Somerset Steamrollering at Southampton

A look at goings on at the Ageas Bowl, where Hampshire and Somerset are doing battle, a scoot round the other grounds where there is championship action and lots of photographs.

This post looks at goings at the Ageas Bowl, where Somerset and Hampshire having been doing battle, before taking a quick look around the other grounds where there is county championship action.

OVERTON ON SONG

Yesterday Somerset bowled Hampshire out for a beggarly 79, which even on a difficult pitch to bat on was never going to be enough. Byrom had replaced Banton at the top of the order, but that did not alter the start to the Somerset response – both openers fell cheaply. Hildreth was also out before Somerset took the lead. Bartlett and then Goldsworthy supported the adhesive Abell, 20 year old Goldsworthy especially impressive holding out a long time for his 24. Leach then came in as nightwatch, and did the first part of the job superbly, holding the fort until close of play, with Somerset 142-5. You might think that after an opening day like that things could only get better for the home side on day two, but you would be wrong. Leach hit six boundaries in the early part of the day as he took his score to 34. Abell was seventh out at 193, having chiselled out 64, an innings far more valuable than a double century against weak bowling on a flat deck. Davies and Overton shared a fine partnership, and then Gregory joined Overton and the good work continued, Overton overhauling Abell as top scorer for the innings during their ninth wicket stand. At 328 Overton finally fell for a well compiled 74. Josh Davey came in at no11, and saw the Somerset lead past 250, but at 336 he fell to end the Somerset innings, with Gregory unbeaten on 33. Keith Barker took 4-67 for Hampshire. Mysteriously Hampshire used Liam Dawson but not the wicket taking spinner Felix Organ. The Hampshire second innings is just getting under way.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Leicestershire v Surrey: Leicestershire, batting first, are 495-9. Sam Evans made a century, and Harry Swindells, the wicket keeper, has just joined him in reaching that landmark. Amar Virdi has toiled away, taking 5-170 from 44 overs for Surrey.

Middlesex v Gloucestershire: Middlesex scored 210 batting first, and Gloucestershire are 132-4 in reply. Robbie White scored 76 not out for Middlesex, David Payne took 5-31 for Gloucestershire. Kraigg Brathwaite scored 33 for Gloucestershire, James Bracey is 44 not out and Ian Cockbain 21 not out. Tim Murtagh, James Harris and Martin Andersson each have a wicket for Middlesex.

Warwickshire v Worcestershire: Warwickshire scored 343 in the first innings and Worcestershire are 64-1 in reply. There were centuries for Robert Yates and Michael Burgess in the Warwickshire innings, while Ed Barnard took three wickets for Worcestershire. Libby is on 42 not out for Worcestershire, while Liam Norwell has the one wicket Warwickshire have claimed.

Lancashire v Glamorgan: This one has been affected by rain. Glamorgan are 226-6 in their first innings. David Lloyd made 78, while Callum Taylor and Dan Douthwaite are both in the 20s at the moment. James Anderson has 2-31, his 990th and 991st first class wickets, while Luke Wood also has two wickets.

Northamptonshire v Sussex: Sussex were rolled for 106 in the first innings, and only got that far thanks to Oliver Edward Robinson, who scored an unbeaten 49. Northamptonshire are 424-9 in response, Saif Zaib 135, Adam Rossington 87, Rob Keogh 66, and back at his day job, Robinson 5-58.

Nottinghamshire v Essex: Essex batted first and were rolled for 99, Nottinghamshire replied with 323 and Essex are 46-0 in the second innings. Nick Browne made 53 for Essex and Luke Fletcher took 6-24 for Nottinghamshire. Steven Mullaney scored 117 for Nottinghamshire, with Lyndon James making 51 and Haseeb Hameed 49. Shane Snater took 7-98 for Essex, bowling right arm medium pace.

Yorkshire v Kent: Kent made 305 batting first and Yorkshire are 77-2 in response. Crawley made 90 for Kent, backed by 47 from Leaning, 40 from O’Riordan, mainly an off spinner, and 38 from keeper Oliver Graham Robinson. Ben Coad took 3-53 for Yorkshire.Ballance is 27 not for Yorkshire, with openers Lyth and Kohler-Cadmore both gone cheaply, and Joe Root 6 not out.

