Parkinson coming in) or possibly two out and out speedsters, Anderson and Leach.
POSSIBLE XI FOR THE GABBA
The questions if any are over the top of the order. However, unless either:
a) Haseeb Hameed, with a test average before injury interrupted his career of 43, has an epic season and positively demands selection or
b)One of the younger openers hits their straps in the early part of the county season and establishes themselves at international level during the summer
I think that it will be a case of hoping that the existing top order can function well down under – it would be a huge ask of an opener to make their international debut in an away Ashes series. Thus my Gabba XI in batting order reads as follows:
Mark Wood/ Jofra Archer (dependent on form and fitness)
With two out and out speedsters, the skill and experience of Anderson, Leach and Stokes in the x-factor role I have considerable confidence in this side taking 20 wickets, and while the batting order would not be the deepest England have ever fielded it should be capable of producing enough runs.
A brief account of England’s impressive victory in the first T20I at Ahmedabad and some photographs.
The T20I series between Indian and England got underway at Ahmedabad, where all five fixtures will be played, at 1:30 UK time this afternoon. This post tells the story of that match.
A GREAT TEAM BOWLING PERFORMANCE
England won the toss and put India in. Somewhat surprisingly they omitted Moeen Ali, relying on one spinner (Adil Rashid), with Archer, Wood, Jordan, Curran and Stokes their other bowling options. India were on the back foot right from the start, with Adil Rashid going for only two runs in the opening over, Jofra Archer opening from the other end with a wicket maiden and then Rashid claiming the prize scalp of Kohli in his second over. In the end, as every England bowler produced the goods only Shreyas Iyer, whose selection for the game was not universally popular among Indian fans, with a splendid 67 off 47 balls contributed anything of note. Axar Patel scored seven off the final three balls of the innings, but the final total was only 124-7, which did not look defensible. Archer had 3-23 from his four overs.
At the IPL auction a few weeks ago Jason Roy went unsold, which may well have been in his mind, along with rumblings about a possible recall for Alex Hales who has been in stellar form of late (leading run scorer in BBL10) as he and Jos Buttler walked out to open England’s reply. Buttler scored 27 off 24 balls, slow by his standards, but valuable in the context of the match. Roy played magnificently, before being pinned LBW for 49, at which point it was 89-2, and England were so far ahead of the run rate that even a major collapse would probably not have derailed them. As it was Bairstow, in at no 4, scored an unbeaten 26 off 17, while Malan, the world no1 rated T20I batter, was also unbeaten from his regular slot at no3, with 24 off 20. England had eight wickets and 27 balls to spare when Malan hit the winning six. Deservedly, given that he was the best of the bunch, and it was the bowlers who put England in complete control of the match Archer’s 4-1-23-3 has earned him Player of the Match.
This is match one of a five match series, but England have been hugely impressive and must surely now be favourites to justify their world no1 ranking in this format by winning the series. I expect India to come out fighting in the next game, but England look just too strong for them. With a World T20 coming up in this part of the world England look like putting down a serious marker for that event.
A look at developments in the third test match between England and the West Indies, a mathematical teaser and plenty of photographs.
The test match at Manchester is deep into its second day, and England are in a strong position.
England got out of jail in the last part of yesterday, Pope playing beautifully to reach the close on 91 not out and Buttler also topping 50. The light intervened with 4.2 overs still to bowl, and the close of play score was 258-4.
Pope and Buttler both fell early in the day, as did Woakes and Archer to make it 280-8, with four wickets, including his 200th in tests to Kemar Roach. Then Broad arrived at the crease and attacked from the start. The game got away from the West Indies as Broad and Bess put on 78 for the ninth wicket, with Broad hitting 62 off just 45 balls, the highest score ever by an England no10 at Old Trafford, beating the 60 not out of Hedley Verity in 1934. Bess and Anderson then added a further 11 for the tenth wicket and England totalled 369. Lunch was taken as soon as England were all out. Broad continued his excellent day by getting Kraigg Brathwaite with the new ball. The other opener John Campbell was reprieved when Stokes dropped a chance in the slips off Anderson, and as I write West Indies are 20-1 after nine overs.
