Monday, 31 March 2008

Bowling Developments and rumours

Tom Allin: a 20yo fast bowler from Devon has been signed on a two year summer contract. He is currently studying sports coaching and management at Cardiff UCCE. He played 4 of Devon's five Minor Counties matches last year and took 33 wickets for North Devon in the Devon League Premier Division. He was clocked at 85mph in the nets at Warwickshire, so certainly seems a promising prospect.

Monde Zondeki: Ashley Giles is still hopeful of having Zondeki avaliable for most of the season, dispite his call up for South Africa's current tour. Warwickshire are waiting to see if there are any developments before looking for a replacement. In the first match of the current tour he did not play in the team, so there is a possibility he will be avaliable for more matches than was initially feared following his call-up.

Majid Haq: He impressed enough on his trial with Warwickshire last week to earn an extended trial in May. He is now touring Nambia with Scotland and will join up with Warwickshire on his return. He said in an interview with The Herald; "They've asked me to come back for another week in May, probably to play some games for the Second XI," he said. "I'm hoping something will come of it but Scotland definitely still comes first, at least until there's something signed. But the first week down there was good. We spent a lot of time in training doing sprinting work which was a real change for me."

Tim Southee: This one almost slipped past me, but the teenage New Zealand bowler may be joining up with the Bears later in the summer. Last week in the Telegraph, Charles Randall reported that Andy Moles, Tim's coach at Northern Districts, has recommended that the teenager links up with Warwickshire following the conclusion of Nez Zealand's tour of England. He may be being lined up to replace Zondeki in the event he is called up to the South Africa team, which would fit in pretty well.

Others: Nick James and Ian Westwood have recovered from a broken foot and thumb respectively and Boyd Rankin is still making progress on his stress fracture, but is not yet fully fit


Pre-Season Game on

The Worcester News reported a few hours ago that the New Road ground is fit to host tommorrow's pre-season friendly between Worcestershire and Warwickshire. The first game to be played at the ground since the floods of June last year.

The match starts at 11am and is free admission.

The squad for the game has been announced on the Warwickshire website as;

Maddy, Carter, Westwood, Trott, Troughton, Poonia, Frost, Botha, Groenewald, Daggett, Anyon, Woakes, Parker.

I've been a little quiet over the past week, but normal service has now been resumed ahead of the start of Warwickshire's pre-season proper.


Sunday, 23 March 2008

Old Boys honoured & Westwood Vice Captain

Five members of the all-conquering 1990's Warwickshire side have been awarded honorary life membership of the club.

Ashley Giles, Dougie Brown, Asif Din, Keith Piper & Dominic Ostler have all been given the prestigious award, which is a nice way for the club to show their appreciation.

The practicalities though seem a little odd; Giles is director of cricket, Brown is head of the academy, Piper is the 2nd XI coach & Din is on the cricket committee. It would seem slightly churlish to charge any of them to attend a match, or bar them from the Tom Dollery suite. Perhaps Ostler had some trouble getting into a game with a gate-man last season, prompting his award of life membership, whereupon the other 4 had to be brought up to same level to avoid any unpleasantness. - another spurious conspiracy theory bought to you by The Raggy Bear.

In other news Ian Westwood has been awarded the vice captaincy for next season, at face value it seems a surprising choice, given his relative youth and lack of prowess in the one-day game. However I think it illustrates the dynamics in the current squad, and how transitional it is. Based on availability and experience (and discounting new signings) the only real candidates would seem to be: Anyon, Powell, Trott, Troughton & Westwood, and of those probably only the last three are serious candidates.

In itself it looks like a brave and forwarding thinking move, however it will only take a few injuries before Warwickshire are putting out a virtual youth side in some matches, something I'll look at my pre-season review over the next few weeks.


Friday, 21 March 2008

Members again

After months of deliberation and spreadsheet, calenders and long-range weather forecasts, I've decided to sign-up for membership again for the upcoming season.

Gemma is excited by the prospect of being able to sit inside and read the paper when she is dragged to a Friends Provident Zonal match on a drizzly April afternoon.

I have decided that although the Blog is The Raggy Bear, calling myself "the raggy bear" make me sound like a dishevelled hairy homosexual. Which could be construed as misrepresentation, so I'm going to stop it.


Zondeki to arrive late

Events outside of their control have conspired to weaken the bowling attack for at least the opening game of the season against Worcestershire, and possibly beyond, as Monde Zondeki was called up to South Africa's tour of India.

While it appears to be good news for the player, it is not quite so good for Warwickshire as they lose arguably their only truly fast bowler. The call comes following another ugly dispute in South African cricket over race and quotas. Andre Nell was dropped from the tour party in favour of Charl Langeveldt, purely on grounds that Langeveldt is mixed-race and therefore fulfils one of the mandatory "coloured" player slots in a touring party. Upset by this turn of events Langeveldt withdrew from the side himself, saying "I have always fought for a place in the team but I don’t want to be put there because of my colour".

In 2002 South Africa, under Ray Mali stating they were moving from the divisive quota system to a softer "target" system, but since Mali stepped up to the ICC Presidency following the untimely death of Percy Son, the CSA have moved back towards stricter quotas of 7 "coloured" players in a touring party of 15, or 6 in a party of 14. The new, more combative head of the CSA, Norman Arendse, is keen on the quota system, but this is not a popular position and resulted in a recent cautious vote of confidence from the General Council of Cricket South Africa in his leadership

Following Langeveldt's withdrawal Zondeki was called up as a replacement into the side and has said he was overjoyed at the call; “It is nice to be rewarded for all the hard work I have put in this season,” he commented. “I wasn’t expecting it quite yet but I will grab every opportunity that I get. I toured Sri Lanka in 2005, so I do have some experience of the conditions on the sub-continent.”

