Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 31, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 31 May 2019

Ball One – Ballance tips scales Yorkshire’s way in draw

Hampshire leapfrogged inactive Somerset to go top of the table after time ran out in a weather-affected draw at Headingley. Yorkshire will probably be the more peeved, as the hosts had fought their way back from a first innings deficit (thanks to another Gary Ballance century) to set a target of 279 in roughly 50 overs, a fair fight proposed by wily old Steve Patterson. But, in one of those strange quirks that perhaps only red ball cricket conjures up in sport, Yorkshire’s chances of a win were probably stymied by success coming too early, Hampshire three down in 12 overs and the batsmen under no pressure to chase. Joe Weatherley and Rilee Rossouw sat in the game for a couple of hours and Dom Bess’s two wickets were in vain. Somerset’s game in hand comes next week against a miserable Surrey, so Hampshire’s two points lead is very likely to evaporate. The Tykes go fourth – and they’ll need to be watched.

Ball Two – Cook and Harmer share plaudits as Essex turn back time

Clocks were turned back at Chelmsford where Sir Alastair Cook (who sounds like he should be presiding over the Assizes, while a carnival goes on outside) made 215 runs off his bat in a match in which eleven men of Kent made only 191 more between them. Over to Simon Harmer, who required a couple of years to be dialled back on the time machine to take 8-98, reviving memories of Essex’s Championship win of 2017.  Essex go top half; Kent go bottom half.

Ball Three – Burns feeling the heat

How Surrey must wish that they could jump in the Essex time machine, because last year’s champions are as hapless in 2019 as they were imperious in 2018. Warwickshire – three matches, three defeats – registered their first win, as Surrey’s batting let them down again, since you don’t win many cricket matches with scores of 188 and 141. When Liam Norwell started to trash a few boundaries from Number 10 in the home side’s first innings, Surrey may have considered him more an irritant than a gamechanger, but he’s the kind of dog who can have his day, and his 64 swung the match Warwickshire’s way. After four fixtures, Surrey are winless and might have to make some tough decisions, with senior pros Mark Stoneman (averaging 22), Dean Elgar (24) horribly out of form. But with England calls and injuries meaning that Rory Burns has already led 17 players into the middle, a little continuity would also be welcome.

Ball Four – Reece evolving his game

In Division Two, Derbyshire lead the pack chasing Lancashire (whose run of wins was brought to a halt this week after two days were lost to a wet outfield at Cheltenham). And it was an ex-Lancashire man who played a key role in Derbyshire’s win, Luis Reece recording match figures of 5-78 against Leicestershire. Reece’s career trajectory is an unusual one in that most (opening) batsmen who bowl lean more towards their primary skill as they approach 30, whereas Reece’s left arm seamers have brought him 18 wickets this season, putting him fourth on the division’s bowling charts. With a ton to his name too, it’s a good start to the season for a player who may just be reaching his considerable potential.

Ball Five – Wells digs deep for career best figures

It was a good week elsewhere too for top order batsmen who bowl, with a couple who fit that description key figures in Glamorgan’s draw at Hove. Australian, Manus Labuschagne, is playing himself into some decent form for The Ashes adding 182 to the 137 he racked up a fortnight ago, also chipping in with three wickets. Luke Wells is unlikely to play in an Ashes series (though once he would have been a fair bet for such honours), but he has joined the ranks of part-time leg break bowlers who might become a bit more than that, a first career fivefer a handy card to play when looking for selection come the T20 season.

“I see Tim Murtagh’s picked up another fivefer.”

Ball Six – Malan and Murtagh mesmerise for Middlesex

After Dawid Malan’s 124 allowed him to set Worcestershire a target of 353, he, as so many captains have over the last 20 seasons, tossed the ball to Tim Murtagh and let him get on with it. The top five batsmen in the order all had Middlesex’s Ireland seamer’s name next to theirs on the scorecard, Murtagh finishing with six wickets and match figures of 35 – 16 – 76 – 8, a captain’s dream. The ex-Surrey man has 20 Championship wickets this season at less than 12 runs each, as his career haul in first class cricket approaches 800 (with another 372 with the white ball in hand). If any young seamer wants to know how to get batsmen out, manage effort over a match and a season and, in consequence, make the most of your talents, they should Dial M for Murtagh.


  1. You know how I fel about Dial M Gary, an absolute bloody legend.

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