Remarkably, given their first innings batting, Hampshire have not lost a wicket while I have been typing this, but there have been several appeals, and their scoring rate remains painfully slow.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have lots of photographs for you:

County Championship Round Five Preview

A look ahead to the county championship matches starting tomorrow.

This post looks ahead to set of County Championship games starting tomorrow. There are some very tasty looking clashes there.

PREVIEWS

Yorkshire v Kent: Yorkshire have made a decent start to the season while Kent are struggling badly. Adam Lyth looks to continue a strong start to the season with the bat, while Dom Bess will be looking to continue the revival of his career following his move from Somerset. For Kent Zak Crawley could do with a decent score and Darren Stevens will be out to produce another performance to demonstrate that age is just a number.

Leicestershire v Surrey: The reverse of this fixture was drawn, with Hassan Azad producing a career best innings to make it so. Hassan Azad and his opening partner Sam Evans will both need to contribute for their county to have any chance. For Surrey a number of their batters have been scoring runs with Ollie Pope foremost among them. Amar Virdi will be looking ti produce a significant performance, especially with several other spinners faring well.

Warwickshire v Worcestershire: The west Midlands derby. Robert Yates and Sam Hain are names to watch for the home side, while Worcestershire have drawn all four of their matches so far.

Middlesex v Gloucestershire: Gloucestershire are top of the group and will be looking to consolidate. Middlesex have had a poor start to the campaign and need to rebound after a having lost to Somerset after being well ahead. Ethan Bamber is one to watch for Middlesex, while for Gloucestershire there are three players who may well wish to make a point to their former employers: Ryan Higgins, Tom Lace and George Scott. The first two named have had good moments already this season, and with Stokes injured Higgins may well reckon that a big performance at Lord’s would secure him his England cap.

Lancashire v Glamorgan: Glamorgan beat Kent in under two days last time out, and will be looking to continue that form. For Lancashire Matthew Parkinson has already produced a career best this season and will be looking to bolster his own England credentials and it is possible that the pace attack will be led by a combination of an old master and a young pretender: James Anderson and Saqib Mahmood.

Northamptonshire v Sussex: Sussex have been trusting to youth this season, especially in the bowling department. Oliver Edward Robinson was rested from their last game to manage his workload, and I expect he will be back for this one. Jack Carson has had a magnificent start to the season and I expect him to feature once again. For Northamptonshire much will rest on the batting of Ricardo Vasconcelos. Look out for a potential contest between the left handed Vasconcelos and off spinner Carson – off spinners often fare well against left handers.

Hampshire v Somerset: For me the tie of the round. These teams are second and third in their group. For Hampshire there are three key figures: James Vince who could do with a big score against a serious bowling attack, and their opening bowlers Kyle Abbot and Mohammad Abbas. For Somerset Craig Overton will be looking to continue a fine season, Lewis Goldsworthy made a hugely impressive debut in the last game and I hope he will be in action again.

Nottinghamshire v Essex: Having just broken a winless run dating back to 2018 by thrashing Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire will be keen to kick on, while Essex were unable to make anything happen on the road Worcestershire produced for their last game. Haseeb Hameed will be hoping to continue his revival. For Essex look out for Dan Lawrence with the bat and Simon Harmer with the ball.

SOMERSET’S TRIO OF TOMS

Somerset have opted this season for three Toms at the top of their order: Lammonby, Banton and Abell. Abell is looking very solid at no3, having produced significant scores in every game to date. Lammonby has had a struggle, and needs some serious runs soon just to prove that that the 459 runs at 51.o0 from his first six FC matches, which had some people touting him as an England opener, were not a flash in the pan. Tom Banton has not shown any signs of being a suitable red ball opener, though he has done very well as an opener in limited overs cricket. My own reckoning is that if Banton is going to succeed in FC cricket it will be as a middle order batter.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

A “Rest XI”

In this post I envisage myself selecting a ‘Rest’ XI to play England in an old style ‘test trial’ match. One of my XI had played test cricket, but qualifies by virtue of not being official first choice for his position.

This post harks back to the days of ‘test trial’ matches, a common example of which was England v The Rest. In it I select, with explanations, my opposition XI if such a game was to played in the run up to the first test against New Zealand. There is one player in this XI who has test experience, while the rest have none. I also name a couple of reserves.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

Hassan Azad (Leics): Left handed opening batter, now averaging 43.89 in FC cricket, with five centuries at that level. His career best 144 not out came against Surrey this season, with his side needing to bat out the match to avoid an innings defeat, and his innings ensured that they accomplished that mission.

