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Musings from Beyond the Boundary – 1 October

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

It may not quite be summer, but it certainly is time for cricket, with the White Ferns in action across the Tasman – unfortunately  stumbling in a high-scoring first T20i in spite of Katey Martin’s unbeaten 56 from 34 balls. The opening round of the Plunket Shield is little more than a week away, and in the meantime the Aces jetting off to Abu Dhabi to take on some of the world’s best in the inaugural Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy.

In Abu Dhabi the Aces will join teams from England, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and Afghanistan in a three day long T20 competition. When the tournament was first announced earlier in the year the sixth team was said to be a local eleven from the United Arab Emirates, but it was very recently announced that in fact it would be the Aces who would be joining the global gathering.

This will be a superb experience for the young and inexperienced Auckland team, bereft of so many players involved with the Black Caps and New Zealand A squads also heading for that part of the world. This creates the perfect opportunity for new faces to make an impact, and for some of the young talent who’ve performed so promisingly over the last couple of seasons to step into the international limelight. We wish them every success as they play the teams from South Africa and Afghanistan in their quest to qualify for next Saturday’s Final.

The tournament concludes on Saturday 6 October and the Aces then fly back to take on Wellington at the Basin Reserve on Wednesday in the opening round of the Plunket Shield.  Last season’s nemesis Michael Papps has retired, but Jimmy Neesham has moved north from Otago to join the Firebirds and he has already spoken of his substantial ambitions for this summer.

As the southern season swings into gear, the final titles have been decided in England.  Surrey took out the First Division of the County Championship and Jeetan Patel’s Warwickshire earned promotion with their winning performance in the Second Division. Patel, in his first season as Warwickshire captain, sealed the victory as he led his side to an innings victory over runners-up Kent in the last match of the season.

For Kent, Matt Henry signed off his spectacular summer by top-scoring with 32 not out from number 10 in the order, a score matched by Patel in Warwickshire’s only turn at bat. Henry finished the season as the top wicket-taker in either Division   with 75 victims at 15.5, and in the Second Division only six bowlers ended up with more than Patel’s 56 wickets, taken at a cost of 22.8 each.

Another noteworthy Kiwi performance came from former Central Districts all-rounder Kieran Noema-Barnett, who topped the Gloucestershire batting averages with 35.9 from his eight games – though five not outs did help him a little.

In the First Division, former Auckland Ace Matt Quinn got a couple of late runs in the Essex first team, finishing with 12 wickets at 25.5 in his three first class outings for the summer.

Unfortunately though, Jeet Raval didn’t quite find any momentum during his short end-of-season spell with Yorkshire, and his highest score in seven innings was just 21. Interestingly for an opening batsman of such solid technique, Raval was bowled in five of those seven innings, and dismissed lbw on another occasion. He may be looking forward to less seam-friendly conditions when he takes the field shortly for the Black Caps against Pakistan.

A very interesting article appeared on ESPNCricinfo recently, looking at the players who’ve played the most cricket in the twelve months to the end of August – and that man Jeetan Patel just can’t stay out of the headlines. In the twelve months under consideration no-one bowled more balls across first class, List A and top level T20 matches than his 6,134 deliveries.

Astonishingly this is the third consecutive year that he has been the hardest-worked bowler in the world, and since 2012 no one has taken more than his 383 County Championship wickets, nor bowled as many overs. Just for good measure he played 110 days of top class cricket in the year to August, and only four people played more than that: Patel’s tally matched that of England captain Joe Root.

And Patel’s 23 first class games in the year were just one fewer than the most played by anyone – and the same as Alastair Cook, whose tally included 14 tests.

Just for good measure, Tom Latham played the second most List A matches for the year – 30, including sixteen ODIs. And only five players turned out in more than Brendon McCullum’s 45 T20 matches.

Buoyed by his superb IPL series, Kane Williamson faced more balls in T20 cricket in the last year than anyone other than England’s Jos Buttler, who occupied the crease for just seven more deliveries. Behind Williamson in third spot was the busy Brendon McCullum, who celebrated his thirty-seventh birthday last week.

Enjoy the start of the season – rarely has there been so much cricket to look forward to so early in a New Zealand summer!

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