Tuesday, 29 April 2008

FPT Warwickshire v Northants

I'm catching up on things following the weekend.

Warwickshire lost to Northants in the Friends Provident Trophy on Sunday. Ian Bell was missing from the line-up due to his desire to concentrate on First Class cricket in advance of the Test series. It seems that the root cause of of the defeat was Warwickshire's bowling however.


Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Warwickshire v Northamptonshire


Warwickshire win by 2 wickets with 1 ball left.

A remarkable thing happened on Saturday at Wantage Road; Warwickshire remembered how to play competitive cricket after nearly a year. George Dobell went so far as to call it a miracle in the Post, and he probably isn't far wrong. Darren Maddy, a man who couldn't buy a score in his first 3 championship innings scored a combative 130 and led Warwickshire in an improbable chase of 383 in 82 overs. After a run in which several demoralising statistics were throw up related to how bad the results were and the players were performing, it is nice to be able to say the have won a match by making the 5th highest fourth innings total in the club's history. Those are the sort of facts and statistics fans like to hear.

Ian Salisbury was nothing short of a revelation at the age of 38, winning the match with a 6 and putting the team in a position to do so with his brilliant 54 not out in the first innings, saving the follow-on.

George Dobell speculates that this could be a pivotal moment in the season when we look back, but I feel that the dogged resistence of Botha and Frost to draw last week against Worcestershire will be possible seen as the first moment that Warwickshire put down a marker that they were not exactly the same side that was so abysmal last season.

Day 2

Close of play: Warwickshire 129-7

Warwickshire in all sorts of trouble yet again, realistically now looking to the weather to help them salvage a draw for the second match in succession. The follow-on target is 235, and they will need all four remaining batsmen to score double their first-class batting averages (combined 57.7) to avoid the follow-on. There are 192 scheduled overs left in this match, so the draw looks a long way off at the moment. They will need some application just to avoid an innings defeat, with arguably their strongest side, or thereabouts on the park.

Day 1

Close of play: Northants 252-6

A partnership of just shy of 100 for the sixth wicket between Klusner and Boje and then another promising partnership between Boje and Crook took Northants through to the close in a decent position, after being reduced to 127-5. Due to the rain there was only 72 overs possible in the day, so Warwickshire will have to bowl out a few tomorrow before being able to take the new ball and hopefully wrap up the tail.

Northamptonshire team
SD Peters, N Boje, AG Wakely, L Klusener, DH Wigley, MS Panesar, DS Lucas, MH Wessels, SP Crook, RA White, DJG Sales

Warwickshire team
AG Botha, NM Carter, IJ Westwood, DL Maddy, IR Bell, MJ Powell, IJL Trott, TR Ambrose, LM Daggett, M Zondeki I Salisbury

Preview - Both sides have welcomed back England players for today's Championship match, with Warwickshire bringing Bell and Ambrose into the side and Northants having the services of Monty Panesar.

The start has been delayed by rain and as a result the toss and sides have not been decided yet. Warwickshire are likely to be choosing 3 from Carter, Salisbury, Woakes, Anyon and Daggett, the others are almost certainly automatic picks. Daggett probably deserves to keep his place based on his first innings bowling last week, Anyon, who has recovered from his arm strain is probably worthy of a place, I would like to see the last place go to Woakes following his decent performance for the England U-19's, ahead of Carter. At this stage of the season I can't see that a second spinnner and one who has recently been injured is a very good idea, but what do I know?


Monday, 21 April 2008

Injury Update

Due to the runaway sucess (!) of this feature, I have put it on the Raggybear archive as a permenent post.

Warwickshire's start to the season has been disrupted somewhat by various injuries and problems with availability of key players. As usual news is a little patchy and in various places, so this is where the Raggybear comes into its own (with its patented traffic light system for availability, specifically for those people who are in a rush, or who are illiterate but with the capacity to recognise names). News as at today is:

Tim Ambrose - was available and waiting on Sunday, will play in the Championship game against Northants this week.

