A gradual but inevitable descent into cricket-based loathing and bile.

County Championship 2014: England Watch Vol 2.0

Posted on April 18, 2014 by in First Class


The IPL may have kicked off to dubious fanfare this week – the opening ceremony that we saw featured Shane Watson singing Ben E. King’s seminal hit “Stand By Me” while wearing loafers and no socks, which is a worrying portent – but we’re not really interested in all that at 51allout. If it’s a choice between watching low quality Australians to the soundtrack of Ravi Shastri and Danny Morrison, and sitting in an empty stand drinking lukewarm caffeinated-flavoured beverage (grey with a hint of film please, barkeep) then it’s the latter every time. Even if there’s no cricket actually being played.

Essex 94 & 425 vs Derbyshire 154 & 312

AN Cook 35 & 181
RS Bopara 3 & 48
MS Panesar 14 & 0
TS Mills 12* & 2

TS Mills 10-3-22-1 & 19-3-49-3
MS Panesar 5-1-12-0 & 20-2-95-2
RS Bopara 8-2-18-0 & 3-0-14-0

Essex reprised their comedy batting of last season on the opening day, with Alastair Cook presumably thinking he was doomed forever to be surrounded by Ed Giddins style buffoonish partners. After Derbyshire performed only marginally better, the England skipper, new father and lamb farmer extraordinaire decided that he’d better do the job himself if no other bugger could be trusted. An innings of 181 represented his first century since a tour game early on The Tour We Are Trying Not To Mention Wherever Possible where the bowling was, shall we say, friendly. Not that Derbyshire’s attack is really much better. Reports suggest that Tymal Mills bowled with encouraging hostility and decent results, while Monty Panesar decided sledging like James Pattinson and bowling like Xavier Doherty was the way forward to secure his international future. Probably time for a rethink.

Also, rethink the title of your book. That is rubbish. As bad as a hairdresser's called "A Cut Abobe".

Also, rethink the title of your book. That is rubbish. As bad as a hairdresser’s called “A Cut Above”.

Gloucestershire 304 & 332 vs Hampshire 422 & 215/2

JM Vince 12-2-19-0 & 4-2-10-1
MA Carberry DNB & 4-0-26-0

MA Carberry 27 & 100*
JHK Adams 41 & 23
JM Vince 144 & 58*

In our last installment of England Watch, we suggested that Michael Carberry had rather signed his own death warrant for his international career with his blast at the selectors and Ashley Giles in particular. We can only conclude that he read our words and decided to prove us wrong (Liam Plunkett style), as he scored a match clinching unbeaten century, culminating with successive sixes. If you are reading this Michael, we still haven’t forgiven you for dropping Brad Haddin at Adelaide. But well played. James Vince’s early season CB40 form last year brought him to the fringes of the ODI setup; his actual inclusion never materialised but with the team in a state of permanent flux he has every chance of forcing his way into the limited overs teams if nothing else.

We'd also back him to make better films than this Vince.

We’d also back him to make better films than this Vince.

Nottinghamshire 326 & 224 vs Middlesex 439/9 dec & 112/0

MJ Lumb 17 & 37
JWA Taylor 62 & 33
SR Patel 0 & 15
HF Gurney 0* & 3*

JAR Harris 21-7-80-4 & 18-7-55-1
ST Finn 25-3-91-5 & 17.2-0-82-4
OP Rayner 10-0-31-0 & 8-2-15-0

SD Robson 163 & 41*
EJG Morgan 86
OP Rayner 20
JAR Harris 0
ST Finn 8

HF Gurney 27-3-109-1 & 5-1-38-0
SR Patel 23-6-69-1 & 1-0-5-0

Leaving aside that it’s just plain hilarious to be stealing Australia’s best young players from under their noses (Martin McCague’s glorious Test career being a particular highlight of this process from the past), there is a gap at the top of the England order and it would appear that Sam Robson is the man in prime position to fill it. Gus Fraser’s elevation to the England selectors will have done him no harm and nor will a hefty knock against a Nottinghamshire team who will fancy their chances of competing for the title. We’re told that his game has more than a hint of Michael Atherton about it which, given that Glenn McGrath isn’t around any more, fills us with a sense of joy. We bloody loved watching Athers bat. Steven Finn continued his steady renaissance – funny what happens when you let someone just bowl without filling his head with dubious advice and don’t ask him to completely disavow his natural game – while Eoin Morgan actually scored some County Championship runs for the first time since 1992. The first 51allout hex of the season has been applied; after suggesting last week that Harry Gurney had a chance of getting into a squad some time soon, he proceeded to bowl like an absolute drain here. When you’re right 48% of the time, you’re wrong 52% of the time. Or something.

Get your money on Tim Murtagh being one of Wisden's cricketers of the year in 2015.

Get your money on Tim Murtagh being one of Wisden’s cricketers of the year in 2015.

Durham 452 & 244 vs Northamptonshire 378 & 205/9

SG Borthwick 20 & 47
G Onions 23* & 2

G Onions 26-6-86-1 & 20-5-48-3
SG Borthwick 10-2-50-1 & 18-2-53-2

The rapid promotion of Scott Borthwick to the Test team was one of the most leftfield and baffling since M People beat Oasis to the Mercury Music Prize in 1994. Even the Brand New Heavies were better than M People. He didn’t seem to bowl an awful lot for Durham last season and spent most of his time batting at three (as he did in this game), so picking him as the primary spinner and batting at eight seemed a peculiar piece of miscasting. Think Elijah Wood in Green Street levels of miscasting. He produced very bits and pieces returns here and we’re not really expecting him to retain his place. There’s a player in there somewhere, but his bowling in Sydney reminded us more of Chris Schofield than anything else. Meanwhile, this is probably Graham Onions’ last chance to elongate his Test career and he bowled, erm, okayish. We make no secret of how much we rate him – and how poorly we feel he’s been treated at times – but at 31 it really is now or never for him.

