Billings Stars; Durham Win; Morgan Hits Magical Ton

Kent made it two wins out of two by beating Somerset, while Durham and Middlesex both got off the mark in Group B of the Royal London One-Day Cup with wins over Warwickshire and Surrey.

Kent’s win came courtesy of triumphing in a ridiculously high-scoring match at Taunton against Somerset. Sam Billings hit a 46-ball century to build on an earlier 115-ball effort from stand-in captain Sam Northeast as Kent racked up 383 for seven from their 50 overs after being invited to bat. Each of Alfonso Thomas, Lewis Gregory and Tim Groenewald conceded over 80 runs. Meanwhile, Billings became only the fourth player since the start of 2012 to hit a List A century in county cricket at a strike rate of greater than 200. He and Northeast put on 157 in 13.1 overs for the sixth-wicket.

However, if Kent thought victory was going to be straightforward they would be revising that opinion about three hours later. Initially it began well, as Somerset slipped steadily to 144 for five. Alex Barrow (54), Lewis Gregory (35) and Craig Overton (36) began a fast-paced rebuilding effort before Tim Groenewald and Alfonso Thomas took the game to the wire.

The pair came together needing 106 off the final nine overs and got it down to four off the final ball before being denied. Groenewald ended on 52 off just 27 deliveries, while Thomas made 49 off 29. Mitchell Claydon conceded 96 runs from his 10 overs.

Durham’s win came at Gosforth - the home of South Northumberland CC, who are celebrating their 150th anniversary - and came in spite of another century from Jonathan Trott. The 33 year-old has hit a rich vein of form in recent times with scores of 76, 106, 78, 15 and now 106; one so rich that talk of an England recall may not be far away.

Trott’s 16th List A century was, along with not insufficient help from Tim Ambrose (70) during a third-wicket stand worth 141, enough to take the Bears to 264 from their 50 overs. John Hastings excelled for the hosts with five for 46.

Skipper Mark Stoneman and Phil Mustard then got the Durham run chase off to a confident start by putting on 88 in 15 overs prior to Mustard’s dismissal to young leg-spinner Josh Poysden for 42. Boyd Rankin and Jeetan Patel then struck in quick succession to give Warwickshire hope, but the increasingly assured Calum MacLeod hit 46, while skipper Paul Collingwood hit 77 off only 65 balls to hasten victory.

A magical unbeaten 128 from 86 balls from Eoin Morgan helped Middlesex ease to victory against Surrey at Lord’s. Set a target of 287, things appeared far from certain at 126 for four in the 25th over, but Morgan found support from Neil Dexter to add an unbroken 166 for the fifth-wicket as victory was sealed with more than five overs to spare.

Earlier in the day, Tillakaratne Dilshan had set up Surrey’s total with a knock off 115. He and Vikram Solanki (59) put on 119 for the second-wicket to lay the foundations for the competitive total. Azhar Mahmood then provided the brickwork with a cameo of 52 off only 34 balls. Steven Finn kept his steady curve of improvement going by returning figures of two for 47 from 10 overs.

Group A witnessed Gloucestershire beat perennial short-form favourites Hampshire by 35 runs at Bristol. The supremely impressive Will Tavare hit 77 off 78 balls as Gloucestershire complied a modest 233 from their 50 overs. A knock of 43 not out from Benny Howell at number eight proved crucial in helping them recover somewhat from 145 for six.

Scott Styris plays a shot

Scott Styris hit a crucial 44 for Leicestershire.

For Hampshire, a win looked certain after the top-order had given them an excellent start. They reached 150 for three in the 34th over prior to a disastrous collapse. A trio of run-outs saw them lose their last seven wickets for 48 runs. Off-spinner Jack Taylor - having now apparently fully recovered from a difficult 12 months that saw him have to remodel his action - complemented the run-outs by taking four for 38.

Derbyshire were deprived of the opportunity to make it a hat-trick of wins in the competition as rain at New Road cut short their pursuit of Worcestershire’s 261 at 37 without loss in the eighth over of their run chase. The Pears did well to muster that many after Tom Taylor had removed both openers to precipitate a top-order wobble that saw them slip to 73 for four. Rapidly-improving 19 year-old Tom Kohler-Cadmore and the in-form Ross Whiteley began a recovery by adding 104 for the fifth-wicket. Kohler-Cadmore made a career-best 71 off 84 balls, while Whiteley contributed a career-best 53 off 49 against his former employers. Mark Footitt ensured against a late charge by taking three wickets in his final two overs to finish with figures of four for 65.

Leicestershire fans could have been forgiven for feeling a sense of déjà vu when their team was bowled out for just 142 by Essex at the notoriously high-scoring Chelmsford ground. However, Charlie Shreck (3-33), Anthony Ireland (4-31) and Shiv Thakor combined to bowl the hosts out for only 108 in reply. Thakor marked his return to competitive first-team action from a long-standing finger injury with a haul of three for 21 to remove the bulk of the Essex powerbase of Ryan ten Doeschate, Graham Napier and James Foster. Napier himself had earlier starred with the ball, taking five for 43 as stand-in captain Scott Styris top-scored with a crucial unbeaten 44.

Daniel Grummitt

Cricket Writer at World Cricket Badger
Daniel first began writing about cricket in 2011, having been a fan of the game ever since his Grandad introduced him to it at the age of 10.

He worked for for almost three years, leading their county and domestic cricket coverage and contributing to a book about the 2012 ICC World Twenty20, before joining the hugely ambitious World Cricket Badger early in 2014.

The first Test that he remembers watching was on Channel 4 - back before the ECB marginalised potential future fans by selling the TV rights to Sky Sports - when England beat Pakistan by an innings and nine runs at Lord’s.

Besides a passion for domestic cricket, he also has an unexplainable interest in all things Zimbabwe cricket!

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