Posted by: tootingtrumpet | September 30, 2022

The Final Over Of The Week In County Cricket – 29 September 2022

Yorkshire down as Warwickshire survive in a thriller

Liam Norwell the hero for the Bears, but White Rose wilts at the end of its most difficult season  

Ball One – Norwell does well

Scenes! Absolute scenes at Edgbaston, as Liam Norwell, in the 11th over of a heroic spell, traps Mohammad Abbas in front of all three and sparks delirium in Warwickshire and despair in Yorkshire. County Championship you say? Who needs it?

It was a match the home side knew that they needed to win. They also knew that they needed help from elsewhere and also that, with a re-organisation on the cards for 2024, a place in 2023’s Division One was even more valuable than it would be in a normal season (if such a thing exists). No pressure in soft county cricket? Save that for the birds.

With weather taking time out of the game, Will Rhodes (who knows how to win cricket matches – the pennant was still in his possession after all) took a bold decision late on day two and declared at 272-4. He knew it was win or bust, so he needed his bowlers to have a break between Hampshire’s innings and he also wanted to get on with the job of taking 20 wickets. He refused the chance to add another 128 or so before lunch on day three – good on him! 

Despite that man Norwell’s four wickets, Warwickshire batted a second time 39 runs behind, and lost first innings centurion, Rob Yates, and nightwatchman, Henry Brookes, before they were out of the red. Only Dom Sibley, in his last match for the county, made much of a fist of it with 77, but that spared Rhodes another tricky declaration.

Everyone knew that if Warwickshire were to defend a target of 139, the experienced pair of Ollie Hannon-Dalby and Norwell would have to do it. They delivered 37 of the second innings’ 44 overs, Hannon-Dalby building pressure at one end while Norwell attacked the stumps at the other. Hampshire, motivated by a £145k difference in prize money between second and third places as well as professional pride, had plenty to play for but couldn’t resist the onslaught. Norwell earned career-best figures on 9-62, top flight cricket next year and a free pint in every bar in Birmingham for life.   

Ball Two – Bess bested

‘Every Loser Wins’ sang fictional Yorkshire bobby, Nick Berry, and the er… heartbeats would have quickened in the Broad Acres at the prospect of that apparent contradiction being proved right – but Liam Norwell had other thoughts.

Truth is Yorkshire should not have lost their match to bottom-placed Gloucestershire in a low scoring thriller at Headingley. They let the visitors slither from 128-7 up to 190 all out on day one, then were just 69 runs in arrears with seven wickets in hand  – but still conceded a first innings deficit. They might have been looking at a fourth innings chase of 140 or so when they had half Graeme van Buuren’s men back in the hutch for 74, but they allowed Oliver Price and Jack Taylor to get away and had 101 more runs than that to save themselves off their own bats.

They were half way there, five down, but Adam Lyth fell to the spin of Zafar Gohar and Dom Bess couldn’t find the partner he needed in marshalling the tail. So it proved a bittersweet moment for stalwart seamer, Steve Patterson, last man out, his team 20 runs short, as he accepted warm applause from supporters and players of both sides. but knew that the trap door’s latch was (fatally as it transpired) still open. 

Ball Three – Goldsworthy shines and Qadri cashes in 

Kent also went into their last match in fear of the drop, but continued their superb end of season form with an innings win over a Somerset side who will be glad to see the back of 2022. 

Two 21 year-olds will take something away for the winter. Lewis Goldsworthy came within six runs of a second century of the season for Somerset and can look to fill the spot vacated by James Hildreth permanently. Afghan-born, Hamidullah Qadri’s 87 from number eight for Kent showed the potential with the bat that can supplement his off-breaks and keep him in a Division One XI next year. 

Ball Four – Jam today for Tom Hartley

Not so long ago, it looked like we might have a ‘Winner Takes All’ shoot-out on our hands as Surrey travelled to Old Trafford in the last round of championship matches. But it wasn’t to be and who can blame the champions if they lost their hitherto season-long unbeaten record demonstrating that you can’t really play this game in your flip-flops (okay, probably unfair, but a nice line). 

Not that Lancashire will see it that way. If there’s a side in front of you that needs putting away, then that’s what you do. As they have done all season, Keaton Jennings and Steven Croft scored runs and George Balderson fell just three short of the first of what will be many first class centuries for the club.

