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Recent Match Report – Lancashire vs Durham, Twenty20 Cup (England), North Group



Lancashire 189 for 3 (Croft 65* Maxwell 58) beat Durham 117 (Steel 58) by 72 runs

It turns out that Glenn Maxwell, as far away from a synthetic cricketer as it is possible to get, just needed an artificial pitch to put his English summer to rights.

Well, not an artificial pitch exactly, a hybrid pitch, used for the first time in English county cricket by Lancashire at Old Trafford (unless somebody else is keeping a secret) as they made light work of Durham by 73 runs.

At least 10 counties have installed hybrid strips, with The Kia Oval housing as many as six on their square. Although the majority are used chiefly as practice nets, confidence in them is growing and several others could potentially stage a match during the Blast.

Although the ECB plan to study the pitches on a variety of measures – how much they seam or swing; how fast or bouncy – the initial verdict is a positive one. The pitch appeared to have good pace and carry and Lancashire, in making 189 for 3, struck nine sixes, only two short of their T20 record.

Maxwell, who had an undistinguished World Cup for Australia, averaging only 22 with the bat without a half-century to his name and not taking a wicket in 49 overs, must have been sick of the sight of English grass by the time the hosts picked up the trophy at Lord’s a week ago.

But give him up to five percent polyethylene yarn sewn into the Old Trafford pitch and he strutted his stuff again, blazing 58 from 33 balls with four sixes before he top-edged a sweep against the left-arm spin of his fellow Australian, D’Arcy Short, to deep square.

Hybrid pitches are not destined to play a part in Championship cricket – at least not Championship cricket as we know it – because they don’t wear naturally in the time-accustomed manner so robbing the longer format of much of its charm.

But that hardiness – up to five times more wear – could be a saviour for tired English squares, especially on Test grounds with demands growing ever greater and The Hundred scheduled to begin next summer.

Maxwell’s second-wicket stand of 93 in 52 balls with Steven Croft was the centrepiece of Lancashire’s victory in front of a crowd of 13,710 – a Lancashire record for a non-Roses T20 tie at Old Trafford.

Croft had a successful afternoon, too, batting through for 63 from 45 balls – the sixth Lancashire batsman to achieve it in T20 – opening for Lancashire for the first time since Leicester at Liverpool early in 2009 because of injury to Liam Livingstone and making light of the fact he received only 36 percent of the strike. His contract is up at the end of the season, but, at 34, he is having a good one.

His verdict on the hybrid pitch was a positive one. “It was good,” he said. “We have netted on them last year and this year. It played well and the pace felt really nice. We have a brilliant slow-bowling department and they got a bit out of it as well. So it’s thumbs up from us.”

Three of Maxwell’s four sixes actually came off full tosses, leaving a possibility that an ECB analyst might have to stride onto the square and request that for the benefits of research could they please make more of an effort to locate the cut bit.

Two successive full bungers from Ben Raine took Maxwell past 50, the first six mishit and barely making it, the second leaving nothing in doubt. The one that bounced, from Short, finished on the pavilion TV gantry.

The best shot of all, though, came from Alex Davies, who hauled Brydon Carse over midwicket into Brain Statham Way. Carse is a physically more imposing figure than he was a couple of years ago, and bowls a quick ball, but his figures filled out, too, and his four overs went for 51.

Durham did not even manage nodding acquaintance with the target. They were dismissed for 117 inside 17 overs and that included opener Scott Steel‘s spirited 58.

James Faulkner’s third ball removed Short’s off stump and Maxwell ran out Ben Raine out with a direct from mid-on at the non-striker’s end as Durham ended the Powerplay feebly at 30 for 2.

One wicket was particularly poignant. Matthew Parkinson’s mother, Maria, had died suddenly last week and when Lancashire’s legspinner had Durham’s captain Stuart Poynter caught at short fine-leg he pointed to the sky in celebration before receiving hugs from all his team-mates. He is a fine prospect and given any sort of fair wind he will do her proud.

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Recent Match Report – Hampshire vs Essex, Twenty20 Cup (England), South Group



Essex Eagles 139 for 7 (Lawrence 73) tied with Hampshire 139 for 6 (Northeast 69)

Hampshire and Essex Eagles tied for a second year in a row as Adam Zampa ran half-century maker Sam Northeast out off the last ball of a thrilling match.

