One to Watch: Adil Rashid

Rashid2 Well, I know there's nothing clever in choosing Rashid to write about in the One to Watch spot: he was awarded Performance of the Day by the Trumpet back in May, and has been mentioned many times in these pages. However we have not yet taken a really close look at this young Yorkshireman of whom so much is expected in the years to come. Back in what seems the dim and distant past when Darren Gough (pictured with Adil) was invited to take the captaincy at Yorkshire, I remember him saying that one of the reasons he was so excited about the job was the chance to work with and develop one of the most thrilling young bowling talents in England. That'd be Rashid then. Now, the boy sits second to the Dazzler in Yorkshire's bowling table with 27 wickets so far this season. His batting is not looking too shabby either - fifth in the county table with an average of 43.90.

The statistics this season back up his promise of last year, when he exploded into the cricket-watching consciousness and set tongues wagging with 25 wickets in just six appearances. An eight-wicket haul against India with England Under-19s confirmed his class. No-one should be surprised though - Adil is a product of the Terry Jenner spin programme and we all know who Terry's most famous son is (oh alright, in case there's a reader out there wondering: Shane Warne).

If young Rashid can remain free of injury (he has changed his action following a stress-fracture to his back last winter), then I believe we can confidently expect to see his name on the Honours Board at Lord's before too many years go past.
[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

July 25, 2007 in Captaincy, County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, One to Watch | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Simon Jones: Welsh god, England cricketer

Simonjonescosmo_000 It doesn't happen very often, but every now and then a sportsman trancends the back pages of the newspapers and finds himself in a very different place. Simon Jones is one such. He played a vital part in the Ashes winning England side in 2005 before the cruel mischance of injury saw him in an oxygen tank desperately trying to get fit for the final match, and of course, we have not seen him in the whites since then. However we have seen him in Cosmopolitan. Hum, nearly naked, and delightfully delectable, but did this help his rehabilitation into international cricket. I don't know, but as he is making his way, slowly, back to First-class cricket, it seems to be a good time to assess his career thus far.

In 2002 he was carried off the Gabba in agony having ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee - an injury which not only sounds career threatening, but also sounds like something that would happen in a Harry Potter book - "The cruciatus curse" - cast on the threatening wonder fast-bowler by perhaps an Oz Wizard. In 2005 I bet those Aussies wished they'd had the magic, because Mr Jones (Simon that is) crucified them on the pitch and he ripped through them at Old Trafford. Looking at his figures now, it's scary - 6 for 53 in the First innings - it laid the foundations for the weather affected draw that culminated in the Trent Bridge win and ultimately regaining the Ashes at the Oval.

So what of Simon since then - apart from the photos? Well he's making his way back into County Cricket, nothing stunning, but nothing hugely scary on the injury front in the last few weeks. Tomorrow will give a clearer picture as he takes to the field in Abergavenny as Glamorgan do their stuff against Leicestershire.

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July 24, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, Cricket photos, English cricket, General musings, Humour, India in England, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

James Kirtley: Twenty20 cricket is his strength

Jameskirtley In the commentary on Wednesday's Twenty20 Cup semi-final between Sussex and Yorkshire, Phil Tufnell couldn't say James Kirtley's name without being overcome by a fit of the giggles. Now I was unable to discern the reason why, but it did remind me that since James was named in the provisional 30-man England squad for the Twenty20 World Cup, I've been meaning to remind myself of why it was no great surprise to see him there. This six-foot right-arm medium fast bowler has been doing pretty good things for Sussex in the current Twenty20 Cup and his 12 wickets (average 15.91 and economy 7.39) have contributed mightily to Sussex winning through to the final. Only four other bowlers sit higher than he does in the bowling table, so Peter Moores and the selectors were not likely to overlook him.

If Kirtley makes the final cut, it will be a resurrection of an international career that honestly looked pretty down and out. A One-Day debut in Harare in 2001 had immediately brought suspicions about his bowling action (although he had been cleared by the ECB) and England and Sussex stuck by him. He was back in the side, after much remedial work, the following year and made his Test debut against South Africa - helping to bowl England to victory at Trent Bridge. Later in the year he played in Sri Lanka, covering for the injured Jimmy Anderson, but that was it at Test level (although he didn't play his last international One-Day match until the West Indies at Georgetown in 2004). Reported twice in 2005, more remedial work followed, but chances of a further call-up to the England side seemed scuppered by the emergence of fast bowlers Steve Harmison and Simon Jones.

