Posted by: tootingtrumpet | April 29, 2013

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 28 April

A man whose career is going in one direction

A man whose career is going in one direction

Ball One – Catches win matches, but so do batsmen

Cliches are cliches because they represent the truth – but in cricket, cliches do not represent the whole truth. If catches do win matches and if bowlers (usually) need to take twenty wickets, then (occasionally) batsmen don’t just set up victories, they secure them.  When Yorkshire set off in pursuit of a distant 336 for the win, Jason Gillespie will have asked one of his batsmen to play through, as the others bat around him. Joe Root failed his assignment – by one ball. The young England man had only four previous first class tons, but the confidence that comes with Test recognition was enough to carry him to the match-winning 182 and bring Yorkshire their first win on their return to the top flight.

Ball Two – To declare or not to declare – that is the question?

Paul Collingwood’s international career will be remembered for his spectacular fielding and his no back-lift defence – he wasn’t called Brigadier Block for nothing. But if the job of playing out time is straightforward (if difficult and mentally demanding), the job of winning a cricket match is altogether more complicated. Collingwood reasoned that, with twenty wickets having fallen in just 129 first innings overs, a lead of 335 was enough for Durham, and set his bowlers to the task late on Day Three. Though declaring and losing always attracts criticism, there’s 16 points available for a win and just three for a draw. Collingwood’s decision was correct – Joe Root’s brilliance and Adil Rashid’s tentative return to form defeated Durham, not their captain’s willingness to risk defeat in pursuit of victory.

Ball Three – Sky do a magnificent job at Taunton

The many reasons to dislike the ECB’s contract with Sky that keeps the Summer Game off free-to-air television are well known and opinions (for and against) set in stone. This week, Sky had a rare, but not unprecedented, trip to a County Championship match – pennant fliers Warwickshire at Taunton. If it was impressive that all the commentating big guns were sent out West, along with the onscreen graphics and replays, what was more impressive was Sky’s willingness to embrace the culture of watching county cricket. The effects mics were not supplemented by music or dubbed crowd noise; the commentators were relaxed and supplemented their usual razor-sharp analysis with something approaching conversations if the play was drifting a little in the middle; and there was room for diversions into a 40 year old membership card provided by a local. Hard to imagine how the cricket fan could be served better – once they’ve paid up.

Ball Four – Redemption can take time

Cricket’s vast canvas can accommodate so many human stories. Its fascination is partly based on how the simple shepherds’ game of hundreds of years ago expands to capture so many emotions, reveals so much about character, pierces ruthlessly the facade of bravado. Redemption is one such story that crops up in cricket and there were examples this week at The Oval. If the returns of Rory Hamilton-Brown and Chris Jordan captured the headlines, there was a low key tale elsewhere in the Sussex ranks. Alan Wells was 33 when the music stopped and he found himself sitting in England’s Number Six slot in 1995. Understandably nervous, Curtly Ambrose snared him for a golden duck in the first dig and he blocked for three runs in the second dig. At the same ground this week, his son Luke made a double century. Some redemption I trust for one of England’s One Test Wonders from the era before Duncan Fletcher stopped all that nonsense.

Ball Five – The bottom of the order sends Northamptonshire top of the table

Early days, but things are already looking good for Northamptonshire, 20 points clear at the top of Division Two. That healthy start is in no small measure down to a Number 11 averaging 97 and a Number 10 averaging 75. Though those numbers will drop over the season, Trent Copeland and Steven Crook would be at 7 and 8 in many counties’ line-ups. With the heavy roller’s return after three years absence deadening wickets already deteriorating at a snail’s pace due to modern drainage systems, there’ll be plenty of runs on offer this summer from tired bowlers striving to dismiss 9, 10, jack. Of course, the late order will have to be worth their places as bowlers – Copeland has some work to do there, but Crook has 18 wickets at 13. After a stop-start career, at 29 the ex-Lancashire man may just have found his niche. And nothing succeeds like success.

Ball Six – Shh! Don’t say anything and we might get away with it

Though there’s never been more coverage of county cricket available to anyone with a computer, its visibility in what can probably still be called the mainstream media is at an all-time low – you’ll wait a long time for the County Championship scores on BBC Radio Five Live for example and there’s not much in the tabloids. Leicestershire will be happy with that, lying low after a 102 runs defeat at the hands of Leeds/Bradford MCCU. The pros had 604 first class matches between them; the students 21, so there really is no excuse. Led by captain Luis Reece’s six wickets and second innings century, the youngsters had a victory to celebrate and Leicestershire could chalk off another match as they wait for the one-day season to start.

You can tweet me at @garynaylor999.

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Responses

  1. Ball 6 – The online commentaries are very fine with a lovely regional flavour to them and it is a smart use of the internet as regards domestic cricket. I’m very annoyed that I missed Lancashire running through Glamorgan as I had listened to a fair bit of that match.


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