County Championship Round Up

A look at the county championship at half way in it’s ‘conference’ stage, solutions to a couple of mathematical teasers and plenty of photographs.

Although two teams, Derbyshire and Durham, did not play in the last round of the championship which concluded yesterday most have played five matches which makes it halfway through the ‘conference’ stage of the season. Thus it is an appropriate time to look at the groups in detail.

SOMERSET CLOSE OUT HAMPSHIRE

After I finished yesterday’s post only one match had a definite result, Somerset beating Hampshire by 10 wickets. Josh Davey and Craig Overton each took five wickets in the second Hampshire innings, and Byrom needed only one delivery to score the two runs Somerset required for victory. Felix Organ for Hampshire scored seven off 108 balls, one of the slowest innings in the history of the championship. The slowest non-duck (ducks by definition don’t have a scoring rate!) in championship history was Brian Hardie’s four singles in 142 minutes for Essex in the 1970s, while Lancashire stonewaller of the 19th century Dick Barlow (the Barlow of “my Hornby and my Barlow, long ago”) twice played innings of five in 150 minutes. Ever since Gloucestershire prevented them from making it three wins out of three Hampshire have done very little right. Here Organ’s abandonment of any attempt to score runs cost them, as they only just avoided the innings defeat and simply could not put Somerset under time pressure. When Gloucestershire saved the match against Hampshire the draw was accepted because Gloucestershire were about 60 ahead and Hampshire would only have had three overs in which to chase them even had they taken the final Gloucestershire wicket. Hampshire’s approach in their second innings basically left them only one route out of trouble: bat for the whole of the remainder of the match.

THE GROUPS AT HALFWAY

All tables copied from www.cricinfo.com:

Group 1

TEAMMWLDPT
NOTTS521273
WARKS521267
WORCS500566
DURH411253
ESSEX512252
DERBS401340

Durham and Derbyshire were not involved in the last round of fixtures. From the point of view of 5th place Essex, stuffed by Nottinghamshire in the last round, a victory for Derbyshire in that match would be preferable even though it would temporarily put them last: if Derbyshire won they would have between 56 and 64 points depending on bonus points, and Durham between 53 and 61, meaning that Essex would be 15 points off second place, while a Durham win would mean they have between 69 and 77, and Derbyshire between 40 and 48, giving a worst case scenario of Essex being 21 points behind second place. Also, the Durham win would mean that Worcs on 66 points, 14 better than Essex are in fourth, making even the modest achievement of a place in division two for the closing stage of the season tough for Essex, whereas a Derbyshire win would mean that at worst 4th place is on 61 (if Durham score full bonus points in defeat), nine better than Essex and not too much of a challenge to overhaul. The anomaly in this group, caused by the decision to award extra points for the draw this season in that Worcestershire, yet to win a game, are third out of six. For the group as a whole, a big win for Durham in that game in hand would probably be the best result, sending them top and effectively making it three clubs battling for the top two spots and three clubs fighting to avoid ending up in division three.

Group 2

TEAMMWLDPT
GLOUC540195
SOM541082
HANTS522162
SURR512259
MIDDX514041
LEICS503240

A clearer picture in this group, with Gloucestershire and Somerset looking likely to hold on to the top two places, Hampshire and Surrey third and fourth and Middlesex and Leicestershire bringing up the rear. Somerset’s position is especially meritorious as they started on minus eight due to a particularly graceless complaint from Essex being acted on by the ECB (the pitch, for a game that Somerset had to win to become champions in 2019, was a poor one, but no action was taken during the game, and Essex did enough to take the title, which makes their subsequent action in putting in an official complaint especially mean spirited). Middlesex have been good for long periods of most of their games, but when they go off the rails it tends to be in a big way – crashing through the protective barriers and down into a deep ravine littered with boulders. They had the better of the first innings in each of their games against Somerset but had two horror batting collapses in the second innings of those games which gave Somerset two chases that were stiff but manageable and both of which they pulled off. Leicestershire have decent batting but a calamitous lack of bowling. Hampshire started excellently but after being baulked by Gloucestershire in their third match have been able to do little right. Surrey have had their moments, such as their utter destruction of Hampshire in round four but also handed Middlesex their only win of the season, at Lord’s. Gloucestershire have been superb.

Group 3

TEAMMWLDPT
LANCS530293
YORKS530286
NHNTS522168
GLAM512258
SUSS513148
KENT503238

The roses counties are dominating this group, though Northamptonshire are still just about in the hunt for second place. Kent’s struggles are mysterious – they have what looks a decent squad, but no one has been performing consistently. The batting in particular has been poor, while their bowling has been over reliant on the veteran Darren Stevens. Sussex are struggling with the bat – they have some very impressive bowlers. It is very likely that Oliver Edward Robinson will be involved with England and so miss quite a few games which will make their already tough task even tougher.

SOLUTIONS

Each of my previous two posts contained a mathematical teaser from brilliant.org. I now present solutions and explanations:

From two days ago:

The answer is that Saed wins. Here is Saya Suka’a published explanation:

There are only 14 maximum legal moves possible with this arrangement, so the player taking the even turns will win (if they can preserve it up to the very last turn).

