County Championship Round Four In Full Swing

A look at the action on day 1 of the fourth round of County Championship fixtures, a mathematical teaser and some photographs.

I was just a little late tuning into coverage from round four of the County Championship, but the big events all happened once I was set and ready.

SUSSEX V LANCASHIRE

First some team news: Sussex have rested Oliver Edward Robinson, the England prospect. They have made up for his absence by gambling on a line up containing five front line bowlers. George Garton, the left arm pacer is due to bat at no7, with Stuart Meaker 8, Jack Carson 9 and two youngsters, Henry Crocombe and Jamie Arkins rounding out the order. This means that top order runs are a necessity. Lancashire meanwhile have included Saqib Mahmood, a young fast bowler who has played limited overs cricket for England but has not yet been part of the England red ball set up. Liam Livingstone is officially down to bat no7 for them, with Danny Lamb 8, Tom Bailey 9 and Mahmood getting the promotion to no10 ahead of Parkinson. The ground at Brighton slopes quite drastically – the drop from end to end is a total of 20 feet (for comparison, the lateral drop at Lord’s, home to the most famous slope in cricket, is eight feet eight inches).

Sussex batted first, and after the early loss of Aaron Thomason to Tom Bailey, Tom Haines and Stiaan Van Zyl both made 50s, before Haines was out, edging Mahmood to keeper Dane Vilas. Van Zyl reached 79 before Livingstone induced him to hit a catch to backward point (Luke Wells, once of Sussex). Tom Clark and Ben Brown are batting decently together, Clark on 24 and Brown on 13, with the score 182-3. There is one remaining front line batter, Delray Rawlins, before Lancashire are through to the bowlers.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

There has been some dramatic action elsewhere, as you will see:

Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire – Nottinghamshire have reached 197-4. Ben Slater has 101 not out, while for Derbyshire Fynn Hudson-Prentice has 2-29. Joe Clarke scored 66 for Nottinghamshire.

Essex v Worcestershire – Essex are 132-1, with Sir Alastair Cook 82 not out. Alzarri Joseph has the only wicket, Nick Browne for 26.

Durham v Warwickshire – Warwickshire, sent in to bat, are 76-8. This is actually something of a recovery – at one point they were 30-7. Ben Raine has 5-9 and England fast bowler Mark Wood 3-28. Liam Norwell and Craig Miles have 24 and 20 respectively.

Gloucestershire v Leicestershire – Gloucestershire won the toss and chose to field. Leicestershire are 131-3, Sam Evans 57 not out. Aussie right arm fast medium bowler Daniel Worrall has all three wickets – 3-31 off 16 overs at present. Marcus Harris, another Aussie, scored 62 for Leicestershire.

Somerset v Middlesex – Somerset won the toss and chose to field. Middlesex are 184-4. Gregory has 2-50, Overton 1-39 and there has been a run out. Gubbins with 75 and Holden 49 have been the big scorers for Middlesex.

Glamorgan v Kent – Glamorgan won the toss and chose to field, and have just bowled Kent out for 138. David Lloyd took 4-11 and Timm van der Gugten 4-41. Zak Crawley made 33, Daniel Bell-Drummond 31 and Jordan Cox 30.

Surrey v Hampshire – Surrey won the toss and chose to field. Hampshire were all out for 92, with at one point 44-2 becoming 44-6! Lewis McManus top scored with 31 not out, and Ian Holland with 22 was the only other double figure scorer. Jordan Clark took 6-21, Rikki Clarke 2-22 and Kemar Roach 2-40. Surrey in response are 70-1, Rory Burns 43 not out, Hashim Amla 17 not out. Kyle Abbott has the only wicket, Stoneman caught by McManus for 7.

Yorkshire v Northamptonshire – Northamptonshire won the toss and chose to field. Yorkshire are 97-5, Tom Kohler-Cadmore the only significant scorer with 42. Gareth Berg has 2-5, and Wayne Parnell 2-28. Jonathan Tattersall and Dominic Bess are together at the moment.

In the game I am listening to Sussex have just lost a fourth wicket as tea approaches. They are 198-4, with Bailey having pinned Tom Clark LBW for 30. Brown is on 20, and the new batter Delray Rawlins has just got off the mark with a single.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

I have an enjoyable little problem from brilliant.org which is not as difficult as the three flame rating suggests, although harder than their setting because I have removed the multi-choice element from it:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off..

County Championship Round Four Preview

A preview of the Championship games starting tomorrow and a bumper crop of photographs.

This post looks ahead to the county championship matches that get underway tomorrow. The competition is organized in an unusual way this year: the counties have been arranged in three groups of six, and will play an opening league stage of 10 rounds, after which there will be a split into three divisions, featuring the top two from each group, the middle two from each group and the bottom two from each group. For the teams who were in the same groups half points will be carried forward into this final stage, which will comprise four further matches. The leading side in the first division at the end of all this will become County Champions, and they and second place will play off for the Bob Willis Trophy.

