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Recent Match Report – Essex vs Warwickshire Group 1 2021

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Warwickshire thwarted after reducing champions to 36 for 5, and face stiff run-chase

Essex 295 (Browne 68, Walter 66, ten Doeschate 56, Stone 4-89, Hannon-Dalby 4-73) and 213 for 9 (Harmer 62*, Lawrence 55, Miles 4-62) lead Warwickshire
284 (Briggs 66, Harmer 4-89) by 224 runs

In normal circumstances – well, circumstances in which Simon Harmer is not involved – you would think that Warwickshire had a decent chance of victory going into the fourth day of this game.

Certainly, in adding 91 for their final two wickets and then reducing Essex to 36 for 5, they had clawed their way back into this match. Even a final-day target of 250 or so doesn’t sound so intimidating for a side who chased down 333 against a Nottinghamshire side containing Stuart Broad only a week ago.

But such has been Harmer’s dominance over the last few years that, in his period at the club, the highest fourth-innings score made to beat Essex is two. With 272 wickets coming at a cost of 19.62 since the start of the 2017 season – and remember, he only played six games in 2020 – he is a giant of the modern county game. If Warwickshire win this game, they will have achieved something no county side has in denying him in a first-class run-chase. You suspect Hanuma Vihari‘s encounter with Harmer may be crucial.

Harmer may already have produced the defining performance of this game. His unbeaten 62 has been the highest score in Essex’s second innings and helped them rebuild from 93 for 6 when he came to the crease.

Warwickshire threw everything they had at him. And while Olly Stone inflicted a thumping blow to his helmet with a sharp bouncer, there was a determination about Harmer’s batting – a sense that Warwickshire were going to have to chisel him out rather than wait for him to play a loose stroke – that has exemplified the uncompromising nature of an outstanding Championship match in which the initiative has changed almost every time you sensed that one side or the other had played the decisive hand.

Harmer’s innings has been every bit as much about what he has not done as what he has. Noting that his colleagues perished by failing to play straight, pushing for the ball or hitting it in the air, he resolved to do none of those things. And while that reduced his scoring opportunities, he pulls and cuts well and is strong off his legs. There may have been moments when the bowlers thought they had the better of him but, with much of the pace having left this surface and the ball appearing to lose its menace after 25 overs or so, he was able to play the ball down so that even when his edge was found, he picked up runs down to third man. There’s nothing pretty about Harmer’s batting. But from an Essex perspective it really is quite beautiful.



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Recent Match Report – Kent vs Sussex Group 3 2021

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Fast bowler confirms bid for full fitness is back on track after fiery opening gambit at Hove

Sussex 51 for 2 trail Kent 145 (Leaning 63; Robinson 3-29, Garton 3-65, Archer 2-29) by 94 runs

When Jofra Archer last played a first-class match at Hove he was not a World Cup winner nor had he played in an Ashes series. The game took place in September 2018 and was memorable for the final first-class centuries of both Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell. Trott’s hundred satisfied the technicians; Bell’s pleased the aesthetes and brings them comfort still. Archer had played 10 IPL games for Rajasthan Royals and was plainly England’s next big thing. But his four late wickets against Warwickshire hardly disturbed the universe and certainly nobody gave a monkey’s what he did with his fish tank apart, one assumes, from the fish. The age of aquaria had not yet dawned.

That era is upon us now, though, and so Archer is perhaps fortunate that he is based in Brighton, where other-worldliness is an asset and where shredding your finger cleaning up after your piscine pets is something that could happen to anyone. Even more than Britain’s metropolises this city is a shrine to the outré and the baroque. Archer is thus an extraordinary cricketer in a city filled with extraordinary people and maybe he enjoys the camouflage, even if such concealment is not always available. The news that he had recovered sufficiently from a right-elbow injury to be named in Sussex’s squad for this game against Kent brought extra photographers and journalists to the County Ground and in the first half an hour of the day we could all see why.

