Keith Barker deserves our applause . . . and that of the Durham players too!

Just a quick post to say congratualations to Keith Hubert Douglas Barker (sorry Keith blame cricinfo) on his maiden first class hundred against Durham at Edgbaston on Friday!

Lets hope that this signals the beginning of a regular run in the first team for LVCC games.

The occaision of Barker’s maiden first class hundred was a high point for him of course, but it was a low point for the reputation of the good sportsmanship of the players of Durham County Cricket Club.  When he reached his milestone the only Durham player to applaud was the Barbadian Ruel Braithwaite.

Keith Barker on his way to his maiden first class century!

What was the explanation for this collective lack of recognition for a massive landmark in Barker’s career? (Whose previous first class best was only 31.)  Well, there are probably two explanations.  Clearly they were disappointed at getting held up in their pursuit of victory by a lower order batsmen of little reknown outside of the West Midlands.  But more likely the reason was that Barker was playing only the last two days of the game – brought in as a sub to replace William Porterfield who had left to fulfil his international duties with Ireland.  The Durham coach Geoff Cook had been criticising the rules which allowed this substitution to take place before the match had even begun.  And now one of those subs was possibly denying his team an admittedly deserved victory – after they had been held up for most of day 3 by the rain.

It is understandable that the Durham players were annoyed and frustrated, but not to applaud an excellent century – and a maiden one at that – is a very poor show indeed!  Shame on you Durham CCC!

So well done Keith, many more to come I trust.  Also, well done Braithwaite for demonstrating that the spirit of the game is alive and well in the Caribbean – if not in the north-east of England!

Mark

Seven wickets left and every reason to fight until the bitter end!

At the end of today’s play against Durham the Bears are facing defeat squarely in the face.  Barring a miracle or a tropical storm Durham will beat Warwickshire by an innings and plenty at some point tomorrow – most likely between lunch and tea.  (A mere snack for the Durham bowlers in-between meals.)

I wrote a lengthy post in this blog a while back (after the disasterous collapse in the second innings against Lancs) about how, amid wickets tumbling and near certain defeat, players need to focus on their own personal goals and acheivements even though the team effort is doomed to failure. 

So, given that all realistic hope of avoiding defeat is lost, what reason is there for the Warwickshire batsmen to even ‘turn up’ in the sporting sense, tomorrow.

Well, we have seven wickets left, so here are seven reasons why the batsmen should fight to the bitter end of this game no matter what the result of the match may be!

1.  Durham are our first opponents in the T20 Cup at Chester-le-Street on 2nd June.  So best not to roll over too easily it might lower morale for the start of our T20 campaign!

2.  Jim Troughton.  He has been getting a lot of stick from fans last season and this one too.  Now would be a good chance for him to prove that he should be in the team for his batting skills alone as well as his captaincy and fine fielding.

3.  Twitter.  A lot of the Warwickshire team like to spend their nights off having a bit of banter with their followers on Twitter.  If they have been seen to try their best for Warwickshire then they will be assured of a warmer reception online - and with the Champions League final taking place on Saturday night the Tweeting banter will be at fever pitch over the weekend!

4.  Chris Metters.  Metters is probably the best spin bowler that Warwickshire have availiable at the momment – but once Ant Botha is fit and Paul Best is fully availiable and free of university commitments – Metters’ skill with the bat may come in for almost as much scrutiny as his skill with the ball.  So every run here could count towards the assessment of  his all-round usefulness to the team!

5.  The Pitch Controversy.  If ever a team had a reason to want to prove a point to anybody who is watching it is the Bears!  C’mon guys show the ECB that they have not broken your spirit yet!

6.  Also, the Bears should want to show that they are a good team without their England – and now Ireland – superstars!  Do it for the county pros!

7.  Religious reasons.  Many of us do not converse with the almighty as often as perhaps we should.  So when we do it is perhaps not good for the destination of our eternal souls if our prayers are primarily concerned with sending heay rain clouds in the direction of Edgbaston.

And if all that fails to motivate our remaining batsmen tomorrow – then do it for your mum!

She could be watching Sky Sports News!

Here’s to a glorious defeat . . . . . Yoouuu Beeaaarrrsssss!!!!

Mark

Rankin’s Role

Boyd Rankin, Warwickshire’s 6 foot 7 inch giant of a fast bowler, has had an eventful start to the season – of that there can be no doubt.  In the first LVCC game at Taunton he only bowled 8 overs and had no wickets to show for his efforts, but then at New Road, Worcester he took 6 for 100 across both innings.  At Chester-le-Street he manged a respectable 3 for 98 in the first innings.

