Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 7, 2017

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 7 August 2017

Danny Morrison hears the news from Bristol

Ball One – Hales blows away Durham, but not Gayle

Nottinghamshire’s grim 2016 is being swept away by 2017’s thrills and spills, two more wins this week sending them to the top of the North Group (and even their no result wasn’t bad, 210-8 racked up against Leicestershire before the rain came down). Poor old Durham (whose season is almost a mirror image of Notts’) might have thought they were in the game having made a respectable 183-7, but they were just so much timber for the Alex Hales wood chipper, as the England man smashed nine fours and nine sixes en route to 95 off 29 balls, the 30th a skier that would have equalled Chris Gayle’s world record century had he middled it. Perhaps Jamaica needed one of its icons to retain his air of invincibility this week.

Ball Two – Lancashire prove no thorn in Northamptonshire’s side

Defending champions, Northamptonshire’s motley collection of biffers and bowlers, are level with Notts on 14 points after a couple of wins of their own this week, both the product of squeezing a chase. They must have thought the hard work had been done at home to Lancashire after Rory Kleinveldt and Richard Gleeson had reduced the visitors to 25-5 chasing 159, but Dane Vilas and Ryan McLaren are two South Africans enjoying England in 2017 and a stand of 91 put Lancashire right back in it. But Northants have nous to burn and another old pro, T20 specialist Azharullah, snared Vilas just as the tables were tilting towards the red rose – and there was no way back for McLaren and the tail.

Ball Three – A Donald still on the fast track to success

Glamorgan’s win at The Oval sent them to the top of the South Group and owed much to the evocatively monickered Anuerin Donald, the (surprise, surprise) local boyo, whose 76 set up a target of 182 that the home side only threatened with some desperate late hitting from Tom Curran. Donald, as is the way with most young batsmen (see Surrey’s own Dominic Sibley, now shoring up Warwickshire’s fragile batting), hasn’t yet lived up to the promise of a teenage double hundred (his 234 off 136 balls last year breaking plenty of records). At 20, he has played 75 professional matches though, so he’s being given his chance amongst the circuit’s franchise players for hire and old pros.

Ball Four – Gloucestershire beat local rivals and produce a statistical quirk

Somerset and Gloucestershire are tied second behind Glamorgan after the home side won the West Country derby at Bristol. Craig Overton employed the long handle to get the visitors up to 146 all out from the wreckage of 96-8 at the end of the 13th over, but Gloucestershire cruised home, three down with ten balls to spare. An unremarkable match except for the statistical oddity that all five Gloucestershire batsmen hit sixes and all six Somerset bowlers conceded sixes. Don’t tell Danny Morrison or he might explode.

Ball Five – James Foster’s Indian summer continues

Though enjoying an extraordinary season in four day cricket, Essex find themselves at the bottom of the South Group, but with four matches still to play, in with a shout of progressing. When captain, Ryan ten Doeschate, was out first ball with 21 still needed off three overs, the inexperienced Paul Walter swiftly velcroed his pads and got the heart rate down – but needn’t have worried. At 37, James Foster remains as skilful and effective a cricketer as ever, whether wearing gauntlets or gloves, and he steeered his team home as he has done so often over the years. If Essex can maintain form right through to September, there will be few who’ll begrudge a fine servant of the game (and a one club man) the silverware his service surely deserves.

Ball Six – Is the T20 Blast scripted by Christopher Nolan?

Cricket is a difficult game to follow – the thrill of exploring its vast vista of tactical complexity, long history and eloquent literature is one of its delights – but that can be daunting to newcomers who need a narrative to guide them. Twenty20 was developed (at least in part) to simplify some of cricket’s more arcane structures and introduce the game to new audiences, an objective largely achieved (though how much of the increase in cricket’s profile a decade or so ago was due to the first Twenty20 season in 2003 and how much to the 2005 Ashes, is probably moot). So why is the T20 Blast so hard to follow? Two groups, nine teams in each, but only 14 matches, played in a concentrated period (except this week, when we have a round of County Championship games) and the ECB’s own website blaring

#Blast17. The 2017 NatWest T20 Blast sees each county playing 14 qualifying matches in a six-week period between July 7 and August 18, the top four teams meet at Edgbaston for Finals Day on September 2″

 True (well, trueish), but maybe the quarter-finals might have warranted a mention. Try to design a horse, not a camel, please. And good luck with that.

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