The Cricket Tier

 

The reliable England star who will hope for a 2021 to remember after recognition

English cricket is in a good place, as the country gears up for what will potentially be a huge 2021 in the sport.

For some, the highlight of the calendar will be the T20 World Cup that takes place in India, with Eoin Morgan and his men feeling confident that they can succeed on the big stage in the short format.

However, for others, and certainly the traditionalists, nothing can top the Ashes and the gripping five-day series will start towards the end of next year as well. Anyone connected to English Test cricket will tell you that’s the pinnacle of the sport and it promises to be a huge challenge for England.

Firstly, that they are 11/4 in the latest cricket betting odds highlights the scale of the task facing Joe Root’s side. With the Aussies having home advantage, combined with the fact that they won the little urn in 2017 and retained it last year, they are understandably favourites. Plus, they have an excellent team that has proven themselves at the highest level in recent years and they boast arguably the finest batsman on the planet in Steve Smith.

All of that means it’s a daunting task facing England but it’s one that they will relish. That’s because they have quality of their own.

The pace of Jofra Archer can frighten any batsman and Ben Stokes has rightly developed a reputation as a brilliant all-rounder that delivers at crucial moments for his country. When you add in Root and a good mix of youth and experience, the tourists will head Down Under with belief.

Yet, one man who tends to avoid the headlines but it sure to play a big part in the series is Chris Woakes.

The fact he doesn’t grab the attention that some of his teammates do may be down to his quiet personality away from the pitch but it doesn’t mean he isn’t appreciated by those in the game. And, he was recognised for his ability when he was recently named as the PCA men’s player of the year, which was voted for by the professionals.

Woakes has formed part of a very good English bowling attack in recent years and he will be 32 years old when the series begins, so it may be the last chance he gets to perform at his peak in the Ashes.

So, he will be desperate to make his mark with the ball but what makes the Warwickshire right-arm bowler stand out is his capabilities with the bat too. For too long, England have collapsed once the tail comes in but they have a player in Woakes who can stand firm lower down the order. That was evident with his remarkable recent 84 not out against Pakistan that inspired England to victory.

The Ashes puts individuals under huge pressure and England know they will need to show character, composure and quality if they are to emerge victorious. That will require everyone to step up and the reliable Woakes will be ready to play a big part.

Lancashire Action Group latest

We've always supported the Lancashire Action Group since they started, along with purchasing all 7 of their great 'Not the Spin' fanzines.

"Everybody at the Action Group hopes that you are well in what are unprecedented times. Let us hope that next year we will be able to once again watch our beloved County play some cricket.

This year as you probably know we only produced one fanzine which was released in April and if everything next year is back to normality we intend to release 3 publications from April onwards and are delighted to announce that they will be co-edited by Roy Cavanagh MBE and Stuart Brodkin who have both written numerous books on Lancashire cricket.


The Club has just announced that the delayed AGM will be held on Monday 5th October at the Point and will also be available to view on a zoom video link. We have given the Club written notice of 3 questions and they are as following :

1) WHY are Lancashire members being denied the right to serve on the board of what is clearly a members’ club? Our understanding is that the board’s nominations committee pre-approves all nominations for the board itself, making it impossible for independent, individual members to stand for election to the board. This is clearly a closed shop; a situation which is totally unacceptable to the vast majority of members.

What does the board intend to do about this iniquitous situation?

2) In the club’s accounts for last season there is no specific mention of any costs associated with the Sedbergh fixture. However, we note that under the item, ‘Cricket Match Expenses (including hospitality)’ there is a figure of £8,449,729, a massive increase from the previous season’s total of £2,234,672.

It is unclear whether the £6million increase in match-day expenditure is due to the losses incurred by staging the Sedbergh game so to clear up this matter, is it possible for the club to furnish an item-by-item account of the costs for that fixture?

3) In light of current circumstances does the Club have any provision for carrying over StephenParry's benefit year to 2021?

As ever if you would like to contact us then please send us an email to lancsactiongroup@yahoo.com You can buy past copies of our fanzine at www.lancsactiongroup.com and you can also join our ever-increasing followers on twitter at @lancscccaction Thank you"

 

The Wisden Trophy Decider

With the series now all square at 1-1 after England’s dramatic win over West Indies in the second Test at Old Trafford, the teams go into Friday’s decider with Test cricket’s second-oldest trophy up for grabs.

John Wisden & Co donated the Wisden Trophy, now in its 57th year, to MCC and the West Indies Cricket Board in 1963, to mark the 100th edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. The idea behind the trophy came in part from the former West Indies all-rounder Learie Constantine. That summer, Frank Worrell guided his team to victory over an England side led by Ted Dexter. England wrested it back in 1967-68 but, when Rohan Kanhai’s side won in 1973, a long period of West Indian domination began.