*Ricardo Vasconcelos (Northanmptonshire): Left handed opening batter, occasional keeper, captain. Two 150+ scores so far this season, one of them 185 not out in a monster run chase, have seen his FC average move above 40. Although both openers are left handed Vasconcelos is much more attacking than Azad who is very much a sticker.

Tom Abell (Somerset): Right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. He has contributed significant knocks to all three of Somerset’s wins so far this season. Somerset have opted for three Toms at the top of their order this season, Lammonby and Banton opening and Abell at three. Lammonby has struggled so far in this, his first full FC season, having been touted as an England possible based on 459 runs at 51.00 with three centuries from his first six FC matches and is at present further from England consideration than he was at the start of the season, though that could easily change. Banton is miscast as a first class opener – he has a fine record opening the batting in short form cricket, but has not looked anything approaching convincing opening against the red ball. My own feeling is that if he is going to make the grade in first class cricket it will be batting somewhere in the middle of the order rather than at the top.

Matt Critchley (Derbyshire): Right handed batter, leg spinner. He has been in good form lately, although his county are not faring especially well.

+Ben Foakes (Surrey): Right handed batter, wicket keeper. I include him in this side because officially he is not England’s first choice test keeper, due to the continuing indulgence of Jos Buttler. Buttler is one of England’s finest ever white ball batters and a decent keeper, but in red ball cricket he should not be keeping Foakes out.

Lewis Goldsworthy (Somerset): Right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The very definition of a bolter, with one FC appearance to his name. However, his performance in the fourth innings when he and Steven Davies steered Somerset home with them having been in some trouble showed that he has a superb temperament.

Ryan Higgins (Gloucestershire): Right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. After 42 first class appearances he has 1,965 runs at 33.87 and 151 wickets at 20.84. In Gloucestershire’s last game (see here) he took a good haul of wickets and played a crucial cameo innings that put his team ahead of the clock, enabling them to bring home a superb run chase. For my money, with Ben Stokes crocked, Cap 698 should be his.

Oliver Edward Robinson (Sussex): Right arm medium fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. Before I get on to his record a point of clarification: there are two Oliver Robinsons playing county cricket at present, and both like to go by Ollie, so when writing about them I use full names to make it clear which one I am talking about – Oliver Edward Robinson is the bowler and useful lower order batter who plays for Sussex and Oliver Graham Robinson is the keeper/batter who plays for Kent. Our Ollie Rpbinson, the Sussex bowler, has 270 FC wickets at 21.22 and has also scored 1,570 FC runs at 21.50, putting his averages just the right way round (credit balance 0.28). This season he achieved a new career best innings figures of 9-78 (match 14-135). He was rested for Sussex’s last outing to manage his workload, which suggests that an England cap is very much on the table (I have him down for number 699 as we are currently at 697 and Robinson comes after Higgins in the alphabet).

Jack Carson (Sussex): Off spinner, right handed lower order batter. The 20 year old has played eight first class matches, in which he 33 wickets at 22.03 a piece. He is a future prospect rather than someone likely to feature immediately – Jack Leach is first choice spinner, and England probably won’t select two for a home test, while Australia is not traditionally the happiest of hunting grounds for England off spinners, so the earliest time he is remotely likely to figure is summer 2022, but I would want a look at him in a game of above county standard anyway..

Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire): Right arm fast medium bowler. Until now, while possessing plenty of bowling variety this side his not offered up any real pace, and the young Lancastrian provides that. He has had some international white ball experience but has yet to receive a test cap.

Matt Parkinson (Lancashire): Leg spinner. 80 wickets at 23.53 in FC cricket for the young leg spinner, including a career best 7-126 this season to inflict an innings defeat on Kent. Unlikely to feature in tests this summer unless Leach gets injured, but absolutely should travel to Australia for The Ashes, and although I believe nos 698 and 699 are spoken for, Cap no 700 could be his.

