GOOGLIES & CHINAMEN
An Occasional Cricketing Journal
The Big Match
For many years it has been widely recognised that the top honour in the English game has been to be selected for the annual Fatsos versus Shortarses match. This year the match has been extended by popular demand into a Festival by the addition of the Giants XI to turn it into a triangular competition.
Ian Westwood (5’ 7”) Warwickshire & Ireland
Johan Myburgh (5’ 7”) Somerset
Adam Lyth (5’ 8”) Yorkshire
Ben Duckett (5’ 8”) Northants
Liam Dawson (5’8”) Hants
Ravi Bopara (5’ 8”) Essex
Matthew Machan (5’ 8”) Sussex
Adam Wheater (5’ 6”) Hants
Niall O’Brien (5’ 6”) Leicestershire
Adil Rashid (5’ 8”) Yorkshire
Sam Curran (5’ 8”) Surrey
Manager : James Taylor (4’ 11”)
This side is bit short of new ball bowlers but is flushed in the wicket keeping department.
Richard Levi (275lbs) Northants
Jesse Ryder (260 lbs) Essex
Mark Cosgrove (290 lbs) Leicestershire
Paul Stirling (240 lbs) Middlesex
Samit Patel (280 lbs) Notts
Adam Rossington (240 lbs) Northants
Azar Mahmood (250 lbs) Surrey
Rory Kleinveldt (420 lbs) Northants
Tim Bresnan (280 lbs) Yorkshire
Graham Napier (275 lbs) Essex
Luke Fletcher (290 lbs) Notts
Manager: Mike Gatting (420 lbs)
This is a pretty well balanced if overweight side all round, although there could well be fisticuffs over who gets the new ball.
Alex Hales (6’5”) Notts
Keaton Jennings (6’4”) Durham
Luke Wells (6’4”) Sussex
Ryan McClaren (6’4”)
Jordan Clark (6’4”) Lancs
James Franklin (6’4”) Middlesex
Ollie Rayner (6’5”) Middlesex
Stuart Broad (6’5”) Notts
Steve Finn (6’7”) Middlesex
Charlie Shreck (6’7) Leicestershire
Reece Topley (6’7”) Hants
Manager: Tom Moody (6’ 4”)
This side should get plenty of bounce with the new ball but could be a bit short on batting.
Out and About with the Professor
I am not, it would be fair to say, a betting man. Perhaps, more accurately, when I have tried betting I have been quite hopeless at it. However, sitting in a row of four at the Radcliffe Road Lower Terrace Stand last Tuesday, it seemed reasonable to have a small wager on the likely England total. My wife claimed to know the least about cricket, so she obviously won; having ventured an absurdly optimistic estimate, she was only out by 124 runs.
I am told that there are people who don’t like 50 over cricket but it is not, I think, within the compass of the human spirit not to have liked what we saw at Trent Bridge. It would be like not liking happiness. The sight of a man of mature years with his mouth constantly agape is not, I confess, a pleasing one…but what other response could there reasonably be to England’s innings? We all know England, right? Like my golf there are a few good bits rapidly followed by more than a few very bad bits. So when Roy was out I was thinking that my estimate (310) had been infused with (uncharacteristic) patriotic hubris. I have been watching England for over 60 years. I know they seldom win and almost never win easy. I know that when a couple of wickets fall a collapse is just around the corner. I also know that they have never ever put a team in the field that can hit 16 sixes and 43 fours in 50 overs. It isn’t possible.
If you have only seen the “highlights” (how did they choose?) and already know the outcome, then the explanations are simple: Pakistan didn’t bowl that well, their fielding was poor, Hales had a lucky day, Root had a lucky day, Morgan had a lucky day and Buttler is just lucky. This was not evident when we took our seats. Nor indeed when Hales sent his first towering six into (happily) another section of the Radcliffe Road Lower Terrace off a free hit. It was a free hit, right? He just slogged it. But the next six wasn’t…and it went miles. And so it went. Root, of course, didn’t slog: he pulled, clipped, drove and glided. He didn’t play an ugly shot but scored at a rate that would have taken the side over 300. Hales did all those things …and slogged. When he belted a long-hop to deep square and then appeared (from the stands) to importune the umpire into giving a no-ball…well, it was going to be his day. And what a day. Buttler hardly seems to have batted for ages and so clearly had to play himself in. I think he had one off seven balls. The eight went into the Radcliffe Road Terrace and another almost into the Radcliffe Road. 13 balls later he had 50 and a record to follow on from Hales’ record and, well, a record number of records. Morgan did his little flicked-pull over wide mid-on…that landed several rows back, and scored faster than anyone else, at more than two runs per ball. And so it went. Glorious, glorious stuff.
