4/8/2019 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
The County Championship Season is underway, and with the stars on display as players look to get some much needed practise in before the Ashes - there were plenty of talking points from the opening game week of 2019.
In Division One, Joe Root faced up against England team-mate Stuart Broad in arguably the biggest game of the opening set of fixtures. The England Test Captain struck an unbeaten 130 to help salvage a draw for the White Rose at Trent Bridge after making 73 in the first innings to find some welcome form ahead of a big summer for English Cricket.
Root would no doubt be impressed by Joe Clarke as he watched on from slip as the former Worcestershire man struck a century in the first innings and ended 97 not out in the second as the Outlaws looked to force a win by declaring overnight. Clarke, who has toured with the Lions has been a name on the radar for the selectors and making runs in front of the on watching England skipper will have done his chances of an Ashes call-up the world of good.
Broad, meanwhile struck three times in the first innings as Yorkshire found themselves 117-runs behind on first innings. Half-centuries from Ben Duckett (61), Chris Nash (75), Steven Mullaney (57) and Clarkes brilliant unbeaten 97 meant the visitors were set an unlikely 446 runs to win on the final day.
Jake Ball (2-73) struck twice early to leave the Tykes wobbling a little on 24-2 but Root and Gary Ballance steadied the ship despite some hostile bowling from Broad to share an unbroken 253-run third wicket partnership to guide the visitors to a hard-fought draw.
Root finished with an unbeaten 130, striking 18-fours in his 189-ball stay at the crease whilst Ballance struck 17-fours and a six during his 224-ball innings.
Elsewhere, Hampshire thumped Essex at the Ageas Bowl by an innings and 87-runs to get Adrian Birrell's coaching regime off to a dream start.
After an uncontested toss, Hampshire racked up the runs on a pitch that offered surprisingly little on the opening day with Jamie Porter and Sam Cook particularly struggling to offer a threat. James Vince, looking to get his season off to a bright start opened the innings for the Hawks hoping to make an impression at the top of the order to force his way back into the England reckoning.
He made a typically stylish 40 before falling to the final ball before lunch on the opening day trapped leg before falling across his stumps off the bowling of Ravi Bopara. Aiden Markram, a late overseas arrival struck a half-century on debut sharing a 75-run stand with the impressive Sam Northeast - who finally started to show the Hampshire faithful his true potential with a magnificent 169.
The former Kent man shared solid partnerships with Markram and Rilee Rossouw before becoming the fifth man to fall in the innings, smashing 23-fours and a six during 255-ball inning. The Eagles continued to toil away in the Southampton sun as Liam Dawson (64), Gareth Berg (33) and Keith Barker (31 not out) took the Hampshire total up to a mammoth 525-8.
Essex lost wicketkeeper Adam Wheater, who damaged his thumb standing up to Sam Cook's medium fast to injury for the match leaving the visitors with just nine wickets to play with in both innings. The former Hampshire gloveman is expected to be missing for six weeks after undergoing surgery during the match.
Buoyed by having runs on the board, Hampshire ripped through the depleted Essex batting line-up to dismiss the Eagles for a disappointing 164 with Alastair Cook (50) top scoring for the visitors. Fidel Edwards, 5-51, was the pick of the bowlers for the hosts.
Predictably with a lead of 361 on first innings Hampshire asked Essex to have another go at reaching their first innings total. Browne (7), Cook (8) and Lawrence (6) all fell cheaply to give Hampshire a dream start in their pursuit of victory. Tom Westley and Bopara briefly offer respite for Anthony McGrath's men sharing a 67-run stand for the fourth wicket before Edwards enticed Westley to feather an edge through to substitute keeper Lewis McManus to leave the Eagles in trouble on 94-4.
No further wickets fell on the third day, but Essex knew the writing was probably already on the wall, particularly knowing they were a batter light, they were praying for a miracle, that or a deluge of rain overnight and throughout the morning.
The rain didn't come, and it was down to Bopara and skipper Ryan ten Doeschate to attempt to get the visitors out of the woods. The pair added 26-runs to the overnight total of 132-4 before ten Doeschate became Edward's second victim of the innings, edging to McManus behind the wicket.
Bopara was turning into the key man, having survived the carnage of the first innings finishing on an unbeaten 37. He was seemingly playing on a different pitch to the rest of his teammates, seldom looking in any trouble as he began to build a partnership with the last recognised batsmen, and even Simon Harmer himself would admit to being a bowling all-rounder at best.
