Category: County cricket news (page 1 of 42)

Middlesex County Championship-winning hat-trick video – what a way to snatch a MacGuffin

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At one point today, Middlesex and Yorkshire ceased slithering against each other and began to slither together. Working independently, neither would reach the MacGuffin. Working together, they could get close – at which point it would become ‘every man for himself’ in a bid to wrest the prize from Somerset’s less-than-vicelike grip.

The joint slither manifested itself as Yorkshire’s two opening batsmen dobbing the ball up in the expectation that each ball would be clubbed to the fence. The fact that Middlesex lost three wickets during this heap of bollocks passage of play did at least mean the crowd had something to laugh about while they waited for a declaration and the recommencement of hostilities.

When that moment came, Yorkshire managed to produce little more than a light slapping. With nothing to lose, they persevered with this approach long after it made sense. Middlesex dispatched them with a Toblerone Jones hat-trick which allowed them to saunter over to Somerset and snatch the MacGuffin.

Here’s the hat-trick ball.

At the bum end of the table…

Hampshire utterly failed to bowl out Durham, lost the match and got relegated. Mark Stoneman and Scott Borthwich were the run-chase heroes, which is great news for Surrey, who have flashed the cash and signed them both.


Yorkshire don the special MacGuffin gloves

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We can’t help but feel that our coverage of the denouement of the County Championship is getting a little niche.

In the previous instalment of our four-day mud-slithering analogy, Yorkshire had lost ground to Middlesex and Somerset because they for some reason needed to go and pick something up before making their way towards the MacGuffin. We hypothesised that the something might be a pair of gloves with a special MacGuffin grip on the palms. What else could it possibly be?

In real life, it was the bonus point earned from reaching 350 inside 110 overs. Against the odds, they made it, thanks largely to a quite majestic innings of sturdy clomping from Tim Bresnan. Having been 32-3 and with a man who normally bats at seven or eight up at five, it was quite the performance.

Even better than that, the moments leading up to that 350th run were cricket in its purest form. Middlesex appeared to be bowling to deny Yorkshire the bonus point, even though it had precisely zero bearing on their own Championship hopes. If anything, it was in their interests for Yorkshire to get it as it would effectively prevent their opponents from ever settling for a draw.

A tense stalemate saw a number of overs eaten from the game with neither side benefiting.

And then they went off for bad light.

Marvellous stuff.

Come the restart, Yorkshire got their run and then added plenty more. After a couple of Middlesex wickets, it was hard to avoid the impression that they were, if not ahead, then at least slithering at greater speed than either of their rivals.

Somerset won their match in the end, so they basically have their hands on the MacGuffin already. The only question is whether they should have stopped to pick up a pair of gloves like Yorkshire did. They can’t go back now though. Their journey is over.

All of which means…

  • A Yorkshire win gives them the County Championship
  • A Middlesex win gives them the County Championship
  • A draw gives Somerset the County Championship

There’s a little more slithering in this season yet.

Meanwhile, at the bum end of the table

Warwickshire look likely to beat Lancashire barring a prolonged rearguard. However, both sides will be hoping that Hampshire fail to beat Durham.

The day started well in that regard. First of all it pissed it down, after which Durham scored more and more runs and took more and more time out of the game. A draw seemed increasingly likely – but that was to reckon without Hampshire’s desire for ‘quick runs’.

While quick runs also brought quick wickets, the likelihood of a draw has receded markedly.

The situation for these three times is something like…

  • Anyone who wins is safe
  • Hampshire almost certainly need to win to be safe
  • A Hampshire win would mean Lancashire go down if they lose and Warwickshire go down if the match is a draw

County Championship Permutation Watch: Everyone needs to win

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Pretty much. That’s the gist anyway.

  • If Middlesex beat Yorkshire, they will win the County Championship
  • If Yorkshire make 350 in their first innings and also beat Middlesex, they will win the County Championship
  • Somerset need to win as a bare minimum. They then need neither of the above scenarios to eventuate. In those circumstances, they would win the County Championship

A Somerset draw would open things up a bit, but that doesn’t seem too likely at present.

If we’re to update yesterday’s mud-slithering analogy, we’re not entirely sure who’s closest to the MacGuffin, but we’ve a fair idea who’s furthest away.

