It’s the final round of qualifiers for the Bob Willis Trophy

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The most important match of the county season is just around the corner. TBC v TBC at Lord’s from September 28 to October 2. The Game of the Falling Leaves, they call it – The Bob Willis Trophy Final.

Quite why they call it a final is beyond us. It’s not like there are semi-finals or a league stage or anything. The Bob Willis Trophy is just one match: the county champions v the runners-up. If you need more of a refresher on how the competition fits into the sprawling domestic season, you can find it here.

Its format means the final round of County Championship fixtures doubles as the final round of Bob Willis Trophy qualifiers anyway.

Things are pretty tense.

Four teams are still in with a chance of qualifying. Thankfully, Lancashire are among them. Thankfully, Yorkshire are not. (The latter have been too tied up trying to work out the exact amount they should acknowledge and apologise for having done a bunch of racisms down the years. They need to acknowledge and apologise enough that people will stop hassling them to do so, but not so much that people see it as an indication they should investigate further or take some sort of action.)

Lancashire will be playing Hampshire next week. Hampshire are top. This is in large part thanks to Mohammad Abbas, who is basically what AI will come up with when it needs an opening bowler for a Machines v Humans fixture in English conditions in the year 3030. He will be up against a Lancashire batting line-up that can boast four players averaging over 40 this season (when did that last happen?). Josh Bohannon has been the most productive with 822 runs at 58.71.

Warwickshire are in second place and they’ll be playing Somerset, who are bottom of the top flight. Warwickshire’s top wicket-taker this season is Liam Norwell, about whom we know almost nothing. Chris Woakes reportedly wants to play, but whether he’s permitted is another matter. England don’t generally approve of Chris Woakes playing cricket.

The other match sees Yorkshire host the fourth of our contenders, Nottinghamshire. Haseeb Hameed is probably the most noteworthy Notts player at the minute, but the key to their success has been Luke Fletcher barrelling in for 63 wickets at 14.04.

Here is Luke Fletcher showcasing a look we’re calling Ram-Man Chic after what was, at the time, a career-best performance against Essex in May.

There is a new series of He-Man on Netflix, by the way. We haven’t seen it all, but as far as we can tell, Ram-Man isn’t in it, which is kind of a tragedy. (The cast list is pretty mad. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker to you) does the voice of Skeletor. Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) voices Teela. Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones) is Evil-Lyn. There are loads of others you’ll know too (including Henry Rollins), but special mention here for Diedrich Bader who is responsible for two of our all-time favourite cinematic minor roles: Lawrence from Office Space and Rex Kwon Do from Napoleon Dynamite.)

The last round of Bob Willis Trophy qualifiers start on Tuesday.

31 comments

  1. It’s like the Grand Final in that there Rugby League, isn’t it?

    Looking forward to the bit where Warwickshire’s star player punches someone twice very hard in the eye socket and gets sent off after five minutes.

    That were diabolical, etc and so forth.

  2. New Zealand Cricket’s statement about their last-minute cancellation (so hot right now) contained this quote: “Following an escalation in the New Zealand Government threat levels for Pakistan, and advice from NZC security advisors on the ground, it has been decided the BLACKCAPS will not continue with the tour.”

    Did they have to shout the word blackcaps every time due to a very specific tic? Or is it an acronym? If the latter, any thoughts as to what it might stand for?

    1. Bloody Lovely Awesome Chap, Kane. Can Appreciate Peculiar Superovers.

      Bad Luck About Cup, Kane. Cheerio, Antipodean Polite Skipper.

  3. As a lancs fan I’m actually quite excited and am hoping to get to Aigburth on Friday to watch them lift the trophy.

    Strangely the forecast is rain for 3 days. Who would have thought that could happen at the end of September? Who, I ask you?

    Also, with it not fully being over given Bob Willis’s Trophy, has first class cricket ever been played in England in October before?

    1. According to this article from The Cricketer, “Kent and Nottinghamshire played Cambridgeshire and Yorkshire in a three-day game at Newmarket” in October 1864, which seems to have been a low-scoring but emphatic win for Cambridgeshire and Yorkshire.

      England played Sussex in 1847 in a 4-day game that ended on the 30th September, which is as close as I can get to October without delving into sections of the cricketing internet that might as well be marked ‘here be dragons’ (or, worse, ‘Married v Single’)…

  4. In a terrifying, novel example of AI and cookies working out what adverts to put before my eyes when I am reading this website,..

    …no more “Asian Babes”, no more “Russian Brides”, no more “would you like to accumulate a £250,000 pension pot”…

    …no…this time, the fiendishly clever algorithm has decided that I might like to join the ballot for 2022 Edgbaston tickets.

    Well I have news for you, not as fiendishly clever as you like to think you are algorithm: I have no need for your ballot; I have no need for your advert; we’ve secured our Heavy Rollers 2022 Edgbaston test match tickets already.

