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Recent Match Report – Essex vs Nottinghamshire, County Championship Division One, 2nd Innings

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Nottinghamshire 187 and 90 for 6 (Duckett 37, Harmer 4-32) lead Essex 241 (Browne 67, Fletcher 5-50) by 36 runs

When it came to losing things, the Chelmsford crowd took some beating. Public address announcements periodically crackled across the ground about mislaid wallets, members’ cards and even a hearing aid. An announcement about where to collect a lost hearing aid tends to be made more in hope than expectation.

As to who is losing the match, thanks to the bouncy excellence of Simon Harmer it increasingly appears to be Nottinghamshire, although this match has fluctuated so much it would be not be a complete surprise if they were given a reprieve and invited to collect it from the secretary’s office by Wednesday evening.

Notts’ first innings of 187 had been below par even allowing for searching batting conditions. Essex flirted with disaster at 158 for 8 before taking what appeared to be a priceless 54-run lead. Notts’ openers then wiped off the arrears with misleading ease, only to crumble to 90 for 6 by the close. Their lead is only 36.

The architect of that Notts collapse was Harmer, who on another sunny Chelmsford evening revived memories of those heady days in June 2017 when he took 28 wickets in two matches, against Warwickshire and Middlesex, fielders crouched around the bat in expectation, as he lit the fuse on Essex’s first title win for 25 years.

Harmer is fun to watch when batsmen are floundering to contain the turning ball. He possesses show as well as substance: white sunnies gleaming, shirt hanging out and bounding hither and thither, and hands outstretched at one point in his jaunty delivery stride as if he is the Pope attending the masses. Essex have felt blessed in the Championship from the moment he arrived.

Notts followed an opening stand of 70 by losing six wickets for 16 runs in 11 overs and Harmer’s part in that was a spell of 4 for 3 in 21 balls. From the moment Ben Duckett‘s ambition to hit him over the top failed with a slice to deep mid-off, he was in his element.

Duckett’s fellow opener, Ben Slater, was lbw on the back foot, next ball, to Jamie Porter. Harmer then found big turn to have Joe Clarke caught at first slip off inside edge and thigh; and Steven Mullaney and Samit Patel fell to the classic offspinner’s dismissal at short leg. Ryan ten Doeschate’s first catch was little more than a sighter; his second, to dismiss Patel first ball, was a cracker as he dived sharply to his left. The nightwatchman, Matt Carter, came out with more than six overs to bat and was leg before to Peter Siddle by the close.

“The wicket was turning so it was nice to be able to throw the ball out wide and know that I was always in the game,” Harmer said. “It has been a while since I have played on a Chelmsford wicket like that. It is good to have those feelings and memories.

“I think we always knew it would turn but we didn’t think it would turn that much. The turn is quite quick still which is good for me.”

Increasingly, this match has developed into a battle of the offspinners. Luke Fletcher, the indefatigable Notts seamer, deserves better than to be overshadowed after returning 5 for 50, the fifth five-wicket haul in his first-class career, but on a pitch that as Harmer indicated has developed over the second day from slightly troublesome seamer to raging turner, it is Carter who must pull off something special in response. First, he needs something to bowl at and much of the onus rests with the overnight pair of Chris Nash and Tom Moores.

Few bowlers approach the crease as sedately as Carter. He walks up to the line with an air of caution, as if not entirely sure that his 6ft 6ins frame can muster a bound without doing permanent damage to himself, but he finds decent loop for such a big man and finished with three first-innings wickets.

Essex threatened more than that 54-run lead. They were sitting pretty at 78 for nought, Alastair Cook and Nick Browne in good order, before they lost their first wicket. Stuart Broad had never played a Championship match at Chelmsford, but he had the satisfaction of wearing down Cook into reaching outside off stump to be caught at slip; Sir Alastair’s angry swish of self-admonishment suggested that knighthoods had been rescinded for less.

Tom Westley unveiled a couple of midwicket clips, but was distinctly unfortunate to be adjudged lbw to Broad as he tried to work him through square leg. Fletcher’s fortitude began to pay dividends: Dan Lawrence driving at a wide one, Rishi Patel undone by a decent ball that left him and ten Doeschate falling to a leave-alone.

