June 23, 2012

Friends Life t20, Saturday June 23

Tim Wigmore

Surrey’s victory, of sorts

Surrey may have been defeated in a pulsating game by Essex, but theirs was still a victory of sorts. After the desperate tragedy of Tom Maynard’s death they got themselves into a position at Chelmsford when they should have won, only for Essex to muster 26 runs off the last 11 balls. As Chris Adams had predicted, the routine of cricket did provide a form of comfort - this was a rare occasion when the taking part really was what counted.

Tremlett’s outstanding return

There were obviously much greater things to worry about in Surrey’s match, but Chris Tremlett’s performance, in his first senior game for five months, was heartening to those who believe he would still get into England’s first choice Test side when fully fit. Bowling with sustained menace, he claimed 3 for 19, bringing to mind his 4 for 16 last season against Hampshire that was one of the most impressive spells ever seen in this competition.

The game of the season

Ultimately nothing markets T20 quite like close finishes. And there were plenty of those yesterday – with six of the eight completed matches decided by 12 runs or fewer. The best of the lot was at Taunton, when 85 from Shaun Marsh, expertly accelerating after a cautious start, took Glamorgan to 178 and appeared to have set them up for victory. Two early wickets for James Harris and some shrewd bowling from Simon Jones left them overwhelming favourites, before the remarkable intervention of James Hildreth (see player of the day).

Rafiq’s captaincy debut

Owing to an injury to Andrew Gale, Azeem Rafiq became Yorkshire’s youngest competitive captain at the age of 21 in their game against Durham. In a pleasing sign of the times, his age was more noteworthy than him being the first man of Asian origin to skipper the White Rose county.

It represented the culmination of a stunning transformation for Rafiq, who was suspended by Yorkshire in 2010 for a Twitter tirade against the England U-19s management, who had dropped him for inappropriate behaviour. But Rafiq has long had clear leadership skills, and was a success as England U-19 captain. His attempts to be a genuine regular in all three formats are still in their infancy, albeit greatly boosted by the collapse in Adil Rashid’s form. Although his personal performance – 1 for 36 from four overs – was less than outstanding, Rafiq’s captaincy was impressive enough. Most important of all, he began with a win.

Wright gets going

The weather has not been favourable to Luke Wright’s hopes of an England recall, with two of Sussex’s first three games washed out. But a belligerent 91 against Middlesex suggested he may still have an important role to play for England’s T20 side, as he did in their 2010 World T20 victory. While he batted at No. 6 then, opening might represent his best chances of a recall – having hit a century in the Big Bash, Wright is no longer the figure of fun of the past and, aided by his athletic fielding and useful bowling, could replace Alex Hales at the top of the order in England’s side.

Trending: South African imports

South Africans are having quite an impact on this year’s T20, even with Somerset’s pair currently in Zimbabwe for a triangular tournament. Durham’s game with Yorkshire was dominated by South Africans, with David Miller and Herschelle Gibbs both hitting 70s. Miller’s 74 not out off only 35 balls was particularly impressive, marked by four legside sixes off Scott Borthwick’s legspin. With three consecutive victories, Yorkshire have the look of potential tournament winners.

Player of the Day: James Hildreth

For a man who couldn’t even get into the team, there can be few more stunning ripostes than James Hildreth’s century for Somerset against Glamorgan. The unavailability of Richard Levi, Albie Morkel, Craig Kieswetter and Kevin O’Brien – not to mention Marcus Trescothick – gave Hildreth an opportunity against Glamorgan. Coming in at 24-3 in the fifth over, chasing 179 to win, hardly seemed suited to a man of Hildreth’s classical orthodoxy, and mediocre T20 pedigree.

But Hildreth proceeded to play his finest limited overs innings yet. Using the sweep and reverse sweep skillfully against Dean Cosker, Hildreth devastatingly attacked James Harris in the 17th over, hitting five fours. He ultimately finished with 107 not out - 85 more than anyone else – in an innings that reaffirmed the sense Hildreth’s class is such that he will not have fulfilled his potential unless he enjoys a fruitful England career. A few more knocks of equal quality and, at 27, he may yet.

