Thoughts on The Test Squad for New Zealand

My thoughts on the England test squad for New Zealand, announced earlier today.

INTRODUCTION

This post looks at the test squad for New Zealand, announced not long ago. There are also of course a few photos.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE MIDDLE

The test squad for New Zealand is as follows (click here for the cricinfo article about it):

Joe Root (capt), Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Saqib Mahmood, Matthew Parkinson, Ollie Pope, Dominic Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes

I see one definite negative in this squad – the continuing selection of Buttler, although at least he will not be playing as a specialist batter, he will be keeping, one questionable retention (Denly), several non-controversial picks (Root, Archer, Broad – Anderson is still unfit, Curran, Stokes and Woakes), and several interesting newcomers (Sibley, Crawley, Pope, Parkinson, Mahmood). After a quick thank goodness for the absence from the red ball squad of Messrs Bairstow and Roy (retention of either would have been a disgraceful abdication of responsibility) and a brief lament for the continuing non-selection of Ben Foakes (best wicketkeeper around and averages over 40 in the few tests he has been permitted to play) and Lewis Gregory, I will devote the rest of this post to the five new names in the squad.

ZAK CRAWLEY

Opens the batting for Kent, he has 1,908 runs at 31.80 and three first class hundreds. These figures do not really warrant elevation to the status of test opener, and I would have preferred someone else to be picked in his place.

SAQIB MAHMOOD

Pretty much a pure bowler (he averages 14 with the bat in first class cricket), the young Lancashire quick  has 42 wickets at 28.90 in first class cricket (less impressive in other words than most of the younger pace bowlers I mentioned in my last post but one), however I am less unimpressed by this pick than I am by that of Crawley.

MATTHEW PARKINSON

A ‘ferret’ (he comes after the rabbits) with the bat – average 5.37 in that department – the young Lancashire legspinner has 60 first class wickets at 25.20 in his fledgling career. It is unlikely that a New Zealand pitch will warrant the selection of both him and Leach, but they should combine well together should that situation arise. I welcome this selection.

OLLIE POPE

The Surrey batter averages 57.55 in first-class cricket. His first exposure to test cricket last summer did not go well, because he was thrust higher up the order than he regularly batted for his county, but he is a much better cricketer now. He is that rarity among contemporary English batters, someone who is happy playing a long innings against the red ball. England’s middle order should benefit hugely from his presence.

DOMINIC SIBLEY

He has had a huge season for Warwickshire, which has seen his first class average move north of 40 (it currently stands at 41.55), and given England’s woes at the top of the order a failure to select him would have been an utter disgrace. His recent performance against Nottinghamshire when he scored 215 not out in the first innings and then 109 in the successful second innings run chase put him in rare company. Like Pope he is genuinely comfortable digging in for a long haul against the red ball, and alongside the now established Burns he should form the solidest English test opening pair since Strauss and Cook were in their prime nearly a decade ago.

Overall I consider this a respectable effort by the selectors and award them 7/10 for it.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

P1270485 (2)P1270487 (2)P1270488 (2)P1270489 (2)P1270490 (2)P1270491 (2)P1270492 (2)P1270493 (2)P1270494 (2)P1270495 (2)P1270496 (2)

The County Championship Second Round

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

INTRODUCTION

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

THE MATCHES

I will deal with the drawn matches first.

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

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

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

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

PHOTOGRAPHS

P1220723P1220724P1220728P1220729P1220730P1220731P1220732P1220733P1220734P1220735P1220736P1220737P1220738P1220739P1220741P1220742