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Fun In The Sun: Championship Roundup

Afternoon all. I hope you enjoyed the bank holiday. There was sun, lots of it, and that meant lots of cricket too. What a nice change from last week’s deluges. The county championship was in full flow, with results aplenty, and lots of eye-catching performances. Indeed, a few England hopefuls really put down a marker over the extended weekend. So let’s get straight to it …

We begin at The Oval, where Surrey and Worcs played out a bore draw with runs aplenty. However, although there was very little threat of a result, the game brought key runs for a number of players Ed Smith’s iMac will be keeping tabs on.

The first player to impress was Rory Burns, whose name seemed quite apt on a scorching afternoon on which several spectators either (a) forgot to bring sunscreen, or (b) drank so much Pimms that they forgot to apply the sunscreen they’d brought. Burns complied a marathon 193 off 408 balls. If England want someone to occupy the crease for long periods of time they should probably look no further. It’s getting harder and harder to understand why Mark Stoneman is the Surrey opener currently in possession. It’s worth mentioning that Ben Foakes also scored 72 in the first innings. He’s a very tidy batsman.

Worcestershire responded to Surrey’s large total with an even bigger total. Daryl Mitchell returned to form with 81, the orthodox Tom Fell made 88, and the talented Joe Clarke gave Ed’s desktop a nudge with a classy 157. Clarke is a lovely player to watch – a bit like James Vince – but he also seems to have a knack of making big scores – which isn’t a bit like James Vince. I’d love Clarke to play for England in the near future but the selectors need to promote him at the right time (which might not be now).

Another player to keep an eye on is the young spinner Amar Virdi, who is becoming a regular mention in this e-column. The teenage off-spinner collected 6-105 in 41 overs in Worcs’ innings. This shows he has good control as well as wicket-taking ability. I’m yet to see him live but he’s obviously turning heads as well as turning the odd ball past the bat.

Notts continued their good form with a win over Hants at Trent Bridge. The stars of the show were Steven Mullaney, who made 130, and Ross Taylor, who is accumulating runs quite consistently. Notts have quite a team on paper. Samit Patel got both runs and wickets in this match, and Stuart Broad and Jake Ball continue to terrorise county batsmen. I wonder if both might find their way into England’s XI for the first test?

There was a close game at Old Trafford where Somerset held out for a draw against Lancs. It was a story of the old and the new for the cider guzzlers. Marcus Trescothick made exactly 100 (that’s the old bit), while young Tom Abell scored 99 and 20 year old George Bartlett made 110. There seems to be quite a lot of talent coming through the ranks at Taunton.

Lancs will be disappointed that they couldn’t force a result. Dane Vilas top scored with 235, and Keaton Jennings finally made some runs with a very welcome 109. If you’re wondering how Haseeb Hameed got on, I’m afraid the news isn’t good. He was dropped from the Lancs side before this game. Somehow I don’t think Baby Boycott will be playing for England anytime soon.

Before I move on I’d quickly like to tell a tale of two spinners. Lancs’ leggie Matt Parkinson had a very good game (taking eight wickets in the match) and thoroughly out-bowled Jack Leach. However, the latter made amends by saving the game with the bat. He scored a stubborn 66 on the final day, thus proving that he’s no Monty Panesar with the willow.

The final game in division one was a remarkable affair between Yorkshire and Essex. The former triumphed despite being bowled out for a derisory 50 in their first innings. Essex were in pole position after making 142 in reply, thanks mainly to Dan Lawrence’s 48 in tricky conditions.

However, Yorkshire recovered magnificently in the second dig. A half-century from Jonny Bairstow and a hugely impressive 124 from teenager Harry Brook notched up a team total of 329. That meant Essex needed 238 to win. The lads from Chelmsford never looked like making the runs and folded for 146 all out. The hero for Yorkshire was veteran Steve Pattinson, who claimed 6-40.

Down in division two there was an interesting game between Middlesex and Sussex. There were runs for Nick Gubbins, whose 107 must have made him feel a whole lot better, and Dawid Malan also registered three figures. Young Max Holden was also in the runs for Middlesex.

