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Archive for September, 2008

The county season’s over, the dust has settled, here are my picks for the best of 2008

  • Best Batsman: Not so straightforward this season, especially given Ramprakash’s relative slump. It’s between Marcus Trescothick and Martin van Jaarsveld, and whilst van Jaarsveld was relegated despite his team winning more matches than Trescothick’s, it’s the sympathy vote that swings it for Marcus.
  • Best All-Rounder: Adil Rashid took more County Championship wickets than Harmison, scored more County Championship runs than Phil Mustard, and was still overlooked for England. What more could he have done? Well, I suppose he could have scored the 8 extra runs that would have put him ahead of Graeme Swann.

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England’s touring squad for India, named later than planned but still unnecessarily early, does not include Adil Rashid. Instead, Graeme Swann has been selected.

Leaving aside the question of whether Rashid needs the experience or not (he’ll still get some, with the Performance Squad touring too), the choice should have been based on which spinners were more likely to take wickets.

Panesar, despite some poor form recently, was always a near-certainty to be selected, so it came down to a three-way decision between Swann, Rashid and Samit Patel. Of those three, Rashid has had the better season for his county, but Swann has more international experience.

Amongst the reasons given for Swann’s inclusion is the fact that he’s right-handed. That’s just silly. Also, his batting has been touted as a reason for his selection, but he’s probably a worse batsman than Rashid.

The England selectors should probably be given the benefit of the doubt, but I reserve the right to say ‘I told you so’ at a later date.

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Two Kents?

Fans of Kent must be a bit miffed at the moment. Finalists (albiet beaten ones) in the two knockout competitions, promotion contenders in the Pro40 league, but relegated in the County Championship.

Are there two Kents – a good Limited Overs side and a bunch of Four-Day losers? What of Rob Key’s supposed captaincy prowess?

Similar head-scratching, but for different reasons, surrounds the season in general. With big changes on the way, how relevant is County Championship cricket these days? Crowds are pitiful, games often end in near-farce, and Lancashire never win it.

There will probably be some sort of end-of-season round-up of the best (that is, my favourite) bowler, batsman and all-rounder in the Championship this season coming relatively soon.

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Despite his ‘luck‘ in being awarded a big fat central contract by the ECB, Michael Vaughan looks set to miss England’s tour of India.

This apparently unilateral decision by the former England captain excuses the selectors the embarrassment of either not selecting a player awarded a central contract mere weeks ago, or of taking a player on tour who has made just 41 runs from his last four innings, and wasn’t exactly on fire before that.

I hope that the break has the intended effect of clearing his head, and that he manages to make some runs sometime soon.

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ICC vs ICL: update

The ICL, which has been hounded by the BCCI, wants official status. The ICC has agreed to a meeting.

The BCCI are probably livid. The BCCI are always livid. How dare anyone else make any money from cricket in India?

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Adil Rashid had a pretty good day today, making 111 and taking 1-8 from two overs in Yorkshire’s potentially decisive match with Sussex. In fact, he’s likely to finish as the County Championship’s leading all-rounder for this season.

With Monty Panesar‘s place in the England side arguably the least secure it has been for some time, and a tour to India (a two-spinner tour if ever there was one) just around the corner, Rashid‘s time seems to be coming. If he isn’t selected in this winter’s touring party, he may never get the opportunity that many feel he deserves. That would be a real shame, both for the young spinner himself, and for England’s lower-middle order.

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End of the Kolpak era

It seems time is up for the Kolpaks. 2009 could be the last year that Kolpaks are prevalent, with numbers tailing off from then onwards due to recent changes in the interpretation of EU law.

This should be good news for young English players as regards four-day cricket, but the opposite trend will be observed in the newest form of the game, with counties adding extra overseas players for the ‘EPL’ from 2010 onwards. The net effect is likely to be an increase in the quality, or at least in the ‘marquee-value’ of overseas players in English (and Welsh) cricket. What price Afridi batting alongside Flintoff for Lancashire?

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Contrary to popular belief, the finale to the County Championship season might be described as exciting, tense, and even ‘grand‘. Four teams (in a division of nine) can still win it, and the same number are still battling against varying probabilities of relegation. Only Surrey, who are already relegated, have nothing to play for, which is just as well as they aren’t playing.

It’s quite handy, really, given that there’s no international cricket going on at the moment.

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Bangladesh, depleted by the departure of 13 players for the ICL, have named six rookies in their provisional squad for the series against New Zealand.

The provisional squad in full is: Tamim Iqbal, Junaid Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful, Raqibul Hassan, Shakib Al Hasan, Mehrab Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Shahadat Hossain, Syed Rasel, Nazmul Hossain, Mahmud Ullah Riyad, Dollar Mahmud, Nafees Iqbal, Rajin Saleh, Tushar Imran, Enamul Haque, Imrul Kayes, Shamsur Rahman, Naeem Islam, Suhrawardy Shuvo, Mahbubul Alam, Sahagir Hossain.

I bet New Zealand are quaking in their boots.

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The dispute between Digicel, the WICB and the Stanford 20/20 for $20m organisers shows no sign of abating. The latest offer by Digicel has been rejected by the Stanford team, which makes the Super Series potentially even more controversial than it already was.

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The recent exodus of Bangladeshi players to the ICL, and their subsequent 10-year ban from playing for Bangladesh, will clearly be a massive setback for the national team. Even before this takes effect, however, there is evidence that, in ODI terms, the team is getting worse.

What can be done about this? Well, reducing the available talent pool due to the ICL ban obviously doesn’t help. Playing against the best more often should help development, but the limited resources of the BCB, as well as their political dependence on the BCCI, may prove to be more difficult obstacles to overcome than even the absence of former stars such as Habibul Bashar.

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What a turnaround. Take a bow, Glen Chapple.

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