GOOGLIES & CHINAMEN
An Occasional Cricketing Journal
Spot the Ball
- Ben Stokes: Will Josh Baker be playing for New Zealand in June?
- Jonathan Agnew: Who do you think should open for England?
Warwickshire Supporter: Dom Sibley got a hundred in May
Middlesex Supporter: Sam Robson got a hundred in May.
Hampshire Supporter: Nick Gubbins got a hundred in May.
Essex Supporter: Alastair Cook got a hundred in May.
Gloucester Supporter: Chris Dent got a hundred in May.
Kent Supporter: Ben Compton got a hundred in May.
Jonathan Agnew: I’m sorry I asked.
- Team Captain: Will any of the new members be coming on the Devon Tour this summer?
- Nassar Hussein: Why have you appointed Brendan McCullum as manager of your test side?
Out and About with The Professor
It is little I repair to the matches of southern folk…but I was in London last weekend and so decided to pop into Headquarters to see the top of the table clash (Division 2, that is) between Notts and Middlesex. In truth it didn’t turn out to be much of a clash, Notts were far too strong for the home side.
Nottinghamshire had made a decent score on day one, in this year of very decent day one scores, and looked like they would go well past 400. But then some quick morning wickets from Roland-Jones checked the progress and the last pair were at the wicket for 350. I was told that Luke Fletcher doesn’t take kindly to being below Stuart Broad in the batting order…and it looked like it. While Broad did his usual swishing, Fletcher was driving on the up and putting together a very decent tail-wagging 50.
It turned out to be a rather special day for “Big Fletch”. The Australian Pattinson was too quick for some of the Middlesex top order, including Stoneman who hung around but who never looks comfortable against high pace; but the moment of the day was a little push from Stoneman to mid-wicket (to get down the other end) and a pick-up and throw from Fletcher to hit the stumps and run out de Caires. We are used to seeing extravagant theatrical celebrations in football and Fletcher had obviously seen them too. He charged off towards the Grandstand, threw his cap about thirty yards into the air and waited to be engulfed by his chums. Had it actually been football, the shirt would have been off but, mercifully, we were saved that.
Fletcher seems to have been around for years (Roland-Jones and Murtagh, as well, come to that) but I don’t think his sizeable frame has often been associated with the Jonty Rhodes school of fielding. Nor, I suspect, did he - thus the celebrations.
Middlesex didn’t recover however and were all out before the close.
The previous day I had been at Headingley to watch Keaton Jennings bat. Whenever I go to Headingley to see the Roses match all I ever seem to do is watch Keaton Jennings bat. And not just for Lancs - I saw one of his very early County Championship games and thought (and, I recall, wrote in this journal) that this chap looks a natural opening bat. Indeed he had all the required credentials for opening the batting for England: he plays very straight, leaves well outside off stump…and was born in South Africa. He then gets a hundred on Test debut and I could smile a smug contentment at my prescient judgement. Then, of course, came the demise, a whole series against South Africa where he appeared rooted to the crease, and another against the West Indies; and so back to county cricket and scoring hundreds against Yorkshire again - just the 238 this time.
The quantity of runs this year has, as we know, been astonishing. Indeed it seems very difficult to get out. Only 13 wickets fell on day one of the current round of matches in Division 1 and the lowest first innings score was Lancashire’s 566. Canterbury must be one of the flattest of flat belters for Surrey to knock up their record 671-9. What is happening? Clearly the weather has allowed mid-summer pitches to be prepared in the spring but this has been so extreme that a steward at Headingley told me that he had heard that they were using a different ball. Not, I think, common knowledge. Perhaps if we get some rain, things will change, but if you like seeing runs scored, the County game is where it’s at.
At Lord’s, things just got better and better for Fletcher. Mullaney, or the Notts coach, or both, clearly liked what they saw of their No.11 so much that they decided to open with him in the second innings. Result? Another 50, of course. This seems to present a possible solution to England’s post-Cook/Strauss problem: just trail around the county circuit for two handy No.11s and open the batting with them.
By now the big man was, as they say, “on a roll”. When Middlesex batted again they lost 2 wickets for no runs…both to Fletcher.
Both games ended up draws – a result of stubborn resistance (a hundred from Robson at Lord’s and another not out 80 from Brook at Leeds) and bad weather - but the visiting sides had easily the better of both encounters. Indeed, in their two innings Yorkshire lost 16 wickets and still didn’t overtake the visitors’ score. Now that would surely have been enough to have brightened the heart of even the most gloomy Lancastrian poet.
