<
>

Tom Curran's "peasants" slur enrages Somerset fans

play
Final places up for grabs in the Vitality Blast (1:29)

Catch up with latest from the Vitality Blast, as it enters the final week of the group stages. (1:29)

When Londoners visit the sticks there is always potential for trouble.

Tom Curran, Surrey's England allrounder, certainly contributed to that reputation when after withstanding considerable abuse during his side's four-wicket defeat on Friday he called the Taunton crowd "a bunch of peasants".

We can only hazard that a few spectators had been getting dimpsey on the zyder and there'd been been some gurt spuddling going on.

Curran's response when he reached the dressing room? "Comfortably the worst crowd I've ever experienced today. A complete embarassment to Somerset CCC and all their players (who played a great game and are very good men). A bunch of peasants setting a terrible example for the many young kids I saw in the crowd today. Such a shame!"

He hastily deleted the tweet, but not fast enough and retailiatory comments about Surrey supporters urinating in the streets outside The Oval soon followed.

The abuse was serious enough for Somerset's chief executive Andrew Cornish to call for spectators to remember the club's values - no doubt after a more official compliant from Surrey.

All of which is a warning that county cricket should not become so drunk on the sight of big T20 crowds that it does not impose acceptable standards of behaviour.

****

Last week, this column told the story of Imran Tahir's ill-fated journey from Chester-le-Street to Worcester, which resulted in the veteran spinner missing his final game for Durham. Tahir travelled in his hire car rather than on the team coach due to his flight to the Caribbean Premier League, and is one of six overseas players in the Blast to have cut short their spell in county cricket due to the lure of a franchise gig.

For Dwayne Bravo, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Wahab Riaz, Adam Zampa, and Tahir himself, the motivations are fairly clear. While they can all expect to earn a decent wage compared to the average county stalwart during their time in England, the top salaries on offer in the CPL - Guptill and Bravo are both on USD 160,000 - far outweigh Blast wages. Throw in the offer of some Caribbean sun and the choice is fairly clear.

For the ECB, this should represent a problem, and one might have thought that talks to help avoid a clash would have made sense before the CPL's inaugural season in 2013. Instead, the crossover between the tournaments has been a perennial issue for six seasons, and counties' ability to sign the biggest names for the entirety of the tournament has predictably suffered.

Interestingly, talks have indeed been held between ECB and CPL officials in order to avoid a clash with the Hundred in 2020.

While that is undoubtedly a positive step, it speaks volumes about the ECB's attitude towards the Blast that those talks were not held several years ago. Instead, two of the quarter-finalists - Worcestershire and Durham - will be without their highest-profile players (Guptill and Tahir) when the knockout stages come around.

It's all a bit of a rum do

****

Colin Ingram has scored more runs and hit more sixes than any other player in the T20 Blast since 2016. Not for the first time we must wonder why the batsman who is carrying the fight for Glamorgan is not a star of Twenty20 leagues worldwide.

His training techniques, though, do veer towards the eccentric judging by his Twitter feed. Ingram posted a video of him training in his back garden, a process that involves placing a tyre on the ground and smashing it with a sledgehammer.

All to do with increasing the power of his swing apparently.

****

From 2013 to 2016, Northamptonshire were the unlikely kings of English T20 cricket. They won two tournaments, and were agonisingly close to reaching another final, despite one of the smallest budgets in the country and regularly attracting jibes due to the proliferation of rotund midriffs in their side.

Their success was attributed to their 'moneyball' approach, signing apparently undesirable players on cheap deals below their market value and reaping the rewards of a data-driven strategy.

Two years on, and everything has changed. All but one of the side that won the 2016 final are still at the club, but with two games of the group stages left, Northants have just a single win and a tie to show for their season.

The likely end-of-season post-mortem will find several obvious problems: the loss of Richard Gleeson to injury, contract extensions for players past their peak, a misfiring batting unit, and an underwhelming return from their overseas picks have proved a disastrous combination.

But there is still something to play for: Northants still need is a single point from their last two games to avoid the worst-ever points tally in the current two-group format. While several sides only mustered two points with fewer group games in the early years of the Twenty20 Cup, just two teams have finished with three when each team has had 14 or 16 games.

When you consider that one of those - Durham last year, with Derbyshire's 2014 vintage being the other - was hit by a four-point penalty due to financial irregularities, it puts Northants' struggles into perspective.

****

Steve Patterson, a gangling seam bowler in the twilight of his career, was always an unlikely Yorkshire saviour, but the county's prospects of reaching the quarter-finals of the Blast have not been helped by a broken finger which rules him out for most of the rest of the season.

Patterson was fancied by many to become a victim of Yorkshire's determination to restructure an ageing squad, only for Gary Ballance's resignation from the captaincy to make him indispensable. Step up captain Patterson, armed with a new two-year contract, and impervious to the politics that always surrounds a squad in transition.

Yorkshire have turned instead to David Willey, who can turn you to stone with one look. That should keep the dressing room in order but it remains to be seen if Finals Day is still within range.