County Championship Round Up

An account of goings on the County Championship, a brief mention of physio at Tapping House and lots of photographs.

INTRODUCTION

The County Championship matches currently in progress are now on day 3 of 4. In this post I will look at all of them before sharing some more of my photos.

THE STATE OF PLAY IN
THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

This is what is happening around the country…

  • Nottinghamshire v Essex Nottinghamshire 187 and 157, Essex 241 and 81-1, Essex need a further 24 to win.
    The Nottinghamshire batting has failed twice, leaving Essex a fairly clear run to victory. No Nottinghamshire batter topped 50 in either innings. Nick Browne made 67 in the Essex first dig, while spinner Simon Harmer destroyed the Notts second innings with 6-50. Tom Westley is on the verge of only the second half-century of the match and is being staunchly supported by the only knight of the realm currently playing first class cricket. Joe Clarke of my “Five to Follow” made 48 and 1 for Notts.
  • Kent v YorkshireYorkshire 210 and 328-4, Kent 296.
    Kent took what would have looked a useful first innings lead, but Yorkshire have turned this one around in their second innings. They will now be eyeing up a declaration to give Kent an awkward period of batting before the close today and then the whole of tomorrow. 81 for Zak Crawley and 103 from wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson were Kent’s main batting efforts, while Gary Ballance is 143 not out in the second Yorkshire innings. Ben Coad and Duanne Olivier each took three wickets for Yorkshire.
  • Surrey v SomersetSurrey 380 and 19-2, Somerset 398.
    This one could go a long way to deciding the ultimate destiny of the title as it features the defending champions (Surrey) and the form side thus far this year (Somerset). So far this shaping up as Lewis Gregory’s match – three wickets in the first innings, a magnificent 129 not out, including 10 fours and five sixes to give Somerset a first innings lead and already has a second innings wicket (the other second innings wicket has gone to the Devonian giant Craig Overton). Somerset have quite a tradition of pace bowlers who love to give the ball a wallop – Sammy Woods, Arthur Wellard, Maurice Tremlett (grandfather of Chris, father of Tim), the one with whom we do not compare up and coming allrounders because it gives them an impossible benchmark and a few other lesser names, and Gregory with the development of his batting bids fair to join them. It would be a big ask for anyone to start out in an Ashes series, but I certainly hope that Gregory will be in the winter touring parties. George Bartlett failed in the Somerset first innings but may get a second chance, if Somerset bowl Surrey out.
  • Warwickshire v HampshireHampshire 354 and 186-3, Warwickshire 233.
    I suspect that Hampshire will be looking at batting until there is an hour to go in this day’s play before sticking Warwickshire back in to face a huge target in the fourth innings. The fact that they are going at over five an over in a four-day game tells me that they are looking very definitely at victory. Alsop made 150 in the first Hampshire innings, Sibley carried his bat through the Warwickshire first innings for his sixth century in as many matches. 23 year-old Oliver Soames scored 62 in the second Hampshire innings, 22 year-old Joe Weatherley 46, while Northeast and Rossouw are currently batting together.
  • Glamorgan v GloucestershireGlamorgan 250 and 184-1, Gloucestershire 463.
    Glamorgan are making a fight of this in their second innings, but probably need to bat until teatime tomorrow to save this one after conceding such a huge first innings deficit. Ryan Higgins matched James Bracey’s century in the Gloucestershire innings, while Hemphrey and Wagg made fifties in the Glamorgan first innings. Hemphrey has made another fifty in the second innings while Nicholas Selman is on 83 not out. 20 year-old offspinner George Drissell took 4-83 in the Glamorgan first innings.
  • Lancashire v NorthamptonshireNorthamptonshire 230 and 54-3, Lancashire 415.
    Lancashire are in control of this one. Jennings and Vilas each contributed 97 to the Lancashire first innings, while Luke Wood took 5-72. Temba Bavuma and Rob Keogh are batting together for Northamptonshire at present.
  • Middlesex v LeicestershireMiddlesex 349 and 147-8, Leicestershire 268.
    After taking a useful looking first innings lead Middlesex are making an utter Horlick’s of their second innings, giving Leicestershire a way back into the match. Sixties for Ackerman and Dearden were the principal scores for Leicestershire, while no one has reached 40 in the Middlesex second innings. Tom Taylor and Chris Wright each have three wickets.
  • Worcestershire v DurhamDurham 273 and 107-5, Worcestershire 390.
    Durham are deep in trouble in this one. A century for Wessels and 61 for 21 year old Some  helped Worcestershire to a substantial first innings lead. In the Durham second innings Burnham and Liam Trevaskis are together, the latter having picked up a wicket with his slow left-arm in the Worcestershire innings.

