6/28/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
Day 3 ended with all four games in Division One still in play. Only at Scarborough is a result certain: barring a spectacular clatter of wickets, Surrey seem destined to win that one, to re-affirm their title credentials and to put Yorkshire in some difficulty around the relegation places. Nottinghamshire will be confident of bowling out Worcestershire, but the hosts may yet hold out for a draw. The games at Chelmsford and at Old Trafford look like draws, although quick wickets for the visitors in either might just revive the prospect of a run chase.
In Division Two, two of the four matches ended on Day 3, with big wins for Leicestershire (currently third in the table) and Kent (who have snatched, at least temporarily, the top spot from Warwickshire), while Middlesex are now in fifth, 40 points behind the second promotion spot. Both remaining games look likely to produce results: Northamptonshire will feel that they can wrap up the game at Cardiff, while all results are still possible in the match at Chester-le-Street, although it was leaning towards Warwickshire.
Did it pan out this way? Read on!
We start at Chelmsford, where Browne and Bopara had got Essex through to the Close at 17-2, recovering from 1-2. Essex started 127 ahead and in the knowledge that they could ill-afford a quick wicket that would leave Somerset pushing for an unlikely win. In reality, the equation was simple: if Essex were still batting halfway through the second session, the game would be a draw; if Somerset had them 7 or 8 down in the first session, there would, most likely, be a run chase. With Nick Browne acting as sheet-anchor at one end and Ravi Bopara with a fifty at the other, the game was dying a death until Dominic Bess had Bopara caught at slip for 58 and then, three balls later, bowled ten Doeschate. The lead was 218 at that point, with 69 overs left, so the game was still, just about alive, although Essex knew that Alastair Cook would be available to bat at #7 having recovered from illness, so they would not be batting a man short. At Lunch, Essex were 125-4, 235 ahead with 65 overs to go after a potential change of innings and Somerset knew that they needed an improbable three or four quick wickets to keep their slim victory hopes alive. The wickets came in an extremely unexpected manner after Lunch. Essex came out swinging and, even though Wheater, Cook and Browne fell in quick succession, 60 runs came from 10 overs. With both sides needing the win to stay in touch with the leaders, Essex declared, challenging Somerset to score 319 to win in 50 overs. Somerset set off at the necessary 6-an-over, but once Byrom was run out by ten Doeschate, wickets started to fall, and Somerset had to think of survival. Essex used Simon Harmer and Tom Westley in tandem, with very attacking fields, but Tom Abell and Lewis Gregory showed the sort of mastery of the forward defensive that would have made Fred Boycott drool. Essex kept going until the bitter end, only giving up when they required five wickets from the final over. If there was music playing over the public address during the last hour of inaction, it could only have been Te Deum.
Surrey had reached Stumps on 89-0 with Mark Stoneman past 30 for the first time in the season: would this be the day when he re-discovered his hunger for runs? Sadly, not! He fell, LBW to Ben Coad, without adding to his overnight 32. Rory Burns though continued to lead the charge to victory until he picked out the fielder on the rope when looking for the boundary to take him to his century, giving Tim Bresnan an unexpected wicket. Scott Borthwick though picked up the torch in partnership with Ryan Patel. He fell to Jack Leaning, for 62, with victory in sight, but Surrey won soon afterwards by seven wickets and go back to the top of Division One. The way that Surrey turned this game around will send a warning to their rivals, while Yorkshire know that this season they could be too close to comfort to the relegation places during the run in.
At Old Trafford, Hampshire started 66-2 and 106 ahead. Lancashire needed quick wickets to make something of the game. Although Sam Northeast fell early, Tom Alsop combined with Joe Weatherley in a 75 run stand that appeared to have killed the match. However, when Stephen Parry bowled Alsop and, immediately afterwards, Clark pinned Roussow, the lead was only 204 and another wicket would have made things very interesting. Unfortunately, that was as exciting as it got and, with no further wickets falling by Tea, there was some pretty blatant time-wasting to reduce the number of overs that would be bowled before the 4:50 pm handshake. Weatherley went on to 126* against some less than challenging new ball bowling, with Holland 26* and the score 237-5 when the declaration and handshake came.
At Trent Bridge, Worcestershire started at 43-0, with the challenge to survive the last day, albeit with all wickets intact. Daryl Mitchell and Martin Guptill ticked-off the overs, seemingly without great alarm, but it really needed one batsman to stay there for much of the day and let the rest of the batting take their lead from that. There was the rub. What you might define as sticktoitiveness has not been a defining characteristic of the Worcestershire season, with the county getting into promising positions and then finding ways to lose. Wickets fell just often enough to keep Nottinghamshire interested. After an opening stand of 62, Mitchell and Guptill fell in quick succession. Fell and Clark added 63, and then Fell gave a catch to stand-in wicket-keeper Rikki Wessels. At Lunch, it was 151-3, there were at least 67 overs to go, and the smart money was, just about, on Nottinghamshire, particularly as, if everything panned-out as Nottinghamshire hoped, the tail would be batting in the difficult twilight conditions at the end of the day. This time though, Worcestershire refused to fold. Led by a century from Joe Clark who, fortunately for the Pears, did show the necessary application. But Nottinghamshire made just enough progress to be kept interested as none of his partners wanted to stick around for long enough to make the game completely safe, seven of them got into double figures, but none passed 35. Nottinghamshire knew that if Clark went, they would win. However, Joe Clark also knew this and refused to budge. His 150 came up in the company of Ben Twohig, and Nottinghamshire must have known that the game was up. Twohig fell finally, bowled by Luke Fletcher for 35 but, by then, there were just 24 balls left, and Clark was certainly not going to give anything away. Pennington fell with 12 balls left and the last over started with Nottinghamshire two wickets short and with Luke Fletcher bowling at #10, Charlie Morris. Morris survived and sealed the draw, with Clark 177* at the non-striker’s end.
With Surrey the only winners, the table looks very good from South of the River Thames. Surrey are 22 points clear of Nottinghamshire and have played a game fewer. Somerset are 10 points behind Nottinghamshire and Essex 5 points further back, while Yorkshire have fallen into the bottom two and face a relegation battle in the second half of the season.
Back in Division Two, the game at Chester-le-Street, Day 4 started with the visitors at 152-5. Durham needed an almighty clatter of wickets for something to be set up. Initially, Warwickshire appeared to be sailing calmly to a token declaration; they reached 179-5 and then, suddenly, all hell broke loose. Ryan Pringle took three wickets in four balls, then, with the third ball of the next over, Chris Rushworth added Hannon-Dalby. Warwickshire were 182-9 and only 309 ahead, with a potential 89 overs to play after the change of innings. The match was alive, and Durham needed that last wicket as quickly as possible. Keith Barker survived the hat-trick ball. Warwickshire then declared on 185-9, setting-up a chase of 313 in 88 overs. This was exactly what the match needed. All four results were possible. Despite the early loss of Cameron Steel, Will Smith and Tom Latham batted sensibly and kept the required run rate under control. At Lunch, the game was intriguingly poised, with Durham 60-1, needing 253 more runs in 68 overs, but knowing that the low, slow nature of the pitch would make acceleration difficult, so they could not let the required run rate rise much more if they were to reach their target. The fall of Will Smith, soon after Lunch led to a full-scale collapse and, at 148-8, it seemed that Warwickshire would win with time to spare. Rimmington and Salisbury put on 31 for the ninth wicket before Rimmington decided that, with the situation hopeless, he would at least have some fun. The last wicket pair had added 47 and had the runs required down to 87 when Rimmington made one heave too many against Samit Patel and was castled for 61.
Leg spinner, Seekkuge Prasanna gave Northamptonshire the perfect start to day three at Cardiff, by taking his 3rd wicket of the innings when he trapped van der Gugten LBW, leaving Glamorgan 126-5 chasing 434. From there it was just a matter of time as batsman after batsman got in and then got out: seven got into double figures, but there was no score higher than Khawaja’s 38. With the captain, Michael Hogan, unable to bat, the only sustained resistance was the ten and a bit overs when Carlson and Cooke were together. When Hutton got Carlson caught behind for 32, the end came swiftly and was sealed when Prasanna took his fourth wicket, finishing with 4-49 in a straightforward win by 233 runs that lifts Northamptonshire off the foot of the Division 2 table.
Warwickshire return to the top of Division 2, 11 points clear of Kent, with Leicestershire 21 points behind Kent. Sussex are 34 points behind Kent with a game in hand but Middlesex, in fifth, are 45 points from the promotion places and would need an extraordinary run of results to get into contention, with only seven games left.
6/27/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
Day 3 of the battles at the top and the bottom of the table.
Day 2 ended without anything scandalous happening at Canterbury – at least, nothing that Middlesex fans are not familiar with anyway – and with Yorkshire, Hampshire, Essex and Nottinghamshire firmly on top in their games. This was not great news if you are a Surrey, Lancashire, Somerset, or Worcestershire supporter, but the fact that Yorkshire seemed to be setting themselves up for a tilt for victory against Surrey was music to the ears of the chasing pack in Division 1.
In Division 2, Warwickshire were recovering from defeat at the weekend with some Durham-bashing (although Durham were responding in kind). Kent were well on the way to victory against Middlesex, Northamptonshire were in a good position against Glamorgan and Leicestershire were making up for their last-gasp defeat by Middlesex and, in the Midlands derby, Leicestershire were pushing themselves into a strong position against Derbyshire.
Although a day and a half of chasing leather at Chelmsford had just about ruled out any chance of victory for Somerset, their batsmen had responded confidently, and Somerset had justifiable hopes of taking four batting points and setting-up a high-scoring draw, with its reasonable haul of points. Somerset set about their task with a will and scored steadily. From 140-2 at the start, there was a squelch when Byrom fell in the seventh over of the day, but Hildreth and Abell batted calmly when the fall of another wicket could bring calamity. As 200 and the first batting point were achieved, the pair began to accelerate, as their rate of scoring was only going to bring them three batting points at most. However, runs all the way down the order, led by 78 from James Hildreth saw Somerset safely to four batting points and passing the follow-on mark comfortably. Job done. Draw ensured. Jamie Overton, making a welcome return to the side scored 35 before falling to the occasional off-breaks of Tom Westley. 407ao reduced the deficit to 110 and Somerset had an opening. Alastair Cook was ill, so Westley opened with Browne, and suddenly the match turned on its head. Gregory began with a maiden. Then Josh Davey got Westley LBW with his second ball. Then Lewis Gregory pinned Pepper LBW with the second ball of his second over, and Essex were 1-2 and, if not in trouble, at least in need of a partnership to stabilise the innings. Browne and Bopara got them through to the Close at 17-2 and Somerset will need to strike hard and quickly tomorrow to make a game of this.
Cheteshwar Pujara was asked after play was abandoned at Scarbados if he had ever seen anything like yesterday’s sea fret. Not unexpectedly, he replied that this is not a feature of afternoons in Rajkot. The remarkable thing is that the large crowd were able to follow the action – at times the boundary at the other side of the grown was almost invisible. With so much play being lost, 104 overs had to be bowled on Day 3, and the match hurried on as if planning to use the extra time to get the finish in. Surrey set out at 219-7 knowing that they needed a big day today to get back into the match. Ollie Pope enhanced his burgeoning reputation, receiving solid support from Morne Morkel. The fifty partnership came up in 13.5 overs. Morkel fell to the second over with the new ball and, despite some power hitting from Pope to end on 69*, the innings ended after just twenty new ball deliveries at 267ao, giving Yorkshire a useful lead of 75. Ben Coad was the star with the ball with 5-53, supported by Tim Bresnan with 3-77. When Yorkshire batted, aiming to set up a declaration, things went horribly wrong. Lees and Lyth fell to Morkel in the first five overs, and Yorkshire were trembling on 8-2. He then added Ballance. Rikki Clarke took Brook, Dernbach picked-up Pujara and Yorkshire had staggered to 48-5. Surrey were right back in the game, and when Morkel added Leaning, it was 70-6, the lead was just 145, with Morkel resting on 4-26. Small, but vital contributions from Tattersall, Bresnan, Patterson and Brooks hauled Yorkshire up to the comparative riches of 152 and a lead of 227, but Yorkshire must have known that they had let this one slip away. Burns and Stoneman set about the target and, glory be, today Stoneman got past 30 for the first time in the season as Rory Burns added yet another 50. It was getting awfully one-sided and, as boundary after boundary was added to the total that shining light that the batsmen could see in the distance was the spotlight focussed on the Championship pennant after so many years of modest returns, too many of them in Division Two. Surrey reached Stumps 89-0 and will surely go on to close out the win that will bring an overdue Championship so much closer.