This side has decent batting depth, with everyone down to no8 capable of significant contributions, a wealth of bowling options: three front line seamers of differing styles in Mahmood, Robinson and Higgins, with Abell available as fourth seamer if needed, a leg spinner, an off spinner and a left arm orthodox spinner, with Critchley’s leg spin also a legitimate bowling option. It also has the best keeper currently in the business, since he is not officially his country’s first choice. Now for the…

RESERVES

I am naming three reserves, an opening batter, a bowler who can bat well and a spinner:

Sam Evans (Leicestershire): Right handed opening batter. Azad’s regular opening partner, and really coming to the party this season as well.

Craig Overton (Somerset): Right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. He has already played four test matches, but has been out of favour after struggling at that level. This season he has found a yard of pace from somewhere which gives his bowling genuine menace, and he has been scoring important runs as well. His FC averages are just the wrong way round, 21 with the bat and 23 with the ball, but he should be on the radar, hence my naming him among the reserves.

Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire): left arm orthodox spinner. She has 106 wickets in Women’s international cricket across the formats at an average of 19.41 each, and is only 21 years of age. I for one would like to see her given her chance to play alongside the men, and to keep that thought in people’s minds I mention her here.

Feel free to use the comments to indicate who you would pick for a side of this nature.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Just a few pics today (the weather has not been conducive to photography in the last couple of days)…

Closing Stages of County Championship Round Four

A look at developments in the County Championship as round four draws to a close.

Welcome to this post looking at the closing stages of this round of County Championship fixtures. Those who have followed each day’s posts know that Glamorgan beat Kent in two days and that Notts thrashed Derbyshire, winning early on day three. Surrey polished off Hampshire by an innings and 289 runs not long after I completed yesterday’s post, Kemar Roach raking a career best 8-40 in the second Hampshire innings, and Durham also completed their demolition of Warwickshire with a day to spare.

GAMES SETTLED TO DATE ON DAY FOUR

Lancashire beat Sussex by five wickets, Sussex’s second inning collapse proving terminal to their hopes. Failed England opener Keaton Jennings anchored the chase with 91 not out, while England hopefuls Alex Davies (73, opening alongside Jennings) and Josh Bohannon (46) also made runs. Jack Carson took 3-45 from 24 overs of off spin, giving him seven wickets in the game.

Somerset beat Middlesex by four wickets. This match had certain elements of familiarity – at Lord’s in the first round of matches Middlesex led Somerset comfortably on first innings, collapsed in the second and Somerset pulled off an impressive chase to end up winning. This match followed a very similar pattern – Middlesex were 89 ahead on first innings, but then crashed to 117 all out in the second dig. Somerset were 104-4 at the end of day three, Hildreth having scored 43 off 38 balls and Abell batting with typical solidity at no3. Abell fell for 49 early on the final morning, and was followed in short order by Bartlett, at which point it was 123-6, with debutant Lewis Goldsworthy being joined by Steven Davies. Middlesex had no further success, as Davies reached 44 not out, and Goldsworthy 41 not out, including the winning runs, a four through the covers. Goldsworthy did not get to bowl his left arm spin in this match, but 80 runs in the match for once out is a fine debut. Craig Overton enhanced his England credentials by taking 3-60 and 5-34 with the ball as well as scoring 38 not out in the first Somerset innings (due to the use of Leach as nightwatch he was padded up waiting to bat in the second). If County Championship games did player of the match awards Overton would have been a shoo-in. Goldsworthy was utterly unflappable in the chase, even when the umpires were ridiculously doctrinaire in insisting on breaking for lunch with the ask below 20 and Middlesex obviously on the ropes and it then rained, extending the interval by 15 minutes, and if we do not see him donning an England cap with a number in the low 700s I will be surprised. A full scorecard of this fine game of cricket can be viewed here.

THE REMAINING GAMES

The match between Yorkshire and Northamptonshire is currently delayed by rain at a crucial stage – Northamptonshire are 206-9 chasing a target of 220 in a match that like many a low scoring game has been nip and tuck throughout.

Overcaution by Leicestershire at Bristol means that the most likely result there is a draw – they set Gloucestershire 340 in only a little over two sessions of play, and although Gloucestershire have lost three wickets, including England hopeful James Bracey, it is likely that the clock will beat Leicestershire, although it is about 0% that Gloucestershire will do so.