Ian Bell - will join up with the team for this week's championship match

Monde Zondeki - due to join the squad this week and expected to make his debut in the Championship

Boyd Rankin - missed out on last week's game through a lack of match fitness following his recovery from a broken foot but has now picked up a new shoulder injury which is ruling him out for now. He is due to have a scan this week.

Jim Troughton - continues to be troubled by the back injury he picked up before last week's game. Is due to begin training today, but is very doubtful for the game on Wednesday.

Naqqash Tahir - has begun light training following his shin splints problem, is unlikely to play this week.

Jimmy Anyon - has started training again, following recovery from a torn muscle in his right forearm but could still miss out this week. - updated, in the squad for CC match against Northants

Ian Salisbury - is in the squad for the CC game against Northants.

Stuart Hole - last reported to have a hamstring strain on 9th April, still out as far as I know.

Nick James - has fully recovered from the broken toe he suffered in the nets and played for the seconds last week and was in the squad for the FP Trophy game on Sunday.


Saturday, 19 April 2008

Sponser a player for charity

Brian Halford has details of a charity fund raiser in his Warwickshire Blog that is for a good cause. All proceeds being donated to cancer research at City Hospital.

The appeal is being organised by George Dobell (who has an article in the post about the same thing) and the idea is to "sponsor" a player or even an incident in Warwickshire's season in order to raise money. Brian and the Mail are donating £12 for every time Michael Powell scores 3 in the Championship and he has already been joined by several other readers of his blog in this. The Raggybear is donating 50p for every championship wicket Jimmy Anyon takes and there are other people being potentially far more generous than that as well!

Brian has some other good ideas for things to sponsor in his post and you can put details of a pledge in the comments of his post - get involved people and support this good cause.

You can also contact George Dobell by email with a pledge, Brian posted it in his blog, I'm not going to though just in case the spam monkeys are about and George get mails with all sorts of unsavoury cut price offers...


Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Rain saves Warwickshire against Worcestershire

Warwickshire batted out the required overs to gain a draw against Worcestershire before the rain closed in at Edgbaston. Frost and Botha were impressive when they came together and between them saved the match when they were the only batsmen left capable of doing so. That they did shows some encouraging signs that some progress has been made over the summer. Last year the team would have been all out before the first drinks break. Praise should also go to nightwatchman Daggett for resisting for the best part of an hour. Poonia, Powell and Parker will probably feel disappointed that there were half-centuries and aclaim on offer here for the taking and none were able to cash in to the extent they might have wanted.

Although Worcestershire will feel hard done by, their fast bowlers didn't do themselves any favours. Kabir Ali stood out for me as someone who was dropping far too short, I felt that Solanki could have taken out some run saving fielders and got the bowlers to pitch it up a little more and encourage the batsmen to drive. In many overs from the city end Frost and Botha were only asked to play at 2 or 3 deliveries, which when you are pushing for victory is not nearly good enough.


Warwickshire 26-3 at the close, needing to bat tomorrow for 96 overs (minus any rain) to save the game, or to get 456 runs to win. Westwood, Maddy and Trott the batsmen out.

Worcestershire tightened their grip on the game in the evening session, after dismissing Warwickshire for a decidedly under-par 215. Daggett stuck around for a few overs this morning before being dismissed. Trott and Poonia put together a brisk stand for the 5th wicket, and then Parker and Frost provided support for Trott once Poonia was out. However Warwickshire really needed a big partnership to take the game by the scruff of the neck. They lost their last 4 wickets for only 11 runs, in marked contrast to the performance of the Worcestershire tail the day before.

After Carter removed Mitchell for 5 in the 4th over it seemed as if Warwickshire were in with a chance of bowling Worcestershire out cheaply again, but Solanki and Moore came together and steadied the innings with a partnership of 141. Although Botha struck just before stumps to remove Moore, Worcestershire are 184 in the lead with wickets and time in hand.

