4/23/2016 0 Comments
It was a memorable week for Sam Robson at Lords, as the Middlesex man scored the highest aggregate score by any batsman for the county hitting a double ton in the first innings before following that up with a century in the second against Warwickshire.
His feat hasn’t gone unnoticed by the media and he’s now being talked about as a contender for that spare opening spot next to Alastair Cook during the Sri Lanka tests. He faces competition from Alex Hales, who holds the jersey at the moment, as well as former England man Adam Lyth, who himself struck a fine ton for Yorkshire against Hampshire. Robson’s first class average is decent, at a touch under 40, the Australian-born opener is looking to add to his seven England Test match appearances, and he averaged 30.54 in those matches including a century and a fifty. In his record-breaking innings at Lord’s last week, he faced one on the best bowling attacks in the country and made light work of them smashing 43 boundaries over his two innings. His first innings knock was vitally important, the opener struck more than half of his side's total of 452 with his score of 231. At 26-years of age, the opener has time on his side, and should he keep scoring runs he will become almost make it impossible for the selectors not to pick him.
Fresh from a winter with the England Lions, Jake Ball is enjoying a whirlwind start to his county season. Known as the Welbeck wizard he has certainly been putting a spell on Division One batsmen this summer. Currently the leading wicket-taker in the Division with 12, he is beginning to make a case for a full England call-up. His captain Chris Read has already seen him come on leaps and bounds since his time with the lions in the winter. Read said, “Jake is in fantastic form with the ball, he’s had a great winter having been in Dubai with the Lions and has had a taste of what life is like with the ECB set-up. He’s really keen to progress that side of his career.”
And you wouldn’t put it past him, the injury to Mark Wood could open the door for a new bowler to enter the England squad against Sri Lanka, and no disrespect to Sri Lanka, but it could well be a good time to call-up a newcomer to the side. He bowls at a decent pace and certainly can move the ball both ways, just ask the Surrey batting line-up. I hope he continues his fine early season form to give England selectors something to think about.
In Division Two, it was the clash of the titans at Hove as Sussex met Essex and Danny Briggs’ must be cursing his luck after dropping the England captain on one, whilst playing for the visitors at Hove last weekend. The England man went on to score an unbeaten century to lead his county to a crucial draw against the pre-season favourites. Cook, meanwhile, continues to impress for the Eagles after being caught in the ‘helmet-gate’ storm, he answered his critics, though, and in fine style. Donned with his new helmet he struck 127 not out in their second innings to lead his club to the top of the table.
Essex are in the mix for promotion and a share of the spoils in Brighton will boost their chances of promotion no end, and whilst it is early days, the Eagles will be feeling confident going into their next fixture on Sunday against Northants at the ECG. They will need to make the most of Cook’s presences before he disappears again to represent his country, Essex’s troubles over the years has always been down to their poor start with the likes of Ravi Bopara, Ryan ten-Doeschate and Cook himself so often away. Their experience will boost the Chelmsford-based club and this could be their year with a new coach, full of fresh ideas, the sky could be the limit for the Eagles.
New-look Leicestershire smashed Glamorgan during their season opener to kick start their season in style. They've brought in experienced heads, and Paul Horton led by example in Cardiff, striking two half-centuries to help his new county to victory. The former Lancashire man could prove to a vital signing for the Foxes who will look to improve on their less than impressive last few years. With Mark Pettini, Clint McKay, and Neil Dexter there is plenty of class and experience amongst their ranks, and that could well prove important come September. Pettini has guided Essex to promotion in his past as well as a One-Day trophy during his time at Chelmsford, McKay will prove to be a shrewd signing and is sure to trouble Division two batting line-ups, and Dexter has a wealth of experience in Division One with Middlesex. I am certain they will trouble and probably beat the lower teams in the Division, and if they can sneak a win or two against the likes of Worcestershire, Essex or Sussex, they could well be a surprise package, after all, their footballing counterparts are stunning the world so why can’t they.
The new toss regulations have seen some rather strange early April occurrences, so often matches are low-scoring and packed with wickets. But that just hasn’t been the case this season. There have already been three double-centurions this summer and plenty of century makers too. Home groundsmen are now far less likely to produce green-tops so batting is becoming far easier for teams. Bowlers now have to run themselves into the ground to see any reward for their efforts, The one-day game is already making it less attractive to become a bowler due to balls being whacked out the park left, right and centre, so with scores of over 500 being made in some games in early spring should bowlers be worried about this? Personally, I think it is good for the sport, it provides great entertainment, just look at the Surrey vs Nottinghamshire game during the opening weekend, that really was a great advert for the sport. It will force bowlers to find new ways of taking wickets, which should conversely be better for the future of the English game.
Meanwhile, County bowlers will have to be on the mettle when Martin Guptill arrives in the country later this summer, news broke earlier this week that the New Zealander will be joining Lancashire for the Blast. He becomes one of many Kiwis to join up for the English T20 competitions, as the competition continues to become more competitive. He's just another star name to join the tournament and he will be keen to make an impact at Old Trafford as the Manchester-based club look to make it two on the spin in the shortest format of the game.
Hampshire were dealt an early season blow as they received the news that West Indian Fidel Edwards will be missing a large chunk of the season after fracturing his leg during a warm-up football match at Headingley. The Hampshire quick man played a crucial role in the south-coast side's survival last season taking 45 wickets including 10 vital wickets during the final game of the season again Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. It is unknown how long the former West Indies test seamer will be out for but it is expected that Hampshire will utilize the loan market to replace the talisman. He posted an image on his Instagram with the caption ‘Today the process of healing starts both mentally and physically.’ He will be a big miss for Hampshire, who also lost Chris Wood and Liam Dawson to injury in Leeds.
Another man on the mend is England star Mark Wood, but it is expected that the Durham paceman will miss a large portion of the County summer after having an operation on his ankle. Wood, who had just established himself in the England set-up after taking 10 wickets in the Ashes and added a further six in the series against Pakistan missed the South Africa tour due to this injury and now looks likely to miss a large chuck of a summer that includes a visit from Sri Lanka and Pakistan. It was thought that the England man would return early this summer, and he even revealed he was in a good place in March, but since then he has suffered a setback and has endured another operation in the hope to clear up the issue once and for all. He will now begin his rehabilitation and get back to light bowling work as soon as possible.
Finally, there is another round of Championship fixtures starting tomorrow. In Division One, Durham tackle Middlesex, Surrey face Somerset, and Warwickshire welcome Yorkshire. Meanwhile in Division Two, Derbyshire entertain Glamorgan, Essex meet Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire comes up against Worcestershire and Leicestershire take on Kent.
Sam Robson – Highest First-Class aggregate score by any Middlesex batsman. (231 & 106)
Neil Wagner- 11-111 during his debut for Lancashire.
Jamie Porter – His 5-87 against Sussex at Hove was his maiden five-wicket haul
Jonathan Trott – The former England man struck a double-ton for Warwickshire at Lords. Just seven runs short of his highest first-class score.
Liam Norwell – Gloucestershire bowler Norwell was offered the opportunity to bat at three for the Bristol-based club, a chance he grabbed with both hands as he struck his first ever century against Derbyshire.
By David Bowden (Bowdenwhu)
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