Ball One – Lyth and Lees keep rolling along
Yorkshire secured their quarter-final slot in the Royal London One Day Cup with an emphatic ten wicket win over Derbyshire. Adam Lyth and Alex Lees knocked off the 152 needed for qualification in fewer than 30 overs to promote their claims for international recognition. Lyth averages 56 in the Championship and 45 in 50 overs cricket, while his younger partner, Lees, averages 41 and 43. Those numbers up top get innings off to the kind of starts that make life easier for the middle-order strokemakers and for the bowlers who like nothing more than runs on the board. Yorkshire have six important weeks to come as they tilt at trophies.
Ball Two – Essex essay shots at three goals
The Tykes didn’t have it all their own way last week, going down to Essex at Scarborough failing to defend 290. The chase was built on Tom Westley’s ton (another in a fine white ball season with bat and ball) and a Ryan Ten Doeschate pyrotechnic display, six sixes amongst his fifteen boundaries. Essex are impossible to work out this season – again. In white ball cricket especially, they have experience and options to burn with bat and ball, yet they seem to find ways to lose matches they really ought to win. That said, like Yorkshire, they have the sharpest of sharp ends to the season coming up, still alive in both one day competitions and with promotion still an outside possibility in the Championship. Delivery of all three objectives might be too much to expect, but don’t be surprised if there’s celebrations of some kind at Chelmsford.
Ball Three – Rain comes at the right time for Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire are also through to a quarter-final after a Duckworth-Lewis win over Worcestershire. When the rain came for a a second time, Michael Klinger’s men were 14/3 with much to do to secure victory. Of course, the dressing room talk in such circumstances is always of “Still being in with a shout”, “Someone needs to stand up and make a ton”, “We can do this”, but hope, rather than expectation, underpins the cliches. Maybe not in the case of Ian Cockbain though, who fell two short of the desired ton, while the Gidman brothers combined for 72 runs from 69 balls as Gloucestershire cruised home. Will Gidman, who is taking his Kallis-lite numbers to Notts next season, will want to bow out with a trophy for Gloucestershire.
Ball Four – Kent deliver from 1 to 11.
Kent are the other team sure of a Royal London Cup quarter-final berth having seen off Sussex at Canterbury. While Sam Billings has deservedly hit the headlines in 50 overs cricket (average 169, strike rate 175!), Kent have seven other batsmen who strike at more than 80 – so they just keep coming. Back up those stats with the eight bowlers who have turned their arms over with none going at more than Dougie Bollinger’s 6.7, and you have a tight unit that will win many more matches than it loses.
Ball Five – Notts smash it round St John’s Wood
Notts field four internationals at the top of their order and they all cashed in at Lord’s, compiling 368-2 in 45 overs to flatten Middlesex. While one might expect musclemen biffers like Alex Hales and Michael Lumb to get in and get going at better than a run-a-ball, they were outscored by wee James Taylor (100* off 55 balls) and roundish all-rounder Samit Patel (37* off 15). Power-hitters catch the eye in the one-day game, but there’s room for one and all – even today.
Ball Six – A move for Azeem
Azeem Rafiq, at 23, is looking for a new county having decided to leave Yorkshire. It’s the kind of news that brings mixed feelings: on the one hand, one feels for Yorkshire who have nurtured his talent for years; on the other, if the all-rounder is to make the most of his undoubted talents, he needs to be regularly playing more than just T20 cricket. Expect to see him at one of the promoted teams next season., batting at 8 and bowling plenty of overs in all three formats.