Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 21, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 21 June 2019

Ball One – Hampshire’s hopes harmed by Harmer

Somerset really can do no wrong! With a week off to contemplate their view from the summit of Division One, they must have been delighted with the news from Chelmsford, where Hampshire, their closest pursuers, were bowled out twice in 64 overs to lose by an innings in a day and a half. The only downside for the runaway leaders is that Simon Harmer’s 12 wickets took Essex into third place, albeit 30 points adrift, but the 2017 champions know what it takes to get over the line. Next week’s match up between the two form sides may shape the second half of the season.

Ball Two – Ex-Tykes return to haunt old friends

Having stumbled recently with three draws, Yorkshire’s hopes of a challenge for the pennant were further dented by a defeat to a resurgent Warwickshire at York. It was a fine match for the locals though, in which Steve Patterson’s side showed plenty of his own fighting attitude, the captain digging the home team out of the pit of 145-7 with 60 from number nine in the first innings. He couldn’t repeat the trick in the second dig, Yorkshire sliding to 211, bowled out by their old boy Oliver Hannon-Dalby and the oldest spinner in town, Jeetan Patel. Another old boy, Will Rhodes, in company with Dominic Sibley (whose season just keeps getting better), posted 132 of the 217 Warwickshire needed, before James Logan, in only his second match, got amongst them with four wickets for his slow left arm. Fittingly, it was the captain himself, in at nine, who scored the winning boundary, Patel delighted to be turning the Bears’ season around with a second win in three.

Ball Three – Nottinghamshire sink to defeat at Tunbridge Wells

Nottinghamshire are the anti-Somerset of the season so far, simply nothing going right for Steve Mullaney’s men. They surely had hopes of setting up the second half of the campaign with a win at fellow strugglers, Kent, and still had cause for optimism halfway through the third day. But Joe Denly’s 167 not out took the game away from the visitors and once Harry Podmore (enjoying a fine match with wickets and runs) sliced though the top order, Notts were cooked with a session to spare. Kent climb to mid-table; Notts stay rock bottom.

Ball Four – The future looks rosy for Lancashire

Lancashire aren’t quite doing a Somerset in Division Two, but their magnificent bowling attack proved far too much for Derbyshire, as Dane Vilas’s men chalked up a fourth win of the season, James Anderson and Graham Onions hoovering up 17 wickets between them as the home side were swept away. Anderson is taking his wickets at an Barnesian average of less than 9 – and when he’s called away to deal with David Warner and co, it’ll just give more opportunities to the brace of highly promising 22 year-olds, pacer Saqib Mahmood and spinner Matt Parkinson.

Azad, Dexter, Dent and Higgins auf der Autobahn

Ball Five – (Dis)Grace Road? Well, maybe not quite

Leicestershire and Gloucestershire piled up 1269 runs for the loss of 20 wickets at Grace Road, with two stands crossing 300 runs. So well played Hassan Azad (137, 100*), Neil Dexter (180), Paul Horton (100*), Chris Dent (176) and Ryan Higgins (199). 17 players had a go with the ball, with Josh Shaw and Dieter Klein wringing four wickets each from the bowlers’ graveyard. In a wet season that has seen many low scoring matches, this match was a reminder that ultra flat pitches don’t really do anyone any favours.

Ball Six – England Watch

Zak Crawley made a second century of the season in Kent’s win over Notts to post 500 runs in the campaign. The 21 year-old has come up through the age-group sides at Canterbury and has made the adjustment to Division One cricket with the assuredness with which he has met all the challenges to date. Right now, he’s probably a little behind Dominic Sibley, the outstanding opener in county cricket this season, but a run of form over the next three matches could catch Ed Smith’s ever-roaming eye.

Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 16, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 16 June 2019

We’ll have another look at 2.30 lads

Ball One – Somerset set for a summer of success?

Somerset found a way to win – yet again. With two days rained off, wickets needed to be taken, so Tom Abell tossed the ball to the player of the (half) season, Lewis Gregory and told him to do what he does better than anyone else just now – make something happen. 6-32 saw Kent whistled out in 41 first innings overs and 5-21 sent them back to the hutch for a second time, just 26 overs required. With Tom Banton batting two and a half hours for his 63, the match was wrapped up by ten wickets and Somerset’s lead at the top of Division One stretched to 26 points. Oh, and this match was at played at Canterbury.

