Cricket

Technological Terrors of Modern Cricket: The Woefully Average Score Predictor (WASP)

Posted on Updated on

Cricket’s a fine art. It’s a sport where strategy, skill and some rather suspect rules all interact to create a game of unparalleled intrigue. Consequently, it becomes trickier to predict the match result than its football and rugby competitors. One poorly called lbw decision, given that the ball was flying over the top of middle stump by centimetres, can see a batting side slump quickly from the seeming comfort of 100-2, to the dispiriting position of 120-5.

However, mathematicians continue to research formulas that they profess will bring a greater understanding to cricket. Whether Duckworth Lewis is the fair predictor of a par score is still hotly debated, but despite the doubters, has proved of more assistance to the game than the latest statistic ever will.

These damning words are obviously referring to the newest fad, that is, the WASP. The model has been devised by a group of professors at The University of Canterbury, New Zealand. They can be applauded for their market research; you have to admit that the word WASP is snappy and hence memorable. That said I would like to propose that its methodologies are as irritating much as its loathsome insect namesakes.

In short, WASP’S purpose is to indicate how likely each team is to win the game. This will understandably change over the course of either side’s innings according to the match situation at the time. So let’s say that England were 64-4 in reply to a whopping 333 set by India – dare I say it, an all too frequent occurrence – WASP would suggest that the English barely stand a chance of turning the probable defeat on its head. While I would also safely predict a win for MS Dhoni’s side, I’ve noted a flaw in the model, and what’s more, I can explain the weakness.

The WASP relies upon a SKY commentator’s expert opinion when it comes to setting the par score. The pundit will suggest what constitutes an average total based upon how the pitch is expected to play in combination with previous first innings totals on the ground. It only begins to reflect badly on the WASP when we realise that the statistical model considers that the two sides going head to head are of equal ability. Let’s return for a moment to our example of England playing an ODI against India, where Michael Atherton feels that 270 is a par score batting first. England win the toss and elect to bat. After their allocation of 50 overs, they’ve amassed 285-7. The WASP would say that England are ahead of the game at this point, having eclipsed Athers’ prediction by 15 runs. My question to you, dear reader, is quite simply: are they?

Since the turn of the century, cricket’s been in a state of evolution. Back in the early 21st century, line and length was the order of the day in both Test matches and the One Day format. If a bowler continued to hit a consistent area, they would certainly get their reward. The inception of T20 has radically changed that ideology: bowl a good length at your peril, and opt instead for the slow ball bouncer to stem the flow of runs. In essence cricket is a batsman’s game now more than ever before. Extraordinary run chases have become common place to the point that the magical target of 300 runs no longer guarantees victory in a 50 over match. On more occasions than not, India will pass England’s 285 at a canter with extra-reinforced bats and huge back-swings, despite the par score suggesting otherwise.

And this is WASP’s sting in the tail. It assumes that a batsman’s mentality has remained stable, that forward defensives are preferred to aggressive hacks over mid-wicket. It is completely ignorant to the idea that a team batting second could have a number of lower order “finishers”; players who can literally club their side to victory. Since teams are being forced to pursue more runs than ever, the WASP is always disparaging toward the team batting second, skeptical as to whether they can successfully complete the chase. It has no answer to the idea that when the team batting first notch 60-1 after 10, they are only registering the equivalent of what in recent years was 40-1. Run totals are relative to the period of time in which they are scored.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, concludes my assessment of the Woefully Average Score Predictor (WASP).

Amended in light of information received from Dr Seamus Hogan, WASP supervisor (27/08/2014)

 

 

