7/1/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
The Royal London One Day Cup is, as Sir Humphrey Appleby would have put it, “in the propinquity of its ultimate and regrettable termination”. A September One Day Cup Final at Lord’s was the highlight of the season for decades, with counties and their supporters desperate to reach the Final. It has seen multiple formats, including starting as a 65 over competition with a maximum of 15 overs per bowler, followed by many years of 60 overs. It has also seen the unexpected (who now would believe that, for many years, it was a blistering innings by Geoff Boycott that produced the record score in a Lord’s Final?) Now, the old and popular knock-out format long abandoned (I wonder just how much fans regret, like me, that we no longer see the Minor Counties and the recreational cricketers of the County Boards fighting through various rounds for a place in the last 16 and the chance to carry out a giant-killing – games such as Devon v Somerset, or Durham County Board XI v Durham were the lifeblood of the competition). Now, the Royal London One Day Cup has become a hybrid version of the old Benson and Hedges Cup, with its 55 over format, league + knock-out structure and mid-season Final. The old B&H was always the ugly sister of the one-day competitions, never taken quite as seriously by the counties, although the silverware was always welcome, especially when one of the less-fashionable teams won. However, next year will see the final Lord’s Final. Like John Cleese’s parrot, it will be no more; it will cease to be. No longer does the Lord’s Final see noisy sell-out crowds, with tickets all-but-impossible to obtain but, still, more than twenty thousand fans were in Lord’s, undoubtedly helped by the fact that one of the counties that makes up the Greater London area was a finalist.
Both teams came from the tight and hard-fought South Group. Hampshire had topped that group with a 5-2 record, while Kent had just squeaked into third place with a 5-3 record. While Hampshire had overwhelmed a Yorkshire 2nd XI in the Semi-Final, thanks to a brutal James Vince century, Kent had to defeat holders Nottinghamshire in the eliminator and then North Group winners Worcestershire in the Semi-Final: in both cases, Kent had won on the back of a devastating Heino Kuhn century. The trouble with such runs of form is that they have a nasty habit of running out just when you need them most. Before the Final Kuhn had had a modest run of scores in the competition of 36*, 117, 113, 4, 124* & 127, the “4” against Essex was just to prove that he is human after all.
Before the Final, Reece Topley had expressed a fear that the Topley family curse would hit him. His father was Twelfth Man four times for Lord’s Finals and never did make it into the playing XI; now back from injury, Reece Topley made it five-out-of-five for the Topleys as Hampshire opted to play leg-spinner Mason Crane instead of left-arm seamer Reece Topley in this Final. The word from the Hampshire camp was that Crane had received a pain-killing injection to allow him to play and that it will be last time he plays for his county for the rest of the season.
On the Kent side, a devastating century and a lot of wickets against Middlesex was obviously no preparation for a 50-over Final, so Grant Stewart missed out, but Darren Stevens and Matt Henry were back in the XI.
Sam Billings won the Toss and decided to chase on a warm and sunny morning, with what appeared to be a pretty good pitch beckoning, with the sides lining up:
Kent: Bell-Drummond, Kuhn, Denly, Dickson, Billings, Blake, Stevens, Haggett, Podmore, Henry, Qayyum.
Hampshire: Rossouw, Alsop, Vince, Northeast, Weatherley, Dawson, McManus, Berg, Wood, Steyn, Crane.
Despite the danger that the Kent attack of Harry Podmore and Matt Henry could be hard to cope early on, with a slightly green pitch that had not yet dried out in the sun and might be expected to get better and better through the day, James Vince admitted that he had wanted to bat first, so Sam Billings’s invitation suited him nicely.
One always felt that Kent needed early wickets, but Hampshire made a solid start. 25-0 from 5 overs. 58-0 from 10, with Callum Haggett’s opening over going for 18. By then a sinking feeling may have been growing in the pit of Sam Billings’ stomach that he had made the wrong call. On came Darren Stevens, up came Sam Billings to the stumps: it was lovely to see a wicket-keeper standing-up to a seamer. 15 overs, 90-0 and Hampshire scoring comfortably at a run-a-ball with few alarms. The writing was on the wall that Hampshire could run up a huge score.
With Callum Haggett bowling with all the control of a faulty paint spray, it was Joe Denly’s turn to come on and try his luck. It is hard to recall that Denly was an integral part of the England limited-overs sides in 2009/10 and was a promising leg-spinner to boot. This season, Denly’s bowling has been dusted-off, and he has had some success, particularly in the red-ball game. Initially, it seemed that he was giving Rilee Rossouw some problems, but Rossouw got through them, and the breakthrough refused to come. 20 overs, 126-0 and Hampshire were starting to accelerate, even if they were treating Darren Stevens with respect still.
Finally, on came Imran Qayyum and out went Tom Alsop for 72: flighted delivery, two or three steps down the wicket, miss and Sam Billings whips off the bails. Kent needed the wicket, but 136-1 from 22.2 overs was not the greatest of starts, and the bad news was that it brought in James Vince, who had a point to make to Ed Smith. At the 30-over mark, it was 193-1, Vince was getting into his stride, Rossouw was playing with increasing freedom and Kent seemed set to be chasing a massive total: 380-400 looked all too possible.
From there, it did not go quite as Hampshire had wanted. Vice lofted Qayyum to Joe Denly at long-on, falling for 23. 193-2. However, Rossouw was still there and duly reached his century in the thirty-fifth over, and Kent still had a sizeable problem. Sam Northeast and Rossouw continued to accumulate runs. After 40 overs Hampshire were 262-2 and always looking set for a score in the 360-380 range. That fortieth over featured a straight drive from Rossouw, aimed straight at the umpire, that had him diving for cover, as self-preservation took over from dignity. However, to the first ball of the forty-second over he lashed out at Joe Denly and was caught at mid-wicket for 125. 270-3. Two overs later, Liam Dawson chipped a catch to cover point and Denly had another. Sam Northeast has his fifty, but wickets kept falling at the other end as Kent clawed things back. Lewis McManus hit Denly high into the Lord’s sky, and Sean Dickson dived forward to reach it: 297-5 with just over four overs to go and Kent were clawing their way back as Hampshire imploded somewhat. Then Weatherly missed his second ball and Denly had a fourth wicket. 297-6 with just 24 balls left. Thirty-three came from those last four overs as Hampshire finished on a record score for a Lord’s Final of 330-7, although it should have been a lot more as they only managed 68-5 in their last ten overs. However, with such a brilliant start, it was always likely that Hampshire would struggle to keep up the momentum in the slog overs as batsmen came in and tried to play shots with little or no reconnaissance. In truth, it was a massive score for a Lord’s Final and just reflected how well Hampshire have batted in the competition.
For Kent, it looked like a case of Kuhn or bust. For Hampshire, Chris Wood and Dale Steyn with the new, white ball. For two overs things seemed pretty good: 16-0, with Kuhn, looked in pretty good form – and well he should. The next two overs produced just two singles, as Hampshire showed that 331 would take some getting. Still, after nine overs it was 55-0, and Kent were going nicely at just better than a run-a-ball, well up with the asking rate. Had Daniel Bell-Drummond and Heino Kuhn been able to keep this up for 20 overs, they would have put the Hampshire fourth and fifth bowlers under terrific pressure. Unfortunately for Kent, the last over of the Power Play saw Kuhn run out as Gareth Berg dived and threw at the stumps from close range, with just one stump to aim at as Kuhn tried to run a suicidal single. 55-1 and Kent could not afford another quick wicket. That though is what they got. The scoring rate had dipped significantly with the fall of Kuhn, Kent were little above 5-an-over and needed some momentum. Joe Denly went after Gareth Berg and only lobbed a catch to James Vince. 17 overs, 83-2 and Hampshire, were on top.
James Vince introduced an all-spin attack with contrasting fortunes: Liam Dawson bowled his first 4 for 14 runs and kept a tight lid on the scoring; Mason Crane’s first three went for 29. The Crane gamble was failing, and so Vince brought himself on and reined-in the scoring at the other end. Denly and Dickson were scoring as many singles as they wanted, but the boundaries needed to stop the required run rate from rising stubbornly refused to come. Crane came back, and Dickson swiped at him and lifted a catch to Rossouw.
30 overs: Kent 158-3, Hampshire 193-1.
Kent desperately needed someone to score, score big and score quickly.
33 overs. 168-3 and the RRR now over 9. The match was slipping away from Kent.
Daniel Bell-Drummond was still there, but he was struggling to raise his tempo up to a run-a-ball when Kent needed significantly better than that to get back into the game. Finally, in the thirty-fifth over, the killer blow: Chris Wood bowled Bell-Drummond for 86. 179-4 after 35 overs. From there on it was just a matter of how large the margin of defeat would be as Hampshire’s bowlers and fielders hung on to their prey like an angry bulldog as the usual crazy mix of run outs and dismissals to wild slogs sunk the chase without a trace. 40 overs, 217-6 and Dale Steyn back into the attack: not a bad change to be able to make for the last ten. Sam Billings was still there, but the best score from the Kent bottom six was the 12 of Darren Stevens. Berg finished it off by having Sam Billings caught by Dale Steyn for 75.
Kent were 269ao and lost by 61 runs, with 2.5 overs left to bowl but, in reality, it was not even as close as that rather large margin suggests. To a degree, it was self-inflicted, because there were no fewer than four runouts in the Kent innings, but run outs are an operational hazard when you are chasing a big total and falling behind the run rate against a side as professional and clinical as Hampshire have been in the knock-out phase. The Hampshire fielders backed-up their bowlers brilliantly and, as a side, were just too good for Kent on the day. Unquestionably, the better team won, although the losers can console themselves that they are doing enough to suggest that they may be a force to reckon with next season in both red and white ball cricket.
