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A Week In Cricket
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Different ball game for the new generation

MAN IN THE MIDDLE

Reuben Spiring (Worcestershire)

Reuben Spiring is a sporting thoroughbred. His grandfather Gordon and father Peter both played professional football, for Bristol City among other clubs. Reuben played football too, until he won a sporting scholarship to Monmouth School. At that point this third generation athlete, while imbued with sporting genes, turned into something of a black sheep by adopting another eleven-a-side game.

He has an abundance of talent, scoring half-centuries in both innings on his first-class debut against Oxford University two years ago. He was forced to "gap" last season following a shoulder operation, but he is still only 21 and has already topped 700 runs with a couple of centuries in the current championship and he is also equipped with a couple of A's - Attitude and Application.

His single-mindedness to succeed at the game is striking. He gave up his degree course in Education after one year at Durham University. "The problem was that I was really keen to do well in cricket," he explained, "and while I was there I could see other people jumping over me. And anyway I'm not particularly bright."

Spiring had been offered terms by Worcestershire when he was 17 and all that has interested this right-handed batsman since is getting on in the game. He is a clean hitter and natural timer of the ball - evidence of that is a golf handicap of five.

"I asked our coach Dave Houghton if I should think about hooking and pulling and he told me that they are just two more ways to get out. And he is right," Spiring said. "I don't think I'm good enough yet to try them. Perhaps that is an aspect of my game I will work on in the winter.

"Getting runs is not all about looking brilliant and playing lots of shots. It is more a matter of finding an effective way of compiling them.

"Dave Houghton has taught me how to pick up runs without taking risks and at the same time keeping the scoreboard ticking over. You are looking to knock the ball into gaps and almost sneaking runs. Then when you get a loose ball you can put it away for four. I always back myself to do that.

"Right now I just want to reach 1,000 runs for the season, I'll be really disappointed if I fail. At the moment the one thing on my mind is weight of runs. I want to score enough to put my stamp on the game."

Golden arm (Bowling performance of the week)

Cardigan Connor (Hampshire)

Connor, in his 12th season at Southampton, is making something of a habit of career-best bowling performances against Gloucestershire. His previous best of 7 for 31 was made against them at Portsmouth seven years ago. This time around his last six wickets came in seven overs and his 9 for 38 was the best bowling by anyone this summer.

Hit man (Batting performance of the week)

Tony Cottey (Glamorgan)

Tony Cottey packs a huge amount of into his 64 inches. One of the finest fielders in the country and in Leicestershire's first innings he also showed he can do it with the ball taking a career-best 4-49. But he saved the best until Glamorgan really needed it. He pulled his side from a parlous 127 for 6 as he thumped a superb 203, helping his side avoid the follow- on.

Team of the week

1 *Graham Gooch Essex

2 Jason Gallian ...............Lancashire

3 Martin Speight Sussex

4 Ben Smith Leicestershire

5 Tony Cottey Glamorgan

6 Keith Brown Middlesex

7 Brendon Julian Surrey

8 David Cox Durham

9 Peter Such Essex

10 Cardigan Connor Hampshire

11 Devon Malcolm Derbyshire

Quote of the week

'I was in the dressing room when they played the "Winston Churchill Tapes". I realised I was the only one who heard them live, so I thought it was time to move on." Peter Lever resigns as England bowling coach.

Rain check

Hours lost to rain during the County Championship

1 Somerset 54.83

2 Lancashire 53.18

3 Gloucestershire 44.2

4 Sussex 41.86

5 Northamptonshire 40.7

6 Derbyshire 40.63

7 Durham 37.76

8 Warwickshire 34.96

9 Hampshire 34.9

10 Kent 33.97

11 Surrey 33.77

12 Middlesex 33.6

13 Glamorgan 32.69

14 Worcestershire 30.3

15 Essex 28.68

16 Nottinghamshire 24.99

17 Leicestershire 24.9

18 Yorkshire 17.65

Butter fingers

Colin Metson (Glamorgan)

It has been a difficult season for the tidy Glamorgan wicketkeeper, who has had to cope with the strong challenge of Adrian Shaw. Metson's first-day miss was uncharacteristic, but it let Ben Smith off before the Leicestershire batsman had got a single run towards his career-best 190, which left Glamorgan with a great deal to do.

Tales of the unexpected

Ken Palmer (Umpire)

At The Oval in the recent match between Surrey and South Africa A, Ken Palmer was forced to report the tourists - not the first time the authorities' attention has been drawn to the perceived poor behaviour of the talented side. The most bizarre occurrence came when one of the, unnamed, South Africans offered Palmer a bite of his Mars bar.

Passing through the other Grace Gates

AROUND THE GROUNDS

No 14: BRISTOL

Set high on the northern side of the city, there is an immediate impression of space on entering the ground. The grey stone buildings - the ground is surrounded by houses and the former Muller orphanage building which now forms part of the University of the West of England - which are predominant, have a soft tonal quality, off-setting the green of the large playing area.

As with many grounds the architectural nature of the County Ground is a farrago of styles and eras. A modern sports centre sits behind the late 19th century pavilion, which itself lies diametrically opposed to the Jessop Tavern, constructed in the late 1950s. At third man/fine leg at the Pavilion End is the most recent building, housing the scorers and press box, with public seating in front and off around the boundary towards the Ashley Down End.

This is the site of the other Grace Gates, through which spectators pass when coming in to the ground by the main entrance from Nevil Road.

It has been said that W G Grace was Gloucestershire, but others have graced a ground that has been sold, repurchased and sold again by the county. During the late 1960s and in the 1970s the exploits of another fine all-rounder saw the county dubbed Proctershire - in acknowledgement of Mike Procter, who captained the county from 1977-81.

Others, too, have excelled. Gilbert Jessop, commemorated by the Tavern, hit half a dozen hundreds which took less than hour. The incomparable Wally Hammond, who hit an unbeaten 302 against Glamorgan in 1934, and Tom Goddard, whose 17-106 match return against Kent in 1938 is still a ground record.

There is ample car parking to allow a goodly crowd to watch the modern generation and excellent catering facilities, including yet another source of fine bacon butties.

It's in the rules...

Law 32.3(b): Caught; ball still in play.

If a fieldsman releases the ball before he crosses the boundary, the ball will be considered to be still in play and it may be caught by another fieldsman. So Lancashire could consider themselves unlucky when Surrey's Brendon Julian, on 66, skied to Nick Speak, who tossed the ball back to Stephen Titchard after catching it, before his momentum carried Speak over the boundary.

Umpire John Holder was not convinced by this display of quick-thinking and, after discussions with his colleague, Kevin Lyons, ruled Julian not out. The Australian went on to make his maiden first-class hundred and Surrey went on to a comfortable win that took them to the top of the table.

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