Reports from South Africa though are mixed, with the main focus, understandably being on the circumstances of his call, which is unfortunate for a player who was the leading wicket taker in the South African domestic season. Independent Online, a South African news site is particularly scathing of the policy of quotas and comments that the call may not be in Zondeki's best interests, notably in the article "Zondeki is a quota player and he knows it".

Meanwhile Warwickshire are left to plan for Zondeki's absence from certainly the first match against Worcestershire and likely for the duration of South Africa's tour of England.


Saturday, 15 March 2008

VIDEO: Brian Lara 501

Going back in time to happier days at Edgbaston. Documentary style report on Brian Lara's 501 with a fair few highlights.


An embarrasing retraction

Deary me, no sooner I am crowing about the cutting edge news on the Raggy Bear than I'm forced to print a retraction!
An anonymous poster pointed out the follow article from the Post back in November where the possibility of Majid Haq coming on trial was first reported. So I can't claim to be the first to break the story; I'm the second to break his imminent arrival this week (after the Paisley Express where I poached the story from obviously!) and no-one can take that away from me (apart from possibly some other Paisley based newspaper without an internet presence - its a minefield this blogging lark, I'll be banned in China next).


Friday, 14 March 2008

Majid Haq set for trial

I have to admit that this is not exactly ground breaking news, however I couldn't resist the chance to show off about my surfing prowess having tracked down the following story in the Paisley Sports Express (Paisley is in Scotland incidentally)

Scottish International all-rounder Majid Haq will have a week long trial with Warwickshire next week to try to win county playing deal. He is scheduled to arrive on Monday.

The 25-year-old is a off-break bowler, who primarily provides control during the middle overs of one-day cricket, but is better known for his hard-hitting batting at the top of the innings. He met Ashley Giles at the Cricket Scotland annual awards dinner at the close of the season and this was when the possibility of a trial was first discussed.

Haq told Paisley Express Sports: “Hopefully it will go well as it’s a good chance to make a living out of cricket.

“I’m not really nervous about it as over the past season I’ve played against the top internationals for Scotland and I’ve also played in two World Cups.

Haq added: “Everyone who knows anything about county cricket will tell you Warwickshire is in one of the top three or four teams along with Lancashire, Surrey and Yorkshire.

“It would be a great chance for me to develop my cricket although at this stage I don’t want to look too far ahead.

There you go it might not be a big story but for once the Raggy Bear has beaten the Post and Mail to the drop, not to mention the Edgbaston website, but then to be fair I beat the Edgbaston site to most stories.

See also : Embarrassing retraction (!!)

Edited by Raggybear at 22.12 15/10/2008


Tuesday, 11 March 2008

In exalted company

Since starting my blog, I've sometimes felt a little cheap that I rarely have any stories which are down to my investigative prowess (unless you count finding vaguely Warwickshire related articles in the Hindu Times and New Zealand Herald).

So I was somewhat comforted this week that Cricinfo just ripped off an interview by George Dobell in the Post and made an article out of it; Harmison told Donald he was scared. Being as ripping off and regurgitating articles by George Dobell is a central pillar of the Raggy Bear, it made me feel a lot better. At least I have the decency to mention him by name when I trade off his work; Cricinfo just put "Donald told the Birmingham Post" - No he didn't, he told George in The Swan in Harborne - credit where credit's due. Although the fact their article is written by "Cricinfo Staff" might indicate they have a preference for anonymous journalism.


Monday, 10 March 2008

Ambrose in for the long term

Cricket 365 are carrying an interview with Ashley Giles, in which he states that he believes Tim Ambrose did enough on debut to ensure that he is the long-term answerfor England's wicketkeeper position. With a first innings 55, two catches and only 1 bye conceeded in just over 193 overs.

He said "I can see Tim playing for England for a long time and consequently I don't think Warwickshire will be seeing him for a long time."

"I was watching Tim the other day and he looks like he has taken to the role easily. He's got very good hands and to also get a half-century on your debut is really pleasing. Hopefully he will keep on producing because it is great for England and great for Warwickshire in the sense of producing another Test cricketer."

He finished by saying, "That is the risk you take when you have good players [losing them to England] but you've got to have strength in depth and we've got a good young keeper in Richard Johnson while Tony Frost, with his experience, is coming back to the club."

It is great news for England and Ambrose that he made such an assured debut, but not so good news from the point of view of Warwickshire's forthcoming domestic campaign. It will be a big season for Ambrose in the England side, but an equally big one for Richard Johnson.


Thursday, 6 March 2008

Loudon for IPL?

Well, this story is entirely fictitious and not based in reality. Following the news that there will be a further IPL auction next week, which is expected to contain some as yet unknown, non-centrally contracted English based players I got to thinking about who these players might be.

It seems unlikely that they would be current contracted county players as they would require one of these fast-becoming famous, non-objection certificates, from their county. (Which incidentally I see as making it into the Oxford English by the end of the year, never mind Facebook, or IPhone, Non-Objection Certificate will be the word of 2008). Taking aside fully contracted players, that then, surely only leaves non-contracted county players, or ones signed on some kind of dodgy contract, specifically I would think performance/appearance related contracts. The theory being that if the county are showing less faith in said player then the contract must be easier to break on the part of the player. There may also be one or two players who as yet are not formally signed up to play for their county for the coming season.

This reasonable train of logic then led me onto conclude that Alex Loudon is going to take a holiday from his new job in the city and go and collect a tidy paycheck to play for the Rajasthan Royals. Remember, you read it here first.