Bazb*****ks – England v SA Lord’s

Foresight and hindsight are two of the sights you don’t use your eyes for but we all possess them in some form of other. I suppose all the ‘more experienced’ cricket watchers have seen things come and go with varying changes of pace over time and their verdict on ‘Bazball’…well:

‘It’s inevitable…can’t last’, ‘the wheels will come off spectacularly’, or come up with other doom merchanting.

In fact, this new approach is not new! It’s been around for ages, been tried by other teams over the years with varying degrees of success. Sri Lanka in the 1980s and 1990s, Australia with Gilchrist in full flow, WI from time to time are immediate examples which spring to mind.

Nortje not quite sure what to do with this Stokes delivery?

What sets them apart is that they had a team of star quality players…and England don’t have them yet! But today at Lord’s was more ‘Bazb*****ks, but don’t lose heart!

But back to the here and now; today (and this Test) was back to the England of recent times and years. Experimental fields, over use of the short stuff, no Plan B, lose control of the game when the foot should be choking the life out of the opposition and so forth; well documented in these ramblings!

However, the key for me today was the issues with the batting – footwork non-existent, one day style of thrash and bash when things got too tough. Crawley – trigger movements all over the place, shows his brain is scrambled; Lees flatters to deceive, Root and Jonny have the inevitable poor games; Stokes in two minds – go like a bat out of hell or drop anchor; Foakes no footwork; Broad – as ever thinks he’s better than he really is; and you can’t ask the rest to rescue you!

Let’s not take anything away from South Africa – bowled supremely well, Nortje at 94mph one of the fastest I’ve seen at Lord’s (and elsewhere) and England got giving him the respect he deserves. Rabada – on one measure (strike rates) one of the best of all time. And solid bats who are difficult to get out but also quite stylish!

Will England change their side? Probably not. But you start to ask how many chances do you give? Is it time to blood new blood? Who’s knocking on the door on the four day game? Oh…silly me – it’s thrash and bash at the moment since that’s all that counts!

And finally, etiquette – each England bat walked off to silence but every wicket and boundary by England and miss by the opposition cheered to the rafters. Where’s the spirit of cricket gone?

So, here’s a few photos from todays play – short though it was…

Tube strike meant a different route to Lord’s – and how different!
Nortje – squat this time…
This time I’ll try…
Jansen at 6’ 8” still had the occasional short ball challenge!
Nortje – another short ball, another tangle
How many of us have batted like this?
A slow way to capture a view, and a quick way!
Lees – nearly wears this short one!
Where can I get a green shirt like this?
Crawley – lbw
Lees’ turn to be in a tangle
Jonny – look where your feet are? And bye bye
Nortje – really bending his back.

Foresight tells me that next week at Old Trafford and later at the Oval things will be better but I can’t see that far!

@

Rain wins!

The forecasters’ seaweed yesterday foretold of almost non stop rain today – not enough the reconstruct a biblical flood, but perhaps enough for a few flash floods so my plans were unsettled until drawing the curtains this morning revealed an overcast but dry start.

Nijjar b Shutt

Incidentally I did show this photo to one of the professional photographers at the ground today – he seemed underwhelmed or miffed that he didn’t get the snap? Who knows?

Further consultations with those reading the weather runes foretell the deluge starting at various times during the day but some play could be possible. So I replenish the lunch stocks courtesy of ‘St Michael’ and head to the Fortress. I’m lucky as both Essex and Surrey are at home and I’m taking the easier (and cheaper) travel option!

The RLODC match is Essex v Yorkshire – the latter offering a similar level of development players as Essex so it could be quite even.

The same pitch as Sunday’s game against Glamorgan is being used (300+ played 200) and hence the same short boundary. Humid but not overcast skies greet the Essex bats who seem to struggle to 43/2 off the first 10 overs; Yorkshire are being treated with a level of caution which may mean the end score is on the low side.

But Roelofson and Westley steady the ship with a 150+ partnership and reach 184/2 before the wheels really come off – one wicket brings another so much that the remaining eight fall for 56 and Essex are 240ao with 3 plus overs unused!