The sun was warm, the lager cold and I was watching England set a world record score for a 50 over game. Had I been asked, on the way to the match, I would have bet a lot of money against that.
Sam Robson and Toby Roland-Jones replaced Eoin Morgan and James Fuller in the Middlesex team to play Essex in the Royal London Cup match at Lord's on Sunday July 31. Ravi Bopara won the toss for Essex and invited Middlesex to bat first on a track that was noticeably greener than those used in the Championship these days.
Most of the early home batsmen got a start, but none could surpass Robson's 41 off 62 balls in his first 50 over match of the season until captain James Franklin did so at the end of the innings. John Simpson made 33 and shared the best stand of the innings (62) with Franklin who went on to a valuable 55 off 63 balls with 5 fours as the innings closed on an apparently below par score of 219 for 8. Australian ODI batsman George Bailey continued his disappointing form in this competition and now averages 5.3.
19 year old Dan Lawrence was the most impressive of the visiting bowlers (he is listed as a legspinner, but these looked uncannily like offbreaks to me) with 3 for 35 in his 10 overs, while veteran medium pacer Graham Napier picked up 3 for 50.
Not many of the Lord's sages thought that 219 would be enough to win the match and even fewer did after Essex were given a wonderful start by the impressive tall lefthander Nick Browne. Tom Westley helped him add 57 for the first wicket in 11 overs and Essex were way ahead of the Middlesex score at almost every stage of their innings. However, after Browne departed for an admirable 79 off 94 balls with 12 fours and a six, no one else was capable of maintaining the required scoring rate. Ex-England man Bopara tried to hold things together with 34 off 60 balls, but the most dangerous of the later batsmen was the ex-Sussex slow left arm bowling allrounder from Karachi Ashar Zaidi and he was left to steer the tail towards a total that was looking increasingly unattainable. Roland-Jones and Franklin bowled fine spells towards the end of the innings and they were rewarded with figures of 4 for 40 and 3 for 25 respectively as Essex fell just short of their target on 215 for 9 despite Zaidi's best efforts.
Middlesex brought in Nick Compton, Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh for Sam Robson, James Fuller and Harry Podmore for the Championship match against Surrey starting at Lord's on August 4th. Gareth Batty won the toss for the visitors and chose to bat, but Surrey soon lost 2 wickets to Murtagh. However, Rory Burns was batting soundly and Australian limited overs batsman Aaron Finch played a brief, but attractive innings of 37. Jason Roy now joined Burns and both players flourished during an excellent stand of 118 for the fourth wicket. Burns was the first to go after an outstanding 88 off 127 balls with 15 fours, but now Steve Davies (38) shared another good stand of 83 with Roy. Soon after Davies departed, however, Roy's thoroughly entertaining innings of 110 off 142 balls with 16 fours came to an end. This left keeper Ben Foakes with the responsibility of guiding the tail to a substantial total and this was a task that he took seriously as he allowed partners Sam and Tom Curran and Batty to play most of the shots. This worked well as he ended on 63* off 132 balls with 8 fours and the Surrey total climbed to 415 all out off 110.2 overs. Jimmy Harris was the most successful bowler with 3 for 98 and no fewer than 7 Surrey batsmen fell to lbw decisions.
Nick Gubbins was in fine form at the start of the Middlesex innings and although he lost two early partners, Dawid Malan (31) gave him good support in a useful stand of 80 for the third wicket. Gubbins finally fell for a splendid 82 off 134 balls with 14 fours and a six. George Bailey (37) and John Simpson then shared a fine stand of 70 for the fifth wicket, but when Simpson fell for a persevering 58 off 153 balls with 7 fours and a six, the strong looking tail disintegrated badly to reach only 293 all out, 122 behind. 18 year old Sam Curran took 4 for 60 with his nippy left arm swing.
