Posted by: tootingtrumpet | April 22, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 22 April 2019

Ball One – Bancroft graduates quickly in English white ball cricket

We’re only one week in – but we’re only seven weeks from the final – so players needed to hit the ground running and, with the sun on their backs, plenty did. None more so than Durham’s Australian captain, Cameron Bancroft, whose back-to-back undefeated centuries saw off Leicestershire and Northamptonshire to send his new club top of the Royal London One Day Cup North Group. By today’s standards, Bancroft is no white ball dasher, but a classy bat is a classy bat and Durham’s punt may already be paying off.

Ball Two – Clarke misses out on writing a bit of history.

Nottinghamshire share top spot with Durham, both enjoying a 100% record, after a Trent Bridge run fest against Lancashire. Led by Joe Clarke’s 139 (out with 23 overs still to come, Ally Brown numbers beckoning), the home side made 417-7. Lanky fell 12 short of the target, James Pattinson’s five wickets getting his team over the line. Steven Croft and Dane Vilas may have over 600 white ball matches behind them, but I wonder if they ever contemplated making 110 off 82 and 166 off 100 – and losing. The 50 overs game is developing swiftly.

Ball Three – Sam Northeast points the way for Hampshire

Things are a little more complicated in the South Group, with Somerset, Hampshire, Middlesex and Sussex all two for two, as the Americans might say. Of the quartet, Hampshire have probably impressed the most, cruising past Glamorgan’s 292-9 with eight overs in hand and seeing off Kent by 90 runs. Hampshire heretic, Sam Northeast, made an undefeated century on his return to Canterbury, which will, no doubt, have provoked some less than charitable sentiments from the Kent faithful.

Rory Burns drives to the selection meeting

Ball Four – Surrey smarting after being too smart?

Surrey’s much vaunted batting stumbled out of the blocks, dismissed for 88 by Gloucestershire’s handy, but hardly hostile, bowling. Jason Roy back and opening, Will Jacks at Three, Rory Burns down to Four, Ben Foakes in at Five, before Ollie Pope at Six, then Rikki Clarke and Tom Curran at Seven and Eight. If that order sounds a bit tricksy, it was tried again at Hove a couple of days later where it posted something competitive, if not good enough, Sussex chasing down 275 comfortably. The Londoners have some time to work it out, but not long.

Ball Five – Match of the Week: Hurt cashes in

Local rivals with plenty of history. A good balance between bat and ball – okay, favouring bat over ball a little, but this is one day cricket. The match decided off the last delivery, Josh Poysden failing to get home for the second run that would have tied it up. And a Lancashire win in a Roses Match! (Okay, you don’t necessarily need that last one for a MOTW nomination, but it’s my column so my rules!) Dane Vilas entrusted the crucial penultimate over of the Yorkies’ chase to Liam Hurt, a local lad who has been round the block a few times, but he seized the day just five runs conceded and a wicket his reward. Hurt is a 6ft 4in all-rounder from Preston (“Fat Lad” credentials unknown). Not sure Hurt’ll be bantering with James Corden any time soon though.

Ball Six – Royal beheaded

Three or four years ago, I wasn’t sure where 50 overs cricket was heading. It felt a little lost with the Twenty20 juggernaut beating it up behind the bike sheds every playtime. But England worked out how to play it properly, the counties tore up all the platform-building nonsense en route to par scores of 287-6 and the game became a spectacle again. Tactically, the nuance so often absent from its school bully cousin, returned with bowlers going through variations in spells and batsmen moving fields around to engineer gaps. The all day one day format has become, at a time when baby boomers have never had more time at their disposal, a lovely way to relax if the sun is shining. That’s the kind of sentence that marketing men (always men it seems) despise.

Next year, The Royal London One Day Cup will be replaced with a “development tournament”.

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