Posted by: tootingtrumpet | August 23, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 23 August 2019

Ball One – Just not cricket?

Did you like that week of first class wicket, slyly interpolated into the T20 biffathon? Sam Billings called it “brainless” – a word that might be better employed in describing Kent’s batting, as they were swept aside by Essex for 40 in 18 overs at Canterbury. Elsewhere, the cricket was less frenetic, if no less compelling, brains evidently engaged. The heretical question to ask is – “Why can’t a professional cricketer adjust from one format to the other?” The fielding is pretty much the same, a few more minutes spent on slip catching practice notwithstanding. The ball is still delivered from about 20 years away, still seams. swings or spins at 50mph to 90mph and the bat is still the same piece of wood. The mental adjustment may be the most tricky to effect, but all these guys do is play cricket (12 months contracts these days). It’s not too much to ask is it? And plenty manage okay too.

Ball Two – Wheater earns his corn

That said, what a match it was at Canterbury (even if Billings did call for an harumph). Kent, on Essex’s insistence, batted first and were soon 138-8, only Daniel Bell-Drummond able to deal with Sam Cook and Mohammad Amir. Harry Podmore and Matt Milnes deployed the long handle and the ninth and tenth wicket contribution of 82 looked crucial when Essex were shot out for 114. But Cook and Amir were only warming up first time round and they shared nine of the ten Kent wickets that mustered that ignominious 40. A target of 153 looked anything but routine after that batting shocker and at 84-6, Billings’s blushes looked likely to be spared. Cue the nous of Adam Wheater and Simon Harmer who cobbled together 57 runs in 17 overs – Essex know how to win Champo matches. The whole thing was done in fewer than 190 overs of rollercoaster action few who witnessed it will forget. Essex stay top – just.

Ball Three – Somerset’s belief keeps the dream alive

That’s because Somerset were playing a blinder of their own at Edgbaston. Will Rhodes and Robert Yates (not yet out of his teens) put on 153 for the second wicket and there were plenty of contributions down the card, Warwickshire’s innings closed well into Day Two, 419 up. Steve Davies, having kept wicket through that long vigil, then batted the rest of the day, eventually dismissed after raising his century, but the home side led by over 100 and soon had Yates going well again. No matter – skipper Tom Abell (what a resourceful cricketer he is) picked up four wickets and it wasn’t long before he had the pads on, opening in pursuit of 258. The visitors were still over 100 short when Pakistan Test star, Babar Azam was dismissed, but Tom Banton, George Bartlett and Dom Bess (20, 21 and 22 years of age) got them home. A first pennant to fly over Taunton is still on.

Ball Four – Scarborough’s fair enough for Yorkshire

Much as those of us who throw our lot in with the Red Rose would like to, we can’t quite write off the White Rose’s challenge for title the after a splendid win at North Marine Road. The mood was hardly festive early on at Scarborough, as the local heroes slumped to 38-5, but Jonny Tattersall has a bit to prove and Tim Bresnan has been shooing away seagulls for half a lifetime, and the pair did enough to keep Yorkshire in the game. That’s often been enough this season against Nottinghamshire, and so it proved, with only Ben Duckett and Liam Patterson-White passing 50 for the visitors in either innings. Yorkshire are still a long way off the leaders, but Keshav Maharaj (eight wickets in this match) will be available for the big match at Taunton next month, so anything could happen, including a repeat of the Tykes’ innings victory in July.

Ball Five – Pope rewards the faithful at The Oval

“But there’s nobody really pressing for a place…” Well, if the first (and second and third) place you look for Test batsmen is amongst a settled white ball squad, it’s no bleedin’ wonder! As Marnus Labuschagne has amply demonstrated, form in county cricket can translate into the Test arena, but only if it’s given a chance. Ollie Pope looked as green as cheddar left in the sun since the last round of Champo games on his Test debut last season, but he knows how to construct big innings and, in only his second red ball match back after injury, made 221 not out, as Surrey and Hampshire eventually had to give best to an old school August shirtfront at The Oval. Pope’s reward was the nod for the role of stand-by for Jason Roy at Old Trafford, a set of affairs bizarrely more likely to be reversed when county rather than country calls.

Ball Six – Vilas victorious

While Lancashire’s attack has gained most of the plaudits on their rise to the top of Division Two (48 points clear of fourth placed Glamorgan, crushed at Colwyn Bay, promotion all but secured) but the batting has been solid too. It’s been led by wicketkeeper-batsman-captain-superman, Dane Vilas, whose 266 took his Champo average to 107 and his aggregate to 35 shy of 1000, with just Australia’s Number Four ahead of him in either division. Vilas is 34 now and fits the template of a Kolpak mercenary perfectly – not good enough for international cricket, but able to pad out the pension with a contract that keeps a young local player out. Ha -anything but. Vilas has taken on the captaincy with his heart and soul, a leader demanding the most from himself and from his team. The results prove that Lancashire’s management – not a body universally acclaimed for its foresight – got this one dead right.

 


Responses

  1. Surprised you didn’t mention the huge, match saving, contribution by Harry Came at the Oval. He was making his first first-class appearance, only coming on as a concussion sub.. His obdurate innings was a major factor in Hampshire avoiding defeat.


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