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
This was a match that was disappointing on various levels. On one level, it was never a contest. When the side batting first is so superior and sets a target that, within a few overs, is obviously beyond the capability of the chasing side, the only real excitement is about how significant the margin of victory will be. The match though was frustrating on a different level too: we have watched James Vince give occasional flashes of the form that explained why the selectors were prepared to provide him with so many chances for England; here, Vince just destroyed Yorkshire, almost single-handedly. 171 from 126 balls was a pretty brutal demonstration of the skills that the England team had been hoping to see but never did. It could be that James Vince is one of those frustrating players who are a destroyer at County level but lacks that little spark of mental steel to be equally successful internationally: in that case, bad luck to the County attacks which have to face him in vengeful mode.
The match was also disappointing on another level. With England playing an ODI series v Australia and the ECB playing a series of matches against India A and West Indies A, Yorkshire were missing no fewer than five of their first choice XI. It is a measure of Yorkshire’s depth of resources that they could still put up a pretty useful XI, but it is also a measure of how the County game is valued that a Cup Semi-Final can be so devalued.
It is also a measure of just how dominant Vince and Hampshire were that they will have seen their final total of 348-9 as a little disappointing. With ten overs to go, Hampshire were 270-4, Vince was 145*, Dawson was getting himself set, and successive overs went for 17 and 15. Hampshire must have felt that 380 was well within their capabilities. Suddenly though, just when the situation could have got really ugly for the Yorkshire bowlers, there was a strange patch in the run-in with the brakes on full, as Dawson and McManus struggled to get the ball away and Vince lost the strike. Then Dawson fell and Vince, maybe betraying some frustrating at the stalling innings, fell too and the slog did start finally. Boundaries were hit, and wickets fell in the closing overs as batsman and bowler seemed to agree “you go, or I go”. The innings closed with Reece Topley coming in for the last ball and dispatching it for six, which was symptomatic of the “the ball, or me approach” in the frenetic last four overs.
Ben Coad was the bowler to come out of the innings with the most credit. 2-48, including the early wicket of Jimmy Adams (the English version, not the former West Indies skipper). Strangely though, he did not get his full quota, although Adam Lyth, who took some punishment and, at the other end of the spectrum, Karl Carver, whose six overs went for 66, bowled 11 between them. You rather get the impression that Steve Patterson miscounted: it was that sort of day for the Tykes.
Needing to score at 7-an-over, Yorkshire badly needed a good start. Chris Wood and Dale Steyn made sure that they did not get it. At 15-2 after just 4.4 overs you sensed that Yorkshire needed a miracle and this was one day when they were not going to get one. In the group stages, Pujara had had a run of 82, 73, 101 and 75* before going quiet again. Now, back from a lightning trip to India to play in Afghanistan’s Test debut, he needed to anchor the innings for Yorkshire to get close but fell for a 4-ball duck. Kohler-Cadmore and Ballance, tried to rebuild, although at the cost of a rapidly rising asking rate. It was a policy that might have paid off if one or both could have gone on to a big score but, when Ballance fell for 25, it was 47-3 after 11.4, and that looked very much like “game over”. Kohler-Cadmore followed at the end of the sixteenth over for a cautious 21 from 36 balls, and the rest were left far too much to do. No fewer than five batsmen scored between 21 and 26, but none could push on. This was a pity because Jack Tattersall was fighting hard at the other end, but with little support. Had it not been for the number of regulars missing, Tattersall would undoubtedly not have got a game – he has been playing his trade in Yorkshire 2nd XI until the lack of 1st XI personnel became critical – but his 89 from 81 balls, as he tried to keep a sinking ship, afloat really caught the eye. With the asking rate already 10 and rising, the youngster was never going to turn the game with his innings, but he showed a cool head and kept the score respectable. There was just a moment when it looked as if his persistence might pay off as Tim Bresnan came in and decided to have a go: he may no longer be the player that he was when he was a bowling all-rounder for England but, had he got up a head of steam, he could, just possibly, have turned the match, with Tattersall keeping the other end up. Sadly, for Yorkshire, it was just a mirage.
Dawson (4-47) and Wood (3-46) applied the last rites, and the innings subsided quickly and quietly when Tattersall fell finally in the 41st over.
Hampshire now take on Kent at Lord’s, in what is being termed the “penultimate One Day Final”. When I was a kid, the Lord’s Finals of the Gillette Cup and, later, the NatWest, could have been sold out many times over. Now, there are plenty of empty seats on the day. It is a sad end for a competition that was the centre-point of the summer for decades, but which had been in decline even before the knock-out format ended. Let’s hope, at least, that these two less-fashionable sides can serve up a game to remember.
By Mark Kidger (@MarkfromMadrid)
There will be a new name on the Royal London One Day Cup this year. Nottinghamshire, the holders, were Kuhned to defeat, as have been various other sides this season.
This competition has had its twists and turns. Nottinghamshire had a wobbly start and got through thanks to wins in the last two games, as other results went their way. Kent lost their first two games, and their fans more or less gave up on the competition: in fact, the bookies had them as the rank outsiders of the six sides that had qualified. There was though nothing rank about the Kent performance. Save for a few overs at the death; this match was as one-sided as anything that we have seen all competition. In fact, Kent were so superior that you almost felt sorry for The Outlaws, who lost with more than 14 overs to spare.
First, Nottinghamshire ran into Harry Podmore. When you want to set a competitive total, stumbling to 23-4 in the tenth over is not the best way to start. Podmore’s first spell was 6-1-25-3. He is not the first player to leave Middlesex in search of regular 1st XI cricket and to thrive elsewhere, something that should give pause for thought to the Middlesex management, who have seen their side make a somewhat underwhelming impact this season. Podmore’s case though was undoubtedly helped by the Mean Machine at the other end: playing Muttley, to Podmore’s Dick Dastardly, Matt Henry produced an opening spell of 6-3-10-1. Samit Patel and Steve Mullaney tried to revive the innings and, at least, stabilised it. Billy Root then continued the support, but it was laboured progress. When the last ten overs started, Nottinghamshire were 168-5 and in no position to make a really competitive total.
The only moment when Nottinghamshire could feel that the match was running their way was when Luke Fletcher came in on the fall of Billy Root and started to blast the ball in all directions aided, in the last five overs, by the equally brutal Matthew Carter. The 59 added from those last five overs lifted Nottinghamshire to a possibly defendable total and let them feel that the momentum was with them. However, to defend this total, Nottinghamshire needed a good start. With their potent attack, there was no reason why Kent should not be rocked back on their heels. That was the theory. The reality was that, after ten overs, Kent were 76-0, with Kuhn 62* and only a complete disaster could stop a Kent victory.
Kuhn was absolutely brutal. Nottinghamshire came, they saw him and they conked-out.
As the scoring accelerated, Daniel Bell-Drummond, who was almost a sleeping partner initially, came out of his shell and accelerated too. Finally, having dispatched the first two balls of the 29th over for a 6 and a 4, he ran down the pitch, swung, missed and was stumped by yards. You got the impression that, with the match all but won, he wanted someone else to have a chance to bat. The next 3.3 overs went for just eight runs: were Nottinghamshire back in the match? Were they, hell!!! After this brief quiet spell, the next ten balls produced 3x6 and 3x4, as Joe Denly raced to 30 from 17 balls and Kuhn ended his short sabbatical with a volley of boundaries.
Kuhn ended up with 124* from 114 balls. Denly 52* from 28 balls. It was as one-sided as it sounds.
If you apply the formula “double the score after 30 overs”, Kent would have ended their 50 overs 394-2: 255-8 was never going to challenge them. This was as good as the brilliant Kent sides who, jointly with Lancashire, ruled limited-overs cricket in the 1970s. Well played Kent!
6/14/2018 0 Comments
Steve Patterson and Gary Ballance inspired Yorkshire to victory over Essex at Chelmsford to set up a semi-final clash at the Ageas Bowl against Hampshire on Monday.
The White Rose skipper Patterson took 4-36 as the visitors restricted Essex to 234 all out after Ballance struck 91 to help the Tykes to 259-7 after winning the toss and electing to bat first on a tacky used wicket.
It was left to Ballance and Jack Leaning to steady the sinking ship after Jamie Porter ripped through the top order to leave the northerner in a spot of bother at 45-4, indeed perhaps the Eagles will now regret not bowling the Leytonstone-born man his full allocation of overs. Instead, the 24-year-old was left with the mightly impressive figures of 3-25 from his nine overs.
The pair shared 129-runs for the fifth wicket to help guide the visitors toward respectability, but when Ballance departed for 91 edging behind to Adam Wheater off the bowling of Neil Wagner you felt the Tykes were still in a battle to make a total anywhere near par. That task took another blow as Simon Harmer trapped Leaning (57) leg before with the score on 188.
Essex smelt blood and were suddenly dreaming of dismissing the visitors for less than 200, especially given how scratchy Matt Fisher looked early on in his innings. The 20-year-old could barely lay bat on ball, swishing aimlessly as Matt Coles sent down a maiden in the 43rd over. Coles though then tried to be fancy and started to get his tricks out, but he strayed in line and length, and that played into the hands of Fisher and Bresnan who suddenly started seeing the ball like a football propelling the ball to all parts of ‘Fortress Chelmsford’.
The duo added a vital 71 for the seventh wicket to give the White Rose something to defend, Bresnan fell to the last ball of the innings for 41 – but the pair had done their job and managed to wrestle back some of the momentum. Although, the experts at the interval predicted that Steve Patterson’s men were well short of par you expected that early wicket would put Essex under immense pressure in front of an expectant Eagles crowd.
