Category: England cricket news (page 1 of 133)

England pick some wheat and chaff and postpone their separation until later

Chaff (CC licensed by UGA College of Ag & Environmental Sciences – OCCS via Flickr)

As a result of Cricinfo’s redesign, we don’t actually know that a Sri Lanka v India Test is taking place and therefore cannot comment on who has scored hundreds and who has been dismissed for three.

We will instead restrict ourself to an observation that England will be picking at least a couple of debutants: Tom Westley and Toby Roland-Jones (genuinely just had to check that it wasn’t Toby-Roland Jones). Dawid Malan may also join them, once England have exerted a degree of force and so gauged “the balance of the side”.

This kind of thing happens every now and again and it has to be said that it tends to be a bit of a wheat-and-chaff exercise. For example, Michael Vaughan made his Test debut in the same match as Chris Adams and Gavin Hamilton.

Westley is “oft talked about” and “highly regarded”. This week he will become even more oft talked about and we’ll have to see how he copes with that. Roland-Jones has been in the queue since this time last year. Dawid Malan is a cricketer.

Monumental rant about Anya Shrubsole narrowly averted

Anya Shrubsole (via ICC)

We properly went off on one there for a minute. Internally.

An onlooker wouldn’t have noticed a thing, but inside we were seething. Anya Shrubsole took 6-46 (plus a run-out) to win the World Cup for England and she wasn’t even player of the match. They gave it to a batter.

Except they didn’t. Tammy Beaumont was actually on the podium as player of the tournament. The 23 runs she made against India may have contributed to this a little bit, but they weren’t enough for her to be considered Main Person in the final.

The Main Person was – obviously – Shrubsole.

This World Cup has felt like a big deal. A bigger deal than normal. At the same time, it’s very difficult to gauge whether one’s own perspective is in any way representative of a wider trend.

What’s your take on it?

Need to bring solidity to your top order? You need a Stoneman

Mark Stoneman (via Surrey Twitter)

Gary Ballance’s pink, fat lips let go a scream. His left index finger was fractured. He isn’t made of stone.

England will therefore call up someone who might be in a bid to solidify their top order. Mark Stoneman, now of Surrey – but on some level eternally of Durham – is said to be “on the edge” of the team.

You can do a lot worse than marking your perimeter with stone. We can’t off the top of our head think of any watery cricketers who might provide a moat, which would be the only superior option in our eyes.

Stoneman is averaging 58.53 in the County Championship this season and has hit three centuries. Hopefully his are qualities England require and he won’t end up being exiled to the ruins of Old Valyria.

England’s distaste for softer materials may also see them rest-drop-rotating Wood.

The natmeg was the difference

Anya Shrubsole carts the winning runs (via ICC)

Just a single sighting of the natmeg in the World Cup semi-final by our count – but it secured two runs and was therefore, by all measures, decisive.

England passed South Africa’s total with just two balls to spare. You can’t honestly suggest that the natmeg wasn’t the difference. With that in mind, you wonder why batters ever choose to direct a shot anywhere else.

Either side of the legs is so passé.

England are in the World Cup final. That doesn’t happen too often. The final’s on Sunday.

England are a team utterly without breadth

England are a limited batting side. Most of the players have plenty of shots and they’re seemingly limited to a style of play where they use them all.

This article isn’t going to be a paean to the blocker. It’s about a lack of flexibility; a lack of range. England are a side whose ‘brand of cricket’ is incredibly narrow and this makes for a team who look great on their day, but who don’t enjoy all that many days.

England were asked to bat for two days. They failed to bat two sessions. If they’d instead fallen just one ball short, the match result may have been exactly the same, but at least there’d have been signs that their cricket had some breadth.

There was no shame in failing to secure a draw through their second innings efforts, but here was an opportunity to show that a different style of cricket was within their capabilities. What they instead showed was their sole dimension with searing clarity.

Lights flashed, klaxons sounded, aeroplanes trailing coloured smoke wrote ‘this is what we’re shit at‘ in the sky.

The mistake is to see the rearguard as a distinct style of cricket rather than an extended spell of a style of play that is a key part of everyday Test cricket.

On this occasion, England needed to spend two days avoiding high-risk shots, identifying dangerous deliveries and coming up with ways to nullify them. On another day, they might need to adopt a similar methodology for a shorter period, against one particular bowler, or for one particular spell.

Sometimes things aren’t in your favour and all you can do is try and improve your odds enough that you’ve a chance of surviving until something changes. A two-day assignment is deflating and dull, but it is also a magnificent opportunity to hone this kind of decision-making.

England were bowled out for 133 in 44.2 overs and the only guy who got past 30 was the one guy who didn’t really need to worry about this facet of the game anyway. The longer they’d batted, the less time they would have wasted.

Liam Dawson is getting carted

Liam Dawson (via Channel 5)

We’ve been wondering whether Liam Dawson will become a player we hate for being kind of dull or a player we love for being kind of dull.

We haven’t yet reached a conclusion, but what we are a little more certain of is that he’s utterly failing to do the main thing he’s been picked to do.

It’s always a bit harsh to judge a player in his first few matches. Plenty of great players have been pigawful at first. The problem is that Dawson’s unique selling point isn’t even particularly worth waiting for.

From what was said ahead of the first Test, he owes his selection to being the least badly mauled spinner in an innings when one opposition batsman made 199 and another made an unbeaten triple hundred.

