County Championship: Know your squads – Part I

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

County Championship: Know your squads – Part I

Rob Johnston • Last updated on Mon, 03 Apr, 2017, 12:20 AM

Essex won Division Two last season © Getty

Derbyshire

Last season: 9th in Division Two

It has been all change at Derbyshire over the winter with Kim Barnett, installed as the club’s new Director of Cricket, wasting no time in putting his mark on things. It was clear that something had to be done: Derbyshire finished bottom of the County Championship without a win last season.

There is genuine hope for better this time out, though, much of it due to an influx of players which has given the squad a depth it lacked last year. Ireland’s Gary Wilson, signed from Surrey, and a trio of South Africans, Imran Tahir, Hardus Viljoen and Daryn Smit, the latter two on Kolpak deals, have all arrived and will add much needed experience and quality to the squad.

The signings of Tahir and Viljoen in particular, will give captain Billy Goddleman a cutting edge that Derbyshire lacked last season when they garnered the least bowling bonus points of any county. Throw in young leg-spinner Matt Critchley, who spent the winter in Sydney working with Stuart MacGill, and reliable fast bowler Tony Palladino and the attack has a decent look to it.

Barnett has also introduced a revamped coaching structure which will see Goddleman and the players effectively managing the Championship and 50-over teams without a head coach. The hope is that this will force the players to take more responsibility for the success of the side. For the T20 campaign, John Wright has been hired as a specialist coach.

Despite the improvements to the squad, expectations should be tempered with a dose of realism. Come the end of the season, Derbyshire are unlikely to be in the mix for promotion but they should fare better than last year and pick up a few wins along the way. After a harrowing campaign last season, that should be regarded as success in itself.

Durham

Last season: 4th in Division One (enforced relegation by ECB due to financial failings)

The sanctions placed on Durham by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for financial failings were intended to act as a warning to other counties but they are clearly punitive. Not only will Durham be playing in Division Two this season, they will start with a 48-point penalty.

Typically, Durham have faced their situation with stoicism. Ian Botham has been appointed as chairman and has been bullish in his still targeting promotion while Keaton Jennings, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood have all remained with the county when they could have been tempted elsewhere.

Durham could not, however, hang on to everyone. Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwick, both of whom scored over 1,000 Championship runs last season, have moved to Surrey, which leaves the batting looking short. Much will be expected of Jennings, although he should be with England for much of the Test match summer, and captain Paul Collingwood.

The additions of Test batsmen South African Stephen Cook and New Zealander Tom Latham as overseas players will also certainly help plug some of the gap and young Jack Burnham will have to step up as well.

Conversely, the bowling looks strong with Wood, Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth all top-class operators and young left-arm seamer James Weighall showing glimpses of potential. Spinner Ryan Pringle will hope to do better than last year’s disappointing showing, particularly as Durham will be without Borthwick’s leg-spin.

Despite the points penalty and departures, Durham certainly have the class and character to challenge for promotion this season. The strength of their bowling attack should be too good for many of the sides in Division Two and this will give them every chance of reclaiming their position in the top flight at the first time of asking.

Essex

Last season: 1st in Division Two

After a fine season last year, Essex will be an unknown quantity in their first appearance in the top flight since 2010. A group of young cricketers have to prove themselves capable of performing against better teams, but in Nick Browne, Jamie Porter, Dan Lawrence and Aaron Beard together with Tom Westley, Essex have a strong nucleus of homegrown talent.

They have also recruited well. Varun Chopra and Adam Wheater, two players with top-flight experience, have arrived, as has top-class South African spinner Simon Harmer on a Kolpak deal. Add in New Zealand fast-bowler Neil Wagner as an overseas player for the start of the season and Essex’s squad looks deeper and stronger than for many a year.

Importantly, Alastair Cook will also be available until July and should play nine or ten Championship games in all. The former England Test captain will be relied on, together with the experienced duo of Ravi Bopara and captain Ryan ten Doeschate, to help the younger batsmen adjust to the greater intensity and quality of Division One’s attacks.While the batting is clearly Essex’s strength, the bowling attack looks perhaps short of another fast bowler. Porter, 23, who has 121 first-class wickets at 27.73, and Matt Dixon will lead the attack with Wagner and Beard and Paul Walter will also have opportunities. Harmer’s spin will be important on the better pitches of Division One but whether Essex can take 20 wickets regularly remains to be seen.

