Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 9, 2018

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 9 July 2018

Ball One – Blast failing to blast from your newspapers, televisions or radios

The Vitality Blast! (Is it just me, of does “Vitality Blast” sound like a pole vaulter routinely beaten by Sergei Bubka in the 90s?). It has the weather, the plum spot in the calendar and big crowds – but up against Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix and something you may have heard of going on in Russia, fails to find a national media presence of any heft at all. The ECB have shown that they can raise the profile of the women’s game in partnership with the BBC and others, so why not work on something that has a much stronger fan base as a starting point? Anyone would think that there was a bit of a conspiracy underway to let the 18 counties T20 competition wither on the vine over the next couple of years – but that can’t be true, can it?

Ball Two – Stirling picks up silverware in effective performance

Which makes the close to full house at Lord’s on a perfect summer evening for the Trans-Thames derby all the more creditable – because, at local / regional level, the Vitality Blast is an er… product that people want to buy. It’s a strange spectacle when you ignore the razzmatazz though. The winner of Man of the Match award in a comfortable victory for Middlesex was Paul Stirling, who opened the batting and the bowling (like one of those greedy captains in a school game), his stand-and-deliver thumps square on either side of the wicket yielding 66 off 36 and his four overs of right arm, round arm utter filth (it really, really is) going for just 26 and snaring the first three Surrey wickets. Stirling is an extremely useful operator in the format and is ripe for exploitation as a cult figure come the launch of The 100, but (for some of us) he’s almost too ugly to watch.

Ball Three – Nottinghamshire’s faith in Christian pays off

A few years ago, a friend of mine played club cricket with Dan Christian and had nothing but praise for the Australian. At 35, Christian’s international days are probably in the past – though stranger things have happened in Australian cricket and who can honestly say that he wouldn’t improve the current XI? – but he’s now on the franchise trail selling big hitting, canny bowling and Aussie attitude to the highest bidder. And, if that sounds demeaning, it’s absolutely not my intention – why shouldn’t a man sell his labour for the best price he can get? He’s at Nottinghamshire for now and underlined the value he offers with a sensational knock at Wantage Road. Coming in just before the halfway mark, he hit 113* off 40 balls to drive the innings to 220, which despite Ben Duckett’s 88, proved far too much for Northamptonshire.

Ball Four – Worcestershire source options with the ball

Worcestershire’s 100% record after three matches puts them on top of the North Group at this early stage, with Brett D’Oliveira’s men’s success very much down to the team ethic. Though only Martin Guptill has made a fifty (twice) to date, seven bowlers have chipped in with at least a couple of wickets. It’s often said that T20 is a batsman’s game – and it is – but bowling options for a captain remain critical across a season. D’Oliveira has more than most.

Luke Wright

Ball Five – Mr Wright leads Sussex to the top of the South Group

Sussex lie joint top of the South Group with two wins from two, having chased down Glamorgan’s 173-4 with more than a over to spare at Sophia Gardens. Luke Wright, captain of The Sharks (Are they still called the Sharks? Isn’t that a bit West Side Story? Does anyone, except for James Taylor on the radio, ever call counties by their nicknames? ) made 88 in that reply and, like Dan Christian, has the profile of a man with a bat for hire these days. Somehow, the player I always think of as a refugee from a boyband, is now 33 years old. When did that happen?

Ball Six – All-rounder Denly cheers up Kent

Kent also enjoy a 100% record in the South Group, showing no signs of moping after their 50 overs disappointment at Lord’s. Joe Denly, enjoying an Indian summer and more than his fair share of mentions in this column, had a bit of a match at The Oval, batting all but one ball on the Kent innings for 102 before claiming 3-31 – those Surrey wickets coming in hat-trick! I wonder if any other occasional leg-break bowlers are working on their other skill, because Denly is an authentic all-rounder these days and a wrist-spinner who can land it is just about the most useful member of any T20 XI.



  1. ‘Stirling is an extremely useful operator in the format and is ripe for exploitation as a cult figure come the launch of The 100, but (for some of us) he’s almost too ugly to watch.’

    I’m sorry, Gary, I’m just not having that. The man’s a legend in his own (extended) lunchtime.

    • Exactly Hephaistos was ugly, but he’s a legend, and married Aphrodite too. some perspective required, Oh Gaz.

      • And Hephaistos also struck many a lusty blow in his trade.

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