At Worcester the draw is even likelier, on a wicket that must have been prepared using a steam roller, it is that flat. Essex have breathed a little life into proceedings by dismissing Worcestershire cheaply enough to enforce the follow on, but Worcestershire are 71-1 in their second innings and have only 40 overs to survive to confirm the draw. This is the second match at Worcester this season in which bowlers have been rendered toothless by the surface and I hope that Worcestershire will be docked points for what I regard as a far worse case of bad pitch preparation than the spinning surface in 2019 for which Somerset were punished.

A CRICKETING PUZZLE

From a road of a pitch to a puzzle based on a road name near my home (see picture below):

Archdale has two links to cricket history – can you identify them? (Answer in my next blog post, little hint on one of the links- don’t ignore 50% of the population just because it is a sporting question!)

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Five To Follow In The 2021 English Cricket Season

A look at five players to follow for the upcoming season, with mentions for a few others as well, and of course some photographs.

With various pre-season friendlies in full swing around the country I look at some of the youngsters who I hope will feature prominently in the season to come. The five I focus on are as it happens an opening batter, two spin bowling all rounders and two specialist spinners. I then mention a few others who were near misses for various reasons. I also have some photographs to share, a regular feature of this blog, and I take this opportunity of welcoming new followers – my thanks to you all for deciding to follow me on this blog.

FIVE TO FOLLOW FOR THE SEASON

  1. Tom Lammonby – Somerset, left handed opening batter, occasional left arm medium-fast bowler. Six first class matches, 459 runs at 51.00 including three centuries, total career bowling figures 2-38. The young opener has made a superb start to his first class career, and England’s current top order looks a trifle shaky at present, with Rory Burns probably the most vulnerable of the top three. In view of his paucity of appearances to date and the fact that England have an away series in Australia this winter, which would be a tough assignment to give a young opener as an introduction to international cricket it is more likely that a good full season in 2021 to prove that his fine start is not a freak would lead to elevation for the 2022 home season than that he will break into international cricket this season, but I will very surprised if he does not grace the test arena in the not too distant future.
  2. Luke Hollman – Middlesex, left handed batter, leg spin bowler. So far all seven of his first team appearances have been in T20s, and he has scored 139 runs at 34.75, and with a strike rate of 139.00 and taking nine wickets at 18.11 with an economy rate of 6.79. I hope that he will feature in some longer form cricket this season as well as continuing his development in limited overs cricket. England are short of good spin bowling options, and a spinner who can bat would be especially useful. Even if he ends up specializing in limited overs cricket Adil Rashid cannot go on for ever, and there are few obvious replacements.
  3. Lewis Goldsworthy – Somerset, left arm orthodox spin bowler, right handed batter. A bowling all rounder who enjoyed some success in the last under 19 cricket world cup, the youngster’s senior cricket has thus far been limited to three T20s, in which he has scored 38 not out off 29 balls in the only innings he played and taken five wickets at 17.20 each with an economy rate of 7.81. I hope that with Leach likely to be with England for most of the season he will get the chance to play a whole season of first team cricket in all formats.
  4. Liam Patterson-White – Nottinghamshire, left arm orthodox spinner, left handed batter. The youngster has played five first class matches, capturing 20 wickets at 21.00, including a best of 5-73 and scoring 91 runs at 15.16, including a best score of 58 not out. A full season of first team cricket would go some way to showing whether those good early figures are a true representation of his abilities or not. The fact the he can handle a bat may well count in his favour if he keeps taking wickets.
  5. Daniel Moriarty – Surrey, left arm orthodox spin, left handed batter. Just two matches for the Reigate born youngster. His two first class appearances to date have yielded 17 wickets at 20.11, while his 13 T20s hav yielded him 17 wickets at 18.91 with an economy rate of 6.91. Again, this is a case of waiting to see what he can do over the course of a whole season.

OTHER PROSPECTS

I concentrated for my five to follow on newcomers and on players who either bowl spin or open the batting. In this section I mention briefly an opener who has played for England before and seems to be coming back to his best after a couple of years in the wilderness, two young seamers whose upward progress is limited by England’s riches in that department and another young spinner who would only enter the reckoning if the England selectors were prepared to seriously radical.