Mixed day for Warwickshire. Moore was the only batsman who propered for Worcester, carrying his bat for 109 and holding the tail together with a couple of valuable partnerships for the 7th and 8th wickets.

Worcestershire were all out for 249 around 5.30, leaving Warwickshire 13 tricky overs to negotiate. Westwood fell in the first over, leaving Kabir Ali's first two balls outside the off-stump, before being trapped lbw by a full delivery swinging back into him. I didn't have the best position being down at a narrowish long leg, but the reactions indicated it may have been sliding past off-stump. Maddy and Powell recovered well, Powell striking the ball sweetly; one on-drive off Magoffin was particularly sublime, Powell holding a flourishing pose in his follow through.

Simon Jones was shuffling in off 11 paces and bowling in the 70's Mph if I'm any judge. He still managed to induce Maddy to fence at a short ball and had him caught at the wicket. Just before the end Powell was bowled to probably leave Worcestershire the happier team overnight. I think he was bowled off the back or handle of his bat shouldering arms to a shorter delivery from Magoffin, but I'm not sure.


Troughton misses out

Teams are as follows:

Warwickshire: Maddy, Westwood, Powell, Trott, Poonia, Parker, Frost, Groenewald, Botha, Carter, Daggett

Worcestershire: Mitchell, Moore, Solanki, Smith, Hick, Davies, Batty, K Ali, Andrew, Jones, Magoffi

Squad of 12 appears a red herring, Troughton misses out and Parker comes into the squad and team at the expense of Rankin. Bowling looks very light...

A friend of mine who has just gone out for a smoke up here at Five Ways says it feels muggy and potentially like rain (thanks Paddy). An anonymous poster in the comments below says it feels drizzly at the ground. You don't get this in the IPL Mr Modi - not least because my mate Paddy would struggle to get accredited by the BCCI.

This type of forth-hand user driven speculation is surely the future of the web.


Weather report

Just cycled past the ground on my way to work. Weather is really grey and overcast, but doesn't look like it is going to rain imminently. I would think the game will start on time, but it is going to be a day for 2 jumpers and heat-packs in the pockets for the fielding team. If it was the height of summer I would expect the clouds to burn off later in the morning, but I'm not convinced its warm enough!

It rained heavily yesterday evening and overnight, which means the pitch will have been covered and sweating. Without seeing the pitch, I am speculating, but I would think its probably going to be a win the toss and bowl pitch. It highly likely there will be a bit of green and some moisture in it and the morning should stay overcast for a bit.

Weather forecast on the BBC is for sunny spells in the early afternoon and then rain showers later on.

Scorecard updates are available from the BBC Coventry and Warwickshire


Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The curtain raises

Finally the months of waiting are nearing an end and the new cricket season is nearly upon us. Warwickshire open their Division 2 campaign against local rivals Worcestershire tomorrow at Edgbaston.

The squad for the game is 12; D Maddy (captain), I Westwood, M Powell, J Trott, J Troughton, N Poonia, T Frost, A Botha, L Daggett, T Groenewald, N Carter, B Rankin.

Brian Halford reports in today's mail that Jim Troughton is an injury doubt with a back twinge. He also speculates that Boyd Rankin is not a definite inclusion due to his recent return from injury and indicates that Powell will be included (by implying Poonia is cover for Troughton).

My feeling is that Warwickshire are unlikely to go in with only 3 seamers, and that the only decision will be which two out of Powell, Poonia and Troughton play at 4 and 5. I feel Poonia deserves a chance after his combative 65 in the draw against Oxford UCCE last week, and if I was selecting I would probably leave out Powell (cue his selection and a double hundred).


Season reviews - UPDATED

There are a couple of review out there at the moment previewing the second division of the county championship that are worth a look.

