Stirling Remains Strong Throughout

Enthralled fan
By Fozzie
July 6 2018

A pulsating, enthralling, exasperating but ultimately joyous start to our T20 campaign, and of course putting one over Surrey is always a cause for celebration. Those of you watching on TV will have had a far clearer view of the ins and outs than I did from the back of the Upper Tavern, so rather than a blow-by-blow account here are some random thoughts and impressions.


 Starting with:

An oxymoron

A beautiful summer evening, a packed-out Lord’s, and the two teams come on to the field….to the accompaniment of the Lightning Seeds singing “football’s coming home”. What’s that all about? Give us back our cricket season!


A mixed day in the field

I thought we looked a bit off the pace at first, with Burns benefitting from consecutive boundaries in the opening over off a missed chance by Bravo (of whom more anon) and a misfield. Cue a close-up of the unfortunate bowler, Tom, looking somewhat disenchanted with life.  And it looked like Surrey might get away from us in the power play, despite an early wicket by Stirlo.  I got rather perplexed by the continual bowling changes in the first eight overs, and at times it seemed as if Dawid Malan had almost too many options – James Fuller seemed surplus to requirements, while, bizarrely, Ravi was only given two overs after Stirlo and Nathan had already shown the effectiveness of spin. 

Rickeee Clarke made a very impressive 50, showing all his experience and wiles, but just when he might have taken the game away from us he made a huge mistake, trying an extravagant scoop of the first ball of Tom’s spell at the death. Hilton ran out Pope in the same over, and Tom and Bravo took the wind right out of the Surrey sails for the rest of the innings.  158 seemed somewhat under par.


The legend that is Paul Stirling 

Just a brilliant all-round performance, starting with four single-over spells against the Surrey top order, taking 3-26 and a smart diving catch off his own bowling. Then a wonderful knock of 66, initially keeping the ball on the ground before launching Morkel for two big 6s once he had his eye in. He was simply a joy to watch, and he even found time to pick up the Player of the Month award for June in the interval.

I hoped that Stirlo wouldn’t take Nora Batty on, though I did enjoy Nora’s dropped return catch. Still, you can’t really complain when someone who’s going as well as him gets caught on the boundary, having basically set up the victory. Even though Gubbo (a good knock, ticking along at a run a ball and giving the strike to Stirlo as much as possible) was out next ball. But that brought in


Dwayne “the champion” Bravo

As the PA announced him, and for all I know is contractually obliged to do so. Bravo had had a mixed start, with that missed chance and his first three deliveries being a wide and two boundaries, though his bowling at the death made amends. Now neither he nor Eski had faced a ball, but there was only 70 to win off 11 overs. So what does he do? Only try to hit the second ball he faced out of the ground, giving a simple catch. Eski goes next ball, and we’re on an omnicluster, with yet again two batsmen who haven’t faced a ball. 

The description “glory-hunter” sprung to mind, and I couldn’t help noticing that as Bravo slowly trudged back to the bench he went to sit alone and nobody came to speak to him. Though maybe I’m reading too much into that. But anyway, that brought in


Our other overseas player

Now I don’t think one could describe Hilton Cartwright as a star, and one definitely wouldn’t want to stake the mortgage on his batting.  But he seems to me to be appreciated by his team-mates for always trying to put a shift in, and he, Simmo and JK delivered sensible, level-headed batting, with plenty of good running between the wickets, to see us home. I was really pleased for Hilton, and for JK too who played a very good cameo just when it was needed. Phew!


Surrey get their excuses in early

 I gather that much was made of the absentees from the Surrey team, and even Kevin Hand was getting in on the act. So kudos to someone called Alex who tweeted Kevin to point out that we were missing Morgan, Agar, Finny and TRJ without making a big fuss about it. Sometimes you just have to do your talking on the field…


On to Chelmsford…


So, a great start, but now we’ve got to do it all over again 24 hours later at Chelmsford. The batting looks a bit suspect, particularly with Mala returning to England.  Try not to leave it all to Stirlo to do, lads!

pqs: qs:
Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: Middlesex till we die (IP Logged)
Date: 06/07/2018 05:38

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Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2018:07:10:08:56:45 by BarmierKev.

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: chunkyinargyll (IP Logged)
Date: 06/07/2018 06:11


Good word. Better than the omnishambles that it nearly became, when we lost four wickets for one run in seven balls.

Rob Key made the point we all know too well- When Stirling does well, we do well, when he doesn't, we don't.