But alongside Bopara, the South African showed great resolve and battle to frustrate the hosts as the pair shared 111 for the sixth wicket, with Bopara reaching his well-deserved century during that century stand.
When Bopara fell though to Kyle Abbott for 107, the Essex hopes of stealing a draw dissipated. Harmer, who reached 62 fell two runs later to Edwards, and the Essex tail soon folded like a pack of cards struggling to resist Edwards and Abbott's new ball prowess.
Abbott bowled Sam Cook for 3 to collect his five-wicket haul and finish Essex off once and for all to seal an emphatic opening game victory with plenty of time to spare.
The final game in the top flight saw Somerset defeat newly promoted Kent by 74-runs.
After the first day's play was washed out, Somerset batted on the second day following the uncontested toss. The hosts could only manage 171 with Tom Abell (49) top scoring for the West Countrymen; Mitch Claydon bagged figures of 5-46 to impress on his first venture into Division One cricket.
Sean Dickson (43), Zak Crawley (37) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (33) helped Kent to a first innings lead and a batting point reaching 209 all out. Lewis Gregory finishing with figures of 3-26 to be the pick of the bowling for the hosts.
In this low-scoring affair, Somerset were hoping to set the Spitfires a challenging final day score to chase, and thanks to young George Bartlett's 63, they set Kent a tricky looking 205 for victory.
Unfortunately for Kent, their chase got off to the worst possible start losing Dickson to the first ball of the innings, caught by Craig Overton off the bowling of the ever-impressive Lewis Gregory. Worry not, thought the Kent faithful overseas star Matthew Renshaw, formerly of the Taunton Parish, will come to the rescue.
Renshaw, fell for a 6-ball duck to shoot fear through the Kent dressing room as Somerset new boy Jack Brooks removed the Aussie. Bell-Drummond, Kuhn and Crawley all soon followed to leave the visitors staring down the barrel on 41-5. Alex Blake and Darren Stevens threaten to take the game deep, with the veteran Stevens hitting an unbeaten 43.
Once Blake fell though for 20, with the score on 82-7, Somerset hurried to victory with Gregory bagging his fifth wicket when removing Matthew Milnes. Josh Davey finished things off for the hosts when he had Claydon removed caught by Hildreth to get Somerset off to a winning start.
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
Round 10 of the County Championship started with a bit of a dull squelch, but continued with a bang, as three of the four games had delayed starts due to the rain, but then made up for lost time. Meanwhile, the Essex v Hampshire game at Chelmsford the only non-starter as heavy rain left the bowlers’ run-ups soaked meaning the umpires abandoned play in mid-afternoon. Once again, all eight Division 1 sides had fixtures, with perhaps the stand-out games the one between the bottom two.
Lancashire v Worcestershire
The equation here is simple for both sides: lose and plan for a season in Division 2 next year. With Worcestershire definitely on a rising curve, their situation is less desperate, but having got off the bottom of the table, they can ill-afford to lose to the only side below them in the table. Lancashire, with just three games after this one, all of them away from home, know that a defeat will, quite possibly, be definitive. Both sides made positive noises before the game, but you knew that a draw would not be suitable for either and defeat would be very bad news. While Lancashire played what they hope will be their trump card in the run-in – new signing, Keshav Maharaj – the news that Moeen Ali returns to the England side has robbed the visitors of their talisman. A crowd of 1800 were at Southport to witness the last home game of the season.
This was a day when holding the advantage was rather like an angler struggling to get a slippery fish into his net: every time that you thought that you had the fish under control to biff it on the head, somehow it wriggled away. Worcestershire lost wickets regularly, with Tom Bailey’s 4-41 the star turn for the Red Rose, but 61 from Brett D’Oliviera, supported by thirties from Fell and Clarke, allowed the hosts to reach 222, with 24* from Ed Barnard to marshal the tail, ensuring that his captain’s efforts were rewarded with a batting point. In reply, Lancashire were scarred by Josh Tongue, who reduced them to 4-2 with two wickets in his first over and then 27-3 as Wayne Parnell added Steven Croft. Alex Davies and Dane Vilas initiated a solid-looking recovery, before Davies crashed a drive into Tongue’s boot and on to the stumps, leaving Vilas stranded. Then, just two balls later, Tongue added his third (or fourth) wicket of the day as Davies was adjudged LBW, although the batsman retreated making a meaningful examination of his bat.
Lancashire 96-5 at the Close, 126 behind and this match looks unlikely to go into the last day.
Yorkshire v Somerset
Again, a simple equation for both sides: Somerset need to keep winning and hope that Surrey slip-up; Yorkshire need points increasingly urgently to stave-off the threat of relegation – whisper it softly up North, but there is a real possibility of both Yorkshire and Lancashire going down together at the end of the season.
