Posted by: tootingtrumpet | June 28, 2021

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 28 June 2021

Ball One – Thompson sprinkles a little magic

Yorkshire top the North Group after an extraordinary win that was surely worth more than two points in terms of confidence and morale.

After you’ve seen three England men (Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance and Joe Root) return to the hutch with just eight runs between them, seamer, Dillon Pennington, help himself to a triple wicket maiden and a scoreboard glumly reading 50-5 off 10.5 overs, the cliche tells you that there’s nothing to lose. Well, there is something to lose – a cricket match – and Harry Brook and Jordan Thompson said “Nah”.

Cue a blitz of boundaries and a record-breaking stand of 141, not without its luck, but full of belief, and the match, all but lost 30 minutes earlier, was wrenched from Worcestershire’s grasp. An almost inevitable consequence of an unexpected late stand (holding in all forms of the game, even Sunday afternoon club matches) is early wickets in the reply and the visitors lost a couple, momentum doing its job. Despite a handy stand from Riki Wessels and Ben Cox, the target of 192 was always going to prove too much in the circumstances and I suspect the journey home was a quiet one for Ben Cox and co a day after a shocking shellacking by Nottinghamshire. (To their credit, Worcestershire bounced back later in the week).

At 24, Jordan Thompson is becoming a Tim Bresnanish all-rounder for Yorkshire, not showy, but delivering big performances when required and churning out the kind of ‘Moneyball’ stats that coaches, and the Yorkshire public, appreciate. He just needs an update on that sprinkler dance now.

Ball Two – Hales rains boundaries on Lancashire

Nottinghamshire share the group’s top spot with the Tykes when, having tied a match they really should have won the previous day against Derbyshire, they came out and made a statement at home to Lancashire.

Dane Vilas may have one of the more varied attacks in the country to call upon, but there’s a zone that Alex Hales can access, a space available to very few batsmen, in which all bowlers come as one. Wickets fell regularly at the other end, but Hales kept going, constructing a fifth T20 century, setting a target that tantalised, but was never quite within Lancashire’s reach.

There’s much talk about how England have all the bases covered for the upcoming T20 World Cup and, of course, there’s plenty of history between Hales and England’s management, Eoin Morgan particularly. But it’s well over two years since Hales last played for his country and trust can be rebuilt because people change.

Who knows what might happen to England’s white ball batting unit in term of injury, form and even late Coronavirus isolations before October’s tournament in the UAE. All one can say from the outside looking in, is that the downside leading to Hales’ continuing exclusion must be steep indeed because the upside is plain for all to see.

Ball Three – Time to trust Duckworth, Lewis and Stern

An unwelcome record down at Hove, where the world’s longest ever no-result match was concluded between Sussex and Surrey. After the visitors had made 175-7 in their allotted 20, Sussex charged off the line to get above the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern par score and were ahead when Kyle Jamieson hit Luke Wright on the helmet and the umpires decided that that had seen (just about seen) enough taking the players off one ball before the five overs required for a match had been bowled.

Is there any significant difference between 4.5 overs and five overs? Could the umpires have stayed out a ball longer, perhaps requesting that a spinner deliver the sixth ball of Jamieson’s set? Were Sussex, who had done everything asked of them for 29 balls, robbed by not being allowed to face a 30th?

Maybe the answer is simpler. DLS was brought in to decide the winner in rain-affected matches and everybody accepts that it’s as fair as can be in the imperfect world of cricket. Everyone also knows when a early finish is in the air (those weather apps aren’t bad) and can tailor their approach accordingly. I say go with the DLS par score from ball one and make the best of a bad job. There might be the occasional anomaly, but, even after a couple of chasing overs and a terminal downpour, if one side is ahead, give them the win. That, after all, is the whole point of the system.

Ball Three – Kent cane Essex at Chelmsford

Kent are level with Gloucestershire at the top of the South Group, but with a game in hand after our three statistical stooges poked their finger in the eye of the storm and conjured a result from 25 overs of cricket.

After Daniel Bell-Drummond had led from the front again with a 29 ball 50, Simon Harmer gouged out the Kent middle order and Kent’s 167 felt like a score that would need good bowling to defend it. But the donner and blitzen was in the Essex sky rather than the Essex batting and, when lightning and rain drove the players from the ground one ball deeper into the reply than was the case at Hove, the home side were 31-4 and well behind the DLS par score.

Nobody felt it was an injustice, and you would have to have been a bit one-eyed to see it as such at any point in those five overs possible in the chase. Which rather makes my point above.

Ball Five – Batsman of the Week

It was a good week for New Zealanders, even if the likes of Jamieson had to forego a celebratory dinner with Jacinda in order to bat with Gareth Batty.

Glenn Phillips, a pugnacious wicketkeeper-batsman, hasn’t donned the black cap often, but he surely will soon, as he plays the brand of positive cricket that has seen his country crowned World Test Champions. Though not quite as newsworthy as events at the Rose Bowl, Phillips put together scores of 41, 94 and 94 without being dismissed to impress the fans at Bristol and send Gloucestershire to the top of the South Group. He looks a shrewd signing indeed and one wonders how many more Kiwis are lurking under the radar, possessed of the talent, if not yet the name, to play in domestic competitions around the world.

Ball Six – Bowler of the Week

Samit Patel then? We all know what a presence he can be and how he brings so much nous and so much control to any team.

At 36 years of age and not likely to be coming to an advertising campaign for a new format any time soon, against Worcestershire, Samit recorded the kind of figures last seen in the 1970s John Player Sunday League when Mike Hendrick and co bowled short of a length and batsmen let the ball go: 4 – 1 – 4 – 3.

There was a time (before conditioning and bespoke rest and rotation policies brought every player to the edge of an injury) when a Samit-like character was a fixture in all winning teams at all levels of the game. They could lower the temperature by going dot, dot, one, dot, two, dot with ball and then go boundary – single – single – boundary in a tight chase with the bat, the situation and not the averages driving the approach. Maybe the very top teams have outgrown such players – but you can bet that there’ll be a few in the T20 World Cup and you can bet they won’t let their captains down.


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