GROUP ONE

Derbyshire v Nottinghamshire: The ‘Brian Clough Way’ Derby. The main road linking these two east midland cities is now named in honour of Brian Clough who had his greatest successes as a football manager in the two cities concerned. Neither side are going particularly well this year, and Nottinghamshire are without a first class victory since 2018. Many eyes will be on Haseeb Hameed of Nottinghamshire to see if he can kick on from scoring twin centuries last time out, but someone else who definitely merits some attention is Derbyshire’s leg spinning all rounder Matt Critchley.

Worcestershire v Essex: Essex will be looking to rebound from their loss to Warwickshire, and Simon Harmer will have been stung by going wicketless on a fourth day pitch in that game. Dan Lawrence will be looking to score some big runs for Essex.

Durham v Warwickshire: Warwickshire will be looking to build on their success against Essex last time out. Robert Yates will want to prove that his unbeaten ton in that match was not a one off, and Sam Hain is also one to watch.

GROUP TWO

Gloucestershire v Leicestershire: Gloucestershire won their first two games and held out for a draw against Hampshire in the third and most recent. That game saw the last pair defy Hampshire for over an hour to secure the draw. Hassan Azad will be looking for runs for Leicestershire to further bolster his England credentials. With an all rounder needed for England Gloucestershire’s Ryan Higgins will be looking to to continue his fine start to the season.

Somerset v Middlesex: The Lee family clash (Harry Lee was a Middlesex opener of long ago, and his brothers Frank, later a test umpire, and Jack both played for Somerset, and there was one occasion one the scorebook feature all three brothers on one line – Harry was caught by Jack off the bowling of Frank). The reverse of this game was played in round one and Somerset won, a result they will keen to duplicate on their own patch. Tom Lammonby will be looking to continue the rehabilitation from a poor run that his unbeaten 70 in the last match started. Several Somerset bowlers have fared well this season. Ethan Bamber has been impressive with the ball for Middlesex, and Luke Hollman, a leg spin bowling all rounder who is just starting out could well be worth watching.

Surrey v Hampshire: The Phil Mead clash (the dour left hander failed to make the grade at Surrey but moved to Hampshire and set records for the most runs (48,809) and most centuries (138) made by anyone for a single first class side). Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes have both made runs to start this season and will be looking to continue that trend, while Amar Virdi will want to put down a marker given the successes other spinners have been having early this season.

GROUP THREE

Glamorgan v Kent: Indifferent starts for both of these sides. Zak Crawley will be looking to get among the runs for Kent. Kiran Carlson has had one fabulous match for Glamorgan this season.

Yorkshire v Northamptonshire: David Willey, who played for Northamptonshire earlier in his career may feature for Yorkshire. Dom Bess who took six wickets in the final innings of Yorkshire’s last game, in which they beat Sussex, will be looking to continue his revival. For Northamptonshire the obvious one to watch is Ricardo Vasconcelos, with two 150+ scores to his name already this season.

Lancashire v Sussex: First against third in the group. Matt Parkinson will be looking to continue his massively impressive start to the season. For Sussex Oliver Edward Robinson will be looking to underline his England credentials by producing something at a test match venue, and left arm pacer George Garton could well be part of England’s plans, especially if he plays well.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

It will not be possible for fans to watch these games at the grounds, although it is my understanding that we are only a few weeks away from that happening. Commentaries on all games will be available via www.bbc.co.uk/cricket – click the ‘live county cricket’ button and scroll across to select your commentary, livestreams are available via the county websites and youtube, and for extra detail you can keep a cricinfo.com tab open with your chosen game selected.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have lots of photographs to end this post…

Significant Performances From The Championship

A look at some of the more significant performances in the last round out of county championship matches, and some photographs.

This post looks at several very significant performances in the round of County Championship matches the concluded yesterday. The action ended when Hampshire accepted that even if they captured the last Gloucestershire wicket they could not knock the runs off in the time remaining. Worcestershire and Nottinghamshire also drew, as did Durham and Derbyshire. Warwickshire, Northamptonshire, Yorkshire and Lancashire all completed victories to go with those obtained by Somerset and Middlesex yesterday.

SIGNIFICANT INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES

David Bedingham was the chief architect of Dutham’s big total against Derbyshire. Durham were guilty of being over=cautious thereafter, first declining to enforce the follow on after a fine bowling effort from Chris Rushworth and then batting on until they were 384 ahead before declaring. Derbyshire were never in serious danger of defeat because of these tactics. Bedingham now averages of 50 in first class cricket, after 40 appearances at that level.