Shutt – disguising the ball?
Bess tries too!
This is coming my way!!
Revis – straining every sinew

Errors in batting and the order expose the level of failure on a pitch which from on ‘high’ in the Pearce Stand looks sand coloured and dry but from ground level has more than a tinge of green…perhaps that explains the batting style?

Yorkshire set off at pace – faster than Essex but are then pulled back by Snater (almost a hat trick) and Nijjar so that they are soon well behind the required par score – but did score more in the first 10 than Essex but lost more wickets!

Tattersall – first ball!

Stories of floods at Lord’s and elsewhere in London start to trickle through and hint that the clouds approaching may not be that friendly and the forecast reconstruction is on its way.

By 3.30pm or so, after 19 overs, Yorkshire are 76/6 and it’s been spitting since the start of the innings. But then the thunder around the ground brings clouds ready to open – and, boy! Do they open. An attempt to look at conditions sent the umpires scurrying to their Pavilion and within minutes, not only were the covers flooded but large puddles appear on the outfield and the drains unable to cope.

So Essex do take the win under the DLS system but really, the standard from each side was Second XI but charged First XI rates. If – and a big IF – this ‘development’ tourney is to continue it needs to have the same level of experience on each side, and lower entry fees!

That seems to make sense but when was the last time anything ‘sensible’ was decided by the ECB?

@cricket51days.com

Wow! A tie! (And I don’t mean neckwear!)

That’s not something you see in cricket very often but I witnessed one today…possibly the first I’ve ever seen but then when you’ve watched live cricket for (cough, cough) years who can recall such specifics?

This did for Dunn! Last ball of the match!

The occasion was the RLODC Surrey v Warwickshire at the Oval. On the evidence of the first innings, it could be seen as a nondescript typical one day match. Warwickshire score 293/5, lost a couple of wickets reasonably early but a stand of 160 between Burgess and Pandya helped them along.

The RLODC is a ‘development’ tournament given the loss of ‘elite’ players to the other competition. Surrey fielded an eleven with no capped players whilst Warwickshire fielded almost the same side as last appeared here a few days ago in the championship. Fair?

As the Chinese say ‘let’s see how the French Revolution pans out before we make any judgment!’ If, dear reader, you’re not a history fan, the French Revolution was at the end of the 18th century!

Surrey struggle at the start and middle of the innings; nothing of substance but a run rate of over 10 needed, bowling on top and, to all intents and purposes, the match ambling to a solid Warwickshire win.

But wait…something changed! Someone somewhere said ‘at least if we’re going to lose, let’s go down fighting’. But with a team of five players regarded as sound ‘number elevens’ in the first class game, what was there to lose?

Lazy Sunday afternoon?

Slowly, so slowly, the runs started to flow and one began to think ‘with a bit of good fortune, Surrey could do well here’! (Note: I know I’m writing this after the result on the top deck of a London bus as I journey home, but honestly I said that to myself – shame that no one else could hear my thoughts!).

And so it came to pass, the bowling tired, got increasingly ragged, fortune favoured the brave, strokes missed the fielders, boundaries rained and we arrive at the last over with the scores level and one wicket to take.

Kimber, Reifer and Dunn had all played their part in direct proportion to the screams of delight from the spectator behind me! Time to move seats I think! Dunn faces the last over to be bowled by Norwell…tension increases palpably!

Forward or back?
Kimber strikes!
Lots of welly needed to reach the boundary at speed!
But sometimes you need to sway

First ball…and stumps fly! Match tied.

The immediate thoughts are that this shows the strength, depth and attitude of the Surrey squad – no caps, five ‘elevens’ and facing an almost full strength county opposition.

And the whole atmosphere from ball one, so different to that experienced at Essex. No annoying musak, no cheerleading announcer and no humiliation inflicted on any member of the opposition. But that’s I suppose the approach of a ‘big’ club – let the cricket do the talking!

But…That was some result!

@cricket51days

Blue on blue savagery

I’m not a devoted fan of the shorter game but since that’s the only option from the ECB for now (Tests can’t come soon enough!), I’m found at the County Ground Chelmsford for a 50 over one day (afternoon/evening to be precise) Royal London One Day Cup match of Essex v Derbyshire.

Jamal Richards – on debut and in full flow!