Yorkshire can still see it and they’re still moving, but having to pick up that extra item is a bit of a bugger for them. The extra item is bonus points in real life; in Mudland it would maybe be a pair of gloves with a special MacGuffin grip on the palms or something like that.

Whatever it is, if they’re to acquire it, they are almost wholly reliant on Tim Bresnan, a man who has only now, at the age of 31, finally reached the age that everyone always assumed him to be.


Bum end of the table update

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Can’t be bothered doing the maths, but it’s looking like Lancashire might be the ones slipping into second division invisibility and inconsequence next season.

Before this last round of matches, Lancs needed quite a lot to go against them to be relegated.

And lo, it came to pass.

They’re currently on the receiving end against relegation rivals Warwickshire and while it’s still early days, Hampshire are well-placed for a win against Durham. If things carry on like this, those two teams will join hands and perform a gleeful-yet-crushing leapfrog to safety.

Bad light in Birmingham is the only thing in Lancashire’s favour at the time of writing. Well played, clouds.

 


Nick Gubbins claws at the filthy damp earth

A load of Gubbins

If Middlesex, Yorkshire and Somerset were represented by three individuals face down in mud, slithering towards a MacGuffin, we’d have the Middlesex bloke half a yard ahead after the first day’s play in the final round of matches.

Nick Gubbins has offset the pantsness of his team-mates and hauled his side to a fairly ambiguous score via a hundred. Ambiguous isn’t too bad for Middlesex. They’re already ahead of their rivals and Yorkshire have only picked four batsmen.

Somerset were slithering well but then Nottinghamshire (who have basically been cleft in twain and left waiting to die in this analogy) grabbed an ankle and dragged them back a bit. The Cidermen have still made what is ostensibly a strong start, but if they’re likely to pick up bonus points and have runs on the board, we can’t really conclude that things are going their way until Nottinghamshire have batted. That’s even before we start to ponder what losing seven wickets for 20 runs might say about them.

Things are also happening at the bum end of the table, but we’re hardly likely to report on that when we’re already struggling to stay up to speed with what’s happening up top – this despite the fact that it’s all taking place at slithering speed.


Who needs to do what to win the County Championship?

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It’s the last round of the County Championship and three teams could win it: Middlesex, Yorkshire and Somerset. We rather like the ‘there’s been a bonus point at Taunton which changes EVERYTHING!’ chaos of a close finish in this competition, but if you don’t enjoy the baffled-surprise emotion quite as much as we do, here’s a simple take on the state of play.

Let’s take things one step at a time. Put simply, if Middlesex beat Yorkshire, they will win the County Championship. Only if they fail to achieve this will ‘the permutations’ come into play.

We will go into ‘the permutations’ in detail only if it starts to look like Middlesex won’t win. We will however give you a couple of pointers which should help simplify things.

Yorkshire need to beat Middlesex to even be in with a chance of taking the title. Even with bonus points, a draw is not enough for them.

Somerset have to beat Nottinghamshire for them to be in with a chance.

Let’s start with that and then revisit what needs to happen for what outcome once they’re underway.


County cricket’s spin ecosystem

Adil Rashid bowls one at the moon

In recent years there has been much talk about how county cricket hasn’t been producing spin bowlers. A corollary of this is that county batsmen have been facing less spin. With just a bit of a nudge, the latter becomes something that can be exploited.

This year in the County Championship, visiting teams have had the option of choosing to bowl first without recourse to the coin. The idea has been to deter groundsmen from preparing damp pudding lawns instead of pitches.

Diversity is cricket’s greatest virtue and it seems like this move’s been a success to us. After several years of fans scouring the various scorecards in search of a spinner who’d actually done more than usher in the lunch break, we now have teams like Surrey and Somerset routinely picking two of them (or more).

At the time of writing, the top two wicket-takers in division one are Jeetan Patel and Jack Leach. Ollie Rayner is sixth. Gareth Batty is tenth.

It is not that in an instant England has gained a wealth of good spinners, but a dash of shoddy spin batsmanship does give them a leg up and a reason for captains to bowl them in the first place. Hopefully batsmen and bowlers will now learn together and the national team will ultimately regain a more balanced attack.

In the meantime, it’s not just England’s wicket-taking we’re concerned about ahead of a winter in Bangladesh and India…


Jonathan Trott and no ice age

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A lot of you will have assumed that England’s domestic 50-over competition had been and gone. The group stages barely outlasted July and the semi-finals took place three weeks ago.

