DateLine: 25th October 2005
Considering his development into one of the county games most brutal batsmen, it is surprising that in his early appearances for Derbyshire Ian Blackwell often lacked the necessary timing to beat the infield. However, raw power had always been a part of his game from an early age, as his brutal hitting once lost 7 balls in a league fixture while he was still a teenager. Although his maiden First-class innings ended with a duck, he had earlier secured Steve Waugh as a very impressive debut scalp. However, Blackwell’s left arm spin seem to be regarded as his second suite at the start of his professional career, as he struggled to get a bowl ahead of Derbyshire’s impressive battery of seamers, though he always looked keen when given chance to bowl long spells on dry pitches like The Oval. A move to Somerset for 2000 actually saw Blackwell slip from the no.6 position he had claimed at Derbyshire, although he was required to turn his arm over considerably more. However Blackwell’s time at Taunton has seen his batting develop considerably, to the extent that in the 5 seasons between 2001-5 only once did Blackwell’s average not get within a whisker of 50 or better.
Blackwell’s England career has been up and down. Occasionally batting as high as no.5, his best performance came in just his 2nd match, when he pulverised India for a 68 ball 82, although Sehwag & Ganguly later did much the same and better as India won the game comfortably. Surprisingly it is his bowling which has stood up best to the rigours of the international game, as his economy is just 4.15 in an era of 250 being a below par score. Blackwell’s misfortune may be that Ashley Giles provides more quality with the ball, and that in an era of the Flintoff- Pietersen middle order axis England would rather have a nudger and nurdler alongside those 2 rather than the all or nothing nature of Blackwell’s contributions. Following the departure of Graeme Smith, Blackwell captained Somerset for the 2nd half of the 2005 county season, although the cidermen’s keenness to re-engage Smith or Ricky Ponting for 2006 means Blackwell will probably not yet be taking the job on a full time basis.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)