Closing Stages of County Championship Round Four

A look at developments in the County Championship as round four draws to a close.

Welcome to this post looking at the closing stages of this round of County Championship fixtures. Those who have followed each day’s posts know that Glamorgan beat Kent in two days and that Notts thrashed Derbyshire, winning early on day three. Surrey polished off Hampshire by an innings and 289 runs not long after I completed yesterday’s post, Kemar Roach raking a career best 8-40 in the second Hampshire innings, and Durham also completed their demolition of Warwickshire with a day to spare.

GAMES SETTLED TO DATE ON DAY FOUR

Lancashire beat Sussex by five wickets, Sussex’s second inning collapse proving terminal to their hopes. Failed England opener Keaton Jennings anchored the chase with 91 not out, while England hopefuls Alex Davies (73, opening alongside Jennings) and Josh Bohannon (46) also made runs. Jack Carson took 3-45 from 24 overs of off spin, giving him seven wickets in the game.

Somerset beat Middlesex by four wickets. This match had certain elements of familiarity – at Lord’s in the first round of matches Middlesex led Somerset comfortably on first innings, collapsed in the second and Somerset pulled off an impressive chase to end up winning. This match followed a very similar pattern – Middlesex were 89 ahead on first innings, but then crashed to 117 all out in the second dig. Somerset were 104-4 at the end of day three, Hildreth having scored 43 off 38 balls and Abell batting with typical solidity at no3. Abell fell for 49 early on the final morning, and was followed in short order by Bartlett, at which point it was 123-6, with debutant Lewis Goldsworthy being joined by Steven Davies. Middlesex had no further success, as Davies reached 44 not out, and Goldsworthy 41 not out, including the winning runs, a four through the covers. Goldsworthy did not get to bowl his left arm spin in this match, but 80 runs in the match for once out is a fine debut. Craig Overton enhanced his England credentials by taking 3-60 and 5-34 with the ball as well as scoring 38 not out in the first Somerset innings (due to the use of Leach as nightwatch he was padded up waiting to bat in the second). If County Championship games did player of the match awards Overton would have been a shoo-in. Goldsworthy was utterly unflappable in the chase, even when the umpires were ridiculously doctrinaire in insisting on breaking for lunch with the ask below 20 and Middlesex obviously on the ropes and it then rained, extending the interval by 15 minutes, and if we do not see him donning an England cap with a number in the low 700s I will be surprised. A full scorecard of this fine game of cricket can be viewed here.

THE REMAINING GAMES

The match between Yorkshire and Northamptonshire is currently delayed by rain at a crucial stage – Northamptonshire are 206-9 chasing a target of 220 in a match that like many a low scoring game has been nip and tuck throughout.

Overcaution by Leicestershire at Bristol means that the most likely result there is a draw – they set Gloucestershire 340 in only a little over two sessions of play, and although Gloucestershire have lost three wickets, including England hopeful James Bracey, it is likely that the clock will beat Leicestershire, although it is about 0% that Gloucestershire will do so.

At Worcester the draw is even likelier, on a wicket that must have been prepared using a steam roller, it is that flat. Essex have breathed a little life into proceedings by dismissing Worcestershire cheaply enough to enforce the follow on, but Worcestershire are 71-1 in their second innings and have only 40 overs to survive to confirm the draw. This is the second match at Worcester this season in which bowlers have been rendered toothless by the surface and I hope that Worcestershire will be docked points for what I regard as a far worse case of bad pitch preparation than the spinning surface in 2019 for which Somerset were punished.

A CRICKETING PUZZLE

From a road of a pitch to a puzzle based on a road name near my home (see picture below):

Archdale has two links to cricket history – can you identify them? (Answer in my next blog post, little hint on one of the links- don’t ignore 50% of the population just because it is a sporting question!)

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

100 Cricketers – The Second XI Opening Pair

Continuing my “100 cricketers” series with the opening pair from my second XI.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest installment in my “100 cricketers” series. We are starting on the second XI (as explained in my introductory post to the series I have organised my 100 cricketers in nine XIs with a stand alone at the end to round out the 100), with the opening batters (the whole second XI can be seen here).

CHRIS GAYLE

So far the most successful batter that T20 cricket has ever seen, he also has a fine record in other forms of the game, including having two test match triple centuries to his credit. I saw him play a magnificent innings at the Adelaide Oval, watching from what became my regular spot at that ground, the bleachers in front of the Chappell Stand. On that occasion he scored 167 not out, which left Australia with a target of 330 of 81 overs (4.07 on over). The pitch still appeared to be totally benign, and only two of the West Indies bowlers, Kemar Roach who was regularly hitting the 150KPH mark on the speed gun and Sulieman Benn with his left arm spin had looked capable of posing a serious threat. With this is mind I was hoping for a really good finish, because I did not reckon that Australia being 1-0 to the good in a three match series gave them an excuse for putting up the shutters when they had an opportunity to go for the kill.

Unfortunately Ricky Ponting assessed the situation differently and decided that no attmept would be made on what should have been a very tempting target. Most frustratingly of all, once the match had been condemned to an inevitable draw by Australia’s refusal to go for the target a couple of their batters did play some strokes near the end, showing what might have been.

Although it is his batting that earns Chris Gayle his place in my 100 cricketers he has also had occasional moments of success with his offspin bowling. 

SMRITI MANDHANA

Mandhana burst on to the scene in the 2017 Women’s World Cup, helping India to reach the final, before Anya Shrubsole’s incredible bowling, which saw her become the first female to feature on the front cover of Wisden won that match for England. In the very first match of that tournament, again between England and India Mandhana had made a spectacular 86, well supported by her opening partner Punam Raut and India had run out deserved winners. Still only 22, she is now captain of India and scoring lots of runs (although not earlier today – see my previous post).

Like Chris Gayle she bats left handed and takes a very attacking approach to the game. However she is small, while he is very tall and solidly built, so there are plenty of contrasts as well as similarities  between this pair of opening batters.

COMING UP

My next post in this series will feature the all-rounders from this second XI and then I will cover the remaining specialist batters and finally the bowlers, introducing the third XI in that post.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some of my pictures, all taken this morning:

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I was well positioned while listening to the cricket this morning to take some photographs of this facsimile 1907 railway map.

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