Cricinfo has the Bears as realistically looking at a mid-table finish, although could be higher if the bowlers fire.

The Telegraph has a comprehensive round up of the teams in the division, but does not go so far as to chance a prediction.

For a Warwickshire preview you could do a lot worse than George Dobell's squad review in the post, which is frankly so comprehensive it makes me wonder if it was some kind of pull-out...

My own attempt runs thus:

Wicket-keeping: Ambrose continues to go from strength to strength and should keep his place in the England squad for the early summer at least. Meaning he is unlikely to play for Warwickshire. Tony Frost has a lot of hard work ahead of him to maintain his fitness and was already batting with a runner in the 2 day match against Oxford UCCE. He remains a big concern over 4 days and I hope that one of the other batsmen is competent to take over the gloves at need. Richard Johnson is a fairly unknown quantity, but I think his lack of opportunities in the three pre-season matches indicates he is not exactly pushing Frost hard for a place at the moment. He is almost certain to get a first team chance at some point, although George Dobell doesn't rate his batting, with the lack of proper allrounders he could unbalance the side.

Batting: The batting line up looks fragile. Maddy, Westwood, Trott and Troughton pick themselves, but beyond them there is not much. Westwood continues to develop, Troughton to frustrate with inconsistency. Trott had a bad last season, but has the class to get back to his best. Maddy needs to continue to enjoy an Indian summer to his career (preferably not in India!). In order to be truly competitive this year either (or both) from Poonia and Parker need to step up and deliver. The arrival of Jayasuriya for the Twenty20 could prove a welcome boost.

Seam Bowling: Allan Donald is by far the best signing in the seam department and he won't bowl a ball in anger all summer. Zondeki, when available, looks a class act and should be among the wickets. Of the rest the front line are Tahir, Anyon, Carter, Groenewald, Rankin & Daggett. I am not sure whether it is a good sign of depth, or a symptom of a lack of proven bowlers that it is virtually impossible to pick the first choice 3 or 4 from them. There is a lot of promise and hopefully the competition will encourage some development, Carter apart, the other 5 could still develop into 50 wickets a season bowlers, or conversely wash up at Northants in 2009.

Spin bowling: Botha looks the automatic first choice and Salisbury seems a strange signing as a player; as a coach he might be a decent capture. Nick James really needs to improve or I doubt his contact will be renewed, like Loudon he possibly suffers for not knowing his role.

The Verdict: going into the season it is hard to pinpoint a part of the Bear's squad as a certain strength. That said they do have an awful lot of promising players in their early 20's, particularly bowlers and you have to think at least one or two should respond to Donald's coaching.

I predict a strong start in the Championship but unable to sustain a challenge for promotion. Finishing 3rd.

I think qualification from the group stages of the Twenty20 cup is on. Although I can't see the team being consistent enough in the One Day game to either get to the latter stages of the cup or to gain promotion in the league. I do think though that the cricket will be a sight more interesting and enjoyable than last season. I for one will be in the RV Ryder stand at about 5.10pm tomorrow with a pint and I might even take my sunglasses. Never let it be said I'm not an optimist.


Monday, 14 April 2008

ECB Misses the target once again

The IPL is a business, at the moment it will exist almost solely for the purposes of making money. Franchisees have invested heavily from the outset with this in mind. The league is driven by the money poured into it from advertisers and the franchisees themselves. The main factor behind this is the potential money that can be gained back from the burgeoning Indian middle classes.

The Stanford Twenty20 is the original Twenty20 superleague, but is largely a black hole for the riches of Alan Stanford. There is not money to be made in West Indies cricket at the moment, and the investments he has made have been largely benevolent. Without the man the league would not exist and would not survive. Commercially it is simply not viable.

So to the ECB; like fishing with dynamite, or the Pro40 league, criticising the ECB is hardly sport and is barely enjoyable any more. However the staggering incompetence with which they are reacting to the Twenty20 storm is a special treat.

