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.
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