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Recent Match Report – Surrey vs Yorkshire, County Championship Division One, 2nd Innings

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Surrey 313 (Foakes 62, Stoneman 61, Smith 56; Patterson 5-81, Coad 3-71) drew with Yorkshire 148 (Morkel 4-43, Clarke 3-35) and 30 for 0

“When an hour is all thou hast, make much of that hour.” The phrase might be found on an old sampler reminding folk of the virtues of the Protestant work ethic yet it carried topical power on the final morning of this wet game at Guildford. For against the background clatter of staff gracelessly stacking chairs long before this match ended, Surrey’s Morne Morkel took three wickets in 12 balls, thereby establishing a dominance that would reach its climax when Yorkshire were bowled out for 148 just before tea.

Steve Patterson’s batsmen thus spent the truncated last session of this suddenly dramatic game ensuring cock-up did not become total calamity. They achieved that goal although it was fitting that the weather came to their aid. Bad light trimmed four overs from the 38 Yorkshire might have faced but the openers, Adam Lyth and Will Fraine, had negotiated their way to 30 without loss when the draw was agreed amid gloom and approaching showers. All the same, a contest which had hitherto been notable mainly for its appalling weather had suddenly acquired much greater interest and that was a fitting reward for the tough souls who had braved both wind and rain on this last day.

“Vigilance is the watchword of the righteous.” That saying, too, might once have been embroidered and framed in God-fearing households yet it has carried a powerful admonition for Yorkshire this week, quite regardless of their beliefs. To borrow a more modern idiom, they have not always been at it during this game. They didn’t expect to play on the second day and had to be roused from their hotel by coaches who were astonished to see Surrey warming up and groundsmen preparing the pitch. Then on this final morning, with nothing but bonus points seemingly at stake, they batted as if shocked into timidity by the intensity of Ben Foakes’ attack.

But any tendency to pile blame on Yorkshire’s batsmen for their side’s collapse should be balanced by recognition of the excellence of Surrey’s bowling. That quality was apparent when Morkel dug in the first ball of the morning with perfect accuracy and a disconcerted Gary Ballance could only fend a catch to Dean Elgar in the gully. We little knew it but the tone of the day had been set. Next over Morkel pitched the ball up and had both Fraine and Jack Leaning caught behind by Foakes, who dived in front of first slip to make the second snare.

After bowling only four overs Morkel was replaced by Jordan Clark who took his first wicket for his new county when Jonny Tattersall’s thoroughly irresponsible slash edged the ball high to Rikki Clarke at first slip. Next ball the same combination did for a rather less culpable Dom Bess and one’s thoughts went back to the July morning last summer when Clark, then wearing Lancashire’s colours, dismissed Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Johnny Bairstow with successive balls. There was no repeat of that famous hat-trick this damp morning in Guildford but the sense of panic among the batting side was similar.

There was a rain break but it did not douse Surrey’s fire. Immediately the players returned Tom Kohler-Cadmore was caught down the leg side off Clarke for 14 and made his way off the field rubbing his hip. Three wickets had fallen for no runs and there was really no telling which way this game would go.

As it turned out, an utterly unpredictable morning was followed by the most of predictable of early afternoons in a week which has taught us all to value the high days of summer. The rain set in and prevented any resumption until 2.30pm. But still the pattern of the cricket did not change. Despite Jordan Thompson’s late aggression – the debutant included a huge six off Clarke in his 34 – the 55 runs added by his side’s last three wickets could not prevent the follow on being enforced. After taking four wickets in the innings, Morkel took an excellent catch over his head at long leg to remove Thompson off Matt Dunn. Surrey’s cricketers then beetled off to have tea and prepare to bowl again. Yorkshire had lost all their wickets for 97 runs, the last nine of them in 26 overs.

But the excitement was over. Lyth and Fraine batted with immense care in the final session of this game and spectators were left to wonder what might have happened had not 56.3 overs been lost on this last day. Surrey now have a free week but can be emboldened by their cricket at Guildford. Yorkshire, for their part, were probably grateful they could skedaddle home with five points for the draw. Not so far away, Somerset were the big winners from this rain-wrecked four days. Even in mid-June neutrals may be tantalised by the thought that this may finally be the Wyverns’ year.