At Old Trafford, Lancashire’s aspirations were limited to getting close to parity and thus ensuring a draw. 115 for Davies, 134 for Dane Vilas, a partnership of 138 for the fourth wicket and Lancashire were well on the way to their target. Vilas and Clark added another 112 and eliminated the follow on from the equation. By mid-afternoon, the draw was looming larger over the ground than the usual Manchester cloud. By the time that Clark was run out by James Vince for 82, Lancashire were well past 400, and the draw was almost inevitable. 411ao left Hampshire a lead of 40 and less than four sessions remaining and no real option of winning. Lancashire knew that a quick clatter of wickets could just give them a chance of a surprise victory. Onions took Adams LBW to make it 12-1 and then Tom Bailey got James Vince to edge through to the ‘keeper to leave Hampshire 47-2, 87 ahead and in need of a little caution. Another wicket might well have got Lancashire interested, but Sam Northeast and Joe Weatherley got the visitors through to the Close, 66-2 and 106 ahead. Unless a lot of wickets fall in the first hour tomorrow the afternoon session of this one is going to be tedious.
At Trent Bridge, Worcestershire started at 215-7, 284 behind and made a brave attempt to avoid the follow-on. After Pennington fell for 16, at 234-8, Whiteley went after the bowling and, in partnership with Morris, added 53, to which Morris’s contribution was just 9. Chris Nash was brought on with his occasional off-spin in an attempt to end the fun and duly knocked over the last two wickets in his third over. Unsurprisingly, with a lead of 212 and 75 overs remaining in the day, Nottinghamshire did not enforce the follow-on, hoping to add quick runs. They did not have the best of starts as Dillon Pennington trapped Chris Nash LBW for his maiden first-class wicket with just the eighth ball of the innings. Jake Libby and Samit Patel then added 121 for the second wicket at 4-an-over and Nottinghamshire were on their way. Patel, Ross Taylor and Billy Root all fell in quick succession, but that just brought in Rikki Wessels to support Jake Libby. With the lead 380 with 30 overs left in the day, it was just a matter of how many Chris Nash wanted to add and how many overs he wished to give his bowlers in the evening. Finally, he declared at 249-4, when Jake Libby reached his century, setting Worcestershire a mere 462 to win, with 17 overs to survive, plus the 96 on Day 4. Worcestershire survived to Stumps, 43-0, with the challenge to survive the last day, albeit with all wickets intact.
At Canterbury, Middlesex started 22-2, chasing 467 and looked a defeated side. The batsmen handled bright sunshine no better than twilight and, by the end of the first hour, it was 68-7, with Podmore on 5-28 and a refreshed Grant Stewart with 2-36 having bowled all but one of the 25 overs. It was pretty ghastly to watch, and the implication was that Middlesex will be playing their cricket in Division 2 in 2019. Although weakened, the Middlesex side was not as weak as might be thought looking at the scorecard and Kent were missing their two best bowlers. For Middlesex the problems mount. Max Holden is finding the step up to 1st XI cricket quite hard work (although he has had some decent performances), Sam Robson has stated that he wants his England place back, but has only reached 20 once in his last six Championship matches (31 v Leics) and Hylton Cartwright is about to leave, having managed a match-winning innings against Leicestershire, but little more, while Dawid Malan is in pretty grizzly form. Podmore, who hardly got a game for the 1st XI while at Lord’s, soon added John Simpson to his personal score and it looked likely that the game would end in the first session. In came the Lambeth Lara himself at 80-9, decided to enjoy himself. The last wicket partnership lasted 37 balls and added 44, of which Tim Murtagh’s contribution was 40 from 21 balls. The next highest Middlesex score in the match were Stevie Eskinazi’s 25 in the first innings: no one else scored more than 13. This was not the pitch. It was not the Duke ball. It was diabolically bad Middlesex batting. The final margin was 342 runs, and Middlesex were lucky to get that close. RIP any remote hope of promotion for the Middlesex Machines. Kent, in contrast, will be confident that Division One cricket is returning to Canterbury and not before time.
At Chester-le-Street, Day 3 started with the hosts at 138-2 and hopeful of piling-up a big reply to Warwickshire’s 424. Steel fell quickly for 51 on them, and no one had the sticktoitiveness to stay out there. 139-2 became 175-6 as a familiar, sinking feeling fell over the local supporters. However, not for the first time, Gareth Harte stood firm: he is the sort of batsman that you would have liked to have you defending the perimeter at Dunkirk… nothing seems to get past him if he can help it! Ryan Pringle gave him solid support and Durham could hope to avoid the follow-on and, with it, the biggest danger of defeat. Harte and Pringle added 48 together, then Rimmington came in and gave Harte more solid support, adding 54 and going past the follow-on mark. When Harte was finally out for 45, caught behind of Chris Wright, Rushworth and Salisbury added 13 more from 11 balls to edge Durham closer to safety. Warwickshire batted again with 46 overs of the day remaining, 127 ahead and needing to add a lot of runs very quickly to set up any chase. What Warwickshire did not count with was a fine bowling display from the hosts. 38-3 quickly, Warwickshire were indebted to Jonathon Trott for his 53 but, when he fell, Warwickshire were 119-5, 248 ahead and Durham were hanging on to their hopes of chasing something under 300. Salisbury, who finished the day with 3-48 and Rimmington (1-40) strove for the breakthrough, but Ambrose and Barker saw Warwickshire through to stumps, 152-5. The lead is 279. The question is: do Warwickshire settle for the draw, or do they go for quick runs in the morning and set up a chase? Their best chance of victory might be to be bowled out inside the first hour.
At Derby, the hosts started 43-3, still nine behind and were soon in even deeper trouble. Had it not been for the 86 of Matt Critchley the game might well have ended in the second session of the day. His only significant support was 30 from Alex Hughes. Critchley was the last man to fall, desperately trying to add to the meagre Derbyshire lead. The Leicestershire hero was, unquestionably, Mohammad Abbas, with 6-54, which wrecked the Derbyshire innings as he and Ben Raine bowled 45 of the 60 overs. Facing a target of 133 for their third win in four games, Leicestershire only needed to avoid early disaster. The fall of concussion substitute, Sam Evans, to Viljoen in the second over may have caused some nerves in the visitor dressing room, but captain Paul Horton and Colin Ackermann set about their task with gusto and set Leicestershire on their way to a big win. Ackermann fell finally for 58 but, with the score already 100-2, only an utter disaster would stop Leicestershire winning. Paul Horten though stayed around until the target was almost reached and Leicestershire duly won by six wickets and shoot up the Division 2 table.
In the final game of this round, at Cardiff, Ben Duckett was 111* at the start and Northants were 169-0, 196 ahead. Duckett went on to 133, with the opening partnership 208 before Northants suffered one of the collapses that blighted last season and has blighted this. 208-0 became 246-6 as Smith and van ter Gugten suddenly reined them back. Enter Steven Crook to partner Vasconcelos who was still there, almost forgotten and, suddenly, the leather started to fly. Crook is no mean batsman and showed it with a blistering 73. Crook and Vasconcelos added 147 and Northamptonshire were out of sight. Wakeley declared at 406-9, scored at better than 4-an-over and set Glamorgan 434 to win or, more likely, 129 overs to survive. Glamorgan made a sound start, but the fall of Selman to Procter, followed by Murphy to Buck had Glamorgan 54-2 and Northamptonshire looking at finishing the match of quickly. A stand of 57 from Morgan and Khawaja had Glamorgan hoping again but, again, both fell quickly. At 118-4, it seems to be just a matter of when Northamptonshire win. Carlson and van ter Gugten saw out the last eight balls with no further loss, but they need to bat well past Lunch tomorrow if Glamorgan are to make a fight of it. Glamorgan fans will not be holding their breath.
Day 2 of the battles at the top and the bottom of the table.
The big talking point of the day was, undoubtedly the goings-on at Canterbury the previous evening. In three of the games in each Division the match was day-night, with a pink ball being used under floodlights. Whereas in Division 1, the Kookaburra ball was used, in Division 2, it was the Duke. At Canterbury, the ball swung so prodigiously that batting seemed near-impossible, with balls taking remarkable curves through the air. Social media were alive with complaints about the farcical conditions and the rank unfairness of batting under lights with a ball that behaved in such a way. In contrast, no such movement were seen with the Kookaburra in Division 1, so the suspicion (and a good part of the opprobrium) were falling in the Duke ball (with another part aimed at the ECB for this experiment). Yet, two other games had twilight play with a Duke with no comparable action was observed. At Derby, Leicestershire navigated through 28 overs of Duke in twilight without losing a wicket against an attack of Olivier, Rampaul, Palladino and Viljoen and, at Chester-le-Street, there was a New Ball burst of 4 wickets for 6 runs, including 3 wickets in 5 balls for Steve Magoffin, but no exaggerated swing and the sixth wicket pair batted calmly to the Close. Did Middlesex simply fall foul of a rogue Duke ball? Was there something different in the conditions at Canterbury that allowed the ball to swing prodigiously there, but not at Derby or Chester-le-Street? Or was it simply a case that the Kent second-string attack picked for this match had a purple patch where everything went right and they got the ball to work for them in a way that might never happen for them again? It is hard to know. It could just be that the key factor was the much earlier sunset at Canterbury and late finish to the day produced perfect conditions for swing and the Kent bowlers having the luck to get it right.
So bizarre though were the events in the Kent-Middlesex game, mainly in the last 10-12 overs, just before and just after sunset, that your correspondent received a request from the BBC to investigate why the ball behaved the way that it did from the point of view of physics. This report was duly sent to the BBC.
However, we need to start our round-up of events atChelmsford, where it is quite possible that we are seeing the staging of a final eliminator in the title race. Essex continued to give the Somerset bowling a fearful cauliflower ear through the second day. Title-hopefuls, Somerset – and after several days of seeing them on the wrong end of some huge scores, we need to remind ourselves that they are still contenders – could only manage a single bowling point and failed to take a wicket in the entire first session. As the score mounted through the first two sessions, the possibility of a Somerset win disappeared rapidly.The first wicket of the day came, finally, when Ravi Boparadeparted for 118, aiming a big swing at Peter Trego and losing his off stump. Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate had added 294 for the fifth wicket, beating the previous best of 276 against Somerset, but missing-out on the record Essex fifth wicket partnership of 339. For Tom Abell though, it is the second successive game where he has watched his bowlers toil against the opposition when they have batted first. He must feel that his team's chances of a first Championship are slipping away, day by relentless day. That poor decision last week has led to six days of increasing misery and the likelihood that Somerset’s Championship chances have been fatally damaged. Essex declared finally at 517-5 and the Taunton faithful must have been fearing the worst. However, the change of innings brought little relief for the bowlers as Somerset closed on 140-2, losing a wicket to the last ball of the day. 41 from Davies, 42 from Bartlett and an unbeaten 53 for Byrom. This match has all the elements to be a draw unless the bowlers can find something on the third day. For Somerset, a high-scoring draw will be some relief and a victory of sorts.