THE WISDEN TROPHY
England need to win this match to win the series and take the Wisden Trophy, while a draw would see the West Indies retain the Wisden Trophy, and a win would see them win their first series in England since 1988. I think England’s two escapes, first when they got away in the final session of yesterday and then the Broad/Bess flourish of this morning have taken the West Indies win out of the equation, leaving th only question being whether England can force a victory.
Jason Holder, the West Indies captain, has not distinguished himself in this match. Having decided to go with an extra spinner he then responded to winning the toss by putting England in. If the first decision was correct, the second was certainly wrong, since it is in the closing stages of matches that spinners come into their own. I am not sure whether the pitch will offer much spin (Cornwall, the extra spinner, went wicketless in the first innings) but I am already certain that the decision to bowl first was wrong – the fact that England made 369 with only Ollie Pope batting really well and Broad having his bit of fun late in the innings indicates a pitch not offering hugely much to the bowlers. It also shows a failure to learn from experience – Holder made the same decision at this same ground just a few days earlier and his team took a hammering in that game. Then, yesterday evening, with Pope and Buttler going well the West Indies inexplicably delayed taking the new ball, which contributed to England bossing the opening day.
TAKING BAD LIGHT OUT OF
TEST MATCH CRICKET
Bad light needs to be eliminated from test cricket, and there are two ways of doing so, given that all international venues have floodlights:
Have a stock of white balls at the venue, so that if the floodlights are the sole source of light the red ball can be replaced with a white one and the match continue after a short pause.
Play all test matches with pink balls, so that there is no need to switch colour when the nature of the light changes.
THE REST OF THE GAME
After today there are three more scheduled days, and only Monday has a really bad weather forecast. I think England are favourites to win the match and therefore the Wisden Trophy. The follow-on is unlikely to come in to play, but England should have a respectable first innings advantage. Given that Monday is likely to be disrupted they should then look to advance that lead at a rapid rate. Jofra Archer has just struck to make it 44-2.
A very easy but quite fun teaser from brilliant.org (ignore the official difficulty rating):
The problem is 4 x 4 Calcdoku – each row and column contains the numbers 1,2,3 and 4, and various regions are marked out as having a certain total obtained by applying one of four basic arithmetic operations.
The London Cup, England’s 3rd test squad, links, a teaser and some photographs.
Just before starting work on this post I spotted that the England squad for the third test match has been selected. Therefore I will start with a look at that, before moving on to main subject.
A DISAPPOINTING SELECTION
The squad for tomorrow’s 3rd test match against the West Indies contains 14 names, as follows (see here for full details):
Joe Root (Yorkshire) Captain, James Anderson (Lancashire), Jofra Archer (Sussex), Dominic Bess (Somerset), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), Rory Burns (Surrey), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Zak Crawley (Kent), Sam Curran (Surrey), Ollie Pope (Surrey), Dom Sibley (Warwickshire), Ben Stokes (Durham), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Mark Wood (Durham).
Ben Foakes, James Bracey and Dan Lawrence have all been overlooked. My choice of 11 from this 14 (like the Irishman who was asked for directions ‘Oi wouldn’t start from here’) would be in batting order: Burns, Sibley, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, +Pope, Curran, Bess, Archer, Broad, Anderson. I refuse ever to name Buttler in a suggested test XI, which from this 14 means I have to give the gloves to Pope. I think England need both their veterans Broad and Anderson, and I also want the spinner, the out and out speedster and with due respect to Woakes I opt for the extra variation provided by Curran’s left arm, gambling on him at number seven. Although I would like to accommodate both speedsters, it would mean either one of the veterans missing out or Bess coming in at number seven which is a trifle too much of a gamble on the batting even for me.
THE LONDON CUP
Surrey and Middlesex women’s sides convened at The Oval to play a T20 match for The London Cup yesterday evening, starting at 6PM. The game was available on livestream courtesy of http://www.kiaoval.com. Surrey had lost all of the previous five runnings of this event, and were without Nat Sciver, Sophia Dunkley and Bryony Smith, all up at Derby with the national squad.
