The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket also appears at Spin Cricket.
Ball One – I have long been a believer that the future of limited overs cricket lies with teams stuffed with davidhusseys - players who bowl slow, but not too slow, bat well enough to make 30s off 25 balls consistently with an occasional 50 off 40 thrown in and field like dervishes. Surrey seem willing (and able) to prove my point. In both their T20 matches this week, they fielded five davidhusseys (Rory Hamilton-Brown, Zafar Ansari, Gareth Batty, Matthew Spriegel and Murali Kartik). On Wednesday, in a low scoring match at The Oval, the quintet didn’t do much with the bat, but squeezed a win from a collapsing Essex with combined figures of 14-0-67-5. They were back on it at Lord’s the next day, Spriegel making a vital 53 in another low scoring game, before they ganged up on the Middlesex batsmen to squeeze another win via Duckworth-Lewis, with combined figures of 13-0-72-7.
Ball Two – When I were a lad, 350-6 was a good score at the end of Day One of a three day county championship match. Now it’s well within the reach of a side playing 40 overs cricket, as Middlesex proved in racking up that score at Lord’s against a decent Lancashire attack. The two Irishmen led the way, with Paul Stirling making 119 off 99 balls while Eoin Morgan dispelled a few winter demons in smashing 11 sixes in a startling 116 off 54 balls. Though he didn’t look back to his best with England on Saturday, Morgan’s multiple tics – especially his exaggerated crouch – had gone and he was a better player for a bit of county cricket.
Ball Three – The Twenty20 – once event cricket with taxis carrying groups of casual cricket fans to a new, and novel, experience, was “launched” on Tuesday (just as sports media was swamped by England’s Euro 2012 campaign) with a damp squib of a match at Grace Road. Champions Leicestershire were all out for 96 which was knocked off in just 13 overs by local rivals Nottinghamshire. With just one six in the match, it was not what the tournament that anchors county finances needed to set pulses racing.
Ball Four – An alternative to the davidhussey model of T20 player was on show at Grace Road’s second match of the week (ridiculous isn’t it?) where old stager Abdul Razzaq came up against compatriot Yasir Arafat. Both bowl sharpish medium pace and hit a long ball and both have been around for ages. When the music stopped this season, they found themselves playing for Leicestershire and Lancashire respectively (but it could have been anyone really). They have remarkably similar records: in 113 T20 matches, Razzaq strikes at 136 and bowls at an economy rate of 7.5; in 129 T20 matches, Arafat strikes at 123 and bowls at an economy rate of 7.9. Back in the day, they would have made good Lancashire League pros. Arafat was to come out on top this time.
Ball Five – South African biffer, Richard Levi, comes with a big reputation to the small ground at Taunton and let nobody down in blasting 69 from 34 balls to ensure that Somerset had too many for Warwickshire. Either he or Albie Morkel (Somerset’s other Saffer) are going to come off in most T20s and they’ll take the game away from opponents when they do. Have a little wager on the cidermen to reach another T20 Final, I suggest.
Ball Six – In the season’s most consistent battle to date, results beat no results by 7-6 in the T20 this week. I can never recall conditions so inimical to the playing or watching of cricket, so deep into the season. Things, to coin a phrase, can only get better – surely?
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