Alastair Cook returned to the side to open with Varun Chopra, separating the Essex usual opening batting duo of Adam Wheater and Chopra – a partnership that has been very explosive and fruitful for the Eagles this season. Cook and Chopra though were very circumspect in their approach as the pair patiently went in search of the 260 runs they required for victory. The former England captain looked unusually nervy and scratchy at the crease, and his mode of dismissal perhaps epitomised that edginess. With the score plodding along on 26 without loss in the eighth over the Chef went for an uncharacteristic hoick and skied a ball to mid-on to give Patterson a routine catch to fall for 11.
Stand-in skipper Tom Westley – deputising for the banned Ryan ten Doeschate, came and went in unfortunate fashion, run out backing up for two. The usually clean hitting Varun Chopra clothed a ball straight down deep mid-wickets throat, and the nerves around Chelmsford were jangling.
Dan Lawrence was triggered to a ball that looked to the naked eye as if it was sliding down leg although ball tracking had it just clipping leg stump to fall for 15 and suddenly the host were four down and staring at another knockout defeat in the face.
Ravi Bopara, Ashar Zaidi and Simon Harmer all came and went failing to offer the support that the impressive Adam Wheater desperately craved. Matt Coles swung at everything that came at him and ultimately saw his leg stump rocked back by the accurate Matt Fisher (2-32) and Essex were entering the last chance saloon with Neil Wagner and Wheater.
It was an ill-disciplined display by the top order and Wheater and Wagner showed just that, the pair added 57-runs for the ninth-wicket, a new record for Essex against Yorkshire. While those two were there the sense of a miracle happening, and the Eagles pulling something out of the fire were genuine.
The diminutive Wheater continued his fine recent form to reach a magnificent 78 off 70 balls and the patient Wagner was rotating the strike cleverly to continue to chip away at the deficit. When the experienced Patterson claimed his fourth and final wicket to remove the Essex wicketkeeper, you could almost hear David Lloyd screaming ‘start the car’ from his Accrington living room.
Wagner tried his best with Porter, but it wasn’t to be as the Kiwi became the last to fall for a gutsy 35 to give Yorkshire a deserved win which sets up a clash with Hampshire on Monday in the semi-finals.
The Tykes win was all the more impressive given the lack of first-teamers available for the visitors, so it will be pleasing the Andrew Gale’s men to see the youngster step up when it really mattered with Karl Carver (2-65), Ben Coad (1-50) and Fisher (2-32) all producing excellent bowling displays under pressure.
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
By Mark Kidger (@MarkfromMadrid)
Royal London One Day Cup, Round 6/7: Clarifying Qualification Scenarios.
Confused? You will be! Once again, seven games over two days to start Round 7 of the ODC in the South Group, when a lot of sides have not yet completed Round 6: somehow the concept of all eighteen teams playing games at the same time has not reached the scheduling computer. The final result will be that while some sides will have just one match left, others will have as many as three to go. No one said that the ECB’s scheduling had to make sense, so we can feel perfectly comfortable that it does not.
However, where the ECB wishes confusion, the inevitable progress of qualification is bringing clarity, if only slowly. It all adds up though to a situation where, before this round of matches, there were only three sides who could start planning for the 2019 ODC campaign. While, now, there are a few more who know that they will not be in the knock-out rounds or, as the ECB is pleased to call it, “play-offs”, as we assume that the concept of a knock-out will only confuse kiddies, their mothers and County members.
We start at Oakham where Leicestershire hosted Lancashire. This was almost certainly a dead rubber – Leicestershire, who have been scoring 300+ and losing, were, jointly with Glamorgan, already out. Lancashire, who could only reach 9 points, despite every effort of Sir Donald Jennings, could only try to win the last three games, boost their already healthy NRR and hope that some kind of mathematical miracle (probably involving a lot of rained-off matches) could sneak them somehow into third place in the group. Jennings’s place was taken by Haseeb Hameed who has just scored consecutive centuries for Lancashire 2nds, suggesting that he is getting some form back.
This was always going to be an uphill struggle for the Foxes after strikes by Onions and Mennie left them 5-2 after just 15 balls. When they came on, the spinners were well-nigh unplayable and slowed the scoring almost to a stop. The only batsman to find any fluency was Mark Cosgrove, with 52, before Dane Vilas stumped him sharply off Matt Parkinson, who ended with the remarkable figures of 10-2-30-4. Stephen Parry – remember him? He played 2 ODIs and 5 T20s for England in 2014/15 – Liam Livingstone and Matt Parkinson combined for 25-3-77-6: not your typical figures for a spinner in a 50-over game. Parkinson is another of the crop of young English spinners who are suddenly sprouting like mushrooms and will be disappointed if he does not at least get to try life with the Lions this winter. After Parkinson had finished his spell, Parry was given the job of bowling in the slog overs at the end of the innings: his last two, the 45th and 47th overs, produced a maiden and three singles respectively… an indication of just how hard scoring was. When you are chasing 173, an opening stand of 42 at well above the asking rate is a pretty good start. When Davies fell, Liam Livingstone came in and blitzed a 39-ball 50, as Hameed accumulated. Hameed reached his 50 from 66 balls, signalling that is 2nd XI form was no mirage. The target was reached in under 26 overs, with Livingstone 90* (6x4, 7x6) and Hameed 55*.
Where it leaves the sides: The win moves Lancashire to 5 points with two games left, but the best NRR of any of the 18 teams. It looks very much as if 10 points will be needed to qualify, but a wave of abandoned matches could have conceivably reduced that to 9, giving Lancashire an (unlikely) backdoor route. In the end, though, the results on the following night have slammed the door on Lancashire’s hopes.
At Taunton, the West Country derby was a dog-eat-dog affair. Somerset knew that, with a defeat, their interest in the competition would end. Gloucestershire needed the win to re-start a stalled campaign, knowing that a loss would make a top three spot unlikely. There was a slightly delayed start and the threat of a rain-curtailed chase, making Gloucestershire’s decision to field a wise one, despite fielding a very much weakened attack. When Somerset were 145-2 after 20 overs, they looked well on their way to a massive total and to leaving Gloucestershire’s campaign dead and buried, but a double-wicket maiden for the under-rated Benny Howell removed Trego, who had hammered 74 from 63 balls and then Matt Renshaw for a fourth-ball duck. Hildreth then committed suicide, run out by Chris Dent and, suddenly, both set batsmen and the overseas star had gone, and Somerset were 149-5 and, with rain and Duckworth-Lewis threatening, in need of some stability. It could have been far worse because a jittery Somerset offered three un-taken runout opportunities and a – hard – chance was grounded but, without anyone knowing quite how, persistent bowling, some poor batting and suicidal running from Somerset frittered-away the advantage. The final total was 211ao, with the bewildered Anthony Gibson describing as “not so much a collapse, as a complete disintegration”. Somerset, criminally, left ten overs unused. To think that Somerset won their first two games with such ease that some neutrals were wondering about a Somerset treble this season. With ten overs needed to make a game and rain expected at any moment, Somerset were, logically enough, not quick getting through their overs although, with Gloucestershire well ahead on D/L, the umpires kept the players on despite some light drizzle. Unfortunately, heavy rain was not far behind and, when it arrived, Gloucestershire were 39-0 after six overs, with the D/L par score 11! This left everyone watching the radar anxiously as the groundsman was probably watching his Square taking another beating and thinking of the problems that Noah faced with wicket preparation. The storm started to move away, but the damage was already done as a new storm system approached, and the umpires abandoned the match as no result. It was a cruel blow for The Shire, particularly given the fact that had Gloucestershire chased the target down in 40 overs, their NRR would have been improved by about +0.5.
Where it leaves the sides: The abandonment and one point each keeps Gloucestershire alive, they are 4th in South Group, level on points with Somerset, in 3rd, but with a game in hand. They need to win their last two games, at least one of them by a significant margin to improve their NRR and even that may not be enough if other results go the wrong way. Although a combination of a big win in their last game, a lot of rained-off games and other results going their way *could* see Somerset go through in third, with 9 points, it is, to say the least, unlikely.
At Beckenham, my old stamping ground from Uni days, Joe Denly and Heino Kuhn carried on where they had left off in the previous match. A swift partnership of 93 for the first wicket – Daniel Bell-Drummond 48 in 42 balls – set up the attack and Denly and Kuhn needed no second bidding as the Surrey attack was put to the sword. With Kent on six points from 5 games and Surrey on 5 from 5, the winner would see its qualification chances survive, the loser would, almost certainly be out barring some remarkable results in the remaining games. Kuhn lost Denly for 78, but continued sublimely on to a century from 90 balls. The 300 came up in the 41st over. Surrey’s problems were illustrated by Gareth Batty’s ninth over, bowling to Alex Blake, he went 6 6 6 6 W 1, with Batty ending the over on 9-0-96-1. Kuhn fell to Morkel – the one Surrey bowler to come out of the slaughter with credit – for 117, but the damage was done. Although 384-8 was fewer than looked likely, Surrey were left with a hopeless chase to stay in the competition. Surrey needed a good start. There were plenty of boundaries, but wickets in consecutive overs for Henry and Claydon left Surrey in big trouble at 33-2. From there it was all downhill as wickets fell regularly. Surrey were all out for 164 and Kent won by a small matter of 220 runs.
Where it leaves the sides: The win improves further Kent’s already healthy NRR, leaving them 2nd in the South Group with two games to play and means that their fate is in their own hands. One win will probably be enough, three points from the last two games will most certainly see them qualify. Surrey’s interest in the competition has ended. Kent are in a shoot-out with Hampshire to top the group, while Surrey are 8th.
