Its a little while since I looked at the wider issues in the county game as there's been a lot going on in Derbyshire circles. Did I mention we'd made a great start to the season...?
The term "dropping like flies" might be applied liberally to overseas players as counties, one by one, discover that recruiting one for the county game is one thing and their turning up for duty is another. Chris Gayle looks increasingly unlikely to play for Somerset because of his falling back in love with the West Indies, while Peter Siddle is now injured and cancelled plans to play for Essex, also in the T20.
It is just another consequence of the mad world of international cricket, where series are so commonplace that the sense of "event" is lessening by the year. Look no further back than last year, when England roundly thrashed India in this country, causing considerable wailing and gnashing of teeth on the sub-continent. Then a month or so later, we were out there getting beaten and that was all right then.
There's too much. International cricket should be special, but there's been a dumbing down of it in recent years with too many series, some of them of only two matches duration (the point being?) and played by poor teams (Bangladesh and Zimbabwe anyone?). A lot of players have boosted their averages by feasting off sub-standard bowling and for me the relevance and importance of the international game has been badly diluted as a result. Why there is a need, to use just one example, for New Zealand to play the West Indies in July is beyond me, while teams jet off to Dubai for meaningless (apart from the money...) matches in temperatures that would make a camel head for shade.
Closer to home we see the England selectors continuing their penchant for odd Lions selection with the squad to play the West Indies. I may, perhaps, have misinterpreted the script, but isn't this squad supposed to reflect "up and coming" talent? After all, the ECB gives money to counties for producing and playing talented young players under the age of 26, the next generation of English talent. The Lions is surely a chance for these young guns to play at a higher level and show a logical progression in their game.
Right. So that's why we're including 29-year old Nick Compton and 31-year old Michael Carberry? What more do we need to know about Samit Patel, 28 this year? All are good players, with Compton in a rich vein of form, yet the selections are at odds with the apparent desire to weed out older cricketers and later developers with incentive payments. Compton is also South African-born, though I would see that as less of an issue than his age for selection in such a side.
I know that Carberry is still seen as a possibility for the England side if anything happened to Strauss or Cook, but there are younger options around the county circuit, surely? Why not offer an opportunity to players like Dan Redfern, Ross Whiteley or Jonathan Clare? Selection for such a side would let them see that they were under scrutiny and give them all-important encouragement in the formative stages of their career.
Compton, Carberry and Patel have been around for years. If we need someone for the England side and they are deemed to be the best available from a form and fitness perspective so be it. Yet picking them for a "Lions" side is silly. I thought we'd stopped doing that when we ceased picking Steve Kirby at 32...
There is a lot of exciting young talent in the English county game and the selectors should recognise that in their selections for a side that purportedly represents the best of it.
Time to go. I'm off to ring Howard Dytham and put my name forward for the Derbyshire Academy. I can cite precedence in this one...