Surrey bowled first, and opened with medium pace from Amy Gordon and spin purveyed by Claudie Cooper. Middlesex were saved from complete disaster by a robust innings from Cordelia Griffith who made 30, the highest individual score the game. Gayatri Gole came in at 60-5 and reached 28 not out, as Middlesex ended up recovering somewhat to 108-7 from their 20 overs.
Beth Kerins had a spell which started dreadfully – four of the six balls of her first over were rank full tosses but recovered well.
Dani Gregory, a young leg spinner with a very rapid arm action, bowled a spell in which she sent down a number of wides, but also some very good stuff, including this beauty (click link below to view), probably the best single delivery of the match.
Surrey themselves struggled with the bat, especially against Katie Wolfe, the quickest bowler on either side, and Emily Thorpe, another young spinner who looks a real prospect (she got two wickets, both clear cut LBWs, one of them Aylish Cranstone just as she was beginning to like dangerous). They too were 60-5 at low water mark, and their number 7, wicket keeper Kira Chathli, played a fine innings to rescue them. In the 18th over Chathli twice flipped deliveries over the keeper’s head for fours to get Surrey back almost up with the rate. The 19th over was bowled by Katie Wolfe, and until near the end looked like settling it for Middlesex, but then the irrepressible Chathli hit another four and six were needed off the final over. The number nine for Surrey got Chathli back on strike early in the over, and with two balls left three were required for victory. Chathli, cool as a cucumber, slotted one final boundary to take her own score to 28 not out and her side to victory with one ball remaining. Bhavika Gajipra also bowled well for Middlesex.
Some speculations about possible inclusions for the third test, an all-time XI created around one of the possibles for the West Indies, the solution to yesterday’s teaser and a bumper collection of photographs.
This post looks at the options for each time ahead of the deciding test match between England and the West Indies on Friday. There is a match taking place at The Oval tonight which may be interesting, and will be viewable courtesy of Surrey County Cricket Club’s livestream.
I think the current top six can and should be retained, so I shall nothing further about them. Buttler has to go, and the question of his replacement is tied up with the question of how England should line up bowler wise. Here the problem is condensing the choices into at most five, and possibly only four. It would be rough on Jimmy Anderson not to play at his home ground, but equally Stuart Broad bowled two magnificent spells in the game just concluded and would not react well to being rested for the decider. Curran’s left arm and Archer’s extreme pace now that he can be selected again give them edges, as does the former’s batting. Woakes had a solid game with the ball in the match just concluded, and he also has batting skill on his side. Bess remains first choice spinner and the question is whether Jack Leach should also be selected. Going the two spinners route would require the selection of five players who are predominantly bowlers, and I feel that at least one of Curran or Woakes would have to be picked in this circumstance, as Bess at 7, Archer at 8, Leach at 9, Broad at 10 and Anderson at 11 leaves the lower order looking very fragile. A bowling foursome, if Leach is not to be picked should be Bess, Archer, Broad, Anderson, with Ben Foakes getting the gloves and batting at seven. For the two spinner route Pope gets the gloves, and the remainder of the order goes either Woakes, Curran, Bess, Archer, Leach or if you are prepared to gamble a bit more Curran, Bess, Archer, Leach, Broad I am going to plump for two spinners and a bit of a gamble on the batting and suggest as the final XI: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Stokes, +Pope, Curran, Bess, Archer, Leach, Broad.
The West Indies’ big question is whether to pick Rahkeem Cornwall, and if so how they will fit him in. This depends on whether they are want extra batting strength to maximize their chances of retaining the Wisden Trophy, which they do by avoiding defeat, or whether they are determined to go all out to attempt to become the first West Indies side to win a series in England since 1988. The cautious approach entails bring Cornwall in for Shannon Gabriel, have him bat at nine below Holder, so that West Indies have only two outright tailenders, Joseph and Roach. The more aggressive approach is to drop a batter, presumably Shai Hope who has done precious little since scoring those twin tons at Headingley in 2017, and have a 7,8,9,10,11 of Holder, Cornwall, Joseph, Roach, Gabriel. To me the latter approach has far more appeal, and a side of Campbell, Brathwaite, Brooks, Blackwood, Chase, +Dowrich, Holder, Cornwall, Joseph, Roach, Gabriel thus eventuates. Cornwall is best known for being the heaviest international cricketer since Warwick Armstrong in 1921, so, in the spirit of my lockdown series of All Time XIs, we move on to…
THE PLUS SIZED XI
*WG Grace – right handed opening batter, right arm bowler of varying types through his career, captain. As a youngster he was a champion sprinter and hurdler as well as a quality cricketer but in later years his weight mushroomed, reaching somewhere in the region of 20 stone near the end of his career. In 1895, less than two months short of his 47th birthday, he scored 1,000 first class runs in the first three weeks of his season (May 9th – 30th), including his 100th first class hundred (no 2 on the list of century makers at the time being Arthur Shrewsbury on 41).
