Tag: James Hildreth

Who are we talking about this week: Matt Renshaw, James Hildreth, Ollie Pope or Sam Northeast?

Matt Renshaw, James Hildreth, Ollie Pope and Sam Northeast: four centurions in an April where wickets have arrived as frequently as buses on Manchester’s Oxford Road.

Clearly we’re talking about all four of them. But let’s say we’re pressed for time and can only talk about one. Who should that be? Whose hundred was the most admirable, impressive and meaningful?

The County Championship is a thing in its own right, but at this point in the season ‘talk’ generally revolves around possible future England players. As such, the way we gauge talkaboutworthiness is by asking and answering these three questions.

  1. Are you English?
  2. Are you young?
  3. Are you good?

Let’s do that for all four of them. Let’s do that for Matt Renshaw, James Hildreth, Ollie Pope and Sam Northeast.

Matt Renshaw, Somerset

Matt Renshaw (all images via ECB video)

While Matt Renshaw was born in Middlesbrough, the answer to (1) is technically ‘no’ – he is Australian.

However, the true thrust of the question is ‘how likely is this player to take part in an England Test match?’ and the answer to that is ‘highly likely, albeit infrequently because he’ll of course be playing for the opposition’.

At 22, Renshaw could yet play a part in very many Ashes Tests and this is largely because he is good. As we saw this week, he is the kind of batsman who can score an influential first innings hundred when only one other team-mate can get past ten.

Matt Renshaw is very important and worth talking about.

James Hildreth, Somerset

The other person to get past 10 in that first Somerset innings was James Hildreth, a man who is English, but perhaps too old to be considered for Test cricket. (Another way of looking at it is that he’s old enough to have made many hundreds and learnt plenty about batting – but that kind of thing doesn’t ever seem to elicit much excitement or talk.)

After providing support to Renshaw, Hildreth went solo in the second innings and made a hundred. He was dropped twice.

‘You don’t get that many lives in Test cricket,’ they say –  even though you absolutely do. (No-one’s picked for the national side because of their fielding, so Test teams pretty much always fall some way short of expectations in that area. All that really changes is that when you miss a catch in a Test match a commentator says something like, “you can’t afford to drop those at Test level”. To repeat ourself, you can, because everyone else does. That’s just the way it is. International teams are typically better than domestic teams not because they field better but because they bat and bowl better.)

Hildreth is unarguably good. He always averages plenty on that flat Taunton pitch that also somehow manages to unfairly favour the spinners and which just saw both teams double-dobbled for relatively low scores.

It’s worth mentioning that even at 33, a batsman who is good on flat pitches or turning pitches (or possibly both) is worth keeping an eye on with England’s next two tours being Sri Lanka and the West Indies.

James Hildreth is worth talking about.

Ollie Pope, Surrey

Ollie Pope is English and young enough to have been born in the year that Will Smith released Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It.

How good is he? Well, we’re a bit short on data, but he’s apparently good enough to score hundreds at a time of year when very few can.

Ollie Pope is worth talking about.

Sam Northeast, Hampshire

If Ollie Pope eventually ends up in exactly the same career place as James Hildreth is in right now, Sam Northeast is roughly what he will be when he’s eight-thirteenths of the way there.

Northeast is not too young but not too old. While he has many hundreds, he does not yet have many, many hundreds. He is either at some sort of sweet spot of youth and experience or he is neither here nor there. He is English.

Sam Northeast is worth talking about.

Verdict

On balance, everyone has a sufficiently equal case for being talked about that all you actually end up talking about is who you should be talking about.


2011 County Championship players to watch review

Suppose we should take a look at how our 2011 County Championship players to watch fared.

Adam Lyth, Yorkshire

553 runs at 26.33

Yeah, that’s pretty shoddy.

James Hildreth, Somerset

893 runs at 38.82

That’s okay.

Ben Stokes, Durham

628 runs at 48.30 and 17 wickets at 33.00

Three hundreds, five sixes in five balls against Hampshire and selection for England. We’ll have that one.

Adil Rashid, Yorkshire

556 runs at 24.17 and 39 wickets at 43.38

Less than amazing, but we’re not losing faith in him, even if we’ll have to ignore him next year because he’ll be in the second division. Life isn’t slow, steady progress, it’s fits and starts and going backwards and forgetting where your car keys are and having a pain in your knee and not knowing whether that hoummus is okay to eat or not – THAT’S what life is.

Adil Rashid is 23-years-old. Writing off leg-spinners or batsmen when they’re 23 is moronic. Shane Warne made his Test debut at 23 and took 1-150. Rashid still has a long career ahead of him.

Paul Horton, Lancashire

1,040 runs at 37.14

That doesn’t read all that impressively and nor did Horton hit any hundreds, but it’s worth looking at the context. Horton scored the most runs for Lancashire this season. Being as Lancashire won more games than anyone, clearly Horton was making runs that mattered, it was just that they were low-scoring games.

A run doesn’t have a set value, it varies depending on the match. Paul Horton had a good season, although that would be a bit more obvious if he’d managed to add a handful to any of his biggest innings. At various points this year, he hit 93, 94, 95, 96, 97 and 99.

Oliver Newby, Lancashire

Eight wickets at 32.50

Didn’t break either leg at any point this season.


County Championship players to watch in 2011

County Championship only. First division only.

We’re also lumping them all together in one post this year, because multiple posts feels like quite a big commitment.

Adam Lyth, Yorkshire

Our reasons for picking batsmen to watch are invariably the same: they’re young and we’ve got a general sense that they score runs when other people don’t, even though we haven’t really looked into it properly.

James Hildreth, Somerset

Hildreth is a rare exception. He just scores a lot of runs.

Ben Stokes, Durham

See Adam Lyth to a greater degree, but with less evidence.

Adil Rashid, Yorkshire

We watch him every year. We reckon he could take one million wickets this year. Probably no more than that though.

Paul Horton, Lancashire

We had him as one to watch in both 2009 and 2010, so we’re sticking with him through thin-and-thin. He also averaged 70 for Matabeleland Tuskers over the winter and we enjoyed writing the start of this sentence, whatever it meant.

Oliver Newby, Lancashire

This has ball-all to do with cricket and everything to do with the fact that we just fundamentally like Oliver Newby. He hasn’t got broken legs this year and we are hoping we can spur him to great feats through sheer force of will.


James Hildreth hits a MASSIVE hundred

James Hildreth actually hit three hundreds in succession without being dismissed against the same set of irritated and increasingly despairing bowlers. This is our way of saying that he hit 303 not out against Warwickshire off 338 balls.

This time last year, we spent a long time deliberating over whether to make Joe Denly or James Hildreth one to watch for 2008. We went for Denly in the end, purely because his nickname is ‘No Pants’.

We’ve learnt from this. We no longer think that people who are partial to underwear are less likely to score runs in first-class cricket. You live and learn.


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