Dane Vilas turned to his pacers initially and they took the first six wickets to fall, but Lancashire’s spinners are in the team not to hold an end while the seamers rest, but to dismiss batters. Matt Parkinson and Tom Hartley took 12 of the 14 wickets the home side needed for the win, as Surrey followed-on and lost by an innings and 130. 

When the dust settled on the extraordinary events at Edgbaston, Lancashire had pipped Hampshire to second in Division One to complete a hat-trick of runners-up slots in all three domestic competitions. Maybe time for a cigarillo, if not a cigar, in Manchester?   

Ball Five – Nottinghamshire and Middlesex promoted to Division One

With Nottinghamshire piling up 652-5 declared (centuries for Haseeb Hameed, Matthew Montgomery, Lyndon James and Steven Mullaney) en route to shellacking Durham by 462 runs to secure the Division Two title and promotion, attention turned to the other slot available.

Middlesex nailed it down before the weather intervened, maxing out the bonus points by bowling Worcestershire out for 225 in the 83rd over and then crossing 400 themselves before the 110th. Two strong contenders for this column’s Five County Cricketers of the Year (watch this space) were at the forefront of the effort, four wickets and a 50 for Toby Roland-Jones and 92 and two catches for John Simpson.

News from Worcester reached Hove where Glamorgan had done their bit in securing a first innings lead of 275, but, with third now the best they could hope for, the wind went out of the visitors’ sails and it seemed rather cruel for Ali Orr and Tom Haines to plunder 328 for the first wicket en route to Sussex’s 554-8 following-on, Danial Ibrahim also bagging a maiden ton.

Ball Six – Smiles Of A Summer Night – past, present and future

This is the last ball of the last over of what might be the longest domestic season ever (I marked out my run on 11 April), yet it also feels like it was the shortest, such was its stop-start nature. Next season may look broadly similar, but, after that, who knows? 

I’ll be 60 by the time we’re next checking to see if anyone has made 1000 runs in May and I’ve always pooh-poohed the doomsayers when it comes to cricket as it has been played through my lifetime. And in some ways, I’m still right. We’ve never had more county cricket available to watch or listen to and it’s never (well, almost never) been played at more grounds. There’s a few faces beginning to emerge that don’t fit into the ‘white middle class from a private school’ county cricketer cookie cutter and, at the Royal London Cup Final, while we bid farewell to Darren Stevens we said hello to Joey Evison. Shan Masood will captain Yorkshire next season. Good signs. 

But the pooh-poohing has to stop when one looks at the load of [redacted] proposed for county cricket in the already infamous High Performance Review report. Whether that marks the high-water mark of those who wish to put everything in service of the ECB’s cash machine (England) and its would-be cash machine (The Hundred), will only become clear in time. 

I’d quite like to reach 70. Hang on – I’ll try that again. 

I’d quite like to reach 70 with a more coherent cricket season to fill the summer months, at least as much county championship cricket as there is now and with England the best team in the world. But if I have to compromise on one of those wishes, it’s the third one I’ll pick.

Thanks as ever to Paul Campbell at The Guardian for his ridiculously loyal commitment to getting this column up every single week since April, to the players who have entertained and, occasionally, infuriated us. And, most of all, to you, the readers who love the game as do I and were kind enough to give a little time each week to my thoughts, often supplementing them with characteristic generosity and insight below the line.

Until the next time they Send In The Clowns… 

        

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Responses

  1. In case this does not post via WordPress….

    The September fixtures have been thrilling, unpredictable, at times infuriating, only slightly affected by weather, but, both live and via YouTube, wonderfully entertaining. Like a Wagner opera, four substantial acts, culminating in the downfall of old gods (Yorkshire) and the unlikely redemption of the doomed champion (Warwickshire). Thank you for adding extra threads to the patterns of the season (even though a wonderful Essex victory, including a ‘ball of the season’ contender, failed to get a mention – a ‘no ball’ in your over?). [Re the desired cash cow ‘The Hundred’ – George Dobell, talking to Kevin Howells, put the apparent losses at £7m pa, but realistically £25m+pa.]

    ChrisTheChoir


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