England have named their Test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka. Rory Burns is in, Olly Stone is in, and – a mere 10 years after we tipped him – so too is Joe “No Pants” Denly.
The Burns selection isn’t really worth commenting on, so let’s concentrate on the other two.
Ashley Giles went full Partridge when talking up Olly Stone this week. He said the fast bowler was injury-prone in much the same way that a Ferrari apparently is.
“With many bowlers – your BMWs or your Audis – you just get in and go but if you have someone who bowls at pace and has had his history of injury you have to treat them very carefully.”
The fragile fast bowler is an important role to fill in any team. Ideally, his fragility is such that he misses more games than he plays, so that when you’re losing you can say: “If only our 488 GTB hadn’t done his knee/fractured his scapula/ruptured his pancreas/lost both of his pelvises – we’d have won this by tea on the second day.”
Olly Stone appears to be very effective, so there are two ways England are likely to use him.
(1) They will use him as a drinks waiter while picking both James Anderson and Stuart Broad in the first XI on the grounds that if one of the two senior bowlers proves ineffective in Sri Lankan conditions, the other one will almost certainly be useless too.
(2) They will only ever pick him on the least helpful pitches and reward him for this by eventually forgetting all about him because he has a high bowling average. England’s attitude to fast bowlers and leg-spinners is that you only resort to them when absolutely necessary and at all other times it’s best to keep things 100% fast-medium.
We’ve no real idea what this is all about. Denly’s batted in the top order in 2018 and not been completely humiliated. We suppose that’s enough at the minute.
Right, let’s get this over with.
First, let’s restate the qualification criteria:
Think that’s it. There might be other things. Who knows? Presumably us, but we don’t like to scrutinise the workings of our own mind in case we damage it. We reserve the right to apply further criteria later on if we feel like it. Continue reading
This isn’t specifically about Joe Denly. He’s just the example. It’s about being a young English cricketer and what you have to do to play for the national side. It’s also about Australia’s wicketkeeper, Tim Paine.
Paine and Denly are just starting their careers and have been opening the batting for their respective nations in the one-day series between England and Australia. Paine hit one hundred and one fifty in seven innings. Denly hit two fifties in five innings.
Honours pretty much even – Paine perhaps slightly ahead – but it shouldn’t really be like that. Paine is a wicketkeeper primarily and arguably Australia’s fourth choice in that position. Denly is a specialist batsman and has been identified as a key player for the future.
How do young cricketers make themselves known? They do it through consistent, solid performance, don’t they?
Do they balls. Not in England anyway.
There are 18 first-class counties playing every week, so there are about a hundred batsmen fighting for column inches in newspapers that have half a page at most devoted to county cricket. One 95-ball hundred on a flat track is far more likely to get you a mention than three consecutive fifties on difficult pitches.
If you can make some noise by playing such an innings, then you’ve got to go for it. If you fail, it doesn’t matter because there’s always the next match. This season, Joe Denly’s Kent side will have played 16 first-class matches, eight 50-over matches, 12 Twenty20 matches and eight 40-over matches.
In contrast, Paine’s side, Tasmania, have 10 first-class matches, 10 50-over matches and five Twenty20 matches next season. There isn’t always another chance for Paine and even if there were, he doesn’t need to make a name for himself in the same way as Denly. There are only six first-class sides in Australia, so you don’t need occasional exceptional performances to get noticed. Consistency is noted.
So our two points, which are closely linked, are:
Neither makes for good preparation for international cricket.
We know that many of you spent your childhoods betting how many quail eggs your servants could find in half an hour, but we went to a normal school.
We played football pretty much every day for five years and never once got injured. When England’s cricketers get a football out, it’s like a battle scene from Braveheart. Even Andrew Strauss admits it, saying ‘it gets the blood flowing’.
Joe Denly‘s injured this time, but Matt Prior and James Anderson have also fallen foul of this seemingly life-threatening sport within the last year or so.
Maybe this is what happens when you pit competitive individuals against each other in a sport they can’t play. We move that the ECB force the players to wear huge foam costumes when they warm-up from now on, like from It’s A Knockout.
Joe Denly has been picked in England’s Fewer Overs squads for the arse end of the summer.
This is pretty good. We get the impression England’s selectors have identified him as an attacking opening batsman who’s actually an opening batsman and not just a sloggy all-rounder who has a bit of a go at the job. You need that. You need to actually be a decent batsman if you’re facing Zaheer Khan or Shane Bond.
Three problems with the Twenty20 Cup.
(1) While the matches are at a great time for supporters, they’re at a rubbish time for people writing about them because they finish during the beer hours.
(2) There are about ten matches a day and we quite simply don’t have ten pieces of concentration to utilise. We have half a concentration, which we spread thinly.
(3) There are about ten matches EVERY day, so when you write about one match, it’s already midway through the next one and when that writing appears on the site, the second match has finished and everyone’s looking forward to a third match.
Hopefully the county restructuring will address some of this, but we’re not counting on it. There have been any number of brilliant ideas about what to do, yet the only plans that are being bandied about by Giles Clarke and the ECB are demented ones involving picking names out of a hat to decide what division teams will appear in, because they want to abolish promotion and relegation.
Joe Denly hit 91 off 57 balls on Sunday. No-one cares now though.
Kent lost, but you can’t really blame No Pants for that. Has anyone got any information on that nickname’s origins yet? If you do know and it’s a bit boring, don’t tell us.
Rob Key’s Special Powers are already being passed on to Joe Denly. Kent’s opening pair started the season with a hundred apiece and an opening stand of 225. POWER UP!
Whatever Leeds-Bradford UCCE threw at them, Key and Denly countered it with disdain.
Harry Gurney: Countered with disdain!
Richard Browning: Countered with disdain!
James Lord: Countered with disdain!
Duncan Snell: Countered with disdain!
Tom Pringle: Disdainfully countered!
In fact, it would be no surprise if, later in the season, Rob Key has been SO FULL OF POWER for SO LONG that he starts to glow white hot and consequently discovers A WHOLE NEW LEVEL OF POWER.
It would be no surprise at all if that happened. No surprise whatsoever. It probably will happen. In fact, it’s such a cast-iron certainty let’s start taking bets as to when it’s going to occur.
Joe Denly or James Hildreth? Joe Denly or James Hildreth? Joe Denly’s nickname is ‘No Pants’. Decision made.
Plus Joe Denly gets to open the batting with Rob Key. Spend any amount of time in Rob’s vicinity and a little bit of genius is bound to rub off. We managed to do an entire wordsearch once while we were waiting in a car outside his house. Ordinarily we’d never have managed that, but Rob must have left just a faint whiff of genius in his bin and it must have attached itself to us during the rummaging.
Joe Denly’s so lucky. He gets to do ‘talking’ with Rob in between overs. We’ve got a whole shoebox full of questions for Rob for when we get to have a go at ‘talking’.
One time we were watching Rob on telly and we told him to leave the next delivery if he wanted us to buy him some ice cream. He played the next delivery and we could tell that he was telling us he didn’t want ice cream. If we can communicate that well with him USING ONLY OUR MIND, think how well we could communicate with him using ‘talking’.
Joe Denly’s 22 and a handy batsman. We’ll be watching him out of the corner of our eye while the main part of our eye is FIRMLY TRAINED on Rob Key.