Veteran allrounder dedicates 190 to late father as he turns on the style
Darren Stevens, Kent’s veteran crowd-pleaser, revealed how his Kent team-mates joked about how he had waited for spectators to return before ending a lean run of form to play one of the finest innings of his 25-year county career.
Stevens, whose 190 from 149 balls against Glamorgan made him the oldest man, at 45 years and 21 days, to hit a first-class century in England for 35 years, also admitted that the memory of his late father, who died last year of a Covid-related illness, had still affected him during games this season.
On a week when limited numbers of spectators have been allowed into county grounds, Stevens said: “It was good just to get bums on seats, it feels like a proper game now, whereas the last year or so, I know they’ve been first class games but it’s not felt the same, it’s felt a little bit like a pre-season game.
“The lads said to me ‘Oh, the crowds come in and you show up, don’t you!’ I’ve had six, eight innings where I’ve not really got any runs. To get 190 is just remarkable really and I’m just pleased I’ve got us into a good situation.”
Kent were 128 for 8 on a day when gusts of winds touched 50kph but Stevens’ assault took them to 307 and it was enough for their captain, Sam Billings, to make a speech after the day’s play about his impact upon the county’s cricket.
“There were a couple of words flying around like ‘freak’,” he said. “It’s nice. ‘Bilbo’ has just done a nice little speech. I’ve played a few knocks like this, there’s a few young faces, newcomers to the side that have not seen me play as well and there were a few rumours flying around about how I do play, so they’re just really pleased to see it and I’m pleased to perform and get us in a great position.”
Stevens expanded more about his tactics as he bludgeoned 15 sixes – one below the all-time English first-class record – and 15 fours in a ninth-wicket stand of 166. His batting partner, the West Indian Miguel Cummins, blocked for 1 from 55 balls in that time, but helped himself to a cathartic pulled four after Stevens’ dismissal to finish with 7 from 61.
“We were in a tough situation,” Stevens said. “We got into a bit of a routine, a bit of a rhythm, it actually worked quite well for a few overs and I’ve probably got us into quite a good situation. I tried to use the wind as much as I could because it was tough out there. I tried to use it to our advantage.
“As long as I got it aerial, I thought the wind would take it with it when I was batting at the Pavilion End. When I was at the Nackington Road End it was a little bit different because they were bowling wider. I played one when I tried to flick it leg side and I got dropped at slip, I think, and then I thought about hitting the sight-screen and I thought if I can hit the sight-screen and they come straighter then fine. It was a game of two halves really.”
Stevens, although one of the most committed trainers around, accepts that occasional injuries are part and parcel of his career in his mid-40s.
“I’ve had a bit of a niggle, it’s been a bit of a pain in my left hamstring so I’ve been struggling to get forward but since the Sussex game I’ve had a good four or five days off when I’ve not done anything and I’ve rested it a little bit, so I felt a little bit better yesterday in the nets.”
Stevens’ father died in a care-home last summer, and the memory has stayed with him. “The old man, I’ll tell you, I don’t shy away from stuff like this… like the game up at Northants, I got pretty emotional, I had to pull out a few times.
“You know I miss him, we all miss him, having a bench down here and having a coffee with him every morning, but yeah he’s looking down on me and he will be for a long time.”
David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
George Bailey named chairman of selectors of Australia men
Trevor Hohns steps down having served collectively on the selection panel for 21 years
Hohns steps down having served collectively on the selection panel for 21 years – 16 as chairman – across two periods from 1991 to 2005 and 2016 to 2021.
“Firstly, I would like to thank Trevor for his incredible work which has helped shape the success of Australian cricket over a long period, including during my days as a player and captain,” Bailey said.
“In what can be a challenging job Trevor has always been calm, consistent and approachable. Similarly to his journey, he has made my transition from player to selector as smooth as possible. There is a lot I will take from Trevor’s style and very much look forward to the journey ahead.”
Hohns’ first period as chairman from 1995-2005 involved a period of huge success for the national team which included the 1999 and 2003 World Cup victories plus the record run of 16 Test wins.