Essex have completed their win over Nottinghamshire. Westley fell for 49, but Dan Lawrence and the knight saw Essex home, the latter finishing with 40 not out. Jack Leach has just bagged a wicket with his slow-leftarmers, reducing Surrey to 43-3, a mere 24 runs on – defo looking good for Somerset.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Some of these photographs were taken at Tapping House where I had a physio session on Tuesday. All the exercises went well, highlighted by the arms only part of cycling, where I clocked up the equivalent of a mile in three minutes.

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These are the Tappin House shots…

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The last of the Tapping House shots.

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A moon in a daytime sky

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Another shot of the moon in a daytime sky.

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Yesterday’s Outcomes and Today’s Predictions

An account of the outcome of yesterday’s matches and prediciions on all of those matches from today that were still going at the time of writing.

INTRODUCTION

In this post I cover the outcomes of yesterday’s matches and make halfway predictions on today’s matches.

YESTERDAY’S MATCHES

I made predictions about two games yesterday:

  • Middlesex v SussexSussex 298 (48 overs), Middlesex 176 all out (33-3 overs), Sussex won by 122 runs.
    Luke Wright’s magnificent innings seemed to have taken this game right away from Middlesex, and so it proved. Middlesex’s effort was surprisingly spineless. Eskinazi top scored with 42. Mir Hamza had 3-43, George Garton 2-35, and left-arm spinner Danny Briggs 2-11 from five overs.
  • Kent v PakistanPakistan 358-7 from 50 overs, Kent 258 all out (44.1 overs) Pakistan won by 100 runs.
    Kent fared respectably faced with a huge total from Pakistan but were never in the contest. Alex Blake made 89, but did not have enough support, the next best effort being 49 from Ollie Robinson. Yasir Shah took three wickets but also got smashed for 90 runs in his ten overs. Fakhar Zaman, Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali all took two wickets, and the first Ashraf was outstandingly economical as well (just 16 conceded in five overs).

Thus I called both correctly, meaning that my overall record now stands at 23/36…

TODAY’S PREDICTIONS

Unfortunately Leicestershire’s incompetence has denied me the opportunity to make on prediction as that match is already over – I will cover it at the end of this section. Here are the remainder:

  • Worcestershire v WarwickshireWarwickshire 315-5 from 50 overs
    Sam Hain’s 161 was the backbone of a decent total for Warwickshire (offspinning allrounder Liam Banks was second with 44). However, Worcetsershire have made some big totals already this season and I back them to chase this one down. There were no notable bowling efforts from Worcestershire.
  • Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire Yorkshire 213 all out from 42.2 overs
    A poor total for Yorkshire, and I fully expect Nottinghamshire to cruise home with time to spare. 63 for Adam Lyth and 39 from Harry Brook were the best batting efforts. Jake Ball with 3-32 was the most successful bowler.
  • Gloucestershire v Somerset Somerset 242-9 from 50 overs
    Not a huge total for Somerset, but given their bowlers and their record thus far I fully expect them to defend it. Lewis Gregory top scored with 52 (if the Somerset bowlers do what I expect he will be serious candidate for player of the match), and there were forties from Azhar Ali and Tom Abell. Benny Howell with 3-45 and Tom Smith with 2-36 were the pick of the Gloucestershire bowlers.
  • Glamorgan v Surrey Glamorgan 323-7 from 50 overs.
    A big total for Glamorgan, and one that shoukld be enough even for them to be able to defend it. Billy Root, younger brother of England test skipper Joe Root, made 113 not out and Marchant De Lange 58 not out. Morne Morkel took 3-47 for Surrey.
  • Essex v Hampshire Essex 341-6 from 50 overs
    A fine total by Essex, and one that they should defend without too much trouble. The leading Essex scores were 89 a piece from Ravi Bopara and Ryan Ten Doeschate (the latter’s coming off just 53 balls), while Tom Westley hit 48. In amongst Essex’s revenge for their county championship humiliation by Hampshire at the start odf the season bits ‘n’ pieces man Liam Dawson took 2-39 from his 10 overs.
  • Durham v Derbyshire Derbyshire 255-8 from 50 overs
    A so-so effort from Derbyshire, and the fact that Critchley (49 not out) and Lace (48) were the top scorers leads to me to suspect that Durham will chase these down. No one had stand out figures among the Durham bowlers, although Liam Trevaskis was once again the most economical with 1-21 from five overs. 

