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Batting Problems?

April 10 2017 at 12:56 PM
Martin  (Login Martinh00)

This has been raised during the Hampshire game, but I thought it might deserve a separate post.

I suppose I take a middle view on this issue. Yes, our batting has been wobbly since Root and in particular Bairstow have ceased to be regulars. That said, our opening partnership do deliver the runs if not the partnerships (and I am unclear what the club or coaching staff can do to address the partnerships issue), we have possibly not had a really effective overseas player (or had one available for the whole season) since Rudolph - Williamson is liked but he has been a solid rather than spectacular overseas signing for us, but in Handscombe we have the form player of Test Cricket. Ballance looks back to his best and looked so secure over his two innings, and Bresnan (whether he bats five six or seven) is now a true all rounder. So all of that is positive. However...

I do not agree that our batting is "fine". Even if we assume that Leaning finds his feet again and Bresnan is a credible number six, the fact is that we have nobody snapping at the heals should one of our top six get injured or lose form. This is our biggest weakness. Think of the final game last year v Middlesex, and our top six in that game (Lyth, Lees, Ballance, Gale, Bresnan and Hodd). That was a line up fielded because we did not have an overseas player and Leaning was deemed so badly out of form that playing six bowlers was considered a better option. If Leaning fails to fire or gets injured, this could be our line up for the bulk of the season (if Lyth was injured the problem is all the greater). I just don't think this is a credible batting line up for a first division line up.

I have always been less bothered about the Hodd/Wicket keeper issue. Our (usually) strong bottom order allows us to play him at 7. He showed on Saturday what he can do given the responsibility. However, six is surely too high for him.

The club recognises the problem. The fact that they tried to sigh Borthwick confirms that (and no doubt other approaches were made too). The only hope is for the likes of Rhodes and a rejuvenated Tattersall to make a ton of runs so that they can come in as a credible alternative should one of our top six fail.

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(Login Me4791)

Re: Batting Problems?

April 10 2017, 1:10 PM 

Who else could be in contention? Eliot Callis, Harry Brook,Matthew Waite and Ryan Gibson are only other options really bar Tattersall and Rhodes.More depth with younger bowlers.

(Login ibby3)

Re: Batting Problems?

April 10 2017, 1:18 PM 

I agree the lack of back up is a worry. I'm confident Handscomb will do well, but we need Leaning or Rhodes to contribute good runs to be successful.

I think the loss of Rashid as a batter is a big miss too though, with him and bresnan at 6/7, Hodd then goes to 8 which makes everything look a bit deeper.

(Login StuartRA)
Assistant Moderator

Re: Batting Problems?

April 10 2017, 1:20 PM 

You make some good points Martin and agree with you - our batting is not "fine" but suspect.

As you state, we have no back ups in case of injury and we are depending on Leaning re-gaining some form - he may not!!

I am getting a tad peeved off now with Lyth and Lees getting 30 & 40`s and then getting themselves out. It happens far to often.

It will take Hanscomb a while to get used to April conditions in this country and Tim at 6, Hodd at 7 (both 2 positions to high) and 4 non-batters following does not auger well for the rest of the season.

Can not do much about 6 to 11 as without Rashid & Bairstow they have to be filled by 5 bowlers and and a keeper, so more often that not, it will be Tim at 6 and Hodd at 7. We may get 2 or 3 matches this season from Plunkett and/or Willey who would greatly strengthen the tail end batting, but otherwise it will 4 from Fisher, Patterson, Brooks, Siddy & Rafig batting from 8 to 11 (poor).

This message has been edited by StuartRA on Apr 10, 2017 1:22 PM

(Login whiterosetom)

Re: Batting Problems?

April 10 2017, 1:33 PM 

How I see it our top four are all fine in terms of skill and averages, their problem is consistancy.

Lyth ( Would get into most county sides.)
Lees (Fine at this level.)
Handscombe (Unproven in England but has a high average.)
Ballance (One of the best championship batsmen on his day, still averages nearly 50.)

Our middle order very much depends on who's playing. Bairstow, Leaning , Rashid, Bresnan, Plunkett (or Willey) at 5/6/7/8/9 is very different to Leaning, Bresnan, Rafiq, Hodd, Patterson.

There are so many changes in our "middle order" that it's very difficult to define. Put simply though we need a number five who can average atleast 35 over a season and a wicketkeeper capable of batting at number six.

