Ball One – I can recall times when I have been very cold indeed: queuing in Red Square’s snow in February 1985; riding a motorcycle through sleet on a motorway; and playing cricket in April. Astonishingly, the April heatwave continues, with weather that one would be lucky to get in August. Four days of glorious weather in London comprising two Bank Holidays and a weekend, but no county cricket within 60 miles. I’m pleased that London-based friends who have gone to The Rose Bowl have had got a perfect day for it.
Ball Two – The CB40 competition offers longer form one day cricket ideally suited to Sundays like this. Many pundits don’t like it though, because it is not 50 over cricket mirroring ODIs. What exactly the extra ten overs offers that is not presented in 40 overs is beyond me, except for the chance to bat through 300 deliveries. But wiser counsel than me insist that 40 overs cricket is not preparation for 50 overs cricket – elucidation below the line please.
Ball Three – Neil McKenzie, like Paul Collingwood, has reduced his backlift to almost nothing, yet, like Colly, he can score at a run-a-ball if he wants to. Fast hands are the secret – sacrificing power and elegance in favour of bat speed through the ball. Ally those hands to a bigger backlift and you would have a helluva player – as we know, because Brian Lara did exactly that. After the Saffer took 24 runs from the last over, who needs the Prince of Port of Spain?
Ball Four – Like an old boxer, the last thing that Simon Jones will lose is his pace. His approach to the crease was never a thing of beauty and has now been reduced to a waddle, but the shoulder turn is still there and the ball still gets to the other end pretty quickly. How much he will play this summer is open to question, but The Trumpet wishes him well.
Ball Five – Dominic Cork will turn forty soon and has played a lot of cricket since breaking into Derbyshire’s side as a teenager. In some ways, he is the antithesis of Simon Jones – Cork never seems to have been injured despite all those years on the treadmill. Of course, Cork burns a lot of energy with nervous tension and won’t feature in many beefcake photoshoots. Not carrying an excess of muscle nor fat on his bones has not hurt Cork’s cricket, nor his fitness.
Ball Six – Rikki Clarke has been around forever, but is still the right side of 30. If county cricket is about producing England players, then Clarke shouldn’t have a shirt, but if it’s about winning trophies, Clarke is well worth his place, a place he is likely to hold for five more years at least. I’d say that there is a middle line – young Chris Wood will learn much from bowling to the likes of Maddy and Clarke when the hammer is down. The old pros still have much to offer in building England players.
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999