Ball One – Yorkshire’s classically balanced team win in the classical way
Yorkshire went back to the top of Division One having constructed a textbook win at North Marine Drive. Against Middlesex’s excellent seam quartet, enough Yorkies batted around in-form centurion, Adam Lyth, to get them up to 253, before handing over to veteran Ryan Sidebottom, whose seven wickets secured a first innings lead. When Lyth missed out in the second dig, skipper Andrew Gale’s century anchored a fine all-round batting display, allowing him to set Middlesex 422 in a day. Sidebottom missed out with the ball, but his fellow seamers kept chipping away before Adil Rashid’s wrist spin saw off any tailend heroics, the last five wickets despatched in ten overs, for a margin of victory 220 runs. Four day cricket demands contributions across all cricket’s skills and Yorkshire, with a blend of youth and experience, right and left hand batmen and seamers and Rashid to spin the ball both ways, look ideally equipped for the Championship run-in. White Rose fans can count themselves fortunate that only Jonny Bairstow will be distracted by England Lions duty in August – some of his colleagues can expect call-ups over the winter.
Ball Two – Chris Jordan and James Tredwell face down the Bears’ charge
Warwickshire missed the chance to register a hat-trick of wins and put pressure on Yorkshire’s lead, having run into two ex-England men with something to prove. On the annual excursion to Horsham, the home side were always ahead in the game, but knew that setting the visitors 326 in just over two sessions did put all four results on the table. 19 balls from Chris Jordan was enough to reduce those possibilities to two, as he bowled fast taking three wickets including first innings centurion, Jonathan Trott. James Tredwell, who often looks like an old-fashioned cricketer, then delivered the old-fashioned figures of 12.4-8-7-4 and the match was done. Having seemed to have forgotten how to take wickets for Kent, Tredwell has six in his last 17 overs for Sussex, a return to form that will please many followers of the domestic game.
Ball Three – Daryl Mitchell shrugs off the loss of Saeed Ajmal
In Division Two, Worcestershire reacted to the loss of talisman Saeed Ajmal by hammering Gloucestershire to extend their lead over third placed Hampshire to a yawning 45 points. All the bowlers got involved to cover the prolific Pakistani’s absence, but they were given the confidence boost they may have needed by captain, Daryl Mitchell, who carried his bat for 167 giving his bowlers nearly 400 runs with which to work. The local boy is enjoying the season of a lifetime, his 1222 runs at 81 topping the charts for both divisions. He’s a early contender for one of the Five Wisden Cricketers of the Year and would make a very popular choice.
Ball Four – Darren Stevens the hero for Kent
Surrey’s recent revival hit the buffers despite returning paceman Stuart Meaker’s eleven wickets against Kent. Robert Key had much to thank one of this column’s favourite cricketers for the victory – step forward, yet again, Darren Stevens. The 38 year-old warhorse had opened the bowling in both innings and was into his 41st over of the match before he snared danger man Tillakaratne Dilshan for 68. No matter – he just kept going, bowling what turned into a 15 over spell, getting a personal fivefer and the win for his county. Now that is what you want from your senior pro!
Ball Five – Tom Westley and Ateeq Javid fly the flag for the youngsters in T20 cricket
The NatWest t20 Blast finished its Group Stage with four teams from each division heading for the this week’s quarter-finals. Adding players’ batting averages to their strike rates revealed that only four batsman breached the 200 mark – Luke Wright, Tom Westley, Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate. Westley’s is the surprise name there, a player who has never quite fulfilled his early potential, but, at 25, may just be finding his niche. Amongst the bowlers, it takes wise old heads like Scott Styris, Rikki Clarke and Jeetan Patel to go for less than a run-a-ball over 20+ overs: but again, there’s a surprise name in the elite. Warwickshire’s 22 year-old Ateeq Javid is a bits and pieces man, but his 30 overs went for less than five and a half runs each, the kind of bowling that built the pressure that squeezed the Bears into the last qualifying slot..
Ball Six – Eoin Morgan has a point
There will be a few cricket clubs on tour just now and a week spent playing in Scarborough, London, Taunton and Cardiff, drinking some local ales to cool off and sleeping on the minibus as the motorway miles are ticked off sounds like it could be fun. Whether professional cricketers, obliged collectively and individually to play to the very best of their abilities, should be subjected to that schedule is debatable – especially as the week comprised four day, 50 overs and 20 overs formats. When highly paid sports stars complain about their workloads, it’s natural to look on them living the dreams of millions and say “Suck it up!” Eoin Morgan didn’t like Middlesex’s week (for the itinerary described above was theirs) and I agree with him.
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