At Sophia Gardens, Glamorgan faced Sussex, hoping against hope that they could finally get a win against a Sussex side that had to win the game, or go out of the competition. Sussex had both Joffra Archer and Chris Jordan back from the IPL, meaning that they felt that they had the firepower to defend any reasonable total. Glamorgan asked Sussex to bat and reduced them to 125-5, with the top four all getting in and then getting out. Luke Wright gave some momentum with 41 from 34 balls, opening the batting, but then the innings stalled badly until Burgess and Wiese first stabilised the situation and then set about setting a target. Burgess was particularly brutal, his 50 coming off 39 balls with this third six, while Wiese’s 50 was more sedate, coming off 48 balls, before both falling in eight balls as it looked as if a 300+ total might be on. Jordan and Archer added 25 in 23 balls before Archer was out to the last ball of the innings and 277-8 looked like a stiff target for a side low on confidence to chase. Glamorgan were always up with the RRR and had wickets in hand, needing 33 from the last four overs. With wickets in hand, this was always going to be in favour of the chasing side, and Glamorgan won by six wickets with ten balls to spare.
Where it leaves the sides: The win does not help Glamorgan, who were already out, but has also ended Sussex’s interest in the competition: there is no combination of results, however unlikely, that would see them qualify. Sussex are 7th in the South Group with one game left and Glamorgan remain bottom.
In the North Group, at Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire hosted Group leaders, Worcestershire. Here, the scenario was clear: if Worcestershire won, they would need just one point from the last two games to ensure qualification, while defending Champions, Nottinghamshire, would be out. Nottinghamshire would not have been best-pleased to see Moeen Ali showing that he plans to get his Test place back with a fine, individual bowling display after an insipid winter and IPL campaign. He removed the top three scorers for Nottinghamshire and caught Chris Nash, as Nottinghamshire staggered from a healthy 116-2, scored at 5.3 an over, to 199-9, during Moeen’s mean spell of bowling in mid-innings. 10-0-33-4 will not see Moeen promoted to the top of the list of Dave Bracegirdle’s favourite players of the week. 202ao was not a total that looked likely to challenge Worcestershire. However, Luke Fletcher and Jake Ball tore into Worcestershire. At 21-3 in the ninth over the match was right in the balance again. There was no relief with the introduction of Samit Patel, who seems a better bowler now than when he had his abortive England career, as D’Oliviera fell in his second over to leave Worcestershire 28-4. Suddenly, the Nottinghamshire miracle was on and Dave Bracegirdle was cooing again on commentary. Wickets continued to fall regularly and, at 74-6, Worcestershire’s innings was in ruins and crawling along. Incredibly though, Daryl Mitchell and Ed Barnard seemed to be inching Worcestershire to their target before Mullaney ended a partnership of 63. That was effectively the end. Ed Barnard struggled to score and the RRR rocketed as Worcestershire could barely managed 2-an-over when they need 8 and more. Nottinghamshire finally bowled them out for 164 to send Dave Bracegirdle into raptures with a comeback win against the odds.
Where it leaves the sides: The win has kept Nottinghamshire alive. They are fifth in the North Group, one point behind the qualifying positions, but with an inferior NRR and one success fewer than the top two. They need to win both their remaining games and hope that results will fall the right way to allow them to continue to defend their title: the joker in the pack is the Warwickshire v Worcestershire match – if it is rained-off, Nottinghamshire cannot qualify. The defeat does not damage Worcestershire too badly: they still topped the North Group immediately after this match (falling to 2nd when Derbyshire completed their win). Their fate is still in their own hands – even one win in the last two games may be enough for them.
At Chester-le-Street, Durham staked their slim chances of qualifying on winning and winning well against Warwickshire who, in turn, knew that a win would give them an excellent chance of a top-two finish in the North Group. Warwickshire, not unexpectedly, put Durham in. Their decision was vindicated as Stone and Barker removed the two openers at a cost of just 8 runs. The pain in Martin Emmerson’s voice as he commentated on it was hard to bear. Tom Latham did not last long, but helped Michael Richardson to stabilise the innings and, with Will Smith, set about upping the run-rate. Although the middle overs saw the run-rate drop, a total of around 300 was certainly on. Michael Richardson fell for 111, but Will Smith kept up a rapid rate of scoring with his own century and Durham were able to post a challenging score of 299-8 to keep their slim hopes of qualifying alive, even if they might be disappointed that the final push could not add a few more. Warwickshire set off quickly, but fell to 14-2 as Rushworth and Dixon struck early, leaving the old warriors, Trott and Bell, to get the innings back on an even keel. Both made 50s and kept the RRR under control, although it was climbing steadily. The 150 partnership came up in the 32nd over with the batsmen accelerating and taking firm control of the match. At one point both Trott and Bell both had 83* from 97 balls, as they paced each other and struck out for victory. Trott reached his century first, but fell soon after to the persistent Collingwood. Bell followed him to a century and it became a binary outcome: Bell batts through, Warwickshire win; Bell falls, Durham sneak home, with the bowlers nibbling away at the other end. In reality though, you felt that while 20 more runs would have made Durham firm favourites, a target of 300 was not quite enough, hard as Durham fought. In the end, Warwickshire won with 7 balls to spare, with Bell 145*.
Where it leaves the sides: The win pushes Warwickshire up to third in the North Group with two games left and finally and definitively eliminates a brave Durham side. If their match with Worcestershire is rained-off, qualification will get messy and come down to tie-breakers.
Finally, at Wantage Road, the same scenario was being played out as at various other grounds: the visitors could survive a defeat with qualifying hopes intact, if only, barely; the hosts, with a negative NRR acting as the albatross, would be out if they lost. Derbyshire elected to bat and set a target. Progress was steady, rather than devastating but, at 136-0 after 30 overs and with the 150 up in the 33rd over, the platform had been set for a challenging total. In the end, Derbyshire could not convert wickets in hand into a big acceleration, but 265-2 at least gave them a chance, which became even better when the slightly shell-shocked Northants batting slipped to 14-2, with Rampaul and Madsen removing the openers in quick time. At 118-3, with Duckett and Rossington batting well, Northants were still in the game. From there though, wickets fell regularly and were shared around – the first six went to six different bowlers – as the RRR climbed steadily. Partnerships started for the 7th and 8th wickets that allowed Northants to dream, but they were nipped in the bud before they could become a real threat. In the end, Derbyshire won comfortably, by 51 runs.
Where it leaves the sides: The win puts Derbyshire on top of North Group on NRR from Worcestershire. If they win their last two games, they are through, whatever happens. Three points should be enough and two maybe if other results fall right.
5/30/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkfromMadrid)
The rather bizarre scheduling of the Royal London One Day Cup continues unabated. Games are being played almost every day but, strangely, the one day with no ODC games at all was the Bank Holiday Monday. There must be some logic behind this, but as yet no one seems to have found it. We have now had two days with three and four games each, meaning that fourteen of the eighteen teams have a game, although the weather is playing an important part, with the majority of the matches were affected by rain. The ODC has a somewhat hybrid rain rule, with ten overs required to make a game in the Group Phases and 20 overs thereafter.
With the completion of today’s games, every team in the North Group bar Yorkshire will have just three games left (Yorkshire have two) while, in the South Group, three of the sides will have completed six of their eight matches. It is a good moment to take stock given that there is so much equality in mid-table in both groups. In fact, the South table has six of the nine teams tied on six points.
So, first, what are the criteria for ordering teams in the case of equal points. Section 16.11.4 of the Playing Conditions gives the criteria as:
1. Most wins in Group Matches.
2. Net Run Rate in Group Matches.
3. Most points in matches between the teams that are level.
4. Drawing lots.
In practice, it is incredibly unlikely that there will ever be a tie on NRR.
Let’s start at The Oval. Surrey hosted Sussex, but the game was called-off early as the playing surface turned into a boating lake.
Where it leaves the sides: One point each left Surrey 8th on 5 points and the worst NRR in the group although, with three games left, they are just 1 point behind Somerset in 2nd. Sussex are 6th, on 6 points, with two games left. Surrey are likely to need to win their last three games to qualify and, on the way, boost their NRR. Sussex need to win their last 2.
Much more exciting was the game at New Road, where Worcestershire hosted Leicestershire: not exactly two sides that you would have picked pre-season for high-octane excitement, but that did not stop the patrons seeing 756 runs in the day. Leicestershire made a fast start, and all the top six scored runs, with the lowest contribution Delport’s 20. Horton, Raine, Cosgrove and Ackerman all reached 70, with 75 runs coming from the last 38 balls of the innings as Leicestershire reached 376-4. In reply, Moeen Ali, playing his second ODC game after returning from the IPL where his returns were modest, fell for a 3-ball duck. But Callum Ferguson and Joe Clarke (Rikki Clarke’s little brother) added 140 in 20 overs and Worcestershire, remarkably, cruised to their target with nearly three overs to spare. Callum Ferguson scored 192, ably supported by fifties from Clarke, Mitchell and D’Oliviera. Ferguson fell with Worcestershire seven short of their target of 377 to win and got over the line in style, winning by six wickets.
Where it leaves the sides: Worcestershire top the North Group with four wins and 8 points and a positive NRR. Wins in two of their last three games will see them qualify, while even one win may be enough. Leicestershire are bottom of the group with one win, two points and negative NRR and would need a remarkable combination of results to qualify, even if they win their last three games by wide margins.
The deluge that ended any hopes of a game at The Oval took a little longer to arrive at Canterbury but duly did so, leaving Messrs Duckworth and Lewis in charge. After their high-powered start to the ODC campaign, Somerset are now slowing and have lost three of their last four games. A poor start saw them 17-2 and 65-5 in an innings reduced to 42 overs, staggering along drunkenly at 4-an-over. Renshaw and Gregory combined in a century stand, but there was little after that and 221 was never likely to challenge Kent, even after Daniel Bell-Drummond fell third ball. With rain approaching, Kuhn and Denly made sure that the scoring was brisk and, with play halted after 16 overs, were way ahead of their target of 61, on 88-1 and would have, most likely, cruised to a victory even without the rain.
