Category: County cricket news (page 1 of 45)

It rains more at night

This is the conclusion we drew from last week’s round of pink ball County Championship fixtures. Only one of four matches in the first division ended in a result – and even that one saw only 23 wickets fall.

Despite the experiment only resulting in the confounding situation where Essex are even more top, we’d like to see a lot more day-night cricket.

Clearly, that’s because of this kind of thing.

 

We believe this constitutes an unarguable case.


BBC to show “some” live cricket from 2020 as highlights move from Channel 5

The England and Wales Cricket Board has recently accepted that it needs to get some live cricket onto free-to-air TV. The question most of us have been asking is what constitutes “some”.

From 2020 (appropriately enough) the BBC will be showing two men’s and one women’s T20 internationals each summer. They’ve also won the right to broadcast Test highlights from Channel 5. After Champions Trophy highlights were dumped at midnight, Test Match Special’s Jonathan Agnew made it clear that highlights will be shown at prime time, which is something of a relief.

The Beeb will also broadcast 10 men’s matches from the ECB’s new T20 competition, including the final, and up to eight matches from the women’s T20 tournament, again including the final.

What does this mean?

It means everyone will be able to watch some cricket and with the finals of the domestic T20 competitions secured, much of that will have some sort of context too. It won’t just be random T20 matches in a competition you can’t follow to the end.

Conversely, you can well imagine the T20 internationals might be the kinds of low priority fixtures we’ve just seen played out between England and South Africa. Or maybe the very fact that they’ll be broadcast live on the BBC might mean a proper turn-out from all the stars. That could prove an interesting development. If that proves to be the case, the next rights deal for 2025 onwards could be an interesting one.

Where’s the rest of the live cricket going to be broadcast?

On Sky Sports – which, considering they announced a channel called Sky Cricket earlier this week, should have been pretty bloody obvious. It was highly unlikely they’d have been keen to devote a whole channel to an insect.

There’s good news there though with talk that you might be able to subscribe to just that one channel, which would presumably work out a bit/lot cheaper.

What about Channel 5?

Nowt. We’re a bit sad for them really, because they’ve been holding the fort all this time and have been doing a super job. It’ll be interesting/irritating to see how quickly the BBC get up to speed highlights-wise.


So Kumar Sangakkara’s in form then (and not even put off by snapping his bat in half)

Kumar Sangakkara’s last five County Championship innings have been 136, 105, 114, 120 and 200.

Today’s double hundred came in a team total of just 369.

And he wasn’t even put off by snapping his bat in half.

It’s hard to avoid the sense that he’s playing completely the wrong standard of cricket.

We know it’s only mid-season and there are plenty of matches to come, but form like this demands only one thing: that Kumar Sangakkara’s dad get him a Transformer as a reward.

But will he get him one? We doubt it.

Kshema Sangakkara described his son’s four hundreds in four matches at the World Cup as “a good achievement” and went on to outline the yardstick against which he is measured.

“For me, Don Bradman was the ultimate batsman. He scored a century once in every three innings. If you truly consider yourself to be a world-class batsman, you should be able to do that. Kumar did well, don’t get me wrong. But did he achieve his true potential? I don’t think so.”

Tough crowd.

But on the off chance that Kshema’s softening in the twilight days of his son’s playing career, we’re going to recommend that he invest in Ultramagnus as a gift for him.

In vehicle form, Ultramagnus is capable of carrying his mates, so he seems an appropriate choice.


Cambridge MCCU v Middlesex CCC – match report

Edwardian writes:

Cambridge is heaving at the best of times, but taking the quiet back streets from the station to Fenner’s was very pleasant. A few ‘good mornings’ and I was there by 10.30am.

I was there to meet my wife’s uncle Spike who said he would do his best to get there before eleven, having had to help his wife set up her vegan demo on the market place.

I had prepared German salami sandwiches with Stoke’s Dijon mustard. The pavilion was pretty much empty save for a few sterling souls roaring the tea urn to life and preparing lunch no doubt.

I bought a water from the bar and was asked whether, ‘I was in or out?’ With all the Brexit shenanigans in mind I was reluctant to say ‘out’ but I had my sandwiches after all.

Spike strolled in with his usual, ‘hello chief’ and we settled down for the day’s play. The pavilion got a bit livelier, so much so that we comprised a heavy throng of perhaps 15 people.

Spike proposed a beer and we sank a couple of Old Speckled Hens. As the sun rounded on the pavilion everything went a bit hazy and my scorecard went a bit nuts. I gave up on it.

Spike decided that Akil Greenidge was a cricketer to look out for in the near future. At lunch the players came in and began to wind in a lunch that was spicy, I think. Spike had designs on lunch in his car, so we ambled across the outfield and worked our way through the salami sandwiches, Spike’s neat smoke salmon numbers and a half-bottle of Italian white wine.

We talked about cricket in Italy, Zambia and Warsaw. Back in the pavilion before 2pm I needed to loose off the beer and wine and found myself next to Steven Finn at the urinals.

