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Recent Match Report – Glamorgan vs Yorkshire Group 3 2021

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Glamorgan 312 for 8 (van der Gugten 80*, Douthwaite 57, Carlson 55) vs Yorkshire

There has surely never been a bleaker start to the Championship season than this, well, not since last year anyway. Cricket took place at Headingley, but it was cold comfort, staged stoically in front of empty stands in the hope of better times ahead.

Perhaps Yorkshire can be grateful the stands were empty. As Glamorgan played with startling enterprise to turn 132 for 7 into 310 for 8 by the close, Headingley was not quite the same without a few derisive cries of “Rubbish, Yorkshire!” and “Call yourself Champions!” (They’re not but that’s just unnecessary detail). They’ll all be watching on in-house streaming services and can be trusted to store up resentment for when the crowds finally return.

Timm van der Gugten was Glamorgan’s unlikely batting stalwart. His career-best 80 not out at No. 9, from 134 balls, was an innings of optimistic muscularity and only the fourth time he had passed 50. A rebellious stand of 122 in 33 overs with Dan Douthwaite was followed by some hearty wind-ups by Michael Hogan, who walked off with 40 and will have visions of his fourth first-class fifty in the morning.

Batting mayhem from the lower orders is hard enough to bear on the hottest days when the pitch is flat and the sun beats down, but somehow it is crueller still when a fast bowler can’t feel his fingers and a pitch he imagined might be his friend has lost interest.

Douthwaite produced the most considered resistance in that late spree. He failed to break through at Surrey and Warwickshire and was given his chance at Glamorgan during studies at Cardiff University. After a decent all-round season in 2019, he had a stint at No. 6 last summer, but he was back at eight, at least for now.

Douthwaite was finally silenced with the new ball five overs old when he allowed a delivery from Ben Coad to strike his off stump. He will relish memories of a hooked six against Duanne Olivier which was high enough to have required stepladders. Telling Olivier it’s not a pitch for bouncers is like advising Piers Morgan to avoid publicity.

Even Douthwaite’s belligerence came with moments of fortune, most notably in a wild slog against Matthew Fisher which careered over slips. As the seamers flagged, he deposited the offspin of Joe Root over long-on for six in a manner that informed Root that part-time offspin might have its moments in international cricket, but it had no place on a freezing day of the Championship in April.

Six years have now passed since Yorkshire’s back-to-back Championships under the stewardship of Jason Gillespie, and Mark Arthur, Yorkshire’s chief executive, has told the annual meeting on Zoom that the county can boast its strongest squad in his near-decade in charge.

In these parts that represents title talk – and leaving out David Willey did suggest either strength in depth, misguided selection or a little bit of both. Willey appeared as 12th man at one point in a hi-vis jacket, Yorkshire woolly hat and face mask which was not how it used to be done in the days of Lord Hawke.

Douthwaite’s misjudgement extended the disastrous leave-alones to three, one in each session. Without them, Glamorgan’s situation could have been even better. Fisher, who, at 23, needs to kick on this summer to justify the expectations of his teenaged years, tailed the ball in slightly to hit the off stumps of David Lloyd in the morning and Callum Taylor after lunch.

Glamorgan’s gusto brought life to these strange, slightly artificial proceedings. Infection rates may be falling fast, but Yorkshire is now Covid Central according to figures from Centre for Cities, which suggests that seven of the top eight towns and cities for new infections are in the county. The storm is not yet weathered.

Nevertheless, Championship cricket has withstood jokes for at least half-a-century about how nobody watches it, which suggests it is perfectly designed to play to quarter-full grounds from May 17. Even those who do turn up tend to prefer their own company so much that they inventing social distancing long before anybody had even heard of the phrase.

Before van der Gugten and Douthwaite wrested attention, pre-match interest had centred upon only the second cricket meeting of the Root brothers, the previous being a Royal London Cup tie four years ago. “I’ve not seen him since September,” observed Billy, who has been locked down in Wales while Joe pushed his Test batting average towards 50 with impressive shows in Sri Lanka and India.

Reintroductions were made from third slip as Billy reached the wicket at 29 for 3. He fashioned Glamorgan’s early resistance with a workmanlike 43, and narrowly survived being run out by Joe on 38 when he pushed Fisher into the off side, chanced a single and was short of his ground when the throw missed the stumps. Coad eventually dismissed him, from around the wicket, leaving him for Jonny Tattersall to hold a low catch to his left. There was a flirty half-century, too, for Kiran Carlson, who seems to like a square drive.

Yorkshire will need to be more resourceful when they are up against it if their imagined title challenge is to materialise. The new-ball pair of Fisher and Coad can sustain them, but the captain, Steve Patterson, is 37 now, and Olivier must dream on days like this of the hot sun and fast, bouncy pitches of his native South Africa.

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps



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Recent Match Report – Kent vs Sussex Group 3 2021

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Confusion over elbow injury leaves Sussex captain Ben Brown shorn of options

Kent 145 and 220 for 3 (Crawley 85, Leaning 61*) lead Sussex 256 (Quinn 5-54, Gilchrist 3-51, Stevens 3-64) by 109 runs

We had to wait for our cricket on this third evening at Hove but one suspects we will remember it. Heavy showers delayed the start of play until five o’clock, by which time only 24 overs could be bowled. What we then saw and what we did not witness will interest the supporters of both teams and concern the England hierarchy as it prepares for a very hard year of international cricket.

Chief among the delights was the batting of Zak Crawley and Jack Leaning, whose 130-run fourth-wicket partnership should help Kent avoid defeat in this match, especially if tomorrow’s weather is as poor as has been forecast. Taking the gong for best supporting actor was the Sussex off-spinner, Jack Carson, who took Crawley’s wicket and whose engaging enthusiasm for his work was plain.