Okay, so they can go rook but no castling allowed. The spaces are 1-2-1-2-1, and it’s a game of “Go East”, so we are only interested with the 2-1-2-1 part of the spaces. The leftmost token has a twin in the second one from the right, and the other two are also likewise. The magic incantation is “Mirror, mirror until you hit the wall”.

From yesterday:

I asked you to name a five minute time frame for Ivan’s return, because brilliant had given a set of multi-choice options that basically killed the problem. When Ivan sets out the time is between three and four, so the hour hand is somewhere between those two numbers on the clock face. We are then told that he returned between seven and eight and noticed that the position of the hour and minute hands were reversed from when he went out, which means that the hour hand is between seven and eight and the minute hand is between three and four. When the minute hand is positioned at three it is fifteen minutes past the hour, and when the minute hand is positioned at four it is twenty minutes past the hour. Thus if we call the exact time of Ivan’s return T, then in mathematical notation 7:15<T<7:20 – Ivan got home some time after 7:15 and before 7:20.

Brilliant’s four multi-choice options were 7:15, 7:18. 7:35 and 7:37, and as you can see only one of those is actually within the time frame – 7:15 is one edge of said frame and not actually quite a possible time. This poor selection of possible answers spoiled a really good problem.

My thanks to Charlotte Hoather, who commented with her answer, a good effort, yesterday.

PHOTOGRAPHY

My usual sign off…

Somerset Against The Clock

A look at Hampshire v Somerset and the rest of the closing stages of the fifth round of Championship matches, plus a teaser, plus some photographs.

Welcome to this post, which looks at the closing stages of the current round of County Championship fixtures, with particular attention on the game at Southampton.

SOMERSET ON SONG

Yesterday was a near universal washout in the County Championship, but this game did see some action, during which Somerset claimed the wicket of Sam Northeast. When the light closed in Hampshire were 110-4, still 147 to the bad. Hampshire have dug in and fought hard, but their inability to score with any speed means that they are still highly likely to lose this match. Joe Weatherley fell for 44 after 279 minutes and 209 balls of resistance, James Vince made 42, and Liam Dawson and Lewis McManus have also come and gone. Hampshire are currently 198-8, still 59 short of avoiding the innings defeat, with Felix Organ and Keith Barker batting together and only Mohammad Abbas, a genuine no11, to come. Craig Overton has bowled magnificently, his current figures being 34-16-45-5. Josh Davey has 3-27 from 21 overs. Hampshire are going at 1.8. If this had been a first innings performance Hampshire would have batted the whole 110 over bonus point period and not accrued a single point, while Somerset would have two of a possible three. The trouble with this ultra-attritional approach of Hampshire’s is that if they do not bat right through the day they will certainly lose the match – there is no runs/time equation for Somerset to worry about.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Three matches have already concluded. Middlesex were beaten by Gloucestershire yesterday, consolidating the latter’s hold on top place in the group. Middlesex had conceded a first innings lead of 63 (210 plays 273) and a second innings batting collapse then left Gloucestershire needing only 90 to win, a feat they accomplished without much trouble. Middlesex have been in the game or even ahead of the game at some point or other of most of their matches, but have had a tendency to have a horror session that costs them the game.

Nottinghamshire have beaten Essex by an innings and 30 runs. Essex managed just 99 and 194.

Northamptonshire routed Sussex by an innings and 120 runs. Sussex slumped to 106 all out in the first innings, Northants declared on 441-9 and Sussex could do no better than 215 at the second attempt. Only Oliver Edward Robinson, with 49 not out in the first Sussex dig and bowling figures of 5-58 had a decent match for Sussex.

Barring miracles all the other games are going end in draws due to the intervention of the weather.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

With Somerset’s main opposition being the clock this one seemed appropriate for today. I have reframed the problem slightly from the brilliant.org version because their version opened up a hack, of which I duly availed myself. I reproduce most of the problem below before ending with my own formulation:

Brilliant offered four possible answers, and their choices spoiled the problem by making it impossible not to solve. Instead I ask you to give a five minute window within which Ivan got back. Solutions to both this and yesterday’s teaser in my next blog post, and a full explanation of the flaw in the brilliant multi-choice options.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

England Potential Bowlers

A look at potential bowling options for England, a couple of links, a mathematical puzzle and some photographs.

Welcome to this post which features a few bonus features. The weather has ensured that developments in the County Championship do not warrant a post today, so I am looking at possible bowling options for England.

ENGLAND BOWLING PICKS

I am going to work through the options starting with out and out speedsters and ending with four players, two of them very much future rather than present prospects, who would not be picked purely for their bowling but might be used a few overs here and there.

The are four out and out fast bowlers who the selectors might well pick: Jofra Archer, Brydon Carse, Olly Stone and Mark Wood. Three of these have already played test cricket, while Carse has been making waves over the last couple of years. Personally given his injury history and his value in limited overs cricket I would be chary of picking Wood for test matches. Archer and Stone could both easily play, and Carse is an extra option. On home tracks I do not see more than one bowler from this bracket being warranted, but some overseas tracks may well warrant two or more out and out speedsters (Perth and Johannesburg spring to mind).

