Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 28, 2018

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 27 August 2018

Ball One – The greatest catch I’ve ever seen

Surrey with a first title in 16 years in sight; Lancashire staring at the trap door. For nearly four days (and evenings), batsmen had gutsed it out, Rory Burns’ 70 the only score to cross 43 for the leaders and Lancashire, for the second time, conjuring runs from a tail that had plenty of spine about it. The champion South African bowler, Morne Morkel, with a fivefer in his bag already, charges in to Lancashire’s Number 11, Matt Parkinson, who stands within a blow of winning the match. Just in picture, Will Jacks crouches, concentrating at short leg. And then… this.

Ball Two – More and more from Moeen

The Red Rose needed the White Rose to wilt a little in the sea air of Scarborough to drag the Tykes back into danger – and wilt it did under an extraordinary assault from Moeen Ali. The England man’s tour-de-force started handily with the wicket of gun Kiwi batsman, Kane Williamson, but got a whole lot better in partnership with “Mr Worcestershire”, Daryl Mitchell, the pair putting on 294 for the second wicket, Mitchell’s share 178. Moeen went on to make 219, before, perhaps more inspired by the unmistakable sound of seagulls than one might expect of a Birmingham boy, he took 6-49 to secure an important win. Yorkshireman Joe Root could be excused mixed feelings as he might fancy a bit of that form in his XI this week.

Ball Three – Leach makes Essex bleed

That said, England’s selectors were given another nudge in a splendid match at Taunton. After Marcus Trescothick had doubled his age with 95 in Somerset’s first innings, Essex, having been behind for pretty much all the match, dragged themselves back into it at 223-3, needing 113 more for the win. Jack Leach was already deep into an epic spell, but his dismissal of Dan Lawrence gave him added vigour and he proceeded to dismantle the visitors’ middle and lower order, Somerset winning by 45 runs to hang on to Surrey’s coattails, 32 points behind in second place. Leach had bowled unchanged on the fourth day, dealing with the pressure of expectation, to finish his second innings work with figures of 48-16-85-8. That’s the kind of physical and mental stamina England will need in Sri Lanka.

Ball Four – Murtagh and Bamber find the right answers for Middlesex

In Division Two, Warwickshire, Sussex and Kent all won to keep things very tight in the promotion race, but, after dishing out a fair bit of criticism to Middlesex, this column must highlight an astonishing win for Dawid Malan’s men. It looked business as usual at Wantage Road, as Northamptonshire’s Ricardo Vasconcelos registered a maiden century, pushing on to 140, James Harris’s 7-83 the only bright sign for the Londoners. Nick Gubbins was soon out twice in a day, as Middlesex reached the midpoint of the match with much to reflect upon, following on 127 runs in arrears. Sam Robson made 72, Max Holden bit the hand that fed him last season with 94 and James Harris, enjoying a good match, chipped in with 79* and Northants had an unexpectedly tricky target of 216 to chase. Well, the wily old fox, Tim Murtagh knows exactly how to play that hand, and his fivefer, with strong support from teenage debutant, Ethan Bamber (3-38), whose batting had been crucial in giving Middlesex something to bowl at, proved enough to secure a win by 31 runs. If, and it’s a big if, Middlesex play to their potential, they could yet rescue the season with promotion.

Blame him

Ball Five – Strictly slow, slow, not very quick, slow

All four Vitality Blast quarter-finals proved to be comfortable wins for the progressing teams, who can now look forward to the Finals Day jamboree on 15th September (if it were scheduled for 8th September, it would have a free run in the domestic sports coverage with no Premier League nor Championship football scheduled, but hey ho). It’s reasonable to expect spin to play a part at Edgbaston when one looks at the figures delivered by frontliners in the quarters. Lancashire’s Matt Parkinson, Zahir Khan and Arron Lilley 10-0-62-4; Sussex’s Danny Briggs and Will Beer 8-0-36-4; Worcestershire’s Moeen Ali and Brett D’Oliveira 6-0-45-4; and Somerset’s Max Waller and Roelof van der Merwe 8-0-70-2. Add in excellent stuff from dibbly-dobblers like Daryl Mitchell (4-0-15-1) and how long will it be before we start to talk about what we can do to bring the 80mph+ men back into T20 cricket?

Ball Six – C’mon Sky – do the right thing.

Finals Day is great fun, brilliantly presented by Sky, who strike a tricky balance between treating the competitive sport with due respect, but not forgetting that it’s cricket’s most entertaining day in its most entertaining format. I’ve long been of the belief that Sky should go free-to-air all day as a loss leader to build their subscriber base for the future (in fact, I think all T20 cricket should be FTA for that reason, but I understand that long journeys begin with small steps). Things will change in 2020, so why not allow as many people as possible to enjoy the last climaxes of a competition that can drag a little through the group stages, but has never failed to produce an engaging finale.



  1. Some catch, right enough.

    • Watched it on a live feed – couldn’t believe it!

  2. Great to see Leach perform but definitely correct decision to allow him to do that at domestic level rather than rush him back into international fold.

    • I think that’s right. SL is a possibility though.

  3. Greatest reaction catch at short leg (particularly given it was off a quick bowler and looked to come off the meat of the bat). I don’t really see how any catch can excel the one that Strauss took to dismiss Gilchrist in 2005, or Stokes’s catch in the gully off Broad.

    • Fair enough, but they do get a pretty good look at those.

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