Now an excellent record for his county, and injuries surrounding the England attack have worked well for James, and he has a chance to kick-start a career that seemed well and truly stalled.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

July 20, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, One-day cricket, Twenty20 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Chris Tremlett has a sniff

Christremlett Well what a surprise! Harmison's hernia rules him out of the Test team for the India series, and Chris Tremlett gets the call. He played nicely at Chelmsford without setting any hearts a-flutter, and it's pretty certain that Stuart Broad, bless him, will take the bowling slot left vacant by Steve's injury in the Test side. But Chris has earned this recall. Still only 25, he was the 12th man (and not in the Billy Birmingham way) for four of the 2005 Ashes Tests - so merits a look.

A Hampshire man, born and bred, he seems to have flourished this past couple of years under Shane Warne's captaincy. A right-hand bat, he's more notable as a very decent right-arm medium-fast, rapidly becoming truly fast, bowler with 230 first-class wickets to his name and a fine economy of 3.35.

Some may suggest that being the scion of Tim Tremlett, Chris has had life easy in the cricketing world, but he has reached his current position by dint of his own effort and achievement. In his first-class debut against New Zealand A in the year 2000, his bowling statistic is 4 for 16. He went to India in 2000-2001 with England Under-19 and then got a call-up to the preliminary squad for the ICC Champions Trophy in 2004. Injury rather stuffed his season in 2006, but he's back, playing well and we hope to see him on the full international stage soon.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

July 17, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, India in England, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Graham Onions - a Test this summer?

Onions It may have been Stuart Broad, bless him, who took most of the plaudits and headlines after the Tour match against India down at Chelmsford, but Graham Onions did himself no harm either with 3 wickets in the first innings coming from his 20 overs. He went for 90 runs and had a respectable economy of 4.50. It didn't go quite so well in the second innings, no wickets and the worst economy ( 7.00) of the four bowlers, but this did not negate his initial positive impression.

It was not really surprising to see this 24-year-old man of the north-east (born in Gateshead, schooled in Blaydon, playing all his county cricket at Durham) selected for this England Lions squad. A very strong 2006 season had seen Onions picked for England's provisional Champions Trophy squad and he was called up to replace Darren Gough for the one-dayers against Pakistan in September 2006. That led to inclusion in Peter Moores's England A side to tour Bangladesh.

With questions now over Steve Harmison's fitness and Graham's performance against India combined with his excellent season's averages in first-class matches (26 wickets, average of 31.00 and economy rate of 3.54), it may be that we see Onions hovering around the fringes of the Test side this summer.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

July 16, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, India in England, 2007, Pakistan in England, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Joe Denly makes the most of his chance

Joedenley It was almost a dream debut for 21-year-old Joe Denly on Friday in Chelmsford. Shiny and squeaky-clean in whites for England A (oh, alright, then Lions - but I'm not alone in finding it hard to take that name seriously) he opened the batting with Andrew Strauss (poor chap - failed again), and hit 83 - including 16 fours, and his fifty came of just 49 balls. The dream perhaps would have been a century, but second top score to Bresnan's 126 certainly justified his inclusion at this level. A score of 18 in the second innings was pretty immaterial as by that point we all knew this match would be played out to a tame draw.

Joe has been with Kent since the age of 13 and has moved calmly through the junior ranks. He toured India with England Under-19s in 2005 and impressed with three half-centuries. Although highly thought of, captaining Kent's Second Eleven and the ECB Development of Excellence XI, there was no place for him in the first team last year. His chance came this season with the departure of David Fulton and Joe has made the most of it. The Googly's Tooting Trumpet awarded him Performance of the Day on 23rd of May - the day Joe hit 115 against Shane Warne's Hampshire.

