Extra Cover: A Week In Cricket

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Striking a quick blow for the over thirties

MAN IN THE MIDDLE

David Millns (Leicestershire)

The last time Pakistan toured England, in 1992, the year Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis cut down all before them, David Millns almost got picked for a Test match.

It was late July, England had squared the series by winning the fourth Test at Leeds and, with the final showdown looming, were desperate to go the Oval armed with some fast bowlers of their own. Micky Stewart went to watch Millns against the Championship leaders, Essex, at Grace Road.

Stewart was not disappointed. Millns ran through Essex to finish with 5 for 67 and eight wickets in the match. But Millns himself was deeply let down. He finished with a twisted foot, which was to rule him out for six weeks - the first in a series of injuries that have hampered his progress.

History repeated itself, after a fashion, last week,when Millns, now 31, produced another performance to destroy Essex at Grace Road, and the strapping former Nottinghamshire miner has not given up hope that the selectors might again be drawn in his direction.

"You always hope, with England, that you have a chance, that you will not be ruled out just because you are over 30," he said.

Last Monday, Millns took 6 for 20 in 7.4 overs as Essex crashed to an innings defeat in little more than an hour. The spell gave him 10 wickets in a match for the third time in his career, supplementing a maiden century in one of the all-round performances of the summer, the first player for eight years to achieve this "double" in a first-class match.

But he left no doubt which element of the performance had meant most to him. "Although scoring a century made this the greatest match of my career, it was the bowling which gave me most pleasure," he said afterwards. "For a bowler, 10 wickets is the equivalent of a batsman scoring a double-century."

Leicestershire, meanwhile, rubbing their hands in anticipation of another title challenge may not be quite so keen on Millns catching the eye. All along, they have looked on Millns and Alan Mullally as a winning combination - and for England to get the same idea now is not in the script.

Hit man 1 (Batting performance of the week)

Tom Moody (Worcestershire)

Sweeping Gary Yates for six during the Sunday League trip to Old Trafford so exhilarated the 6ft 7in Moody that he thought he would try it again - and again. Five identical shots brought 6, 6, 4, 6, 6. According to one account, "spectators on the Washbrook and Statham Stand dived for cover as the ball screamed towards them out of the sun".

Hit man 2 (Batting performance of the week)

Robin Smith (Hampshire)

Incredibly, Moody's match-winning exploits were trumped by an opponent later in the week when Worcestershire ran into Robin Smith at his brilliant best with a superb 158 off 151 balls in the NatWest Trophy, the former England batsman's 21 fours and two sixes helping Hampshire accumulate 125 runs more than the home side could muster in reply.

Team of the week

1 Paul Weekes Middlesex

2 Dominic Cork ..............Derbyshire

3 Robin Smith Hampshire

4 Tom Moody Worcestershire

5 *Mike Roseberry Durham

6 Neil Fairbrother Lancashire

7 Ronnie Irani Essex

8 Robert Rollins Essex

9 David Millns Leicestershire

10 Ashley Giles Warwickshire

11 Andy Caddick Somerset

Quote of the week

'Dickie Bird has never said anything bad about anyone in his life and he is not going to start now.' The BBC's Jonathan Agnew after Lord's banned the retiring umpire from commentating on the Benson and Hedges final

Rain check

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

Nottinghamshire 24.8

17 Leicestershire 22.9

18 Yorkshire 16.9

Golden arm (Bowling performance of the week)

Andy Caddick (Somerset)

Determined to regain his England place, he cannot stop taking wickets even when, by his own admission, he is "bowling crap". After dismissing Gloucestershire's Monte Lynch in the NatWest Trophy at Taunton with a short, wide ball, his next accounted for Andrew Symonds before Rob Cunliffe steered to gully, giving him his first hat-trick.

Tales of the unexpected

Phil DeFreitas (Derbyshire)

Ex-colleagues who remember "Daffy" in his moody youth might have struggled to imagine the day he would be praised for calm leadership. But after being handed the captaincy when Dean Jones sprained his ankle before the NatWest Trophy clash with Kent, DeFreitas, now 30, supervised a close- run victory with vital runs and wise words.

Essex concentrate on the atmosphere

AROUND THE GROUNDS

No 10: CHELMSFORD

The idea that nobody watches county cricket continues to puzzle regulars at Chelmsford, for whom arriving early to be sure of a seat has been a common fact of life ever since their long-dormant county became a force in the game, particularly on Sundays and at knock-out matches, when it has sometimes been advisable to find a parking place before breakfast.

A compact arena with a capacity of only 9,000 or so, the little ground by the River Chelmer is modest compared with the headquarters of other successful counties.

But Essex have made the most of limited space and, in any case, there is much to be said for the cosy atmosphere, especially compared with the vacuous spaces of the Test grounds on county days.

A good-sized crowd at New Writtle Street would resemble a thin scattering of folk at Edgbaston or The Oval, which has possibly been to the advantage of the Essex general manager Peter Edwards in his successful efforts to draw sponsors. The permanent hospitality sites create a festive air that others wish they could borrow.

Alongside these, the pavilion, which also houses the club's offices and dressing-rooms, is a rather plain affair; indeed, the ground lacks anything in the way of history.

Then again, it has been Essex's home only since the move from Leyton in 1967 and allthe significant development is modern.

Members enjoy an excellent view from the top tier of the double-decker Tom Pearce stand although there is no shade and liberal applications of sun cream may well be essential for watching the visitors Nottinghamshire this week. If you cannot stand the heat, the tea bar outside the pavilion is always well stocked with refreshments.

It's in the rules...

Law 42 (13): Players' conduct.

This is a useful law to have at hand when a situation demands that something should be done but nobody is quite sure what, such as when Dermot Reeve employed his notorious bat-throwing tactic to avoid being caught off the glove.

Essentially, it enables Lord's to launch an inquiry, at the very least, should anyone utter the words "against the spirit of the game". It is to be invoked "in the event of a player . . . behaving in a manner which might bring the game into disrepute."

It can cover instances ranging from Somerset's one-over declaration in a Benson and Hedges Cup zonal game in 1979 to The Rev Andrew Wingfield- Digby, as captain of Dorset, attempting to revive interest in a Minor Counties match in 1988 by instructing one of his men to bowl deliberate wides.

Comments