Anderson in line to bowl historic ball at Old Trafford

James Anderson, the Lancashire and England fast bowler, could bowl the first delivery in first-class cricket at Old Trafford from the “new” Pavilion End.

Lancashire may not have been done any favours by the England management over player availability in the early weeks of the season, but their milestone match against Nottinghamshire in the first week in May – the first in the County Championship at Old Trafford since the square was re-aligned at the end of the 2010 season – has been given a sprinkling of stardust.

It will be Anderson’s only county appearance before the start of the summer’s Test series against West Indies and South Africa, and he will line up against a Notts team who will definitely include Graeme Swann and Samit Patel, and could also be boosted by the return of Stuart Broad.

Swann has been cleared to play in two Championship matches in May, Patel will be back in action this week as he aims to strengthen his claim to the contentious number six position, and England hope that Broad will be fit to return “in early May” after being denied permission to take up his Indian Premier League contract because of his calf strain.

There will also be a couple of high-profile visitors to Aigburth in the next two weeks. Monty Panesar has been cleared to play for Sussex when Lancashire launch their Championship defence on Thursday April 12, and the following week Ian Bell will begin his bid to regain form and confidence when Warwickshire head for Merseyside – although Jonathan Trott will still be resting.

Matt Prior will join Panesar in the Sussex team when Lancashire travel to Hove the week after the Notts game, meaning that there will be no shortage of high-calibre opposition in the first five matches of the season.

Lancashire have still to name a squad for their season’s opener against Sussex, but Kyle Hogg has put off an operation to have his wisdom teeth removed to ensure he can have a first bite at sharing the new ball with Glen Chapple.

Posted in Andy Wilson, County cricket, England, Featured Articles, James Anderson, LVCC1, Lancashire | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

The Cricketer announce Yorkshire Tea as National Village Cup sponsor

The Cricketer is delighted to unveil Yorkshire Tea as the 2012 sponsor of the National Village Cup, which will be known as the Yorkshire Tea Village Cup.

The Harrogate-based family tea merchants join a proud list of former sponsors that include npower, Alliance & Leicester and most recently Persimmon. Brand Manager Kevin Sinfield was pleased to add Yorkshire Tea to the competition’s illustrious roll call of commercial partners.

He said: “Every cricketer knows you can’t have a proper cricket match without a proper cricket tea, so Yorkshire Tea is very proud to be sponsoring the 2012 National Village Cup.

“We can’t wait to see how the tournament unfolds and we’ll be making sure all the teams taking part have the opportunity to enjoy a proper brew.  The battle to reach Lord’s is going to be thrilling and we are delighted to offer village cricketers the chance of a lifetime to play at the home of cricket.”

“We’ve had a connection with the game since the day cricketers first appeared on our packs over 30 years ago. These are really exciting times for cricket and now is the perfect time to deepen our involvement with clubs across the country.”

Now in its 40th year, the summer-long knockout tournament offers cricketing minnows the chance to compete in a nationwide competition that culminates in a September showpiece final at Lord’s. It is the only sporting event in the world that provides such a genuine Roy of the Rovers experience for its 3,500 likely participants.

Magazine Editor Andrew Miller – an active cricketer himself – summed up the new partnership within its widest cricketing context. “Most club cricketers tend to judge their opponents by the quality of the tea they lay on. And seeing as a strong Yorkshire is a strong England, I can’t think of any alliance that will better serve such an invaluable part of the English summer.”

Publishing Director Andy Afford was also thrilled to secure the support of the company whose mandate is to create a ‘proper’ brew. “All through the negotiation, we felt that the brands were a perfect fit. There’s always a good reason for the tea urn to be on at a cricket match and we are excited to be activating the sponsorship for the Yorkshire Tea Village Cup with Kevin and his fantastic team.”

The last word belongs to Mike Cassidy, the captain of 2011 champions Woodhouses CC, who said: “It’s a fantastic competition with a dream prize – to take your own club to play at Lord’s. We were based in the England dressing room and were looked after like kings. Lifting the trophy was incredible but I’ve also got to mention the food – it was the best cricket tea I’ve ever had. I’m normally a sandwich and cup of tea man – but with sea bass, roast beef and then homemade Bakewell tart on offer, I couldn’t turn it down!”

The competition starts on April 22 and is entered by approximately 300 village cricket clubs from England, Scotland and Wales with teams competing in 32 regional groups. The group winners enter a national draw that culminates in a final at the Home of Cricket on September 9.

