Age Group Cricket

Being off work with my bad back (it's improving, thanks, but I now have sciatica instead) meant that I had the chance to watch the last two ODIs between England Under-19 and India Under-19 on Sky.
Both matches were played at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff. On Thursday England were comprehensively beaten and yesterday they managed to make a much better fist of things although they still ended up losing by one wicket in the final over.

Overall, India, though the younger of the two sides, looked much the more mature and streetwise. England clearly had some decent talent but looked a bit over-coached and formulaic in their approach. The England batsmen seemed to spend most of their time (especially in the first game) hitting the ball straight to fielders. The Indian batsmen showed a far greater willingness to improvise, their bowlers bowled with more accuracy and penetration than England's, and their fielding was sharper, certainly on Thursday.

From the Indian side it will be a surprise if much more is not heard of Ishant Sharma, a very tall right-arm seamer from Delhi, and Parvez Aziz, an attacking opener from Assam.

The England side appeared to be conspicuously lacking in any really outstanding talent, but the Middlesex seamer Steven Finn, England's youngest player, shaped up well at the death yesterday. The Northants slow left-armer Graeme White bowled relatively economically in both games, and Steven Mullaney, from Lancashire, appeared to have something about him. And Varun Chopra, the captain, has been shaping up well for Essex this season, so all is not lost.

As David Lloyd rightly said in commentary, the standard of national junior sides can fluctuate markedly from season to season according to the talent available, and it'll be a major surprise if this side produces the number of senior internationals (Trescothick, Flintoff, McGrath, Solanki, Ben Hollioake, et al) that the team that Lloyd himself was involved with in the mid-nineties did.

However, with the advent of the academy, I've no doubt that the system which exists for developing players after they've passed through the age group sides is better than it was then, so many of the current players will be better placed to improve than their counterparts in past sides.

And, of course, many players will come through who aren't currently considered good enough to be selected for the under-nineteens.

Just ask the current England captain.

No comments:

Subscribe in a reader