My personal views on the IPL have not changed (see previous articles), but I am currently puzzled by the bizarre logic being applied by the ECB. They seem convinced, some would say justifiably, that the International game and the county game are doomed. A view I do not share, but I am prepared for a minute to indulge them. The reasons for this opinion is that the IPL is swimming in money and can offer England internationals, and county players astronomical sums to play in their league. In the face of such offers they conclude, everyone will join the IPL and the Test and county sides will be bereft of players.

Their response to this conclusion? Take a perfectly adequate domestic Twenty20 league, that is there, or there-abouts at saturation point and make it bigger. This, they reason, will have a dual effect; the first will be to suddenly capture the interest of vast majority of people in the UK who currently don't give a stuff about domestic cricket, including television companies. The second outcome will be that faced with a choice of $1m for 6 weeks work, or the chance to play Somerset 4 times (!!) in Twenty20 cricket, people like Kevin Pietersen will not even have a decision to make. If we rename Warwickshire "Birmingham" and Durham "Durham City" then surely we'll have people coming the other way! The only concern will be whether the IPL can keep enough players themselves to make their own tournament viable.

There was an episode of South Park once called "Underpants Gnomes". The underpants gnomes were running a business with a clear plan. Part A was "collect underpants. Part B was "???", Part C was "make lots of profit!". Its nice to know that the England Cricket Board has a similar corporate strategy.


Friday, 11 April 2008

A rude awakening

On the day that the English cricket season officially (or unofficially) started with the traditional season curtain raiser where the County Champions Sussex were entertained by their hosts the MCC at Lords; Warwickshire were given a scare by the students of Oxford UCCE.

So far their pre-season has started well, with two convincing wins against Worcestershire in One Day cricket and with a number of impressive performances with bat and ball. However the two day game against Oxford served as a reminder that this is still largely the same group of players who represented the club last season. There is no doubt that the club are in a much better place than they were at the fag end of last season, but Ashley Giles was right to try and stem expectations last week in an interview with The Post.

There are promising signs, not least, perversely that the last wicket pair of Carter and Woakes had the character and strength of mind to play a pair of rear guard innings to save the match. It might not be the sort of thing we would choose to see, but one of the most disturbing things about last season was the lack of spirit in the side. A good bit of battling goes some way towards showing that the squad has improved their mental fortitude over the winter, which can be no bad thing.


Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Comfortable win in friendly

Warwickshire comfortably won their one day friendly against Worcestershire at a damp New Road today.

Warwickshire 246-3, Worcestershire 162-9. Warwickshire win by 84 runs.

This scorecard might be slightly out of batting order and is missing the pear's bowling figures; but you get the idea:

Warwickshire 246 for 3 (40 overs).
Maddy b. Batty 51
Carter b. Batty 43
Westwood c. Hick b. Whelan 55
Trott not out 51
Troughton not out 31

Worcestershire 162-9 (40 overs)
Davies b. Daggett 0
Solanki b. Daggett 10
Smith c. Trott b. Daggett 0
Hick c. Poonia b. Woakes 17
Moeen Ali c. Woakes b. Groenewald ??(30 ish?)
Mitchell b. Trott 6
Andrew c. Frost b. Woakes 1
Batty not out 59
Kabir Ali lbw. Trott 5
Simon Jones c. Maddy b. Daggett 22
Richard Jones not out 7

Daggett 8-1-24-4
Carter 8-2-45-0
Woakes 6-1-20-2
Groenewald 8-0-26-1
Trott 4-1-12-2
Botha 6-0-30-0

So a decent opening, the batting looks fairly solid and Daggett and Woakes put in good performances with the ball, Trott also weighed in with the medium pace towards the end. Interesting that he and not Maddy provided the medium pace in the middle of the innings. Only Botha looks a little shakey, taken for some lusty blows by Simon Jones in his quick fire 22.