Having taken early retirement from work at the end of March I was able to watch a lot of live cricket over the summer.  It was great to be able to watch a County Cricket match from beginning to end as well as get to 14 days of Test Cricket.  I’ve written about most of the cricket I attended but thought I’d make note of my Top 10 highlight for 2016.  I’m going to try to go in date order but may falter on that –

  1. Essex v Gloucestershire – County Ground – 11 April 2016.  2 Essex Centuries                                This was a 4 day game that needed only an hour on Day 4 to see Essex take their first win in 2016.  That was in large part due to 2 great centuries by Tom Westley 121 and Alastair Cook 105.  I’d see a lot more in the way of runs from both players but this was a sign of early season promise and I think the first time I’d been at the ground to see Westley reach that total.    fullsizeoutput_393d8
  2. England v Sri Lanka – Trent Bridge – 21 June 2016. A Liam Plunkett 6.                         When planning my summer I decided to watch every Test Match between England and Pakistan but just 2 test days involving Sri Lanka.  I did however book 4 One Day Internationals involving England’s early summer opponents. The first of those was at Trent Bridge, I’d booked a ticket in the Radcliffe Road Upper and found I had a wonderful view! Sri Lanka were All Out for 286 which felt like a highly gettable target for this ODI team.  However England fell to 82 for 6 and it seemed Sri Lanka would win.  Step in Jos Buttler with 93 and Chris Woakes not out 95.  But, No 2 is very specific the game looked lost until the final ball of the game when Liam Plunkett hit an almighty 6 to draw the game.  I was recording the game for Facebook Live at that moment meaning my shout was heard as far away as Pakistan!  What a moment, wh says cricket isn’t exciting.fullsizeoutput_3e310
  3. England v Sri Lanka – Edgbaston – 24 June 2016.  2 England Centuries.                            I had the company of my good friend Monica for this ODI and wow we laughed a lot, largely due to the shenanigans in the Hollies Stand.  Again the isn’t a moment as such, Sri Lanka set a target of 255 for England.  That total, plus one was achieved by the opening partnership of Alex Hales and Jason Roy.  Hales reached his century then hot 3 almighty sixes!  They were a sight to behold.  He made 133 runs in 110 balls and Roy made 112 from 95 and the gameE was won with 16 overs to spare.
  4. England v Pakistan – Lords – 14 July 2016 – Misbah ul Haq Century & Press Ups.      This was to be my first look at this Pakistan team, I was to come to think very highly of them by the end of the summer.  The captain came in when his team were on 77 for 3 and in some trouble.  He was batting with Younus Khan which gave a joint age of 80 at the wicket.  the 42 year old half of the duo built his innings steadily, seeing Younus depart, he took advantage of the bowling of Moeen Ali hitting four 4’s in an over including 3 sweeps. His 100th run came from the bowling of Steven Finn, he went to Shafiq before thrilling the crowd by doing 10 press ups!  It was an innings and a moment to remember! fullsizeoutput_40ea1
  5. England v Pakistan – Old Trafford – 23 July 2016 – Joe Root 254 & Wahab Riaz’s congratulations.                                                                                                                         Batting at 3 over the summer Joe Root came in when England were on 25, with Alex Hales having made only 10.  He and Alastair Cook got into their rhythm’s making 185 of which Cook made 105 from 172 balls before being bowled by an amazing low ball from Mohammad Amir.  Root carried on, his innings was a sight to behold, he made a mighty 254 hitting 27 fours.  He was delighted to reach his 200, leaping in the air as he did so.  He made 254 before falling to a catch by Sarfraz from the bowling of Wahab Riaz.  Wahab was naturally delighted but it didn’t stop him congratulating Root with a huge smile on his face.  That made the whole thing very special, this was the first time I’d seen a double century live, it wasn’t to be the last in 2016.fullsizeoutput_4295f
  6. England v Pakistan – Edgbaston – 21 August 2016 – 90 year old Dennis Whight.      This may seem to be an odd one, but the people I meet at cricket are a major part of the experience. I’d enjoyed my 3 days at Old Trafford so much I added Day 3 at Edgbaston when I got home from Manchester.  Day 2 had been very odd from a next door neighbour point of view, I had a lady who sat with her back to me all day, we didn’t exchange a word!  Dennis therefore was an utter delight, he was at the game with his son as part of the celebrations for his 90th birthday.  He regaled me with tales of his time in the RAF when he served in India, I would’ve loved to have the opportunity to write down his tales to preserve them for posterity.
