Ball One – Festival cricket on a glorious midsummer afternoon at Beckenham – what’s not to like? Well, I could have done without the birthday dedications between the overs, reminding me of Radio Merseyside in the 70s. Otherwise, plenty of kids, decent support for both teams at a London venue and players sharing a joke on the boundary connects th game to its public. Twenty20 was invented to bring in new fans and that’s what happens on the outgrounds. And there aren’t many corporate sales for a Sunday afternoon, so.even for the chief executives.. what’s not to like?
Ball Two – James Tredwell seems to have slid from England fringe back into the county game, but Stuart Broad could have done with some of his nous yesterday, when no bowler offered England’s latest captain any control. Tredwell bowled a full length on a tight line and varying his pace nicely. Importantly in T20 cricket (and, I suggest, in all cricket) he hurried through his overs, not letting the batsmen settle, getting through three dots and a single in the blinking of an eye, inviting the big shot at the end of the over. England need smart cricketers and Tredwell is one..
Ball Three – After leaving during the last lot of seemingly regular Glamorgan blood-letting, Tom Maynard has settled quietly into his Surrey career. He is showing signs of fulfilling some of his potential, which may not be quite as great as his father’s, but plenty enough to make Maynard Jnr a force in the game. Unlike some of the other young Surrey dashers, he has a calmness at the crease that bodes well for his new employers. He made 76, one more run than the other batsmen and extras combined.
Ball Four – Details matter in T20, as there are only 120 “events”. Late in the innings, when batsmen and going hard at the ball, third man has to be fine – “don’t get beaten on the inside” is the mantra from, I think, Duncan Fletcher. From two successive deliveries, Maynard flashed hard and garnered eight runs very fine – six more than he should have, getting Surrey up to 150. But Surrey also have third man too wide, so the net effect is neutral.
Ball Five – Sometimes pace can be as much a curse as a blessing in T20 cricket, as the ball can flash off the bat as quickly as it hits it. But Dirk Nannes is long enough in the tooth to know that quick ‘n’ straight is always a handy tactic at the top of the order – and it was enough to see off Kent’s ex-England openers
Ball Six – It’s just an impression that I can’t prove, but I have the feeling that ground fielding, including throwing down the stumps, has never been better – as it should be with fielding coaches, endless practice drills and twelve month county contracts. Catching, in contrast, seems to have regressed, possibly because there are more catches to drop, possibly because the batsmen hit the ball harder but maybe because it’s more difficult to sight the white ball against the sky, cloudy or blue. The pink ball – mooted as the best option for day-night Tests, can’t come soon enough.