29 March 2015

The John Lyon School Cricket - 1st XI Preview 2015

Last season in "normal" fixtures was a bit of an omnishambles. There were, amongst other things, a few batting collapses and the occasional expletive-laden rant from yours truly. Excluding the Cup competition, we played 11 games and won 3 of them. Many ups and downs, but mostly downs: not least collapsing in one game from 19 - 2 to 20 - 6. I think even Zimbabwe would be laughing at us. But this is a fresh start, and it's an opportunity for us to grab a historic chance... etc... etc...

Certainly senior management have seen this as a fresh start. Chris Peploe (he of Middlesex fame) has been promoted to the role of Head Coach, replacing Adam Ling, who has moved to a role we at Benjamin's Blog are referring to as "Sporting Director". There'll also be some changes to the team. Five players are not returning: Harsh Talati, Josh Banks, Neal Kanabar, Neerav Trivedi, and Himesh Vekaria. We're not sure who has ultimate authority over team selection, whether it's Peploe, Ling, or team captain, Tom Marshall.

Marshall is the one piece of continuity from 2014 at the summit. The bold decision by then head coach Ling to appoint Marshall as captain in 2014 whilst only a Year 12 raised a few eyebrows. Hopefully, however, the consistency will pay off.

Now, we at Benjamin's Blog have followed the team long enough to give you some "career" averages, apart from those of the captain due to a technical issue. Let's explore the options available to Peploe, Ling, or Marshall (whoever it may be):

MY TEAM FOR 2015

01 DILSHAN PEEREZ

CATEGORY: OPENER
BATTING STYLE: RIGHT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: RIGHT MEDIUM
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: 15.14 (106 runs, 7 inns, 0 NOs)
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: 22.00 (1-22)
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: 15.14 (106 runs, 7 inns, 0 NOs)
CAREER BOWLING AVERAGE: 22.00 (1-22)

Dilshan Peerez is a rough diamond. Opening last year with Harsh Talati had its benefits and its pitfalls. To have two defensive-minded batsmen open is, one may argue, a good idea. But in a lot of games where Talati opened with Peerez, JLS got off to a slow start. That said, Peerez is a very good batsman and doesn't lose his wicket cheaply. He was a few times unlucky with some dodgy LBW decisions in 2014 and he could have gone on to make bigger scores. Ultimately, however, Peerez is a poor player of spin, losing his wicket to spinners no less than six out of seven times. However, he has received some thorough training in the nets on reading spin (read it from the hand and watch the ball closely), meaning that yours truly is no longer able to dispose of him in the nets. Annoying for me, but good for Peerez and the school. Surely he's going to be in the side?

02 SEERONE KANDASAMY

CATEGORY: BATSMAN
BATTING STYLE: RIGHT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: RIGHT MEDIUM
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: 22.14 (155 runs, 8 inns, 1 NO)
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: 3.50 (2-7)
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: 25.67 (308 runs, 15 inns, 3 NOs)
CAREER BOWLING AVERAGE: 10.25 (4-41)

Seerone Kandasamy seems capable of making one big innings per year, but unfortunately that is it. In 2013, for instance, he made 66 against Enfield yet couldn't even muster 30 in any other game that season. In 2014 he made 67 against Saint Dominic's, but again failed to make 30 in the rest of the games. Kandasamy reminds me of Matthew Hayden, who, in the 2005 Ashes series, failed to reach 40 in the first four tests before rescuing his career with 138 at The Oval. However, if Kandasamy wants consistency, he should be pushing to open, having been batting at number four in the last two years. As a result, is he in the frame to become Peerez's new opening partner?