Worcestershire did make Nottinghamshire follow on, but had to settle for a draw. Haseeb Hameed, who had already scored 111 in Notts’ first innings 276 and Ben Slater each reached 114 not out, as with eight extras in there, Notts reached 236-0 in their second innings before the two sides accepted the draw. It would be premature to talk about Hameed in England terms after one tremendous match following several years in the wilderness, but it is good to see him making runs once again.

Somerset’s win over Leicestershire featured important performances from four players: Craig Overton with eight wickets in the match, and Jack Leach with five very economical ones were both hugely impressive with the ball, Overton seeming to have found some extra pace from somewhere to answer one of the criticisms that have been made of him. Tom Abell made runs in both innings, and Tom Lammonby, after a shocking start to the season scored an unbeaten 70 in the final innings to lead his side to a nine wicket win.

Warwickshire chased down a significant total in the fourth innings against Essex, including denying Simon Harmer any wickets. Robert Yates, a promising youngster, anchored the chase with an undefeated 120, supported chiefly by Indian international Hanuma Vihari and Sam Hain, a definite England prospect.

Northamptonshire chased down over 350 to beat Glamorgan, and the principal architect of that successful chase was Ricardo Vasconcelos, who produced his second 150+ score of the season – a new career best of 185 not out.

I have saved to the last the performance I rate highest of the lot. Lancashire beat Kent by an innings. This outcome was set up by an astonishing lower order turnaround that saw 190-6 become 525 all out, with nos 8 and 9 each scoring centuries, and the key architect of the subsequent victory was leg spinner Matt Parkinson, who after an economical first innings performance that yielded him two wickets took a career best seven in the second Kent innings. At high water mark in that second innings Kent were 305-4 and looked well capable of saving the game, but Parkinson, supported by Danny Lamb (whose sister Emma also had a big day out yesterday, with a ton and a wicket for Lancashire Women) ensured that Lancashire got the result their superiority merited. Parkinson’s match figures 9-164 (2-38, 7-126, the latter resulting from 52 overs of bowling) mean that he now has 77 FC wickets at 23.58, and even if he does not play a home test this season he must surely be in the Ashes party as one of the two first choice spinners alongside Leach.

Please feel free to use the comments to mention significant performances that you feel I have overlooked – this has been a particularly impressive set of games.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

County Championship Clashes

A look at the state of play as the third round of county championship fixtures approach their conclusion, a solutiion to yesterday’s teaser and some photographs.

The third round of matches in the 2021 County Championship is drawing towards a close. My focus for the present is the battle between Lancashire and Kent, but before I get to that, I have few details to clear up from the three matches that are already done and dusted.

THE CONCLUDED GAMES

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that Middlesex had beaten Surrey, and Somerset were poised to beat Leicestershire. That game duly ended in a nine wicket win for Somerset, Lammonby ending his horror start to the season with an unbeaten 70, which means that he now has 542 first class runs at 38.71 per innings. Those who called for his immediate elevation to the test match ranks based on six FC matches were overhyping a good young cricketer, and those who ruled him out completely based on his poor start to this season were judging over hastily in a knee-jerk reaction to the previous overhyping. The game between Sussex and Yorkshire took a dramatic turn yesterday evening, with Dominic Bess getting among the wickets, and this morning Yorkshire completed the victory that Bess’ bowling last night set up for them. This is a reassuring sign that Bess is rediscovering form and confidence after events of this winter.

THE FEATURE GAME

This one has been a remarkable game – Kent put Lancashire in had the latter 190-6 at one point. Nos 8 and 9, Wood and Lamb, both scored centuries as the last four wickets produced 335 further runs. Kent then slumped to a 169 all out and Lancashire, with an advantage of 356 had no hesitation in sending Kent in again. Kent batted better second time round, and one point were 305-4 with Kuhn and Denly both seeming set. Then Danny Lamb struck twice to remove both set batters, and Parkinson has subsequently claimed the wickets of Darren Stevens (who was playing FC cricket before the leg spinner had even been born) and Matt Milnes to take his tally for the inning to five. Kent are now 334-8, still needing 22 to avoid the innings defeat. Parkinson has 5-115 and is into his 43rd over of the innings.

SIBLING RIVALRY?

Danny Lamb with his century and his wickets today has had a superb match, and he is not the only one of his family in that position today: his sister Emma scored a century for Lancashire Women today.

THE OTHER MATCHES

Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire: Worcestershire 436, Nottinghamshire 276 and 195-0. This one looks like a draw, batting an almighty collapse by Notts. Ben Slater has just completed a century, and Haseeb Hameed is closing in on what will be his second hundred of the match.

