Sunday, 11 April 2010

Runs, wickets, matchfixing, coppers... what's not to like?

Conventional wisdom says the county championship is boring. Conventional wisdom is wrong. It's only been back for two days, and there's already been a double hundred, a nine wicket bag, and, in tune with ineffable beauty of green England in spring, Mark Ramprakash not out overnight at the Oval. 

Oh, and there's been a matchfixing scandal too. Or there might have been, involving Essex. During the years of three-day Championship games, match-fixing went on every day, and no-one took any notice. Captains would get together, rubbish would be bowled, declarations would be agreed by both sides. No-one minded, because in three day games, it was the only way you could usually get a result. Those seem like distant and innocent times now. 

Essex, or a couple of Essex players, have allegedly bowled badly in a Pro-40 game. Inspector knacker, in the guise of the Essex constabulary, is on the case. Given the way Essex have played in recent years, they'll have a lot of evidence to sift through, distinguishing deliberate rubbish from the normal dreck.

Although the fuzz weren't naming names, most of the press were quick to report that one of the players was Danish Kaneria. The Times, though, was remarkably coy in this report. They just tacked on a seemingly unrelated paragraph at the end of the story... only as a hint, mind. Worried about getting sued, boys?

Even this wasn't the most amazing news of the season though. That came down at the Oval, where Surrey are under the leadership of 22-year-old Rory Hamilton-Brown. He's one of several big signings at the once-great, still-rich Brown Caps. Another is Chris Tremlett, from Hampshire. Remember him? Yup, so do Hampshire, that's why they let him go. Tremmers is absent from the first game against Derbyshire, being 'rested' in an 'effort to manage his workload'. Hamilton-Brown must have enjoyed reflecting on that as Chris Rogers reached his 200. Only six months to go, Rory...

Update: We can now officially cut the ribbon on the season. Ramps has gone past 100. Just the 18 boundaries in that. Some things are eternal.