Advertisements

LEICESTERSHIRE BUOYED BY IRISH INFLUENCE

Posted on

IRISH INTERNATIONAL, Niall O’Brien starred as Leicestershire secured a surprise win in their Royal London One Day Cup match against Hampshire.
The rain affected match saw the Foxes successfully chase down a revised victory target of 186 runs inside 25 overs against their hosts.
In an enthralling climax to the game, Niall O’Brien secured a majestic 105* to haul his side over the line by six wickets.
The visiting faithful had cause for concern when Hampshire and England opener Michael Carberry teed-off in the first innings. Renowned for his hard-hitting style, the eye-catching left hander raced to 61 runs from just 50 balls.
A flurry of wickets for Redfern and Naik halted Hampshire’s charge, but a cool-headed contribution of 63 from Sean Terry ensured that the majority of the Ageas Bowl crowd were contented by their side’s 275-9.
Rain then made its presence felt and Duckworth Lewis was brought into action to generate a run target.
Given the way Leicestershire started their reply, the visitors must have been unhappy that the downpour cleared through, as they lost Angus Robson, brother of England’s Sam, for just 15 runs.
However, a promising 95 run second wicket partnership propelled Leicestershire towards the 186 required for victory.
Greg Smith’s explosive 34 was outclassed by the mainstay of the innings’ performance, O’Brien ultimately registering an unbeaten century from just 72 balls.
James Tomlinson began to claw the game back for Hampshire with a couple of timely wickets to stall Leicestershire’s momentum.
However, some late lusty O’Brien blows altered the picture again to ensure that the visitors achieved an invaluable win with four balls to spare.

ENGLAND HOPES TO COOK WITH GAS AND CLEAR UP CAPTAIN CRISIS.

Posted on Updated on

Given the ECB’s fierce determination to persist with the Moores and Cook project, it comes as little surprise to see England’s opening batsman leading his side out at the Ageas Bowl in the third test against India.

The general public have expressed their opinion in no uncertain terms about Cook’s stewardship. Many have called for his head, while the more humane among us have politely asked for the Essex player’s resignation. Irrespective of the sport, the captain is always under scrutiny; the spotlight centres on him, particularly when results begin to turn against his troops. England were heavily shelled down under in a 5-0 whitewash against the Aussies, and artillery fire has continued to batter them ever since. A woeful run of Test match results since the summer of 2013 has seen England slip to 7 defeats, stutter to 3 draws and fail to win any matches against Australia, Sri Lanka and India.

The first of the complaints lodged against Cook’s captaincy is his tendency to take a reactive approach, rather than a proactive one, in the field. It has been largely speculated that were the selectors to hand over the reins to another leader, England’s tactical endeavours would not be compromised in any way. It would be difficult for anybody to describe Cook’s stewardship as “charismatic” or “dynamic”. Quietly standing at first slip while he hides away from the world’s glare behind his dark sunglasses, the skipper seems “pensive” at best. Rarely does his body language seem rousing, more often is the double-teapot hands-on-hips pose adopted as the game slowly but surely moves away from England. If the team have an opportunity to exert serious pressure on the opposition, it seems that this England side instinctively slip into defensive mode. Stuart Broad has recently revealed that he’s concerned about haemorrhaging runs when he storms into bowl, and this worry has been reflected in Cook’s field placings. There is a refusal to pack the slip corden and gully region to create catching opportunities. Instead, the sight of England’s opening bowlers having boundary riders at deep extra-cover leaves spectators tearing their hair out.

Then of course, there is the pressing issue of Cook’s plummeting form with the bat. In the days of old, the left hand opener would churn out runs for fun, helping himself to boundaries galore through mid-wicket, while occasionally smearing a short ball through point. He’s never been the most eye-catching of batsmen, but few have been more effective. He’s moved past Kevin Pietersen to become England’s 4th highest run scorer of all time in this morning’s session, and so has proved that he’s a fine international player. However, the corridor of uncertainty outside of his off-stump has proved his most recent Achilles heel.  Such is the frequency of Cook’s nicking behind, or finding a slip fielder with his favoured outside edge, that people need not watch the game to discover how the captain is going to be dismissed. There was another heart in mouth moment as he found a meaningful edge that presented Ravi Jajeda with a simple chance before noon, but the skip was let off the hook with only 15 runs to his name.  Cook has overcome a past habit of his weight falling towards the off-side to be a prime lbw candidate, but will the pressure of the captaincy distract him from rectifying the most recent problem with his batting?

