5/30/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkfromMadrid)
The rather bizarre scheduling of the Royal London One Day Cup continues unabated. Games are being played almost every day but, strangely, the one day with no ODC games at all was the Bank Holiday Monday. There must be some logic behind this, but as yet no one seems to have found it. We have now had two days with three and four games each, meaning that fourteen of the eighteen teams have a game, although the weather is playing an important part, with the majority of the matches were affected by rain. The ODC has a somewhat hybrid rain rule, with ten overs required to make a game in the Group Phases and 20 overs thereafter.
With the completion of today’s games, every team in the North Group bar Yorkshire will have just three games left (Yorkshire have two) while, in the South Group, three of the sides will have completed six of their eight matches. It is a good moment to take stock given that there is so much equality in mid-table in both groups. In fact, the South table has six of the nine teams tied on six points.
So, first, what are the criteria for ordering teams in the case of equal points. Section 16.11.4 of the Playing Conditions gives the criteria as:
1. Most wins in Group Matches.
2. Net Run Rate in Group Matches.
3. Most points in matches between the teams that are level.
4. Drawing lots.
In practice, it is incredibly unlikely that there will ever be a tie on NRR.
Let’s start at The Oval. Surrey hosted Sussex, but the game was called-off early as the playing surface turned into a boating lake.
Where it leaves the sides: One point each left Surrey 8th on 5 points and the worst NRR in the group although, with three games left, they are just 1 point behind Somerset in 2nd. Sussex are 6th, on 6 points, with two games left. Surrey are likely to need to win their last three games to qualify and, on the way, boost their NRR. Sussex need to win their last 2.
Much more exciting was the game at New Road, where Worcestershire hosted Leicestershire: not exactly two sides that you would have picked pre-season for high-octane excitement, but that did not stop the patrons seeing 756 runs in the day. Leicestershire made a fast start, and all the top six scored runs, with the lowest contribution Delport’s 20. Horton, Raine, Cosgrove and Ackerman all reached 70, with 75 runs coming from the last 38 balls of the innings as Leicestershire reached 376-4. In reply, Moeen Ali, playing his second ODC game after returning from the IPL where his returns were modest, fell for a 3-ball duck. But Callum Ferguson and Joe Clarke (Rikki Clarke’s little brother) added 140 in 20 overs and Worcestershire, remarkably, cruised to their target with nearly three overs to spare. Callum Ferguson scored 192, ably supported by fifties from Clarke, Mitchell and D’Oliviera. Ferguson fell with Worcestershire seven short of their target of 377 to win and got over the line in style, winning by six wickets.
Where it leaves the sides: Worcestershire top the North Group with four wins and 8 points and a positive NRR. Wins in two of their last three games will see them qualify, while even one win may be enough. Leicestershire are bottom of the group with one win, two points and negative NRR and would need a remarkable combination of results to qualify, even if they win their last three games by wide margins.
The deluge that ended any hopes of a game at The Oval took a little longer to arrive at Canterbury but duly did so, leaving Messrs Duckworth and Lewis in charge. After their high-powered start to the ODC campaign, Somerset are now slowing and have lost three of their last four games. A poor start saw them 17-2 and 65-5 in an innings reduced to 42 overs, staggering along drunkenly at 4-an-over. Renshaw and Gregory combined in a century stand, but there was little after that and 221 was never likely to challenge Kent, even after Daniel Bell-Drummond fell third ball. With rain approaching, Kuhn and Denly made sure that the scoring was brisk and, with play halted after 16 overs, were way ahead of their target of 61, on 88-1 and would have, most likely, cruised to a victory even without the rain.
Where it leaves the sides: Kent are 5th in the South Group with three wins and three games to go but a negative NRR. With just 1 point between second and 8th, that NRR may mean that they need to win all three games to progress. Somerset are 2nd by virtue of the best NRR in the group putting them top of the clatch of sides on 6 points but, with three defeats, will need to win their last two games and hope that results fall for them. Their fate may rest on Kent and Gloucestershire not winning their game in hand.
At Derby, where the 2nd in the North Group played Yorkshire in 3rd, the weather, played spoilsport. A win for Derbyshire would leave them almost guaranteed a Quarter-Final place, while defeat for the visitors would leave Yorkshire’s chances hanging by a thread. The umpires tried to start at 2:30 pm and held the Toss, but the rain returned. A new attempt was made at 3:15 pm in a game reduced to 24 overs, with Derbyshire sailing out of the blocks like Usain Bolt when he’s in a hurry, but the innings lost momentum as Yorkshire reeled them in and a final total of 189-6 was bitterly disappointing. When Yorkshire fell to 71-3, there was a window for Derbyshire to get back into the match, but Kohler-Cadmore and Ballance, who sound like a comedy duo, were short on laughs as they upped the scoring-rate, with Kohler-Cadmore offering several catches to spectators in the back of the Grandstand. However, just when it looked as Yorkshire would win with overs to spare, Olivier and Rampaul – not a bad pair to be able to call on when you need desperately a breakthrough – induced a collapse with three wickets falling for three runs in eleven balls, making Derbyshire firm favourites again. When Rampaul dismissed Kohler-Cadmore with the first ball of the penultimate over to complete a 5-wicket haul, it seemed that the match was over, but Matt Fisher came in at #10 and smashed 24 from 8 balls to win the game with a ball to spare. This was an extraordinary finish to a match that swung one way and another.
Where it leaves the sides: Derbyshire are third, with a game in hand over Yorkshire, who have moved into second. Yorkshire have the best NRR in the North Group and with two wins should qualify comfortably. However, just 2 points between 2nd and 6th mean that number of wins and NRR may be needed to separate sides.
In the clash of the bottom sides in the South Group, with both teams looking unlikely to progress, Essex hosted the only one of the 18 sides without even a point from an abandoned game. After a poor start and the fall of three quick wickets. Glamorgan tried to set up a platform, with Jamie Porter taking the top four in his 4-29, Ravi Bopara and Matt Coles strangled the Glamorgan middle order. Despite the efforts of Chris Cooke, without whom Glamorgan would not even have got close to 200, a total of 200ao never looked likely to be enough. Essex reached 50 in the eighth over and 100 in the sixteenth, as Varun Chopra and Adam Wheater took the Glamorgan attack apart to make sure that they were well ahead in Duckworth-Lewis should the rain return. The truth was that they could have stopped, mid-innings for a pie and chips and a pint and still won at a canter. An opening stand of 189 left the game done and dusted before Tom Westley came in and blasted a four and a six from his first four balls, effectively denying Chopra the chance of a century. The game ended with over 18 overs to spare and Chopra 98*.
Where it leaves the sides: Glamorgan were out, mathematically, even before this game, while Essex have jumped up into 3rd and given themselves a chance of sneaking into the Quarter Final if they can win their last two games, especially as this huge win has boosted their NRR. However, with two of the six sides tied on six points having a game in hand, even a wash-out would give those two sides an advantage over Essex.
At Merchant Taylors’ School, early drizzle led to a delayed start and a reduction to 45 overs. Middlesex, who have been Jekyll and Hyde in the competition this year, looked set for a good total as Eskinazi and Holden set about repairing a slow start. Reece Topley (who is coming back from yet another of the injuries that has plagued his career) and, more surprisingly, James Vince, halted the Middlesex momentum. Seven batsmen got starts, but no one could make a significant score and Middlesex fell short of 200 when 250 looked like the minimum necessary to make a game of it. Middlesex needed to bowl out Hampshire to win and, despite a couple of wickets for Steve Finn, it never seemed likely to happen, with the batsmen staying comfortably ahead of the RRR. Even the fall of three quick wickets to leave Hampshire 140-5 was little more than an inconvenience as Adams and McManus brought the visitors home with more than six overs to spare.
Where it leaves the sides: A third defeat and a NRR inferior to Somerset have left Middlesex’s chances hanging on winning their last two matches and relying on other results to go their way. Middlesex are fourth still, but that position is precarious given their poor NRR and the fact that they are level with two sides who have a game in hand. Hampshire now have daylight at the top of the South Group table and should progress with one win from their last three games.
The televised game was at Edgbaston, with both sides embedded in mid-table and needing the win. Again, rain intervened, with play scheduled to start at 4:45 pm, after a delay of nearly 3 hours, an intention scuppered by more rain. A new start was scheduled for 6:05 with the same result. Then a start was scheduled at 7 pm. Again, rain intervened, this time, terminally.
Where it leaves the sides: The point for a wash-out is more use to Warwickshire than to Northants. Two wins from the last three games should see Warwickshire into the knock-out phase, while Northants need three wins and to boost their NRR, although two wins and a wash-out may be sufficient.
