Jim Lyon - Give me Rogers’ fine dining over T20 takeaway

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

A fortnight from today sees the commencement of ‘10 weeks of unmissable action’ as the ‘new-look’ NatWest t20 Blast begins leaving ‘county grounds rocking’ as we all succumb to ‘Friday night fever’.

Apologies for the apostrophe overload but I would hate anyone to think such, er... carefully choose the correct word.... nonsense was of my doing.

That is the way the happy-slappy game is being sold to us this year.

I imagine the 10 weeks of unmissable action will only be slightly more unmissable than the unmissable extravaganza currently going on in the sub-continent which most people are finding eminently missable.

I do enjoy Twenty20 cricket. It’s fun. It’s quick. It gives immediate gratification and is largely forgotten by the time you get home.

But I like my cricket to be slightly more substantial.

A comparison I have made in the past is that T20 is your packet of crisps compared to the Michelin-starred cuisine of first-class cricket.

I love crisps but if Heston’s cooking I know which I would choose.

And rarely has the difference in quality and worth of the two forms been better illustrated than this week.

While the Chennai Superkings have been slaying the Rajasthan Regals or Delhi Dunhills – I must confess I am not that well up on the team names – the Home of Cricket was witnessing a truly superb encounter spread over four days.

Middlesex bowl out Yorkshire for 178. Middlesex are dismissed for 123.

Yorkshire are on top.

Yorkshire post 416 and are all set for an inevitable victory when...Middlesex go and score 472-3 – with Chris Rogers unbeaten on 241 – to win the match.

It was a game that flowed, then ebbed. One that was going to be all over inside two days and then stretched across a glorious four.

It had the ball on top, then the bat on top. The conditions played a part, the wicket played a part and all the players had their chance to influence proceedings.

In the end it was the Aussie Rogers who made the decisive contribution.

Not by hoiking a decent-length ball across the line and over the boundary.

Nor by – sensation of sensations - bowling one straight and re-arranging the stumps of a slogger desperately trying to cart the ball into next week.

There were I imagine, although not being there I cannot confirm this, no fireworks and I doubt very much that the theme from Happy Days ever made it to the ears of those fortunate enough to be present.

It was the game in its greatest, truest form where time and form and fortune can all have their influence.

As Middlesex director of cricket Angus Fraser - a man rarely noted for overstating affairs - told ESPNCricinfo, Rogers’ contribution was: “as good an innings as I’ve seen from a Middlesex player in my time at the club.

“I’ve seen special innings from Desmond Haynes, Mike Gatting, Mark Ramprakash and Jacques Kallis, but I don’t think I’ve seen anything to better that.

“I’m numb, to be honest. It’s a big statement, but I think that’s one of the great Middlesex performances.

“It’s a game supporters will be talking about in decades time. It was special.”

It is unlikely he will be able to produce a similar quote if Dawid Malan puts together a match-winning 37 in the clash with Gloucestershire later this month.

Where as Malan - or whoever it may be - might make entertainment, Rogers made history.

So please enjoy T20 but enjoy it for what it is.

And please, oh cricketing authorities, please, please, please, don’t tell us it is the future of cricket.

It is not and never will be.

At least not while sides are chasing down nearly 500 runs on the final day at Lord’s.