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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Tuesday June 24 2008

This evening I was semi-following the Twenty20 county games on Cricinfo, and without doubt the most diverting circumstance I found myself tracking was was this amazing innings.  At one point, Essex had about 150 from about 16 overs.  They ended up with over 240 from 20.  Which means the last four overs were utter mayhem.

imageSomeone called Graham Napier made 152 not out, including 29 off the final over.  Yet Napier did not even open.  He only got to the crease after Essex number one Pettini got out, Pettini having already faced nine balls, and four other runs having somehow also been scored, presumably by Essex number two Gallian.  How many balls did that take?  Basically, Napier did his thing in about 18 overs.  McCullum made a Twenty20 record 158 not out in the very first IPL game, which caused an entirely justified sensation, but he was out there for the entire 20 overs.  That BBC report linked to above describes the Essex start as “sedate”, so it could have taken even longer for Pettini to get out, and Napier might have done it in even less than 18 overs.  Napier’s 16 sixes is the most ever in a Twenty20 innings.

Further evidence of the sedateness of the Essex start is that Robin Martin-Jenkins (son of Christopher M-J the commentator) bowled his 4 overs right at the start for a mere 17 plus the wicket of Pettini.  The rest of the bowlers were massacred, notably Kirtley (who played for England a few times) who conceded 67 in his 4 overs including that final over of 29.

Yes, concerning that sedate start, here’s what Cricinfo says:

What made Napier’s display even better was that he actually took time to play himself in as Essex pottered through the opening six overs. But once he’d middled a few to the short straight boundaries he was unstoppable. There was a cleanness to his striking that was wonderful to watch, the constant crunch of the ball off the middle of his heavy bat resonating around the ground.

And the really great news is that this is not some South African mercenary (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  The guy is English.  English as in he’s qualified to play for England.  (Although, these days, you can be both.)

I’m looking forward to reading what Cricinfo blogger James Foster has to say about this innings.  Foster was at the other end of much of Ravi Bopara’s recent double century for Essex.  He was also at the other end with Napier this evening, scoring 48 in 23 balls, which is only slow when compared to Napier’s rampagings.  Bet you anything Foster says: Napier for England.

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