Friday, 20 February 2015
Something for the weekend: Madsen for England?
After the usual stretches and yawns, realisation hit me that I could grab an extra half hour of the cricket if I got up at that time and I pottered through to the bathroom, showered and went downstairs.
That's when I found it was all over.
Notwithstanding a fine spell of seam bowling by Tim Southee, a very underrated bowler, the England batting was as limp as a two-week old stick of celery. Maybe Geoff Boycott's much-vaunted Mum could have done as well, with the proverbial stick of rhubarb.
The highlights made uncomfortable viewing but the reality is that the tour selection was muddled. We take the captaincy from one player out of form and give it to another who is only infrequently in it. Morgan is a decent cricketer, but an eye player who will never be consistent. He will have days when it all falls into place, but his technique isn't up to examination by the very best.
We left out one of our best one-day opening batsmen, a man who did very well in the Big Bash, Michael Lumb, as well as an all-rounder who is capable of brilliance in Ben Stokes. That's before we go over the old ground of KP. Should he be in the side? On talent, it is hard to say no.
The brutal reality of the first two games is that we have no bowlers once the openers have been seen off. The support attack has been treated with disdain and Steve Finn had two horrendous overs last night that will give him nightmares. In his defence, Brendon McCullum has done that to better bowlers and is a beast with a bat in his hands. Anyone who can leave Martin Guptill in his wake has serious talent and McCullum slaughtered an England side that was very ordinary at best.
Which makes the news that Wayne Madsen is now qualified to play for England all the more interesting.
Over the past two summers, the Derbyshire skipper has been as consistent a batsman as any in the country. Perhaps last year he could have done with converting more of his fifties into centuries, but Madsen exudes a confidence and exhibits class that has not always been the preserve of Derbyshire batsmen.
There was a feeling that he couldn't play the one-day game, but that was laid to rest last summer with a series of sparkling innings in all formats, without any discernible weakness. With shots all around the wicket, Madsen is the complete batsman now, the lynchpin of a batting side that has displayed frailties but looks a better unit after prudent winter recruitment.
Is Madsen good enough for England? In my opinion, yes. Whether he will be picked, given the backlash against overseas players, especially those from South Africa, is a moot point, but if he gets off to a flyer he has to put his name in the frame.
He will need to be much better than the alternatives elsewhere though, because our players do. Yet in Madsen and Mark Footitt, at the very least, we have two players who can have genuine aspirations for the international arena.
Our chances of success are better if they stay with us, of course, but we are getting a side together, beyond doubt. Next up, again if he hits his stride early, will be Shiv Thakor, a batsman who bowls but with genuine potential as an all-rounder. There's others behind them too, with a host of young seamers who could easily have horizons beyond the county game.
Will Davis is the latest. Behind Messrs Cotton, Taylor and Cork in the pecking order right now, but a bowler about who I have heard only good things. It will be fascinating to see who makes the most progress in the coming season, but Davis looks set for experience with England's under-19s, where I hope he gets better treatment than Tom Knight did.
Davis is the latest, after Taylor and Cotton, to emerge from the rich source of Staffordshire cricket and they are doing fine work there. Alex Hughes is another and all of them could play major parts in the county club's glittering future.
Enjoy your weekend. I'm working tomorrow, but on the up side, the season is only two months away.
PS Nice marketing and PR work this week, as the skipper delivered memberships to lucky individuals. They are not missing many tricks down at the 3AAA County Ground these days and it is great to see.