By Harry Hill (@HarryHill96) and Mark Kidger (@markFromMadrid)
The ECB has tried a novelty today: after two days with just a single One Day Cup match, all the other teams played their matches the same day; yes, it was an outbreak of sensible scheduling. It also threw up a series of games that, even at this early stage of the competition, were getting critical for the progress of sides. The North Group continues to be a mess but has thrown up one definitive conclusion: Durham’s post-ECB nightmare continues – barring a mathematical miracle, they are out of contention for the knock-out stages with five games left, but Surrey have avoided following them. Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire have made a serious statement of intent and Leicestershire will not have thanked them for it.
Let’s start at Grace Road. While batsmen, especially openers, have been having a tough time so far this season, team psychologists have generally recommended a spell of R&R at Grace Road to get over the trauma. The immortal Martin Emmerson summed it up “Fancy scoring more than 300 at home and still losing by 93 runs!” If Taunton is “the beach”, Grace Road is “THE Road”: wickets may have been falling like Autumn leaves elsewhere but, up Leicester way, they are an endangered species. It comes to something when, as an opener, you score an excellent 50 at almost a run-a-ball and end up being the anchorman. Chris Nash suffered that indignity as his 56 at a strike rate of 90 made him the tortoise that was slowing down the scoring. A century for Samit Patel in 63 balls, 76 for Riki Wessels in 44 balls and 56 boundaries between 4’s and 6’s had David Bracegirdle in serious medical risk (latest reports are that he has not managed to calm his excitement yet, several hours after the game finished). 409-7 and the Leicestershire bowlers were left licking their wounds, apart from the wise old “Fireball” Dexter, who always seemed under bowled at Middlesex but came out of the carnage with credible figures of 10-0-50-2. The only way that Leicestershire were ever going to get close was if they made a tearaway start: 13-2 from 17 balls… game over. By the time that they had slipped to 93-5, Dave Bracegirdle must have been thinking of starting his celebratory pint early, but the Leicestershire lower middle order made sure that the overs were batted out and the margin of defeat was reduced to something less humiliating than had seemed likely a couple of hours earlier. Notts are the holders, and they are serious about hanging on to the title: they are now second in the North Group with a positive NRR.
Martin Emmerson was forced to venture into the frozen south with a road trip to Derby, knowing that defeat would all but mathematically end his beloved Durham’s interest in the Royal London ODC. Suffice it to say that he is not a happy bunny tonight. Durham showed a lot of spirit and took the match deep into the last over, but needed to separate Gary Wilson and Alex Hughes, but failed to do so until the scores were level. A total of 272-8 was disappointing from 137-2 in the 27th over, and when Godleman and Reece added 125 at a good pace for the second Derbyshire wicket, Durham were always likely to be short of a defendable total. The result leaves Derbyshire third in the North Group and in contention, while Durham are anchored to the foot of the table with (un)easily the worst NRR of the eighteen teams.
Down in London, Surrey knew that they faced Durham’s fate if there was a repeat of the 2015 Royal London Final. Despite the fact that there is a slight difference in bank balance between the two sides (Surrey’s chequebook arrives at the ground on a 10-ton lorry, a pair of butterflies carries Gloucestershire's), there is a healthy rivalry and some history between the two sides. Commentator Mark Church (Surrey) got in an early mention of Surrey’s record 50-over score (496-4, made against Gloucestershire), while Bob Hunt (Forest Green and Gloucestershire) may have mentioned a few times the Surrey collapse in the 2015 Final. A win for Gloucestershire would have put them on three wins from three and Surrey on three defeats – the one well on the way to the knock-out stages, the other preparing sadly for the 2019 tournament. To the delight of a noisy crowd, Surrey chose this game to awaken, and Gloucestershire chose it to have an off-day. Batsman after batsman of the Shire were convicted of dangerous driving on a pitch that did not permit too many liberties. Every time that a partnership started to get the innings on an even keel, a wicket fell, and Rory Burns used Scott Borthwick skilfully in mid-innings and, with Rikki Clarke, the scoring rate was strangled in the middle overs. At 131-5 in the twenty-ninth over, there was a real danger that a target under 200 would be set. Once again though, Ryan Higgins (Oh Middlesex! What have you done in letting him go?) And Jack Taylor pushed the total far beyond anything that seemed likely (the pundits in the box were suggesting 250 maximum) and Tom Smith added some late biff. 282-6 on a pitch that was not entirely simple to score on quickly looked like a pretty decent effort. No one though reckoned with 19-year-old Will Jacks. Playing just his third 1st XI game for Surrey, he left his previous best of 28 far behind. A superlative 121 in 112 balls set Surrey on the way to an easy win. Elgar, Burns and Foakes gave him solid support and, despite a tremendous effort from Benny Howell, who bowled his ten overs for 1-32 to add to 60 with the bat, Surrey won at a canter and live to fight another day. Gloucestershire are one of four sides in the South Division with two wins and one defeat, chasing leaders Hampshire.
Finally, to Sophia Gardens for the heart-stopping finish of the day in the televised game. Fifties for Gubbins, Morgan and Franklin and 49 for Eskinazi pushed Middlesex up to 304-6, which should have been a winning total. This though is Middlesex, a side that still finds it easier to read Linear B than to read a limited overs game. They were 185-2 and scoring at will, looking set for a total in the 340-360 range, before one of those inexplicable collapses that has made MiddlesexBattingCollapse.com a fan favourite: losing 3-16 in 20 balls left the lower order to re-build and made reaching 300 an achievement. This was not a run chase for the nervous. Glamorgan got away like a train, adding 86 in 95 balls. Depression among the Middlesex fans, elation among the Welsh. Glamorgan then lost 3-10 in 18 balls. Euphoria among the Sea Axes, depression by the Taff. A partnership of 126 between Lloyd and Ingram, with the run-rate accelerating smoothly: surely Glamorgan have it in the bag? 227-5 with just 61 balls left? Tipping back to Middlesex. The final act was pure comedy as if both teams were determined to lose (yet, it was like that infamous badminton match at the London Olympics): Glamorgan collapsed horribly when it seemed easier to win. 289-9 with just five balls left. 16 needed to win. All over, right? You could hear Jon Patrick MacEnroe screaming “you cannot be serious!”
The last 5 balls went like this:
49.2 – Helm to Carey. Dot ball. 16 needed from 4.
49.3 – Helm to Carey. Boundary. 12 needed from 3.
49.4 – Helm to Carey. Boundary. 8 needed from 2.
49.5 – Helm to Carey. Quick single.
Six to tie. New batsman van der Gugten on strike.
49.6 – WHACK! But it is only a boundary four.
Somehow Middlesex have scrambled a win by two runs when they could somehow have managed to contrive to lose. In his nightmares tonight, Tom Helm will see that last ball heading over the rope for six and will wake up in a cold sweat. Middlesex. This is Middlesex. Anything is possible in a limited overs game!
Yorkshire v Worcestershire
Worcestershire 350-6, Yorkshire 346-9
There was a thrilling contest at Headingley, where whoever came out with defeat will inevitably fell that a vital win was well within their grasp. Perhaps curiously, Yorkshire invited Worcestershire to bat first although Daryl Mitchell fell early for 11 LBW from Ben Coad, England hopeful Joe Clarke and Australian sensation Travis Head put on a good partnership of 108. A familiar problem for Yorkshire was the absence of key players, particularly with the ball, with Liam Plunkett and David Willey unavailable. Tim Bresnan in was unable to cause problems to the Pears batsman, with figures of 0-78. As the innings progressed, Steve Patterson managed to control the rate, with his skilful variations, but the Worcestershire batsmen took a liking to leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who despite his two wickets, went for 86 runs from his ten overs. Yorkshire will be disappointed to have conceded 122 runs from the final ten overs, and that was ultimately the difference between the two teams, with the last over going for 20 runs, thanks to Ross Whiteley, who finished on 66* from just 41 balls.
As required, the Yorkshire reply got off to a solid start as Adam Lyth, and Tom Kohler-Kadmore saw off the new ball with a 72 run opening partnership. Kohler-Kadmore continued to play nicely even after the loss of Lyth for 29 caught behind, with a 101 run partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara. However, Kohler-Kadmore unable to reach his ton, at being caught on the boundary off a D’Oliveira leggy. The wickets soon started to tumble, as Wainmann lasted just two balls and Brook fell for only 5 runs. Leaning, Bresnan and Rashid then got off to a start but lacked the resilience shown by Kohler-Kadmore and Pujara towards the end of the innings. As the wickets continued to fall, and the tension began to rise at Headingley, Joe Leach kept his nerve as the penultimate over went for just five runs, leaving Yorkshire requiring an unlikely 16 from the last over, with only the one wicket remaining. Yorkshire, managed 11 from the last over, losing by four runs.