This & That
The Middlesex successful run chase at Hove was weird in so many ways. I had been following during the day intermittently and assumed that Sussex were batting on to ensure a draw. I was amazed when I found that they had left Middlesex 77 overs to bat. Final days must be full days now unlike formerly when the sides more or less packed up at tea. Robbie White was injured whilst fielding and so Middlesex were left a batsman short. This was compounded by the perennially out of form Handsconb batting at three. He did score 79 but consumed 142 balls in doing so. Robson’s 149 set things up for Holden and Andersson to hurry things through to a seven wicket victory with three overs to spare. Robinson only bowled 14 overs during the chase – was he injured?
Incidentally why has Eskinazi not been playing since his opening match hundred? Middlesex also seem to be alternating their quicks. Surely, they don’t need resting at this stage? I would have thought that a fit T R-J would get in as an all-rounder every time?
The wickets all round the country must be excellent as there have been vast numbers of runs scored everywhere. The weather must have contributed but there must also have been a deliberate policy to avoid greentops.
Ex Yorkshireman, Jack Leaning, captained Kent in the absence of both Sam Billings and Daniel Bell-Drummond in their four-day match against the Sri Lankan Cricket Development XI at Canterbury. There was nothing particularly significant when he was out on the first morning with the score on 95 for 4 but from then on, the bat took control. First Stevens and Linde added 264 before Stevens was out for 168 scored from just 142 balls. Linde went on to score107 and Mead added further runs with the tail as he finished on 106 not out. Leaning must have been amazed that he was able to declare on 595 for 8. But this proved to be insufficient to achieve a first innings lead as the visitors accumulated 658 for 9 declared with Nishan Madushka leading the way with 269. Kent amassed a further 201 for 1 before the match ended.
The standard of the IPL has been exceptional this year and it is being held at four venues which have produced excellent wickets. Day after day the crowds have packed into these venues. I keep being drawn to the matches which are staged at 3pm UK time and my garden is not getting the attention that I had planned to give it.
The Punjab Kings restricted the high-flying Gujarat Titans to 143 in match 48 and were meandering to victory when at the Tactical Time Out a message was conveyed to Liam Livingstone that Punjab should try to improve their net run rate. The excellent Mohammad Shami returned to bowl the sixteenth over. Livingstone clubbed his first ball over square leg for what was one of the biggest hits ever witnessed. The technology claimed that it was 117 metres. The next two deliveries were also dispatched for six whilst balls four and five went for 4 and 2 respectively. Livingstone completed the win with a boundary off the final ball. Shami’s first three overs had conceded just 13 his fourth went for 28.
In the IPL each player has a designated role and it is increasingly apparent that the “finisher” is highly valued by all the franchises. This is not a batsman in the original sense of the word, such as Michael Bevan, who could come in at six or seven and score 50 not out off the last ten overs in an ODI. This is a player who is able to come in and immediately have an impact with a strike rate of around 200. Shivron Hetmyer has made a fortune around the world by being a player who can reliably hit a couple of sixes during the shortest stay at the wicket. A late order 20 from 12 balls is considered a job well done.
The latest convert to this role is Dinesh Kartik, who I thought had retired following extensive spells in the commentary box and a disastrous time last year with the Kolkata Knight Riders. However, he has re-emerged as the Royal Challengers finisher and indeed the tournament’s top finisher with a strike rate of over 200, which puts him ahead of Buttler, Andre Russell and the rest. Against the Sunrisers Hyderabad he joined Faf du Plessis in the nineteenth over with the score at 159 for 3. There were ten balls to go and he faced eight of them scoring 30 not out with four sixes and 1 four. This took the score to a winning 192.
In the early stages of this year’s competition the fielding was a little rusty but now it is red hot. All positions are key and there are magnificent athletes all around the field. Extra cover and straight mid-wicket are bread and butter positions and they have to be able to catch everything including full blooded drives and hit the stumps for run outs. The fastest runners and often tallest fielders are on the boundary where it is no longer acceptable to have the ball land behind you but in play or indeed go over the boundary at catchable height. Therefore, these guys no longer walk in and indeed take up their position on the boundary in a crouch ready for action. Nobody gets a pass in the field and it is not only the captain and bowler who give the glare at any mis-fields.
Jonny Bairstow has suffered from never having been given a specific role and been allowed to settle into it. I think that he is at his best when opening. I recall the Professor seeing him years ago at Scarborough and he reported that Bairstow kept effortlessly hitting the ball over long on. Yesterday he opened for the Punjab Kings and made 66 from 29 balls with seven sixes. The sound off the middle of his bat was exquisite and the ball kept sailing over the boundary. The Royal Challengers Bangalore never recovered from his onslaught.
There is one more round of matches in the first class game in which batsmen have the chance to score 1000 runs before the end of May. The leading contenders are Shan Masood 826, Harry Brook 758, Sean Dickson 750 and Chetwan Pujara 720. Given the amount of runs around they all might achieve it.
When is a record not a record?
The answer is when Wisden decides against it. It has decided that ten of the matches that WG Grace appeared in were not first class and has therefore deleted 685 runs, 67 wickets and two centuries from the record books.
