So much happening. Let’s start with more Test cricket, of course. England had an almost perfect first day in the third Test at Headingley. Jimmy Anderson was on fire with the new ball, getting KL Rahul in the first over, Chesteshwar Pujara in the 5th over, and the most coveted wicket of Virat Kohli in the 11th over. It went downhill from there for India, with Craig Overton (from Somerset – more on them later) getting three wickets of his own, and the Indian team was bowled out right after tea for 78. England answered back with more runs from the openers than India got the whole first innings en route to 432 all out on Day 2. Day 3 has seen Pujara and Kohli battle back, ending the day with India at 215/2 and setting up a great Day 4 struggle to force a Day 5.
Pakistan evened their Test series with West Indies with a thumping win that was never really in doubt. Pakistan batted first and declared with 302/9, helped by Fawad Alam’s 124, and then raced through the Windies batting order as Shaheen Shah Afridi blitzed them for a 6-fer and a total of 150. The Green Machine tacked on 176/6 with another declaration, and Afridi added 4 more wickets to complete the easy 109 run victory. Afridi is only 21 and if he can keep going like this until he’s Jimmy Anderson’s age, may be the best fast bowler of all time.
The Hundred crowned its inaugural champions. The Men’s Competition was won by Southern Brave. Brave coasted to a 32 run win over Birmingham Phoenix, led by Irishman Paul Stirling’s 61 and some terrific death bowling by Tymal Mills and Chris Jordan. The Women’s Competition final was a master class by South Africa’s and Oval Invincible’s Marizanne Kapp, who top-scored with 26 and then destroyed the top and middle order of Southern Brave with 4 wickets, 13 dots and a ridiculous economy rate of a half-run per ball.
The Vitality Blast quarters were this week, and yeah, there were three other games, but in the one that mattered, Somerset was led in a thrilling chase by red-ball captain Tom Abell (seen above) to beat perennial Blast favorites Lancashire by 7 wickets. Abell finished 78* and was all class throughout. Roelof van der Merwe took four wickets for Somerset, including the vital one of Liam Livingstone, who was The Hundred season MVP for hitting about 8 million sixes so far that you could have stitched them together to reach the sun. All right, I’ll mention the other games. Sussex beat Yorkshire in a tight match that went to the third from the last ball. Rashid Khan hit some outrageous helicopter shots and a six where he never moved his feet at any point in the shot – it was all hands and wrists. Nottinghamshire, the defending champs and this year’s odds-on favorites, blew an absolute sitter of a chase, losing all 10 wickets and falling two runs short of a measly 125 total by Hampshire. Kent, another team that looks deadly this year, easily handled Birmingham to prevent the Bears from getting some home fixtures at Edgbaston on Finals Day. Matt Milnes took four wickets, including the castling of the surprising Jake Lintott, who had a huge Hundred season and was having a great time at the crease pretending to be Jack Black in “School Of Rock”, at least according to Mark Butcher on comms. Somerset will play Hampshire in the early game on Saturday, September 18th followed by Kent and Sussex. The winners come right back and play each other for the title in front of, by then, a whole lot of heavily taxed livers.
Women played this week! The Charlotte Edwards Cup resumed. Vipers suffered their first lost of the season to Central Sparks, South East beat Lancashire handily to tie Vipers atop Group A at 3-1, Northern Diamonds took the lead in Group B at 3-1 with a 19 run win over Sunrisers, and Western Storm evened their record at 2-2 with a win over Thunder. Marie Kelly led the scoring this week with an 18-four 100 for Sparks, an amazing performance considering it was against the then-undefeated Vipers. Nicole Harvey took 3 wickets for Western Storm.
The CPL is back! The first three fixtures are in the books, and the winners have been Patriots, Tallawahs and Warriors. Jamaica blasted 255 runs off the Saint Lucia Kings after the Kings won the toss and elected to bowl. Oops.
More women played! The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup Europe Region Qualifier is happening in Cartegena, Spain. There was a 7-fer by Netherlands bowler Frederique Overdijk against France. The pitch has not been great, as you can imagine from Netherlands only needing 34 runs to complete that chase. I have no idea what happens to the team that advances. The ICC web site is a labyrinth on a good day, and even worse on the Women’s side. I imagine the winners advance to the next stage to play another round robin tournament. I’ll leave that for you to figure out.
MiLC had some good games, none of which were in Texas, and I’m about typed out. Golden State Grizzlies fell to Silicon Valley Strikers and are no longer the last undefeated team. There was a sweet clean bowled by Honey Gori of US player Jaskaran Malhotra in a game between the Fort Lauderdale Lions and the Morrisville Cardinals in Morrisville, NC. Gori also plays for the Czech National Team. Czech him out (Sorry)!