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Retaining the core ‘probably the best way’ – Justin Langer on Test selection

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Australian cricket is moving on from the crisis that enveloped them after the events in Cape Town, but for some time to come there will remain the dividing line of before Newlands and after Newlands when assessing the state of the national team and the overall game.

Barring a late change of heart or an injury, Australia are set to name an unchanged side for the third Test in a row when they face New Zealand in Perth on Thursday. The last time they went three Tests with the same XI was on the tour of South Africa, in the first three matches of the series before things fell apart in Cape Town.

“I’d be a brave man to change the XI,” Justin Langer said. “The boys are playing well. We’ve still got a couple of training sessions, we haven’t had a look at the wicket yet but I’d say at this stage more than likely we’ll have the same XI.”

It is another stepping stone in the rebuilding of the Test side which has gathered momentum in recent months. There were missed opportunities in England to earn better than a 2-2 share of the series – a reminder that, in the batting especially, the team remained a work in progress – but the start of this summer has been very convincing against Pakistan, to the point that Travis Head and Tim Paine only batted once in the series.

There were tactical reasons for the pace-bowling changes made during the Ashes as a horses-for-courses approach was taken for each ground before Australia overthought the process at The Oval and picked the wrong side. This summer there is a sense they are keeping things simple, helped, of course, by innings victories where almost everyone has looked in good form. The season started with questions over the batting order and, while Australia will need to be more thoroughly tested than they were by Pakistan, it is likely this top six will now remain for the summer.

James Pattinson, whose unavailability for the opening Test of the season due to his code of conduct suspension turned a potentially tricky head-to-head decision with Mitchell Starc into a no contest, remains in the squad. Michael Neser will join having played the Sheffield Shield match against Queensland at the SCG, but there is little prospect of them breaking apart the trio of Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

“I’ve said for 18 months there used to be a philosophy in Australian cricket which worked so well for us, it’s harder to get into the Australian cricket team than it is to get out of it,” Langer said. “That usually happens when guys are playing well and the team is playing well. We’ve won the last couple of Test matches. There’s definite benefit and advantage in keeping the core group of players together and hopefully this will be another opportunity this week to do that.”

The much sought-after continuity in selection does not mean, however, that Australia will shelve the approach they took in England although there is now a good chance – with a nine-day gap between the Perth and Melbourne Tests – that these three quicks could feature throughout the whole summer, although a potential change to the balance of the side for the SCG still looms.

“I’ll let everyone else to judge if it’s [Australia’s] the best attack in the world, statistically, we aren’t yet in terms of rankings but the guys are moving up and are getting better and better as a unit.”

Justin Langer

“Certainly, there was benefit in that [rotation] in England. We had six healthy, fit fast bowlers available to us and in different conditions,” Langer said. “We had a very specific game plan on how we thought we’d retain the Ashes so we used it to our advantage there.

“There’s some different conditions here in Australia – the SCG might be different to Optus Stadium or the Gabba. But at the moment the three guys – Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood – they’re a quality combination with Nathan Lyon, they’re bowling really well, they’re fit and healthy and there’s a bit of a gap between Test matches. From that point of view that’s probably the best way we’ll go about this Test match.”

Starc was the one most impacted by the selections in the Ashes, playing just once at Old Trafford in the match where the Ashes were retained, but after some early-season tinkering with New South Wales bowling coach Andre Adams, he has been much more consistent this season. There is a good contest at the moment for the tag of ‘best pace attack in the world’ with India laying a very strong claim and while Langer would not be drawn into a definite answer on that, he lauded the bench strength that’s available.

“I’d rather have it as our side than play against it, no doubt,” he said. “Put Nathan Lyon in it who’s just brilliant then it’s a very good attack. I’ll let everyone else to judge if it’s the best attack in the world, statistically, we aren’t yet in terms of rankings but the guys are moving up and are getting better and better as a unit. I’ve said since England if we make enough runs we’ll win a lot of games because we have a very good pace-bowling attack, the best offspin bowling in the world I’d say and James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Michael Neser – there’s some really good depth as well. It’s a nice position to be in.”



