Posted by: tootingtrumpet | September 28, 2013

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket 29 September 2013

Three Strawberry Blondes winning with grace

Three Strawberry Blondes winning with grace

Ball One – Derbyshire drop from Division One

As expected last week, (last April really) Derbyshire finally slid out of Division One after a tame defeat to Warwickshire. In a reverse of their season’s trajectory, Wayne Madsen’s men started well, looking good with Warwickshire 148-7, but they let Jeetan Patel smack a few around and Maurice Chambers block, while Chris Woakes continued his transformation from bowler who bats to batsman who bowls at the other end. Tom Poynton fought hard in both innings, but the game, and the season, was up – and Derbyshire were down.

Ball Two – Northants make it to Division One at last

Coming the other way, Northants were promoted courtesy of Essex’s failure to win at Hampshire – but that was the longest of shots for James Foster and nobody would deny that Northants were the better team over the season, despite the closeness of their records, if not their points tallies. Both promoted teams will bring some exciting young cricketers to the top flight in 2014, with Lancashire’s Simon Kerrigan and Northants’ David Willey progress likely to be followed with particularly keen interest.

Ball Three – Teenage (Domi)nic’s so hard to beat at The Oval

For many of the players, there was something of an end of term feel to the final round of County Championship matches – except for Dominic Sibley, whose term at Whitgift School has just started. Risking the wrath of OFSTED, he was granted leave of absence to play for Surrey (who, having played schoolboy cricket for much of the season, decided to play an actual schoolboy) and he racked up 242 in the draw against Yorkshire. The boy wonder broke all kinds of records and had old Wisdens being consulted about the feats of WG Grace, but it was a flat track, neither side had much to play for and the weather was preposterously warm for late September. Nevertheless, it was a hugely encouraging effort, not least for the most remarkable statistic of all to emerge – Sibley batted for one minute under ten hours. Not bad for one of the txting gnrtion, innit?

Ball Four – Strawberry blond is Player of the Year in Division One

There’s plenty of numbers to crunch at the end of a season and even clever algorithms that may prove that Jos Buttler really will be worth his new contract wherever that may be, but at 99.94, we prefer a more subjective approach to evaluating players. In Division One, the thousand run men, led by Ashes bound Gary Ballance, delivered the space for the bowlers to get to work, with Scott Borthwick’s bittersweet metamorphosis from leg-spinner to reliable Number Three a tremendous personal achievement. Amongst the bowlers, not Ashes bound Graham Onions was the best of a group of old pro seamers at the top of the charts, making the batsman play as they nibbled it around. But my Player of the Year in Division One is Paul Collingwood. Rejecting inevitable media offers after retiring from international cricket with the Ashes urn in one hand and the World T20 trophy in the other, he went home to his county and, in mid-2012, took on the captaincy in the midst of a crisis. Though not excelling personally since then, he has made the most of his resources and now delivered the biggest domestic prize of all. Well played Captain Colly.

Ball Five – Strawberry blond is Player of the Year in Division Two

If all-action all-rounders like the Northants’ trio Steven Crook, Trent Copeland and David Willey caught the eye with some spectacular cricket, it was a not-quite-all-action all-rounder who is my Player of the Year in Division Two. Glen Chapple made three fifties, took 53 wickets and, almost incredibly, led Lancashire in 14 of the 16 rounds of Championship matches. At nearly forty years of age, he has over 8000 first class runs for Lancashire to go with 899 first class wickets and, of course, a Championship pennant in 2011 – Old Trafford should really have been named for him and not the sponsors. Well played Captain Chappy. And well played the three strawberry blonds, with Ian Bell the Test Player of the Year by a distance too.

Ball Six – Hibernation time for the county game

Many thanks to this column’s readers over the last six months, especially for the comments which showed – as if we needed telling – that county cricket has its partisan fans, but never so partisan that they cannot see the good in opponents and the glory of the game. Come April, we’ll have newspaper stories of one man in the crowd, photographed wrapped up in ten layers of woollies, cradling a warming bovril in one hand and a dog leash in the other, while football’s World Cup swamps the sports media – in fact, swamps the media  full stop. But twas ever thus for county cricket and, one hopes, it always will be. Farewell for now old friend – see you in the Spring.

You can tweet me at @garynaylor999



  1. Thank you for these columns over the last six months. They’ve been very good companions for a county championship lover now living abroad. See you in April.

    Nigel Harris.

    • Very kind sir. I’ve enjoyed writing them, not least because it keeps me in touch with what a wonderful competition the LVCC is.

      • It is a really good competition.

        A real shame about Derbyshire but at least Northamptonshire will fill the plucky underdog role in D1 next year. Mildly amusing about Surrey, but something really quite wrong has gone on in their strategy this year. Still, Graeme Smith making an appearance at the Rose Bowl in whites might be worth a trip across Hampshire for me.

        • They might be a bit better than that!

  2. No arguments with any of that, and many thanks for the reflections which have been a pleasure to discover via The Guardian.

    I was once at a game in April when cold stopped play – or “extreme conditions” as had handily been introduced into the Laws in the days before hand-warmers that make the fielders look slack with hands in pockets. It was Cambridge University v Essex at Fenners in 1981, so long ago that Derek Pringle was still captaining the university rather than playing for Essex.

    • Thanks for your kind words and all the comments over the season. There’s an art to watching county cricket in April you know –

      • Thanks for the link. I was obviously too young in 1981 to understand the preparation required !

        Regarding Rachel Riley in Countdown, at least for the autumn weeks, as we await the Ashes, we have Rachel Riley in Strictly Come Dancing…

  3. Your site and Your commentary is a beautiful thing. Please keep it up I love it & look forward to next season

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