Sunday, 31 January 2010

England's travelling batsmen

A few of England's second string players have been quietly getting on with their cricket Down Under (assuming 'Down Under' includes New Zealand?) over the winter, some with more success than others!

Ravi Bopara has been plying his trade as Auckland's overseas player, and Owais Shah and Graham Napier have been fulfilling the same role for Wellington and Central Districts respectively. Owais Shah had the fewest opportunities because Auckland failed to make the final while the other two did, but he did ok in the games he did play, averaging 28.5 with a high score of 65 and an impressive strike rate of 145, the tenth best in the HRV Cup (New Zealand's Twenty20 Cup).

Bopara was less impressive, averaging just 17 with only one fifty, and a lacklustre strike rate of just 100, he above all will be very disappointed with that return. He did chip in with 12 wickets along the way though, coming at 21 apiece which is a decent return.

Napier though continues to impress me. He bowls quicker than you think, I remember a televised game last year and he was up around 85-86mph, and it gets him plenty of wickets. He ended the competition as the top wicket taker with 18 at 16 apiece, and his economy rate of 6.9 was better even than the eternally frugal Dan Vettori. That included a potentially tournament-winning spell of 2-17 off 3 overs in the final which featured the wicket of one RS Bopara.

Napier didn't get many opportunities with the bat, only featuring in 8 of the 11 games, and mostly coming in at number 8 or below, so his average of 8.8 doesn't tell us much. I think he probably deserves to come in a bit higher to show off his devastating hitting, though even at Essex he often comes in very low down.

I know that the NZ domestic competition mightn't be the strongest in the world, but its not bad, the likes of Vettori, Oram, Taylor and Franklin all played throughout. I really think a player like Napier deserves a chance in Twenty20s for England, and with yet another World Twenty20 just around the corner, a side with him and Mascarenhas in it could spring a real surprise.

Note: Ross Taylor hit a faintly ridiculous 80 off 30 balls in the final, I really think Surrey should look no further for the Twenty20 Cup!

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Tremlett signing confirmed

The rumours have been confirmed, Chris Tremlett has signed a three year deal to play his cricket at the Oval.

I've been banging on an on about our need for a front line seamer. There weren't a huge number available and I think the decision to sign Tremlett is a very good one. A pace attack of Nel, Dernbach and Tremlett, with backup from Jordan depending on the situation, is very handy indeed.

You can't fault Adams and the rest of the management staff, we needed an overhaul and that's just what we've got, here's hoping they can turn it into some results on the field!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Mohammad Ashraful - wasting his talent

Ashraful is like a combination of Mark Ramprakash and Ian Bell, perhaps not quite as talented as either, but surely for Bangladeshi fans, equally if not more frustrating.

In ODIs, after 156 matches, he averages 23.9 and in tests its even worse, after 99 innings (100 and 101 will occur in the current test against India) he averages 22.9. He is probably the most talented batsman to come out of Bangladesh so far, though the likes of Tamim, Mahmudullah and Shakib al-Hasan are vying for that spot, and yet he continually fails to get the big scores.

And its not just that he doesn't get the scores, its the way he gets out that is so frustrating. I've watched him a few times recently, in the current test series against India and also in the tri-series against Sri Lanka and India. He almost invariably gets to 12 or 16, purely in dashing boundaries, and then plays an airy waft at another and gets out. The crowd seem to adore him still, which is all the more baffling!

Jamie Siddons, the Bangladesh coach, came out and said that the only reason Ashraful hasn't been dropped is because of a lack of quality alternatives. This is quite a statement to make regarding one of his senior players. But for a coach, he must be the height of frustration. Anyone who saw him hit THAT hundred against Australia at Cardiff would justifiably have marked him out as the finest Bangladeshi talent of this generation, but he's never quite hit those heights again and I wonder if he ever will.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Tremlett poised for Surrey switch

More from the font of all cricket knowledge (apart from me), the Telegraph who have it that Chris Tremlett will move to Surrey on Monday.

Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman has said that a move 'might reinvigorate him', which seems to confirm that he's on his way out of Hampshire. It also says Tremlett has spoken to a couple of counties, so hopefully Surrey are top of the list for his services.

I really cannot stress how important it is that Surrey make this signing. It will add depth and quality to our pace attack, which we so badly need. Hopefully he can put his injury worries behind him and play plenty of cricket this season, he'd be a real handful for most county batsman - he'll even get wickets on the Oval pitch!

I would imagine this will be the last of Surrey's signings, apart from hopefully some overseas players for the T20 Cup. I genuinely believe we need an experienced opener to help Brown convert his 30s and 40s into hundreds, but I don't think it'll happen. They'll probably go with Harinath or Spriegel to open, which I do not think will bear much fruit. Not because I don't think they're good players, they are and they definitely have a future at Surrey, but I think Brown needs an experienced hand with him.

All in all, I can't complain about Surrey's antics in the transfer market, Davies, Batty, Chawla, Tremlett and Hamilton-Brown undoubtedly strengthen the side almost beyond recognition. Now its down to Adams and RHB to get the most out of this lot, and maybe promotion isn't out of the question!