When Yorkshire and Surrey locked horns again at Scarborough, Steve Patterson and Jack Brooks started on 299-8 and motored to the third batting point, threatening to add a fourth in quick time. Eventually, both fell in the space of 2 balls to Dernbach, to leave Yorkshire 337ao. That total was re-adjusted though to 442ao, as 5 penalty runs were added for two Surrey disciplinary offences – including Mark Stoneman's later reaction to being given out. Jade Dernbach finished with the Fidel Edwards-esquefigures of 4-104 at 4.2 runs per over, while Morne Morkel and Rikki Clarke combined for 4-115 from double the number of overs. When Surrey batted, they were soon in trouble, as Mark Stoneman fell to a catch behind off Ben Coad for 9, making them 9-1. Stoneman was clearly extremely unhappy with the dismissal and indicated that he had not hit the ball. Given that he has still not reached 30 in any game this season and saw a flat pitch that offered him a real chance of breaking that sequence, his sfrustration was as understandable as his dissent was unacceptable. Rory Burns though was in excellent form and reached his fifty just after Scott Borthwick was caught behind off Tim Bresnan. The curiosity of the day was the way that the sea fret appeared and disappeared through the day. There was a real threat that play could not start on time and, in mid-afternoon, the fog was bad, getting to be worse than ever and becoming a real inconvenience. By Tea, the far side of the ground was almost invisible from the commentary box and identifying the players in the middle required sharp eyesight and some imagination, but the umpires decided that conditions, though marginal, were just about suitable to continue. When the players did finally come off, it actually appeared that the visibility had improved somewhat. As far as the action in the middle could be discerned, wickets fell regularly to the Yorkshire bowlers, with only Rory Burns making his start count. In the middle order, Borthwick, Patel and de Bruyn (in his second and final game for Surrey), all reached 20, but none of them could reach 40. Jacks and Clarake then fell quickly and, when play was abandoned for the day, Surrey were 219-7 and a long way behind. Ollie Pope is still there on 34* and was getting sensible support from Morne Morkel and, on them, lie Surrey’s hopes of getting the deficit down to something manageable.Yorkshire will be eying the win that would pull them away from the bottom two and perhaps get them into the fringes of the title race.
At Old Trafford, Hampshire moved on steadily from their 302-6 at the start, reaching 398-8 at Lunch. Ollie Rayner fell in the second over of the morning, but Rossouw received solid support from Gareth Berg, adding 86 for the eighth wicket and securing the fourth batting point. Berg fell for 49, with Rilee Rossouwgoing to Lunch on 95*, leaving Hampshire well on top.Rossouw duly moved on to his century soon after Lunch and received solid support from Kyle Abbott, while Fidel Edwards also hung around with Rossouw, leaving him 120*, as Hampshire totalled 451. There were strange events at Old Trafford too, but for a whole, different reason to those at Canterbury. After the BBC’s Gary Linekar received permission to present Match of the Day in his underpants should Leicester City win the Premiership in 2016, Graeme Onions made a similar rash promise to bowl in his underpants if Panama finished their game against England in the (football) World Cup without a single player sent off. Today, he has taken to the field in some very colourful underwear – but no trousers – to comply with his promise and, simultaneously, to raise awareness of testicular cancer (and, maybe, to distract the batsman at the same time – damned cunning, these bowlers). Tactically, the decision was a failure, as Graeme Onions failed to add to his five wickets on the first day and ended up with 5-96. Lancashire started poorly, as Jennings fell on 7, with a largely strokeless Hameed still struggling for 1st XI runs, Lancashire were 54-2 and then 70-3 as Jones failed, but Davies was scoring freely at the other end, reaching Stumps on 78*, well-supported by Vilas on 37*. Lancashire are 140-3 and will need a good first session on Day 3 if they are to get close to parity.
At Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire fell just short of the fifth batting point, needing a six from the last ball of the 110 overs to reach 400, but continued to make Brett D’Oliviera wonder why he had put them in. After Tom Moores fell for 56, Rikki Wesselsand Stuart Broad added exactly 50, at a good pace, before the interval. With a declaration coming, Wessels and Fletcher then started to enjoy themselves hugely (Fletcher’s innings was short and sweet). The “see ball, hit ball” approach continued until Nottinghamshire finally pulled out at 499-9, leaving Wessels75*. Worcestershire used eight bowlers in a Canute-like effort to hold back the tide of runs, six of whom took wickets. In reply, Martin Guptill set off at a rate of knots, with a run-a-ball 28, before falling to Harry Gurney. The pattern of manic Worcestershire batting continued to the Close: they have scored at almost 4-an-over but, five batsmen were dismissed for scores between 18 and 25, Whiteley being 25* at Stumps and the exception, Clarke, only reached 40. No one had the patience to make a significant contribution. It was as if the gains of the previous match had been lost in transit. Worcestershire finished 215-7, 284 behind and are unlikely to get close to the follow on mark.
Much of the focus was on Stuart Broad, who plays so few county matches for Nottinghamshire and it was evident that he was very much enjoying himself with a decent innings as Nottinghamshire aimed for a declaration, followed by 11-2-34-2with the ball. Nottinghamshire will very much want the win points and, if possible, the extra day off, but may have a difficult decision as to whether or not to enforce the follow on, if they can. So far, only Harry Gurney has bowled more than 11 overs but, if the last three Worcestershire batsmen hang around, Nottinghamshire could be facing a long day in the field and see a tiring attack struggle to finish-off the task in hand. The alternative may be to bat for two sessions and give the bowlers a rest.
At Canterbury, it was very much a case of “the afternoon after the night before”. The Middlesex headache was a hangover from too much Duke ball the previous evening, having seen their team fall from 44-3 to 54-9 in 11 overs of wildly swinging pink balls. The aim of these day/night games has been to give spectators the entertainment that they demand – big crowds at some of the grounds and the photos suggest “BIG” in block capitals – hint that gimmicks are not necessary if the product is good, which it has been in the Championship for at least ten seasons now. As Stewart, Podmore, Haggett and Thomas carried out a twilight massacre of a Middlesex batting line-up that was short of several first-choice batsmen, you thought of the scene in the film Gladiator in which a miffed Russell Crowe runs through the opposition batting in the amphitheatre before shouting a challenge to the public. You could almost imagine him taking the place of Grant Stewart and, as he took his fifth wicket, turning to Kevin Hand, who was spluttering in disbelief in the commentary box and yelling at him “are you not entertained?”
The net result of 22 overs of entertainment was that Middlesex, 54-9, required 92 – that is, 38 more – to avoid the follow on with James Fuller and the Lambeth Lara himself, Tim Murtagh, the last pair. One safe bet was that Kent had no intention of enforcing the follow on, even if available to them. Their aim would be to bat again, score 200-250 more and then put Middlesex back in at twilight. Would this nefarious play work? Read on…
The first stage of the plan duly worked. Fuller and Murtaghsurvived just eleven balls before Grant Stewart got Murtagh, first ball, with the twelfth delivery of the day. Just two singles had been added by Fuller, Stewart finishing with the remarkable figures of 10-2-22-6. Middlesex were left well short of the follow on mark, while the last ten overs of the Middlesex innings had produced 6 wickets for 5 runs (two of those runs in the morning to the last pair). Kent, not unexpectedly, did not enforce the follow on, despite a lead of 185. The second part of the plan went swimmingly too as Kent accumulated runs and lost wickets steadily as the day advanced. Only Kuhn, with 59, reached 30 but, then, Middlesex needed to bowl Kent for well under 100 to get back into the game. Kuhn showed strong dissent at his dismissal and it would have been no surprise hadthere been penalty runs to come later, although it seems that no such punishment has been meted-out. The lead duly passed 350, with Kent on course to set Middlesex batting in the post-dinner session. Kent 170-8 at dinner, 355 ahead and the plan coming together nicely for Kent. Then, the final insult: Grant Stewart came in and flayed the bowling to all parts. A century partnership for the last wicket with Ivan Thomas 1* from 36 balls. His fifty came in 36 balls and then, with his eye in, he changed gear and accelerated until Tim Murtagh came back. Even so, his century came from 71 balls, before falling three balls later to Ravi Patel for 103. However, Tim Murtagh’s spell and the wish to let Stewart get his century, delayed the declaration and Kent only allowed themselves eleven overs of twilight to set about the nervous batsmen.
Would the new, pink Duke move? Let’s hear it from Kevin Hand:
“First ball from Podmore beats the edge. Second ball edged just short of third slip. Third ball edged to keeper. Middx 0-1. Holden out. New Dukes pink ball darting about again under lights and with dew! The ball was 79 overs old by end of Kent 2nd innings.”
However, from that low point, it was not as bad as feared. The Kent bowlers did not quite hit the lines of yesterday. Stewart was evidently tired after is batting efforts and not quite on song and, although Eskinazi fell for 5, 22-2 was nowhere like as bat as had been feared. Another undoubted factor is that play ended much earlier than on the first evening, before the dusk had set in so far and that conditions were not quite as favourable for the prodigious swing of the previous night. Maybe it was just that the Kent bowlers exploited the conditions perfectly on that first evening. Certainly now, we have had two evenings of play with a pink Duke and, only at Canterbury have we seen anything untoward.
At Chester-le-Street, life continued to be hard-going for the Durham bowlers as Jonathon Trott accumulated through the first session, passing his 150 with comfort. The Warwickshire top ten and extras all reached double figures as the fourth batting point was obtained with some comfort and Warwickshire passed 400.The sequence was broken as last man, Ryan Sidebottom, fell LBW to Rimmington for 6, but Warwickshire’s 424ao was imposing enough. Durham’s bowling effort fell heavily on the shoulders of Rushworth, who bowled 38 overs for 4-101 and Salisbury, who bowled 35 overs for 4-111. As these two bowled 73 overs between them, the other five bowlers used by Paul Collingwood bowled a total of just 61. Responding, Durham obtained the solid start that they required to settle nerves. Latham and Steel both scored fifties, adding 96 for the first wicket before Hannon-Dalby had Tom Latham caught behind by Tim Ambrose. This mode of dismissal was repeated in his next over as Will Smith fell quickly, leaving Durham 98-2 and in danger of losing the initiative. However, Graham Clark gave Cameron Steel (born in California and previously on the Somerset books) solid support and Durham reached Stumps at 138-2. Durham are not out of the woods yet in this game, but have at least found a forest path. With six sessions left and first innings lead unlikely to be settled before the second session today, the draw starts to look favourite here if Durham bat anything like they can in the first two sessions.
At Derby, where Harry Dearden had retired hurt on 9 after a blow to the head, Sam Evans was brought in as a concussion replacement. Dearden’s symptoms improved overnight, but he was unable to play any further part in the game. Evans came in at the fall of Colin Ackermann for 32, LBW to Tony Palladino, adding a new level of complication to the business of scoring, as Leicestershire made slow, but serene progress. There were runs all the way down the order, but only Paul Horton, with 88, was able to pass 35 as the Derbyshire bowlers and, particularly Viljoen and Palladino harassed the Leicestershire batting.Leicestershire will be disappointed though that, despite a brave attempt from the last pair, they fell just short of 300 and the third batting point. The first innings lead of 52 was, however, a very useful one, particularly as the bowlers made important inroads immediately. Mohammad Abbas tore into the Derbyshire top order and removed Slater and Hosein quickly, supported by Ben Raine taking Wayne Madsen. Within ten over Derbyshire were 17-3 and in some disarray. Alex Hughes and Billy Godlemanstarted a re-building job and at least were able to take their side to the Close but, at 43-3, still 9 behind, Derbyshire are in trouble here and can ill-afford to lose an early wicket on Day 3. If Leicestershire were thwarted by the last pair for Middlesex in winning three consecutive matches, they can at least see their way clear to winning three from four if they have a good first session of the third day.
The final game of this round, as Cardiff is providing another odd-looking scorecard. Glamorgan started the second day on 21-0 and made steady, but not spectacular progress to reach 115-3 at Lunch. All the top three reached twenty, but none of them got to thirty, with Luke Procter picking up two, cheap wickets. Usman Khawaja though, has made Glamorgan history by being the first player ever to hit centuries in his first three Championship matches for them. His 103 out of 254 was a remarkable achievement, as he was on 71 when last man Michael Hogan came in. The next highest contribution to the total was the 30 from extras, while no fewer than five batsmen were dismissed for scores between 19 and 29. Northants obtained a first innings lead of 27, with the wickets shared around between Sanderson and Buck (three each) and Hutton and Procter (two each), with the standout analysis the 16-6-30-3 of former Yorkshire player, Ben Sanderson. Glamorgan will regret their decline from 156-3 to 254ao, with no one outside the top 4 reaching 20. Instead of obtaining a useful lead, they were facing a deficit of 27 and Northants set about increasing it quickly. Ben Duckett continued his destructive form, racing to a century. By the Close, Northants were 169-0, 196 ahead, with Duckett 111* and Procter 50*. Undoubtedly Northants will be looking to set up a declaration and a final day chase for Glamorgan. There will be an interesting first session of the third day as Glamorgan will want to slow down the headlong Northants charge, while Northants may well be looking to accelerate still further.
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
6/25/2018 0 Comments
Written by Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid
Day 1 of a new round of battles at the top and the bottom of the table.
After its pause for the Royal London One Day Cup, the frenetic action in the County Championship continued, with another back-to-back round of matches featuring some more fascinating clashes in both divisions.
