Ashes Hopefuls 2017-18: Ones to Watch

Ashes Hopefuls 2017-18: Ones to Watch

This November, England will head down under to defend the Ashes against Australia. Ahead of the series, we’ve looked at six Ashes hopefuls we’ve got our eye on… A period of transition England’s Test squad is currently in a period of change, with Joe Root having just been named Test captain following Alastair Cook’s resignation. It’s hard to say what sort of captain Root will be, but we’d hazard a guess his style will be a good deal more aggressive than Cook’s cautious approach. Since his Test debut in 2012, no batsman has scored more than Root’s 4,594 runs. It will be interesting to see whether he takes his innovative, front-foot batting style forward into his captaincy. A great start to the year Australia sent shockwaves around the cricket world last week when they thrashed India in the first of a four-Test series in Pune, winning by 333 runs. The dramatic victory ended a 19-Test unbeaten run for India – their longest-ever unbeaten streak. They’ve also won their last 20 matches at home, including a Test series against England at the end of 2016. That impressive record makes Australia’s win even more remarkable. Will they be able to keep it up for the rest of the series? We’ll have to wait and see. Ashes hopefuls – the ones to watch Both Australia and England have a handful of Ashes hopefuls who are new to Test cricket and unknown to the other side. We’ve got our eye on Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Steve O’Keefe for Australia, and Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings and Jake Ball for England. In the lead up...
England’s 2017 Tour of the West Indies: Ones to Watch

England’s 2017 Tour of the West Indies: Ones to Watch

England’s 2017 tour of the West Indies promises exhilarating cricket action in one of the world’s premier cricketing destinations. The tour will see England take on the West Indies in a series of three one-day international matches from 3-9 March 2017. A score to settle England will be eager to prove their dominance after a dramatic loss against West Indies in the World T20 final back in April. In a thrilling final over twist, West Indies’ Carlos Brathwaite smashed England’s Ben Stokes for four successive sixes to snatch a sensational four-wicket victory. Stokes was understandably distraught. Having had bad blood with the West Indies side before, he’ll no doubt be looking to settle the score in the Caribbean next year. Warming up for the ICC Champions Trophy England’s 2017 tour of the West Indies will serve as something of a warm-up for the ICC Champions Trophy in June next year. The squad’s performance in the West Indies is likely to be a major influencing factor in who gets selected to play in the Champions Trophy tournament. Whilst most of the side is relatively set in stone, it looks like there may be a few spots up for grabs. Controversy over Bangladesh tour England are currently touring Bangladesh, but one-day captain Eoin Morgan and opening batsman Alex Hales caused a stir by opting out of the tour because of security concerns. The England and Wales Cricket Board decided to go ahead with the tour, despite a heightened risk of terrorism. They offered players a choice over whether or not to come. But after making themselves unavailable for selection, Morgan and...
Who Will Be in England’s Test Squad? The Men to Watch

Who Will Be in England’s Test Squad? The Men to Watch

English cricket suffered a devastating loss last month when batsman James Taylor was forced to retire after the discovery of an incurable heart condition. Luckily the condition was diagnosed before it claimed Taylor’s life – but the sad news has left a spot open in England’s line-up. With several others under scrutiny, Taylor’s might not be the only spot up for grabs. With England’s first Test against Sri Lanka just around the corner, we look at the names and faces to watch out for at Headingley and beyond. Batsmen – who’s under scrutiny? It won’t come as any surprise to see skipper Alastair Cook opening – but who will be walking out alongside him? It’s been nearly four years since former skipper Andrew Strauss retired and England are still looking for a reliable long-term partner for Cook. As the more eagle-eyed of you will have already noticed, Alex Hales made his debut as a Test opener on England’s tour of South Africa at the end of last year. Four consecutive fifties and a century suggests Man-of-the-Series Hales is as prolific as ever in the one-day arena. The early evidence is not so compelling in the five-day format, with his technique outside off stump seriously exposed. Ring any bells Adam Lyth? The jury is out on whether Hales deserves another chance at Test match level but we’ve got our doubts about his ability to go big against top-class attacks on seaming English pitches. Sorry Alex – we’d love you to prove us wrong! Next up is Nick Compton. After coming to the fore as a late bloomer in 2012-2013, he...
Three sporting selection gambles that paid off

Three sporting selection gambles that paid off

England’s batting debacle at Lord’s last weekend prompted countless calls for change so it got us thinking about sporting selection gambles that paid off. England’s selectors eventually plumped for Jonny Bairstow for the third Ashes Test – with Alex Hales, James Taylor, Eoin Morgan and even Kevin Pietersen among those mentioned. With five centuries and an average of over 100 in the County Championship by the time of his call-up, Bairstow’s selection in favour of the out-of-form Gary Ballance was hardly controversial. Picking the big hitting Hales or Morgan would have been a braver – or possibly more reckless – option. Not to mention England outcast Pietersen. Only time will tell if England’s misfiring top order will improve, but while we are waiting to find out here are our top three sporting selection gambles that paid off. David Steele becomes England’s unlikely Ashes hero in 1975 Grey-haired Northants plodder Steele was about as unspectacular as it gets. Averaging just 31 in 12 seasons of first-class cricket, he was plucked out of obscurity after England skipper Tony Greig asked various umpires to identify the hardest batsman to dismiss in county cricket. Low and behold, Steele was thrust into the cauldron of an Ashes series, while Aussie pace duo Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson ripped through the England order in a fashion that rings some all-too-familiar bells 40 years later. Fast forward a few months and Steele averaged over 60 – making four half centuries in three Tests – and was awarded Sports Personality of the Year. Toto Schillaci wins the 1990 World Cup Golden Boot Swarthy goal poacher Salvatore “Toto”...