Burns (39) again looked in good form for Surrey, but four wickets crashed with the score on 47 (three of them to Toby Roland-Jones). Davies and Roy (37) tried to repair the damage with a stand of 60, but both fell to Ollie Rayner and Surrey were struggling on 108 for 6. However, that exceptionally reliable keeper/ batsman Foakes relishes a fight and once again Middlesex found it impossible to dislodge him. Sam Curran was actually the star of this innings with an impressive 71 off 148 balls with 8 fours out of their stand of 127 for the seventh wicket. Foakes carried on to 65* off 141 balls with 5 fours and a six until Surrey declared on 266 for 7 after 6 overs of the fourth morning, setting Middlesex 389 to win. Toby took 3 for 44 and Ollie 3 for 65.
The Middlesex "run chase" never got started as they quickly plummeted to 82 for 5, but George Bailey chose a good time to play his best innings for the club and he was well supported by skipper James Franklin. This pair came together soon after lunch and were not parted until the close of play was in sight. Franklin finally fell to left arm spinner Zafar Ansari (4 for 63) for an admirable 70 off 153 balls with 10 fours, but Bailey was undefeated at the end with 110* off 199 balls with 20 fours, a magnificent effort as Middx comfortably saved the match and closed on 278-6. Middx (10 points) are still top of the first division table at present and are the only unbeaten team in the division, but this was not Championship winning form, while Surrey (13 points) are not yet safe from relegation, but they will soon be out of danger on this evidence.
Middlesex brought in Paul Stirling and Harry Podmore for George Bailey (on ODI duty with Australia) and Jimmy Harris for the Championship match against Durham which started at Lord's on August 13th. Paul Collingwood won the toss for Durham and, perhaps surprisingly, chose to bat first on a track that was slightly greener than the recent brown offerings here. Initially, this looked to be a sound decision as Mark Stoneman, who made 187 against Middx a couple of years ago, got the visitors off to a sound start with a useful 46 out of an opening stand of 74 with South African Keaton Jennings. In fact, Durham lost their first four wickets with the score on 74 and it is such a rare occurrence for a team to lose its first 4 wickets on the same total that I had to look all the way back to last Saturday (6th of August) for the last instance when Surrey lost their first four here with the score on 47. Durham never really recovered from this despite the efforts of allrounder Paul Coughlin (39) and England paceman Mark Wood (36) and collapsed to a disappointing 204 all out. The Middlesex heroes were Ollie Rayner (4-17) and James Franklin (3-26).
Steve Eskinazi and Nick Gubbins got the Middlesex reply off to a good start with an opening stand of 77 before Eskinazi fell for a steady 42. Nick Compton then joined Gubbins in a superb stand of 247 for the second wicket to put Middlesex into an exceptionally strong position. Nick G has been in good form this season (averaging 66.6), but the same could not be said of Nick C (average before this match 18.4) and it was good to see him finally return to form. Gubbins was the first to go for an exemplary 145 from 302 balls with 19 fours and a six, while Compton followed not long after for a top class 131 from 247 balls with 14 fours. Paul Stirling contributed a handy 43, but there were plenty more runs to come from Toby Roland-Jones, in particular, who hammered a spectacular 66 off 47 balls with 6 fours and 4 sixes. Skipper James Franklin kept Toby company in a splendid stand of 100 for the eighth wicket and Franklin then declared on 536-9 with his own score on a praiseworthy 56 not out from 85 balls with 7 fours. Ex-England seamer Graham Onions was the pick of the visitors attack with 3-104.
