The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket also appears at Spin Cricket.
Ball One – It’s a curious thing in the LVCC, but drawing or losing a match doesn’t make much difference towards the end of the season (unless it’s to a direct rival). Warwickshire’s match against Middlesex is a case in point. Having been in an excellent position when 112 behind with all ten first innings wickets in hand, a batting line-up good enough to have Keith Barker at 9, could secure a lead of just 46, which was quickly made to look very anemic as Chris Rogers, Dawid Malan and Gareth Berg got biffing. In the end, the Midlanders were seven down and over 200 short as rain and bad light intervened. It didn’t matter though, as the bonus points were theirs and whether Middlesex got the points for the win or not, was unlikely to affect the destination of the title.
Ball Two – Weather also intervened at Taunton, where second placed Sussex, propelled by career best figures of 13-137 from Monty Panesar, were just 49 short of a crucial win. On a pitch that helped all spinners, there was no guarantee that they would have survived against Abdur Rehmann, but they were strongish favourites. Even if Sussex win their last two fixtures, it’ll need a very specific set of results from closest rivals Notts and Warwickshire, to see the pennant back on the South Coast. Not that such considerations will stop Monty appealing.
Ball Three – In Division Two, long time leaders Derbyshire showed their resilience in fighting their way to a winning position, before Northants batted out the draw. In a remarkable match, Derbyshire were seven down and still 193 behind, only for the eighth wicket to add 261 runs, Wayne Madsen and Tom Poynton making career-highs of 231* and 106. Having stared at a deficit of 160-odd, Madsen’s men had a lead of 160-odd, but couldn’t get through the Northants’ batting, as Rob Newton’s second century of the match secured the draw.
Ball Four – Hampshire, perhaps with one eye on the Twenty20 Finals (absurdly scheduled the very next day after their LVCC match at Grace Road) lost to lowly Leicestershire, but not without a fight. The game was up when David Balcombe joined Number 9, Chris Wood, with almost three hundred needed – but it didn’t stop the last pair having a lot of fun in putting on 168. Fun was probably not the word on the Leicestershire players’ lips, though the first two letters are probably right.
Ball Five – Twenty2o Finals Day was as wonderful a jamboree as ever, even if the cricket was hampered by a pudding of a pitch that, even with the shocking summer of 2012 as mitigation, was not good enough for county cricket’s showpiece occasion. Hampshire won, as the two LVCC Division Two sides saw off the LVCC Division One sides to contest the final – and go to the Champions League (whenever and wherever that is).
Ball Six – Not only were three of the clubs in Twenty20 Finals Day action playing first class cricket a matter of hours before reporting at the SWALEC Stadium, but the day itself was scheduled against a fullish list of Premier League football matches and the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final. Though scheduling cricket matches is never easy, wouldn’t it have been better played on the Sunday, with Bank Holiday Monday as the reserve day? I suspect that television wouldn’t have fancied setting up for the England vs South Africa ODI on the Tuesday, but that’s not the point. Twenty20 Finals Day should maximise its media presence, as the showcase event to bring kids and casual fans to the game. And surely it wouldn’t hurt for Sky to show it unscrambled to anyone with a a digital box, as an advert for a game that’s never had a lower profile summer?
You can tweet me @garynaylor999