Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 12, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 12 August 2019

Ball One – Abell rings the changes in Somerset’s form

With four teams from each group to qualify for the quarter-finals, now is a good time to go on a little trot and Somerset, hitherto strangely out of sorts in this competition, did exactly that with three wins from three matches. The tactic was simple – make 200+ to overwhelm opponents, who then never get into the chase. While Tom Banton (within a late season Championship century of breaking Jason Roy’s record of the youngest England qualified player to make a ton in all three formats h/t Marcus Hook), is gathering plenty of praise – including in this column last week – he’s not alone in monstering attacks. Pakistani import Babar Azam averages 62 striking at 153, and the increasingly impressive Tom Abell’s figures are almost as eye-catching at 43 and 172. With Lewis Gregory not in the side last week, Abell’s captaincy magic was working yet again too – could Ed Smith be watching and wondering?

Ball Two – Middlesex shorn of seaxes for Sussex

While all eyes last week were on Sussex’s Second XI, the first team enjoyed a couple of impressive wins to go top of the South Group and retain their status as the only unbeaten club in the country. Luck will play its part of course, and after whipping boys Glamorgan were despatched, Middlesex hoved into sight without their two most potent batting weapons, Eoin Morgan and AB De Villiers. With all due respect to Dan Lincoln and George Scott, they don’t carry quite the same threat, and so it proved, Sussex running out easy winners.

Ball Three – Sam swipes for sorry Surrey

Sam Curran walking out to bat in Surrey’s two defeats this week was a curious sight partly because I’d have thought that he’d have been better employed guesting for Worcestershire in their three day match against The Australians, but also that he was in at number three. Whether Curran’s impeccably orthodox technique should be contaminated by the need to stand aside and slash away (not a good look in a Test match, as more than one England batsman can attest) is one thing, but the light it throws on Surrey’s batting resources is another. With Aaron Finch a little jaded after the World Cup, Ollie Pope struggling to find consistency after his injury layoff and Mark Stoneman being, well, Mark Stoneman, a phalanx of bits and pieces men aren’t delivering the quality one might expect from the a county whose youth policy was lauded but 12 months ago.

Ball Four – Rain drains momentum up North

In the North Group, all nine teams are still in with a shout of reaching the knockout stage, but Yorkshire’s hopes (and Lancashire’s finances) suffered a blow in the Roses washout. The weather is playing a big part in the North Group, which feels strange as one might expect rain to more of a West / East than North / South thing, but the figures do look skewed. The South Group has suffered four no results whereas the North has had nine. Bad luck? Ground preparation and maintenance? Attitude of captains and umpires? Even God tilting things against Northerners – again? Perhaps, with weather radars so sophisticated these days, a match like Leicestershire’s against Northamptonshire’s in which the 22.4 overs possible split 20 : 2.4 (and hence no result) could be agreed at the start as a 10 overs a side affair? If the sun is still shining when the players walk off, that would be a shame, but at least both sides would have the chance of a positive outcome.

“We’re looking for a Mr Ackermann?”

Ball Five – Ackermann the man!

Leicestershire 189-6; Birmingham Bears 134. A seemingly unremarkable scorecard (if one refrains from commenting on “Birmingham Bears” sounding more like a Grindr search term than a cricket team). But buried in those figures, like a Fibonacci sequence awaiting its unmasking, are the best bowling figures in T20 history. And they belong not to Dale Steyn, not to Mitchell Starc, not even to Chris Gayle (who seems to have most of the other T20 records), but to Colin Ackermann, whose occasional off-spin slow bowling picked up 7-18! That said, the record’s true importance might be measured by the bowler from whom he took it. Fine pro that he was before injury robbed him of his later career, but Arul Suppiah was not a player to set the pulses running. “Look in the book” is the answer to jibes like that one – as it so often is.

Ball Six – Hundreds of thousands don’t need The Hundred

How did over 27,000 people (including some women and children I expect, abacuses in hand) find their way to Lord’s for the big London derby this week? Okay, there’s been some advertising on billboards and, curiously, in cinemas, but I’ve certainly heard more on the radio about the Kia Super League than about the tournament that provides the biggest show in town, pretty much wherever and whenever it’s played. Someone should really collate the T20 attendances this year ready to line them up against the PR machine that will (because it’s what PR machines do), hail The Hundred’s success in 2020.

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