Warwickshire v Essex: Essex 295 and 244, Warwickshire 284 and 126-1. Warwickshire need 129 more with nine wickets standing. This has all the hallmarks of a fine finish and may well be my next port of call after the game I am currently listening to has finished. Warwickshire seem to be favourites but Essex have a potential trump card in Simon Harmer, the best spinner currently playing in the championship, who may yet send the midlanders into a tail spin. Hanuma Vihari, the Indian who is currently Warwickshire’s overseas player and Robert Yates, a promising youngster, both have half centuries to their name.

Northamptonshire v Glamorgan: Glamorgan 407 and 311-5 declared, Northamptonshire 364 and 170-2. Northamptonshire 185 more runs with eight wickets standing. Time may spoil this one, but it is looking like a classic at the moment, with Vasconcelos on 87 not out Rob Keogh 53 not out. Vasconcelos is now qualified for England, although he was born in South Africa and is of Portuguese ancestry (he is rivalled in this regard by Athanasios John Traicos, born in Egypt, to Greek parents and played for South Africa and Zimbabwe).

Durham v Derbyshire: Durham 475 and 175-2 declared, Derbyshire 267 and 180-3. Derbyshire need 204 more to win with seven wickets standing. Has Durham’s refusal to enforce the follow-on cost them their chance of winning this game? Derbyshire probably do not have enough time left to get the runs, but don’t seem to be in any great trouble. Wayne Madsen has just reached a 50, and Matt Critchley, who also bowls leg spin, is unbeaten on 40.

Hampshire v Gloucestershire: Hampshire 470, Gloucestershire 320 and 126-4. The draw is a clear favourite here, but credit to Hampshire for going for it by enforcing the follow on. Gloucs still need 24 to avoid the innings defeat and another couple of wickets quickly would certainly have them on the edge of their seats. Ian Cockbain is 34 not out, and Ryan Higgins has 10 not out.

None of the above matches is absolutely certain to end in a draw, and only two matches out of nine finished with more than a day to spare, which tells me that these games have been excellent and that the pitches have been well prepared for the format of the games.

SOLUTION TO A TEASER

Yesterday I posted this from brilliant.org:

The answer is that you should not play the game. Below is Shashank Tiwari’s published solution, and for more on the problem please click here.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

It is tea on day four, and in the game I am following Kent are 345-8, needing 11 to avoid the innings defeat. Kent need to bat at least another hour to have any chance of saving the game.

County Championship Update

A look at happenings in the county championship as day three draws to a conclusion. A mathematical teaser and some photographs.

In this post I look at what has been going on around the grounds on day three of the county championship. Due to today being one of my fortnightly music therapy sessions I missed the entirety of the morning’s play, which as it turned out meant missing the denouement of the London derby. I am therefore tuned into Leicestershire v Somerset, which is also highly likely to finish today, with Somerset heading towards a convincing win. Elsewhere in the world Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are contesting a test match, but due to the state of the pitch that game has been rendered an utter irrelevance which even the batters who have been bolstering their averages are unlikely to remember beyond stumps being pulled up tomorrow on the stalest of stalemates.

SPINELESS SURREY’S SATURDAY SURRENDER

Surrey resumed this morning just behind Middlesex with seven second innings wickets standing. Those wickets went down in a heap, Surrey crashing to 130 all out, setting Middlesex just 16 to win, a target the latter achieved wtihout losing a wicket in their second innings. Burns made 54 for Surrey, while Roland-Jones (four wickets) and Bamber (three scalps) did most of the damage with the ball. The last seven Surrey wickets fell while 25 runs were scored, the sort of passage of play that deserves to doom a side to defeat as it did.

SOMERSET IN CONTROL

Leicestershire faced an 85 run deficit when they began their second innings in their home match against Somerset. Craig Overton (a remarkable 18-10-25-5) and Jack Leach (20-8-43-3) ensured that Somerset’s victory target would be modest, Leicestershire being restricted to 199 in their second innings, a lead of only 114. Overton has match figures of 8-64, and Leach 5-82, an excellent effort from an England possible and England’s #1 spinner (unless the selectors are going to try the ‘Ecclestone Experiment’). Lammonby, who came into this season with many calling for his elevation but has barely scored a run thus far is finally relocating some form, 32 not out in a score of 51-1. That innings, over two thirds of his season’s run tally, has boosted his FC record to 501 runs at 35.79, with scope for improvement – seeing Somerset home will count heavily in his favour if he manages it. However Hassan Azad had moved ahead of him in the pecking order, though he did not have a great match this time, and there has been another significant development.

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Sussex v Yorkshire: Sussex are 59-1 in their second innings, needing a further 176 to beat Yorkshire. Yorkshire battled to 305 in their second innings to give Sussex a genuine target in the fourth innings. There were runs for former England batters Lyth and Ballance, an off spinner named Jack Carson took a five for, and Oliver Edward Robinson, widely expected to feature for England sooner rather than later, took three wickets.

Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire: Worcestershire 436 all out, Nottinghamshire 276 all out. Worcestershire should enforce the follow on, going for the win, but may well take the cautious option of batting again. Haseeb Hameed, whose budding test career was interrupted by injury, and who then lost form with Lancashire, scored a century in the Notts innings, a knock that prove of considerable significance to England. Charlie Morris took 3-30 for Worcestershire.

Essex v Warwickshire: Essex are 129-6 in their second innings, an overall lead of 140. The winners of three of the last four English FC trophies are not having things all their own way this time. Dan Lawrence is undefeated on 49, and Simon Harmer is supporting him. Craig Miles has three wickets, with the other three shared between Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Olly Stone.

Northamptonshire v Glamorgan: Glamorgan are 92-2 in their second innings, leading by 135 overall. Billy Root, younger brother of Joe, is batting decently there and he has Nick Selman for company.

Durham v Derbyshire: Durham 475, Derbyshire 267, Durham 48-1. Durham lead by 256, and a big final session could set them up for an overnight declaration (although I suspect that enforcing the follow on would have been a better call by them). The Durham second innings wicket has been claimed by Hudson-Prentice, who bowls right arm medium fast and is beginning to establish a decent reputation for himself. Chris Rushworth, a magnificent county bowler who has never caught the eyes of the England selectors, took 6-58 for Durham.

Kent v Lancashire: Lancashire 525, Kent 169 and 141-0. The large opening stand notwithstanding, Lancashire have done the right thing in sending Kent back in. Bell-Drummond in on 72 and Jordan Cox 62. Tom Bailey took four wickets in the Kent first innings, centurion Luke Wood three and leg spinner Matt Parkinson two. Bailey incidentally looks rather familiar as a line in a scorebook – his initials are TE, the same as Trevor Bailey, once of Essex.

Hampshire v Gloucestershire: Hampshire 470, Gloucestershire 283-5. Gloucestershire need 38 more to avoid the follow on, and if by some chance they fail to get them, then unquestionably Hampshire should enforce it – we are deep in to day three, and bowling Gloucs out a second time is the only route Hampshire have to victory. As I type the sixth Gloucs wicket has just gone at 283. Ryan Higgins, underlining his considerable all round credentials, is undefeated on 70, having already claimed four wickets in the Hampshire innings. Kraigg Brathwaite (WI) and James ‘Bobby’ Bracey (a good chance of playing for England) have both also scored significant runs for Gloucestershire.

Newsflash: Worcestershire have correctly enforced the follow on against Nottinghamshire. Somerset meanwhile have moved on to 72-1, just 43 short of victory over Leicestershire, Lammonby 37 not out.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

At the request of several of my twitter followers I am including a mathematical teaser, the solution to which I shall include in my next blog post. As usual it comes from www.brilliant.org.

Do not be overly intimidated by the four flames – it is not actually as difficult as the setters thought.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

As I reach the final prepublication stages of this post, Lammonby has completed a 50, and Somerset now need just 21 more, still with nine wickets standing. Lammonby now has 55 not out, which gives him 527 runs at 37.64 in FC cricket.

Robson’s Luck Runs Out At Last

A look at developments in the London derby, and a skate through the rest of the county championship action.

In this post I will bring you up to date with developments in the county championship I am following, and also provide a quick look at goings on elsewhere.

MIDDLESEX AHEAD IN LONDON DERBY

Middlesex are currently 63 ahead of Surrey with three first innings wickets standing. They owe this position to a combination of Sam Robson and absurd amounts of good fortune. Robson has just fallen for 95, having been dropped three times along the way and survived a few other close calls. Reece Topley snared him LBW. Between his 95 in this match and the 165 against Somerset in the first match Robson has surely used up a whole season’s allocation of good fortune. Middlesex are quite possibly some way from being done – Luke Hollman is making his FC debut at no9 and is officially recognized as an all rounder. Topley has four wickets, and if he has a good season and stays fit he may be in the Ashes tour party (the only other left armer of comparable pace and ability who England might think about is George Garton of Sussex).

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Sussex v Yorkshire: Sussex moved into a first innings lead with only three wickets down, but Yorkshire have come back and restricted their advantage to 71. Yorkshire are no 28-0 in their second innings. Duanne Olivier and Steven Patterson took four wickets each for Yorkshire, while young opener Tom Haines top scored for Sussex with 86.

Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire: Worcestershire are 430-9 in the 143rd over. Joe Leach is on 81. Libby made a century, and there have also been 50s for Mitchell, Barnard and Alzarri Joseph. Liam Patterson-White, the left arm spinner, has 3-114 from 41 overs.

