Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 29, 2014

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 29 June 2014

Friday night at The Oval

Friday night at The Oval

Ball One – Finch flying in the Championship

Yorkshire, depleted by England call-ups, injuries and paternity leave, stuck to the traditional formula for winning County Championship matches to go top of the table as the days begin to shorten. Against Warwickshire, the seamers shared the wickets around, then the batsmen scored big and quickly to allow the bowlers another go – and they obliged to secure the innings victory. Headline friendly teenage spinner Kevin Carver sliced himself a little action with three wickets, but it was a more familiar face who gathered the plaudits. Aaron Finch is one of the most feared T20 batsmen in the game – a man who can tee off to make hundreds at strike rates around 200. He also has a modest First Class record, with just two hundreds in his 42 previous matches. But if he bats for a session or more, he’s going to shift momentum for Yorkshire, and that’s what he did in the pivotal Number Six slot, taking his county from a deficit of 78 to a credit of 137, from which there was no way back for Jim Troughton’s men. When Kane Williamson returns from New Zealand duty, it’ll be hard to forego Finch’s power in red ball cricket, if he continues to play like that.

Ball Two – Jaques a trump card against Somerset

Nottinghamshire pulled level with Yorkshire at the head of Division One with a comfortable win over third place Somerset, whose season is in danger of stalling after just one win in their last four matches. Phil Jaques must have something against Marcus Trescothick’s men (a dodgy pint of teenage cider perhaps) as he backed up his early season scores of 65 and 150* at Taunton with 113 and 42* in the reverse fixture. The Australian played only 11 Tests making three centuries (one in his last innings, six years ago) and nine fifties. In an alternative universe, he and Chris Rogers have 100 caps each – but Australia’s loss has been county cricket’s gain.

Ball Three – Lancashire’s record-breakers set up a much needed win

It was a familiar story for Lancashire as Glen Chapple was in the company of his top three less than a hour after sending them out to bat. But he didn’t see another team-mate cursing his luck until Steven Croft arrived back in the sheds just before the close for a career-best 156. The mood was catching as Ashwell Prince also delivered a career-best, in his case 257*, the two sharing the highest fourth wicket stand ever at Old Trafford. Chapple had the rare pleasure of a declaration to call, done with the score a hitherto unimaginable 650-6. That was enough to demoralise rock bottom Northants, whose two innings lasted fewer overs than Lancashire’s truncated one.

Ball Four – Stokes turns up the heat on Sussex

After three matches, Sussex were top of the table and wondering about a first pennant since the glory days of Mushtaq Ahmed – they now sit just two points off the relegation places having not won since April. Their latest defeat might be classed as a little unfortunate, as they ran into Ben Stokes with a point to prove, his ten wickets leading to a big defeat in which only Luke Wright passed fifty while the opposition racked up nearly 700 runs for the loss of 16 wickets. With the batting being carried largely by skipper Ed Joyce and the bowling by old pro Steve Magoffin, Sussex fans will be forgiven for hoping that Stokes’ confirmation of his readiness for Test cricket might bring the return of Chris Jordan to the domestic game – his wickets and runs are much needed on the South coast.

Ball Five – Gary Wilson channels the spirit of MS Dhoni to revive Surrey

Surrey suggested a late season challenge to long time promotion favourites Hampshire and Worcestershire with a crushing win over whipping boys Leicestershire (for whom lifelong bunny Charlie Shreck’s sixth place in the averages tells you all you need to know about their batting resilience). The match was a personal triumph for Irish wicketkeeper-batsman Gary Wilson who, since taking over the captaincy from the injured Graeme Smith, has made 246 Championship runs at 82, bolstered by a career-best 160* in this match. Surrey have used twenty players in 11 Division Two matches this season, but if injuries are avoided and selections calls prove correct, London may yet have two top flight four day derbies in 2015.

Ball Six – It’s the night out that counts

On Friday night at The Oval, Hampshire’s batsmen were abject, seemingly incapable of hitting the ball away from fielders, throwing in a stumping and run out for good measure. Until the late order played with a modicum of sense to help Will Smith get them up to an unlikely and much under par 131-9, the match had been terrible. Once Jason Roy blasted 63 in the first eight overs of the reply, the result was never in doubt, Hampshire having a collective bad day at the office. It didn’t seem to bother the crowd, many of whom seemed to be letting their hair down after a bad week at the office. Beer was drunk, conversations were shouted above the deafening music and Mexican waves passed round the ground both quickly and slowly. It was a cricket match, but it felt like a night out in Covent Garden – for many, I suspect it might as well have been.

Gary Naylor will be speaking at Words and Wickets 2014 at Wormsley in July.


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