Right arm medium-fast/ fast-medium: There are many English bowlers in this bracket with excellent FC records, but to me six have definite England claims. The two veterans Anderson and Broad will probably rotate, though there may be situation in which both get selected. Oliver Edward Robinson and Craig Overton are both having storming seasons, have superb career records and would seem to be in a head to head for the no8 slot. With Stokes currently injured it is quite likely that an all rounder will be selected to bat at no7, and the two main candidates for that role in this bracket are Chris Woakes and Ryan Higgins. Woakes if definitely fit would be the first choice, especially with the first test taking place at his northwest London fiefdom, aka Lord’s.

Left arm medium to fast-medium: Sam Curran is the obvious bowler of this type for England to turn to, and could possibly bat as high as seven, though eight seems more realistic for him at present. George Garton is another promising talent in this bracket, and Sussex have him batting at no7 at the moment.

Spinners: Jack Leach is the man in possession, and it is wildly unlikely that a home pitch will warrant the selection of two specialist spinners. Matt Parkinson (leg spin), Jack Carson and Amar Virdi (both off spin) have all had big performances this season, and given the slim pickings England off spinners have generally had in Australia Parkinson is probably the current no2. Finally, there remains the possibility of offering Sophie Ecclestone who has an extraordinary record in women’s internationals her opportunity to perform alongside the men.

Batters who bowl: Obviously Stokes (LHB, RF) would if fit be preeminent in this category, but he is currently injured. Matt Critchley of Derbyshire (RHB, LS) is having a superb season with the bat and it is quite possible that England would select him and give him a few overs here and there in addition to using his batting. A couple of youngsters who will be on the radar in the near future are Lewis Goldsworthy of Somerset (RHB, SLA) and Luke Hollman of Middlesex (RHB, LS). Goldsworthy hasn’t yet bowled in FC cricket, but has scored 39, 41 not out and 24 in his three innings, and the last two were knocks played under considerable pressure on pitches that were not straightforward.

Myself given that the next test match is at Lord’s I would be going with Woakes and Oliver Edward Robinson at seven and eight, with commiserations to Craig Overton. My team would look something like: Sibley, Burns, Crawley, *Root, Pope, +Foakes, Woakes, OE Robinson, Stone, Leach, Anderson. Archer, Carse or Wood could take Stone’s place and of course Broad could play ahead of Anderson depending on form or fitness.

A COUPLE OF LINKS

The Lynn News are running a poll for who should be their Charity of the Year, and NAS West Norfolk, of which I am branch secretary, are among the nominees. Please read the article and vote for us by clicking here.

Phoebe has one again opened up her blog for people to promote their own blogs, and I urge you to visit and check out some of the blogs advertising themselves there. Please click here to do so.

A MATHEMATICAL PUZZLE

This is a fun problem from brilliant.org:

PHOTOGRAPHS

Leaden sky and persistent rain are not the best conditions for photography, but I do have some pictures to share with you:

Somerset Steamrollering at Southampton

A look at goings on at the Ageas Bowl, where Hampshire and Somerset are doing battle, a scoot round the other grounds where there is championship action and lots of photographs.

This post looks at goings at the Ageas Bowl, where Somerset and Hampshire having been doing battle, before taking a quick look around the other grounds where there is county championship action.

OVERTON ON SONG

Yesterday Somerset bowled Hampshire out for a beggarly 79, which even on a difficult pitch to bat on was never going to be enough. Byrom had replaced Banton at the top of the order, but that did not alter the start to the Somerset response – both openers fell cheaply. Hildreth was also out before Somerset took the lead. Bartlett and then Goldsworthy supported the adhesive Abell, 20 year old Goldsworthy especially impressive holding out a long time for his 24. Leach then came in as nightwatch, and did the first part of the job superbly, holding the fort until close of play, with Somerset 142-5. You might think that after an opening day like that things could only get better for the home side on day two, but you would be wrong. Leach hit six boundaries in the early part of the day as he took his score to 34. Abell was seventh out at 193, having chiselled out 64, an innings far more valuable than a double century against weak bowling on a flat deck. Davies and Overton shared a fine partnership, and then Gregory joined Overton and the good work continued, Overton overhauling Abell as top scorer for the innings during their ninth wicket stand. At 328 Overton finally fell for a well compiled 74. Josh Davey came in at no11, and saw the Somerset lead past 250, but at 336 he fell to end the Somerset innings, with Gregory unbeaten on 33. Keith Barker took 4-67 for Hampshire. Mysteriously Hampshire used Liam Dawson but not the wicket taking spinner Felix Organ. The Hampshire second innings is just getting under way.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Leicestershire v Surrey: Leicestershire, batting first, are 495-9. Sam Evans made a century, and Harry Swindells, the wicket keeper, has just joined him in reaching that landmark. Amar Virdi has toiled away, taking 5-170 from 44 overs for Surrey.

Middlesex v Gloucestershire: Middlesex scored 210 batting first, and Gloucestershire are 132-4 in reply. Robbie White scored 76 not out for Middlesex, David Payne took 5-31 for Gloucestershire. Kraigg Brathwaite scored 33 for Gloucestershire, James Bracey is 44 not out and Ian Cockbain 21 not out. Tim Murtagh, James Harris and Martin Andersson each have a wicket for Middlesex.