The first target of coach Chris Silverwood will be to avoid relegation but if they have a good start and Cook finds form, they may spring a surprise towards the top half of the division. For the likes of Westley and Browne, a stellar season could also see them pushing for England spots. The future at Chelmsford looks particularly bright.

Glamorgan

Last season: 8th in Division Two

On paper, last season was a pretty dismal one for Glamorgan. They finished second-bottom in Division Two and won just three games all year. Worse than that, they lost half of their Championship games.

Yet there were signs that the county may be about to have a decent period. A group of excellent young batsmen in Aneurin Donald, David Lloyd and Will Bragg announced themselves with some standout innings even if the consistency required at first-class level was somewhat lacking. These three have the ability to be the heart of Glamorgan’s batting for a decade.

In the bowling department, there was perhaps less to shout about even though Tim van der Gugten and Michael Hogan shared 105 Championship wickets between them. Spinner Andrew Salter has not kicked on and Graham Wagg and Craig Meschede failed to deliver in any consistent way and will need to do better. Young seamer Lukas Carey should get more opportunities this term after impressing in limited opportunities so far.

Hopes for a better 2017 will depend largely on the inexperienced batting line-up finding more consistency, which will need captain Jacques Rudolph, who averaged under 25 last season, in form, and the back-up bowlers giving Hogan and van der Gugten more support. There is plenty of talent in the squad but they need to deliver on a more regular basis.

Eight losses in 16 games last year suggests a lack of fight when the going got tough but it was largely due to a lack of experience amongst a young squad, one further depleted this season by the retirement of Dean Cosker after 20 years. They will be better for it and although a mid-table finish, and no more, is likely this term, Glamorgan are moving in the right direction.

Gloucestershire

Last season:6th in Division Two

Gloucestershire started their outdoor season earlier than any other county, playing Oxford University on 16th March, and coach Richard Dawson hopes this will give them the ability to start well in the first four games, matches he has targeted as setting the tone for their first-class campaign. There has been no overhaul of the squad despite a middling Championship season last year with only four wins from their 16 games. Experienced wicket-keeper batsman Phil Mustard has joined from Durham and Australian Cameron Bancroft will replace fellow Western Australian Michael Klinger who will only play limited-overs cricket for Gloucestershire this season.

Dawson wants his current group to step up more consistently than last summer, something that will be even more important without Klinger, who averaged over 70 last season, and Hamish Marshall who has retired. Much will be expected of Chris Dent, who scored three Championship hundreds last year, and Graeme van Buuren to replace those runs.

The bowling attack looks marginally the stronger suit with fast bowlers Craig Miles, Liam Norwell and David Payne all proven performers and young Josh Shaw, 21, having plenty of promise too. If Gloucestershire can score enough runs, that attack should have enough about it to take 20 wickets although they do lack a spinner of note for when the pitches firm up in mid-summer.

Gloucestershire may have to settle for a mid-table finish once again in the Championship. Their squad looks more suited to one-day cricket and lacking in four-day class which shouldn’t trouble the better sides. They do have enough about them though to pick up a few wins along the way.

Hampshire

Last season: 8th in Division One (retained top flight status due to Durham’s relegation)

Whatever the wrongs or rights of Durham’s relegation, Hampshire, the beneficiaries, are keen to focus on putting right a season they felt should never have seen them relegated anyway. They lost just four games in 2016 but drew ten which ultimately saw them finish just below Lancashire and, until Durham’s demotion, headed towards Division Two.

This year, the Hampshire squad has a stronger look to it than last season which has given them hope of being involved at the top end this time out. Michael Carberry has returned after a battle with cancer and Reece Topley is also back fit after missing most of the year with injury. James Vince, away with England for much of last summer, will also likely be around far more.

Added to those three has been some canny recruitment. Two high-class South Africans, Kyle Abbot and Rilee Rossouw, have arrived on Kolpak deals and George Bailey will fulfil the overseas duties and captain the team in Championship cricket. Highly thought of young all-rounder Asher Hart has also arrived from Durham.

Throughout the squad there is strength and experience. Liam Dawson, fresh from an impressive Test debut, and Mason Crane, recently selected for New South Wales after a stellar season in grade cricket, are two good spinners and fast bowler Brad Wheal and batsman Tom Alsop, who spent his winter with the England Lions, are two highly promising cricketers. Jimmy Adams and Will Smith lend further experience to the batting line-up.