Ball Two – More from Morne Morkel

Surrey couldn’t emulate their heirs apparent with a first win of the season, but the 11 points they squeezed out of a sodden Guildford ground lifted them to a scarcely believable fifth place in the table. Though some of the batters will be grateful for some time in the middle, it’s Morne Morkel’s 4-43 that will please Rory Burns the most. Morkel was the cutting edge last season, taking 59 wickets at 14, but 2019 has seen things work out a little differently for the big quick. Prior to last week, he was paying twice the price for each wicket, still handy, but not table-topping form. Morkel is a big unit and nearly 35, so perhaps it takes a little longer these days to locate that rhythm all bowlers need.

Ball Three – Good for Godleman

It’s not often that you travel to Wales and dodge the showers better than anyone else, but Derbyshire did. That said, with just 56 overs possible on the fourth day, Glamorgan batted out a comfortable draw to go second in the table. The match was notable for a career high score (227) by Derbyshire skipper, Billy Godleman. A one time golden boy, Godleman has never realised that potential, but, still only 30, he has time to come again and, captain at one of the lower profile counties, he might be in the exactly right place to do so.

Ball Four – Raine at Durham

Anyone who has played the game knows the feeling. You’ve got the oppo seven down for tuppence with just the bowlers left to shoot out, and then it’s feet up, a full glass and watch the openers knock ’em off (or get a lead). Or not. Northamptonshire had a dose of that in basement battle at Chester-le-Street, the home side floundering on 81-7 and thoughts turning to a big lead. Cue the very handy Ben Raine (surely a tad low at 8) and Brydon Carse, who, like so many South African seamers down the years, knows which end of the bat to hold. They weren’t parted for 57 overs, adding 144 runs for the eight wicket. Who said Division Two was soft?

Ball Five – Rainy days and ready data

The bonus points system is a necessary evil in a long season played on an island in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean. But cricket is embracing data analysis like never before, as sample spaces expand and computers can tell you how many deliveries, short of a length and outside off stump, at 84mph+, have been gloriously driven / wastefully wafted at, by Moeen Ali. So how often does a batting side fail to win over the full four days if the scorecard reads 98 all out, 110-3? That was where the match was left when the final day was washed out at Worcester, Lancashire leading, with power to add. The points? Worcestershire 6, Lancashire 8. A two points advantage may reflect what the teams have achieved, but does it reflect the balance of the match? Time for the Championship’s very own Duckworth-Lewis-Stern I feel.

Ball Six – Be like Mike

I was reminded this week of the much missed American polymath, Mike Marqusee, who wrote this little aperçu in “Anyone But England”, “We cannot return to a pristine cricket which never existed. Instead, we should see in the game’s inclusive premises, its autochthonous open-endedness, a rich realm of human possibility – a realm in which even England can find a place.” The rain makes the grass that makes the pitches that makes the game – a game rooted in its specific soils, its atmospherics and its light (and, in consequence, autochthonous). As the kids say, “True dat” – but so frustrating.

Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 7, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 7 June 2019

Ball One – Somerset continue doing “a Surrey” in beating Surrey

Somerset made Surrey feel like they were playing the 2018 version of themselves, as they won their fourth match of the season going 15 points clear at the top of Division One and threatening a second consecutive Champo procession. When they needed a batsman to stand up and make a score in the first innings, George Bartlett’s four and a half hour 137 proved more than double that scored by any other player in the match. The Overton twins then shared eight wickets in Surrey’s first dig and Jack Brooks knocked over five of the top six second time around. Jack Leach didn’t take a wicket and Lewis Gregory didn’t even play. Somerset have many ways to win matches just now – and Surrey can’t find one.

Ball Two – Loan star Bess enjoying his Yorkshire sojourn

With Hampshire enjoying a week off, Yorkshire played Essex for the right to scramble closer to the second place team, but a rain affected draw did neither side any favours. Dom Bess, who a year ago this week was playing for England, made 91 not out and and delivered impressive figures of 26 – 11 – 45 – 3 – exactly the kind of performance Yorkshire and he were looking for when his loan move went through. Like another spinner picked very young for England a generation ago (Chris Schofield), the feeling persists that Bess might be a rather better batsman than bowler, which won’t do much for his England hopes, but might get him back in the Somerset side (as an all-rounder) even if Jack Leach is not selected for the Ashes Tests.