So my predicitions are Worcestershire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Glamorgan, Essex and Durham, which leaves the one I was denied an opportunity to predict:

Lancashire v Leicestershire Leicestershire 80 all out from 37 overs, Lancashire 83-1 from 19 overs, Lancashire won by nine wickets with 186 balls.
A disgraceful show from Leicestershire. Harry Dearden made 20 and Ben Mike 18, and those were the only double figure scores for Leicestershire, while Saqib Mahmood took 5-14 to continue a good season fo him, Liam Hurt, whose profile on cricinfo remains very incomplete, though I can reveal from Lancashire’s own records that he is a 24 year old right arm seamer, took 2-24. Although Jennings contrived to lose his wicket to Dieter Klein, Steven Croft (37 not out) and Haseeb Hameed (29 not out) took Lancashire to a ridiculously easy victory. Leicestershire should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for this capitulation. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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Yesterdays Results and Predictions for Today

The outcome of yesterday’s predictions, and accounts and predicitions from today’s Royal London Cup matches plus some other features.

INTRODUCTION

Today we beign with a look back at such actions as there was in yesterdays two Royal London Cup matches, and then around the grounds at today’s matches, most of which are now at the half-way stage.

YESTERDAY’S MATCHES

Just the two games:

  • Middlesex v SurreyMiddlesex 277 all out from 50 overs, Surrey 240 all out from 48 overs, Middlesex won by 37 runs.
    Surrey were always behind the rate in this one, although they retained hope until Ben Foakes (71, the highest individual score of the game) was out. For Middlesex Tom Helm and Nathan Sowter each took four wickets. I had called this one for Surrey.
  • Glamorgan v Kent Glamorgan 68-2 from 15 overs, no result, rain
    The rain never did ease in this one, so ended as a no result. Kent would have been heavy favourites had the rain eased off enough to allow them a 10 over run chase of what would presumably have been around about 75-80. As it is, although my comments on this one allowed for the possibility of the weather triumphing I can hardly count it as a successful prediction, since I really called it in Kent’s favour.

Thus, for the first time in six match days I was wrong on more predictions than I was right on – 0/2 to be precise. However, my record remains 18/29.

