Aussies fail to fire as Championship heats up
Dean Wilson is the cricket correspondent for the UK's Daily Mirror
What a difference a week makes.
One minute you’re slapping the likes of Muthiah Muralidaran, Shahid Afridi, Paul Collingwood and Peter Siddle all around the home of cricket in front of a bumper sell-out crowd.
The next minute Collingwood has got his revenge and caught you off the bowling of your old Victorian mate John Hastings.
That is the county cricket life of Aaron Finch in a nutshell.
Nothing is as great an equaliser than the game of cricket and especially English domestic cricket where the games come so thick and fast that you neither have the time to get too cocky about the good days nor too sour about the bad because you will soon be on nought again.
It had to come at some point and on Friday Finch registered his first duck for Yorkshire from just two balls.
Not that it made a huge difference to their T20 form. The game against Durham was still won by 49 runs to keep them on track for a quarter final spot.
That aim was brought a step closer when Yorkshire smashed Derbyshire by 59 runs two days later to put the pressure on their roses rivals Lancashire at the top of the North table.
Finch wasn’t the only one to be brought back down to earth, with Craig Kieswetter forced to retire hurt following a nasty hit to the face from a David Willey bouncer.
The 26-year-old ‘keeper-batsman was bleeding profusely after the ball lodged inside his helmet, resulting in a broken nose and a fractured cheekbone.
Aussie fans will know all about Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff after years of staunch Ashes contest and his return to the Lancashire T20 side has gathered real momentum with the big allrounder taking 3-26 against Leicestershire.
His batting remains as hit and miss as it was when he was playing first time around, but his bowling is as potent as ever as the Manchester club move onwards.
Down south, Essex are simply unstoppable and look like the tournament favourites if their group-stage form is anything to go by.
They are not even relying on their big hitter Jesse Ryder for the bulk of their runs, since young Tom Westley grabbed 105 in their last win over Kent.
A useful all round performance from Dan Christian secured Middlesex just their second win in the tournament, but they have long been keeping their focus on Championship cricket.
The only problem is that they have found the wins replaced by draws in recent times.
First it was against division one whipping boys Northants that they failed to get over the line and then, despite dominating Somerset last week, they were again denied the win.
Aussie opener Chris Rogers failed twice with the bat against Somerset, but as captain a win would have improved his mood. Unfortunately for him, it just didn’t arrive.
Yorkshire had to make do with the same result against Durham to keep themselves on top of the table, but Melbourne Stars dasher Luke Wright was the Sussex hero as he got his head down to crash 158 in an innings win over Northants.
Wright almost gave up his four day contract to become a one day and T20 specialist last year, but he was persuaded to keep going and this is why.
Both Wright and Alex Hales are two men on the fringes of England’s one day side, but both men strike a long ball and have a decent chance of making it into the World Cup squad for the tournament Down Under in February.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 14 July, 2014 3:23PM AEST