Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 30, 2018

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 30 July 2018

Ball One – Rory Burns’ men continue their hot streak

Surrey opened up a 44 points buffer at the top of the County Championship Division One after marmalising Nottinghamshire by an innings and plenty at Trent Bridge. It was a classic lesson in how to win a cricket match – and it bodes ill for their rivals for the pennant. Having elected to bowl, captain Rory Burns called upon the swing and variety of the revitalised Jade Dernbach, the left arm “duck ’em in and hold ’em up” of Sam Curran (the John Lever de nos jours), the sheer class of Morne Morkel and the nous of Rikki Clarke. By the end of Day One, the captain was at the crease one blow short of a century and his team were already in front. After a middle order wobble, the all-rounders got on top of the tiring bowlers, with Clarke making a ton and the late order T20ing the score to almost 600. Patience alone was all that was required now, and with a fivefer for Morkel and even a couple for Amar Virdi’s insurance policy spin to wrap things up, a totally dominant victory was secured. It won’t always be as straightforward as that, but under Rory Burns’ impressive leadership, the Londoners look to have every base covered for the run-in.

Ball Two – Jos Buttler fails to serve up miracle win

The stakes were as high as ever at Old Trafford as the Roses rivals faced off in a relegation battle. (Very, very few Division One matches have nothing riding on them – no wonder the powers that be want to change such a wonderfully competitive structure…) The joy of a low scoring game is that a couple of decent partnerships can turn likely defeat into unexpected victory and more than a few Lancashire fans were hoping that someone would hang around for Jos Buttler, in a rare outing for his county, to do the Jos Buttler thing and win a cricket match off his own bat. But, with captain, Liam Livingstone, nursing a broken thumb and batting, Marshallesquely, with one hand in forlorn hope at 11, it was not to be. His opposite number, Yorkshireman’s Yorkshireman Steve Patterson, made 67 runs for once out and enjoyed match figures of 26 – 9 – 72 – 5 – what an admirable player he is.

Ball Three – Glass half-full now for James Fuller and co?

In Division Two, Middlesex gave themselves a sniff of a late season charge to promotion in a tight win over Warwickshire at Lord’s. With Warwickshire needing 52 with six wickets in hand, the match was in the balance, but James Fuller, who had top scored from number nine in the first innings, snared Tim Ambrose and then it was a matter of time. Middlesex have really missed Toby Roland-Jones this season, with James Harris doing a decent job as the all-rounder in support of the ever dependable Tim Murtagh, but not enough coming from the likes of Hilton Cartwright, Ollie Rayner and Tom Helm. The big issue remains a batting line-up that has misfired too often, with just two centuries all summer – if that’s sorted, don’t be surprised to see the points pile up.

Ball Four – Is the Nixon magic working at Leicestershire?

Is Paul Nixon leading a quiet revolution at Grace Road? it’s hard to believe that “The Badger” could do anything quietly, but this week’s ten wickets crushing of Kent took the Midlanders into fourth place, just ten points off a promotion slot. With an attack led by the very classy import, Mohammad Abbas, supported by Ben Raine, a player who finds a way of influencing most matches and another all-rounder, Zak Chappell, taking his chance with bat and ball, could Nixon effect an unlikely turnaround after whole seasons without a win? There’s plenty in the game would be delighted were it to be prove so come September.

Paul Collingwood and Imran Tahir look on from the pavilion

Ball Five – Colly still conquering peaks in his 40s

The Blast is back!! With three points separating five teams at the top of the North Group and two points separating five in the South, it’s still tricky to discern any real pattern to the season at its mid-point. That said, Durham are third in the North Group and who wouldn’t want to see their players and fans at Finals Day after what they have been through? So Performance of the Week in the North Group goes to dear old Colly, still doing it for his home county week-in, week-out. His wicket-to-wicket stuff brought him 1-29 in his four overs, as Nottinghamshire struggled to get him and another old warhorse, Imran Tahir, away for runs. And if 133 is barely a target at all these days, who better to keep a cool head, put away the four balls and rotate the strike, than the man who first played for Durham in 1996. So, 40 not out with the bat and 42 not out on the calendar. See you at Edgbaston in September Mr Collingwood?

Ball Six – Is Lewis Gregory wasting his own potential to be a matchwinner?

Performance of the Week in the South Group goes to Somerset’s captain. Lewis Gregory, who biffed 62 off 26 balls with bat in hand and then shot out the Middlesex middle order with 4-28 off his full allocation to deliver a comfortable Duckworth/Lewis win. Gregory, like Dan Christian at Nottinghamshire, is a destructive hitter, who often chooses to come in late in the innings (and has been not out in half his six knocks to date). I know that Six or Seven gives them a licence to tee off, but wouldn’t it make more sense to deploy the fastest scoring batsmen where he is likely to face the most deliveries? If I were captain, I’d want the (few and far between) batsmen who can sustain a 200 strike rate to go over the top in the powerplay overs or come in no later than halfway through the innings in they prefer not to face the new ball.

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