England’s forgotten man

In times past, England selectors could generally be relied on to make at least one howler a summer. Alan Wells, Aftab Habib and Alan Igglesden are all examples of county makeweights plunged without warning into the limelight and shunted mercilessly and remorselessly back out of it soon after.

 

Since the central contract era, however, we like to think that the more erratic selectorial decisions have rather been purged; there’s been the odd hunch that’s gone wrong (step to the front of the class, Anthony McGrath), but by and large the new slim-line committee has unearthed some cracking talent. Vaughan, Trescothick and Sidebottom certainly wouldn’t have got a look in had they been around a decade earlier. None of this, however, will be much comfort to Ed Joyce.

 

Joyce’s performances during the CB Series in Australia were solid, excellent in places, and he was by no means the most culpable of England’s World Cup donkeys. But he fell victim to the general call for cull after the Caribbean debacle and hasn’t been mentioned in the same breath as the England team since. Joyce wasn’t even selected for the England Lions teams to face Pakistan and India, a privilege granted to such stellar young talent as Alex Gidman. He appears to have fallen silently but ruthlessly from view, like the myriad Mike Smiths and Warren Heggs before him.

 

Fair enough, you might say. Ed Joyce is no PowerPlay demon, still less middle-overs innovator. But a man who scored two fifties on the biggest one-day stage really deserved better than to be lumped in with the likes of Andrew Strauss (who really did have a stinker in the West Indies, by the way). And besides, Joyce has always been more of a five-day cricketer. He was selected as Marcus Trescothick’s replacement on the Ashes tour, but didn’t get a chance. Now, incomprehensibly, he has been leapfrogged by Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara and, very possibly, Rob Key. Perhaps Joyce might soon be lugging his kit bag back to Dublin in search of an international game.

 

Joyce hasn’t exactly helped his case with some ho-hum county performances this summer. But his anonymity speaks of a more worrying trend – the tendency to judge Test potential on the basis of one-day form. It happened to Chris Read, Kabir Ali and even Jonathan Trott, who may never be seen in England colours again. Joyce deserves a better fate than these, for on his day he can be one of the most effective batsmen in the country. A bumper start for Middlesex next season might swing him back into contention; on the other hand, perhaps he’d be better off perfecting his reverse sweep this winter instead.

Luck of the Irish?

William asked for it (not me; I’m not speaking the third person), so I thought I’d offer thoughts on Ed Joyce’s call-up to replace Marcus Trescothick. I find it baffling, quite honestly. I’ve been a big supporter of him for many years. He’s a calm individual, relaxed at the crease – unfazed by situations – and bats accordingly. He’s very talented indeed but what I saw of him in his brief one-day appearances didn’t inspire much confidence. Worse still, what must Rob Key feel?

Interestingly Key is one of Flintoff’s best buddies, and there will have been no shortage of bellowing from the captain. Stranger still that Owais Shah wasn’t called up, perhaps England’s best player of spin (I can’t think of too many who play spin with such ease). Perhaps they just wanted another left-hander…

Your thoughts, ladies and gents.

Photos from Southgate

Some photos I took at Southgate the other day, Middlesex v Sussex.

www.flickr.com

Eoin Morgan

To be sure
Regular readers, all seven of you, will know how highly I rate Ed Joyce, the Irish and Middlesex batsman. Many think Eoin Morgan, another Oirishman, is as good…if not better. And he’s in action now against Hampshire in the first round of C&G trophy matches.

No sooner had I finished writing that last sentence than Morgan flicked a leg-side delivery straight down fine-leg’s throat. You dickhead, Will. Blogger’s curse.

Oh well, not much more to be said. Other than you pronounce his first name “Owen”, not “Ee-ohh-in” like I did.

Worst attributes for a cricket radio commentator

As per the subject, what would be the worst attributes for a cricket radio commentator? I’ll just throw this one out to the public, after the hilarious response to my last off-beat topic (“Most inappropriate celebrity cricket commentators“).

I guess those with limited hearing, or limited eyesight (deaf and blind, to be blunt). And any politican would be hopeless and inappropriate.

The French.

Americans, en generale.

Yes, basically this is a “cricket is superior, now bog off and let’s laugh at your ignorance at its great glory” post.

For that matter, anyone with Tourette’s would struggle to persuade even the most liberal producer that he deserves a stint in the TMS hot seat (“Here comes McGrath, on a lovely sunny morning…he’s up to the wicket, forward comes Joyce* TOSS BAGS he’s bowled him BUGGER IT, oh, do excuse me.” So, Tourette’s sufferers would struggle I think. Mind you, so would I; I’d brick it if I had to speak to several million on the radio.

Over to you.