Play started again, and as keen as I am, the world went hazy again in a very nice way. Three of my companions were already asleep and I was drifting off too before one old chap said to no-one in particular, ‘Poulson, now that’s a very interesting name.’

Everyone was awake now and waiting for the punchline. Five minutes or more passed before he said, ‘I went to school with someone called Poulson.’

I had dinner priorities, so had to leave at 5pm, I have to say, reluctantly.

Send your match reports to king@kingcricket.co.uk. If it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. If it’s an amateur match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.


A featherbed of Roses – The County Championship round-up

They bothered playing some of the County Championship this week. Need they have?

The Roses match

After little more than a day, Jimmy Anderson had succumbed to groin knackage, Jack Brooks had made a hundred and this match already seemed like it was no longer a going concern. All that was really left was for the liquidator to confirm it and Shivnarine Chanderpaul duly obliged. He took what runs he could and the fixture folded. It will be revived next week in a different location.

Middlesex v Surrey

Usually when someone’s got something to prove, it’s a big deal to them; a real “See! I can DO this,” kind of thing. For Kumar Sangakkara it’s more of a gentle little hobby; a few little details he’d still like to fill in around the edges of a large unarguable point made long ago. Kumar made a hundred in each Surrey innings of this match and maybe someone somewhere thought fractionally more of him as a result. Match drawn.

The other match

Jonathan Trott went big for Warwickshire and despite Marcus Trescothick leaving his counter-hundred for Somerset undaddified they ran out of time for anything else to happen.

The other other match

Now this one went somewhere. An Alastair Cook fuelled Essex made a moderately good score and then Jamie Porter took five Hampshire wickets for spit. They won by an innings. We may have to stop thinking of Essex as being inked in for relegation what with their currently being top of the table and all. Surrey are a full point behind.


Zafar Ansari’s “other ambitions” and other tales of premature retirement from cricket

Cricket - Friends Life Twenty20 Finals Day - second semi final - Hampshire v Surrey

Each to his own and all that, but the “new chapter” in Zafar Ansari’s life sounds dull as shit to us. He’s retired from cricket at the age of 25 to pursue another career, “potentially in law”.

We’ve been here before. We’ve been here several times. There was James Bruce, who retired at 28 in favour of a career ‘in the City’ and there was Alex Loudon shortly before him.

We wrote about these bizarre decisions for The Wisden Cricketer in 2007 and looking back on that piece, it seems Loudon left cricket in favour of “a corporate advisory firm”. We’ve still no concrete grasp on what that might mean, but we do know that the words alone make us feel hollow and slightly tearful about the fundamental meaninglessness of existence.

To try and gain some insight into WHY IN HELL a man might make such a decision, we spoke to Paul Downton (yes, that one) who carved out a successful career in finance after he retired from cricket (in his thirties) and was at the time working as a director at a firm called Cazenove.

We can’t find our notes from that interview, but we remember him telling us that it would be tough for these players to turn down the opportunity to embark on what would surely prove to be highly lucrative careers. He had to tell us this several times because each time he said it, we responded with some uncomprehending version of “but… they were cricketers?”

Perhaps we’re a bit of a simpleton, but our view has always been that you only get one crappy body and it’s slowly dying from the moment you’re born. Using that body to play sport – and play it well – during the relatively short window when that’s an option has always seemed to us to be one of the absolute finest uses of one’s time.

But as we said at the top, each to his own. Loudon saw things differently. He admitted to us that he’d miss cricket at times, but added: “Mostly I’ll have my head firmly in front of a computer screen and thinking of exciting things in my future career.”


The format of the new ECB T20 competition

Surrey v Hampshire (CC licensed by Ungry Young Man via Flickr)

Surrey v Hampshire (CC licensed by Ungry Young Man via Flickr)

Here’s a coagulation of plans, proposals, assumptions and best-guesses for the format of the ECB’s new 20-over competition which is due to begin in 2020.

  • Eight sides
  • Eight group matches each
  • Home and away local derbies (to permit that eighth match)
  • IPL style play-offs
  • ECB-produced TV coverage with some matches free-to-air

The teams

There’s an assumption that the league will feature city teams, but the terminology being used is actually ‘city-based’ which isn’t precisely the same thing.

There’s an interesting breakdown of what the teams could be from Nick Hoult of The Telegraph.

Based on grounds likely to host matches, he has suggested (possibly with some prompting):

  • Red Rose
  • White Rose
  • Birmingham
  • Trent Bridge
  • The West Country
  • North London
  • South London
  • The South

This list has a ‘working title’ air about it, but it does give an idea how things might eventually pan out.

It’s also interesting to take those sides and see who’ll be playing each other twice. Presumably we’ll have an extra War of the Roses, Birmingham v Trent Bridge and North v South London. That leaves us with the famously bitter rivalry between the West Country and the South coast in a fixture we’d like to see branded Battle of the Leftovers.

Play-offs

This format is a tad tricksy, but actually kind of vital if the league phase is going to retain interest until the end.

The first-placed team plays the second-placed team with the winner going through to the final.

In contrast, the third and fourth-placed teams have to get through two matches to get to the final. First they play each other and then the winner plays the team that lost the first v second play-off.

