Middle Order Fire for the Seconds
Jun 30 2011
Essex Second XI v Hampshire Second XI
ECB Second Eleven Trophy
Tuesday 28 June 2011
Garon Park, Southend
Summary: No result
Hampshire 2XI 193 for 7
Essex 2XI: dnb
At one stage Hampshire were 25 for 4. They recovered to a potentially winning position, then the heavens opened and no result was possible. Yet it was well worth the journey to Southend-on-Sea and in some ways it was a very satisfying day’s cricket.
Second XI cricket is wonderfully quirky. A man who refused to join the elite panel of umpires, Peter Willey, officiated at a match played on an outground, with only a handful of spectators in attendance. One of those spectators was Keith Fletcher, former Essex stalwart, England captain and England manager. And quite frankly, if Second XI cricket is good enough for them then it’s good enough for anyone.
Another of the pleasures of Second XI cricket is the opportunity to observe the players going about their business in something like a club atmosphere. I always suspected our Hampshire youngsters were a polite bunch, but the respect with which they treated the dinner lady would have made their mothers proud. It was also interesting to see how well Johann Myburgh, as captain, dealt with the frustrations of some of those same young players when they were dismissed cheaply.
Myburgh himself was one of the early wickets, lbw to Graham Napier, who deserved more wickets but luckily didn’t get them. Myburgh was philosophical about the state of the pitch – slow, with some uneven bounce – and cheerfully reckoned that if Hampshire could put on 150 then it was defendable. Of more concern was the pink ball and the difficulty of seeing the seam – something which had never occurred to me, and presumably not to the cricket administrators either.
I was chatting to Myburgh at the time Hampshire were five wickets down and not even half way to his run target, which seemed an impossible ask. But three very different innings changed that and by the time rain put paid to their innings after 38 overs Hampshire were 193 for 7.
First came Chris Wood. Known to First XI followers as a bowler, he came in at six and after a few overs of consolidation set on his way to a 61 ball 58. His athletic intent was shown almost straight away when he and Hamza Riazuddin ran a four but, in all, eight more came off his bat in a powerful display of hitting. He reached his fifty with a boundary back over bowler Max Osborne’s head and it took a high one-handed catch from Billy Godleman to dismiss him.
Jo Myburgh - a 'philosophical' Second XI captain
Meanwhile at the other end, Adam Rouse was patiently accumulating runs. Although he scored the only six of the innings – a huge shot off Napier just as it was beginning to rain – his innings was one of stylish yet sedate support to the batsmen dominating at the other end. His fifty not out was richly deserved and he held the Hampshire recovery together by playing in a riskless manner until the batting powerplay was taken and the end was in sight.
It may surprise Hampshire fans to know that the batsman following Wood to the crease and making a 32 ball 38 was Michael Bates. His highest score in First XI one day cricket is 2 but those of us who have followed his career since his Academy days know that he is capable of much more, and it was a genuine pleasure to see him deliver it. After a slightly uncertain start he took consecutive fours off Tymal Mills and was away, even though the light was terrible and rolls of thunder echoed across the ground. Most memorable was a pull shot off the dangerous Chris Wright which found the ropes right at the beginning of the powerplay.
Sadly the batsmen’s efforts were in vain because the weather intervened. Initially the quirkiness of Second XI cricket was much in evidence when after a short break Peter Willey had to drag the players from their lunch and stop the eager groundsmen from rolling the pitch in the hope that Hampshire could complete their innings. But after little more than an over the rain came down in earnest and everyone trooped back in.
Rain was followed by thunder, lightning and eventually a torrent of hail, which rendered play impossible for the rest of the day so the teams walked away with one point each and Hampshire maintaining their position of second in the southern division table.
The next Second XI Trophy game is against Kent at The Rose Bowl Nursery Ground on July 5th, starting at 12 noon. Entry is free and a high standard of cricket and a friendly atmosphere is assured.
Words: Jane Cable
Images: Paul Watts (Top)
Neil Marshall (Middle)