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..

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.

Day One Of Round Three In The County Championship

A look at the action thus far one day one of round three of the county championship plus some photographs.

In this post I look at the first morning’s action in round three of this year’s County Championship. My particular focus is on the London derby, but commentaries on all games can be accessed by visiting www.bbc.co.uk/cricket and clicking on the live county cricket button and then selecting your commentary from the available list. Youtube and the county websites are making live streams available to watch free of charge, and extra detail can be obtained from www.cricinfo.com.

MIIDDLESEX V SURREY

I missed the start of play due to being out walking, but I witnessed most of the action, including all the wickets. Middlesex won the toss and put Surrey in to bat. They have included leg spinning all rounder Luke Hollman, who I look forward to hearing in action, but it has been all seam so far. Tim Murtagh, now 39, took a couple of early wickets, and the ‘Sunbury Shotgun’ aka Toby Roland-Jones (he hails from Sunbury and is double barrelled) dislodged Pope and Foakes with good deliveries. Stoneman produced a gritty performance, batting through at one end, and Jamie Smith was also unbeaten had lunch but had played a trifle streakily, including being on the receiving end of a “wasted on thee lad” moment when a delivery from Martin Andersson beat everything on its way through to the keeper. Since lunch Surrey have moved on to 103-4, and although they were ahead of the action at lunch Middlesex’s advantage was not huge – three down would have been a minimum morning’s work after putting the opposition in, so they were only one wicket better than par.

ELSEWHERE

Scores and brief mentions of noteworthy elements from elsewhere:

Sussex v Yorkshire: Yorkshire are 125-5, with keeper Jonathan Tattersall and Dom Bess, apparently reinventing himself as a genuine all rounder, batting together. Left arm pacer George Garton, who may be an outside shot for an England place, has three wickets, while Hunt and Rawlins each have one. The only Yorkshire batter to have reached 20 thus far is Adam Lyth who made 42.

Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire: Worcestershire 131-0, Libby 63, Mitchell 53 and 15 extras. No signs here of Nottinghamshire ending their long winless streak.

Warwickshire v Essex: Essex are batting first and have reached 88-3. Nick Brown on 21 and Paul Walter on 11 are the not out batters, while Sir Alastair Cook hooked a six earlier today. Former Gloucestershire medium pacer Craig Miles has two of the wickets.

Northamptonshire v Glamorgan: Glamorgan are batting first and have reached 117-4. Chris Cooke and Kiran Carlson, who is coming off the back of twin tons, are the current batters. Parnell and Berg have two wickets a piece, while David Lloyd scored 65.

Durham v Derbyshire: Durham are 94-2, Bedingham 54 not out and Lees 37 not out. Samuel Conners has both the wickets.

Kent v Lancashire: Lancashire are batting first and have reached 80-2, Luke Wells on 45 and Josh Bohannon on 14. The wickets have been claimed by Matt Milnes and Darren Stevens. It is a very long shot even with Stokes and Woakes both absent, but if selected Stevens would be England’s second oldest ever debutant after Southerton who played the inaugural test match at the age of 49.

Hampshire v Gloucestershire: The two teams with 100% records. Hampshire are 79-1, with Ian Holland, born in the USA and raised in Australia, 43 not out. Ryan Higgins has been very economical, bowling eight overs for 11, while the wicket has been claimed by Dom Goodman.

Leicestershire v Somerset: The home side, who have twice conceded scores of over 600 this season are batting and are currently 83-5. Hassan Azad scored 36, and new overseas player Marcus Harris 19. Lewis Gregory, another England possible, has two of the wickets, while Overton, de Lange and skipper Abell each have one. Azad’s 36 was enough to keep his average above 46 – his FC stats are now 2083 runs at 46.29, and in view of the lack of scoring by other contenders for an England opener’s slot he must be considered as well and truly in the frame.

While I was putting the above together Surrey have lost two further wickets, Smith and the adhesive Stoneman, one each to Murtagh and Roland-Jones, giving those worthies three scalps a piece in a score of 107-6. Jordan Clark has just gone to make it 107-7, and Murtagh has a fourth wicket. Rikki Clarke is the not out batter, and Reece Topley has just joined him.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

Picking a Test Side Without Stokes or Woakes

A look at options for the England side for the first test and some photographs.

