Tuesday May 24th 2016

A couple of years ago it was quite a good summer (well, spring really) except that it persistently rained on Fridays and Saturdays. This pattern was sadly repeated this weekend. Many matches at least got started but were subsequently rained off. Added to that the wretched exam season began in earnest so very few midweek matches were played. An exception was the National Twenty20 competition where several areas had play-offs leading to the later stages of the competition (finals day at Arundel Friday July 1st). At Shrewsbury Harry Adair became the first player since James Taylor to score a century in a 20-over match. He reached the target with a six from the final ball of the innings.

A shortage of matches to report on gives me the opportunity to raise a point about the National Schools Twenty20 Net Run Rate rule and about overs cricket in general.

Why is Net Run Rate different in the National Schools Twenty20 competition from the professional NRR?

Let me start by saying that this was introduced not by me but by Andy Whittall (Test and One-day cricketer) who was heavily involved in the initial launch of the professional version (Twenty20) in 2003. I was originally mildly surprised myself but came to regard it as masterly (for schoolboys).

This needs some historical perspective, so bear with me. I was a Master i/c cricket for 29 years and my view was then and is now that boys (and girls) should be taught to play what are now three forms of the game: declaration cricket and?55 (sic) overs cricket;?Twenty20 is (and should be) a bit of a sideshow. They are all very different but the one thing they have in common is that you need to learn to play properly and to learn to run properly. See The Golden rules of running between the wickets

Twenty-overs cricket has been around for ever in the form of evening friendly matches and indeed competitions. It was the invention of the ?brand? Twenty20 which changed things considerably.

All-day overs cricket, on the other hand, is a relatively recent development, especially in schools. We can probably date the professional version back to 1963 and the Gillette Cup, and the final at Lord?s was the climax of the cricket season; this remained so until very recently for reasons which somewhat perplex the authorities at Lord?s.

All-day overs cricket in schools we can date to somewhere about 2003. Before that, it was fairly common to play shorter games (ie afternoons) as 40-over versions but most all-day matches were declaration. In the meantime there was much experiment with other versions (eg the 110-over game, whereby the first side had to declare after, say, 57 overs).

The boredom which could result in the win/lose format became apparent in the professional game when, without any restrictions at all, the side batting first could rattle up a big score, then bowl defensively with a large number of fielders on the boundary. Extreme tedium. This led the authorities, to their credit, eventually ? it took a couple of decades – to introduce things like fielding restrictions and later power plays (ie further fielding restrictions) to prevent it.

It was only at this point (2003?) that schools began to play all-day overs cricket.

The problem with the format remains that if the first side makes a big score it is open to them (albeit with moderate fielding restrictions) to bowl defensively and simply restrict scoring, since there is absolutely no benefit whatever in taking wickets. You therefore kill the game – as you?do in?timed cricket by declaring too late – and make the second half extremely tedious since there is nothing to play for by the side batting second.

More than that, for schoolboys who by definition are inexperienced and probably nervous, the only option is to make themselves look ridiculous. You can?t ? as in a declaration game ? cling on, tough it out and see whether you can go for a win or eventually conclude that the only option is to tough it out further and claim an honourable draw. Instead you are obliged to try to keep up with the run-rate (or not far off) and probably, being inexperienced, play some silly shots and the side is then all out for a lamentably low score, thus demoralising said young players for some time to come. I saw just such a game last week.

The National Schools Twenty20 competition NRR

For a start, the NRR is a very minor part of the competition. It is used only to judge very loosely ? in by definition an unseeded competition because geography is more important for practical reasons – the relative overall strength of a team in certain circumstances and it is by no means a precision instrument.

The main aim in any game is to win, which is of over-riding importance. NRR plays no part.

In the professional game, NRR is geared towards attracting big audiences, which means lots of big hitting and runs scored quickly. In the early days (only 12 years ago), it was all rush, rush, rush (hence dugouts and the like). Bowlers rushed back to their mark and rushed in etc all in the cause of making the game exciting (especially for people who don?t understand cricket at all). There was much talk of choosing completely different teams for the format, ie lots of big hitters who could score a very rapid 25. In the professional game, bowlers were regarded more or less as necessary cannon-fodder. As Andrew Strauss reminded everybody, they are part of the entertainment business.