Where it leaves the sides: Kent are 5th in the South Group with three wins and three games to go but a negative NRR. With just 1 point between second and 8th, that NRR may mean that they need to win all three games to progress. Somerset are 2nd by virtue of the best NRR in the group putting them top of the clatch of sides on 6 points but, with three defeats, will need to win their last two games and hope that results fall for them. Their fate may rest on Kent and Gloucestershire not winning their game in hand.
At Derby, where the 2nd in the North Group played Yorkshire in 3rd, the weather, played spoilsport. A win for Derbyshire would leave them almost guaranteed a Quarter-Final place, while defeat for the visitors would leave Yorkshire’s chances hanging by a thread. The umpires tried to start at 2:30 pm and held the Toss, but the rain returned. A new attempt was made at 3:15 pm in a game reduced to 24 overs, with Derbyshire sailing out of the blocks like Usain Bolt when he’s in a hurry, but the innings lost momentum as Yorkshire reeled them in and a final total of 189-6 was bitterly disappointing. When Yorkshire fell to 71-3, there was a window for Derbyshire to get back into the match, but Kohler-Cadmore and Ballance, who sound like a comedy duo, were short on laughs as they upped the scoring-rate, with Kohler-Cadmore offering several catches to spectators in the back of the Grandstand. However, just when it looked as Yorkshire would win with overs to spare, Olivier and Rampaul – not a bad pair to be able to call on when you need desperately a breakthrough – induced a collapse with three wickets falling for three runs in eleven balls, making Derbyshire firm favourites again. When Rampaul dismissed Kohler-Cadmore with the first ball of the penultimate over to complete a 5-wicket haul, it seemed that the match was over, but Matt Fisher came in at #10 and smashed 24 from 8 balls to win the game with a ball to spare. This was an extraordinary finish to a match that swung one way and another.
Where it leaves the sides: Derbyshire are third, with a game in hand over Yorkshire, who have moved into second. Yorkshire have the best NRR in the North Group and with two wins should qualify comfortably. However, just 2 points between 2nd and 6th mean that number of wins and NRR may be needed to separate sides.
In the clash of the bottom sides in the South Group, with both teams looking unlikely to progress, Essex hosted the only one of the 18 sides without even a point from an abandoned game. After a poor start and the fall of three quick wickets. Glamorgan tried to set up a platform, with Jamie Porter taking the top four in his 4-29, Ravi Bopara and Matt Coles strangled the Glamorgan middle order. Despite the efforts of Chris Cooke, without whom Glamorgan would not even have got close to 200, a total of 200ao never looked likely to be enough. Essex reached 50 in the eighth over and 100 in the sixteenth, as Varun Chopra and Adam Wheater took the Glamorgan attack apart to make sure that they were well ahead in Duckworth-Lewis should the rain return. The truth was that they could have stopped, mid-innings for a pie and chips and a pint and still won at a canter. An opening stand of 189 left the game done and dusted before Tom Westley came in and blasted a four and a six from his first four balls, effectively denying Chopra the chance of a century. The game ended with over 18 overs to spare and Chopra 98*.
Where it leaves the sides: Glamorgan were out, mathematically, even before this game, while Essex have jumped up into 3rd and given themselves a chance of sneaking into the Quarter Final if they can win their last two games, especially as this huge win has boosted their NRR. However, with two of the six sides tied on six points having a game in hand, even a wash-out would give those two sides an advantage over Essex.
At Merchant Taylors’ School, early drizzle led to a delayed start and a reduction to 45 overs. Middlesex, who have been Jekyll and Hyde in the competition this year, looked set for a good total as Eskinazi and Holden set about repairing a slow start. Reece Topley (who is coming back from yet another of the injuries that has plagued his career) and, more surprisingly, James Vince, halted the Middlesex momentum. Seven batsmen got starts, but no one could make a significant score and Middlesex fell short of 200 when 250 looked like the minimum necessary to make a game of it. Middlesex needed to bowl out Hampshire to win and, despite a couple of wickets for Steve Finn, it never seemed likely to happen, with the batsmen staying comfortably ahead of the RRR. Even the fall of three quick wickets to leave Hampshire 140-5 was little more than an inconvenience as Adams and McManus brought the visitors home with more than six overs to spare.
Where it leaves the sides: A third defeat and a NRR inferior to Somerset have left Middlesex’s chances hanging on winning their last two matches and relying on other results to go their way. Middlesex are fourth still, but that position is precarious given their poor NRR and the fact that they are level with two sides who have a game in hand. Hampshire now have daylight at the top of the South Group table and should progress with one win from their last three games.
The televised game was at Edgbaston, with both sides embedded in mid-table and needing the win. Again, rain intervened, with play scheduled to start at 4:45 pm, after a delay of nearly 3 hours, an intention scuppered by more rain. A new start was scheduled for 6:05 with the same result. Then a start was scheduled at 7 pm. Again, rain intervened, this time, terminally.
Where it leaves the sides: The point for a wash-out is more use to Warwickshire than to Northants. Two wins from the last three games should see Warwickshire into the knock-out phase, while Northants need three wins and to boost their NRR, although two wins and a wash-out may be sufficient.
By Harry Hill (@HarryHill96) and Mark Kidger (@markFromMadrid)
The ECB has tried a novelty today: after two days with just a single One Day Cup match, all the other teams played their matches the same day; yes, it was an outbreak of sensible scheduling. It also threw up a series of games that, even at this early stage of the competition, were getting critical for the progress of sides. The North Group continues to be a mess but has thrown up one definitive conclusion: Durham’s post-ECB nightmare continues – barring a mathematical miracle, they are out of contention for the knock-out stages with five games left, but Surrey have avoided following them. Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire have made a serious statement of intent and Leicestershire will not have thanked them for it.
Let’s start at Grace Road. While batsmen, especially openers, have been having a tough time so far this season, team psychologists have generally recommended a spell of R&R at Grace Road to get over the trauma. The immortal Martin Emmerson summed it up “Fancy scoring more than 300 at home and still losing by 93 runs!” If Taunton is “the beach”, Grace Road is “THE Road”: wickets may have been falling like Autumn leaves elsewhere but, up Leicester way, they are an endangered species. It comes to something when, as an opener, you score an excellent 50 at almost a run-a-ball and end up being the anchorman. Chris Nash suffered that indignity as his 56 at a strike rate of 90 made him the tortoise that was slowing down the scoring. A century for Samit Patel in 63 balls, 76 for Riki Wessels in 44 balls and 56 boundaries between 4’s and 6’s had David Bracegirdle in serious medical risk (latest reports are that he has not managed to calm his excitement yet, several hours after the game finished). 409-7 and the Leicestershire bowlers were left licking their wounds, apart from the wise old “Fireball” Dexter, who always seemed under bowled at Middlesex but came out of the carnage with credible figures of 10-0-50-2. The only way that Leicestershire were ever going to get close was if they made a tearaway start: 13-2 from 17 balls… game over. By the time that they had slipped to 93-5, Dave Bracegirdle must have been thinking of starting his celebratory pint early, but the Leicestershire lower middle order made sure that the overs were batted out and the margin of defeat was reduced to something less humiliating than had seemed likely a couple of hours earlier. Notts are the holders, and they are serious about hanging on to the title: they are now second in the North Group with a positive NRR.
Martin Emmerson was forced to venture into the frozen south with a road trip to Derby, knowing that defeat would all but mathematically end his beloved Durham’s interest in the Royal London ODC. Suffice it to say that he is not a happy bunny tonight. Durham showed a lot of spirit and took the match deep into the last over, but needed to separate Gary Wilson and Alex Hughes, but failed to do so until the scores were level. A total of 272-8 was disappointing from 137-2 in the 27th over, and when Godleman and Reece added 125 at a good pace for the second Derbyshire wicket, Durham were always likely to be short of a defendable total. The result leaves Derbyshire third in the North Group and in contention, while Durham are anchored to the foot of the table with (un)easily the worst NRR of the eighteen teams.
Down in London, Surrey knew that they faced Durham’s fate if there was a repeat of the 2015 Royal London Final. Despite the fact that there is a slight difference in bank balance between the two sides (Surrey’s chequebook arrives at the ground on a 10-ton lorry, a pair of butterflies carries Gloucestershire's), there is a healthy rivalry and some history between the two sides. Commentator Mark Church (Surrey) got in an early mention of Surrey’s record 50-over score (496-4, made against Gloucestershire), while Bob Hunt (Forest Green and Gloucestershire) may have mentioned a few times the Surrey collapse in the 2015 Final. A win for Gloucestershire would have put them on three wins from three and Surrey on three defeats – the one well on the way to the knock-out stages, the other preparing sadly for the 2019 tournament. To the delight of a noisy crowd, Surrey chose this game to awaken, and Gloucestershire chose it to have an off-day. Batsman after batsman of the Shire were convicted of dangerous driving on a pitch that did not permit too many liberties. Every time that a partnership started to get the innings on an even keel, a wicket fell, and Rory Burns used Scott Borthwick skilfully in mid-innings and, with Rikki Clarke, the scoring rate was strangled in the middle overs. At 131-5 in the twenty-ninth over, there was a real danger that a target under 200 would be set. Once again though, Ryan Higgins (Oh Middlesex! What have you done in letting him go?) And Jack Taylor pushed the total far beyond anything that seemed likely (the pundits in the box were suggesting 250 maximum) and Tom Smith added some late biff. 282-6 on a pitch that was not entirely simple to score on quickly looked like a pretty decent effort. No one though reckoned with 19-year-old Will Jacks. Playing just his third 1st XI game for Surrey, he left his previous best of 28 far behind. A superlative 121 in 112 balls set Surrey on the way to an easy win. Elgar, Burns and Foakes gave him solid support and, despite a tremendous effort from Benny Howell, who bowled his ten overs for 1-32 to add to 60 with the bat, Surrey won at a canter and live to fight another day. Gloucestershire are one of four sides in the South Division with two wins and one defeat, chasing leaders Hampshire.