* Ed Joyce. [yes he'll be playing then, you see]

P.S. don’t, anyone, suggest “Being female” as an attribute. You saw what happened last time

National Academy squad

As mentioned earlier, three English squads were announced today – including the National Academy squad. It is worth mentioning that a couple of years ago, Andrew Flintoff decided he needed sorting out and went, of his own accord, to the academy. Look what has happened since.

I’m a huge supporter of this academy, so I always take great interest in the names chosen.

National Academy Squad Gareth Batty, Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, Rikki Clarke, Alastair Cook, James Dalrymple, Steven Davies, Mark Footitt, Ed Joyce, Robert Key, Sajid Mahmood, Liam Plunkett, Chris Read, Owais Shah, Tom Smith, Luke Wright, Mike Yardy

There are some useful names there, some familiar, some not so. Alastair Cook was this year voted the Young Cricketer of the Year, and smashed 200 against Australia. Nasser Hussain and Gooch rate him hugely, and by all accounts he is a fine prospect.

Ed Joyce I have written about extensively; he is an even finer prospect, and I hope he really kicks on. He’s a joy to watch, as is Owais Shah. I have my reservations about Shah, though…he has enough talent, and has apparently “settled down” and matured (not that I’m condoning such scandalous happenings). He could well be a bit of a Mark Ramprakash; obscenely gifted, but can’t quite cut it. I’d suggest next summer could be his last chance to make an impression.

I’m also pleased about the third Middlesex player, Jamie Dalrymple! Really useful cricketer; bats, bowls useful offspin, fields well. Really professional cricketer. Could be a dark-horse next year, much as Strauss was. One of those names you never expect to perform for their country, but do.

Exciting seeing and watching these young players. Only a few of them will make it to the England side, so keep your eyes peeled on these names. Any of you seen them play?

Thankfully, they’re ALL UNDER 36!
……………

Middlesex chase down 406 – Joyce makes 1000

As if today’s news couldn’t get any better, Middlesex have chased down an amazing 406 to beat Glamorgan – absolutely brilliant, albeit whilst batting on a road. The best news of all, though, is Ed Joyce has made it to 1000 runs for the season – as I hoped he would – and I’m over the moon. His innings today of 70 came from just 61 balls, on top of his first-innings 155 – 225 runs in the match, without being dismissed. Phenomenal.

I’m not really a stats-man, but here are some for those that are. He’s made 1002 runs (1000 runs in a season is the benchmark for batsmen in England – in case some weren’t aware) @ 91 per innings. Curiously, 4 of the top 6 run scorers this season are English – which hasn’t always been the case, and is especially encouraging given the number of overseas players there are this season (and indeed Aussies). They are (Englishman highlighted in Bold):

Name                Mat    I  NO  Runs   HS     Ave     SR 100 50   Ct St Team

EC Joyce              7   13   2  1002  192   91.09  67.06   2  8    5  - MIDDX
AN Cook               9   16   0   901  195   56.31  54.70   3  3    5  - MCC/ESSEX
M van Jaarsveld       8   14   1   858  262*  66.00  56.18   4  2   12  - KENT
SA Newman             8   13   0   842  219   64.76  69.24   4  -    6  - SURREY
A Flower              9   14   4   823  188   82.30  49.69   3  3    5  - MCC/ESSEX
IR Bell               9   14   3   823  231   74.81  58.57   2  4    4  - WARWICKS/ENG

At this stage in the season, to see an Englishman (ok – an Irishman, but he qualifies in about 2 weeks time) be first to 1000 runs (I think he gets an award for this, too – anyone know?) is really encouraging news, as is the number of young batsmen in the top 20. We’re generally accustomed to seeing the Old Stagers, like Ramprakash and Hick, in the top 5 – but they’re languishing miles behind having made 622 and 620 runs respectively. English Cricket is certainly becoming stronger and stronger with every season, and players – like Joyce, Shah, Key, Bell, Newman – are thriving.

Joyce now ready

“When you’re ready, England” might be what Joyce says to himself whilst batting this season. He looks so laid back at the crease, he could almost have a chat with Fletcher on his mobile, whilst caressing a Gower-esque four through the covers.

He’s the Irishman I keep banging on about who today hit another hundred, and a big one – 155 from just 188 balls, albeit on a decent track. He’s now just 68 runs short of 1000 runs in the season – an awesome feat, and if he gets a chance to bat again in this match, he could well be the first to do it in the country. With all the Australians and other foreign players over here, it would be quite an achievement – as well, of course, as almost certainly being the first Irish national to do it.

He might have to wait a bit though – Bell and Pietersen are higher up the pecking order, but Joyce is a Thorpe-replacement if ever I saw one.

Warne on Pietersen, England and Joyce

Shane Warne, writing for The Times, writes interestingly about Kevin Pietersen (who else) – his new best friend – who he’s nicknamed PK. Yeah, exactly! He reckons… Contine reading