Northamptonshire v Lancashire
Lancashire 279-8, Northamptonshire 282-8
In a day of enthralling drama across the RLODC, Northants came out on top in a cracking game thanks to a vital 43* runs from Luke Procter. Lancashire elected to bat first after winning the toss, which looked a good decision on Liam Livingstone’s part as in-form Keaton Jennings and Alex Davies achieved a 105 run opening partnership. It was, however, a hard-fought and attritional partnership on a slow pitch, taking 18 overs to reach 100. Credit to the Northants bowlers, who were tight and offered few boundary opportunities, particularly Graeme White, who despite failing to get a wicket, went for just 45 runs from his ten overs. Dane Vilas was the only Lancashire batsman to play with any real fluency, making 83* from 68 balls at the end of the innings to set a competitive score for Northants to chase.
An equally impressive opening partnership was the order of the day for Northants, as Josh Cobb and Richard Levi got 113 runs before Cobb fell to Stephen Parry. Levi would have been disappointed not to reach his ton, as he played nicely with eight fours and 1 six for his 90 runs. Perhaps looking at the success of White from the first innings, Lancashire turned to the off-spin from Matt Parkinson, and Liam Livingstone, who both went for less than 4 runs an over. As the game got tight, Adam Rossington and Luke Procter kept the score moving, despite the late wickets of Crook, White and Hutton. A Nathan Buck maximum of the last ball of the 49th over meant that Northants required just four runs from the final over. Perhaps fittingly it was Luke Procter that saw Northants over the line with a boundary on the last ball.
Hampshire v Essex
Essex 303-6, Hampshire 304-4
Rilee Rossouw backed up his 90 against Surrey on Monday with a superb 111 to see Hampshire take the points against Essex at the Ageas Bowl. Hants skipper James Vince won the toss and elected to bowl; however, this was without immediate success as Varun Chopra and Adam Wheater got the Eagles off to a flying start with a 67-run opening partnership. Tom Westley then entered the match and looked good to repeat his performance at Radlett last Thursday, before being clean bowled by Brad Taylor for 66. Ravi Bopara and Ashar Zaidi continued to pile on the runs for the Eagles later in the innings, pushing the total beyond 300, finishing on 303-6. Perhaps the Hampshire bowlers lacked variations with just the five bowlers bowling ten overs each.
After the innings break, the South African opening pair of Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw were looking to get the South Coast outfit off to a good start, but young Sam Cook bowled well and with hostility in just his third RLODC match, taking the wicket of Amla. However, Essex were left to toil in the Southampton sun and failed to land a glove on the Hants batsman as Rossouw and Vince’s 126 runs partnership took the game away from Essex. In comparison to Hampshire’s five bowlers, Essex used seven bowlers, desperate for a breakthrough. In the end, it was the medium-pace of Ravi Bopara who took the much-needed wickets of Vince, Joe Weatherley and latterly Rossouw. Always ahead of the rate, it was the calm head of club stalwart Jimmy Adams, with the support of Brad Taylor who took Hampshire over the line with 16 balls remaining.
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
With just eight Royal London One Day Cup games per side, Round 3, with seven games being played on the same day, has two sides are already facing virtual elimination if they lose. With just the top three in each group qualifying, three defeats are almost certainly the maximum that a side can afford and still have a realistic chance of qualifying. Surrey in the South Group and Durham in the North Group have both lost their first two fixtures and are staring the last chance saloon full in the face.
The North Group is hard to call, as eight of the nine sides have won one game, but no team has yet won two – the odd man out is Durham with two defeats.
In the South Group, Somerset looked to be in danger of running away with the group after two, huge wins in their first two games, but a defeat to Sussex has evened things out a little. This round should clarify how the group is panning-out.
As in previous years, the top side in each group has a bye to the Semi-Final, where they will play the winners of the Quarter-Finals of the cross between the second and third teams in the two groups (i.e. the winner of the North Group plays the winner of the play-off between the runner-up in the South Group and third place team in the North Group and vice versa – there is nothing like a simple format and, true to the ECB form, this *is* nothing like a simple format).
Derbyshire v Durham – With two defeats and a massively negative NRR, Durham will be all but eliminated if they lose to Derbyshire, who have won one and lost one. Derbyshire will look to boost their NRR and their chances of a top-three spot with a big win.
Leicestershire v Nottinghamshire – The hosts have only played one game, which they have won by a big margin. Nottinghamshire are the defending Champions but, with one win and one defeat and a negative NRR, will not want to risk a second defeat, which would make it almost impossible for them to top the group.
Northamptonshire v Lancashire – with one win and one defeat and a big, positive NRR, Lancashire top the North Group, although that distinction has little meaning at this stage. Northamptonshire have also won one and lost one, but have a negative NRR. The biggest interest in this match may be the form of Keaton Jennings, with 209 runs so far in his two innings in the competition: another score for Jennings, combined with failure for Mark Stoneman in the 1st Test might make his case impossible to ignore.
Yorkshire v Worcestershire – Worcestershire have had a big win in their only game so far and meet a Yorkshire side who have had a big victory and a defeat so far. Yorkshire’s strength in depth in the squad will see them want to make a statement and give themselves a 2-1 record. Worcestershire, who look odds-on to be relegated in the Championship, need a cup run to kick-start their season.
Hampshire v Essex – Perhaps the pick of the day’s ties. Hants have won both their matches so far, although by rather narrow margins and a third win would put them in a very strong position, especially after Somerset’s slip-up. Essex, with one victory and one defeat, can scarcely afford a further setback. Interest, with Jack Leach and Dom Bess seemingly usurping his position as Test spinner, will be brought by the return of Mason Crane after injury. For Essex, there could be a debut for Dutchman Shane Snater, who has impressed on trial with the Eagles.
Surrey v Gloucestershire – The classic story of “rich man, poor man”, although with the twist that defeat for Surrey will turn them into beggar man, hoping for favours from other sides to reach the knock-out phase, which is hard to believe given the comparative budgets of the two sides. Gloucestershire who, in recent seasons, have depended on runs from Maxi Klinger and wickets from Jack Taylor, have neither this season but seem to be forging a strong team spirit. Surrey have had two big defeats so far, leading to a cripplingly negative NRR. Gloucestershire will hope to become “thief” and steal away from London with the win.
Glamorgan v Middlesex – Neither Glamorgan, with two defeats so far, nor Middlesex with a surprise win over Kent to follow an opening defeat can afford to lose this one, both being in the lower reaches of the South Group table. Limited-overs cricket has been read by Middlesex as fluently as Linear-B in recent seasons… in fact, since 2009. Glamorgan are showing signs of a revival in the Championship, but have lost both ODC games convincingly – this is the sort of game where a cynic might back both teams to lose, but both sides desperately need the win to keep their interest in the competition alive.
5/17/2018 1 Comment
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
The white-ball replaced the red-ball as the Royal London Day cup got underway on Thursday.
It meant power plays, field restrictions and boundaries galore as Colin Graves finally found his happy place away from the ‘boring scenes’ of County Championship cricket.
Let’s forget the fact that in the last round of Championship cricket we saw a 3-run nail-biter at Grace Road and a tight comeback win for Essex at New Road. A pair of games that had more twists and turns than any games of White-ball cricket could dream of having, but that’s a story for a different day.
One man who perhaps would’ve been pleased to see the boundary rope that much closer and the field that much more spread would be Essex’s Tom Westley. The Eagles number three has been enduring a torrid time with the bat in the early season but pulling on the coloured clothing rather than the white seemed to release the shackles. The Cambridge-born 29-year-old struck a match-winning 134 as the Eagles eased passed a poor Middlesex side at the picturesque Radlett.