“The game has been great to me and I have loved every minute of it, from the good times to the bad,” Hohns said. “I have been extremely fortunate to be involved with some of the greatest Australian teams of all time and many of the best players to have played the game.
“The successes of the side over the years have been great but I remember my time just as much for the wonderful people you work with and those you meet along the way. It has been an amazing journey for me, but all things come to an end. I am happy with my decision.”
Ben Oliver, Cricket Australia’s head of national teams, paid tribute to Hohns’ service to the game and the qualities of his successor.
“The impact Trevor has had on Australian cricket has been unparalleled over a long period of time,” he said. “For someone to have played such an integral part in so many incredible eras is a feat few, if any, ever achieve.
“The role of national selector is one of the most scrutinised in Australian sport and Trevor has performed it with great strength, judgement and humility. We will miss his experience but respect his decision to take a step back from the game and are grateful for his stewardship.”
“George is a highly respected leader who is now well established on the NSP alongside Justin as the head coach,” he added. “He has brought recent playing experience with a deep understanding of the game, an open and collaborative style and a desire to keep improving the selection function.”
Oliver also confirmed a third member of the selection panel would be appointed in the coming months.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Invincibles vs Supercharger 13th Match 2021
Lynn makes run-a-ball 48, and Roy bats through for 53 not out, in low-scoring dogfight
Northern Superchargers 128 for 4 (Lynn 48, Brook 47*) beat Oval Invincibles 127 for 6 (Roy 52*, Curran 34*, Rashid 3-13) by six wickets
Brook no argument
Brook was knocked off top spot in the Blast’s run charts in the final rounds of the group stage and looks determined to ensure the same fate will not await in the Hundred. He played crucial hands to keep their first two games – against Welsh Fire and Trent Rockets – alive, and at the third time of asking, dragged them home with the night’s most fluent innings, a cool-headed 47 not out off 30 balls.
He was circumspect against Sunil Narine, rightly recognising him as the Invincibles’ main threat, but was confident in taking down Curran and Tabraiz Shamsi. He scored runs all around the ground, sweeping firmly but also hitting down the ground, through point and through extra cover, and batted with immense control to keep the required rate in check throughout.
“There wasn’t many runs on the board so me and Lynny were just trying to knock it round and take the dangerman out of it,” he said. “It’s nice to win, especially in front of a home crowd with a few Yorkshire lads playing. I’ve said a lot of times I want to be a match-winner and that’s a good example of it there.”
It is a sign of England’s white-ball depth that Brook – described by Mark Butcher as a “beefed up, modern version of Joe Root” – did not make their second-string ODI squad earlier this month. Given his control and range of shots against both pace and spin, he is certain to win wider recognition – either internationally or in franchise tournaments – before long.
Invincibles’ slow start … and middle
Invincibles opted to bat on the assumption that the pitch would only get slower, but they eked out only 18 Powerplay runs, the fewest in the men’s competition to date. The openers managed six between them before Will Jacks nicked Brydon Carse behind, and pinch-hitter Narine’s leg-side thrash off Matty Potts was the only boundary in the first 25 balls as the Superchargers’ seamers kept their lines tight to cramp the top order for room.
Narine came up against his biggest weakness – back-of-a-length high pace with no width – but managed to get two further blows away when the fielding restrictions lifted, twice slapping Carse over the leg side before holing out off Mujeeb Ur Rahman for a useful cameo of 22 from 11 balls. The value of Narine’s innings became increasingly clear as the innings wore on: between the 33rd ball (Narine’s dismissal) and the 79th, the Invincibles failed to hit a single boundary as the spinners took over.
Rashid had Colin Ingram caught on the cover boundary, Potts bowled Sam Billings as he backed away to cut, and Rashid struck in consecutive balls when Laurie Evans picked out deep midwicket and Dane Vilas held onto a blinding slip catch to remove Jordan Clark. With Tabraiz Shamsi, a genuine tailender, carded at No. 9, Curran was forced to consolidate alongside the scratchy Roy, who repeatedly stared at the pitch in disbelief after balls stuck in the surface.