Finally, to Sophia Gardens for the heart-stopping finish of the day in the televised game. Fifties for Gubbins, Morgan and Franklin and 49 for Eskinazi pushed Middlesex up to 304-6, which should have been a winning total. This though is Middlesex, a side that still finds it easier to read Linear B than to read a limited overs game. They were 185-2 and scoring at will, looking set for a total in the 340-360 range, before one of those inexplicable collapses that has made MiddlesexBattingCollapse.com a fan favourite: losing 3-16 in 20 balls left the lower order to re-build and made reaching 300 an achievement. This was not a run chase for the nervous. Glamorgan got away like a train, adding 86 in 95 balls. Depression among the Middlesex fans, elation among the Welsh. Glamorgan then lost 3-10 in 18 balls. Euphoria among the Sea Axes, depression by the Taff. A partnership of 126 between Lloyd and Ingram, with the run-rate accelerating smoothly: surely Glamorgan have it in the bag? 227-5 with just 61 balls left? Tipping back to Middlesex. The final act was pure comedy as if both teams were determined to lose (yet, it was like that infamous badminton match at the London Olympics): Glamorgan collapsed horribly when it seemed easier to win. 289-9 with just five balls left. 16 needed to win. All over, right? You could hear Jon Patrick MacEnroe screaming “you cannot be serious!”
The last 5 balls went like this:
49.2 – Helm to Carey. Dot ball. 16 needed from 4.
49.3 – Helm to Carey. Boundary. 12 needed from 3.
49.4 – Helm to Carey. Boundary. 8 needed from 2.
49.5 – Helm to Carey. Quick single.
Six to tie. New batsman van der Gugten on strike.
49.6 – WHACK! But it is only a boundary four.
Somehow Middlesex have scrambled a win by two runs when they could somehow have managed to contrive to lose. In his nightmares tonight, Tom Helm will see that last ball heading over the rope for six and will wake up in a cold sweat. Middlesex. This is Middlesex. Anything is possible in a limited overs game!
Yorkshire v Worcestershire
Worcestershire 350-6, Yorkshire 346-9
There was a thrilling contest at Headingley, where whoever came out with defeat will inevitably fell that a vital win was well within their grasp. Perhaps curiously, Yorkshire invited Worcestershire to bat first although Daryl Mitchell fell early for 11 LBW from Ben Coad, England hopeful Joe Clarke and Australian sensation Travis Head put on a good partnership of 108. A familiar problem for Yorkshire was the absence of key players, particularly with the ball, with Liam Plunkett and David Willey unavailable. Tim Bresnan in was unable to cause problems to the Pears batsman, with figures of 0-78. As the innings progressed, Steve Patterson managed to control the rate, with his skilful variations, but the Worcestershire batsmen took a liking to leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who despite his two wickets, went for 86 runs from his ten overs. Yorkshire will be disappointed to have conceded 122 runs from the final ten overs, and that was ultimately the difference between the two teams, with the last over going for 20 runs, thanks to Ross Whiteley, who finished on 66* from just 41 balls.
As required, the Yorkshire reply got off to a solid start as Adam Lyth, and Tom Kohler-Kadmore saw off the new ball with a 72 run opening partnership. Kohler-Kadmore continued to play nicely even after the loss of Lyth for 29 caught behind, with a 101 run partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara. However, Kohler-Kadmore unable to reach his ton, at being caught on the boundary off a D’Oliveira leggy. The wickets soon started to tumble, as Wainmann lasted just two balls and Brook fell for only 5 runs. Leaning, Bresnan and Rashid then got off to a start but lacked the resilience shown by Kohler-Kadmore and Pujara towards the end of the innings. As the wickets continued to fall, and the tension began to rise at Headingley, Joe Leach kept his nerve as the penultimate over went for just five runs, leaving Yorkshire requiring an unlikely 16 from the last over, with only the one wicket remaining. Yorkshire, managed 11 from the last over, losing by four runs.
Northamptonshire v Lancashire
Lancashire 279-8, Northamptonshire 282-8
In a day of enthralling drama across the RLODC, Northants came out on top in a cracking game thanks to a vital 43* runs from Luke Procter. Lancashire elected to bat first after winning the toss, which looked a good decision on Liam Livingstone’s part as in-form Keaton Jennings and Alex Davies achieved a 105 run opening partnership. It was, however, a hard-fought and attritional partnership on a slow pitch, taking 18 overs to reach 100. Credit to the Northants bowlers, who were tight and offered few boundary opportunities, particularly Graeme White, who despite failing to get a wicket, went for just 45 runs from his ten overs. Dane Vilas was the only Lancashire batsman to play with any real fluency, making 83* from 68 balls at the end of the innings to set a competitive score for Northants to chase.
An equally impressive opening partnership was the order of the day for Northants, as Josh Cobb and Richard Levi got 113 runs before Cobb fell to Stephen Parry. Levi would have been disappointed not to reach his ton, as he played nicely with eight fours and 1 six for his 90 runs. Perhaps looking at the success of White from the first innings, Lancashire turned to the off-spin from Matt Parkinson, and Liam Livingstone, who both went for less than 4 runs an over. As the game got tight, Adam Rossington and Luke Procter kept the score moving, despite the late wickets of Crook, White and Hutton. A Nathan Buck maximum of the last ball of the 49th over meant that Northants required just four runs from the final over. Perhaps fittingly it was Luke Procter that saw Northants over the line with a boundary on the last ball.
Hampshire v Essex
Essex 303-6, Hampshire 304-4
Rilee Rossouw backed up his 90 against Surrey on Monday with a superb 111 to see Hampshire take the points against Essex at the Ageas Bowl. Hants skipper James Vince won the toss and elected to bowl; however, this was without immediate success as Varun Chopra and Adam Wheater got the Eagles off to a flying start with a 67-run opening partnership. Tom Westley then entered the match and looked good to repeat his performance at Radlett last Thursday, before being clean bowled by Brad Taylor for 66. Ravi Bopara and Ashar Zaidi continued to pile on the runs for the Eagles later in the innings, pushing the total beyond 300, finishing on 303-6. Perhaps the Hampshire bowlers lacked variations with just the five bowlers bowling ten overs each.
After the innings break, the South African opening pair of Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw were looking to get the South Coast outfit off to a good start, but young Sam Cook bowled well and with hostility in just his third RLODC match, taking the wicket of Amla. However, Essex were left to toil in the Southampton sun and failed to land a glove on the Hants batsman as Rossouw and Vince’s 126 runs partnership took the game away from Essex. In comparison to Hampshire’s five bowlers, Essex used seven bowlers, desperate for a breakthrough. In the end, it was the medium-pace of Ravi Bopara who took the much-needed wickets of Vince, Joe Weatherley and latterly Rossouw. Always ahead of the rate, it was the calm head of club stalwart Jimmy Adams, with the support of Brad Taylor who took Hampshire over the line with 16 balls remaining.
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
With just eight Royal London One Day Cup games per side, Round 3, with seven games being played on the same day, has two sides are already facing virtual elimination if they lose. With just the top three in each group qualifying, three defeats are almost certainly the maximum that a side can afford and still have a realistic chance of qualifying. Surrey in the South Group and Durham in the North Group have both lost their first two fixtures and are staring the last chance saloon full in the face.
The North Group is hard to call, as eight of the nine sides have won one game, but no team has yet won two – the odd man out is Durham with two defeats.
In the South Group, Somerset looked to be in danger of running away with the group after two, huge wins in their first two games, but a defeat to Sussex has evened things out a little. This round should clarify how the group is panning-out.
As in previous years, the top side in each group has a bye to the Semi-Final, where they will play the winners of the Quarter-Finals of the cross between the second and third teams in the two groups (i.e. the winner of the North Group plays the winner of the play-off between the runner-up in the South Group and third place team in the North Group and vice versa – there is nothing like a simple format and, true to the ECB form, this *is* nothing like a simple format).
Derbyshire v Durham – With two defeats and a massively negative NRR, Durham will be all but eliminated if they lose to Derbyshire, who have won one and lost one. Derbyshire will look to boost their NRR and their chances of a top-three spot with a big win.
Leicestershire v Nottinghamshire – The hosts have only played one game, which they have won by a big margin. Nottinghamshire are the defending Champions but, with one win and one defeat and a negative NRR, will not want to risk a second defeat, which would make it almost impossible for them to top the group.
Northamptonshire v Lancashire – with one win and one defeat and a big, positive NRR, Lancashire top the North Group, although that distinction has little meaning at this stage. Northamptonshire have also won one and lost one, but have a negative NRR. The biggest interest in this match may be the form of Keaton Jennings, with 209 runs so far in his two innings in the competition: another score for Jennings, combined with failure for Mark Stoneman in the 1st Test might make his case impossible to ignore.
Yorkshire v Worcestershire – Worcestershire have had a big win in their only game so far and meet a Yorkshire side who have had a big victory and a defeat so far. Yorkshire’s strength in depth in the squad will see them want to make a statement and give themselves a 2-1 record. Worcestershire, who look odds-on to be relegated in the Championship, need a cup run to kick-start their season.