This post looks at the problems caused by the absences of Stokes (injured) and Woakes (at the IPL) for England. Another round of County Championship matches gets underway tomorrow and may provide more information.

FOUR BOWLERS OR FIVE?

Stokes and Woakes are the two best English all rounders currently playing, and without either the choice is between relying on four bowling options or accepting a weakened batting line up in order to have five bowling options. My choice, because one needs to take 20 wickets to win a test match is to have five bowling options.

BUILDING THE TEAM

There are doubts over whether Sibley will be fit for the first test match, and the only potential replacement who is doing enough at the moment in my book is Hassan Azad of Leicestershire. Burns and Crawley will round out the top three. Skipper Root will be at four, the slot he has made his own. Number five is choice between Pope and Lawrence, but Pope has underlined his quality with a huge score in the last round of championship matches, so I select him. As readers of this blog know I consider that Foakes should be a shoo-in for the test wicket keeping berth, and with five bowlers needed I put him at six. Personally I would select Ryan Higgins at seven – he is a cut above Overton, Gregory or S Curran with the bat, and an FC bowling average of 21 suggests he could do a job at the highest level. No8, where also batting skills are not entirely irrelevant is for me locked down – Oliver Edward Robinson who underlined his credentials with a nine wicket innings haul a few days ago gets the nod. Archer is at the IPL, and current form suggests that of the other two out and out speedsters Olly Stone should get the nod. Parkinson’s fine bowling against Northants not withstanding Jack Leach is clear as England’s #1 test spinner. James Anderson is missing Lancashire’s next game due to a tight calf, which suggests that Stuart Broad has to get the final placed. Thus my provisional line up, assuming that availability is as it seems is:

  1. Hassan Azad
  2. Rory Burns
  3. Zak Crawley
  4. *Joe Root
  5. Ollie Pope
  6. +Ben Foakes
  7. Ryan Higgins
  8. Oliver Edward Robinson
  9. Olly Stone
  10. Jack Leach
  11. Stuart Broad

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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…

Championship Performances of Promise

A look at some of the more important success stories from this round of county championship games and a bumper crop of photographs.

As this round of county championship matches heads towards its conclusion (three are already settled – congratulations to Essex, Gloucestershire and Hampshire on their wins) I highlight several performances of potential interest to England.

While Ollie Pope dominated Surrey’s massive total against Leicestershire with his 245 there were also useful runs for Jamie Smith (119) and far more significantly for Ben Foakes (87), who should feature as England’s test wicket keeper.

For Leicestershire, Hassan Azad, mentioned as a candidate for an opening berth (Burns remains under some scrutiny after his winter, and Sibley is injured and may not be fit for the first test, while Lammonby is struggling horrendously after a fine start to his FC career) made a century in the first innings and is well on the way to doubling up. As things stand at the moment he is averaging 44.84 in FC cricket, while playing his 31st match at that level.

In the west country derby Ryan Higgins had a fine match, and with there being a possible vacancy for an all rounder with Stokes injured and Woakes playing in the IPL that could prove significant. Of more definite significance is the performance of James Bracey – a century and an 82 not out in the second innings. He has been part of the England set up but has yet to play a test match.

Finally, Matt Parkinson for Lancashire has produced a good bowling performance. He took 3-49 in the first innings, including a pretty good impression of the ‘Gatting ball’ and already has 2-23 in the second as Lancashire press for victory (Northamptonshire can do no better than a draw from here). His five wickets in this match have taken his bowling average in FC cricket below 25 (currently 67 wickets at 24.42). He remains #2 to Leach among current England spinners, although he is now paying less per wicket than Leach in FC cricket, because Leach has over 300 wickets to his credit at FC level and is faring respectably at test level, but he may well be earning himself a trip to Australia as an accredited member of the party rather than a ‘reserve’ as was over the winter just gone.

Oliver Edward Robinson of Sussex, definitely a candidate for elevation, has just recorded innings figures of 9-78, giving him 13-128 in the match. If England want five bowling options, Higgins at seven, Robinson at eight, one out and out speedster, Leach and one of Broad/ Anderson could work well, Higgins and Robinson have decent batting credentials.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have lots of photographs to share with you…

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…