June 15, 2012

Friends Life t20, Friday June 15

Tim Wigmore
Gary Wilson's half-century helped Surrey to victory, Middlesex Surrey, FLt20 South Group, Lord's, June 14, 2012
Surrey batsman Gary Wilson again showcased Ireland's strength in T20 cricket with a half-century against Middlesex  © Getty Images
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Resting your captain for the opening game

The most impressive display of Thursday night was Derbyshire’s successful chase against Lancashire. Knowing the result was likely to be determined by Duckworth-Lewis, Derybshire approached their innings accordingly. Four players contributed at least 16, maintaining a tempo that meant Derbyshire finished 17 runs ahead of the D/L par when the rain came.

Lancashire needed Glen Chapple’s bowling canniness, but had opted to rest him. While there are harder-looking games than Derbyshire in the North Group, it would have made much more sense to wait until Ajmal Shazhad’s imminent return before resting Chapple.

A season for spin – again

An unfortunate effect of the weather has been to make keeping pace off the ball an imperative for sides in T20. The Surrey model – 27 of their 36 overs bowled so far have been spin – may prove increasingly popular. The flip side to spin’s success was apparent in Derbyshire’s win over Lancashire. Finding conditions less than ideal for reverse swing, Naved-ul-Hasan’s four overs went for 56 on his Derbyshire debut.

But it was Sajid Mahmood who endured an even more miserable evening. As his 15 deliveries went for 42 – including 17 from three legitimate balls in his final over - it was hard to believe this was a man Duncan Fletcher really believed could thrive in international limited-overs cricket.

For Mahmood, marginalised somewhat since Shazhad’s arrival, further T20 appearances in this campaign are now far from guaranteed. Out of contract at the end of the season, he has also hinted that he is prepared to move on. “I’m 30 and I want to play cricket, that is my main goal. I don’t want to be carrying the drinks,” Mahmood said.

Ireland’s T20 specialists

One of the by-products of Ireland being denied Test cricket is, out of necessity, their players’ focus moves towards the shortest form of the game. Owing to their ten games in the World Twenty20 qualifiers this year, they will comfortably play more international T20 than any of the full members this year. So it’s hardly a surprise their players are getting pretty good at it.

Of the increasing Ireland contingent in county cricket, Gary Wilson is among the least heralded. For Surrey, he has made only nine runs in Championship or CB40 cricket so far this season. But he’s much more experienced in T20 – having averaged 39 and played a pivotal role in Ireland’s World T20 qualifying victory in March – and has already shown his worth for Surrey, with 33 and 54 not out in his first two games.

Kevin O’Brien is another example that, while Ireland are denied Test cricket, their players will inevitably specialise in the shorter formats. John Mooney, whose nerveless, unbeaten 30-ball 33 sealed victory over England in the World Cup, had a trial with Sussex this year and would be an asset to most county sides in T20.

Trending: Overseas grumblings

Even after just three days of the tournament, a few murmurs about overseas players have begun. For overseas players, especially on short-term contracts, first impressions are critical, or they risk going the way of Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who struggled at Essex and complained about the experience via Twitter last season, leading to his early release.

While some – notably Somerset’s South Africans – have already performed amidst the showers, others have found expectations more difficult to meet. The most egregious example has been Derbyshire’s Rana Naved, unable to locate any control with the ball yesterday, although his 19 not out was later important in ensuring victory. Dirk Nannes, trusted with only four overs in Surrey’s two games, looks less impressive than last season; on days such as Essex’s opening game, James Franklin could easily be mistaken for just another bits-and-pieces player.

Player of the day: Gareth Batty (Surrey)

Much more of this and people will be talking about Gareth Batty playing in the World T20. After taking 3 for 20 against Essex in Surrey’s first game, he took 4 for 13 against Middlesex, claiming three wickets in his first eight balls to decimate another promising run chase. Batty may lack a doosra, but his subtle variations and sheer combativeness make him a formidable T20 offspinner.

Fixtures

North Division: Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire, Trent Bridge, 17:00 Midlands Division: Warwickshire v Worcestershire, Edgbaston, 17:10 North Division: Leicestershire v Lancashire, Grace Road, 17:30 North Division: Yorkshire v Durham, Headingley Carnegie, 17:40

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Posted by PDTM on (June 15, 2012, 19:00 GMT)

It would be excellent to see an Irish team in the CB40 or FLT20, although I fear they would show up most teams (as the Dutch are doing). Their players already contributing on the circuit indicate that this is the case. Agree with everything said about George Dockrell; regarding Max Waller, Dockers will always build enough pressure to get anyone at the other end wickets. Very good, intelligent cricketer, who I think will be Ireland's first Test captain. Big statement, but I have made it.

Posted by Samuel on (June 15, 2012, 18:25 GMT)

Henrik - it's hardly the first time Mahmood has had a nightmare with the ball in hand though, is it?

On Ireland, I think it's wrong to say they're being 'denied' Test cricket. Bangladesh have shown that without a first class structure it's nigh on impossible to be competitive in the longer format, and I think Ireland will have to wait until they get one in place to gain full status. They do have the advantage of a lot of their players playing in county cricket and being brought up within the system though, so I think they're in a better position than Bangladesh to at least compete straight away. Grounds and facilities shouldn't be a problem - until grounds are built (if they are, with the Irish economy being such a state) they could always play in England I suppose, although whether they'd want to is another matter!

Posted by Henrik on (June 15, 2012, 17:44 GMT)

Re Saj Mahmood's nightmare - don't read too much into it. It was raining which means it was well-nigh impossible to grip the ball and the umpires really overstepped the boundary of what is fair when they kept Lancahire out in the rain, which effectively handed the match to their opponents. So instead of making snide comments about a bowler asked to bowl in impossible conditions, the true story here is whether or not not this pair of umpires should be allowed to remain on the first class panel.

Posted by Rob on (June 15, 2012, 15:34 GMT)

Whilst I agree with Dan that Dockrell is turning out to be a real gem, down at Somerset Max Waller always seems to pick up wickets in the T20 despite bowling what appears to be too short a length. Can't argue with his wickets in the competition though so maybe Dockrell should take a leaf out of Waller's book for this particular phase of the season.

Posted by Dan on (June 15, 2012, 14:27 GMT)

George Dockrell is going to be a class bowler for Somerset.

He has started the season very strongly and shown some real quality with the ball already in the longer and shorter formats of the game.

Varies his pace beautifully and very accurate.

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