Mott calls player meeting to review Glamorgan defeats

Glamorgan elite performance director Matthew Mott admitted his side “could not be lower” after suffering two losses at the start of their County Championship campaign, including an embarrassing defeat to Derbyshire inside three days.

The Welsh county were humbled by Derbyshire at the Swalec Stadium in a 130-run defeat after they were bowled out for just 102, chasing a victory target of 233.

That followed a paltry first innings total of 95 – their worst batting performance against Derbyshire for 42 years.

“The guys will go away for a couple of days and we will have a solid meeting on Tuesday to talk how we can turn things around,” revealed Mott.

“We could not be lower than we are at the moment and these two defeats have rocked us. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to go up and that is something we hope to do in the next few days.

“After our encouraging pre-season it has surprised me what has happened in the first two games. I have told the guys it would be a lot easier to accept if I thought we had taken short cuts or had not trained well.

“They are trying their guts out but sometimes in professional cricket things don’t go your way.”

Glamorgan started brightly on Saturday’s third day at 59 for no wicket and were 86 for two before losing their last eight wickets for just 16 runs. At one stage the county had lost six wickets for the addition of one run.

For Derbyshire, who went top of the table with this second win of the season – it is their best start to a Championship season for a decade – all-rounder Jon Clare claimed six wickets to take his match tally to 11.

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Debut hero Magoffin wants to extend Sussex stay

Fast bowler Steve Magoffin hopes to extend his Sussex stay after a sensational debut for the county.

The Queenslander took 9 for 55, the second best figures of his career and including seven wickets in the second innings, as Sussex thrashed champions Lancashire by ten wickets at Liverpool.

Magoffin is due to return to Australia in June but he revealed: “I’d like to stay beyond the t20 but we will have to see. Queensland will probably want me back then for pre-season but I love playing in England so who knows.”

While Magoffin was red-hot with the ball in the County Championship first division contest, he admitted conditions at Aigburth were testing for someone who only arrived from the tropical heat and 40 degrees of Brisbane a week ago.

“I have never played in such cold conditions so it wasn’t easy,” he admitted. “When I was bowling it was fine but when you’re fielding on the fence between spells things can seize up pretty quickly so it was a case of trying to keep warm and keep moving.

“The wicket was pretty helpful – there was always something in it for the seamers – and I was just pleased to be able to contribute so well in my first game.”

While Magoffin took the plaudits, Sussex coach Mark Robinson was quick to praise the contributions of James Anyon, who took five wickets in an innings in consecutive games, and skipper Mike Yardy, who made a crucial century.

Robinson said: “There were some good signs in our first game against Surrey but the difference here was that when we got into winning positions we exploited them. We let Surrey off the hook whereas here we didn’t give Lancashire anywhere to go.”

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Durham celebrate 20 first-class years: Tim Wellock

As Durham celebrate 20 years of first-class cricket two men have been ever-present – Geoff Cook and chief executive David Harker, who was initially the accountant.

Cook was appointed a year in advance of Durham’s inaugural first-class game, which started at The Parks, Oxford, on April 14, 1992.

His desire was always to give opportunities to local lads, but most of the initial intake proved unsuited to the task and after the first few years Cook concentrated on youth development while Norman Gifford and then Martyn Moxon took charge of the first team.

Cook resumed the title of head coach when Moxon returned to Yorkshire and after the ominous beginnings Durham have gone on to achieve remarkable success.

They have produced six Test players in Simon Brown, Paul Collingwood, Steve Harmison, Paul Collingwood, Liam Plunkett and Graham Onions.

Phil Mustard, Ben Stokes and Scott Borthwick have also made one-day international appearances for England and Durham built the country’s first new Test ground for 101 years.

They won the County Championship in their 17th season – something three counties have never achieved – and retained it the following year.

Among those who have admitted they never thought any of this possible was Northumberland-born former England batsman Tom Graveney, who was present 20 years ago for the match at Oxford University.

He had fronted a video made to support Durham’s first-class bid and was also there to support his nephew David Graveney, Durham’s captain for the first two years.

It was not until the former Australian Test batsman David Boon was brought in as captain for the 1997 season, however, that Durham began to make serious progress. In his third and final year they finished eighth to qualify for Division One when the County Championship was first split into two divisions in 2000.

Boon was not adequately replaced, though, as Durham fell back on their previous policy of building a homegrown team. They were immediately relegated and, although they brought in Moxon as coach, there was a lack of ambition among the signings.

