Hampshire Cricket History

de PRESS ing?
July 18, 2017, 9:36 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve bought the Guardian, Times Telegraph today. It’s not cheerful reading of course but quite interesting.

A couple of thoughts about England’s response to the defeat. Nick Hoult (Telegraph) reports there was a row in the dressing-room. How could there be a row? There have to be two points of view for a row. One was that of Trevor Bayliss who said he watched the “shocker” in “disbelief”. And the opposite view? What might that possibly be? There’s also the worrying upset of Joe Root after Michael Vaughan suggested the batsmen did not “respect” Test cricket. Root suggested that was “unfair”. The problem is that you can learn and earn respect, but if they do respect Test cricket then they were in Boycott’s term simply “rubbish” (that’s ‘roobish’). That’s less easy to correct.

The view that Liam must go seems unanimous. The three pundits from the Times name their sides for the Oval and all three omit him, while Boycott questions the selectors “who think that (he) is a Test cricketer” and Steve James says that “the Dawson experiment must end”.

Above all for me however, this performance and their regular failures over the past 18 months draws attention once more to our obsession with white ball cricket (at which we remain losers) and even more the quality of the shrinking County Championship. On commentary last year, I took issue with the accepted view that the standard is higher than ever, despite the bland pitches, the absence of England players and top overseas cricketers. I accept absolutely that it is as competitive as it’s ever been, but made the point that every year I ran a school football team which had one under-12/13/14 match against another local school team which was very competitive, because the two sides were evenly matched, and the team that won each year, took the league title. But it didn’t follow that those kids also played for Pompey. Competitive does not necessarily mean good at a higher level.

Some evidence? Sky Sports posted a very interesting set of batting stats before the Trent Bridge Test. It showed that over the past 18 months the established England batsmen Cook, Root, Ali, Bairstow and Stokes (plus Hameed) had averaged over 40 (Root & Bairstow over 50). Those guys don’t play much county cricket – Cook and Root hardly ever have – and Cook, Root and Bairstow were the leading scorers at Trent Bridge.

By contrast, Jennings went into the match averaging 29.71 which over those 18 months was significantly better than the other Championship recruits Ballance (21.4), Vince (19.3), Compton (16.2), Duckett (15.7) and even Taylor (14.8). Liam averages just over 20 now and from that list you can add Jennings’ scores of 0 & 3, and Ballance 27 & 4. In other words their two averages have gone down. Jennings still leads but averages just over 26, and as John pointed out, in his debut century he was dropped on nought.

It’s just the same with the bowlers. I’ve said before and I’ll say again, Liam is my favourite Hampshire cricketer; but England’s number one spinner? Anderson and Broad are World Class but is that a a consequence of their playing Championship cricket? Like the other two best England players Cook and Root they have hardly done so – at least until Cook this year.

So people will turn to Malan (another foreigner) or Stoneman or Westley and maybe  one of them will work. But if they don’t, will we get concerned that the County Championship is no longer fit for purpose? Will we maybe play a game or two in July/August? Or – seriously – does it suit those in charge of English cricket to allow Test cricket to whither, obliterating any need for a county competition, and leaving the way clear for an enlarged T20 competition and more pop concerts?

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Michael Vaughan on BBC (www.): “They got it wrong with Liam Dawson, he looks a real good kid with a lot of character, but his game doesn’t look quite suited to Test match cricket. It’s silly he is bowling before Moeen, who is a better bowler”.

Comment by pompeypop

The overriding message is get used to it as it’s only going to get worse. More and more T20 cricket = more whacking and much less batting. As I keep saying everything is fine on a flat track against bowlers who aren’t doing anything with the ball but when there is something in it for the bowlers we don’t have the players at Test or county level who can handle it. The only surprise is that anyone is surprised.

Could I take a slight issue with the idea that Cook hasn’t played much county championship cricket in the last eighteen months? In the last season and a half he has played fourteen championship games for Essex scoring 1,310 runs at an average of 77.06.

One other thought whilst I am rambling. I love the idea now being put forward by Michael Vaughan that Ballance could still have a Test career if he bats at five and not three. Do top class international bowlers suddenly stop bowling challenging deliveries that expose a batsman’s weaknesses after the top four in the order?

The real worry (other than the fact that Vaughan is employed as an “expert”) is that allegedly Bayliss doesn’t want Ballance in the side but he is there as the captain’s pick. (I’m sure the fact that he is Root’s best mate is entirely coincidental). It is also a concern that Bayliss has apparently never seem Mark Stoneman bat.

Comment by James

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