Whether Hampshire have enough staying power to challenge the best teams over the course of a season is the biggest question mark this year. Too often last season, they lost big moments in games which was one reason why they won just two matches all season. With the extra class of Topley and Abbot in the bowling attack and more batting depth too, Hampshire could well be the surprise package this season.

Kent

Last season: 2nd in Division Two

In any other season, Kent would have achieved their goal of promotion to Division One of the Championship last year. With the restructuring of the top division to include just eight teams only one side was promoted which left Kent rueing their misfortune at finishing second behind Essex.

Sam Northeast’s team look well placed to be there or thereabouts this time round and should benefit from some limited but shrewd recruitment. Young batsman Joe Weatherley, on loan from Hampshire, and all-rounder Will Gidman, signed from Nottinghamshire, have arrived to complement a talented squad.

Sam Billings is one of England’s brightest prospects and will add much to the squad once finished at the IPL and opening batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond starred for the England Lions in their recent one-day series with Sri Lanka. Fast bowler Matt Coles is perhaps the best quick bowler in the second division and experienced duo Darren Stevens and James Tredwell still have plenty to offer.

It’s also a pivotal season for Northeast himself, described by new coach Matt Walker this week as the best captain in county cricket. Fresh from a hundred during the recent North-South series in the UAE, Northeast is starting to get the recognition with the national selectors that he deserves. Leading Kent to promotion will do his cause no harm.

If there is one area where Kent will look to do better than last season, it is converting handy positions into wins. Eight draws last year was perhaps two too many and much will depend this campaign on whether Coles, Gidman and Tredwell are able to bowl sides out regularly. The bowling attack does look short of another high-class fast bowler.

With Durham and Nottinghamshire both looking strong after relegation from the top flight, Kent will not have it all their own way this season. They do, however, have an experienced and deep squad and the shrewd Northeast at the helm which should see them challenging for promotion at the end of the season.

Lancashire

Last season: 7th in Division One

Lancashire approach this season with a good mix of young potential and experienced campaigners within their squad. Last summer’s seventh placed finish, narrowly avoiding relegation, was not what a club of Lancashire’s size expects but nevertheless was a good result for a squad dominated by young, inexperienced players.

One of those, Haseeb Hameed, made his Test debut for England and another, Liam Livingstone, may not be far away either after a fine winter with the Lions. Rob Jones, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson were others who shone at various stages and all of them with be better for the experience of last year.

New coach Glen Chapple has recognised the need for some experience to complement the youthful talent and has recruited well. South African wicket-keeper Dane Villas and West Indian batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul have been signed on Kolpak deals and Villas’ fellow South African Ryan McLaren will be the club’s overseas player.

James Anderson will also lead the attack in early season and should be available for more games than last summer even if the England management will want to keep him fit and fresh for a rigorous programme of Test matches over the next year. Anderson will form a high-class new-ball partnership with Kyle Jarvis.

It is unlikely Lancashire will be challenging at the top of the table but nor is it certain they will be involved in another relegation battle. Without Anderson, the attack looks short of class and depth but if experienced players like Chanderpaul, Villas and McLaren can add some nous and backbone to the abundant skill and talent of Lancashire’s homegrown youngsters, they may have a decent year.

Leicestershire

Last season: 7th in Division Two

Leicestershire’s four Championship victories last season were further confirmation of progress in four-day cricket after winless campaigns in 2013 and 2014 but it is too soon to yet expect them to be challenging at the top of the division.

New coach Pierre de Bruyn, who replaced Andrew McDonald after he returned to Australia, will have a large squad of 25 players to pick from this season which means competition for places will be high. Whether there is enough quality, however, particularly in the batting, remains to be seen.

Some decent players have arrived over the winter to add more depth. South African’s Colin Ackerman and Dieter Klein have been recruited on EU passports while all-rounder James Burke has arrived on loan from Surrey and seamer Gavin Griffiths has joined from Lancashire. Australian Mark Cosgrove will captain the side and his compatriot Clint McKay will lead the limited overs teams.

Alongside those recruits are a host of young players who have shown glimpses of promise. Adil Ali, Lewis Hill, Harry Dearden and Tom Wells are a quartet of youthful batsmen and Zak Chappell is an all-rounder with plenty of potential but it feels as if much of the run scoring will have to be done by Ackerman, Cosgrove, Neil Dexter and Paul Horton.

