MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Jason Gallian (Lancashire)
Strange how often record-breakers claim to have been unaware of approaching milestones before they pass them. Lancashire's unflappable opening batsman Jason Gallian insisted this was so at Old Trafford last Friday, when he established not only the highest individual score made at the Manchester ground but outlasted by some distance the longest first-class innings ever compiled.
Gallian, blessed with a patience exceedingly rare these days in men of 25, confessed to knowing that 311 was a significant number - Bobby Simpson's score against England in 1964 - but was not aware that his 670 minutes at the crease was of consequence. "I just wanted to bat for as long as possible," he said.
He has been setting out to bat as long as possible ever since he set foot on an English field to play Championship cricket two years ago, the second innings of his debut against Surrey (171) lasting eight hours and 20 minutes. Two months later, he dug in against Derbyshire at Blackpool, again defying all bowlers for more than eight hours in making 118, during which he completed the slowest century in the competition's history, spanning 453 minutes.
Although Lancastrian stubbornness evidently courses through his veins, Gallian has a somewhat irregular background. Although his family hails from the Manchester area, he was born in Sydney, his father, Ray, having left the north-west to try his entrepreneurial luck Down Under in 1965.
He attended the Australian Academy in Adelaide from 1990 to 1991 and captained Australia under-19s. But there was always a dream in his father's imagination that the boy would walk out for Lancashire and England. Ray kept contact with the club, and with Jack Simmons in particular, and when Jason decided to seek qualification it was natural he would want Lancashire to see the benefit.
Gallian broke a finger on his Test debut last season, played in one further Test at home and then stood in for his injured county colleague John Crawley against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in December, having been drafted in from the England A tour in Pakistan.
His progress this year has been interrupted by another broken finger, but if one thing can be guaranteed it is that Gallian has the patience to wait for another chance.
Golden arm (Bowling performance of the week)
Paul Taylor (Northants)
Last Tuesday, in a held-over Sunday League game, Paul Taylor dismissed Michael Vaughan, Michael Bevan and David Byas in the space of 18 balls only for Northamptonshire to lose, so his team-mates owe it to him to finish off Middlesex today, the left-arm paceman's unstinting efforts having gained career-best match figures of 11-104.
Hit man (Batting performance of the week)
Karl Krikken (Derbyshire)
You might have expected Derbyshire's fidgety wicketkeeper to wobble a little in sight of his maiden century but if this was so he hid it well. Given a sniff at Old Trafford on Saturday he straight-drove Steve Elworthy for six, which not only brought up the personal milestone but also saved the follow-on and broke a 74-year-old partnership record.
John Morris (Durham)
When you are in such a sorry state as Durham are at the moment, the last thing you need is to let Graeme Hick off just when the troubled batsman is finding his form. It was John Morris, at third man, who had to apologise at Worcester after allowing the England man to survive on 77. Hick went on to a match-winning 150.
Tales of the unexpected
Darren Bicknell (Surrey)
Some say Surrey cannot win the Championship because they have no top- class spinner. Perhaps they have found one however, in the Bicknell who bats, Darren's occasional slow left arm having returned remarkable figures of 3 for 7 and 3 for 41 in the win over Sussex, his match return equalling what had, before this season, been his total wickets.
The distinctive flavour of a bygone period
AROUND THE GROUNDS
No 11: Scarborough
No devotee of cricket nostalgia should allow a year to pass without one visit to the North Marine Road ground at Scarborough, which retains a mystical atmosphere in which one can easily imagine oneself transported back to the immediate post-war years.
Apart from the size of the crowd - holidaying Yorkshire audiences of 20,000 were not uncommon once - little has changed since the 1950s, when the West Stand was added to the elevated vantage points on the northern face. The popular banking on the eastern side and the Trafalgar Square end terrace have stood since the Victorian and Edwardian eras, along with the pavilion, built in 1895.
The town itself, perched imperiously on cliff tops, is similarly blessed with old-fashioned charm and elegance, and the backdrop of terraced guest houses around the ground is much as it was at the turn of the century, save for the addition of television aerials and fire escape staircases.
Lunchtimes afford the opportunity to sample local cuisine at any number of fine fish and chip shops nearby, or else settle for a pie and a pint at the open-air eastern terrace bar, where spectators can imbibe at leisure and not miss a ball.
Other distinctive features include the scorers' room and press box, rising from the terraces behind the arm at the northern end, which cost pounds 250 in 1903, since when local reporters have gained much amusement each year as vexed visitors fail to locate its cunningly hidden entrance.
Somerset are the guests at this week's mid-summer fixture but it is the Festival Week in September for which the ground is most famous, an occasion usually reckoned to have begun with the visit of MCC in 1875.
It's in the rules...
Law 16 (6): Intervals for drinks. Strictly speaking, drinks intervals have to be agreed in advance and timings adhered to, with no more than one per session, none exceeding five minutes and none to be taken in the last hour of a match.
Normally, these are the only occasions when drinks appear, although when Jack Hobbs completed his 126th first-class century in 1925, equalling the record of W G Grace, he sipped champagne at the crease.
The players were at least prepared for this, unlike those at Taunton in 1946, who watched in amazement as a lady carrying a filled picnic basket crossed the field. It was the last day of the match and the lady, who had followed the same route to deliver her husband's tea on the first two days, was unaware that the interval was at a different time.
Team of the week
1 Paul Weekes Middlesex
2 Jason Gallian ...............Lancashire
3 Graeme Hick Worcestershire
4 Graham Thorpe Surrey
5 *Phil Simmons Leicestershire
6 Anthony McGrath Yorkshire
7 Chris Tolley Nottinghamshire
8 Karl Krikken Derbyshire
9 Peter Hartley Yorkshire
10 Paul Taylor Northamptonshire
11 Simon Brown Durham
Quote of the week
'I take my cue from Bill Shankly, whose technique was to convince his players they were world beaters. I see it as vital to protect the players from the English disease of low self-esteem.' David Lloyd, the England coach.
Hours lost to rain during the County Championship
1 Somerset 53.7
2 Lancashire 50.8
3 Gloucestershire 40.2
4 Sussex 38.3
5 Northamptonshire 37.7
6 Durham 36.2
7 Middlesex 33.6
8 Warwickshire 33.4
9 Derbyshire 30.9
10 Glamorgan 30.5
11 Worcestershire 30.3
12 Essex 28.3
13 Surrey 27.3
14 Hampshire 26
15= Kent 24.8
17 Leicestershire 22.9
18 Yorkshire 16.9Reuse content