Hampshire Cricket History

I’m not a Wurzels fan
June 29, 2016, 7:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

But I am an at heart an ageing hippy and full of the desire for peace & love across the universe so I’m going to start a new thread but still on the topic of team selection. We have a couple of quite delightful bloggers, loyal and committed Hampshire fans not getting on right now, and debating an issue which won’t go away, has never really ceased since Adam Wheater replaced Michael Bates three years ago and might reflect bigger but hidden (from our eyes/ears) issues. In a sense we’ve never really recovered from the departure of Nic Pothas who at number six often dug us out of a hole.

Here is a simple proposition: if our top five were scoring the runs we need and expect from them, the choice of wicketkeeper would be less pressing.

Other thoughts

Adam Wheater often outscores and outbats (in terms of approach) the specialists. The classic example is Hove last year when he set up the match for Edwards to win it. Without Wheater then, no victory. I think he’s good enough to play as a specialist batter like Steven Davies at Surrey, but if he doesn’t want that he might have to go

Wheater is not the finest ‘keeper in the world but he doesn’t make lots of errors and until the arrival of Crane there was little need for specialist skills in the Championship. Stand back, hold ‘nicks’ collect balls that beat the bat, try to stop the wilder excesses of Tino. It’s a shame but the ‘art’ of wicketkeeping is one of the casualties of all the changes in first-class cricket. The range of necessary skills has simply shrunk.

McManus is a delightful young man but is too new for us to know about his ability at this level. At Minor Counties, 2nd XI and League level he’s a very good batter. In the first team, he batted heroically last year v Durham and also in a mess at Headingley. On Sunday he got the ‘killer’ ball, second up. It might have done for anyone.

BUT is there something more, behind the scenes, not just about ‘life’ in the field? Is there stuff we don’t, can’t, should not know about? On the subject of a different player, at the end of last night’s interview with Dale B, he ‘admitted’ that moving Carberry to four was partly about motivating him and hinted this had perhaps been a problem since his Ashes tour**. We can’t be surprised to hear that can we? I’ve had lots of conversations with supporters who have asked about his body language/attitude etc for some time and now, very gently it’s been slipped in to the end of a broader discussion.

Is there some kind of different yet similar issue with Wheater? I’ve honestly no idea but I suspect he’s not thrilled to be playing for the 2nd XI at Neath while people who are scoring fewer runs are in the first team.

FINALLY: If we were top-of-the-table there would be no problem. At the moment we seem to be acting in sympathy with the country at large!

I’m all for robust debate on here – keep it coming – because it shows you care (and since I know those engaged right now I can tell you they do care) but peace and love to you all my brothers and sisters


Dale B: https://audioboom.com/boos/4758123-listen-hantscricket-coach-dale-benkenstein-after-day-3-v-somerset

**Carberry at around 2 mins 10 secs to the end


16 Comments so far
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Actually in 1961 we did have a wicket-keeping problem when topping the table. Leo got injured and they brought in young Timms for a few games. He didn’t score many runs, so Ingleby took over the gloves and they played an extra bowler or batter until Leo came back. In 1973, NO PROBLEM!

Comment by pompeypop

I ought to preface these remarks by saying that living in HK I only watch a few days of Hampshire cricket every year. And as a new boy to this site I have missed the Bates/Wheater debate hereinbefore.

Nothing seemed more certain 4 years ago that Bates would be Hampshire’s keeper for the next 10 years. He seemed to be as good a keeping prospect that I have seen in 58 years of watching our county. And he was no mug with the bat, and one of our own. The news that we had signed Wheater from Essex came as a complete shock and was beyond my comprehension.

Exposure to Wheater revealed a better bat than Bates but an inferior keeper. I did not see anything to justify the change until I was lucky enough to see the actual first days play v Essex in Colchester in 2014. Wheater played absolutely brilliantly in his best attacking style to rescue Hampshire from a terrible position. (56-5 at lunch to 246 all out. Wheater 107. From memory).

The webmasters points are well made. Behind a strong first five batting order you would probably play Bates as the better keeper. With a struggling top order then you would be tempted to play Wheater.

But that is all history. Bates has gone. I understand that Wheater is dropped for disciplinarian reasons? And has he been found wanting keeping to Crane? I very much look forward to my first view of Crane against Surrey at the Rose Bowl in July.

Comment by Ian Laidlaw

I totally agree with Dave and Ian. I doubt there is any Hampshire fan that was glad to see Bates go. But the fact he has failed to find a permanent home proves that counties today want their keeper to score regular runs. It’s a shame but is a sign of the times. Yes, Dave I do care and so do all the fans I speak to. I’m happy to debate any issues. I wouldn’t say I’m not getting on with John, we are just debating the Wheater issue and we have different opinions which is great. We all need to get behind the team (and that includes DB) and try and get out of the position we find ourselves in. If I’m honest I think it’s too late for this season. So if that means rebuilding in the 2nd division then so be it. I would love to see Hampshire Champions again in my lifetime but there must be a fair few changes before that could happen. We have 9 games left and we need to win at least 3, probably 4 so I’m hoping for a very quick improvement. Adams, Smith and Carberry and not suddenly poor batters, they are out of form and luck and that needs to change and change quickly. Come on lads!

Comment by Tigger

It seems to me that in any sport when a team is really struggling, as we are, with lack of form, cruel injury problems, no luck etc, there will be harsh words and disagreements in the dressing room and particularly personality clashes. Sometimes they surface in the public domain, but are purely symptomatic of the situation in which we find ourselves.

