WHAT MORE CAN ENGLAND DO IN ONE DAY CRICKET?

So I’ve not posted since the 23rd May, since then England got blown away by Pakistan at Lords. Then they managed to paper over the cracks with a swift come back victory at Headingly. Worst of all for me – they then managed to lose to Scotland in an ODI in Edinburgh

For those that don’t know me, my girlfriend is Scottish and hates cricket but all of a sudden she now loves cricket following the weekend’s antics. Just last week I suggested doing some cricket activities when we next go to visit her family which were brushed of at the time. Now it’s apparently a really good idea to go and see what Scottish cricket is all about…

Enough about that though, what I want to talk about is this fantastic England one day side. I think the reason they entertain so many cricket lovers around the world is you really do not know who is going to turn up for England when the coloured clothing is on. Take last year’s Champions Trophy as an example, they coasted past Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia – only to be rolled over for 211 by a Pakistan team who no one gave a prayer too.

I think the more experienced and hardened cricket fans can understand that it can happen. Christ, it happened at the weekend against Scotland – one result doesn’t determine the quality of this England team but of course, there are points to improve.

For me, I believe the strength in depth is not as great as we are told. With no Ben Stokes or Jos Buttler at the weekend, IPL champion and Kent captain – Sam Billings was handed his 14th cap. Billings is seen as the next option in the middle order yet in 11 innings he averages 23.63 striking at 92.85. Compare it to his career numbers where he strikes at 106.98 and averages 40.42 and this is where the question marks occur about why certain players cannot bring their domestic form into the international arena.

Billings is the only tried example because such is the lack of middle order talent within the county game at the moment, it does not seem that their is much in the bank for England should Buttler or Stokes go down again. Liam Dawson is potentially next in line due to his presence around the England squad in the last few years especially when taking his bowling into consideration but it is doubtful that he would be trusted to fill in at 5/6 with the likeliness being that Moeen Ali is moved up and Dawson slots in behind.

One man who probably deserves a chance in one format is Ben Foakes of Surrey. In the last three years within the domestic One Day cup, Foakes has averaged 55.80 (2018), 96.40 (2017) and 47.14 (2016). He has been vital to a Surrey side that reached 3 finals in a row before this year and with Billings being used as Buttler’s understudy with the gloves as well – it is perfect for Foakes to come in and take up the role that Billings’ has failed to make his own.

This is not the only issue within the England side. The similarity within their attack is now a worry. Against Scotland, England fielded three seamers in David Willey, Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett. Again, there is not much variation left in the county game with every ‘expert’ crying out for more pace. The Scotland game showed how vital Ben Stokes is because with four seamers and two spinners, England look a totally different beast compared to when the option of the fourth seamer is taken away.

Why can’t we just replace Stokes with Sam Curran like we did in the Test side some may say. Probably because S. Curran only averages 21.48 in List A cricket compared to Stokes who averages 35.16. More is needed from the younger Curran with the bat before he can be considered a like for like replacement for Stokes. I don’t really like to discuss the problem with Stokes missing because I don’t believe there is a solution, without Stokes you are forced to play an extra batsman which means if one of your five bowlers gets smashed around – you cannot take him off and he has to bowl his allotted amount of overs.

The talk of Sussex’s Jofra Archer being in England’s World Cup squad for next summer has been quashed by Eoin Morgan and rightly so.  Archer would only replace one of the seamers in the line up and as I’ve said through out this blog, what England need is options out there. Of course, they beat Australia in Australia without Stokes and all is not lost without him. I just believe he is the most vital cog in this England team going into the final year before the World Cup.

In conclusion, what England need to do is to gain more depth for position within their middle order and ensure they can fit six bowling options into their one-day side (or wrap Ben Stokes in cotton wool until the World Cup).

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WHAT MORE CAN ENGLAND DO IN ONE DAY CRICKET?

WILL BESS BE A SUCCESS?

