Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 4, 2014

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 3 August 2014

Jordan Clark with county cricket 2014 most popular haircut

Jordan Clark with county cricket 2014’s most popular hair style

Ball One – First class cricket is robust enough to take a break

As competitive a County Championship as I can recall (with ding-dong battles for the title itself, avoiding the second relegation slot and for the Division Two promotion slots all proving compelling) takes a three week sabbatical to make space for fifty overs cricket, the least loved format of the game. Does it matter? Well, it might to cricket’s die-hard traditionalists for whom the County Championship is the gold standard, but even they would concede that one of red ball cricket’s joys is its ability to accommodate slow passages of play, breaks in a season, disruption to its schedule. “Talking about something else while the cricket is on”, is one of the game’s greatest pleasures – I just wish the thing we are talking about isn’t the tired “Twenty20 + 30 overs of pushing it around” formula that many fifty overs matches adopt.

Ball Two – Jordan Clark turns the tide for Lancashire

At Old Trafford, it took two days to bowl 40 overs – and it needed all 40 to split the home side and Glamorgan, for whom Jacques Rudolph and Andrew Salter could muster only 13 of the 15 runs needed from the final over. Lancashire’s hero was tall bits and pieces man, Jordan Clark, who hit the stumps three times in five deliveries, a spell that turned the match. “You miss – I hit” has been around for a while – but it’s still a good tactic.

Ball Three – Roy reigns at the top of the order

In front of a decent Saturday afternoon crowd at The Oval, Jason Roy teed off to post another personal fifty before miscuing one to leave Surrey needing a comfortable 75 runs from 14.2 overs with 8 wickets in hand. From there, only a couple of twenty-odds at about a run a ball are needed to chase down a middling target like the 142 set by Worcestershire. Pinch-hitter is a demeaning name for a role that demands confidence, power and good shot selection, with Jason Roy’s eight half-centuries in 14 matches the key to Surrey’s advancing to Finals Day making him the best pinch hitter around just now. Can he do it for England? He might, but only if he avoids attracting the knockers’ sneers and snipes if it goes wrong.

Ball Four – Chopra and Clark ensure that Finals Day has local interest

Even the dangerous Ryan Ten Doeschate (possibly batting a notch or two too low at Five) couldn’t get Essex up to Warwickshire’s Birmingham’s 197. That was a biggish score – even on a small ground like Chelmsford – and was thanks largely to Varun Chopra and Rikki Clarke, who scored ten boundaries each in their unbroken third wicket stand of 134. Neither man averages 30 in red ball cricket this season, but both have been outstanding in the Bears’ run to a home ground party on Finals day. Would they swap their red ball form for their white ball form? Would the fans?

Ball Five – Vince convincing in victory

The last of the four quarter-finals saw James Vince lead from the front, as Hampshire’s captain slammed 93* to overhaul Nottinghamshire’s impressive 197-2 with an over to spare. It was a welcome return to form for Vince whose star has faded a little after a fine start to the season. Still only 23, he might not be in the selectors’ immediate thoughts for full recognition (though his place in the England Lions squad is encouraging,) but, at 23 with a batting index of 160 across 78 T20 matches, he’s building a strong case. More pyrotechnics on Finals Day will do his cause no harm at all.

Ball Six – Finals Day could be cricket’s biggest advert for years

T20 Finals Day is biggest in the domestic cricket calendar and, if the weather does its bit, you’re guaranteed a wonderful carnival of cricket if you can get a ticket for Edgbaston or watch on Sky. This column is not vehemently against the ECB’s deal with Sky for a variety of reasons, but I do wish some arrangement could be made to show Finals Day on Pick TV, Sky’s free-to-air channel. Premier League football will already be in its second weekend of swamping sports coverage, with the World Cup barely completed – so why not give the casual follower of cricket a glimpse of the fun to be had with a day of free publicity that surely hurts nobody. It’s not too late to do this is it?

You can tweet me @garynaylor999



  1. The other thing about this fifty-over format, is that the Lords final reverts to the win-the-toss-and-win-the-cup 10.30am start in September.

  2. I think the absence of any cricket on FTA TV is a shame and would love for Finals Day (along with events like the Premiership Rugby final and Super League grand final) to become a national event, like the FA Cup or Superbowl/Stanley Cup/World Series in the US..

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