MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Chris Adams (Derbyshire)
A conversation with Les Stillman, one half of the partnership moulding Derbyshire into unexpected mid-season Championship contenders, dispels quickly any notion that he is a Pommie-bashing Aussie stereotype.
For a start, unlike some of his fellow countrymen, the new coach at the County Ground does not believe that there is much fundamentally amiss with English cricket. Nothing that some small refining of technique and a re-focusing of attitude will not put right.
He said as much within a day or so of setting foot in Derby for the first time in April and the progress being made by his adopted county seems to suggest a simple philosophy has been quickly absorbed.
Many players have already enjoyed substantial personal improvement. In particular their forceful No 3 batsman, Chris Adams, whose career, in some ways, has been another kind of stereotype, fitting the recognisable pattern in the English game of youthful promise unfulfilled.
Emerging from Repton School, where he had surpassed Richard Hutton's 25-year-old record for most runs in a season, Adams launched his county career in 1988 amid predictions of great things. But since then his profile has progressively become that of an average county player rather than that of a high achiever.
Before this year, he had not managed more than 1,109 first-class runs in a season, which is nothing to write home about. Barring injuries, however, he will surpass that in 1996, during which he has already established two personal bests in helping Derbyshire climb to the upper levels of the Championship table. His magnificent 239 against Hampshire last month was his highest individual score and he followed that by making a century in each innings against Middlesex as his side completed three Championship wins in a row. He is only the 10th Derbyshire player to achieve such a feat.
He was one of the few Derbyshire players to make runs in the low-scoring defeat by Northamptonshire, raising his tally for the season in first- class cricket to 965.
Adams, at 26, may be on the verge of fulfilling the predictions made of him, starting perhaps with an England A tour this winter.
Golden arm (Bowling performance of the week)
Kevan James (Hampshire)
Curtly Ambrose's destruction of Derbyshire was upstaged byJames, whose four wickets in four balls at Southampton on Saturday was all the more astonishing in that the Indians had lost only one wicket for 207 before the 35-year-old journeyman all-rounder struck gold. He is only the 31st bowler to achieve the feat - and the first Englishman since 1972.
Hit man (Batting performance of the week)
Graham Gooch (Essex)
Proof that class is permanent. The former England captain's 149 on a far from straightforward wicket at Southend on Saturday - his fifth first-class century of the summer - illustrated that he still has few peers as an opening batsman. Sadly, any attempt by his fellow England selectors to tempt him out of international retirement will, he says, be resisted.
Invitation to man the ramparts of tradition
AROUND THE GROUNDS
No 8: Arundel
Historically, the university grounds at Fenner's or in The Parks provide a summer's first glimpse of white flannel and first sound of willow hitting leather. For some, however, it is not until the Arundel match in May that the spirit of an English cricket season is fully revived.
This is the occasion which enables the year's overseas touring team to limber up against an invitation 11 in a relaxed, convivial atmosphere made even more welcoming by the picturesque setting of Arundel Park. The fixture was begun by the 16th Duke of Norfolk in 1956 and maintained by his widow, Lavinia, who gave her name to the invitation team until she died last winter. A record crowd of 15,000 turned up to see the Australians in 1993 and, happily, the tradition is to continue.
It is said that, when it was laid out in 1894 by another Duke of Norfolk, the ground was modelled on The Oval, although there is little obvious resemblance, no urban backdrop and certainly no gas-holders. In fact, the circular playing area is entirely enclosed by trees, although the hurricane of 1987 opened up one or two gaps.
Now Arundel deservedly hosts a county Championship match also. This week's visit by Hampshire, for a match starting on Wednesday, is a repeat of the inaugural Championship fixture of 1990, when the opening day attracted a crowd of some 3,500.
Behind the pavilion, the ground contains an impressive indoor cricket school, established at a cost of pounds 500,000 by the Friends of Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation, helped by a large donation from John Paul Getty Jnr. For the last eight years, John Barclay, the former Sussex captain and tour manager on recent England tours, has been director of cricket and coaching, overseeing programmes that have been enjoyed by more than 80,000 children.
It's in the rules...
Law 38: Run out. None of the laws offers quite so much scope for farce - and not just among the batsmen - when cries of "Yes", "No", "Wait" and "Sorry" pierce the air.
If the batsmen have crossed, Law 38 says that "he who runs for the wicket which is put down shall be out" but offers no help to an umpire confronted with an incident akin to an extraordinary mix-up said to have occurred in a match between Oxford and Surrey in 1922, when Raymond Robertson-Glasgow and his partner, Tom Raikes, ran four runs side by side, with both wickets flattened, before a fielder, ball in hand, uprooted a stump and requested adjudication.
The officials were as bemused as the spectators and it was only after the batsmen had agreed to toss a coin that Raikes was declared "out".
Craig Miller (Suffolk)
Given that NatWest Trophy upsets are not exactly frequent, chances are not to be sneezed at. Had Craig Miller held on to a skied drive by Shane Lee at Taunton, Somerset would have been 127 for 5. Lee, then 38, made 104. Suffolk, batting second, fell 62 runs short. The unlucky bowler was Miller's captain, Phil Caley.
Tales of the unexpected
Andrew Symonds (Gloucs)
"Off-spin bowler", it says in Playfair. Last season's figures: 1-100. Not much to worry Durham, then, as a desperate stand-in Gloucestershire captain, Jack Russell, tossed Symonds the ball on Saturday. But the Anglo- Aussie bowls seam-up too, and to some effect - as John Morris and Darren Blenkiron discovered, to their cost, in his first three overs.
Team of the week
1 Martyn Moxon Yorkshire
2 Graham Gooch ...............Essex
3 Stuart Hutton Durham
4 Saurav Ganguly India
5 Mark Ramprakash Middlesex
6 *Tom Moody Worcestershire
7 Keith Brown Middlesex
8 Kevan James Hampshire
9 Andrew Harris Derbyshire
10 Melvyn Betts Durham
11 Curtly Ambrose Northants
Quote of the week
'There is no place better for Graham Gooch to assess a budding England player than out in the middle.' The Essex secretary Peter Edwards, after Ray Illingworth asked that Gooch put selectorial duties ahead of playing.
Hours lost to rain during the County Championship
1 Somerset 46.7
2 Lancashire 38.4
3 Northamptonshire 37.7
4 Sussex 31.4
5 Gloucestershire 31.1
6 Derbyshire 30.9
7 Durham 30.1
8 Middlesex 24.9
9 Glamorgan 24.2
10 Worcestershire 23.9
11 Essex 22.6
12 Kent 22.5
13 Warwickshire 22.5
14 Leicestershire 19.5
15 Hampshire 19.1
16 Surrey 19.1
17 Yorkshire 16.9
18 Nottinghamshire 16.7Reuse content