Warwickshire v Worcestershire: Warwickshire scored 343 in the first innings and Worcestershire are 64-1 in reply. There were centuries for Robert Yates and Michael Burgess in the Warwickshire innings, while Ed Barnard took three wickets for Worcestershire. Libby is on 42 not out for Worcestershire, while Liam Norwell has the one wicket Warwickshire have claimed.

Lancashire v Glamorgan: This one has been affected by rain. Glamorgan are 226-6 in their first innings. David Lloyd made 78, while Callum Taylor and Dan Douthwaite are both in the 20s at the moment. James Anderson has 2-31, his 990th and 991st first class wickets, while Luke Wood also has two wickets.

Northamptonshire v Sussex: Sussex were rolled for 106 in the first innings, and only got that far thanks to Oliver Edward Robinson, who scored an unbeaten 49. Northamptonshire are 424-9 in response, Saif Zaib 135, Adam Rossington 87, Rob Keogh 66, and back at his day job, Robinson 5-58.

Nottinghamshire v Essex: Essex batted first and were rolled for 99, Nottinghamshire replied with 323 and Essex are 46-0 in the second innings. Nick Browne made 53 for Essex and Luke Fletcher took 6-24 for Nottinghamshire. Steven Mullaney scored 117 for Nottinghamshire, with Lyndon James making 51 and Haseeb Hameed 49. Shane Snater took 7-98 for Essex, bowling right arm medium pace.

Yorkshire v Kent: Kent made 305 batting first and Yorkshire are 77-2 in response. Crawley made 90 for Kent, backed by 47 from Leaning, 40 from O’Riordan, mainly an off spinner, and 38 from keeper Oliver Graham Robinson. Ben Coad took 3-53 for Yorkshire.Ballance is 27 not for Yorkshire, with openers Lyth and Kohler-Cadmore both gone cheaply, and Joe Root 6 not out.

Remarkably, given their first innings batting, Hampshire have not lost a wicket while I have been typing this, but there have been several appeals, and their scoring rate remains painfully slow.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have lots of photographs for you:

Wickets, Catches and the Odd Run

A look at Hampshire v Somerset in the county championship and a scout round the other grounds where action is taking place. Also some photographs and a mention of the elections taking place.

As I get deeper into this post about the early action in round five of the county championship you will realized while I have borrowed the title of Trevor Bailey’s autobiography for this post.

HORRENDOUS HAMPSHIRE

The game I am principally focussed on at present is Hampshire versus Somerset. Lewis Gregory is back for Somerset, his girlfriend having had the all clear after a Covid scare. Hampshire dropped Brad Wheal and Scott Currie, bringing in Liam Dawson and Felix Organ, two all rounders (Dawson bowls left arm orthodox spin, Organ off spin). Somerset won the toss and put Somerset in. Although Gregory was not at his best early on, overall Somerset bowled superbly, and actually could well be doing even better – several close LBWs have gone Hampshire’s way and at least on edge failed to carry to the slips. No one has made a significant score, and Captain Statpadder (aka J Vince) was once again MIA when faced with good bowlers and his team desperately needing runs. Hampshire are currently 75-8 with Kyle Abbot and Keith Barker batting together. Gregory has 3-22 and Overton 2-16, with Davey having just claimed his second wicket to make it 75-9, 2-32 for Davey. There has also been one comedy run out, accounting for Sam Northeast.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Leicestershire v Surrey: Leicestershire, batting first are 117-1, having lost Azad early. Sam Evans has 63 and Marcus Harris 47. Reece Topley has the wicket.

Warwickshire v Worcestershire: Warwickshire are batting first and have reached 133-2, Robert Yates on 69, Sam Hain on 8. Pieter Malan made 32 on his Warwickshire debut, and Joe Leach and Ed Barnard have a wicket each.

Middlesex v Gloucestershire: Middlesex are 63-3, with a rain interruption at present. Gubbins is on 11 from 59 balls. David Payne, Ryan Higgins and Matt Taylor have a wicket a piece.

Lancashire v Glamorgan: Glamorgan are 97-2, with rain also affecting that one. James Anderson has claimed the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne, gaining an early psychological point ahead of this winter’s Ashes tour. Saqib Mahmood, the young pretender, has the other wicket. David Lloyd is 60 not out.

Northamptonshire v Sussex: Sussex are batting first and are 87-8, a recovery after being 25-7 at low water mark. Oliver Edward Robinson, in the hunt for an England cap later this summer is unbeaten on 40. Stuart Meaker made 23, and Jack Carson, the young off spinner, is currently batting with Robinson. Ben Sanderson and Gareth Berg have each taken four wickets – Berg 4-16, Sanderson 4-23.

Nottinghamshire v Essex: Essex, batting first, are 99-8. Luke Fletcher has 5-24, Stuart Broad 2-31. Nick Browne made 53 for Essex.

Yorkshire v Kent: Kent are 109-3, Zak Crawley 66 not out. Ben Coad, Jordan Thompson and Steven Patterson each have a wicket.