The emphasis seemed to be on stadium development and they continued to struggle for the next four years until the arrival of Clive Leach as chairman was followed by the signings of Mike Hussey and Dale Benkenstein for the 2005 season.

Promotion was achieved and after clinging on to Division One status by the skin of their teeth in 2006 Durham won trophies in each of the next three seasons. They beat Hampshire by 125 runs in the 2007 Friends Provident final then won back-to-back Championships.

Current scores at Riverside, not to mention the temperature, suggest Chester-le-Street is too far north for cricket in early April. But the pioneers who fought for first-class status have no cause for regret.

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More work for Moeen before he unveils his ‘doosra’

Worcestershire off-spinner Moeen Ali is unlikely to unveil his newly-developed ‘doosra’ in a competitive match until just before this season’s Friends Life t20.

The 24-year-old England Lions player has been working on perfecting the ‘doosra’ since last summer after he was encouraged to develop it by Pakistan mystery spinner Saeed Ajmal during a stint as Worcestershire’s overseas player.

Moeen’s ‘doosra’ is still a work in progress and he has so far bowled it only in the nets. But Moeen hopes to have sufficient confidence in his new weapon to use it for the first time in the Clydesdale Bank 40 matches that precede this season’s domestic Twenty20 Cup competition.

“The aim is to bowl it in the T20s, but probably not much before that,” Moeen said. “Maybe I’ll try it in some of the one-dayers just before the T20 starts.

“I bowled it a couple of times against England when I was out with the Lions in Abu Dhabi but I haven’t worked on it too much since I got back because I’ve been concentrating on bowling normally.”

Apart from perfecting the ‘doosra’ Moeen has also had to learn how to bowl a conventional off-spinner without an obvious change of action which might alert a batsman that he is about to deliver the off-spinner’s equivalent of the googly.

“It’s frustrating at times and it’s something that you can only perfect with practice. It’s coming out nicely but it’s a bit inconsistent,” Moeen said.

“It was Saeed who inspired me to bowl it. I have always been able to bowl a top spinner, but Saeed said that he thought that I should try to bowl the doosra.

“He said that if I worked hard it would probably take me a year or so to learn how to bowl it.”

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New skipper Adams confident in role at Hampshire

Jimmy Adams is ready for the challenge of leading a new-look Hampshire in the LV County Championship.

The Hampshire batsman begins his first full season as the county’s captain against Gloucestershire in the second division, following relegation under Dominic Cork last year.

But the 31-year-old believes he is ready to take the club forward with a fresh young squad. With Cork, Nic Pothas and Michael Lumb no longer with the county, Adams provides the experience alongside Michael Carberry and Simon Katich.

What really excites him, however, is the prospect of leading young players like James Vince, Danny Briggs, Liam Dawson, Hamza Riazuddin and Chris Wood.

“I’ve got a group of exceptionally talented cricketers who seem to respond to me, which is really strange but a great feeling, and we’re very excited about the season ahead,” he said. “It’s come round quick but the lads are ready. If we had them practising for another week they’d probably get itchy feet but they’re good to go.”

Adams had some success when he took on the role in Cork’s absence at the end of last season, leading Hampshire to three successive away wins. Although it was not enough to prevent relegation, it gave him the belief to take on the job full-time.

“That was a great confidence booster,” he added. “The way the guys rallied round was a huge help. There was a mutual respect, they understood I backed them and they responded to that. They backed me, which was a very good feeling.

“I’ve always been a reluctant captain, doing it before because someone else was away or  injured. To an extent that was the case last year, but it made me realise I was capable of doing it.”

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Sarwan to take on students in bid to acclimatise

Former West Indies batsman and captain Ramnaresh Sarwan has opted to play in Leicestershire’s three-day match at Loughborough MCCU, starting on Friday April 13, even though the contest will not have first-class status.

Sarwan wants to play to help him acclimatise to English conditions after he made his debut for Leicestershire in last weekend’s low-scoring County Championship win over Glamorgan at Grace Road.

“We are looking to play the same sort of batting line-up as we had against Glamorgan,” said Leicestershire head coach Phil Whitticase.

“That means Ramnaresh wants to play, which I am pleased about. From a batting point of view we want to go back to the way we played in our first innings against Glamorgan to come back from 1 for 3.”

Despite Sarwan’s presence the Loughborough match will not count towards the first-class records after a typically bizarre compromise decision by the ECB to increase the number of MCCUs with first-class status from four to six, with the addditions of Cardiff and Leeds/Bradford.

