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Posts Tagged ‘rob key’

Kent have well documented problems with wind, and not just after Rob Key‘s gone to town on the baked beans and Scotch eggs. The county has announced that they won’t play any day-night matches in the 2010 season as high winds would cause issues with the temporary floodlights at the St. Lawrence Ground.

Two matches have already been affected, including last year’s Pro40 match with Surrey, which was reduced to 27 overs a side.

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The county season’s over for another year, and so here are my picks for the best of 2009

  • Best Bowler: Alfonso Thomas was impressive in the limited-overs competitions, but Graham Onions managed to take 69 first-class wickets at an average of less than 20 whilst breaking into the England side and taking a five-for on Test debut.

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The Twenty20 reaches its conclusion this weekend with the now traditional Finals Day. This year will be the last season of the current format, and will also see the first qualifiers decided for the Champions League after last year’s cancellation.

As well as the exciting prospect of the mascot race being commentated on by Phil Tufnell, the cricket should be of a high standard, with four good sides involved:

  • Somerset, like Kent, are former winners, and the quality of their top order (Trescothick, Langer, Kieswetter…) is beyond question. The bowling is not quite as strong, but if the batsmen make a big enough score that won’t matter too much, and the experience of the older heads will be priceless in the field.
  • Sussex may be missing Matt Prior for Finals Day, but they have quality bowlers in Yasir Arafat and James Kirtley, whilst Luke Wright can make an impact with bat or ball (or both). Defeat in the Friends Provident Trophy final may have sharpened their hunger for success, but Murray Goodwin will need to regain his form if they are to lift the trophy.

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England have announced their squad for the summer’s World Twenty20, having trimmed their initial 30 down to a more manageable 15:

Paul Collingwood captains the side, somewhat suprisingly given his previous reluctance to do so, and the fact that he stood down as One-Day captain a mere nine months ago. Cynics may also suggest that if England’s best hope is someone who couldn’t even get a game in the IPL, then things don’t look good.

The other headlines are the inclusions of Rob Key (interesting because he hasn’t played for England – as opposed to the Lions – since 2005, and his last limited-overs international was way back in 2004), James Foster (also recalled after a long exile), Eoin Morgan (‘borrowed’ from Ireland), Graham Napier (another IPL bench-warmer, albeit with a fair bit of Twenty20 pedigree) and Leek’s very own Ryan Sidebottom.

The rest of the squad comprises James Anderson, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Andrew Flintoff, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Kevin Pietersen, Owais Shah, Graeme Swann, Luke Wright.

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After all the speculation about whether Bell, Key, Shah or Vaughan would be England’s number 3 batsmen against the West Indies, the collective gasp from the nation’s cricket writers was almost audible even outside of London as none of the aforementioned candidates even made it into the squad for the First Test.

Ravi Bopara is now expected to fill the third slot in the England’s batting order. Whilst I’m a fan of Bopara, he doesn’t strike me as a Test number three. It has always struck me as a little strange that Kevin Pietersen is so reluctant to bat at three, which suggests that he doesn’t rate himself against the new ball.

To think that Kevin Pietersen doesn’t rate himself at anything is so counter-inituitive that it makes my head hurt.

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England have delayed naming their Test squad for the series against the West Indies, because the selectors “need more time to assess players who are returning after injury”.

This gives the likes of Ian Bell and Michael Vaughan an extra nine days to impress, an effect which may not be entirely coincidental. The poor showing for the MCC by Vaughan, Bell and Rob Key means that there are few real candidates for the number three spot who are in any sort of form. Although Bell recently made 172 for Warwickshire, it is perhaps felt too soon to bring him back (even if he would clearly disagree). An extra week-and-a-bit may provide an opportunity for someone to play themselves into a ‘selectable’ position.

Another factor involved in the delay may be concerns over players picking up injuries in the IPL. Andrew Flintoff is reportedly already feeling the strain on his ankle after a mere 4 overs for the Chennai Super Kings, and it’s not difficult to imagine something happening to Collingwood or Pietersen in South Africa either (even if, in the latter’s case, the main injury threat may come from angry Saffer spectators).

