Thursday, 29 December 2011

Scout Report: Ed Cowan

Watching the first day of the Australia versus India series gave everyone a good chance to analyse the newest opening batting partnership, and gave me a first look at Ed Cowan. He's a very traditional opening batsman, in that he sees his job as to blunt the new ball to allow the middle order stroke-players to play around him.

Cowan started his fist innings in test cricket pretty slowly, at one point having only 2 runs off his first 23 balls but this didn't panic him. He kept leaving good balls on length and started to expand his scoring, with one beautiful straight drive the pick of his shots.

He's not the most technically excellent, his open stance means he loses out on a lot of free balls on leg stump and the fact his stance is so wide can hamper him in going fully back and fully forward. But his mental strength is such that he can overcome these faults, and he made a battling 68 from 177 balls before getting a stinker of a decision, given caught behind when he clearly didn't hit the ball. 

In the second innings, he was LBW leaving a ball from Yadav alone. Hawk eye showed him to be a little unlucky with that decision too, but the perils of leaving the ball too much when it's swinging came to the fore. This dismissal shouldn't overshadow a very decent test debut, he's a player who seems to have all the tools to be part of a solid opening partnership.

Performance 7/10
Potential 7/10

Monday, 26 December 2011

Brits Abroad: Week 5

Merry Christmas everyone, Brits Abroad returns late on Boxing Day. Most of the Brits this week have been playing in the Big Bash League, and with the usual Zimbabwean cricket to report on, grade cricket in Australia and Bilal Shafayat in Pakistan round this off.

We'll start with the Big Bash, a tournament with five Brits in it, all of whom have played international cricket. Jade Dernbach and everyone's favourite all-round non entity Luke Wright are playing for the Melbourne Stars, and neither are doing very well, Wright picking up 0 and 0-42 and Dernbach 1-44 against the Brisbane Heat. Still, the Stars managed a win despite them, with the help of economical spells from Warne and McKay

Neither Owais Shah or Michael Lumb are doing much better though, managing 11 runs between them as Lumb's Sydney Sixers beat Shah's Hobart Hurricanes (how I hate these team names). Still at least there's Paul Collingwood to pick up the baton... bowling one over for thirteen for the Perth Scorchers. Oh.

The Brits are not faring much better in Zimbabwe, in three matches I missed the last time out. Firstly the Mashonaland Eagles beat Southern Rocks by an innings and 89 runs, with Rory Hamilton-Brown making a duck in his only innings. Still, he ended up on the winning side which is more than can be said than for any of the Brits in a rain affected draw between Tuskers and Mountaineers. Paul Horton made a round 50 opening for Tuskers in the first innings and 21 in the second, but he was the only Brit playing for Tuskers, with Adam Wheater either having been dropped or gone home, I'll try to find out which for next time. On the opposite side, Ned Eckersley had the gloves for Mountaineers and he did well with them, taking six catches in the match, to add to a first innings 21.

Phil Mustard was back opening for Mountaineers in the next match, only making 2 in a one day match against Tuskers, Ned Eckersley didn't bat and picked up two catches, including that of Paul Horton for six.

So far, so bad. Now into grade cricket, where today Monty Panesar returned figures of 10-0-37-0 in the first innings against Western Suburbs for Randwick Petersham. That's it though, no other player has played since the 17th.

Sorry about the quality of this entry, I can only work with what I can find. Slim pickings this week. Cheerio!

Monday, 19 December 2011

Brits Abroad - Belated Week 4

Apologies to anyone who may have been reading this series, Monday's have started getting quite busy for me, but I promise I'll try to get this back on track. This week, catching up, and the start of the Big Bash.

