Kirtley's tough start
If lukewarm would be the nice way to describe the first phase of the county champions' defence of their crown, James Kirtley's five victims at 77.80 was positively Antarctic. Still, as chief coach Peter Moores stresses, he does have a decent alibi. Eight overs in the Caribbean and far too many viewed from the dressing-room capped a gradual withering from view since last August's Man-of-the-Match show at Trent Bridge against South Africa.
"It's tough being an English fast bowler right now," says Moores. "When the selectors picked Martin Saggers ahead of him, he couldn't be blamed for thinking, `crikey'. He hasn't let England down; not surprisingly he felt a bit flat. And by the time he started bowling again for us it was mid-May; it was like going into pre-season. He's match-fit now and starting to enjoy it again. His gift is that he loves the game. There was a turning point in the last over of the totesport game against Somerset; they needed seven to win but he kept them down to one. It was a reminder of the quality bowler he is."
Philistine Dept: the Guardian's Paul Weaver asked in a Brighton bookshop whether his and Bruce Talbot's witty and engrossing account of last season, The Longest Journey, was in stock "Certainly," said the assistant, "you'll find it in the travel section."
Moment of the month Three free hits courtesy of Shoaib Akhtar, two biffed for four by Matt Prior, boot-starting totesport win over Durham and Prior's first 45-over 100.