Somerset have most definitely had the better of the day, which has featured three batsmen reaching 80, with none of them going on to 90. After Somerset crashed to 5-2, thanks to early wickets for Willey and Brooks, Azhar Ali and James Hildreth then put on a merry 137 together and were hammering the attack into submission before Hildreth fell for 81. As Somerset slipped to 229-5, it seemed that the White Rose was hauling itself back into the game. Azhar fell for 89, the top score of the day, but that only brought in Lewis Gregory, who gave the selectors another reminder of his talent with a brutal, 46-ball 65, with 9x4 and 3x6, while Steve Davies accumulated at the other end to the tune of 80. The Yorkshire attack was begging for mercy, seeing the new ball going at around 8-an-over, before Gregory and Davies both fell to Jack Brooks in the same over Brooks has promised the Headingley faithful that his priority in his last five games is helping Yorkshire to stay in Division 1 and seems determined to deliver on that promise. Josh Shaw added Craig Overton just before Stumps, but 374-8 was a pretty good day’s work for the visitors, who will be hoping to squeeze out a fifth batting point in the morning, while Yorkshire will be hoping that Jack Brook’s limp near the end of the day is just a little cramp and not an inhibiting injury.
Surrey v Nottinghamshire
A late start due to the rain means that this game is less advanced than the first two. When Surrey were reduced to 36-3 by Fletcher, Gurney and Wood, the locals must have feared the worst. However, salvation came from an unlikely source, as Mark Stoneman showed that his form is returning slowly. First with Ben Foakes and then with Will Jacks, the innings was stabilised and then made much healthier. Will Jacks must have taken the news that Ollie Pope was on his way from the Ageas Bowl with mixed feelings as Pope will replace him in the XI overnight: had he been on 99* at Stumps, this might have been an awkward situation; fortunately for Pope’s conscience, Milnes bowled Jacks for 48 and so Pope will, presumably, take the field tomorrow, but will not bat until the second innings. At 204-4, it may have looked as if Nottinghamshire were losing the initiative, but two wickets in the last hour have evened the day somewhat, with Surrey indebted to Mark Stoneman, who has fought his way through the day and was 99* at Stumps. At 256-6, Surrey’s priority will be to get to at least the third batting point and to avoid losing the early wickets that might just stop them reaching it. Surrey though are looking at the likelihood of bleeding-off another point or two to Somerset. Whilst, Nottinghamshire will be looking over their shoulder a little nervously wondering if the prospect of a healthy end of season prize-money return could turn into a late relegation scrape with a defeat or two at the back-end of the season.
Essex v Hampshire
With any of the bottom six in the division potentially threatened by relegation, both sides will be looking for points. This game though will be reduced to three days after the first day has been lost. The rain that swept across the country overnight did not clear Chelmsford until after the scheduled start and left the outfield so soaked that, despite multiple inspections, the run-ups were deemed to be unsafe. With better weather promised, this one should get underway tomorrow but will need to play catch-up.
Another full round of matches with all the top five looking at the enticing prospect of Division 1 cricket next season. With Middlesex and Sussex on a roll and Warwickshire winning in the last round, to get their season back on track, Kent and Leicestershire know that they need a win in this round. Here, the stand-out game was undoubtedly the Middlesex v Sussex clash that could help define the season for both teams.
Middlesex v Sussex
The clash between the Middle Saxons and the South Saxons is deliciously set-up by the table. Sussex have come from some way back to gate-crash what looked like a Warwickshire and Kent promotion party, while Middlesex have just produced two extraordinary wins against the odds and are trying desperately to reach the top two. Were Middlesex to win this one and other results to go their way, they would be right in promotion contention. While the day started depressingly badly for the hosts, it took an unexpected late turn and Middlesex will feel that they are, if not favourites, looking at a very surprising, potential, small first innings lead tomorrow.
With heavy cloud overhead, both sides wanted to bowl, so there was no question of a Toss and Sussex took full advantage of the conditions. To the surprise – probably more like, amazement – of patrons, Middlesex have dropped their specialist ‘keeper and given the gloves to Steve Eskinazi, as well as re-calling Ollie Rayner, with the aim of lengthening the batting without reducing the potency of the seam attack. It was easy to reach snap judgements as four of the top five fell in single figures, as the batsmen struggled in the morning session. Nowhere was this more epitomised than by Eoin Morgan’s crawl to 1* from 57 balls. From the relative riches of 99-4, Middlesex subsided to 169 all out, with Max Holden’s 50* holding the innings together: apart from Holden, only Nick Gubbins with 29 and James Fuller with 17 reached double figures. While Archer with 3-34 and Jordan, with 3-26, had the stand-out figures, all the four seamers took at least two wickets.
