County capitalise on Kapil’s gaffe

Steven Crook followed his innings of 85 with the early wicket of Daryl Mitchell
Steven Crook followed his innings of 85 with the early wicket of Daryl Mitchell

In a sport that is the amalgamation of hundreds of individual events, it often seems inconceivable that a game could hinge on one such incident.

Too much significance is given on too many occasions to a dropped catch here or a poor over there, simply because there are hundreds of others in any particular contest and plenty of time to make up for any such mishaps.

But on occasion, a match can indeed turn in a split second and if Northamptonshire go on to claim their fourth win of the season against Worcestershire, which is only a matter of time, then Aneesh Kapil’s reprieve of Steven Crook will have played a major part.

With Andrew Hall and Rob Keogh already back in the pavilion, the score reading 140-6 and the deficit standing at 56, Kapil somehow managed to grass a straightforward chance at deep square-leg after Crook had flicked Gareth Andrew in his direction.

At this level it was a howler, in fact at any level it would’ve been the same, and the impact was felt almost immediately as Crook thumped the next delivery for six towards the ice cream van.

The Australian was on six when he was let off and a couple of hours later he had departed, Chris Russell rearranging his stumps, for a typically robust run-a-ball 85.

With James Middlebrook (39) and Trent Copeland (31) providing some worthy assistance, although the latter took a blow on the head a ball before being dismissed, the final four wickets, which have averaged 176 in the side’s seven first innings so far, taking the total to 314 and the advantage to 118.

The depth of batting at the County’s disposal was an outstanding feature of their promotion push two years ago and there has been a sense of deja vu a few times already

Too often the top order have fallen cheaply - just two half-centuries between the top five playing in this game - leaving the lower middle order and tail to do the fire-fighting.

That isn’t their primary responsibility and sooner or later those paid to bat will have to front up but at this moment in time it would be churlish to nit pick when everything else is functioning so well.

A few heads went down in the visiting side as their stint in the field dragged on and that attitude can often manifest itself in the subsequent batting effort which, surprise, surprise, is exactly what transpired.

With nothing resembling attacking intent, the hosts’ attack, led by the admirably frugal Copeland, were allowed to do as they pleased.

There was next to no resistance offered as the Worcestershire order came and went in indecisive fashion.

Daryl Mitchell shouldered arms to Crook and had his off stump flattened and Matt Pardoe edged Willey to David Murphy.

Thilan Samaraweera was trapped on the back foot by Copeland before Alexei Kervezeee was undone by a perfectly landed inswinger.

Kapil’s day didn’t improve as he was completely bamboozled by Willey and in the following over Michael Johnson, much to his evident displeasure, became Copeland’s third lbw victim.

That raised the prospect of the County claiming the extra half an hour but Moeen Ali and Gareth Andrew managed to hold the fort long enough to ensure that a third day’s play would be necessary.

As things stand they’re 97-6, 21 in arrears with four wickets remaining and, at a risk of stating the obvious, they won’t be leaving with a third win in four.