Posted by: tootingtrumpet | September 24, 2017

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 24 September 2017

Ball One – Essex march on

Whenever the scoreboard ticked over to 76, the late Brian Johnston would announce that it was “Trombone Time”, so how he would have enjoyed Essex’s win over Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl. The hosts’ Aussie captain, George Bailey, unpontingly enforced the follow-on after the wheels had finally come off in the champions-elects’ annus mirabilis, dismissed for 76 in their first dig. Cue 20 year-old Dan Lawrence’s century backed up by the old hands, James Foster and Neil Wagner, who posted 82 for the ninth wicket to set an awkward fourth day target of 185 for a suddenly nervy and much needed win. The victory fanfares were soon blaring again for Essex, as Sam Cook led the attack with 5-18 to despatch Hampshire for (you guessed it), 76 stretching Essex’s lead at the top of the table to 69 points. They’re just trolling their opponents now.

Ball Two – Rikki loses old numbers to post career best bowling

Hampshire had Surrey to thank for avoiding dropping into the second relegation place as Kumar Sangakkara did the Sangakkara thing, shooting an arrow into the heart of the Somerset bowlers after they had reduced the South Londoners to 169-4, still trailing by 100. Even the Lankan batsman can’t do it all on his own, so it was pleasing to see Surrey past and future chip in down the order, 19 years old Ollie Pope and 35 years old (until Friday) Rikki Clarke each posting round 50s. The lanky all-rounder is enjoying his work back the lee of the gasometers, his first innings 18-2-55-7 career-best figures – not bad for Tom Curran’s stand-in! Somerset have to win at home to Middlesex in the last match of the season to bridge the 16 points gap to their opponents, with Hampshire sandwiched in between. Keep calculators (and case precedent re “extraordinary declarations”) close to hand.

Ball Three – Finn in the swim at just the right time

Steven Finn stepped up to replace Toby Roland-Jones (you might want to CTRL-C  that for November – January) as Lancashire collapsed twice at Lord’s on a sporting but far from unplayable pitch, an example of the welcome change this year in the square at HQ. No visiting batsman scored a forty never mind a fifty, something achieved by both Ollie Rayner and T R-J through the simple virtues of watching the ball on to a vertical bat and hitting anything too full or too wide very hard indeed. Finn’s 8-79, his best since April 2010, got the home side over the line by 36 precious runs to set up the Somerset showdown in the slanting autumnal sunshine.

Ball Four – Steve Patterson proves a thorn in Bears’ side

He gets a game, he misses a game (as international calls and pitch conditions dictate) but he never gives less than 100% to the White Rose cause. Steve Patterson was in this week for a Yorkshire side grown used to fighting for the pennant rather than fighting relegation, but he remembers Division Two cricket and was in no mood to see more of it in 2018. After returning almost comically Pattersonesque figures with the ball (15-5-27-1 and 26-7-46-4), he rolled his sleeves up and went out to bat at Number Nine with 79 runs needed. He hit 44 of them himself, the gifted (and still a teenager) Matthew Fisher made 15 at the other end and a flurry of extras did the rest and Warwickshire lost again. This column is written in large part to recognise the likes of Patto and – hands across The Pennines – this Red Rose fan salutes you.

Ball Five – Nottinghamshire have their pants pulled down by Richard Levi and Rory Kleinveldt

No caption required

In my mind’s eye, Nottinghamshire were promoted about the same time Essex “won” Division One, but Northamptonshire have suddenly got a foot in the door and might yet deny them or Worcestershire a promotion slot this week. And where would be more appropriate for Rory Kleinveldt and Richard Levi to play than amongst the big boys? Kleinveldt (who is anything but klein) top scored in Northants’ first innings and then knocked over nine Notts batsmen (perhaps a certain affinity prevented him dismissing Samit Patel) before Richard Levi made light of Ben Duckett’s absence injured with a barnstorming 115, the highest individual score in the match by a margin of 62 runs. Kleinveldt chipped in with another four wickets in the second dig

as Chris Read’s valedictory dream season threatens to turn into a nightmare. Who cares about beep tests?

Ball Six – The County Championship is served very well by the few journalists left writing about it

There are not many places left to learn about the results in the County Championship (on Friday evening, BBC Radio Five Live’s sports bulletin gave us Castleford Tigers 16 Hull FC 48, Huddersfield Giants 12 Leeds Rhinos 36 and Everton Ladies 0 Liverpool Ladies 2, but nothing on cricket other than Toby Roland-Jones’ injury). So what a delight it has been this week (and all season) to read the beautifully crafted, old school match reports (if you can find them) on a cricket specialist website a click or two away from you right now. Backing up the wonderful work done through the day by the extraordinarily indefatiguable Will McPherson here at The Guardian, Tim Wigmore, Paul Edwards, David Hopps and Vithushan Ehantharajah (amongst others) transport us to the yawning green fields and big blue skies with their words day-in, day-out. Thank you gentlemen.

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