While I have been writing this up Hampshire have been finished off for a beggarly 79, Gregory 4-26, Weatherley 20, and Somerset are about to start their first innings.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Before I get to my main gallery, today is local/regional elections day. I have voted – in the county council election I voted for the Green candidate, Rob Archer, who is quite well known in these parts. In the Police and Crime Commissioner election I gave my first preference to the Green candidate and used my second preference as an insurance policy, giving it to Labour, an approach I may well have taken in the London Mayoral election if I still lived there, though there would have been a temptation to vote for Count Binface and give my second preference to the Greens just to ensure that a certain failed actor got the wooden spoon he so thoroughly deserves. The two pictures below show my tools for the polling station and my ballot papers:

Now time for the rest of my photos:

County Championship Round Five Preview

A look ahead to the county championship matches starting tomorrow.

This post looks ahead to set of County Championship games starting tomorrow. There are some very tasty looking clashes there.

PREVIEWS

Yorkshire v Kent: Yorkshire have made a decent start to the season while Kent are struggling badly. Adam Lyth looks to continue a strong start to the season with the bat, while Dom Bess will be looking to continue the revival of his career following his move from Somerset. For Kent Zak Crawley could do with a decent score and Darren Stevens will be out to produce another performance to demonstrate that age is just a number.

Leicestershire v Surrey: The reverse of this fixture was drawn, with Hassan Azad producing a career best innings to make it so. Hassan Azad and his opening partner Sam Evans will both need to contribute for their county to have any chance. For Surrey a number of their batters have been scoring runs with Ollie Pope foremost among them. Amar Virdi will be looking ti produce a significant performance, especially with several other spinners faring well.

Warwickshire v Worcestershire: The west Midlands derby. Robert Yates and Sam Hain are names to watch for the home side, while Worcestershire have drawn all four of their matches so far.

Middlesex v Gloucestershire: Gloucestershire are top of the group and will be looking to consolidate. Middlesex have had a poor start to the campaign and need to rebound after a having lost to Somerset after being well ahead. Ethan Bamber is one to watch for Middlesex, while for Gloucestershire there are three players who may well wish to make a point to their former employers: Ryan Higgins, Tom Lace and George Scott. The first two named have had good moments already this season, and with Stokes injured Higgins may well reckon that a big performance at Lord’s would secure him his England cap.

Lancashire v Glamorgan: Glamorgan beat Kent in under two days last time out, and will be looking to continue that form. For Lancashire Matthew Parkinson has already produced a career best this season and will be looking to bolster his own England credentials and it is possible that the pace attack will be led by a combination of an old master and a young pretender: James Anderson and Saqib Mahmood.

Northamptonshire v Sussex: Sussex have been trusting to youth this season, especially in the bowling department. Oliver Edward Robinson was rested from their last game to manage his workload, and I expect he will be back for this one. Jack Carson has had a magnificent start to the season and I expect him to feature once again. For Northamptonshire much will rest on the batting of Ricardo Vasconcelos. Look out for a potential contest between the left handed Vasconcelos and off spinner Carson – off spinners often fare well against left handers.

Hampshire v Somerset: For me the tie of the round. These teams are second and third in their group. For Hampshire there are three key figures: James Vince who could do with a big score against a serious bowling attack, and their opening bowlers Kyle Abbot and Mohammad Abbas. For Somerset Craig Overton will be looking to continue a fine season, Lewis Goldsworthy made a hugely impressive debut in the last game and I hope he will be in action again.

Nottinghamshire v Essex: Having just broken a winless run dating back to 2018 by thrashing Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire will be keen to kick on, while Essex were unable to make anything happen on the road Worcestershire produced for their last game. Haseeb Hameed will be hoping to continue his revival. For Essex look out for Dan Lawrence with the bat and Simon Harmer with the ball.

SOMERSET’S TRIO OF TOMS

Somerset have opted this season for three Toms at the top of their order: Lammonby, Banton and Abell. Abell is looking very solid at no3, having produced significant scores in every game to date. Lammonby has had a struggle, and needs some serious runs soon just to prove that that the 459 runs at 51.o0 from his first six FC matches, which had some people touting him as an England opener, were not a flash in the pan. Tom Banton has not shown any signs of being a suitable red ball opener, though he has done very well as an opener in limited overs cricket. My own reckoning is that if Banton is going to succeed in FC cricket it will be as a middle order batter.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

A “Rest XI”

In this post I envisage myself selecting a ‘Rest’ XI to play England in an old style ‘test trial’ match. One of my XI had played test cricket, but qualifies by virtue of not being official first choice for his position.

This post harks back to the days of ‘test trial’ matches, a common example of which was England v The Rest. In it I select, with explanations, my opposition XI if such a game was to played in the run up to the first test against New Zealand. There is one player in this XI who has test experience, while the rest have none. I also name a couple of reserves.

THE XI IN BATTING ORDER

Hassan Azad (Leics): Left handed opening batter, now averaging 43.89 in FC cricket, with five centuries at that level. His career best 144 not out came against Surrey this season, with his side needing to bat out the match to avoid an innings defeat, and his innings ensured that they accomplished that mission.

*Ricardo Vasconcelos (Northanmptonshire): Left handed opening batter, occasional keeper, captain. Two 150+ scores so far this season, one of them 185 not out in a monster run chase, have seen his FC average move above 40. Although both openers are left handed Vasconcelos is much more attacking than Azad who is very much a sticker.