The bowling attack will rely on McKay, Ben Raine and Charlie Shrek who combined to take 135 Championship wickets last year. Behind them, though, is little proven depth, even if the recruitment of Griffiths should help. The lack of a frontline spinner hindered Leicestershire last season on good pitches and will likely do so again. Callum Parkinson, 20, signed from Derbyshire, has promise but also a lot to learn.

De Bruyn has spoken of his desire for Leicestershire players to get more out of themselves this season and professes himself impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment he has seen in pre-season. That only goes so far, of course, and although Leicestershire will be competitive this season, they still have work to do before they can think about anything more than a mid-table finish.

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Manchester United’s Luke Shaw a long way behind team mates, says Jose Mourinho

Luke Shaw joined United for 27 million pounds (.87 million) in 2014 from Southampton. (Source: Reuters) Luke Shaw joined United for 27 million pounds (.87 million) in 2014 from Southampton. (Source: Reuters)

Manchester United’s England left back Luke Shaw will struggle to earn a place on the substitutes’ bench and is a long way behind his rivals for a starting spot at his club, manager Jose Mourinho has said.

The 21-year-old, who suffered a broken leg last season, came on for England during last week’s friendly in Germany but Mourinho has used him just twice in four months.

“It is difficult for him to be on the bench,” Mourinho was quoted as saying by British media on Monday. “I cannot compare him with Ashley Young, with Matteo Darmian, with Daley Blind.

“I cannot compare the way he trains, the way he commits, the focus, the ambition. I cannot compare. He is a long way behind.”

When asked if more should be expected of an England international, Mourinho added: “(Manchester City’s) Joe Hart is an English international and is playing on loan in Italy.”

Shaw, who joined United for 27 million pounds ($33.87 million) in 2014 from Southampton, was left out of the squad for the 0-0 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Turning to his injury-hit squad, Mourinho said he was not sure if France midfielder Paul Pogba would be fit for Tuesday’s Premier League game at home to Everton.

“Pogba I cannot say he is ready for Tuesday because I don’t know,” he said. “I think (Juan) Mata, (Phil) Jones and (Chris) Smalling (will be out) for a long time, but I don’t think Pogba is such a long-term injury as the others.”

Smalling, who has been wearing a leg brace, and Jones (toe)were injured on international duty with England, while Spaniard Mata has had surgery on a groin problem.

However, Mourinho does have striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and midfielder Ander Herrera available again after suspension.

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Out of my mind: Double divorce

The Union of Scotland and England dates back 310 years. The Union of Scotland and England dates back 310 years.

Last week was a harbinger of a constitutional crisis for Great Britain. The Scottish Parliament passed a motion for holding a referendum on independence of Scotland from the UK, a repeat of one three years ago, which rejected independence. The Union of Scotland and England dates back 310 years. Then on March 29, Theresa May sent the letter invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union, which gives notice of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU after 45 years of membership.

These two divorces are connected. Scotland voted to Remain in the EU in the Referendum last June while the overall majority was for exit. Scotland has a small population, just about 6 million, 10 per cent of the UK. It has been angry since the days when Mrs Margaret Thatcher was the prime minister, but the Conservative Party had won no seats in Scotland. The movement for an independent Scotland began in the Eighties and within 20 years, Scotland was granted a devolved Parliament with substantial powers, including right to adjust income tax rates, up or down. The Referendum drove the Scots to ask for azadi so they could stay in the EU not the UK.

The UK, on the other hand, has always been a semi-detached member of the EU, not joining the Euro, not accepting border-free travel. It has now drawn the line at free movement of EU citizens, which draws them to the UK in large numbers.

As divorces go, Brexit will be tough to negotiate. It will be costly, but we do not know the size of the bill. There will have to be negotiation about post-Brexit trade relations, failing which tariffs will rise for the UK’s exports to the EU. The economy will have to be rejigged to sell more goods and services to the rest of the world. But whatever the likely cost, there is a desire for azadi.

The noticeable thing is that these two crises are being handled without parliamentary fights or vigilante groups challenging one side or another. There was a rise in racial attacks after the Referendum last June, but it has been brought under control. You would hardly notice that the country could be very different in two years’ time. It could break up while breaking away.

The notion that one part of a Union could decide to vote on whether to secede could not happen in India. Nationalism is much too fragile and people fearful of break-up. In the last few years, the nervousness has spread, with any talk of azadi inviting vigilante riots.

