Thursday, August 18, 2011

"What is it The Barmy Army chant? 'Easy, easy, easy'?" - A Report of Day 1 of Essex v Gloucestershire at Colchester

I meant to do a report of the first day of the County Championship, but I ended up getting distracted by university work and seeing Essex collapse to Darren Stevens first hand was something I did not want to relive in the name of internet blogging. Still, I've taken far too many pictures and made quite a few notes during the course of today's play, so I thought I'd share with you what happened, because the reports on Cricinfo and the BBC don't include elderly people's problems with the late gooseberry harvest.

I missed the first 15 minutes play due to me being an idiot with my trains, so I managed to miss Billy Godleman departing for a royal duck at the hands of Jon Lewis. When I arrived, Tom Westley and Owais Shah were still at the crease. They didn't last long in what was a very poor morning for Essex and which could've been a lot worse had an umpire not changed his mind.

Essex lost their first five wickets for only 55. According to Jon Lewis' analysis when pressed by an Essex member sat on the boundary, he said the "ball wasn't swinging" and "the bowling was pretty straight". And, judging by the way the Essex batsmen got out, his analysis wasn't far off. Shah was first to go for only 12. I think he was trying to run the ball down the third man, but ended up guiding it to Dent off Lewis. It left Essex 26-2 after they'd won the toss and elected to bat. Not the best of starts.
Shah run out watch ends in disappointment. But he did shout "NO" very loudly and clearly.
Westley was next to go. He'd played quite well for his 20, including a pull for four:
And then he got a tickle on one down the leg side from Payne. And Essex were 39-3. In came young Adam Wheater to join young Jaik Mickleburgh, but Gloucestershire were not done yet. 
Gidman was brought back on and he soon trapped Mickleburgh LBW:
Foster was the next man in. He took a while to emerge from the pavilion and he seemed to be getting fairly close to being timed out. Once he did appear a the crease though, the Essex skipper celebrated his contract extension with another poor piece of timing to be bowled for a duck on the third ball he faced from Gidman. The double strike left Essex in the precarious position of 55-5.

Essex were managing to make it to lunch without losing another wicket, until Tendo was given out caught behind. Now, from where I was sat with my probably Essex tuned selective hearing, I didn't hear an edge, so was surprised when the finger was raised. Gloucestershire celebrated, but ten Doeschate stood his ground. He was not impressed at all and as the Gloucestershire side walked off, RtD had an exchange with the bowler, Gidman. As the Gloucestershire team reached the boundary, Tendo was still near the middle of the pitch and then the umpire who'd given him out, waved his arms across his legs and reversed his decision. It meant Essex went into lunch 79-5, but the scoreboards around the ground showed 79-6. ten Doeschate was still listed as the not out batsman and he was on 10.

RtD is not impressed with the umpire's decision and stands his ground.
After the lunch break, Wheater and ten Doeschate took advantage of some disappointing Gloucestershire bowling or of a "very flat wicket" (Jon Lewis quote, I'm reserving judgement until Gloucestershire get a bat). Wheater reached his 50 off 46 deliveries, which, given the circumstances was superb. He brought up the 50 partnership between him and Tendo with a 6.

The most notable thing about this partnership was that the communication and running between the wickets was very good. They manoeuvred the field, looked for the singles, pushed hard to turn singles into twos, and two into threes. It was no wonder that Wheater was on the Red Bull, what with Tendo working him so hard! But it was a good counter attack, they were scoring runs at a quick rate and Gloucestershire had no answer.

Wheater's century was brought up with yet another four. It was his second hundred of the season and it was celebrated with a big hug from Tendo:

Wheater's century came off 86 deliveries.
Very soon afterwards, ten Doeschate reached his 50. After returning from a two week break in the CB40 against Lancashire, this was Tendo's first County Championship match since his duck and a single against Leicestershire, and he must have felt like he had a point to prove.

The partnership between RtD and Wheater continued to grow. The 150 partnership comes up with a 4. Another Wheater 4 brings up Essex's 250 and then the 200 run partnership comes up with a wide from Saxelby.

The fabulous innings of the pint sized Adam Wheater was ended fairly soon after this though. Wheater was trapped in front by Saxelby and it signalled the end of the mammoth 204 run partnership. Essex, having been 55-5 were now in a far more comfortable position of 259-6. Wheater went for 135 off a staggering 124 balls. His innings included 17 fours and 5 sixes and it was, quite frankly, a joy to watch.
Wheater received a standing ovation as he left the pitch.
Essex reached tea without any more casualties and found themselves 274-6, with ten Doeschate 79* and Graham Napier 11*.

After tea, Jack Taylor was getting no respite. First Tendo, then Napier hit him for more sixes. Napier's six caused the ball to be lost, presumably in the river that runs next to the ground. Welcome home, Graham. Like with the Wheater partnership, ten Doeschate continued to push his partner hard and luckily, Napier was up to the task. The 300 came up for Essex with a 2 from Napier, a score that seemed a long, long way off at the lunch break.

At this stage, ten Doeschate was into the 90s. He began to look slightly nervous, as he went for a risky single on 94 but, luckily for him and the Colchester crowd, Hamish Marshall missed the stumps and he went to 95. 
This isn't Tendo, but I just like this picture, because this is Napes' hitting a six that came to my part of the ground and nearly hit me in the back of the head.
Tendo went on to 99 with a 3 and he decided to play a nervous shot that got the edge, but luckily fell short of the fielder. He then managed to crack one to the boundary for a four and reach a very well deserved hundred off 147 balls, including nine fours and one six.
Doing "the Tendo". 

Soon, Napier was caught behind by Coughtrie off the bowling of Payne. He fell 5 short of his half century and it brought an end to the 82 run partnership between him and ten Doeschate. In came Essex's bowling hero of David Masters, and he got off the mark with a ball he meant to leave. Unfortunately, Tendo soon forgot that he wasn't batting with Wheater or Napier and pushed for a two that probably wasn't there. Jon Lewis threw the ball in and the bails were removed. The two quick wickets left Essex 345-8, still 2 runs short of another batting point.

Maurice Chambers came and went very quickly, comprehensively bowled by Jon Lewis for a duck. The score was 347-9 and in came the number 11. Singles brought Essex closer and closer to the elusive 350 and it was reached with another single from Tom Craddock. Bad light stopped play with Essex 359-9 and as soon as I saw the umpire signalling with a cut throat action, I knew that play was off for the day.

After losing the first 5 wickets for 55, the lower order and Wheater rallied to put on over 300 for the last 5. Considering Essex's ability to collapse this season, it was excellent to watch. I had a great day lowering the average age of the crowd at Colchester. I overheard conversations of how late gooseberries and runner beans are, heard a rant about train fares and the hike in prices, heard that apparently someone's not found a wasp's nest in their roof this year and then someone else discussed the wonders of Greene King and IPA.

Welcome to the glorious, glorious world of county cricket.

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