TODAY’S PREDICTIONS

A number of matches to call…

  • Hampshire v GloucestershireHampshire 331-8 from 50 overs
    At 65-4 this was looking poor for Hampshire, but James Vince and Liam Dawson rescued the home team with a stand 186, before Dawson was out for 73. Vince went on to a Hampshire List A record individual score of 190, being out with one ball remaining in the innings. Chris Liddle with 4-66 was the star of the Gloucestershire bowlers. Thanks to Vince’s innings I think Hampshire will win this one. The commentary team featured Emily Windsor, a 21 year old batter for Hampshire Women.
  • Northamptonshire v WorcestershireWorcestershire 254-9 from 50 overs.
    A modest total by today’s standards for Worcestershire. Hamish Rutherford made 126, but no one else reached 30. For Northants Cobb, Sanderson Keogh  and Buck all took two wickets, while Muzarabani was economical in his opening spell (1-13 from five overs). I expect Northants to knock these off with some comfort.
  • Nottinghamshire v Leicestershire Nottinghamshire 433-7 from 50 overs
    A huge total for Nottinghamshire. All of the top six in their order reached fifty, the scores being as follows: Chris Nash 56 off 53, Joe Clarke 55 off 44, Ben Duckett 86 off 61, Jake Libby 66 off 52, Tom Moores 50 off 32 and Steven Mullaney 81 off 41. Gavin Griffiths took 3-92 from nine overs and I will spare the blushes of the remaining Leicestershire bowlers.
  • Warwickshire v DurhamWarwickshire 248-8 from 50 overs
    62 from Tim Ambrose and 50 a piece from Sam Hain and Chris Woakes saved Warwickshire from complete disaster, but this is a modest score (only one lower total was defended in this competition last season, and only one so far this season). For Durham Ben Carse had 3-46, Matty Potts 2-46 and the two most economical bowlers, Liam Trevaskis and Ben Raine, each with 1-29 from seven overs did not get to bowl their full allocation! Nevertheless, I expect Durham to win this one with something to spare.
  • Yorkshire v DerbyshireYorkshire 308-2 in 40 overs, rain has intervened.
    Huge scoring from Yorkshire, and with only two wickets lost they were heavy favourites for a 400plus score when the rain came. This will be reflected in the adjusted total that Derbyshire have to chase – the scoring rate required will certainly by a minimum of 8.25 an over, perhaps 8.50 or even 9.00 depending on how many overs are left for the Derbyshire innings (the D/L bases these things on resources, which include wickets and overs remaining, and with 20% of their overs and 80% of their wickets remaining Yorkshire had plenty of resources to have a real dart in the closing stages of their innings). Therefore, assuming that the rain eases sufficiently for a match to be completed I expect Yorkshire to win comfortably. All four Yorkshire players who batted had 50s: Tom Kohler-Cadmore 79 off 92, Adam Lyth 78 off 60, David Willey 72 not out off 49 and Harry Brook 59 not out off 40. The Derbyshire biolwing figures are best not talked about.

The other game, between Essex and Somerset at Colchester was scheduled to start at 1:00PM but delayed by rain until 3PM and is already reduced to 39 overs per side. It is too early to attempt to call this one, though Somerset have made a decent start.

LINKS AND PICTURES

Emboldened by the fact that a petition calling for him to be sacked had garnered 40,000 signatures Farmer’s Weekly put up a poll asking whether people thought the BBC should sack Chris Packham. At the moment 71% of the 78208 people who have voted are in the “no” camp along with me (this means that 55,579 voters do not think he should be sacked, comfortably exceeding the number of signatories to the petition). Click here to view the article and vote if it is still open.

From brilliant.org I offer you a little teaser:

orange

Three twitter finds to lead up to my regular sign off:

Now for my regular sign off…

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The Royal London Cup Round 2 Fixtures

A look at what is happening in the Royal London Cup, complete with predictions. Also some of my photopgraphs.

INTRODUCTION

The seven daytime Royal London Cup Fixtures taking place today have all reached the halfway stage, and as in this post, where I was 3/5 on predictions I will be essaying predictions as to the outcomes of these fixtures, as well as drawing attention to noteworthy efforts within the matches. Wihtou further ado…