With such a strong junior record, it's not surprising that Joe took the Denis Compton honours in 2004, 2005 and 2006 and looks set to become a feature in the England squad, though probably not in the Test side this summer.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

July 15, 2007 in Batting, County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, India in England, 2007, One to Watch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chris Schofield: dreams can come true

Chrisschofield For Chris Schofield, there can't have been many better days than Wednesday 11th July 2007. It seems that not only The Googly's own Tooting Trumpet (Chris got a share of Performance of the Day last week), but also the England selectors have been keeping a quiet eye on the Surrey player's rehabilitation to the top flight, and named him in the provisional Twenty20 squad for the World Cup. As well as Chris's delight, there will be big smiles on the faces of Mark and his father Alan Butcher, who took an almighty gamble on Schofield to bring him to Surrey, registering him in 2006 and giving him a start in the first team this season. He hasn't been a bright and shining star in the championship, but the format and hectic pace of the Twenty20 game have seen him come into his own and be Surrey's leading wicket taker with 17 in just 25 overs in this summer's cup.

It's been a long haul for Chris to rise back up the ranks - to which he was elevated back in 2000 when he was given one of the first batch of (12) central contracts by the ECB. This followed two seasons in county cricket and one England A tour, but having won the Denis Compton Award in 1998, 1999 and 2000, was not entirely surprising. A promising youngster deserving of his chance. However, in the Tests against Zimbabwe, he didn't take a wicket and his bowling was deemed "wild".  He returned to Lancashire where things got no better and in 2004 his services were dispensed with - a decision he disputed, finally winning his case for unfair dismissal at an industrial tribunal, but by then it was too late. Two dreadful years in the wilderness of Minor Counties cricket came next, playing for Cheshire and Suffolk, and failing to win a place with either Durham or Sussex. He did enough though, for Surrey to come calling and under the nurturing eyes of the Butchers, Chris has proved to all aspiring sportsmen that it pays not to give up.

It was no surprise to find Chris on Dazza's show this week and as a fellow bowler, Gough was kind but probing - was Chris picked for England too soon? Yes, Chris agreed and he puts his improvement this year very much down to the influence of the Butchers and Ramprakash (another Googly favourite son)

If he makes it to the final cut next month, and I hope that he does as England's best chance in the Twenty20 World Cup must be to build a team of specialists, then his story will give hope across the board and his hard work and dedication will be rewarded.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

July 12, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, India in England, 2007, One-day cricket, Twenty20 | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Calling James Benning

Benning A pretty poor performance from England yesterday has led to a shout for James Benning to be called into the side. Well ever-willing, your correspondent has gone searching and can bring you these facts to help you make up your minds. Is he good enough?

A right-hand bat with a current First-class average with Surrey of just 34.88, he might not immediately spring to mind as worthy of the call. But this boy, he's still just 24 years-old, promised much as a school-boy and was chosen for the England Under-15s. In 2003 he was acclaimed as Surrey's most-promising newcomer and won a Denis Compton Award. He has made steady progress and his position in the tables does not reflect the skill and guts that got him his top score of 152 against Gloucestershire in April this year. In partnership with Ali Brown, they smashed their way to a world record One-day total at the Oval.

Enough, surely, for not only Guardian Unlimited's Andy Bull, but England to have an eye on him.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

July 5, 2007 in Batting, County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, One to Watch, One-day cricket, West Indies in England, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

One to watch: Rory Hamilton-Brown

Rory A while ago I wrote about ex-Millfield boy James Hildreth who has been attracting a fair amount of interest this season. Today my pick for One to watch is another alumnus of that same sporting seat of learning - young Rory Hamilton-Brown. At nearly 20 years old, Rory has started on the right path towards an England call-up in the not too distant future.

Winner of Denis Compton Awards in 2005 and 2006, he has been wielding his bat (right-hand) and bowling right-arm offbreaks for Surrey since 2005 when he made his debut against Bangladesh A. He earned a place with the England Under-19s for Sri Lanka in 2006 and in the December of that year was chosen to captain the squad for their tour of Malaysia in 2007. Unfortunately a shoulder injury requiring an operation put paid to that, but he has remained involved with the U19 set-up and although not setting the world on fire at Surrey so far this season, he certainly has the talent and junior record to merit close watching.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

July 3, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, One to Watch | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Luke Wright: his time must come soon

Lukewright Just yesterday the 22-year-old Luke Wright imposed himself on the Kent bowling attack with an astonishing century off just 44 balls, as Sussex won the Twenty20 match by 7 wickets. His own bowling had just been monstered by Robert Key and Martin van Jaarsveld, and a player of lesser character could have crumbled psychologically. Wright is, after all, deemed an all-rounder. But this young right-hand bat and medium pace bowler is made of stern stuff, and while having Jacques Kallis as a hero may raise some eyebrows, it's clear that attempts to emulate a hard man of the sport do Wright no harm.

