Monday, 15 June 2015

T20 roundup: Maxi(mum) Klinger and not much else = top of the league

The Jessop Tavern View is going to argue that this T20 recap has been justifiably delayed by the Shire's trademark inconsistency in the tournament so far. That or laziness. A great start against Middlesex was followed by a narrow loss to Sussex before a comfortable win against Essex made it two wins out of three.

Since then we've played four more games, winning two, leaving the boys handily placed at the top of the south group after 7 games. This hides a slightly concerning over-reliance on Maxy Klinger, whose remarkable run of T20 batting form reached new heights with a 69 not out, followed by back-to-back hundreds on consecutive days. Sadly both of these came in losing causes, against Essex away then Glamorgan at home, but still took him to the ludicrous tally of 403 runs without dismissal in this year's competition. A failure yesterday against Middlesex finally enabled him to achieve a tasty average of 413 in just 5 matches, with three hundreds already.

We note (thanks to the excellent Cricket Archive) that these tons take him into equal third on the all time domestic T20 hundreds list, alongside David Warner on 5 and behind only Brendon McCullum and the great Chris Gayle (a surely unbeatable 15!)

These are outstanding figures and it's a testament to the form shown by a man who also scored a hundred in one of his two championship matches since arriving from Australia. The benefits of an extended off-season after the Australian domestic season are clear for all to see.

Gloucestershire 157 for 1 (Klinger 69*, Cockbain 54*) beat Kent 156 for 6 (Bell-Drummond 31, Howell 3-18) by nine wickets

First up were Kent at run-friendly out ground Beckenham. Kent were restricted to 156 by a parsimonious spell from Benny the Frenchman, including dismissing in-form Sam Northeast for just 14. The result was never really in doubt once Klinger and O'Mish got cracking, putting on 60 for the first wicket, before Hamish was bowled having struck a six the previous delivery. This brought Ian Cockbain to the wicket and an unbeaten partnership of 97 allowed the boys to cruise to an easy victory with Klinger ending 69*.

Video highlights below:

Essex 181 (Pettini 68, Smith 3-26) beat Gloucestershire 163 for 7 (Klinger 104*, Napier 3-30) by 18 runs

The return fixture against Essex didn't go so well. The bowlers restricted a fast-improving Essex side to 181 all out, having been 98 for 1 after 10 overs. Tom Smith took 3-26 and got rid of dangermen Tom Westley and Bopara, while Fuller and Payne chipped in with two wickets each in economical spells. The problems started while batting, as a series of failures left Klinger the last man standing. Aside from Klinger, only James Fuller passed 20 and the fact that their 8th wicket stand of 71 was comfortably the highest of our innings tells the story. Klinger completed his second consecutive T20 hundred against Essex with a six off Shaun Tait, but truth be told we were never close to reaching our target. A disappointing loss, this. 181 was not a huge target at Chelmsford and the batsmen let down a decent bowling effort.

Video high lowlights of the Glos innings below

Glamorgan 191 for 3 (Rudolph 101*, Howell 2-24) beat Gloucestershire 172 for 6 (Klinger 104*) by 19 runs 

Another day, another unbeaten hundred for the skipper, but another bloody defeat for the 'Shire. Not a lot to write about this, other than this time we let Glamorgan score a healthy 191 which was always going to prove a challenging chase in increasingly dark and wet conditions down at Nevil Road. Jacques Rudolph carried his bat for the first T20 hundred of his career and his dominance was shown by the next highest score being Colin Ingram's 28.

Glamorgan then executed an exemplary bowling and fielding effort, with only Klinger able to make batting look easy. We were never really in the contest after slumping to 90 for 4 in the 13th over and changing the batting order to bring in the sloggers early didn't really help matters. That said, Klinger stuck around while continuing to blast the ball to all parts and you can't help but think the chase would have been easier had anyone else been able to keep him company for more than a few overs at a time.

Gloucestershire 214 for 4 (Cockbain 75, Howell 57) beat Middlesex 171 (Simpson 74, Payne 5-24) by 43 runs

So, to yesterday's match at Old Deer Park in Richmond. Luckily Middlesex aren't very good at T20 and have actually not beaten the 'Shire in 8 attempts. This proud record continued, as the rest of the boys finally realised that Klinger can't continue to score almost 60% of the side's runs and upped their game accordingly. Ian Cockbain returned to some T20 nick with a commanding 75, including 6 sixes, and Monsieur Benny managed a T20-best 57. Cymbals even had an enjoyable thrash at the end in making an unbeaten 34, as Glos ran up an excellent total of 214 for 5.

As with so many T20 matches, losing early wickets when chasing a big target quickly signifies 'game over man'. Once Miles dismissed Paul Stirling for 13, it was left to David Payne to clean up with an excellent 5-24. His haul included John Simpson, one of the few Middlesex batsmen to show signs of life with 74, and were the best so far in this season's NatWest Blast.

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