Tony Lewis; Glamorgan sausages

Susan Over writes:

I am looking for an anecdote about Tony Lewis suitable for inclusion in a Christian recipe/devotional book to go with the recipe Glamorgan Vegetarian Sausages. Any ideas?

Keep your suggestions tasteful…

Tom Maynard hits fifty on debut

Tom Maynard, son of Matthew, fell 29 short of emulating his father today by hitting 71 on debut for Glamorgan. Maynard senior hit 102 against Yorkshire in 1985 and by all accounts, his 18-year-old son is a chip off the old block.

The final curtain

The English ‘summer’ finally drew to a close today, at least as far as cricket is concerned. Predictably, Glamorgan were relegated in the Pro40 playoff, where the form 2nd Division side was guaranteed the home advantage in the competition’s rules. While I use the word ‘relegated’, a more accurate description for their performance against Hampshire would probably be ‘thumped’.

As a format, Pro40 has seen quite a bit of stick in the press. As a spectator, I quite enjoyed it as a competition. Certain aspects of our domestic season are to be taken as read. Firstly, we play too much cricket. This comes from the irresolvable situation where players and officials want to play first class cricket, whereas counties want to stage as many one-dayers as possible to draw crowds. Secondly, there are days and periods that simply are not conducive to good cricket, be that due to poor weather or diverted media attention.

Pro40 was tasked with several burdens. It was given the dregs of the season to pull in crowds that were increasingly drawn away by football and frequent showers, and an uphill battle to establish itself as a format. Where I feel it succeeded is in improving dramatically on the 45-over league of last year.

While placed in a part of the season where interest in cricket usually starts to wane, scheduling was quick to ensure that most of a team’s eight matches were played on Sundays. Although questionable as an international format, day/night matches at county level ensure a higher crowd, and sensibly all mid-week games were played with later start times. The decision to drop the amount of overs to 40 is one for which I have the utmost praise. I never understood the need for 45 overs. Especially considering the increased C&G 50-over workload, an extra five overs simply provides a drag on a game struggling to maintain Twenty20’s excitement.

There were also very few dead rubbers. Competition for places both up and down was still hotting up until the last round of fixtures. Although the decision to place the game on the last day of the Ryder Cup weekend lacked a certain amount of sense, the decision to have a playoff added the opportunity to retain a decisive season ender. Considering the third rule of domestic cricket is there is always someone who will disagree with whatever you change, I would much rather that the last ball of the season was bowled in a match that mattered than a game played for the prestige of finishing Nowhere Special, Division 2.

Glassy shot

I avoided the inevitable “Cricket commentators have a SMASHING time” for this post. Richard Grant, batting for Glamorgan, smashed a six through the commentators window. Edward Bevan and Steve Watkin were at the mic: cue two very confused, and slightly puterbed Welshmen.

Listen here.

Reminds me of The 12th Man tapes where Tony Greig is commentating. “Aw look out, it’s coming up here . AND! Richie Benaud has gone down like a sack of shit!”

Simon Jones limps off. Again

Well it was too good to be true, wasn’t it? Simon Jones, after taking a few wickets for Glamorgan in a C&G match, limped off and might not play in the first Test against Sri Lanka. What a bloody nuisance, and how depressing for Jones.

Sophia Gardens to host Ashes in 2009

Good grief. This surprises me somewhat, but it’s nevertheless great news for Wales and Welsh cricket. More at Cricinfo.

Middlesex chase down 406 – Joyce makes 1000

As if today’s news couldn’t get any better, Middlesex have chased down an amazing 406 to beat Glamorgan – absolutely brilliant, albeit whilst batting on a road. The best news of all, though, is Ed Joyce has made it to 1000 runs for the season – as I hoped he would – and I’m over the moon. His innings today of 70 came from just 61 balls, on top of his first-innings 155 – 225 runs in the match, without being dismissed. Phenomenal.

I’m not really a stats-man, but here are some for those that are. He’s made 1002 runs (1000 runs in a season is the benchmark for batsmen in England – in case some weren’t aware) @ 91 per innings. Curiously, 4 of the top 6 run scorers this season are English – which hasn’t always been the case, and is especially encouraging given the number of overseas players there are this season (and indeed Aussies). They are (Englishman highlighted in Bold):

Name                Mat    I  NO  Runs   HS     Ave     SR 100 50   Ct St Team

EC Joyce              7   13   2  1002  192   91.09  67.06   2  8    5  - MIDDX
AN Cook               9   16   0   901  195   56.31  54.70   3  3    5  - MCC/ESSEX
M van Jaarsveld       8   14   1   858  262*  66.00  56.18   4  2   12  - KENT
SA Newman             8   13   0   842  219   64.76  69.24   4  -    6  - SURREY
A Flower              9   14   4   823  188   82.30  49.69   3  3    5  - MCC/ESSEX
IR Bell               9   14   3   823  231   74.81  58.57   2  4    4  - WARWICKS/ENG