03 TOM MARSHALL (C)

CATEGORY: ALL-ROUNDER
BATTING STYLE: RIGHT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: RIGHT FAST
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: 23.09 (254 runs, 12 inns, 1 NO)
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: 12.76 (17-217)
BATTING AVERAGE SINCE 2013: 19.86 (434 runs, 24 inns, 2 NOs)
BOWLING AVERAGE SINCE 2013: 23.54 (26-612)

John Lyon's strength is in its bowling. Tom Marshall, the current captain, has been a stalwart of the team since 2012 (hence the lack of career stats, we only started collating them in 2013). After a slow start in 2014, collecting just 11 runs in his first three innings, Marshall only failed to hit double figures once from therein (and only two people in that game did reach 10). A magical 59 against Reading and 55 against The Forty Club, a game well remembered for his fantastic stand of 121 with Jake Lamour-Johnson (59), gives Marshall a platform to build on this season. Tom Marshall's bowling is fantastically consistent, he need only be washed and polished every so often and he will run all day. In 2013, for example, he bowled 15 overs out of a possible 25 against the MCC. In the same fixture in 2014, Marshall bowled 14 out of 24. In 2014, Marshall bowled 69 complete overs throughout the season (and two 0.4s), 13 of which were maidens. An economy of 3.05 in 2014 was fantastic, and to top it all off, a fantastic bowling performance alongside Neerav Trivedi saw Marshall take five wickets against the MCC (and Trivedi four). The bowling all-rounder need only improve his batting. Surely, with a bit of luck, he can get a score of 100 this year?

04 JAKE LAMOUR-JOHNSON

CATEGORY: BATSMAN
BATTING STYLE: RIGHT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: RIGHT MEDIUM-FAST
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: 15.67 (94 runs, 8 inns, 2 NOs)
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: 26.00 (4-104)
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: 15.67 (94 runs, 8 inns, 2 NOs)
CAREER BOWLING AVERAGE: 26.00 (4-104)

A player initially off our radar, Lamour-Johnson first gained our approval at Benjamin's Blog by making 59 against The Forty Club, putting on a stand of 121 with Tom Marshall (who himself made 55). Yes, his batting average looks poor, but he can build on that 59 this season. A straight swap with Seerone Kandasamy in the batting order should help both of them: Lamour-Johnson often gets out to the new ball bowlers driving and edging to the slips. 

05 JASH GANDHI

CATEGORY: BATSMAN
BATTING STYLE: RIGHT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: RIGHT MEDIUM
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: 0.00 (0 runs, 1 inns, 0 NOs)
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: n/a
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: 0.00 (0 runs, 1 inns, 0 NOs)
CAREER BOWLING AVERAGE: n/a

For us, the top three looks set in stone, but this is where it gets tricky. Jash Gandhi was, along with James Francis, the two key players for the all-conquering U15s of 2014. There's probably no hesitation to call him up (he did get one last year but was out for a three-ball duck in the midst of a collapse worthy of a game of Jenga), but in what capacity? As a middle order batsman, we think, ready to be promoted to #2 if Kandasamy gets himself injured. What sort of personal targets will Gandhi have this year?

06 JAMES FRANCIS

CATEGORY: WICKET KEEPER
BATTING STYLE: RIGHT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: RIGHT FAST-MEDIUM
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: n/a
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: n/a
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: n/a
CAREER BOWLING AVERAGE: n/a

We're not 100% sure on the batting order in the middle, but we've put Francis at #5. James Francis is good, but the question is this - is he ready? To be thrust into the middle, facing very fast bowlers with the new ball at their peak physical fitness is a far cry from driving medium pacers into undergrowth for the U15s. Francis is also a jack-of-all-trades, so as well as being able to keep, he can bowl. Boy, he can bowl. He can swing an orange. As a result, I don't think he'll get the gloves - he may even take the new ball. Why at six? Well, if Gandhi and Francis partnering up can recreating some U15 magic, we'll see some big partnerships from them. 

