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…?

Somerset v Australia

I think Somerset’s pitch at Taunton might just be a belter. Australia compiled (for compiled, read “Smashed”) 342 from their 50 overs. 2 of their players, Ponting and Hayden, clearly felt they were in such good nick that they retired.

But

Somerset, in reply, are fast approaching 200 without loss: 197-0. Have a read of these:

Bowling                      O      M      R      W
Lee                          4      0     26      0
McGrath                      6      0     38      0 (1nb, 1w)
Kasprowicz                   6      0     61      0 (2nb)
Watson                       3      0     41      0 (1w)
Clarke                       2      0     16      0
Hussey                       1      0      9      0

The destroyers are Graeme Smith (Captain) and someone called Jayasuriya – Smith, in particular, batted brilliantly yesterday. Looks like he’s in seriously good form, and if Somerset win this game, he might just receive a thank-you from Michael Vaughan…

UPDATE: the curse of the blogger. Smith now out for a magnificent 108 from just 74 balls

Smith: We were soft and panicked under pressure

Telegraph | Sport | We were soft and panicked under pressure

A fighting article, as is his wont. I don’t like the bloke but I’m starting to admire his guts and spirit.

Smith is negative.

G.Smith does it again. He has arguably one of the greatest bowlers of his generation – Shaun Pollock – a bowler who also happens to average 30 with the bat. Does he get a 3rd slip? Does he balls. You’d think Pollock would demand one.

I’ve counted 4 edges fly through where 3rd slip ought to be, and still the SA Captain fails to react. Defensive, negative tactics. England 108-1 and Strauss looks ominous.

Graeme Smith writes

I know I’ve been harsh on Smith, but it’s only through admiration. He is a very tough and confident character, incredibly cocky for someone so young (my age – 22). The responsibility on his shoulders is massive – a bit like Atherton’s in 1994. His cockiness can, and has so far, been his downfall. But it’s nevertheless enjoyable reading his articles, parts of which I’ve summarised below

“Partnerships are even more important than individual innings, and stands ending at 50 and 60 are as frustrating as individual scores in that region. You can just about hang on to a game with partnerships that size but you can’t win it.”

An admission from Smith? It gets better:

“What an incredible start to Andrew Strauss’s international career. He and Marcus Trescothick have obviously clicked as an opening pair and if we can’t separate the two left-handers with the new ball then I see further trouble for us ahead. Perhaps we’ll have more success with Plan C at Newlands in Cape Town.”

2 admissions of failure in one article? What’s going on! Plan C – that’s what. Propaganda and psychobabble from Ray Jennings probably, but it’ll be interesting to see their tactics to Strauss who is/was one of the form men of 2004. I’d love to see a pitch-map of balls bowled to him (wouldn’t that be cool to just bring that up on the internet?) – I bet over 60% were short of a good length. Don’t bounce him – this apparent weakness for the pull is bollocks. Make him drive and have a good pair of slippers waiting. Problem is – only Pollock can bowl 6 balls on the spot. Ntini doesn’t deserve his 9th-place rating in the world at the moment.

“I see that all the England players’ wives and families are here. I hope they enjoy our hospitality and climate and hold nothing back in celebrating the new year. :)

We, on the other hand, had a quiet braai at Jacques Kallis’s house to see in the new year. We want to be as fresh as possible for tomorrow.”

What’s a braai, I wonder…?

England turn Test on its head

What a Test match this has been. I don’t think anyone, least of all the South Africans, could have imagined the Test panning out like after they bowled England out for 139

Back then, on the first day, there were utterings of complaint from Fletcher and armchair pundits that the pitch was poor. I too agreed, but only to an extent – it was a combination of rain juicing it up, and poor shot selection from England.

Day 2, and Kallis showed how to bat on a flat pitch. It was a masterful, boring and controlling innings – just what SA needed to dent England’s confidence. Indeed, South Africa were miles ahead of the game by close yesterday as Kallis remarked in an interview:

“It was hugely important to bounce back after Port Elizabeth,” added Kallis. “To go 2-0 down was not an option – it would have been the series over. Maybe we let ourselves down a bit this evening by not quite landing enough balls in the right area, but it could be the wake-up call we needed. If we get a few wickets tomorrow, we could make our lives easier.”

And Michael Vaughan looked like this:

After 3 sessions of crunching strokeplay, defiant batting and resiliance from Trescothick and Strauss, it was Smith’s turn to look glum:

They put on 273 for the first wicket – their 4th stand of 150+ opening together in just their 9th Test. Jonathan Agnew wrote:

But of all the teams currently in world cricket, one feels that only Australia could have produced a performance quite like this.

If they can add another 200 runs on the fourth day, they might well complete one of the most astonishing turn-rounds in test history.

England weren’t quite staring down the barrell – they’re a confident team, after all – but the odds were stacked against them, and the situation at start-of-play was tailor-made for a blocker. Such was the rate at which they scored against all but Pollock, that the game has been turned on its head. SA can win it. England can win it. But the force is with England, and they have 9 2nd innings wickets remaining. A truly brilliant Test match, ebbing and flowing – thank God for Cricket!

Graeme Smith – 2 reasons to hate him

1) He’s too young to be this successful.

2) He has this stunner for a girlfriend (so he claims)

He’s a criminal and needs policing! :)

/rambling here..

Graeme Smith has been run over by a car

[via BBC]

South Africa captain Graeme Smith is in doubt for the second Test against India after a car ran over his foot.

And!

Smith was walking towards the team hotel after practice when the chauffeur of his car unintentionally drove over his right toe, witnesses said.

Note to self:

    must not laugh at South Africans run over by cars.