Report: Sam Curran holds Middlesex to draw

Fifties from Sam Curran and Ben Foakes held off Middlesex on the final day of their County Championship meeting at Lord’s.

Many are the batsmen that have failed to add significantly to an overnight score; rather fewer are those that have failed to add significantly to overnight centuries; even fewer are those that have not done so twice in a match. On Saturday, Kumar Sangakkara added a mere single before edging Franklin to Rayner for 114; on Monday he added all of four runs before edging the same bowler to Simpson.

It nevertheless meant that Sangakkara had scored runs on each of the four days in the match, on what could yet be his final appearance at Lord’s. If it proves to be so, what better way to sign off?

Almost as if sensing the opening that his departure offered Middlesex in the game, even the angle-grinders in the Warner Stand ceased their ear-assaulting screeching. The Surrey lead stood at a mere 112, with the first non-specialist batsman at the crease.

Any Middlesex hopes that this would open the game up were quelled by Sam Curran and Ben Foakes’ partnership of 83 for the sixth wicket, only ended on the stroke of lunch when Curran nicked Rayner behind for his first scalp of the match. They were aided by the curious decision of Franklin to postpone taking of the new ball until the 95th over. With the old ball offering no appreciable movement, and Middlesex well up with the over rate, there seemed little obvious reason to persist with Rayner, who till that point had found little turn from the pitch. Sam Curran found Rayner to his liking, driving the off-spinner over long-off into the Pavilion for six.

That being said, the new ball also offered little to the bowlers. While Curran was the beneficiary of the decision to not include a third slip – Finn being the unfortunate bowler on two occasions – by and large there was limited movement either off the pitch or in the air, and consequently few alarms. Rayner briefly livened up proceedings by bowling Tom Curran through the gate for a spirited 22 – Curran being caught out by one that did, for once, turn, but the Surrey tail resisted in a way they had not done in the first innings, ensuring that within an hour or so after lunch the game was already heading towards handshakes.

Much of this was down to the resistance of Foakes, who was content to quietly survive. In the first forty-five minutes after lunch, he scored all of five runs, building pressure through time-consumption while his colleagues built it through run-contribution. He was left unbeaten on 67 after Malan’s part-time leg-spin cleaned up Meaker, whose off-stump was pegged back by a traditional leg-break, and Footitt, who chipped his second ball to cover.

Middlesex’s intentions as regards pursuing their target of 242 in 39 overs were called into question by the retention of Compton in his opening position. After Gubbins fell early, caught behind off Sam Curran – a decision he did not look entirely happy with – Middlesex were content to trundle along to 13-1 at tea, with 33 overs remaining. A trickle of runs followed after the interval, and although there was late excitement when Compton swiped Footitt to deep square-leg, both teams agreed to take the points for the draw soon after 5pm.

The Wisden Guessing Game, 2017 Edition

With less than a week to go before the release of Wisden 2017, here are a few predictions for the 154th edition’s Five Cricketers of The Year.

  • Chris Woakes
    Not for nothing was the 2016 season described on Twitter as the #SummerOfWoakes. Before the start of the season, he was on the verge of being another of England’s “nearly” men; now, he’s close to irreplaceable. His 9-36 against Durham in the Championship sounded his arrival: called up for the Second Test against Sri Lanka, his summer rapidly went from good to astounding, finishing the season with 34 wickets in the Tests and 48 in all international cricket.
  • Younis Khan
    At times in the summer, Younis looked bizarrely out of place, hopping around the crease in a cartoon-like manner unworthy of a batsman in the 1000-run, let alone 9000-run club. Just when he was about to be written off, he produced a masterpiece: he saved the best till the final Test of the summer, a sumptuous 218 that gave Pakistan a stranglehold on the match and, ultimately, a share of the series.
  • Yasir Shah
    Everyone loves a leg-spinner, and Shah’s 19 wickets in the series, combined with his evident enthusiasm, gave much reason for excitement. With ten of them coming in a single match, however, the sense was that his effectiveness lessened as the series moved on; nevertheless, his impact was sufficient to help Pakistan share the spoils in a 2-2 draw.
  • Misbah-ul-Haq
    Misbah’s calming presence in the captaincy role cannot be overstated, but his batting was also highly significant: his 114 in the First Test made him the oldest captain to score a Test century. The sight of a 42-year-old doing press-ups on the Lord’s outfield was one of the greatest of the summer. Later on in the year, he would take Pakistan, albeit briefly, to the No. 1 Test ranking.
  • Jack Leach
    Wild card, this one, but bearing in mind the value Wisden places on the county game, Leach’s 65 wickets may prove hard to overlook. Furthermore, his story – plucked from trolley-shunting in a supermarket car park – is almost impossible to resist, although it was denied the icing of a maiden Somerset Championship. Without him, Somerset would not even have been close.

