There may be a lot of cricket being played, but it leads to plenty of choice for the fans
With the Roller having been invalided out of action - and then on holiday at a Rollers Convention - over the last couple of weeks, a heck of a lot has happened.
The T20 Blast has got underway, with Freddie Flintoff nearly the star attraction; the Championship is starting to shake down; England and Sri Lanka played out an interesting series of ODIs with barely a capacity crowd in sight; and in Kingston, Jamaica, home of fast bowling greats including Courtney Walsh and Michael Holding, West Indies spinners Suleiman Benn and Shane Shillingford shared 98 overs and six wickets in the first innings of their ongoing test against New Zealand.
It will be an interminable matter of debate as to whether there is too much cricket being played. From the point of view of us fans, it is undeniable that if you take your eye off the ball for even a couple of weeks, there is an awful lot to miss.
With the sun out, will England’s Ali be the star turn at Lord’s?
You may have spotted that the sun is shining. It is due to shine all week. And England are going into a test match at Lord's without a frontline spin bowler.
There has been nothing in the Championship matches at the venue this season to encourage spinners. In Middlesex's game against Lancashire a month ago, England Lions Ollie Rayner and Simon Kerrigan managed one wicket between them in 32 overs. The last time Lord's hosted a test in June was also the last time Sri Lanka were in town: Rangana Herath and Graham Swann took eight of the thirty wickets to fall in a high-scoring draw.
Presumably, the strip is not going to be left to bake all week. But in any event, Moeen Ali's bowling promise ought not to be overlooked. He does, after all, have well over a hundred first class wickets at an average of around 40. In the last two seasons of the Championship he has 35 wickets at 32.8, which bears comparison with other 'proper' bowlers. In the absence of a standout performance from mainline spinners so far during this domestic seasons, Ali has a chance to stake a real claim. It is a chance he fully deserves.
Carberry's criticism of the old regime doesn't increase his chances under the new
Michael Carberry has had a bit of a tough time of it. He made a reasonable fist of things in Australia, while never looking quite like a long-term test match player. He has had a couple of goes in the short-form stuff against the Sri Lankans without getting a long run. He remains a prolific scorer in county cricket.
Yet his omission from England's test squad came as a surprise to pretty much nobody, apart from perhaps himself. He has previously expressed himself disappointed at the way he has been handled by management and described himself in April as having, throughout his England career, been given a “shorter rope” than others.
It has not been suggested that Carberry had anything other than a tip-top attitude to playing and training during the Ashes. He is undoubtedly a very good player. But the facts are, he has not proved himself at international level and time is not on his side. In press interviews he often seems quite cross. And while he may have reason to feel irked, criticising the old regime is not a positive way to impress the new one. Nor, unfortunately, was getting a golden duck against Worcestershire on Monday.
Bring in Championship flexi-tickets to incentivise attendance for distant fans
As we hit mid-June, the Championship reaches its halfway point and I have to accept the fact that have - by failing to practice what I preach - not made the most of it.
A trip to the Oval in May was all too brief; a day at the Lord's test on Saturday is highly anticipated. But that's a paltry return. What it demonstrates is the degree to which counties have to battle to secure regular attendances. There are plenty of cricket nuts around but there are also a great many interests and imperatives to compete for their time.
There have been some good innovations in recent times. Is it time for the ECB to consider offering a centrally-sold flexi-ticket, which allows fans entry to perhaps five days of Championship cricket per year at any venue (fees to be recouped by whichever counties are visited). For those of us who do not live close to a particular ground or who are not strongly affiliated to a particular county, it could provide the incentive to more actively seek out matches to attend.
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