Enough about Cook though. He is not the only senior player failing to produce the goods though. Ian Bell has endured a torrid time of late, scratching around for runs like a man on hot coals. When he first emerged onto the scene in 2004/5, Bell was targeted by the hostile Brett Lee, who’s fiery back of a length bowling had the Warwickshire player tied up in knots. This made the batsman keen to throw his hands at anything full, making him susceptible to a feather edge. Although Ishant Sharma is significantly slower than the express pace of Lee nine years on, Bell still looks as unconvincing against the aggressive bowlers. When England’s number four is in form, he’s arguably the most majestic player on the circuit. However, expose him to sustained pressure, and despite having accumulated a wealth of experience at the age of 32 now, many would expect Bell to crack. Averaging just 25 since last summer’s Ashes, a series wherein he starred, the aesthetically pleasing batsman is due big runs.

Should the top order get their act together – a job perhaps boosted by the inclusion of the extravagant but somewhat unpredictable Jos Buttler – the bowlers must back their efforts up. When England were the number one team in Test cricket, there was unwavering confidence in James Anderson and Stuart Broad ripping through their rivals. Despite having collected 600 wickets between them in the longer format of the game, they’re currently not working well in tandem. I have already alluded to Broad’s reluctance to pitch the ball up, and swing King Jimmy is suffering from a similar ailment. The first innings of the previous Test match at Lord’s epitomises the problem. Having won the toss and elected to bowl first, England were aided by a green surface and cloudy skies. The morning session was if not disastrous, quite simply not good enough. Taking three wickets in two hours was a poor return given the day’s conditions, with Anderson and Broad’s line and length far too erratic.

The problems are paramount for English cricket during this stage of transition from experience to youth. As Cook raises his bat to celebrate his fifty at Southampton, there may just be faintest trace of a senior star beginning to take some responsibility. Now to step on the gas …

YOU COULDN’T WRIGHT THE SCRIPT AS KIMBERLEY INSTITUTE SLIP

Posted on

Matt Wright ran riot with figures of 7-42 as Mansfield Hosiery Mills recorded their first victory of the season at Kimberley Institute. The right arm seamer came back to haunt his former employers by ripping through their upper order before polishing off the tail, as the Millers hoped to stay in touching distance of the sides above them.

The day threatened to be another one to forget for Hosiery Mills, who having been invited to bat first by their hosts, struggled to score freely. Gareth Curtis was dismissed for his second successive single figures score much to the delight of George Bacon who had his man played on.

The early breakthrough brought captain, Tom New, to the crease. The classy left-hander had accumulated 477 season runs prior to the game, and topped the batting averages at an impressive 79.5. He was only able to take his run tally to 499 though as an intriguing lbw decision off the bowling of Alex King left the batsman looking to the heavens. However, the gods weren’t prepared to smile on the Millers for large parts of the fifty overs. Just as Mark Smallwood was beginning to show some good touch, he was snaffled by King for 18 as Ben Savage claimed a wicket in a tight spell of bowling.

IMG_0549[1]
Sticky wicket: Tom New struggles to find gaps in the field

When you’re down at the bottom, your luck tends to be out. Rob Townsend would have felt hard done to when Jon Terry performed a wonderful pick up and throw, the direct hit leaving the batsman fractionally short of his ground.  Toby Rodgers came and went for just 10, and with only four overs left to be bowled, the Millers hadn’t even registered a single bonus batting point.

The innings finally reached a crescendo in the closing overs. The score rocketed from 146-5 to 196-5 as Matt New and Keshara Jayasinghe teed off to the dismay of bowlers Bacon and Rowe. New had to endure plenty of criticism about his slow strike rate throughout his innings, but in the context of the game, his gritty 78* proved to be of great significance. At the other end, Jayasinghe was seeing the red Duke like a beach ball and blasted an unbeaten 40 as Hosiery Mills set the hosts a still modest 197 runs for victory.

Consequently, after the interval, the away side needed to pull a rabbit out of the hat, and fortunately for them Matt Wright was determined to spring a surprise. Over the winter months, the Millers had been at the centre of a disciplinary matter with the fast bowler at the heart of the dispute. With his team docked fifty points prior to a ball being bowled in anger this season, Wright was playing like a man with a point to prove.