This was a peculiar round of matches, with just two clashes, one in each division, featuring the traditional 11 am start. The game at Old Trafford started at 12, the one at Derby, at 1:30 pm, with the others at 2 pm.
In Division 1, with a full round of matches, the top clash is, without question, the Essex v Somerset clash: fourth against third. Both sides lost in the previous round, and both desperately need the win to keep in touch with the top of the table. While neither team could afford a defeat, a draw would be of little use to either save as a holding operation, particularly as Nottinghamshire, reinforced by the return of Stuart Broad, would play the bottom side, Worcestershire. Surrey, in contrast, have the tougher job with an away game against Yorkshire at Scarborough.
In Division 2, where Sussex and Gloucestershire are without a game in this round, two interesting clashes stand out. At Canterbury, Kent entertain a Middlesex side who won an extraordinary match against Leicestershire in the previous round. That win has re-awoken their interest in promotion. With Warwickshire’s slip in the last round, Kent suddenly have the top of Division 2 in reach. Defeat for the visitors would undo all the excellent work that Middlesex did at Grace Road and advance Kent’s promotion chances a lot while, a win for the visitors would put them right back into the centre of the promotion battle, so this one really has a lot hanging on it. The other clash that will impact the top of the table is at lovely Chester-le-Street, where Durham entertain Warwickshire – both sides losers in the previous round. A win would put Durham right into the promotion race, whereas Warwickshire need a win to re-affirm their promotion bid. Here too, defeat for either side would severely dent their promotion ambitions, possibly fatally in the case of Durham.
The place to start is, without doubt, Chelmsford, where Essex and Somerset both wanted to close the gap on the leaders with a win. As in almost all the games, both sides wanted to bat, but it was Essex who won the Toss, and Somerset suffered for it. Missing chances did not help. Nick Browne and Alastair Cook put on 151 for the first wicket before Groenewald run out Browne for 66. Cook though carried on and looked set for one of those daddy hundreds that have been his mark when on song: it was a big surprise when Dom Bess bowled him very full delivery which, instead of hitting for the boundary that would have brought him his century, missed it and was LBW. When Tom Westley drove loosely at Jack Gregory, captain Tom Abell took an excellent catch at Extra Cover, the score had slipped from 151-0 to 204-3, and a little of the gloss had come off the day for the hosts. When Dominic Bess bowled the splendidly named Michael-Kyle Pepper, making his First Class debut after playing for Cambridgeshire and Essex 2nd XI this season, it was 212-4, and Somerset were clawing their way back into the day. It could have been even better. At 245-4, Somerset skipper Tom Abell failed to hang on to a sharp caught and bowled chance from the Essex captain Ryan ten Doeschate. That was a costly mistake, as Essex reached the Close on 298-4. Ryan ten Doeschate 46* and Ravi Bopara 37* had added an unbeaten 86 by the Close. Josh Davey had a huge should for LBW against ten Doeschate from the last ball of the day, but it was not to be Somerset's day in the end.
Surrey welcomed back Mark Stoneman on a hot day at Scarborough, with a large and noisy crowd watching. Somerset were without the luckless Jack Leach, who was confirmed to have mild concussion, after being hit on the head batting at the weekend and is rested under the concussion protocols. In the commentary box, Jamie Reid made his debut, sitting in the seat occupied for so many years by the sadly missed Dave Callaghan: his opening shots were secure as he introduced “the legend that is Mark Church” (you could see Churchie’s blush, even on the radio). The pitch looked superb, and both sides wanted to bat, but Yorkshire won the Toss. Even so, Dernbach and Morkel extracted life from the pitch and Lees did not last long, giving a return catch to a lively Dernbach at the end of the first over. For someone rather unkindly labelled “the tattooed trundler” in his ODI days, Dernbach looked pretty sharp. There was a real curiosity in the first hour in that after 13.1 overs, Yorkshire were 27-1, with all 27 runs to Adam Lyth: shades of Ben Duckett last week, with Pujara still scoreless after 25 balls and Lees facing six balls for his duck. The sequence was finally broken when a leg bye was run to the 80th ball of the morning. Pujara finally broke his duck with a boundary from his forty-second ball, all runs in the first 18 overs falling to Lyth, or as extras. Such profligacy could not last, and divine retribution came in the form of Lyth’s dismissal for 42, to a catch in the slips in the next over. Yorkshire got to Lunch 76-2, with honours reasonably even. The afternoon session was all Surrey, with wickets falling at regular intervals. Without Balance’s 54, Yorkshire would have been in dire straits. As it was, they slumped to 166-6 and were in danger of throwing away the advantage of the first use of the pitch. Enter Jack Tattersall, the hero of the Royal London One Day Cup Semi-Final defeat and a partnership of exactly 100 with Tim Bresnan, whose batting seems to get better and better as his career advances. Bresnan fell finally for 48 and Tattersall followed soon after for 70, but Steve Patterson and Jack Brooks took Yorkshire through to the Close and 299-8, with the third batting point almost assured.
At Trent Bridge, Stuart Broad returned to the side after England duty, as he is not involved in the T20s. Worcestershire are without batting all-rounder Ed Barnard, on Lions duty: a significant loss for them given his performance against Lancashire, while fast-bowler Dillon Pennington came into the side for his Championship debut and Ben Twohig replaced of Pat Brown. Nottinghamshire would keep the pressure on Surrey with a win, while Worcestershire know that they cannot afford to lose many more if they wish to stay in Division 1. On the day when fan favourite who is Jack Shantry (son of Brian Shantry of Gloucestershire and brother of Adam (Northants, Warwickshire and Glamorgan), was forced to retire with a back injury, Worcestershire suffered one of their worst days of the season – and they have had a few. A century for Chris Nash, finally trapped LBW by Martin Guptill for 139, 88 for Jake Libby and a 50 for Samit Patel. It was 306-1, and you started to hope for rain or a plague of locusts or anything that would save Worcestershire from taking more punishment. Suddenly, the situation had changed radically. D'Oliviera took the new ball, and Steve Magoffin took three wickets in five balls, without conceding a run as Patel and Billy Root went to consecutive balls. Ross Taylor went for a 12-ball duck as he edged to slip, and Notts had gone from 306-1 to 312-5 just a few overs. Moores and Wessels added 24* to take Nottinghamshire to 336-5 at the Close: still definitely their day, with a fourth batting point close and a fifth possible, but not as one-sided as it had seemed to be.
Similarly, both sides wanted to bat at Old Trafford, but it was Hampshire who won the Toss. Onions took Weatherley for a duck to a catch behind but, after that, it was reasonably steady progress for the visitors. Everyone got a start and, with 103 for James Vince, Hampshire reached 302-6 at the Close and are approaching a very solid position. Lancashire were indebted to Graeme Onions and his 4-64. However, in this bargain basement clash, it was definitely the visitors who will sleep happier tonight, with runs and three batting points in the bank and a real chance of a fourth that should ensure them against a damaging defeat that may prove costly to Lancashire should it come to pass.
At Canterbury, it was almost easier to say who *was* available for Middlesex, with Steve Finn joining the walking wounded with sore knees, to add to all the England, England Lions and Ireland calls, as well as the list of injured. It meant a rare 1st XI appearance for James Fuller. Kent rested Darren Stevens and Matt Henry: Henry who has had a massive load this season, while Darren Stevens took a bad blow to the head in the pink-ball game last season and was not risked ahead of the Royal London One Day Cup Final on Saturday. The Kent innings never really got going: they have struggled to get batting points this season, despite what looks like a power-packed line-up. There were no fifty stands until Rouse and Podmore added 51 for the 8th wicket. At that point, it was 185-8, and there was every chance that Kent were not doing add to their minimal season’s haul of batting bonus points. Podmore and Grant Stewart added 43, to assure at least one batting point for the hosts. The fall of Rouse, though, ensured that there would not be a second and Middlesex finished them off for 241, with James Fuller taking 4-84 from 15.2 action-filled overs. In reply, Stewart got Sam Robson quickly, and Middlesex were 7-1 after just 11 balls. Then Grant Stewart bowled Holden, Middlesex were 19-2, had lost both openers and were in a mess and needing runs from the out-of-form Dawid Malan. Earlier there had been a bizarre hold-up as the setting Sun reflected off windows in the pavilion, briefly leading to “Sun stopped play”, an old favourite in day-night games. Malan was not able to comply with his team’s needs, providing a third wicket for Stewart just three balls later: 19-3 and Middlesex sinking, with 16 overs still to play. It was not pretty against a side that was missing its two best bowlers and who the visitors had hoped to make pay for resting them. Grant Stewart was getting the ball to hoop around corners and Middlesex were not enjoying it. When Stewart had Eskinazi caught by Sam Billings for 25, it was 44-4, and Kevin Hand was praying for the Close. Unfortunately, his prayers were not answered because Middlesex reject Harry Podmore then added Saturday’s hero, Hylton Cartwright and it was 44-5. It got no better: Scott fell to Stewart for 3, and it was 50-6, and Grant Stewart had 7.5-1-20-5. Enough? Not on your life! Thomas bowled Harris and Haggett induced an edge behind from Simpson, and it was 54-8. Thomas bowled Ravi Patel for only the second duck of the innings, and it was 54-9 and Stumps. Yes, Middlesex fans and commentator were not happy with the amount of help that the pink Duke’s balls were giving the bowlers in twilight – however, this was not so much the case in the other games where there was no twilight crash of wickets.
Division 2 also threw up a clash of the bottom two at Sophia Gardens, with Northants knowing that they could shift off the bottom of the table if they dominated the match. The visitors won the Toss and decided to bat, but made a far from convincing start. Ben Duckett fell early to Tom Hogan and, when Luke Procter fell to Rhuaidhri Smith, both openers had gone with just 36 on the board. However, from then it started to turn around. Fifties for Vasconcelos, Wakely and Levi left Northants well-placed at 223-3, with captain Wakely seeming heading inexorably for a century. Just when it appeared that Glamorgan were in for a really tough day, there was an astonishing collapse by Northants, starting with the fall of Wakely for 82, losing 7-58 in 17.4 overs, to be bowled out for 281. After a partial recovery, with a stand of 44 between Levi and Crook, the final five wickets for just six runs in three overs. Tim van der Gugten finished with 5-45. It was hard to believe the turnaround after Glamorgan spent so much of this afternoon toiling to make any progress. Faced with a tricky seven overs before the Close, Glamorgan survived without loss, to start the second day on 21-0.
What about Warwickshire? Was their promotion juggernaut really de-railed? When the top three all got starts, but all fell without pushing on, including Ian Bell, it looked as if Warwickshire might have another off-colour day. Then Hose also got a start and got out, giving Salisbury his third wicket and leaving the visitors 130-4: there was a real danger that Durham could knock them over cheaply. A century from Jonathon Trott, who has re-captured his form batting alongside Ian Bell and 67 for Tim Ambrose, added 135 for the fifth wicket. 297-5 at Stumps, with Trott 119* and Barker 9*: this good Warwickshire position definitely was “hashtag Trott’s fault”! Warwickshire will feel most definitely that they have had the better of the day and that they can push on to 400.
There were no such shenanigans at Derby. Three of Leicestershire’s six completed fixtures have featured heart-stopping finishes. Will we have a repeat here? It seems not if the first day is any guide. Leicestershire put Derbyshire in and, at 93-1, it did not look like the wisest decision. However, three wickets then fell in seven balls for no addition and despite a partnership of 62 for the fifth wicket between Madsen and Critchley, the Derbyshire innings never really got back to cruising altitude. 245ao with four ducks was not quite what they had hoped for after a decent start. In reply, Leicestershire are 82-0, although with Dearden retired hurt on 9. Paul Horten is 48* and Leicestershire will look to push on tomorrow.
6/24/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid
Day 4 of the battles at the top and the bottom of the table.
The end result of all the action has been a closing of the gaps between the trailing pack and the bottom in Division One. Surrey are clear out in front, with a lead of 13 points over Nottinghamshire and a game in hand. Somerset are third, eight points further back, with Essex now 27 points behind Surrey, also having played a game more. Just two points cover Yorkshire, in fifth and Lancashire, in seventh, with Worcestershire still bottom, but only 17 points from salvation.