It wasn’t until September 2000, after 13 unsuccessful series, that England – under Nasser Hussain – ended a painful run. The scenes of jubilation that late-summer afternoon at The Oval were capped by the sight of Hussain brandishing the Wisden Trophy on the dressing-room balcony.

Since then, England have won six further series, and drawn one. But West Indies are the current holders, having won 2–1 in the Caribbean in early 2019. The only other time they had held the Trophy since 2000 was in early 2009, when England’s calamitous second-innings 51 in Jamaica allowed the home team to complete an innings victory on their way to a 1–0 win. That Wisden Trophy series was immediately followed by another in England, which led to West Indies handing the trophy back just 69 days after winning it.

Once the Trophy is relinquished, it has proved a tricky job to reclaim: in all, it has changed hands only six times. 

Michael Vaughan is the most successful English captain, with three series wins. Only Clive Lloyd, who led West Indies to four, has a better record.

The Wisden Trophy has been at stake in every Test series between England and West Indies since the early 1960s, and so is a direct equivalent of the Ashes. After it is presented at Old Trafford, it will return to the Lord’s museum, where it is permanently displayed beside the Ashes urn. 

The Wisden Trophy

Test cricket’s second-oldest trophy will be up for grabs once more on Wednesday, when England and West Indies begin a new contest for the Wisden Trophy, now in its 57th year.

The three-Test series starts at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton (July 8–12) and moves on to Manchester, where two Tests will be played back-to-back at Old Trafford (July 16–20 and 24–28).

John Wisden & Co donated the Wisden Trophy to MCC and the West Indies Cricket Board in 1963, to mark the 100th edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack. That summer, Frank Worrell guided his team to victory over an England side led by Ted Dexter. England wrested it back in 1967-68 but, when Rohan Kanhai’s side won in 1973, a long period of West Indian domination began.

It wasn’t until September 2000, after 13 unsuccessful series, that England – under Nasser Hussain – ended a painful run. The scenes of jubilation that late-summer afternoon at The Oval were capped by the sight of Hussain brandishing the Wisden Trophy on the dressing-room balcony.

Since then, England have won six further series, and drawn one. But West Indies are the current holders, having won 2–1 in the Caribbean in early 2019. The only other time they had held the Trophy since 2000 was in early 2009, when England’s calamitous second-innings 51 in Jamaica allowed the home team to complete an innings victory on their way to a 1–0 win. That Wisden Trophy series was immediately followed by another in England, which led to West Indies handing the trophy back just 69 days after winning it.

Once the Trophy is relinquished, it has proved a tricky job to reclaim: in all, it has changed hands only six times.

Michael Vaughan is the most successful English captain, with three series wins. Only Clive Lloyd, who led West Indies to four, has a better record.

The Wisden Trophy has been at stake in every Test series between England and West Indies since the early 1960s, and so is a direct equivalent of the Ashes. It is on permanent display in the Lord’s Museum beside the Ashes urn.

Shine On: Will a Ban On Polishing the Ball Change the Face of Test Cricket Indefinitely?

The ICC’s ban on polishing the ball in all forms of cricket is, of course, designed to uphold the welfare and safety of the players – clearly, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But of course a ban on shining the ball with saliva in test cricket could have serious repercussions about how the game is actually played. Will swing bowlers suddenly become persona non grata due to their inability to move the ball off the straight?

Will selectors change their teams accordingly – would that mean James Anderson being dropped from the England set-up?

These questions will be answered soon enough when Joe Root’s men take on the West Indies in their scheduled test series, and what better place to see how a lack of shine on the ball will change the nature of test cricket than on English soil.

For decades, this has been where the art of swing bowling has decided test matches, with – typically – the prolific cloud cover and lush green outfield helping the ball to a) hoop around and b) keep in good shape, as opposed to on the sub-continent, where the shiny side tends to get scuffed up on the dusty ground.

It has been a balmy spring in England to date, but even so the July dates with the Windies will still be the first chance many get to see test cricket in this bold new world.

As you might imagine, bowlers who make their money from swinging the ball are less than impressed with the changes, with Mitchell Starc echoing the sentiments of many who fear that batsmen and women will be able to maximise their advantage if an alternative to saliva is not found. “In Australia in the last couple of years we've had some pretty flat wickets, and if that ball's going straight it's a pretty boring contest,” the left-hander said.

It has been reported that Kookaburra are working on a wax-based product that could adequately shine the ball, but when that would be ready – and if its use would be approved by the ICC – remains to be seen.