At this stage in the season, to see an Englishman (ok – an Irishman, but he qualifies in about 2 weeks time) be first to 1000 runs (I think he gets an award for this, too – anyone know?) is really encouraging news, as is the number of young batsmen in the top 20. We’re generally accustomed to seeing the Old Stagers, like Ramprakash and Hick, in the top 5 – but they’re languishing miles behind having made 622 and 620 runs respectively. English Cricket is certainly becoming stronger and stronger with every season, and players – like Joyce, Shah, Key, Bell, Newman – are thriving.

Middlesex chasing Glamorgan hard

The pitch at Southgate must be an absolute belter. Set a giant 406 to win by Glamorgan, Middlesex are going for it in style and are 234/0 at Tea – Ed Smith making his first hundred for his new county, and Owais Shah too reaching three figures. What a game. They need another 172 in the final session…

UPDATE: Middlesex require another 109 runs with 9 wickets remaining! Could be tight. Joyce is in – can he make it to 1000 runs?

Joyce now ready

“When you’re ready, England” might be what Joyce says to himself whilst batting this season. He looks so laid back at the crease, he could almost have a chat with Fletcher on his mobile, whilst caressing a Gower-esque four through the covers.

He’s the Irishman I keep banging on about who today hit another hundred, and a big one – 155 from just 188 balls, albeit on a decent track. He’s now just 68 runs short of 1000 runs in the season – an awesome feat, and if he gets a chance to bat again in this match, he could well be the first to do it in the country. With all the Australians and other foreign players over here, it would be quite an achievement – as well, of course, as almost certainly being the first Irish national to do it.

He might have to wait a bit though – Bell and Pietersen are higher up the pecking order, but Joyce is a Thorpe-replacement if ever I saw one.

Ball tampering allegations

Following Surrey’s alledged ball-tampering escapades, Glamorgan and Gloucestershire[1] are in the ball-tampering news today too. Somewhat depressing that I should celebrate my 500th post here with the evils of ball tampering, but it’s noteworthy and important to write about nonetheless.

Glamorgan – who like Surrey are having a pathetic season so far – coach Derrick alledged Gloucester bowler Steve Kirby “pursued a boundary into the car park at Sophia Gardens and scraped the ball on the hard surface, altering its condition to suit swing bowling.”

So, I guess, Derrick must have seen Kirby do this. Usual story – everyone’s backing eachother’s coach and captain and player, but it’s worrying that it’s happening at all. The Surrey incident is more pressing, if only because fingernails have been used – although I’d have thought concrete could do more hard than grubby old fingernails.

So the ECB are under pressure to fine Surrey – and I hope they do. It might even kick their season into touch, if it’s not already – disasterous season, isn’t it brilliant?

Despite all this, Derek Pringle aims to shed a warmer glow on the devilish occupations of ball tampering, arguing:

What they are actually about is another spat in cricket’s oldest rivalry – that between bowler and batsman.

And it’s a bloody good read. Hell – why am I so against ball tampering? I hate batsmen and their lazy, fashionista, always-fielding-at-slip ways. Bowlers around the world – pick your seams and gel your hair!

Jesting aside, and taking into consideration that Pringle is himself a bowler, he makes valid points – some of which nicely link back to our batting v bowling argument:

According to Smith, one bowler used an emery board strapped to a plaster on his non-bowling hand. Certainly, objects such as bottle-tops, nail files and penknives have been used in the past. Law 42.2, which deals with the match ball and changing its condition, should be more laissez faire, though only fingers rather than tools should be allowed to roughen and pick at the ball.

If that sounds too liberal, remember that batsmen have long been the recipients of every advantage going. Covered pitches, lightweight helmets and body armour, big bats that pick up like feathers, shrinking boundaries, have all been brought in to keep bowlers from planting their flag at the top of the hill.

Even as a bowler, I don’t think I can cross over to Pringle’s liberal stance. I know “ball doctoring” is as old as the hills, but there’s something clandestine about affecting the ball’s shape. Could it be said, though, that we are entering an era of bat-tampering, too? :)

Thoughts, disagreements etc all welcome. Have you ever picked the seam or “bottle-topped”?

[1] Some Americans pronounce this: “Glue Cester Shire” – which always makes me smile when I write it. You can imagine what happens with poor old Worcestershire (“Warrr cessterrr shire”)