Tom Abell (Somerset): Right handed batter, occasional right arm medium pacer. He has contributed significant knocks to all three of Somerset’s wins so far this season. Somerset have opted for three Toms at the top of their order this season, Lammonby and Banton opening and Abell at three. Lammonby has struggled so far in this, his first full FC season, having been touted as an England possible based on 459 runs at 51.00 with three centuries from his first six FC matches and is at present further from England consideration than he was at the start of the season, though that could easily change. Banton is miscast as a first class opener – he has a fine record opening the batting in short form cricket, but has not looked anything approaching convincing opening against the red ball. My own feeling is that if he is going to make the grade in first class cricket it will be batting somewhere in the middle of the order rather than at the top.

Matt Critchley (Derbyshire): Right handed batter, leg spinner. He has been in good form lately, although his county are not faring especially well.

+Ben Foakes (Surrey): Right handed batter, wicket keeper. I include him in this side because officially he is not England’s first choice test keeper, due to the continuing indulgence of Jos Buttler. Buttler is one of England’s finest ever white ball batters and a decent keeper, but in red ball cricket he should not be keeping Foakes out.

Lewis Goldsworthy (Somerset): Right handed batter, left arm orthodox spinner. The very definition of a bolter, with one FC appearance to his name. However, his performance in the fourth innings when he and Steven Davies steered Somerset home with them having been in some trouble showed that he has a superb temperament.

Ryan Higgins (Gloucestershire): Right handed batter, right arm medium fast bowler. After 42 first class appearances he has 1,965 runs at 33.87 and 151 wickets at 20.84. In Gloucestershire’s last game (see here) he took a good haul of wickets and played a crucial cameo innings that put his team ahead of the clock, enabling them to bring home a superb run chase. For my money, with Ben Stokes crocked, Cap 698 should be his.

Oliver Edward Robinson (Sussex): Right arm medium fast bowler, right handed lower order batter. Before I get on to his record a point of clarification: there are two Oliver Robinsons playing county cricket at present, and both like to go by Ollie, so when writing about them I use full names to make it clear which one I am talking about – Oliver Edward Robinson is the bowler and useful lower order batter who plays for Sussex and Oliver Graham Robinson is the keeper/batter who plays for Kent. Our Ollie Rpbinson, the Sussex bowler, has 270 FC wickets at 21.22 and has also scored 1,570 FC runs at 21.50, putting his averages just the right way round (credit balance 0.28). This season he achieved a new career best innings figures of 9-78 (match 14-135). He was rested for Sussex’s last outing to manage his workload, which suggests that an England cap is very much on the table (I have him down for number 699 as we are currently at 697 and Robinson comes after Higgins in the alphabet).

Jack Carson (Sussex): Off spinner, right handed lower order batter. The 20 year old has played eight first class matches, in which he 33 wickets at 22.03 a piece. He is a future prospect rather than someone likely to feature immediately – Jack Leach is first choice spinner, and England probably won’t select two for a home test, while Australia is not traditionally the happiest of hunting grounds for England off spinners, so the earliest time he is remotely likely to figure is summer 2022, but I would want a look at him in a game of above county standard anyway..

Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire): Right arm fast medium bowler. Until now, while possessing plenty of bowling variety this side his not offered up any real pace, and the young Lancastrian provides that. He has had some international white ball experience but has yet to receive a test cap.

Matt Parkinson (Lancashire): Leg spinner. 80 wickets at 23.53 in FC cricket for the young leg spinner, including a career best 7-126 this season to inflict an innings defeat on Kent. Unlikely to feature in tests this summer unless Leach gets injured, but absolutely should travel to Australia for The Ashes, and although I believe nos 698 and 699 are spoken for, Cap no 700 could be his.

This side has decent batting depth, with everyone down to no8 capable of significant contributions, a wealth of bowling options: three front line seamers of differing styles in Mahmood, Robinson and Higgins, with Abell available as fourth seamer if needed, a leg spinner, an off spinner and a left arm orthodox spinner, with Critchley’s leg spin also a legitimate bowling option. It also has the best keeper currently in the business, since he is not officially his country’s first choice. Now for the…

RESERVES

I am naming three reserves, an opening batter, a bowler who can bat well and a spinner:

Sam Evans (Leicestershire): Right handed opening batter. Azad’s regular opening partner, and really coming to the party this season as well.

Craig Overton (Somerset): Right arm fast medium bowler, right handed lower middle order batter. He has already played four test matches, but has been out of favour after struggling at that level. This season he has found a yard of pace from somewhere which gives his bowling genuine menace, and he has been scoring important runs as well. His FC averages are just the wrong way round, 21 with the bat and 23 with the ball, but he should be on the radar, hence my naming him among the reserves.

Sophie Ecclestone (Lancashire): left arm orthodox spinner. She has 106 wickets in Women’s international cricket across the formats at an average of 19.41 each, and is only 21 years of age. I for one would like to see her given her chance to play alongside the men, and to keep that thought in people’s minds I mention her here.

Feel free to use the comments to indicate who you would pick for a side of this nature.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Just a few pics today (the weather has not been conducive to photography in the last couple of days)…

Two Great Finishes

A look at two great county championship finishes, a note on the doubtful future of IPL2021, answers to a conundrum and photographs.