A graduate of Loughborough University, Wright has spent the lsat 2 winters back there at the National Academy and his performance led to a call-up in February 2006 to the England A squad in the Caribbean - a natural progression following his appearances representing the England Under-19s.

Three times a winner of the Denis Compton Award, a vital part of Sussex team that won last year's C & G Trophy, although sitting only mid-table in this season's batting for Sussex, I think it will only be a matter of time before we see him in the England One-day side.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

June 28, 2007 in County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, One to Watch, One-day cricket, Twenty20 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is James Foster a consideration for England's wicketkeeper?

Jamesfoster If there is a genuine debate going on about Matt Prior's abilities - and I've read plenty to suggest that questions are being asked - then surely James Foster's name comes back on to the agenda?

Foster is still only 27 years old although it does seem as though he has been around on the edges of the the England team for a very long time. Back in 2000 he was still a student at Durham University when he was signed up by Essex and then selected for the England A tour of the West Indies. He was perceived as a natural successor to Alec Stewart and made his international debut in the One-day international  at Harare in October 2001. Two stumpings ensured he earned his place on the India tour later that year and he made his Test debut at Mohali in December. From what I recall, there was nothing wrong with his performance in the field, but his batting disappointed.

As the focus of balance for the England ODI team changed, Foster lost his place for the batting prowess of Marcus Trescothick and Alec Stewart came back into the Test side when Foster broke his arm. Solid county performances for Essex over the past 4 years did not lead to a recall under Duncan Fletcher's regime - Geraint Jones and Chris Read prevailed.

Maybe with Peter Moores in charge and Prior not impregnable behind the stumps, Foster will get another chance. A First-class average of 34.15 with the bat and a fistful of catches already for Essex this season would suggest he deserves close consideration.

[Image: Getty} [mimitig]

June 26, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, West Indies in England, 2007, Wicketkeeping | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jonathan Trott: a good choice for England

Trott Jonathan Trott, now 26 years old, has been playing for Warwickshire since 2003. Born and raised in South Africa, he learned his trade playing for the South African Under-15s and Under 19s (including their World Cup campaigns), but as a British passport holder has been able to make a seamless transition to 1st-class County Cricket and now the England One-day team.

I will admit that his call-up last week caught me slightly on the hop, but on reflection, Jonathan should have been far higher up my list of possibles. In 2005 he emerged as a real talent in the One-day game, topping Warwickshire's averages at over 60 - and this included 2 centuries. When New Zealand side Otago employed him that winter, he was equally impressive until an injury scare brought his premature return to England. 2006 again brought over 1000 runs in the season. He has slipped below my radar slightly due to a rather less stellar start to 2007. Seven matches have brought just 176 runs, and Trott languishes mid-field in the Warwickshire table. However, I believe his record justifies his selection and hope that his performances will justify Peter Moores's and the selectors' choice. I expect this right-hand bat to bring some strength to the England side.

[Image: Getty] [mimitg]

June 25, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, One-day cricket, Twenty20, West Indies in England, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Joe Sayers: should be on the selectors list

Joesayers The picture (right) shows Yorkshire young hopeful Joe Sayers taking a magnificant catch to dismiss England one-time and wannabee player Kabir Ali last month in the County Championship match against Worcestershire. There's passion in his face and in his body-language that tell the tale of why this young man still burns to live up to his junior promise and play for England.

Joe is still only 24 and with his left-hand bat style reminiscent of Geoffrey Boycott, this 6-footer has no reason to think that his dreams of representing his country at the highest level will not be fulfilled.

As an undergraduate at Oxford, he captained the side in 2003, having already shone through his school-days and captained England Under 17s and Under 19s. Of course his time at Oxford, playing in the Parks was not the same as a couple of decades ago when such as Sir Viv Richards graced the ground and small children watched, for free, as the greats of the era showed off their skills with the ball, bat and public. But he caught the eye of professional watchers and in 2005 made his maiden Championship century appearing for Yorkshire against Leicestershire. He helped win the match for Yorkshire.