In Archer’s third over Daniel Bell-Drummond was beaten for pace and bounce; the catch went very fast to second slip where George Garton made it look laughably easy. Next over, though, Archer over-pitched and Zak Crawley helped himself to four runs past wide mid-on. We settled down for a duel between a couple of England’s Test cricketers, only for it to end two balls later when Crawley could do nothing with sharp lift and movement off a length except nick the ball to Ben Brown.

“Usually I bowl to Zak n the [England] nets and I have done that quite a bit,” observed Archer when our day’s cricket was done. “Obviously, you’re never out in the nets so it was good to get him out here, with umpires.”



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ICC consider expanding T20 World Cup to 20 teams

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Change of attitude from governing body with shorter form seen as vehicle for growth

The T20 World Cup could be increased to include 20 teams as part of the ICC’s attempts to develop the game globally.

While the 2021 tournament, currently scheduled to be played in India, will still feature 16 teams, ESPNcricinfo understands there are plans to increase that number from the 2024 edition. Current thinking suggests that version of the event will feature four groups of five teams in its opening phase.

The ICC has long seen the T20 format as a vehicle for the game’s expansion and there has been previous talk of such an expansion. The ICC have already confirmed their plans to increase the number of teams in their women’s competitions.

But the move sustains a notably more inclusive recent approach from the ICC across formats. This is also likely to involve an increased number of teams (from 10 to 14) in the 50-over World Cup, a more positive attitude towards participation in the Olympics and talk of a return of the Intercontinental Cup (albeit with a different name).

It is, perhaps, the move to increasing the number of teams in the 50-over World Cup which provides the most revealing insight into the changing mood of the ICC. In recent years, the ICC cut the number of teams in the 50-over World Cup (from 16 in 2007, to 14 in 2011 and 2015 and 10 in 2019) arguing that broadcasters preferred the streamlined format with the probability of fewer one-sided games.

There is, however, understood to be a growing appreciation of the need to balance long-term global development with the monetary value of short-term broadcast deals. It may be relevant, too, that since the powers of the ‘Big Three’ were rolled back in 2017, the influence of other nations has grown.



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Recent Match Report – Middlesex vs Hampshire Group 2 2021

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Handscomb’s woeful form continues with first-ball duck after late-afternoon start

Middlesex 90 for 4 (Abbott 3-21) vs Hampshire

When the Lord’s media centre was still in its infancy, those working within were served tea and coffee in the most magnificent mugs – unbelievably tall, well insulated with a perfectly balanced handle and, best of all, decorated with a sketch of the building in celebration of its love-it-or-hate-it design.

Those mugs were solid too, with evidence suggesting they could survive numerous moves across the world (you were allowed to take just one as a souvenir, right?) until the inevitable happened.

After a long wait to begin their match, Middlesex started solidly enough against Hampshire, too. Play didn’t begin until 4.15pm after two false starts when the covers were removed and players began to warm up, only to be forced back inside the Pavilion when the rain returned.

Jack Davies, playing just his second first-class match and his first of the season after replacing fellow left-hander Max Holden in the hosts’ line-up, and Sam Robson saw their side into the 18th over as they worked their way to 33 without loss.

That was in the face of some class bowling from Keith Barker and Mohammad Abbas, who conceded just 16 from the first 10 overs without getting the rewards they were really after when Hampshire won the toss.

It was Kyle Abbott who cashed in instead with three quick wickets to shatter Middlesex, leaving them 90 for 4 at the close and the not-out Nick Gubbins and John Simpson with a serious mending task.

Abbott replaced Abbas from the Nursery End in the 14th over and, while Robson helped himself to a couple of boundaries in Abbott’s second, one of those was in fact very nearly a breakthrough for Hampshire when Robson sent the ball airborne towards point and rocketing through the hands of a leaping Tom Alsop.

It would have been spectacular had Alsop managed to pull it down, and perhaps it was a breakthrough of sorts because, a short time later, Abbott made good on the threat he had posed, drawing Robson forward on an off-stump line and finding an edge which went straight to Liam Dawson at second slip.



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