Hampshire, chasing 140 to win, needed 11 off the final over, having previously required 42 from three overs, before pulling it down to two runs from the last ball.

With Northeast, who was on 72, on strike the batsman struck down the ground but could only find Zampa – who easily had Northeast out his ground attempting a second.

Northeast had turned the match around with 73 from 56 balls, with the match seemingly Essex’s to win before the nervy finale.

The shared points helps neither side in their hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals – they both sit on 11 points, two points adrift of Somerset and Middlesex.

Having won the toss and chosen the bowl Hampshire struck early. Chris Wood continued his incredible first-over wicket-taking record when he had Tom Westley lbw to the first delivery of the match – it was the fifth time in this season’s Blast the left-armer had stuck in his first over.

Kyle Abbott copied Wood in the next over as Essex were left 3 for 2 when Cameron Delport was brilliantly caught behind by Lewis McManus.

Dan Lawrence and Adam Wheater then ambled along at around six an over in an 83-run stand for the third wicket to revive the innings – before Wheater was caught on the square boundary.

Lawrence continued, though, with a series of delightful shots through and over the covers, to go with a towering six over midwicket. He passed 1,000 T20 runs and a 13th fifty of the season across all formats, off 37 balls.

But as with his first 12 half-centuries, Lawrence couldn’t convert to three figures as he picked out Ian Holland at backward point while attempting a reverse scoop.

Ryan ten Doeschate plumb lbw to Chris Morris and Abbott yorking Ravi Bopara and Simon Harmer in the same over to take figures of three for 15, also departed – leaving the Eagles on 139 for 7.

Like Essex earlier, Hampshire lost both openers early on as James Vince and Rilee Rossouw both picked out Ravi Bopara on the point rope.

Northeast and Liam Dawson attempted to rebuild for the hosts but despite running hard between the wickets they struggled to hit boundaries in their 68-run alliance.

With seven overs to go, and only four fours between them, the required rate was up and 10 an over – with Dawson departing for 31 off 34 balls during that 14th over after slogging a sweep straight to cow corner.

But thanks to some clever striking from Northeast, whose half century came in 46 balls with five fours, Hampshire ground themselves back into contention.

Chris Morris and James Fuller, 17 off 12, both departed but Northeast and Lewis McManus collected 11 off the 18th over, 19 from the 19th over and managed to slice past the 11 needed off the final Mohammad Amir over before the last ball hijinx.

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Recent Match Report – Birmingham Bears vs Northamptonshire, Twenty20 Cup (England), North Group



Northamptonshire 153 for 6 beat Birmingham Bears 150 for 6 by four wickets

Faheem Ashraf saw Northamptonshire home with two balls to spare as his side beat Birmingham Bears by four wickets on a golden afternoon at Edgbaston to keep the visitors hopes alive of qualifying for the Vitality Blast quarter-finals.

Northants began the day having to win their last three matches to reach the top four of the North Group and were cruising in a chase of 151 at 128 for 2 in the 15th over. But wickets began to tumble and five were left from five balls. Ashraf then guided Henry Brookes wide of third man for two before striking the winning boundary over extra cover.

Defeat for the Bears ended their chances or reaching the top four as they slipped bottom of the table with two matches to play.

The home side chose to bat on a used wicket but slumped to 109 for 5 in the 17th over only for Will Rhodes, with 45 in 31 balls, and Chris Green, 23 from 13 to boost them to 150 for 6, taking 20 runs from the final seven balls of the innings.

Before then, the Northants’ spinners had a grip on the innings with turn available. Rob Keogh spun one sharply past Matt Lamb’s inside edge to bowl him for just one and deceived Adam Hose to have him stumped for 24. Left-arm spinner Graeme White also earned a stumping when Dom Sibley advanced and missed an off drive to fall for 24 in 20 balls.

Rhodes kept the Bears together – twice slog-sweeping to the short leg-side fence – and the blast from Green in the final over, hitting three fours off Ben Sanderson, gave the home side something to defend.