Why? India has withstood many changes which were thought dangerous to its unity. Linguistic states, the desire of south India to secede during the Fifties, the agitation about making Hindi India’s sole national language, Khalistan, the Naga insurgency which has lasted as long as India has been independent and, of course, the separatists in J&K. India has survived them all.

A strong country should be confident of itself. If there is a demand for separation in some region, let us have a Referendum. If India is a success story, as it surely is, no azadi movement can win a majority. Challenge the separatists. Ask them to win a majority in a Referendum. It is better than bombs and bullets.

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High wages stop England players venturing abroad, says Tony Woodcock

Young English players are pricing themselves out of career-enhancing moves to European clubs, with damaging knock-on effects for the national team, former England striker Tony Woodcock says.

Assessing the chasm that exists between England and world champions Germany when it comes to results at major tournaments, Woodcock said more young English players should play abroad rather than settle for fat salaries and reserve team football with Premier League clubs.

“I was with the Borussia Dortmund guys last week and they say the problem is that they would probably want to take some young English players who are not getting a kick in the Premier League,” Woodcock told Reuters by telephone.

“The problem is they are earning so much in the Premier League that clubs in Europe are not prepared to pay that. “You are stifling your own career because you want the fancy car and huge salary.”

According to the latest edition of the Global Sports Salaries Survey, the average Premier League wage is just over $3.2 million per year, way ahead of the Bundesliga average of around $1.4 million.

Woodcock’s comments come after England manager Gareth Southgate called for the English game to shed its “island mentality” if it is to catch up with Germany at club and international level.

But Woodcock, who played for Bundesliga side Cologne after winning the English title and European Cup with Nottingham Forest in the late 70s, said there is a long way to go.

While the likes of Tottenham Hotspur’s Dele Alli and Manchester City’s John Stones are being lauded as the future of English football, Woodcock said that Germany set the standard when it comes to developing international class players.

“The statistics show Germany are miles ahead,” Woodcock, who won 42 England caps and also scored 56 goals for Arsenal in a four-year spell, said. “It’s a conveyor belt of talent in Germany and I don’t see that happening in England.

“You have young English lads earning far more money than their German counterparts but they are not improving. They should take less go to Europe and show how good they are.

“Youngsters in England earn three or four times more than they would do in Germany. But in Germany they play every week.”

“Forest sold Oliver Burke to RB Leipzig and while it was a shame for my old club it will do him good,” added Woodcock.

FOREIGN SIGNINGS

With his son-in-law Mike Brown part of the England rugby team that won 18 matches in a row recently — Woodcock says football could learn from the oval-ball game.

“The RFU is focussed on a strong international team,” he said. “(England coach) Eddie Jones has built a situation where there are two or three players pushing each other for one position. “That’s what the English football team needs.”

Woodcock said the power of the Premier League does not help England’s cause — with the continued preference for foreign signings meaning only 31 percent of players who started matches in the top flight last season were English — a record low. In Germany the figure is around 50 percent.

“The Premier League is hyped as the best in the world, it’s good don’t get me wrong, but you have to look at the percentage of foreign players in England and Germany,” he said.

“You would think the FA would be looking at the German model and thinking what are they doing?

“The difference is in Germany there is just one body, the DFB. They obviously want a successful international team because when that happens it lifts the whole country.”

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ECB appoints former netball player to spot talented women cricketers

EYE FOR TALENT

ECB appoints former netball player to spot talented women cricketers

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Wed, 29 Mar, 2017, 10:00 PM

Lewis’ appointment is a step forward in ECB’s plans to give more girls an opportunity to maximise their potential © Getty

In a bid to spot and develop talent in the women’s game, England Cricket Board on Wednesday (March 29) appointed Diana Lewis as its National Talent Manager. Lewis, who is currently England Netball’s Performance Pathway Manager, has played for the Wales Under-21 netball team previously.

Her appointment comes hot on the heels of ECB’s decision to name RFU’s Head of Regional Academies Alun Powell as the National Talent Manager to find and develop talent in the men’s game. Lewis will oversee the board’s talent development programme which focusses on supporting the women’s game.

With more than 700 clubs in the country offering cricket for women and girls, Lewis will be tasked to work with a large pool to unearth top talent. ECB also revealed that she would work closely with the England women’s management team and report to the board’s Women’s High Performance Manager Jonathan Finch. ECB’s decision to appoint National Talent Managers comes following the suggestions given by an independent review of the existing county talent pathway.