But the move, which brings Wisden in line with the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians, does mean Grace's historic feat of becoming the first player to score 100 first-class hundreds actually happened two weeks later than first thought. Wisden editor Lawrence Booth told the Times: "The time has come to accept that the Almanack should be more concerned with record than romance."
I keenly await to hear from The Great Jack Morgan to establish whether he has re-designated any of the matches that he appeared in.
The Cricketer’s Fifth Round Team of the Week
The Cricketer Magazine selects its team of the week
- Alastair Cook (Essex)
2.Sam Robson (Middlesex)
Set 370 in 77 overs to beat Sussex, Middlesex needed a fast start to maintain their impressive start to their Division Two campaign. A first-innings duck had extended a troubling run of form for Robson, which stretches back to last September now read: 20, 22, 13, 19, 21, 16, 22*, 0. His first hundred since hitting a double against Sussex laid the foundations for a thrilling chase. He put on 209 with captain Peter Handscomb in 48.3 overs and another 61 with Max Holden to finish on 149 from 181 balls. By the time he was dismissed by Ollie Robinson the equation was down to 99 in 17 overs - knocked off with 19 balls to spare - and his job was very much done.
3.Sean Dickson (Durham)
Make that three centuries in as many innings and four for the season from the Durham opener, who found himself firmly upstaged by England's Test captain despite his hundreds in both innings at New Road. His day one 104 was one of three for Durham, with Ben Stokes' fireworks and David Bedingham's second hundred of the campaign to follow. But there was no disputing his headline status when Durham came around to batting again to set an unreachable total, as Dickson hit five fours and eight sixes as he brought up a second century in 69 balls. Indeed, it would have been the quickest in Durham's history, had it not been for Stokes's 64-ball onslaught earlier in the same game.
4.Ben Stokes (Durham)
England's new Test captain returned to action and it was like he had never been away. Stokes hit a stunning 161, with 17 sixes being dispatched to all parts of Worcester and beyond. Teenage-spinner Josh Baker became the primary victim, as Stokes reached his century with 34 from the 20th over delivered by the left-armer - Durham's fastest in red-ball cricket. Stokes checked in with the Worcestershire youngster after the innings, a classy act in the wake of criticism of his bowling by Kevin Pietersen who viewed the display as a justification for the franchising of county cricket.
5.Harry Brook (Yorkshire)
The 23-year-old is yet to miss this season, reeling off a third century and sixth consecutive score of fifty or more to help secure a draw with Essex. Just 20 wickets falling in four days and the fourth innings of the match not being required might reflect badly on the surface, but these runs did at least have a degree of jeopardy behind them. Brook arrived at the crease with Yorkshire 215 for 5 and 188 behind Essex's first-innings 403. By the time he left it, 123 runs from 152 balls later, they were 55 ahead. He made 211 with Dawid Malan and Brook upstaged both he and the returning Root, who had earlier made 75, and now averages 158.75 this term.
6.Chris Cooke (Glamorgan)
The wicketkeeper in the XI is filled by the Glamorgan's gloveman, who contributed across the game to lead Matthew Maynard's side to a second win of the season. Cooke made a third fifty of the campaign, a resilient 52 built across more than three hours either side of the day two close. It helped to give Glamorgan a healthy 117-run lead after both sides had batted once. Four of the South African's half a dozen match dismissals then came in the second-innings as Sam Evans, Rishi Patel and Wiaan Mulder all went in single figures, and Ben Mike departed to end a troubling partnership worth 88.
7.Martin Andersson (Middlesex)
The Berkshire-born allrounder made contributions on all four days to help grind down Sussex. Middlesex would have been left with a substantial first-innings deficit had it not been for Andersson's 3 for 88 with the ball and 55 with the bat, part of a seventh-wicket stand worth 99 with Luke Hollman. He picked up first-innings centurion Tom Alsop the second time around, before hitting a punchy 44 not out from 39 balls alongside Max Holden (80*) in the successful Middlesex chase on the fourth evening.
8.Ollie Robinson (Sussex)
On a dry round for bowlers across the country, the returning England seamer produced an illuminating performance in a losing cause for Sussex. Robinson secured one of just three hauls of five wickets or better in the entire round with figures of 5 for 66 in the first Middlesex innings. And there was plenty to be encouraged about with the manner of the dismissals, bowling Robson, Handscomb and John Simpson before Alsop took catches at slip to see off Andersson and Blake Cullen. Amid questions about his fitness and endurance, it is worth noting Robinson's wickets came in his first, third, fourth and fifth spells spread across 102.2 overs.