In Division Two, Kent’s win has closed the gap to Warwickshire to just 8 points. The chasing pack is led now by Sussex, 14 points behind Kent, with Leicestershire, Middlesex, Derbyshire and Durham all with some chance of promotion if they can string several wins together, although Durham, in seventh, are a full 33 points behind Kent. Northants win does not lift them off the bottom, but the gap to Gloucestershire and Glamorgan above them is just seven points.
At Chelmsford, where Nottinghamshire had challenged Essex to score by far the largest total of the match to win, Essex surrendered pretty meekly to 139ao giving Nottinghamshire their first win at Chelmsford since 1984. Essex lost wickets regularly through the session and, despite a spirited 10th wicket stand, that held out for more than eleven, largely scoreless overs, could not quick get the game to Lunch. When Ravi Bopara fell in just the third over of the morning that, realistically, was that and so it proved. The wickets were shared around between five bowlers with 3-23 from Matthew Quinn the stand-out performance. Essex were totally outplayed and surely their attempt to defend their County Championship title is over. For Nottinghamshire, a big win, 23 points and they leapfrog Somerset into second, albeit with a game more than both Surrey and Somerset. Nottinghamshire are on to repeat the Essex feat of promotion and the Pennant in successive seasons.
At Worcester Day 3 had ended with Lancashire chasing 602 to win and Keaton Jennings in sublime batting form. As Jennings and Vilas piled on the runs there must have been a tremor of concern in the chest of Damien D’Oliviera, but the fall of Dane Vilas opened an end and, when Jennings finally fell for 176, on the stroke of Lunch, having received a grubber from Ben Brown that he could not keep out, Lancashire were 359-6 and their slim hopes of a miraculous chase had ended. Clark and Lamb dug in hard after Lunch, but it was just a matter of time and Whiteley put a stake through the still-beating Lancashire heart by taking Clark, to end a partnership of 39 and, with it, any remaining Lancashire hopes. Jordan Clark and Stephen Parry fell quickly afterwards and it was down to the last rites. Tom Bailey fell too to Ed Barnard, who had a superb game – that was his eighth wicket of the match – and three wickets had fallen for one run in eleven balls. It was only fitting that, after a series of dot balls, Ed Barnard should clean up Graeme Onions for his ninth wicket. Lancashire, 399ao, having been 359-5 and 398-6. Worcestershire obtained their first win of the season by a mere 202 runs but, for a good part of the day, Lancashire were able to dream. Victory though keeps alive Worcestershire’s hopes of avoiding relegation.
At the Ageas Bowl, Yorkshire started the day knowing that they needed to bat out the best part of two sessions to ensure the draw. Ollie Rayner added a third wicket to his two before the Close on the third evening, when Gary Balance feathered an edge to the ‘keeper, Tom Alsop. When, in the next over, Ian Holland bowled a big inswinger that went through Cheteshwar Pujara, Yorkshire were just 19 ahead, with 4 wickets down. However, Leaning and Brooks stonewalled to great effect and the game died, although the slow pace of scoring kept Hampshire in with a mathematical chance of setting up a chase until well past the Dinner interval. It was a perfect demonstration of battling for a draw. The match was heading to the quietest of draws, with Leaning and Brooks hanging in there, without offering Hampshire a chance to open the game back up. At this stage, Hampshire desperately needed two quick wickets to give themselves a chance of setting-up the chase. They got one when Brook was unlucky to find himself run out for 68 as Jack Leaning drove, bowler Gareth Berg dived and touched the ball onto the stumps with Brook out of his ground. Suddenly, with that dismissal, Hampshire had a chance again. 220-5. 127 ahead. 44 overs to go. From then it was Operation Block: over after over of strokelessness with the only aim of survival. Ollie Rayner finally bowled Tattersall for 22 but, by then, the draw was sealed and the captains shook on it soon after. Yorkshire finished at 263-6d.
In Division Two, Grace Road was the scene of a dramatic and traumatic day of action, as Middlesex sealed a win by one wicket to keep their promotion hopes alive. Ravi Patel had held up the hosts for almost an hour before finally losing patience and taking a swing outside off with leaden feet. Paul Stirling came in and, you felt, that with Eskinazi battling hard at the other end and approaching his century, that it was last-chance saloon for the team fondly known as “The Machines” by many of their fans. Stirling survived a drop almost immediately, but did not hang around, as Griffiths removed him quickly. However, the morning session also featured a remarkable non-dismissal that almost certainly turned the match, as Middlesex struggled in the second hour of the morning. Gavin Griffiths bowled a corker of a delivery at Hilton Cartwight wo had not yet scored, Cartwright prodded and seemed to have got an edge, as there was a loud noise and an appeal. For a moment it was uncertain whether the batsman was caught, or LBW until the replay showed that the noise had been the ball crashing into off stump… but somehow without removing a bail. With Cartwright coming in on an average of 7 and looking utterly at sea, things did not look good for Middlesex, but that piece of luck was a portent of what was to come. Remarkably, Cartwright survived through to Lunch and it was Stevie Eskinazi who fell first, three short of his century, run out by Ben Raine. Stranger still was the fact that, having started to misbehave badly last night, this now fifth day pitch started to play better and better as the day progressed. Despite looking like a genuine #11 when he came out to bat, Hylton Cartwright rode his luck for 50, ably supported by John Simpson and, with Tea approaching, Leicestershire needed desperately to find a wicket from somewhere with the new ball. Half chances where missed. Edges flashed through vacant positons in the slips. Middlesex rode their luck and the tension rose and rose and rose. At Tea, the Machines needed 105 to win, with Cartwright 59* and Simpson 35*. Simpson went soon after Tea, but Cartwright kept going to the tune of 80 before Ben Raine trapped him LBW. Leicestershire missed chance after chance, at least seven in the match and James Harris, no mean batsman, played a brilliant innings. Middlesex crept closer and closer. The target was under 20 as Steve Finn broke his duck. Then Finn played a whip off his hip for a boundary. 14 needed. Two wickets left. Fifty for James Harris. 10 needed. Finn hoiks the ball high in the air, but just over the infield: 8 to win. 7 needed to win. Finn edges Abbas down the legside to the ‘keeper. Out goes Steve Finn, the Watford Wall. In comes Tim Murtagh, the Lambeth Lara, now though more and more a genuine #11, having arrived from Surrey a decade earlier as an all-rounder. Single to Murtagh. Six to win. Harris gropes outside off… tickle? No! Hands on heads! Single to Murtagh. Five to win. Single to Harris. Four to win. Field all on the boundary. Harris takes a single from the first ball. Bouncer. Murtagh hooks with head down, not watching and somehow makes contact to send the ball out to Deep Square Leg. Ball down legside. Harris clips it. BOUNDARY!!! Middlesex win. Their promotion hopes stay alive. What an extraordinary chase.
At Swansea, the game seemed to be heading to a sleepy draw. Glamorgan batted on, helped by 126 from Khawaja and 152 by 20-year-old Kiran Carlson, who put on 289 together. Despite his name, Carlson was born in Wales and has already represented them, albeit in the form of Wales Minor County. He was, in 2016, the youngest ever First Class century maker for Glamorgan. David Lloyd (another who has represent Wales Minor County) added 43*. Glamorgan declared at 403-7, leaving Derbyshire a nominal target of 325. Any thoughts that Derbyshire might have had of making a dip at it were ended when both openers fell with just 18 on the board: Ben Hogan and Andre Salter – the spinner have been thrown the hard ball very early – taking one of them each. Derbyshire’s efforts to survive never really got going. Only Wayne Madsen, with 55, made a significant contribution. Wickets fell regularly and Glamorgan were in a race against time to take all ten before the overs ran out. With 17 overs to go, Derbyshire were 125-7 and flailing. Then Hogan took Qadri. 128-8 and Glamorgan were favourites, with 14.3 overs to survive. However, no one had told Tony Paladino that Glamorgan were going to win and, in the company of Duanne Olivier, the overs were chalked-off. Four overs to go: Paladino, 25*, Olivier, 5*. Last over: 146-8, the pair had put on 18 in 13.3 overs and scored just 9 runs from the last ten (including an isolated boundary), with Paladino 30*. Somehow, Derbyshire had hung on and, with one ball left to bowl and two wickets to take, the game ended in a tense draw.
At Tunbridge Wells the match was finely balanced until Kent, finally, made the critical breakthrough and then surged to a victory that puts them right in the promotion hunt. Warwickshire saw out the first hour comfortably, as Ian Bell and Dom Sibley piled on the runs. Sibley fell finally to Harry Podmore for 104, just when it looked as if Warwickshire could get through to Lunch and were becoming the favourites to win. However, Jonathon Trott then followed quickly, also to Podmore, for a duck and, suddenly, the momentum had changed. That said, 322-3 at Lunch, with Ian Bell still there on 160*, the chase of 519 was still very much on. However, Bell fell LBW to Ivan Thomas after Lunch for 172 and, when Tim Ambrose followed quickly, it was 355-5. The magic had broken and the chase, while still on, looked unlikely again. Even at that stage though, it is fair to say that both sides thought that they could still win. 392-5, Warwickshire slight favourites again. Podmore gets Keith Barker to edge to second slip for 16. 392-6 and the match swings back to Kent. As had happened at Worcester, one wicket brought a second and Jethan Patel fell cheaply: 405-7. There was a curious symmetry with the game at Grace Road as, in both games, the side chasing needed 105 to win at Tea. Warwickshire were still, just about alive, with Adam Hose 50* and Chris Wright 4*. The rot though had set in and, as it had been for Lancashire earlier in the afternoon, the end was rather quick after Tea as Wright, Hose and Hannon-Dalby all fell in eleven balls for five runs. Warwickshire were 441ao and lost by 73 runs, having got closer than anyone would have dared to hope. They still lead Division Two and are well-placed to be promoted, but this is not quite the royal progress that it had seemed to be a week earlier.
6/22/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
Day 3 of the battles at the top and the bottom of the table. For Somerset though, this was a first defeat of the season and, by an innings and plenty to a title rival. Elsewhere, Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire set enormous targets for their opponents and will feel confident of wrapping up a win on the morrow. The result is that both the top and the bottom of the Division One table have been shaken-up. Surrey are on a roll and are threatening to stretch away from their rivals at the top of the table in much the same way that Essex did last season.
Elsewhere, there was a huge win for Northamptonshire, breaking their duck for the season and a bizarre runout at Grace Road.
Having only just come back from a broken thumb, Jack Leach was unfortunate enough to be hit on the head batting last night against Morne Morkel, has a concussion and has been withdrawn from the game under the concussion protocols. So, after Danny Lamb substituted yesterday for Joe Mennie at Worcester, Max Waller follows him as the second concussion substitute in quick succession. Concussion substitutes can bat *and* bowl so, at 209-9, Max Waller came out to bat, with Somerset still 70 behind and the situation hopeless. His innings was brief and Surrey wrapped-up the most brutal of wins by an innings and 69, moving to the top of the table in the process. Rikki Clarke ended the match with 42, 4-32 and 2-50. For Somerset, only James Hildreth and, to a smaller degree, Lewis Gregory showed the necessary application. As a statement of intent, this was very convincing, all the more so because the normal Surrey wrecking-ball, Amar Virdi, finished with match figures of 0-106. Surrey have been struggling for balance in recent seasons, oscillating at times between having too many veterans and too young a side; Surrey 2018 look like a title-winning side, with the right balance of youth and experience, some exciting batting and a bowling unit that covers all bases. As they stand proudly at the top of Division One tonight, they may reflect that today was the day that set up a surge to the title.
It appears that Ryan Patel’s effort yesterday may well be a new First Class record. Although Pat Pockcock once took seven wickets in 11 balls, that was at the end of a spell; it seems that no bowler has ever taken six wickets with fewer deliveries in an innings and his first five wickets came with his first eleven deliveries of the match.
At Chelmsford, Nottinghamshire challenged Essex to score by far the largest total of the match to win. At 143-7 Essex may have thought that the chase would be kept within bounds, but 87 from Tom Moores pushed Nottinghamshire up to 266ao and the target to 441. Essex need to more than double their first innings score to win and, realistically, someone needs to score a double century if Essex are to chase this down. Whoever was to be the Essex hero, it was not to be Alastair Cook: in a situation where, at his best, he would thrive on the pressure, he went for a second ball duck to get Essex off to the worst of starts. Matt Milnes then added a second wicket, bowling Varun Chopra to leave Essex 15-2 and fighting to see out the day. A fifty partnership between Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara for the fourth wicket gave Essex some hope, but Samit Patel had Lawrence caught and bowled with his first delivery and, with it, you think that at 86-4, any hope of victory had gone. Essex managed to get through to the Close with no further loss, 88-4, needing 353 more to win. Ravi Bopara us 33* and in the company of nightwatchman, Jamie Porter. You would not put much money on any result other than a Nottinghamshire win.
