Posted by: tootingtrumpet | April 29, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 29 April 2019

Ball One – Notts close to tying up knockout spot

Nottinghamshire blaze a trail at the top of the North Group with a 100% record after five matches, nearly 15,000 turning up to see their latest win, Yorkshire despatched by six wickets. Their formula is hardly a secret – seven batsmen score at 120+ and three bowlers take their wickets at a rate of 6 or less. You won’t lose many matches with numbers like that. Captain, Steven Mullaney, leads from the front in every sense, averaging nearly 90 with the bat, his boundary count one for every seven balls faced – a bits and pieces man re-invented as white ball titan.

Ball Two – Mahmood’s swing in form brings joy for Lancashire

Lancashire will fancy their chances of joining Notts after backing up their tight win over Yorkshire with two more victories last week. 22 year-old paceman, Saqib Mahmood, went for 88 when up against Mullaney’s juggernaut and 76 in the Roses squeek, but came back with 6-37 against Northamptonshire and 5-14 against Leicestershire. Batsmen often catch the headlines in limited overs cricket and I’m as goggle-eyed as anyone who grew up on the John Player League when I see individual scores of 150+, but figures like Mahmood’s – especially after rewarding the faith his captain showed in selecting him again – win matches. There’s still room for a strike bowler with white ball in hand, for all the merits of “pace-off” (see Ball Four).

Ball Three – Higgins’ hurricane knock snookers Somerset

Somerset’s bid to match Notts’ 100% record looked likely to succeed when Gloucestershire’s Graeme Van Buuren was dismissed with 46 to get in 33 balls. But Ryan Higgins is a highly resourceful cricketer and his 30 off 16 deliveries was enough to get his side home with four balls to spare. Higgins is the kind of player who is always a pleasure for cricket fans to watch, making the most of his talents, smart in all disciplines of the game. I also suspect that he won’t quite make the cut for The Hundred next year, so may ply his trade in the downgraded 50 overs competition. I’ll be very happy to enjoy Higgins and others of his kind (say Steven Mullaney above or Dan Lawrence below) and leave The Hundred to whomever the marketing types have identified to drag away from Netflix and Fortnite.

Ball Four – A team of davidhusseys is coming soon…

Years ago, I suggested that white ball sides would comprise a wicketkeeper and ten David Husseys, players who can hit boundaries and run hard en route to 40 off 30 balls, fire darts in at leg stump at 55mph and then bust the moves like Jonty in the field. Watching Essex’s Dan Lawrence (a part-timer at best) bowl through the last 14 overs of the Surrey innings last week, I could see a little davidhusseyism in play. But I was wrong about the darts – Lawrence, and other batsmen who have developed some wrist spin for the white ball game, bowl very slow looping deliveries, with the dart as a variation. No pace means it’s both harder to work singles into the gaps and to generate the pace off the bat required to send the ball to the boundary. Lawrence later made 50 from Number 4 in the day job.

Ball Five – Should bowlers who bat be used at 1, 2 or 3?

Pinch hitters feel a bit 90s, but that’s a decade that looks better as it recedes in the rear view mirror. So is there a case for a bowler who bats to go in and have a dash up top? Watching Toby Roland-Jones rebuild Middlesex’s innings at The Oval with an hour of judicious shot selection and powerful hitting, it struck me that it’s wasteful to (so often) squander such a resource in a late slog. Though TR-J’s runs proved the difference between the sides this time, wouldn’t they do so more frequently if he had license to play with freedom from the off and, if he doesn’t come off, you have a batsman / all-rounder (say Nick Gubbins) to marshal the tail through the last ten overs, should they be required? Runs from TR-J, like all those from all bowlers who bat, are a bit of a bonus anyway and can be probably be treated as such in planning an innings.

They held strong views about rabbit

Ball Six – The talking points’ talking point

It will not surprise you to learn that I am aware that I can be a little loud – and, as my hearing is fading as swiftly as my eyesight, louder still these days. It will also not surprise you to learn that I talk a bit at the cricket – Thursday at The Oval being a case in point. So what’s the etiquette? A softly murmured conversation as at The Crucible or a bit of raucous barracking as at The Ally Pally? Should one speak mainly of the cricket or take a leaf from the inevitable CLR James reference? Are such social norms specific to specific grounds? Let me know – I’m er… listening (for once).

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