This post looks back at the concluding stages of round four of the county championship (I covered up to Somerset’s victory over Middlesex yesterday). In addition to the two matches I look at play was still in progress between Worcestershire and Essex, but the only question in that game was exactly when the draw would be confirmed.

YORKSHIRE V NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

The ninth Northamptonshire wicket went down with them needing 14 to win, and then there was a brief interruption for rain. Wayne Parnell, a reasonably competent lower order batter, and Ben Sanderson, a genuine no11, inched their way towards the target. They had accrued 12 of the necessary runs when Yorkshire skipper Patterson bowled a good one to Parnell, and that worthy could only edge it to the keeper, giving Yorkshire victory by one solitary run. Northamptonshire had never previously lost an FC game by one run, though three previous county championship examples of such a result are Gloucestershire v Yorkshire in 1906, Middlesex v Yorkshire in 1908 and Yorkshire v Middlesex in 1976 (winning team first in each case). The 1906 result helped enable Kent to win their first ever championship. No innings total in this match reached 250, and the result was a classic game of cricket in which the result was in doubt right up to the very end of the contest. A full scorecard can be viewed here.

GLOUCESTERSHIRE V LEICESTERSHIRE

Leicestershire were all out just under an hour before lunch on day four, setting Gloucestershire 348 to win. At 52-3 only two results seemed possible – the draw and the Leicestershire win in that order of likelihood. Ian Cockbain who was only playing because an administrative error had seen Graeme Van Buuren classed as an overseas player joined Tom Lace at that point. At first their partnership seemed to be saving Gloucestershire, but then they began to show serious interest in going for the runs. By the time Lace holed out trying to complete his century with a boundary they had added 224 together, with Cockbain already into three figures. At that point the ask was still more than five an over, but Ryan Higgins played a splendid cameo innings of 33, and by the time he and Cockbain fell to successive deliveries from Leicestershire skipper Callum Parkinson (left arm spinner, twin brother of Lancashire leg spinner Matt Parkinson) just 18 more were needed at under three. The double dismissal brought George Hankins and Tom Smith together, and they kept cool and picked the runs off, Hankins ending the chase by hitting a four off Ben Mike. Higgins, as well as producing his late cameo which really put Gloucestershire in control had taken seven wickets in the game, including 5-62 in the second Leicestershire innings as well.

IPL IN JEOPARDY

The Indian Premier League is officially just past halfway through the group stage, but following a breach of a bio-secure bubble which has seen KKR spinner Varun Chakravarthy and pace bowler Sandeep Warrier test positive for Covid that is in considerable jeopardy. My own view is that it has become too dangerous to continue to the tournament and that it should be aborted. I have seen reports from various sources about what is happening, but as yet no official statement from the BCCI.

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S CRICKETING CONUNDRUM

Yesterday I used a photo of the sign for Archdale Street, which is close to my home, to point out that Archdale has two connections to cricket history and challenge you to identify them. In chronological order they are as follows:

Archdale Palmer Wickham was a clergyman who was also Somerset wicket keeper for many years. His career began in 1876 and ended in 1907, but clerical duties restricted him to 93 appearances at first class level over that period. He took 91 catches, pulled off 59 stumpings, and averaged only 8.83 with the bat. He played in two extraordinary matches. In 1899 he was the keeper when two army officers, Major Poore and Captain Wynyard shared a sixth wicket stand of 411 in just over four hours. He had missed Poore when that worthy had just four to his name. In 1907 he was one of the victims of a sensational spell of bowling by Albert Trott for Middlesex, in which the Australian born slow bowler took four wickets in four balls and then not long afterwards finished the match by doing the hat trick for a second time. This carnage was watched from the non-strikers end by Len Braund who carried his bat through the innings.

Betty Archdale (full name Helen Elizabeth Archdale) was the first ever captain of England Women, playing five women’s test matches in the 1930s. She scored 133 runs at 26.60 and took a catch in those games.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Closing Stages of County Championship Round Four

A look at developments in the County Championship as round four draws to a close.

Welcome to this post looking at the closing stages of this round of County Championship fixtures. Those who have followed each day’s posts know that Glamorgan beat Kent in two days and that Notts thrashed Derbyshire, winning early on day three. Surrey polished off Hampshire by an innings and 289 runs not long after I completed yesterday’s post, Kemar Roach raking a career best 8-40 in the second Hampshire innings, and Durham also completed their demolition of Warwickshire with a day to spare.

GAMES SETTLED TO DATE ON DAY FOUR

Lancashire beat Sussex by five wickets, Sussex’s second inning collapse proving terminal to their hopes. Failed England opener Keaton Jennings anchored the chase with 91 not out, while England hopefuls Alex Davies (73, opening alongside Jennings) and Josh Bohannon (46) also made runs. Jack Carson took 3-45 from 24 overs of off spin, giving him seven wickets in the game.

