The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket also appears at spincricket.com.
Ball One – Geoffrey Boycott once remarked that it was easier to score runs in Test cricket than in county cricket because the pitches are better in the five day game. Andrew Strauss – back for Middlesex “to find some form” – had cause to reflect on his England opening predecessor’s wisdom, as he made 0 and 6 at Lord’s, twice bowled by Graham Onions, whose ten wickets set up Durham in a winning position.
Ball Two – Low scores around the country – though not everywhere – has excited comment about the difficulties attendant on batting in April. But that’s the game – it’s not supposed to be easy, though it should be fair. Everyone has their own idea about what constitutes a fair pitch – or, rather, a pitch that should attract a penalty from the dreaded inspector. Mine? I’d allow any amount of lateral movement through seam or spin, but I’d dock points for excessive shooters and lifters.
Ball Three – Ronnie Sarwan made a fine hundred for Leicestershire, captaining the side in the absence of Matthew Hoggard. One can’t help feeling that he’d be better employed playing for the West Indies vs Australia – but Test cricket’s loss is county cricket’s gain.
Ball Four – Like Ian Blackwell, Rikki Clarke had a taste of international cricket, but never established himself and is now a county pro and what a good one. Walking to the crease, he eyed a scoreboard that showed his team at 81-7, trailing the Champions by 169. He left the crease with his team 324-9, with a handy lead and, crucially, the momentum well and truly in their favour. All-rounders like Blackwell and Clarke can be dangerous players to select (risking wasting a batting and bowling slot) but, with their experience and skills, it’s like having two players instead of one.
Ball Five – Nick Compton’s double hundred took him past 600 runs this season, something a few teams might be pleased with never mind individuals. He’s the man in form and his knock made sure that Somerset did not miss their injured captain. It didn’t do Notts much good either, who missed Andre Adams a lot more than Somerset missed Trescothick.
Ball Six – Rain rolls across the country on Sunday suspending and curtailing all matches at some point, but it happens in April. If the County Championship is reduced to 14 matches come 2013 and the fixtures begin in April, will there be enough cricket to decide worthy winners? 16 matches must be retained.
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