No, this isn’t plea to bring back old money. That’s the total Somerset declared on earlier today. I may have missed the point, but presumably the thinking was to have a crack at Middlesex while the conditions were right and stop the opposition from getting full bowling points. It hasn’t worked in one sense, as Middx are currently 71 for 0. As far as bowling points, perhaps it was very shrewd of their skipper Justin Langer. (If this has already been discussed on The Corridor, then I apologise.)

Ordinarily, I might launch into a rant about cheating Aussies bending the rules, but I happen to be a big fan of Langer, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But it does leave a bad taste in the mouth, not least as one of my fantasy team bowlers was denied the chance of filling his boots! (I also have Langer, who got a duck…)

Is it bad sportsmanship, clever captaincy or even a missed opportunity? What if Caddick had slapped a quick-fire 40? It could have changed the momentum entirely.

Somerset v West Indians, 1st day, Taunton

This is West Indies’ first and last warm-up before the opening Test of their tour. Scant preparation for a Test series, but such is the ways of the world. Keep an eye on the scorecard and leave comments, if you so wish.

Banger’s back (albeit against Devon)

In spite of Nasser Hussain’s bold insistence that Australia were “under the cosh for a lot of” today’s match against England, the end result was rather predictable. England did apply themselves well for portions of the match – specifically the partnership between Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen – but that one highlight alone is not enough to beat Australia, to win the World Cup or to prove England’s one-day ethic is nothing more than hit-and-hope. In fact, poke-and-pray might be more accurate.

All is not lost. You’ve no doubt heard by now that Marcus Trescothick made his return to cricket – albeit against a Devon attack more used to serving scones than yorkers – with a brutal 256 from 117 balls. This is a good thing.

The mystery surrounding his stress-related illness is still very much just that. No one knows for sure exactly what constitutes stress, nor why it happened, nor why he was apparently unfit to attend England’s Champions Trophy yet was fit to tour Australia a few weeks later. He lasted just two weeks which, given the horror show that eventuated, was probably just as well.

I desperately hope he returns, fighting fit, scoring banger tons again. Who knows? This lay-off he has had could relaunch his career, turning him from a good England player into a great.

Justin Langer’s 342

In case you hadn’t noticed

He had already broken the record for the highest innings at Guildford, and this morning he passed Viv Richards’ record for the highest score for Somerset (322). He was within one shot of Charlie McCartney’s 345 – the highest by an Australian in England – when he fell. It is the seventh biggest innings in the County Championship.

Jon Lewis – never knowingly underbowled

Cripes, that’s the best headline I’ve ever come up with. I’m sure that my cavernous conscience has retrieved it from someone else but sod it. It’s mine now. In fact, anyone not living in the UK won’t even know why it’s so good. I’ll shut up now.

Moving on. Jon Lewis, the England and Gloucester wobbler. Jagadish, known here as Jag with a vague and irrelevant nod to the once great British auto manufacturer, has chosen him as his English target for the summer. Last year it was Ashley Giles who bore the brunt of his ridicule, and Giles then proceeded to bowl rather better than most people thought possible (including dismissing Australia’s top eight at least once? I think that was the stat-famouse). I’m not suggesting Lewis will have the same effect on this summer, but Jag is unfair on him.

Marcus Trescothick has just made me nearly roll on the floor laughing. He was dismissed twice in a day against Gloucestershire.

Jon Lewis, an unlikely star last year when England thrashed Australia in the Twenty20 game, trapped him in front twice!

King Cricket wonders if he is a forgotten man.

Umm, I don’t know. I didn’t even remember him!

Now, Lewis is never going to take 200 Test wickets for England, or even 100. But he’s a fine county bowler, and absolutely lethal in early season conditions. If England’s battered bowlers don’t fix themselves in the next few weeks, don’t be surprised to see him playing against Sri Lanka.

Oh Boy, I am Excited!!!!

In the UK, the County Championship started last night. Lancs are giving Hampshire a hard time and Gloucestershire are doing well against Somerset. Yay for County Cricket.

All joking aside, it would seem to me that the reform of county cricket into a two-division system seems to have had a positive effect in producing tougher cricketers for England.

Lancashire v Somerset, Twenty20 final 2005

Great day’s cricket – I’m liking Twenty20 more and more. The catching today has been outstanding – I can think of at least three very special catches, highlighting the quality of cricket on display. The gimmicks Twenty20 first provided have been lost to quality, high-class cricket – and who would have thought that? Having the semis and the final in one day is inspired – and I really think The Oval looks a spectacle tonight, with the new OCS stand and the lights. Twenty20 is a winner.

So Somerset dismissed Lancashire for just 114. Their big-guns, Flintoff and Symonds, both fell short – but Flintoff is steaming in now. Steaming. He looks as pumped-up and ferocious as he does in a Test – and has taken two of the three wickets to fall. Graeme Smith is still in for Somerset, who need 44 from 42. The cup is within their grasp.

Symonds coming on to bowl.

Update: all over, Somerset are the 2005 champions. Considering Lancs’ batting lineup, that is some effort. Twenty20 is here to stay, if you’ll pardon the tabloid-style pun!

Twenty20 Finals Day

I’m definately a Twenty20 convert. Even at the start of this season I was a fringe-fan, but now I’m definately enjoying it. Today has seen some brilliant Cricket. Flintoff and Symonds, for Lancashire, were typically awesome (Lancashire won to go through to the finals), and a few minutes ago David Masters pulled off the catch of the day/cup/summer to dismiss Graeme Smith. Smith chipped it to a deep long-on, and Masters dived backwards, clinging on one-handed…brilliant!

So, who will Lancashire play? Somerset and Leicestershire are in progress/action and the weather is holding. Great fun.

My bulletin on the Surrey / Lancs. game here, and a Gallery is being added to as the day goes on.

Graeme Smith hits 311. In a day.

Graeme Smith is no fool. Apart from it being a picturesque county, Somerset, its county ground also happens to have the best batting track in England: Taunton. He could have gone to any other county in England – he’s “box office” – but chose Somerset. Nevertheless, it is rare that one player scores three hundreds in a day, however good a pitch it is – and today Smith did just that, smacking 311 from just 255 balls.

I don’t know how many people have done this – shall trawl Cricinfo to see, unless some of you know already…?

Ponting on defeat by Somerset

Via Cricinfo Australia:

“They played very well and we let them play very well,” said Ponting, for whom the humiliation came hot on the heels of their desperate defeat in the Twenty20 international at The Rose Bowl. “We’ll have out work cut out against Bangladesh the way we’re playing.”

But he refused to let his wry sense of humour desert him entirely, and added: “We got a lot more out of the game than if we’d got them out for 80,” a reference to their total of 79 against England on Monday. ” We’ll have a good long hard look at ourselves,” he concluded, “but it’s not the end of the world.”

He be rattled – enough to make a jibe against England bowling his side out for 79. This summer is going to be fun!