I recently saw an article which claimed that professional cricket is becoming more and more of a young man’s game but, during July, some of the county game’s senior citizens have refuted such an assertion by producing some stellar performances.
In the LV=County Championship match at The Oval on July 20, Surrey’s Mark Ramprakash scored his 1000th run of the first-class season during a magnificent innings of 248 against Northamptonshire. It was the 112th century of his glittering career and the 40 year-old, who made his county debut way back in April 1987, has now scored more than a thousand runs on no less than twenty occasions. In fact, he has not failed to pass 1,000 runs since 1998 – a season when he was just 21 runs short of this landmark!
Ramprakash might be the last man to achieve the feat of passing 1,000 first-class runs on as many as twenty occasions. You can see details of his fantastic season-by-season record by visiting http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Players/1/1989/f_Batting_by_Season.html
On Sunday, July 31, meanwhile, Robert Croft – the 40 year-old Glamorgan spinner – claimed the first hat-trick of his illustrious career as he sealed victory for the Welsh county by ending their Championship match against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham with three wickets in successive balls. By his own admission, the haul of Vikram Banerjee, Gemaal Hussain and Steve Kirby may not muster amongst the finest of batsmen to be dismissed by the off-spinner, but his feat saw the off-spinner claim Glamorgan’s first hat-trick by a spinner since Don Shepherd achieved the feat against Northamptonshire at Swansea in 1964, and the club’s first in the Championship since 1997.
This achievement came just ten days after Croft had taken his 1,000th first-class wicket for Glamorgan and as he wittily reflected after the county’s victory at Cheltenham: “These great moments are a bit like London buses at the moment – you wait for ages and then they eventually come along in twos!”
The past few weeks have also seen some canny bowling and clever captaincy by Dominic Cork – a spring chicken at just 38 years old – who has led the Hampshire Royals to Finals Day of the Friends Provident t20. The former Derbyshire, Lancashire and England all-rounder has taken thirteen wickets in the competition this summer and has rarely been clobbered by the opposing batsmen as his economy rate of 6.72 testifies.
Cork was to the fore in the quarter-final against the Warwickshire Bears at Edgbaston on July 26, conceding just 25 runs in his four overs, the most economical return on the Royals side, and his reward is now a semi-final tie with Essex on August 14 – a week after his 39th birthday – and a chance to produce another headline-grabbing performance on a day which could become memorable for another one of cricket’s golden oldies.