9.Mohammad Abbas (Hampshire)
Nine wickets in the match for the Pakistan seamer, who ran through Gloucestershire on day two to set up victory at The Ageas Bowl. Abbas claimed the best individual figures of the round, taking 6 for 45 which included snaring four of the top five. The 32-year-old produced a vintage opening spell of 12-6-23-4. And in the second innings as Gloucestershire were charged with saving the game he claimed three more - including Dominic Goodman for a second time - as Hants stormed to victory. While we're here, let's bask in the glory of Abbas extending his streak to six innings without scoring after finishing 0* without facing a delivery and then being dismissed first ball by countryman Mohammad Amir.
10.Matthew Potts (Durham)
Steve Harmison's player to watch this season picked his third six-wicket haul of the season - dismissing six of Worcestershire's top seven to go clear as Division Two's top wicket-taker. A degree quicker and able to find movement in the air in conditions that produced five centuries, Potts' display was one of the most impressive of the round but was cast into the shadows at Worcester amid the hitting of Stokes and Dickson.
11. Matt Parkinson (Lancashire)
A second appearance in the team of the week for the Lancashire leggie. These were Parkinson's fourth and fifth hauls of three wickets or more in six innings and we're only in early May. This week's viral delivery came with the dismissal of Will Rhodes, a ball that pitched a foot outside off-stump, spun and broke through the Warwickshire captain's defences. Though unable to ultimately bowl Lancashire into a position to win the game in the third innings he added another three wickets, including that of first-innings centurion Dom Sibley and the in-form Michael Burgess. With 17 wickets, 180 overs (only Dom Bess has delivered more in Division One in one more game) and an economy rate which compares favourably to last season (2.20 in 2022, 2.30 in 2021) it has been a fruitful start for the 25-year-old.
Jim Revier sent me this
Can't speak for all counties, but relative to JSM's comment on black presidents, Trevor McDonald is a past Surrey President.
Surrey and Middlesex have both made decent starts. Never know, Middlesex might be back playing with the big boys next season!
McCullum’s First Eleven
George set this poser for his chums and then agreed for it to be extended to all Googlies readers
McCullum, who is currently in charge of Indian Premier League side Kolkata Knight Riders, faces his first Test as England head coach at Lord's on 2 June against New Zealand, the team he used to captain.
Does anyone fancy helping Brendon by picking the England team for this match? The following rules apply: 2 points per finally chosen player, plus another for the correct position in the batting order.
Decent bottle of wine, collection only, for the winner.
The Chelsea defender, Chalobah, who mysteriously got selected for the final and then spent most of it chasing Diaz, has plaits all over his head which make him look like a Cat-o’- nine-tails.
Newcastle’s Bruce Guimaries has a regulation short back and sides haircut, but he has chosen to have it dyed a creamy yellow colour. His head looks like a B&Q paint sample.
Emerson Royal has had his hair sculpted into little globes all over the top of his pate and, of course, these are all dyed white. His head looks like an exotic massage pad.
The Arsenal defender, Tavares, has a hairstyle that can only be described as the “toilet brush”.
Hall of Shame
I saw Leeds play twice this week and was thinking that they seemed a particularly dirty side when first Dan James and shortly afterwards Kalvin Phillips scythed into opponents with what could be described as career threatening assaults. As if on cue a statistical box appeared in the corner of the screen which stated that Leeds had collected the most Yellow Cards (97) this season in the history of the Premier League. The side running second was the Sunderland team of 2014 with 73. This is a disgrace and if for no other reason should be the cause of their relegation.
I don’t know why the professional foul is allowed to thrive in the game. The commentators write it off as “taking one for the team” as if that makes it all right. Its time that a greater punishment than a yellow card was administered to the culprits. How about this – A professional foul gets an orange card which means that the player is dismissed from the pitch but may be replaced by a substitute. If the orange carded player had already had a yellow card then a red card would be administered. This would impart a serious punishment on the perpetrator but not unduly handicap the team. It should also minimise the incidence of this lamentable practice.
News of the Captain
The Captain won the toss and invited the opposition to bat first. When they reached 250 without loss by tea he started to be criticized. He then claimed that technically he had not won the toss since his opponent had called tails when the coin landed heads and so could not be criticized for inserting the other side. However, after tea wickets started to fall and he was soon soliciting plaudits for his foresight in bowling first.
Old Danes Gathering
The Last Old Danes Gathering will take place on Friday 29 July at Shepherds Bush CC. The day is the final day of the club's cricket week. The Gathering will commence at 2pm but attendees will be welcome throughout the afternoon.
This is not a gathering of cricketers and all Old Danes, their partners, friends and even non-Old Danes will be welcome. There is no dress code for the event and no prizes will be awarded for the oldest attendees.
I am circulating a list of attendees and apologies on a separate circulation list. If you would like to be added to this list please let me know.
All the back editions of Googlies can be found on the G&C website. There are also many photographs most of which have never appeared in Googlies.
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