I'm going to start with someone who's got himself into form since my last post, Owais Shah has played an integral part in Cape Cobras' victory in the Franchise 1-Day Cup, with three fifties in their last four games, including a match winning 83 in the final of the competition. Now he's moved on to Australia, and scored 24 in his first Big Bash Game, run out by another Brit Abroad, Paul Collingwood. The former England batsman is playing in the Big Bash for Perth Scorchers, and whilst he didn't contribute with the bat or ball (4, and 0-20 off two overs) he ran out Owais and Rhett Lockyear, both guilty of a bit of lazy cricket.

Staying in the Big Bash league, we check on the fortunes of the two Brits Abroad at the Melbourne Stars: Luke Wright and Jade Dernbach. Wright made a useful contribution of 27 off 20 balls down the order to help the Stars to 153. Neither player had much luck bowling, ending up with 1-35 and 0-36 off their respective four overs, as the Stars lost to Sydney Hurricanes. Still, both bowled two more overs than a certain SK Warne, on the comeback trail.

The only other Brit in the BBL, is Michael Lumb and he made only 18, opening the batting in the first match of the tournament, caught at cover by Brendon McCullum, off a leading edge.

Across the Tasman Sea, and into New Zealand, as Steven Finn finished his spell at Otago with 0-55 and 3-71 in a Plunket Shield match against Wellington. His spell at Otago has not been a huge success, with only 9 wickets in 4 first class matches at the average of 36.22. One plus point is the continued emergence of more control, with an economy rate of 2.56 over the spell.

We move to Zimbabwe, and it's been a mixed bag for the Brits Abroad here, Gary Ballance made two quick 50s, with 53 off 25 and 67 off 34, but his Mid West Rhinos failed to make the finals. In the qualifying final it was the end of Adam Wheater's Matabeland Tuskers. Wheater failed to shine in the tournament, the naturally attacking batsman strangely has never taken to T20, and he only batted in two of his five matches, with a high score of nine.

Peter Trego and Rory Hamilton-Brown both failed to shine in any real way, with the best performance from either of them being a 71 not out from Trego. Hamilton-Brown is staying on in Zimbabwe though, to play first class cricket for the same team.

Now to the best Brits in Australian grade cricket, Monty Panesar has been playing for Randwick Petersham, his most impressive figures an astonishing 2-3 off four overs in a T20 match. Other than that, his performances look to have been pretty average, since he got eight wickets in his first three games he hasn't managed more than two in an innings since.

The other star performer this month has been Greg Smith whose 82 against Tea Tree Gully may have been the best score by any of our Brits Abroad in grade cricket yet... it's a tough old system.

Again, sorry about the wait for this post, hopefully the next one won't take as long... and will be a bit better. Cheerio! 

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Scout Report: Mitchell Starc

What do you say? An Australian left-arm quick bowler called Mitchell? Does he spray the ball around everywhere and only occasionally pull out good spells from nowhere?

Well, not quite, this is Mitchell Starc, not Johnson, and at first sight he seems just as exciting a prospect as Johnson did when he first arrived on the scene, and with much fewer technical faults in his action.

He isn't as quick as Johnson, but in a few other ways he's similar. He has the same long delivery stride and the same sort of shoulder based action, but good news, that's pretty much where the similarities end. Starc runs up with a loping gait, and based on his run up he looks fairly medium pace. Then he extends his front leg into a big delivery stride and slings the ball down at around 85mph. When it's full it swings, when it's shorter it seams, and when it's even shorter it can cause the batsman some pain.

On his first day of test cricket today, he's taken two wickets, both with short and wide deliveries, firstly cramping McCullum for room then getting Ryder swishing outside off, both cut shots going straight to Warner at point.

So far so good, and he can only get quicker and better, but a word of warning: he could be another Johnson.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Oh Sachin, why are you putting people through this?

I wonder if Sachin Tendulkar slept last night? I wouldn't have. He's talked in the past about not thinking about the hundredth hundred, but regardless of that, he must have thought about it a little, going to bed, he's only human.

When he was dismissed earlier today, for 94 his dismissal was met but the most abrupt silence I've ever heard. You could hear a pin drop in Wankhede stadium as Tendulkar slashed at a short delivery from Ravi Rampaul and edged it to Darren Sammy at second slip.

