It is a given that to win a game of cricket you must take twenty wickets. I cannot dispute that.
But in terms of winning the County Championship, the quality or rather the sheer weight of a team’s batting makes a far, far bigger difference. Just look at the tables: In Division 1 the range of batting points accumulated is big. From the highest points total (by Surrey of course) of 41. I’ll repeat that forty-one. In contrast we at Somerset managed just 33 batting bonus points, no wonder we were always playing catch up, we were well behind. Hampshire are a long way adrift with just 16. That difference of 25 points, is more than a win and a tie (oh the irony!) and a maximum-bonus-point win would still leave them short.
In contrast the range of bowling points is from 40 to 33, less than the difference between a loss and salvaging a draw or only drawing a game we should have won.
The situation in Division 2 is much the same: batting bonus points range from Warwickshire’s 41, curiously the same as Surrey to a meagre 13 (Glamorgan who gained maximum batting points in their last match) whilst the bowling range merely is from 42 to 35, the same range as in Division 1. Before the penultimate match Kent and Warwickshire were level on points despite having two more wins in the bag, those 3,000 runs from Bell, Trott, Rhodes made a huge difference, each of them outscored Kent’s Joe Denly, newly selected for England.
It was much the same last year when Surrey, this year’s deserved champions, achieved just two victories but were in a comfortable third place thanks to an astonishing 47 batting points, which tells us they averaged more than 300 runs in the first innings of all fourteen games. Again, contrast this with our performance when we missed relegation by the slimmest of margins, we won four games, relegated Middlesex won three. What price those runs?
So is it any wonder Nottinghamshire have bought Ben Duckett, Joe Clarke and Ben Slater, batsmen all?