Lord’s hasn’t been a happy home for Middlesex supporters in recent years, but when they win here they tend to win well. Last year their two Lord’s victories came by an innings, today the home fans saw 20 Essex wickets fall in a day, leaving success a formality.
It was billed as Steve Finn versus Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara, but in helpful conditions for the bowlers it was nothing of the sort. Finn looked very much an England bowler, noticeably quicker than anything else we’ve seen, and with his bounce and lateral movement was too much for most batsmen, even if he did continue his bad habit of falling away occasionally.
For Cook it was as though the winter never happened, as he prodded and poked at Corey Collymore, falling first lbw to the West Indian and then turning a return catch to Finn in the second knock. If Uncle obduracy himself couldn’t last it out what hope the rest of them? And so it proved…
Bopara fell twice to Finn, before tweeting, “No heavy rollers & tiflex balls is a recipe for low scores. Crap cricket!” Middlesex opener Scott Newman’s response was the closest thing to a contest all day, “dry your eyes big lad. No feet movement and loose shots is a recipie for nicking off lol”. A glance at yesterday’s scorecard would afford Bopara a smile. Newman c Foster b Topley 38.
Bopara is of course playing here after turning down the IPL because he wants to play for England. Heaven forbid there be any great loyalty to Essex. We’re constantly told that loyalty doesn’t exist in sport, and that’s never more obvious than when there’s Indian wonga involved – however understandably.
Owais Shah and Ryan ten Doeschate have no England cause to further, so you couldn’t see the ground for dust when the escape route was offered. You could forgive long-suffering Essex supporters for being a bit irked about two of their best batsmen being unavailable for six Championship matches – over a third of the season. The situation is exacerbated when the rest of the side bat like total numpties, but as it is they are on the verge of two defeats from two and the season is only a week old.
It makes you wonder what the point is of signing Owais Shah on exorbitant wages in the first place – what will Essex do with the compensation while he sits on the IPL sidelines? Splurge it on Dwayne Bravo for Twenty20 finals day again? And what exactly does Shah hope to gain from joining Essex other than a lucrative payday? Because at this moment it sure doesn’t look like it’s a return to the Championship first division.
Is the fault with the players for chasing the money, or the schedulers for doing their best to finish the whole season by June? Whoever’s to blame it makes you slightly grateful that more English players aren’t much kop at T20, as otherwise this would surely be more of an issue. As it is injuries and other bobbins mean Shah, Eoin Morgan and Michael Lumb are the only English players out in India at the moment. That Morgan and Shah, and the Dutch/ Saffer Ten Doeschate all would have been playing today localises the issue conveniently.
Yet imagine if all 37 English players who made themselves available for the IPL auction had been picked up. Imagine if Kent fans hadn’t even been able to watch Simon Cook for six weeks. It doesn’t even bear thinking about.