  1. Haseeb Hameed – Nottinghamshire, right handed opening batter. A brilliant start to his test career (averaging 43 after three matches) before an injury forced him out of the side. There followed two lean seasons for Lancashire, and then a move to Nottinghamshire. Last year at his new county things picked up for him, though his career FC average remains a modest 31. Nevertheless, the fact that he has a proven test match temperament and some success at that level means that another good season this year could well get him back in the reckoning.
  2. Ben Coad – Yorkshire, right arm fast medium bowler. 38 first class matches, 157 wickets at 19.93. The trouble is that with the veterans Broad and Anderson, three genuine speedsters in Archer, Stone and Wood, the all round talents of Chris Woakes and the x-factor brilliance of Ben Stokes there are not many vacancies for seam bowlers even if they have great records.
  3. Oliver Edward Robinson – Sussex, right arm fast medium bowler, useful lower order right handed batter. 58 first class matches, 250 wickets at 21.78, batting average 20.84 with one century and five fifties. Again, a victim of England’s strength in the seam bowling department, but he is possibly good enough with the bat to be at eight with either two speedsters and Leach or one speedster, Leach and one of Anderson or Broad rounding out the order. He would probably do a fine job for England, as he has for Sussex.
  4. Sophie Ecclestone – left arm orthodox spin bowler. In all formats of women’s international cricket she has 106 wickets for 2057 runs, an average of 19.41 per wicket, and she is still only 21 years old. Given this extraordinary record and England men’s dearth of spin options at present there are those of us would like to see her given the opportunity to show what she can do in the men’s game.

Please feel free to use the comments to mention other players who are on your personal radar or to take issue with my own suggestions.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off, starting with the lighting up of the Corn Exchange yesterday evening (they also lit up the town hall in the same pink and purple)…

Looking Ahead To The Ashes: Spinners

A look ahead to the Ashes tour that will end a very hectic year for England, with a particular focus on the spin bowling aspect. Also some photographs.

At the end of this year, after two more tests in India plus a busy home summer, England head to Australia for what Huw Turbervill in a book of that name called “The Toughest Tour” – an away Ashes series. With nothing else of significance happening in the cricket world today I am going to look ahead to that tour, and in what will be a long piece show what England should do spinners wise.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LEFT ARM SLOW TO MEDIUM PACED BOWLERS

Only once in all of England’s successful tours has the party not included a left arm bowler in the slow to medium pace bracket, the very first ever in 1882-3. In 1884-5 and 1887-8 and again in 1894-5 two left arm orthodox spinners in Bobby Peel and Johnny Briggs were present and both were test regulars during those tours. In 1903-4 Wilfred Rhodes, another left arm orthodox spinner, was a key performer, including a 15 wicket match haul at Melbourne (with eight catches dropped off him into the bargain!) In 1911-2 the bowling was largely dominated by Frank Foster and Syd Barnes, but Frank Woolley, an all rounder whose bowling stock-in-trade was left arm orthodox spin was far from insignificant. In 1928-9, JC ‘Farmer’ White, a left arm orthodox spinner was crucial to England’s success, bowling huge numbers of overs (130 across the two innings of the Adelaide match alone), going at around two an over and taking a good haul of wickets. In 1932-3, although Harold Larwood was the dominant bowling force, Hedley Verity, a left arm orthodox spinner played in four of the five test matches and skipper Jardine was at pains in his own book about that tour, “In Quest of The Ashes” to emphasize his importance to England. In 1954-5 Tyson and Statham were the dominant bowlers, but Johnny Wardle a left arm spinner who could bowl either orthodox or wrist spin (although Hutton’s conservatism as captain meant he was largely confined to the former on that tour) took 10 wickets at 22.9 a piece in a support role. In 1970-1 John Snow was England’s key bowler, but Derek Underwood bowling left arm slow-medium with cut rather than spin as his principle weapon was an important part of the supporting cast. In 1978-9 Philippe-Henri Edmonds, left arm orthodox spin, had a bust up with skipper Brearley and did not play any test matches, with the spinning roles entrusted for those games to Emburey and Miller. In 1986-7 Edmonds was there again in partnership with Emburey and was very important to England’s success, snagging the prize scalp of Border five times in the series. In 2010-11 England used off spinner Graeme Swann in a holding role, in which he took 15 wickets at 39 a piece, but only went for 2.5 an over, while left arm orthodox spinner Monty Panesar was kept on the sidelines, although he was part of the tour party. England have not won down under since that tour.

