County Championship: Batsman to Watch

10 04 2010

Summer is truly here! Or at least the County Championship, that harbinger of Summer is. As sure as any cuckoo’s call or swallow sighting, one of the surest signs that all is not lost and that the warmer months will come is the beginning of the English cricket season. It is true that with the season seemingly starting earlier and earlier (as we wrote last week, bizarrely it actually started in the sand pits of Abu Dhabi in March) that it is probably a little excessive to expect hot sunny days, but the sheer fact that cricket is being played in English fields warms the soul.

Slightly incredibly, the first day of the season passed by without any rain stoppages anywhere and was bathed for the most part in bright Spring sunshine. Notable on the first day of the season was Chris Roger’s undefeated 178* for Derbyshire against Surrey. Roger’s, for those unacquainted with him, is another of the wonderful generation of Aussie players who have not been quite good enough to break through into their star studded side over the past decade. Rest assured though that with division two bowlers firmly in his sights he will provide a constant source of runs for the eternally struggling midland county.

Also worth taking notice of on the opening day was James Taylor of Leicestershire who showed signs that his quality will overcome any potential second season blues with a composed 88. Ever since averaging over 65 last year and picking up the Cricket Writers Club Young Player of the Year award he has been tipped for greater things. The second season in county cricket is always tough as opposing teams have had a chance to work a player out and particularly when you have had the level of success Taylor did, pay much greater attention to you.

Down in Essex, another young player tipped for great things after an impressive debut season a couple of years ago, Billy Godleman, also just missed out on an opening day century. Two years ago as a 19 year old, Godleman had a similarly prolific season to Taylor last year but then suffered from second seasonitis. As opportunities became limited at Middlesex where Godleman had started his career, Essex swooped offering him regular first team cricket. We are pleased to see that their gamble is showing signs of paying off. Essex actually have a good track record of picking up other counties rejects and using them to good measure, Matt Walker and David Masters being prime examples of this.

Nottinghamshire, Kent and Somerset all start their campaigns today in three day games against university academy sides. From these sides Sam Northeast  and Joe Denly of Kent will be looking to impress. Denly to reclaim his England opening spot he lost to Somerset’s Craig Kieswetter, and Northeast to start delivering on the promise he showed last year. Long been tipped as a star of the future, Northeast had a reasonable first season last year and looks set to improve providing he gets the opportunities he needs.

For Somerset James Hildreth will likely continue to score runs and we think this could be the season he finally starts pushing for higher honours. Hildreth is a player who the Compulsive Hooker has followed from his early days and someone who we have always noted as having a higher quality than your average county player. He has had the odd hiccup in his career, perhaps not being quite as consistent as people have felt his talent deserves, but age 25 and playing on Taunton’s small ground this could be the year.

As always when previewing something we are going to finish with a prediction as to who will finish champion county. Durham are likely to be challenging once again, their bowling attack in particular is probably the strongest on the circuit, but we have a sneaking suspicion that Somerset might nick it at the death, partly because we want to steer clear of the conventional, but also because we think they have the quality and depth to do so.




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11 04 2010
Quote of the day: 10/04/2010 | The Nurdler

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