“This is another important step forward in our plans to give more girls an opportunity to maximise their potential and embrace careers as professional cricketers – both with England Women and in the new Kia Super League,” ECB’s Director, England Women’s Cricket Clare Connor said following Lewis’s appointment.

“Cricket is attracting women and girls in ever increasing numbers at grassroots level – giving us a wider pool of talent from which to choose than ever before. It’s an exciting time in the women’s game for Diana to take on this role and she will have a critical part to play in shaping the development of our most talented youngsters.”

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Afghanistan to play three ODIs, three T20Is in West Indies

A NEW OPPONENT FOR AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan to play three ODIs, three T20Is in West Indies

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Wed, 29 Mar, 2017, 11:47 PM

Afghanistan beat West Indies in their last encounter at the 2016 World T20. © Getty

Afghanistan are all set to play their first full series against a Full Member other than Zimbabwe when they tour West Indies for three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals this year in June. With West Indies failing to qualify for the Champions Trophy in England, the limited-overs series will be held around the same time as the multi-team event in England. The two sides have never faced each other in the 50-over format before.

The T20I matches will be held at Warner Park in St Kitts with the first match scheduled for June 2. The first ODI will be held at the Darren Sammy National Cricket Stadium in St Lucia on June 9. The other two ODIs will also be played at the same venue with the tour ending on June 14.

The last time these two sides met was in the World T20 last year in which Afghanistan surprisingly came out on top by six runs. With only the top eight teams gaining a direct entry into the 2019 World Cup in England, West Indies will be desperate to topple Pakistan, who are currently placed eighth. With Pakistan also scheduled to play three ODIs in the Caribbean islands now, the home side will be looking to make use of these six games to make up for lost ground.

“It will also be an important series for our side, as they look to move up in the ICC World Rankings in the two formats, and continue their quest to qualify for the 2019 ICC World Cup in England and Wales,” Roland Holder, WICB Manager of Cricket Operations, said on Wednesday (March 29).

As per the original schedule, the two sides were scheduled to play five ODIs and T20Is but now two 50-over matches have been scrapped.

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Iceland Sees Record-Breaking Number Of Births 9 Months After Historic Euro 2016 Win Over England!

Nine months ago we saw Iceland humble England and send them crashing out of Euro 2016.

AFP/Twitter

Well why is the number of months significant? Well, now the country has just witnessed a record number of births! Yes, that’s right, nine months to the day since they pulled off that upset win, there has been a huge number of births in the country.

9 months to the day after Iceland beat England, an Icelandic hospital resident reports a “record number of epidurals in the maternity unit” https://t.co/iZE2KzTg72 — Brian Sciaretta (@BrianSciaretta) March 27, 2017

It seems the fans got very passionate while celebrating!

AFP

While for England it was a moment to forget, it certainly produced a large of number of babies for the winning country.

Not something you hear everyday that’s for sure!
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Why counties are set to back ECB’s push for T20 league

The first season is expected to be held in three years’ time, July 2020 to be precise. The first season is expected to be held in three years’ time, July 2020 to be precise.

ENGLISH CRICKET has finally decided to join the rest of the world by bringing in their own T20 league, which could potentially be spoken in the same breath as the IPL and the Big Bash.

What is the T20 tournament that ECB are planning to launch?

The English though may have finally decided to jump aboard the money train at the last stop with plans to start their own eight-team T20 tournament with hopes of competing with the Big Bash and the IPL. The tournament will also change the ecosystem of English cricket with the teams set to be based around regions and not counties, as has been the norm there for more than a century. The first season is expected to be held in three years’ time—July 2020 to be precise—and it’ll be in the Big Bash format with all teams owned by the ECB and not let out as franchises in the IPL. There will be no auction and players will be drafted through a fixed budget for each team. The tournament is scheduled to be held during the Test season of the English summer, which could rob the event of most of the country’s elite cricketers. The final call on the tournament will depend on a mandate which has been sent to all 18 first-class counties, non first-class counties and minor counties, who will vote through a postal ballot, with the ECB requiring a minimum of 31 out of 41 votes in favour of an amendment to the constitution.

What does it mean for county cricket?