Comment by Peter Jeffs

I’m afraid I don’t think Wheater is a county standard keeper. However, he seems determined to be a wk/batsman, not just a batsman. He has let go far too many byes this season. McManus was taking magnificently when McLaren was swinging the ball late on Monday and saved many that would have gone for 4 byes with Wheater (that’s when it was most noticeable, but there were other examples earlier in the day.) Wheater fumbles too many takes when standing up, and is slow to get into position for returns from the deep – if that results in a muffed return he then looks daggers at the fieldsman, who may just have pulled off a stunning boundary save. So I think he probably has a negative effect on morale too.
So sadly I’d say “Play him as a batter or…goodbye”. I’d like him to stay he’s a good batter

Comment by Ageas

Thank you, Ageas, for putting some meat on the wicketkeeper debate. Perhaps we should have a referendum to finally settle this issue! I will now shut up unless there is a significant change to the situation.

Comment by John West

I’m very much in agreement with what Dave has written and with much of what others have posted but I would add a couple of observations about what our coach has said and a comment about Michael Bates.

I have not been the greatest fan of our coach but I do think what he says about Carberry and giving him a fresh challenge at four makes a lot of sense. Secondly from what was said about Wheater it is clear Benkenstein believes he is not improving as a keeper and also that his fitness and concentration are not what they should be leading to dips in performance at the end of the day but he does believe he is good enough to play as a specialist batsman. At the end of the day you pay your coach to make decisions and I am glad that he is finally identifying shortcomings and making changes to try to improve matters. Like Tigger I think it is far too late now to make a difference as far as this season is concerned but hopefully it will at least bring about a change in fortune.

With regard to Michael Bates I still find it incredibly ironic that at a time when we were struggling we arguably had just one player who was better in his position than almost anyone else in the country ………. and we let him go! (Although I do understand the lack of runs issue).

Comment by James

As a keeper Wheater lacks consistency however DB’s comments are unhelpful and poor management.
The management need to sit down with him and discuss his ambitions as a keeper and a batsman. This may be a conversation which is difficult for Wheater as some home truths re his keeping may be needed. Blaming him for a slow overrate is wrong however.
He could be a top 5 batsman for us for 10+ years.

Comment by Paul

I’ve not been to watch any cricket this season but in previous seasons I don’t recall ever thinking that Wheater wasn’t anything other than a competent keeper.

I thought that it would be interesting to have a look at the breakdown of the ‘extras’. Using the information from the BBC website I’ve arrived at the following;
Byes – 80, Leg byes – 91, No balls – 80, Wides – 19.

These are the figures for the first 6 games where Wheater kept. 80 byes is not good but the again, totals for no balls & wides aren’t great either. Seems to me that there are numerous ‘discipline’ issues and that to pick on just one is bizarre.
By way of comparison I’ve looked at the ‘extras’ for Middlesex over the same number of games (6) as Hants. I picked Middlesex as after Hants they have the next (joint) lowest amount of bowling points. Their breakdown is as follows-
Byes – 41, Leg byes – 53, No balls – 22, Wides – 0.

Not sure what this adds to the debate but I’ve found it always makes sense to arrive at decisions based on facts.

Comment by Keith

Thanks Keith, The facts certainly paint a bleak picture. However, I would love to know how many of the byes were probably more like 4 wides and no keeper (even Bates) would have stopped. Our bowling has been erratic at times!

Comment by Tigger

Thanks both. I’m going to create a new post about this

Comment by pompeypop

While most of the discussion above is about the wicket keeper situation I think Dave asks a very pertinent question towards the end of his piece. Is there something else going on that we don’t know about? For me there is a problem, not hidden, nuts there for us all to see and that is the age structure of the team. Of m playing in the Somerset match no less that 7 are aged between 33 and 35 and 3 are aged between 19 and 21. That only leaves Dawson, at 26, as a player in the age range 22 to 30 or so, when I suggest a player should be in his prime. I have noticed that many players over the years have reached their 30s playing really well, then gone into decline. May be some of our senior players have, sadly for them and us, have reached that point. The problem in the medium term is who is to replace them?

Comment by Bob Murrell

And whilst we have produced a steam of wks (Bates, Rouse, McManus, Alsop) spinners (Briggs, Dawson, Taylor, Crane) and batsmen (Vince, Dawson, Weatherley, Alsop, McManus); the last quick was Wood (and not even particularly quick). That seems to be a real gap in our system.

Comment by Ageas

Yet Sussex seem to have a conveyor belt of young quicks. Any ideas why this should be?

Comment by Ian White

It’s worth saying that it is historic. Post-war we kicked off with Lofty Herman from Oxforshire and George Heath abroad, ‘Shack’ from Todmorden, Cannings from Hampshire/overseas but signed from Warwicks, as was ‘Butch’, Bob Cottam from Lincs, then a bunch of West Indians, Herman from Middx, Elms from Kent, Stevenson from Derbys, Malone from Essex, Connor from Home Counties league cricket – I could keep going, but really Tim Tremlett, James Tomlinson and Chris Tremlett are our best ‘home grown’ pace bowlers and the two Tremlett emerged from rather special circumstances. Tim Tremlett says the regions pitches do not encourage fast bowling – and of course we tend to sign middle class, privately educated kids who rarely excel as pace bowlers anyway. We need more coal mines!

Comment by pompeypop

Going off on a slight tangent Cardigan Connor actually came from Slough who were playing in the Thames Valley League which pre-dated the Home Counties League. (I know because I played against him). I believe he came to Hampshire via Richard Haywood who for Ickenham in the same league. (Robin Smith also played for Ickenham when he first came to England). Connor had been playing for Slough for a while and I recall was regarded as a good bowler but it was thought there were better bowlers in the league and it was rather a surprise when he joined Hampshire although it obviously proved to be an excellent move for everyone!

(Sorry to digress!!)

Comment by James

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