In 1946-7 England lacked a test class left arm slow to medium bowler, and at one point in that series Bill Voce, left arm fast medium, was asked to attempt orthodox spin as England were getting desperate – scoreline Aus 3, Eng 1, 1 high scoring draw (Morris for Aus and Compton for Eng notching a brace of centuries a piece in that one at Adelaide). In 1962-3 three off spinners were selected in the tour party and no one else who could bowl high class spin (Barrington’s leg breaks would have been the next highest ranking spin option), and England drew the series, not enough to get the Ashes back. In 1982-3 once again three off spinners carried the slow bowling burden – Marks, Miller and Hemmings, with only Hemmings selected purely on the basis of his bowling, and ironically he would produce the highest individual score any of the three managed in the series – 95 in the final match at Sydney as nightwatchman, and England lost the series after having won three successive Ashes contests, and they were to win the next two after it as well.

Thus, there have been only three occasions on which England have won down under without a left arm slow to medium pace bowler playing for them in at least some test matches, and only once, in 1882-3 when they have done so without such a bowler in the party.

Therefore, a bowler of that type can be considered necessary. Jack Leach, left arm orthodox spin, now has 56 wickets from 14 test matches at an average of 30.37, and is obviously improving, so he has to be first pick for a spinner’s berth in the tour party assuming he is fit to play. There are few obvious like for like substitutes for him, but Liam Patterson-White if he plays a full season and does well (at the moment after five first class games he has a bowling average at that level of 21.00) could well be a strong candidate, and Lewis Goldsworthy, a left arm orthodox spinner who can also bat, has had a good Under 19 World Cup and has fared well in the few senior games (all T20s) that he has been given. I hope he gets a full season this summer, and maybe if he performs brilliantly he will merit a place in the tour party. The person with the best first class average among English spinners who have played more than a handful of matches at that level is leg spinner Matt Parkinson, and I would think he should travel as designated second spinner, although only Sydney and Adelaide of Australian venues are remotely likely to produce surfaces justifying the selection of two specialist spinners.

1932-3: A TEMPLATE FOR SUCCESS IN THE 21ST C.

In 1932-3 England travelled with a battery of pace bowlers, two specialist spinners (Verity, left arm orthodox, and Tommy Mitchell, leg spin). They won the series 4-1, with Verity playing in four of the matches (nos 1,3,4 and 5). Mitchell was a less significant figure but what he was asked to do he did well. Incidentally, the one match Verity was not selected for demonstrates that Australia were not the innocent victims they like the world to believe that they were in that series: the pitch for the state game (yes, young folk, back in the day touring teams played matches against local first class sides as well as international fixtures) at Melbourne had been super fast, so when the second test was played there Jardine left Verity out to play a full battery of pace bowlers, Bill Bowes coming in for the only time of the series. On the first morning a delivery from Harold Larwood broke through the rolled top surface of the pitch and raised a puff of dust. By the fourth innings the pitch was turning square and Ironmonger (left arm orthodox spin) and O’Reilly (leg spin) were basically unplayable.

A standard England attack in Australia with their current resources could feature two out of Archer, Stone and Wood, one of Anderson and Broad, and Leach as the spin option, with Woakes also in the equation if one wants to avoid an overly long tail. In the unlikely event of a pitch requiring two specialist spinners Parkinson would come in for one of the quicker bowlers.

I will be keeping an eye out over the coming home season for Lewis Goldsworthy and Liam Patterson-White among others to see if they can genuinely force their way into the equation, but at the moment it is hard to see anyone other than Leach as first choice spinner in Australia, with Parkinson designated second spinner. I will make on cautionary remark in the context of Goldsworthy, and also the young opener Tom Lammonby who may well be in the reckoning if he has a second straight good season: if you are going to select people so early in their careers for international tours they will need careful management – Brian Close was selected for the 1950-1 Ashes tour when not much more than a boy and badly mishandled on that tour, setting his career back years.

A LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

My attention was drawn earlier today to calls being made on the government to support Eurostar, the most climate friendly means of travelling between this country and continental Europe. You can sign and share by clicking here, and below is the infographic that accompanies the text on wearepossible:

Now for my usual sign off. I had to put in a prescription request, and used the longer, parkland route home, as it being half term the schools were closed.