Highly-rated legspinning allrounder moves to Chelmsford in bid to develop career
Critchley, 25, was one of the standout players in the LV= Insurance County Championship last year, scoring 1,000 runs and taking 32 wickets, while across all formats he recorded 1,318 runs and claimed 52 victims.
He was named in the PCA Men’s Team of the Year, and finished second in the overall PCA MVP rankings, behind Simon Harmer, the Essex spinner alongside whom he will now hope to form a productive partnership.
“I’m absolutely thrilled to be here and to have signed for Essex,” Critchley said. “Essex have been one of the best teams in the country for the last six years, you just have to look at the players in the dressing room and the trophies they’ve won to know this must be a great place to play your cricket.
“It was a tough decision to leave Derbyshire, but as soon as I was made aware of the interest, I wanted to make the move and I can’t wait to get going and to pull on the Essex shirt.”
The move comes in the wake of the ECB’s confirmation that the County Championship will be reverting to a two-division structure next season. This means that Essex – who claimed the Division Two title this year after missing out on the top flight in the three-tier conference system used in response to the Covid outbreak, will be back in Division One next season, and eager to add to the two Championship titles and Bob Willis Trophy that they have claimed since 2017.
“I’m delighted we’ve managed to get this one over the line and that Matt is now an Essex player,” John Stephenson, Essex’s chief executive, said.
“It’s important that we look to improve our squad and continue to challenge for the top honours over the coming years. We feel Matt offers excellent attributes with both his batting and bowling across all formats and he’ll make an excellent addition to the team.
“There were a host of clubs chasing Matt’s signature, so it’s a real coup for us that he’s bought into our vision and feels that Chelmsford is the place for him to develop as a cricketer and win titles.”
Critchley made his first-class debut for Derbyshire back in May 2015, and in his career to date, he’s made 187 appearances across all formats, scoring 4,902 runs and taking 204 wickets.
His highest first-class score of 137 not out came against Northamptonshire in 2015, when he became the youngest player in Derbyshire’s history to score a century, whilst his best bowling figures of 10 for 194 also came against Northants in 2018.
Critchley was selected for the ECB International Pathway and participated in Overseas Placements in Australia in both 2016 and 2017. The following year he was selected to tour the West Indies with England Lions, making two appearances.
Though Critchley was also involved in the inaugural season of the Hundred, after joining Welsh Fire for £24,000, his move to Essex indicates a desire to challenge for red-ball honours, and comes after Essex activated a clause within his contract, allowing him to move to a Division One county for an undisclosed fee.
The club chairman, Ian Morgan, said: “We’re disappointed to be losing Matt after seeing him develop greatly with the club over the past seven seasons.
“We were quick to better any offer from another county, however we understand his desire to test himself in Division One and he leaves with our best wishes for the future.
“As a club, we moved to ensure we would be well-compensated for his departure, and we will be using that money to strengthen the first team under a new Head of Cricket.”
More WBBL matches could move to primetime as viewership hits new records
The crowd for the final in Perth set a new benchmark for a standalone WBBL match
A WBBL final which brought a record crowd and record TV ratings could herald a shift towards more primetime matches in the future as the tournament looks to its next stage of evolution.
Perth Scorchers claimed the title on Saturday in front of 15,511 spectators at Optus Stadium which set a new benchmark for a standalone WBBL match. It also had the largest average broadcast audience in the competition’s history with 535,000 put it ahead of the 2018-19 final which was played ahead of a day of men’s Test cricket.
This was the first season where every match was available on television and overall CA said it was the most-watched edition. While Alistair Dobson, the general manager of Big Bash Leagues, believes the weekend festivals, which see multiple matches at the same venue, will continue to be an important part of the tournament there will be a push to exploit more evening time slots.
“Ultimately the ambition was of getting every game on TV and we were really thankful we could do that this year,” Dobson told ESPNcricinfo. “The next evolution is to optimise those blockbusters and there’s an opportunity for us to explore more primetime matches, whether that’s Thursday or Friday nights, and working with our broadcasters to build up some big annual marquee matches which I think is the obvious next step for the competition.”
The new finals structure, which gave the team who finished top of the regular season direct entry into the final, meant there was a week to promote the match in Perth.
“I think it worked exactly how we intended to give us a full week’s build-up but also rightfully rewarding the team that finished first with the biggest advantage which we felt was warranted,” Dobson said. “The atmosphere and noise just showed how passionate the fans are and think the quality of the game did it justice as well.
The season started in a Tasmania-based hub due to border restrictions in Australia and barring a brief lockdown in Hobart was played without significant problems although two major markets – Melbourne and Sydney – were unable to stage games.
“Firstly just being able to play and getting all eight teams together in Tasmania was no mean feat,” Dobson said. “But then the quality of the cricket throughout, the quality of the overseas players, it was amazing to have such a great group of Indian players, they brought a whole new dimension, alongside all the other players.
