Friday, 8 June 2018

The mysterious world of county second eleven cricket

Posted by Tony Hutton

Regular readers will be will aware of my fondness of county second eleven cricket, especially when played away from the first team stadiums and located on pleasant club grounds. So it was that this week we encamped to Clifton Park, York to see Yorkshire Second XI take on MCC Young Cricketers, this perennial band of strolling players from not only around the country but from overseas as well.
Tuesday 5th June produced a one day Trophy game, with nothing at stake for Yorkshire who could not qualify for the semi-finals due to the point deducted for an over-wide bat. However if the visitors were to win they would have finished level with the top two in the Northern Group, Warwickshire and Worcestershire and then it would be down to run rates.

MCC won the toss and batted with an impressive opening partnership of Ben Curran, brother of the Surrey and England pair, and Joe Barrett, who has been around the block, so to speak, in search of a county contract for some years. He was last seen scoring runs for Worcester Seconds on our recent trip to Barnt Green. This is where the invaluable County Second Eleven Annual comes into it's own as it enables you to find details of all the mysterious players that inhabit it's comprehensive pages. Barrett, it tells us was born in Oxfordshire, but has already played for the second elevens of Gloucester, Hants, Notts and Leicester.

This pair made an impressive start against first team opening bowlers Coad and Brooks, not being used by the senior eleven in the Royal London 50 over competition being played at the moment. They put on eighty together for the first wicket in only fourteen overs before Barrett was caught off Shaw for forty. Imtiaz, the wicket keeper soon followed caught behind off the other second string seamer, Wainman, for two. The introduction of off spinner Shutt brought the downfall of Curran, lbw for forty four and MCC had slumped from 80-0 to 91-3.

Good to see both Shutt and left arm spinner Logan, bowling their full quota of ten overs each, Shutt finishing with the best figures of 4-47 although Logan was the more economical with 1-27. Wickets fell at regular intervals for the remainder of the 50 overs innings, with continuing interest in the antecedents of each incoming batsman. The star prize must go to Jakob Bhula, not in the book, but further research revealed a man with four initials (J.J.N.P.) who had made his name batting for his native New Zealand in the Under 19 world cup in January, with a score of 180 against Kenya at that point the highest ever in this competition.

Jakob Bhula.

Today however he only made fourteen before becoming one of Shutt's victims. Other noteworthy batsmen came and went, F.J. Hudson-Prentice, an all rounder from Sussex, M.D. Lezar, a South African with Gloucestershire connections, who made a useful thirty and Ben Brookes from Warwickshire a left arm seamer whose brother did well for Warwickshire later in the week.

There was also yet another New Zealand Ben Sears, who had a rather unfortunate innings being twice hit on the helmet in the same over. He underwent a lengthy check from the physio before continuing but did not appear in the the three day game which followed later in the week. Yorkshire's Jack Brooks returned to the attack late on to pick up the last two wickets and MCC were all out to the first ball of the forty seventh over for a well below par score of 193.

Yorkshire opened with Alex Lees, so sadly out of form this season, and Academy captain and wicket keeper Ben Birkhead. Lees batted for just under an hour and made a fluent 43, including five fours, but then was rather surprisingly bowled by Oliver Birts, a slow left armer from Surrey. That proved to be the only wicket to fall as Birkhead and Leaning together then put on 107 together to take Yorkshire to a very comfortable nine wicket victory in the thirty eighth over. Birkhead was unlucky not to reach his century finishing on 94 not out in two and a quarter hours, with thirteen fours. He certainly looks a good prospect for the future in this modern world of wicket keeper batsmen.

The next instalment will cover the three day championship game between the same two teams.

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