Willis: Hick and Ramprakash ‘clogging up county cricket’

Bob Willis is never short of opinions. Not all of them are conventional or even particularly thought through, but writing in the latest issue of The Wisden Cricketer he has slammed just about everyone. Ageing players such as Graeme Hick, Mark Ramprakash and Dominic Cork are wasting the money the ECB “create” through their revenue streams, thus impacting on the next generation of England stars.

I don’t have much of an issue with these three, or indeed for any ageing former England player – so long as they perform and contribute to the team. Ramprakash continues to be as prolific a batsman as any – Hick less so, but nevertheless is a reassuring face in a brittle Worcestershire line-up. If their frail frames falter, then goodnight – but so long as they’re producing the goods, their experience is invaluable to younger players.

The Kolpak issue is altogether different, and I suppose I’m contradicting myself if I can allow old English players to play rather than old non-England-qualified Greek/Australian players. But there must be some form of regulation (which, admittedly, comes into force next year) for the selection of third-grade Kolpakians. It’s out of control and impeding the progress of young English talent.

Willis is really off on one, which is always enjoyable to read rather than listen to. Cricinfo has a synopsis and we’ll have the piece up either this weekend or next. Offer your thoughts below.

Pietersen isn’t Hick

Vic Marks writes an interesting piece on the parallels, or lack of, between Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Hick.

Pietersen probably does not see it like that at the moment – he has the tattoo to prove otherwise. In any case, he barely has time to think in this helter-skelter summer. For the moment his accent, his haircut, his thoroughly unEnglish brashness don’t matter a jot – provided he can keep scoring runs against Australia.

Kallis hits 17th century against India

An interesting article at Cricinfo on Kallis’ hundred against India. In particular:

But before this tour something happened to change all that. Ray Jennings asked the team to talk about how they perceived each other, what they really thought, not just a facade. One of the newest members of the squad said of Kallis: “He’s a great player who doesn’t want to share his knowledge.” Kallis was stung: that just wasn’t the way it was at all.

A revealing insight into the mindset of cricketers and batsmen – and, also, perhaps, the pressure of sport and the pressure players put themselves under. Kallis is a wonderful player – over 6000 runs at nearly 54 is fine – but clearly his 16 previous centuries were immensely personal to him. He’s always struck me as a very intelligent, well-mannered, non-aggressive cricketer and someone who’d be first to help others (especially younger batsmen).

On a similar note, I think I’ll draw up a list of Cricket’s Failure’s – insanely talented batsmen who couldn’t cut it at the top level. (Why am I suddenly thinking Hick, Ramprakash, Kambli [Vinod?], Blewett…..)

PS: But why the slow run-rate (SA v India)?