For more information, contact…

Jim Hindson jim.hindson@thecricketer.com

David Currie david.currie@thecricketer.com

Editor’s Notes

Launched in 1971 by The Cricketer, the world’s biggest-selling cricket magazine, the National Village Cup is still run by staff on the title. In 2011 the winner was Woodhouses CC from Lancashire, the club where Mike Atherton played as a teenager. This year, to commemorate the 40th anniversary, the MCC will be hosting a gala dinner in the Long Room for finalists, sponsors, officials and guests.

The Cricketer magazine, thecricketer.com website and Test Match Sofa are owned by TestMatchExtra.Com Ltd.

Posted in Club, Club cricket, Featured Articles, Features, The Village Cup, Village | Comments Off

Peters takes philosophical view into veteran status

Stephen Peters, the Northamptonshire opener, has started his 17th year in the game delighted to be actively involved following a back problem that forced a premature end to last season.

“I missed the last two games at the end of last year because of a bulging disc,” said Peters. “l’ve had back problems for ten years but not that particular injury before. It left me flat on my back for a couple of weeks and it has taken a long time for me to recover although I was fortunate that I had the winter to rest. By the start of this season I was fit and raring to go.”

An early opportunity to test his recovery came with selection for the MCC in the fixture against county champions Lancashire in Abu Dhabi. “I was delighted to get the chance. We were really well looked after, the practice facilities were really good, the weather was great, we had a tough match and, all in all, it was a really good trip.” he added.

“I managed to get 32 in the first innings and then 28 but in the second innings, but I was batting in the twilight period which is notoriously difficult. I batted for nearly a session in both innings so it was good to get some time in the middle.”

Northants’ own start to the county season was less than auspicious with a 202-run defeat at Derby but the former Essex and Worcestershire opener is hopeful that, by the end of the campaign, his team will overcome the frustrations they have experienced in recent years.

“In two of the last three Championship seasons we’ve missed promotion by a point and hopefully, this year, we’ll finally get that promotion spot,” said the 33-year-old. “We’ve got some good young players coming through together with some experienced cricketers, it’s a nice blend and it’s by far the tightest-knit dressing room that I’ve been in over my whole career. We enjoy each other’s success and help each other when we’re struggling.

“Overall life’s good and I’m looking forward to the season but, don’t get me wrong, it does have its tough times. The low scores or the bad run of form comes along and you think that it’s the end of the world.

“I’ve been in that situation several times and, when you are younger, you get really worried about things. I get less fazed by it now when it happens because I’ve learned during the last five or so years that, particularly as an opener, you will have low score periods because that’s the nature of opening the batting.

“It’s not nice when it happens. You just have to pick yourself up, keep your chin up and keep working as hard as you can in the nets. I’m a massive believer that if you put in the work and the time off the field, then even when you are in that low trough of form things will turn around.

“That’s the way I’ve worked for the past few seasons and I’m sure I’ll be doing that again at some stage this year.”

Posted in County cricket, Northamptonshire, Paul Hiscock | Tagged , , | Comments Off

Brave Pyrah left to reflect on life’s ups and downs

While helping to look after his new twin daughters, Richard Pyrah will have plenty of time to reflect on life’s highs and lows during the next few weeks.

The Yorkshire all-rounder missed the county’s pre-season trip to Barbados in order to be present at the twins’ birth, but just when he must have thought all was well with the world he suffered a badly-broken left hand in the opening match against Kent.

It was only last season that Pyrah shook off his tag as a one-day player, and with Tim Bresnan being awarded a central contract he could have expected to continue as a regular in the four-day side.

The next game, against Leeds/Bradford MCCU, will give Yorkshire the opportunity to examine their options, and while there is no obvious replacement as an all-rounder, bowling will be the priority. The next LV County Championship is also at Headingley, against Essex starting on April 19, and if a similar pitch is prepared Yorkshire will need more firepower.

After his side amassed 537 for nine, Kent skipper Rob Key said: “That was one of the best pitches I have played on in Championship cricket and the groundstaff deserve a medal for preparing one like that in April.”

Whether the Yorkshire bowlers would agree is another matter, and Pyrah went wicketless in 19 overs before suffering his injury in the field on the second morning.

Yorkshire resumed the final day on 326 for six needing 72 to avoid the follow-on and 13 overs later Pyrah walked out to bat sporting a plaster cast with nine wickets down and 32 required to make Kent bat again.

He watched from the non-striker’s end while Iain Wardlaw added eight runs and then lost his off-stump to Charlie Shreck attempting a one-handed shot to the first ball he faced.

New coach Jason Gillespie felt Pyrah’s bravery had inspired Yorkshire to go on and save the match, saying: “I’ve seen the X-ray and it’s pretty horrific, so for him to make that commitment just shows what sort of guy he is.