As millions of Indians would have, I sat aghast, like every time since he got that world cup hundred, it seemed like it was destiny that he was going to get that hundredth one. It didn't happen in the world cup, fine, he'll get it in England. Out in the 90s in the last test, ok, he'll get it at home. At what point does it become too much for him? At what point does it start to look like he'll never get another hundred?

After all, I had really believed he was going to get it this time, not out over night on 67, I got up at 4:30am thinking it was start of play time, turns out I was half an hour off. No matter, Sachin had used the time to push on to 94, it seemed like destiny.

But that's cricket. That's why cricket's marvellous, you can get up to watch a test match, expecting one thing, and one thing only, and the inconceivable happens, and you're better for the experience, but still going back to bed.

EDIT: Whoops, it was Ravi Rampaul rather than Fidel Edwards who got the wicket of Tendulkar, now corrected.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Oh dear David Morgan

The results are in, and it's not good news. After consulting with "in excess of 300 individuals including players, supporters, media, coaches, county chairmen, county chief executives and ECB officials" David Morgan has got almost everything wrong.

First, let's start with the good news, one day cricket is going back to 50 overs. This is fairly good news in that it brings England back in line with ODI cricket, which is played over 50 overs, but some will be sad to see 40 overs go, given how the format takes some of the middle overs, which can become fairly predictable, away.

Now on to the bad news, and I think it's best to start with the ridiculous reduction of County Championship games to fourteen. Sixteen games was itself a reduction from the days of a one division championship, when teams used to play in excess of twenty or thirty games in a season. Of course, that reduction was needed with the introduction  of one day cricket, and the switch to two divisions turned out to be an excellent move. So why are they still tinkering?

From the ridiculous, to the just plain odd: the jumbled up nature of the fixture calender has been a source of annoyance to many people for a while, so why has Morgan decided on mixing it up even more? Now he recommends starting County Chanpionship matches "on Fridays in the early season, on Sundays in mid-season, and Mondays at the end of the season."

Now to the Very Silly Point review, I haven't consulted with "in excess of 300 individuals," and I haven't been ECB and ICC chairman, but I think I can think of some better suggestions.

1) County Championship games stay at 16, that part of the system works fine
2) Start Championship games on a Wednesday, so they finish on a Saturday
3) Play the one day competition on a Sunday, back to back games between the same teams.
4) Play T20 matches on Monday and Tuesday evenings (and Wednesday/Thursday) if there's no Championship
5) Reduce T20 to 10 games in the regular season, with three groups of six, and eight teams going through to the quarter finals, two automatically and two best third placed teams, just like the old system.

Done, how simple was that? I realise that this isn't a perfect system, but I think it's a damn sight better than the Morgan Review.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Brits Abroad: Week 3

Welcome to week three, I start writing this with half an hour left in Monday, but it is a Monday feature, so it's against the clock. If you're reading this, hopefully I got it out on time.

This week I'm going to switch it round just for the hell of it and start in South Australian grade cricket where there are plenty of Brits milling around. The player who has had the best week for his club is Greg Smith, the former Derbyshire all-rounder, who has shown his class with 70 when opening the batting for Adelaide Uni versus Glenelg. Also at the same club is Gloucestershire all-rounder Ed Young, who has not impressed with his batting, his only significant contribution being 30 in a T20 game, but his bowling has been better with 12 wickets at 20.58 so far.

Another player having a good time of it is Port Adelaide (and Sussex) leggie Will Beer, who has finally got more overs under his belt, taking 2-26 in the first innings of a losing effort against Woodville, and 2-14 in a T20 game. Neil Pinner was playing for Woodville against Beer's Port Adelaide, and made 37 and 20*, batting at No.5.

Out of Australia now, as there are no significant contributions to report from Cox, Pardoe or Whiteley, and heading just across the sea to New Zealand where Steven Finn is in the middle of a Plunket Shield match for Otago with 0-34 off 12 overs all he has to show so far. Tune in next week for the completion of this match.