And we’re now into coloured clothing with Essex showing off their new ‘one day kit’ and sponsor – a blue which seems to glow – whilst Derbyshire appear in their pale duck egg blue colours. The match could offer more ‘blue on blue’ savagery when we’ve seen in political circles in the past few weeks – and probably still to come!

Blue on blue!

After Derbyshire’s dire efforts earlier this week the expectations are that they’ll collapse again and we’ll all be home by tea time.

Essex win the toss and decide to bowl – following that theory – and probably not what the club caterers nor the bars wanted. But Derbyshire prove the theory wrong.

But the other theory is that the one day game is very formulaic. In essence ‘bash and trash’ or ‘tip and run’ – bowlers are basically cannon fodder or providing an extended net! And so it proved.

Seemingly audiences demand to be ‘entertained’ and scoring runs is more important than any skill the bowler has! This means there are no nuances in this format but if that’s what people want, then provide it or rather is that what the broadcasters think that the viewers want since, after all, their megabucks keeps the whole game going!

On the field, Derbyshire have no qualms about setting off at a fast pace during the first ‘power play’ when bowlers just offer themselves up for sacrifice. Godleman soon goes trying to be too clever (35) but runs flow. From 64/1 Essex seem to have struck early and Derbyshire lose three wickets in no time at 117 and a fifth at 169, it seems that it’s more self-destruct than quality bowling.

One millisecond later and the stumps go!
And the same here – Wood will be gone!

Overall the Essex attack looks good on paper – after all these three (Porter, Snater and Beard) were on display during last weeks run fest on a poor cricket wicket. Twenty overs need to be found but Nijjar is learning and Westley and debutant Richards need to cover the rest. All fine in theory but when one of your front line attack has a bad day and goes for 10.5 an over, then you have even more problems.

Game – tip and run

And so it was. Derbyshire plunder their way to 318 with Guest and McKiernan each scoring 70+ at speed. It really looked like men against boys but I suppose in terms of runs scored, it entertained the crowd.

Trash and bash
And an even better bash

Interestingly, there were no extra breaks for drinks, helmets or other ‘needs’ and an over rate just under 16 per hour! It can be done!

But Essex win the ‘long haired fast bowler’ photo contest – Snater
And Richards
And now Beard!

Essex never really got going – either the thrash and bash or tip and run. You need a solid start when chasing these numbers so perhaps you hold back the bashing but when early wickets fall and you’re behind the rate, you’re chasing dreams.

And so it proved – the regular procession between the pavilion and square just underlined the inexperience and anyone really standing up to be counted.

The crowd starts to drift – perhaps seeking the flesh pots the city centre has to offer rather than drinking themselves into oblivion at the cricket – or it turns its back on the cricket to continue entertaining themselves rather than enjoy the skills on offer!

But the blue on blue savagery was relentless as Derbyshire completely transformed from their earlier match sealed victory by 92 runs with 35 balls left.

Faith restored!

Having watched two sides for two days bat on the road at the Fortress with no end in sight, a return to the Oval was enticing.

The one legged pigeon.

The match had progressed since I was last there to a position at the end of day three of Warwickshire leading by just over 200 runs with only four wickets down. Warwickshire cannot afford to lose this match if they are to retain hopes of Division One next year – teams around them have a game in hand – so the plan had to be to bat for at least a session, take the lead to over 300 and secure a draw.

Hain and Rhodes are well set in the 70s each so what could go wrong? Especially with Surrey a player down – Overton – a key bowler, slip fielder and a pretty good bat to boot!

But Surrey’s bowlers had other ideas. The adage of one brings two just kept rolling over with excellence from Roach and Clark. Somehow, and you needed to keep checking that it wasn’t a dream, Warwickshire managed to lose the six remaining wickets in under an hour and set Surrey 248 in a max of 82 overs for victory.

Norwell found the Surrey bowling challenging!
Jacks had the final word/shot

A sound but sensible start was needed and the Patel/Burns combination steers them to lunch at 49/0.

More of the same in the early afternoon until Patel tries to force the pace, bringing Amla to the crease. Steadily increasing the rate puts more pressure on the opposition until Burns falls for a fine 61.

Pope therefore arrives and continues the slow inexorable increase in run rate until tea which is taken at 146/2. Another 100 in the last session of 37 overs is all that’s needed to keep Surrey top of the tree especially as their nearest rivals, Hampshire, had beaten Yorkshire and were now level on points!

