Posted by: tootingtrumpet | September 1, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 1 September 2019

Kent describe a parabola

Ball One – Kent crash at Canterbury

When Kent bear Essex at Canterbury at the beginning of the month, it was the third of consecutive five wins that launched their Blast campaign into the stratosphere. But Chelmsford’s return match saw Sam Billings’ men burn up on re-entry, their seemingly nailed on place in the quarter-finals pilfered by… who else, Essex. Set 190 to win, Kent had things under control at the end of the 11th over, with Zak Crawley and Faf du Plessis going well, up with the rate, wickets in hand, like the textbook says. But the home side have such a varied attack that once Adam Zampa shot out the South African, a calamitous succession of swings and misses saw Kent fall 11 runs short. Essex still needed rock bottom Glamorgan to beat Hampshire – which, of course, they did. Because Essex always Find A Way.

Ball Two – Somerset dream of the pennant as sun sets on season

With Sussex, Gloucestershire and Middlesex also progressing, no “Test Match ground” county made it out of the South Group. Middlesex, though merely the MCC’s tenants at Lord’s, certainly pack their upper order with internationals and they needed them to come good if they were to chase down Somerset’s 226-5 at Taunton. They did. Dawid Malan, Paul Stirling, AB de Villiers and Eoin Morgan scored 181 runs between them off 69 balls faced en route to a world record. Somerset begin a very big September because, after their lightning start to the Champo season and with the Royal London One Day Cup in the cabinet, a campaign that promised so much may turn a little flat. And it might be the greatest season in their history.

Ball Three – Grizzly end for Bears and Tykes

No such last round nail-biting in the North Group, where Yorkshire won and Worcestershire lost their final fixtures, but the Pears still advanced, points in the bank. At least the White Rose went out with a bang, racking up 200 against the Birmingham Bears, who had wickets in hand but faced an asking rate in double figures from the end of the fifth over, scoreboard pressure doing its job. With the resources at their disposal, one feels that at least one of these counties should have progressed to the knockout stage.

Ball Four – Carter has them over a barrel

Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire join Worcestershire in the quarter-finals, Nottinghamshire seeking some redemption after a semi-final defeat in the RLODC and a disastrous campaign in the Championship. Their win earlier in the week against Yorkshire provided some nostalgia for for the non-millennials, as off-spinner, Matt Carter, secured the Player of the Match award with the very Sunday-afternoon-with-Peter-Westish figures of 4-0-12-0, comprising half an allocation of dot balls and half an allocation of singles. Flat Jack Simmons would be proud.

Ball Five – Batsman of the Blast (Group Stage)

In all sports, nobody is quite sure what turns the prodigy into the fulfilled mature player – for every Sachin Tendulkar there’s a Billy Godleman. Okay, the ex-Middlesex man wasn’t quite in SRT’s class as a teenager, but he had everything going for him but never came through to international class, finding his place as a solid county pro. He’s still only 30, captain at Derbyshire with 15 seasons of hard earned nous to call upon. That’s the kind of experience that produces innings of 57, 52* and 28*, steering his unfashionable county to three consecutive wins and third place in the North Group, earning his team a winnable trip to Bristol. Godleman’s strike rate of 114 is the lowest in the Blast’s top 30 runscorers, but, just sometimes, it’s not how many, it’s how useful.

Ball Six – Bowler of the Blast (Group Stage)

Steven Finn came through at Middlesex at the same time as Godleman and fulfilled far more of his promise, as 250+ wickets for England can attest. But his career has been blighted by injury (got to expect that as a pacer) and running into the stumps (Hmmm…) contributing to an incipient consensus that his action was too unreliable to be trusted, something that surely filtered into his own head. It’s two years since he played for England and he looks a long way off a recall, so he’s likely to see his career out on the domestic stage, not a career trajectory conducive to dealing with the aches and pains that come with his trade. His captain, Dawid Malan (who may empathise with Finn’s fate) asked him to run in hard and take wickets – which is what he did, going for a few sure, but knocking 19 of ’em over. It worked. He’ll be looking forward to a quarter-final at Trent Bridge where, seven long years ago, he took 2-22 for England in his four overs against West Indies.

Vitality Blast quarter-finals:

Wednesday Lancashire vs Essex;

Thursday Nottinghamshire vs Middlesex;

Friday Sussex vs Worcestershire;

Saturday Gloucestershire vs Derbyshire.


Responses

  1. Loved the ball 4 reference. Not quite John Mortimer but definitely worthy of Flat Jack.


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