Ball One – The oft-heard, nay always heard, cry is that “They play too much cricket”. So why did the following array of talent turn out for Sussex IIs vs Surrey IIs – Luke Wells, Ed Joyce, Joe Gatting, Ollie Rayner, Naved Arif, James Anyon and Amjad Khan? Unsurprisingly, against a team captained by er… Chris Jordan, they scraped home by 144 runs in the 40 overs game. And why weren’t Sussex’s youngsters given their chance to impress? Two days later, Luke Wells played for the IIs again – remember that when there’s talk of burn-out in August.
Ball Two – Eleven Twenty20 matches were abandoned this week with barely a ball bowled between them. That punches a hole in the finances of county cricket at a time they can ill-afford it. Of course, the county game survives on the ECB’s hand-outs from revenues generated by England matches, so the less than capacity crowds for the Sri Lanka Tests (World Cup finalists’ just a couple of months ago) in the cricketing hot beds of er… Cardiff and Southampton may hurt county cricket even more.
Ball Three – 143 runs is a decent margin of victory in a first class match, so it’s a helluva win in Twenty20. Somerset smashed 30 boundaries in 20 overs, piling up 225-2, with their opener Trescoing his way to 108 as only he can. Despite Essex’s internationally experienced batting, there was no way back from there, even if Scott Styris had been fit to slog-sweep a few over cow-corner. With Essex needing 176 to win with only five wickets in hand, it must have been a very long last fifteen overs looming for the players and the crowd, so everyone must have been relieved when Essex’s incompetence ensured that the match was wrapped up in another 32 balls.
Ball Four – Having played for Cambridge against Surrey in his last match (and joined the long list of left-arm spinners to have dismissed KP) Zafar Ansari swapped colours and played for Surrey against the hapless Essex men. He contributed a handy 30* and delivered four overs for a measly 24 runs. Still a teenager, it’s a promising start for a yet another young Englishman making his way in the county game – I have never known a season when so many promising players have made their marks.
Ball Five – Phil Mustard is one of 13 wicket-keepers in county cricket to have represented England. He’s well down the pecking order these days, but he’s still only 28 and a highly effective county man. With Mustard (75 off 41 opening, keeping and captaining) and Ian Blackwell (43 off 27 at Three and 4-0-30-2), Durham have two splendid all-rounders who give plenty of scope for batting and bowling options down the order. Durham look very strong in all formats, but have suffered from non-results in T20. Some luck with the weather should see them well placed for a tilt at a third title in four seasons.
Ball Six – Speaking of which, they are one of eight counties that start County Championship matches this weekend. Nobody knows why.
The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket will also appear at Spin Cricket through the season.