Browne’s first half-century for eight Championship matches took him past 5,000 first-class runs, although not quite as quickly as he would have anticipated when some judges, Cook for one, presented him as an England prospect. He had given Essex some solidity, but his mistimed cut at a short ball from Carter left the tail with a rescue job, five wickets lost for 23 in 46 balls.

Harmer and Siddle provided it in an irrepressible ninth-wicket stand of 81 in 23 overs, Carter’s threat negated. “We were haemorrhaging wickets when me and Siddle came together and we needed to stop the bleeding,” Harmer said. “We played and missed a hundred times but we didn’t nick them.”



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Recent Match Report – Loughborough Lightning vs Lancashire Thunder, Women’s Cricket Super League, 25th Match

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Loughborough Lightning 123 for 2 (Jones 66*) beat Lancashire Thunder 122 (Glenn 3-25, Gunn 3-14) by eight wickets

England wicketkeeper Amy Jones made her second half-century of the competition as Loughborough Lightning eased to an eight-wicket victory over Lancashire Thunder in their Kia Super League clash at Trent Bridge.

Watched by a crowd of more than 3,000 ahead of Nottinghamshire Outlaws’ game against Yorkshire Vikings in the Vitality Blast, opener Jones hit eight fours and a six in her unbeaten 66 as Lightning, already through to next Sunday’s Finals Day at Hove, saw out a sixth win in seven matches with 23 balls to spare.

Thunder, who have lost eight of their nine matches to finish bottom of the KSL table, have one more chance to register a first win when they take on Surrey Stars at Blackpool on Wednesday, having picked up their only points in a tie with Southern Vipers.

Vipers provide Lightning with their final league stage opponents at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday evening in which looks set to be a rehearsal of their likely semi-final meeting at Hove.

“I’m pretty happy to have been able to contribute,” said Jones. “I’ve been a bit quiet since the first game so I’m so pleased to have scored some runs today.

“It’s the first time I’ve played at Trent Bridge so it was pretty cool to make a score here. A lot of people came in early to watch, which was fantastic and it really felt like they were behind us. We’ve picked up some momentum going into the back end of the season and hopefully it holds us in good stead for Finals Day, so we’re really excited.”

Legspinner Sarah Glenn and England allrounder Jenny Gunn finished with three wickets each as Thunder were bowled out for 122 inside 20 overs, Sophia Dunkley top-scoring with 29. South African Sune Luus made 27 but Thunder’s other overseas players, Tahlia McGrath and Harmanpreet Kaur, were out in single figures, the latter for a first-ball duck.

Thunder had made a solid start after winning the toss and electing to bat, reaching 39 for one in the Powerplay overs. Glenn made a breakthrough for Lightning when she bowled Australian opener McGrath for five but Dunkley clubbed six and four off Jo Gardner’s medium pace in the sixth over.

Luus, having picked up three fours while the fielding restrictions were in place, lofted Gunn over the short straight boundary but when she attempted something similar in the same over was well caught by Georgia Adams, who made good ground to get under the ball at long-on.

Glenn then dealt Thunder a major blow when she bowled Indian star Harmanpreet for a golden duck and the Derby-born leggie claimed her third wicket when she held a return catch to dismiss Ellie Threlkeld to finish with 3 for 25 from her four overs, raising her tally in the tournament to nine wickets.

Thunder needed Dunkley to add to her two sixes but when she lost her leg stump to Gunn for 29 in the 12th over to leave her side 70 for five in the 12th over, their best chance of posting a competitive total seemed to have gone, although a lively partnership between Alex Hartley and Natalie Brown added 25 for the last wicket before the latter was run out off the penultimate ball of the 20th over.

The experienced Nottingham-born Gunn finished with three for 14 in front of her home crowd, while Gardner claimed her maiden KSL wicket when Ria Fackrell was stumped by Jones.

It was Jones who then set the pace for the Lightning chase, hitting 23 off as many balls as the Loughborough side kept exactly in tune with what was required by taking 39 without loss in the powerplay.