This message has been edited by whiterosetom on Apr 10, 2017 1:34 PM

(Login _JG_)

Re: Batting Problems?

April 10 2017, 8:12 PM 

I think the OP gives a very reasoned, balanced view of the situation.

Lyth and Lees are both proven players at this level; yes, they are possibly more inconsistent than some but over the long term they will score a good volume of runs, as their career averages attest. They may have better or worse seasons this year but both remain inked in to the side. I would suggest that their apparent tendency to not score runs together is more curios than concern, as given that both do score runs it suggests they are just involved in a greater number of good 2nd/3rd/4th wicket partnerships, and ultimately it doesn't matter for which wicket the runs are scored as long as they are. The same as last year.

Ballance, from all reports, looks in far better order than he did last year, and looks sure to have a much more produtive season than his rather disappointing 2016. A positive versus last year.

Handscombe will surely contribute more runs over the course of the season than our ever-changing cast of overseas players last year. Another positive.

As harsh as it sounds, Gale is no great loss in terms of run-scoring. Whether Leaning can step up and regain his 2015/ early 2016 form is another matter- it does have the feeling of a pivotal season for him, but given the potential he's shown with red ball and his performances last year in limited overs cricket I think we are right to give him the opportunity. Could go either way.

Can Bresnan repeat last year's stellar efforts with the bat or was that a one-off? We were hugely reliant on his lower middle order runs last year, so this is an area I am worried about. We need more runs from players around him to take some of the burden off Bresnan. The likely prolonged absences of Rashid are not helpful in this regard. I also agree that, Rhodes aside, we have very little depth in the batting, so if there are injuries or losses of form we could be very short.

In summary, I'm hopeful that our top order will be stronger than last year and we will not have to rely on the lower order digging us out of the mire as often as we have done, but if that is not the case I'm not sure we're as well-equipped to dig ourselves out as we have been. Lots of pressure on Lyth, Lees, Handscombe and Ballance I feel- and it would be very nice if Leaning could re-discover his form...

(Login sid-don)
Assistant Moderator

Re: Batting Problems?

April 10 2017, 8:37 PM 

In the 2014 championship team we often had JB at 5, Ballance at 6, Ras at 7 and Bres 8 -wow we're weaker

Currently a 6, 7 and 8 of Bres, Hodd and Rafiq is 'hit and miss'. Young bowlers at 10 and 11 will struggle with the bat. If we'd been 265-6 (I think that was the score when Bres held his C&B) on Sunday chasing 320 to beat the Hamps attack it's very unlikely we'd have made it. Lower middle order and non batting bowlers is the problem and there's not much we can do about it at the moment.

I'd gamble with Leaning at 3, to allow Hanscomb to acclimatize at 5. Hope Ras and Plunkett doesn't make the test team, prey Hodd has a good season and Bres stays fit. However Rhodes as a 4th seamer who can bat might form part of the solution in the short term, although I've never been wholly convinced by his bowling and following his debut season his batting has gone backwards.

This message has been edited by sid-don on Apr 10, 2017 8:42 PM

(Login Otley)

Batting Problems?

April 10 2017, 8:50 PM 

With a top 4 consisting of 3 Internationals and an England Lion we should be able to get enough runs on a regular basis. As most have stated, Jack Leaning needs to have a good run at number 5 and needs to show the form that made him "Young Cricketer of The Year" a couple of years ago. As always seems to happen when struggling for runs, he got a couple of LBWs in the Hants game that may not have been given when in prime form. Unfortunately it is the lack of alternatives in the absence of Root & Bairstow that is most worrying. In a year or two Harry Brook may be pressing but to throw him into a struggling line-up at present (a broken finger for one of the current 5 may be just around the corner) would be difficult. Despite heroics last year I do think Bressie is better batting at 7.

I thought the Hants game was a bit ominous and hope we aren't going to do a Notts this year. What worried me most were i) the fielding just wasn't as sharp as Hants'; and ii)when short of seven first teamers at the start of 2015 we coped much better, teams certainly aren't intimidated by us as they were that year.

On a positive note, I think the ECBs crazy scheduling may do us a favour. We now have 3 successive away games in April and May when we can opt to bowl first then later have 4 successive home games from late June to early September when putting us in will be less promising for our opponents. It will be very interesting to see if Surrey insert us in the "Day/night" match at 2pm in late June. (More genius from the ECB - it will get dark about half an hour after the "Night" session finishes).

(Login Alibor2)

Re: Batting Problems?

