Ed Pollock's world-record exploits delight Birmingham

Ed Pollock acknowledges the applause Camerasport/Getty Images

The Blast has a world record holder and, what's more he is English and barely known outside the West Midlands. Step forward Ed Pollock, whose exploits at the top of the order for Birmingham Bears have identified him as the most destructive batsman in Twenty20 cricket.

It's very early days of course and the wise counsel of Ashley Giles, sport director at Edgbaston, will ensure he is told as much. Pollock's career is in its infancy, amounting to a mere 190 balls, which is barely long enough for bowlers to register his name, never mind work out how to counter him.

But Birmingham appear to have quite a player in the ranks, one striking during his brief career at 191.05 runs per 100 balls - unsurpassed in the game. With Colin de Grandhomme also returning a strike rate of 167.57, over a much longer T20 career that spans 167 matches, the Bears have two batsmen in the world's top 10.

Pollock first stirred national interest with an aggressive half-century to see off Glamorgan in the semi-final at Finals Day at Edgbaston last season. Birmingham lost to Notts Outlaws in the final - Pollock managing to be run out by Samit Patel, which must be another record - but his threat was clear.

This season has also begun in emphatic fashion as he took 26 off an over from Yorkshire's Matt Fisher, the first over of the match going in all for 33. Crowds are rising at Edgbaston and, rush hour traffic or not, they know that it is inadvisable not to arrive in time for the start.


Kent's overseas signings were key to their opening victories against Surrey and Somerset, and captain Sam Billings thinks his diplomatic nous was the reason behind the deals' completion.

Billings convinced Carlos Brathwaite, who took 4 for 21 in the thrashing of Somerset, to come to Canterbury while playing alongside him in the IPL, and also took Adam Milne - who has three wickets and an economy rate below 6 - out for breakfast during England's white-ball tour of New Zealand.

Brathwaite's replacement, Marcus Stoinis, arrives later this month, and he too was given the charm offensive: Billings took him for dinner in Australia during the ODI series, and convinced him to sign up. Stoinis has some history with Kent: he played a handful of games for the Second XI back in 2012 alongside Billings, and scored two tons for them.

But signing international superstars doesn't come without its pitfalls. Brathwaite had to use a Taunton laundrette to wash his kit before the Somerset game. It has to be said that the captain himself led by example: Kent had to send a taxi back to their hotel to retrieve Billings' forgotten kit from his room. Perhaps you're more likely to have your washing done for you in Kolkata than in Canterbury.


It would be a push to say Afghan spinners are like London buses, but after a lifetime without one, county cricket now has three of them.

Mohammad Nabi, Leicestershire's off-spinning all-rounder, struggled in a high-scoring win against Northants on debut, but he only went at a run-a-ball in the losses to Durham and Notts, and chipped in with 32 in the latter game.

Meanwhile, Rashid Khan's first two games returned four wickets and two Sussex wins, and his side are now the bookies' favourites to win the whole thing. Khan's presence in the Sussex squad has helped ticket sales at Hove: there is not a ticket to be had for Friday's home opener against Surrey. That led the club to proudly proclaim its fourth successive sell-out before shamelessly admitting that two of them were for pop concerts.

The 17-year-old mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman must have wondered what all the fuss was about on Friday: his first over in county cricket was a wicket maiden, accounting for the in-form Australian batsman, Usman Khawaja, to boot. But he came back down to earth with a blow, as Colin Ingram hit his next over for 19, and Hampshire eventually lost by 63 runs.

Mujeeb's broken English might be a limiting factor in the dressing room unless James Vince has plans to brush up on his Pashto, but at least Mujeeb will have the chance to enjoy the delights of suburban Hampshire; he is living in the hotel at the Northern End of the Ageas Bowl throughout his stay, with Hedge End Retail Park and Botley Services on his doorstep. Blissful.


Jack Taylor broke into the Gloucestershire side as a 19-year-old, off-spinning all-rounder in 2011, and enjoyed immediate success with the ball as he took a match-winning 4 for 16 against Somerset on debut. But he was out for single-figure scores in eight of his first ten T20 innings for the county, and lost his place in 2013 after being reported for a suspect bowling action. It did not look an easier route back from there.

Taylor had to undergo remedial work on that action, and underwhelmed when he made it back into the T20 side in the next few seasons. Another bowling ban followed in 2016, the day after a game-changing all-round performance in the Royal London Cup final, but by that point, he had started to work hard on his middle-order hitting to the extent he was worth his place in the side for that alone.

He shot to attention with a televised, 41-ball 80 in Gloucestershire's quarter-final defeat to Durham later that season, and, after yet another bowling ban in late 2017, Taylor has started strongly in this year's Blast. His 87 runs so far have come at a strike rate of 193 (Pollockesque as we say in the Blast), and his dot-ball percentage (17.8%) is among the lowest in the tournament.

It might be expected that Taylor's confidence would have taken a hit after so many setbacks. But he had the bravado to turn down a final-over single after slapping Adam Milne to sweeper cover in building a winning total against Kent yesterday.

"Watch out lads, we've got Viv Richards down this end," remarked Kent's captain, Sam Billings, from behind the stumps. Taylor had the last laugh, as his unbeaten 42 eventually won Gloucestershire the game and won him the match award.


The Headband Warrior, aka Yorkshire seamer Jack Brooks, played his first Twenty20 match for three years as Yorkshire beat Durham - and it paid off handsomely as he took 3 for 21 in a comfortable win.

Yorkshire's coach, Andrew Gale, has blamed Brooks' absence on a crowded county schedule, but he has also had a large group of pace bowlers to keep happy (a not entirely successful task) and Brooks' attacking length has led Yorkshire to view him as primarily a Championship option.

"He has been badgering me for games, and it's about getting that balance right," Gale said. "We need him to play as many Championship games as possible because he's a real asset in that format."

Amusingly, no sooner had Brooks got back into the side, he sounded as if he wanted to get out of it. A big football fan, he went onto Twitter to plead for Yorkshire's Blast tie against Derbyshire to be rescheduled so as not to clash with England's World Cup semi-final against Croatia.

Fortunately for Brooks - and many others - Yorkshire relented, leaving Brooks to tweet that common sense had prevailed. His delight, though, came to an abrupt end after England's 2-1 defeat, leaving one of the county circuit's most recognisable characters to conclude: "Gutted its over! Brought the Country together for a few weeks! Well done Gareth & the boys!"