Now that the English cricket season is over and the dust’s beginning to settle (much like it’s doing on Adil Rashid’s equipment coffin right now) we thought we’d look back and see how right, or wrong, our expectations for the season were. At the beginning of April we predicted that England would steamroll Bangladesh and Pakistan – no prizes for guessing that one – but we also dug out TFT crystal ball and forecast how each county team would do. Obviously that proved a little bit trickier. As you’ll see, some of our predictions were spot on, while others were about as accurate as Steve Harmison at the start of a Brisbane test match. In fact, if Harmison had bowled a bit better (and played more games) then maybe Durham wouldn’t have surrendered their division one crown so meekly.
These were our predictions for the top flight of English cricket. The figures in brackets are where the counties actually finished:
1st Durham (5th)
2nd Hampshire (7th)
3rd Nottinghamshire (1st champions)
4th Kent (8th relegated)
5th Yorkshire (3rd)
6th Somerset (2nd)
7th Lancashire (4th)
8th Essex (9th relegated)
9th Warwickshire (7th)
As you can see, Mystic Meg is unlikely to feel threatened by our skills with a crystal ball. However, we did correctly assert that Notts would do well, whilst Warwickshire and Essex would struggle. We were also right to predict that Lancashire and Yorkshire would be midtable(ish). However, there’s no disguising the fact that our expectations for Durham, Hampshire and Kent were woefully off the mark. Therefore, we’d like to get our excuses in now – and we promise they’ve got more credibility than Ijaz Butt.
Durham were many people’s favourites for the title, but something somewhere went awry. Phil Mustard took over the captaincy half-way through the season, which is a sure sign things weren’t quite right off the field. Injuries to key bowlers like Graham Onions didn’t help either. Injuries also played a role in Hampshire’s dismal season in the championship. New signings Kabir Ali and Simon Jones played just 5 matches between them, which was bad news for the Rose Bowl faithful, but great news for Kabir’s modelling career. Kent fans will also be cursing us for putting the mockers on their season. We predicted that Kent would finish a respectable 4th, but they ended up second from bottom and relegated. Kent fans shouldn’t blame us though. They should blame Rob Key and Joe Denly for forgetting how to bat. Key averaged a paltry 27, whilst Denly had a total meltdown and averaged just 21. What on earth happened there?!
Here’s a reminder of our predictions:
1st Sussex (1st champions)
2nd Surrey (7th)
3rd Middlesex (8th)
4th Gloucestershire (5th)
5th Derbyshire (9th)
6th Leicestershire (4th)
7th Glamorgan (3rd)
8th Worcestershire (2nd)
9th Northamptonshire (6th)
If you swap Worcestershire and Glamorgan with Surrey and Middlesex then we actually did quite well … ahem. Ok, so we didn’t exactly get things one hundred percent right, but most experts were confounded by the failure of the London based counties to shine. In the case of Middlesex, Owais Shah had a total stinker and has subsequently been released. Surrey meanwhile had an extremely poor season. Those who claimed there had been too many changes at the Oval, and that the appointment of young Rory Hamilton-Brown was too much of a gamble, were proved correct.
Meanwhile, Worcestershire’s success took everyone by surprise. At the half way point, pundits were labelling the lads from New Road as the worst team in the country. Vikram Solanki resigned the captaincy in desperation, and it looked like the coach, Steve ‘bumpy’ Rhodes, was in for a rocky ride. However, Worcestershire’s young team produced an astonishing end of season run that saw them pip Glamorgan for promotion. It was a remarkable achievement. Who needs Steve Davies, Stephen Moore, Kabir Ali and Gareth Batty, when you’ve got Alan Richardson and the flying Dutchman, Alexei Kervezee? Unfortunately, a division one side probably does.
But let’s not dwell on the things we failed to predict correctly. The prospect of apologising to Northants fans is too embarrassing. Instead let’s concentrate on what we got right – and why TFT’s reputation as a cricketing oracle remains intact, albeit rather tenuously. Not only did we predict that Sussex would gain promotion as champions (which they did rather emphatically), we also successfully prophesised that Hampshire would win the Friends Provident T20 tournament. As for our failings, it’s not our fault. The turnover in overseas players these days makes it almost impossible to say with certainty how teams will perform over the course of a season. When we wrote our predictions, we expected to see the likes of Ajanta Mendis, Shahid Afridi, and Ryan Harris trudging the county circuit. Did they turn up? Did they hell.