Warwickshire v Essex: Essex were restricted to 295 in their first innings and Warwickshire are 119-4 in reply. Browne, Walter and ten Doeschate all scored 50s for Essex, while Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Olly Stone each took four wickets. Porter, Cook, Siddle and Harmer each have a wicket for Essex and no one has yet produced a significant score for Warwickshire.

Northamptonshire v Glamorgan: Glamorgan tallied 407 in their first innings, and Northamptonshire are struggling at 76-4 in reply. Chris Cooke scored 136 for Glamorgan, and Dan Douthwaite scored 44 at number eight. James Harris, James Weighell and David Lloyd (who scored 65 yesterday) have a wicket each for Glamorgan.

Durham v Derbyshire: Durham are 469-9 after 146 overs. David Bedingham scored 257 of these and Jack Burnham 75. Samuel Conners has four wickets. Bedingham is now averaging 45.83 in FC cricket with eight centuries in 67 innings at that level.

Kent v Lancashire: Lancashire are 438-8 after almost 150 overs. Danny Lamb is 86 not out, while Luke Wood made 119, and Josh Bohannon 87. Darren Stevens has fared best among Kent’s bowlers, with 2-44 from 26 overs.

Hampshire v Gloucestershire: Hampshire are 470-9. Tom Alsop made 149 and Ian Holland 114. England limited overs batter James Vince scored 52 and former England man Liam Dawson scored 65. Aussie Daniel Worrall has 4-75, and Ryan Higgins continues to press his England claims with 4-78.

Leicestershire v Somerset: Leicestershire made 233 in the first innings, Somerset are currently 252-6 in response. Lewis Hill scored 68 for Leicestershire, while Overton took 3-39, Jack Leach 2-23 and Lewis Gregory 2-39. Tom Abell made 88 and George Bartlett 48 for Somerset. Jack Leach as nightwatch scored 26, lasting 89 minutes in the course of which he faced 68 balls. Steven Davies and Craig Overton are currently batting together, Lewis Gregory is next in.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

As I prepare this post for publication Middlesex have moved on to 245-8.

The County Championship After Two Rounds

A little look back at round two of the championship, including a correction to my previous post, a bonus feature on unorthodox bowling actions, a petition and some photographs.

I write this post while listening to commentary on today’s game in the IPL between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals, but as a ‘legacy fan’ of cricket to borrow a phrase from those behind a development in another ball sport that makes The Hundred look like a picnic I feel it important to focus on non-franchise cricket. However, before getting into the main meat of my post I have a small piece of business to attend to:

A CORRECTION TO MY PREVIOUS POST

Yesterday I said that the hundred that Hassan Azad was approaching as I typed, and did duly complete would be his second of the match. This was incorrect – Leicestershire’s first innings century was scored by his opening partner Sam Evans, Azad making 55.

THE CHAMPIONSHIP AFTER TWO ROUNDS OF ACTION

Two teams, Gloucestershire and Hampshire, have won both of their games. They are in opposition in the next round which starts on Thursday. One team, Middlesex, have lost both their games. Nottinghamshire with a draw and a loss (beaten late yesterday by a Warwickshire side with only 10 fit players. Sibley being injured) are on a winless streak that dates back to 2018. Not the longest – Northamptonshire once went without a win from 1934 to 1939 (their next win after the 1939 one was in 1946, but that gap was not down to bad cricket on their part, it was down to there being no cricket at all), but a long time to go without a win.

Hassan Azad took Leicestershire to safety yesterday, reaching a new career best 144 not out, and boosting his career average to just over 46. With Sibley injured, Burns under scrutiny and Lammonby having had a horror start to the season which has seen his FC average drop from 51.00 to 35.69, Azad (31 FC matches) is putting himself firmly in the England frame. Also in the mix is James Bracey, and a big score against Hampshire, whose bowling is led by current Pakistan test start Mohammad Abbas and former SA test star Kyle Abbott would be a big boost to his credentials. Somerset, after their loss in the west country derby face Leicestershire who have decent batting but as evidenced by successive teams topping 650 against them a calamitous lack of bowling.