This really does still upset us.

This really does still upset us.

Yorkshire 450 & 193/4 dec vs Somerset 553

AZ Lees 34 & 47
GS Ballance 77 & 5
AU Rashid 108 & 11*
LE Plunkett 19*

C Overton 24-6-72-3 & DNB
JC Hildreth DNB & 6-0-21-1

NRD Compton 32
JC Hildreth 16
C Kieswetter 63
C Overton 15

LE Plunkett 28-1-117-4
AU Rashid 27-2-127-1

This game chiefly featured  a pitch as appealing as an Aberdeen Angus Steak House. Taunton’s reputation for run soaked affairs has been a little inaccurate in recent years but a result never looked likely here and the bowlers had an unenviable task. Without wishing to get on our soapbox about such things – it’s a bit rickety after the work experience boy dropped a two thirds full bottle of Bombay Sapphire over it (we’re taking it out of his wages, meaning he’s effectively in our debt from now until 2037) – we’d rather teams were punished for preparing surfaces such as this rather than ones which produce a flurry of wickets on the opening day. Overly batsman friendly pitches mean the likes of Marcus North and Brendan Nash have Test centuries. We can’t think of any more damning indictment than that. Anyway, Gary Ballance got one decent score and presumably rewarded himself with a full carvery at the nearest Toby restaurant. Forgotten man Adil Rashid batted pleasingly and bowled rubbishly – doing the Bruce Martin trick of being comprehensively outbowled by Kane Williamson. 51allout favourite Liam Plunkett took four moderately expensive wickets. And that’s your lot.

Liam celebrates his bowling average for the season remaining resolutely below 30.

Liam celebrates his bowling average for the season remaining resolutely below 30.

Warwickshire 87 & 471 vs Sussex 229 & 333/3

V Chopra 1 & 2
IJL Trott 37 & 26
IR Bell 0 & 189*
CR Woakes 3 & 23

CJ Jordan 6-2-15-3 & 29-3-121-3

CJ Jordan 15

CR Woakes 13-5-31-2 & 16-4-66-0

Sunday mornings are always hard work for this correspondent. The last face we’ve seen on a Saturday night is frequently that of Steve Claridge so sleep is a struggle. This particular Sunday morning was made even more difficult by hearing much fancied (by people who don’t watch them very much) Warwickshire subside to their lowest total in decades. It would appear that they were more the victims of good bowling and catching rather than batting like a team of Steve Claridges, which is at least some comfort. Chris Jordan is one of the few England players to emerge from the winter with some credit and he bowled impressively here, even if he found the going much tougher in the second innings. That was chiefly due to Ian Bell’s efforts; the Lord is now probably England’s most important and senior batsman outwith the captain and he produced a knock here which briefly threatened to take the game away from the visitors. However, with the pitch becoming ever more placid and Chris Woakes not managing to further his international claims along the way, former England man Ed Joyce took Sussex over the line with his second century of the game. We’d imagine Jordan will feature heavily in at least two of the three formats for England this summer. Woakes seems to be at a bit of a crossroads. We don’t mean he’s listening to a lot of Blazin’ Squad, it’s more that despite generally producing good returns in domestic cricket with both bat and ball, it’s hard to see where he’s ever going to make a significant impact at international level. We’d rather see him batting in the top five and being used primarily as a holding bowler domestically; certainly his bowling is a good 8-10mph lighter than Jordan’s and it’s that which will hold him back in that discipline if it continues to be seen as his stronger suit.

One of the great hip hop collectives of 2002.

One of the great hip hop collectives of 2002.

Worcestershire 224 & 270 vs Kent 229 & 140

MM Ali 41 & 0

JC Tredwell 15.3-4-41-1 & 24.4-2-96-2

JC Tredwell 15 & 1

MM Ali 18.5-6-43-3 & 8-2-36-0

For all his all round decency in the ODI team – and the fact that he gives bank clerks and actuaries the world over the hope that they too, can have an elite sports career – James Tredwell had a pretty horrendous time of things in the County Championship last season. When he was playing in the Champions Trophy last June he’d taken two first class wickets all season and things didn’t get a whole lot better from there. While you would think that someone who is more or less an automatic pick for the limited overs teams would be at the very forefront of the push to replace Graeme Swann, it’s still hard to see him adding to his solitary Test cap. Once again here his figures were tidy and unexceptional, being outbowled by Moeen Ali who is better than a part timer, but not exactly Lance Gibbs in waiting. Moeen got one of his pretty 40s in the first innings and then was bowled first ball by apple headed wig wearer Doug Bollinger in the second dig. We can only think that was a cunning plan to persuade Australia to pick Doug again.

Go on Australia, give the public what they want.

Go on Australia, give the public what they want.


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18 Apr 2014 12:28

Checking stuff is for geeks, man. I assume they also beat Suede to the prize as their debut was out in 1993.


Matt H

18 Apr 2014 12:08

Oasis were first nominated in 1995. M people did however beat blur amongst others in 1994.