Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 12, 2011

County Cricket’s Final Over of the Week: 12th June 2011

Azeem Rafiq - at least his action isn't controversial.

Ball One – “In central England, it was the warmest April for over 350 years.” So says the Met Office, but they won’t be saying the same about June, as chief executives eye the cash flow from the T20 cash cow that arrived in company with the chill and the rain. Fans of proper cricket couldn’t help smiling though, having enjoyed an exhilarating start to the County Championship – which is now mothballed of course, until… whenever it starts again. Nobody is quite sure when that’ll be, though perhaps there’s a Duckworth-Lewis algorithm to read off the date of the next first class match for each county according to how many Kolpaks they contracted, how many Under-25s they have capped and how many planning applications they have lodged.

Ball Two – Speaking of pouring cold water on too feverish a hype, Surrey announced their plan to have walk-on girls accompany such lookers as Gareth Batty and Chris Schofield to the crease in Monday’s upcoming T20 match with Essex. Through the power of social media – which really does flatten out the hierarchy of access to sport’s decison-makers on which the PR industry runs – it swiftly became clear that the only way to the Essex match required the plan to be cancelled. The reasons for the plan’s cdismal reception are legion, but the prospect of about about 10,000 people evenly split between those whistling like it’s still 1982 and they’re watching Porky’s, those booing the crassness of the whole palaver and those laughing at the sheer absurdity of such a thing in 2011, must have penetrated even the most bone-headed of Apprentice-wannabe marketing men . Rory Hamilton-Brown and Steven Davies will walk to the crease on Monday as batters (male and female) have done so for 250 years or so.

Ball Three – Azeem Rafiq has the kind of star quality that comes round very infrequently in any sport and he could be very big indeed. At 20, he’s already got plenty of previous (controversy just follows him around it seems, burnishing the charisma), but the kid can really play. Having bowled very effectively in the bearpit of Old Trafford on a beery Roses day-nighter showdown, he improvised two astonishing quasi-Dilscoops to get Yorkshire over the line in a tight match that must have delighted Sky’s executives. What separates those who can play from those who play is the ability to deliver under pressure and the kid, in his first game for his county for nearly a year after a ban and a loan spell at Derbyshire, delivered under pressure.

Ball Four – There were plenty of disbelieving giggles in the Lord’s Media Centre, as the journos kept an eye on Somerset’s start against Middlesex at batsmen’s paradise Taunton. That the first wicket fell at 61 after 3.5 overs tells you all you need to know about the carnage wrought by Tresco and Kieswetter. That Middlesex were disappointed that it was Tresco and not Kieswetter walking back to the pavilion tells you all you need to know about the ex-England keeper’s teeing off from the get go. The Twenty20 World Champion was dismissed for 59 after 5.4 overs, missing out on the double hundred. Somerset hit 25 fours and 10 sixes in 20 overs, which is going some in anyone’s language.

Ball Five – In the rain affected match at Tunbridge Wells, the crowd saw more sixes than overs with Kent 20 short of Hampshire’s 78. A whole thing done and dusted in 60 deliveries, bowled by ten different bowlers. I guess I should applaud the teams and umpires for getting a match played, though whether it was a cricketmatch is surely moot.

Ball Six – Any idea how your team is placed in its group? Yep – me neither. But I do know that there isn’t much point in my looking it up, because they’ll be in a different position come Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday…

Gary Naylor, whom you can tweet at @garynaylor999 and find at Cricket On Five and

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



  1. Lancashire are 2nd in their group (hope this helps) ;)

    • I does, but not as much as it would were they first!

  2. The David Hussey Express are winning one of the groups, and probably will be for the rest of the group stages.
    Hope that helps.

    • Cheers Jim – in the future, every T20 cricketer will be David Hussey!

  3. I still don’t understand why the T20 comp, so widely derided as having 151 games which is not that many for a league, is not organised into rounds like every other English sport. An 8 week competition with games on Fri/Sat/Sun and Tue/Wed, that left Monday and Thursday for highlights and a wrap up of where teams stood would be so much easier to schedule and understand (as would an even number of teams in each group).

    • Russ – there is neither rhyme nor reason in T20 scheduling!

  4. Azeem Rafiq in the limelight for something good, finally.

  5. Hants are top of their division! Truly a rollercoaster ride this season, appalling in all other competitions but efficient and clinical in the T20’s.

  6. The Rose Bowl needs to dodge the rain!

  7. Delighted that Rafiq is finally getting some positive attention. I think the T20 format really suits him, can do a containing job with the ball and have a quick dart with the bat.

  8. RS Radio –

    • A very interesting piece. There’s something very odd about the success of the non-spinning slow bowlers in T20 – I don’t think it’s something that anyone predicted when the format first emerged.

      • Pace off the ball is the way of the future.

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