Cricket Diary: Long tradition of the young ones

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After becoming the 48th Young Cricketer of the Year, Chris Silverwood should shortly become the 41st Young Cricketer of the Year to play for England. Only seven of the Yorkshire bowler's predecessors to have won the honour have failed to appear in Tests.

This demonstrates remarkable perspicacity on the part of the Cricket Writers' Club, which makes the award, and its members' judgement was immediately validated again when Silverwood was chosen for this winter's senior tour. To be strictly even-handed it should be mentioned that 17 of the YCs had already been capped, so the selectors have sometimes been more perspicacious. The longest wait between award and cap is by Mike Brearley, 12 years between 1964 and 1976, while the longest gap between cap and award was by Mike Gatting, almost four years between 1978 and 1981.

Silverwood is the first seam bowler to win since David Lawrence in 1985, and only the 11th in all. Five spinners have also been honoured, making 16 bowlers altogether, but that still leaves them well behind batsmen, who have produced 26 winners. All-rounders have won three times (the last, Ian Botham in 1977), specialist wicketkeepers twice (Alan Knott 1965).

In gaining the most votes in 1996, Silverwood restored his county's lead over other clubs. He is the seventh from Yorkshire which puts them one ahead of Middlesex.Only Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire and, not unnaturally, Durham, have yet to provide a winner.

At 21 Silverwood is younger than some 34 of the previous recipients. The oldest winner remains the first, Roy Tattersall, who was 28 when chosen in 1950. The youngest was Knott, seven months away from his 20th birthday.

The second youngest winner was last year's, Andrew Symonds, of Gloucestershire and one of the eight, including Silverwood, not to have played in Tests. Symonds has plenty of time to rectify that, though it is still uncertain whether that might be for his native England or his adopted Australia.

Nine Young Cricketers of the Year have not only played for England but also captained the side. Silverwood joins auspicious company and was a worthy recipient. For England's sake it must be hoped that another nine years does not elapse before the next fast bowler wins.

WITH the announcement of the winter touring parties the number of players in representative cricket continues to increase. Since this time last year when the 1995 winter squads were picked, a total of 52 players have been called to England's senior or A team colours.

Of this year's 29 tourists, 14 were not involved last winter, 12 have not been involved this summer. And what of the 32 good men and true who were selected to tour this time last year? Eight, exactly half, of the senior party are not part of this year's plans while nine of the 16 A tourists are being forced to find alternative close-season employment.

That is some rate of wastage. The good sign is, however, that three of last year's A party are in the the second-string squad again and three have gained promotion to the senior group. England nevertheless are still seeking continuity.

THE race for the Championship is nothing if not pulsating. Not since 1977 (when Gloucestershire went into the last round of matches in front, as they had been for three months, and lost out to eventual joint champions Middlesex and Kent) has the finish been quite so close.

But in those days they did not have the Whyte & Mackay rankings as well. These may be a mystery, since the award of points for performances sometimes seems bizarre to the human mind if not to computers, but they promise a rip-roaring climax. With pounds 10,000 at stake for each of the batting and bowling awards the tension may be heightened. Graham Gooch has gone to the top of the batting table for the first time while in the bowling stakes, Robert Croft has crept ahead of Darren Gough and the long-time leader, Simon Brown. After his treatment at the hands of the England selectors and for propping up Durham for most of the season Brown deserves at least pounds 10,000.

YORKSHIRE members have each received a 15 minute video from Wakefield Council outlining the merits of a new ground in the city. It seems Wakefield have the money and the backing, but they fail to mention what they do not have, which is what could win them the day. At Wakefield there will be no Western Terrace.

One-man stand

Chris Adams, the Derbyshire batsman, scored a thoroughly commanding 80 off only 100 balls on a seaming pitch at Derby last week. It was a sterling performance towards the end of an excellent season for Adams which might at last ensure he discards the mantle of being an under-achiever but was not, oddly, sufficient to get him a winter tour. Adams has a simple opinion on cricket: "I love it." And he remains top at least in the alphabetical list of English cricketers.