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Staring through a broken window

Posted in NatWest CricketForce 2009

There is a shattered window in the Chelmsford press box - not totally surprising considering the size of the ground although more of a shock is that the perpetrator was not Graham Napier.

Last year Napier launched an astonishing 16 sixes - a world record - during a Twenty20 Cup game against Sussex, a feat which helped earn an IPL deal with Mumbai Indians.

While Napier is earning fortunes in sunnier climes, Essex teammate James Middlebrook tried to emulate the hard-hitting allrounder in a pre-season friendly by smiting a straight six into the reinforced glass that protects the hacks.

Chelmsford

Watch out for the broken window in the press box at Chelmsford - courtesy of James Middlebrook

The smashed window is the first thing you see on entering the press box and is a perfect icebreaker when meeting the assorted members of the media.

But it is not the only talking point amoungst the local press - don't get them started on James Foster.

"He should have been in the selectors' thoughts three years ago," said one disgrunted local.

The Essex wicketkeeper is behind Matthew Prior and Tim Ambrose in the England pecking order but he gave the selectors another nudge with a patient 99 against Kent. Foster was recently named in the 25-strong England Performance Squad so is not too far from an international recall.

Hopefully not too distraught at missing out on a 13th century, Foster should be doing an interview with ECBtv at the close of play to talk about the Friends Provident Trophy where he has been named as one of eight players to watch in the competition. The highly-regarded Joe Denly, Foster's opponent here at Chelmsford and during last August's final which Essex won, should also be the subject of a chat, although hopefully he will have perked up after scoring a duck.

Former Warwickshire and Derbyshire bowler Graeme Welch - now the bowling coach at Essex - popped into the press box to get a view of his charges when Kent came out to bat.

Question were flung his way, including how he would get out Australian star Phillip Hughes and his thoughts on the young bowlers at Essex.

Today's trip to Essex concludes a short trip around the country covering a variety of activity for the ECB website.

On Tuesday in Manchester Jimmy Anderson helped launch this year's Kwik Cricket competition - more than 100,000 primary school kids will play the popular game in 2009.

Taller than he looks on TV, Anderson bowled at some energetic kids, signed numerous caps before chatting to a handful of media who braved the gloomy skies.

He is likely to play a key role for England this summer and Anderson told ECBtv he hopes to create a few happy moments for himself after spending many unhappy hours as a child listening to unsuccessful Ashes campaigns on the radio. Haven't we all, Jim?

Ian Bell

Ian Bell faced the media on Wednesday before netting with England Lions

On Tuesday it was off to Derby for an England Lions media day ahead of their tour match with West Indies. Ian Bell was the most requested Lion after missing out on the Test squad which was announced just minutes earlier. Despite his obvious disappointment he spoke impressively and honestly about needing to score runs to push back into the squad. It's a long summer, he said, so plenty of time to win his place back.

Another Warwickshire youngster with international ambitions is Chris Woakes - a seam bowler who has received high praise from Allan Donald and Ashley Giles. Taking the first West Indies wicket today for the Lions won't have done him any harm. Welch lavished praise on the youngster when asked which young bowlers he rated around the country. Steve Finn was another.

Polite and unassuming, the 20-year-old Woakes told ECBtv he insists his primary concern at the moment is taking wickets for his county.

In our continued efforts to promote the Friends Provident Trophy, ECBtv had a quick chat with Sajid Mahmood and rising star Adil Rashid - also 'ones to watch' - before the pair dashed off to a team meeting.