Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 21, 2017

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 21 August 2017

Surely that should be a LCCC and not an MCC tie!

Ball One – Foxes hunt down Outlaws

15 of 18 counties eyed scoreboards anxiously on the last day of the T20 Blast group stages, as, after all those weeks of matches, only three (including Durham) had no chance of making the quarter-finals. Is that a testimony to the competitiveness of the format or a condemnation of the foolishness of hijacking high summer for a lot of sound and fury that ultimately signified nothing? Soon we’ll have two chances to consider that conundrum. Leicestershire won’t be too bothered about such musings, as they secured their spot in the last eight with a victory over team of the season (so far) Nottinghamshire, who had already topped the North Group. The most fantastic Mr Foxes proved to be Cameron Delport and Matt Pillans, the former making a century, the latter defending seven off the last over. Both are South African born, somewhat nondescript (for this level) players, whose faces will not be screaming out of the knockout stages marketing posters. Good on them, but also, I’m afraid, as the young people say, meh.

Ball Two – Imran Tahir a ripper of a signing for Derbyshire as they roll into the quarter-finals

Derbyshire and Warwickshire also progressed from the North Group, with the distinctly unmehish South African import Imran Tahir the key man for unfashionable Derbyshire, whose reward is a home tie on a first visit to the quarter-finals since 2005. Chasing 147, Worcestershire were all out for 98, the wily old leg-spinner returning figures of 4 – 0 – 17 – 4 to show the value of experienced bowling yet again. Tahir’s group stage output (17 wickets at 22 and a strike rate a notch above seven) represent fairly predictable numbers for one of the world’s most effective T20 operators, a man who seldom under-performs. Quite why he is not delivering his mix of hard spun leg-breaks, top spinners and googlies for a bigger name, such as Lancashire, Yorkshire, Middlesex, Essex, Sussex or Kent – all of whom failed to make it out of the group stage – is harder to divine.

Ball Three – Adam Lyth lashes out

Though it proved insufficient to ensure progress as results on the last day went against Yorkshire, Adam Lyth (yes, that Adam Lyth) wrote himself into the record books with English T20’s highest score, out for 161 in the last over, as Yorkshire piled up another record 260-4 against Northamptonshire. The hitherto rather sedate left-hander hit over a third of the 73 balls he faced to the boundary (and well done the Tykes who faced the other 50 balls for getting him back on strike) and was instantly interviewed on the boundary live on Sky News, his bald pate shining under the lights, famous not so much “at last” as “again”. Perhaps another ex-England left-handed Test opener looked on and wondered if his fate would mirror Lyth’s. Northants’ Ben Duckett averages less than 30 in white ball cricket this summer and less than 40 in red ball matches and looks a long way off an England recall – but has time to come again.

Ball Four – Glamorgan emerge from the valleys to summit of the South Group

Though Glamorgan have a Test match ground (or, should I say, a ground that hosts Test matches), in many ways their topping of the South Group mirrors Derbyshire’s home tie securing second place in the North Group. In a shortened match at Cardiff, Middlesex’s metropolitan city slickers, boasting six internationals, were restricted to 99-8 with three wickets each for Marchant de Lange and Michael Hogan, the seamers offering plenty of pace and nous. The pair have played 12 matches each and taken 31 wickets at just over 20 and an economy rate of 8.2. That, allied to another moneyball signing, the big hitting Colin Ingram, is a mix that might just go all the way.

Ball Five – Rikki hasn’t lost his numbers – at least with the ball

Surrey and Hampshire squeezed into second and third places in the South Group, the Londoners grateful to an old friend seemingly more at ease with his cricket in familiar surroundings. Rikki Clarke may be 36 next month and 11 years on since his last appearance for England with his return from Warwickshire to The Oval seen as cover for either Curran being poached by England, but his bowling and fielding may well have a say in Surrey’s hopes to go one better in 20 overs cricket than they did in the 50 overs competition. After Jason Roy’s 78 (including 13 of his team’s 16 boundaries) had set a gettable target of 155, Kent looked well set on 99-3 with 56 needed off 39 balls, but Clarke had Joe Denly, who had been anchoring the innings, caught behind and conceded just three runs in the 14th over and, with 15 required, four off the last. Don’t be surprised to see both Currans and Clarke appearing in the same Surrey XI over the next 12 months or so.

Ball Six – Net Run Rate – Not Readily Reckonable

If T20 is the entry level drug leading to the Cat A stuff of Test Match cricket – I’ve been addicted since the mid-70s, so I speak as a survivor – does it help its cause to read that Somerset edged out Sussex for the South Group’s last quarter-final slot by 0.068 on NRR? I know it’s something to do with margins of victory and that those who understand say that it’s the fairest way to separate teams in a league, but can it be made less opaque? On a more general point as a World Test Championship seems as far away as ever and context is sought for bilateral series in all formats, why are cricket match results so hard to aggregate and evaluate in a table? Shouldn’t there be an app for that?


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