Colin Milburn – right handed opening batter. His career was ended prematurely by the car accident that cost him his left eye, but his record up to that point was very impressive.
Mike Gatting – right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler.
Mark Cosgrove – left handed batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. Australia were never keen on selecting him because of his bulk, but he scored plenty of runs in first class cricket.
Inzamam-ul-Haq – right handed batter. He was once dubbed ‘Aloo’, which translates as ‘Potato’ on account of his shape. He had a long test career in which he averaged 49 with the bat.
Warwick Armstrong – right handed batter, leg spinner. At the end of his test career he weighed in at 22 stone, and yet in those last two years he did as much batting as Steve Waugh in a comparable period and bowled as many overs of leg spin as Shane Warne in a comparable period. He was nicknamed ‘Big Ship’, and there is a book about him by Gideon Haigh titled “Big Ship”.
Alfred Mynn – right handed batter, right arm fast bowler. ‘The Lion of Kent’ weighed in at 18 stone in his pomp, and later grew even heavier, allegedly weighing in at 24 stone by the end of his career.
Rahkeem Cornwall – off spinner, useful right handed lower order batter. His averages are just the right way round at first class level – 23.75 with the bat and 23.57 with the ball. He is taller than Armstrong was by a couple of inches and weighs about the same.
Jim Smith – right arm fast medium bowler, ultra-aggressive right handed lower order batter. 6’4″ tall and weighing in at 17 stone. He once clubbed a 50 in just 11 minutes off genuine bowling – not declaration stuff. He was born in Wiltshire, and under the rules of the day had to qualify by residence for a first class county, in his case Middlesex. He took 172 first class wickets in his first full season, finishing sixth in the national bowling averages, and helped by the fact that with Lord’s as his home ground he was enjoying success in front of the right people he was selected for that winter’s tour. Unfortunately for fans of big hitting he and Arthur Wellard of Somerset were only once selected in the same England team.
Joel Garner – right arm fast bowler. 6’8″ tall and broad and solid in proportion to that great height. He is perhaps here under slightly false pretenses since he did not noticeably carry extra weight, but he was certainly a big unit.
+Mordecai Sherwin – wicket keeper. Given the nature of the job it is no great surprise that plus sized wicket keepers are something of a rarity. However, this guy weighed 17 stone and was still able to pull off 836 dismissals in 328 first class appearances (611 catches and 225 stumpings).
This side has a strong top five (Gatting, with a test average of 35.55, is probably the least impressive of the quintet as a batter), two genuine all rounders in Armstrong and Mynn, a trio of fine bowlers, two of whom can bat a bit and an excellent keeper. The bowling attack, with Garner, Smith and Mynn to bowl pace, Armstrong, Cornwall and Grace purveying slower stuff and Gatting and Cosgrove available as seventh and eighth bowlers is strong and varied, although there is no left armer. Thus, even given the selection criteria, this is a team that would take some beating.
Bringing my coverage of the test match up to date, plus some photographs.
Welcome to my latest update on developments at Old Trafford.
DAY 2 – ENGLAND ESTABLISH CONTROL
In yesterday’s post I covered the play up to England through Stokes and Sibley taking the score to 280-3. Sibley was out with the score of 341 and Pope did not last very long, but Stokes was still there and going well. At 395, with his own score on 176 Stokes attempted reverse sweep Roach and was bowled, Roach’s first wicket of the series after 71 overs. Chris Woakes was then out first ball, which prompted the revelation that Roach’s previous test wicket before these two had been a second in successive balls. Buttler reached 40 before he was eight out at 426, a decent innings, but not enough given that he was facing tired bowlers and really should have been able to punish them more severely. One run later Curran was out, bringing Broad in join Bess. These two displayed some sensible aggression, and boosted the score to 469 before England declared giving themselves a bowl in the last hour of the day.