His opening ten over spell was devastating as he scattered timber everywhere. First to depart for Kimberley was Dominic Brown for a fourth ball duck; the batsman could only look back to see his off stump uprooted. Last week’s centurion for Kimberley, Tom Rowe, didn’t fare any better than Brown. Unable to live with the ruthless Wright, he also lost his off peg without troubling the scorers. Brown and Rowe were in good company though, because Sam Johnson was soon on his way back to the pavilion for the home side’s third duck of the innings, again bowled by the man of the moment.

At 6-3, the hosts required a couple of cool heads to guide them out of hot water. Veteran Terry and Kimberley’s wilful wicket-keeper Sam Ogrizovic looked just the men for the job. They appeared to have nullified the early threat, before disaster struck again. With the score on 40, an effort ball from Wright unlocked Terry’s defences. The bowler was clearly discontented with only knocking one stump over with his previous dismissals, so decided to fire off and leg out of the ground on this occasion. The five wicket haul was complete when Dominic Wheatley was given lbw for 3, despite popular opinion being that he had inside edged the ball onto his pad.

IMG_0550[1]
Wright on the money: Wheatley fends off the fast bowler

At 5 down, the responsibility rested on the shoulders of Ogrizovic. However, when he inexplicably picked out Tom New at mid-off for 26, Kimberley’s prospects of securing a positive result were looking increasingly bleak. When James Taylor was the next casualty on the stroke of drinks, the situation became a whole lot more complicated as the home side feared a humbling at the hands of their rivals.

George Bacon and Alex King ensured that Kimberley avoided embarrassment with a cultured partnership of regular singles and clean hitting. Having safely negotiated 18 overs without further setback, captain King momentarily lost the plot to present Gareth Curtis with a catching opportunity on the boundary rope. He duly held on to give Matt New his second scalp of the innings, and meant that Millers had a further 8 overs to prise out the precious final two wickets.

The stage was set for Wright, but when he returned to the attack, Bacon initially got the better of him, as he was bludgeoned down the ground twice in one over. The seamer was unperturbed though, and a timely yorker saw the back of Bacon for a well-played 42.

The end was nigh for Kimberley and even when Wright strayed from his immaculate line and length, the visitors were now getting the rub of the green. As he fired down a leg side wide, Rodgers was sharper behind the wicket than Ben Savage was. With the batsman’s foot aloft, the keeper whipped off the bails in a flash to give Hosiery Mills a vital 63 run victory.

Wins at the bottom of the league table for Radcliffe-upon-Trent and the Notts Academy meant that Hosiery Mills failed to close the gap as they seek to avoid the drop, but these results have Kimberley looking over their shoulder in 8th spot.

NOTTS PREM CRICKET, FORGET THE SCORE, IT’S TIME TO FIND MND CURE.

Posted on

Saturday 21st June was filled with glorious sunshine, a welcome relief from the heavy downpours that have blighted the cricket season to date. Fielders were able to hare around in the outfield in pursuit of balls that batsmen clubbed away. Bowlers meanwhile pushed their bodies to the limit, and even the umpires were capable of raising an index finger to signal that the batsman was out.

Sadly, this is not a reality that can be shared by everybody in the world. This is because yesterday was Global Awareness day for Motor Neurone Disease (MND), a physically debilitating illness that currently has no cure. As its name would suggest, MND affects the nervous system. As time progresses, the electrical signals that continue to be sent from the brain and spinal cord, cease to reach the body’s muscles. The terrifying consequence for sufferers is initially physical weakness, followed by inevitable wasting with the hands and feet often affected first. It is an emotionally draining experience for both those given x months to live, and for their supportive families who understand that that their loved one’s cognitive processes remain largely unchanged. In other words, the active mind is locked inside a failing body.

FACTS ABOUT MND

  • Motor Neurone Disease affects up to 5000 people in the UK at any one time.
  • There is no specific way of testing for MND. Doctors first have to rule out other diagnoses, before the condition can be identified.
  • Similarly there is no specific cause; rather the disease has been linked to an amalgamation of genetic and environmental factors.
  • Adults of any age can develop the disease. Most will be over the age of 40, but many sufferers have young families when they learn of their diagnosis.
  • Twice as many men as women are affected.

