Ball One – Lancashire fans’ extraordinary season continued, this week landing on a snake having hit quite a few ladders recently. With Kyle Hogg running through the Notts line-up at Southport’s bijou ground, some fans (and me) must have had one foot on the top rung of the table when the scoreboard read 69-7. But, as so often this season, a lower order rallied with the last three wickets of the Champions adding 134 runs and frustrating Glen Chapple’s men. Possibly taking heart from their batting, two fine old pros, Andre Adams and Darren Pattinson, were quickly into the Red Rose batsmen and shared 18 of the twenty wickets that secured Notts’ win and dented Lancashire’s title hopes… ’til Monday when Warwickshire come to Liverpool.
Ball Two – Having started slowly, pre-season favourites Somerset have edged into the title race with a win over Worcestershire that showed the power of morale. Even after chasing leather for four sessions while the home side racked up nearly 500, Somerset knew that they were still in the game and sure enough, Tresco did the Tresco thing with a double ton and was well supported by his well-balanced line-up of nurdlers and hitters, getting the Cidermen up to nearly 600. The stuffing knocked out of them in what is proving to be as hard a season as expected, Worcestershire subsided to an innings defeat, unable to deal with the less than unplayable Alfonso Thomas and Peter Trego. Tresco averages 84 this season in the Championship and wouldn’t be human if he didn’t think it was just a bit too easy.
Ball Three – With his exotic collection of tattoos, Peter Trego would feel at home down in Southend, which is more than can be said for Leicestershire, shorn of the skipper, Hoggy, through injury and shorn of their dignity by Ravi Bopara’s timely return to form with a fine 178 and David Masters (yes, David Masters) who returned figures of 7.4-2-10-8 (yes, 7.4-2-10-8). It’s fair to say that Foxes’ stand-in skipper, James Taylor, will have easier days.
Ball Four – Sleepy spa town Cheltenham was woken up by the sight and sounds of an angry Mark Ramprakash given out “obstructed the field” in Surrey’s tense chase of the 184 they needed to beat Gloucestershire. Approaching 42, Ramps has lost none of the fast bowlers’ temperament that usually pokes through the slick exterior once a season or so. On a more positive note, grumbling Surrey members will be pleased to note Yasir Arafat’s seven wickets and handy late order runs, because they’ve been a long time coming.
Ball Five – Over in decidedly unsleepy Amsterdam, Sussex cruised to an easy win over a Netherlands side short of Ryan ten Doeschate, currently fully occupied trying to hold his place in the Essex XI. Up top, Chris Nash made an unbeaten ton at better than a run a ball and wasn’t needed to purvey his canny flat spin that seldom gets collared. England will need a second limited overs spinner / batsman for the 13 (groan) winter ODIs and T20s vs India and Pakistan and they could do a lot worse than having a punt on the experienced Sussex man (still only 28) if they decide against Samit Patel and James Tredwell
Ball Six – Ladies Day at Lord’s on Saturday, attended by the editor of this website who added, if such a feat be possible, to the spectacle of the Home of Cricket on a perfect high summer day. Perhaps that inspired Dawid Malan who crossed fifty for the first time this season in the Championship, before going on to make 143 that put his team into a strong position to force the win. It’s been tough for the lefty since he announced his talent with an outrageous T20 century taken off Lancashire’s multi-international attack of Chapple, Cork, Flintoff and Mahmood three long years ago. Still not 24, he has time to come again, but will need a strong finish to the season to underline his credentials.
The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket will also appear at Spin Cricket through the season.