Fixtures Northamptonshire v Worcestershire, Northampton, 15:00 Glamorgan v Gloucestershire, Swalec Stadium, 18:00

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Posted by Anonymous on (June 24, 2012, 10:50 GMT)

Thanks for summing it up so well. I think I’ll be returning here often. Best Regards.

Posted by paulos on (June 23, 2012, 17:16 GMT)

@danoz Don't think you've thought this through very well mate, who's going to fill all these extra sides, where are you going to get all these extra Irish and Dutch players from, who have to be at least up to County standard. At the moment these sides already have trouble getting one side of the required standard together to compete in CC. Even before you think about getting enough players, all this it's not really in the Counties best interests, it would mean making more games against teams who no one cares about, on top of that the County Schedule is already far too congested and where's the money going to come from for wages . I'll tell you how the com would look with dublin vs kent,glasgow vs hampshire, rottderdam vs essex, a joke. I'd also love to hear how Scotland playing in a world cup would be the same as Queensland, one is a state in Aus the other a Country that has been around far far longer the Aus, with it's own culture and people who see themselves as nothing but Scottish

Posted by Samuel on (June 23, 2012, 16:37 GMT)

Danoz and Tom - interesting ideas yes, but completely unworkable. We're all complaining about the amount of cricket being forced into the season as it is - we cannot add more teams to it and exacerbate the problem!

Posted by Tim Wigmore on (June 23, 2012, 14:49 GMT)

@danoz - those are really interesting ideas. I think it could be a nice addition but it would add to costs and counties may find it hard to market games v Dutch sides. If Eng are serious about helping their neighbours (and ultimately it is in their interests as it would add to the market for Eng coverage) including them in T20 is a good way of doing it. But it would need a lot of careful planning about the viability of the games, especially as this year's group format is pretty ideal.

Posted by danoz on (June 23, 2012, 13:01 GMT)

as the premier domestic comp in europe england should expand its domestic to include ireland,scotland and the netherlands in its domestic comp rather than ireland,scotland and the netherlands have second rate poor standard individual domestic comps.

give ireland 3 teams say dublin, cork and belfast,this will give ireland the expierence they need to fast track them to test standard by 2020 with out having a second rate domestic comp.

i dont agree with scotland playing in world cups(its like queensland playing in a world cup,but ireland are a sovereign nation like new zealand so i can agree with ireland playing) i would give scotland 2 teams glasgow and edinburgh like glanmorgan which is welsh but supplies england with players.

i would give the netherlands 2 teams in the english domestic comp amsterdam and rotterdam.this way the dutch,irish and the scots will all improve to first class standard.

how the comp might look is dublin vs kent,glasgow vs hampshire, rottderdam vs essex

Posted by Samuel on (June 23, 2012, 12:39 GMT)

JG - for such a naturally fluent player, Hildreth has always struggled to make an impact in the shorter formats though, hasn't he? The Ian Bell comparison I made earlier in the season is apt here as well it would seem! I still think he's got an England chance, although I'd prefer to see it come at no.6 in the Test side than in either of the limited overs teams. He's been in fine form since a sticky start to the season, so maybe a Lions call-up isn't too far away.

Good to see Tremlett back too. I think that, outside of the subcontinent, he's still part of our best attack. I'd much prefer to see him lining up alongside Broad and Anderson than Bresnan in that first Test against South Africa; he's made so many good players look so uncomfortable at the crease, more so than Bresnan anyway. Ponting, Tendulkar, Jayawardene and Sangakkara were all made to look ordinary against him at times. I think Bresnan's a better bet on flatter, lower subcontinental wickets though.

Posted by JG2704 on (June 23, 2012, 11:58 GMT)

I followed the Somerset game on here. It seems that both teams got off to slow starts - Somerset losing 3 early wickets.TBH I thought that once Buttler went that would be it as whenever I've seen Hildreth on TV he has struggled to score at more that a run a ball. But obviously superb inns so great stuff. It's great to be able to pick up results without Tres,Craig,Morkel and Levi however I am starting to wonder about Trego's batting. He used to score well in these formats and at a good rate. Now he seems to struggle to score at a run a ball. Also be interested to hear from anyone who went to the ground on Alf's bowling selections. Seems strange he only used Gregory for 2 overs when the spinners were going for loads.Is Alf himself going off the boil and is Kirby getting better?

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