THE ROYAL LONDON CUP 19/4

  • Derbyshire v NorthamptonshireDerbyshire 268-6 from 50 overs
    This total represents a fightback by Derbyshire, as at one stage they were 137-5. This and the fact that the sides batting first all won their games last time out influences me to call this one in Derbyshir’s favour. Billy Godleman played the anchor role for Derbyshire with 87 off 124 balls, while Matt Critchley scored 64 not out off 51 balls, having come in at 137-5. Blessing Muzurabani picked up 2-54 and Jason Holder 2-62. 
  • Warwickshire v YorkshireWarwickshire 270-8 from 50 overs
    Various Warwickshire players got starts, but only Tim Ambrose (77 off 108 balls) made a really significant score. Matthew Pillans added another three wickets to the five he took in the opening game, while Bresnan and Poysden took two each. I would expect Yorkshire to make it two wins out of two – all it will take is two of their top order play significant innings.
  • Durham v Leicestershire Leciestershire 233-9 from 50 overs
    Leicestershire were 112-7 at the low water mark of their innings, so this score represents a fight back. However, although it runs contrary to my hopes given their awful choice of captain I expect Durham to win this fairly easily and make it two wins from two. Tom Taylor made 59 off 63 balls and Dieter Klein, also mainly a bowler, scored 46 off 71 balls in the latter stages. Brydon Carse took 3-58, while Liam Trevaskis had 2-37 from his full 10 overs.
  • Hampshire v GlamorganGlamorgan 292-9 overs
    This is a tough one to call – Glamorgan’s total looks quite good, but none of their batters got more than 68 (achieved by David Lloyd off 62 balls and Graham Wagg off 57 balls). Kyle Abbott took 3-47 and Liam Dawson 2-57. Bearing in mind the successes of sides batting first so far this season I am going to predict a win for Glamorgan. 
  • Notinghamshire v Lancashire Nottinghamshire 417-7 from 50 overs
    A monster score by Nottinghamshire. Cricket is a glorious game precisely because it is wonderfully unpredictable, but it will the story of the day if Lancashire chase these down. My prediction is therefore a Nottinghamshire victory. Joe Clarke made 139 off 99 balls at the top off the order, Ben Slater hit 74 off 82, Tom Moores 74 off 39 and Luke Fletcher 46 not out off 17 at the end. Graham Onions managed 2–70 from his 10, quite an achievement in such a huge score, and Saqib Mahmood, a young medium pacer, collected 2-88 from his 10.
  • Somerset v Kent Somerset 358-9 from 50 overs
    A big total for Somerset, and one that I confidently expect them to defend. Tom Banton, a 20 year old keeper-batter scored 107 off 79 balls at the top of the Somerset order, Lewis Gregory contributed 51 from 45, and Craig Overton scored 66 not out off 36 at the death. Stevens, Podmore, Klassen and Milnes each took two wickets, the veteran Stevens managing to go for only 50 from his ten overs.
  • Essex v MiddlesexMiddlesex 366-8 from 50 overs
    A great effort by Middlesex. Dawid Malan led off with 95 from 102 balls, and Nick Gubbins with 56 off 57 kept things going when Middlesex might have got into trouble, before George Scott, a 23 year old right hander, scored 63 off just 28 balls to give the total a late boost. Peter Siddle took 3-71 and Dan Lawrence’s leg spin brought him 2-63 – his batting will be needed later if Essex are to get anywhere near chasing this total down. I expect Middlesex to win this one, especially given that teams batting first have done so well so far this season.

Thus my calls in these games are: Derbyshire, Yorskhire, Durham, Glamorgan, Nottinghamshire, Somersert and Middlesex. The Surrey v Sussex match is at too early a stage for a prediction as it is a day/night game. Surrey are 206-4 in the 40th over. Will Jacks made 56 for Surrey, Foakes has 41 not out and Pope, just starting to hit the launchpad, is 32 not out. None the Sussex bowlers have really noteworthy figures. If Foakes and Pope keep going and propel Surrey to something in the vicinity of 300 they will be favourites, while if Sussex keep Surrey below about 270 they will have a good chance. Update – Pope has just gone for 33, making 209-5, swinging things back towards Sussex. Rikki Clarke has joined Foakes. 

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

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The Royal London Cup and England’s World Cup Squad

My thoughts on the early stages of the Royal London Cup and England’s world cup 2019 squad.

INTRODUCTION

The day games in today’s first set of Royal London Cup Fixtures are now at the half way stage (Hampshire v Kent is a day/night game, and did not start until 1PM), and I shall be looking at what has happened thus far and venturing predictions as to the outcomes. Also England released their world cup 2019 squad today and I shall be looking at that. We being with…

THE ROYAL LONDON CUP

This is a 50 overs a side tournament, and is being played over the next month. Today sees the opening fixtures of the tournament and the situations, with all matches bar one at the innings break are:

Durham v Northamptonshire Durham 342-5 from 50 overs
A good score for Durham, with Bancroft making 151 not out and Michael Richardson 102. The Northanmptonshire bowlers gave away almost two and half overs worth of extra deliveries. Bizarrely Luke Procter, the most economical Northamptonshire bowler with 1-33 from 7 overs did not get to bowl his full allocation. Although I would prefer to Durham lose every game at present due to their choice of captain this is a total that should be defensible – it will require a huge effort for Northamptonshire to get them, so my predicted result here is victory for Durham.

Yorkshire v LeicestershireYorkshire 379-7 from 50 overs
A big score for Yorkshire. Gary Ballance top scored with 156 off 133 balls, youngster Harry Brook made 103 off 105, wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall made 58 off 29 to boost the total at the end. The Ballance/ Brook efforts are notable because Yorkshire had lost three early wickets when they came together. Tom Taylor took 3-57 (the first three to fall) from his 10 overs, a notable achievement in such a score. Yorkshire really should be able to defend this total, so my prediction is victory for them.