After winning the toss, Middlesex elected to bat first hoping to make the most of the small boundaries in an attempt to create some scoreboard pressure. Indeed, things started swimmingly for the Londoners with Nick Gubbins striking the Essex attack to all parts of the Radlett outfield. Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and the returning Neil Wagner all finding it difficult to stem the flow of runs with the hard new ball. Stevie Eskinazi offered strong support to the hard-hitting Gubbins as the pair took the score to 79 without loss entering the 13th over. With the last ball of the twelve over though Wagner bagged his first wicket of the season to remove Eskinazi, Asher Zaidi taking a smart catch to dismiss the opener for 28. Paul Stirling came and went as Wagner again enticed a false shot to offer Ryan ten Doeschate a catch. That put the score on 86/2 and that soon become 86/3 as Gubbins, who had just reached his 50 lost his middle stump to Simon Harmer. Trouble was brewing in the Hertfordshire sun, and the hosts were in desperate need of a partnership. Tasked with doing just that was England’s Eoin Morgan and Australia’s Hilton Cartwright, and the duo started to steady the ship adding 57 for the fourth wicket. But just when the foundations were beginning to be set, ten Doeschate called Sam Cook back into the attack, and the youngster struck with his third ball pinning the Australian in front leg before. John Simpson offered brief support to Morgan, who by was beginning to hold the key for Middlesex. Simpson and Morgan added 37-runs before the Eagles went bang bang to leave the hosts in all sorts of strive. The pair fell within an over of each other and Essex were suddenly right back on top, Harmer and Bopara with the wickets. James Franklin and Tom Helm were the last hopes for the hosts, and they did offer some resistance to the Essex attack who now firmly had their tails up. The pair added a useful 48-runs to take the Londoners passed 200 and beyond. But an inspired Bopara soon ripped through the lower order after Porter removed Helm to keep the hosts down to a below-par 250. Bopara finished with impressive figures of 3-30, while Wagner on his Essex return also collected excellent figures of 3-40 from his nine overs of work.
That left Essex with 251 to get from their 50-overs. Adam Wheater, who has seen his first-team action limited, opened with Varun Chopra as the Eagles looked for a positive start. They didn’t get it, as the former Hampshire man edge through to keeper Simpson to fall for 1, Helm, the bowler. That brought the out-of-sorts Westley to the middle desperate to be rid of the rust that has been following him around. Indeed, he immediately looked to be positive flashing delightful cover drives to the boundary off Helm. He and Chopra continued to be busy at the crease finding the rope with regularity and rotating the strike nicely with quick ones. Although Westley dominated the score the role of Chopra mustn’t be underplayed, the former Warwickshire man offered vital support as he notched a half-century as Essex continued to move serenely to their target. The onslaught continued even when Chopra departed as the in-form Dan Lawrence fresh from his match-winning half-century at New Road kept the scoreboard moving with a typically fluent 35. But make no bones about it the day belong to Westley who had struggled to make double figures against the red-ball flayed the ball to all parts of the Radlett outfield on his way to his century. In the end, he departed with the Eagles just 5-runs short of victory having gone beyond his previous list A best of 111 and reached 134 before the impressive Ryan Patel removed him. The Essex number three had struck 17-fours, and a six during his 117-ball stay to help guide the visitors to a comprehensive six-wicket success in Hertfordshire winning with 44-balls to spare.
Elsewhere, Sussex smashed Kent at Hove in front of a good crowd bolstered by a busload of local school children. Those lucky youngsters saw a bowling masterclass by the hosts as they restricted the Spitfires to a disappointing 188 despite the best efforts of Daniel Bell-Drummond who made just under half his teams runs alone with a score of 90. The Kent opener struck six-fours and a six during his 115-ball stay but lacked the support required to really propel his side to a decent score, indeed only Alex Blake reached double figures as the pace attack of Ishant Sharma, and Ollie Robinson ripped through the top order. Danny Briggs was also dangerous with the ball claiming exceptional figures of 3-23 from his ten overs. Including the wicket of the wily old fox Darren Stevens who can be dangerous on his day. Robinson also impressed with the ball in hand bagging three wickets as the Sussex attack simply outclassed the Kent line-up.
A score of 188 was never going to be enough for the visitors even with the impressive Matt Henry in their ranks. Typically, the Kiwi took two wickets as he continues to shine for Kent following his winter arrival, but he just simply didn’t have enough runs to protect at Hove. Luke Wells and Ben Brown both struck half-centuries in the Sussex sun as the pair helped the hosts to a routine win with more than ten overs to spare. Brown hit six-fours on his way to an unbeaten 73, while Wells struck nine boundaries during his 89-ball 62.
There were a pair of centuries at Edgbaston as Derbyshire beat Warwickshire by 57-runs. In this high-scoring encounter, both Billy Godleman and Sam Hain went big as over 650-runs were scored in a day. Godleman hit 137 striking 12-fours and three sixes during his 116-ball stay before the former Essex man was run out by Adam Hose. But by then the damage had already been done with Godleman with the excellent support of Ben Slater (69) and Wayne Madsen (58), and Daryn Smit and Matthew Critchley latterly had gone beyond 330 by the time the opener was dismissed. Jonathan Trott did his best to stem the runs with his aim of taking regular wickets hoping to slow down the tempo. The former England man bagged four wickets for 60 runs during his 10-over stint. Smit added late runs with Duanne Olivier as the visitors pushed their total beyond 350 to finish on 357-8.
In pursuit of their lofty target, the Bears lost a couple of quick early wickets as Derbyshire’s South African paceman Olivier bagged the wickets of Trott and Ed Pollock to leave the hosts in early trouble on 20/2. Sam Hain and Ian Bell stung to tails of the Falcon bowlers by adding a 78 for the third wicket with Bell contributing just 18 of that with the dominant Hain taking centre stage for the hosts. Another decent partnership then took place this time between Hain and Hose as Warwickshire looked to attack. The pair knew that they had to grab the bull by the horn and start to chip away at the visitors total, the duo shared 75-runs in ten overs before Hose became Ravi Rampaul’s only victim of the day. But with the total on 173 just past the halfway mark, the Bears were well and truly still in the game, and Derbyshire knew that the wicket of Hain would be crucial for their hopes of victory. Tim Ambrose and Aaron Thomason came and went, and while Hain had reached his deserved century by now hitting 11-fours and a six in the process he was acutely aware he was running out of partners. And to his 101st ball, the visitors finally had their man as the centurion went for one big shot too many and found the hands of Rampaul to fall for a quite brilliant 108. His departure left the hosts in the perilous position on 210-7 and staring down the barrel, suddenly it was down to the tailenders to see the job through, and Derbyshire could almost taste success on the tips of their tongue. The ever-reliable Keith Barker had other ideas though; the Bears stalwart frustrated the visitors and even threatened to take the hosts to victory at one point. He shared 59 with Olly Stone for the 9th wicket as Warwickshire edged closer to the 300 mark, but when Stone went for 16 the game was up, and Barker was left stranded on 48, and the Bears were 57-runs short. An excellent advert for 50-over cricket at Edgbaston.
Meanwhile, Olly Stone’s former employers Northamptonshire miserable start to the season continued at Wantage road as the Steelbacks fell to a 72-run defeat at the hands of Leicestershire. The Foxes veteran opener Paul Horton was the hero for the visitors striking a magnificent century to guide Paul Nixon’s men to a competitive 265-7. Horton was the only man to capitalise on a good start as a number of batsmen got going but failed to kick on with five of the Leicestershire top order made 25 or more. The 35-year-old opener though underpinned his sides total hitting nine-fours during his 126-ball stay at the crease sharing decent partnerships with Michael Carberry (25) and Colin Ackermann (30). Ben Raine (32) and Ned Eckersley (25 not out) added vital late runs to help the Foxes set a decent looking total against a team bereft of any real confidence. True to form, the Steelbacks were dealt an early blow when Carberry ran out key man Ben Duckett for just 2, and the wickets continued to fall in clusters as the hosts found themselves in an all too familiar situation at 95/6. Gavin Griffiths (4-30) and Raine (3-31) the men doing all the damage of Leicestershire continue their rebuilding process under Nixon in fine style. Josh Cobb (56), Rob White (38) and Brett Hutton (34 not out) were the only Northants batsmen to show any real fight and resistance of the Griffiths and Raine show ripped through the top and middle order. It was another humbling defeat for the hosts who fell to another heavy defeat, but for Leicestershire, it is another progression box ticked off for Nixon and his coaching staff.
Lastly, in the Sky Live day-nighter at Old Trafford, holders Nottinghamshire edged past Lancashire in a thriller. Scores from Chris Nash (52), Tom Moores (47), Ross Taylor (58) and Steven Mullaney (70) led the Outlaws to the commanding total of 318 from their 50 overs. Mullaney looked mightly impressive indeed against his former employers striking eight-fours and a six during his 54-balls stay. In the grand scheme of thing though, perhaps the six and the four hit late on by big Luke Fletcher was the most crucial moment in the match given how the game panned out. With the ball young Matt Parkinson impressed for the hosts with the young spinner bagging figures of 5-68. In response, Keaton Jennings’ excellent recent form continued as the England hopeful smashed eleven-fours on his way to 136 in front of the sky cameras. He dominated his side’s score of 309-9 with the lack of partners the real reason why the hosts fell agonisingly short. Indeed, only Dane Vilas, Liam Livingstone and Steven Croft offered the opener any semblance of support with scores of 41, 33 and 33 respectively. A cluster of wickets from the 40-over mark onwards also didn’t help matters as the visitors fought back superbly with the ball with Jake Ball and Harry Gurney particularly impressive with the ball for the Outlaws. Gurney bagged the vital wicket of Jennings who held the key to success throughout and when he went in 47th over with 30-runs still required, so did the game and remember those 12 runs that Fletcher hit late on, boy did they prove crucial in the end. Lancashire fell just 9-runs short of victory to give the defending champions the ideal start to the season.