Somerset beat Middlesex by four wickets. This match had certain elements of familiarity – at Lord’s in the first round of matches Middlesex led Somerset comfortably on first innings, collapsed in the second and Somerset pulled off an impressive chase to end up winning. This match followed a very similar pattern – Middlesex were 89 ahead on first innings, but then crashed to 117 all out in the second dig. Somerset were 104-4 at the end of day three, Hildreth having scored 43 off 38 balls and Abell batting with typical solidity at no3. Abell fell for 49 early on the final morning, and was followed in short order by Bartlett, at which point it was 123-6, with debutant Lewis Goldsworthy being joined by Steven Davies. Middlesex had no further success, as Davies reached 44 not out, and Goldsworthy 41 not out, including the winning runs, a four through the covers. Goldsworthy did not get to bowl his left arm spin in this match, but 80 runs in the match for once out is a fine debut. Craig Overton enhanced his England credentials by taking 3-60 and 5-34 with the ball as well as scoring 38 not out in the first Somerset innings (due to the use of Leach as nightwatch he was padded up waiting to bat in the second). If County Championship games did player of the match awards Overton would have been a shoo-in. Goldsworthy was utterly unflappable in the chase, even when the umpires were ridiculously doctrinaire in insisting on breaking for lunch with the ask below 20 and Middlesex obviously on the ropes and it then rained, extending the interval by 15 minutes, and if we do not see him donning an England cap with a number in the low 700s I will be surprised. A full scorecard of this fine game of cricket can be viewed here.

THE REMAINING GAMES

The match between Yorkshire and Northamptonshire is currently delayed by rain at a crucial stage – Northamptonshire are 206-9 chasing a target of 220 in a match that like many a low scoring game has been nip and tuck throughout.

Overcaution by Leicestershire at Bristol means that the most likely result there is a draw – they set Gloucestershire 340 in only a little over two sessions of play, and although Gloucestershire have lost three wickets, including England hopeful James Bracey, it is likely that the clock will beat Leicestershire, although it is about 0% that Gloucestershire will do so.

At Worcester the draw is even likelier, on a wicket that must have been prepared using a steam roller, it is that flat. Essex have breathed a little life into proceedings by dismissing Worcestershire cheaply enough to enforce the follow on, but Worcestershire are 71-1 in their second innings and have only 40 overs to survive to confirm the draw. This is the second match at Worcester this season in which bowlers have been rendered toothless by the surface and I hope that Worcestershire will be docked points for what I regard as a far worse case of bad pitch preparation than the spinning surface in 2019 for which Somerset were punished.

A CRICKETING PUZZLE

From a road of a pitch to a puzzle based on a road name near my home (see picture below):

Archdale has two links to cricket history – can you identify them? (Answer in my next blog post, little hint on one of the links- don’t ignore 50% of the population just because it is a sporting question!)

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

County Championship Saturday

A look at the county championship on day three plus some photographs.

Welcome to another round up of County Championship action. Seven matches are still live, but two have already produced results, and we start with the decided games.

THE RESULTS

Kent were beaten by ten wickets yesterday evening, having collapsed for 74 in their second innings, which gave them a mere 15 to defend since they have been 59 behind on first innings.

Nottinghamshire put an end to a long run of games without a win by thrashing Derbyshire by 310 runs. There is an excellent post about that game on insideedgecricket, which you can read by clicking here.

THE LIVE MATCHES

The third match to finish will be the Surrey v Hampshire game. Hampshire are currently six down in their second innings and over 300 runs adrift, after Surrey scored 560-7 declared in response to Hampshire’s beggarly 92 all out. James Vince who had scored runs in Hampshire’s earlier games against ordinary bowling underlined his status as ‘Captain Statpadder’ by failing twice against good bowling in this game.

Sussex v Lancashire: Sussex, helped by four wickets from young off spinner Jack Carson and three from veteran seamer Stuart Meaker took a first innings lead of 98 against Lancashire, but are struggling in their second innings, 95-6, a mere 193 to the good.

Somerset v Middlesex: Middlesex claimed a first innings lead of 89, although some good batting by Overton late on reduced what had looked being a comfortable three figure lead. Middlesex are 78-6 in their second innings, 156 to the good. This match has featured an unusual development: Lewis Gregory of Somerset has withdrawn due to Covid, and under the protocols relating to such happenings Jack Brooks has come in as a replacement – he batted at no11. Josh Davey has three wickets and Overton two. Brooks is bowling his seventh over and currently wicketless as I type.

Worcestershire v Essex: Worcestershire are 210-3 in reply to Essex’s 561-8 declared in a game that seems destined to be drawn.

Durham v Warwickshire: Durham bowled Warwickshire out for 87, took a first lead of 304 (391-8 declared) and now have Warwickshire 70-3 in their second innings.

Gloucestershire v Leicestershire: Leicestershire took a first innings lead of 146 (421 plays 275) and are currently 42-1 in the second innings.

Yorkshire v Northamptonshire: An interestingly poised game. Three of the four innings are completed, Yorkshire scoring 206 and 247, and Northamptonshire 234. They are taking tea, and will resume with Northamptonshire setting out to chase down 220 to win the game.

A few updates: Surrey have moved even close to victory while I have been typing this, Hampshire now 143-7, with five wickets for Kemar Roach – effectively -325-7. Middlesex are now 84-7 against Somerset, leading by 173. Sussex are now 127-7, leading by 225. Notwithstanding the early finishes and the run-fest at Worcester tomorrow looks like being a splendid day’s play.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Time for my usual sign off…