The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket also appears at 99.94.
Ball One – The sodding weather keeps the grounds sodden and cricket still, this deep into July, a game played between the showers. The only people having a worse “summer” than county finance directors (who are cushioned to some extent by insurance – I hope!) are the groundstaffs around the country. Let’s hope their work is recognised by benefits and testimonials in 2012 – as sometimes happens. There’s a case for a “tax” on centrally contracted players’s benefits being levied by committees and going to groundstaff. The superstars couldn’t play the game which gives them a vary handsome living without the lads who are first in and last out every day.
Ball Two – Surrey played matches at The Oval on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and lost them all. On the Wednesday, they attended the funeral of the man whose last match was the one that started their losing streak, straight after Rory Hamilton-Brown’s men had won their first two matches. Post-Diana, grief can go on too long – but it’s impossible not to sympathise with the club in this tournament. Surrey’s focus has now shifted to the defence of the CB40 title and the need to stay in Division One of the LVCC.
Ball Three – The last of those Oval matches was the local derby vs Middlesex and it was, if not quite a thriller, a close run thing. Despite having taken 3-12 on debut the previous day at Chelmsford, Ollie Wilkin was not one of eight bowlers used by Nick Dexter and was hidden away at Number 9 in the order. Until the last over betrayed his nerves, the 20 year-old batted beautifully, making 28 from 18 balls and his case for inclusion in Middlesex’s limited overs plans. He also showed the benefit of having a finisher lurk, Lance Klusener-like, late in batting orders.
Ball Four – Okay, maybe there’s a little bitterness, but I’ve written here before of Duckworth-Lewis apparently favouring sides batting second. After Lancashire had made 178-4 in their 20 overs, rain muscled in again and Notts had the target adjusted for five overs – to 49. Now 178 isn’t a great score, but it was bettered only by Sussex this week, the best of the eleven scores in finished matches. And 49 off 30 balls? Notts hit ten boundaries and cruised home – as you would expect.
Ball Five – Though I’m sceptical about the benefits of pace in T20 cricket, 18 year-old Reece Topley is making the counter-argument well. His 3-19 from four overs was enough to restrict Kent to a total 23 shy of Essex’s 149-5. Topley pays less than 16 runs for his 14 T20 wickets – and only Mitchell Starc has more. The tall Essex man is still learning, but the selectors will be watching his progress closely.
Ball Six – LVCC fixtures start again this week. There’s a strange contradiction in the fact that we have missed so much T20 cricket, yet it’s a relief to see the back of it. And that’s as good an argument as any for the planned reduction in group fixtures next season.
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