5/16/2018 0 Comments
By harry Hill (@HarryHill96) and Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
All the fun of the white ball cup circus returns to a ground near you as the Royal London Cup begins with five fixtures on Thursday including the Sky live fixture featuring the 2017 Champions Nottinghamshire’s trip to Old Trafford.
But we’ll start at a little outground in Hertfordshire where Middlesex will take on last season’s beaten semi-finalists Essex at Radlett.
Middlesex have a pretty awful record on the Royal London One Day Cup in recent seasons, and there are no great reasons for their fans to be more cheerful in 2018. Dawid Malan is not available for their first game, played at the outground at Radlett, so Steve Finn captains a remodelled side. Hilton Cartwright’s contract has been extended and will play, having already made a significant impact for Middlesex, while Middlesex welcome back Paul Stirling from his debut Test and have included Ravi Patel in the squad instead of Ollie Rayner. For Essex, Neil Wagner, who took 14 wickets in 7 ODC games last season, replaces Peter Siddle for the Eagles. Essex are feeling confident of going deep into the competition this year, having topped their group with seven wins from 8 in 2017 only to lose an epic semi-final to the eventual winners on the final over. Suffice it to say that for Middlesex, to have finished eighth in the same group felt like a degree of progress. Anything other than an Essex win would be a surprise here.
Middlesex squad: Steven Finn (captain), Tom Barber, Hilton Cartwright, Stephen Eskinazi, Nick Gubbins, James Harris, Tom Helm, Max Holden, James Franklin, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Patel, John Simpson (wicket-keeper), Paul Stirling
Essex Eagles squad: Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain, James Foster (7) Wicket-keeper, Aaron Beard (14), Ravi Bopara (25), Varun Chopra (6), Sam Cook (16), Simon Harmer (11), Dan Lawrence (28), Jamie Porter (44), Neil Wagner (13), Tom Westley (21), Adam Wheater (31), Ashar Zaidi (99)
Elsewhere, Northamptonshire will look to put their disappointing start to the season behind and press the reset button by entering more familiar ground with white ball in hand at Wantage Road against Leicestershire.
There is hope here though, as Northants won both of their group matches against the Foxes last season. Meanwhile, Leicestershire have enjoyed a decent start to the season under new Head Coach Paul Nixon, a man with significant white ball pedigree at Grace Road as a player. Zak Chappell and Ned Eckersley are returning from injury, whilst Deiter Klein is rested.
Northants (from 13): Josh Cobb, Luke Procter, Richard Levi, Ben Duckett, Alex Wakely, Adam Rossington, Rob Keogh, Steven Crook, Rory Kleinveldt, Graeme White, Brett Hutton, Ben Sanderson, Saif Zaib
Leicestershire (from 13): Michael Carberry, Varun Aaron, Colin Ackermann, Zak Chappell, Mark Cosgrove, Neil Dexter, Ned Eckersley, Gavin Griffiths, Lewis Hill, Paul Horton, Ateeq Javid, Callum Parkinson, Ben Raine
Weather Watch: Clear blue sky, high of 14c.
Match Odds: Northants 4/6, Leicestershire 6/5 (Betfair)
Warwickshire will be hoping to continue their excellent start to the 2018 season when they take on Derbyshire at Edgbaston. The limited overs format has often been the saving grace for the Bears in recent years after flattering to deceive in the longer format. A good start here against the Falcons may see them firing on all cylinders come September.
The hosts have picked a big squad for this one, as Ed Pollock, Liam Banks and Adam Hose have impressed in the 2nd XI so far this season. The champions of 2016 will be looking to continue a fine start to the season, and bounce back from a disappointing campaign last season. Bear skipper Jeetan Patel is full of experience, and his crafty off-spin is ideal for slowing the game down in the middle overs. Derbyshire welcome back Gary Wilson from test duty with Ireland, while Safyaan Sharif will make his Falcons debut if selected. Look out for Ravi Rampaul; the former Surrey man took 18 wickets last season during a brilliant run to the final.
Warwickshire (from 16): Jeetan Patel, Tim Ambrose, Keith Barker, Ian Bell, Henry Brookes, Sam Hain, Adam Hose, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ed Pollock, Josh Poysdon, Will Rhodes, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Alex Thomson, Aaron Thomason, Jonathan Trott
Derbyshire (from 14): Billy Goodleman, Ben Slater, Luis Reece, Wayne Madsen, Alex Hughes, Callum Brodrick, Matt Critchley, Gary Wilson, Daryn Smit, Hardus Viljoen, Ravi Rampaul, Duanne Olivier, Safyaan Sharif, Dan Wheeldon
Weather Watch: Clear blue skies, highs of 16c
Match Odds: Warwickshire 8/13, Derbyshire 5/4 (Betfair)
Perhaps the most exciting contest of the day is taking place at Old Trafford, as Lancashire welcome last season’s champions Notts to Manchester. One suspects that both sets of players are well aware of each other by now, having already faced off twice in the County Championship this season. Joe Mennie returns to the Lancashire squad, whilst Arron Liley and Karl Brown are set to play their first matches of the season. Notts are without last year’s hero in the final, Alex Hales, who is away with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL. However, in Ross Taylor, they have one of the most formidable one-day players in the world cricket to fill Hales’ void, after an impressive series against England over the winter. With the ball, Jake Ball will be looking to make a statement after missing out on England test selection on Tuesday.
Lancashire (from 13): Liam Livingstone, Tom Bailey, Karl Brown, Jordon Clark, Steven Croft, Alex Davies, Keaton Jennings, Arron Lilley, Joe Mennie, Graham Onions, Matt Parkinson, Stephen Parry, Dane Vilas
Nottinghamshire (from 14): Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Matt Milnes, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores, Ross Taylor, Jake Ball, Will Fraine, Billy Root, Jake Blatherwick
Weather Watch: Clear blue skies, highs of 16c
Match Odds: Lancashire evens, Notts 4/5 (Betfair)
Lastly, Sussex will hope their explosive batting line-up fires with the likes of Laurie Evans, David Wiese and Luke Wright, and a dangerous bowling pair of Ishant Sharma and young George Garton all sure to cause plenty of problems. Evans, Delroy Rawlins and Abi Sakande are all set to play their first matches of the season after missing out for Championship action. Meanwhile, Kent have enjoyed a good start to the Championship season, with three wins in Division Two, and will fancy a trip along the south coast to Hove. James Tredwell and Grant Stewart are both unavailable with injuries, whilst Darren Stevens is named but faces a late fitness test after a recent groin problem. Kent look to have a solid batting line up, but I suspect might lack the x-factor to go deep in the competition this year.
Sussex (from 14): Ben Brown, Danny Briggs, Michael Burgess, Laurie Evans, Harry Finch, George Garton, Delroy Rawlins, Ollie Robinson, Abi Sakande, Phil Salt, Ishant Sharma, Luke Wells, David Wiese, Luke Wright
Kent (from 14): Joe Denly, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sean Dickson, Heino Kuhn, Zak Crawley, Alex Blake, Darren Stevens, Calum Haggett, Adam Rouse, Matt Henry, Harry Podmore, Ivan Thomas, Mitch Claydon, Imran Qayyum
Weather Watch: Clear blue skies, highs of 16c
Match Odds: Sussex 4/5, Kent evens (Betfair)
5/11/2018 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
Ball dominated bat on the opening day of the fifth game week of the Specsavers County Championship Division One season, no fewer than 39-wickets fell as the heat subsided and the cool air returned to give the bowlers a much-needed lift.
