The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket also appears at Spin Cricket.
Ball One – In Division One, inclement weather (and possibly just a little reluctance on the part of captains to gamble possible defeat in the pursuit of victory) produced just the single positive result, as Middlesex ensured that Daryl Mitchell’s bat-carrying heroics in the first innings counted for nothing. Worcestershire couldn’t deal with the bounce of the under-rated Toby Roland-Jones, whose ten wickets was the sort of performance that used to catch selectors’ eyes at this time of year. He’s well down the long list of England seamer hopefuls, but a new captain may bring a new look to England’s Test fringe – and there’s a lot of cricket to be played in the next 18 months.
Ball Two – At the top of the table, Warwickshire will have been content to retain their advantage (now 22 points) with a draw against third place Notts at Edgbaston. With Day Two lost, it was always going to be a tough ask to bowl Notts out twice after Warwickshire’s super-strong batting posted 500 plus – as it was, Alex Hales and Chris Read ensured that game was dead by lunch on the fourth day.
Ball Three – After two days were lost to rain at the traditional late August Scarborough Festival, Andrew Gale and Hamish Marshall showed admirable enterprise to set up a match on the last day. Chasing 314, there were contributions through the Yorkshire XI, before they got over the line with just two wickets in hand. While Yorkshire had every incentive to play to win (the 19 points sent them into the second promotion slot), rock bottom Gloucestershire had no reason to risk defeat going for the victory – except the obvious one that winning is the whole point of the game. Hamish Marshall should be congratulated for remembering that.
Ball Four – There were three declarations at Grace Road, as old hands Rob Key and Matthew Hoggard horse-traded over targets. (Like Gloucestershire, Leicestershire had little to gain in doing so, but did it all the same). And as at Scarborough, the promotion chasers came out on top, with Hoggy’s men folding for just 135, Darren Stevens old-proing it with 5-35. Kent lie just four points behind Yorkshire with Hampshire just a couple behind them, all three counties with two matches left – Squeeky Bum Time in Division Two.
Ball Five – Gun for hire, Luke Wright enhanced his chances of getting a game for England’s World Twenty20 defenders with 122 off 100 balls in the CB40 semi-final. But while Wright was swashbuckling, his Sussex teammates were merely buckling, as they could add just 85 between them. Once Michael Carberry teed off with 68 from 36 balls, Hampshire could cruise through to a Lord’s Final and a shot at the one-day double.
Ball Six – It was as one-sided at Old Trafford, as Lancashire’s last chance for glory evaporated in yet another inconsistent batting display. It’s really hard to win matches when only one batsman scores more than 26 runs and Warwickshire always had the match under control. The Bears’ batting depth against the Royals’ canny bowling at a mid-September Lord’s will provide a final to savour – if the rain stays off.
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