Broad and Woakes took the new ball, before Curran and Bess came on right near the end of the day. Curran broke through, with an LBW against John Campbell. Alzarri Joseph came in as nightwatchman, and he too would have been out had Curran reviewed an LBW against him right at the end of the day. The West Indies were 32-1 at the close.
DAY THREE – RAIN
So far there has been no play on day three due to rain. The information from Manchester is that there may be time for a couple of hours play once the weather clears. The weather is due to be better tomorrow and Monday. Those two days will be extended to 98 overs, meaning that even if there is no cricket at all today there will be 196 overs left in the day. The biggest news of the day so far concerns Jofra Archer who has been hit with a fine and given a written warning for breaching bio-secure protocols but will be eligible for selection for the third match of this series.
It is very unlikely that the West Indies will win this game, although thirty-odd years of following cricket have taught me never to rule anything out completely. England need 19 more wickets, and in view of today’s disruptions they will have to enforce the follow-on if the opportunity arises. Also, which probably offers WI their biggest hope, the fact that England need to win to have a chance of regaining the Wisden Trophy means that they need to go after any opportunity of winning even if it is very high risk – if as is not entirely impossible England find themselves needing 100 in the final innings off 10 overs they have to go all out to get them. Whether England manage to press home their advantage or not they have responded superbly to what happened at the Ageas Bowl, although it would be nice if they could produce their finest without needing a preliminary metaphorical kick up the backside.
My England XI for the test match that starts tomorrow – the team that should be selected though probably will not. Plus some photographs.
I have not yet seen the official XI for the test match that starts tomorrow, and I do not expect it to be the same as mine – I will outline the possible differences later.
THE XI VIA THE BBC WEBSITE
The BBC have an interactive piece on the cricket section of their website which you can use to pick your England team for this test match. I have done so and mine is:
MORE ON MY XI
Rory Burns – currently averaging 33 in his test career to date but seemingly upwardly mobile in that regard and deserves a few more games yet.
Dom Sibley – his performances in South Africa were highly encouraging, and his second innings at the Ageas bowl was a solid effort, although the manner of his dismissal when in the 40s was disappointing.
Zak Crawley – at the age of 22 he is very much in the ‘up and coming’ bracket, and his second innings 76 at the Ageas bowl was the best batting effort for England in the match, both in quantity and quality.
*Joe Root – England need his batting, and while his captaincy is less impressive there are few appealing alternatives (see yesterday’s post). No4 is his preferred slot, Crawley likes to be high in the order (he opens for Kent), so I position them this way round.
Ben Stokes – He is very much England’s x-factor player, and while his captaincy was less than impressive at the Ageas bowl he had a fine all round game as a player
Ollie Pope – his emergence at test level was one of the highlights of the series in South Africa, his first class batting record is truly outstanding and while he may eventually bat higher in the order it should not be forced.
+Ben Foakes – the best keeper in England at present, and he averages over 40 with the bat in the five test matches he has been allowed to play. Buttler in the long form of the game is no more than an ordinary batter and a substandard keeper – his miss at the Ageas bowl on the final day was the costliest England blunder of the match. Buttler has played 107 first class matches and averages precisely 32 with the bat, and has taken 213 catches and executed two stumpings. Foakes has played 109 first class matches, averages 38.01, and has taken 225 catches and made 23 stumpings. The likelihood therefore is that Foakes would actually score more runs than Buttler, but even if this proved not to be the case his superior keeping would save more runs than under-performing with the bat could cost.
Dom Bess – the offspinner had a good game at the Ageas bowl, including a spirited effort with the bat in the first innings and should hold his place.
Jofra Archer – he had a poor time with the ball in the first innings, but bowled electrifyingly in the second.
Mark Wood – not a good match for him at the Ageas bowl, but it was chiefly the batting that let England down there, and I hate seeing bowlers thrown under the bus when the batters are more blameworthy, plus as long time advocate of England going with two out and out speedsters I do not want to see the experiment abandoned after one game.