DISTINCTIVE BOWLING ACTIONS QUINTET

This section is a nod to the game I am following at the moment, which feature Riyan Parag, whose bowling action is extremely unusual – he basically brings his arm round the side rather than over the top as is conventional. His action is not illegal as the laws stand, and as some readers of this blog will be aware I believe that more types of bowling should be encouraged. The Greg/Trevor Chappell against NZ situation can be got round by way of the fact that nowadays balls that bounce more than once are called no-ball – simply add a footnote to the effect that a ball rolled along the ground is considered to have bounced an infinite number of times and shall be called no-ball. In that spirit I offer a bowling sextet who all had very distinctive actions (in T20 one generally needs six bowling options, so that you have cover in the event of someone having a nightmare day), four of whom played test cricket and a fifth may yet do so, the sixth was not quite good enough but as an all rounder has value in a T20 context:

  1. Lasith Malinga, aka Malinga the slinger, Right arm fast. Before the recent emergence of Parag he had the lowest bowling arm of any modern era bowler.
  2. Digby Jephson, right arm fast (under arm). He never got selected at international level, but was a Surrye regular for some years in the early 1900s.
  3. Doug Wright – leg spin. He had one of the most extraordinary run ups ever seen, bowled at above medium pace and achieved sharp turn. Often his good balls were too good and beat everything, but on his day he was utterly unplayable. He still holds the record for hat tricks in a first class career, having achieved the feat seven times at that level.
  4. Paul Adams – left arm wrist spin. Possibly the most unorthodox action ever possessed by any left arm bowler, once likened to a frog in a blender.
  5. George Simpson-Hayward – off spin (under arm). He came on the scene a few years after Jephson, and unlike the former did get selected for England and had a good series in South Africa. He was the last bowler of his type to play top level cricket.
  6. Riyan Parag – leg spin. One of two genuine all rounders in the sextet, Jephson being the other.

PETITION & PHOTOGRAPHS

Before getting to my photographs, while I have not mentioned it directly I think I have made my opinions of the proposed European Super League fairly clear in my introduction, and I now included a link to a petition calling for it to be stopped: http://chng.it/BhmYY6nMNp Now time for my usual sign off…

Somerset Struggling in West Country Derby

A look at goings on in the County Championship, with particular reference to Somerset and Gloucestershire.

This post looks at the action in the County Championship with particular reference to the game I am following, but a brief mention of some significant events in one of the other matches.

SOMERSET’S SECOND INNINGS WOES

Somerset took a slender first innings lead (three runs), as they took the last two Gloucetsershire wickets early this morning. However, they quickly lost nos 1,2,3 and 5 in the order to plummet to 37-4 in their second innings. The two most experienced members of the line up, James Hildreth and Steven Davies are currently together and have advanced the score to 55-4 as I write. Ryan Higgins, a crafty right arm medium pacer who is also a good middle order batter has 2-13 from seven overs in this innings. He currently has 1802 FC runs at 34.00 and 133 wickets at 21.37, from 39 matches, and though there are valid concerns about his pace at international level he may yet get his England chance. If Woakes’ IPL commitments prevent a return to England for the NZ test series then Higgins might be an option at no7 if England want to play five front line bowlers.

For Somerset’s top order there are several issues: Tom Banton is not looking, or at present scoring, like a natural opening batter and Tom Lammonby who started this season with 459 FC runs at 51.00 and three centuries has amassed five runs in four innings (including a pair in this game), meaning that his record now stands at 464 runs at an average of 35.69. It would be as premature to rule him out of future England consideration as it was premature of those who advocated his elevation on the strength of a good showing in six first class matches, but he has work to do to convince people that his good start at FC level wasn’t a flash in the pan. Only Abell of the three Toms at the top of the Somerset order has any current form to talk about. As I typed this last section Steven Davies has gone to make it 68-5, with Overton joining Hildreth.

NEWS FROM LONDON

Down at The Oval Surrey are in a commanding position against Leicestershire. Leicestershire scored 375 first up, but Surrey in reply are 391-4. Ollie Pope, looking to shore up his claim to a middle order slot in the England line up, is 172 not out, Ben Foakes has also made good runs, sharing a stand of 229 with Pope, and Jamie Smith who will don the gauntlets for Surrey if the England selectors do the right thing and select Foakes as their keeper is 32 not out.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Surrey have moved on past 400, and in the game I am listening to, that man Higgins has snagged a third wicket by clean bowling Overton to make it 71-6 and bring Gregory to the crease, Higgins 3-18. Now it is time for my usual sign off…

Stokes Out For Three Months

A look at ways for England to cope with the enforced absence of Ben Stokes, a look at the cricket that is happening today, an answer to the teaser in my last post and some photographs.

This post looks at how England might cope without Ben Stokes, who will definitely be missing the first test series of the home summer against New Zealand, though he may be able to turn out against India later in the summer. There are also brief mentions of today’s cricket.

