Posted by: tootingtrumpet | July 11, 2022

The Final Over Of The Week In County Cricket – 11 July 2022

Lancashire, Yorkshire, Hampshire and Somerset win through

Yorkshire progress in a thriller and Somerset shatter records to set up Saturday’s Finals Day in the T20 Blast

Ball One – Oh Laurie!

Surrey played Yorkshire for the first time in T20 cricket and produced a thriller for the ages, the Tykes going through to Finals Day in extraordinary circumstances. 

A hot night in South London had boiled down to the last over with the equation as simple as it gets in white ball cricket (which never really does straightforward does it?) The home side needed five runs to hit their target, four for the win if, and only if, they did not lose a wicket. Jamie Overton was on strike and had been blasting boundaries; Laurie Evans at the non-striker’s end was also set and had 14 seasons experience in the bag. Where do you bowl Jordan Thompson?

19.1 Bouncer that Overton misses with an almighty smear. 19.2 At the toes as Overton gave himself room, single to the offside sweeper. 19.3 Evans takes a single. 19.4 Slower ball outside off stump, wicketkeeper, Tom Kohler-Cadmore fumbles, recovers and runs out Overton, called for a panicky single then sent back; 19.5 Sunil Narine whips a full ball to deep square leg where Will Fraine gambles everything on taking the catch rather than blocking the boundary – fortune favours the brave. 19.6 Thompson goes full again, Gus Atkinson misses and Yorkshire are home by one run. 

David Willey may not be flavour of the month in the Broad Acres after announcing his departure at the end of the season, but he gave his team the clarity they needed to execute plans under immense pressure – and for that he deserves enormous credit. 

Ball Two – Cross about batters crossing

An innovation that had appeared rather benign played a key role in that last over – the new batter is on strike after a dismissal (except for a run out). Narine’s hit into the deep allowed the batters to cross with the ball in the air and, in seasons gone by, would have put the set Evans on strike, rather than the new man.

One could argue that a false stroke (since Narine was caught) should not lead to a benefit for the chasing side, but part of the reason for hitting the ball hard is to get the preferred batter on strike. Since it really only matters in a tight finish, the drama of the game is enhanced because expecting a player cold to the crease to make a perfect connection first up is a tough shout. 

There are arguments both ways, but, come the last six balls, this seemingly administrative clarification is having an impact not commensurate with its intention. The spectacle would have been better with Evans on strike – I suggest he should have been.  

Ball Three – No Finals Day picnic for Bears

Not every game is a classic and Birmingham, having comfortably broken the 200 runs barrier in four of their last six matches, went down like a lead zeppelin at home to Hampshire.

James Vince elected to set a target and, with handy contributions from himself, Ben McDermott, Joe Weatherley and the old finisher, Ross Whiteley, would have been satisfied with a score of 186-6.

Birmingham Bears kept losing wickets, as the cliché has it, at a bad time with no partnership extending beyond three overs, James Fuller, Nathan Ellis, Brad Wheal and Mason Crane chipping in with wickets. It was all done in fewer than 14 overs and the locals, who had been looking forward to a Finals Day jamboree on their own patch, were off home still in daylight, disappointed after a fine season in the group stage.

Ball Four – Roses treat for fans to open Finals Day

Lancashire were missing Liam Livingstone, Matt Parkinson, Richard Gleeson and, er…, Jos Buttler on England duty for their home match against Essex, but the somewhat second string attack, backed up by brilliantly aggressive fielding that had a touch of the one day maestros of the early 70s about it, restricted Essex to 161-5, only 13 boundaries struck by the visitors. That count was in contrast to the 40 they had struck in their previous match, a bad time to deliver the equal lowest number of fours and sixes in Essex’s last seven matches batting first.

The Old Trafford crowd, if not the ground, was up to the occasion and shrugged off the loss of Keaton Jennings, run out backing up without facing, roaring a favourite son, Steven Croft and an adopted son, Dane Vilas, home with 26 balls to spare. The M6 will be busy next Saturday morning as Red faces White in a Roses clash to savour in front of a rocking Hollies Stand. 

Ball Five – Talkin’ bout my generation 

There was much talk amongst Sky’s commentary team about how 20 seasons of T20 cricket has not just failed to see spin’s demise (as had been anticipated by many in 2003) but seen slow bowlers come to the fore, the world’s top wicket-takers in the format dominated by the 50mph – 60mph merchants. I use that description because they don’t all turn the ball!

But another unexpected characteristic has slid under the radar. Far from being a harum-scarum environment that is no place for old men, many of T20’s best practitioners are well into their 30s. Vilas and Croft are both 37 years of age and what they miss in quick singles, they more than make up for in shot selection, coolness under pressure and that indefinable nous that sees and then wins the crucial moments.

It’ll be a long day for them (as it will be for all the 30-somethings on show at Finals Day) but they’ll be the first names on the team sheet and they’ll be ready to go again when they take guard. 

Ball Six – Derbyshire demolished

One of the lesser known names in the England Lions squad to face South Africa this week is George Scrimshaw. It’s often the fate for Derbyshire players to be described as such. 

He showed exactly why he merits elevation in delivering the superb figures of 4-0-16-2 in the last of the quarter-finals. Unfortunately for him, the 16 overs bowled by his colleagues went for 249, a combination of Tom Banton, Rilee Rossouw, Tom Lammonby and Taunton’s short boundaries getting Somerset up to 265-5. Still, at least it was a record Blast score by just the four runs and, surely, things couldn’t get worse?

An hour or so later, they did, the shell-shocked visitors dismissed for 82, a record defeat in the Blast this time with a yawning 47 run gap to second in the table. 

Sometimes, it’s just not your day.


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