After a while (still in the professional game), things calmed down a bit and they began to realise that you actually needed to play proper cricketers rather than just have a team of sloggers. Hence, nowadays there is not much difference in international teams between the Test team and the Twenty20 team (OK, admittedly some). They also realised that some of the best bowlers in the format were actually spinners.

In schools cricket, we are talking about very inexperienced players. They need to learn from the previous paragraph that to play Twenty20 cricket well you need to learn to play the game properly first. In the context of scoring quickly, this particularly means playing properly and running like hell. Not slogging.

Which brings me to the central point:

The main reason for the National Schools Twenty20 version of NRR is to encourage bowlers and captains to bowl and captain aggressively ?(ie to take wickets, not just to restrict scoring). It always amazes me that vast numbers of captains don?t understand that the best way to restrict scoring by EVERY batsman is to get him out for nothing. ALL batsmen are vulnerable when they first come in, from Viv Richards downwards.

It?s exactly the same principle as in Duckworth/Lewis: chasing a target you are in a better position at 120 for 2 rather than 120 for 5 and the consequences are considerable. For our purposes this means you are doing better.

Everything else is peripheral but may be worth stating:

a) In a team, bowlers are just as important as batsmen

b) We don?t want to encourage batsmen always to try to score as quickly as possible (which they would imagine means slogging rather than playing properly and running well)

c) In circumstances where the first team has a big score and the other side is struggling, instead of just sitting back and waiting for the inevitable, there is a (minor) incentive to bowl the other side out and for them to resist.

I can also publicise the ECB?s new coaching aid. The rest is written not by me but by the publicists for the coaching video. I don?t think I would talk about ?delivering? cricket.

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*Malvern 223-9 (50 overs), Bromsgrove 104
Bradfield 155, *Radley 126 (G Atkinson 5-18)
*Oratory 226 (A Chapman 5-35), Magdalen College School
Colston?s 224, *Taunton 139 (S Williams 6-27)
*Taunton 112, King?s Taunton 116-4
MCC 225-7, *Taunton 128
*Wells Cathedral School 136-7 (30 overs), Clayesmore 137-5
Sir Thomas Rich’s 133 (S Shah 6-40), *RGS Worcester 135-7
MCC 201-4 dec,*Oakham 119
*Stamford 124, Oakham 125-3
Monmouth 273-3 (H Rose 171). Hereford Cathedral 41-2 (rain)
RGS Colchester 149, *RGS Worcester 152-6
RGS Worcester 226-7 (40 overs), *Loughborough GS 206
RGS Worcester 203-7 (30 overs), *Solihull 154-9
*Wellington (Berks) 82, Cranleigh 83-3
*Bedford 320-2 (50 overs)(J Duxbury 149 not out, E Gay 115), Uppingham 204-5 (rain)
*Haberdashers’ Aske’s 217-7 (40 overs), Magdalen College School 176
*Felsted 278-5 (Y Grant 106 ), Leys 182
Lancing 182-3 v *Brighton (rain)
St John’s Leatherhead 184-9 (50 overs), *Epsom 42-2 (rain)
Birkenhead 138-7 (40 overs), *Shrewsbury 30-0 (rain)
*Stewart?s Melville 189-8 (35 overs), High School of Glasgow 95
*Winchester 64-7 v St Edward’s (rain)
*Christ?s Hospital 241-3 (35 overs); Caterham 138 (Martin Berrill Sports League)
Seaford 94 (H Kalsi 5-21), *Worth 97-0 (Martin Berrill Sports League)
*Merchant Taylors? 181-5 v Reed?s (rain)
*Wycliffe 160?8 (40 overs), Prior Park 161?3 (Monkhouse Intersport League)

National Schools Twenty20 (cumulative)
To see the state of the competition overall, click here.