So basically there’s something to be gained from finishing in the top two rather than scraping through in fourth place.

Subject to change

We honestly don’t know why we report on these things sometimes. This’ll doubtless all be out of date by the time we click ‘publish’.

Loads of people are really angry

There are a fair few people who absolutely loathe the very idea of this tournament; angry to the extent that it’s like the ECB have said: “Put down the bat, let’s use the stumps as goalposts and have a kickabout instead.”

We are slightly nonplussed by this reaction because we believe that Twenty20 really can serve as a gateway format and Test cricket can never die.

Where some people get angry about the transient nature of a T20 match, we tend to see this as precisely the reason why the format won’t steamroller its way to total dominance.

Even if it does take on greater prominence in coming years, it feels like there’s a ceiling to what T20 can offer with the longer format retaining almost all of its unique selling points when set alongside it.


The Hampshire-incinerating inferno that is Gary Ballance plus Lancashire’s lethal pelt

Table week 3

Surrey are still top

Despite drawing with Warwickshire who had attained just three points from two Championship games before this fixture.

The most striking development was probably Ian Bell’s dismissal for 99. Was this more or less painful than Misbah-ul-Haq being left stranded on 99 not out yesterday?

The Curran who bowls with the correct arm earns a mention for taking eight wickets in what was basically a match of batting.

Lancashire dispose of Somerset like one of those poisonous animals

You know the ones. They curl up in a ball as if they’re dead and when their gleeful foe starts to tuck into them, the lethal poison secreted in their pelt becomes apparent. You sustain a few wounds, but you still win.

Lancashire ensured sufficient time to press for victory later in the game through the simple ploy of allowing themselves to be bowled out for 109 in their first innings. One To Watch, Liam Livingstone, made 68 of those runs – but he never hangs about so it wasn’t too time-consuming.

After Somerset had slunk into the lead, Livingstone returned to the crease and made 168, largely in partnership with Jos Buttler’s nemesis, wicketkeeper Alex Davies, who made his second hundred of the season. Ryan McLaren then did his reliable old South African seamer thing like some kind of Shaun Pollock tribute act.

A slow start at Lord’s

Middlesex did well to inject a note of tension into a match which looked like it was going nowhere inside the very first session. The first three batsmen all made hundreds. Things picked up a bit later on, but not enough.

Gary Ballance is ablaze

While everyone cooed about James Vince’s cover drives in the Hampshire v Yorkshire match, Gary Ballance made 300-and-odd runs for once out. These were Ballance’s second and third hundreds of the season and also, due to the oddities of the County Championship fixture list, the second and third against Hampshire too.

The second, which was the third, was his first double.

Yes, we did deliberately write that last sentence to be hard to read.


Video: How Ben Coad takes his wickets

The ECB doesn’t get everything right when it comes to social media. Earlier this week, they captioned an Alastair Cook highlights reel “Terrific to watch!” which is palpably untrue.

But at least they do sneak out nice bite-sized chunks of County Championship footage these days.

Here’s Ben Coad taking ten wickets against Warwickshire last week. You can learn a surprisingly large amount about a player in 24 seconds.

We can also draw some conclusions about the nature of the County Championship compared to the IPL from this video.

In the Championship, the crucial action typically takes place behind the batsman, whereas in the IPL it is more common to see significant moments occur in front of him.

The IPL also has more cameras.

Other than that, everything’s exactly the same.

Exactly the same.


Great performances from Shiv, Coad, Footitt and no-one from Warwickshire, no-one whatsoever

Champo table

Screen-grabbed Championship table. Ain’t you a bunch of lucky basts.

Surrey v Lancashire

Surrey remain top of the table despite not having done anything of consequence. Mark Footitt continued being worth watching by again taking five wickets, Lancashire’s Shivnarine Chanderpaul continued being a majestic agglomeration of elbows and knees, and three other players also made hundreds while being far less interesting cricketers. Match drawn.

Hampshire v Middlesex

Middlesex still look well capable of gnarling out a load of runs and so will probably do well this season on that basis. Hampshire performed similarly, but only batted once so maybe they would have folded second innings. Kyle Abbott took a five-for in Middlesex’s second innings. He should probably be reserve seamer for South Africa. Match drawn.

Warwickshire v Yorkshire

Did Warwickshire make the most of home advantage? What if the answer’s yes? 77-7 in the first innings was, it turns out, a pretty tidy start because they were at one point 54-8 in the second. Ben Coad – which is also the name of a hill in Scotland – took five wickets in each innings for Yorkshire, which is pretty bloody good from anyone. Bres the Bat hit a fifty. Not entirely surprisingly given all of these facts, Yorkshire won.

Somerset v Essex

At some point Essex’s wafer thin attack is going to be too knackered to achieve anything. We’re adamant about this. However, for now they have The Great Neil Wagner running in hard, hitting the deck hard and taking wickets… hard. Plus they have Alastair Cook unencumbered by anything at all really. You can get a long way in life/cricket with both The Great Neil Wagner and Alastair Cook at your disposal. For their part Somerset have Roelof Van Der Merwe. Somerset lost.


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