Now for some long-term predictions for the 2018 edition:

  • Quinton de Kock
  • Steven Finn
  • Haseeb Hameed
  • Kagiso Rabada
  • Jos Buttler

Play-Cricket Scorer, version 1.0.0: the First Test

With the season only a matter of a few weeks away, the ECB have released their own electronic scoring app, Play-Cricket Scorer, available for iOS and Android.

My impression of the Android app (version 1.0.0) is that it is usable, and due to its integration with Play-Cricket, will be worth persisting with: the time saved by removing the need to manually upload match scorecards (a standard league requirement) will likely be enough in itself to justify adoption.

However, as with any new piece of software, there are inevitable rough edges. Here are the most glaring problems with it that need to be fixed without delay, before the season starts, if at all possible.

1. Disregard for Android guidelines

The first and worst problem is not a cricket-related issue at all; perhaps that’s a good sign. It does, however, have a major impact on usability.

The issue is that the Android version of Play-Cricket Scorer has a non-Android look-and-feel. It looks suspiciously like the an app for Apple iOS that has been forced onto the Android system.

One example is the labelled “Back” button. Android apps use an “Up” button, and it only shows an icon, not text. Another mistake is the right-facing carats on menu items. Both are hallmarks of iOS design and are clearly rejected in the Android guidelines.

This may seem like irrelevant pedantry, but there are real consequences. Users accustomed to the Android way of doing things will be caught out in subtle ways. The most obvious example is when it comes to alerts. Play-Cricket Scorer’s alerts, for instance when ending an over prematurely, or confirming a wicket, are laid out with the affirmative action (the action that indicates approval of whatever is being queried) on the left rather than the right.

This is exactly the opposite of what the Android guidelines specify: “Affirmative actions are placed on the right side and continue the process. […] Dismissive actions are placed directly to the left of affirmative actions.”

The result is that Android users will be prone to hitting “Yes” when they mean “No”, and vice versa.

There’s also the entirely misguided use of the Floating Action Button as a ubiquitous Help button (not their intended use), but I’ll pass over that since, firstly, it’s clearly springs from good intentions, and, secondly, it can be turned off in Settings. However, I will observe that if the necessity to include a help button on every screen was felt, that in itself is a warning sign that the design isn’t up to scratch. It’s also not at all sensible to make such help dependent, as it is, on an Internet connection: scorers with tablets, sitting in the middle of the countryside, often won’t have any data connection.

While we’re on the subject of design, the typography also would benefit from tweaking: choosing the Android standard Roboto would have helped to make Android users feel more at home.

The Android Material guidelines are there for a reason. A brand new app such as Play-Scorer has no excuse for not following them from the outset. Starting off by treating Android users as second-class citizens is a great way to decrease their satisfaction.

2. Limited export facility

It seems that uploading to the Play-Cricket website or exporting to PDF is the only way to get a match scorecard out of Play-Cricket Scorer. The latter is highly limited: it’s little more than a brief summary of batting totals and bowling figures.

There should be a way to export a full ball-by-ball run-down of the match, both in an attractive readable form (formatted as a traditional scoresheet, for example) and in a pure data form (XML or similar).

3. Certain dismissals incorrectly incur deliveries

“Timed out” and “Obstructing the field” dismissals may take place without a delivery being bowled, but Play-Cricket Scorer assumes that a ball has been bowled.

4. Penalty runs are not handled gracefully

The only way to add these is by manually editing the scorecard, with no provision for recording when these were applied, or even in which innings. As such, it does not seem to properly handle the admittedly rare event of a win by penalty runs under Law 21.7.

Conclusion

The Play-Cricket Scorer app is promising, but urgently needs attention before the start of the season.