I’m not quite sure what Surrey had for tea but Pope moved up through the gears, encouraging Amla on the way so that victory was secured within the hour. Warwickshire could see the writing on the wall but that does not detract from some of the classical and non-classical strokes both bats displayed and here’s a few to show their class!

Pope succumbed for 52, Amla reached 80no but it was Jacks with three audacious sixes saw them home. He started the match as a newly capped player and ended it in style!.

The above reads like a ‘standard’ type tale of the day and I suppose it’s all about the cricket but let’s not overlook the one legged pigeon feeding on the outfield nor the grounds man walking round the outfield daubing white spots of paint at various places – I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to work out what he was doing and why!

Faith restored in that cricket can be competitive when played in the right conditions. How Essex have not been fined for yet another ‘poor cricket wicket’ – as the phrase goes when each side scored 500+ and you could still be batting this time next week – I do not know but their dry pitches to suit their spinner cannot be good for the game.

At least my faith has been restored.

@cricket51days

Captaincy by formula?

The match at the ‘Fortress’ which the Chelmsford County Ground has unofficially christened itself looks doomed to a draw – and has been from early on. But with a rail strike curtailing too much travel, I find myself there again today.

Starting at 99/1, Somerset add 30 in the first hour and 60 or so in the second and lunch at 186/1. Both Abell and Renshaw into the 70s and not really discomforted during the morning session.

The session has been very formulaic especially Westley’s captaincy. Harmer from one end for an hour, have 30 minutes rest, then Critchley before Harmer returns. At the other end, 30 minute stints for Porter, Snater, Walter and Beard. Walter perhaps being the less expected but at least Westley is trying something different!

Lawrence sees double? Sorry…a bit of camera trickery!

Somerset resorted to Lammonby yesterday as a slightly slower, skiddy bowler but whilst Walter is not a lot slower than the others, he’s a close as anyone to a medium pacer. But he too had no success. This formula did manage to bowl 33 overs in the session – so it can be done!

Both sides have similar 5th wicket average scores so far this season. The fifth wicket for Essex fell at 342 and Somerset are already above their 5th wicket average, I expect overall similar scores and Somerset to save the follow on just before close of play.

But you never know! Overcast conditions changing to higher cloud and possibly sun and teams refreshed from lunch!

The afternoon progressed much as expected. Harmer unchanged from the River End, quicks from the Hays Close until 10+ overs away from the new ball when Critchley returns. One wicket in the session – Bartlett for a quick 24, but he’s only there since Abell had to retire hurt/injured on 90no just as the 200 partnership looked.

Renshaw quietly and serenely progressed to his hundred and tea arrived – to time for once, and 65 overs bowled – at 288/2. This is all very formulaic and predictable especially in a match going nowhere fast.

A key bowling skill is to hide the ball from the batter! Matt Critchley
And again
Once more!
All culminating in a perfect delivery (but no wicket!)
Harmer in action

As foretold Somerset save the follow on by the close; Renshaw eventually goes for 146 and Somerset 359/3…just 146 behind.

The pitch could last for a week or more, bowlers toiling without reward, bats filling their boots. But how to break the formula?

The oldsters will tell you ‘do something the opposition don’t expect’ – as the game is played in the mind, the trick has to be to scramble brains! One wicket often brings two so why not? Try SirA with his Bob Willis impersonations? Westley and Lawrence and their version of spin (or are there restrictions in place for players in the 100 so they don’t overexert themselves…as social media will have you believe?); just anything to break the formula! Incidentally, it’s been scientifically proved that the more you play, the better you get! Will someone please tell the ECB?

Or is everyone just winding down in this last round before the one day month takes centre stage? Who knows…but Somerset have the most to gain to save their season but if it all follows the formula then you can probably count the spectators on one hand when they shake hands after tea tomorrow.

@cricket51days

The Shining Fidget-twitcher!

When your opening bats are bowling in tandem at lunch on Day 2, you know you have problems and boy, oh boy, do Somerset. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Lammonby – locks flowing!

After having my dentist play with and photograph my teeth (seemed to keep him amused) I get them into the second day of Essex v Somerset – the latter languishing at the lower end of the Division and one of the sides contemplating possible relegation.