  7. England v Pakistan – The Oval – 13 August 2016 – Younus Khan Double Century.  I must give Moeen Ali a mention here, he made 108 runs from England’s total of 328 in their first innings.  A man who has made valuable runs for his country in recent summers that fact is often forgotten.  But, this is all about Younus and his wonderful double century.  He’d been odd to watch in the preceding tests, to borrow a phrase from Phil Tufnell we’d seen the Flamingo Leave many a time as he lifted one leg as well as his bat, he’d been ‘jumpy’ at the crease, most odd.  At The Oval we watched the man who scored his 1000th career 4 during this innings, that’s a remarkable feat!   He made a wonderful 218 from 308 balls and the whole ground was genuinely pleased for him.  He received a standing ovation when England finally managed to take his wicket LBW to Jimmy Anderson.fullsizeoutput_485ae
  8. Kent v Northants – Beckenham – 8 September 2016 – A Dad’s comment to his young son.                                                                                                                                                Another off the wall one, but this moment stood out for me in a summer where I did experience partisan cricket crowds at County level.  Kent had a good chance to take the season to an exciting conclusion at Canterbury where they were to play Essex in the final game of the season.  To do that they needed to beat Northants, a team who’d won the T20 Blast Final but had struggled with the red ball.  I’m an Essex member and fan, but also an admirer of several of the Kent players, especially Sam Northeast their captain so made the journey to Beckenham for 3 days of the game.  I missed Day 2 when Ben Duckett put Kent to the sword, scoring 208, that wasn’t;t far short of Kent’s first innings total of 230.  Northants amassed 384 and with Rory Kleinveldt on his way to 8 wickets for the game it was clear Northants were heading to a decent win.  The comment?  A Kent batsman was dropped, a fairly easy catch put down and the lad went to cheer and clap, but was told promptly by his Dad not to clap someone’s misfortune.  It was very pleasing to hear, it really is up to parents to teach their children proper form at sport.
  9. Essex v Glamorgan – County Ground – 13 August 2016 – Ryan ten Doeschate 117.              This is a game Essex lost, but it was also the game where they scored the bonus points needed to achieve promotion.  It was only right that their captain Ryan ten Doeschate was batting with his long term team mate James Foster who scored 64 himself when the points required were reached.  It was odd to be watching a game where I didn’t really care about the outcome, ten Doeschate played the proverbial captain’s innings and achieved a milestone for himself as well as his club.fullsizeoutput_4c603.jpeg
  10. Kent v Essex – Spitfire Ground – 23 September 2016 – Essex lift the Division 2 Trophy.                                                                                                                                           Rather than a decider this game was a dead rubber, it was also only 3 days as a heavy downpour had ensured Day 1 was a no go.  Essex had been unable to receive the trophy at the County Ground in case they had points deducted, so to add insult to injury it was to be presented at the end of this match.  An honourable mention must go to Darren Stevens here, he seems to like excelling against the old foes Essex and did so this time with the bat, scoring 136, Sam Northeast made 178 not out in the Kent second innings.  The game finished in a draw, it was upsetting to heat some Kent fans booing and slow hand clapping their captain, personally he’s a player I can watch bat all day long.  Essex had an eye on Sussex but had done enough to win the division against Glamorgan.  Alastair Cook had travelled to Canterbury to celebrate with his team mates and with the exception of Jesse Ryder the whole squad was present to enjoy the celebrations.   I was very glad I’d made the trip to see the awarding of the deserved trophy.  Division 1 cricket for Essex in 2017.

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