When Durham batted a second time, the openers again provided a decent start of 55 for the first wicket, with Jennings this time the main contributor with 45, but things then followed a similar pattern to the first innings. Jack Burnham (30), Coughlin (37), Wood (33) and Onions (34) all hinted that things could have gone differently, but the fact was that Durham were outclassed in this match with Rayner again the main destroyer with 5-85 (and 9-102 in the match) as Durham finished on 252 all out. Middlesex supporters were heard strongly advocating Ollie's selection for England as they have so little quality spin available. I would like to put in a word of praise for Podmore, who was playing only his second Championship match for Middlesex and who bowled a splendid second innings spell of 8-1-19-2 to help speed Middlesex to victory. Harry took 7 wickets on his debut at Taunton and (including his loan spell at Glamorgan) now has 16 wickets this season at a very respectable 26.5. After the match, Wood was selected for the England ODI squad; he tried hard and looked fit in this match, but his figures of 2-91 were ordinary. Middlesex won by an innings and 80 runs, took 22 points from the match to Durham's 2 and remained on top of the division one table, 26 points ahead of Yorkshire, who have a game in hand. Durham have slipped to seventh, sixteen points away from the relegation places, but they too have a game in hand.
Where are they now?
Bowlers have an unhealthy habit of disappearing once they have been mentioned in despatches or actually made it into the England teams in one form or the other.
Adam Riley was going to be the answer to England’s spin bowling problems in 2015. He can’t even get a game for Kent this year.
Danny Briggs actually made it into the England T20 side but was then released by Hants and now rarely gets a game for Sussex.
Mark Footitt was the Div 2 Left arm seamer of choice and got transferred into Div 1 with Surrey after being selected for England nets. He was injured but now canno9t seem to get past the plethora of seamers on the Surrey staff.
Mark Wood starred in the full England side in 2015 but injuries have reduced him to occasional comebacks for Durham. He looked lively and impressive in white ball outings but is unlikely to be fit enough for 5 day cricket.
Harry Gurney was another left arm seamer who enjoyed brief favour with the national selectors but has now slipped back to obscurity at notts.
Another left armer Reece Topley made it into the England set up only to be released by Essex and disappear in the Hampshire countryside.
Graham Onions was highly thought of and at one time was a regular in the full England side, but has never been mentioned again after recovering from injury.
There were two significant matches within days of each other at opposite ends of the professional spectrum in August.
The first was a County Championship Division 2 match played at Worcester, where the home team won the toss and invited Northants to bat first. After fifty overs they had been reduced to 172 for 5 but Keogh and Crook then added 159 before Keogh was run out for 154. On Day 2 Crook added 149 with Barrett for the ninth wicket before he was dismissed for 145. Barrett added 45 for the last wicket with Sanderson and ended up 114 not out. There were three centurions in the Northants total of 551, the next top score was 33.
By the close of Day 2 Worcestershire had reached 153 for1 and had only extended this to 195 for 3 by the close on Day 3 due to rain interruptions. I have no inside info but can only assume that there was a captains agreement about the way the match proceeded on Day 4. Worcestershire batted on to 201 for 3 before declaring and achieving a batting point.
Northants then made 50 for 1 before declaring and this left Worcestershire needing to score 401 to win in 80 overs. Daryl Mitchell scored his second hundred of the match but was out when the score reached 268 for 3. Rhodes fell cheaply and Clarke fell for 125 but Ross Whitely tonked 45 from 30 balls before falling at 353 for 6. Cox and Leach kept going and Worcestershire reached 404 for 8 in 79 overs. 300 is considered a big fourth innings chase, this was a major effort by Worcestershire.
The second match was a T20 contest between the West Indies and India at Lauderhill. India won the toss and invited the West Indies to bat first. Charles and Lewis added 126 for the first wicket until Charles was bowled for 79 scored from 33 balls. Lewis fell for 100 from 49 balls. Russell and Pollard had time for brief cameos before the innings closed at 245 for 6.
In reply Rohit Sharma scored 62 from 28 deliveries and Rahul was undefeated with 110 fro 51 deliveries. Extraordinarily India needed only 7 from the last over but Dwayne Bravo outfoxed MS Dhoni and the centurion Rahul. India needed two off the last ball, Bravo made Dhoni wait and wait before bowling a slower ball that was caught at short third man.
The match featured a number of record breaking efforts:
Rahul reached his 100 from 46 balls to record the second fastest International T20 hundred. Richard Levi from 45 balls remains the fastest.
The totals 245 and 244 were the third and fourth highest in Int T20 cricket. The highest remains 260 by Sri Lanka followed by 248 by Australia.
Erin Lewis took 32 from a Binny over. He equaled Buttler who has twice achieved this. Yuvraj hit 36 in 2007.