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Recent Match Report – Tasmania vs South Australia, Sheffield Shield, 18th Match

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South Australia 346 (Weatherald 126, Carey 73, Bird 4-70) and 4 for 170 beat Tasmania 254 (Milenko 100, Agar 3-68) and 261 (McDermott 89, Agar 5-53) by six wickets

An unbeaten sixth-wicket stand of 136 between Harry Nielsen and William Bosisto delivered South Australia their first Sheffield Shield victory after a drought of 18 matches over 659 days, in what was also the 161st – and last – first-class game for the Australian selector-in-waiting George Bailey.

The Redbacks, as may have been expected given their run of defeats, made life hard for themselves by slipping to 4 for 34 in pursuit of 170 to beat Tasmania by six wickets at Bellerive Oval, as Gabe Bell and Riley Meredith found swing and bounce respectively with the new ball.

However Nielsen – with only one half century from his previous 15 innings for SA – and the former West Australian Bosisto fought their way through the difficult period and did not offer a chance as they glided home, doing so on the stroke of tea in Hobart.

Resuming at 6 for 241 on the final morning, the Tigers could add only 20 runs to their overnight total, as Chadd Sayers and Wes Agar combined potently for the visitors. Agar’s eight wickets for the game were to earn him Player-of-the-Match honours, while SA also had reason to thank Jake Weatherald, the captain Alex Carey, Joe Mennie and Nick Winter for their first innings batting contributions.

Nevertheless, victory looked a long way off when Bell swerved the newish ball into Henry Hunt’s back pad and then Callum Ferguson’s off stump, while at the other end Meredith drew edges from Weatherald and Carey. An older ball meant that conditions eased for Nielsen and Bosisto, but they showed a remarkable level of composure in knocking off the runs with minimal fuss.

Bailey was left to bowl the final over of the match, clad in his state cap, before accepting congratulations from both sides for a long and fruitful red-ball career that featured five Test match appearances in the 2013-14 Ashes and a leading hand in all three of Tasmania’s Sheffield Shield-winning seasons.



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Recent Match Report – New South Wales vs Queensland, Sheffield Shield, 17th Match

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New South Wales 375 (Henriques 116, Nevill 88*, Abbott 86, Neser 4-60) and 1 for 42 (Hughes 27, Swepson 1-27) beat Queensland 240 and 176 (Khawaja 54, O’Keefe 3-28) by nine wickets

New South Wales shrugged off appalling air conditions in Sydney to record a nine-wicket victory over Queensland at the SCG and go to the Big-Bash-League break at the top of the Sheffield Shield table with five wins and a draw after six matches.

On a day when NSW health authorities held an afternoon press conference advising all caught in the bushfire-smoke-filled air around Sydney to stay indoors and the harbour’s ferry service was suspended due to low visibility, the Blues and Bulls played out the final act of their contest after Dr John Orchard assessed conditions with match officials and concluded it was safe to play.

Not only was the air a concern on a breathing level, the smoke was so thick that visibility also looked to be an issue for players on both sides – reminiscent of some of the worst smog-induced conditions seen at the Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi from time to time.

On Friday, Cricket NSW had advised club and community cricket organisations to consider cancelling weekend matches amidst similar conditions emanating from the bushfires that have engulfed the east coast of Australia in recent weeks.

Resuming at 5 for 111, still needing another 25 runs to make NSW bat again, Queensland suffered arguably the decisive blow in the first half an hour when Trent Copeland coaxed an outside edge from Usman Khawaja from around the wicket.

Michael Neser and Mitchell Swepson kept the Bulls’ wicketkeeper Jimmy Peirson company for long enough to allow the visitors to forge a lead, but when Peirson was last out, shortly before lunch, they had left the Blues needing just 42. This was enough to allow Swepson the wicket of Daniel Hughes, but with only another four runs required.

The allrounder Moises Henriques was named Player of the Match for his match-shaping first-innings century.



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