Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 8, 2016

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 8 May 2016

Chris Read, possibly sitting on a spike

Chris Read, possibly sitting on a spike

Ball One – Chris Read notches a 25th century for the record books

With four more draws in last week’s round of Division One matches, just nine points separates early pacesetters, Nottinghamshire from Surrey, propping up the table in ninth. Fittingly, it was Notts who came closest to a win, having two balls at Yorkshire’s Number 11, Jack Brooks, while Adil Rashid looked on from the non-striker’s end. It had been an absorbing match in which the advantage had tilted one way and then the other until the Midlanders’ skipper, Chris Read, swung the game Nottinghamshire’s way. The wicketkeeper-batsman arrived at the crease with half his men already sent back to the pavilion and the lead just 69. He immediately lost Samit Patel at the start of the fourth day, but characteristically dug in and found good support from the tail. He posted his 25th First Class century – not bad for a player whose batting was seen as a fatal weakness during his 15 Tests – and that ton proved enough to set Yorkshire 320 in what turned out to be 53 overs. It’s 18 years since Read first played for Nottinghamshire (alongside Tim Robinson – yes it’s that long ago) and he shows no sign of letting his standards slip. There really should be a set of gates at Trent Bridge with his name over them.

Ball Two – Lancashire fail to cash in on fourth day.

Lancashire, having played one match fewer than their rivals, can be happy with their start to the season, backing up an opening victory with a strong performance against Somerset. After a solid batting effort, led again by 22 year-old Liam Livingstone who is rising to the challenge of scoring Ashwell Prince’s runs, Steven Croft enforced the follow-on but then ran into Marcus Trescothick and Chris Rogers, who weren’t going to give it away a second time. The ex-Test openers may have 80 years between them, but they also mustered 204 runs, the latter number being the only one that counts. Simon Kerrigan (30-11-71-1) must wonder whether the ECB’s intention of encouraging spinners on the fourth day of Championship matches is as illusionary as Allen Stanford’s slab of dollar bills.

Ball Three – A good year for Malan?

Hampshire’s James Vince was in no mood to give Middlesex a sniff at The Rose Bowl, as a rain affected match petered out in a draw. There was time for Dawid Malan to make 145 runs in the match for once out, anchoring the Londoners’ batting unit from Number Four. 28 years old now, Malan was just 20 when he demolished a Lancashire attack that included Glen Chapple, Dominic Cork, Andrew Flintoff and Saj Mahmood, with a coruscating century that booked his team a date at Twenty20 Finals Day. Since standing up to applaud that innings from The Oval pavilion, I have always looked out for Malan’s batting and, despite a solid career in domestic cricket, it’s fair to say that he’s never put a season together that reflects either that early potential nor the full extent of his talent. Could this be the one?

Ball Four – Surrey need to flog twenty wickets from flat pitches if they are to stay in Division One

You would take scores of 26 and 14 from Kumar Sangakkara in any match, any time, anywhere so Durham might rue an missing out on a good opportunity to beat Surrey at The Oval. And, with half Surrey’s second innings wickets spent and with the home side still 11 in deficit, the win looked on, until the impressive Ben Foakes found partners in bowlers-who-bat, Tom Curran and Gareth Batty and time ran out. If the first two pitches of the season are anything to go by (and the shaved ends bounding a slightly grassier middle section looks very deliberate) draws will be more common than results in South London. Coach, Michael Di Venuto might need to look down the back of a few sofas to find Pragyan Ojha’s phone number – his four late season matches in 2011 brought 24 wickets at 13, penetration that turns draws into wins.

Ball Five – Sun not set yet on Westley’s Test ambitions

In Division Two, Essex’s draw with Worcestershire consolidated their early season position at the top of the table. It was another high-scoring match, which won’t have hurt Alastair Cook, who peered through the grille of his helmet for over six hours in making 142. He will also have noticed his partner during a stand of 222 runs, Tom Westley, who has started this season with a run of scores that would please England’s top Test runs scorer himself: 110, 121, 86, 16, 64, 125, 20. Westley played for the England Lions earlier this year, as much for his one-day darts as for his batting, but, at 27, he may still harbour ambitions of Test cricket. Carry on like this – especially if Essex bag the one promotion spot this year and Westley plays well in the top flight in 2017 – and who knows?

Ball Six – DI Stevens solves the case of the missing results

Kent notched the sole win of the week in county cricket making a potentially awkward target of 187 look easy as the openers knocked them off in 49 overs. It’s 62 years since a Kent opening pair posted century stands in each innings of a match, so Daniel Bell-Drummond and Tom Latham’s partnerships of 131 and an undefeated 190 caught the eye even in this season of run bonanzas. So a nod is in order for the Kent bowlers, led by the indefatigable Darren Stevens whose match figures of 49-13-147-5 included Glamorgan’s dangerous Graham Wagg twice (for 40 and 106). Stevens turned 40 the day before the match started, but he still took the new ball in each innings and chipped in with a typically belligerent 58 from Number 6 . He and Graham Napier are flying the flag for the veteran all-rounders in Division Two.



  1. Like DRS, in both cricket and F1, it will take teams a while to figure out how best to use the no-toss rule in County Cricket. Survey’s calculations have clearly been less than optimum…

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