Relocate the team north of the border and call it Stirlingshire.

I wonder if Patel only got two overs because we don't want him doing too well, because Agar will taking his place from match 4.

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: BarmierKev (IP Logged)
Date: 06/07/2018 06:16

Thanks Fozzie for your observations.

I couldn't agree more re the "football's Coming Home music". It was most annoying especially during tension at end. Then there was Sweet Caroline played when game seemed to be game slipping away from us. The crowd were non partisan and atmosphere was generated through the whim of PA system.

In Upper tav I had two guys next me checking their work spreadsheets , the guy on front picture of report checking his phone non stop. Then there were so called Middlesex fans who thought losing 4 wickets for one run amusing and then asking me wearing Middlesex colours what team i was supporting.

As for "champion" . Don't get me stated.

Sorry I missed you Fozzie as we would have shared similar whinges. Anyway we won which is most important matter to me anyway . Shame about the other 90% of crowd.

Barmy Kev
I'm only here for the tele

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: Fozzie (IP Logged)
Date: 06/07/2018 07:18

I took a rather more benign and optimistic view of the crowd, feeling that they would have enjoyed it, will come back, and its two fingers up to the ECB. And after the Big Bash everything seemed very restrained.

As for The Champion - I think people who know me consider me to be a mild-mannered chap, but I was spitting nails.

Stirlingshire - like it, Chunky!

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: Korean Middle Saxon (IP Logged)
Date: 06/07/2018 10:06

Thanks for the report, and I heartily agree with most of the comments above. I feared the worst after those early, demoralising misfields, and I'm still convinced we would have lost without Stirling. Is he available for the whole 20/20 campaign or does he have some international commitments?

As for the crowd, I think my ecumenicism was tested beyond the limit yesterday. Sitting in front of a group of accountants, I heard one of them indefatigably boring his commendably unresponsive colleagues with some less-than-colourful anecdotes about client conference calls, particularly when Stirling was in full cry. Shame on him and forgive me, gentle reader, but I really wanted to get up, grab him by the neck, and proclaim Stirling's genius directly into his ears.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:07:06:10:06:54 by Korean Middle Saxon.

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: Jonathan Winsky (IP Logged)
Date: 06/07/2018 18:32

I have attended a few Twenty20 matches when I have felt dissatisfied about how attentive those sitting near me have been to the cricket, and how appropriate the music played was to the state of the match. However, yesterday wasn’t too bad, with about my only criticism of the atmosphere being that when a boundary was scored off the final ball of an over, the big screen often showed something like the crowd dancing rather than a replay of the boundary. Despite the fact I didn’t consume any alcohol, I actually enjoyed it when Three Lions and Sweet Caroline were played, and I joined in, as I rarely get the chance to release the tension I build up from work.

Ireland’s next match seems not to be until 20th August, which is after the end of the Twenty20 group stages, so hopefully Paul Stirling will be available for our whole campaign.

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: Seaxe_Man (IP Logged)
Date: 07/07/2018 11:19

With regard to the 'football's coming home' renditions. In days of yore between the years 1945 and mid to late eighties there were a large number of professional footballers who also played county cricket.

This was possible back then, as the seasons did not overlap by much.

To name some I can recall: Arthur Milton - Arsenal and Gloucestershire. Ted Hemsley - Worcs and Sheff U. Jim Standen - Worcs and West Ham Jim Cumbes WBA and Lanky/Worcs and coming to MX. The comptons - Arsenal and MX - pre WW2 Joe Hulme Arsenal and MX and more recently Sid Russell - Brentford and MX.

In living memory The Gattings. Mike was on Watford's books as a junior and Steve played for MX 2nds and Arsenal, Brighton and Charlton.

Back in the 60's and seventies Gloucestershire had at least five either Bristol City or Rovers playing for them. And oh Chris Balderstone Leics/Yorkshire and Carlisle United.

He along with some of the others were later first class umpires.

I guess the purpose of the' football's coming home' rendition was to raise encouragement for England across the board.

And drown out the doom and gloom merchants constantly in ascendancy in the media over recent years.

Hallelujah to that.

I doubt any of the above gentleman would be fussed.

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: adelaide (IP Logged)
Date: 07/07/2018 12:27

Ian Gould was a goalkeeper in the Gunners' youth team.

Keith Barker is unusual; he had his football career first and then became a pro cricketer.

Ian Botham played a bit for Scunthorpe, didn't he?