This seems to us to be rather like splashing out a fiver on a double shot of the poison that will kill you most slowly. It’s also odd that Dawson’s 2-129 should carry so much more weight than Adil Rashid’s 23 wickets in that series.

One explanation from team management implied that the Hampshire man’s the ‘keep it tight’ spinner, who will allow the other bowlers to attack. We only caught the highlights of today’s play, but a sizeable proportion of it seemed to involve Hashim Amla depositing Dawson far and away, somewhere back behind him.

He hauled it back a bit later on, such that his figures ended up only as those of a bowler who’s been relentlessly milked. However, he was also beslogged by Amla in the first Test. It feels like the batsmen have his measure.

Normally in these situations we’re of the opinion that the ideal solution is not to drop the player; it is for the player to stop being so damned ineffectual and start playing really well instead.

Our concern in this instance is that Liam Dawson playing really well might just amount to 1-50 off 20 overs or something like that.

Is Joe Root brave enough to bowl Gary Ballance?

Joe Root (via Channel 5)

The great tragedy of England’s six-man bowling attack is that Gary Ballance never gets to bowl. We reckon that Joe Root and Keaton Jennings are likely to get on before him as well, so realistically he’s ninth choice. England will need to have an extraordinarily bad day before we see his right-arm filth get another airing.

There was a moment when the ball had softened when we started to dream, but England plugged away, aided by Hashim Amla who tried really hard to get caught hooking and eventually managed it.

309-6 is the kind of score that makes someone like Graeme Smith say “it’s been a riveting day of Test cricket.” It isn’t the kind of score where he’d say “you might as well get Ballance on – what have you got to lose?”

We want England to do well, but we also want to see Gary Ballance bowl. It’s a very difficult situation for us. The only solution that we can see is Joe Root developing a taste for funky captaincy.

Bringing Gary Ballance on first change would be Sly-and-the-Family-Stone-with-a-guest-appearance-by-Bootsy-Collins funky.

The hundreds and five-fors rating – why Moeen Ali is England’s best player

Further to yesterday’s debate about the identity of England’s best player, here’s one possible way of rating them

We made the point yesterday that people shouldn’t blindly accept that Joe Root is England’s best player because he only regularly contributes in one facet of the game. We then a touch disingenuously suggested that all of England’s many all-rounders had a better claim to such a title, simply by dint of contributing in multiple disciplines.

There then followed an interesting-but-lengthy to and fro about the definition of an all-rounder and their value to a team.

Bradders suggested that players could be assessed by their ability to make match-winning contributions. We therefore give you the hundreds and five-fors rating, a wilfully simplistic system whereby hundreds and five-fors are given equal weight and everything else a player might do is utterly disregarded.

These are the figures for the last 12 months, presented within an old-school HTML table which will probably lose its formatting in the majority of internet browsers.

Player Hundreds Five-fors Total
Joe Root 3  0 3
Alastair Cook 2  0 2
Moeen Ali 3 2 5
Ben Stokes 1 1 2
Keaton Jennings 1  0 1
Chris Woakes 0 2 2

As you may or may not be able to see, Moeen Ali is England’s best player and he is almost twice as good as Joe Root.

How long until someone suggests Moeen Ali is battling to keep his Test spot?

Photo by Sarah Ansell

It feels like one of those rare moments when very few people are talking about whether or not Moeen Ali will be able to keep his place in the England side. While many all-rounders benefit from being able to contribute in two separate disciplines, the beardster always seems to be viewed as someone who has been underperforming in one or the other.

You’ve got a pet favourite batsman from the County Championship? Maybe he should be playing instead of Moeen Ali. You fancy the look of a new young spinner? He’s probably a better bet than Moeen Ali.

Meanwhile, England keep on picking him and he keeps on contributing something or other in every match he plays. As well as the ten wickets and the 87 runs in the first innings of the first Test against South Africa, our man also took a couple of blinding catches. It’s all part of the job – if only because everything’s part of Moeen Ali’s job.

We reckon that a match-winning performance like this should be sufficient to buy Moeen a period of grace of approximately one Test match. After that, someone somewhere will again deem him to be under pressure.

Moeen doesn’t care. He’ll turn away from it all like a blind man and then – same as he’s done many times before – do something, anything, to earn himself one more chance.

These last chances are really stacking up for the lad. We wouldn’t bet against him stringing a hundred of them together.

Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad follow by example

With their feisty batting in the morning and a pair of wickets each, Moeen Ali and Stuart Broad truly delivered non-captains’ performances.

This is what good team members do. They set an example for the captain to follow. It’s like they always say: he who leads the leader slightly reduces the duration of the group’s journey by arriving early.

Yes, they do always say that.

Broad’s batting is now a perfect combination of timing and terror, with exquisite back foot drives bubbling atop a constant undercurrent of jeopardy. His innings are so much more enjoyable for being so fragile.

Moeen Ali’s batting is not dissimilar, although the general experience is dreamier and the end more sudden. Where Broad is keen that you never forget his dismissal is an everpresent danger, Moeen only intermittently reminds you that his is a possibility.

Other events of the day were South Africa going after Liam Dawson a bit (because why wouldn’t you?) and an ICC announcement that Kagiso Rabada would serve a one-match suspension after becoming the first person in the history of the world to instruct Ben Stokes to fuck off.

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