Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 30, 2017

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 29 May 2017

What Google Images returns for “Paul Collingwood MBE” – ’nuff said

Ball One – Kumar Sangakkara fails… to make a sixth century in six innings

Essex and Surrey started their match separated by one point at the top of Division One and finished it in identical shape, the draw not really helping either in a tight race for the pennant. Inevitably, Surrey were indebted to Kumar Sangakkara, who “failed” in his bid for six consecutive centuries, falling for 86 as the match meandered to a draw on the last afternoon. Having registered a round 200 in the first dig, the ageless Lankan scored 47% of Surrey’s runs off the bat, but will have to wait for that hundredth senior hundred – one suspects not for very long. Contributions were more spread amongst the Essex men, but teenager Dan Lawrence caught the eye again with a ton. He, like fellow teen Sam Curran who made 90 in Surrey’s first dig, can only learn from the honour of sharing a cricket field with an all-time great of the game. And I’m not just talking about cricket either.

Ball Two – Tom Abell needs to find a way to arrest Somerset’s poor form

Somerset’s heartbreaking final day of the 2016 County Championship appears to have cast a shadow over 2017, something that new young skipper, Tom Abell, needs to address. With just a draw in the credit column after four matches and 15 points from safety (and sixth place Middlesex have a game in hand), his team are venturing towards the kind of territory where you need snookers. It was another low scoring match at spin-friendly Taunton, the crucial passage of play coming with visitors Hampshire six down in their second innings with an advantage of just 105. Teenage spinner, Dom Bess, had five of those wickets but he, and Jack Leach who had bagged six first innings wickets, met stiff resistance from the late order, Gareth Berg, Kyle Abbott and Mason Crane all putting bat to ball, their shots lifting the lead to 258. The visitors’ spinners then got the job done, with four wickets for Liam Dawson and five for Crane, as the home side subsided to 168 all out. That Bess and Crane, whose combined age is about the same as Gareth Batty’s, an England spinner as recently as last winter, produced aggregate match figures of 57.5 – 6 – 207 – 15, will not have gone unnoticed by England selectors, but Somerset can be forgiven if their concerns are somewhat more parochial.

Ball Three – Steve Mullaney keeps Nottinghamshire on the road to Division One

Nottinghamshire continued the scorched earth approach to their season in Division Two, seeing off Gloucesterhire by an innings to notch a fourth win from five matches. Shorn of James Pattinson and Jake Ball due to international call-ups (but still able to field Stuart Broad, Harry Gurney and Samit Patel), skipper Chris Read was confident enough to enforce the follow-on and his bowlers duly delivered 20 wickets in 105 overs. Seen more these days as a batsman who bowls in white ball cricket, Steve Mullaney, still only 30 despite seeming to have been around for ages, picked up seven of those 20 with his medium pace wobblers. Having old pros to step up when the class men are away is just about the final piece in Notts’ promotion jigsaw puzzle – they’ll take some stopping now.

Ball Four – Nathan Lyon yet to roar, but seamers weave a spell for Worcestershire

And the man who might do that stopping is Daryl Mitchell, in the runs again with 161 and 78* as Worcestershire maintained their 100% record with a hard fought win over Northamptonshire at Wantage Road. Captain Joe Leach leads the seam attack, joined by Jack Shantry, Ed Barnard and teenager, Josh Tongue, with only the youngster paying more than 20 runs for his wickets this season. With Nathan Lyon yet to fire as a spin option, the September Trent Bridge showdown with leaders Notts looks like being a critical fixture. (Yes, they have to wait that long for their one and only match-up of the season – go figure…).

Ball Five – Kent join a top three in clear blue water after win at Tunbridge Wells

Kent interpolated themselves between leaders Notts and Worcestershire, matching their four wins this season with a comfortable victory over Sussex at Tunbridge Wells. Though many sides can make a claim to have batting through the order, not many sides can ever have matched Sam Northeast’s embarrassment of riches, his XI in this match boasting a lowest career average of 20 (Matt Coles). Not that batting can ever do much more than set up matches, 20 wickets being the key to turning draws into wins. Despite Sussex being 8-3 in their second innings (having conceded a lead of over 200 on first innings), the visitors battled hard, James Harris eventually wrapping up the resistance with match figures of 7-140 – Sussex all out 356, Kent’s victory margin 147. Effective though late order runs can be, Kent need to be ruthless in selecting bowlers who can take 20 wickets throughout the season, as three into two doesn’t go and one of Division Two’s pacesetters will not gain promotion come the falling leaves of Autumn.

Ball Six – Paul Collingwood – loser against Glamorgan, but winner in the grander scheme of things

Durham languish in bottom place in Division Two, without a win this season and on a ridiculous total of -24 points after the understandable penalty demotion last year and the knife-twistingly cruel 48 points deficit with which they started the season. With promotion a distant possibility (over 124 points distant as matters stand now) and without a win this season, Paul Collingwood’s Day Four lunch declaration (after losing overs to rain) setting Glamorgan 266 to win in a minimum 51 overs looked bold but necessary. What made it admirable, goddammit I’ll say it – noble, is the fact that he was on 92 at the time, having made 127 in the first dig in this, his birthday match. Chances for twin centuries don’t come round too often (especially not at 41 years of age) and he would have been Durham’s first such batsman, but the man with more reason than anyone to put personal achievement ahead of the match situation and season context, chose to make a game of it. That Glamorgan won a thriller in the last over of the day is to their credit, but when Colly eventually does hang up his boots, he won’t be buying himself many drinks if there are cricket fans in the bar.

 

 

 

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Responses

  1. Nice one Gaz. And a happy birthday to you too!

    Isn’t Colly a wonder? Over on tl I have just compared him to Lancelot: not an unblemished kid like Galahad or Percival but still, for all his ups and downs and scars and wins and defeats, worthy of achieving the Grail.

    As for Sanga, words fail me…


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