We’ll start with the leaders Nottinghamshire who endured their worst day since promotion after finding a rampant Lancashire side too hot to handle at Trent Bridge. An already talented Red Rose bowling attack was further bolstered by a fired up James Anderson keen to bounce back from a disappointing match last week against Somerset. With that in mind, Lancashire skipper Liam Livingstone used his right to do away with the toss and invited the hosts to have the first crack at batting. Jake Libby and Steven Mullaney negotiated Anderson’s first over fairly successfully but couldn’t see our Graham Onions’ first over unscathed as the former Durham man removed with Nottinghamshire skipper Mullaney with the penultimate ball of the 2nd over. The naggingly accurate pace duo continued to frustrate the Outlaws top order with runs very much a premium under the hazy Trent Bridge sky. Chris Nash and Libby plodded their way to 46-1 from eighteen and a half overs when Nash was finally put out of his misery departing gritty 18, Onions again the man with the breakthrough. In his very next over, the former England man struck for a third time, this time removing the dangerous Ross Taylor for a duck. Libby must have been watching at the other end of the wicket, thinking ‘come on chaps, this isn’t that hard’. He had moved on to a very patient 34 but must have been dreaming of a nice warm cuppa as he wafted at a ball from Jordan Clark and was snaffled at slip by Livingstone. That left the hosts in a spot of bother on 80/4 and in unfamiliar territory given their largely enjoyable return to the top flight. All that was left now from a Lancashire point of view was for James Anderson to join the wicket-taking party and he did just that striking twice in quick succession to remove Riki Wessels and Tom Moores with Samit Patel run out in between also to leave the hosts on 106/7 and in need of some Stuart Broad magic. After all, he has had the magic touch all week you only have to look at his football fantasy team to know that. The Nottinghamshire faithful were treated to a little 28-ball cameo from the England man but his 20 wasn’t enough to rescue an already sinking ship. Indeed, Tom Bailey finished off the tail and the hosts were dismissed for a disappointing 133.
Fifties for Keaton Jennings (52 not out) and Alex Davies (50) had seemingly given the visitors the upper hand, but a late fightback with the ball has meant that there is still work to do for the Red Rose as they look to finally capitalise on a good start to a County Championship fixture. They close day one with a lead of 24, on 157-4.
Ollie Pope’s blossoming career continued at the Oval as the youngster helped Surrey return back to the straight and narrow against Yorkshire. The Tykes enjoyed a promising start removing four of the top five before 70 was notched up on the scoreboard. That left the Surrey chairmen seeing if the ink had dried on that Virat Kohli contract and getting out the tipex to see if they can change the start date of his contract to today. Dean Elgar and Pope though began to calm the nerves in Surrey dressing room with good measured cricket shots as they slowly silenced an excitable Yorkshire fielding side. The duo shared an unbroken 50-run stand together before the White Rose were back off celebrating again as the South African departed for a well-made 61, England’s Joe Root acting as the golden arm again. Unprederbed though, Pope continued on his merry way slotting the ball away with ease and grace in front of the watching England captain, who would surely be impressed by the 20-year-old. The Londoner would need a partner though if he was going to help the Rey put a decent score on the board, and he finally found one in Rikki Clarke. The former Warwickshire man played a masterful counter charge act to offer the perfect support to Pope. Clarke and Pope took the score beyond 250 and towards 300 as the pair found the rope with alarming regularity. Pope had hit 22-fours in his unbeaten 131 at close, whilst Clarke had his 10 fours and 2 sixes during his entertaining 91-ball 71. Connor McKerr joined the Pope following Clarke’s departure and the young pair would take the hosts through to a dominant position at close at 366-7, a million miles away from the trouble they had previously found themselves in after lunch.
Elsewhere, Worcestershire enjoyed their best day of the season against Champions Essex at New Road. Bizarrely, given their batting fragility at the moment, Ryan ten Doeschate decided to chance his arm at having a toss seemingly forgetting the fact he could’ve just chucked an equally dodgy batting line-up into the cauldron. Instead, the South-African born Dutchman decided to have a bat in gloomy cold conditions in the Midlands. It would prove to be a fateful decision as the visitors never looked comfortable on a pitch that offered early movement. Indeed, only Alastair Cook looked remotely in control during his innings, but even he could only manage 37. The Essex batting line-up looks a shadow of the 2017 side that won by an innings quite frequently during their unbeaten Championship winning season. Tom Westley, who fought his way into the England Test side last year looks rustier than a nail that has been left in the rain too long, he will perhaps be pleased he reached double figures though after his wretched run of low scores. Of course, credit must be given to the Pears pace attack who piled the pressure on the visitors with some tight overs, and that pressure built to create plenty of errors from the Eagles batsmen. It is become a worrying norm to see players like Peter Siddle (playing his last game for the Eagles in this game week) and Simon Harmer digging the top order out of a hole. Again, the Australian added vital lower order runs making 29 to help the visitors to 177. Josh Tongue was the pick of the host's attack collecting four for 45 as the visitors fell short of expectation again. In quickly fading light the Pears easily survived 17-overs of Porter, Siddle and Cook to reach 47 without loss at the close as they enjoyed a very positive opening day.
Lastly, Somerset continued their fine early season form to gain the upper hand in their rain-affected opening day encounter with Hampshire at Taunton. Somerset skipper Tom Abell was the unlikely hero with the ball claiming 3-18 as the visitors crumbled to 198-8 at close. The part-time spin of Abell accounted for James Vince – who again failed to kick on after making another decent start, Joe Weatherley and Lewis McManus. Rilee Rossouw made a pleasing 38 as he slowly starts to return to form before becoming Dom Bess’ only wicket on the innings thus far. But it will be Abell who will be the happiest man in the West Country after collecting 3-wickets to help justify his decision to bowl first after Hampshire asked to have a toss at the County Ground.
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid
Division 1 already looks to be a battle between 3 or 4 sides. There is only one really juicy clash, but some interesting games are promised.
Surrey v Yorkshire
Surrey squad: Rory Burns (captain), Gareth Batty, Scott Borthwick, Rikki Clarke, Sam Curran, Jade Dernbach, Dean Elgar, Ben Foakes, Conor McKerr, Stuart Meaker, Ryan Patel, Ollie Pope, Mark Stoneman, Amar Virdi
Yorkshire squad: Gary Ballance ©, Jonny Bairstow (WK), Tim Bresnan, Harry Brook, Jack Brooks, Karl Carver, Jack Leaning, Adam Lyth, Steven Patterson, Cheteshwar Pujara, Joe Root, Josh Shaw, James Wainman
Yorkshire lose Ben Coad for this match that is undoubtedly the pick of the Division 1 clashes. After their miracle win, Yorkshire are firmly back on the Championship train. Dean Elgar returns for Surrey, who will be disappointed to have managed only two draws against the bottom two clubs. This is the last chance for England Test contenders to impress: with runs for Gubbins and Jennings, Mark Stoneman knows that he needs runs. For Yorkshire, this is likely to be the last that they see of Root and Bairstow. An Oval pitch that was full of runs looks an unlikely surface to produce a positive result, but Amar Virdi can expect to get a lot of overs in and will hope to enhance his growing reputation.
Nottinghamshire v Lancashire
Nottinghamshire squad: Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney (c), Stuart Broad, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Matt Milnes, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores (wkt), Ross Taylor, Jake Ball, Billy Root.
Lancashire squad: Liam Livingstone (c), James Anderson, Tom Bailey, Shiv Chanderpaul, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Alex Davies, Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings, Graham Onions, Stephen Parry, Matt Parkinson, Dane Vilas
Nottinghamshire start this round of matches in pole position and will see the Lancashire side as vulnerable and another potential win, having already beaten them at Old Trafford. Joe Mennie has a thigh strain and misses out, undoubtedly reducing the potency of the Lancashire attack, while Jimmy Anderson will hope for a much better outing this week. The Nottinghamshire attack has looked imperious so far this season and Stuart Broad has looked like the bowler of five years ago. There are signs though that Lancashire are starting to get to grips with Division 1, although they will be concerned that they could not close out a strong position against Somerset and the Nottinghamshire attack will test them sorely.
Somerset v Hampshire
Somerset squad: Tom Abell (c), George Bartlett, Eddie Byrom, Josh Davey, Steve Davies, Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Matt Renshaw, Paul van Meekeren.
Hampshire squad: Jimmy Adams, Joe Weatherley, Mason Crane, Brad Taylor, Rilee Rossouw, James Vince*, Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Gareth Berg, Ryan Stevenson, Fidel Edwards, Lewis McManus, Tom Alsop, Brad Wheal.
Could this be Somerset’s season? Most pundits have marked Somerset for relegation but, despite a relative lack of impact by Jack Leach so far, Somerset are looking to be one of the strongest sides in the Division. Marcus Trescothick is unavailable with a broken toe, but Eddie Byrom is available again, but there are doubts about Josh Davey’s fitness. Hampshire pushed Nottinghamshire very hard on the last day at Trent Bridge and will need to show similar determination to get a result from this game. While the Somerset seam attack is looking strong, Hampshire have been lacking an attack leader, with Fidel Edwards blowing hot and cold and often very expensive.
