Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 28, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 28 June 2019

A Beard (not that one).

Ball One – Beard shaves Somerset’s lead

It’s often the way that a run like Somerset’s ends in a blazing car wreck of a match – and, sure enough, it did. There are plenty of wise heads at the club who will counsel their young captain, Tom Abell, with such words of comfort, but they can do nothing to take away the identity of the victors – Essex – who now sit just 13 points behind the leaders. Alastair Cook’s 80 up top for the home side was worth twice that in a low scoring game, in which the old hand Jamie Porter (9-73) got some unexpectedly effective support from 21 year-old academy product, Aaron Beard, whose 7-45 eviscerated the Somerset middle order in the first dig and the tail in the second. That end of season Taunton return match is looking tastier and tastier.

Ball Two – Surrey salvage sliding season

There was an old-fashioned feel to the match at The Oval, as Surrey and Warwickshire wrestled for control of a game that threatened to go this way and that, the ball usually just ahead of the bat. After another substandard batting performance produced both a below par score and a dressing down from coach, Michael Di Venuto, the champions faced the prospect of their season simply drifting away. But Surrey’s seamers fought hard to keep the deficit to a manageable 36 and the batsmen adopted a positive approach in sultry, swingy conditions. Five men made scores between Rory Burns’s 34 (an unfortunate LBW decision) and Mark Stoneman’s 71, and that was enough to set the visitors a tricky 290. Gareth Batty justified his inclusion ahead of the highly rated Amar Virdi with four wickets and Surrey had their first win of the season – and a mid-table berth in Division One.

Ball Three – Manus Labuschagne a handy man to have around

Glamorgan used their extra match to leapfrog Lancashire to the top of Division Two with a fine win over neighbours, Gloucestershire. With the home side 127-0, things weren’t looking good for the Welsh county, but captain, David Lloyd, knew that if his bowlers could keep him in the game, he had the form batsman of the season to hold his team’s responses together. Twenty wickets for the concession of just 347 more runs put Glamorgan in the game and that man, Manus Labuschagne was at the crease while 290 of them were knocked off across the two innings. The Australian has 851 runs this season at 65, with Gary Ballance the next most prolific batsman in the country with 681.

Ball Four – Happy couples enjoy a visit to Brighton (well, Hove)

Sussex missed their chance for a little leapfrogging of their own, outplayed at home by Durham. The game boiled down to two big partnerships for Durham, Cameron Bancroft and Ned Eckersley contributing 282 for the sixth wicket in the first innings of 384 and Alex Lees and Gareth Harte piling up 220 in the second innings of 284-3 declared. Sussex only had a draw to play for by then, but Ben Raine’s 6-27 and Chris Rushworth’s 4-44 sent the points up North after a happy trip to the South Coast.

Ball Five – Coles burning bright again

The loss of a day’s play forced Northamptonshire and Leicestershire into a stalemate at Wantage Road, but it was nice to note the name of Matt Coles amongst the runs and wickets for the home side. Having played for Kent, Hampshire and Essex, he’s fetched up at Northants looking for some game time and making the most of it. Still not 30, there was a brief moment when the burly seamer who hits a long ball was being whispered about as the new Andrew Flintoff – but that was never going to happen. If Coles can find a bit of form before the T20 season kicks off, he could swing a few matches with bat or ball.

Ball Six – England Watch

I was at The Oval on Monday to check the form of Dominic Sibley, who, as is so often the case, was dismissed a moment or two after I had assumed my seat. Ed Smith was there too and, like me, the National Selector will have come away impressed with what he saw of Sam Curran. The all-rounder is still on the road back to fitness and was limited (by the ECB) to 30 overs in the match, which produced 5-77. Frankly, it could have been 10-77 had Warwickshire’s batsmen been able to edge the deliveries that snaked past both sides of the bat and (occasionally) zig-zagged their way down the pitch. He notched a handy second innings fifty too. I’d play both Curran and Sibley (joint top scorer in the match with a possible rival for the opener’s berth, Mark Stoneman) in the first Ashes Test, but that might mean that Stuart Broad or Jofra Archer missing out. But Curran is surely too good to sit out all formats of the international game isn’t he?

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