Two Great Finishes

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

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

YORKSHIRE V NORTHAMPTONSHIRE

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

GLOUCESTERSHIRE V LEICESTERSHIRE

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

IPL IN JEOPARDY

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

ANSWER TO YESTERDAY’S CRICKETING CONUNDRUM

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

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

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

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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…

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…

Babar Azam’s Command Performance

A look at two contrasting T20s, one featuring Babar Azam and one featuring Virat Kohli, a mathematical teaser and a lot of photographs.

There was much wailing and gnashing of Indian teeth this morning as the new ODI batting rankings came out with Babar Azam promoted to no1, pushing Virat Kohli down to no2. Both were in T20 action today, Babar for Pakistan against South Africa and Virat for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Sunrisers Hyderabad. This post tells the story of the international match and where we are at so far in the IPL game.

RUNS GALORE AT JO’BURG

Johannesburg is no stranger to high scoring matches (just ask Ricky Ponting, who once failed to defend 434 in an ODI there!) but even so South Africa would have expected a tally of 203 from their 20 overs to be chased down with quite such ridiculous ease. Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan opened the batting together and for a long time it looked like they were leading their side to a ten wicket win. Babar Azam took just 49 balls to reach his 100, and Rizwan also topped 50 quite comfortably. So unfortunately for him did Beuran Hendricks with the ball – 4-0-55-0. Eventually Babar Azam fell to the fourth ball iof the 18th over to make it 197-1, his own share 122 off 59 balls. Fakhar Zaman came in to bat and clouted the last two balls of the 18th over for fours to settle the issue with nine wickets and two whole overs unused.

RCB V SRH

Kohli was named to no one’s surprise as captain and opening batter in the Royal Challengers Bangalore XI to face Sunrisers Hyderabad. Such is Kohli’s power in certain circles that an innings of 33 off 29 balls, in reality an awful performance in a T20, was described by at least one commentator as “An excellent cameo.” Only Maxwell, who came close to living up to his moniker of “The Big Show” with 59 not out off 41 balls, did anything significant with the bat and RCB were held to 149-8 from their 20 overs, a total that seems modest. Rashid Khan as so often in any game of which is part was well to the fore with the ball, finishing with 2-18 from his four overs, and outstanding effort in this form of cricket. Although Saha fell for just one in the reply David Warner and Manish Pandey seem to be in little trouble, with SRH now 32-1 off four overs and looking set for a comfortable win.

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

This is today’s offering from brilliant.org, slightly modified as their setting gave multiple choice options for the answer, which opened up a hack that I availed myself of. Can you solve this in the intended way and work out the answer? My hack, and an authentic solution will appear in my next post. Click here for more.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off, with Warner and Pandey still going nicely, and Bairstow waiting to come in next…

PS as I publish, SRH are 75-1 in the tenth, well on course to chase down the modest target they have been set.