April 10 2017, 8:51 PM 

I agree with you Sid about Jack Leaning - he would be better coming in with just one wicket down (as he did previously) and with Ballance at 4, Handscombe at 5 and maybe Rhodes, Bresnan or Rashid for 6 and 7 Hodd at 8 with 3 seamers would be better. Of course, if we need another seamer then Willey instead of Rhodes would be good alternative. We do need some seam bowling variety with swing and left arm option.

This message has been edited by Alibor2 on Apr 10, 2017 10:19 PM

(Login Me4791)

Re: Batting Problems?

April 11 2017, 5:07 PM 

To be fair JG Bresnan has done it two seasons in a row,not just one.He scored 849 runs @ 49.94 in 2015 and 722 runs @ 48.13 in 2016.Become massive player now with bat as well as ball.

(Login Martinh00)

Re: Batting Problems?

April 11 2017, 5:33 PM 

The interesting comparison is Bresnan v Willey - and the suggestion that Willey could come in at number six if Bresnan is injured. They have similar career averages (30 v 28) but that is where the comparison ends - Bresnan is a much more accomplished batsman these days

(Login Me4791)

Re: Batting Problems?

April 11 2017, 5:47 PM 

I gave Bresnans stats for last two years as excellent but he has started this season with a pair!!!

(Login sid-don)
Assistant Moderator

Re: Batting Problems?

April 11 2017, 6:53 PM 

Rhodes batted all day today for the 2s at Old Trafford, 170*. Think he comes in as 4th seamer and bats at 6.

(Login Martinh00)

Re: Batting Problems?

April 23 2017, 8:43 PM 

I posted this after the home Hampshire game, and no doubt will be added to after this (almost whatever happens). I wanted to pick up n a few things whilst I remember

1) England Players

I note the comments about Root and Bairstow (the latter could still be a huge help for us tomorrow). My take on this is that it is not automatic that someone scores runs in a game, be they in the top ten in the world or a journeyman. No doubt it helps if you have had some warm up games to get you into the swing. It isn't automatic either than you will be rusty (Cook seems to have done OK). It doesn't differ that much from playing an international (Hamdscombe) in your first game, or Williamson jetting in from a winter tour to play a couple of games for us.

2) The opening pair

Good to see that Lees has got runs. I still maintain that Lyth is (or was) batting well - he looked in good order when I saw him at Headingley. It may be that the one day games gives him the tonic he needs. I think talk of dropping him to the second team like some sort of naughty step, is not sensible. He will score a boat load of runs and we will be none the wiser. I suspect we just have to show some faith in him (and recognise that there are no alternatives)

We talk about the lack of recruitment in the winter. I agree that a batsman of the quality of a Stoneman would have been good. Problem is convincing someone like that that they will get a game (which presumably is what you have to do to get someone to sign) Imagine the discussions over winter, with someone like Stoneman. With a line up of Lees, Lyth (both scored 1000 runs in 2016), Root and Bairstow (speak for themselves), Handscome (the international who plays every game), Balance (new captain so must play), who do I replace in that team? Difficult isn't it? Even with Leaning coming in for Root, a return to his purple patch and he becomes difficult to drop as well.

(Login WibseySimon55)

Re: Batting Problems?

April 23 2017, 10:51 PM 

I don't think we should even want to think of replacing someone. But maybe a bit more creativity in rotating and placing players would help.

Rhodes being given a chance in Leaning's place? Adam Lyth is such a classy player, but seems so often to edge the moving new ball -- to hand or on to his stumps -- that I begin to wonder why do we play him as an opener? Do we have alternatives? Didn't Willey open for Northants? (Can't imagine it, since he's not even looked like a red ball all-rounder at 8 or 9 for us so far, but I think he did!) The only time I saw Rhodes play he opened with Lees against Worcester, and looked very good. Get one of them up there, and if they're out cheaply at least the ball is a few overs old, and it only feels like losing a nightwatchman. If they make runs, then we'd have really gained something.

Willey/Rhodes, Lees, Handscomb, Lyth, Ballance, Bresnan, Hodd, Rafiq, Patterson/Coad, two out of Plunkett/Sidebottom/Brooks/Fisher

(five seamers)


Willey/Rhodes, Lees, Hansdcomb, Lyth, Ballance, Leaning, Bresnan, Hodd, Rafiq, two out of Plunkett/Sidebottom/Brooks/Patterson/Coad

(four seamers, deep batting)

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