Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 15, 2014

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 15 June 2014

Darren Stevens - exasperated again

Darren Stevens – exasperated again

Ball One – Bowlers do a double shift to raise Somerset to the summit at the halfway mark

The LV County Championship season reached its midpoint with Somerset elbowing their way to the head of the three counties that have crossed the 100 points mark. Alfonso Thomas’s four wickets in four balls caught the headlines in a low-scoring affair at Taunton, but the match turned when Craig Overton walked to the crease after Craig Kieswetter’s counter-attacking 65 had raised Somerset to a (still perilous) 125-7. Overton, still just twenty, found handy partners in Craig Meschede and Thomas, as Somerset’s three Number 8s (though they batted at 8, 9 and 10) turned an 89 run deficit into a 75 run advantage by the time they pulled on their bowling boots for the day job. Sussex had lost half their wickets before they were in credit again and their late order couldn’t repeat their opponents’ batting heroics. That’s a second consecutive home win for Marcus Trescothick’s men who are turning the familiar high-scoring home draws of the past into more valuable low scoring wins.

Ball Two – Consistent James Taylor reminds us of his potential

There just wasn’t quite enough time left in a weather-affected match for Yorkshire or Nottinghamshire to force a win at Headingley. The visitors, just outside the top three, fielded nine players of international experience, with James Taylor’s four and a half hour 96 the pick of the capped men’s performances. The diminutive batsman has not added to his famous double century collection this season, indeed, he is yet to score a ton, but in six out of the seven matches in which he has batted, he has contributed an innings of at least 60 – consistency itself. Still only 24, his two Tests (against an attack featuring Steyn, Morkel, Philander and Kallis) are fading into the distance – the last two years have been particularly long ones for Team England. But Taylor is still only 24 and it’s surely too soon to be writing off his chances of further international honours.

Ball Three – Simon Kerrigan is getting plenty of bowling and taking wickets in Division One

Lancashire had carefully constructed a position from which they could have forced a much needed second win of the season, but time lost and both sides’ inability to score at above 2.7 runs per over in their first innings, consigned the match to a draw. Simon Kerrigan got through 50 overs across the two Warwickshire innings for his three wickets, giving him 220 overs in the Championship this season for his 18 wickets. He is much the most successful England qualified spinner in the top flight in the first half of the campaign, but I’m afraid that isn’t saying much.

Ball Four – David Wainwright flies the flag for traditional county cricket

The only positive result in Division Two saw Derbyshire and Leicestershire swap places in the basement, with Wayne Madsen owing much to his all-rounder David Wainwright, who delivered the rare match combination of a century and a five-fer to lift Derbyshire to eighth in the table. Wainwright travelled the short distance south from Yorkshire when it became clear that he wasn’t quite good enough to hold down a slot with bat or ball in Division One, particularly with Adil Rashid unwanted by England and a palpably better player. Nevertheless, as this match proves, he remains a favourite of mine, as he usually finds a way to contribute and is the kind of player that makes the domestic summer what it is (and, despite everything, what it has been for generations). Long may him, and his ilk, survive.

Ball Five – Cockbain and Smith fight on and on and on

If Wainwright personifies the remarkably unremarkable nature of much that sustains the county cricket fan, Surrey’s match at Bristol was drawn from the other end of the spectrum. Gloucestershire looked utterly doomed after the Londoners’ batsmen at last found form to post 626-6dec, asking the home team to bat two whole days for a draw. Incredibly – they did. The hitherto unheralded Ian Cockbain played the innings of his life, batting nearly nine hours as he resisted everything thrown at him for 146 overs of formidable concentration. He was supported magnificently by so-called nightwatchman Tom Smith, whose career-best 80 stretched almost to tea. It’s sometimes said that journeyman pros don’t always give their all in low profile matches as the treadmill turns swiftly, burying a defeat with another bright new dawn and the toss of a coin. The two Gloucestershire boys clearly didn’t get the memo.

Ball Six – Darren Stevens puts on a show, but doesn’t quite get his just deserts

You don’t always get what you deserve in life, a lesson Darren Stevens must reflect upon when he looks at some of the players who have played white ball cricket for England during his 17 years as a grizzled pro (for he was surely a grizzled even when starting out at 21). He’s 38 now and very grizzled indeed, but he can still do it, as he showed in the T20 Blast at Cardiff. Having opened the bowling, yielding just 22 runs from his four overs and snaring Glamorgan’s three most dangerous batsmen (Jacques Rudolph, Jim Allenby and, possibly the only man left on the circuit capable out-grizzling him, Murray Goodwin), he then biffed 71 off 39 balls. And he still didn’t get the win! A tie was his reward after royally entertaining the crowd. Given his career, one that never quite got what it deserved, that seems somehow fitting.

 

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