Worcestershire v Essex
Worcestershire squad: Mitchell, D’Oliveira, Fell, Clarke, Head, Cox, Barnard, Leach, Twohig, Morris, Tongue, Magoffin
Essex squad: Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain, James Foster (7) Wicket-keeper, Aaron Beard (14), Ravi Bopara (25), Nick Browne (10), Varun Chopra (6), Alastair Cook (26), Sam Cook (16), Simon Harmer (11), Dan Lawrence (28), Jamie Porter (44), Peter Siddle (64), Tom Westley (21)
This is not a game that many people would have picked as a relegation battle at this stage of the season, but Worcestershire, despite having their moments, have looked badly off the pace and how much Essex’s confidence will have been harmed by defeat to Yorkshire remains to be seen. Another defeat for Worcestershire would leave them short-odds to drop back into Division 2, while Essex desperately need the win to kick-start their season. Worcestershire welcome back Steve Magoffin to strengthen their attack. Essex’s problems are not hard to identify: Alastair Cook is struggling for runs at the top of the order and Tom Westley has hardly scored a run since being dropped by England, leaving the batting short of punch. The Essex squad is unchanged and they will look to restore their fortunes at New Road.
County Championship Division 2
Division 2 is lagging behind Division 1 but this round of matches throws up a couple of fascinating encounters that could help shape the table.
Kent v Sussex
Kent squad: 6 Joe Denly (c), 23 Daniel Bell-Drummond, 58 Sean Dickson, 4 Heino Kuhn, 16 Zak Crawley, 10 Alex Blake, 3 Darren Stevens, 25 Calum Haggett, 12 Adam Rouse (wk), 24 Matt Henry, 1 Harry Podmore, 5 Ivan Thomas, 33 Adam Riley.
Sussex squad: 26 Ben Brown (c/wk), 21 Danny Briggs, 5 Michael Burgess, 15 George Garton, 6 Harry Finch, 25 Ollie Robinson, 11 Abi Sakande, 28 Phil Salt, 97 Ishant Sharma, 74 Stiaan van Zyl, 96 David Wiese, 32 Luke Wells, 10 Luke Wright
Third against second in the table. Both sides had good wins last week. Kent have now won their last two games and a third win would see them well-positioned to make a long-overdue promotion bid. This though is the classic “promotion 32-pointer”, with the winner damaging the loser’s challenge, as well as setting-out their own credentials. Kent welcome back Blake and Hackett, while Will Gidman continues to tread water on the sidelines. Sussex have Ishant Sharma back in their squad. The struggling Kent batting will have their hands full with the Sussex attack.
Warwickshire v Northants
Warwickshire squad: Patel, Ambrose, Barker, Bell, Brookes, Hain, Hose, Hannon-Dalby, Lamb, Rhodes, Sibley, Stone, Thompson, Trott, Wright
Northants squad: Wakely (c), Newton, Duckett, Levi, Keogh, Procter, Rossington, Cobb, Crook, Bracewell, Hutton, Sanderson
Warwickshire have a chance here to go further clear at the top of the table against the side that appears to be comfortably the weakest in the Division. Ryan Sidebottom has a side strain, but Olly Stone and Keith Barker are available again for Warwickshire. The Warwickshire attack has so far swept all before it and comes up against a Northants side short of confidence that seems to depend too much on Bracewell. A third win in four games would leave Warwickshire in a very strong position.
Middlesex v Gloucestershire
Middlesex squad: Dawid Malan (captain), Tom Barber, Hilton Cartwright, Stephen Eskinazi, Steven Finn, Nick Gubbins, James Harris, Tom Helm, Max Holden, Eoin Morgan, Ollie Rayner, Sam Robson, John Simpson (wicket-keeper)
Gloucestershire squad: Dent (c), Howell, Bracey, Roderick, J.Taylor, van Buuren, Higgins, Noema-Barnett, Miles, Worrall, M.Taylor, Liddle, Hankins.
Not a game that would have caused Middlesex many sleepless nights when the fixture list was published but, now, they are desperately in need of a win and cannot afford a defeat. Tim Murtagh and Paul Stirling hope to make their Test debuts in Dublin, but Middlesex recover Steve Finn, who has been getting back match fitness in the 2nd XI and Eoin Morgan. Gloucestershire name the same squad that were robbed by rain of possible victory against Sussex. A measure of Chris Dent’s determination to regain form was that he joined van Buuren and various others of the 1st XI in the 2nd XI team that overwhelmed Glamorgan 2nd XI this week. Dent scored runs and van Buuren took wickets. Gloucestershire are likely to field an unchanged XI, with Ryan Higgins keen to join the long list of players released by Middlesex who have haunted their former county. Higgins has been promoted to the new ball and has runs and wickets to his name. The loser of this game will probably be parking any thoughts of promotion.
Derbyshire v Durham
Derbyshire squad: 1. Billy Godleman, 26. Ben Slater, 10. Luis Reece, 77. Wayne Madsen, 18. Alex Hughes, 20. Matt Critchley, 11. Daryn Smit, 16. Harvey Hosein, 41. Ravi Rampaul, 7. Hardus Viljoen, 74. Duanne Olivier, 28. Tony Palladino, 44. Will Davis
Durham squad: Paul Collingwood (c), Aiden Markram, Cameron Steel, Will Smith, Graham Clark, Gareth Harte, Michael Richardson, Stuart Poynter (wk), James Weighell, Mark Wood, Nathan Rimmington, Matt Dixon, George Harding
Mark Wood has decided to return early from the IPL in an attempt to get back into the England side. Gary Wilson is playing for Ireland, so Derbyshire name both Smit and Hosein as potential replacements and Tony Palladino is again available. Durham have been boosted by their extraordinary comeback win against Leicestershire and know that a second win would put them back in the hunt for promotion, while Derbyshire’s strong attack will pose a real challenge. Chris Rushworth and Barry McCarthy are injured, but loan signing Matt Dixon seems likely to play, while George Harding and Gareth Harte have been withdrawn from the current Durham 2nd XI match to reinforce the squad.
Leicestershire v Gamorgan
Leicestershire squad: Carberry (capt), Aaron, Ackermann, Cosgrove, Dexter, Griffiths, Hill (wk), Horton, Javid, Klein, Parkinson, Raine.
Glamorgan squad: Hogan (capt), Selman, Murphy, Marsh, Donald, Carlson, Cooke (wk), Lloyd, Salter, Carey, de Lange, van der Gugten, Smith.
Two sides that lost badly last time out and need a boost. Leicestershire have just about forgotten how to win and, on a dead Grace Road pitch, will at least be confident of avoiding defeat. Glamorgan name an unchanged squad. Ned Eckersley injured against Durham is replaced by Lewis Hill for Leicestershire, while Ateeq Javid's excellent 2nd XI form earns him a call-up to the squad. Leicestershire say that they feel that the team is “in a really good place” despite the loss to Durham, but Glamorgan have been showing signs of some real form.
5/6/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid
Warwickshire’s momentum at the top of Division 2 is beginning to look well-nigh unstoppable, even at this early stage of the season.
Even if Warwickshire lost a second quick wicket in reaching their target of 89, a bombardment of boundaries from Bell and Trott hurried them to the victory. From 29-2, the two former England players added 60 in 12 overs. Jonathan Trott has announced his retirement this season and, at this rate, he will be able to celebrate it with an early promotion to Division 1. Derbyshire, who looked so good against Middlesex, were well off the pace in this game.
After the great Sophia Gardens drain leak, play started late, but Kent took just eight balls to finish off the Glamorgan innings. Given that Kent had not scored more than 174 so far this season, a target of 194 looked like a huge challenge, but Bell-Drummond and Dickson set off at a pace and, when they fell, Kuhn and Denly took over. Although both Denly and Crawley fell just before victory was sealed, there was never any danger that Kent would lose this.
Amazing things have happened at Chester-le-Street today. Leicestershire have not enforced a follow-on since 2010, mainly due to the fact that they have never since been in a position to have the choice to do so. Today, even though, Durham managed a partial recovery to 184ao, Leicestershire did not hesitate in putting them back in. However, to the surprise and delight of the suffering locals, who celebrated Aiden Markram’s first runs for Durham, Markram and Steel put on 152 together and it was a major disappointment when Markram fell for 94, rather than getting his century. Steel and Will Smith though have continued to score freely and at 233-1, Durham are now just 23 behind. However, the new ball is due in the morning and Durham will need to see it off against bowlers who have now spent 134.3 overs in the field. If they *can* see it off, there is even a chance that they can get 180 ahead and make a declaration, just to see what happens. A result, other than a Leicestershire win is unlikely, but Durham can take heart from Yorkshire’s example.
