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…

All Time XIs – Through The Alphabet II

Picking up where I left off yesterday, with my first team starting with a ‘w’.

INTRODUCTIONS

For today’s all time XI cricket post I am picking up where I left off yesterday, continuing the alphabetic progression, so our first XI begins with a player whose surname begins with W.

FRANK WORRELL’S XI

  1. *Frank Worrell – right handed batter, left arm medium fast bowler, occasional left arm orthodox spinner, captain.
  2. Xenophon Balaskas – leg spinner, drafted in here as ersatz opener as well. X is a very difficult letter, but I will attempt to find alternatives for the leg spinning all rounder in future posts of this type. He did average 28.68 with the bat in first class cricket.
  3. Graham Yallop – left handed batter. He batted at no 3 in the 1978-9 Ashes and was the only player on either side to score two centuries in the series – it was only as captain that he was not up to the task.
  4. Zaheer Abbas – right handed batter. Known on the county circuit as ‘Zed’, Z is another difficult letter.
  5. +Leslie Ames – right handed batter, wicket keeper.
  6. Ian Bell – right handed batter. Given the opening situation I felt an extra specialist batter was warranted, so Ian Botham missed out.
  7. Percy Chapman – left handed batter. Extra batting depth needed.
  8. Alan Davidson – left arm fast medium bowler, left handed batter.
  9. Phil Edmonds – left arm spinner, right handed lower order batter.
  10. Jack Ferris – left arm medium fast bowler.
  11. George Gartonleft arm fast bowler. The Sussex youngster has had some good moments in his fledgling career.

This team has an adequate line up, albeit with an ersatz opener, and a fine collection of bowlers.

HEATHER KNIGHT’S XI

  1. Jack Hobbs – right handed opening batter.
  2. James Iremonger – right handed opening batter. Played for Notts at the start of the 20th century, opened the innings in his first full season, and finished his long career with a batting average of 36. When his playing days were done he became a coach, still with Notts, and among the youngsters he ushered into first team cricket were Harold Larwood and Bill Voce.
  3. Archie Jackson – right handed batter. A regular opener, batting at no 3 here.
  4. *Heather Knight – right handed batter, occasional off spinner, captain. She has batted at no3, but no4 is nowadays her regular slot. World cup winning captain, given that role in this side.
  5. Clive Lloyd – left handed batter. My second world cup winning captain, in this team he will be vice captain to Heather Knight.
  6. Mushtaq Mohammad – right handed batter, leg spinner. The first of two all rounders in this side.
  7. Mohammad Nabi – right handed batter, off spinner. Part of the first ever Afghanistan team, and still in the ranks when they attained test status. His role in the astonishing rise of his country as a cricketing force means that he has played against a wider range of sides than any other player in the game’s history.
  8. +Niall O’Brien – wicket keeper, right handed batter.
  9. Peter Pollock – right arm fast bowler.
  10. Iqbal Qasim – left arm orthodox spinner. Q is a  difficult letter, but he is worth is his place, and no9 is the right place in the order for him.
  11. Andy Roberts – right arm fast bowler. No11 is very low in the order for him, but the pace bowling department needs strengthening. He was the leader of original fearsome foursome of fast bowlers deployed by Clive Lloyd.

This side has a good batting line up, and an excellent variety of bowlers. Admittedly the only seam back up to the two big guns, Roberts and Pollock is Jack Hobbs, but it is still a good side.

THE CONTEST

Both of these teams look pretty good, and both have excellent captains. I think the presence of Roberts and Pollock just about gives Heather Knight’s XI the edge, but it has all the makings of a fine contest. 

LINK AND PHOTOGRAPHS

Just before my usual sign off, physics-astronomy.com have an excellent article about some new x-ray pictures of the sky. The image below, taken from the article, is formatted as a link.

X-Ray sky

Now for my pictures…

IMG_0900 (2)IMG_0900 (3)IMG_0901 (2)IMG_0901 (3)IMG_0902 (2)IMG_0903 (2)IMG_0904 (2)IMG_0904IMG_0905 (2)IMG_0906 (2)IMG_0906IMG_0907

TAII
The teams in tabulated form.