June 25, 2012

Friends Life t20, Monday June 25

Tim Wigmore

Boring military medium

Dimitri Mascarenhas and Mark Davies are fine bowlers, while Darren Stevens is a perfectly useful one. But that all three, in their wicket-to-wicket styles with the keeper standing up to the stumps, were able to open the bowling and go for under five an over doesn’t bode particularly well for English Twenty20 cricket. The problems were twofold: a slow wicket that made aggression unattractive; and – as so often – the complete inability of English batsmen to use their feet.

Without denying the bowlers’ skill, it did not amount to the greatest spectacle on Kent’s family day. Just as well there was a bouncy castle to keep everyone entertained until the big hitting later in the Kent and Hampshire innings.

No cheerleaders, please – we’re English

Kent’s recent financial difficulties are well known. If they need to cut costs further, the first thing to go should be the cheerleaders. On a Canterbury day that had more chill than one would hope from supposedly the height of summer, they looked more than a little incongruous as a spectacle. They didn’t seem particularly sure of what to do – and, denied the podiums IPL cheerleaders receive, they weren’t even easy to spot. Canterbury has many merits, but cheerleader central it isn’t. Maybe it’s time to stop pretending England's T20 competition has the brashness of the IPL – or in any way needs it.

Mat Coles delivers for Kent, Yorkshire v Kent, Headingley, 4th Day, April, 8, 2012
After a busy start to the season, could Kent's Matt Coles doe with a rest?  © Getty Images
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Coles needs a break Matt Coles’ quick bowling, combined with powerful left-handed batting, has made him one of the most discussed young cricketers this season. But he is finding success in first-class and 40-over cricket hard to replicate in T20: in his last two games, both against Hampshire, he has gone for 59 runs from his five overs. Coles’ problems lie in a lack of variations he can fall back upon, and he has not relished being targeted by opposition batsmen. Having emerged as a key player this season, he may also be a little fatigued; perhaps a few games off would be in his, and Kent’s, interests.

Trending: A Reserve Day

The format of T20 is debated an extraordinary amount, especially considering previous lessons have been learnt and this year’s tournament avoids the problems of last season which, in Geraint Jones’ words, "dragged on and on". However, the switch from 16 to 10 group games has made counties’ finances increasingly vulnerable to the weather – despite insurance, the abandonment of Kent’s game with Sussex cost around £10,000.

Although county chairmen may disagree, it is not in anyone’s best interests to return to the tedious 16-game group stage. But given the need to protect counties’ finances – and for the integrity of the competition, somewhat undermined when only two of Nottinghamshire’s five games have reached a result – perhaps it is time to introduce a reserve day. There would be ample time – Surrey, for instance, are in the middle of a week-long spell without having a fixture – and it would have the twin benefits of protecting finances and making the competition fairer. What’s not to like?

Player of the Day: Glenn Maxwell

With Shahid Afridi still to return after visa problems, it fell to Glenn Maxwell to provide overseas comfort and give Hampshire their first victory of the campaign. Entering with Hampshire 59 for 4 in the 12th over, chasing 136, Maxwell batted with rugged simplicity, with a relish for the midwicket and long-on boundaries, especially against James Tredwell’s offspin. In total, 56 of his 66 runs came in boundaries. Boom Boom stuff indeed, even without Afridi.

Fixtures

Lancashire v Durham, Old Trafford, 19.10

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