June 22, 2012

Friends Life t20, Friday June 22

Derbyshire’s Olympiads

Derbyshire’s Olympiads

While competition from other sports provide a challenge to this season’s domestic T20, Derbyshire have recognised that they it also provide an opportunity too. They have put back their game against Leicestershire on Friday 29th June by half an hour, to 7.30pm, to allow fans to attend the City’s Olympic Torch celebrations before. Derby City Council director of leisure and culture Claire Davenport said, “The new start time is great news for cricket fans that can now enjoy the torch relay and support Derbyshire on the same evening.”

Denly’s mysterious struggles

It is only three years since Joe Denly was considered the man to give England impetus at the top of the order in the limited overs formats. His career has stalled thereafter, until being revived by his move to Middlesex this season, when he has averaged around 60 in both first-class and 40-over cricket.

But, somewhat mysteriously, Denly has been unable to transfer that form into the T20 competition, mustering only 12 runs from four innings. Perhaps the problem is simply that he is too ambitious early on, as against Essex when attempting a boundary from his second ball. With Paul Stirling certain to occupy one batting position after he returns from Ireland duty, Denly’s struggles, incongruous as they may be, cannot continue.

Phillips’ surprising success

While Denly cannot reproduce his longer format form in T20, Tim Phillips must wish he could match his T20 exploits in first-class cricket. The left-arm spinner’s career average in first-class cricket – 47 – is over double his in both limited overs formats. He hasn’t even bowled a ball in championship cricket this season, but has already shown why he was so impressive in the 2011 T20 competition, when he was the leading wicket-taker with 26 wickets at an average of 11 and economy rate of seven.

Phillips’ greatest asset is his skill opening the bowling. He is adept at teasing batsmen into attempting too much, as his dismissals of Denly and Chris Rogers within the first three overs of Middlesex’s innings were the latest reminder of.

Trending: Explosive Essex

When Essex are mentioned as T20 contenders it is largely due to their batting strength. That was visible at Lord’s, even with Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah both unavailable. While all the top six made double figures, it was Ryan ten Doeschate and Graham Napier that stood out. Ten Doeschate, who has endured a grim run of form recently, launched Tom Smith for three sixes en route to top scoring with 38.

Napier only faced 12 deliveries, but his contribution was no less significant for that. His 28 included his trademark belligerent shots over deep extra cover and mid-wicket, but also a skillful late cut for four to show he has a more rounded game than often assumed. It was enough to make one wonder, again, why Napier has only once passed 50 once in this format, when he famously hit Sussex for 152 in 2008. And, together with some skillful full-length bowling, it earned Napier the official man of the match award – even if one Middlesex opponent was more deserving.

Player of the Day: Ollie Rayner

Ollie Rayner may have been on the losing side, but he was clearly the game’s outstanding player. He conceded only one boundary, and 16 runs, from his four overs, reflecting his control and the difficulty batsmen find attacking a man whose stature – he is 6ft 5in – is untypical for off-spinners. Yet Rayner’s batting was as impressive, with the powerful sixes over square leg and extra cover in his 39*, together with Steven Crook’s late hitting, almost leading Middlesex to an improbable win.

Fixtures Gloucestershire v Northamptonshire, Bristol, 17:30 Leicestershire v Derbyshire, Grace Road, 17:30 Somerset v Glamorgan, Taunton, 17:30 Worcestershire v Warwickshire, New Road, 17:30 Durham v Yorkshire, Chester-le-Street, 18:00 Essex v Surrey, Chelmsford, 19:00 Hampshire v Kent, West End, 19:00 Lancashire v Nottinghamshire, Old Trafford, 19:00 Sussex v Middlesex, Hove, 19:10