Saturday, 23 August 2008

Interesting at the top

There's a good game going on at Colchester today with Worcester 102-1 at lunch chasing 347 in total to beat Essex.

I hope they get them as it will leave Essex struggling to keep in the promotion pack and Worcestershire, currently 37 points ahead of us, are pretty much up if they win. They've only lost one game this season, wonder who that was to...?

Northants are still in there but I can't see their bowling being strong enough to keep in the hunt. Middlesex are also in the frame but blow hot and cold so it adds extra to Thursday's game.

This sees Ant Botha and Boyd Rankin potentially playing against their old county, although both have struggled to make an impact this season. Rankin has been injured and appears to be as erratic as ever since his return, but Botha has not made many runs nor taken wickets so may lose out the spinner's berth to Ian Salisbury.

Graham Wagg will definitely return to Edgbaston as a key part of the Derbyshire side and he has made good progress since moving from Birmingham. While not quite as accurate as we may want him to be, when his radar is locked on properly he is a very dangerous bowler, while his batting can transform a game in a few overs. He currently needs just over a hundred runs and fourteen wickets from the last four matches to complete the "mini double" of 500 runs and 50 wickets for the season. By any standards that represents a good year's work.

Jon Clare meanwhile has already passed the 500 run mark and has 25 wickets. Unless he hits spectacular bowling form in the last four matches the double will elude him but it should not detract from an outstanding first full season. He currently shades Chris Rogers at the top of the batting averages and is an outstanding talent. One has only to read the comments on the Lancashire 606 board to realise how disappointed they are at the one who got away.

Speaking of 606, there are some very arrogant individuals on the Warwickshire board who are talking up their great facilities, coaches and prospects. Almost as bad as those on the Lancashire board who say that Clare will rejoin them in a year's time. It asks the questions if these people actually read newspapers or websites. Clare has a two-year deal and appears to be settled, while those on the Warwickshire board who reckon they'll sign David Sales and Graham Onions for next year have overlooked the fact that both have signed contracts keeping them at their current counties for the next few years.

Finally from me today, Charl Langeveldt needs three wickets at Edgbaston to reach his fifty for the season in Championship matches. Taking into account his one-day and 20/20 performances he already has 71, a quite magnificent effort.

The burly South African has been a most willing work horse for us this year and one always feels a wicket is on its way when he is handed the ball. We should all enjoy every minute of his 100% never-say-die attitude while we have him. Cricketers of such resilience, especially overseas bowlers, are few and far between and Langeveldt should be cherished.

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