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  • Derbyshire have brought in Stuart Law (who was cut loose by Lancashire) to boost their one-day firepower, but he won’t feature much in the County Championship. Charl Langeveldt will also be absent for at least three matches following his acquisition by Kolkatta for the IPL, but captain Chris Rogers is probably the best short-sighted colour-blind ginger cricketer in the world.
  • Gloucestershire, if anything, had an even worse season than Glamorgan, finishing rock bottom of the Championship in 2008. John Bracewell has a tough task on his hands to turn things around, but James Franklin’s arrival will help improve the standard of a bowling attack that struggled so much last year.
  • Northamptonshire struggled to win matches in 2008, so may be secretly hoping that Monty Panesar is dropped by England so that he can take key wickets for his county. The motley crew of Kolpaks and ‘Steelboks’ will otherwise have its work cut out to improve on last year’s showing.
  • Surrey find themselves back in Division Two once again, but the summer’s signings of Andre Nel – who will be available throughout the season – and Grant Elliot will boost their chances of promotion. Mark Ramprakash, of course, is still there, and now that he has passed the 100 centuries milestone, his county will be hoping that the part-time ballroom dancer returns to his form of 2006 and 2007.

A Division One preview will follow tomorrow.

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Given the fact that England’s preliminary squad for the World Twenty20 doesn’t include current captain Andrew Strauss (who admittedly doesn’t have the best T20I pedigree), the selectors will be on the hunt for a new leader. Here are some of the contenders:

  • Andrew Flintoff has been there before, got the t-shirt and sunk the pedalo. His form dipped the last time he took charge (a spell which included a 5-0 drubbing in the Ashes), which is likely to mitigate against his selection.
  • Kevin Pietersen will be talked about as a possibility, but it would be a massive gamble for both player and selectors to return so quickly to an arrangement which ended in such chaotic circumstances back in January.

There are, of course, other possibilities within the squad, and the ECB isn’t exactly known for making sensible or long-term choices, so it could be anyone.

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The start of the English County season is almost upon us, and the evidence arrived today with the naming of the MCC’s team to take on County Champions Durham in the traditional curtain-raiser. Most reports are highlighting the inclusion of former England captain Michael Vaughan in the side (alongside fellow England castaway Ian Bell), but it’s worth mentioning that the team will be captained by Rob Key, who hasn’t played Test cricket since January 2005.

Key’s continued absence from the main England side whilst simultaneously being viewed by the ECB as ‘reserve captain‘ (the ECB was involved in the selection of the MCC team, and Key has led the England Lions for some time) suggests that Vaughan is the most likely player in the team to play in this summer’s Ashes defeat series against Australia.

The MCC team in full is: Rob Key (c), Kabir Ali, Ian Bell, Steven Finn, James Foster, Sajid Mahmood, Stephen Moore, Adil Rashid, Michael Vaughan, Chris Woakes, Tom Westley

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Cricket isn’t the sport it used to be.

Time was, even the most portly of players could find a place in most international sides (and judging by Jesse Ryder and Dwayne Leverock, many still can), and even chain-smokers were thought to have sufficient physical conditioning to bowl for England .

No longer – it seems it’s no longer OK to be an unfit cricketer. Samit Patel has been dropped by England for the forthcoming One Day matches against the West Indies, owing to ‘unsatisfactory fitness‘.

Where does this leave Rob Key? Joking aside (Key has actually slimmed down considerably since his, ahem, peak), the modern game – especially in its limited-overs variants – makes physical demands of players which were never made of the likes of Gatting or Grace, and there should probably be a minimum fitness requirement, even for spin bowlers.

I hope that this doesn’t herald the end of overweight international cricketers, though. In these difficult times, cricket fans everywhere are in need of a few players with the ‘XXL-factor’. Failing that,  I’ll settle for someone who makes the gulf in class between my own pathetic attempts at cricket and the real thing seem just a little less than it actually is. How else can I rationalise my dreams of taking the wicket that clinches the Ashes, or knocking off the winning runs in the World Cup final?

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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 a general feeling that this would be a runfest, Kent’s openers were both gone before 20 runs had been scored. Van Jaarsveld and >McLaren made half-centuries to help the Spitfires set a not-too-humiliating 215 as the victory target for Essex, but the Eagles, with the likes of Bopara and Napier in the side, would clearly knock off 215 in no time. Wouldn’t they?

Essex made a good start before Mahmood struck to remove Pettini and Gallian, with Robbie Joseph then getting rid of danger-men Bopara and Cook. Grant Flower stepped up, Stevens dropped ten Doeschate, Essex won with 7 balls to go.

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