What makes an England all-rounder great?

The recent performances of Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali have inevitably led to comparisons with England’s previous all-round heroes. In particular, it’s hard not to see the similarities between Stokes and his predecessors, Andrew Flintoff and Sir Ian Botham. Like Stokes, they had the ability to bowl above 90mph and smash the ball out of the ground. These are alluring qualities for an all-rounder.

Batting average minus bowling average for England allrounders.

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Trent Bridge debacle exposes another of England’s deficiencies: Conversion rates

“We’ve had a shocker.” Trevor Bayliss.

That pretty much sums up England’s abject performance in the second test against South Africa. The England batsmen dug themselves into a huge hole on day 2 that they weren’t able to recover from. That being said, the way they fell apart  inside two sessions on Day 4 was equally as disappointing, especially for those who paid good money to watch. Continue reading “Trent Bridge debacle exposes another of England’s deficiencies: Conversion rates”

My childhood eleven – The players who shaped my cricket education

I’m often struck when I read about cricket history about the great players that were playing the game in the early 90’s when I was getting into cricket that I just had no idea about at the time. My attention was limited to the players I had access to, whether on TV or at my local club, Somerset CCC. As I got into my early teens I began to appreciate the wider global game but I thought it would be interesting to compile a list of the players who captured my imagination before that, when I first started watching cricket. Continue reading “My childhood eleven – The players who shaped my cricket education”

England vs South Africa Test series: Another chance for Gary Ballance?

With the Champions Trophy and limited overs part of the South Africa Tour done and dusted, attention turns to the test series. South Africa are always a formidable challenge for England. In fact, England have not won a home test series against South Africa since 1998. To add even more weight to the occasion, it falls only 5 months before an Ashes tour. The management will therefore want to get the selection spot on in such an important year.

So, who could get the nod and who could miss out this summer?   Continue reading “England vs South Africa Test series: Another chance for Gary Ballance?”

Evolving Cricket vs. Changeless Baseball: Concerns for the Future

“I see great things in baseball. It’s our game – the American game.” Walt Whitman.

For a cricket fan, it’s easy to admire the game of baseball. But it wasn’t until I moved to Boston that I gave this particular bat and ball game even a second thought.

It didn’t take long to become immersed in their sporting culture. I was lucky enough to visit during the Red Sox 2013 World Series triumph, witnessing the true passion of the Bostonian sports fans for the first time. In my 3 years thus far, the New England Patriots have also celebrated two Super Bowl wins. They love to win in Boston and, quite often, they do prevail. They are the fans that everyone loves to hate, perhaps equitable to Manchester United supporters. Being a Newcastle United sufferer, its nice to be on the other side for a change!

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Why County Championship wickets aren’t enough for England

Just like one wouldn’t anticipate an Adam Sandler movie receiving an Oscar, it would be foolish to expect many changes when it comes to the England test team these days.

This is especially true in the seam bowling department. In the 2010’s thus far, only Jake Ball received a test cap without first playing for the one-day international team. This sort of circumspection was not always the case. Indeed, several great bowlers who debuted in the 2000’s (such as Mathew Hoggard, Simon Jones and Graham Onions) began their England careers in the test team. In addition, the sheer number of seam bowling debutants in the 2010’s so far (7) is considerably lower than the same period in the 2000’s (13) or the 1990’s (18). Continue reading “Why County Championship wickets aren’t enough for England”

County Championship week 3: Gary Ballance saves Yorkshire

County Championship Division One:
Best batsman – Gary Ballance (108 and 203* vs. Hampshire, Ageas Bowl):

This was a difficult decision this week. Apart from Ballance, there were centuries from Vince, Robson, Gubbins, Eskinazi, Livingstone, Elgar, Davies, Westwood, Sangakkara and Stoneman.

For Vince, Ballance, and Robson, it was a timely reminder of their talents, with squads about to be picked for England. For Livingstone, however, there are many making a case for an England debut after an excellent performance against Somerset (see Paul Edward’s cricinfo article: “Livingstone makes irresistible case for England call-up”). Continue reading “County Championship week 3: Gary Ballance saves Yorkshire”

The rise of the T20 nomad

Cutting back appearances as the years advance has always been part of the arc of any sporting career. The inevitable toll of years of training and physicality spares no one and managing that decline is often the difference between maximising potential and wondering what could have been.

The last decade has seen a shift in the way most elite cricket players view the twilight years of their careers, with opportunities for players in their mid-thirties having increased exponentially since the explosion of the global T20 game. Continue reading “The rise of the T20 nomad”