Hampshire v Essex – Perhaps the pick of the day’s ties. Hants have won both their matches so far, although by rather narrow margins and a third win would put them in a very strong position, especially after Somerset’s slip-up. Essex, with one victory and one defeat, can scarcely afford a further setback. Interest, with Jack Leach and Dom Bess seemingly usurping his position as Test spinner, will be brought by the return of Mason Crane after injury. For Essex, there could be a debut for Dutchman Shane Snater, who has impressed on trial with the Eagles.
Surrey v Gloucestershire – The classic story of “rich man, poor man”, although with the twist that defeat for Surrey will turn them into beggar man, hoping for favours from other sides to reach the knock-out phase, which is hard to believe given the comparative budgets of the two sides. Gloucestershire who, in recent seasons, have depended on runs from Maxi Klinger and wickets from Jack Taylor, have neither this season but seem to be forging a strong team spirit. Surrey have had two big defeats so far, leading to a cripplingly negative NRR. Gloucestershire will hope to become “thief” and steal away from London with the win.
Glamorgan v Middlesex – Neither Glamorgan, with two defeats so far, nor Middlesex with a surprise win over Kent to follow an opening defeat can afford to lose this one, both being in the lower reaches of the South Group table. Limited-overs cricket has been read by Middlesex as fluently as Linear-B in recent seasons… in fact, since 2009. Glamorgan are showing signs of a revival in the Championship, but have lost both ODC games convincingly – this is the sort of game where a cynic might back both teams to lose, but both sides desperately need the win to keep their interest in the competition alive.
5/17/2018 1 Comment
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
The white-ball replaced the red-ball as the Royal London Day cup got underway on Thursday.
It meant power plays, field restrictions and boundaries galore as Colin Graves finally found his happy place away from the ‘boring scenes’ of County Championship cricket.
Let’s forget the fact that in the last round of Championship cricket we saw a 3-run nail-biter at Grace Road and a tight comeback win for Essex at New Road. A pair of games that had more twists and turns than any games of White-ball cricket could dream of having, but that’s a story for a different day.
One man who perhaps would’ve been pleased to see the boundary rope that much closer and the field that much more spread would be Essex’s Tom Westley. The Eagles number three has been enduring a torrid time with the bat in the early season but pulling on the coloured clothing rather than the white seemed to release the shackles. The Cambridge-born 29-year-old struck a match-winning 134 as the Eagles eased passed a poor Middlesex side at the picturesque Radlett.
After winning the toss, Middlesex elected to bat first hoping to make the most of the small boundaries in an attempt to create some scoreboard pressure. Indeed, things started swimmingly for the Londoners with Nick Gubbins striking the Essex attack to all parts of the Radlett outfield. Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and the returning Neil Wagner all finding it difficult to stem the flow of runs with the hard new ball. Stevie Eskinazi offered strong support to the hard-hitting Gubbins as the pair took the score to 79 without loss entering the 13th over. With the last ball of the twelve over though Wagner bagged his first wicket of the season to remove Eskinazi, Asher Zaidi taking a smart catch to dismiss the opener for 28. Paul Stirling came and went as Wagner again enticed a false shot to offer Ryan ten Doeschate a catch. That put the score on 86/2 and that soon become 86/3 as Gubbins, who had just reached his 50 lost his middle stump to Simon Harmer. Trouble was brewing in the Hertfordshire sun, and the hosts were in desperate need of a partnership. Tasked with doing just that was England’s Eoin Morgan and Australia’s Hilton Cartwright, and the duo started to steady the ship adding 57 for the fourth wicket. But just when the foundations were beginning to be set, ten Doeschate called Sam Cook back into the attack, and the youngster struck with his third ball pinning the Australian in front leg before. John Simpson offered brief support to Morgan, who by was beginning to hold the key for Middlesex. Simpson and Morgan added 37-runs before the Eagles went bang bang to leave the hosts in all sorts of strive. The pair fell within an over of each other and Essex were suddenly right back on top, Harmer and Bopara with the wickets. James Franklin and Tom Helm were the last hopes for the hosts, and they did offer some resistance to the Essex attack who now firmly had their tails up. The pair added a useful 48-runs to take the Londoners passed 200 and beyond. But an inspired Bopara soon ripped through the lower order after Porter removed Helm to keep the hosts down to a below-par 250. Bopara finished with impressive figures of 3-30, while Wagner on his Essex return also collected excellent figures of 3-40 from his nine overs of work.
That left Essex with 251 to get from their 50-overs. Adam Wheater, who has seen his first-team action limited, opened with Varun Chopra as the Eagles looked for a positive start. They didn’t get it, as the former Hampshire man edge through to keeper Simpson to fall for 1, Helm, the bowler. That brought the out-of-sorts Westley to the middle desperate to be rid of the rust that has been following him around. Indeed, he immediately looked to be positive flashing delightful cover drives to the boundary off Helm. He and Chopra continued to be busy at the crease finding the rope with regularity and rotating the strike nicely with quick ones. Although Westley dominated the score the role of Chopra mustn’t be underplayed, the former Warwickshire man offered vital support as he notched a half-century as Essex continued to move serenely to their target. The onslaught continued even when Chopra departed as the in-form Dan Lawrence fresh from his match-winning half-century at New Road kept the scoreboard moving with a typically fluent 35. But make no bones about it the day belong to Westley who had struggled to make double figures against the red-ball flayed the ball to all parts of the Radlett outfield on his way to his century. In the end, he departed with the Eagles just 5-runs short of victory having gone beyond his previous list A best of 111 and reached 134 before the impressive Ryan Patel removed him. The Essex number three had struck 17-fours, and a six during his 117-ball stay to help guide the visitors to a comprehensive six-wicket success in Hertfordshire winning with 44-balls to spare.
Elsewhere, Sussex smashed Kent at Hove in front of a good crowd bolstered by a busload of local school children. Those lucky youngsters saw a bowling masterclass by the hosts as they restricted the Spitfires to a disappointing 188 despite the best efforts of Daniel Bell-Drummond who made just under half his teams runs alone with a score of 90. The Kent opener struck six-fours and a six during his 115-ball stay but lacked the support required to really propel his side to a decent score, indeed only Alex Blake reached double figures as the pace attack of Ishant Sharma, and Ollie Robinson ripped through the top order. Danny Briggs was also dangerous with the ball claiming exceptional figures of 3-23 from his ten overs. Including the wicket of the wily old fox Darren Stevens who can be dangerous on his day. Robinson also impressed with the ball in hand bagging three wickets as the Sussex attack simply outclassed the Kent line-up.
A score of 188 was never going to be enough for the visitors even with the impressive Matt Henry in their ranks. Typically, the Kiwi took two wickets as he continues to shine for Kent following his winter arrival, but he just simply didn’t have enough runs to protect at Hove. Luke Wells and Ben Brown both struck half-centuries in the Sussex sun as the pair helped the hosts to a routine win with more than ten overs to spare. Brown hit six-fours on his way to an unbeaten 73, while Wells struck nine boundaries during his 89-ball 62.
There were a pair of centuries at Edgbaston as Derbyshire beat Warwickshire by 57-runs. In this high-scoring encounter, both Billy Godleman and Sam Hain went big as over 650-runs were scored in a day. Godleman hit 137 striking 12-fours and three sixes during his 116-ball stay before the former Essex man was run out by Adam Hose. But by then the damage had already been done with Godleman with the excellent support of Ben Slater (69) and Wayne Madsen (58), and Daryn Smit and Matthew Critchley latterly had gone beyond 330 by the time the opener was dismissed. Jonathan Trott did his best to stem the runs with his aim of taking regular wickets hoping to slow down the tempo. The former England man bagged four wickets for 60 runs during his 10-over stint. Smit added late runs with Duanne Olivier as the visitors pushed their total beyond 350 to finish on 357-8.
In pursuit of their lofty target, the Bears lost a couple of quick early wickets as Derbyshire’s South African paceman Olivier bagged the wickets of Trott and Ed Pollock to leave the hosts in early trouble on 20/2. Sam Hain and Ian Bell stung to tails of the Falcon bowlers by adding a 78 for the third wicket with Bell contributing just 18 of that with the dominant Hain taking centre stage for the hosts. Another decent partnership then took place this time between Hain and Hose as Warwickshire looked to attack. The pair knew that they had to grab the bull by the horn and start to chip away at the visitors total, the duo shared 75-runs in ten overs before Hose became Ravi Rampaul’s only victim of the day. But with the total on 173 just past the halfway mark, the Bears were well and truly still in the game, and Derbyshire knew that the wicket of Hain would be crucial for their hopes of victory. Tim Ambrose and Aaron Thomason came and went, and while Hain had reached his deserved century by now hitting 11-fours and a six in the process he was acutely aware he was running out of partners. And to his 101st ball, the visitors finally had their man as the centurion went for one big shot too many and found the hands of Rampaul to fall for a quite brilliant 108. His departure left the hosts in the perilous position on 210-7 and staring down the barrel, suddenly it was down to the tailenders to see the job through, and Derbyshire could almost taste success on the tips of their tongue. The ever-reliable Keith Barker had other ideas though; the Bears stalwart frustrated the visitors and even threatened to take the hosts to victory at one point. He shared 59 with Olly Stone for the 9th wicket as Warwickshire edged closer to the 300 mark, but when Stone went for 16 the game was up, and Barker was left stranded on 48, and the Bears were 57-runs short. An excellent advert for 50-over cricket at Edgbaston.