Thunder made a breakthrough in the 10th over, breaking the Jones-Atapattu partnership when offspinner Emma Lamb held a low return catch to dismiss the Sri Lankan for 26, but new batter Adams swept her first two balls for four and six as Lightning moved to 73 for one at the halfway stage.

Adams was caught at deep midwicket in the next over as Hartley and Brown put a temporary brake on the scoring but Jones then profited from sweeping Lamb before completing a 44-ball half century in the 14th over with Lightning needing only 25 from 38 balls.

Jones finished the match in style, lofting Hartley over long-on for six off the first ball of the 17th over.



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Somerset part company with chief executive Andrew Cornish

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Somerset are understood to have parted company with their chief executive, Andrew Cornish.

Despite an apparently successful season – Somerset retain hopes of completing a treble and have sold out every one of their home T20 Blast games – the club are concerned about a projected shortfall against their upbeat financial predictions.

At the start of the year, the club anticipated profits of £600,000 (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization). In recent weeks, however, that has been downgraded to the extent that they may struggle to break even.

Somerset have declined to confirm or deny the news. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Cornish who only joined the club at the start of the 2018 season.

Cornish’s departure leaves the club in something of a flux at the top level. The chairman, Charles Clark, recently died meaning they are currently without a permanent chief executive or chairman.

Cornish’s predecessor, Lee Cooper, lasted less than a year in the role meaning the club are looking for their fourth chief executive within two years.

There is no sign of such turbulence on the pitch, however. Somerset, having won the Royal London Cup in May (their first trophy since 2005), are currently second in Division One of the County Championship and have a decent chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the T20 Blast. They have never won the County Championship title.



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‘If you provide good pitches, Test cricket cannot be boring’ – Sachin Tendulkar

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Test cricket can be more exciting if it is played on good pitches, former India batsman Sachin Tendulkar has said, calling the surfaces the format’s “heart” and key to its revival.

Tendulkar cited the surface used for the Ashes Test at Lord’s last week as an example, especially the competitive phase of play between Steven Smith and Jofra Archer.

“The heart of Test cricket is the kind of surface that you play on. If you provide good pitches, cricket cannot be boring, cricket cannot be damp, and [there will always] be those exciting moments, exciting bowling spells, great batting, and that is what people want to see,” Tendulkar said.

Tendulkar felt the duel between Archer and Smith, which included a nasty bouncer from the fast bowler that struck Smith on the neck, got viewers hooked and made Test cricket thrilling to watch.

“Smith got injured unfortunately, that was a big blow to him but Test cricket was exciting when Jofra Archer challenged him, it suddenly became exciting and the focus shifted to Test cricket.

“At Lord’s, they lost almost a day and half, but the Test match got exciting even on the last day when England picked [up] those wickets and Australia had to survive. Test cricket suddenly became exciting and that is how it should be.”

Following the World Cup, teams have turned their focus to the inaugural World Test Championship, which started with Australia taking on England in the Ashes.

“People almost kind of forgot that four-five weeks ago, there was World Cup being played in England, nobody is talking about that, everyone is talking about Test cricket,” Tendulkar said.

Tendulkar, who is the highest run-scorer in Tests with 15921 runs from 200 Tests, emphasised the need to prepare “interesting tracks” to revive interest in the longest format.

“I think Test cricket is going to revive if we produce interesting tracks, but if the tracks are flat and dead then Test cricket is going to find its challenges. I know this World Test Championship has been announced but even to have this World Championship, you’ve got to make cricket interesting, just by having another championship, cricket is not going to get interesting.

Tendulkar also stressed on the art of leaving and defending the ball while heaping praise on Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne. After his defiant 59 at Lord’s coming in as Smith’s concussion substitute, he made a well-crafted 74 and 80 at Headingley, pulling Australia out of trouble on all three occasions.

“I have been watching a little bit of Ashes and I thought someone like Marnus Labuschagne has left the ball brilliantly, which is something that you don’t get to see in Test cricket. Normally you tend to glide those balls to third man and pick [up] a single. But the kind of surfaces they are playing on, if you steer the ball you go to the dressing room.

“You need to leave those balls or defend solidly. And the guys who have not been able to do that, they have been watching the game from the dressing room.”



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