Lancashire v WorcestershireWorcestershire 367 all out from 49.1 overs
A big total from Worcestershire. I do not set as much store by using all of the 50 overs as some, so I am not that bothered by Worcs being all out before the end of their allocation. Hamish Rutherford and Daryl Mitchell made centuries for Worcestershire and keeper/batter Ricky Wessels a rapid 72 (he does not share his father Kepler’s approach to batting). Matt Parkinson, a 22 year old legspinner, took 5-51 for Lancashire, a very fine achievement particularly in view of the size of the Worcs total. Worcestershire should win this with that total on the board and that is my prediction.

Gloucestershire v Surrey Gloucestershire 235 all out off 47.1 overs
A poor looking total for Gloucestershire in the match between the county of my birth and the one where I lived for most of formative years. Chris Dent made 75 and wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick 74, but no one else did anything significant. Rikki Clarke took 4-43 and Tom Curran celebrated his world cup call-up with 3-29 from 9 overs. Frankly Surrey should knock these off no bother at all, and such is my predicted result.

Glamorgan v Essex Essex 326-7 from 50 overs
A good looking total for Essex, but definitely chaseable in this day and age (especially given the scoring in the recent championship game at Cardiff). Varun Chopra played the anchor role with 111 off 133, while Tom Westley hit 69 off 54 and Dan Lawrence 56 off 37. Sir Alastair Cook scored 40 off 41 to give the innings a solid start. Graham Wagg with 2-49 and Michael Hogan 2-52 were the pick of the bowlers. Given the nature of the Cardiff pitch so far this season I back Glamorgan to chase this one down.

Kent v Hampshire Hampshire 183-3 after 32.4 overs
Hampshire look to be going quite well here. James Vince made 56, while Sam Northeast and Rilee Rossouw are 38 not and 37 not respectively and seem to be going well. Matt Milnes has 2-24 from 5 overs for Kent. It is too early to attempt to call this one, but if Hampshire have a good finish to their innings and get somewhere close to 300 they will have a chance, while if Kent bowl well and restrict Hampshire to somewhere in the region of 250 they will be favourites.

ENGLAND’S WORLD CUP SQUAD

Here courtesy of Test Match Special’s twitter account is England’s World Cup Squad:

World Cup Squad

I rate Sam Curran a better cricketer than his brother, and would prefer to see him in the squad, but I have no huge problems with the selected squad, which has all bases other than slow left-arm spin covered. Liam Dawson, who some might conisder to fill that niche is not good enough in either department. If Liam Trevaskis develops his bowling to set alongside his promising batting (albeit he made a blob today) he may come to fill that particular niche in future, but unless you are prepared to select a non-batting spinner in Jack Leach for limited overs cricket there is no one else at present. I am glad that the selectors have not rushed the newly qualified Jofra Archer straight into the squad – a world cup is not the place for a player to be starting their international career.

PHOTOGRAPHY

My usual sign off…

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The Ninth XI – Two Unlucky County Stalwarts

The latest in my “100 cricketers” series, featuring two county stalwarts who I considewr unlucky not have had higher honours, Tony Cottey and Colin Metson. Also features some thoughts on the first round of county championship matches of 2019 including a “Five to Follow” feature that I shall be revisiting.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the latest post in my “100 cricketers” series. In the spotlight today are two of my most controversial selections. Before getting into the main meat of the “100 cricketers” part of the post I am going to look back briefly at the first round of County Championship matches in the 2019 season. The introductory post to the whole series can be found here, the post in which I introduce the ninth XI here and the most recent post in the series here.

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND ONE RETROSPECTIVE

Six matches were played, four had definite reults and two were drawn (see yesterday’s post for more details). Here I am going to pick out what I consider points of interest from each game and pick out five players who I shall be looking out for through the season.

  • Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire – Nottinghamshire 408 and 329-5 declared, Yorkshire 291 and 277-2, match drawn
    The second innings batting efforts of Root and Ballance for Yorkshire notwithstanding this match was dominated by the performance of Nottinghamshire’s Joe Clarke (112 and 97 not out). In the end the pitch won this contest comfortably, but Nottinghamshire were right to give themselves a whole day to attempt to bowl Yorkshire out a second time, even though Clarke was close to his second hundred of the match – the team counts for more than the individual. Neither of these sides impressed me overall, and with Joe Clarke clearly a probably for England selection in the near future Nottinghamshire in particular are likely to find this season a long, tough one.
  • Somerset v Kent – Somerset 171 and 243 beat Kent 209 and 131 by 74 runs
    Listening to the commentary on the closing stages of this match was a privelege and pleasure – the tension was palpable as Somerset pushed for victory and Kent did their best to resist. The first day was lost to the weather, and Kent had the better of both the next two days. 21 year old George Bartlett, helped by veteran Jack Brooks in a substantial last wicket stand gave Somerset something to defend on the final morning, and Lewis Gregory did most of the rest. It is great news for Somerset that they are off to a winning start, and the fact that they have never won the champtionship inclines me as a natural supporter of the underdog to root for them somewhat, but they will need runs from the top order if they are to maintain their good start – the middle and lower order cannot rescue you every time. Kent seem likely to struggle – facing a target of 206 in this match they responded to being under serious pressure for the first time in the contest by slumping to 48-6 from which position it was only a matter of time.
  • Hampshire v EssexHampshire 525-8 declared beat Essex 164 and 274 by an innings and 88 runs.
    An injury prevented Adam Wheater from batting in either innings for Essex, but this cannot be dressed up as anything other than a thorough thrashing for them. Sam Northeast had the star performance of the game with 169 in the Hampshire innings. West Indian Fidel Edwards and South African Kolpak player Kyle Abbott bowled well for Hampshire. Hampshire seem likely to fare well, while Essex along with Nottinghamshire and Kent seem booked for a struggle to avoid relegation.
  • Sussex v LeicestershireLeicestershire 252 and 232-3 beat Sussex 173 and 308 by 7 wickets
    Full credit to Leicestershire for what was in the end a comfortable win. The feature performance of the game came from young Sussex opener Philip Salt who made 80 in his team’s second innings. Neither of these teams showed enough for me to venture predictions regarding their promotion chances, although Leicestershire having got away to a winning start have more to be happy about than Sussex.
  • Northamptonshire v  Middlesex – Northants 445 and 10-0, Middlesex 271 and 317-4 declared – match drawn
    Northants did the right thing enforcing the follow-on and attempting to squeeze out a victory, but Middlesex got themselves out of trouble, largely thanks to their captain Dawid Malan (160 not out). All the evidence from this match suggests that these sides have batting aplenty but lack strength in bowling, and that is likely to mean a tough season – by and large to win a first class match you need to capture 20 wickets.
  • Derbyshire v Durham – Derbyshire 197 and 334 beat Durham 171 and 235 by 125 runs.
    A comfortable win for Derbyshire, and good news for those of us (including me) who think that Durham’s decision to give the captaincy to Cameron Bancroft of ‘sandpapergate’ infamy was an appalling one. Until and unless Durham repent and find someone else to captain I for one will be rooting for their opponents every time. I expect as well as hope that this will be a difficult season for Durham, while Derbyshire may yet do well. Now it is time for…

FIVE TO FOLLOW

Most of my five nominations are speculative in nature, in some cases very speculative, and I go through them from least to most speculative. 