Ball Three – Duckett keeps Nottinghamshire’s heads above water

Nottinghamshire, vying with Surrey for the “Most disappointing season to date” title, must have feared the worse when they were shot out for 97 by Warwickshire, allowing captain, Jeetan Patel, who had enjoyed himself with figures of 13.4 – 7 – 16 – 6, to demand his right to have another go straight away. When the Kiwi bagged opener, Ben Slater, in the ninth over, nobody would have been surprised to see Notts collapse like the Tory vote in the European elections. But the mercurial Ben Duckett, who has barely scored a run since April, and the veteran Chris Nash, dug in and ground out a stand of 199. Despite Patel’s second consecutive Championship ten-fer, Notts scraped a draw, but stay anchored to the foot of the table, Warwickshire the team nearest to them.

Not many cricketers

Ball Four – Scousers usually only on the crowded side of the boundary rope

Liverpool doesn’t produce many cricketers (only Ken Cranston has played for England, though er… Michael Clarke played over 100 Tests for Australia), but Paul Horton brought his Leicestershire side to the city in which he grew up and got away with a draw after following-on. Lancashire’s all-rounders / bowlers who bat got the home side up to 449, with a century for Liam Livingstone, fifties for Steven Croft and Tom Bailey and Josh “Hamilton” Bohannon left marooned two short of a maiden century. But Horton had a couple of his own bowlers who are handy with the bat to call upon, and the splendidly named D Klein (Dieter, since you ask) and Callum Parkinson amassed 119 for the eighth wicket in the first innings, setting up a fourth day 98 overs blockathon (which included 38 maidens) before hands were shaken. Lanky stay top.

Ball Five – Billy do be a hero

While Billy Root’s brother was facing a white ball, Billy himself made 229 as Glamorgan crushed Northamptonshire by an innings and plenty. The younger brother never really established himself at Nottinghamshire (though they could do with him now) so dropped and division and moved West for game time and a chance to step out of a long shadow. Since he now has a 113 not out, a 98 and this double ton for his adopted county, the move can probably already be accounted a success. Many county cricket fans will be pleased with that.

Ball Six – England Watch

Dominic Sibley is another player who moved counties for game time, leaving Surrey, where his teenage 242, making him the second youngest English double-centurion (behind WG Grace, natch), weighed heavily around his neck. Sibley has 426 runs opening for Warwickshire this season, his latest effort 87 stretched over 95 overs. With England not short of strokemakers down the order, that might be the kind of stickiness Ed Smith is looking for up top and, at 23, Sibley is also one for the future if given his chance.


Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 31, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 31 May 2019

Ball One – Ballance tips scales Yorkshire’s way in draw

Hampshire leapfrogged inactive Somerset to go top of the table after time ran out in a weather-affected draw at Headingley. Yorkshire will probably be the more peeved, as the hosts had fought their way back from a first innings deficit (thanks to another Gary Ballance century) to set a target of 279 in roughly 50 overs, a fair fight proposed by wily old Steve Patterson. But, in one of those strange quirks that perhaps only red ball cricket conjures up in sport, Yorkshire’s chances of a win were probably stymied by success coming too early, Hampshire three down in 12 overs and the batsmen under no pressure to chase. Joe Weatherley and Rilee Rossouw sat in the game for a couple of hours and Dom Bess’s two wickets were in vain. Somerset’s game in hand comes next week against a miserable Surrey, so Hampshire’s two points lead is very likely to evaporate. The Tykes go fourth – and they’ll need to be watched.

Ball Two – Cook and Harmer share plaudits as Essex turn back time

Clocks were turned back at Chelmsford where Sir Alastair Cook (who sounds like he should be presiding over the Assizes, while a carnival goes on outside) made 215 runs off his bat in a match in which eleven men of Kent made only 191 more between them. Over to Simon Harmer, who required a couple of years to be dialled back on the time machine to take 8-98, reviving memories of Essex’s Championship win of 2017.  Essex go top half; Kent go bottom half.

Ball Three – Burns feeling the heat

How Surrey must wish that they could jump in the Essex time machine, because last year’s champions are as hapless in 2019 as they were imperious in 2018. Warwickshire – three matches, three defeats – registered their first win, as Surrey’s batting let them down again, since you don’t win many cricket matches with scores of 188 and 141. When Liam Norwell started to trash a few boundaries from Number 10 in the home side’s first innings, Surrey may have considered him more an irritant than a gamechanger, but he’s the kind of dog who can have his day, and his 64 swung the match Warwickshire’s way. After four fixtures, Surrey are winless and might have to make some tough decisions, with senior pros Mark Stoneman (averaging 22), Dean Elgar (24) horribly out of form. But with England calls and injuries meaning that Rory Burns has already led 17 players into the middle, a little continuity would also be welcome.