The beginning of the Bear’s defence of the CB40 was to prove difficult for Rankin.  He opened the bowling with Woakes and his7 overs across the game cost 57 runs – with

14 first class wickets so far this season!

no wickets and a staggering 24 of the last over!  By his own admission on twitter he cost the Bears the game.  The next CB40 game against Leicestershire only saw him bowl 4 overs – at the cost of 39 runs and again no wickets.  Clearly something had to be done, and the morning after the Leicestershire match, when the team to face Scotland was announced, Rankin’s name was absent – replaced by that of Keith Barker.

After beating the Scots, the Bears had one day’s well deserved rest on Tuesday, before they were due to face Lancashire in their first home game in the County Championship yesterday morning.

Did Rankin wonder in his own mind if he would be dropped for this match too?  An injury to Andy Miller meant that there was no way he would be left out.  Barker came into the team again – this time as Miller’s replacement.

When 11am came yesterday morning Ian Bell took to the field with his Warwickshire team, after losing the toss to his Lancashire opposite number.  I, as i’m sure most observers and comentators did, expected Woakes and Rankin to share the new ball.  However, it was not to be.  Bell had decided to open the bowling with Woakes and Barker instead.  Did this come as a surprise to Rankin?  Perhaps we shall never know (might tweet him later and see if he answers!)

As it was Barker bowled very tightly, Woakes and Clarke took wickets from the other end and Lancs were 104/4 shortly after lunch.  Rankin then took the vital wicket of Moore who was on 67.  129/5 – and Lancs looked in all sorts of trouble.  A parternership of 90 followed between Proctor and Cross – before Rankin had proctor caught by Clarke.  219/6.  Clarke then bowled Cross – 219/7.

Lancashire had 3 wickets left and stood on the cusp of a poor score or the possibility of Glen Chapple sheparding the tail to get the score to as close to 300 as possible.

Eight runs later Lancashire were all out for 227 – Rankin took 3 wickets in one over!

Rankin finished the day with 5 for 57 – the same as his first innings return at Worcester.  But what stood out about yesterday’s performance was the efficent and ruthless dismissal of the Lancashire tailenders.

‘Mopping up the tail’ seems to be a harder and harder job these days as few teams are prepared to select more than one bowler who has to be reminded which way round to hold the bat – no matter how good they are with the ball in their hand!

Indeed, Warwickshire have long been exponents of playing bowlers who can bat, and batsmen who can bowl a bit, rather than out and out specialists.

Last season Imran Tahir often filled the role of bambooziling the tail.  In the absence of such a skilled and experienced spinner this season perhaps Rankin will now take on this role?

Also, please note that of the 14 wickets Rankin has taken in the CC up to now 13 have been in the first innings – and what happens in the first innings usually dictates the course of the rest of the match!

Make no mistake, although the wicket of Marcus Trescothick may be more highly prized than that of Peter Trego who bats 6 places lower down the order, each run they score is worth the same.  A team can happilly let the opposition top 6 score 200 if they know they can blast the last 4 out for 20!  Our beloved Bears would not still be in Division 1 if it was not for the tail-end runs of Carter, Woakes and Botha!

Often a team has rejoiced when they see their opponents 110/5 and think – job done!  A very dangerous form of complacency indeed!

So let us hope that Rankin will continue with the role of tailend destroyer that he assumed so admirabily yesterday!  So much easier to take 20 wickets in a match when you know you have a bowler who can get his fellow bowlers out cheaply.  Was this part of FEC Bell’s plan? Perhaps, perhaps not.  More likely was that he thought bowl Barker at one end to keep things tight and let Woakes and Clarke do the damage at the other end.  But take note Captains of Warwickshire – past, present and future (Westwood, Troughton and Bell) – if Rankin can mop up tails on a regular basis then his is a vital role in a Championship challenge!

3 days left to go against Lancs but i think we will have it wrapped up in 2 – weather permitting!

Thanks in no small part to Boyd rankin!

Good Luck Bears

Mark

Warwickshire CCC V Durham CCC Day 4 . . .

Final days of first class matches are tricky affairs – for players and spectators alike.

Most hope for an exciting day with a dramatic climax.  But one must also prepare for a dreary last session where the only issue to be decided is: What is the earliest time we can leave without it being deemed impolite?

Today, at Chester le Street, we can expect an exciting day – for the first couple of sessions at least!

Warwickshire resume on 52/4 – only a handful of runs ahead of Durham  - and with memories of last season’s repeated batting collapses still fresh in the minds of many.

Let us hope that the last session is truly dull with a draw a certainty.

Warwickshire CCC

Chris Woakes - The hero again?

Let us Bears fans be frank and honest for a moment too.  If, at the start of April,  you had offered us the prospect of Played 3 Won 2 Drawn 1 after 3 games most Bears fans would have gladly accepted.

So if the likes of Clareke, Best, Troughton, Ambrose and of course Woakes see us safely to an afternoon snooze after tea today, be happy, and treat it like the good start to the season that it will be!

Good Luck Guys!

Mark