S.N. Don's blog
One Man and His Dog's Review of the County Championship Season
Well, a sort of first division review and even then it's hardly what I would call comprehensive. In fact, there are going to be about four games that I will have a go at giving a completely objective and unbiased account.
Let's start with the Champions. I moved to Essex in 2012 and having been stuck for most of my life in the cricketing backwater of Berkshire, there was really only one county that I could pin my colours to. After last year's excellent second division win, and I was there on the day Essex clinched it. Fast forward a week or two and I saw the contrived outcome at Lords that robbed Somerset of a debut Championship win. More of that later!
Owing to a number of reasons, I only managed to see one day's play at Chelmsford but what a great day out it was. You can keep your coloured clothing, floodlights, white balls and nonsense associated with the one daq versions. Give me a day at a county game with four fellow Windsor FC fans. A day spent consuming a very good amount of ale, with good friends, watching cricket AND Hampshire capitulate to 18-5, Saturdays don't get much better. The ECG as they call it down there, or rather it's now called the CloudFM County Ground, is a traditional ground without the splendour or concrete of others. We didn't see the full day's play as our Hampshire contingent among us decided that they had seen enough punishment. The others among our group were just bemused observers as they didn't cricket - they understood the beer though.
That game was not the turning point that saw Esssex destroy the opposition though. It was the bizarre decision made by Middlesex earlier in the season to not ask Essex to follow on. The weather forecast for the final day was rain from about 3pm. Middlesex, for reasons completely alien to me chose to bat again instead to put the game out of reach. Obvioulsy, I didn't realise that it was to put the game out of reach for the hosts. A strange decision especially as Essex had been skittled out very quickly and cheaply in the first innings. As it was, the rains came and a very lucky draw was achieved.
This result seemed to give Essex confidence and following that game ran out as more than impressive champions winning ten and drawing four. Brilliant stuff considering the person who runs this site was more than happy to predict a swift return to Division 2.
Now the best bit. Somerset extracted revenge for what took place at Lords on the final days of the 2016 season. Yorkshire and Middlesex decided to go for unlikely wins had the game been allowed to run its natural course. Would these two counties have cooked this up had it been a mid season game? You can bet whatever you like that they wouldn't. Somerset extracted sweet revenge. They produced a brilliant wicket to ensure their safety while Middlesex had to hope that Hampshire's batting frailties would come to the fore against already relegated Warwickshire.
Cue an outstanding display of batting as Hampshire, with tenacity and obdurateness not seen all season, resulted in a most valuable draw to maintain their Division One status. It was gripping stuff and made a total mockery of the final day shenanigans from 2016. The icing on the cake was the delight in some quarters of Middlesex's demise and ultimate relegation down to Division 2. Revenge, they say, is a dish best served cold!