Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 15, 2011

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 15 May 2011

Probably not the scenes as Essex secured the draw at Derby

Ball One – To enforce the follow-on or not? Having piled up over 600 runs, then dismissed Durham in just over two sessions, Tresco had little choice I suppose, but his opening bowlers (Steve Kirby and Charl Willoughby – combined age 70) must have had other thoughts, having been part of an attack that, at one point, had delivered 178 overs without a break and still had seven wickets to get. I hold two slightly conflicting views on the follow-on: (i) that it’s usually best not to enforce, particularly with pitches often flattening out as matches proceed; and (ii) that any first innings lead should give a captain the option to invite the opposition to bat again. The glory of four and five day cricket lies in the decisions it demands of players – allowing the follow-on with any lead means that there are more decisions to be made.

Ball Two – No such problems for Michael Yardy’s Sussex, who cruised to a nine wicket win having enforced the follow-on against a Nottinghamshire side bolstered by the presence of Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad. It may still be mid-May, but there was plenty of work for Monty Panesar who was rewarded with the excellent match return of 46-19-81-5, figures one might expect to see in late August. Class bowlers, like class batsmen, can often take the pitch out of the equation and Monty is a class bowler. Having waited so long for an English spinner to bowl at Monty’s level, it’s a shame that his Test career appears stalled by Swanny’s excellence and England’s reluctance to play five bowlers.

Ball Three – Showing how a class batsman can take the pitch out of the equation, Mohammad Yousuf’s match aggregate of 177 outscored the next best batsman’s total by over 100 – well, outscored those batsman left standing, as the wicket disintegrated. The ECB pitch inspectors, having sucked on a thoughtful tooth, levied an eight points deduction on Warwickshire. Yes, dead pitches can make a mockery of the balance of bat and ball and never seem to attract penalty, but for Edgbaston to produce a “poor” pitch – Worcestershire Director of Cricket, Steve Rhodes, felt it was “unfit” and thus worthy of a 24 points deduction – is not good enough given the advantages that flow from hosting international matches. Warwickshire are appealing on some procedural matter, but should really just suck it up and think themselves lucky to take 15 points and 11 uninjured players away from the match.

Ball Four – Forgotten man, Kabir Ali and coming man, Danny Briggs held out to frustrate Yorkshire and give Hampshire a second draw to go with their three defeats this season. It’s eight years now since Kabir Ali took 5-136 in his only Test, but, despite a couple of seasons blighted by injury, his career stats are still very good indeed. Given the queue of pacemen in front of him, the ex-Worcestershire man’s chances of playing Test cricket must be remote; unlike young Danny Briggs, who is learning his craft and is the right age to take over from Swanny and Monty when they step aside.

Ball Five – While Eoin Morgan is looking skywards to see where Chris Gayle has hit the next ball in the IPL, Ravi Bopara, in the (I think it’s safe to say) rather less frenetic atmosphere of the County Ground Derby, compiled a second innings century that proved just enough to secure Essex the draw. Ravi has often been accused of not displaying quite the right attitude on the field – a charge never levied at the livewire Irishman – but, when the selectors ponder on who should fill Colly’s spot in the Test XI, Ravi’s work at Derby should count for more than Eoin’s work at Delhi.

Ball Six – I wrote in last week’s over of the strength of Northamptonshire’s lower middle order and they were at it again this week, 125-5 turning into 557-9dec. This week’s Six, Seven and Eight of Hall, O’Brien and Middlebrook are averaging 91, 75 and 84 respectively in the Championship. Some would say that it’s just not cricket…

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket will also appear at Spin Cricket through the season.


  1. So nice to have County cricket on TV. Monty bowled very well, very accurately.

    • Agree on both counts, Lolly.

  2. I’ve never hidden my belief that Morgan is not, at this stage, a Test batsman in the making. Bopara, on the other hand, is looking very good indeed. But I’m afraid that the selectors love M too much to look at the facts.

  3. Surely we need to give Morgan the chance to prove himself at test level before discarding him ? He already has a test hundred to his name after all, and he has the potential to be a genuine matchwinner for England. A handful of bad shots against arguably the most potent bowling attack in the game in helpful bowling conditions isn’t exactly conclusive evidence that he can’t hack it.

  4. There’s arguments both ways for Little Eoin and Ravi. I’d like to see Ravi get another go though.

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