Two teams are on the same number of points in third place. We presume it’s the alphabet which decides how they are presented, in which case Warwickshire have really struck lucky with it being Yorkshire who are matching them. If they separate teams on the same points through some other method, don’t try and explain it to us. Life is genuinely too short.
1st – Durham
Durham push Middlesex out of the top slot after beating Nottinghamshire. They secured a significant first innings lead thanks to 153 from 2010 player to watch, Will Smith, but then found themselves needing to score plenty of runs in not many overs in order to secure the win. They made 184 in 20.2 overs and cricket writers up and down the land noted that number of overs and drew fairly obvious conclusions about what modern batsmen are willing to try and do and why this is the case.
2nd – Middlesex
Drew with Surrey. Chris Rogers scored 214 and cricket writers up and down the country noted that he was in Australia’s Ashes squad and wrote things about that. We didn’t. We just left it there.
3rd – Warwickshire and Yorkshire (unless Yorkshire are actually fourth for some spurious reason)
Warwickshire drew with Sussex for whom Chris Jordan earns another mention with 4-73. Yorkshire’s match against Derbyshire has already been covered.
The next chapter
Somewhat unexpectedly, all of the above teams are playing this week and all matches start on Wednesday. They’re all playing counties who aren’t currently in the top three.8 Appeals
Shut up. We don’t do it often.
For the next three weeks (crashes permitting), Bradley Wiggins will be attempting to win the Giro d’Italia, the second-biggest race in cycling. You can follow his progress over at our other site. Like cricket, the Giro isn’t on ‘normal telly’ – not even the highlights – so our website could almost be considered to be serving a purpose.
If you’re interested, you should sign up for email updates. That is all. Sorry to have taken up so much of your time.5 Appeals
If you like certainty and clarity, two-innings cricket is not for you. The format presents you with details and only backs this up with context once the match has finished. Half the joy is in dissecting goings-on in order to try and shape that context in your mind’s eye as the match develops.
Unpredictable events demand constant revision of the picture you are constructing. Some people – idiots – hate this. They like to be told what’s happening in black and white terms. They deal in absolutes because they can’t work things out for themselves. Other people have the innate self confidence to cope with being wrong. They make predictions but they take more delight in the unexpected.
Flat cap cricket
Yorkshire, powered by Joe Root, are proving a joy this year. Last week, they were bowled out for 177 and then Durham declared four wickets down in their second innings, setting a victory target of 336. Yorkshire got there with Root making 182.
This week, they conceded 475 to Chesney Hughes and Derbyshire and then promptly made 677-7 in reply (Root 236, Jonny Bairstow 186). A draw in the offing? No. They bowled Derbyshire out for 163 with the solidly-named Jack Brooks taking 5-40.
You certainly can’t criticise Chesney Hughes, but it’s worth pointing out that he made 15 in the second innings and his team lost. First-class cricket isn’t just about the numbers – it’s about the situations as well. Thus far, Yorkshire are proving to be a team capable of winning in unusual ways. They have coped with difficult situations well, which tends to indicate that they are a rounded team. Things generally don’t go exactly to plan in first-class cricket, so you need to cover as many eventualities as you can. It’s also fascinating to follow for those of us who are happier wrong than right.11 Appeals
Most of the sentiments have been expressed here before, only because this was for Cricinfo we made the article longer, more rambling and less to the point. We pretty much repeat ourself in every paragraph as well to really drive the non-point home.
That non-point is basically that Shahid Afridi is diminished by Twenty20 cricket. One of the comments then says that Twenty20 was invented for characters like him. We suppose that’s not necessarily missing the point. This person might conceivably mean that those who invented Twenty20 were missing the point, which is almost certainly true.
Another comment draws attention to the fact that Afridi’s batting has gone to shit since he retired from Tests, which is actually worth mentioning. They also say something intelligent about the benefits of his reputation when it comes to batting in the longest format.
How many Cricinfo comments do you have to read before you happen upon sense? Many, but it can happen. Well played, Stark62.18 Appeals
The best thing about Chesney Hughes’ 270 is that it brings some smashing first names to prominence. A Chesney is always worth celebrating, but it gets better than that.
Chesney Hughes is from Anguilla. He was advised to come to England by a man with one of the finest names in history. His mentor is none other than Cardigan Connor.
It may sound like a nickname for an Irishman with a penchant for knitwear, but it isn’t. Cardigan Connor bowled seam for Hampshire and took 614 first-class wickets. More importantly, he gives rise to quotes such as:
“I’ve been speaking to Cardigan at every interval.”
You’ve got to love someone who can so effortlessly make other people sound demented.20 Appeals
It’s an image featuring 50 cryptic clues to cricketing terms. It’s called ‘Whatzat!’ The ECB have commissioned it and apparently there are international and county tickets to be won.
We’re crap at this sort of thing. It took us quite some time to work out why bowler hats featured so prominently.
If you click the image, it should take you to a bigger, interactive version.
