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.

© Cricbuzz

TAGS

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

Source: http://www.cricbuzz.com/cricket-news/93737/county-championship-know-your-squads-part-i?utm_source=TOInewHP_TILwidget&utm_medium=ABtest&utm_campaign=TOInewHP

Squads win titles says Luis Enrique as Barcelona win without Lionel Messi

After 4-1 win over Granada, Barcelona trail Real Madrid by two points. After 4-1 win over Granada, Barcelona trail Real Madrid by two points.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique paid tribute to his squad’s strength in depth after they won 4-1 at Granada on Sunday without suspended talisman and La Liga top scorer Lionel Messi to stay on the heels leaders Real Madrid.

The coach rested centre backs Gerard Pique and Samuel Umtiti and started without captain Andres Iniesta but Barca claimed the points thanks to a tremendous display from Luis Suarez and an impressive showing by little-used striker Paco Alcacer.

“We would obviously like to have every player available all the time but it’s great when you can make up for absent players with the type of squad we have, because it is squads that win you trophies”, Luis Enrique told reporters.

“These games after international breaks are always special and a bit harder but we produced a solid performance from the start. The game became complicated with their equaliser in their only chance of the game but we managed to turn it around quickly and get a big scoreline which I think is a fair result.”

Alcacer was thrown on early after Rafinha was forced off with a knee injury and the former Valencia striker restored Barca’s lead in the second half and laid on the pass for Neymar to complete the scoring and net his 100th goal for the club.

“I’m very happy with Paco, you have to praise his attitude throughout the season as he’s always been at the team’s disposition,” added the Barcelona coach.

“He was superb today, participating in two of the goals as well as scoring one and he was a constant danger for Granada.”

Barca trail Real by two points but will have the chance to climb above their rivals when they visit the Santiago Bernabeu on April 23. Zinedine Zidane’s side have a game in hand.

For all the latest Sports News, download Indian Express App now
Courtesy: http://indianexpress.com

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/squads-win-titles-says-luis-enrique-as-barcelona-win-without-lionel-messi-4597087/

Prashant Bhushan booked for tweet on anti-Romeo squads

Prashant Bhushan. Prashant Bhushan.

Police in Lucknow on Sunday registered an FIR against Prashant Bhushan who in a tweet against the new UP government’s anti-Romeo squads mentioned Lord Krishna, saying he could be seen as “a legendary Eve teaser”. The complaint against Bhushan was registered by UP Congress spokesperson Syed Zeeshan Haider at Lucknow’s Hazratganj police station. In Delhi, BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Bagga also registered a complaint against Bhushan at Tilak Marg police. No FIR has been lodged in Delhi yet. Bhushan, who is a leader of the Swaraj Abhiyan party, said in his first tweet on Sunday: “Romeo loved just one lady,while Krishna was a legendary Eve teaser.Would Adityanath have the guts to call his vigilantes AntiKrishna squads?”

The anti-Romeo squads of the UP Police were formed to check harassment of girls and women after the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government assumed office. Critics of the move alleged that the police action had led to undue harassment of young couples. Hours after putting up the first tweet, Bhushan clarified that he had not meant to hurt religious sentiments.

“My tweet on Romeo brigade being distorted. My position is: By the logic of Romeo Brigade, even Lord Krishna would look like eve teaser,” went the second tweet. He added: “We have grown up with legends of young Krishna teasing Gopis.The logic of Romeo squad would criminalise this.Didnt intend to hunt (sic) sentiments.” Later in the evening, Bhushan put up a snapshot of a picture of Krishna and Radha on his Twitter page, which he said was displayed in his home. “Tho I am not religious, my mother was.I grew up listening to the folklore of lord Krishna in childhood. Painting of Radha-Krishna in our home,” he wrote.

However, Bhushan has been charged by the Lucknow police with IPC sections related to hurting religious feelings and promoting enmity between different religious groups.

In his complaint, Congress’s Haider said Bhushan had made an “undignified” remark about Krishna by comparing him with Romeo. “Lord Sri Krishna is a source of inspiration for not just Hindu brothers, but the whole humankind. This comment has hurt the sentiments of crores of people. This is also an offence,” he said. On Bhushan’s “offensive” tweet, UP BJP spokesperson Manish Shukla said, “It simply reflects his narrow mindset. The tweet has hurt the sentiments of billions of devotees of Lord Krishna.”

Bhushan’s party Swaraj Abhiyan said the tweet was a satire. Its spokesperson Anupam said the tweet meant that the way the anti-Romeo squads were working, they could raise questions on every relationship between a man and woman.