James Anderson – he was bang on the money at the Ageas bowl and when fit is without doubt England’s most reliable performer with the ball. Additionally this match is taking place at his home ground of Old Trafford, and I think he deserves the chance to play there if he is fit enough to do so.
ALTERNATIVES AND CLOSE RESERVES
I fear that England will continue with their indefensible policy of selecting Buttler as keeper. I sincerely hope that it is the end of the road for Denly, but I cannot even be certain of that. I could accept Broad being selected, especially as England have indicated that they are thinking in terms of rotating him and Anderson, but I remind of you of my earlier comments about bowlers being thrown under the bus when it is batters who are really blameworthy. I do not consider that an English surface is likely to demand two specialist spinners, but if it does I have Parkinson ahead of Leach in my personal pecking order. Finally rather than any reprieve for Buttler or Denly I would have Bracey down as cover for any batter in the top three and the wicket keeper and Lawrence earmarked should one nos 4-6 be unavailable at short notice. Denly was selected as a stopgap no3 until that gap could be filled properly, and in Crawley it looks like England have found the person to fill it long term.
A very brief post updating on the situation at the Ageas bowl, as a test match worthy of the occasion (the resumption of cricket after covid-19) draws to what looks like being a great finish. Also includes some of my photographs.
The Test Match at the Ageas Bowl is moving towards its closing stages and is still too close to call, though England are at present probably favourites to win.
THE FINISH OF DAY 4
England needed a good day yesterday, and up to a point they had one. At the high watermark of their second innings batting effort they had reached 249-3 and were looking like taking control of the game. Then Ben Stokes got himself out, and some good West Indian and some poor English batting saw a clatter of wickets, with the score plunging to 279-8. Jofra Archer and Mark Wood saw things through to the close at 284-8, with England 170 to the good.
DAY 5 SO FAR
England advanced their score by a further 29 in the opening session of play before they were all out, thus setting the West Indies precisely 200 to win. Anderson and Archer began magnificently, and the West Indies were soon three down and with an opener nursing an injury. They reached lunch for no further loss, and have fared well since the interval, reaching 72-3, with a further 128 required for victory. It remains anyone’s game, and whatever happens kn what is left of it it has been a superb resumption for international cricket after its longest hiatus since 1971-2 (or in other words the longest international blank since ODIs became a thing). I shall be back tomorrow with a longer post analysing the match as a whole.
Today we look at players whose careers caused them to make major moves.
Welcome to another ‘all time XI‘ cricket post. Today our we look at players whose talents were overlooked somewhere along the line, but who came through. We have an XI mainly comprising players who made it big after their first county overlooked them, with an overseas player to boost them and an XI of players who moved countries to make it. A little bit of good news – when TMS live coverage, as opposed to the ‘retrolive’ I am currently enjoying, resumes, it will be without the obnoxious Boycott.
THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY – COUNTY
Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter, occasional right arm medium pace bowler. While his mentor and fellow Cambridge native Tom Hayward was lobbying Surrey on his behalf the man himself wrote to Essex requesting a trial. The letter was ignored, but thankfully Surrey listened to Hayward. 61,237 first class runs at 50.65 and 197 centuries rather emphatically demonstrates which county got this one right!
*Wilfred Rhodes – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. There is an entry in the Warwickshire year book for 1897 which reads “unfortunately it was not possible to offer a contract to W Rhodes of Huddersfield.” In that same year of 1897 Bobby Peel, the incumbent Yorkshire left arm spinner, disgraced himself and saw his first class career brought to a sudden close. Rhodes was given his chance for his native county, took 13 wickets in the match first time out for them and never looked back. He and Hobbs opened together for England just before World War 1, and on one occasion against the old enemy they put on 323 together to launch the innings, Hobbs first out for 178, Rhodes second out, with the score at 425, for 179.
