So much of what’s wrong with English cricket can be seen in the never-ending debate about wicketkeepers. First-class cricket’s too weak to show who’s best and because there are so many counties and therefore so many candidates, no player gets much of a run.
We are no better informed than anyone else about all of this, which is precisely our point – it’s nigh-on impossible to be well-informed with the information we have to go on. Nevertheless, one wicketkeeper we liked when he appeared in one-day matches for England was Phil Mustard.
Phil Mustard was the second-highest scorer in the Pro40 last year and it’s all 40-over stuff in 2010. Phil Mustard doesn’t know he’s supposed to be playing as an attacking opener in these matches; it’s just what he does. That’s what we like about him. Plus, wicketkeepers HAVE to open the batting in one-day matches.
Like Will Smith, Paul Horton’s another who had a 2009 season of less than unbridled success. He did hit 173 in one match, but didn’t do much else.
However, if there’s one thing we’ve learnt with these Ones To Watch, it’s that they’re devious bastards and always slip in a duff season just before they come good, thereby escaping from our one-watching claws at the crucial moment. Graeme Swann, we’re looking at you.
So let’s stick with Paul Horton through thin-and-thin, just like we did with that film that said it was going to be Knight Rider in the TV guide, but which didn’t feature a single car in it and was clearly a different film, but which the eight-year-old us watched anyway, hoping the whole of the first hour would turn out to be a Michael Knight dream.
Will Smith was the one batsman who didn’t score runs for Durham last year, which might not immediately mark him out as being worth watching, but the year before that he was arguably their best batsman.
We’re putting the mediocre batting down to his being made captain in 2009. It’s like when someone’s knocking at the door while you’re trying to write about Will Smith of Durham: it’s a distraction and you can’t deal with both at once.
Actually, maybe it’s a bit different. Judging from the fact that Smith hit 150 in his penultimate match last season, maybe you learn to cope with both. In the other situation, eventually the knocking just stops – as does the writing about Will Smith of Durham.
The general feeling about Adil Rashid is that maybe everyone should just let him play a bit of cricket.
England helped his development no end last season by keeping him out of the majority of Yorkshire’s matches so that he could not play for them instead. Occasionally they let him bowl a single over before the captain, in keeping with English attitudes to leg-spinners, took him off and brought on someone to bowl flat, non-spinning finger-spin instead. Once in a while, he bowled well, at which point they dropped him.
Adil Rashid hit 387 runs at 77.40 last season, you know. Let him bat more. Let him bowl more.
Mark Davies’ 19 wickets at 29.57 last year was a woeful return by his standards, but an overall first-class record that reads 251 wickets at 21.68 is as good as it gets.
Mark’s 30 this year, so this will be his fourth and final appearance in our Ones To Watch. He’s as close to the England side as he’s ever been, so maybe this plot-free tale of one man repeatedly having his name published on an obscure cricket website during the month of April will have a happy ending for the protagonist.
Liam Plunkett’s a bit of a batsman as well, but his bowling is what matters.
Of Durham’s many fine bowlers, Onions, Harmison and Blackwell all averaged less than Plunkett last season, but only Harmison took more wickets. Plunkett’s average of 24.83 was hardly shameful either.
Although Plunkett’s age seems to increase by the year, he’s still only 25. He’s probably getting to the point where experience and youth are sitting hand-in-hand, perhaps watching an Adam Sandler film and wondering whether it’ll seem funnier if they drink more wine. Next season experience will have a lot more to do but youth won’t really feel like helping any more.
Liam Plunkett will probably be quite happy to spend less time watching England play while wearing the High-Visibility Tabard of Squad Membership that the national side uses to help onlookers identify who’s not been picked for this particular one-day international.
Even beyond our own knee-high standards, our 2009 county cricketers to watch have come good.
Liam Plunkett is in England’s winter Test squad and has therefore proven himself an obdurate and pleasing stain on the second-favourite T-shirt that is England cricket – possibly a turmeric-based stain that could be around for some time. That may sound disparaging unless you read the article linked to from his name. Plunkett was also representing Sajid Mahmood to a degree and Saj is in the one-day squad.
Steven Davies is in England’s Test squad and might one day get a post where we don’t liken him to a spreadsheet.
Things other than spectral badger visitation have happened to Adil Rashid already this year and he’s also in both England squads.
Tim Bresnan is taking tiny steps towards making his surname convey all sorts of emotions when used in isolation after getting selected in England’s one-day side.
If you’re starting to think that we know what we’re talking about, you can get that idea out of your head right now. Knowing what you’re on about is resolutely NOT what this site is about. This site is actually about repeatedly picking Will Jefferson as a player to watch almost solely because he’s very tall.
A week or so ago, Adil Rashid hit two hundreds in successive innings. In Yorkshire’s two innings in the field adjacent to those hundreds, Rashid took five wickets in each of them.
England will naturally be looking for a seam bowling all-rounder to replace Andrew Flintoff – perhaps Rashid’s team mate, Tim Bresnan – but is that the best ploy?
With Stuart Broad offering fast-medium seam and James Anderson offering fast-medium swing, England really need a vicious fast bowler to take wickets on the world’s flat Test pitches. Is there one?
Not really and even if there were, he wouldn’t be able to bat. So why not pick a leg-spinner? If Broad, Anderson and Graham Onions can’t get wickets on a given day, a fourth bowler of similar ilk isn’t going to help one bit.
Leg-spinners can get wickets on flat pitches. Adil Rashid is a leg-spinner. And he can bat.
In his first 23 one-day innings, Paul Horton passed 50 once. Now he’s got the format cracked. Take that The Friends Provident Trophy! Consider yourself and any other 50-over competitions CRACKED.
It seems like only last week we were writing about Paul Horton’s first one-day hundred and now here we are writing about his second.
Successive one-day hundreds. Will we cover this second one more comprehensively in honour of the achievement?
Will we balls.
Paul Horton hit another one-day hundred.
That’s all you’re getting.
Rumours that we kidnapped Geoff Miller’s family and told him we were going to force them to watch Eastenders constantly until he picked Tim Bresnan for England are well wide of the mark. Clearly we told him to pick Rob Key and clearly he ignored us.
We released the Miller family after ice cream and a couple of games of Frustration, because we’re not really evil.
Tim Bresnan might have been picked for England on the basis that he was the only up and coming bowler who was more familiar with a cricket bat than a pipistrelle, but still it’s a good indication that he’s there or thereabouts.
Tim Bresnan has justified being one to watch.