Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 29, 2019

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

So that’s what it looks like

Ball One – World Cup Fever!

“I don’t really follow cricket, but that was incredible!” That’s been said to me three or four times in the last week or so and I expect it’s been repeated to many of you. Cricket has been gifted as big a publicity splash as it’s had since they locked the Old Trafford gates at 9.30am in 2005. So where are our World Cup heroes? Where can you see the World Cup trophy at a local match? How can you feel part of a national occasion? I don’t know. Okay, I haven’t looked very hard, but I shouldn’t need to. Had England won the FIFA World Cup last summer, I don’t think football would have been so reticent in coming forward.

Ball Two – One small step for man (woman and child)

The Vitality Blast lifted off with all the razzamatazz of a MIchael Collins personal appearance, but the matches come thick and fast, so the groups have a bit of shape to them already. The media are more interested in the relentless march of dead rubbers in a regrettably one-sided Women’s Ashes (perhaps due to rights acquired when the series looked a more competitive and newsworthy). But try telling that to the full house at The Oval on Thursday evening, a crowd of men and women, young and old, committed and casual that we’re told only The Hundred can reach. That story was repeated around the country, as the public turned out – as they always do if the weather is hospitable.

Ball Three – AB sees Kent home

Kent enjoy the only 100% record in the South Group after squeaking home eight down with a ball to spare at The Rose Bowl. James Vince’s half century had helped the home team set 146, one of those targets sides fancy to chase down as long as one player makes a score and the others bat around him. Kent were running out of candidates at 41-4, but Alex Blake, 30 now and needing a score in a lacklustre season, kept his head while wickets tumbled at the other end and backed himself to hit 16 off Chris Wood’s last over. A brace of twos and a couple of sixes to finish the game vindicated his decision.

Ball Four – Curran (T) electric after Delport deluge

In The Blast, you’re never far from a shellacking, but redemption is always on hand, calling you over for a coffee and a chat. Take Tom Curran for example. In the first match of the campaign, the World Cup winner was brought down to Earth in the most convincing manner possible. Essex’s South African slogman, Cameron Delport, taking shine to his bowling and going 4, 6, 6, 6, 4, dot, 4, dot, 6, 4, dot, 6, dot, 6, nb, 4 as Curran went for 63 in his three overs, Essex piling up 226-4 in their 15 overs – predictably, a winning score. Six days later, a huge roar greeted a hat-trick (a very good one too) as Curran helped Surrey bowl out a miserable Glamorgan side for 44. For Curran, one fewer over, three more wickets, 60 fewer runs – and redemption.

Ball Five – Lancashire hot points

In the North Group, Lancashire have a 100% record of a kind, their three wins and two no results sending them top of the table. When Red Rose meets White, it doesn’t need a freakishly intense heatwave to stir the blood, so Headingley was a cauldron for the biggest domestic match of the season. After the Lanky batsmen had all chipped in to set a target of 171, the Tykes were favourites at the halfway mark with the required rate under 10 and plenty of batting to come. But Lancashire knew that if they could dismiss West Indian import, Nicholas Pooran (who sounds like a 12th century Pope), the game could turn. Saqib Mahmood clean bowled the mediaeval pontiff with 31 required from 17 balls, and another three wickets went down in the next nine as the squeeze worked. It’s only two points like any other two points, but, as Lancashire fans will attest, it always feels like a lot more when you take them away from Leeds.

Ball Six – Plain sailing for Wessels and Guptill

At Worcester, Durham posted 181-8 from their 20 overs, the kind of score that prompts talk like “If we keep it tight and get a bit of luck, we can win this.” Try telling that to Riki Wessels and Martin Guptill, as explosive an opening pair as you’ll find on the circuit. They had the 50 up after 3.4 overs, the 100 after 6.3, 155 at the halfway mark and the match won after the first ball of the 13th over. Wessels made 74 off 29 and Guptill 86 not out off 31, 15 sixes and 11 fours peppering the boundary boards. They won’t bat like that every week, but if Worcestershire get through to the knockout phase, even if just one of them comes off, they’ll take a bit of stopping.

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