King Cricket Ones To Watch

We're starting to look ahead to the county season and over the next couple of weeks this post should fill up with links to the King Cricket Ones To Watch. These are England fringe players who we reckon will have decent seasons and who should be aiming to attract the selectors' attention.

We're not totally sure how many there'll be, but the ones we've got so far seem to have been around a while without achieving all they might. Maybe we're just attracted to underachievers. Make of it what you will. Who asked you anyway?

Graeme Swann
Will Jefferson
Sajid Mahmood
Bilal Shafayat
Mark Davies
Mark Butcher
Matt Prior
Rob Key
Tom Smith

For the half-term report cards for these players, click this sentence.

End of season verdicts


Friday, March 31, 2006

Ones To Watch: Graeme Swann, Nottinghamshire

It's make or break for the off-spinning all-rounder this season. We think that his promise will be fulfilled. It better be, because no-one really aims to become a 'fixture' in the A side.

The Northamptonshire native's move to Nottinghamshire shows that he's willing to make changes to succeed. Or something. Maybe his mum chucked him out. He's not got a great deal of hope of making the England side really, but if he picks his game up for a period of time, he may get a chance further down the line.

Any readers in Nottinghamshire should go along to every game and scream: "Come on Swanny!" at the tops of their voices for the whole of every day's play for the entire season. That should do the trick. Don't get put off by his being dropped or by the police or anything.

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Rob Key: Slightly rotund, foetally-featured and funny - our hero

We LOVE Rob Key. As we've mentioned before. We once spent an entire day making up songs about him. (In our defence we were at work at the time. What do you do at work?)

Anyway, Rob's missed out over the winter. Ordinarily he'd be pretty much first choice if there were batting injuries for England, but unfortunately he's been injured himself after shoulder surgery. Here's what our man Rob told the BBC about his recovery and how he'll be throwing the ball come the start of the county season:

"I probably won't be pinging it in from the boundary, but well enough to be as agile and lethal as ever in the ring."

Rob's a little large, you see. A funny quote! From a sportsman! Justifiable use of exclamation marks there, we think you'll agree. Rob Key will be one of our cricketers to watch over the course of the county season. More of which later.

Rob Key posts:


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Great Cricketers We Have Known: Ehsan Mani

Not us, but once again our Sri Lanka correspondent, ‘Dad’, and not strictly speaking a cricketer either, but the President of the ICC.

During the presentation ceremony of the Under-19 World Cup final, Dad went into the clubhouse for a look round. When Ehsan Mani returned from the pitch, having presented the Under-19 World Cup, he mistakenly thought that Dad was part of the reception committee and went to shake his hand. Unfortunately for us, Dad absent-mindedly forgot to request free tickets for every single Test match from now until the end of time.

Still, it’s another strong link for the King Cricket team and further confirmation of our acceptance as part of the mainstream media.

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

James Anderson: He’s not got a ‘knack’ for taking wickets – he’s just good at it

We’re still holding out for an England win with James Anderson leading the charge, but we’re not relishing the headlines if he manages it. We have two fairly major problems with the coverage of Anderson’s return.

Firstly, it is being portrayed as a return to form on top of a return to the side. Anybody who watched James Anderson bowl last year (as we did) knows that he never lost form. Virtually the only bad game he had was against South Africa last winter, which was fairly understandable being as he’d been standing around doing practically nothing for the preceding few weeks. He was only dropped from the Test side in the first place to accommodate Simon Jones. We weren’t sure about that at the time and it has taken a while for us to be convinced of Jones’ quality. However, Anderson wasn’t a bad bowler then and nor has he been since.

Secondly, it is often said that he has the ‘knack’ of taking wickets; that he can get people out with bad balls. This is only a whisker away from saying that he’s blessed with outrageous good luck, which is, if you consider it rationally, complete testicles. If a bowler consistently takes wickets, it’s with good reason – it’s because they’re talented. James Anderson bowls at a decent pace and he swings the ball a lot. He gets wickets with some deliveries which seem too full, but it isn’t a sudden blizzard of fortune that causes the batsman to edge the ball or miss it – it’s the swing.

So, to confirm: James Anderson – not lucky, just good.

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tip: Andy Solomons

Thanks to our Sri Lanka correspondent, ‘Dad’, for uncovering Andy Solomons.

Andy Solomons was in the Sri Lankan squad for the recent Under-19 World Cup, but unfortunately, he didn’t get a game. We’re still tipping him for greatness.

He was recently awarded the Observer-Bata Schools Cricket ‘Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer 2005 Outstation’ award. Not a catchy title by any means, but previous winners include Arjuna Ranatunga, Muttiah Muralitharan and Marvan Attapattu. Sri Lankan schoolboy cricket isn’t of the blue stumps and rubber ball variety with children clumsily swinging bats and giggling. Your average Sri Lankan school side would probably rack up a four-figure score against Zimbabwe. Attempt a cross-bat stroke to a well-pitched up delivery and you’ll be laughed out of town if you’re lucky. If you’re unlucky, you’ll be made an example of on the national news.

Andy Solomons is, according to Sri Lanka’s Sunday Observer, ‘a stylish right-hand bat’ and a medium pace opening bowler. His defining innings as far as we’re concerned was 263 against Lalith Athulathmudali Vidyalaya, Mount Lavinia, which included 24 fours. It also featured a Shahid Afridi-esque 21 sixes. That isn’t a typo. He scored 126 runs by clearing the ropes. Factor in 96 from fours and he only ran 41 out of 263. That’s immense, even if you’re playing in the back garden against yourself. We should know – although most of our innings tend to end when we lose the tennis ball next door after a particularly gung-ho six.

We’ve got some pictures of Andy Solomons, but we’d have to connect our scanner to our PC and it’s a hassle. If you promise to bowl at us in the back garden for a while, we’ll let you have a look at them.

King Cricket's other tips.

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Squad rotation: It’s going to happen.

With a fixture list that’s fatter than a TV-loving, chip-munching hippo with an abnormally slow metabolism, cricketers need more and more rests. We predict the onset of ‘squad rotation’.

Late last year, the All Blacks walloped Wales with one team and then changed every single player in the starting line-up before walloping Ireland. This is taking things too far, but essentially this is what international cricket teams will have to do.

To prevent injuries and to keep players fresh, they will need resting. With match after match after match, soon you won’t see the same XI twice. Coaches will have to build a pool of international-standard players and then ensure that none are overplayed.

If it makes fast bowlers fast again, we’re in favour.

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Matthew Hoggard cliché article satisfactorily completed

Well that's that done and dusted. It's out there in the mainstream and nobody will have any excuse for laboured 'honest toiler' references again.

So everyone give, er, Paul Coupar of Wisden a pat on the back for this article.

We're not totally sure how we feel about this. We're not amazed, so we guess that we must be angry. Seems harsh considering he agrees with us, but there you go.

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