26 August 2014

Women's cricket on the up despite the Test loss to India

You may or may not have noticed that it's been announced that the England women's rugby 7s team squad has turned professional, following in the footsteps of the England women's cricket team.   Isn't it great that women's sport is finally starting to catch up in some of the traditionally male dominated team sports!   Good to know my girls will have the option to play rugby or cricket professionally if they're good enough and if they choose to!

To get an idea of just how far women's cricket has come over the last couple of decades this interview with Clare Connor and Charlotte Edwards is a good read.   It's clearly not ideal that they lost their first Test as pros to India, but things are going in the right direction.   The next challenge for England's women is to make sure the handover between Charlotte Edwards and her successor - whenever that may be - is as smooth as the handover from Connor to Edwards.

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21 August 2014

Two 23 year-olds struggling to make it in first class cricket

Azeem Rafiq, it was announced last week, will be leaving Yorkshire at the end of the season in search of 4 day and one day cricket after Yorkshire only used him for Twenty20 this year.   That seems amazing to me.   I can understand that he may not always play in the 4 day team as they may choose sometimes to go seam-heavy and use Adil Rashid as the only spinner to support them, but in ODI cricket his non-selection is a bit of a puzzle.

At 23 Rafiq still has time on his side but he'll need to pick his next County well.   I wonder if Sussex will go after him.   They're short of a spinner and have had to resort to taking James Tredwell on loan this year...plus they also resurrected Panesar's career not so long ago (before he hit self-destruct).

Another youngster leaving his County for altogether different reasons is Chris Jones of Somerset.   Despite a glorious century against the visiting Australian's last summer, Jones hasn't quite been able to translate potential into results and has decided to stop trying.   He's going to go into the world of proper work....which must be a wrench for anyone who has put so many years into pursuing a cricket career.   He's not the first (Alex Loudon comes to mind) and he won't be the last, but what a pity.

Good luck to both of them.

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Bopara so so unlucky

Having talked about an Aussie who is clearly very unlucky not to get picked for his country, now we come to Ravi Bopara of England.   I couldn't quite get my head around it when I heard that he'd been left out of England's ODI squad for the India series, as we start the run in to next year's World Cup.   I thought it was very strange to rest a key player with so few matches to go before the competition.

As I checked for why he was left out (was he carrying an injury?) I was amazed to read that he was dropped.   The England selectors don't think he's good enough apparently.   But they do think that the likes of Woakes and Stokes are good enough.   I'm at a loss.   Ashley Giles seemed surprised too, but there was very little in the way of an outcry.   Why not?

For me Bopara is a solid ODI player whose place shouldn't be in doubt.   He's a player who with different handling could have been playing in all 3 formats for a decade, but sadly things haven't worked out that way.   He gets shoved all over the place in the order and in his latest slot around 7 he often batted when England were all but out of the game needing 12 an over, or didn't get in.   His bowling has often been better than his specialist team mates, despite the fact that batting is his primary skill.

So I'd be picking him every time in the Collingwood role batting 5 or 6 and bowling most or all of his 10 overs.   His ODI stats stack up very favourably compared to Stokes and Woakes - don't believe me?   Check them out below:

Batting av 31, strike rate 78.
Bowling av 37, economy rate 4.88.

Batting av 23, strike rate 73.
Bowling av 37, economy rate 5.66.

Batting av 14, strike rate 72.
Bowling av 31, economy rate 5.7.

Bad luck Ravi.   I hope you get back in for the World Cup or otherwise we won't be playing our strongest side.

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Phil Hughes - unlucky in the extreme

When you live on the other side of the world it's fairly easy to come to the conclusion that Australian batsman Phil Hughes is pretty ordinary and just can't cut it against quality bowling.   Perhaps he had a golden start to Test cricket but he's been found out since and was never truly Test class.

This piece made me wonder though - is he the Aussie Ramprakash or Hick?   Some of the stats quoted make him look like a world-beater but he doesn't seem to get any prolonged chance to make a position in the Australian team his own.   On the basis of all his runs in state cricket, I hope he gets another go...he's still young.

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How's about this as a Xmas present for an art loving cricket fan?

I'd like to say that we already have a Jack Russell painting on our wall but the reality is that the painting we have of our wedding venue Durrants sits in the backroom.   As it has cricketers in the foreground the painting is apparently terrible and must never see the light of day!

For those that are a little more understanding about paintings including cricketers, perhaps this Jack Russell collection could work as a Xmas present for some?   It's not just paintings....there's over 40,000 words of recollections from the grounds painted.

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4 August 2014

Tom Alsop playing for England Under 19s

Only a couple of weeks ago, Ravi Patel, and old boy of Merchant Taylors' School, was called up by England Lions for their forthcoming one-day series.   Those affiliated to OMTCC, for whom I played for over 20 years, will also be interested to see who is batting at 6 for England Under-19s in their current match versus South Africa.   None other than Phil Alsop's son Tom Alsop, who has graduated from playing for Hampshire 2nd XI and moved into the Under 19 team.
In his first innings Tom scored 40 off 80 balls so not a bad return and hopefully enough to ensure he retains his place for the 2nd Test starting Thursday.   Phil reports (via Facebook) that watching his son play for England Under 19s was truly priceless.   Good luck to Tom for the 2nd innings if he gets a knock and for the 2nd Test.
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