“Our guys were on a bit of a high seeing the crowd give Rich the applause he thoroughly deserved and it certainly didn’t hurt us going into that second innings. The guts he showed were phenomenal and it’s what we’re about. It’s about going out there and getting stuck in, even when it’s tough.”

The match was also a triumph for Mark Davies, making his Kent debut after seeing his career with Durham wrecked by injury. He shared a record ninth-wicket stand for Kent against the Tykes, contributing 58 to the partnership of 153 with Matt Coles.

Davies made only one half-century in 105 first-class innings for Durham, scoring 62 against Somerset at Stockton in 2005.

After taking only two wickets in the previous two seasons, he then opened up with a three-wicket haul in Yorkshire’s first innings and had century-maker Jonny Bairstow dropped at second slip by ex-Durham colleague Ben Harmison on 24.

Davies also had Joe Root dropped by Geraint Jones early in Yorkshire’s second innings so, like Pyrah, he had cause to reflect on life’s ups and downs.

Posted in County cricket, Featured Articles, Kent, LVCC2, Tim Wellock, Yorkshire | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

Wainwright fizzing after leaving Yorkshire “bubble”

This may be a good time to ask David Wainwright if he feels he made the right move in leaving Yorkshire for a fresh start with Derbyshire.

Having passed up the option of a further year at Headingley because he wanted the chance of regular first-team cricket, the 27-year-old left-arm spinner was a match-winner on his Derbyshire debut with a career-best six for 33 in the second innings of their opening LV County Championship match against Northamptonshire at Derby.

Wainwright decided it was time to leave Yorkshire midway through last season when he dropped to third in the spinners’ pecking order behind Adil Rashid and Azeem Rafiq.

Having taken such a big step, the dream start to his new career with Derbyshire was, he said, better than he dared hope for.

“I didn’t imagine that happening at the start of the week,” he said. “I would have been happy to just pick up the odd wicket here and there and get a few runs but to finish it on a day like that was unbelievable.

“I knew before I came here I would have to do well with my batting if I was to play in early April because I probably wouldn’t be bowling many overs. Up and down the country some spinners haven’t bowled in the first game, so to get 53 overs in is a good sign of things to come at Derby, I think.

“It was a great feeling. I was quite fortunate to get the fifth but I toiled for a long time and to sneak the sixth out there and get a personal best out of it is excellent.

“I was just trying to bowl good areas and bowl tight, then mix it up now and again to get the batsmen driving out of the rough because I’m fortunate we had Mark Footitt and Ross Whiteley bowling left-arm over to create a lot of rough for the right-handers.”

Wainwright admitted that it was tough to leave the county of his birth but said he felt he had no choice. “Yorkshire is possibly the one county where it’s so difficult to leave if you are from there. You are in your own bubble there,” he added.

“It was a tricky decision but it came to the point where I had to do it for the sake of my career. In hindsight, I might have taken the decision two or three years earlier but you want to give it a good go there and I felt like I’d done that and had to take that leap.

“I felt like I’d tried enough for long enough at Yorkshire and it was time to try elsewhere.”

Posted in Andy Wilson, County cricket, Derbyshire, Featured Articles, LVCC2 | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Familiar problems for Rhodes and Worcestershire

Worcestershire’s director of cricket Steve Rhodes has identified the familiar shortcomings of too few runs and insufficient back-up for seamer Alan Richardson for the defeat by Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in their opening County Championship match.

After bowling out Nottinghamshire for 118 on the first day, Worcestershire were unable to capitalise as they were dismissed for 130 themselves and then frustrated by a second innings century from Riki Wessels.

Richardson, who took 73 wickets last season, fought a lone hand with five second innings wickets before skipper Daryl Mitchell, who made his first century in two years, and Moeen Ali shared a third wicket stand of 174 in Worcestershire’s spirited run-chase.

“It was a good effort to bowl them out on the first day but I don’t think we capitalised on it with the bat. “I thought they bowled and fought back really well. Credit to Notts for their fightback,” Rhodes said.

“If you look at the three disciplines which we always tend to do to pick the pieces of whether we have gone right or wrong then we have only had two guys get 50 in 22 guys going to the crease.

“That’s a little bit disappointing on the batting front. We are looking to get at least four or five guys with runs to do well in a game.

“Added to that with the ball Alan Richardson was very good once again but on that second day when we needed to make inroads, of the four seamers he was probably the only one who really came to the party.

“If we had taken our chances in the field on that day, when we dropped a couple of chances, it could have been a different game. Ultimately we were not quite on our A Game and I think it showed. We came second best and Notts deserved their win.”

Moeen’s dismissal, caught behind for 94, on the third evening also proved a turning point as it came just before the second new ball was due. From wondering where their next wicket was coming from, Nottinghamshire took four for 18 and Worcestershire’s victory chances had disappeared.

“He [Moeen] was a little bit loose. He had played ever so well, but he knows that and we have spoken about it,” Rhodes added.

“We have identified very important times when you are batting. There’s never a good time to get out batting. There was a new ball coming up and it was crucial that Moeen and Daryl were together with the new ball rather than new guys going in to bat and exposing them a little bit. But that’s what happened and it cost us four for 18.”

Worcestershire’s batsmen will have the chance to find form this week as all of them will play in the first-class friendly against Oxford MCCU in The Parks which starts on April 13.

“Even if they had scored more runs than they scored at Nottingham we had already made the decision to play the batsmen because the last thing we wanted to do was to halt their form. We wanted to keep it going,” Rhodes said.

Worcestershire will rest Richardson and probably also fellow seamer David Lucas which will give a chance to Jack Shantry, who was twelfth man at Trent Bridge. Nick Harrison, a 22-year-old seamer from Bath who played four one-day matches last season, is likely to come into consideration for a first-class debut.

Posted in County cricket, LVCC1, Paul Bolton, Worcestershire | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

New regulations light up the County Championship

The third verse of the Book of Genesis reads: “And God said, Let there be light and there was light.” Although not quite having the same authoritative powers, the ECB have issued a similar mandate this season, allowing floodlights to be used in County Championship cricket for the first time.

For many years cricket-watchers have become accustomed to white-ball cricket being played under artificial lighting but the prospect of uninterrupted play in the four-day version will now delight players and spectators alike.

Before the start of the season those counties that have their own permanent pylons were asked if they wished to be granted permission to switch on their lights whenever the conditions warrant it.

One county that were very much in favour were Nottinghamshire, who have already seen the benefit. Their opening Division One match against Worcestershire was uninterrupted and ended on the fourth morning.

However, for three hours on the second day, for part of the first and last sessions on the third day and for the final morning the floodlights were on, bringing a positive result to a match where there wouldn’t have been one in the past.

“The lights certainly worked in our favour in this match,” said Mick Newell, the Nottinghamshire director of cricket afterwards. “It probably won’t always be like that of course but we think it’s a great idea. There’s nothing worse for the paying spectator than sitting in a ground where there’s nothing going on and it’s not raining.”

His opposite number, Worcestershire’s Steve Rhodes, is also in favour. “Unfortunately we haven’t got permanent lights at New Road but it’s enabled a match to go ahead here and we’re all in favour of that. The Trent Bridge lights are very good anyway.”

Derek Brewer, Nottinghamshire’s chief executive, explained the new ruling. “In mid-March we were asked by the ECB whether we wished to be able to use our lights. The choice was either to use them when conditions warrant it or not use them at all.

“There isn’t the facility to pick and choose games – it’s either all or nothing. We reasoned that the lights wouldn’t need to be used that often and if it enabled the cricket to continue then it would be for the good of everyone connected with the game.”

Brewer and his club are fully supportive of the initiative. “This summer, in particular, cricket has to really compete to attract spectators to the grounds. With the Olympics and the European Football Championships providing an alternative we have to do everything we can to attract people to the cricket and keep them coming back.”

Despite having six powerful floodlight towers lighting up Trent Bridge, Brewer says the cost isn’t prohibitive. “It isn’t too expensive for a full day’s usage and the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.”

In theory, then, play should never again be suspended at Trent Bridge due to deteriorating light. Nor is it particularly good news for the manufacturers of the ‘light-meter’ – the object of more derision and abuse inside grounds than a bad decision, a dropped catch or a reckless stroke.

The ECB handbook covering the new regulation, meanwhile, simply says: “If in the opinion of the umpires the natural light has deteriorated to an unsuitable level they may authorise the home authority to switch on the floodlights so that the match can continue in acceptable conditions.”

Posted in County cricket, Featured Articles, LVCC1, LVCC2, Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Lamentable Durham students shown up by Stokes

Durham University’s second innings total of 18 against Durham at Chester-le-Street was the lowest score in English first-class cricket since Surrey were routed for 14 by Essex at Chelmsford in 1983.

Prior to that it is necessary to go back a further 61 years to find a lower total than 18, Hampshire making 15 at Edgbaston in 1922.

The previous lowest first-class total against Durham was 58 by Somerset at Riverside in 2003, when Shoaib Akhtar and Neil Killeen did the damage.

Although it was overcast and there was some moisture in the pitch after several days without sun, the students’ lack of application was lamentable with the four extras exceeded only by Rishab Shah’s score of seven.

They batted a man short with one of their better players, Luke Blackaby, who has played for Kent seconds, being recorded as absent hurt.

Ben Stokes, who at 20 is younger than some of the students, thrashed 93 off 70 balls in the first innings, hit six sixes in again top scoring with 65 off 45 balls in his second knock, and completed the rout by taking four for three in four overs.

Durham’s head coach, Geoff Cook, said: “Durham University have been really strong in the past and these things are cyclical. We don’t see the others, but I gather some of them are quite strong. It’s good that they are still supported by the MCC, but they are continually reviewing the situation.”

He added: “This will have no relevance at all in terms of how the other counties view us.” Durham won last year’s game by an innings and 44 runs and yesterday’s margin was 373 runs. They declared at their overnight second innings total of 193 for seven and it was all over in 77 minutes on the third day.

Posted in County cricket, Durham, Tim Wellock | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Adams urges caution after impressive Surrey start

Chris Adams is wary of setting unrealistic targets for his Surrey team despite seeing them make an impressive start on their return to Division One of the LV County Championship.

Surrey’s team director enjoyed his first Championship win against his former county after they wrapped up victory by 86 runs on the final day at The Oval.

Despite only winning promotion by a single point last season some bookmakers have installed Surrey as title favourites and it is not hard to see why given the strength of their squad, yet Adams is counseling caution.

“It’s a great start and I feel there is a lot more to come from the individuals in the team,” said Adams. “But let’s not get carried away. Sussex are the benchmark for us in terms of Division One because they always play as hard and competitively as they can so it’s a great win for us.

“But I haven’t looked any further ahead than the four Championship games we have scheduled in April. We’ll reassess then.”

Jon Lewis wrapped up the victory with the final two wickets as Sussex were bowled out for 255 despite a superb 108 from left-hander Luke Wells, but Adams believes it was the batting of Tom Maynard and skipper Rory Hamilton-Brown earlier in the game which made the difference.

“The positive way they played typifies the exciting, aggressive cricket we like to play,” said Adams. “It gave us enough runs to be able to have attacking fields in their second innings and keep the pressure on.”

Adams hopes wicketkeeper Steve Davies will be available for the next Championship game against Middlesex at Lord’s after he returned home from England’s tour of Sri Lanka.

Posted in Bruce Talbot, County cricket, LVCC1, Surrey | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Waters effort recalls Walker’s 1956 feat: Andrew Hignell

Maundy Thursday saw a dramatic start to the LV=County Championship season in the East Midlands with twenty wickets tumbling at Trent Bridge, while a few miles to the south at Leicester fifteen wickets fell on the first day of the contest at Grace Road between Leicestershire and Glamorgan.

Indeed, the game at Leicester began in sensational fashion as Huw Waters, Glamorgan’s probing new ball bowler, nearly started his Championship season with a hat-trick with his first three deliveries.

The mayhem began as firstly Gareth Rees took a superb catch at short-leg to send Greg Smith straight back to the pavilion, before next delivery the 25 year-old bowler trapped Jacques du Toit lbw. as he propped half-forward.

A scoreboard reading 0 for 2 and a hat-trick looming was an inauspicious way for Ramnaresh Sarwan to make his Leicestershire debut, but the vastly experienced West Indian survived the hat-trick before scoring Leicestershire’s first run of the season as he clipped Waters to wide mid-on.

Had Waters secured a hat-trick, it would have been the second time on the ground that an innings had started with wickets falling from the first three deliveries, as this is precisely what Alan Walker did on Monday June 25, 1956, when opening the bowling for Nottinghamshire in Leicestershire’s second innings.

The Australian trapped Gerry Lester leg before with his first delivery, before hitting Maurice Tompkin’s off-stump with the second and having Gerald Smithson caught behind off the third as Leicestershire plummeted to 0 for 3.

The 30-year-old left-arm pace bowler had also taken the last wicket of Leicestershire’s first innings, so he completed a remarkable sequence of four wickets in four balls, besides posting a feisty fifty before his second innings efforts which culminated in figures of 5 for 75.

Walker’s efforts with both ball and bat helped Nottinghamshire secure a comprehensive nine-wicket victory more than half a century ago, but as far as the 2012 contest at Grace Road was concerned, Glamorgan were not so fortunate as they subsequently slipped to a 52-run defeat.

Visit http://www.cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/22/22059.html to see the scorecard of the match in 1956 between Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

Posted in Andrew Hignell, Statsman, Talking cricket, The Blog | Tagged , , , | Comments Off