Counties have held sway over cricket in England for well over a century now. According to the ECB constitution, all 18 counties have a right to play in every domestic competition held in the country, which presently are the four-day County Championships, a one-day tournament and the T20 Blast, England’s staid answer to the IPL and Big Bash. ECB chairman Colin Graves and chief executive Tom Harrison have suggested an amendment to the constitution, however, which will allow them to hold the separate T20 extravaganza exclusive of the other competitions and be restricted to a few counties of the ECB’s choice. So all three major competitions, including the T20 Blast, will continue to go on as always with all 18 counties participating in them. In fact, plans are to leave two ‘wildcard’ picks in the draft for the new tournament with teams able to pick top-performing players from the league phase of the Blast. For the record, it was one tiny amendment to the constitution at the onset of the IPL that set off a chain of events in India nearly a decade ago that eventually led to the dissolution of the BCCI as we knew it.

Why did the ECB decide this to be the right time to jump on board the bandwagon?

Harrison and Graves have both been very vocal about the dwindling interest for cricket in England, and the need to build the support system for the sport by bringing in new audiences, especially in the youngest age category. According to reports during the meeting with the county chairmen, the ECB informed that only 2 per cent of kids called cricket their No.1 sport and even showed a presentation where school kids are shown mistaking Andrew Strauss for a football manager and Alastair Cook for someone who works at Waitrose, the present sponsors of the England Test team. Only last week, England captains Joe Root and Eoin Morgan had been asked to play brave and exciting cricket even if it meant losing on occasions as part of the ECB’s quest to introduce at least 50,000 kids in the age-group of five-to-eight “excited” in cricket this year. With the broadcast rights up for renewal in 2020, the English board are sure that having an exciting new T20 tournament will be a great bargaining tool which should help them supersede their previous fee of £75 million significantly.

How did the ECB convince the counties to come on board with their masterplan?

The counties were firstly asked to sign and thereby assign their media and broadcast rights to the ECB by March 27, which they did. In return they will be guaranteed £1.3 m a year from 2020 for a five-year period. Some reports though revealed that some of their hands had been forced, with dissenters threatened with penalties regarding the funds the board hands over to them. Though the ECB is expected to gain the necessary majority to get the go-ahead to start their T20 competition, there have been reports in England which claim that some counties aren’t happy with the fact that non first-class counties will have a say in their future, especially with a mandate with which they are pretty much writing themselves out of a potentially cash-rich tournament.

How will the new tournament boost the ECB’s profits?

Harrison was quoted in an interview last year insisting that “we’ve grown fat on revenues from India” claiming that England cricket hadn’t tried enough to reach their potential as a cricket market. According to him, the new T20 tournament, will not just add the much-needed chutzpah that has been missing from their domestic scene but also help English cricket score a whopping new broadcast deal of nearly £1.25 billion for the five-year period from 2020 to 2025, which is expected to put them in the same league as the UEFA Champions League in terms of rights.

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Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/cricket/why-counties-are-set-to-back-ecbs-push-for-region-based-t20-league-4591882/

Chris Read to retire at end of upcoming county season

CALLING IT A DAY

Chris Read to retire at end of upcoming county season

Cricbuzz Staff • Last updated on Tue, 28 Mar, 2017, 03:39 PM

Read also played 15 Tests and 36 One-Day Internationals for England. © Getty

Nottinghamshire wicketkeeper and Club captain Chris Read has announced on Tuesday (March 28) that he will retire at the end of the forthcoming county season. Read, who is beginning his 20th season as a professional, will take up a job as Director of Cricket at Uppingham School from September.

Renowned as one of the finest glovemen England has ever produced, Read, 38, has made 677 appearances for Nottinghamshire to date, clocking-up 1,329 dismissals behind the stumps and scoring over 20,000 runs in all formats.

Read also played 15 Tests and 36 One-Day Internationals for England. Although he never hit the heights with the bat in the same way he did at first-class level, averaging under 20 in both formats, Read managed an impressive 91 international dismissals with the gloves.

“I feel very content with my career,” said Read. “It’s my 20th season at Trent Bridge and it’s been a wonderful experience. All good things must come to an end. After this season, it’s time for me to move on and start the next phase of my career with a fantastic opportunity at Uppingham School.

“I’m going to really enjoy this last six months of my playing career. I’ve set myself high standards throughout my career and this season is no different. I’ll be putting everything into Nottinghamshire, into driving us forward and making sure that, when I do leave at the end of September, the Club is in the best possible position.”

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Courtesy: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports

Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93618/chris-read-to-retire-at-end-of-upcoming-county-season