The Northants chase was given a bright start by Richard Levi, who made a timely return to form in making 44 from 27 balls – his highest score in the competition this season. He took three fours from Oliver Hannon-Dalby’s opening over before dealing with Jeetan Patel’s offspin by twice sweeping him for four. Levi eventually fell trying to hit Rhodes over mid-off but he laid the platform for the pursuit at 73 for 2 in the eighth over.

Captain Josh Cobb then shared a stand of 55 in seven overs that appeared to have put the game to bed, Cobb striking two sixes into the Raglan Stand. But trying to repeat the shot he holed out to deep midwicket for 42 from 36 balls and when Dwaine Pretorius’ measured 26 from 24 balls was ended by a superb low return catch by Patel, work was left for the Northants middle order.

The task appeared straightforward with 16 needed from 18 balls but Alex Wakely and Keogh couldn’t find the boundaries that would have killed the game. One reserve-sweep from Wakely earned four past backward point but Keogh was bowled swinging at Green’s final delivery and Wakely then fell to a Brookes nip-backer first ball of the final over.

Suddenly the Bears sensed a chance and Tom Sole would have run himself out taking a run straight to mid-on had Lamb’s throw struck. Ashraf, with four needed from four, then took over to win the game.

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Recent Match Report – Yorkshire Diamonds vs Southern Vipers, Women’s Cricket Super League, 26th Match



Yorkshire Diamonds 185 for 6 (Rodrigues 112*) beat Southern Vipers 184 for 4 (Bates 47, Wyatt 42, Davidson-Richards 3-21) by four wickets

Jemimah Rodrigues‘ magnificent unbeaten 112 from 58 balls guided Yorkshire to victory, secured off the final ball by Linsey Smith.

But the Diamonds knew only a bonus-point victory would keep their chances alive. To secure that, they needed to chase 185 inside 16 overs.

Despite Rodrigues’ efforts, Suzie Bates‘ 47 and a rapid 42 from Danni Wyatt helped Vipers to a total that was only chased down on the final ball.

Vipers will face Loughborough Lightning in the semi-final for the chance to take on Western Storm.

Yorkshire lost their openers inside the Powerplay at the start of their chase – both to Tash Farrant – as Lauren Winfield departed for a second-ball duck and Alyssa Healy was caught for 22.

India star Rodrigues was aggressive from the outset, hitting eight boundaries in her first 20 balls to reach 42. Her half-century came from 26 deliveries and her partnership with Hollie Armitage stretched to 90 from 54 balls to take Yorkshire to 118 for two in the 13th over.

But the Diamonds quickly fell to 121 for five. Amanda-Jade Wellington trapped Armitage for 23 and also dismissed Bess Heath two balls later for a duck, before Fi Morris had Alice Davidson-Richards caught behind.

Rodrigues was undeterred, striking cleanly to all parts of the ground. She guided Yorkshire to within striking distance, needing 17 from 12 balls. Her century came from 51 balls and included 16 fours and one six.

There were 10 runs needed from the final over, with Smith’s single off the final ball clinching victory.

Earlier, Wyatt continued her sensational form by blasting 42 from just 20 balls inside the powerplay – taking her to 267 runs in her last four innings. She launched her second ball for six, taking seven fours and another six before skying one to Davidson-Richards as Leigh Kasparek made the breakthrough.

Opening partner Bates allowed Wyatt to provide the acceleration, pacing her innings perfectly. She steadily began to build momentum, on several occasions placing the ball perfectly down the ground.

Beaumont’s innings was full of ingenuity, punctuated by a string of sweeps and scoops. It was her wicket, dismissed by Davidson-Richards for a 29-ball 33, which ended the partnership at 76 from 51 balls in the 15th over.

Davidson-Richards struck again three balls later as Bates fell for 47 from 39 balls and Yorkshire began to claw back control at 127 for three.

Thea Brookes came and went for a run-a-ball seven – a third for Davidson-Richards – but a superb partnership of 43 from 20 balls between Maia Bouchier and Wellington guided the Vipers to 184 for four.

Vipers’ final group game is at home to Loughborough on Wednesday, with Yorkshire away at Western Storm.

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