“Matched by the depth of talent in Australia, a lot of the really big household names were easily matched by a lot of players we are all getting to know a lot better.
“In reinforces the WBBL as the No.1 cricket league for women and it’s really important we maintain that position in the future.”
Recent Match Report – South Aust vs Queensland 10th Match 2021/22
Renshaw hammered 156 from 109 balls after Gurinder Sandhu’s hat-trick had restricted the home side
Queensland 4 for 275 (Renshaw 156*, Bryant 68) beat South Australia 274 (Carey 101, Sandhu 4-44) by six wickets
It was Queensland’s second win from four matches in the one-day competition this season, while South Australia are struggling with a 1-3 record.
In the mix to replace former captain Tim Paine as Australia’s Test gloveman at the Gabba next month, Carey had failed to reach double figures in any of his previous six innings for the Redbacks this season.
He made a patient start to his innings before blasting his second 50 in just 30 balls, charging to his second one-day century of the season. He smashed a huge slog-sweep six off Marnus Labuschagne but was eventually bowled by the part-time legspinner when attempting to cut a delivery that wasn’t quite as short as he had expected.
Queensland quick Sandhu finished with 4 for 44 from his nine overs, with Matt Kuhnemann also impressing as the final six South Australia wickets fell in the space of just 15 balls.
Like Carey, Travis Head was hoping to impress national selectors, but he was dropped twice before his luck ran out on 29, caught by Mark Steketee off Kuhnemann.
Queensland’s run chase began slowly and they were in trouble early when Test squad members Usman Khawaja and Labuschagne fell cheaply. Labuschagne departed in stunning fashion when he was run out by Hunt’s direct hit from a tough angle.
But Renshaw’s composed knock steered the Bulls home. Featuring 15 fours and five sixes, his century came from 91 balls with his third fifty taking just 16 deliveries as he plundered Wes Agar.
Abu Dhabi T10, 2021 – Phil Salt, Tom Banton show off their credentials
Across a weekend of triple-headers, there has been an exhibition of opening batting on display
Across a weekend of triple-headers at the Abu Dhabi T10, there has been an exhibition of opening batting on display. No doubt, the shorter boundaries have helped, especially in a format whereby the risk of losing a wicket is also considerably less.
If there was any doubt as to whether the injury could have affected him, Salt erased it instantly. In the first over of the chase, he blasted 21 runs off the five deliveries he faced, clipping away his first and last ball from Nuwan Pradeep to the boundary, and smashing two sixes in between.
In a tournament with some of the biggest names in world cricket, Salt has been one of the standout players. The game he was injured in and the game he missed subsequently have been the only two games that Team Abu Dhabi have lost this season.
Amongst anyone who has scored at least 100 runs in the Abu Dhabi T10, no batter possesses a better strike rate than Salt. In fact, no one has scored more boundaries than his 17 fours and 21 sixes.
“Something you do when you’re playing well is that you pick your areas based on instinct” Salt said. “Chris Gayle, I’ve chewed his ear off. He’s got so many tools that I want to add to my game… The most impressive thing and a few guys have it, is that ruthless mentality that someone like Chris has, in the way he takes the game on.
“If I can just keep tapping into things like that, the biggest improvements to be made and the lessons to be learnt are from those guys, in terms of how they deal with the game upstairs.”
Asked where he sees himself across formats domestically and internationally, Salt said: “It’s something I used to struggle with, really wanting to get on to the next stage. I still do want it just as bad, but I’m very aware now that the only way to get there is to take it day by day by day. I know that’s a really boring answer, but I’ve found that’s the most effective way to improve and not get ahead of myself.”
Salt’s tale bears a hint of similarity with that of Banton, whose unbeaten 46 against Delhi Bulls included seven fours and two sixes. Two players brimming with talent, with aspirations to regularly represent their country, yet coming to an understanding with their opportunities and their experiences thus far, that ultimately it is something that will find its way, rather than something that can be chased.
Whilst Salt made his international bow in perhaps fortuitous circumstances with three ODIs against Pakistan, Banton was unfortunately part of the England playing group that was forced to isolate before that series.
Banton was the breakout star of 2019 and an England call-up followed – he was part of Eoin Morgan’s white-ball set-up for the best part of a year between November 2019 and September 2020 – yet bubble life and quarantine took its toll on him.
A blistering 47-ball century in the T20 Blast against Kent served as a reminder of his ability, but a second-ball duck in the final against the same opposition summed up a somewhat disappointing and challenging year in which he was also released by Kolkata Knight Riders.
“I had quite a big break. For the whole of October, I didn’t play any cricket – nothing whatsoever. I just lived a social life and saw a lot of friends and family, which I felt was quite important, and now I feel like I’m enjoying it again,” said Banton.
“I’d love to get back in the squad but I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself to be there next year. I just want to enjoy my cricket and I think if you’re in that headspace, the rest will take care of itself.”
For the pair of them, knowing that Morgan is around, will no doubt add some extra motivation as the Abu Dhabi T10 enters its final week.
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