A poet and I didn’t know it. Dom Bess will make his England test debut against Pakistan amid positive comments from his Somerset team mates and the media about his Test Selection. 

Ironically, Bess makes his international debut against the same side he made his original First Class debut against in Pakistan. Within the game, the Somerset spinner bowled 30 overs for 128 runs, going wicketless in the process. Since then, he has teamed up with Jack Leach at Somerset and has caused havoc to batting line ups visiting Taunton. His career statistics highlight this with Bess picking up his 63 first class wickets at a cost of 22.49.

Whilst Bess is technically replacing his Somerset team mate, Jack Leach in the England line-up, he actually has the chance to become the long term heir to Moeen Ali within the England test side. Following a difficult winter, Moeen was dropped for the last test match and replaced by Leach, who in turn is injured resulting in the chance for Bess.

There is every chance that if Bess can impress this week, that he will get a long run. Moeen is a veteran of 50 tests despite averaging 40.66 with the ball and despite a new selector being appointed in Ed Smith, this match will surely not be the only Test match played by Bess.

So I guess the answer to the blog question is that Bess will be given every chance to be success and previous England spinners have been given a long run of games to establish their places. As always, it depends on the player’s mentality whether he succeeds or not but England will be hoping Bess is effective during this home Summer, just in time for the tour of Sri Lanka in November.

WILL BESS BE A SUCCESS?

ONE DAY CUP: WHO TO LOOK OUT FOR

I guess the Kolpak 2 parter will be put on the back-burner for a few weeks (mainly as I’ve forgotten what the second part is) but also because the start of domestic 50 over competition is upon us and I would like to preview some players who are expected to perform strongly this campaign… 

Obviously, I could sit here and say; ‘A strong performance here could really propel these individual’s England World Cup prospects’, but with the World Cup a year away – I am fairly sure the team at the moment picks itself bar any big injuries.

What I will say is that a strong performance from these players could really enhance their team’s chances in the competition and these players are potential game changes in the county game. So here we go…

JAMES VINCE

Fresh from his England Test Squad snub and a double hundred, Vince will have the bit between his teeth to do well in this competition.

The Hampshire captain scored 463 runs at an average of 77.00 last season but what was most impressive was his 178 from 138 balls in a losing cause against Glamorgan. If he can link with Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw, then Hampshire surely have a wonderful chance of going far in the competition.

Vince is also fresh of a double hundred in the County Championship and if that isn’t form to be feared, then I’m not sure what is.

SAM HAIN

Hain is Warwickshire’s best white ball batter and by averaging 57.26 in 29 List A games, he also possess the statistics to back it up.

Hain’s life has saw him born in Hong Kong but bought up in Australia where he represented the U19 side as a sixteen year old. Now aged 22, the Warwickshire man has now pledged himself to England and it won’t be long before he breaks into the national team.

Bears’ Director of Cricket, Ashley Giles has already branded Hain’s stats to be in the ‘world class bracket’ so it’s obvious to see why that if Warwickshire are going to be successful in the One-Day cup this year, they need their Aussie turned Englishman to fire.

BEN SLATER

Whilst Slater is not as much of a glamorous name on the County Cricket circuit as most other players, his importance to Derbyshire in One-Day cricket is neglected a lot of the time.

Slater scored 312 runs at an average of 52.00 last season, constructing three 50’s along the way, and the challenge now for the 26 year old is to start converting his 50s into 100s which seem to be so vital within the 50 over game.

Last season’s statistics were no fluke as Slater averages 51.35 from 20 List A innings, however his strike rate of 81.13 is something that also needs to improve if he is to push on in his career.

With that said, if Slater can convert his starts at a quick rate – Derbyshire could well be the dark horses within this years competition.

SAM CURRAN

Whilst big brother Tom has been representing Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL, Sam Curran has suddenly hit his straps for this season after securing his first career 10 wicket haul in his last County Championship game against a Yorkshire side containing Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow.

