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Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 24 June

Musings from beyond the boundary – cricketing thoughts through the eyes of Trevor Auger, an Auckland Cricket Society and Supporters Club Member.

This summer in England the Counties are celebrating 50 years since the relaxation of the qualification rules which opened the door to overseas professionals playing in the English domestic game. This move completely changed the character of the English game, and introduced the possibility of year-round cricket for the world’s top players.

To mark this anniversary, Wisden have asked a local expert from each county to pick their top three overseas players from those fifty years, and the results, at www.wisden.com, make fascinating reading.

Inevitably Sir Richard Hadlee tops the list for Nottinghamshire, alongside his old captain, the late Clive Rice, while third pick for the county is not their first overseas player, Sir Garry Sobers, but the Australian, David Hussey. Hussey played for the county from 2004 to 2013 scoring 6,312 first class runs at 61 and almost 4,000 more in limited overs cricket: a great illustration that a player needn’t be an international star to offer extraordinary value to their county team.

Similarly, Glenn Turner is a straightforward selection for Worcestershire, alongside Graeme Hick and Tom Moody. In Turner and Hick the county has the last two batsmen to complete a thousand runs in England before the end of May, so their place in the county cricket pantheon is unarguable. Hick, of course, started his county career as an arrival from Zimbabwe, before going on to qualify for England.

Less predictable was the appearance of John Wright second on the list for Derbyshire, nestled between Michael Holding and Eddie Barlow. Wright headed off prolific batsmen like his old county opening partner Peter Kirsten and the Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin. ‘Selector’ Kim Barnett noted simply that Wright “could bat on all pitches and churn the runs out”. Most New Zealand cricket followers would agree.

Perhaps the most intriguing selection was Jeetan Patel, at the top of the list for Warwickshire, with Brian Lara and Allan Donald, two undisputed greats of the game, making up the trio. Patel has long been held in high regard in England, with his county exploits earning him selection as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year in 2015, while this year he is the county’s captain.

Warwickshire have had some very good overseas players over the years – names like Lance Gibbs, Alvin Kallicharran, Shaun Pollock and Rohan Kanhai – so for Patel’s name to be elevated above such distinguished company is something very special for the Wellingtonian.

The week wasn’t such a good one for Patel on the field though, as his side went down to Kent by 73 runs. The damage had been done in Warwickshire’s first innings when they were out for just 125, with Matt Henry grabbing 4/54. Henry followed up with another brace in the second innings to continue his prolific summer.

Kent will be looking to Henry to lead the way for them in the Final of the Royal London One Day Cup at Lord’s later this week. Their opposition will be Worcestershire who also warmed up well with their first four-day win of the season, against Lancashire.

They were helped along by Martin Guptill, playing his first match for his new team, who scored 111 in a 215-run second innings opening partnership with Daryl Mitchell, who contributed centuries in each innings. Lancashire’s Keaton Jennings also scored a hundred, so four three-figure scores by opening batsmen through the match and an impressive start to Guptill’s county sojourn.

Ross Taylor was also in the runs scoring 146 in Nottinghamshire’s win over Essex. Again the damage had been dome in the first innings when Essex collapsed to 130/7 after Taylor’s team had made 380. Neil Wagner then added 37 off just 23 balls to help lift the score to 185 when he was ninth out, but the eventual first innings tally of 206 was never enough. It was a quiet match for Wagner with the ball, following up 1/87 in Nottinghamshire’s big first innings with 2/43 in the second.

A mixed week for the White Ferns who followed up their record-breaking T20 win against South Africa with a stumble against England, who had in turn lost to South Africa earlier in the day.

This is a tough competition, with one side playing two matches each day of the round-robin part of the series. Spare a thought for the South Africans who ended up conceding consecutive record women’s T20i scores in both their first day matches. They took their revenge beating England in the first match of the home side’s double-header to set up an exciting final round in Bristol on the 28th, when it will be New Zealand’s turn to back up.

England go into the final day of pool play with two wins, while New Zealand and South Africa share one apiece, so this is still anyone’s tournament.

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