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


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  1. The great Neil Wagner.

    Bounces out the best batsman in the world on a flat subcontinent pitch.

    The Lancashire decline – a direct correlation with the unavailability of the great man.

    Runs in hard all day.

    1. Anyone who runs in all day, but is perhaps not always running in with the requisite level of hardness, would be a (very) poor substitute for TGNW.

      1. Also: this is the most exciting denouement to the county championship for years, which clearly means it’s high time the ECB introduced City-based T20 cricket as an alternative.

        After all, domestic cricket fans are obviously all pensioners and therefore not ready for excitement in any way, shape or form.

    2. The joint-least-used bowler in the first innings.
      Kane Williamson obviously doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing.

  2. So, if we were all somehow transported into the body of James Franklin (think Freaky Friday rather than Innerspace) , what would we be setting as a target?

    1. Depends. If you were a Yorkshire fan and you found yourself in the body of James Franklin, you’d probably set the opposition 12 to win or something like that.

    1. This is a better year than last to go down, what with (presumably) two promotions/relegations being reinstated next season?

  3. Meanwhile the Kane is being administered yet again. Imagine being an Indian Test fan, seeing your talisman bounced out for 9 by TGNW, and then the opposition’s equivalent comes in and sweeps away like Cinderella pre-ball.

  4. Well, I have no idea how this is going to end.

    Surely it won’t be a draw. They can’t let it. Yorkshire will have to go hell for leather at whatever target they’re set. And if they lose wickets, they won’t be able to slow down.

      1. Cricinfo claims the difference between drawing and losing for Middlesex is something over £100,000. Enough to matter?

    1. Is this really “sport”?

      Is this really “entertainment”?

      Is this really “the spirit of the game”?

      I dunno, but it would be more amusing if I wouldn’t rather like Somerset to win. Would feel mean not to want Tres and Rogers to win something.

    2. Actually, if they’re going to be so ridiculous about it, why not make Middlesex really work for their runs, with repeated fumbles and overthrows-strategically-not-quite-reaching-the-boundary… let Middlesex jog to a suitable target. Knacker them.

      I want to see an all-run 36 off an over.

      I want to see an all-run 36 off a ball.

      Oh go on Yorkshire. It wouldn’t be any less stupid than what you’re doing now.

  5. 22 from the last over, as Yorkshire play their final card – declaration bowling.

    Put this to your non-cricket loving friend, see what he makes if it. Deliberately poor bowling to allow easy scoring, so that the declaration target is reached sooner rather than later. I can’t think of a comparable situation in any other sport.

    1. I tried very hard with a footballing analogy on the last thread and couldn’t really get one. There might be circumstances in professional football where both teams could do with improving their “goals scored” totals, but if they “exchanged” a few goals after a bit of a chat in the middle, then the footballing authorities would be having serious words. And even that’s not quite the right analogy.

    2. The reality is that in a league competition, this is match fixing. In a golf match you’re not allowed to give your opponent a putt because he is competing against more than just you. That is the case here as well.

      Any circumstance in which a team isn’t doing everything it could be to win THIS MATCH is fixing. The Chinese badminton players were disqualified in disgrace for doing exactly the same thing at the 2012 olympics. Both these teams should be disqualified.

      1. In fairness, Yorkshire are doing what they need to win this match.

        But they’re not doing it by exercising their best efforts to play quality cricket.

        The fact that this increases their win probability is basically a design flaw in first-class cricket and the incentives provided by “context”.

        Glad we don’t see this in Test cricket though. Closest recentish thing that springs to memory was that mutually forfeited innings… but then, look how that Cronje business turned out.

      2. If they want to concede quick runs but still have the pretence of actually trying, they should stick their proper bowlers – spinner if they like – and bowl proper balls with a ridiculously aggressive field. That would at least feel “valid”. And moreover not tactically pointless either – if Yorkshire won the title by skittling Middlesex, that would be fair enough. If attempting to do so concedes the runs they need up on the board to encourage a declaration, then so be it…

      3. Incidentally Franklin apparently chipping one in the air back to Adam Lyth, as if to make up for his ruined career bowling average, hardly counts as “trying one’s utmost” or a “first-class wicket” either does it?

    3. And with that declaration, we can only assume that Middlesex wants Yorkshire to win. Shabby and disgraceful, they all need to look the word “sport” up in a dictionary.

      1. Looks pre-arranged doesn’t it? Hope it wasn’t. I know Middlesex needed to dangle the carrot and all, and have enough time to bowl Yorkshire out, but they seem to be really giving it away. As if they felt some bizarre need to reciprocate the Yorkshire bowlers’ generosity. A bizarre need, for instance, such as a prior agreement…

      2. I’m thinking maybe 40 overs, rather than a specified or approximate number of runs, may have been the factor that was prearranged, if anything was.
        Fine with this – it’s what any team ruthless enough to go for broke at all costs would do, Somerset included.

  6. Declaration bowling and setting a target to try and win the game has been a thing for decades, and this is the first time I’ve seen people get angry about it.

    1. It’s because it usually happens in unnoticed county matches with one journalist and a dog in attendance.

      It needs to be not tolerated at any time in the season, otherwise farces like this will happen again and again. This is a rare opportunity for county cricket to showcase itself, with an amazing three-way race for the title on the final day. What has been showcased instead is a bizarre and externally incomprehensible set-up that will reinforce everyone’s worst opinions of cricket.

      1. I’m not worried about other people’s opinions of cricket, and am pretty fine with it being different.

      2. Everyone’s worst opinions of cricket seem to be that it’s dull, nothing happens, and it gets rained off a lot. None of which have happened thus far.

        It’s not great cricket, but I feel it’s been blow waaaaaay out of proportion by some former England wicketkeepers. Er, I mean people.

      3. …fair point, well made, but I don’t think either of those were the part Bert was complaining about.

        Still, Middlesex have got to stop being dull. Can they convince BMac to play in the CC next season?

  7. Four overthrows through Finn! We’ve had everything now. Imagine if the title was decided by overthrows!

    1. Yorkies are falling way behind the rate here. Some last-minute turdigity in that mud? Are the MacGuffin-gripping gloves becoming saturated and heavy?

    1. Detached and nonplussed. Will have to review the conversation later to see whether it’s worth an update.

  8. That’s fair enough. Shabby it might have been at one point, the end was astounding. Well played Middlesex.

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