Curran was the top wicket taker (20) in last season’s competition and whilst the Oval is well known for it’s batting advantages, wicket takers like Curran are vital to a Surrey side who have lost the last three finals in the One-Day cup.

Curran’s white ball exploits have already been recognised by England after he earned a call up to the T20 tri-series against Australia and New Zealand at the start of the year. Many feel that it won’t be the last time he has  the opportunity to pull on an England shirt.

CHRIS LIDDLE

Whilst all the attention within Gloucestershire’s One-Day team focuses on the all-rounders such as Benny Howell and Kieran Noema-Barnett, it would be naive to not mention the left-arm seam of Chris Liddle as to being vital to any One-Day success that Gloucestershire may have this season.

The Middleborough born Liddle took 18 wickets in just six matches last season, averaging 15.11 and at age 34, the former Sussex man is a wily bowler with plenty of variations.

Out of contract at the end of the season,  another strong campaign will surely see Liddle’s stock rise at the end of the season. Especially within the era of white ball only contracts…

AZEEM RAFIQ

Shelved by many due to the reputation of Adil Rashid, it is easy to miss the importance of Azeem Rafiq to any success that Yorkshire may have within this competition.

The Bradford born off-spinner took 18 wickets in the One-Day cup last summer at an average of 22.26 but what was most impressive is that he took a wicket almost every four overs that he bowled.

Wickets are vital in one day cricket and Rafiq has the ability to really capitalise upon a partnership with Adil Rashid that has been developing at Headingly for years in this format of the game.

ONE DAY CUP: WHO TO LOOK OUT FOR

The Kolpak Effect: Part 1 (Effect on South African Cricket post 2019 World Cup).

We are fully underway in the English County Championship and with Morne Morkel confirmed as the latest Kolpak signing on the county circuit, South African fans have a right to be twitchy about what the future holds for their national team. 

This post may be hypocritical to some as I posted last year saying how good a Kolpak move is for a South African cricketer but that doesn’t take away from some of the issues that it creates for other parties, especially the South African national team.

Though Morkel was the marque Kolpak signing of the winter, Heino Kuhn also joined Kent in the off-season. He joined Kyle Abbott, Dane Vilas, Stiaan van Zyl, David Wiese and Rilee Roussouw (there is more) in becoming Kolpak which meant turning their back on the South African side. Whilst Morkel’s decision comes surely as a financial decision (he averaged 19.60 with the ball in his last series v Australia), the numerous names on there come from a backlash of a ‘quota’ being installed to have a minimum of four coloured players

This is where now we are entering into dangerous territory so I’ll tread lightly, but for one minute, let’s follow Kyle Abbott’s career. Abbott averages 22.71 in Test Matches, 30.91 in ODIs and 22.96 in T20 internationals. It came to a head in the 2015 World Cup when Abbott was averaging 14.44, had 9 wickets from 4 innings and was a dead cert to play in the semi-final, right? Wrong! Vernon Philander recovered from injury and was selected in Abbott’s place, a coloured player replaced a white player to fill the ‘quota’, South Africa went on to lose their semi final to New Zealand by 4 wickets and from that day, Abbott turned his back on South African cricket in very quick time.

Of course, the rules for Kolpak Cricketers are now much stricter. It is part of  a deal called the Cotonou Agreement with the EU where by South Africa are involved. The crux will be when Britain leaves the EU, however this is not a politics blog and I don’t have great knowledge on the matter.

Moving on, it should also be known that this post is not for slating coloured players and Vernon Philander, it is a post to slate the logic behind not picking your best team and losing them to a system which benefits them more. A system that makes them look much weaker than they should be.

I say that whilst fast forwarding to after the 2019 World Cup where the ageing nucleus of Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis will all look to move on, Dale Steyn also is not getting any younger and with injuries plighting his career – there is a cloud over his overall fitness. Of course, there are positives in Aiden Markram and Quinton de Kock carrying the batting with Kasigo Rabada and Lungi Ngidi holding up the bowling but four players don’t win you matches and it is a worry for South African fan every where to see where this team goes after that 2019 World Cup.