At Worcester Day 2 had ended with Worcestershire 361-4 and already way out of sight. Damian D’Oliviera only had to decide when to declare. After batting for 96 overs and scoring at over 5-an-over, he finally called his side in, setting 602 to win. If Worcestershire had expected their opponents to fold tamely again, they were to be disappointed. Jennings and Davies batted calmly against attacking fields and added 126 for the first wicket in good time. Jennings and Haseeb Hameed both debuted in India in 2016: Hameed has only regained his place due to injuries but, despite making his best First Class score of the season today, it was only 20 and his season aggregate is just 64 at an average of 6.4. At the other end though, Jennings made another century and, in the process, went past 6000 First Class runs. Like Hameed, Chanderpaul and Jones got a start, but Keaton Jennings needed someone to stay with him for a long time, and neither threatened to do that. At the Close, Jennings was 135* and showing that he remains in prime form, with Dane Vilas 7*. Lancashire, 269-4, need just 333 more to win on the last day and one fears that even a Jennings double century will not be enough to avoid defeat. However, if Lancashire were to bat out the day tomorrow, they would most likely win.
At the Ageas Bowl, Hampshire were 245-3 overnight. The game has continued in slow motion and as the second session of the day progressed and first innings lead was still not decided, the draw became more and more likely. Hampshire were finally bowled out for 443 and a lead of 93, with Jack Brooks taking 5-125, but the slow pace of play – Hampshire only just, barely scraped a third batting point and Yorkshire only managed one bowling point – means that a draw was always going to be favorite. With just four sessions left, Yorkshire should be able to bat out time for a draw, although they need to bat through to Tea tomorrow to make the game totally safe. After a solid start from Lees and Lyth, the introduction of Ollie Rayner suddenly livened things up. Two years ago Rayner should have gone to India, now he has been declared surplus to requirements at Lord’s as Ravi Patel, who has barely played in the last three years, has become the first choice. Rayner came on at 46-0 and made an immediate impact, taking Lyth for 17, caught at the wicket, to make the score 49-1 and then adding Lees, pinned in front for 39. Ollie Rayner has rarely been appreciated as much as he should be, often being used in a purely defensive, holding capacity at Lord’s, but he would be an excellent acquisition for a Division One team that needs a decent spinner, even if he knows that his chances of a Test call are now over (although he could yet play international cricket for Germany, the nation of his birth in the lower echelons of the World Cricket League). At 58-2, suddenly Yorkshire could not afford any more accidents. This left Pujara and Ballance together with a re-building job to do. Pujara has blown hot and cold this season, but has had one truly wonderful spell of form and Gary Ballance has shown consistent run-scoring this season, without making a really big score: this would be a great moment for them to stand tall. With Kyle Abbott and Dale Steyn running in at them in the twilight, this was a pretty good test of the batsmens’ nerve, especially with the still pretty nippy Fidel Edwards to take over when either of them needed a rest. It is also a challenge in another sense given Gary Ballance’s eyesight issue that makes it difficult for his to pick up the pink ball under lights. Fred Boycott would have approved of the way that the two experienced internationals dropped anchor as the Close neared. Even so, life is rarely boring when Fidel Edwards as the ball and, in the penultimate over of the day, Pujara guided a high full toss for six no balls, bringing Yorkshire almost to parity – one is not so convinced that Fred Boycott would have approved of such frivolity with just eight balls of the day remaining: Yorkshire though were happy to take any runs that were offered, however they were offered. Ollie Rayner bowled the last over. Ballance took a single from the first ball and then Pujara blocked out the remaining five, leaving Rayner with the quite unusual figures of 7-3-5-2, Yorkshire 2 runs behind and a critical first hour to come tomorrow afternoon. All results are still possible, with the draw favourite, followed by a Hampshire win, but there is plenty of cricket left in this one.
In Division Two, Northamptonshire finished off the hapless Gloucestershire team in quick order. It took just 17 balls to end the Gloucestershire innings. Miles and Taylor took their partnership to 78, but both needed to score big centuries to extricate Gloucestershire from Brett Hutton’s net. He took both wickets, ending with 8-57 and, chasing 31, Ben Duckett knocked off the runs in 32 balls after Luke Procter had played a maiden to Matt Taylor. Duckett finished 32* and Procter 0*, with no extras.
At Grace Road, a spirited bowling effort from Middlesex had them briefly speculating with a comeback but, in truth, they needed to dismiss Leicestershire for around 80 to feel that they had some chance. Not for the first time, Middlesex struggled to knock over the tail, and the target crept up past 350. This may not seem so many but, when Steve Finn dug one very short to Callum Parkinson, the ball barely bounced at all. The pitch is getting more and more difficult, and the feeling was that even 250 would be a tough chase. In the end, Leicestershire were 186ao, setting Middlesex 381 to win. The afternoon session featured one of the oddest dismissals of the season so far: Fireball Dexter was batting his former county out of the match when he squeezed out a ball from Tim Murtagh on the leg side. He then wandered absently out of his crease, not realising that the ball had reached ‘keeper John Simpson. Had any other fielder picked up the ball, he would have been safe as he was not attempting a run, Simpson though, aware that the recent rule-change to stop unsavoury runouts when the batsman has wandered out of his crease, gardening, or has taken avoiding action, did not affect wicket-keepers, rolled the ball onto the stumps and Dexter was given out, stumped. The last thing that Middlesex needed was to lose Max Holden for a duck in the first over as Ben Raine bowled him a tremendous delivery that was edged through to the ‘keeper. However, increasingly balls that were dropped short were grubbing though, and Sam Robson showed great skill to keep them out, even if the weakness outside off stump that terminated his Test career seems still to be present and problematic on pitches with more bounce. Robson was dealing with the variable bounce well until a ball from Gavin Griffiths almost rolled after pitching and trapped him LBW for 31. Middlesex desperately needed to reach the Close with no further loss, but Dawid Malan, whose form is becoming a concern, fell to Raine at the end of the day and, at 82-3, you feel that it may not last much past Lunch tomorrow.
At Arundel, the game took a sudden an unexpected twist in the morning. Going into the day 202-4, you felt that Durham just needed to bat until mid-afternoon, pick up the three or four bonus points that seemed to be coming their way and, even if they failed to reach the follow-on mark of 403, there would not be enough time for Sussex to force a result. What happened was a carnage so unexpected that the later batsmen got caught in the panic. Will Smith fell to the fifth ball of the morning. Poynter, Coughlin and Rimmington fell for ducks and 202-4 became 211ao. As collapses go, this one was extraordinary and entirely inexplicable. Batting again, Durham lost wickets at frequent intervals. Three of the top four got to 20, but no one could make 50 and act as the foundation for a fightback until, at 189-7, Poynter and Rimmington came together and added 79. Thoughts of the recent wins against the odds came back, but it was too little, too late. Once the stand was broken, there was little more to come. Durham fell to 277ao and lost by an innings and 64.
At Swansea, the game seems to be heading to a sleepy draw. Derbyshire were 207-3 overnight and pushed on to 362, and a handy lead of 79. 103 from Alex Hughes and 54 from Matt Critchley gave them a chance to push for the win if they could take early wickets. Glamorgan though have not read the script and, despite falling to 48-3 and being in desperate trouble, seem to be batting their way to a solid draw. Khawaja is 79*, Carlson 69* and the fourth wicket stand is now 153. Unless there is a huge rattle of wickets in the morning, this match should be a reasonably dreary draw.
At Tunbridge Wells the match has taken an extraordinary turn. Neither side managed to reach 200 in the first innings but that changed suddenly on Day 2, with Kent closing at 359-6 and, apparently, batting the runaway leaders of Division 2 out of the match. Kent continued for 22 overs in the morning before Joe Denly called the batsmen back in, leaving Warwickshire’s openers a tricky spell to face before Lunch. 446-8d and a lead of 518 looked like overkill, but the sudden runglut has continued unabated. Rhodes and Dom Sibley could only put on 44 for the first wicket, with Harry Podmore showing once more what a brilliant acquisition he has been for Kent. However, the arrival of Ian Bell saw the batsmen take total command again. Ian Bell knows that he is not going to get his England place back, but he is taking diabolical revenge on Division Two bowlers. He and Sibley have put on 185 so far; Bell reached his century three overs before the Close, while Sibley is on 82* and Warwickshire have reached 229-1, needing 290 more to win, with both batsmen scoring freely and runs coming uncomfortably fast for Kent’s liking. While all logic says that Kent must win this, were Bell and Sibley to get to Lunch unbeaten, Warwickshire might just fancy their chances. With 96 overs to bowl, the required run rate is under 3 and, if a side bats through the day, they would expect to get the runs. Kent though know that a wicket in the first hour should put the skids in the Warwickshire challenge: this could be a wonderful last day.
6/21/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
Warwickshire’s royal progress has been halted sharply. One line of thought among the other nine sides was that it may be no bad thing for Warwickshire to run away with the Division Two title, leaving second accessible still to (almost) all the sides in the division. Kent may have lost their first game of the season but, since then, have looked better with every successive game. Having bowled out Warwickshire for 125 in reply to their own 197, Kent had started the day 4-0. By the Close they were 359-6, 431 ahead and will presumably bat on for as long as they can tomorrow. Briefly, Warwickshire were back in the match with Kent at 44-2 and Bell-Drummond and Kuhn dismissed but 133 from Dickson and 119 from Denly buried the visitors, who have been hammered flat and surely will be unable to raise themselves and save the game from here. Zach Crawley is still there with 47* in company of Harry Podmore and Warwickshire will face at least 5 sessions to chase something over 450 to win.
At Grace Road, Middlesex have probably seen their promotion chances end. On Day 1, Kevin Hand was enumerating, modestly, the Middlesex 2nd XI, which he felt was as good as most 1st XIs in the Division. Sadly, this is not translating into the overwhelming dominance on the field that many fans and pundits expected pre-season. It is obvious that something is wrong in the dressing room and, in many senses, it feels like the situation in 2008 when a talented side could not get its act together and a return to Division One was eventually sealed with a completely renovated team that held few survivors of relegation in 2007. On the field, Leicestershire pushed on from 353-8 to 427ao, with Colin Ackerman scoring 196*. A stand of 90 between Ackerman and Gavin Griffiths for the ninth wicket flogged a Middlesex attack that seemed to consist of Tim Murtagh and four net bowlers. While Murtagh took 5-60 at just over 2 runs per over, the other four bowlers took 5-344 at nearly double the economy rate. When Middlesex batted they faced a test of mettle. Sides have shown that the Grace Road pitch is full of runs and although it did start to get a little crabby – it had been used the day before for a one-day game so this was its third day of action – there was no excuse for Middlesex to fall to 233ao when the top six all got a start and the score had been 200-4. Many times, frustrated fans have threatened to set up a web site called MiddlesexBattingCollapse.com: now, it seems more necessary than ever. Six wickets for 33 in 11 overs was a top-drawer collapse by any standard. Paul Horton did not enforce the follow on: he is giving his bowlers a rest, allowing the pitch to deteriorate further and plans to kill off Middlesex definitively. Even the fall of Horton for a duck, leaving Leicestershire 0-1 at the Close could not change their dominance. More important than 0-1, Leicestershire are 194 ahead and almost certain to set a target over 300 that will surely be too much for Middlesex to chase.
The games at Arundel and Swansea are beginning to look like draws. Sussex were 439-5 overnight at Arundel and moved on serenely to 552ao. In the course of this progress, Burgess just missed out on becoming the third centurion of the innings, while runs were added all down the order to support him. In reply, Martin Emmerson must have feared the worst at 2-1 and 43-2, particularly as his best mate Dave Bracegirdle is feeling very cheerful indeed and will have been following events in the south with a mischievous eye. Durham though are growing in self-belief and beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, a promotion challenge may be on the cards. 90* from Will Smith and a stand of 82 with Paul Collingwood as helped Durham to 202-4 at the Close. They are still 350 behind and could well be forced to follow on, but some sensible batting should help them to a draw. Even if Sussex do enforce the follow on – the only likely route to a positive result – the Sussex bowlers will, most likely, have at least a hundred overs in their legs when they do it: it would be asking a lot to bowl out Durham a second time.