The reality is that the nature of test cricket will change, and one of two things will happen: ground staff will be asked to prepare greener, more bowler-friendly pitches in order to redress the balance between bat and ball, or if no mitigations are made then matches could devolve into high scoring but ultimately dull affairs. That will impact upon the test cricket betting odds with the bookmakers, who are likely to price up draws and high innings totals accordingly.

The Science of Swing

A precisely polished ball offers the bowler a couple of options when it comes to their next delivery. The fielding side will be buffing away at one side of the ball to keep it shiny and smooth, while the other is allowed to get scuffed and roughed up.

And then, the idea if not the execution, of swing bowling is simple: the air travels faster over the shiny side, pushing the ball in that direction. So, for the traditional away swinger to the right hander, the shiny side will be on the right of the seam, and if the ball is delivered with the perfect seam position it will arc away. The opposite is true for the in-swinger.

There’s not a huge amount more to it than that, from a scientific perspective, but as fans of the sport will know there is nothing quite like the unpredictable cat-and-mouse cricket played when the new ball is swinging and the batsmen are simply trying to keep their wicket intact.

It will be fascinating to see how cricket changes accordingly, but in the short term we can expect more big innings to be compiled as the bowling side tries desperately to find a way to take that breakthrough wicket.

Inspiring new film to tell the story of the Scots who shook the world of cricket

The story of an unknown Scottish village cricket team, who shocked the world of sport, is being brought to life as a feature film called All Out.

Freuchie Cricket Club gatecrashed Lord’s, the home of cricket, to record a famous victory over their English opponents 35 years ago.

Sandy Batchelor, whose family is originally from Freuchie and whose grandparents knew the winning team,  and fellow producer Tom Sands have launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the new movie.

The film will tell the incredible true story of the working class team from a rural Fife village, who spun, hooked and drank their way to glory in 1985, beating England's finest against all the odds to win the National Village Cricket Cup.

Sandy is originally from Kinross and trained as an actor. He has performed at the National Theatre, Bath Theatre Royal and the Lyric Hammersmith, appeared in shows including Our World War and Ordeal by Innocence on the BBC, and starred in a number of independent feature films. 

His family grew up in Freuchie and his grandparents followed the team to Lord’s over three decades ago to witness the historic victory over the English. 

Sandy said: “This legendary story has been told over the dinner table ever since I can remember - it was very much a part of my life growing up and a great source of pride for Scots locally and nationally.

“It’s a truly gripping tale of grim determination in the face of overwhelming odds and it demonstrates the true meaning of sportsmanship. Tom and I are passionate about bringing this epic slice of sporting history back to life - it truly deserves to be told.”

Independent film producer Tom Sands runs Substantial Films and has a track record for clever and creative storytelling. His most recent project is Decrypted with Sophia Myles, Emilia Fox and Kevin McNally. His other critically acclaimed projects have been distributed by platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. 

Tom said: "When Sandy first told me about the project, I was a little dubious. A film about a Scottish village cricket team? But as I started to explore this remarkable story I quickly changed my mind. 

“I was completely charmed by the characters and what they achieved. The sheer improbability of some of the events convinced me this was a special story that would make a moving and exciting piece of cinema - cricket matches in torrential rain with lighting provided by car headlights; a series of nail-biting matches to reach the final; thousands of Scottish supporters with kilts and bagpipes descending on Lord's; sceptical media attention turning to grudging respect; and the team's raucous celebrations in Soho."

The pair obtained the rights to the book Dad’s Army by Neil Drysdale, upon which the film is based, in 2019 and have been busy working on a story outline. They now hope to raise £30,000 in the next three weeks to hire a screenwriter and develop the project further before taking it to major studios. 

They are currently in talks with renowned writers and directors and have had interest from several big name Scottish actors.

Moeen Ali Keen to Return to International Cricket in the Near Future

Many cricket fans were left shocked by Moeen Ali's decision to take a 'short break' from cricket in August 2019, and although the all-rounder's recent form had been patchy, many believed that he still had an important role to play for England. The 32-year old has recently admitted that he has missed the thrill of the international game and that he is currently in talks with Chris Silverwood and Joe Root about the possibility of making his return in the spring.

Ali's hiatus was curtailed in December with the news that he'd been selected to represent the Multan Sultans in the fifth edition of the Pakistan Super League alongside James Vince and Ravi Bopara. However, he is yet to return to the International game and didn't feature in England's recent 3-1 series success over South Africa.