But only their first two matches against county opposition will count towards the first-class averages. Loughborough have already played their allocation against Nottinghamshire and Hampshire so the Leicestershire match will have less significance.

Loughborough are now coached by former Leicestershire batsman Russell Cobb who left his job as high performance coach at Grace Road earlier in the year to replace the late Graham Dilley at the university.

“I spoke to Russell on Tuesday. He’s loving it and looking forward to the game over the weekend,” Whitticase said.

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Veteran Carter answers Warwickshire’s call

Warwickshire have called up veteran all-rounder Neil Carter for their County Championship opener against Somerset at Edgbaston, starting on April 12.

Carter, Warwickshire’s beneficiary this year, made only two Championship appearances last season and appeared to be drifting into a role as a specialist one-day player after fellow all-rounder Keith Barker claimed his place in the four-day side.

But injuries to England one-day international all-rounder Chris Woakes, who damaged ankle ligaments on the pre-season tour of Barbados, and Ireland pace bowler Boyd Rankin, who suffered a stress reaction in a foot during the recent ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers, have given Carter another chance.

Carter, who was the Professional Cricketers’ Association Player of the Year in 2010, will face Somerset along with Barker.

Experienced former England batsman Darren Maddy has also won a recall after he played little Championship cricket last season because of a finger injury.

Maddy also lost out because Warwickshire preferred two overseas batsmen, Mohammad Yousuf then Shivnarine Chanderpaul, at either end of the season.

Warwickshire have opted for former New Zealand off-spinner Jeetan Patel as their overseas player for all cricket this season and he will make his first appearance since last August at the start of his third stint at Edgbaston.

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Philander on perfect start to the season: listen now

PODCAST: South Africa bowler Vernon Philander looks ahead to this summer’s tour of England and reflects on his debut for Somerset in the County Championship opener against Middlesex…

Listen now!

For more county podcasts see here
For more podcasts from Kevin Hand, see here

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Rob Steen: Is KP England’s greatest batsman?

Some will deem it heresy, but as Kevin Pietersen basks in the glow of one of the game’s greatest match-turning innings, his 151 in Colombo, the question cannot be ducked for much longer: has England ever boasted a finer batsman?

In a month’s time, Pietersen should collect the four runs he requires to become just the third man to pass 12,000 runs for England across all international formats (he also made 18 for the Rest of the World against Australia in 2005). Only Graham Gooch (13,190) and Alec Stewart (13,140) stand ahead of him (see Table 1). Another, more celebrated landmark also lies within reach.

Having hit 20, 19 and 19 Test centuries respectively, this summer could see Pietersen, Alastair Cook and/or Andrew Strauss break cricket’s most drawn-out stalemate. Since 22 August 1939, the national record tally of Test hundreds has stood at 22. Wally Hammond set it that day, since when Colin Cowdrey and Geoff Boycott have taken turns to match it, though Boycott would have the record all to himself had the 1970 series against the Rest of the World not lost its official status. Call it an inauspicious omen if you like, but 22 August 1939 was also the day Adolf Hitler authorised a non-aggression pact with Russia, rendering the Second World War inevitable.

Age prevented Cowdrey from overhauling Hammond (he was 41 when he played his final Test in 1975); Boycott was denied by Wisden as well as his eagerness to take the apartheid-funded shilling; Gooch (20) was similarly diverted; Hutton and Hammond himself lost key years to war; Ken Barrington (20) fell foul of a heart condition; Marcus Trescothick (14) can cite depression, David Gower (18) class prejudice, Michael Vaughan (18) a dodgy knee, Stewart (15) deftness with the gloves; now Strauss has been stuck on 19 for nearly 18 months. The superstitious might call it a curse.

So far as the rest of civilisation is concerned, England’s contribution to the all-time Batting Hall of Fame comprises the Three Hs, Hammond, Jack Hobbs and Len Hutton, together with Barrington, Denis Compton, Herbert Sutcliffe, Boycott, Gooch and Gower. Let’s deal with them all, in global as well as local terms, together with their closest rivals.

From the moment he took guard for his first Test hundred, in March 1910, until his average reached a career peak of 61.28 in August 1928, Hobbs totted up 3811 runs at 65.70. Over that span, his trustiest opening partner, the much younger Sutcliffe (2092 at 67.48), actually averaged more. So far were they ahead of the pack, during a period when just 14 other batsmen of any hue passed 1000 runs, that the next most prolific, Australia’s Charlie MacCartney, made 1710 at 51.10.