Unfortunately for Gus Fraser’s team, Sussex ultimately played the better cricket as a team and secured the win by three wickets. Ollie Robinson’s 7-59 was key, as was Ben Brown’s cool headed batting in the chase. Young Harry Finch also played extremely well and made 103. It was good to see yet another up and coming batsman do so well.

The other games in division two saw Kent see off Glamorgan at Cardiff. Darren Stevens, who bizarrely got warned for dangerous bowling at one point, took a sensational 6-26. One wonders how a man who bowls at sloth-pace can be deemed ‘dangerous’? Personally I reckon 65 mph beamers are good scoring opportunities more than anything else. Matt Henry also continued his good form with 8 wickets in the match.

Durham also registered a welcome win over Leics at Chester-le-Street. South Africa’s Aiden Markram, who looks a fine player to me, made 94 in a decisive opening partnership with young Cam Steel. Northern lad James Weighell sealed the win in the fourth innings with 7-32. Spare a thought for Leics’ Gavin Giffiths though. He took ten wickets in the match but still finished on the losing side.

The final game witnessed an eight-wicket win for table-topping Warwickshire over Derbs. Sometimes I think the Midlanders are a bit too good for this division. Derbs were out-gunned despite Wayne Madsen’s 144. Jeethan Patel took his usual hatful of wickets, and runs for Bell and Trott saw Warwickshire home.

Before I sign off I should mention that Jonathan Trott is retiring from all cricket at the end of the season. What a fantastic player he has been for both Warwickshire and England. I’d love to know what your favourite Trott moments are? His Ashes century on debut at The Oval will live long in the memory, as will his huge ton at Melbourne in partnership with Alastair Cook in 2010.

However, rather than pinpointing one particular moment, I’d like to highlight an interesting statistic instead. It’s Trott’s ODI record:  2819 runs at an average of 51. That’s more than Joe Root and the sixth highest career average of all time. It’s amazing when you think about it, especially as so many people used to moan about him.

Just for the record, the batsmen above Trott in career ODI averages are Ryan Ten Doeschate, AB De Villiers, Michael Bevan, and MS Dhoni. That’s pretty impressive company. And before you mention Trott’s strike-rate, I’d like to point out that he scored his runs faster than Bevan did. And many regard Bevan as possibly the best finisher of all time.

James Morgan

2018-05-08T12:27:47+00:00 May 8th, 2018|County Cricket|15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Nick May 8, 2018 at 12:53 pm - Reply

    Certainly the Oval surface will divided opinion, four days without a rain delay and barely into the third innings,talk about a blank cheque for the batsmen. Personally I think that should trigger the pitch inspectors. Dan Norcross made a defence of such pitches in his match report for Cricinfo which is worth checking out.

    It raises an interesting debate, Burns has scored a lot of runs on that benign surface but is that better preperation for Test Cricket than playing on pitches where batsmen expect to be dismissed every ball

    • Doug M May 8, 2018 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      I saytthrough 4 days of the turgid Oval match The only highlight was Virdi getting 6 wickets on a pitch like a bowl of porridge. This sort of wicket doesn’t help a young inexperience d bowling attack and makes batsmen look like Don Bradman. Previous to this none of the top 6 Worcs batsmen had made 50. This is as bad as a 2day bunsen, which at least you get a result. Maybe the Oval square needs digging up and relaying.

  2. JackieL May 8, 2018 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    James there is something awful about your current round up. Do you really think the Championship only exists to produce Test players? What is missing is the taste of being at an actual game and the sheer pleasure of watching cricket winning or losing. I watched and still enjoyed being at the game at the Riverside even when Durham were being thrashed. Their turnaround is entirely due to the long format and of course fine weather. But the frenzy of those falling Leicestershire wickets is surely only heightened by the Durham mid order collapse which preceded it? In other words the glory of the game. We’re not just “selectors” are we? The County Championship in both divisions is brilliant.

    • James Morgan May 8, 2018 at 1:25 pm - Reply

      I love the championship, and everything is stands for, but I don’t really have time to go into detail on every match. Sorry. It’s impossible for me to follow every game and every county. A lot of people just look at the scores to see who is doing well.

      TFT has always focused on the England team, and the championship is supposed to be a breeding ground for that team, so I guess it’s only natural to concentrate on the talent available to England. Sorry if you’d like more depth but it’s just not possible with the time I have available (day job, family etc).

