The case of the dirty knees

Another day and I’m spoilt for choice!

Either Surrey v Warwickshire or Essex v Somerset? As my dentist wants to play with my teeth tomorrow and there are no trains on Wednesday due to another strike, today sees me at what looks increasingly like the home of the 2022 champs (have I spoken too soon?).

Past or current champs Warwickshire are in town to do battle. They need a good performance as the lower half of the table has two sides to be relegated and it’s looking like Gloucestershire and one other.

Evidence of dirty knees

Losing the toss and batting Warwickshire reach 71/2 at lunch – should have been more if Surrey held their catches! I’m going to get technical now, dear reader. Why are catches dropped ?

There are countless reasons – didn’t see it, came too quick, too sunny, moon was in the wrong astrological site and so forth! Heard them all! By why in the slips can it be a problem?

The slips take their position relative to the wicket keeper depending on the expected trajectory and speed of the ball. So if the keeper stands too deep, then the slips could be too deep and so the ball doesn’t get to them as expected – and dropped!

Foakes – regarded as currently the best keeper in world cricket – likes to take the ball between his knees and ankles; lower than most. So the ball when it reaches him is on the way down. This means it will also be on the way down if snicked to the slips and hence possibly dropped!

Gloves on knees
Low stance
Between knees and ankles

How do I know this? First by watching Foakes and secondly by his dirty knees. He rests his leather gloves on or near his knees as the bowler runs up making his flannels dirty! All the slips need to do – especially if people don’t regularly field there – is to take half a pace further forward and improve their catching chances.

Or so it seems to me? Anyway…back to the match!

Sibley 33no being the only innings of note – trying to impress his new employer as he rejoins Surrey next season. A nondescript first hour under cloud doesn’t produce the level of expected swing or seam but Tom Lawes strikes in his first over and Davies is actually caught!

Sibley looked uncomfortable
More than once!
And again
Well left!
And again
Burgess didn’t look that comfortable
Nor Rhodes

The pitch looks green from afar but has biscuit coloured stripes from close up so is less dangerous than you might think. It’s probably a pitch where the first and second change bowlers may fare better but let’s see as the clouds and rain of the second hour skirt the ground for the afternoon.

Green from afar but drier close up.

Two wickets in the afternoon session double the wickets and just doubles the score to 144/4. Sibley, having crawled to 43, is still the only innings of note.

At just over 2 an over, it’s batting for the connoisseurs and there doesn’t seem to be any demons in the pitch, swing or seam but clearly scoring at a fast pace is not easy.

It could be that you need to graft for your runs here – exactly as it should be. But given Warwickshire’s average score when five down this season is only 150, then innings building is on their ‘to do’ list. Surrey’s by comparison is over 240! Let’s see how the rest of the day pans out?

And so it came to pass – 5th wicket fell at 149. And, honestly, these stats are not made up! Burgess falls caught behind off Overton – clearly the mystery of Overton’s finger has been resolved.

The mystery of Overton’s finger

As if by magic, or one of those clocks where the man appears when it’s raining, the ground-staff appear en masse and head for where the covers are kept! They must know something or have magic seaweed? But the old ball (60+ overs) is doing more under the cloud cover after tea than most of the day so far. As ever, cricket defies logic!

A bit of trickery doubles the Oval!

But they were not needed as the rain didn’t arrive but the procession of Warwickshire bats continued.

Close of play couldn’t come soon enough but at 240/8 Surrey probably had the better of the day, dirty knees not withstanding.