After a week of illness, the Friday Five returns a little late for Finals Day and just in time for the RL One-Day Cup semi-finals. There’s contract signing, North-Eastern ginger worship, a spot of television and the joy that is Shane Watson. Also, what kind of a mascot is a Viking, anyway?
#ENGvAUS In the age-old – or years-old – tradition of Australian teams touring England, if the Ashes is lost the ODI series is won. Actually, it’s not yet won but it sure as curry will be. It can be seen as a measure of revenge, but it’s more likely that they are just a better team that didn’t hit their stride during the Test series. Or maybe the timely retirements made it a better team. Or maybe they are secretly celebrating the announcement that Shane Watson is retiring. Or maybe it’s none of the above and I’m just an Aussie trying to gloss over the fact that we lost the Ashes.
#WattoLotto Hampshire may also be celebrating the announcement of Shane Watson’s retirement. Today they confirmed that they have approached the tank-sized all-rounder, who has played for the county before, regarding stepping in as their overseas player for next season. In other contract news, Marcus Trecothick is hanging on for another year, Derbyshire have a new Kiwi, Brett D’Oliveira has re-signed with Worcestershire, Vikram Solanki has announced his retirement and the legend that is Paul Collingwood has signed on to continue as Durham’s four day captain in 2016. A parade will take place through the city centre, followed by a service of thanksgiving at the cathedral with free wine.
#LVCC After finally winning the Natwest Blast, Lancashire have also found themselves promoted this week alongside Surrey. At the other end of the LVCC, Yorkshire have won the title. I doubt too many people were surprised, least of all the county itself who had their “champions” merchandise in the online store almost immediately. Those little white rose elves really do work fast. Elsewhere in the competition, Derbyshire are being spanked about by Essex and look like finishing lower in the table than I’d like. Did I mention that Paul Collingwood is staying on for another year?
#RLODC Yorkshire might be swanning around Leeds thinking they’re kings of cricket after winning the LVCC and the T20 Mascot derby, but they are really just trying to hide their disappointment about being done over by an Australian in the One-day Cup semi-final. Gloucestershire did the country a favour and made sure that lot in Yorkshire can’t win everything. In the other semi, Surrey looked like walking to a win after leaving a top-order-deprived Nottinghamshire three wickets down in just five overs. Nottinghamshire are sick to the back teeth of being bumped out of these competitions at the semi-final stage and were not put down so easily. They put on a very exciting fightback led by a guy who has barely showed his face for the Outlaws this season. They still lost and found themselves bumped out of the competition at the semi-final stage.
#Television the BBC today announced that the governing bodies of Britain’s major sports, including cricket, have signed an agreement that means they will continue to make highlights of major events available to free-to-air television. This is good news for the next Ashes series, as England fans can once again avoid the special sleeplessness that comes with watching their team get hammered at ungodly hours of the morning by simply watching the highlights on the BBC. For their part, Sky has announced that the viewing figures for the Natwest Blast Finals Day were the lowest since 2003 when the competition began. I’m not sure why they are so surprised – I’m sure everybody switched off as soon as my prediction was proved incorrect. Besides, who wants to watch Lancashire win things?