It's Zimbabwe time now, where the first class competition is taking a break, and the teams are playing warm up games for the T20 competition. We start with the Matabeland Tuskers and Adam Wheater, who scored a briskly paced 76* as the Tuskers declared behind against the Mid West Rhinos. Also ending not out in that match was Paul Horton who scored 64* - after making a duck in the first innings -  in a futile chase, the match ending in a draw.

Also playing in that match, on the other side, was the very much in form Zimbabrit (yeah I invented a word) Gary Ballance, who made another half century (62) in the first innings of the match. Since then the Rhinos have played their first warm up match for the Stanbic Bank T20, against Kenya, and Ballance continued his good form, notching a run a ball 43 to anchor the Rhinos chase.

Moving to the Mountaineers, Phil Mustard has quickly adapted to Zimbabwe, scoring 105 opening the batting versus Southern Rocks in a thumping innings victory. Ned Eckersley has been in less great form with the bat, scoring only 19 in the same match, but making up with it by taking 8 catches, then 2 catches and a stumping in the following T20 warm up game.

Peter Trego and Rory Hamilton-Brown have made their Mashonoland Eagles debuts in T20 warm up matches with some bits and pieces all round performances. Neither has been great yet, but it's just the warm ups.

Moving south slightly into Cape Town, and Owais Shah's spell with the Cape Cobras has improved slightly, but he's yet to make a significant contribution, scoring 27 and 16 in two Franchise 1-Day Cup matches this week.

Finally, we end in Pakistan, with Bilal Shafayat's spell at Habib Bank, where he has put in some decent perfomances, this week making 66 in the second innings against Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, not enough though to steer his team to victory in their chase.

So, this week I've cobbled together an affair, and published it half an hour after Monday finished. I'll do better next week, promise. Sorry for the lack of links. Cheerio.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Brits Abroad: We're going Zimbabwe crazy.

It's Monday, so I guess it's time for Brits Abroad. From Ballance to Shafayat (well no Shafayat this time), it's your blogging round-up on what British country cricketers are up to in their off-season (so long as they're playing cricket).

First up, there's a few new signings, and players in places I didn't notice before to report. One of these being Phil Mustard who has signed for five weeks with Mountaineers, and has already got a game under his belt, scoring 9 opening in a Pro50 one day game. Meanwhile, also in Zimbabwe, Peter Trego has joined the Mashonoland Eagles, to play alongside Rory Hamilton-Brown in the Zimbabwe T20 competition.

Apologies to Leicestershire keeper-batsman Ned Eckersley who I completely missed in my first update, despite the fact that he's been in Zimbabwe playing for Mountaineers since the end of October. His best contribution so far has been an important second innings 85 to help his team to victory against Gary Ballance's Mid West Rhinos.

I already reported Ballance's 100 in that game last week, and his fine form has continued, with the opener scoring an unbeaten 108 to help Rhinos to an easy Pro50 win over the Tuskers. Also playing in that game were the Tuskers' two resident Brits: Adam Wheater of Essex and Lancashire's Paul Horton, neither managed a significant score.

Moving away from Africa and into New Zealand, where Steven Finn's spell with Otago continues, and his new miserly bowling style with it. After the one wicket he picked up in the early stages of the game with Canterbury, he added two tail-enders as they made it to 420-9 declared, before playing a part in demolishing them for 61 in their second innings, taking two top order wickets to finish with 2-10 in the innings, and match figures of 5-97.

Back to Africa, and Owais Shah's spell with the Cape Cobras is not going well for him, this week making scores of 8 and 7 in two Franchise 1-Day Cup matches. Despite this the Cobras won both matches, and with his team in good form, surely not too long until that rubs off on Owais?