Sitting happily near the top of this season's Yorkshire results table - second only to Younis Khan, young Joe already has a 187, 149 and 124 against his name.

If this doesn't catch the eye of the England selectors and remind them of why he was picked as a junior, I don't know what would. Let's hope that an uncharacteristicly low score of 2, although he stuck in there for 44 balls, against Sussex last weekend will not have spoilt his chances.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

June 23, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Alex Loudon: what happened to him?

Loudon Another public-schoolboy (last week The Googly drew your attention to James Hildreth - trumping the BBC by 6 days!) has earned a mention in these pages, but for a rather different reason. Now we ask what has happened to Alex Loudon? This ex-Eton lad, currently a Warwickshire cricketer who promised so much as a bowler (right-arm offbreak) in his junior years and was touted as a future England captain. In 2004, when at Kent, he helped take them to a Championship win over Middlesex with a superb 6 for 47. The move to Warwickshire, although disappointing for Kent, seemed to work well for him and in 2006 Alex made his England One-day debut against Sri Lanka at Chester-le-Street.

It was fairly disasterous. Run-out (batting at 8) for a duck, his 6 overs went for 36 when far more was expected of him. The rest of his season was spent battling loss in form and injury and it has been no surprise that he has not been a name at the top of the list for England selectors. So far this season he has only managed 3 wickets and leaked 248 runs, but on the other hand he has a remarkable economy of only 2.69.

At 26 years old, Loudon is far from a spent force, and it would a shame if his talent were not given a chance again.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

June 15, 2007 in Captaincy, County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, Sri Lanka in England, 2006 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Vikram Solanki: a chance to nick Andrew's place?

Solanki One more failure with the bat for Andrew Strauss as England take on the West Indies for the dead rubber up at Durham, and surely he will be "rested" for the series against India? The question then is, who comes in to replace him?

Bopara's name is on many lips today, and indeed, I picked him out last week, but there was another stupendous batting display last week also. Down at New Road in the County Championship Division One match against Surrey, Vikram Solanki reminded us all of why he has been described as "one of the most elegant batsmen of his generation".  He hit a huge 232. Today, against Scotland, Solanki tonned up again with a fine 132. Neither of these performances will have done any harm to either his averages or his hopes of playing again for England.

His history with the England One-day side is not the most impressive read. A debut in January 2000 against South Africa at Bloemfontein led to a series performance with a total of 96 runs. Unsurprisingly he was dropped but with good county form (and the retirement of several senior players) he was recalled in 2004, and has remained on the edges of the One-day side since then.

We last saw him in Headingley against Sri Lanka in the summer of 2006 where he hit an unbeaten 44. Whether that memory of his skill and his solid county form over the past 4 or 5 years is enough to tempt the selectors to give him one last try remains to be seen.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

June 13, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, Sri Lanka in England, 2006, West Indies in England, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The Gough show: 8 pm start - not in Scotland!

GoughI tuned into Radio 5Live last night for the much heralded Gough Cricket Show, and it got off to rather a poor start. 8pm they said for the start. Well this correspondent lives in the far north of Scotland, but hadn't realised that there was a time difference between London and the Moray Firth. At 20.04 I was still listening to Gaby Logan. Ah me, so far are we from the cricket heartland.

Nonetheless I stayed with it, and within the next few minutes we were treated to some clips from the Dazzler's best international performances and there was a somewhat predictable "Howzat" yelled. But we love this because Darren is now an official treasure. After all, it's not that long ago that he raised the glittery ball trophy, thus proving that cricketers can dance. Which of course every women's bit of eye-candy (wake up Ramps - we're talking about you!) did the following year.

But the show was worth more than a few cheap jibes. We've learned that Plunkett's action has gone "a bit to pot". We couldn't have grasped that before could we? He "should go back to the counties and then come back for the ODIs". Nice. And our fast-bowling fiend Mr Harmison, well Messrs Gough and Cork reckon he'll get 400 Test wickets. Dom reckons that only Harmy and Goughie  can bowl at 90 mph and get wickets. Nice.