REPLACING STOKES

There is no such thing as a like for like replacement for Ben Stokes. The question is then whether you want five genuine bowling options or whether your primary concern is to deepen the batting. If you are worried about the batting then the logical approach based on current evidence is to play either Pope at five and Lawrence at six or vice versa, then rounding out the order with +Foakes, Woakes, one of Archer/Stone/Wood depending on form and fitness, Leach and one of Anderson/Broad depending on form and fitness. If you prefer five bowlers, then you pick one of Pope/ Lawrence to bat at five, gamble on +Foakes at six, have Woakes at seven and avoid a diplodocan tail by selecting one of Oliver Edward Robinson, Lewis Gregory or Craig Overton at eight, and then the 9/10/11 on the basis I have already explained. Two sample line ups using the different approaches are below:

Four Bowlers XIFive Bowlers XI
Dom SibleyDom Sibley
Rory BurnsRory Burns
Zak CrawleyZak Crawley
*Joe Root*Joe Root
Ollie PopeOllie Pope
Dan Lawrence+Ben Foakes
+Ben FoakesChris Woakes
Chris WoakesOliver E Robinson
Olly StoneOlly Stone
Jack LeachJack Leach
James AndersonJames Anderson
Sample England line ups (please read full post) – do you gamble on four bowlers being sufficient and aim for a strong batting line up, or do you insist on having five front line bowlers?

Feel free to comment on these ideas and make suggestions of your own.

TODAY’S CRICKET

It is day two of the second round of County Championship fixtures. Mohammad Abbas has obliterated the top half of the Middlesex batting order (at low water mark, facing a tally of just over 300 they were 14-5, Abbas 5-3) down at the Rose Bowl. In the game I am principally focussed on, the west country derby at Taunton, Gloucestershire are 113-3 in reply to Somerset’s 312, with Tom Lace the most recent casualty, to an entirely self inflicted dismissal. In South Africa the home side are going nicely in their T20I vs Pakistan, 64-1 after seven overs, while the IPL action for the day starts in just under an hour, and the question is will the mere kings (Punjab Kings) be able to get the better of the super kings (Chennai Super Kings)?

SOLUTION TO TEASER

In my previous post I set a teaser from brilliant.org. I now provide the answer.

The selection of these multiple choice options left a hack just waiting to be exploited, though as far as I am aware I am the only solver who actually admitted to having done so. The total area of the circle is 36pi, which is just over 113 units. No way are either 24 or 36 big enough to be the largest possible, while 144 is larger than the total available area and therefore clearly impossible. This leaves 72 as the only possible answer, and sure enough, it is the correct answer. Had one their largest available answer been 84 or 96 this hack would not have been available (note that 108 is too close to the total available area to be a really convincing alternative) and I would have had to actually work out a proper solution. I now share with you an authentic solution, published by David Vreken:

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Somerset’s Comeback Triumph

A look back at the first round of the county championship, especially Middlesex v Somerset, plus some photographs.

This post looks back at an extraordinary turnaround in one of the only three fixtures in the opening round of the County Championship to have a definite result (Gloucs beating Surrey and Hants beating Leics were the other two).

SOMERSET RECOVERY

Somerset won the toss and put Middlesex in (see here for more on the early stages of the match). At low water mark Somerset were 89-9 facing a Middlesex total of 313. Marchant de Lange and Jack Leach, nos 10 and 11 for Somerset added 83 for the final wicket to save the follow on (there would have been no sensible case for Middlesex declining to enforce it). When Middlesex were 87-2 at the end of the second day they still looked firm favourites, but great bowling efforts from Overton, Davey and Leach restricted Middlesex to 143 in their second innings, leaving Somerset 285 to win. Three wickets went fairly early, but then Tom Abell and George Bartlett shared a good partnership before Abell was dislodged for 84. Steven Davies and Craig Overton both fell cheaply, and the target was still over 100 away when Lewis Gregory walked in to join Bartlett. Gregory, who had picked up a five-for in the first Middlesex innings came to the party for the second time in the match, and he and Bartlett were still together when the winning run was scored, Bartlett 76 not out, Gregory 62 not out. Appropriately, it was Gregory who sealed the win. Leach’s total match figures of 4-61, going at less than two an over, were huge news for England, since unless they are prepared to go seriously radical and drop Sophie Ecclestone a line there is no other serious specialist spin option for the test team at present – Matt Parkinson, with 62 wickets at 25 each in FC cricket ranks second to Leach, having a similar bowling average but only about a fifth of the number of wickets. Gregory has Woakes (definitely) and Oliver Edward Robinson (probably) ahead of him in the England pecking order. Abell and Bartlett may also be on the radar, and the runs they made in uphill circumstances will count heavily in their favour. On the debit side the other two Toms, Banton and Lammonby failed to do anything of note this time round. Ethan Bamber of Middlesex may have out himself on the radar with a fine bowling performance.

Elsewhere the most significant news from an England perspective were scores of 74 for Burns, the opener whose place is under scrutiny after a tough winter, and 133 for Foakes, who should be first choice keeper, and who must have improved his stocks with that effort.

PLAYER LINKS

Here are links to the cricinfo profiles of the players mentioned above in an England context:

PHOTOGRAPHY

My usual sign off…