    1. Reassuring to know that the ads do occasionally give themselves a fighting chance of actually being clicked by someone.

      1. A while ago,I found one useful link here advertising local red diesel. We know it as ‘blush,’ ‘rosé’ or dodgy DERV. I’ve been pulled over twice by the ‘Nuts and Bolts’ brigade who dipped the tank on my van to check that I wasn’t ‘running red.’ Welcome to the Fens.

    2. I, on the other hand – someone who is considering joining the ballot for Birmingham and/or Leeds in the hope of finally seeing a match that doesn’t get cancelled / postponed / forfeited / played behind closed doors, – am offered the chance to either ‘optimise content for voice search’ or ‘learn the value of gold’.

      1. I actually had a Ram-Man action figure toy as a kid in the 80s. I think I might be your ideal audience. I’m not a crack head or investment banker if that makes you feel better about what you do.

    1. A bit of an insult to the “undead with sense of humour” community, comparing them with the Yorkshire CcC Board or, worse, lawyers.

      Skelators have feelings too, Ramble.

      1. My apologies Ged, I didn’t mean to offend the notoriously sensitive Funny Undead community. I legitimately thought this is what lawyers and people on cricket boards do all day: sit around chuckling at their Machiavellian schemes.

  5. That new Masters of the Universe is really good. Only the first five episodes of the season though, and it ends on an almighty cliffhanger.

    Amuses me somewhat that they named a county championship trophy after Willis, given he spent so much time moaning about it.

    1. The sad truth of the matter is he just so happened to die at a convenient point for the naming. A few more years on this Earth and the honour would have gone to some poor, more-dead bugger. A decade or so earlier, and most likely it would have been the gift to some poor, more-recently-dead bugger. I’m not sure whether Willis would have appreciated either the honour or the irony thereof; given the choice I suspect he’d rather have opted to stay alive, thank you very much. If only to be able to watch the thing and moan about it.

    1. Yes, saw it. Yes, that first catch should have been given out. Firstly because the ball was under control before Bell-Drummond touched Cox. Secondly because Bell-Drummond wasn’t attempting an assist and Cox wasn’t at any point carried over the boundary line. The umpires simply didn’t know how the laws should apply to that very unusual situation.

      The Cox assist in the subsequent spectacular catch was probably the best example of one of those that I have ever seen.

      https://twitter.com/VitalityBlast/status/1439322672391876611

      Daisy and I enjoyed watching the final over dinner. First time we have done so for a few years.

      1. I thought they were making those spectacular ‘over the rope hand-off’ catches against the rules? Or have I made that up?

      2. You might be thinking of law 19.5.2:

        “19.5.2 A fielder who is not in contact with the ground is considered to be grounded beyond the boundary if his/her final contact with the ground, before his/her first contact with the ball after it has been delivered by the bowler, was not entirely within the boundary…”

        …but I’m not sure that was a change to the laws. It would be quite a profound (and rather daft) change to the laws to deem something like the Cox relay a six rather than a wicket. Not least because you would need a far more sophisticated camera technology (or guesswork) to determine in marginal instances whether the fielder was aerial beyond the boundary at the moment of impact with the ball.

        Perhaps you have simply made that up, Sam.

      3. If cricket allowed jetpacks (and why shouldn’t it?), there could be amusing ways of interpreting Law 19.5.2.

      4. Didn’t the match referee end up getting involved with that decision? Dunno if anyone else was listening on the radio, but Andy Zaltzman on TMS reckoned the decision was correct and has nothing to do with whether it was an “assist” or not. I have found the relevant part of the commentary, it’s timestamp 10:16:43 on https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/live/cricket/56047012/ … verbatim-ish, he claimed:

        “I found the relevant law … of cricket, and I think, um, it was the reason the umpires gave that as a six rather than out. 19.5.1, fielder grounded beyond the boundary, if, err, some part of err, their person is in contact with any of the following … and one of those listed is any object that is in contact with the ground beyond the boundary. So as Cox was in contact with Bell-Drummond who was … over the boundary then that was, err, a six.”

        In which case the issue with Bell-Drummond was not whether the umpires judged him an assistant or a hindrance, but that he’s had the misfortune of being declared “an object” by the umpires.

        I actually reckoned that sounded reasonable. But who knows, it’s not like I’ve seen (or rather heard) anything like it before. Would be interested in your thoughts on die Zaltztheorie, Ged.

    1. If I recall it correctly, the incident in my primary school playground that got that format of cricket banned there in the summer term of 1973…as described towards the end of the following piece…

      https://ianlouisharris.com/1974/09/03/back-when-i-didnt-know-my-asif-from-my-sarfraz-cricket-on-tooting-bec-common-summer-1974/

      …was very much like the village incident depicted in Sam’s above comment. Hilarious for all except for the chap who cops a bat in the gob.

      1. Thankfully, I think he wore it on the George Best, rather than the boat race, but it might have been on the Vera Lynn. Luckily no claret.

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