The final, however, was scheduled for the arse end of the season, long after anyone could remember what preceded it. Warwickshire (not Birmingham Bears) beat Surrey.

There are different ways of chasing down an almost comically low total (Surrey made just 136). You can have a bit of fun or you can make bloody certain. In a final, the latter is what is required.

As such, who better to have at the crease than Jonathan Trott, a man who considers rocks flighty and unreliable on the grounds that they can be cracked and moved during ice ages.


The County Championship state of play a few crucial minutes before the end of the second day

We could wait until the end of the day’s play before giving the latest round of County Championship matches a mid-point once-over, but why wait? Whatever we write will be out of date soon enough anyway. Might as well allow it to become so almost instantly.

Keep on Keaton on

Let’s start with the most impressive performance so far, which came about in the least important fixture. Fourth and fifth in the table respectively, Surrey and Durham probably aren’t playing for much of any consequence. Keaton Jennings did however score an unbeaten double hundred against an attack comprising a right-arm swing bowler, a left-arm swing bowler, a right-arm fast bowler, a left-arm fast bowler, a right-arm finger spinner and a left-arm finger spinner. Even if it weren’t his seventh hundred of the season, that would be a lot of boxes ticked. He is averaging 72. In the first division. As an opener.

Lancashire v Middlesquelch

We’re, what, 15 miles from Old Trafford and there hasn’t been a spot of rain, which rather underlines the fact that Middlesex must be dragging their own clouds round with them. In all honesty, half the time it’s not been rain but humidity which has derailed play. There’s so much moisture in the air, it’s actually become too thick for light to penetrate. On the occasions when the two teams have made it out to the middle, Lancashire have been doing their utmost to be accommodating hosts, shedding their wickets as if it were 2014 or 2015 – or indeed any year in the previous decade.

Somershock v Yorkshod

The best team in the land is doing a damn fine impression of the worst and Somerset are starting to believe that they could once again be narrowly denied the County Championship by a ridiculously slim margin right at the very death. Yorkshire are still a hundred and plenty behind with – at the time of writing, but almost certainly not when you are reading this – seven wickets remaining.

What does all of this mean?

It means there are two days to go in these matches and we should probably try and avoid thinking about the permutations until after they’ve finished.


What is the point in the County Championship?

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Was it a batting point or a bowling point? Was it one arising from a win, or did it come about through a draw?

The dream scenario would be for it to have come about thanks to a penalty for a slow over rate, but neither Middlesex nor Yorkshire has dawdled, so the yawning one-point chasm between them derives from cricket alone.

Nottinghamshire were relegated

We were a bit disappointed by this. It’s a ridiculous thing to say, but they seem too good to have to spend a year playing in the second division. Their match against Middlesex perhaps summed up their year. Samit Patel made a hundred, Jake Ball took a hat-trick and they really rattled the top side. Afterwards, they emerged with four points from a defeat. Ollie Rayner again took wickets for Middlesex for whom most players contributed in some way or other.

Yorkshire beat Durham very much

They beat them by three points more than Middlesex beat Nottinghamshire, which is why the gap has narrowed. Alphabet-straddling AZ Lees made 132 and 88. His opening partner Adam Lyth made 114 not out and their battery of bowlers did their unrelenting thing between times.

Somerset are coming up on the rails

They played a death match against Warwickshire. No chance of a draw. It was just a matter of who could inflict most damage most quickly. Despite being bowled out for 95 in the first innings, Somerset just about walked away. Dominic Bess took six for spit on his Championship debut in the first innings. He says he bowls spin because he was a ‘porker’ as a kid and couldn’t hack a long run-up.

Hampshire and Surrey also played

Just loads of runs really. Mark Footitt took six for plenty.

What’s next?

A lot of reports are focusing on Middlesex v Yorkshire at Lord’s for obvious reasons, but there is actually a round of matches before then. Yorkshire host Somerset from tomorrow (Monday), while Middlesex play Lancashire at Old Trafford.

While we think Yorkshire are in general the better side, our money’s on Middlesex winning the Championship because they always seem to do well when they play the Tykes. We hate that nickname, but it would have sounded too repetitious had we used the word Yorkshire again. Maybe we could have gone with ‘the White Rose’ – people use that as an alternate name for the club, right?


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