The West Indies total of 21 sixes establishes a new record for an Int T20 match.
Steve Croft won the toss for Lancashire and chose to bat in the Championship match against Surrey which started at the Oval on 23rd August. However, the visitors were soon in trouble against the four-pronged seam attack of the Curran brothers, Stuart Meaker and Mark Footitt and by early afternoon they had slumped to 99 for 5. Cumbrian all rounder Jordan Clark did his best to extract his team from the mire and debutant Rob Jones from Warrington helped him add 85 for the sixth wicket. Clark fell for a fine 56 off 75 balls with 10 fours and tail end resistance came from Arron Lilley, from Tameside, who hit an impressive 38 from 28 balls with 4 sixes, while Nathan Buck, ex-Leicestershire and Simon Kerrigan, ex-England, added an untroubled 48 for the last wicket, but a total of 287 was still a disappointment for the visitors. 18 year old Sam Curran was the pick of the home bowlers with 4-61, while Stuart Meaker claimed 3-83 and Ben Foakes took 5 catches behind the stumps.
The Surrey innings was markedly different to the Lancs effort as the impressive Rory Burns (88 from 164 balls with 12 fours) and the calm Dom Sibley (56 from 173 balls with 7 fours) opened with a stand of 160 for the first wicket. Kumar Sangakkara looked in brilliant form and it was surprising when he suddenly departed for 67 off 73 balls with 6 fours and 2 sixes, while Steve Davies contributed a more sedate 59 off 124 with 6 fours. Sam Curran was the outstanding performer in the second half of the innings as he hit a thoroughly entertaining 96 off 127 balls with 13 fours and 3 sixes to take the total up to 480, a lead of 193. Offspinner Lilley stuck to his task heroically through 37.3 overs and finished with 5 for 130.
Luke Procter, from Oldham, got the Lancs second innings off to a good start and when he was joined by fluent Springbok Alviro Petersen 78 runs came in 72 minutes and things briefly looked good for Lancs. However, Petersen departed for an attractive 56 off 66 balls with 8 fours and a six and when Procter followed for a determined 76 off 153 balls with 12 fours, Lancs were in the mire and never recovered. Wickets fell regularly and the visitors were all out for a dismal 230. The Surrey hero of this carnage was left arm seamer Footitt, whose 76 Championship wickets at 23.63 last season had earned him a place in the England touring party last winter. Not much had gone right for Mark this season so it was pleasing to see him hit top form and return figures of 20.4-4-62-7.
Surrey needed only 38 to win and Burns and Sibley had no trouble knocking off the runs in less than 10 overs and the game was over well before lunch on day 4. Surrey took 23 points from the match to Lancashire's 4 and have gone into third place in the Championship Division One table behind Middlesex and Yorkshire which will be very pleasing for them, though as they have played 2 games more than their rivals, they probably have only an outside chance of the title.
Tim Mansfield sent me this
Thanks for Googlies 164. Great read as ever, but why no mention of Liam Livingstone who made 64 for the Lions v Pakistan A and whose exploits with Lancashire place him close to the top of the first class averages?
Has the Cumbrian, who apparently is no shrinking violet, offended you? You wouldn't be the first. When aged 17 he was 99 not out for Barrow-in-Furness v Morecambe, with his side needing four to win. Morecambe's captain, reportedly annoyed by the arrogance of the young man, ordered his bowler to bowl a deliberate four wides to prevent Livingstone reaching three figures. The bowler, Chris Williams, who went on to represent Cumberland with distinction refused and was promptly removed from the bowling crease. One of Morecambe's more gnarled senior players duly complied and Liam was left 99 not out.
Footnote - Williams was disgusted by what he'd been asked to do and left Morecambe at the end of the season to join Netherfield, before becoming a professional in the Central Lancs League. Not bad for a lad who at 19 was playing for Silverdale in the Westmorland League.
Ged’s chum, Nigel, gives an account of a rain-affected trip to Edgbaston:
“The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened’ by Don Robertson is an evocative journey back to the early 1950s. Readers are introduced to a teenage Morris Bird III, considered by some to be one of the most endearing characters in contemporary American literature.