The Roy-Curran show
At 72 for 6 off 78 balls, the Invincibles were deep in the mire, but some lusty late-innings hitting dragged them up towards a par score. Roy evoked the innings played by Alex Hales – his long-time England opening partner – in the Superchargers’ last completed game, gritting out 25 from his first 34 balls before slog-sweeping Mujeeb over the leg side, while Curran hit consecutive boundaries through midwicket before a sumptuous, checked straight drive flew down the ground for six.
David Willey missed his length at the death, hitting the slot with each of the innings’ final three balls and was thumped for six, six and four as Roy cut loose at the last. The final boundary brought up his half-century, a hard grind that took 43 balls, and the unbroken 67-run stand in 42 balls for the seventh wicket helped them towards something they thought they could defend.
While the Hundred’s double-header structure this year has done great things for the women’s game in terms of greater crowds and exposure, an unintended consequence has been a number of slow-burning men’s matches on slow, used pitches. This was no different, with neither side able to hit boundaries regularly.
Lynn was particularly slow-burning, top-edging a six off Saqib Mahmood when Billings opted to reward his early dismissal of Willey with a second consecutive set of five balls but otherwise struggling to find the rope. He eventually holed out to Evans at wide long-off, opting to attack the final ball of Narine’s spell, leaving a tricky equation of 31 off 20 balls.
But the Invincibles struggled to cope with the greasy outfield as the chase wore on, a result of the rain earlier in the day, and were sloppy in the deep to help the Superchargers turn several ones into twos. Mahmood’s nightmarish drop of Simpson with 26 needed off 15 was particularly criminal, not least when Simpson sliced Curran for four through third man and then slogged him down the ground for six to seal the win, standing open-armed in celebration as the Superchargers completed their first win.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
Recent Match Report – Supercharger vs Invincibles 13th Match 2021
Allrounder anchors innings before contributing to tigerish defence of low total
Northern Superchargers 109 for 8 (Davidson-Richards 42) beat Oval Invincibles 105 for 4 by four runs
Their 109 for 8 looked below par despite a sluggish pitch, with Davidson-Richards top-scoring with 42 off 30 balls having been inserted.
She was then brilliant in returning 2 for 17 from 20 balls with her pace-off seamers, defending 10 off the last five as the visitors finished on 105 for 4.
A bowler-dominated game went the hosts’ way as they made it three wins from four and consigned the Invincibles to their first defeat in three.
The Invincibles only really fell behind during the second half of their chase, and Mady Villiers failed to hit the last ball for six as the Superchargers went top of the table.
The more recognised offspin of Villiers and seam of Grace Gibbs and Tash Farrant also contributed two wickets apiece for the Invincibles.
The Superchargers slipped to 78 for 6 after 75 balls, though Davidson-Richards recovered with five fours.There were no wides or no-balls bowled by the Invincibles.
South African Laura Wolvaardt made 27 off 26 balls, sharing 38 for the third wicket with Davidson-Richards as they advanced from 28 for 2 after 30. Capsey had Wolvaardt caught behind and Bess Heath caught and bowled with the 58th and 60th balls to make it 66 for 4.
The teenager then opened the batting in the reply and was dropped on two at mid-on by Heath. Superchargers got the wicket late in the powerplay when Capsey miscued a catch to backward point off Davidson-Richards’ seam for eight to make it 20 for 1 after 22 balls.
Georgia Adams hit back-to-back boundaries off Katie Levick shortly afterwards. But when she was caught at long-off against the same bowler for 26, the Superchargers had a sniff at 45 for 2 after 48.
Linsey Smith had England’s Fran Wilson caught at mid-off – 65 for 3 after 64 – and Davidson-Richards was miserly as the target became a testing 40 off 30 balls with Sarah Bryce and captain Dane van Niekerk together. That target later became 23 off 10 before van Niekerk hit Smith for three successive boundaries to swing the pendulum.
Davidson-Richards, however, had Bryce caught at long-on for an innings high 29 with the penultimate ball to delight the 6,737 crowd. Liz Russell also contributed as she conceded only 14 runs in 20 balls.
The Invincibles were missing two of their three overseas players, with Marizanne Kapp and Shabnim Ismail out with injuries.
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