Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 25, 2017

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 25 June 2017

Not just that – though it helps

Ball One – Simon Harmer does the damage for Essex

At the halfway point of the season, Essex are top of Division One. Even with Alastair Cook available, few expected that sentence to be written when Ryan ten Doeschate’s side planned this season, back in the top flight and without the services of old pros Graham Napier and David Masters. But the batting keeps coming at you – nine centuries shared between six batsmen in seven matches, the latest from Ravi Bopara (192) and James Foster (121) setting up the win over sorry Warwickshire, rock bottom and 40 points from safety. It’s s different story amongst the bowlers though, with just three crossing double figures for wickets in 2017: Jamie Porter (31); Neil Wagner (23) and Simon Harmer (33). The South African off-spinner relished the heat at Chelmsford, setting records with match figures of 66 – 24 – 128 – 14, proving that not every Kolpak is focused on the Pound – Rand exchange rate. .

Ball Two – Dane Vilas paints the town red for Lancashire

For Essex in first, read Lancashire in second and for Simon Harmer, read Dane Vilas. After six bowlers had shared Hampshire’s first innings wickets, Lancashire, despite a century from tough nut Alex Davies, opening after keeping for more than a day, were still behind by 172 and five down when Vilas was joined by his compatriot Ryan McLaren. Local knowledge may have proved useful though, because McLaren was likely aware that when Vilas gets three figures, he tends to stick around for a daddy, and the ex-keeper delivered his biggest daddy of all with 244 spread over seven hours. With McLaren cruising to a four hour ton at the other end, Hampshire’s deficit was 198 runs – and a helluva lot of energy. Jimmy Anderson led the bowling effort with four wickets, as Lancashire wrapped things quickly. Who knows – Red Rose fans might just allow themselves to think a tiny bit about the 14 points gap to first place and not the 65 points gap to seventh.

Ball Three – Paul Stirling caps a happy week for Irish cricket with a ton and a win

Having complained about Lord’s pitches being too friendly to batsmen, this column can hardly kvetch about an HQ strip baked into a a seamer’s delight in sunny St John’s Wood. Having won the toss, Middlesex needed a partnership and got one from Sam Robson (159) and Paul Stirling (111), the only batsmen (apart from the in-form Gary Balllance) to cross 50 in the match. Six home bowlers shared the wickets between them, as the White Rose was rolled for 208 and 174 to lose by an innings inside three days. A first win of the season for the defending champions will prompt talk of an early Autumn charge for the line, while Yorkshire, stalling after two successive wins, are still handily placed, third in the table.

Ball Four – Samit is busting runs all over in June

After a couple of draws, Nottinghamshire got back to winning ways by pulverising Leicestershire by an innings and 280 runs on a pitch that responded to the pace of James Pattinson and Jake Ball, the Test men notching 12 wickets between them. With one exception, no batsman found it easy, Brendan Taylor’s 61 the second highest knock in the match. But when the highest individual innings is 247, that statistical blip hardly matters, Samit Patel cashing in again in the form of his life. Nine years on from his England debut, since the beginning of the month, his scores read: 247; 122*; 66; 257*; 28; 82. I’d buy a lottery ticket now if I were you Samit.

Ball Five – Joe Clark writing his own script in marvellous match

Worcestershire matched the leaders five wins with a crucial victory over fellow promotion hopefuls, Kent, at an idyllic New Road. Joe Leach’s heart must have sank as the coin came down on the wrong side and Kent gained first use of the pitch, but he led his seamers by example with three wickets as the visitors were bundled out for 260. After Moeen Ali’s nine boundaries from 16 balls had cut the deficit to 165 at the end of a splendid first day, Worcestershire needed an innings of substance and got one from 21 year-old Joe Clark, whose 142 helped secure a first innings lead of 76. Back came Kent with a Joe Denly double century requiring the home side to make 399 for the win. Daryl Mitchell’s 142 anchored the chase (as he so often does), but it was Clark who was there at the end, 110*, to celebrate twin tons and a win over valiant opponents after a wonderful cricket match.

Ball Six – Durham still at the pit of the table, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel

At the other end of Division Two, Durham’s first win of the season finally turned their points total positive and, I venture, gladdened the hearts of county cricket followers everywhere. If another Irishman, Barry McCarthy, did well with wickets and runs, two major contributions came from old stagers Chris Rushworth (8-111 and 38) and skipper Paul Collingwood (92), but the crucial century was delivered by Graham Clark, one of the players seizing his chance this season with over four hundred runs already. With Jack Burnham feeling his way back after a long lay off with 39 runs for once out, add Cameron Steel with the bat and local boy, Paul Coughlin, with the ball and Durham may just be finding a few players for 2018

 

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