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.