Posted by: tootingtrumpet | September 15, 2019

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 15 September 2019

Somerset fans pay homage to their skipper

Ball One – Tail chimes in with Abell

Somerset’s win over Yorkshire opened up an eight point gap on Essex, who could only draw at Edgbaston – but it still looks like a pennant showdown in the last match of the season. The second halves of the two first innings proved the turning points of the match – as lower orders so often do in low scoring affairs. With Somerset’s admirable captain, Tom Abell, en route to a near four hour 66 (Ed Smith take note) he needed late order support – and got it, with double figure scores from numbers six to ten. Contrast with Yorkshire, whose score of 88-5 represented an advantage of 18 at the same stage. But a collapse to 103 all out left them trailing by 96 runs on first innings and the Tykes were never going to get close to chasing 400+ after a more solid showing from the host’s middle order second time round.

Ball Two – Westley sets sail for a draw

If Essex were to keep their dream-shattering dream alive, they needed to dig in after Warwickshire’s Matt Lamb daddied his maiden century up to a seven hour 173 and six sessions’ batting for a draw stretched in front of them. They needed an Alastair Cook-like display to deliver on that brief and, when the actual Alastair Cook couldn’t oblige, Tom Westley stepped into the breach. His 141 and 97 were compiled in just short of ten hours and occupied the crease for 151 overs. It’s only three points for the draw, but the boost to morale after escaping from a hole like that, is worth far more.

Ball Three – DI Stevens solves cricket

Nottinghamshire’s miserable red ball season culminated in relegation with two matches to play – quite a feat with just one team sliding through the trap door. Given Notts’ recruitment policy over the years, that statement might produce a few sideways smiles of schadenfreude around the country but, be careful, there’s still Twenty20 Finals Day to come. Kent’s 43 year-old Darren Stevens was their chief tormentor this week, warming up with a near run a ball 88 then feasting on a confidence-free batting order with a couple of cheap fivefers. The evergreen evergrey all-rounder has 43 Division One wickets in 2019 at an average south of 20. Is he really still getting better?

Ball Four – Lanky walking tall

Lancashire’s win over Derbyshire sealed promotion back to Division One, a yoyo club being a more desirable description than merely a “yo” club. Dane Vilas had seven authentic bowling options at home to Derbyshire, so Josh “Hamilton” Bohannon was pushed up to number 4, his medium pace unlikely to be required. His reward was a maiden century which he, like Matt Lamb, daddied up to 174, enough to set up an innings win and a season in the top flight come 2020. Bohannon’s average is now nudging 50 and, if he kicks on, Glenn Maxwell returns (and his ever-present grin suggest he will) this match’s attack of Tom Bailey, Richard Gleeson, Saqib Mahmood, Glenn Maxwell, Liam Livingstone and Matt Parkinson looks like it’ll take 20 wickets often enough for a 2011 style tilt at the title.

Ball Five – A Durham promotion? Carse we can

When Durham lost their first four Champo matches of the season, shoulders were shrugged and another season consigned to the folder labelled “The long walk back from financial implosion”. But a tight win over Derbyshire got them off the mark and another tight win last week has made it five wins and three draws in their last eight matches. Nothing in it after the first digs, the difference between the sides boiled down to Durham finding support for Angus Robson (64) with a couple of 30s, when his brother, Middlesex’s Sam, failed to find a partner who could muster more than Nick Gubbins’s 17. Ben Carse had much to say about that, hitting the stumps four times in a row en route to 6-26. Durham have Northamptonshire and Glamorgan to round off what could be a fairytale promotion season and it won’t just be Durham supporters cheering them on.

Ball Six – England watch

Another half-century for Dom Sibley took him to a table-topping 1000 Division One runs at a strike rate of 40, comfortably the lowest of the top 25 run-getters. If England are looking for some craft and graft to complement plenty of bash and dash, he’s your man. The more radical approach would be to give Joe Root a tour (or winter) off and hand the captaincy to Tom Abell – rather as they used to do were Abell doing well for Cambridge or a selector’s godson. As for bowlers, well, Simon Harmer is the best in county cricket yet again, but isn’t English (in a cricketing sense, he’s not really South African either, his performances all the more remarkable given his personal circumstances). Of course, there are routes into the England team – and the last bowler who took such a path is currently doing rather well.

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