Meanwhile, Olly Stone’s former employers Northamptonshire miserable start to the season continued at Wantage road as the Steelbacks fell to a 72-run defeat at the hands of Leicestershire. The Foxes veteran opener Paul Horton was the hero for the visitors striking a magnificent century to guide Paul Nixon’s men to a competitive 265-7. Horton was the only man to capitalise on a good start as a number of batsmen got going but failed to kick on with five of the Leicestershire top order made 25 or more. The 35-year-old opener though underpinned his sides total hitting nine-fours during his 126-ball stay at the crease sharing decent partnerships with Michael Carberry (25) and Colin Ackermann (30). Ben Raine (32) and Ned Eckersley (25 not out) added vital late runs to help the Foxes set a decent looking total against a team bereft of any real confidence. True to form, the Steelbacks were dealt an early blow when Carberry ran out key man Ben Duckett for just 2, and the wickets continued to fall in clusters as the hosts found themselves in an all too familiar situation at 95/6. Gavin Griffiths (4-30) and Raine (3-31) the men doing all the damage of Leicestershire continue their rebuilding process under Nixon in fine style. Josh Cobb (56), Rob White (38) and Brett Hutton (34 not out) were the only Northants batsmen to show any real fight and resistance of the Griffiths and Raine show ripped through the top and middle order. It was another humbling defeat for the hosts who fell to another heavy defeat, but for Leicestershire, it is another progression box ticked off for Nixon and his coaching staff.
Lastly, in the Sky Live day-nighter at Old Trafford, holders Nottinghamshire edged past Lancashire in a thriller. Scores from Chris Nash (52), Tom Moores (47), Ross Taylor (58) and Steven Mullaney (70) led the Outlaws to the commanding total of 318 from their 50 overs. Mullaney looked mightly impressive indeed against his former employers striking eight-fours and a six during his 54-balls stay. In the grand scheme of thing though, perhaps the six and the four hit late on by big Luke Fletcher was the most crucial moment in the match given how the game panned out. With the ball young Matt Parkinson impressed for the hosts with the young spinner bagging figures of 5-68. In response, Keaton Jennings’ excellent recent form continued as the England hopeful smashed eleven-fours on his way to 136 in front of the sky cameras. He dominated his side’s score of 309-9 with the lack of partners the real reason why the hosts fell agonisingly short. Indeed, only Dane Vilas, Liam Livingstone and Steven Croft offered the opener any semblance of support with scores of 41, 33 and 33 respectively. A cluster of wickets from the 40-over mark onwards also didn’t help matters as the visitors fought back superbly with the ball with Jake Ball and Harry Gurney particularly impressive with the ball for the Outlaws. Gurney bagged the vital wicket of Jennings who held the key to success throughout and when he went in 47th over with 30-runs still required, so did the game and remember those 12 runs that Fletcher hit late on, boy did they prove crucial in the end. Lancashire fell just 9-runs short of victory to give the defending champions the ideal start to the season.
5/16/2018 0 Comments
By harry Hill (@HarryHill96) and Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
All the fun of the white ball cup circus returns to a ground near you as the Royal London Cup begins with five fixtures on Thursday including the Sky live fixture featuring the 2017 Champions Nottinghamshire’s trip to Old Trafford.
But we’ll start at a little outground in Hertfordshire where Middlesex will take on last season’s beaten semi-finalists Essex at Radlett.
Middlesex have a pretty awful record on the Royal London One Day Cup in recent seasons, and there are no great reasons for their fans to be more cheerful in 2018. Dawid Malan is not available for their first game, played at the outground at Radlett, so Steve Finn captains a remodelled side. Hilton Cartwright’s contract has been extended and will play, having already made a significant impact for Middlesex, while Middlesex welcome back Paul Stirling from his debut Test and have included Ravi Patel in the squad instead of Ollie Rayner. For Essex, Neil Wagner, who took 14 wickets in 7 ODC games last season, replaces Peter Siddle for the Eagles. Essex are feeling confident of going deep into the competition this year, having topped their group with seven wins from 8 in 2017 only to lose an epic semi-final to the eventual winners on the final over. Suffice it to say that for Middlesex, to have finished eighth in the same group felt like a degree of progress. Anything other than an Essex win would be a surprise here.
Middlesex squad: Steven Finn (captain), Tom Barber, Hilton Cartwright, Stephen Eskinazi, Nick Gubbins, James Harris, Tom Helm, Max Holden, James Franklin, Eoin Morgan, Ravi Patel, John Simpson (wicket-keeper), Paul Stirling
Essex Eagles squad: Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain, James Foster (7) Wicket-keeper, Aaron Beard (14), Ravi Bopara (25), Varun Chopra (6), Sam Cook (16), Simon Harmer (11), Dan Lawrence (28), Jamie Porter (44), Neil Wagner (13), Tom Westley (21), Adam Wheater (31), Ashar Zaidi (99)
Elsewhere, Northamptonshire will look to put their disappointing start to the season behind and press the reset button by entering more familiar ground with white ball in hand at Wantage Road against Leicestershire.
There is hope here though, as Northants won both of their group matches against the Foxes last season. Meanwhile, Leicestershire have enjoyed a decent start to the season under new Head Coach Paul Nixon, a man with significant white ball pedigree at Grace Road as a player. Zak Chappell and Ned Eckersley are returning from injury, whilst Deiter Klein is rested.
Northants (from 13): Josh Cobb, Luke Procter, Richard Levi, Ben Duckett, Alex Wakely, Adam Rossington, Rob Keogh, Steven Crook, Rory Kleinveldt, Graeme White, Brett Hutton, Ben Sanderson, Saif Zaib
Leicestershire (from 13): Michael Carberry, Varun Aaron, Colin Ackermann, Zak Chappell, Mark Cosgrove, Neil Dexter, Ned Eckersley, Gavin Griffiths, Lewis Hill, Paul Horton, Ateeq Javid, Callum Parkinson, Ben Raine
Weather Watch: Clear blue sky, high of 14c.
Match Odds: Northants 4/6, Leicestershire 6/5 (Betfair)
Warwickshire will be hoping to continue their excellent start to the 2018 season when they take on Derbyshire at Edgbaston. The limited overs format has often been the saving grace for the Bears in recent years after flattering to deceive in the longer format. A good start here against the Falcons may see them firing on all cylinders come September.
The hosts have picked a big squad for this one, as Ed Pollock, Liam Banks and Adam Hose have impressed in the 2nd XI so far this season. The champions of 2016 will be looking to continue a fine start to the season, and bounce back from a disappointing campaign last season. Bear skipper Jeetan Patel is full of experience, and his crafty off-spin is ideal for slowing the game down in the middle overs. Derbyshire welcome back Gary Wilson from test duty with Ireland, while Safyaan Sharif will make his Falcons debut if selected. Look out for Ravi Rampaul; the former Surrey man took 18 wickets last season during a brilliant run to the final.
Warwickshire (from 16): Jeetan Patel, Tim Ambrose, Keith Barker, Ian Bell, Henry Brookes, Sam Hain, Adam Hose, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Ed Pollock, Josh Poysdon, Will Rhodes, Dom Sibley, Olly Stone, Alex Thomson, Aaron Thomason, Jonathan Trott
Derbyshire (from 14): Billy Goodleman, Ben Slater, Luis Reece, Wayne Madsen, Alex Hughes, Callum Brodrick, Matt Critchley, Gary Wilson, Daryn Smit, Hardus Viljoen, Ravi Rampaul, Duanne Olivier, Safyaan Sharif, Dan Wheeldon
Weather Watch: Clear blue skies, highs of 16c
Match Odds: Warwickshire 8/13, Derbyshire 5/4 (Betfair)
Perhaps the most exciting contest of the day is taking place at Old Trafford, as Lancashire welcome last season’s champions Notts to Manchester. One suspects that both sets of players are well aware of each other by now, having already faced off twice in the County Championship this season. Joe Mennie returns to the Lancashire squad, whilst Arron Liley and Karl Brown are set to play their first matches of the season. Notts are without last year’s hero in the final, Alex Hales, who is away with Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL. However, in Ross Taylor, they have one of the most formidable one-day players in the world cricket to fill Hales’ void, after an impressive series against England over the winter. With the ball, Jake Ball will be looking to make a statement after missing out on England test selection on Tuesday.
Lancashire (from 13): Liam Livingstone, Tom Bailey, Karl Brown, Jordon Clark, Steven Croft, Alex Davies, Keaton Jennings, Arron Lilley, Joe Mennie, Graham Onions, Matt Parkinson, Stephen Parry, Dane Vilas
Nottinghamshire (from 14): Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Matt Milnes, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores, Ross Taylor, Jake Ball, Will Fraine, Billy Root, Jake Blatherwick
Weather Watch: Clear blue skies, highs of 16c
Match Odds: Lancashire evens, Notts 4/5 (Betfair)
Lastly, Sussex will hope their explosive batting line-up fires with the likes of Laurie Evans, David Wiese and Luke Wright, and a dangerous bowling pair of Ishant Sharma and young George Garton all sure to cause plenty of problems. Evans, Delroy Rawlins and Abi Sakande are all set to play their first matches of the season after missing out for Championship action. Meanwhile, Kent have enjoyed a good start to the Championship season, with three wins in Division Two, and will fancy a trip along the south coast to Hove. James Tredwell and Grant Stewart are both unavailable with injuries, whilst Darren Stevens is named but faces a late fitness test after a recent groin problem. Kent look to have a solid batting line up, but I suspect might lack the x-factor to go deep in the competition this year.
Sussex (from 14): Ben Brown, Danny Briggs, Michael Burgess, Laurie Evans, Harry Finch, George Garton, Delroy Rawlins, Ollie Robinson, Abi Sakande, Phil Salt, Ishant Sharma, Luke Wells, David Wiese, Luke Wright
Kent (from 14): Joe Denly, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sean Dickson, Heino Kuhn, Zak Crawley, Alex Blake, Darren Stevens, Calum Haggett, Adam Rouse, Matt Henry, Harry Podmore, Ivan Thomas, Mitch Claydon, Imran Qayyum
Weather Watch: Clear blue skies, highs of 16c
Match Odds: Sussex 4/5, Kent evens (Betfair)
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