  • Joe Clarke (Nottinghamshire) – I will be very surprised if he is not an England player before the end of this season. At the moment his record stands at 4,174 first class runs at 40.92, with 14 centuries and that 97 not out in the second innings in 112 visits to the crease, and he is still only 22. He was obviously a class apart from any of his team mates in the match against Yorkshire. 
  • Lewis Gregory (Somerset) – There will soon be vacancies for pace bowlers in the England team, and the 26 year-old has 217 first-class wickets at 27.31 from his 75 matches, with a best of 6-47. He is also not the worst lower order batter, with an average of 20.57. After his team dug themselves out of a big hole against Kent he bowled thgem to victory with 5-18. 
  • Philip Salt (Sussex) – The 22 year-old had a couple of headline making innings last year, and has 80 against Leicestershire in the first match of this season may well have impressed some in high places. I would like to see him score a few more centuries before he is seriously considered, but England do have problems at the top of their order at the moment, which can only be good news for a youngster who is scoring runs up top at present. I do not expect him feature at international level this season, but a really strong showing might earn him a winter tour spot, and would be surprised if he does not play for England somewhere along the line.
  • George Bartlett (Somerset) – He holds the record innings score for an England under 19 player abroad with 179. He is now 21, and started this season in a match that he had not expected to be playing in by scoring a crucial 63 to help give his side something to bowl at, and it proved to be enough. His off-spin has hardly been used in first-class cricket, but he may possibly develop it in time. He needs an extended run in the first team and some big scores to be seriously considered for England, but the way he responded to his team being put under severe pressure in the match against Kent augurs well for the future – he clearly has the right temperament.
  • Liam Trevaskis (Durham) – This one is a complete flyer on my part, picked with eyes focussed fully on the future. The 19 year old slow left-armer played just his second first class match against Derbyshire, had match figures of 1-59 and contributed 42 runs for once out in a losing cause. April is not usually a kind month to spinners of any kind, so even one wicket represents an achievement, and his second innings 27 not out, when most of his team mates surrendered tamely showed character as well. I will be in the sort of position Neville Cardus found himself in about Victor Trumper – Cardus used to pray that Trumper would score a century in an Australian total of 137 all out! I fo not pray being an atheist, but will be hoping that Trevaskis gets among the wickets and runs but that his team Durham get beaten.

Now on to the “100 cricketers” part of this post, starting with…

TONY COTTEY

277 first class appearances brought him 14,567 runs at 36.69, with 31 centuries and a best score of 203. I saw him live when Glamorgan took on Somerset at the St Helens Ground in Swansea in 1995 (for the record I was sitting at the town end of the ground, looking straight down the wicket towards to sea). Glamorgan were three down for about 80 when he came out to bat, and could have found themselves in trouble on what was a decent pitch. Cottey, with his team needing runs, reached a century in almost exactly three hours, being out for 115 in just under 200 minutes. It was a superb innings, and the only chance he offered was the one that was finally taken to end it. Glamorgan reached just over 300. Somerset headed this, but not by a signifcant amount, as Andy Hayhurst snailed his way to 96 in almost six hours on the second day, and the second top score came from Peter Bowler (73), not exactly known for entertainment value either. Somerset paid for their slow scoring on day 2, when Robert Croft spun through them in their second innings on day 4 (6-78 in the innings). The performance that made it all possible for Glamorgan though was Cottey’s on the first day when he took the match by the scruff of the neck with that innings – from that time on Glamorgan were right in the game. 

Given some of the people who did get selected for England in the 1990s and given England’s record at that time (which varied between poor and downright dreadful depending on the year) I feel that Tony Cottey, a battler who tended to score his runs, as on the occasion I have mentioned, when they were most needed, was unlucky to miss out, and I had no hesitation in naming him in my 100 cricketers.

+COLIN METSON

232 first class matches yielded him 4,,032 runs at 17.43 with a best score of 96 and saw him take 561 catches and effect 51 stumpings. He was at his best just as selectors were starting to look first and foremost and what keepers did with the bat and put their keeping skills in second place. Although he was undeniably a modest practitioner with the bat Metson did tend to score such runs as he made when they were most needed (earlier in the 1995 season mentioned above it was he, together with left-arm slow bowler Neil Kendrick, who rescued Glamorgan from 140-8 on a green top against Sussex, getting them up to 212, which was sufficient for a first innings lead, although the game ended up a draw due to the weather). As a keeper he was excellent, making very few if any mistakes. Most of the wicketkeepers I have named in the course of this series of posts have been genuinely front line batters as well, but I wanted to feature a specialist keeper as well, and my thoughts turned naturally to the perenially unlucky Colin Metson, who saw a succession of inferior practitioners selected on the basis of supposed batting skills that most of them failed to deliver on at the highest level.

LOOKING AHEAD

I have three more posts lined up for ninth XI and a stand alone post to complete the hundred (have a guess if you dare at who will feature in that one), in which I will also publish the entire list in one place – that last post will tie the whole series together. I will then have to decide on a new project for this blog to replace the “100 cricketers” series. The “Five to Follow” named in this post will feature again through the cricket season as I look at their performances. That leaves me one more thing to complete this post…

PHOTOGRAPHS

Yes, we are at the end of another post, and for those who have made it all the way, here is my usual sign off…

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