As with other editions of The Final Over, this column is not a summary, it is not comprehensive, it is not the six most important events in cricket this week. It is an over – with a few deliveries that hit the seam and move away, a yorker or two and, no doubt, a half volley and a long hop from time to time. Just like an over, it is the product of its bowler (author) who knows his field (readership) and strives, not always successfully, to bowl to it. Like an over, it starts afresh whether its previous edition was a double wicket maiden or was ChrisGayled for 28.
Ball One – You tend to find some imbalanced matches in youth tournaments, as talent can develop at different speeds in players identified not for their brilliance at 16 but for their potential at 23. Usually, however, it’s the Australians who are sticking kids heads down toilets, but not this time. Quite what provoked such an extraordinary assault on a small, but not negligible target, is unknown to me, but enlightenment below the line would be welcome.
Ball Two – It’s good to see First Class cricket being played anywhere, but especially gratifying to see it being played in Zimbabwe, whose cricket, like the country, is hauling itself back from the abyss. Matches like the one between Southern Rocks and Mashonaland Eagles will help the cause too, with the Eagles turning over a first innings deficit of 119 to get over the line with just three wickets in hand. Key Eagle was Number Three, Forster Mutizwa, who batted nearly seven hours for 164* of his team’s 342-7. He’s a name to watch (unlike Eagles vs Southern Rocks, which sounds like a 70s West Coast music mash-up).
Ball Three – Another thriller this time a level below Test playing nations as Scotland got up with a ball to spare to defeat home town boys Namibia in the Intercontinental Cup ODI format. Good to see Wantage Road habitue Kyle Coetzer playing the big innings after Northants’ season imploded in August and September.
Ball Four – More on names: you just have to love the visual images conjured up by the names of these two teams. Now matter how stunning the sixes, how stump-shattering the yorkers and how sensational the fielding, you can’t live up to monikers like those! Or these!
Ball Five – In the Twenty20 Champions League, the thrusting newest competition of the thrusting newest format of the game, continues to show that old dogs are rather better at learning new tricks than the saying asserts. Of those with over 100 runs at a strike rate of 120, Jacques Kallis is top of the pile so far and Mike Hussey is second – they have the mere matter of 484 First Class matches between them. Sarul Kanwar, opening in place of Sachin for the Mumbai Indians, and his partner, Aiden Blizzard, have 13.
Ball Six – If India’s Test team need one thing even more urgently than a replacement for their long-serving batsmen, it’s back-up for the increasingly fragile Zaheer Khan. High hopes rest on the shoulders of Varun Aaron, who looks genuinely quick in the Darren Gough, stock, muscular style. He’s playing just now for the Rest of India vs Rajasthan, but the pitch shows every sign of being another road, with the RoI score 400-3 after Day One, with Shikhar Dhawan out in the 56th over for 177. It must be very hard work indeed to bowl fast in India just now.