Essex had chalked up 281/3 on the first day with Browne reaching a hundred with all the overs completed almost on time. From that alone it’s clear it’s a batting track first and foremost. And with the lack of rain in Essex since, it seems, time began, the pitch looks one for booking in for an Airbnb!.

By lunch Essex had crawled – not dominated – to 364/5. Browne soldering on to 150+. The bowling wasn’t threatening (Overton C making more threatening noises than his bowling) as everyone can see this is a 500 vs 500 match.

Overton C – another tongue sticker!

Change after change, end switching etc did no good until an inspired (?) piece of captaincy (or desperation – you choose) sees Tom Lammonby running in from the River End.

Long haired, Alice banded fast bowlers make great photos!

You will recall, dear reader, that Lammonby has appeared in these ramblings before as one of the biggest fidgeters and twitchers (not to say walkers to square leg) between each ball many of us have ever seen! He makes Steve Smith and Rory Burns look like amateurs – so it will be fun to watch him bat. That’s assuming he – and fellow opener and current bowlers Matt Renshaw (of Aussie Test fame) – are not too tired from all their bowling.

It says a lot that when you need to resort to your opening bats to bowl then you’ve got problems.

Lammonby is one of those bowlers who you think you can score off but he skids it through at a faster pace and with a bit of movement caught Walter and Critchley unawares and back in the hutch. He’s Somerset’s only success – so far.

Essex missed out on batting points as they scored so slowly yesterday and today and seem to have given up all hope of the Championship (as I mentioned last week).

But the afternoon is to come and who knows what the next chapter of the book that it first class cricket will reveal!

An hour into the afternoon and I’m confused (doesn’t take much I hear you say!). I can’t make out either sides game plan. Roly Rossington came and went for a brisk 30-odd and moved the Essex score along nicely; Somerset using both openers as bowlers (again)! Fields are set to save runs (understandably), no effort now to push the score along or are Essex looking to bat only once? In the meantime Somerset are giving Harmer practice against probable English bowlers of Overton and Leach.

Leach giving Harmer some practice ahead of the Tests!

The fidget twitcher has taken the one wicket to fall and it’s 422/6 and I’m confused! Browne reaches 200 – he certainly owed Essex runs this season! On he plods, reaching 229no at tea; Harmer having taken an age for 26 before falling to the combination of openers (c Lammonby b Renshaw!) and Essex reach 486/7.

Somerset have no plan, Essex will just grind things out. Another hundred or so by the close or a declaration just before the end seem likely.

Well that 15 minutes was a bit pointless unless the goal was to get Browne to his best first class score. Snater and Beard went quickly leaving Browne undefeated on 234 and Essex declaring at 505/9.

Beard – am sure he’d been told not to take your eyes off the ball!

Lammonby was the best of the bowling 3/35 – his career best before today was 1/4 and a total of 6 wickets at an average of close to 70. Perhaps the fidget twitcher sees himself as a budding all rounder?

Somerset have a tricky session – it’s now overcast and with Essex in full flow (let’s see!), they’ll need to preserve wickets.

Somerset set off in a positive frame at close to 5 per over. Lammonby fidgeted and twitched as usual (five movements before each ball) and sped his way through to 17 before Harmer came on and bowled him straight away.

Renshaw and Abell slowed things down as the light faded and light rain swooped in. At the end Somerset reached 99/1 – still some way to go but no collapse.

Whilst Browne dominated the batting day, the shining of the fidget twitcher was something to behold!

@cricket51days

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.

@cricket51days

51 days…and it’s all Greek to me?

Today marks my 51st day of live cricket watching this year and how better than watching two matches on the same day!

A brief trip to the Oval sees Surrey trounce Essex – Lawes, the night watchman, nearly top scoring and ends undefeated on 32. It’s clear Essex didn’t want to be there and only by stretching out play into the second hour could they be assured of staying for lunch – more tempting for some I would suggest (somewhat tongue in cheek)!

Snater in the action early
Fast pace = wrinkles
Not all plain sailing for Lawes
Concentrate in the field – works better if you stick your tongue out! 🤣
But…the man of the moment!

