Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 7, 2014

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 6 July 2014

Ricky Ponting after too many pies. Sorry, it's John Hastings

Ricky Ponting after too many pies. Sorry, it’s John Hastings

Ball One – Warwickshire’s team of domestiques deluxes are back in the race

With Yorkshire on a week off (Tour de France fever?), Nottinghamshire had a chance to go top of the LVCC Division One and impose themselves on this nip and tuck race for the pennant. The first mission was accomplished with eight bonus points, but the second failed, as Warwickshire went third with a splendid win. That conclusion did not look likely when Chris Wright joined Chris Woakes with Warwickshire 218 runs behind with just three first innings wickets left. But Warwickshire’s late order has been very strong in recent years and three hours later, their deficit was limited to 64. Once Woakes – one of a platoon of cricketers just short of Test class at Edgbaston – knocked the top off the Nottinghamshire second innings, the match was on, with teenage Sam Hain and old hand Tim Ambrose leading the Bears’ charge to the line on the fourth afternoon. It was the kind of win that can fire a season run-in, something that won’t be lost on the Boys from Brum.

Ball Two – Spinners need to turn up for Middlesex

Middlesex must have targeted their home match against rock bottom Northants for a first win since topping the table in mid-May, but Steven Crook defied them with a maiden first class ton in the first innings and six home bowlers could only prise out three wickets on the fourth day. Middlesex’s problem – this from the county that fielded Emburey and Edmonds for so long – is the absence of an effective spin option. Between them, Ravi Patel and Olly Rayner have played nine Championship matches, taking just ten wickets between them in 249 overs. That’s leaving too much for the seamers, even those as talented as the bowlers at Chris Rogers’ disposal.

Ball Three – Good or bad match for Craig Overton?

At 20, both Overton twins are making waves at Taunton, with Craig currently a notch or two ahead of brother Jamie, provoking plenty of headlines with a dazzling 99 to establish a big first innings lead over Lancashire. But his match figures were 24-5-85-0, that lack of penetration playing no small part in the eventual draw, in which Paul Horton defied Somerset over nearly eight hours for once out. Jamie’s eight wickets in six matches has sent him back to the Second XI and, while Craig’s 24 wickets in seven matches is the kind of record that will keep him in the First team, his future will be determined by his output with the ball – the bat is a bonus.

Ball Four – Sensational Saeed spins Worcestershire to success

Worcestershire hammered Glamorgan to go clear at the top of Division Two, 28 points ahead of third place Surrey with a match in hand. They may need all that cushion because, while 20 year-old Tom Fell’s second century in consecutive matches augurs well in the long term, in the short term, Saeed Ajmal’s return to his country’s colours will hurt Daryl Mitchell’s men. The magician took 12 wickets in the match to bring his season’s haul to 56 in eight matches, including six five wicket hauls. Ajmal loves it in the Midlands – no doubt, they love him too!

Ball Five – Essex have the squad balance to make a late run for promotion

On paper, Essex have one of the strongest squads in Division Two and, for once, they all came to the party to smash Gloucestershire by ten wickets. Young openers Tom Westley and Nick Browne scored half centuries before old hands Ravi Bopara and Jesse Ryder showed their class with hundreds, before James Foster and Ben Foakes got on with it to raise over 500. That was enough to allow the experience of David Masters, Graham Napier and Monty Panesar, supplemented by the improving Reece Topley, to get through the batting order a second time. James Foster (a record breaker with nine victims in the match) will know that four wins in the last six matches should be enough for promotion and that the challenge, with eight proper batsmen and three very decent back-up bowlers to support the four frontliners, is well within his team’s compass.

Ball Six – Hastings battles for the role of seamers in white ball cricket

Big John Hastings (28, but looks 35) is just the sort of heavy ball bowler who gives seamers a good name in white ball cricket and he’s proving it in the T20 Blast for Durham. With just 123 to defend at Headingley against the Yorkies’ strong batting line-up, Hastings knocked over skipper Andrew Gale with his first ball and conceded just 22 runs from his four overs, taking three wickets. He has 11 scalps from his 17.1 overs this year and is going for under 8 runs per over – not bad in powerplay and death cricket. And no bowler with more than five wickets pays less than his 12 runs for each one – wickets still the best way to staunch runs. The Australian will need to continue with form like that if Durham are to push on into one of the highly competitive North Division’s quarter-final slots. If he does, it’ll be one in the eye for those who say that the future of white ball cricket lies with spinners and dibbly-dobblers.



  1. Oh if only Ajmal was a Bear instead of a Pear?

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