Over the last couple of years, there has been increased support for MND from the cricketing community. The Broad Appeal (who can be found on Twitter @TheBroadAppeal) has been instrumental in this movement. For those of you who don’t follow the game, the Broads are renowned in the sport and have international pedigree. The father, Chris, was a successful opening batsman for Gloucestershire, Nottinghamshire and England. Son, Stuart, plies his trade as a bowler for Notts and England, while daughter Gemma is also involved with the England men’s team as a video performance analyst. Chris lost his beloved second wife to MND, and with his children’s help has used the family’s high profile to raise awareness about the terminal illness for a non-profit organisation.

As part of MND global awareness day, people were invited to take photos holding the “Thumbs Up To Cure MND” sign and making the appropriate gesture. As well as the likes of international star, Ian Bell, supporting the campaign at the 2nd Investec Test Match against Sri Lanka, it is important that recreational cricket shows a similar interest. Nottinghamshire Premier League teams Mansfield Hosiery Mills and Caythorpe were only too willing to support the initiative when the sides met at The Fieldings. The home team have a personal interest in wanting to find a remedy for Motor Neurone Disease, with a key figure of their backroom staff having observed its crushing effects in years gone by. Despite the match being played in a fierce spirit, as competitive sport should be, there was a clear sense of communion when the two captains posed for a shared goal.

The Notts Premier League are up for the fight against MND!
The Notts Premier League are up for the fight against MND!

On the pitch, Caythorpe bossed the game from the second ball of the innings when Gareth Curtis was sent on his not so merry way by seamer Ben Powell for a duck. Matt New couldn’t post a meaningful score for the Millers and was bowled by the accurate Mat Dowman for 20. Over the last few matches there has been evidence to suggest that Hosiery Mills have a fragile middle order. This was exemplified again as regular wickets fell to leave the hosts reeling on 80-5. However, two senior members of the squad rallied against the Caythorpe bowlers. Tom New was trying not to be handicapped by a thumb broken in three places as he defiantly scored 85 (124). It wasn’t a lone hand either as Keshara Jayasinghe took the game to his opponents by smashing a quick-fire 68*. After Kunal Manek’s maximum off the final ball of the innings, Hosiery Mills had made a good recovery to finish 213-7, and suspected that they had a route back into the contest.

This proved to be wishful thinking though as Caythorpe negotiated the opening overs unscathed, and Martin Dobson even unleashed the occasional thumping boundary shot. With the score on 66, Hosiery Mills finally made the breakthrough as Dobson slashed the blade one time too many, caught at slip for 34. This was of minimal significance though as Steve Allcoat picked up where Dobson left off, smearing the ball through the covers time and again. Rob Townsend eventually accounted for Allcoat when he was awarded an lbw decision, but not before the batsman had notched 43 from just 40 balls. Captain marvel, James Hawley, was the mainstay of the innings, and although he found early conditions testing, closed the innings undefeated on 84.

Hawk-eye Hawley leads from the front
Hawk-eye Hawley leads from the front

The Millers secured a solitary bowling point when Dowman fell to Jayasinghe for 22, but James Oldham eased his side to victory alongside Hawley with 16 balls to spare. Defeat for the Millers has cut them well adrift at the bottom of the league table, while Caythorpe can be contented with 116 points from 10 games, as they moved into 5th spot.

Despite the two clubs’ varying fortunes, there was only one real winner for the day, that of raising awareness for MND.

CUCKNEY CLAMBER TO NARROW WIN AFTER CLIFTON CAPITULATION

Posted on

Cuckney opened up some daylight between themselves and Clifton Village at the top of the Nottinghamshire Premier League table with a nervy four wicket win over the South Notts side. Having been set an under-par victory total of just 116 runs, the hosts had to dig deep and inch across the line with four wickets to spare.