North East section group 1
Durham 145, RGS Newcastle 100-9
Durham 144-5, Barnard Castle 93-8
Durham win the group and now play Worksop

North East section group 2
Silcoates 88-6, QEGS 92-5
Silcoates 85-6, Bradford 86-1
QEGS 106-6, Bradford 94-8
QEGS Wakefield win the group and now play Woodhouse Grove

North East section group 3
Worksop College 136-8 St Peter’s, York 58
Hymers College 141 Worksop College 142-0
Hymers College 118-8 St Peter’s, York 119-3
Worksop win the group and now play Durham

North East section group 4
Woodhouse Grove 188-4, Birkdale 59
Ashville 164-7, Pocklington 144-8
Woodhouse Grove 201-3, Ashville 173-5
Woodhouse Grove win the group and now play QEGS Wakefield

North East section semi-finals
QEGS Wakefield 88, Woodhouse Grove 89-5
Woodhouse Grove play Durham or Worksop in the North East final

North West section group 4
*Manchester GS 201-1 (S Perry 139 not out), Stockport GS 80
Cheadle Hulme 95-7, *Manchester GS 99-3
Manchester GS win the group

North West section group 5
Lancaster RGS 118-7, *Sedbergh 120-3
Myerscough 110-9, *Sedbergh 112-1
*Sedbergh 168-4, Birkenhead 55
Sedbergh win the group

North West section play-off
Merchant Taylor?s Crosby 64, Bolton 65?7

North West section semi-finals
Bolton School 104?9, Manchester GS 105?2
Sedbergh 168-4, Birkenhead 55
Manchester GS play Sedbergh in the North West final

East section group 1
Repton 135-6, *Oakham 136-5
*Oakham 222-4, Trent 166-8 (20 overs)
Leicester GS 90, Repton 93-4
Oakham win the group

East section group 2
Perse 128-5, Leys 132-5
Greshams 134-8, Leys 113
Perse 154, Greshams 47
The Perse win the group

East section group 3
Felsted 148-7, Shenfield 93 9
Felsted 170-5, Ipswich 91-8
Felsted 188-5, St Joseph?s 96-8
Felsted win the group

East section group 4
Stamford 165?6, Rugby169?5
Oundle 117, Rugby 121-3
Rugby win the group and now play Bedford in the semi-finals

East section group 5
Bedford 169-5, *Wellingborough 133-6
Wellingborough 187-3, *Kimbolton 110-5
*Bedford 137-3, Stowe 108
Bedford win the group and now play Rugby in the semi-finals

East section play-offs
Felsted 181-5, Perse 120-8
*Felsted 162-4, Oakham 126
Bedford 138-8, Rugby 130-7
Felsted play Bedford in the regional final

West Midlands section group 1
Denstone 98-9, Bablake 99-2
Bablake 134-4, Warwick 138-2
Bloxham withdrew
Warwick wins the group; Bablake runners-up

West Midlands section group 2
*RGS Worcester 197-1, Wycliffe 96-4
Monmouth 130-6, Dean Close 131-8
Monmouth 154-7, Wycliffe 153-8
*RGS Worcester 154-5, Dean Close 112
RGS Worcester win the group; Dean Close runners-up

West Midlands section group 3
Bromsgrove 200-6, Queen Mary?s GS Walsall 40
Malvern 138-8, Wrekin 139-5
Queen Mary?s GS Walsall 111-9, Malvern 114-3
Bromsgrove 155-7, Wrekin 110
Bromsgrove win the group; Wrekin runners-up

West Midlands section group 4
*Shrewsbury 138-4, Wolverhampton GS 76-6
Newcastle under Lyme 50, Ellesmere 53-3
*Shrewsbury 117-8, Ellesmere 62-8
Wolverhampton GS 110, Newcastle under Lyme 102
Shrewsbury win the group; Ellesmere runners-up

West Midlands section play-offs
Shewsbury 187-3, Bablake 71-10
Warwick 175-2 Dean Close 108-6
RGS Worcester 139-9, Wrekin 110-7
Bromsgrove v Ellesmere still to be played

South East section group 1
Bede’s 125-8, Aldridge 116-7
Ardingly 162, Brighton 89
Ardingly, *Bede’s 103-2
Bede?s win the group

South East section group 2
Eastbourne 132-8, *Cranleigh 133-4
Lancing 106, Hurstpierpoint 111-2
Hurstpierpoint 112-8, *Cranleigh 116-2
Cranleigh win the group

South East section group 4
Kent College 99-8, Epsom 103-4
Simon Langton withdrew; Tonbridge had a bye
Tonbridge 190-3, Epsom 109-6
Tonbridge win the group

South East group semi-final and final
*Tonbridge 218-5, Bede?s 160-9
Dukje of York?s RMS withdrew
*Tonbridge 120-9, Cranleigh 121-9 (T Pettman 5-24)
Cranleigh win the South East section

