S.N. Don's blog
Another season draws to a close
So another County Championship season draws to a close with the final round of fixtures well under way. What have we learnt that we didn’t know before? In Division One, there has been another dominant team following on from Essex’s stroll to the title in 2017. Many congratulations go to Surrey for being the best team this year by a country mile. Somerset, once again, were involved in some of the stranger games and last year’s champions have snuck into third place. Hampshire have once again confounded all of the critics and managed to find two teams worse than them. Sadly, Middlesex narrowly missed out on an immediate return to Division One. That said, it does mean the return of The Battle of the Bridge what with Kent’s promotion.
What we already knew was that more bowling points would be gained than batting. Playing the bulk of matches at the very start and very end of the season is ridiculous. Just how can any batsman expect to find form in bowler friendly conditions? That the flags are put out when a batsman scores over a thousand runs in a season goes to show how far the County game has fallen.
For some strange reason, I looked at the records for a season played in the 1950s. Surrey won the Championship by virtue of winning 23 out of 28 games. Even more bewildering is that there were no games lost to the weather; this during the time when the game was played with uncovered pitches. That, in turn got me thinking about the Holy Grail for batsmen; score 1,000 runs before the end of May. There have been nine occasions where this has happened yet only three times has the batsman in question scored the required number of runs in May alone. The other six needed April to help them out.
No prizes for guessing who has achieved the feat twice!
Changing tack slightly, I have found a way to speed up over rates in Test cricket. A day never seems to pass during a Test series where commentators complain about the slow over rates. I was at The Oval for the final day’s play against India. It wasn’t the warmest day of the summer but this did not stop the need for drinks breaks an hour into each session. Then there was the farcical to-ing and fro-ing of messengers being sent out of the dressing rooms to impart vital information. I lost count after about the tenth invasion and eventually, one of the umpires told the batsmen to get on with it. So, to keep the game moving, stop the pitch invasions.
Finally, there has been the trials of the 100 ball format. Apart from the money, what is the point? One suggestion is that it will encourage families to attend. If anything, families are starting to stay away from white ball cricket because of the rowdiness of some spectators. Some of the rules have been tweaked to make the game “attractive”. Yet no one has come up with something that is out of left field. Well, here is my suggestion to make it more interesting - Introduce a 4th stump!