Ball Four – Reece evolving his game

In Division Two, Derbyshire lead the pack chasing Lancashire (whose run of wins was brought to a halt this week after two days were lost to a wet outfield at Cheltenham). And it was an ex-Lancashire man who played a key role in Derbyshire’s win, Luis Reece recording match figures of 5-78 against Leicestershire. Reece’s career trajectory is an unusual one in that most (opening) batsmen who bowl lean more towards their primary skill as they approach 30, whereas Reece’s left arm seamers have brought him 18 wickets this season, putting him fourth on the division’s bowling charts. With a ton to his name too, it’s a good start to the season for a player who may just be reaching his considerable potential.

Ball Five – Wells digs deep for career best figures

It was a good week elsewhere too for top order batsmen who bowl, with a couple who fit that description key figures in Glamorgan’s draw at Hove. Australian, Manus Labuschagne, is playing himself into some decent form for The Ashes adding 182 to the 137 he racked up a fortnight ago, also chipping in with three wickets. Luke Wells is unlikely to play in an Ashes series (though once he would have been a fair bet for such honours), but he has joined the ranks of part-time leg break bowlers who might become a bit more than that, a first career fivefer a handy card to play when looking for selection come the T20 season.

“I see Tim Murtagh’s picked up another fivefer.”

Ball Six – Malan and Murtagh mesmerise for Middlesex

After Dawid Malan’s 124 allowed him to set Worcestershire a target of 353, he, as so many captains have over the last 20 seasons, tossed the ball to Tim Murtagh and let him get on with it. The top five batsmen in the order all had Middlesex’s Ireland seamer’s name next to theirs on the scorecard, Murtagh finishing with six wickets and match figures of 35 – 16 – 76 – 8, a captain’s dream. The ex-Surrey man has 20 Championship wickets this season at less than 12 runs each, as his career haul in first class cricket approaches 800 (with another 372 with the white ball in hand). If any young seamer wants to know how to get batsmen out, manage effort over a match and a season and, in consequence, make the most of your talents, they should Dial M for Murtagh.

Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 26, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 26 May 2019

Ball One – Is Ciderabad bad or good for the game?

Somerset and Hampshire both won this week to continue their Manchester City / Liverpool duel at the top of Division One, their six wins two more than the other six counties have mustered in total. Warwickshire were the latest victims at Taunton, 49 runs the margin in another low scoring match. The home side have now won two home matches (the other was against Kent) in which only one of their batsmen has crossed 50 (George Bartlett) and no team has survived more than 75 overs. Though the other Taunton match (vs Surrey) did not follow the trend, the balance between bat and ball will be closely scrutinised when Liverpool Hampshire visit at the end of June.

Hampshire take the field at Newport

Ball Two – Horror show for Notts as Hampshire prove too hot to handle

Nottinghamshire’s trip to the Isle of Wight went about as well as Edward Woodward’s trip to Summerisle, the visitors burned by 244 runs. Things were not going too badly when Luke Fletcher and Stuart Broad knocked over Hampshire’s openers with the lead a manageable 80, but Ajinkya Rahane and Sam Northeast got to work with the wicker and their partnership of 257 left the door open for Fidel Edwards, Kyle Abbott and Keith Barker to push Notts inside. Steve Mullaney’s men have just one draw to show from four matches – and plenty of firefighting to be done – Hampshire stay second.

Ball Three – Dickson fails to provide photo finish as Kent cling on

Kent held out for 113 overs at Beckenham to deny Surrey victory in exactly the kind of match that produced the wins that led to the Londoners’ procession to the pennant last season. Perhaps things would have been different had Sam Curran (80 with the bat and 3-54 in Kent’s first innings) not been indisposed for much of the fourth day, hamstrung by a hamstring, his only victim the nightwatchman, Adam Riley. It was Kent’s opener, Sean Dickson, who caught the eye, his knocks of 128 and 91 ending a lean spell to throw his name into a crowded field of potential Ashes partners for the opposing skipper, Rory Burns, who could do with a few runs himself over the next couple of months just to be sure.

Ball Four – Lancashire’s promotion bid bowling along nicely

Lancashire made it three out of three to go top of Division Two, Worcestershire the latest victims of the Red Rose’s superlative bowling resources. Dane Vilas asks Jimmy Anderson which end he wants and then has a chat with the two top wicket takers in last year’s Division One, Graham Onions and Tom Bailey, to see who will open with England’s record wicket-taker and who will bowl first change. With Anderson and Onions both 36 now, they need a bit of back-up, so up steps Richard Gleeson, a man with three fiverfers in his last four innings. Vilas won’t have such riches for every match this season, but he has the highly rated Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson waiting in the wings, so he can hardly complain.