From Christmas 1948 until the end of the 1954 Caribbean expedition, Hutton turned out 3835 runs at 71.01; Cyril Washbrook (1125 at 46.87), Peter May (876 at 41.71), Trevor Bailey (1091 at 40.40) and Tom Graveney (1003 at 40.12) were the only colleagues to exceed 800 at 40-plus. Hutton made 12 hundreds during that back-breaking stint; he was hardly surrounded by slouches yet collected as many as Graveney, May, Washbrook and Compton combined. Among the 19 batsmen worldwide who exceeded 1000 runs in those five-and-a-half years, only Everton Weekes (2303 at 60.60) came remotely close to Hutton for reliability.

Hammond’s reign, nonetheless, was twice as long. In the 11 years separating the outset of his first Test century (251 v Australia, Sydney 1928) and England setting sail for home after that infamous 10-day stalemate in Durban, he amassed 6100 runs at 64.89. Among colleagues with 600-plus runs, his closest rival, Eddie Paynter, made 1465 at 63.69; Sutcliffe ranked second in average among those with 1500-plus (56.97); the next highest aggregate was Maurice Leyland’s 2764. During that period Hammond also struck 21 hundreds, more than Leyland (9) and Sutcliffe (9) combined. Unfortunately, in terms of global appreciation, his star was dimmed by one DG Bradman: in that span the Don averaged a little matter of 101.

For the first eight years of the 1960s, Barrington matched Hammond in everything but double-hundreds. No countryman came within 1800 runs of his haul of 6082; of those appearing in 20 Tests the next highest average behind his 62.06 was Ted Dexter’s 51.68 (Graveney’s 1561 came at 65.04, underlining the folly of his consistent exclusion). Barrington’s 20 centuries in that span left his hottest pursuer, Cowdrey, trailing by eight. The only batsman on the planet who averaged more than the walking Union Jack during those years, Garry Sobers (65.70), scored the best part of 3000 runs fewer.

Gooch, too, enjoyed a prolonged stay at the summit, albeit one barely a third as long as Hammond’s. From that career-lifting 333 against India at Lord’s in 1990 until his final three-figure score four summers later (210 v against New Zealand at Trent Bridge) he piled up 3529 runs at 63.01, including a dozen tons; Robin Smith was next in aggregate and centuries (2632, seven), Gower in average (848 at 53). Of the 32 batsmen from all nations who scored 1000-plus runs across those four years, only Brian Lara (1628 at 62.61) averaged more. Gower, nonetheless, wound up with the higher career average, set a national record for runs by a captain in an Ashes series (732 in 1985) and racked up nine Ashes hundreds, a post-Hobbs peak.

Boycott and Cowdrey never hoisted themselves far above the rest, if at all. From the unbeaten but painstaking 246 against India at Leeds in 1967 until his series-saving 112 in Trinidad in 1974, the Yorkshireman headed aggregates and averages among those playing 20-plus innings – 2997 at 51.67 – but Graveney, Dennis Amiss, John Edrich and Tony Greig all mustered 1200-plus at 41 or better. In his prime, from July 1957 – when his average scaled 40 for the first time – to January 1966, Cowdrey tallied 4320 at 51.42, second in average to Barrington (5177 at 59.50) and third in aggregate (Dexter totted up 4405).

Again, there is no sense of prolonged dominance, but the measure of Pietersen’s greatness comes when we broaden the canvas. In that Colombo Test he overhauled Gooch with a national-record 29th international century (see Table 2). He and Brendon McCullum, furthermore, are alone among all-comers in making 1000 runs in each of the three formats – and even the redoubtable New Zealander would not claim to be in Pietersen’s class over the longer hauls. As a multi-faceted performer with a yen for innovation, this country has never known his like.

Now consider that propensity for substance. Three Test double-centuries leave Pietersen behind only Hammond (seven) and Hutton (four); nobody else has forged more than two for England; Mike Atherton, Cowdrey, Dexter, Stewart and Sutcliffe didn’t make any. Only Hammond and Hutton (10 times apiece), moreover, have reached 150 more often than Pietersen (that 151 in Colombo made it nine, surpassing Dennis Amiss, Gooch and Gower). Table 3 illustrates the appetite of the oft-neglected Amiss, who reached 150 in eight of his 11 Test hundreds, a whopping 72.73% – even better than Virender Sehwag (63.64%) and Bradman (62.07%).