      Of course, I agree that the championship is an important competition on its own. I just feel that focusing on the England prospects provides a focal point. Feel free to add your own insights about specific counties in the comments though. If you were there, and enjoyed the action, then please feel free to tell everyone about it 🙂

  3. SimonH May 8, 2018 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    I was at Hove for Day Three of the game there. Nick Gubbins scored a century but he didn’t look a Test player to me. Pace and spin both troubled him and he was badly dropped off both Garton and Briggs. It was quite a surprise to hear it was only his sixth f/c century and his career average is only 35.

    I saw Steve Finn walking around the ground and heard him say, “last time I was playing I fielded in the slips”. I can’t quite see Finn as a born-again slipper (although Joel Garner was one of the best gully fielders of all time)!

  4. Harmy's Head May 8, 2018 at 5:43 pm - Reply

    Incredible comeback from Durham – our first victory after following on in our 27 years of first class cricket!

  5. Kenaz May 8, 2018 at 5:44 pm - Reply

    I was at the Durham match also and it was very exciting, full of twists and turns and a nerve jangling ending. I really love county cricket.

  6. Marc Evans May 8, 2018 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    What a surprise, as soon as we get a spell of decent weather bowling and batting performances can be put into useful perspective. What we most need to know about batsmen is not their technique, which can be seen by anyone who watches the game, but application. We need batsmen who can apply themselves to long innings when the conditions favour them. We also need bowlers who can show a wicket taking ability when the conditions don’t favour them. What do we need for this, sunshine and heat, exactly what we have to deal with on most tours. When are we going to get this, NOT IN APRIL!!!

    • James Morgan May 9, 2018 at 6:20 am - Reply

      England in particular need players who can bat for long periods of time rather than throwing their wicket away after making 30 or 50. Application is indeed the word. I agree completely about the bowlers too. Test cricket is mostly played on flat wickets so we need guys who can make things happen rather than relying on ‘the facilities’.

  7. Andrew Cheese May 9, 2018 at 6:22 am - Reply

    Broad and Ball ar eback !. Gotta give them a run in the test side. Leave the Worcester players out of the England side please, I woul dhat ethem to go back down to division two because they have an under strength side.

  8. Comte May 9, 2018 at 7:50 am - Reply

    It’s been great to have a few days with the attention on the CC rather than England, the madness of the ECB and the boring as hell IPL.
    Great comebacks from Yorkshire and Durham added a good bit of spice.
    I’m a county before country person so I’m not wasting time thinking about who might play for England.

  9. Hungerpang May 9, 2018 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    I’ll mention Trott’s strike rate anyway! The problem for me is that he was part of an England team that failed to recognise that the ODI game had been changed by T20. So he was still playing with his eye on 250-60 being a good score when 300 had become the norm. Bevan scored his runs in a different era, when overall scoring rates were lower.

    I was a big fan of Trott but rather lost respect for him when we had all the smoke and mirrors about mental illness, when all that really seemed to happen was that he lost his nerve in the middle, just as many have done before him. His situation was markedly different from Marcus Trescothick’s, for whom I have only sympathy (and who was a massive loss for England in all forms of the game). Still, Trotty was a top player for a few years and I hope he enjoys his retirement.

  10. Comte May 10, 2018 at 7:34 am - Reply

    I forgot to say anything about Trotty. Top bloke in my view. An accumulator of runs with staying power that many of the current guys lack. I wish well in his retirement.

  11. James May 10, 2018 at 9:59 am - Reply

    I’ve just found this from David Hopps (who, so far as I know, is not being sued by Colin Graves):
    @DavidKHopps
    Follow Follow @DavidKHopps
    More
    Discussions continue on The Hundred: This pretty much sums up the whole sorry show. “Root and Stokes will be allocated to a team for marketing purposes, but they won’t be playing. The ECB made the point that this new audience won’t necessarily know who Stokes and Root are anyway”

    Even by ECB standards this is bizarre. i assume the “marketing purposes” are some form of “celebrity endorsement”, which doesn’t make an awful lot of sense if the target audience doesn’t know who the “celebrity” is.

  12. Cricket-Now May 15, 2018 at 6:08 am - Reply

    What a remarkable turnaround by Durham

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