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.

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NORTH V SOUTH: WHAT WE LEARNT

Is the County structure too big?

The tradition of County Cricket is arguably one of the most quint and endearing sporting cultures that British sport has too offer but with the influx of many Kolpak players along with an Overseas player – could the route of taking less counties mean that the system produces a better pool of International players for England to chose from?

This post is written on the back of Lancashire signing West Indies legend, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and South African wicketkeeper, Dane Vilas on Kolpak deals. The signing of Chanderpaul is certainly saying something about the quality of cricketer being produced in this country. Chanderpaul is 42 years of age and surely taking the place of a young cricketer coming through, this surely is saying that there is no one deemed good enough in an Lancashire academy that has produced many England internationals to step up and play in the first team this summer.

Alongside this, Vilas must surely be taking the gloves away from young English wicketkeeper, Alex Davies who missed most of 2016 with a knee injury. Maybe, Vilas is a signing of precaution should injury hamper Davies again in 2017.

Saying this, Lancashire are not the only team to be filled with Kolpak signings. Hampshire and Sussex both have made two Kolpak signings apiece this season and there are many expected to join. Though the signings will undoubtedly improve the quality of cricket played by these sides, will English players in the long run suffer by lack of game exposure, we shall wait and see.

With the restructure of the T20 competition in England looking imminent and potentially in place by 2018, we could well see a more cutthroat selection process in T20 cricket within England with just eight franchises expected to be taking part across the country. Could a similar process across all formats of English cricket be in order also?

Is the County structure too big?