Category: County cricket news (page 1 of 42)

Durham turn to Superbeefy

There are certainly occasions when Ian Botham is the answer.

If we were to ask, ‘which Eighties cricketer frequently showcased the now historic phenomenon of ‘brown armpits’?’ then his name might well come to mind.

If we were to ask you to name someone whose ability to shape cricket matches on the field was inversely proportional to his ability to speak logically about them off it, you could again tick the Beefy box with confidence.

However, if the questions were: “Who should be chairman of our board of directors as we seek to chart a course out of the financial dire straits in which we find ourselves?” then ‘Ian Botham’ seems a truly odd response.

Good on him though. Say what you like about the pig-headed blunderbuss of bombastic assertions, but he cares. As a commentator, he often cares too much. If he can bring somewhere around half the passion he shows when ranting about why the captain hasn’t got the opening bowlers on at the start of a session then that would be proportional for a role attempting to resuscitate a cricket club that is clearly held in the highest esteem by cricket supporters up and down the land.

No saying it’ll happen – but it might. More details in Ali Martin’s piece for The Guardian which we link to instead of the original source solely on the grounds that Ali shoe-horned in an excellent appraisal of Sir Beef’s approach to his day job somewhere in the middle of it.


Durham “agree” to jump through latest hoop

england-v-australia-odi-at-the-riverside-cc-licensed-by-steve-parkinson-via-flickr

England v Australia ODI at the Riverside (CC licensed by Steve Parkinson via Flickr)

Given that this particular hoop is suspended directly over a barrel of excrement, one can only wonder what the alternative was.

We predicted that Durham wouldn’t be relegated or penalised more than 45 points for their ongoing financial troubles. We were correct, but only on the basis of the ‘or’. The county will start next season 48 points adrift in division two. If that weren’t enough, it is the third penalty – the withdrawal of Test cricket – which bears all the hallmarks of a piss-take.

For those that don’t know, Durham were instructed to develop a ground capable of hosting Test cricket to secure first-class status in 1992. This was despite the fact that at the time only 11 of the other 17 counties could boast such a thing.

Obviously, this cost them a bomb. The situation was then compounded when the rules surrounding allocation of international fixtures changed and they found themselves bidding for matches against counties in wealthier, more heavily populated areas.

This is why we deployed the word ‘piss-take’ a paragraph or so ago. It’s one thing to force someone to do something. It’s quite another to later punish them for doing it. At the very least, the punishment seems disproportionate. Elizabeth Ammon for one believes the decision relates to the T20 reforms. She’s said she’s doing a piece for tomorrow – although motives can be hard to prove.

So where does this leave the Durham cricket team? With other counties ransacking their squad for useable parts, they may have been relegated next season anyway, but the points penalty is tantamount to a two-year sentence.

It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for a player like Keaton Jennings. He spent most of the season persuading people he was too good for division one, but now finds himself in the tier below, struggling to convince himself that the team even has anything to play for.

Presumably he will have a release clause in his contract, as will several others. Life in the faeces barrel may not hold much appeal.


Why Durham probably won’t be relegated following a points deduction

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Winsford Rock Salt Mine (CC licensed by Rhodian via Wikimedia)

Cricinfo are reporting that Durham face relegation if the ECB decides to impose a points deduction for their financial troubles. We can’t see it happening.

It’s not that we don’t expect them to be docked points. It’s just that they finished 45 points ahead of Hampshire in the top half of the table. We’re not sure what the going rate is for points deductions, but 45 would seem a lot in a sport that’s generally wedded to minimising ripples through compromise.

It would seem strange to do this retrospectively as well. Surely it’s more likely they’ll impose a fine for next season. In that eventuality, Durham might well have issues what with most of their top order having caught a train to Surrey at the end of the season.

Then again, giving everyone a whopping great head start while shorn of two of his best batsmen should elicit maximum grit from captain Paul Collingwood. If that’s how things pan out, the wiches of Cheshire should be able to slow production ahead of next winter.


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

haseeb-hameed

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?

would-have-made-an-excellent-spot-the-ball-competition

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…


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