Although poor form led to the left-handed batsman being dropped for the second Ashes Test, he has represented his country in all formats of the game and is an incredibly useful asset to have in the squad. Since making his test debut against Sri Lanka in 2014, he's managed to take 181 test wickets and boasts a batting average of 28.97. He made 48 runs in the first innings and wowed England fans with his energy, enthusiasm and accuracy. His performance against India in 2018 was undoubtedly the high point of his International Test career with his 5-63 helping England mount an unlikely comeback in Southampton. He also played a key role in his country's World Cup success last summer. 

He has reportedly joined the limited-overs team in South Africa and is training ahead of the upcoming ODI series, which gets underway at the beginning of February. He will be hoping to work his way back into the fold ahead of a busy twelve months which includes a Test Series against the West Indies and the T20 World Cup in October. Ahead of the latter, England have been priced up at 9/2 in the latest cricket betting for success down under with the tourists ranked as third favourites behind India and Australia.

Although he's recently admitted that he considered quitting the long form of the game altogether, he now appears to be refreshed, revitalised and ready to return. Although the lifestyle of an international cricketer is often portrayed as a glamorous one, it does have 

the tendency to take its toll on a number of players and being away from your family for long periods of time is far from an ideal situation. Moeen Ali isn't the first England representative to self-exclude himself from the set-up, with Graham Thorpe, Jonathan Trott and Marcus Trescothick opting to take time away from the game over the last couple of decades.

It remains to be seen whether Moeen Ali can recapture the kind of form which saw him named as one of the Cricketers of the Year in 2015. Many fans are unlikely to begrudge the all-rounder being given a second chance and he has already confirmed that he has the backing of his captain. The Birmingham-born star is ready to return and admits that he is willing to fight for his place in the side. England will surely be the beneficiaries of his imminent comeback and many fans are understandably excited about the prospect of seeing him back in action later this year.

It started with a 'Free Hit'

Living only 5 miles from Old Trafford means I've got to watch a lot of cricket over the years, from domestic to international, from T20's, ODI's to Test Matches and Ashes Series. Now though a World Cup!                                               

Yes, yesterday was the fist time I'd ever been to a World Cup match and after a hour or so I got to watch Eoin Morgan on the charge and it what a privilege to witness his innings. Even more so, when Morgan was actually doubtful for the game after a back injury in England's last game against the West Indies.

It started with a free hit as well as Morgan hit his first six of the day off one as he faced just his eighth ball of the day. After that the Dublin born Irishman who qualifies for England because of his mum, went on the rampage.

You expect such an innings from the likes of Roy, Bairstow, Buttler, Stokes and Ali but not Morgan as much. His astonishing innings was just phenomenal to watch though and I was gutted in the ground when he finally got caught on 148.

He was so impressive throughout his innings with both his body and feet positioning for all his shots as near to perfect as you can. Apart from maybe just one shot where he didn't quite catch it right and if he'd been playing against one of the better teams, he surely would have been caught near the boundary rope. He wasn't though and the dropped catch actually then went for four.

After that he never looked back and yesterday's win for England put them top of the group overall via net run rate. It wasn't all Morgan, even though he rightfully takes all the plaudits. Vince got off to an okay start but was then caught in his twenties and he must know he missed a massive opportunity of getting a big score. He'll get another chance though with Jason Roy set to miss at least one more match through injury.

Bairstow and Root just missed out on centuries themselves, but both their innings were excellent as well, but all the talk was of course about Morgan and the various records that were broken:

  • Morgan's century was England's fastest ever in a World Cup
  • England total score of 397 was their highest ever in a World Cup
  • England's 25 sixes in an innings was the most ever by a team in ODI history
  • Morgan's 17 sixes was the most ever by an individual in ODI history

It's safe to say that the white ball game suits Eoin Morgan so much with his power hitting, but he is a very clever all-round batsmen. For me, even after his innings yesterday he is still not the best batsman in ODI cricket, although he's up there, he is though the best ODI captain out there currently.

Can England go on to win it? Well they have every chance and this is definitely their best chance for sure and they've come a long way since their disastrous performance in the 2015 World Cup.

England have been three time finalists and three times runners up, but they have not been in a final since their defeat to Pakistan in 1992 at the MCG. This time around though they came into this tournament as one of the favourites, if not the outright favourite with them being the number one team.

That wasn't just because they are playing on home soil, form wise coming into it they had six wins out of their last seven ODI series. The best ever England one day side? I'd say so as they have all things covered, from fielding, quick runs and a vast array of bowlers to choice from.

Good powerful openers like Roy and Bairstow, with Root and Morgan himself who follow, then you back them up with the likes of Butler, Stokes, Ali and to a point Woakes, who all perform with the bat.

Anyway, it was an absolutely pleasure to witness such a wonderful England batting performance yesterday and to say I saw a World Record broken with seventeen sixes from Morgan just topped my day off. Can't wait for my next one!

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