Ball Five – Somerset win!

They may be the two best sides this season, but, on the day, one was a lot better than the other. Hampshire, their ranks depleted by England calls, won the toss, lost a couple of quick wickets to Josh Davey, and then kept losing wickets, the only partnership to cross 50 that between James Fuller and Mason Crane – and they have other jobs to do. 245 is a “keep your heads” target and once three figures were posted without the openers being separated, it was a cruise. James Hildreth scored the winning runs, a first trophy for Somerset since 2005 (ooh omens…) and a popular result around the country. Did Hildreth pause for a moment and think of England playing a warm-up at whatever the Rose Bowl is called this week? Had the dice fallen differently a few years ago, he might have been there instead. But I suggest that he might be very happy to have been at Lord’s.

Ball Six – Missing you already…

If it was an underwhelming Royal London One Day Cup Final, the last domestic front ranking 50 overs competition made a good bid to be resurrected at the earliest opportunity. Good weather, a clear narrative and some bold cricket gave cricket fans a compact tournament that, ironically, solved a lot of longstanding scheduling problems and tapped into England’s ultra-positive approach to the format. Other sports would give much to have what cricket is tossing aside.

Batsman of the Tournament? Tom Banton, Somerset’s 20 year old wicketkeeper-batsman, whose scores in the knockout matches read 112, 59 and 69 in yesterday’s final. Not every month in his career will be like May 2019, but he should enjoy it now.

Bowler of the Tournament? Hampshire’s Liam Dawson is the kind of cricketer who does what’s asked of him, applying his skills to any situation, knowing that others may have more talent, but do they want it more? His 18 wickets at the 20th century economy rate of 4.1 was enough to bag him a spot in the England World Cup squad – Hampshire certainly missed him in the final.

Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 18, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 18 May 2019

Ball One – Weather taunts Somerset

Somerset lead a trio of counties at the top of Division One of the Championship, but it could have been so much better for the Cidermen. At lunch on day three, Somerset trailed Surrey by 27 runs, with three wickets in hand, one of which belonged to Lewis Gregory on the verge of a century. A combination of weather and a second three hours plus knock from Rory Burns thwarted any home chase for a third win from three. There’s a feeling abroad that this might just be Somerset’s year at long last, but one feels that they’ll need to keep Gregory (five wickets and 129* in this match) and Jack Leach (57 – 13 – 155 – 6) fit and available if they’re to break the hoodoo. The Gods (and Ed Smith) may have a say in the pennant’s destination yet.

Ball Two – Coad Red for Kent

Not sure they do “quietly” in the Broad Acres, but Yorkshire slid into second spot with an impressive “come from behind” win over Kent at Canterbury. Trailing by 86 on first innings, the Tykes needed at least one batsman and one bowler to perform at their peaks, and they got that from Gary Ballance (159) and Ben “Betsy” Coad with 6-52. Though Ballance has his champions, his England days may be over, but Coad must be shouldering his way towards the front of the queue to take the new ball when Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad finally take their sweaters one last time. Other bowlers may be more exciting or flash more often on the speedgun, but Coad has 123 first class wickets at less than 20 and doesn’t turn 26 until next year. He gets good batsmen out and that’s bowling that wins matches.

Ball Three – Will Hampshire be marooned without their bowling quartet?

Despite Dom Sibley’s century, his sixth in successive first class matches, Hampshire swept aside a lightweight looking Warwickshire XI by over 300 runs at Edgbaston to take third spot in the nascent Division One table. Five visiting bowlers shared the second innings wickets in the charge to victory, all of whom have been round the block, as an examination of their ages and first class wickets shows: Kyle Abbott (31, 384); Fidel Edwards (37, 422); Keith Barker (32, 365); Liam Dawson (29, 199) and Gareth Berg (38, 261). County cricket is a grind, so whether this nap hand of old pros can keep it up will be a challenge – they go again this week on the Isle of Wight.

Ball Four – Notts in knots

Nottinghamshire, having failed last week to get to Lord’s for next Saturday’s Royal London One Day Cup Final, took a bit of a shellacking in a low scoring game at Chelmsford. Though better sides than Steven Mullaney’s have come off second best to Jamie Porter (30.3 – 6 – 116 – 7) and Simon Harmer (39 – 14 – 80 – 8), Notts’ season is in danger of entering a tailspin that may prove hard to arrest. Given the talent at Trent Bridge, that shouldn’t really be on the agenda.