07 AARYAN DEVANI

CATEGORY: ALL-ROUNDER
BATTING STYLE: RIGHT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: RIGHT FAST
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: 12.00* (12 runs, 1 inn, 1 NO)
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: 11.40 (5-57)
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: 12.00* (12 runs, 1 inn, 1 NO)
CAREER BOWLING AVERAGE: 11.40 (5-57)

Aaryan Devani is the Shaun Tait of The John Lyon School: the wild thing. With speed quicker than an F1 car, his run-up is longer than the average race featuring Mo Farah, and maybe the batsman probably isn't concentrating fully by the time the ball hurls down the 22-yard track. Devani had five wickets from 12 overs last season, but he needs to work on his consistency, as he has never bowled a maiden. Will he take the new ball? Maybe, maybe not.

08 KELLAN GHELANI

CATEGORY: ALL-ROUNDER
BATTING STYLE: LEFT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: SLOW LEFT ARM
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: 9.67 (29 runs, 5 inns, 2 NOs)
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: 17.10 (10-171)
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: 7.50 (45 runs, 8 inns, 2 NOs)
CAREER BOWLING AVERAGE: 22.92 (12-275)

If you want to know the gulf between the U15s and the 1st XI, ask Kellan Ghelani. So good for the U15s in 2013, but a call-up to the first XI went drastically wrong, averaging just 5.33 with the bat and 52.00 with the ball. A much improved 2014 with the ball, taking 10 wickets in the season, but if the pitch isn't working for him then it doesn't work, going at seven per over against Ibstock Place last year. When it all comes together, though, it works: impressive readouts of 11-4-19-2 against The Forty Club show that Ghelani possesses natural talent and skill. For 2015, he will want to improve his batting.

09 DISHANTH SATKUNARAJAH (WK)

CATEGORY: WICKET KEEPER
BATTING STYLE: LEFT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: RIGHT MEDIUM
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: 7.33 (22 runs, 4 inns, 1 NO)
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: n/a
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: 5.56 (50 runs, 10 inns, 1 NO)
CAREER BOWLING AVERAGE: n/a

The statistics don't tell the full story here. Dishanth Satkunarajah has tried a lot of things in order to improve his batting woes, including replacing Harsh Talati at #1 for a period in 2014. However, 13 not out against Reading showed that he was not a complete turkey with a stick of rhubarb, and very rarely does he drop catches. However, he faces a battle to stay in the side. Can he do a Hayden?

10 MARCUS TIGHE

CATEGORY: BATSMAN
BATTING STYLE: RIGHT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: RIGHT MEDIUM-FAST
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: 6.40 (32 runs, 7 inns, 2 NOs)
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: n/a
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: 6.40 (32 runs, 7 inns, 2 NOs)
CAREER BOWLING AVERAGE: n/a

Marcus Tighe won the inaugural Rhys Benjamin Scorer's Award last year for "moment of the year", which was the face of concentration he pulled whilst taking a diving catch against The Forty Club. Tighe is a very good fielder, and long-handles his way to give, as the Aussies would say, a little bit of "tikka" to the tail. A key component of the John Lyon wagging tail, Tighe still needs to improve his batting to hold down his place in the side.

11 OWEN MARSHALL

CATEGORY: BOWLER
BATTING STYLE: RIGHT-HANDED
BOWLING STYLE: OFF SPIN
2014 BATTING AVERAGE: 1.50 (3 runs, 2 inns, 0 NOs)
2014 BOWLING AVERAGE: 42.00 (3-126)
CAREER BATTING AVERAGE: 1.50 (3 runs, 2 inns, 0 NOs)
CAREER BOWLING AVERAGE: 45.67 (3-137)

Breaking into the 1st XI in 2013 at just 13 years old, Marshall is the hot prospect of this team. He is still just 15 years old. A more telling statistic of his ability is that in 2014, he took the third-best bowling figures of the season (behind the Tom Marshall and Neerav Trivedi show against the MCC): 7-1-12-3 against Queen Elizabeth's is a fantastic record. Being so young, however, there is a lot that could be improved, mostly his economy rates. With a bit of luck, that career bowling average should tumble under 30 this year.

So, to recap, this is our predicted squad:


We'll see you on 21 April against Claremont High in the Cup.

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