Charles Burgess Fry – right handed batter. Having grown up in southwest London, albeit attending boarding school in Derbyshire (Repton, where he competed for sporting honours with the Palairet brothers, Lionel who subsequently opened for Somerset and Richard, assistant manager of the 1932-3 Ashes tour party) he began his county career for Surrey. Unfortunately for him and Surrey he took a slightly too obvious shine to the wife of then skipper Kingsmill Key, leading to his departure from the county, and the start of his association with Sussex.
Phil Mead – left handed batter. He began his career with Surrey, where he was considered to be mainly a bowler, and they let him go. He signed for Hampshire, and ended his career with the 4th highest career aggregate of first class runs (55,061) and also 4th highest ever tally of centuries (153) ever assembled.
David Gower– left handed batter. When Leicestershire made enquiries about speaking to a talented teenage left hander his native Kent raised no objections, and David Ivon Gower headed for the east midlands. A few years later at the age of 21 he was making his England debut and announcing his presence at the highest level by hitting his first ball at that level for four and going on to score 58. Later that year he scored his maiden test century, and then that winter his maiden Ashes century, ultimately becoming only the second England batter to reach 8,000 test runs. When he decided to leave Leicestershire, he considered two options, Kent and Hampshire, and for the second time it was Kent who missed out, as he signed for Hampshire.
Len Braund – right handed batter, leg spinner. Like Phil Mead he failed to make a sufficient impression on the folk at The Oval. He headed for Somerset, and after an incident in which he was selected for a game at Lord’s before having served his residential qualifiying period he went on to a distinguished career for both Somerset and England.
+Ben Foakes – wicket keeper, right handed batter. To be unwilling to drop the veteran James Foster to make way for a talented youngster is understandable, but allowing said youngster to fly the coop altogether is less so. Foakes signed for Surrey, and has subsequently played for England, a position that many think should be his as a matter of course, rather than merely for a handful of appearances.
Albert Trott– right arm slow bowler, right handed batter. Overlooked for the 1896 tour of England after a sensational start to his test career (and the captain of that party was his brother Harry) he made his own way to Blighty and signed for Middlesex. In 1899 and 1901 he combined a haul of over 200 first class wickets with a tally of over 1,000 first class runs (an equivalent in today’s shorter FC season would be 100 wickets and 500 runs). He and Wilfred Rhodes were together when the Players completed a dramatic chase of 501 in under seven hours to beat the Gentlemen at Lord’s in 1900.
Jim Laker – off spinner. When Surrey made enquiries about signing a young spinner from Bradford no one up north thought to raise an objection. James Charles Laker duly became a Surrey cricketer, and went on to become the greatest off spinner of the era, and possibly the greatest England ever had, with all due respect to Mr Swann.
Frank Tyson – right arm fast bowler. Lancashire failed to impressed by a young quick bowler, and he headed for pastures new, in this case Northamptonshire. In the next few years Lancashire would discover just what a rick they had made, as Frank Holmes Tyson blazed across the cricketing skies like a meteor. In a final irony Tyson’s greatest cricketing moments came in partnership with Brian Statham of Lancashire.
Derek Shackleton – right arm medium pacer. A reverse of Phil Mead, who was overlooked at The Oval because his bowling was not up to standard. Shackleton was viewed in his native north (he was born and raised in Todmorden) as a batter, his bowling rarely used. He moved south to Hampshire, and after a brief and unsuccessful dalliance with leg spin he reverted to his natural medium pace, and in 1949 achieved his first season haul of 100 first class wickets, a feat he would repeat for every season until 1968, 20 successive seasons in total, ending his career with the eighth highest total of first class wickets ever recorded.
This team has a fine top five, a genuine all rounder in Braund, a great keeper who can certainly bat and a great quartet of bowlers. Tyson and Shackleton would probably combine well as an opening pair, and Trott, Laker, Braund and Rhodes are an excellent looking slow attack.
INTERNATIONAL ESCAPEES XI
Roger Twose – left handed opening batter, occasional medium pace bowler. He played well for Warwickshire but was never able to attract the attention of the England selectors. So when the opportunity to play for New Zealand arose he accepted gratefully. His test record was modest but he did superbly in ODIs.
Roy Marshall – right handed opening batter. When he first appeared on the scene there were those who thought he would be a match for the ‘three Ws’ who dominated Caribbean batting at the time. In the event he signed for Hampshire, and scored stacks of runs for them, his test promise remaining unfulfilled.