Ball Five – Pears and Roses make a pretty pair

Worcestershire and Lancashire enjoyed comfortable wins to maintain their 100% records at the top of Division Two. Durham’s Chris Rushworth did what he could to scare Joe Leach’s men with a fivefer, but teams just don’t fail to get 81 in the fourth innings do they? At Old Trafford, a brace of fivefers from 31 year-old Richard Gleeson (taking him past 100 wickets in his 25th first class match) smoothed Lancashire’s path to a ten wickets win over Northamptonshire. One (or both) of those perfect records will go, as the front runners square off in Manchester this week.

Ball Six – Wicked wickets at Lord’s?

To Lord’s for one of those May days when it was lovely in the sun but chilly in the shade, for the third day of Middlesex’s draw with Leicestershire. With much employment for the square in this World Cup year, new Head Groundsman, Karl McDermott, has his hands full taking over from the legendary Mick Hunt. For this match, he had cut a strip well over to the Tavern Stand side of the ground which (whisper it) gave the impression that the famous old ridge had risen from the dead to walk once more amongst us. Mohammad Abbas, skilful but no speedster, hit a few batsmen on the gloves and six of the last seven wickets in the match fell LBW (the other bowled) as the odd one also kept low. Things might get interesting at HQ in 2019.

Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 15, 2019

England vs Pakistan Third ODI – The Final Over of the Day

Mind the solar panels Jonny

Ball One – Haris Sohail flunks out

So much white ball cricket concerns concentration and details. England were slightly slow in the first few overs of the match, a misfield or two and Third Man beaten on the inside by an edge (unforgivable in my book – and Duncan Fletcher’s) betraying a whiff of complacency that was swiftly banished. Pakistan, on the other hand, had looked good before a piece of schoolboy running from Haris Sohail gifted his wicket to the hosts when well set. Rather like the last advice to give to kids doing their exams just now “Always read the question”, “Always run the bat in” feels too obvious to say. But it’s not.

Ball Two – Are Pakistan not too sixy for their shirts

Imam-ul-Haq crossed 100 before he hit his first six in a beautifully judged innings without which Pakistan would have been a rather sorry state, almost half the runs his with 12 overs to go. One wonders about the balance of the Pakistan batting on flat pitches with two new white balls to flay. Do Pakistan have enough weight of shot if Fakhar Zaman goes early? Maximums obviously tick the scoreboard along at a higher rate, but also pin boundary riders to the sponge, opening up opportunities to turn ones into twos, the temptation for fielders to creep in less seductive if you think one’s going over your head.

Ball Three – Denly hidden for most of Pakistan’s innings

England selected Joe Denly (at least in part) to see what he could do with the ball. Like many a wrist spinner, he struggled to land them in  his first over, but was then hooked by Eoin Morgan ne’er to be seen again. It would have been a risk to bowl him nay longer, but plenty of Morgan’s other options were going the distance, so the extra runs conceded would have been mitigated. Of course, Morgan may have wished to avoid damaging Denly’s confidence, but seventh into the attack with just six deliveries to show your skills isn’t exactly something that promotes pushing out your chest when the World Cup rolls into town.

Ball Four – Jason Roy: the King of the Swingers

England’s weight of shot is really extraordinary, three huge sixes in the first ten overs and many drives, cuts and pulls played at a full-blooded 10 (sometimes they do give the impression of going to 11, especially Jason Roy). It is, perhaps, this element of the game that England have improved more than any other in the years since the last World Cup’s meekest of exits. Some of that change is the result of practice, some the result of selection and some the result of a freeing up in attitudes towards failure. It’s a revolution and a very rare example of England cricket leaving the rest of the world to catch up.

Ball Five – Nonpareils

At the first drinks break in England’s assault innings, this table showed that of 122 openers to have scored 1000 runs in ODI cricket, the first and second names in the “highest strike rate” metric belong to the two men we were privileged to be watching. The game is moving on.

(Thanks to Rob Smyth for that gem).

Ball Six – Cricket, but not as we know it

England’s approach with the bat has eschewed much of the fancy-dannery that can come unstuck on shirtfront pitches. Essentially, England play classical strokes, but hit the ball extremely hard. Without reverses, ramps and slogs, the visceral thrill of seeing a ball fly in the air is supplemented by an appreciation of the aesthetics of batting. T20 hitting can take on an aspect of baseball, but, at Bristol, England were definitely playing cricket.

Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 13, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 13 May 2019

Ball One – 50 overs and out

26 days after the first match of the Royal London One Day Cup, there’s just the final to come. Each team in the North played each other and the same was true for the South. Three counties from each group of nine qualified for the knockout stage, which kept plenty of counties in the hunt and there was a real benefit from topping the group with a guaranteed home semi-final, with the Home of Cricket to make an occasion of the final. It must have been tough for the players, playing and travelling day-in, day-out, but they’re athletes on year long contracts and they should be able to cope – to be fair, most do. For fans, the narrative was easy to follow with neither breaks nor other formats butting in to distract attention. All the RLODC needs is a bit of marketing and a bit of trust – and a future.

Ball Two – Somerset’s tale of the tail

I remarked in an earlier column about the strength of Somerset’s late order batting and that asset proved critical in taking them to consecutive scores of 337, enough to overwhelm Worcestershire in the first quarter final and then Nottinghamshire in the semi, the winning margins well over 100 runs in each case. Roelof van der Merwe and the Overton twins reached 337 from 264-6 and 252-6, the three bowlers all dangerous boundary hitters at the death. In the final, Somerset will look to set a target again and will not be phased by the loss of middle order wickets.

Ball Three – Slow bowling speeds Somerset to Lord’s

Somerset have a bit of pace up top, but chases of 300 or more required batting sides to do more in the middle overs than quietly manoeuvre the ball into gaps and despatch the bad ball to the fence. Once the pace on the ball has to come from the batsman, the slow bowlers are in business, bat speed adding risk for all but the most accomplished of white ball players. The part-time legspin of Azhar Ali (what a useful thing it is to have a halfway competent wrist spinner in the top six of the order) saw off half the Worcestershire line-up, while van der Merwe’s three wickets helped send Notts from 125-2 in the 21st over to 156-6 in the 30th.

Ball Four – James Harris a centurion at last

In the Lord’s quarter-final, Lancashire had to win the match twice, keeping their cool after James Harris and John Simpson went on that bittersweet journey from “At least they’re making a game of it” to “This is more interesting than I expected” to “I think they might just do it you know” to “Ah, well it was good while it lasted.” Incredibly, it was Harris’s first century in senior cricket and few would have suggested it would have taken so long for him to register the mark in his days as a teenage prodigy at Glamorgan. Even more incredibly, Harris is still only 28! Few things in cricket would give me more pleasure in 2019 than to see Harris go on to realise his tremendous potential at long last.

Ball Five – Lancashire’s Titanic bowling resources no match for Berg

Lancashire may have seen off one bowler who bats in Harris, but, in the semi-final, they ran into another in Hampshire’s unsung veteran, bustling Gareth Berg. Unlike Somerset’s late order that runs something like 7, 8, 9, 11, Lancashire’s runs 11, 11, 11, 11 and Berg simply barged through the door that Mason Crane had opened to send the visitors from 231-5 to 241 all out. Even Lancashire’s splendid attack, with the excellent Saqib Mahmood, supported by England men Jimmy Anderson and Graham Onions and then the phalanx of spinners, had too much to do, with a partnership of 122 between James Vince and Rilee Rossouw allowing the other batsmen to chip in with cameos. And who was there at the end? Why that man Berg of course.

Scott Boswell – in the semi-final, his wickets were Michael Atherton, Neil Fairbrother, Andrew Flintoff and Graham Lloyd

Ball Six – Farewell to a much loved friend

So it’s Somerset vs Hampshire at Lord’s on Saturday for the last ever (proper) long form one day county cup. The old Gillette Cup was once the FA Cup of cricket and has arguably fallen even further than its winter counterpart in the public’s consciousness, but the 60, 55 and now 50 overs competition holds a similar place in old school fans’ hearts. Oh my David Hughes, my Mark Ramprakash, my Scott Boswell of summers past.

Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 9, 2019

England vs Pakistan First ODI – The Final Over of the Day

You might want to get used to this

Ball One – Archer makes his bow

Jofra “William Tell” Archer looked to the manner born as he uncolied his lithe frame to deliver his first over on or about off stump at 90mph or so. It is, of course, a cruel and unfair thing to say, but Chris Woakes immediately looked a little passé at the other end, just that click or two slower, but a click that can turn a “good length” to an “in the slot”. But that’s cricket, sport, indeed life itself at the highest level. Archer may not be Micheal Holding 1976 (well, he’s bowling from the wrong end) but he’s closer than most I’ve seen at The Oval in the intervening 43 years.