Granted, Pietersen has had the good fortune to play in an era that has seen the bat rule in a way unseen since Hammond’s heyday. At the same time, as with Sehwag, his attacking mindset runs roughshod over traditional notions of how to build an innings. Ian Botham or Andrew Flintoff might have pulled off the sort of audacious rabbit-up-my-sleevery Pietersen conjured up in Colombo, but only on an exceedingly extraordinary day. What sets Pietersen apart is the feeling, almost any time he prowls to the crease, flexing those muscles and walking that walk, that he could do something imperishably wonderful. To fulfil those demands as often as he does constitutes a minor miracle.

So there you have it: the insatiability of Hammond and Hutton, the consistency of Sutcliffe, the flair of Gower and the fearlessness of Botham and Flintoff. Not a bad package. And the best, almost unthinkably, may be yet to come.

TABLE 1:  Most International runs for England

Player Inns Runs Av
Graham Gooch 337 13190 40.58
Alec Stewart 397 13140 36.29
Kevin Pietersen 293 11996 45.43
David Gower 315 11401 39.44
Andrew Strauss 297 10882 38.45
Marcus Trescothick 268 10326 40.97
Paul Collingwood 329 9934 35.47
Mike Atherton 266 9519 35.18
Geoff Boycott 227 9196 45.98
Graham Thorpe 256 9124 42.43

TABLE 2: Most international centuries for England

Player Inns 100s Inns/100
Kevin Pietersen 295 29 10.17
Graham Gooch 337 28 12.04
Marcus Trescothick 268 26 10.31
David Gower 315 25 12.60
Andrew Strauss 297 25 11.88
Geoff Boycott 227 23 9.87
Alastair Cook 184 23 8.00
Colin Cowdrey 189 22 8.59
Wally Hammond 140 22 6.36
Ken Barrington 131 20 6.55

TABLE 3: Most Test scores of 150-plus for England

Player 100+ 200+ 150+ % of 150-plus
Wally Hammond 22 7 10 45.45
Len Hutton 19 4 10 52.63
Kevin Pietersen 20 3 9 45.00
Dennis Amiss 11 2 8 72.73
Graham Gooch 20 2 8 40.00
David Gower 18 2 8 44.44
Colin Cowdrey 22 0 7 31.82
Tom Graveney 11 1 6 54.55
Marcus Trescothick 14 1 6 42.86
Jack Hobbs 15 1 6 40.00
Michael Vaughan 18 0 6 33.33

All figures as at 10 April 2012

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Richardson honoured to receive Wisden award

Worcestershire seamer Alan Richardson has added one of cricket’s most coveted awards to his motley collection of cricket trophies.

Richardson is one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, a just reward for his 73 wickets last season which helped to save Worcestershire from relegation.

The 37-year-old will be in London tonight to collect a special leatherbound copy of the famous Almanack which will take pride of place on his mantelpiece.

“It’s a massive honour,” Richardson said. “Thinking back over my career I haven’t won many awards. I think I might have got Player of the Month for May when I was with Middlesex back in 2005, I probably got Warwickshire’s Second XI Player of the Year Award when I was there and then there was the Little Stoke Under-18 Award way back when.”

Richardson’s self-depreciating humour is typical of a player who has battled away uncomplainingly for nearly 20 years. He was released by Derbyshire in 1995 after just one first team game when he was 13th in a long list of seam bowlers at the county.

He spent three years playing league cricket and for Staffordshire in the Minor Counties Championship while working as a landscape gardener and manufacturing golf spikes to help pay the bills.

Warwickshire gave him a second chance in first-class cricket but Richardson was allowed to leave Edgbaston with a year remaining on his contract the day after they had won the County Championship in 2004.

He moved on to Middlesex where he again showed hints of promise but Richardson has been at his best since he joined Worcestershire in  2010. The county have used him intelligently, resting him for the majority of one-day and Twenty20 matches, and Richardson has responded by leading their attack splendidly.

“My days of trying to play for England are long gone so this makes this award even more special,” he said.

“You only need to look at the players that have been Wisden Cricketers of the Year before and the other four this year – Glen Chapple, Tim Bresnan, Alastair Cook and Kumar Sangakkara – to appreciate that.

“There are other guys around who have taken more first-class wickets than me, so it’s something that I didn’t expect.

“But I have had two very happy seasons since I came to Worcestershire and last year was my best by a long way. It’s nice to be recognised for that and also for the hard work that I have put in over the years.”

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