Posted by: tootingtrumpet | September 8, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 8 September 2019

Four finalists in order of favouritism

Ball One – Trouble at t’Mill (Mill temporarily closed)

In the 140 days between their first match of the season at Old Trafford and the Blast quarter-final last Wednesday, Lancashire have played (or been scheduled to play) at the home ground on 23 days across the three domestic competitions. But they could not play their home tie against Essex on their home ground (otherwise engaged, as you may have noticed), so went to The Riverside, Durham a round trip of 291 miles. For Essex fans (and for a midweek match with a late finish and dodgy weather forecast, perhaps fanatic rather than fan fits the bill) the journey was 594 miles. The “crowd” was as sparse as you would expect, giving the match the atmosphere of an Eastern European football fixture played behind closed doors after a UEFA sanction. Why choose that venue rather than one a little more convenient for supporters? (Apologies – I should have referred to the grounds above by their correct titles: Emirates Old Trafford and Emirates Riverside).

Ball Two – Bop, Bop, Bop. Bop Bopara

On a pudding of a pitch in very cold conditions – as the Sky commentary team reminded us every other ball – Alex Davies played a gem of an innings, finding boundaries and twos with quick hands and rubbery wrists. His 80* took the er… home side up to what looked like a winning total of 159, captain Dane Vilas the only other contributor of note. After a few jogs on and off for rain, the 160 target looked too distant right up until the last ball of the 18th over, by which time 29 runs were needed off 13 balls and just one six had been hit by either side. Cue Ravi Bopara to smash the next three balls he faced over the sponge, Ryan ten Doeschate to slam one too, before Ravi hit the walk-off home run (okay, his fourth six) to send the Essex supporters (Essex supporter?) home happy yet again. Lanky captain, Vilas, took plenty of stick online for using Liam Livingstone for the crucial penultimate over, but I prefer to give credit to Ravi and Ryan, whose 673 T20 matches of experience showed at the death.

Ball Three – Hales storm sinks Middlesex

In some ways, a similar story unfolded in the second Blast quarter-final at Trent Bridge, where Eoin Morgan’s 53 off 31 balls, after the likes of AB de Villiers, Paul Stirling and Dawid Malan had failed to hit a six in the first half of the Middlesex innings, set Nottinghamshire 161 to win. The experienced pair marshalling the chase this time were openers, Chris Nash (incredibly playing his first T20 match of the season) and Alex Hales, who teed off with seven sixes. They only let their run rate drop into single figures as they cantered to the winning post with 22 balls to spare. It’s a topsy-turvy season for Notts, but you’d be brave to bet against them on Finals Day.

Ball Four – Ali’s knockout blows

Moeen, Moeen, Moeen… What to make of England’s exiled (one hopes temporarily) second spinner / all-rounder / icon? In the Test side not much more than a month ago, after his dropping reported to be taking a break from cricket, sighted bowling medium pace and… well. He had bowled handily, 1-22 off his full allocation in Sussex’s 184-6, and that can often be a precursor of a decent knock – and, to be fair, he has been in decent nick since escaping the bouncers at one end and Nathan Lyon at the other. That said, even the most fervent of this mercurial cricketer’s legion of fans could not have expected a career-best 121*, the captain’s 11 sixes making the Player of the Match adjudicator’s job a formality. Worcestershire will go to Finals Day confident of defending their trophy.

Ball Five – Derbyshire’s journeymen book a trip to Finals Day

Not by much, but Derbyshire will go into the big showpiece occasion as the outsiders of the four after a comfortable seven wickets win over Gloucestershire, 17 balls in hand. I guess that’s what happens when the biggest name in the XI is Ravi Rampaul, whose fielding is more 20th century than Twenty20. But it’s not reputations that win trophies, it’s the hard yards of runs and wickets and few bowlers are squeezing batsmen like wrist spinning all-rounder, Matt Critchley. There were no boundaries in his four overs, which went for just 21, bagging the dangerous Ryan Higgins and Jack Taylor en route. In his last five T20 matches, Critchley has delivered his full allocation conceding 25 runs or fewer, which is the kind of bowling that takes wickets at the other end. If he can defrost his fingers at Edgbaston, look out for for his freezing the scoreboard.

Ball Six – Finals Day’s fantastic finale

Three non-Test ground counties will contest Finals Day, the kind of poke in the eye to the ECB that the Three Stooges would be proud of. As ever (unlike, say, May’s FA Cup Final) a winner is hard to call with all four sides able to make a case. I’d go with Essex, who have plenty of the nuts and bolts required – explosive batting, balanced attack, good fielding – but their experience is what gives them an edge in the nous stakes when it comes making the quickfire decisions under pressure that turn tight matches. The bookies go with Nottinghamshire, but there’s only one and a half points between the four. T20 doesn’t always please the purists, but the ECB have a fine competition on their hands which is always competitive and reaches a wonderful crescendo every season. They wouldn’t want to tamper with that now would they?


Responses

  1. Pretty sure Notts have hosted a few Tests at Trent Bridge?

    As an Essex fan that has seen us lose every semi final on T20 finals day I’m not confident of winning it.
    Will all disrespect due, I fancy us to beat Derby but a Hales and Roy powered Notts should be too mich for us. Or a Mo powered Worcs.

    • Ha! I spotted that and fixed it, but too late for you!

      Roy?

      • Erm, don’t know why I said that. Well done me, call someone out on a mistake and make a shocker of your own

        • I’m grateful to you for pointing it out!


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