Graham Hick joined in and raised the really important question of why do the commentators always talk about golf. Well, good question Hicksie? Maybe because it's what all the retired cricketers mention on interview. Duh! Still some nice (notice my use of this word!) stats came up again. Hick mustered a pretty impressive 40,000 runs in his career and next guest, the ever popular Justin Langer (yes I know we hate him in an Ashes endeavour, but we love him for spending his winters enriching English County cricket - you know we do!) is hacking on towards a 25,000 haul. Not bad, mate. Rather endearingly Mr Langer sounded a bit "tired and emotional". Wonder what his week has been about then? He sweetly changed the topic from batting to bowling and, with the encouragement of Mr Cork at the helm of the interview, revealed that he did take 5 wickets at an average he wouldn't wish us to publish. Bless!

But the man - and let's not forget how awesome this Aussie batsman is - does rate our Googly pick of young Hildreth. You heard it here first. He also was not allowed by Gough and Cork to run away without another Aussie-ism of "Aw look mate"- we love those here. So here it is from the mouth of a master, about the much beleaguered Strauss. "He's a natural leader, he has the shots. The cut, the pull. Aw and mate, Tres is a brilliant bloke."  Yup, bit confused there. Is it Straussy or Tres that he favours? Does it matter? I think not.

We are very impressed that a great Aussie is prepared to turn up on our little radio show here. Talk to guys who don't have as many runs as him under the belt. Rest assured, dear reader. The Googly will bring you the highlights of Goughie's show every week.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

June 13, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, Cricket on TV and Radio, English cricket, General musings, Humour, West Indies in England, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

One to watch: Steve Davies

Only one letter separates this boy, Steve_daviesSteve Davies, from the old snooker lag, Steve Davis, but skill for skill, talent for talent, they are as close as close things could be. By just 5 days or so, Steve Davies with an e, left-hand bat and wicketkeeper for Worcestershire, is eligible to feature in The Googly's One to watch slot. He will be 21 on the 17th June, and by the end of the 2006 season, was being touted as a contender for the spot of England's next wicketkeeper as Chris Read and Geraint Jones fell out of form and favour.

Much to my relief, although Davies was selected for the National Academy last winter, it was first Paul "Badger" Nixon and then Matt Prior who were called upon to wear the gloves for England. This gives the young man more time to develop out of the intense limelight of the international game, though his latest performance with the bat - a fine 81 against Surrey at New Road last week (and a healthy handful of catches) will certainly keep his name on everyone's list of contenders.

A chance to show whether his junior class can be transferred to the highest level of the sport will surely come sooner rather than later.

Davies captained the England Under-19s and toured the West Indies with England A in 2005. 2006 saw him top 1000 runs for his county, his cumulative score is now over 2000, and he won the NBC Denis Compton Award for 3 years running in 2004, 05 and 06. This cricket-watcher will be keeping a close eye on the County scorecards for the rest of the season and certainly won't be surprised to see Davies in the England side before the year is out.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

June 12, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, One to Watch, Wicketkeeping | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

One to watch: Billy Godleman

Godleman At just 18 years of age, the England Under-19s and Middlesex left-handed batsman, Billy Godleman has caught the eye of cricket watchers at home and overseas.

Consistently representating England schools as he moved up the age groups from the Under-15s, it was a given that he would train with the Under-19s in time. Surprising was that he was not picked for the 2005-06 World Cup Squad, but quite possibly a delay in entering the (almost) grown-up international arena will prove to be beneficial to his development rather than a hindrance.

Despite missing out on selection, Godleman received the NBC Denis Compton Award in 2005. Looking at the names who've won the award in previous years, who wouldn't risk a bet on this young man joining fellow recipients Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Monty Panesar and Ali Cook in the England squad some time soon?

With a 1st class average of 60.54 from the 8 matches he's played so far, I'd stick a few quid on it, if I were a betting woman.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

June 9, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings, One to Watch | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

James Hildreth: can Millfield provide another world-class sportsperson?

Hildreth In the debate that is beginning as to whether Andrew Strauss should abandon England for a while (or perhaps England abandon Strauss), and go back to his county to seek some return to form, West Country names keep cropping up. Is Marcus Trescothick ready for a call-up, some ask? Well, I'd look elsewhere in the Somerset top order and James Hildreth is a young man very much on form.