South London section semi-finals
Eltham 98-8, RGS Guildford 99-3
Whitgift 171-4, Hampton 124-7
Whitgift play RGS Guildford in the South London final

South London final
RGS Guildford 107-9, Whitgift 111-6
Whitgift now play Merchant Taylors? Northwood in the London final

North London section group 1
Forest 83-9, *St Albans 84-1
St Albans win the group

North London section group 2
*Mill Hill 79, Berkhamsted 77-8
Mill Hill win the group

North London section group 3
*Merchant Taylors’ 214-4, Aldenham 104
Merchant Taylors’ win the group

North London section semi-finals
Merchant Taylors’ 165-8, Berkhamsted 151-4
St Albans had a walkover after Mill Hill withdrew

North London section finals
Merchant Taylors’ 165-8, St Albans 147
Merchant Taylors? win the North London section

South London section group 1
RGS Guildford 169-5, Trinity 171-4 18.3 overs
KCS Wimbledon 142-9, RGS Guildford 144-5
KCS Wimbledon 121-7, Trinity 110
RGS Guildford win the group on NRR

South London group 2
Whitgift 198-3, Wilson?s 64-6
St George?s 114, Reed?s 115-?
Whitgift 199-5, Reed?s 57
Whitgift win the group

South London section group 3
*Dulwich 194-4, John Fisher 90
St Benedict’s 89, Hampton 95-1
Hampton 155-7 *Dulwich 136-6
John Fisher 126-5, St Benedict’s 128-2
Hampton 141-7, John Fisher 109-4
St Benedict?s 117-8, *Dulwich 121-5
Hampton win the group

South London section group 4
Eltham 166-3, Ibstock 59
Langley Park 94, Chigwell 95-5
Eltham 153-2, Chigwell 113
Eltham win the group

South London section semi-finals
*Whitgift 171-4, Hampton 124-7
*Eltham 98-8, RGS Guildford 99 for 3
Whitgift play RGS Guildford in the South London final

South West section group 1
King Edward?s Bath 146-7, *Beechen Cliff 147-4
*Bristol GS 136-3, Beechen Cliff 138-4
*Bristol GS 136-4, King Edward?s Bath 137-3
King Edward?s S Bath conceded to Clifton
*Clifton 116-4, Beechen Cliff 113
Clifton win the group and now play King?s Taunton in the semi-final

South West section group 2
Taunton 190-5, *Downside 99-5
*Taunton 118-7, Kingswood 119-2
SGS (Filton) 168-4, *Taunton 108-9
SGS (Filton) 90-8, *Kingswood 84-6
Downside 108, *Kingswood 112-0
? SGS (Filton) win the group and now play Millfield in the semi-final

South West section group 3
*Clayesmore 109, Plymouth 110-5
Millfield 235-4 (T Lace 110), *Sherborne 109-7
Millfield win the group and now play SGS (Fliton) in the semi-final

South West section group 4
Blundell?s 78-8, King?s Taunton 79-3
Wellington (Somerset) 174-5, Blundell?s 68-8
King?s Taunton 205-5, Wellington (Somerset) 65
Queen?s Taunton withdrew
King?s Taunton win the group and now play Clifton in the semi-final

South Central section group 1
*Winchester 133-9, Abingdon 99
Elizabeth College Guernsey withdrew
Winchester win the group

South Central section group 2
Lord Wandsworth 80 (20 overs), *Bradfield 84-0
Lord Wandsworth 132-9 (20 overs), Radley 118-8
*Bradfield 146-5 (20 overs), Radley 104-8
Bradfield win the group

South Central section group 3
*St Edward?s 104-7, Wellington (Berks) 107-1
Ryde withdrew
Wellington win the group

South Central section group 4
*Oratory 79-9, Portsmouth 80-3
*Oratory 126-8, Marlborough 127-3
Portsmouth 152-4, Marlborough 156-6
Marlborough win the group

South Central section play-offs
Winchester 95-9, *Wellington (Berks) 96-2
Bradfield 91-9, Marlborough 95-4
Wellington play Marlborough in the South Central section final

South Central section final
*Wellington (Berks) 167-5, Marlborough 151-6
Wellington win the South Central region

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