Category: County cricket news (page 1 of 70)

Cor! Strength! (and core weakness)

If bowlers didn’t require torsos, Sussex might have been all right. Side strains, pectoral injuries and dodgy spines meant that Chris Jordan played six matches, Ajmal Shahzad played five and Tymal Mills just two. It’s hard to win much without your pace attack and relegation has ensued.

If they can find a way of grafting bowling arms to hips in time for next season, Sussex might do okay. The skiddy trajectory may even result in a greater number of lbws. Otherwise, they’re probably in the right division – particularly as they’re now without Mike Yardy’s nurdlesome grit.

Meanwhile, Paul Edwards points out that Yorkshire’s winning margin in the first division, 68 points, is greater than the gap between runners-up Middlesex and bottom-placed Worcestershire.

With hindsight, it’s not entirely clear why anyone else even bothered taking part. In many ways they didn’t.

A straightforward easy-to-follow climax to the County Championship

No, really.

No totting up bonus points in matches you had assumed were irrelevant. No poring over the rules to find out when exactly those bonus points are earned. No keeping track of all of this across three different matches.

For once, it’s simple. Unless we’ve missed something (highly likely) then if Sussex lose, they are relegated. If they don’t lose, Hampshire are relegated.

Here’s the scorecard.

At the time of writing, Sussex look very much like they are going to lose, but Mike Yardy’s in and Mike Yardy’s a county titan, as oxymoronic as that is. We suppose someone also has to survive at the other end, but Yardy’s titania is surely infectious enough for that to be no issue.

We fully expect Mike Yardy to be dismissed the moment we click ‘publish’.

In the cold September rain

Apparently it’s been slatting it down all day in the South-East. Bad news for Surrey, who are pushing to become second division ‘champions’ in one of the few matters left unresolved this domestic season.

We use inverted commas around ‘champions’ in much the same way as if we were saying ‘most insightful’ football phone-in. It seems an entirely inappropriate word to use in reference to the second division of the County Championship.

Surrey are of course vying for ‘supremacy’ with Lancashire, who would have stolen a march on them had they not themselves been playing in Essex. We say playing; we mean lounging around indoors mournfully pawing at the rivulets of water running down the windows.

The other issue still outstanding is whether Hampshire will definitely get relegated from division one or not. They almost certainly will, but it’s not yet definite. Needing to win convincingly with either Sussex or Somerset losing while also gaining very few bonus points, they haven’t got off to a particularly good start. The Hampshire batsmen in particular have disappointed, being caught behind off every single ball they’ve faced.

Thus far that’s one ball, but a collective golden duck is still very much on the cards. Should this happen – as it almost certainly will – they will surely struggle to overhaul the 340-run first innings deficit. Our money’s on Hampshire relegation and Surrey ‘winning’ the second division after a pair of near-washouts.

Geraint Jones slashes to great effect


Photo by Sarah Ansell

If, as a cricketer, you’re going to be remembered for just one moment, you might as well make that moment the climax of the most exciting passage of sport many of us will ever see.

Even if it wasn’t the hardest catch, for safely taking it England fans will forever owe Geraint Jones a debt. We’re not saying he could get away with murder, but we could probably let burglary or hijacking a plane slide. Surely even Surrey fans wouldn’t begrudge his leaving cricket with a win in the domestic one-day final.

Not only did Jones top score for Gloucestershire on the day, he was also involved in the pivotal moment of Surrey’s innings. When Kumar Sangakkara slapped the ball to mid-on, Jones should have been there – but he was off the field having a slash. Will Tavare safely took the catch and Surrey promptly folded. With those utterly reliable hands of his, Jones probably didn’t even splash upon hearing the roar.

Yorkshire take the second of a hat-trick of County Championship titles

It’s oddly reassuring that Yorkshire should win the title again. It provides the kind of clarity that is rarely seen in English domestic cricket. We can state with some conviction that they are the strongest county at the minute – stronger even than Herefordshire.

When a team does well one year before falling flat on its arse the following year, it makes you think the County Championship is more influenced by weather and blind luck than anything else. Back-to-back titles are therefore welcome. Being as no-one’s won three in a row since the Sixties, it probably even counts as an ‘era’.

Yorkshire have won in fine style as well. Unbeaten, they currently have nine wins and four draws to their name, which means they’ve beaten the climate as well as most teams. They’ve also achieved this with roughly half their team having been co-opted by England at any one team – the better half too.

The absentees

Adam Lyth, Gary Ballance, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow constitute the bulk of Yorkshire’s first-choice batting line-up and they’ve also been without their leg-spinner (Adil Rashid) and fast bowler (Liam Plunkett) for quite a lot of the time. That should really be debilitating, but not a bit of it.

Is it admirable that they’ve coped with these losses or does it reflect badly on county cricket in general? If the Yorkshire second XI is the second best county side, who’s providing the competition? Who’s testing the players out?

Jonny Bairstow for one could do with playing some level of cricket better than the County Championship. He’s hit five centuries and averaged a hundred, but England still don’t seem convinced of his worth.

Other statistics also hint at an uncomfortable story. Tim Bresnan’s averaging 50 with the bat this year. James Middlebrook’s averaging less than 20 with the ball. Ryan Sidebottom, five years after he faded from Test cricket, is averaging even less – just 15 rus per wicket.

Sidebottom, Brooks and Patterson

Yorkshire’s pace attack is not just good, it’s almost a template for how to succeed in county cricket – three hard-working, reliable fast-medium bowlers who almost certainly won’t get called up for England. This is the gold standard. This is what teams are striving to put together.

Maybe we’re wrong about Brooks and Patterson. Maybe they will play for the national side, but it’s hard to avoid the feeling that they’re the kinds of players more likely to be on the cusp of doing so than actually taking that final step.

This has all descended into angst

Which wasn’t our intention. We really did intend on lauding Yorkshire. The county that’s given England Joe Root and Adil Rashid deserves its success and no-one can deny they’re the best. Then again, perhaps it’s only fitting that their success should be celebrated with a big old moan.

To Yorkshire! [Grumbles dismissively and wanders off to make a cup of tea.]

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