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:
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
My usual sign off…