Monday, 30 April 2012

Monday musings

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...


Washy said...

I agree with your assessment on the Lions squad, i think it's a bit of a joke. If we look at the squad:

Taylor, AV: 49.08, deserves to be there

Jonny Bairstow: Av 44.58, excellent prospect, yes

Jack Brooks: 101 @ 27.34, good selection, leave the hairband at home though.

Michael Carberry: AV: 43.70, nearly 32 and too old

Matt Coles: AV: 23.36, 78 @ 31.82, promising talent but not as good as the Derbyshire lads, and figures show

Nick Compton: AV: 41.56, in form of life but not a youngster

Jade Dernbach: 193 @ 31.25, overrated in my opinion, plays for surrey so that explains everything

Simon Kerrigan: 73 @ 24.06, talented youngster deserves a go despite inexperience

Stuart Meaker: 101 @ 28.71, maybe not sure about him, Surrey again helps his cause

Samit Patel: AV: 39.90, 137 @ 39.05, good but not England standard in my views, bit old for Lions?

Joe Root: AV: 34.13, stats aren't great but a good talent, and big county member

Ben Stokes: AV: 43.32, 31 @ 31.53, future England player, deserves the opportunity.

And surely there are better options around. In the batting department, Jos Buttler, James Hildreth, Alex Hales, Sam Northeast and our very own Dan Redfern and Ross Whiteley, can't be that far away from a call. All of them are promising prospects (Hildreth aside), and playing for the Lions would help their progression.

Then there are two players who i can't believe aren't in the Lions squad. The first is Will Gidman, a player in superb form with a batting average of 39.06 and bowling average of only 20.12.
The second is another Derbyshire lad, Jonathan Clare, who has batting and bowling averages superior to Matt Coles, and who's bowling average of 26.49 is bettered by only Simon Kerrigan in the squad. Once more i think the Derbyshire factor has played its part.

I do realistically believe that any of our 5-8 could be in the Lions Squad in the near future, so good is the young talent at Derbyshire.

Peakfan said...

Totally agree Washy, on all points!

Lewis said...

The needs of England come first! Right now England are testing out potential Strauss-replacements - Carberry and Compton - because there simple isn't a young talent out there that is even close to being ready! So their places I am fine with. Meaker and Dernbach have obviously been identified by the ECB as talent so it makes sense that they would be picked. I'm not convinced, but they have better talent scouts than me! Also Samit Patel 100% has to be in the squad, because he needs to prove his batting bowling and fitness can stand up, and this is the best arena to test it out.

It's not about youth, it's about preparing players for England and Patel, Compton and Carberry may well have to be thrown in over the summer...

The only player I would say is lucky to be there is Coles particularly ahead of Gidman but he may well prove me wrong. So overall I am happy with the lions squad.

About Derbyshire's players... Clare is probably the closest in my opinion to meriting a place, but he does strike me as a county bowler rather than a test one. Redfern needs a whole season of big scoring (more than one century methinks) before he should be considered. Whiteley needs another season of runs or needs to prove his bowling is better than occasional.

And no, none of them deserve a place right now. (nor does Kirby though!)

Washy said...

I believe Clare does justify a place, but the others perhaps aren't ready yet, and do need to prove themselves over a sustained period.

On the basis of playing people for the test team, then what about Ravi Bopara or Morgan (he might still be at ipl). Or again Hildreth, who surely desrves a chance ahead of Carberry and Patel. I see him as someone similar to Trott, who just needed to be given a chance in test cricket.

Lewis said...

Morgan is at the IPL as you say. Bopara will be picked in the Test squad and bat at 6 so is not considered for the lions. Hildreth probably deserves a place but his early season form has been mixed. Also he is not an opener, so wouldn't really replace Carberry as a Strauss back-up, nor Patel as an all-rounder. I wouldn't have objected to Hildreth being picked, but I do believe that Carberry, and certainly Patel have roles to play as part of a larger England squad and set-up.