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Only half of this week’s Division One County Championship matches were draws!

Does this make it the most resultsive week yet? Is this as much winnery and lossery as we’ve had? Has the staggering impact on the County Championship table bespoilt our internal dictionary?

Middlesex beat Yorkshire

This was the big result. Middlesex’s wise decision to finally play a match outside the South-East led to only their second non-draw of the season. Even better for them, they were the non-losers.

A Gary Ballance hundred for Yorkshire was matched by one from South African vessel, the SS Eskinazi, while James Franklin made 99. You rather suspect that Franklin got out deliberately because he still clings to the belief that he’s primarily a bowler.

After that came the important stuff as Yorkshire were bowled out for just 167 in their second innings. Who did the damage? Everyone. Tim Murtagh, Steven Finn, Toblerone Jones and Ollie Rayner shared the ten wickets out as evenly as could be expected considering there were four of them.

Middlesex are now top of the table, having won one game more than Hampshire, who are bottom.

Warwickshire beat Surrey

After Surrey’s bizarre and unprecedented decision to win a match last week, this was infinitely more reassuring. In fact it was such a normal result that Warwickshire’s success was built on a Jonathan Trott hundred, ten wickets for Jeetan Patel and a fifty for Ian Bell which had promised much more.

Lancashire drew with Nottinghamshire

Which means they’re second. Haseeb Hameed – who is just desperate for people to get his name wrong somehow – made another hundred, while pretty much every single Nottinghamshire player made between 40 and 70 runs.

The Great Neil Wagner put a proper shift in.

Durham drew with Hampshire

Another Keaton Jennings hundred, plus some other stuff.

Why haven’t you put the table in?

Quite honestly? We couldn’t be bothered.

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Pakistan’s pretty impressive attack

“They are a pretty impressive attack,” said Marcus Trescothick after Somerset played Pakistan. He had plenty of time to assess the bowlers’ worth because he scored a hundred.

The fact that he is 40 and now bats in glasses due to his deteriorating vision shouldn’t in any way be held against the tourists, because age and eyesight really haven’t made much of a dent. Marcus Trescothick still warrants the description ‘pretty impressive’ himself. He’ll still be able to make hundreds against international opposition when his hearing’s gone and he can’t hear his partner’s calls, while his lack of footwork means that he’ll still be able to punch out that odd, motionless drive after knee replacements.

Can we still call him Banger? It seems a strange name for a middle-aged man. But then it seems ever-so-slightly strange that age should afflict his body without any apparent impact on his ability. Maybe somewhere there’s a painting of a skinny, surprisingly youthful-looking 40-year-old Trescothick whose skills have completely deserted him.

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Angelo Mathews’ super durability sorely tested by Super Series

Ill-applied and irrelevant (ironic given that it’s meant to make the individual fixtures more relevant) the Super Series score does at least give us a numerical overview of Sri Lanka’s tour of England. We know that it was an unsuccessful one for the tourists – but how unsuccessful? Well, it finished 20-4 to England, which even when you’ve never seen a points result before is quite obviously a shellacking.

Sri Lanka got half their points when it pissed it down at Lord’s, another for the one-day tie at Trent Bridge and then the clouds gifted them a fourth at Bristol. In effect, they earned one point and meteorology earned three.

They’re not a bad team. They just seem to be lacking the freakishly talented or freakishly unusual players they’ve often had in the past. It’s all been a bit of a slog. We don’t mean slog in a last-over-of-a-Twenty20 sense. We mean it in a long drive to London with ever-increasing volumes of traffic and you’re only going for some sort of pointless business meeting anyway sense – a wearying obligation from which you derive no pleasure and which is highly likely to prove unproductive too.

The captain, Angelo Mathews, has often seemed on the cusp of folding. He could carry on batting, bowling, fielding, captaining and occasionally popping off the field for hamstring treatment, but you’d also forgive him if he concluded life would be easier if he just climbed into a small drawer and pulled it closed.

England meet Pakistan all buoyant and chatty. Sri Lanka head home wishing they had more than a fortnight before the first Test against Australia.

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Two Pakistan players to watch this summer

We know you all come here for our singular insight. As such, we’re going to name a couple of Pakistan players you might want to keep an eye on in coming weeks. These are players you might not know so well, but we think they might have something of an impact during the Test series to come.

Going off their performances in the warm-up match against Somerset, it’ll be worth watching a batsman called Younus Khan and a bowler called Mohammad Amir.

Despite making his debut in 2009, Amir has somehow only played 14 Tests. He looks handy though. Here he is doing that Pakistan left-arm swing bowler thing.

Now the other guy – this Younus Khan fella – he’s been about for a bit. He made his debut in 2000, at which point he looked like a weathered old gnarl-dog. And despite playing almost 400 games for his country since then, he doesn’t look a day older.

Don’t let that gnarl-dog face fool you, though. He’s as fit as a husky that’s been doing high intensity interval training. In fact (and this is true, it’s not some piece of made-up bullshit like we usually feed you), he recently said that he feels so full of vim and vigour that he’d like to play for Pakistan for another four or five years.

Okay, he didn’t say ‘vim and vigour’ – we’re paraphrasing. But it’s true that he doesn’t plan on retiring any time soon – even though he’s done so on at least nine occasions already.

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England to have a couple of hours off one afternoon at some as yet unscheduled point during 2017 summer

Remember when September 29 was autumn? It’s summer now. England are playing the West Indies at the Rose Bowl on that day in 2017.

The 2017 fixture list is a triumph of “Two into one doesn’t go? We’ll see about that,” thinking. A bunch of one-day internationals (ODIs) is followed by the Champions Trophy. There are then seven Tests in just over two months before the season comes to a close with a T20 international and a load more ODIs.

