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County Diary: Tom Banton's star rises as Amar Virdi's stalls

Tom Banton flicks flamboyantly into the leg side Getty Images

Tom Banton's star continues to rise: after a brilliant Royal London One-Day Cup campaign, which included two fifties and a hundred in his three knockout innings, he now tops Somerset's Championship averages thanks to score of 79 and 70 against Hampshire.

Banton is a natural strokemaker, and will have plenty of attention on him when he opens the batting with Pakistan's stand-out batsman in the World Cup, Babar Azam, in the T20 Blast. We are not surprised to hear that scouts from franchise T20 tournaments - including the IPL - are already beginning to circle.

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Amar Virdi is one of England's most exciting spin prospects. He has already represented England Lions and last summer ended his first full season playing Championship cricket with 39 wickets, the most by any English-born spinner in the competition.

The turbaned Sikh's bushy beard makes him instantly recognisable, but as he approaches his 21st birthday he has yet to bowl a single ball in Championship cricket this year. Gareth Batty, twice his age, was again preferred in Surrey's defeat against Yorkshire at Scarborough and is having a decent season.

Virdi began the season with a stress-related back injury suffered in a winter training programme, but the word is that Surrey are not entirely happy with his general fitness. At Scarborough he fulfilled the role of drinks waiter. He would do worse than to learn from Batty, who is still an energetic and feisty competitor at 41.

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Cricket has been mourning the loss of Dennis Silk, who has died at the age of 87. A schoolmaster by profession, he played 83 games as an amateur for Cambridge, Somerset and the MCC, was warden of Radley College for 23 years, where Andrew Strauss later became a pupil, and after retiring became president of MCC as well as chairman of the Test and County Cricket Board (which preceded the ECB).

Silk's life was full of variety, but he once claimed that his greatest life lesson has been provided by an English cricket journalist on the 1992-93 tour of India. The tour was beset by travel difficulties and Silk cadged a lift on the press coach on a long journey to a one-day international.

On route, the coach was stopped by dacoits - Indian highwaymen - who had blocked the road and refused to move the boulders until satisfactory bribes were paid. They were so surprised when a cricket writer leapt recklessly from the coach to proclaim "We are the England cricket media - get this road unblocked now" that they did precisely that.

Silk, in characteristically urbane manner, murmured: "Extraordinary. I have heard much about the power of the English cricket press, but to see it in action must rank as one of the greatest lessons I have ever witnessed."

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The Vitality Blast returns in two weeks, and will feature a string of high-profile overseas players including AB de Villiers, Aaron Finch, and Babar Azam. But several of the World Cup's leading lights, including Kane Williamson, Andre Russell and Shakib al Hasan, have signed up for the Global T20 in Canada instead.

The upshot is that the sums players can earn from three weeks' work in Canada are substantial compared to those in the Blast, which drags on for over three months including the knockout stages. The Global T20 is organised by the same Indian consortium that will run the Euro T20 Slam in September; it clashes with the knockout stages of the Blast, so Imran Tahir, Rashid Khan, and Babar will all be absent if their teams reach Finals Day.

Few at the ECB will shed a tear about counties missing their stars, but the pull of those leagues poses a problem for The Hundred next year; the salaries for top earners in that tournament are very competitive, but those picked lower in the draft could have their heads turned by the lure of some Canadian cash.

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Beleaguered Nottinghamshire seem to have succumbed to a touch of double-think as they deal with the flak coming their way during a season spiralling towards relegation, 33 points adrift of safety.

Reaffirming the club's traditional willingness to front up to their critics, all the key figures in the Trent Bridge hierarchy donned their tin hats to face agitated supporters at a members' forum during the defeat to Essex.

Head coach Peter Moores said: "We aren't making excuses. I wanted members to know we're passionate about the club and who we represent. The questions were blunt but fair. When you aren't playing well at a club with high expectation there is pressure. Rightly so. You have to front up to that."

It was behind-closed-doors openness on this occasion, however. As Moores extolled the virtues of fronting up, Nottinghamshire decided that their customary invitation to award-winning Nottingham Post reporter Matt Davies would this time be withdrawn.

Additional reporting from Matt Roller and Jon Culley