So South Africa, by all means worship your Temba Bavuma’s, Aiden Markram’s and Kasigo Rabada’s but please don’t forget about your Henrich Klaasen’s or your Duane Olivier’s because if you do, they will go somewhere that they will be remembered for a long time…

 

The Kolpak Effect: Part 1 (Effect on South African Cricket post 2019 World Cup).

MS Dhoni: Chennai Super King

My man, Shaun Slater, has just got going with his blog and it reminded me of this gem I used to have – so guess what? I’m back. I didn’t really miss much in the year I was gone I guess, Notts did the one day double and England got thumped again in Australia. I also heard there was some controversy in South Africa. However, I am not here to talk about that.

What I will talk about is a seemingly rejuvenated MS Dhoni and how he has seemed to be inspired by Chennai Super King’s return to the this year’s IPL. At the time of writing this, Dhoni averages 69.66 from six innings and is striking at 165.9. 

However, is he rejuvenated? Or has Dhoni’s own omission from the Indian captaincy along with his retirement from Test Match Cricket just given fuel to criticize one of India’s modern day greats.

Yes, it is a fact that on average in international T20s throughout 2017 – Dhoni takes on average 23 balls to settle into his innings, striking at under a run a ball for that period. In the IPL, he also just averaged 26.36 and struck the ball at a rate of 116.00 but surely every player is allowed one bad year?

However, the joke is, he didn’t actually have a bad year in 2017. Dhoni averaged 60.61 across 23 innings in One-Day Internationals – yet there were many punters calling for the wicket-keepers’ head. I am personally at a loss in wondering what the substance is for these opinions.

I guess Dinesh Kartik’s latest heroics haven’t helped Dhoni’s cause but a career one day international average of 29.92 paired with an average of 33.62 in hardly setting the world alight (Dhoni averages 51.37 and 37.02 respectively). Part time keeper and Dhoni’s CSK team mate, Ambati Rayudu averages just over 50 in thirty ODis and would surely be a better choice. Though if Dhoni is replaced, India may as well look to the future of Sanju Samson or Rishabh Pant, however though they show glipses in IPL cricket – their List A averages (28.54 and 27.40) would suggest they are not yet ready to step up to the international arena.

What I am trying to say is that even though Dhoni is nearly 37, do not write him off yet. If this IPL is anything to go by, he still has a lot left in the tank and his passion to help CSK and India is still as evident as ever. Let’s just appreciate Captain Cool before he rides of into the sunset on one of his many Motorbikes.

MS Dhoni: Chennai Super King

NORTH V SOUTH: WHAT WE LEARNT

First of all, an apology from me – my university work load has got the better of me but hopefully I’m back on the horse now for the start of the English summer!

As ODI cricket features heavily in this summer of English cricket, the North v South series was an exciting event showcasing the budding talent (and their is plenty of it) that are hopeful of becoming part of the ever improving England one day side in the near future.

As the South took a 3-0 win for the series, there were points from both sides in regards to international aspirations and highlighted here will be the three most integrating points from both sides.

THE NORTH

  • DUCKETT THE OPENER? 

With England’s current top order currently showing three right handers (Jason Roy, Alex Hales and Joe Root), could the left handed Duckett be back in the England starting XI sooner rather than later?

Recent performances from the three aforementioned batters would suggest not, but an average of 36.33 at a monster of strike rate of 147.29 would have done Duckett no harm, although it would have been nice to see him convert one of these starts into a big score like he managed in the warm up against Worcestershire. 2017 promises to be a big season  for Duckett who shall remain one of the more exciting talents in County Cricket.

  • WOOD’S RETURN 

Mark Wood’s return in this series only yearned two wickets, however with raw pace being such a rarity among England’s current pace line up – Wood’s name is never to far away from the selectors lips when selecting a squad.

