Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 12, 2021

The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket – 12 July 2021

Ball One – Schadendorf’s schadenfreude re England’s problems

In Group One, the qualifying slots for Division One probably lie between Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire and Durham (with defending champions, Essex, needing snookers).

Nottinghamshire’s recruitment policy is always going to curl the lip of neutrals, but few will begrudge the rewards that have come this season to Luke Fletcher, the Champo’s leading wicket taker, Haseeb Hameed, working his way back into England reckoning and captain, Steve Mullaney, who has been there through thick and very thin indeed.

He was bowled a wrong ‘un by the ECB when they swooped to pluck Ben Duckett from his XI when covid pinged England’s ODI squad. Duckett was only keeping because Tom Moores was ill, so the call went out to 18 year-old Zimbabwean, Dane Schadendorf, who, with the insouciance of youth, made 24 with the bat and took four catches to secure the win over Derbyshire.

Ball Two – Swindells the real deal

Somerset top Group Two by five points, but they must have expected a larger gap than that after piling up 461-9 against a Leicestershire side struggling to reach the second level when the Champo’s groups are shuffled into divisions later this week.

The hosts had got through half Leicestershire’s batting with the lead still nearly 300, but 22 year-old wicketkeeper, Harry Swindells dug in for a career-best 171 not out (106 overs in front of the stumps after 155 behind them), finding a willing partner in Ed Barnes, a year older, who also notched a career-best with an undefeated 83. Somerset gave eight bowlers at least ten overs (which is probably some sort of record) but still had to settle for the draw.

Ball Three – Amla is there, though mainly playing French cricket

Joe Root believed that the additional points available this season for the draw would challenge batsmen, mentally as much as technically, to play long innings on worn pitches, the hard-fought draw having become a rare but valuable commodity in the Test arena.

To nobody’s surprise, Hashim Amla took a look at a scoreboard that read “Hampshire 488, Surrey 72 and 6-2” at the start of the fourth day and thought, “Yes – a draw”. He broke a few records (and a few Hampshire hearts) en route to 37 off 278 deliveries, but, with Rikki Clarke’s undefeated 36 minute stay the shortest of the day’s partnerships once the nightwatchman had taken his lamp home, the South African had his reward.

Hampshire go into a last round showdown against Gloucestershire trailing their hosts by six points.

Ball Four – Wheel turns for Bess and Kerrigan

With Lancashire and Yorkshire already through to Division One from Group Three, there’ll be nothing to play for in the last fixture of the group stage – the Roses Match? Oh yes there will, and not just satisfaction for ancient enmities, but also the carryover of points from matches against group co-qualifiers, a rule that nobody is absolutely sure about, but everyone knows is “a good thing”. We’ll learn more when the ball in the ECB’s calendar roulette wheel lands in the slot marked County Championship again.

Yorkshire’s low scoring win at Wantage Road was a tale of two spinners, and a heartening one at that. When Dom Bess wasn’t sure where (or even if) the ball would land when bowling for England last winter, nobody wanted to say the words “Simon Kerrigan” out loud, the man whose single infamous match for England sparked a tumble out of the first class game followed by a slow (and admirable) climb back to his rightful place as an excellent domestic bowler. Bess’s return has been more rapid and, like Kerrigan’s, involved a switch of county with Yorkshire showing great faith in him, especially when early season returns were patchy at best.

Bess’s 7-43 and 2-59 were instrumental in securing the visitors the points, but they were made to work hard for them by Kerrigan, whose 2-36 and 5-39 showed the control that he brings to his work these days. I hope the pair found time to reflect together on their experiences and the lot of the spinner, a toiler in a fragile but beautiful trade.

Ball Five – Captain Critchley at a crossroads

Derbyshire kept their faint hopes of qualification for the quarter-finals alive with a last ball win over Durham, Brooke Guest dispatching Ben Raine’s delivery to the boundary with the scores level.

Leaning on his bat at the other end was Matt Critchley, captain, batsman, bowler. He wouldn’t be human were he not to have felt a tinge of disappointment not to get the call for The Ben Stokes Emergency XI, but he probably hasn’t built a case for international cricket yet.

And there hangs the question. The leg-spinning all-rounder would answer a lot of questions for England when the white ball squads are overhauled next year, but will he ever get the exposure at Derbyshire? Is it a myth that England chances are enhanced by playing for certain counties (or in certain matches?) Critchley is 25 in August and, with all due respect to Derbyshire, is at a crossroads in his career. Which way to turn?

Ball Six – For Ravi, there’s no place like Hove

Listening to the radio commentary of Sussex vs Essex, one had to keep recalibrating one’s perception. “Bopara eases that into the offside for a single and Sussex need just six now with two overs still to be bowled by Essex.” Eh?

It’s nice when the romantic narrative of player and club travelling hand-in-hand through the years unfolds in parallel with our own lives as fans (yes, here’s the mention of Jimmy Anderson taking his 1000th first class wicket for his one and only county) but reality usually bites – players are employees and counties employers; one a seller, the other a buyer.

Good luck to Ravi at er… Sussex.


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