September ODIs immediately after a major tournament and quite some time before the next one? We’re salivating already.

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Lancashire are a bit more top in the County Championship

We’ve missed a couple of rounds of the County Championship because (a) the matches took place after a big slab of shorter format stuff, (b) pretty much all the matches were draws so there wasn’t much to say, and (c) we’re feckless and unreliable.

Last time around, Lancashire had gone slightly top; equal on points with Yorkshire, but ahead on either wins or because of the alphabet – we’re not sure which.

Lancashire are now a bit more top. They thrashed Warwickshire 11 bonus points to 10 with Steven Croft, Haseeb Hameed and Liam Livingstone all making hundreds and then went down to Lord’s for that ground’s increasingly traditional rain delays. The marvellously-named Nick Gubbins made a double hundred for Middlesex and The Great Neil Wagner played both matches.

Yorkshire only played once (and drew) which means the table now looks like this.

County Championship - June 30, 2016

The only match to end in anything other than a draw in the last fortnight was Surrey v Nottinghamshire. Utterly bizarrely, Surrey won. Their two spinners, Gareth Batty and Zanzibar Fan Arsey shared 12 wickets in the match, which is quite a nice thing to happen in this day and age and seems a perfectly reasonable return for a team that’s willing to pick two spinners in the first place.

As for Nottinghamshire, they seem to have turned into one of those teams that’s good on paper but not on grass. This weekend they host Lancashire while Yorkshire will play Middlesex (and at Headingley, so they might actually get a game in).

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Jason Roy has one wheel in the air

Still taken from Sky Sports

Still taken from Sky Sports

It’s good to see Jason Roy making hundreds in one-day internationals. Earlier in the year, we were concerned that he wrongly thought he should give himself time in Twenty20. While he ultimately got over that, we’ve since been worried that he might subsequently do the reverse and try take his Twenty20 approach into the middle format.

England have found success in T20 through successfully encouraging their batmen to put a low price on their wickets. They bat right on the cusp of irresponsibility in the knowledge that there is always – to quote every commentator ever – “plenty of batting to come.”

In 50-over cricket, there isn’t always plenty of batting to come. Sometimes you run out of batting. 50-over sides need the proper batsmen to hang around. They still need them to score quickly, but not with almost complete disregard for their own survival.

Like pulling a wheelie, it’s tough to find the right balance, but Jason Roy is currently somewhere near the right spot.

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What shall we do this afternoon?

You know, with all the rain and stuff? If you’re actually at the ground, the escapism can continue regardless of whether there’s any play or not. But what about those of us more dependent on the cricket itself for such a thing?

Basking in the drizzle at the Oval, spectators can revel in their collective stoicism. They are unencumbered by the guilt that arises alongside the nagging feeling that you should be doing something else. The day has already been set aside and in many ways the cessation of play frees them from their one remaining obligation.

They take turns buying their maximum permissible order of four pints and they relax. They chat unhurriedly, about whatever-the-hell lurches into their half-cut consciousness.

Beyond the ground, people make great efforts to follow the cricket and rain delays sentence them to that most horrific activity known as “doing stuff”. As often as not, the stuff to be done is stuff you’re in some way obliged to do as well, which is of course the worst stuff of all to have to do.

People always talk about the paying public being the ones who are worst affected when a cricket match is rained off, but there are unseen, unpaying millions who suffer way, way more than them.

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Shortening cricket matches in anticipation of rain

We were in Bristol to see England play Sri Lanka yesterday. Without wishing to saunter too far into match report territory, we and our companions finished the day by setting a strict departure time when we would cease standing around in the rain and would instead head home.

It wasn’t that we thought there was still some outside chance of play. It was more that this is the traditional way of going about things when a match is being rained off. You make a deadline and you stick to it in defiance of reason. Watching cricket on a rainy day is very much about summoning optimism in the face of facts and to stand there in the rain, knowing the match was finished, seemed the purest example of this spirit.

We knew the match had finished not because it had been officially announced, but because, like everyone in the crowd, we had access to all manner of weather apps and rainfall radars and the like. If truth be known, long before their arrival at the ground, pretty much everyone in the crowd knew that the players would depart mid-afternoon, never to be seen again.

The match was viewed in that knowledge. Most people knew they were there to see a one innings game; that all that was taking place before them was in all likelihood meaningless. This seems an odd situation.

When a one-day match is hit by rain, it is shortened. However, matches are never shortened in anticipation of rain. Is this right?

The danger of shortening a match for rain-that-is-yet-to-come is of course that said rain might never fall, leading to the bizarre spectacle of the match ending prematurely in bright sunshine. This does however seem to us a more acceptable outcome than the going-through-the-motions half game we witnessed yesterday.

Perhaps the umpires – or better yet, some well-informed locals – could be entrusted to make a call on shortening a match based on the likelihood of impending rain. There are days of scattered showers and there are days where a wall of water is slowly looming into view from the west and it’s just a matter of time. In the latter case, a halving of the overs would seem sensible.

And if informed people in positions of power are unwilling to take such a decision, they could always absolve themselves of responsibility by putting it to a public vote.

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Hales and Roy

Completely missed this. Personally, we blame those who call for and schedule public decisions on matters of national importance for distracting us from the chance to witness a spectacular England run-chase.

Except where the opposition for some reason fold, 10 wicket England one-day victories come around, what, once every thousand years?

It’s almost like England are a proper one-day side these days. Odd how quickly things can change.

Oh and England have won the Super Series, no?


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