We save the best for last. A see-saw encounter at Hove enters its last day with the contest finely balanced. Despite Sussex dropping something like nine catches, they may now be slight favourites as a Middlesex collapse saved them just as it seemed that only a Middlesex win was possible. Nick Gubbins and Dawid Malan both scored brilliant centuries, with the former now seemingly in a shoot-out with Keaton Jennings to play in the 1st Test. Their stand of 234 seemed to have set up a comeback win; from there though, Middlesex lost their last eight wickets for 79 and their last five for just nineteen. What was amazing was that Sussex could do that despite yet more catches going down, taking the count to at least nine in the match from them. Chasing 230, Sussex have made a rocky start, with James Harris dismissing both openers – he must come into the reckoning for the 1st Test too. Sussex finished the day 35-2 and will remember how batting has come much simpler in each innings as the ball has softened. On the negative side, three or four balls have shot through almost rolling when pitching outside the off stump. Sussex know that if they can get through the first hour they will have a great chance to win this match. Middlesex know that they cannot afford to lose this one to a direct rival. It is all set up for an incredibly tense finish.
5/6/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
The games at Old Trafford and The Oval are heading for the most tedious of draws, but events at Chelmsford have more than made up for them. As for Trent Bridge, a finish is on the cards, but there is still plenty of life in the game.
Only six times in Championship history has a side been bowled out for fifty or fewer in the first innings and won. The fans would have turned up at Chelmsford this more expecting a tight finish, after all, Essex were 97-4 and only needed 141 more to win, with two set batsmen at the crease. A tight finish threatened. What no one expected was that, after a steady start, they would implode in the most extraordinary way. Six overs were seen off, seventeen added. Suddenly, things went horribly wrong for Essex. Ben Coad got ten Doeschate and James Foster with the second and fifth balls of the 39th over and Harmer with the last ball of his next over. Then Steve Patterson took Dan Lawrence. 114-4 had become 114-8 and the match was all over bar the shouting (mainly expressed as fevered appeals). Although Siddle, Porter and Cook hung around for a while, the result was never in doubt. Yorkshire came back from being bowled out in a little over an hour on the first morning to win by the large margin of 91 runs and go top of the table, at least temporarily.
No such fun at Old Trafford, or at The Oval. Both games look set to end in the driest of dull draws. Surrey must have been licking their lips and be anticipating an easy win when they saw that Worcestershire would be coming. Reality though has been different. Worcestershire have passed Surrey’s 434 with something to spare and could yet get far enough ahead tomorrow to make Surrey bat for survival. Given though that the biggest danger to the batsman on this pitch is boredom, it will take something nigh on miraculous to produce a result. Worcestershire will begin the final day 469-6, 35 ahead and will be hoping to add enough runs to make Surrey at least a little nervous tomorrow.
At Old Trafford, any chance of a good finish tomorrow depended on Lancashire making a monumental score and being able to put some pressure on Somerset in the last two sessions. The good news for England was that Keaton Jennings took full advantage of the benign conditions to score an excellent century. He has been getting in recently, but not pushing on – trying too hard, perhaps? – but, today, it came right. In the company of Dane Vilas, who made the first double century of the season, they nullified the Somerset attack (perhaps “attack” was being generous here, with conditions so loaded in favour of the bat). They put on 201 together. At 431-5, Lancashire looked set for a big lead. An amazing collapse in the circumstances saw them fall to 443-9 before Clark and Parkinson added 49 for the last wicket. With no Marcus Trescothick, Renshaw opened with Davies and saw Somerset to 51-0 and near parity at the Close. It is now hard to see any way that there can be a result here.
At Trent Bridge, there should be a finish. Nottinghamshire batted far beyond the point at which there was any reason to do so, finally setting Hampshire 469 to win. Ross Taylor scored 83 in just 69 balls and the score mounted at an astonishing pace. Nottinghamshire batted in full T20 mode at the end of their innings and lost some wickets doing so, but they were set on enjoying themselves and did not care in the slightest about wickets. Tasked with surviving four and a half sessions, or a nominal 140 overs, Hampshire started well, but Nottinghamshire just needed a breakthrough. When Samit Patel, who finished the day with remarkable figures of 8-5-6-1, got Weatherley, Gurney added Jimmy Adams quickly and then Stuart Broad bowled a fine delivery to get James Vince cheaply. Amla and Wood hung on to the Close, but it will be a huge surprise if Nottinghamshire does not close this one out and leapfrog Yorkshire back into top spot.
5/5/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
If I were a betting man, I would put my money on three of the four games ending tomorrow.
Starting at the top of Division 2, Warwickshire’s game could easily have ended tonight. Derbyshire could not build a partnership, despite several pairs getting starts. Only when Madsen and Hughes were together did they look to threaten Warwickshire’s comfortable march to 23 points and stretching their lead in Division 2. Derbyshire were finally all out for a very under par 209 and left just 89 to win. With 16 overs available if Warwickshire had chosen to take the extra half hour the game could easily have finished today but will go into its final day, if only for an hour or so. The early loss of Rhodes to Duanne Olivier should not derail the chase at all: Warwickshire closed on 19-1 and look set to extend their lead.
The fly in the Warwickshire ointment is Sussex-by-the-Sea, with Sussex looking to keep up the pressure behind them with a win of their own. Looking at the fixture list, the Sussex v Middlesex game looked like a title eliminator between two heavyweights. After two days though, the referee has already given Middlesex a standing count and has asked the ringside doctor to take a look. This was not the way things were meant to be after Northants were destroyed so efficiently in the first match of the season. If you looked though a little deeper at the injury list, at the players who would not be available, at the ones who had moved to other counties and at the hints that not all was well in the dressing room, caution was advisable and Middlesex are getting a severe dose of reality. Today was meant to be the fightback. Sussex had missed at least six, relatively easy chances, by some counts, seven and started the day 60-4. Although Danny Briggs hung on, when he and Ben Brown went it was 127-6 and Middlesex were looking at a likely useful first innings lead. Sadly, another of the problems from 2017 has come back to haunt them: not being able to knock over a tail. At 242-8 the least should have been kept to no more than thirty. In the end, though, the last two wickets added 81 and the lead was 93, a number made to look huge as Sam Robson and Steve Eskinazi fell in quick succession. Even the local fans started to get unruly as a Sussex-supporting seagull first attacked the effects microphone during the innings break, before heckling into it with what sounded like uncontrollable laughter as Middlesex lost wickets, almost drowning out the commentators. Gubbins and Malan have steadied the ship but, at 64-2, Middlesex are still 29 behind and know that they can ill-afford to lose an early wicket in the morning.
At Sophia Gardens the game has returned to a more normal pace but, this one too is likely to end tomorrow. Glamorgan were threatening to head for safety late in the day. At 260-6, the lead was 180 and the likely Kent target 250+, which would have been a fair trial for a Kent side that has no batting form at all. However, two late wickets for Matt Henry and one for one of the players who Middlesex, perhaps foolishly, let go, Harry Podmore, have left Glamorgan 273-9 and only 193 ahead. Of course, for Kent a chase of 200 this season is like setting other sides 400, but they must feel confident that they can finish this one off: if they cannot, the blow to the side’s morale is going to be truly earth-shattering.
It seemed that there would be no such luck at the Riverside, probably the loveliest ground on the county circuit as Leicestershire defied my genial editor’s challenge to prove that they are not boring. It is fortunate that Martin Emmerson in the commentary box makes Henry Bloefeld’s interest in buses look positively marginal. Four Leicestershire batsmen reached 70 (but none passed 75) as Leicestershire ground out 440ao in 150.4 hours of not very thrilling cricket. Marty though will identify each commercial aircraft as it flies over the ground using his mobile app, will commentate on the shipping passing through the Roker Riviera… anything to distract listeners from the fact that it is boring out in the middle. Sadly, things ceased to be boring when Durham batted. Aiden Markram may be #8 in the ICC Test rankings, but his first match for Durham was marked by two ducks in a day (including a golden) and today he added a third, this time, a fourth-baller. Steel and Collingwood added their ducks to the collection and Durham trembled at 14-4 and then 51-6. If Graham Clark, who has stood firm with 50* falls early, this game may not see out the day. Durham are 142-7 starting the third day and need another 148 to avoid the follow-on. At this rate, it is going to be another season of intense pain for the many Durham fans around the country who have seen a county that has produced so many players for England, totally hobbled by the ECB.
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