Despite being forced to bat first by their opponents, Clifton began their innings with minimal fuss. Tim Le Breton made an accomplished start at the top of the batting card, flicking balls to the boundary on both sides of the wicket. His timing was better than that of partner in crime, Scott McNeill though, whose vigil at the crease was cut short by Lewis Bramley. A thick outside edge was held by Ian Parkin at slip and McNeill could only trudge back to the pavilion for 5. When 39 runs were on the board for the loss of only 1 wicket, Langwith Road was shrouded in a blanket of heavy rain, and the prospect of further play looked uncertain. However, after a delay of 75 minutes, Clifton resumed their innings with added gusto. While Richard Harris was busy thrashing Bramley through cover, Le Breton continued his early season form by sweetly striking the fast bowlers down the ground. In the 8 overs after the restart, Clifton were scoring at a run a ball and when Le Breton passed 50, the visitors were thinking that a big score was on the cards. When the mainstay of the innings departed for 56 though – unfortunately picking out Will Butler with a fine sweep – disaster was on the horizon. Incredibly slipping from 101-2 to 111-9 in the space of 20 minutes, Clifton’s chances of securing a positive result were dealt a hammer blow.

First the dangerous overseas player, Shreyas Iyer was snaffled up in the slips for 2, before the disconsolate Martin Weightman was adjudged lbw without troubling the scorers. Caleb Mierkalns fared no better, again falling victim to the old enemy, that is, the leg before wicket. Cuckney were truly roused now and had their sixth wicket when Alastair Walters was gobbled up by Parkin once more. Butler continued to test the outside edge and this reaped further dividends as Caleb’s brother Dan nicked off. The Cuckney skipper completely grabbed the headlines when he claimed his sixth scalp of the day (with remarkably only 7 runs against his name), as Dominic Harvey tamely surrendered for a duck. Having battled hard for 39, it was time for Richard Harris to be sent on his way much to the delight of the bowler, Parkin. Clifton were put out of their misery when finally dismissed for 115; Luke Gunn was the final casualty having made a comparatively high score of 5.

When Cuckney began their pursuit of 116, there was a sense of anything you can do, we can do better. This was because, the run chase got off to an unimaginable start with Adam Burgess being dismissed to the very first ball of the innings. Nick Langford wasn’t in the mood to have a look before playing his shots either, but did so to better effect than Burgess. The left hander was largely dismissive of the threat posed by Harvey, taking the aerial route to the boundary fence on a couple of occasions. Having made 30 (38), the number 3’s innings came to a close when Weightman’s short leg side delivery was flicked round the corner. The glovesman Walters, showed superb reactions to take a very low catch to his right.

Weightman waits for Langford mistake
Weightman waits for Langford mistake

At 43-2, Cuckney still remained firm favourites, but they began to give the South Notts team encouragement with some undisciplined batting. Luke Thomas called for a suicidal single that put Dan Wood in real trouble. Despite the wicket keeper’s despairing dive, the agile Caleb Mierkalns ran him out for just 1. Another wicket was to follow when gangly spinner Iyer received sufficient bounce from the pitch to have Butler caught behind, which left Cuckney on the uncomfortable scoreline of 64-4. Thomas and Bramley successfully began to rebuild; the latter stroked four boundaries to help release the tension. Bramley couldn’t see his side over the line though courtesy of a cool Caleb Mierkalns catch which gave Le Breton his only wicket of the day. Luke Thomas pushed his team up to 109 runs before his gritty defence was broken by the fiery Weightman for 34 (88), but Richard Bostock and Joe Hayes held their nerve to earn Cuckney victory.

After the game, Butler admitted that his side made a meal of scoring the 116 runs, but was pleased with his own bowling performance.

With Plumtree overcoming Rolls Royce with consummate ease, they are hot on Cuckney’s heels,   11 points behind the league leaders. Leapfrogged by the “Plumdogs”, Clifton slip to third, now 6 ahead of Rolls and 8 points in front of the West Indian Cavaliers.

CUCKNEY MANAGE MILLERS THREAT TO COAST TO EIGHT WICKET WIN

Posted on

Cuckney moved to the summit of the Nottinghamshire Premier League table with a hard earned home victory against local rivals Mansfield Hosiery Mills. With Clifton falling to a somewhat surprising defeat at the hands of Plumtree, the North Notts side leapfrogged Clifton by successfully chasing down a score of 189-5.

