Posted by: tootingtrumpet | May 9, 2022

The Final Over Of The Week In County Cricket – 9 May 2022

London calling- Surrey and Middlesex top Divisions One and Two

Ben Stokes took individual honours in a round that saw a young captain learn a harsh lesson at Hove 

Ball One – Burns’s team’s hot streak continues

Having played out a draw on the deadest of tracks in the previous round at Bristol, Surrey were back in South London with a greenish strip was served up for play. Looking down, it was so green that Northamptonshire’s captain, Ricardo Vasconcelos discounted the blue he saw looking up and decided to bowl. At 133-4, it didn’t look the worst decision, but Rory Burns had chased a few widish ones and missed (rather than nicked, as he had done so far this season) and was demonstrating again that his temperament can compensate for his shaky technique, if he gets that bit of luck.

Sam Curran, under ECB instruction to limit his bowling, played as a batter and looked two classes above anyone else on show, the ball pinging off his blade with a very satisfactory twang. Without Jamie Smith and Ollie Pope, Surrey’s team looked a bit of a hotchpotch, but given any kind of platform, a late order of Colin de Grandhomme, Gus Atkinson, Jordan Clark and Jamie Overton are not all going to fail, and it was Atkinson and Overton who got in and biffed the home side’s score out to 401.

Northants’ batters were then impaled on their captain’s hubris, scoreboard pressure and a nipping pitch a tough gig. The seamers knew they just needed to keep it there or thereabouts and Rory Burns packed the slips for the inevitable edges. Surrey stay top of the Division One and look ominously well stocked with gamechangers.

Ball Two – Abbas knows taking wickets is the name of the game

Hampshire are tight on the heels of the Londoners after a splendid match of two innings cricket at the Ageas Bowl.

The fourth day dawned with Gloucestershire requiring 257 for victory and Hampshire eight wickets – as ever, the draw also lurked in the shadows. There’s a generation of cricket followers who will look at that target and think that three an over with nine batters to get them, favours the chasers, but that reckons without the second new ball and the relentless probing of Mohammad Abbas. Bowler-unfriendly 2022 ball or not (this column maintains it’s the sunshine that has provoked this glut of early season runs), the Pakistani craftsman took key wickets and the visitors, not without showing a bit of fight, came up 87 runs short.

His nine wickets in the match gave Abbas 22 for the season so far at 18, second on Division One’s wicket-taking ladder behind his fellow countryman, Hasan Ali. Young English bowlers could do a lot worse than to watch these men bowl and listen to what they say, the tradition of Pakistan swing and seam in good hands.   

Ball Three – Salt spices up pedestrian draw

At Old Trafford, past (and maybe future) England openers, Dom Sibley and Keaton Jennings, made centuries as a nailed-on draw (aided a little by the weather) played itself out between Lancashire and Warwickshire. 

Phil Salt and Dane Vilas were the only two batters able to make any kind of score at a strike rate above 50, the scoring rate for the match only a tick above two and a half an over. Whether such a match justifies a 14 vs 13 points haul is moot, the reward for a draw looking as unearned in a match like this as it looks earned in a last over thriller, 10 and 11 at the crease with five to get. 

Ball Four – Haines’ pain is good for the game

Nobody was begrudging Middlesex their points at the conclusion of a chase that had historians citing Patsy Hendren’s double ton of 97 years ago as the only precedent. 

After Ali Orr and Tom Allsop had posted 204 for Sussex’s third wicket, a quartet of half centuries in the middle order retained a foothold in the match for the visitors. Inevitably, Cheteshwar Pujara led the charge to the Sussex declaration with 170 not out and Tom Haines was happy to give the ball to his bowlers half an hour before lunch with 369 in hand. 

Sam Robson (149) and Peter Handscomb (79) added 209 in 48 overs, before Max Holden (80) and Martin Andersson (44) charged for the line, an unbroken stand of 99 in 14 overs, getting their side home at Hove. It was enough to give London teams leadership of both divisions.

Haines is a young man who is in a little trough with the bat and this declaration won’t have helped his confidence. I hope wise counsel are in his ear telling him that he did the right thing, despite the outcome. Setting 350 or so in two sessions (at Hove – a fast-scoring ground) will see Sussex win more than they lose. Moreover, every player will improve for the experience and the spectators will come back next week and next year. Who dares doesn’t always win, but better to dare and lose than never to dare at all.     

Ball Five – Extras! Extras! Read all about ’em

Glamorgan went second in Division Two after a win over Leicestershire that consigned the visitors to bottom place, a not unfamiliar spot in recent years. 

Glamorgan’s first innings was boosted by 19 no balls donated by the Leicestershire attack in a match in which extras accounted for 130 runs, a contribution one might expect from a number 7. Professional cricketers, with the coaching and practice resources available to them, shouldn’t be conceding so many runs for free. 

Ball Six – Stokes stoked, but Pears drop anchor for the draw  

You may already have read about Durham’s draw with Worcestershire in which Ben Stokes got his eye in with 18 sweetly struck sixes, the ball flying around the Midlands as England’s new captain registered the most maximums in a county championship innings.

In his wake, teammate, Matty “Caractacus” Potts, showed plenty of invention to notch his third sixfer in four matches this season. Plenty of Bang Bang from Big Ben of course, but that’s a truly scrumptious run of form from the pacer.



  1. I take issue with the idea that the Sussex gamble was the right thing to do. Sometimes the cautious approach is the better one, especially when you’re propping up the table. I’d have been far happier with the draw.

    • I take that point, but I still think that if he’s captain for (say) ten years, declaring and having a go before lunch will pay off more often than batting on to set 400 in 64 overs.

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