All very clinical by Surrey who still sit top of Division One. Pope scoring the winning runs with a reverse sweep from the one ball he faced. One wonders if he’ll be asked ‘busy day at work today…?’

Pope – one ball, one reverse sweep, winning runs!

With Hampshire winning too, Surrey haven’t put any more clear blue water between them. Maximising bonus points and optimising over rates will be key for the remaining matches.

This loss essentially removes any hopes Essex may have had even with a game in hand. The title is destined for Surrey, Hampshire or possibly Lancashire.

So a quick trip across Central London to Lord’s for the remainder of Middlesex v Sussex – previously regarded as much of a local derby as Roses matches!

There had been a run fest over the first three days but only 40 or so runs between the sides (each side scoring high 400 or low 500!). Almost the same first innings difference as south of the river but for a lot less runs!

But what’s this? Sussex 69/5 at lunch and a lead of just over 100? Could there be a result today? A run chase? A cascade of wickets? Exciting afternoon in prospect!

Helm – the pick of the Middlesex bowlers

A couple of wickets after lunch (96/7) puts the cat in the pigeon loft but the arrival of Ari Karvelas – SA by birth, but an international cricket player for Greece (yes…they do!) – brings a calm and the occasional six so that after tea he reaches his half-century.

Lenham – one of the many youngsters in the Sussex side
Ari Karvelas

I can’t remember watching any other Greek cricketer scoring a 50, let alone one at Lord’s – unless, dear reader, you can tell me otherwise?

Joined by Steve Finn – formerly of this parish – they doggedly defy everything Middlesex can throw at them. Karvelas (an anagram of Lark Vase – just shows how slow the game had become that even I could work out the odd anagram!) eventually succumbed for 57 but onward both sides plod. Why no declaration or handshake at 4.50pm which is usual when matches reach this point of pointlessness?

Finn – practiced this stroke to perfection!

Sussex lead by 200, Middlesex would need to score at close to 10 an over to win; Sussex highly unlikely to take all 10 wickets in that time and Middlesex just shut up shop if the wheels started to come off. So why carry on? Why play another half an hour before declaring (which they do and everyone walks off) but the afternoon has definitely been all Greek to me!

@cricket51days

Hair today, whair tomorrow?

The super-heatwave this week meant train travel was all but non-existent and not recommended and so I had to resort to online feeds of county games – the one at the Oval being the pick of the crop. Surrey lead Division One but Essex have a game in hand and if the latter are to succeed then the Rey need to be humiliated!

One of the few bowled dismissals

Other organised calls on my time on Day 2 mean it’s the third day before I see any live play. The match so far has followed a familiar theme – clutch of wickets to the new ball, then runs get easier once the shine has gone. The pitch from afar looks tinged with green (the outfield lush – every other lawn in the UK is beige, cream or yellow depending on the level of heatwaves and lack of rain suffered!)

Surrey however have had the better of the match to date – Essex rolled over for 271 (after 80-odd for 5) – in getting to 319ao (after being 112/7). An unexpected lead and unexpected batting points. Essex stood overnight at 16/2 both Cooks having spoilt the scorecard!

A hundred runs in the morning session for one wicket (should have been two, could have been three) see Browne and Lawrence having time at the crease – and they both need it!

Browne nicks to Foakes

As often happens, a break in play brings a change of fortune (and today weather as the humidity increased and clouds rolled in). From 130/3 Essex fold to 208 with only Harmer resisting after Browne and Lawrence went in quick succession.

Harmer farmed the bowling well
Overton sometimes lets his emotions overwhelm his bowling

Worrall, Roach and Lawes do the damage post lunch with Worrall taking another five in the innings (to go with the five in the first innings) and supposedly with a sore shoulder! What could he do if fully fit! 😱

It leaves Surrey needing 161 from a max of four sessions or countless overs to win (again!). The most interesting contest of the day was the bat Burns against the bowler Snater – who has the most hair? I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to judge from the range of snaps I was able to take.

Burns
Snater
Snater – hair in full flow but ball under control!
Side by side – you decide!

So the decision I have to make – come back here (Oval) tomorrow for more hairy challenges and a short sharp victory for Surrey or head to Lord’s for the run fest going on there, or both? After all, the number of first class games left is shrinking each week as are the chances of more hair raising exploits!

@cricket51days