Having won the toss and elected to field, Cuckney’s opening bowlers were eager to apply early pressure. Although the hosts struggled to break the opening wicket partnership between Gareth Curtis and Matt New, the visitors were stifled on a wet track, and only amassed 15 runs in the opening 12 overs. The first boundary of the day wasn’t the most spectacular either, as a rare loose delivery from Tom Driver was slashed over Ian Parkin’s head at slip and raced to the fence. Shortly afterwards though, New began to find the middle of the bat more often and a sumptuous straight drive for four drew generous applause from the supporters who braved the cool May breeze. He also secured the first maximum of the day with some brutal bottom hand off the bowling of spinner, Dave France. The shot momentarily caused play to be stopped on another of Cuckney’s pitches while the ball was retrieved from the field. The hosts finally claimed their first wicket with the score on 87. Curtis, who had registered an impressive 280 runs in his 4 innings before this match, failed to time the ball sweetly throughout his innings and eventually holed out to Nic Geisler on the boundary for 31 (93).

Overseas Cuckney bowler, Geisler, tests Curtis with some right arm fast.
Overseas Cuckney bowler, Geisler, tests Curtis with some right arm fast.

Matt New was not deterred though and alongside his brother Tom, a former Leicestershire and Unicorns player, marched on to make 62 runs. He met his match when another flighted Ian Parkin ball lured the batsman into a tentative chip which Geisler pouched once again. The fiery derby atmosphere was then cranked up a notch when Parkin alleged that a reverse sweep from Tom New flicked a glove on its way through to the keeper. Some unsavoury words were exchanged between the pair as the bowler questioned whether the Millers captain was playing the game in the right spirit. Nevertheless, the visitors weren’t given the run of the mill in the closing overs as the innings threatened to further peter out as Smallwood (16), Jayasinghe (7) and Rodgers (4) were all late casualties. New did provide some temporary fireworks for his side with a Dilshan inspired scoop for six off the innings’ penultimate ball as Hosiery Mills posted a respectable 189 given the pitch conditions.

The early stages of Cuckney’s reply were boosted by some erratic bowling from former player, Kieron Garside. Even when the seamer put the ball in the right areas, on one occasion he was unfortunate to see the ball divert off the pad for a boundary. Openers Luke Thomas and Adam Burgess were fastidiously patient for long periods before releasing the shackles. Burgess first swatted Matt New to the rope, before Thomas went one better to punish Kyle Garside for overpitching as he registered a maximum.

Luke-ing good: Thomas at his imperious best against Kyle Garside
Luke-ing good: Thomas at his imperious best against Kyle Garside

Dropped catches blighted Hosiery Mills’ assault on the Cuckney batting order, and the ever busy Matt New was the first guilty party when he couldn’t cling on to an edge from Burgess. That miss didn’t prove too costly though as George Hadfield showed a safer pair of hands to remove Burgess for 23 and secure a wicket for Kyle Garside. Cuckney immediately suffered another setback when, captain for the day, Nick Langford was given out lbw without troubling the scorers. That was as good as it got for the visiting team though as Thomas was the beneficiary of another two drops. The first was an incredibly sharp chance; the fielder palmed the ball up in the air, but his despairing dive couldn’t quite propel him close enough to the ball to take the catch. With Thomas on 76, Kyle Garside will be more disappointed with his missed caught and bowled, as again the ball just wouldn’t stick in the palm.

Thomas capitalised on these spurned opportunities to earn his second ton of the season, a largely majestic 100* which consisted of 5 fours and 4 sixes. He received more than adequate support from wicket-keeper batsman Dan Wood too, who proved the pitch didn’t have too many demons in it, by scoring 57* at more than a run a ball. Wood secured the victory with a cut through point as Cuckney eased over the line with 22 balls to spare.

After the game, I caught up with the Millers’ Gareth Curtis who insisted that his team were beaten by the better side, but would rectify matters next weekend against Ordsall Bridon.