At Swansea, the game is progressing slowly as a lot of time was lost to rain on Day 1. Glamorgan moved on from a stuttering 175-7 to a much healthier 283ao thanks to runs from Andrew Salter (born in Haverford West) and the tail. In reply, all the top four for Derbyshire have made runs. They have ended the day 207-3, 76 behind and will need to press on if they are to force a win: ideally, they will aim to bat almost all day and get 250 ahead; even so, the match situation seems to favour a draw more than a positive result.
Cynical Gloucestershire fans predicted a first innings collapse, in reply to Northamptonshire’s 282ao but even the most pessimistic could not imagine what was about to happen. From 25-0 before the penultimate ball of the day yesterday, Gloucestershire fell to 26-5 in just 5.3 overs. It was snouts in the trough time for the bowlers: Ben Sanderson took the honours with 5-16, but Steven Crook’s 3-11 was just as devastating. 62ao was embarrassing on a blameless pitch. There is no question that the Gloucestershire batting is desperately low on confidence and are struggling to make any kind of score. Against Kent and against Middlesex, the second innings was much better but, today, batsman after batsman got a start and got out second time around. At 72-5 the game looked likely to finish in two days. Gareth Roderick and Ryan Higgins added 100 and seemed to be restoring some sense to the innings, but both fell in the space of five balls and 172-5 – and hope – became 172-8 and desperation, as Kieron Noema-Barnett followed Roderick and Higgins back to the Pavilion quickly. On this occasion, Brett Hutton with 6-57 was the destroyer for the hosts. Craig Miles and Matt Taylor showed some spirit with an unbeaten ninth wicket partnership of 73, but Gloucestershire are just 25 ahead and the early season optimism at Bristol is evaporating like a snowball in a furnace.
6/21/2018 0 Comments
by Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
Day 2 of the battles at the top and the bottom of the table. There is a lot of cricket still to play in all four Division 1 matches, but definitely, there are three sides that will be viewing their match situation with great satisfaction. In the two top of the table clashes, there is no doubt that Surrey will be the happiest of the four sides, followed closely by Nottinghamshire, while Worcestershire will reflect on a day when things suddenly went gloriously right. Yes, there are all the elements for a shake-up at the top of the table at the end of this round of games – and at the bottom too.
Of course, avid followers of the game know that the action on the field is only part of the story: the rivalry between commentators is often the most entertaining part of the game. Right now, Dave Bracegirdle is in clover… and quite right he is too! Meanwhile, in the genteel surroundings of Guildford Cricket Club, Mark Church is wearing a grin that the Cheshire Cat would envy and chuckling away to himself on the microphone. So, let’s start at Guildford where, even if Surrey have not quite had things all their own way, only the news that Churchie has won the lottery could improve his mood much further.
If you are a Somerset supporter, the good news is that the Surrey innings included two ducks and a 0*. The bad news is that having been put in, the other eight batsmen accrued 459 runs between them. Yes, that is egg on the captain’s face and probably the bacon and the frying pan too. There is also a degree of relief that, at 447-7, Somerset could have been facing 500+. A century from Ollie Pope that eye-witnesses were drooling over was the ventral column of a Surrey total that just about eliminates defeat as a possibility and leaves Somerset with a lot to do to stay up with the game. The pitch is nowhere near as easy as the score suggests and the suggestion is that probably 350 batting first was about par for the course. This was confirmed when Somerset suffered an astonishing collapse to 180ao, 279 behind. Like yesterday, this has definitely not Tom Abell’s day: edges just avoided fielders, marginal LBW shouts fell to the batsman… Somerset suffered a lot of frustration and, had their luck ran differently; things could have looked much better for them. Almost as worrying is that Jack Leach was only entrusted with 4 of the 120+ overs in the innings, suggesting that he is still not fully fit.
Despite the fact that the pitch was not entirely straightforward, Surrey obtained their five batting points with plenty to spare and, what is just as important, denied Somerset a third bowling point. Then, with the follow-on mark standing at 310, Rikki Clarke, who had an excellent day, followed-up his 42, by coming on after Morkel and Dernbach had got no joy from the new ball and put in a wrecking-ball spell. Somerset were 53-0 and looked in no great difficulty. Clarke’s first three overs had gone for 15, and Amar Virdi had not conjured anything either in his first, probing spell. Then, in his fourth over, Clarke got a catch to de Bruyn from Matt Renshaw and, suddenly, the skids were under the Cidermen. In his next over, he pinned George Bartlett LBW for a duck and then, with the last ball of his sixth over, got James Hildreth too. Suddenly, Somerset were 63-3, Surrey had their first bowling point, putting them 3 points ahead of Somerset overall and that follow-on mark looked a long way away. Abell and Byrom tried to re-build and, seemed to have steadied the ship but Rikki Clarke came back and with his eighth ball, got Tom Abell to edge behind. Somerset 117-4 and sinking. Byrom and Davies put on a 50 partnership and Somerset were scrambling back into the match, albeit in a slightly undignified fashion. Little were they to imagine what the fall of Ed Byrom for 52 would bring.
Ryan Patel is an Academy product who had taken just two wickets in his previous seven First Class matches. Nor had he shown any bowling form for Surrey 2nd XI with his medium pace. Patel came on, and Somerset disintegrated and, with it, possibly their hopes of the Pennant. Patel’s spell went like this:
3.5-2-5-6, including a triple-wicket maiden. Crazy! Rory Burns enforced the follow-on, and Somerset were left with 199 overs to survive. They have got through seven of them to close on 18-0 but, then, their first innings started with a partnership of 53 for the first wicket. In boxing terms, Somerset are hanging-on on the ropes, with their opponent all over them, looking to finish off the contest quickly.
Standard issue from Dave Bracegirdle is a tweet in mid-afternoon of a sun-drenched pitch with the legend “afternoon delight”. On this occasion, the fact that his beloved Nottinghamshire had Essex in desperate trouble only added feeling to the post. Nottinghamshire pushed on from 311-6 to 380ao. Four bonus points and contributions all the way down the order to back up Ross Taylor’s 146. For Essex, Simon Harmer’s 4-70 helped keep the score respectable, but Nottinghamshire’s powerful attack had a score to defend and set about doing it. At 26-3, with Chopra, Westley and Lawrence back in the hutch, Essex were in deep, deep trouble and in need of a big innings from Alastair Cook: he and Bopara reached the 50 partnership, and it seemed that the crisis had passed, but Harry Gurney ended Cook’s tenacious innings – more than 2 hours for 33 – and the responsibility passed to Ravi Bopara. The trouble was that no one was willing to stay with him for long. Adam Wheater scored 24 before edging Luke Fletcher to Tom Moores, and an end was open. The Nottinghamshire attack then dynamited the lower middle order as Carter and Fletcher shared the wickets between them. Carter bowled Bopara for 69 and the question of whether or not Chris Nash would enforce the follow-on became a point of discussion: 156-8 and 224 behind, it came down to strategy, with the assumption that, with more than 2 days to play, Nottinghamshire would bat Essex out of the game and declare at leisure. With the situation hopeless, Neil Wagner decided to go down swinging and scored 37 in 23 balls, with 3x6, before Matt Carter got his revenge. Even when Wagner fell, there was maddening tenth wicket partnership of 21 before Carter got Quinn too to end the entertainment.
As was logical with a lead of 174, Chris Nash decided that the only way that Nottinghamshire could lose was to enforce the follow-on. Although he fell for 8, Nottinghamshire closed on 35-1, 209 ahead and looking to declare some time during the afternoon tomorrow, with a 23-point win firmly in their sights. With Somerset looking to be heading for defeat, a win will put the Outlaws firmly back in the mix and make Dave Bracegirdle purr contentedly for a good while to come.
At Worcester Day 1 had ended with an epic Lancashire collapse. Keaton Jennings was left watching in bewilderment at the non-striker’s end as 77-0 became 86-5, with Parry, Hameed Chanderpaul and Jones all departing for ducks. Dane Vilas broke the sequence, but Clark and Onions became the fifth and sixth batsmen to depart without troubling the scorer. In the end, 77-0 became 96-7 in 8.1 overs as Ed Barnard ran rampage. Jennings fell finally for 55, pinned by Magoffin and Lancashire were, amazingly, 130ao and chasing the game. Daryl Mitchell and Martin Guptill then came out and flayed the new ball attack, then flayed the change bowlers and then started to enjoy themselves as they added 215 for the first wicket at 6.5 an over. Guptill finally fell for 111, but Mitchell continued happily past his century. With the lead past 400, it is just a matter of when Worcestershire will decide to pull out. Lancashire face a massive defeat and being sucked into real relegation trouble, while Worcestershire may just have given themselves a life-line. Worse still for Lancashire was that Joe Mennie took a horrible blow to the head when Martin Guptill slammed the ball back at him and is now confirmed to be missing the rest of the match as he is monitored. Danny Lamb becomes the first substitute to appear under the new concussion protocol. Mennie has not yet been to the hospital, but is feeling understandably shaken: should he show symptoms of a concussion he will be taken for a check-up.
Mitchell finally fell for 163 to add to his first innings 118. Tom Fell added 62. Worcestershire close on 361-4, already 478 ahead and, undoubtedly, in no hurry to declare, as this is great therapy for batsmen who have been low on confidence.
At the Ageas Bowl, Yorkshire extended their overnight 315-7 to 350ao. When Tim Bresnan and Jack Brooks fell quickly, it looked as if all hope of the fourth batting point had gone with them, but Steve Patterson and Ben Coad 31 from 35 balls with the sort of partnership that drives bowlers and captains to distraction. The fourth batting point obtained, with no hope of a fifth, the captain, Patterson, did the decent thing and allowed the suffering Abbott his small moment of glory. 350ao was a marketable total and all the more so from the depths of 21-3. However, the suspicion is that this game will need to speed up a little on the third day to produce a result as, even if they did not make the best of starts, Hampshire have shown that there are no great demons in the wicket. A century for Jimmy Adams has led the reply despite the early loss of Weatherley and then falling to 68-3 and James Vince and Sam Northeast fell in quick succession. Adams and Tom Alsop though batted with comfort as the pink ball softened. 245-3 at the Close, this match is looking increasingly like a draw. Yorkshire desperately need early wickets tomorrow. Jimmy Adams will start the third day 132*, while Tom Alsop is 62* and the possibility exists that Hampshire will be able to gain a substantial first innings lead and put real pressure on Yorkshire on the last day.
By Harry Hill (@HarryHill96)& Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
Where else to start in Division Two than at Tunbridge Wells, where both Kent and Warwickshire would have surely been left wondering what could have been had a period of calm with the bat occurred. In a highly dramatic day, 20 wickets fell, with only Joe Denly and latterly Jonathan Trott occupying the crease for any period of time. The spectators at the Nevill Ground would have been forgiven if caught unprepared for the mass of wickets, on a ground famous for its favour with batsmen. However, Warwickshire skipper Jeetan Patel may have found something in the pitch at the toss, by electing to bowl. That decision was vindicated early as Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sean Dickson fell early before a stabilising 51 run partnership between Heino Khun and Joe Denly. A further 51 run partnership between Denly and Darren Stevens saw Kent into lunch, before Keith Barker set about mopping up the Kent tail with the wickets of Matt Henry, Harry Podmore and Ivan Thomas. Barker himself finishing with incredible figures of 5-32 from just 13.1 overs, as Kent finished on 197 all out. Warwickshire’s innings was even more brief, thanks to 4-52 from Matt Henry and 4-26 from Harry Podmore, including 3 wickets inside the 21st over by Podmore. Warwickshire’s blushers were saved somewhat by a 54 run partnership for the tenth wicket between Jonathan Trott and Henry Brookes. After all that, there was still room for 2 overs for Kent’s 2nd innings, leaving the hosts 76 runs ahead at the close.
Next to Arundel, where in contrast with the match at Tunbridge Wells, the batsmen can rest rest easy tonight with a job well done in the south coast sun. Phil Salt and Tom Haines in particular will be delighted with their day, as both reached maiden CC hundreds, with a mesmerising 244 run partnership. Despite the tough day for the Durham bowlers, credit goes to part-time leggie, Cameron Steel for breaking the partnership, along with the wicket of Luke Wright later in the innings from his 3 overs. Ominous signs for the bowlers tomorrow as Ben Brown and Michael Burgess return unbeaten on a 75 run partnership, with Sussex on 439-5.
