Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 13, 2012

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – May 13 2012

Ollie Rayner’s template? (Though Ollie might stop short of entering the Sri Lankan Parliament).

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket also appears at spincricket.com

Ball One – I don’t often start these columns in LVCC Division Two, but I do this week with a fine example of the power of positive cricket. Instead of bemoaning the grim weather still blighting the game, Yorkshire’s Andrew Gale and Gloucestershire’s Alex Gidman got together and made a match of it, with Yorkshire set 400 in an hour and a day. Thanks to Southern hemisphere types Phil Jaques and Gary Ballance, they got them six down, with the match in the er… balance for all but the last few overs. Cricketers, especially captains, should find ways to crack open games heading towards a draw – the games, and the Game, is all the better for it.

Ball Two – Lancashire, having had better luck with the weather in their Title-winning 2011 season than one can ever recall, are having the opposite fortune this year and sit rock bottom of Division One after five matches. Just as last season wasn’t all about Liverpool sunshine vs Manchester rain, this season isn’t all about drizzle and wet outfields. Last season’s batting shortcomings were offset by some extraordinary bowling performances and runs coming just when needed. This season (with the rain rider) the team have managed just one century and five fifties between them. That’s relegation form that needs turning round even before the midsummer LVCC hiatus.

Ball Three – Yorkshire’s was the only positive result this week, but Surrey cannot be accused of not trying to force the win. Having shown us a bit of the pre-Adams days with an extraordinary innings of 113 in which Jacques Rudolph’s ten teammates’ contribution was 38, they showed the new Surrey roaring back with Rory Hamilton-Brown and Tom Maynard’s tons driving them to a declaration at 431-7 after following-on. But, having tried for half an hour, they couldn’t get past Worcestershire’s Number 10 Richard Jones (with only an injured Alan Richardson to come) and settled for a very honourable draw.

Ball Four – Praise again for Chris Adams who appears to have picked the right man to lead his revolution in Rory Hamilton-Brown. Having finished last year with a strong run to promotion and the CB40 Trophy in what had become a rather dusty cabinet, captain RH-B has started this season like a train – third on the LVCC Division One most runs table and with a one-day century too. He has had his critics, RH-B, but he’s winning them over – and this one is won over, if truth be told.

Ball Five – But sometimes even this greatest of games frustrates ambition and that’s what happened at Chester-le-Street where Somerset were looking good at the end of Day One, already 95 ahead with Craig Kieswetter still at the crease, ready to tee off. Two washouts left just one day to force a result and Durham were left with little choice other than to bat out time, which they did, but not without some discomfort. How much those two lost days will cost Somerset, who had forced the pace whenever play was possible, remains to be seen.

Ball Six – A few weeks ago, I was talking to the editor of this very site about Middlesex acquisition of Ollie Rayner. I recalled Mike Atherton’s damning with faint praise of Chris Schofield (recipient of one of the first tranche of central contracts as a specialist spinner) “He’s probably a better batsman than bowler”. Rayner’s career appeared to be stalling at Sussex (with Monty blocking him and other spinners coming through) so Lord’s may be a happier hunting ground. As might a slot in the middle order, if his 143 not out (scored off four international bowlers) is anything to go by.

You can tweet me @garynaylor999

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