But, rather like the non-activity of the dog in the night-time, the studied quiescence of Jofra Archer standing at mid-on or deep midwicket with his hands in his pockets also commanded our attention. Archer did nothing except field a few balls today. On an evening when his team-mates were pulling their tripes out to take the wickets that might secure a much-needed win for Sussex, he effectively did nothing, although it was later disclosed by the Sussex coach Ian Salisbury that Archer’s sore elbow had prevented him adding to the five overs he had bowled on Friday evening.

Initially it was astonishing that Archer did not add to the brief spell he had bowled on Friday evening, especially as this is a game in which he is supposed to proving his match fitness in advance of an absurdly busy year. More disturbingly for Sussex supporters, it appeared that Archer’s county captain, Ben Brown, wanted his spearhead to deliver the second of the day’s 24 overs and had the briefest of discussions with him after Ollie Robinson had opened the bowling from the Cromwell Road End.

At the end of the chat Brown seemed to gesticulate towards Archer and called up George Garton from the slips. Sussex coach Ian Salisbury later disclosed that Archer’s long-standing elbow injury had prevented him bowling.

“I think there was some confusion over the state of his elbow,” said Salisbury. “Ben thought he was going to bowl but his elbow’s sore and so he couldn’t bowl. Regarding any other information about his elbow, it’s the ECB’s job to answer that. If he’s sore today, he’s not going to bowl tomorrow.”

Nevertheless, two further questions remain: if Archer had a sore elbow, why did the ECB allow him to field and risk further injury? And secondly, given that Archer has bowled a mere 18 overs in this game, how can he be risked in a five-day Test until he has proved his fitness, probably by taking a full part in a four-day county match?

When asked why Archer was on the field if he was not fit, Salisbury replied that both Archer and Brown “were desperate to win games for Sussex. Ben’s disappointment stems from the fact that one of his premier bowlers wasn’t available and we’re desperate to win this game against our local rivals”.



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Recent Match Report – Essex vs Derbyshire Group 1 2021

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Derbyshire 146 (Guest 49, Harmer 9-80) and 97 for 1 (Guest 56*) trail Essex 412 for 3 dec by 169 runs

A career-best Simon Harmer haul dragged Derbyshire into trouble at a rain-swept Chelmsford, as the visitors threatened to disappear down the gurgler in less than two days’ play. Essex have made all the running in their bid to beat both their opponents and the elements here, and only an improved showing second time around – underpinned by a maiden first-class fifty for the impressive Brooke Guest – kept Derbyshire above water going into the final day.

With the rain sluicing down on Thursday afternoon, Tom Westley, Essex’s captain, had looked out of the window and admitted winning would be a challenge. Scoring enough runs quickly while batting first, then taking 20 wickets in short order, that was the conundrum. “But I think the scripts that Essex generate for themselves over the last few years, you never know what’s going to happen,” he added.

Essex’s scriptwriters have truly been red hot in recent seasons, and no player has had his name in lights more often than Harmer. Nine Derbyshire batsmen were dazzled by his star wattage, as the plot for this match took a familiar turn; only Dan Lawrence’s dismissal of Billy Godleman on the second evening prevented a shot at all ten. “We try our best to create a bit of theatre around the bat,” Harmer said afterwards.

After being railroaded by Lawrence and Westley with the bat, Derbyshire were then mown down by the county game’s premier spinner coming the other way. So hapless was Derbyshire’s capitulation, the sight of an ACME anvil landing on one of the openers on the way out from the dressing room after they were invited to follow on would not have caused much of a stir.



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Recent Match Report – Glamorgan vs Yorkshire Group 3 2021

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Glamorgan 149 (Brook 3-13, Patterson 3-27) and 108 for 3 (Carlson 44*, Lloyd 40*) lead Yorkshire 230 (Root 99, Patterson 47*, Neser 5-39) by 28 runs

Joe Root moved inexorably towards his hundred with the precision of a ticking clock. An old-time image for an old-time innings. The world could do much as it pleased, nothing would change his tempo. Then, on 99, the clock stopped.

Root has 31 first-class hundreds, but only eight of them have come for Yorkshire. Even as a feted international player, one who bears an onerous responsibility as England’s Test captain, his desire to succeed for his county remains implanted. He would surely yearn for more.

Medium-pacer Dan Douthwaite, who seamed the ball back sharply between bat and pad, was the bowler who stopped time. What’s more, Douthwaite revealed, his teammate, Kiran Carlson, predicted it.

“It was weird how it happened,” Douthwaite said. “Kiran Carlson stood at mid-off two balls before and said I was going to get him out trying to dab it down to third man and he would chop it on to the stumps and he did. I was telling him at the time to go away and let me focus on my bowling. That is the first time I have had someone predict a wicket and it has actually happened.”

If Root didn’t quite manage the century that had seemed inevitable, he looked in good trim ahead of the New Zealand Test series. His superbly controlled innings gave Yorkshire a chance of victory. That’s if you don’t believe in weather forecasts – Sunday’s analysis suggests that these sides will be collecting draw points.

England’s IPL contingent have spent much of the past fortnight in quarantine while the likes of Root have benefited from an extensive programme of Championship cricket, albeit played in empty stadiums and in largely cheerless conditions. It has not been a cakewalk. Remove his century against Kent at Canterbury and he had made 114 runs in seven innings. That rediscovered rhythm had been hard-won.

That Root’s success has been far from automatic illustrates that bowlers have held sway and also points to the difficulties that even the most driven world-class player encounters when the prestige of a fixture diminishes and the pressure relents. Nevertheless, it also tells that this season’s Conference structure has not been a succession of mismatches that many anticipated. It is a format that is gaining popularity and makes the structure for 2022 a debate still to be won and lost.



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