Hampered by injury for the last couple years, I would not be surprised to see Wood named in England’s Champions Trophy squad purely due to the x-factor the Durham man can produce which could be vital on the big stage.

  • IS WHITE RIGHT?

Gong at just 4.29 an over across the seventeen overs he bowled in the series – could Graeme White sneak his way into the England One Day squads in the near future?

The South’s Mason Crane will rightly have the headlines for his display in the last match but White displayed an impressive amount of control in his series, similar to the displays which has seen him become a massive part of Northampton’s T20 success.

THE SOUTH

  • MALAN AND DAWSON NEXT IN FOR ENGLAND?

Such have been so many positives for the South in a series they dominated Ihave had to link both Malan and Dawson’s performances together.

Both players have been on England’s radar for a while and whilst Dawson has got the opportunities, both players here cannot be far away from the England squad.

Malan is purely a candidate for the volume of runs he has scored for the Lions and then again in this series meaning that if another injury was to be sustained by any of the England top order, the Welshman would surely be a shoe in to replace them. Subsequently, Dawson is really pushing Moeen Ali for his place in the England ODI and T20 sides and his performance here would have done him no harm.

  • IS SAM NORTHEAST UNDERVALUED?

Probably not is the answer if you take a look at England’s options in the middle order. However, Northeast is a very impressive cricketer scoring 118* in the only innings he played against the North in this series.

2014 was the last season that Northeast averaged over 40 in one day cricket but the Kent captain is only 27 and a strong couple of seasons may well put him in the frame for future tours, especially if he can build on his showing here.

  • WAS TOM CURRAN WORTHY OF HIS WEST INDIES SELECTION?

The senior Curran brother showed no signs of inconsistency on this tour following his selection in to the ODI squad earlier this month for the West Indies tour and produced impressive returns of eight wickets at an average of sixteen at an economy of six runs per over.

The Surrey man rightly sits next in line for the England one day squads and can count himself unfortunate that he did not get a run out in the last game in the Caribbean.  With that said, the way the frustration has been used caused problems for the North and Curran has put himself well and truly in the frame for England selection this summer.

NORTH V SOUTH: WHAT WE LEARNT

AUSTRALIA WIN IN SUB CONTINENT

India must have been licking their lips when they turned up in Pune on Day 1 knowing that Australia would have to combat a wicket that would produce inconsistent bounce and turn due to it’s dryness but three days later, they are feeling a somewhat different emotion.

 There was no doubt that Steve O’Keefe was the star with the ball for Australia. The thirty-two year old, left arm spinner was allowed to bowl a fuller length by the Indian batsmen who surely could have used their feet more whilst playing him. Instead, they let O’Keefe reap a reward of twelve wickets in the match due to a consistent line and length paired with a decent amount of turn.

It has been a sensational turn around for O’Keefe, who had to leave Australia’s last tour of the sub-continent in Sri Lanka after tearing his right hamstring meaning that this tour is realistically his last chance to stake a claim for a regular spot in this Australian side – especially with leg-spinner, Adam Zampa knocking even harder on the door in recent times.

What was even more impressive about O’Keefe was the work he has put in prior to this series. Instead of turning out for his Big Bash side, the Sydney Sixers – O’Keefe went to refine his red ball skills as well as preserve himself due to his retched recent injury record. Of course, the performance O’Keefe put in this last test is the perfect example of preparation meeting opportunity.

Though O’Keefe may well get all the plaudits, Steve Smith’s second innings hundred should not go unnoticed. Smith is always an impressive individual and his performance in this first test showed him to be one of the best current leaders in International Cricket. Matt Renshaw also impressed in both innings despite carrying a stomach bug through out the test match and things are currently looking positive for the Aussies.

The only thing they need to wary of is a mandatory Virat Kohli double hundred in a test series, and they could well cause an upset in this series.

AUSTRALIA WIN IN SUB CONTINENT