The fact that you lot like this sort of thing is very bad news for us, because it means we have to continue opening emails from marketing companies on the offchance that another one of them will do something well, even though that is HIGHLY unlikely.88 Appeals
There was a fair bit of noteworthy action in the County Championship this week. The good news for us is that we don’t have to write about much of it because it didn’t particularly affect the top of the table. The good news for you is that we therefore won’t feel we need to repeat our dull-the-first-time point about England players performing well in early season matches, because that’s kind of the theme of what’s been omitted.
1st – Middlesex
Still top and they didn’t even play.
2nd – Warwickshire
Warwickshire conceded a huge first innings lead to Somerset, for whom Alviro Petersen and Jos Buttler scored hundreds, but they then managed to hold on for the draw, finishing nine wickets down. Rikki Clarke followed his 4-70 in Somerset’s first innings with 61 not out in Warwickshire’s second, which is the kind of low octane competence we anticipated when we decided to monitor his performances this season. Varun Chopra made 108 in Warwickshire’s second innings and he’s a player many people are talking about, but not us because we can’t be bothered. Nick Compton made a second innings hundred for Somerset. That was something else that happened in this match.
3rd – Sussex
Sussex made 526, but drew with Surrey at least partly because it takes ages to make 526. Luke Wells made 208 before somehow contriving to get himself bowled by Vikram Solanki. Chris Jordan took 5-92 in Surrey’s first innings and it struck us he was having a good season – he also took six against Yorkshire – but then he took 0-63 in the second innings, which impressed no-one.
The next chapter
Sussex play Warwickshire next week in an early season near-the-top-of-the-table clash. Middlesex again take the week off. Lord knows what they’re doing with themselves. They’re probably out robbing sweets and vandalising cars and that sort of stuff.
Fast bowling isn’t just about bowling quickly. It’s also about sitting around worrying about your knee. As such, Australia’s younger bowlers have the perfect role model in Ryan Harris.
Harris is injured again, which is pretty much his default status. Really, the news was that earlier in the week, he was fit – that was what was worth remarking upon. Now we’re back to normal and he’s had to fly home from the IPL after a debilitating workload of 12 overs in three weeks saw his Achilles tendon sustain some form of knackage.
Ryan Harris doesn’t look fragile. Like a potato, he appears lumpy and functional. He’s not like one of these gangly fast bowlers who move like puppets where every component’s stretched to breaking point. Those guys look like they’re made out of cooked spaghetti wrapped around raw spaghetti and you can easily see why something is likely to give way.
But yet Harris is the vulnerable one – particularly his legs. He’s still the best at this. He’s the one showing Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins et al. how it’s done.10 Appeals
We don’t normally link to our Cricinfo Twitter round-up because, you know, we can’t really be bothered. However, we thought we’d make the effort this week because the subject matter might be slightly more of interest to you.
As you know, we’re ‘down’ with all the modern trends (it’s presumably one of the main reasons why Cricinfo hired us to monitor cutting edge social media on their behalf). As such, we know exactly what the cool kids are into and we’re pretty sure they’re currently all talking about the correct use of punctuation. That’s why we devoted over half of this week’s Twitter round-up to an examination of how the IPL teams are using exclamation marks on their official accounts.
It’s important to channel one’s energy. If you spread your irritation too thinly, you’ll find you have nothing left for important issues such as these.19 Appeals
Maybe not. One of first-class cricket’s finest batsmen may yet get an opportunity to play a second Test having been selected in Australia’s Ashes squad. It just goes to show, if you hang around long enough, the failings of the next generation will eventually earn you the recognition you sort of deserve.
15 years of experience
You wouldn’t say Rogers has been picked at his peak, but he’s still good enough in English conditions to have topped Middlesex’s batting averages last year (if you ignore Andrew Strauss because he only made 277 runs). Also, being as he’s here already, he’s got plenty of time to get his eye in.
He won’t be the only one with an opportunity to get his eye in. Modern Test tours are short, but there seems to be recognition that the players need more time to acclimatise as seven of the Test squad will arrive early with the Australia A team.
There has been a cull. Batsmen picked for their bowling and bowlers picked for their batting are out. Glenn Maxwell, Moises Henriques and Steve Smith are all dropped, as is Xavier Doherty. Even if they hadn’t been replaced, the squad would be stronger. They were basically just diluting the previous Australia squad and distracting people. Brad Haddin’s gnarl-dog face has also been brought back, because it looks the part.
This may be the least terrifying Australia Ashes squad in years, but at least there’s some clarity about it. That wasn’t the case in India, where the selectors seemed to be hysterically hedging and hoping. It’s also a good move to have plenty of players over in the UK for a prolonged period before the first Test.
We tend to think there’s a tendency to fill in the unknowns rather generously when it comes to Australia’s younger bowlers, but that doesn’t mean we think they’re outright bad and they’ll have more impact in England than in India. As long as you have bowlers, you are always in with a shout.20 Appeals