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now
Courtesy: http://indianexpress.com

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/prashant-bhushan-booked-for-tweet-on-anti-romeo-squads-4596956/

Anti-Romeo squad row: Prashant Bhushan calls Lord Krishna ‘legendary eve teaser’, draws flak

Lawyer-Activict Prashant Bhushan Lawyer-Activict Prashant Bhushan

Prominent lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan on Sunday stirred a controversy on social media after describing Lord Krishna as a “legendary eve-teaser” while weighing in on the Uttar Pradesh government’s Anti-Romeo squads, which were introduced to curb instances of harassment of girls and eve-teasing. His comments came in light of the recent video footages which showcased innocent men being subjected to harsh treatment allegedly in presence of the state forces, instead of cracking down on those who actually stalk and molest women. Incidents of men being forced to squat and even to tonsure their heads have been shown in the cell phone videos.

The Swaraj Abhiyan co-founder also dared newly-appointed Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath whether he would have the guts to label his self-appointed teams as Anti-Krishna squads. “Romeo loved just one lady,while Krishna was a legendary Eve teaser.Would Adityanath have the guts to call his vigilantes AntiKrishna squads?,” Bhushan wrote on Twitter.

Romeo loved just one lady,while Krishna was a legendary Eve teaser.Would Adityanath have the guts to call his vigilantes AntiKrishna squads? http://t.co/IYslpP0ECv — Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) April 2, 2017

His tweet set off a storm on the social media with religious groups demanding an apology and some even saying they would take the activist to court for allegedly insulting the deity. Meanwhile, BJP Delhi spokesperson Tajinder Bagga has registered a police complaint against Bhushan for ‘insulting and outraging the religious sentiments of Hindus’.

Filing A police complaint today against Prashant Bhushan for insulting Lord Krishna http://t.co/JCCdkpbGsa — Tajinder Pal S Bagga (@TajinderBagga) April 2, 2017

Clarifying his position, Bhushan said his stand was being ‘distorted’. “My position is: By the logic of Romeo Brigade, even Lord Krishna would look like eve teaser,” he tweeted. Insisting that he didn’t intend to hurt religious sentiments, the activist said, “We have grown up with legends of young Krishna teasing Gopis. The logic of Romeo squad would criminalise this. Didnt intend to hunt sentiments.”

We have grown up with legends of young Krishna teasing Gopis.The logic of Romeo squad would criminalise this.Didnt intend to hunt sentiments — Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) April 2, 2017

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd
Courtesy: http://indianexpress.com

Source: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/prashant-bhushan-triggers-controversy-for-labelling-lord-krishna-as-legendary-eve-teaser-yogi-adityanath-uttar-pradesh-anti-romeo-squads-4596532/

Anti-Romeo squad: A bad idea from the start

The much publicised “anti-Romeo” squads of UP Police sanctioned by chief minister Adityanath Yogi came as a sign of decisive action so early in his term to check what is perversely called “eve-teasing” instead of by its proper name — sexual harassment of girls and women in public places by men of all ages to much merriment, and easily forgiven through the logic that boys will be boys or men will be men, and that women should just become invisible so that they do not attract attention. The typical forms the nationwide harassment takes are ogling and passing lewd comments which can slip into worse — age being no bar. It was thus assumed that the state police being out in force in marketplaces and outside colleges and schools will check the menace by being a deterrent. But soon it became clear that the initial positive assessment of the move was premature.

Reports began to come in from every major city and town of UP of squads of police catching hold of men in public places and harassing them for ID cards. Many turned out to be husbands, brothers or fathers waiting for their female relatives to emerge from shops and other establishments. Clearly, charade of this kind is not sustainable the year round. Too many police personnel will be caught up doing too little for next to no result. Aside from this practical side of police administration, the fundamental point is that the right of women to go out with any man they choose to is being sought to be blocked. Checking wrong-doers or petty criminals cannot be an excuse for limiting the privileges of women. That will be going back to a medieval mindset. Besides, in a public place it is no business of the government to begin a search of individual menfolk without warrant. This too is transgression of liberty.

The so-called anti-Romeo policing was tried out under the BJP in Gujarat and yielded no results. The party’s rationale for repeating the failed experiment in UP defies logic. But it is hard to push away from mind the call of Hindutva brigades in UP to form such police platoons to catch hold of Muslim young men on the allegation of “love-jihad”, the enticement of young Hindu women into marriage for the purpose of conversion. The present UP CM was in the forefront of this campaign. In time, there could be every possibility of the “anti-Romeo” campaign to be the thin end of the wedge to target young Muslim men, just as has been the case of targeting the abattoir business in UP, which contributes about two-thirds of the total exports of buffalo meat from the country worth about five million dollars. The business is mostly run by Muslims.
Courtesy: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/

Source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com/opinion/dc-comment/260317/anti-romeo-squad-a-bad-idea-from-the-start.html