Ball Two – Shepherds proved to be wise men

It’s an old cliche of course, but one wonders how this country ever invented this game. In just over three scheduled hours play, we’ve had sun, cloud, rain and hail with players on and off the pitch with, to be fair, a clear imperative to play whenever possible in front of a very decent crowd. It’s been very cold, cold and pleasantly warm too. So how, back on Broadhalfpenny Down all those generations ago, did the shepherds not pack it in and go to the pub or, at the very least, make a bigger ball, separate the stumps by yards instead of inches and start a kickabout? Let’s be thankful for their perseverance.

Ball Three – Down time when it’s too early to go downtown

What do cricketers do in these long rain delays? I believe that they are denied access to their phones (security and all that) and, one presumes, the internet as well, so do they watch Countdown and Pointless or sit and chat? Maybe they compare IPL contracts these days, while eyeing brochures from Ferrari and Lear. In simpler times, it was a Woodbine or two and a copy of the Sporting Life, but, you know, tempus fugit…

Post abandoned!

Ball Four –

Ball Five –

Ball Six –

Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 8, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 8 May 2019

Ball One – Sam plays it again, again

Nottinghamshire needed 23 runs off 12 balls with just two wickets in hand if they were to top their Royal London One Day Cup group and progress straight to a semi-final as Kings in the North. On BBC Five Live Sports Extra, they were calling it a coin toss at the death, but for those of us who can’t quite shake Richie’s voice from our heads “Once the rate climbs above a run a ball…” if felt like it was Northants’ match for the taking. Slammin’ Samit ignored Richie and went 6, 4, 4 in the final over to seal the deal for the Outlaws and register his highest score in List A cricket, 136*. He’s 34 now, Patel, and he’s comfortable in his considerable volume of skin. He’s a key man if his side are to repeat their triumph of 2018.

Ball Two – Wessels sets sail for 352

Worcestershire bagged second spot in the North Group after three wins in the week, the last of which saw them chase down 351 against Derbyshire. In the end, they were comfortable, having got off to a flier, Riki Wessels making 130 off 62 balls with 10 fours and 11 sixes. That’s Wessels all over though, ending a lean trot with an extraordinary assault that reduced the required rate to just over Richie’s run a ball for the second half of the innings. If he meets his old buddies from Trent Bridge in the knockout stage, they’ll know that they need to get him early or anything could happen

Not that M. Parkinson and not that county either!

Ball Three – Croft stakes his claim as a bowler

Lancashire, somewhat improbably, surged into the third qualifying spot with a run of five consecutive wins culminating in a squeeze on Derbyshire. In a match restricted to 38 overs, the visitors had to chase 240 – something they probably would have settled for at the start. But Lanky’s pair of young leg-spinners, Matt Parkinson and Rob Jones, went at well under a run a ball and Steven Croft used all that nous built up over so many years to return 2-20 off seven overs. If Stephen Parry and Liam Livingstone return to the XI, Lanky’s spin options will be as good as any in the country.

Ball Four – Crane stars for high flying Hampshire

Hampshire’s three wins made it seven from eight, as they cruised to the semi-finals from the South Group. Nerve matters in sport and nowhere is that more evident than when defending a big total against a hitter with nothing to lose who is having “one of those days”. At the Ageas Bowl, David Wiese was that hitter and Hampshire, having “won” the match once by reducing Sussex to 103-5 after 21 overs chasing 356, had to do it again when the visitors required 21 off three overs with Ben Brown and Wiese’s partnership having realised a scarcely credible 232 runs off 26 overs. But Mason Crane (remember him?) bagged Brown, Kyle Abbott snared Wiese and five wickets disappeared for 11 runs in 14 balls. Nerve matters…

Ball Five – Holden takes it to the max.

Middlesex’s six wins saw them secure second spot after a run fest at Canterbury. 727 runs were smashed around the old St Lawrence Ground, the visitors scoring 33 more than the hosts. The stars were a pair of 21 year-old English openers, Middlesex’s Max Holden (166) and Kent’s Zak Crawley (120). Has English one day batting ever been better stocked?

Ball Six – Somerset draw blood with the bat

Somerset, perennial neutrals’ favourites, squeezed out Gloucestershire on net run rate for the third qualifying spot from the South. The crucial win came at home, where they put away hapless Surrey with 26 balls in hand. The Overton twins shared seven wickets between them and Lewis Gregory’s blitz of sixes finished off the match in quick time. That Roelof van der Merwe and Craig Overton were not required to pad up in a five wickets win showed the depth of Somerset’s batting resources, which might just prove enough to see them through to Lord’s.



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