Just yesterday, this right-hand batsman, still only 22 years old, with a First-class average of 40.39, struck a sweet 163 in Somerset's match against Leicestershire. That he was out off the bowling of Stuart Broad, is proof that The Googly is keeping a close eye on emerging cricketers these days!

Young James is a product of Millfield School - one of England's renowned breeding grounds of international sportsmen and women. The Olympic gold-medallist Mary Rand spent her schooldays there, as did swimmers Duncan Goodhew and Mark Foster. The playing-fields nurtured the talents of legendary rugby-players Gareth Edwards and JPR (so famous you hardly need to add the Williams to his name), and cricketers Ben Hollioake and Simon Jones ruled the nets and wickets in their learning years.

Hildreth could indeed be another name to hit the honours board. As a school-boy he represented England through his age groups, and went to Bangladesh in 2003-04 for the Under-19s World Cup. A winner of the NBC Denis Compton Award in 2003, 04, and 05, he caught the eye of many cricket fans in a cameo appearance as a substitute at Lord's in the first Ashes Test of 2005 when he took a catch off Matthew Hoggard's bowling to see Ponting walk on 42. That's not a bad way to dip a toe into Test cricket.

For Somerset, in just his second match, Hildreth hit a ton and last year in Taunton, against Northamptonshire, he made a mammoth 227 not out as Somerset raced to 675 for 5 - and obviously won the match.

If this all-round sportsman, who has represented West of England at hockey, South of England at tennis and squash, is not featuring as a very large blip indeed on the England selectors' radar, I would be very, very surprised.

[Image: Getty] [mimitig]

June 8, 2007 in County Championship - 2007, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, General musings | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Performance of the Day

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That fine, athletic figure you see to your right is David "Jumble" Sales (Getty Images) who wins the Googly's prized Performance of the Day award. But, but I hear you splutter, the PotD is reserved for only the highest of cricketing achievements such as smacking Malcolm Speed on the head. Ex-Boy Wonder Sales scored just 14 as his Northants team went down to Lancashire by a mysterious 20 runs (D/L) - how does he qualify?

That is to miss the point. Northants' fixture list reveals: May 2 - May 5 vs Essex; May 6 vs Lancashire; May 7 vs Scotland; May 8 - May 11 vs Somerset - 10 consecutive days cricket! That Jumble got his troops out on to the Old Trafford pitch was enough to win PotD. Booby prize to the ECB fixtures secretary (again).

[The Tooting Trumpet]

May 6, 2007 in County Cricket - 2006, English cricket, Performance of the Day | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Gough back to Yorkshire?

Gough_1 Professional gob-on-legs Darren Gough may be on his way back to his one true love for the 2007 season, as Yorkshire have come calling.  The white rose county are apparently struggling for a captain and a dance partner for Craig White and the roly-poly former test bowler is a prime candidate for both following his 3 year spell at Essex.

In other Yorkshire-related news, Anthony McGrath is trying to run away from the club as fast as his podgy legs will carry him but the chairman has tied him to a post whilst they row about his contract.
[lee calvert]

February 26, 2007 in Captaincy, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Langer's triple hundred

In case you hadn’t noticed

He had already broken the record for the highest innings at Guildford, and this morning he passed Viv Richards’ record for the highest score for Somerset (322). He was within one shot of Charlie McCartney’s 345 - the highest by an Australian in England - when he fell. It is the seventh biggest innings in the County Championship.

July 20, 2006 in Australian cricket, County Cricket - 2006, English cricket | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Ah, spring cometh

Wisden Working at Cricinfo this winter, my mental timeclock is often in another part of the world. Be it South Africa, India, Pakistan, New Zealand, West Indies or Australia, each country has a domestic competition - some more interesting and involved than others. Now, as we enter April, they're all coming to an end and attention turns to the English county season. Ah, spring!

The start of the English cricket season is best indicated by the release dates of the two must-have books: Wisden Cricketers' Almanack and Playfair. Wisden is released on April 12 - including a new larger version which, my sources tell me, is a vast improvement and something the Almanack team are rightly proud of. Playfair was released just a few days ago. So go on, gorge yourselves on the reading material in preparation for the summer.

April 4, 2006 in County Cricket - 2006, English cricket | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack