1. Cricinfo –
Hales called up with Cook in doubt
Some players can seamlessly go from being good national level performers to being a good international level performer. In rugby union the current trend is to call them “Test match animals“. Ok, as a phrase it doesn’t necessarily translate to cricket’s three-formats but it is worth considering the thought process behind it. To put it into context, Nick Easter regularly looked a world beater at Quins with his excellent handling skills yet at Test level he lacked something in intensity to look anything other than a one-paced luxury. Mike Brown on the other hand looked pretty good at club level but there was no real indication that he would storm the international stage to the extent he did. That’s a Test Match Animal.
Graeme Hick wasn’t; David Warner is, etc…
So when Alastair Cook picks up an injury with 4 matches to go in a home ODI series against Sri Lanka, this is surely a no-brainer. Alex Hales is not an example of sheer technical prowess; as his mediocre First Class record would indicate. However with a series of blistering performances in the England T20 squad across the past 3 years, Hales has shown the chutzpah to succeed at international level and against international bowlers. The next 50 over World Cup is to be held in Australia, a country where getting an innings off to a fast start is particularly vital to a side’s fortunes. If England are serious about challenging Down Under in 2015, it would be madness not to take a considered look at a player of Hales’ short format promise.
2. Grauniad –
Empty seats for England’s one-day series against Sri Lanka a concern
If only the ECB were better at ‘engaging’ with those ‘stakeholders’ who are ‘outside of cricket’; the ones who actually buy the tickets and pay the SKY subscriptions that fund the game…
Seriously though, it’s the least obvious format for the paying spectator: it doesn’t have the importance of Test cricket, nor quite the boozy “knees-up with cricket in the way” feel of Twenty20. There is something of a 50-over overkill hangover from last year’s many 50 over series’, plus the ICC Trophy that England conteste. It is cold in May, sometimes, and it costs a lot of money to go to these games. England lost 13/14 matches this winter. The charismatic world class off spinner has retired and the most exciting batsman has been jettisoned, yet all the management and captain keep chuntering on about ‘engaging’ with ‘stakeholders’ or ‘re-connecting’. The new MD keeps resolutely schtum for the first 5 months of having his job, then just as England win a game invokes an argument with the player he was apparently keen to move on from.
Some of those things are unavoidable, to be fair. Some of them.
3. BBC –
Jos Buttler targets Adam Gilchrist role in England Test side
This is an older article but it riled me enough to store it on the mental laterbase to come back to at some point (now).
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against players having ambition. I’m not even against them having self-confidence which borders on delusional – some of England’s best ever batsmen have hardly been shrinking violets. However average-yet-aspiring wicket keepers using Adam Gilchrist’s name in vain irks me – Gilchrist is an all-time great! You don’t hear Ranjana Herath targeting ‘the Muralitharan role’, you don’t see Tim Bresnan saying that he can hit a “similarly uncanny line and length to Glenn McGrath”, or Steve Smith muttering about averaging “as many as the Don”…as a wicket-keeper though it is somehow acceptable to name-drop Gilchrist as a natural predecessor. And it is just not on.
ALSO, I sort of have Jos Buttler down as one of “those” players who have been earmarked and pencilled-in for automatic success and selection with not a huge amount to back it up.
Consider this: Steven Davies was jettisoned by England aged 24 after averaging 30.50 in his eight ODI appearances and 20.40 in his five iT20s. Jos Buttler is 24 later this year, he is averaging 30.35 across his ODI matches and 22.00 in iT20s. The only thing which stops the pair’s respective records being practically identical is the vast number of chances and caps that have been granted to Buttler compared to Davies. Throwing out some more cherry-picked stats, Buttler has passed 50 just six times in 65 international appearances, and he scores at a slower rate than Joe Root in T20 matches for England.
I’m not saying there haven’t been any glimpses of something unusual with Buttler, but I wouldn’t exactly be bricking it if I was Matthew Prior.