Out of first class cricket now, and in to the competitive South Australian grade cricket competitions. This week I'll just run through the best performers, one of them being Matt Pardoe, who I didn't pick up on last week. So far, the Worcestershire batsman has been opening the batting for Northern Districts, and has taken a liking to the Adelaide and Adelaide University attacks, scoring 83 and 52 against them respectively.

For some reason I also seemed to think last week that Ben Cox and Neil Pinner were yet to play for Adelaide and Woodville respectively. Both of them had been playing and whilst Cox has only scored 49 runs in 3 innings, Pinner has been batting well, with a top score of 59 and a valuable couple of 40s and 20s.

That's it for this week folks, in two weeks time I'll have the start of the Zimbabwe T20 to cover, and next week I might be able to find some more Brits lodged somewhere in grade cricket. Cheerio.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Why I love Test cricket

For those that say Test cricket is dying, and that T20 is the future, ask yourselves:

Could a T20 have 294 runs and 23 wickets in a day? No
Could T20 have a Michael Clarke masterclass century? No
Could T20 have four separate innings in a day? No
Could T20 have a team bowled out for 47 yet still in the match? No
Could T20 possibly have the ebb and flow of any normal day of test cricket, let alone this extraordinary one? No

Setting the mind-boggling events of today's test match aside, there has been some fantastic test cricket around lately. Pakistan v Sri Lanka managed to make three reasonably entertaining and even contests out of three dead pitches. Pakistan's bowlers are starting to look a special prospect. Even two of the lowest ranked (and in Zimbabwe's case unranked) teams managed to pull out a thriller with New Zealand's enterprising declaration setting up an exciting chase which Zimbabwe only just failed in.

Even a series which looks like it could be a mismatch is looking competitive. Sure, India won the first test against the West Indies, but they were in trouble at one point, and there were fine individual performances from the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul (a player ill suited to T20, but perfect for a test match) and the improving West Indies seam attack.

Even mismatches can be interesting in Tests, who wouldn't say that they enjoyed the smart cricket and ruthlessness practised by the English team in taking apart Australia then India.

First class cricket is the only place where you can get the biggest and the best of everything. Where did Brian Lara score his 501*, or Hanif Mohammed his 499? Where did Jim Laker take his 19-90, Hedely Verity his 10-10? Where did Jack Hobbs score 197 centuries? He couldn't have done that in T20.

Test cricket at the moment is very lucky to have 10 reasonably competitive teams. England are justly top of the world, competitive in all conditions and a well balanced team. South Africa have the best bowler, all-rounder and wicket-keeper in the world, added to batsmen of the class and quality of De Villiers and Amla. India have a great batting line up and are tough to beat at home.

Australia are inconsistent, but have fast bowlers of quality and great strength in their batting line up. Sri Lanka are going backwards, but are still difficult to beat. Pakistan are growing in strength and seem to have a conveyor belt of fast bowlers. West Indies and New Zealand are a couple of players away from good teams, and Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have talent, but are not always able to harness it. That's because test matches are the ultimate challenge for a team. You can win ODIs and T20s without being better than the other team, but that bit of luck won't win you a test match or test series.

I could wax lyrical forever about why Test cricket is far superior to T20, but I feel a brief metaphor would do it best: T20 is a quick snack, alright if it's all you can get, but Test cricket is a four course meal, just so much more satisfying.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Brits Abroad: Ballance and Shafayat impress

Welcome to Brits Abroad. From now on, this'll be my Monday blogging round-up of the exploits of British cricketers as they play cricket all over the world. From Australia to Zimbabwe, I'm looking everywhere, but if I've missed someone please point them out in the comments and I'll try to include them in the future.

As an Essex fan, forgive me for starting with an Essex player: combative wicket-keeper batsman Adam Wheater is embarking on his second season for Matabeleland Tuskers in Zimbabwe first class cricket. So far he's had the gloves on, and also played as a specialist batsman, his most significant contribution so far being top-scoring with 76 in Tuskers nine wicket win over Southern Rocks.

Staying in Zimbabwe, we have Gary Ballance, born in Zimbabwe, but given he started his first class career in England, and is contracted to Yorkshire I've decided he's British enough for this column. That's a good thing too, because whilst captaining Mid West Rhinos, he's had a storming start to the season, scoring three hundreds and one fifty in five first class innings so far, the only blip being a duck in the second innings of the game against Mountaineers. Despite his brilliance with the bat, the Rhinos are in mid-table with a win, a draw and a loss from their first three games.

Moving south, we come to another Essex player, playing for Cape Cobras in South Africa, it's the man who defines the word under-achieving, Owais Shah. Since the Cobras returned from the Champions League - where Shah impressed with scores of 45 and 63* - they've played just two one day games. One was almost completely washed out, and in the other he scored only 11 while his team-mates cashed in to score 379 in 50 overs. Still, plenty of time to improve.

Further south still, and on the other side of the world, one of England's long line of tall fast bowlers and frequent  target of Graeme Swann's twitter bullying, it's Steven Finn. In New Zealand's Plunket Shield, it's Otago who will profit form the steadily improving seamer. Currently, in their first match of the season Finn has been economical, and picked up the wicket of Canterbury opener Rob Nicol. His figures so far read: 21-8-43-1.

We move to Pakistan now, and Northants batsman Bilal Shafayat who has had reasonable success with Habib Bank in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Division One. His top score score from three matches is 104, and he's also scored another fifty, batting at number three.

Out of first class cricket now and we move into Australian grade cricket where there are a number of British youngsters gaining experience in new conditions. Amongst them is Derbyshire all-rounder Ross Whitely, who in his first match for South Australian club Prospect scored a second innings 72 and took 5-63 against Northern Districts.

Sussex leg-spinner Will Beer has also been having success in the West End A Grade for Port Adelaide, in his first match taking 4-45 to help his club beat East Torrens on first innings. Strangely, since then he's played two more games and not bowled again.

Other players also playing in grade cricket include Greg Smith, who has 73 runs from 4 matches so far, and Neil Pinner, Mat Pardoe, and Ben Cox, all of whom are yet to play a match.

N.B. Next time I'll include scorecard source links, unfortunately this time I forgot until I was finished, and frankly I couldn't be bothered to chase them all up again. Cheerio.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Tactics watch: Tail end pinch hitting from Zimbabwe

During their impressive if ultimately unsuccessful run chase against New Zealand, Zimbabwe used an odd tactic, the No. 11 promoted to pinch hit at No.8. When the sixth wicket, of Regis Chakabva fell, Zimbabwe were on 303, with still another 63 runs needed to win.

The job of getting these runs (or holding out for the draw) fell to the last recognised batsman Malcom Waller, along with the tail of Price, Jarvis, Mpofu, and Ncube. So, in an interesting piece of lateral thinking, Ncube was promoted up the order. His job seemed to be twofold, slog some quick runs and more unusually farm the strike from a specialist batsman.

The thinking behind the decision seems to have been a combination of not trusting Ncube's defensive technique if he had to bat for the draw at No.11, and the idea that if his slogging came off they could push for the win. In addition, Ncube going for the quick runs meant that Waller could concentrate on preserving his wicket and batting through to the end to preserve a draw if wickets fell at the other end.

In reality, the ploy threatened to come off but ultimately failed. Ncube looked dangerous when he was in, heaving Vettori for a huge six over mid-wicket and bunting a couple of useful twos. This quick scoring (14 off 13 balls) briefly vindicated the decision, but his lack of defensive technique was exposed when he was clean bowled by Doug Bracewell.

After he got out, the rest of the tail end meekly subsided, and the match finished as a contest when Waller was LBW to Vettori. Full credit to Zimbabwe for trying, but most of the time gambles like that don't come off.

Friday, 4 November 2011

All-rounders: The Batter v The Bowler - The Past

Ok, the title is slightly cryptic, but the basic point is simple. I'm bored so I'm going to imagine the great all-rounders (and some not so great, some not so all-round) bowling at themselves. Who will win out of Sobers the bowler, and Sobers the batsman? Botham the bowler and the batsman? You get the idea.

Garry Sobers
The greatest all-rounder of all time is probably the best place to start, and it's not an open and shut decision. The batsman has the gravity defying test average of 57, and the bowler the relatively modest average of 34, albeit with 235 test wickets. His status as a bowler is enhanced by his versatility, he could open the bowling at a brisk fast-medium then come back later on bowling left arm orthodox or chinaman.
The Verdict: The batsman would get an enterprising and brilliant hundred, but his wicket would ultimately fall to himself... the batsman edges it.

Ian Botham
Another tricky one, England's finest all-rounder was at his peak one of the most destructive batsmen and bowlers in the world, in the first half of his test career - spanning 51 tests - he averaged 38 with the bat and 23 with the ball. This version of Botham would smash centuries then run in and knock better batsmen than himself over.
The Verdict: The batsman would smash a quick-fire 20 before edging to slip trying one too many ambitious shots... the bowler gets it

Richard Hadlee
A slightly easier one here, Hadlee the batsman was hard hitting and decent for runs in the lower order, but Hadlee the bowler ended up with 431 test wickets, and troubled even the greatest batsmen of his era.
The Verdict: The bowler gets the batsman early on then proceeds to rip through the rest of the line-up/

Imran Khan
Whilst Botham started his career brilliantly and tailed off with age, Imran Khan just got better and better. In his last 10 years of test cricket - spanning 51 tests - he averaged 50 with the bat and 19 with the ball, stats that even beat the great Sobers. At his pomp it's almost impossible to tell whether batsman would beat bowler so...
The Verdict: I simply don't know, it just comes down to who has the better day.

Kapil Dev
The first, and only great Indian all-rounder, Kapil Dev was the fastest bowler India had ever produced and even when he slowed, the best fast bowler India's ever had. Add that to a very competent batsman, who averaged 31 and scored 8 test hundreds and you have a man who would have been regarded as the best all-rounder in the world in almost every other era than the one he played in.
The Verdict: The stats point to the bowler, and I have to agree, but not until after the batsman's scored a quick 40 odd... the bowler gets it.

Next time, the best all-rounders of the present and closer past... don't wait up!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Scout Report: Doug Bracewell

The sixth member of the Bracewell family to play first class cricket, has now become the third member to play test cricket for New Zealand. He follows in the footsteps of father Brendon Bracewell, a seam bowler who played six tests, and uncle John Bracewell, an off-spinning all-rounder who played 41 tests.

Enough about his forebears though, what Doug Bracewell himself. Well, he's a bustling seam bowler, who bowls at a decent pace, and was rather fortunate through a spate of injuries to get a chance at test level. His first class record isn't great, but given that he's only played 17 games, he still has plenty of time to improve.

Bracewell opened up the bowling with Chris Martin, and whilst Martin went for seven off his first over, he managed six consecutive maidens to start his test career. To say he bowled tight would be an understatement, mostly he bowled straight for the LBW but he wasn't adverse to the odd tempter outside off stump, and the odd well directed bouncer.

Whilst he was economical, Bracewell was hardly incisive, the one chance created off his bowling was a short ball edged through the slips for four. Still, his action looks strong, and figures of 10-7-13-0 show what his bowling was about, economical but not incisive.

Performance 7/10
Potential 8/10

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Stannington CC - Club from the ashes

What better thing to use for my first blog-post here, than an original piece of cricket related journalism I've done for a module in my journalism degree.

It's an audio piece about Stannington CC, a cricket club which disbanded after its pavilion burnt down in 2006. Now an ex-player and secretary from the club, Graham Noble, is trying to revive the club.

I found interviewing Graham very interesting, and the interview is very informative about the difficulties of reforming a club, from the council to the housing company that owns the land.