We move onto Leicester, where all the talk in the local pubs tonight will be about Colin Ackermann and his magnificent 151*, as Leicestershire took the upper hand on day one against Middlesex. However, despite all their rightful plaudits, only Neil Dexter and Ben Raine accompanied Ackermann for a meaningful period of time throughout the day, as six Leicestershire batsmen failed to reach 20. The ever-reliable Tim Murtagh was the pick of the Middlesex bowlers, taking 5-52 from his 23 overs, including the significant wicket of Neil Dexter. Ackermann will return in the morning with Gavin Griffiths with Leicestershire already gaining maximum batting points on 353-8, looking to push up towards 400.
Meanwhile, at Swansea, rain restricted the first day to just 46 overs, but this didn’t stop Derbyshire from picking up seven Glamorgan wickets. Tony Palladino was very effective in swinging the ball in the helpful conditions with persistent dark clouds overhead. The home faithful would have been concerned with Glamorgan stuttering at 52-5 after the key wickets of overseas star Usman Khawaja and Kiran Carlson. Chris Cooke went about rebuilding the innings adding 69 valuable runs. Palladino finished the day with 4-49 and will be eyeing a five-for in the morning, as Glamorgan finished on 175-7 a the close.
Floodlights, a pink ball and day-night – maybe better “day-twilight” – cricket arrived at Wantage Road, when two of the less fashionable and, if truth be told, less supported sides of Division 2 tried out this recent innovation designed to bring in the crowds, although the anecdotal evidence is that the fans tend to leave at the normal time of Close anyway, with the after-dinner session sparsely supported.
Up to now this season, sides have looked at Northants in the fixture list and rubbed their hands with glee at a quick sixteen points. Here though it is more a case of two “horizontal heavyweights” with a glass chin, slugging it out… in a manner of speaking. Gloucestershire’s thin squad has been stretched to breaking point by injuries and unavailability and Andrew Tye’s bowling figures at Trent Bridge yesterday will have done nothing to convince the fans that his arrival will change things. Relief may be on the way as David Payne and Liam Norwell were in the 2nd XI today and, hopefully will be available for the second half of the season. In contrast, Northants must keep plugging away because the players who, largely, served them well last season, although the locals point to an excess of batting collapses, have not become poor ones overnight. The long and the short of it was that Gloucestershire rang the changes, the most radical being to drop the vice-captain, Jack Taylor (also on duty with the 2nd XI) and played just three specialist bowlers plus an assortment of batting and bowling all-rounders. This was the sort of decision that can backfire horribly if the conditions favour the batsmen or, alternatively, one of your specialists has a poor day. Suffice it to say that Ben Duckett went out of the blocks like a scalded cat. After a relatively sedate first two overs, Matt Taylor bowled the third to Duckett, which went: 44444. One suspects that the final dot ball was the batsman showing compassion. After 16 overs it was 97-0 and the decision to insert looked catastrophic. Then Craig Miles and Kieron Noema-Barnett bowled a couple of quiet overs and, out of the blue, Matt Taylor, whose first three overs had gone for 24, induced an edge from Ben Duckett: Gareth Roderick did the necessary behind the stumps and suddenly there was a wicket-maiden and the tenor of the game had changed. In his next over, Taylor Vasconcelos for a duck – 105-2. Noema-Barnett’s seemly inoffensive dibby-dobbers induced a return catch from Wakely – 112-3. Northants fans had seen promising positions collapse like a card house often enough, but Procter and Levi added 74 and, again, Gloucestershire started to wonder how they would ever take a wicket with the softening pink ball. Again, it was Taylor who broke though. One of the fastest bowlers in the County game, if he could only add accuracy to his pace because the scorebook only seemed to register one of three things when he bowled: “4”, “.”, or “w”. Adam Rossington got a fair selection of the first two varieties of scorebook entry before adding another “w” – 209-5 and the shine was coming off that fast start. Then Higgins added Levy, who had made 63 in the mayhem. Noema-Barnett lulled Zaib into a false sense of security and trapped him LBW while Steven Crook, no mean batsmen who, at one time, was talked of as a genuine England prospect, tried to shepherd the tail. Miles took Kleinveldt as we moved to some more normal chiselling of runs by the tail and, finally, just before the New Ball was due, Higgins added Crook and, with him, Northant’s chances of scoring 300. Gloucestershire eschewed the New Ball and Higgins knocked-over Hutton to leave Northants 282ao. Taylor finished with 4-70 and Higgins, 3-52.
This left Gloucestershire a trick 13 overs to face. The cynics among the Gloucestershire fans felt that it could be getting close to the follow-on by the Close. Benny Howell and Chris Dent though batted calmly and seemed to have averted the crisis until the scheduled antepenultimate ball of the day, bowled by Crook, got through Chris Dent and trapped him LBW. Gloucestershire start the second day 25-1 and, on the morrow, we will see which of these two pugilists has the more fragile glass chin!
6/20/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
Glory be!!! The ECB’s fixture computer has arranged a game for all eighteen First Class counties. No excuses. No cop-outs. Everyone plays on the same days (although not the same hours, as one Division 1 and one Division 2 game are Day/Night, albeit almost at the summer solstice, when there is still natural light at 10pm). Of course, simultaneous with this round of matches we have the England v Australia ODIs and a tri-series between the England Lions and India A and West Indies A. The result is that many counties are seriously understrength: Yorkshire, for example, contribute SEVEN players to the two England squads.
We also have the rather neat situation where the top four and the bottom four in Division One battle among themselves. This leads to a number of crunch, dog-eat-dog games. At the top, second plays first and third plays fourth. At the bottom, it is eighth against fifth and seventh against sixth in the bargain basement. To the winners, the spoils! To the losers, some heartache come Saturday evening, as this round may well make or break the season for various sides.
Today, we may have seen the mistake that decides the destination of the Championship pennant. Definitely, today has seen things moving, both at the top and at the bottom of the table.
Where do we start? There is only one possible choice. Guildford!
Depending on your point of view, it is either very disappointing, or tremendously exciting that a top-of-the-table clash between two unbeaten sides is being played at an outground. This is the 80th Guildford Cricket Festival and what a game to open it! Somerset head Surrey by a single point, with Essex a further six points behind, having played a game more. This was supposed to be Virat Kohli’s first game for Surrey but, after his withdraw, the patrons delight in the debut of Theunis de Bruyn: even the ever-optimistic Surrey publicity machine has struggled to sell this as a like-for-like replacement.
Surrey were already without a host of big names due to England and to Lions calls and brought in Will Jacks for his debut, while Somerset, who had been relatively untouched, have lost Craig Overton. The Toss was uncontested under grey skies and Somerset invited Surrey to bat, no doubt thinking of the top-order uncertainty in the Surrey ranks and the missing names: the surprise was Mark Stoneman’s late withdraw from the XI for family reasons. The Somerset XI included Leach and Bess, with Tim Groenewald also back from injury, but van der Merwe missing-out. Somerset’s decision to bowl was an interesting one given that they might well have been hoping to bat first, set a big total and then have the benefit of bowling on a fourth day pitch that was taking some turn. As it was, they went largely unrewarded until shortly before Lunch, when Tom Abell pinned emergency opener Arun Harinath after a stand of 83. Surrey went into Lunch at 98-1, definitely the happier of the two sides. After Lunch it was no better: the runs mounted and one wondered just why Somerset had decided to bowl; at these times the Captain’s life must flash before his eyes and he must start to wonder if he has made the mistake that will cost his county the Championship. A measure of how the day going was that the first Surrey batting point arrived well ahead of the first Somerset bowling point: not what you want to see after inserting.
At 246-2, Tom Abell could not have been a happy man, but then Borthwick was bowled by Groenewald for 83 and, just five balls later, debutant de Bruyn fell to Bess: Surrey were 247-4 and Abell must have felt a little better about life. This brought the two twenty-year-olds – Ollie Pope and Ryan Patel – together. If Somerset thought that they were through, they had another think coming: the pair started to add runs quickly, putting on 52 before Patel edged Tom Abell through to the ‘keeper, bringing in another youngster in Will Jacks. Surrey closed on 351-5, four batting points in the bag and will hope to add the fifth, while Somerset have just 14 overs to take a wicket for their second bowling point. Definitely, Surrey have taken the honours and will be looking to consolidate on the second day and convert this into a winning position. Has Tom Abell’s decision to bowl handed the Championship to Surrey? It is early days in this game, but Surrey will be very, very pleased with their position.
In the other big clash, at Chelmsford, Nottinghamshire won the Toss and decided to bat on what looked like a perfect batting track – not a hint of green in it – with Harry Gurney coming in, as expected, for Steven Mullaney, who was off with the Lions. The Nottinghamshire decision to bat may not have looked the best at 60-2, but Chris Nash and Ross Taylor started to put together a good stand at a fast pace and went into Lunch at 109-2 and probably enjoyed their meal more than Essex did. Chris Nash went straight after Lunch but, then, Ross Taylor and Billy Root batted serenely through the session. Taylor went on to his century and his partnership off 122 with Root steadied the innings. The day was one of solid accumulation after the early scare, with the third batting point achieved comfortably, well in advance of the Close, as Taylor batted Essex steadily out of the match, finding fine support from Tom Moores as the bowlers started to tire. However, unexpectedly, just as Essex must have thought that they were going to have a sizeable problem on the second morning, Jamie Porter got Ross Taylor to edge behind: he fell for 146 out of 309-6, severely damaging the hopes of the visitors to get full batting points. 311-6 at the Close though was a quite satisfactory position.
At Worcester, Lancashire opted to bowl and soon had Worcestershire in trouble. Martin Guptil’s debut innings was brief as he edged Onions to the ‘keeper, while Tom Fell played on to Tom Bailey. 15-2 was not the start that they wanted in a game that they dared not lose. Things did not get better as Joe Mennie took two in two to leave Worcestershire staggering to 84-5 at Lunch. However, Daryll Mitchell was still there and went to a superlative century, being the last man to fall as the Worcestershire tail disintegrated around him. 247ao was riches compared to their Lunch situation, but Worcestershire will be frustrated to miss out on a second batting point. Joe Mennie and Jordan Clarke both took 4 wickets. Was this a difficult wicket to bat on, perhaps? Davies and Jennings came out for Lancashire and rattled along at a fair old rate, with Davies particularly severe on the Worcestershire attack before Jennings decided to join the party. Worcestershire may reflect on the fact that their nickname – the Pears – is a perfect fit to the shape of their season. However, the fall of Davies for 43 led to a quite astonishing collapse as Parry, Hameed, Chanderpaul and, to the last ball of the day, Jones, all fell to Barnard for ducks. 77-0 became 86-5 in 47 balls. It seems that Worcestershire do not plan to go down quietly but, then, in various games they have competed strongly before falling away to defeat: this one does not look likely to last 4 days. Tomorrow morning will be extremely interesting!
The final Division 1 game was a day-nighter between Hampshire and Yorkshire 2nd XI. Yorkshire travelled to the Ageas bowl with seven players on international duty and some unfamiliar names in their makeshift XI. The ones who were available though did the white rose county proud. When Yorkshire fell to 21-3 you fell that it could get ugly, but Gary Ballance and Harry Brook stood firm and first stabilised the patient and then got him out of intensive care. It was impressive against a strong, international attack of Edwards, Steyn and Abbott. Ballance went on to make an impressive 109, adding 143 for the fourth wicket with Harry Brook, who made 79. Jack Leaning helped add 71 more before Ballance fell, bringing in the hero of the hour, Jack Tattersall, who ran into an inspired Dale Steyn with his tail up, quickly followed by Edwards dismissing Leaning. Even so, Tim Bresnan and Steve Patterson held firm to the Close and have so far added 38, taking Yorkshire to a third batting point, with the promise of a fourth and a competitive total very much in sight. For Hampshire, Dale Steyn’s figures – 25-9-48-4 – were a reminder of what an outstanding bowler he is, while Fidel Edwards was expensive, but occasionally deadly when he got it right (which was not often enough). The match remains finely balanced going into Day 2, with perhaps Yorkshire slightly ahead on points.
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