Stewie Dempster – right handed batter. A brief but spectacular career for New Zealand, which saw him average 65.72 in 10 test matches ended when he signed for Leicestershire, who he served well for a long period.
Kevin Pietersen – right handed batter, occasional off spinner. Believing that his talents were going unrecognized in his native South Africa he moved to England. With an English mother the qualifying period was less for him than if he had had no connection to England, but still long enough for him to burn his bridges at one county (Nottinghamshire), and it was only after a move to Hampshire that he played for his new country. He top scored in both innings of his debut test, albeit in a losing cause, and at the end of that series played the innings that ensured that England would regain The Ashes. He went on to average just a bit below 50 in test cricket.
Basil D’Oliveira – right handed batter, right arm medium pace bowler. The colour of his skin condemned him to second class status in his native South Africa, but he managed to escape, helped by John Arlott. By the time he was called up for England he was 35 years old, but he still averaged over 40 in test cricket, playing his last match at that level as a 41 year old. The events surrounding the aborted 1968-9 tour of South Africa finally forced people to take notice of the way South Africa conducted itself, and a visit by Bradman in 1971 in which he met with South African leader Vorster and was shocked by the latter’s behaviour and attitudes led to the final banishment of apartheid South Africa, although Ali Bacher and others made misguided efforts on their behalf by doing things like organizing rebel tours, it was only after the abolition of apartheid that South Africa were readmitted.
Sydney Smith – left handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. He was born in the West Indies, long before they became a test nation. He got to show what he could do in front of wider audience because he qualified by residence for Northamptonshire. He did the double in his first season for them, and enjoyed a most distinguished career for them.
+Sammy Guillen – wicket keeper, right handed batter. He was picked for his native West Indies for a tour of New Zealand, stayed there and ended up playing for them later in his career.
Simon Harmer– off spinner, useful lower order batter. After playing five tests for South Africa he decided to sign for Essex as a ‘Kolpak’, and has rendered them colossal service. He is now qualified by residence for England, but the rise of Dominic Bess, the fact that Amar Virdi is clearly knocking on the door, the presence of spinners of other type such as Leach and Parkinson, and the more distant but visible prospects of the likes of Liam Patterson-White and the all round talents of Lewis Goldsworthy mean that at least as far as I am concerned it would be a retrograde step for him to be selected for England at this stage. This is not intended as a reflection on Harmer, a denigration of his qualities, or least of all a suggestion that people who have started elsewhere should not play for another country. It is his misfortune that he has qualified at the same time as England after a fallow few years have started to develop some serious spinning talent.
Jofra Archer – right arm fast bowler. The Barbadian born fast bowler, inspired by Chris Jordan, decided to try his luck in England. Having qualified by residence for his new country he played a crucial role in its triumph in the 2019 World Cup, including being chosen the bowl the ‘super over’ that settled the final. He subsequently had some great moments in the test arena, and will be part of England’s plans for some years to come.
Neil Wagner – left arm fast medium bowler (mainly bouncers). Another who left South Africa to find fulfillment elsewhere, in his case in New Zealand. He has had considerable success for New Zealand.
Clarrie Grimmett – leg spinner. He had cause for reckoning that he had to move if he was going to make the most of himself as a cricketer – as it happened he was already 38 by the time his native New Zealand gained test status, and in spite of treading a winding road that involved trying his luck in NSW and Victoria before finally breaking through for South Australia, he had been playing test cricket for over five years for his new country. His test career ended when he was not selected for the 1938 tour of England, but he played on in first class cricket until World War Two caused Australian first class cricket to be suspended in 1941.
This team has a good top five, a genuine all rounder at six, a fine keeper and four well varied bowlers. Archer and Wagner should combine well with the new ball, and D’Oliveira and Twose can provide seam back up, while Grimmett, Harmer and Smith are a fine trio of spinners.
The contest, for what I shall call the ‘Learie Constantine Trophy’ would be a good one. I certainly could not forecast a winner.
LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS
I have introduced the concept and the teams, but just before bringing th curtain down I have an excellent video from Alex Collins about the importance of conservation: