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County Championship/Bob Willis Trophy 2021

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Post by Duty281 Wed Mar 31, 2021 3:45 pm

First topic message reminder :

Starts in eight days time on the 8th of April, so we may as well have a thread for it. It's another revised structure for this year, with two trophies up for grabs: the County Championship and the Bob Willis Trophy.

The 18 counties have been split up into three seeded groups:

Group 1: Derbyshire, Durham, Essex, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire
Group 2: Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Somerset, Surrey
Group 3: Glamorgan, Kent, Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Sussex, Yorkshire

Counties will play every group opponent home and away - a total of ten matches. After ten matches, the top two teams in each group advance to Division One. Teams finishing 3rd and 4th go to Division Two. Teams finishing 5th and 6th go to Division Three.

In the division stage, each county will play a total of four more games. They will not, as far as I'm aware, play again against their initial group opponents. For instance, if Essex and Warwickshire make it through to Division One, they won't play each other in the division stage, just the top two from groups two and three.

After these four extra games, the team that is top of Division One will be classed as the County Championship winners. The County Championship winners will then play the team that finished second in Division One in the five-day final to determine the Bob Willis Trophy winners.

The group stage will run from April-July. The division stage will start late August and conclude in September. The final is set to be played from the 27th September-1st October (the ECB know it rains and gets dark then, right?).

I can't say I'm a fan of this format, to be honest, as the County Championship trophy has been relegated in stature, but I hope it all works out well.

With SkyBet, defending champions Essex have been installed as favourites at 5/1 to win the Bob Willis Trophy. Perennial runners-up Somerset are the second favourites at 13/2, then Yorkshire at 7/1. Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Kent a bit further back at 9/1. Forum favourites Surrey at 12/1. No-hopers such as Durham, Glamorgan and Leicestershire way out at 66/1.

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Post by king_carlos Mon Apr 26, 2021 6:40 pm

I really like the conference system. It gives every county the chance to win at the start of the season which should allow a more even spread of players as well. If we are to continue with 18 first-class counties this is the model I by far prefer. Though I too agree with Soul that it's too many games. A minimum of 10 FC games a summer for each county with a max of 12 for the stronger performing counties in each summer is a better balance.

Quality over quantity is the key.

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Post by Duty281 Wed Apr 28, 2021 3:20 pm

sirfredperry wrote:Could be that this format is better than the two divisions where some of the cricket in Div 1 is ultra cautious as everyone is afraid of relegation.

Weather forecast looks a bit iffy for later this week but at least three rounds of matches have been played in sunny conditions.

Watched quite a bit of the last day at Edgbaston. Yates looked very good.

Do try to read the Notts last-day report on Cricinfo. Some purple prose.

Cricket writing tends to be stronger than coverage of other sports. Speaking of which here's a good article about the quest to 1,000 runs before the end of May.

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2021/apr/28/wg-grace-don-bradman-race-to-1000-runs-before-end-may-cricket

Weather does look awful for this set of matches. Might be difficult to have any positive results this weekend.

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Post by Duty281 Thu Apr 29, 2021 1:37 pm

Hameed out for a duck this week. Mark Wood picking up a wicket in the second over of his return for Durham.

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Post by sirfredperry Thu Apr 29, 2021 6:07 pm

Bowlers mainly on top today and some of the run-glut teams/players having to come down to earth.

Alastair Cook, though, is bucking the trend with his 68th hundred at Worcester.

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Post by Duty281 Thu Apr 29, 2021 8:20 pm

Yeah, it's been a bowler's day in about half of the games. Some of the scores I thought we'd be more likely to see at this time of year turning up - Derby 86/8, Warwickshire 87ao (not bad from 30/8!), Hampshire 92ao, Kent 138ao. That said, Middlesex and Sussex got over 300, and Essex and Leics have been barely troubled by the ball.

Wood got 3/28, C Overton continues to pick away with 2/54 and ten maidens, and Burns notched up another 50.

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Post by king_carlos Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:13 pm

Of course Darren Stevens got Labuschagne out the day before his 45th birthday. Stevens for the NZ series with Stokes missing...?  Whistle

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Post by Duty281 Fri Apr 30, 2021 3:37 pm

Stevens has a five-for now! Batting average around 45 for the season, bowling average around 20. Aussies won't know what's hit 'em when he gets on the plane.

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Post by Soul Requiem Fri Apr 30, 2021 4:15 pm

Stevens is the ultimate troll, looks like he's got another season or two left in him now. Wonder if he wishes he made the switch to bowling earlier?

Hameed with another fifty, going at a decent lick too to show he can play some shots. Burns and Pope in the runs too for Surrey against an on paper good Hampshire attack. Zak Crawley yet to score any meaningful runs for Kent could see his place under threat.

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Post by king_carlos Fri Apr 30, 2021 6:59 pm

I think it was Rob Key who initially saw Stevens forcing nick after nick in the nets bowling with a new ball and decided to let him open the bowling. A very shrewd call in the end. Kent absolutely capitulating after that five-fer though.

Hameed fell 6 short of a third century of the summer sadly. Another good innings though.

87 for Ben Duckett as well which is nice to see after a very lean start to the summer for such a good player. I sometimes feel his talent warranted a longer Test run but being parachuted in against Ashwin and Jadeja did for his confidence for a while it seems.

Good to see Liam Livingstone straight back in with Lancs after returning from the IPL. Though he got a duck today I do think there's a talented red ball player there even if his white ball prowess has taken the forefront.

Does anyone know if Matt Parkinson had a niggle yesterday or just wasn't landing them? Livingstone bowled 25 overs whilst Parkinson only bowled 9. Livingstone was much more economical so it could have been tactical but still seems odd.

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Post by sirfredperry Fri Apr 30, 2021 7:03 pm

Hameed close to three hundreds in four innings. I think most batsmen would settle for a nought if it was surrounded by two hundreds and a ninety.

Some strange scores today. Mountains of runs at The Oval, for instance, and some tumbling-wickets matches elsewhere.

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Post by Duty281 Fri Apr 30, 2021 9:08 pm

Yeah Kent were bowled out for 74 in their second innings, meaning they lost 19 wickets for 124 runs. Like how Glamorgan set about their chase of 19 - one opener played out a safe maiden, then the other smashed 19 off 8 balls to win.

Most of the other games look pretty one-sided, but Yorkshire-Northants is heading for a close finish, with Yorkshire leading by 19 and three wickets down in their second innings, while Somerset-Middlesex is pretty even at the moment.

As noted, another good effort from Hameed, and another ton from Pope.

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Post by sirfredperry Sat May 01, 2021 7:26 pm

Looks as if Middx will manage to lose to Somerset AGAIN after being in a winning position.

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Post by Duty281 Sat May 01, 2021 9:06 pm

Notts won their first county game since 2018, smashing Derby by 310 runs. Broad 4/37 in the second innings. Durham also won by a boatload, Wood picking up a few but getting outshone by Raine, Carse and Rushworth. Roach's 8/40 got Surrey a first win.

Three close games that could go either way going into Sunday:

Northants 94/4, needing another 126 to beat Yorkshire. Numbers 8, 9 and 10 for Yorkshire contributed over 100 with the bat in the second innings.

Lancashire 124/2, needing a further 129 to win against Sussex. Lancs collapsed horribly in the first innings, so they'll know it's far from over.

And Somerset 104/4, needing another 103 to win against Middlesex. Middlesex took two late wickets to possibly tip the balance, including that of night-watchman Jack Leach.

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Post by sirfredperry Sun May 02, 2021 4:47 pm

Thrilling finish at Headingley where Yorkshire squeezed home by ONE RUN to beat Northants who were chasing 220.

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Post by JDizzle Sun May 02, 2021 5:16 pm

38 and 41* on debut from Lewis Goldsworthy to guide Somerset home. Well batted fella.

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Post by Duty281 Sun May 02, 2021 6:00 pm

That is an amazing finish between Yorkshire and Northants. It was a really good ball as well, from Patterson, to take the final wicket.

Good win for Somerset, too, able to repel Finn and Murtagh. And ex-England opener Jennings had a starring role as Lancs held their nerve to beat Sussex.

After four games, nearly halfway, the picture isn't clear as to who's going to make Division One. Lancashire and Yorkshire have built up a solid lead over the rest in Group 3, they should both get through from their current standing. Somerset/Hampshire/Gloucestershire are the tightly congested leading trio in Group 2, with Surrey not out of it. And only three points separate Warwickshire/Durham/Notts in Group 1, while the remaining three of Worcestershire/Derby/Essex are still in contention.

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Post by guildfordbat Sun May 02, 2021 8:44 pm

Another victory for Gloucs! Even though Leics have been the whipping boys of the county game for a while, Gloucs had no right to win this one after trailing by 146 first dig.

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Post by Duty281 Sun May 02, 2021 9:27 pm

Wow, that's an amazing chase. 348 in 78 overs is incredible, especially considering they were 52/3 at one point. 16 no-balls helping them along the way.

Puts Gloucs in command of Group 2.

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Post by JDizzle Thu May 06, 2021 11:49 am

TRJ having a knee operation today, that will keep him out for an extended period. He really can’t catch a break.

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Post by Duty281 Thu May 06, 2021 1:32 pm

Most of the batting sides making solid starts. But not Sussex. Sussex are 25/7, against Northants.

Only eight fixtures this round, as Durham and Derbyshire are not playing. Unsure why, but the symmetry of the fixture list starts to fragment from here.

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Post by JDizzle Thu May 06, 2021 3:48 pm

Hampshire 79 all out vs Somerset. Bizarre how the wheels have just totally come off their batting in the last two rounds.

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Post by Duty281 Thu May 06, 2021 9:38 pm

Notts have got the taste of victory from last weekend and eagerly want more - they bowled Essex out for 99, Fletcher with 6/24, and then racked up 188/4 to leave that game as all but over. Presuming Essex don't come back from here, it'll only be one win from five for them, and they'll be struggling to make Division One, a position that seemed unthinkable at the start of the season.

And another strong day for Ollie Robinson - 4/31 as he tore into Northants. Not enough tearing, admittedly, to reverse Sussex's diabolical start, but more notice for the England selectors.

Craig Overton also keeping his England hopes alive with 2/16 for Somerset today as they rolled out Hampshire.

Overton currently has 27 wickets @ an average of 14 and a SR of 37. Robinson has 24 wickets @ 13 and a SR of 29.5.

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Post by guildfordbat Thu May 06, 2021 10:53 pm

Duty281 wrote:Notts have got the taste of victory from last weekend and eagerly want more - they bowled Essex out for 99, Fletcher with 6/24, and then racked up 188/4 to leave that game as all but over. Presuming Essex don't come back from here, it'll only be one win from five for them, and they'll be struggling to make Division One, a position that seemed unthinkable at the start of the season.

And another strong day for Ollie Robinson - 4/31 as he tore into Northants. Not enough tearing, admittedly, to reverse Sussex's diabolical start, but more notice for the England selectors.

Craig Overton also keeping his England hopes alive with 2/16 for Somerset today as they rolled out Hampshire.

Overton currently has 27 wickets @ an average of 14 and a SR of 37. Robinson has 24 wickets @ 13 and a SR of 29.5.

Fletch is a massively popular figure on the county scene with players and supporters alike and rightly so. A very effective bowler who always gives it everything.

Meanwhile, Gloucs staying under the radar but also keeping their taste for victory. They dismissed Middlesex for 210 at Lord's. Only blemish was the run out of skipper Dent to end their reply tonight on 19/1. Subject to the weather gods, seems there'll be a positive result.

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Post by sirfredperry Fri May 07, 2021 7:14 pm

Awful inevitability about Middx cricket at the moment. The batting collapses, the inability to knock over the opponents' tail, the failure to hold on to good young players, the slide into mediocrity.

Having said that, the county championship has been gripping so far. There have been England players on view and a number of young players have come to the fore. There have been fine finishes, too. The pity is that when crowds return there will be no four-day cricket for many weeks.

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Post by Duty281 Fri May 07, 2021 7:36 pm

C Overton had another top day. 3/24 with the ball, preceded with a 74 with the bat, as Somerset close in on a comfortable win over Hampshire. Certainly doing all he possibly can for an England recall.

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Post by JDizzle Fri May 07, 2021 8:17 pm

Sussex used 9 bowlers in their match vs Northants. Always love to see that.

Somerset also had 9 players make double figures vs Hampshire - only Lammonby and Davey letting the side down.

My other note is a word of praise for Ben Sanderson of Northants. He has 7 wickets in the match vs Sussex, and he has 250 FC wickets at an average of 21! He was Shropshire's Minor Counties pro around 2014/15, and in his mid 20s it perhaps looked like he would never get another gig. But incredible perseverance to carve out an exceptional county record.

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Post by Duty281 Fri May 07, 2021 8:56 pm

Should also note James Anderson who took 3/40 on his return for Lancashire.

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Post by king_carlos Fri May 07, 2021 9:34 pm

Duty281 wrote:C Overton had another top day. 3/24 with the ball, preceded with a 74 with the bat, as Somerset close in on a comfortable win over Hampshire. Certainly doing all he possibly can for an England recall.
In his brief England chances I felt that Overton's height and the sort of bowler that makes people expect him to be worked against him. He's a big bloke who can get steep bounce but primarily his success has come as a very good seam bowler. His stock delivery his full enough to still threaten the stumps, he's very accurate and moves the ball off the pitch. Similar to Ollie Robinson. Both remind me of Angus Fraser a bit at times.

If Overton is recalled or Robinson given a debut I hope they are instructed to bowl those lengths that have brought them success rather than banging it in shorter because they are tall. We've seen it happen with Archer to an extent due to his pace and height. When Jof pitches it up, then uses his yorker and bouncer as a change up he's lethal

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Post by JDizzle Fri May 07, 2021 10:06 pm

https://www.cricviz.com/ollie-robinson-englands-secret-weapon/

This was an interesting read on Ollie Robinson from CricViz. You can see Craig Overton’s numbers too if you hover over some of the graphs.

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Post by guildfordbat Sun May 09, 2021 12:41 pm

Gloucs escaped most of the bad weather yesterday and Duty's radar to register another win! This time by 7 wickets against Middlesex at Lord's. David Payne the star of the show with career best match figures of 11/87.

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Post by guildfordbat Sun May 09, 2021 5:10 pm

The wonderfully named Felix Organ and my man Keith 'Ronnie' Barker defending resolutely for Hants and making Somerset, COve and JDizzle work hard for their win at Southampton.

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Post by JDizzle Sun May 09, 2021 5:43 pm

Ronnie is making squeaky bum time indeed for Somerset, need Leach to come to the party on what is technically still a Day 3 wicket. There was some turn this morning when I was watching though.

Haynes 87 and Barnard 76* have done enough to secure another draw for Worcs vs Warks.

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Post by JDizzle Sun May 09, 2021 5:57 pm

JDizzle wrote:Ronnie is making squeaky bum time indeed for Somerset, need Leach to come to the party on what is technically still a Day 3 wicket. There was some turn this morning when I was watching though.

Haynes 87 and Barnard 76* have done enough to secure another draw for Worcs vs Warks.

A successful jinx!

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