Our Edgbaston trip in 2012 was so lacking in memory that it is now, well, not memorable. Very little that was meant to take place actually did so.
It was as if we had been enticed to this sodden part of the UK to be teased with the promise of things that almost happened. Morris Bird may well have speculated?
Perhaps we were being tested on our resolve as real Heavy Rollers. Could we cut it when things were bad?
I recall my solitary mission to the nearby cricket ground in advance of the others. They were perhaps still somewhere on the M6 arguing about the relative merits of Delta and Detroit Blues genres, while a dozing Nick yearned for some early Metallica.
Knowing Charles’ detailed preparations before any pre match knockabout, the ‘cricket kit’ would have been checked (several times before being unpacked and repacked) in readiness for our long-awaited net. This was scheduled to take place at Harborne CC. To grace this attractive little ground, in leafy suburban Birmingham, was to be a privilege indeed. All a direct consequence of some emotional story-telling from Charles to some unaware individual who was to forever regret their selfless move to the ‘phone with, “I’ll get it”. Charles had become a master of spin. This had little to do with his ability to pick a ‘Doosra’. Detailed and distressing tales would be discharged to whomever got the job of dealing with random emotive requests, mostly for tickets. Much was at stake this time. A chance to display limited abilities for a donation. It would be a wonderful prelude to the main course.
The scene, however, was a precursor to the forthcoming event. The said ground was deserted. The outfield resembled a small lake. If anything had been planned for this evening it had long been called off. Phone calls from office to office relaying the unhappy, but inevitable, news. I couldn’t avoid observing that the early season volunteers, allocated to small working groups tendering the ground, had failed miserably to:
Clean around the area you want to repair with a wire brush to remove loose paint or rust.
Use an old screwdriver to dig out any old jointing material.
Put the nozzle of the sealant gun into the joint, and run a bead of roof and gutter sealant around the pipe.
One side of the pavilion’s guttering resembled a waterfall. Safe to say the kit wouldn’t be making an appearance this year.
I returned to Harborne Hall with heavy heart, but gratified by the familiarity of our accommodation, and its proximity to some decent restaurants on Harborne High Street for later. High quality Chinese food surely? At least we would be reunited and sustained by our past recollections of basic, but friendly, home-from-home accommodation. It was soon to be revealed that this just was a futile memory, unless your home was a Category C prison.
The corridors still echoed with the long past anticipation and apprehension of eager volunteers, about to make their way to various VSO outposts around the world. The evocative black and white photographs of some wiry young men with mullets, and women in cheesecloth skirts, dancing self-consciously with grateful African children, or in makeshift classrooms, adorned the stairways to our rooms. Such warm recollections were soon to be illusions, as the march of commercialism that had begun to engulf this little haven took shape. It was becoming transformed into something neither here, nor anywhere really. VSO were still present somehow, but surrounded by an impression of a low budget boarding house with an identity crisis.
The futile negotiations over extra breakfast toast rather summed up the whole affair. Jokes about when parole became due and “are you in Block H?” were tinged with reality. As Ian has described, we didn’t see any cricket either. Given that was the whole purpose it could be argued things were not going too well.
I recall walking back from the equally uninviting and playless Edgbaston in time for a planned tour of the local graveyard. This was advertised on a display outside the adjacent church amidst notices, it transpired, unchanged for many a decade. I should have twigged on reading the one with rusty drawing pins, congratulating the Mother’s Union for raising £7 19s 11d for Church upkeep. My children have often reiterated their displeasure when on holiday, mostly in France, when I would enthusiastically jump from the car and excitedly head off (alone) towards a remote cemetery or graveyard. This would make up a little for earlier non-events.
Wet through from my walk back, I just made the appointed time only to be met with a resounding silence, where I imagined the throng would now be congregating.
Just me then. The church was securely locked and, without a guide, any chance of an educational tour of the graves was out of the question. So, given I was staying one further night, I returned to the honesty bar at Harborne Hall before lock down and lights out. I left rather early the next morning, not stopping for toast.
This was to be the final ‘non-event’ of the 2012 gathering, so dominated by things that almost happened….
Kelvin West Matters
Kelvin West wanted to reassure his old chums in England that he has managed to find some golfing partners in his new homeland, Greece.
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