Hignell mixed top class rugby union and cricket, which I think is a more unusual combo.


Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: Fozzie (IP Logged)
Date: 07/07/2018 14:35

In the 1980s / 90s Steve Ogrizovic played Minor Counties cricket for Shropshire, while the Scotland goalie Andy Goram also represented his country at cricket.

The former England captain MJK Smith was also a rugby international. Not surprisingly, playing both cricket and rugby at a top level is less uncommon in New Zealand. One double international was Brian MacKechnie, who as far as cricket is concerned is best remembered as the batsmen who faced Trevor Chappell's notorious underarm delivery.

Seaxe Man - if we have to have PA-led signaling, Three Lions is an excellent choice. But I do find it an odd choice of music to accompany the introduction of two teams at the outset of a domestic cricket competition.

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: Haringey Racer (IP Logged)
Date: 07/07/2018 14:54

Joe Gatting was also a pro footballer before giving it up in favour of cricket. He later played semi-pro football for various clubs and once filled in as goalkeeper when the regular keeper was unavailable. He scored a last-minute penalty to secure a 1-1 draw.

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: Bagpuss (IP Logged)
Date: 07/07/2018 15:36

Phil Neale played for and latterly captained Worcestershire whilst racking up over 350 caps for Lincoln City in the 80s. Probably the last of the true two-sport professionals.

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: chunkyinargyll (IP Logged)
Date: 07/07/2018 16:41

Surprised no one has mentioned Chris Balderstone.

There was a bloke called Cross who played for Essex a few times in the 60's- and I think West Ham. Can't remember his first name.

Didn't Geoff Hurst play a game for Essex, or have I dreamt it?

Yes he did!

Slightly less than outstanding- one match- highest score 0 not out, and didn't bowl.


Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: Fozzie (IP Logged)
Date: 07/07/2018 16:50

[quote chunkyinargyll]Surprised no one has mentioned Chris Balderstone.

There was a bloke called Cross who played for Essex a few times in the 60's- and I think West Ham. Can't remember his first name. quote]

Seaxe Man mentioned Balderstone.

I think that was Graham Cross, who played for Leicester City for many years.

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: adelaide (IP Logged)
Date: 07/07/2018 16:55

Balderstone was mentioned in SM's first post.

Graham Cross, was it - I think he played in at least one Cup Final for Leicester City and played his cricket for Leicestershire.

Arnie Sidebottom played for Man U and Yorkshire.

I have a feeling that Tony Cottey started off as a footballer before becoming a regular Glamorgan cricketer.

It's never going to happen again for top level footballers. Why risk injury playing professional level cricket? Lower league perhaps.

Cliff Jones turned out at fly half for one of the Saracens teams after packing up football.


Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: rod/ed (IP Logged)
Date: 07/07/2018 18:07

Did Lineker play for Leicester 2s?

I once played in a match where Gerry Neef (a German goalkeeper who played for Rangers ) was guesting for the opposition. I stumped him first ball, but he was allowed to stay in since he didn't know the rules/laws.

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: PaulR_enfield (IP Logged)
Date: 07/07/2018 21:02

Could be wrong but I think Geoff Hurst played occasionally for Essex 2's.

On a slightly diiferent tack wasn't Steve Harmison manager of a non league football club oop north when he retired from cricket?

Re: Stirling Remains Strong Throughout
Posted by: Jonathan Winsky (IP Logged)
Date: 08/07/2018 19:47

If someone said to me a couple of years ago that the England football team would reach the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup and I was asked what I anticipated Joe Hart would be doing when the match took place, I would have said that surely Hart would be playing in goal for England in said match. However, Hart yesterday spent the day playing for Shrewsbury CC and didn’t watch the football.

Although the days are over whereby someone can play professional cricket in the summer and professional football in the winter, it is still possible for a youngster to be considered capable of playing professionally in both sports and to possibly be involved in an academy in both sports. There are a few players around who have been in this situation. Not everyone opts for football, as I am sure that a few current cricketers have been in football academies. However, whereas in the old days a player could play cricket in summer and football in winter, nowadays they have to make a decision at some point in their teen years as to which sport to pursue. Damien D’Oliveira felt that Hart could have lead the Worcesetershire bowling attack, although Hart eventually opted for football. I know that it was thought that Phil Neville could have played cricket at a high level, but he eventually opted for football. I am sure he once said that he would like to return to club cricket upon retiring from playing football, but that seems unlikely considering he now manages England Women and also does punditry.

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