Middlesex needed a devastating response but, at 87-2, scoring at 5-an-over, Sussex seemed to be setting the basis for a really solid reply. Middlesex though are rarely dull and, in the last forty minutes of play, suddenly roared back into the match. Two wickets for James Fuller and two for James Harris have turned the scoreboard around. Ben Brown and Chris Jordan held on until Stumps but, from 120-6 overnight, will have a big rebuilding job to do in the morning. Middlesex, in contrast, can look forward to the possibility of a small first innings lead or, at worst, only conceding a small one in the morning.
Derbyshire v Kent
The message for Kent is clear: just three times this season they have reached 200 in the first innings, and they have accrued only six batting points – do better or resign yourselves to Division 2 cricket next season. Kent’s response has been to experiment with the batting order – Zak Crawley was moved up to open, and Daniel Bell-Drummond pushed down to the middle order – and the result has been that there is an excellent chance that, in this match, they will almost double their total of batting points for 2018.
When Sean Dickson fell in only the third over of the morning, it looked as if the new batting order was not going to work either. However, Crawley and Denly set about the bowlers with a will and the score mounted apace, as they added 170 at 4-an-over. With Crawley just four short of a maiden century, Tony Palladino beat him and won the LBW appeal. This brought in Heino Kuhn to support Joe Denly. Kuhn saw Denly to his century and then brought up his own fifty. With the partnership on 99, Paladino, who today fancied himself as the fun police, removed Kuhn with another successful LBW appeal after a period when both batsmen were becalmed, and Viljoen then added Denly for 106. Although Sam Billings and Harry Podmore also fell before the Close, Kent are 365-6, with Bell-Drummond 41*, being well-supported by Gavin Stewart (14*) and will be very disappointed if they do not reach the fifth batting point in the morning. Kent have built themselves a pretty good position to get their campaign back on track and will be watching events at Lord’s with great interest.
Glamorgan v Warwickshire
Bottom v top and everything seen so far on the first day indicates that Warwickshire will leave Sophia Gardens with another big haul of points and will make the Glamorgan crisis a little deeper. However, Warwickshire have not had everything their own way on the first day and will be looking to Ian Bell to push on to a decent score, having slumped to 43-2 in reply themselves.
At 38-3 – all three wickets catches to Tim Ambrose – Glamorgan must have been fearing the worst. Useful runs from Kiran Carlson and Chris Cooke helped stabilise the innings, though neither could pass the thirties. That Glamorgan reached the comparative riches of 203 and a batting point was all down to Craig Meschade, who shepherded the tail with 53*, while no one else in the Glamorgan bottom five could pass 5. Star turn with the ball for Warwickshire was Ollie Stone’s 4-28. In reply, Dom Sibley fell quickly to Meschade and, when Graeme Wagg added Will Rhodes, there was a chance the Warwickshire would fritter away the advantage. Bell and Trott added 63 before Ruaidhri Smith removed Trott but, at 106-3, Warwickshire still had some work to do. Bell and Chris Wright have taken the score to 116-3 at Stumps, but will look to their batsmen to bring in a decent haul of batting points tomorrow; in particular, they will hope that Ian Bell can move on from 43* to a match-defining score.
Gloucestershire v Leicestershire
Having suffered three depressing defeats in their last three Blast games, to bring the T20 to a disappointing conclusion and been utterly destroyed by Warwickshire in between times in the Championship, the hosts must have looked a tasty morsel for a Leicestershire side that is seeing its promotion bid start to flag badly. Gloucestershire pulled a surprise by playing Jack Taylor in the XI when he had not even been named in the 14-man squad – how much this is due to fan-pressure is uncertain, but the fans had been calling loudly for his recall to an inexperienced middle order that has been crying out for a senior batsman to shepherd it.
The Gloucestershire innings followed a familiar pattern for suffering Gloucestershire fans. Hammond and Dent started with a fifty partnership, scored at a crawl. Of those 50, just thirty-five were scored by the batsmen and Hammond’s share was a mere seven from 60 balls (shout out to Fred Boycott that Miles Hammond is a worthy candidate for the prestigious “Dig-In Trophy”), as the bowlers lent a significant hand in the quest for runs. Then, as has happened a few too many times for the liking of the fans, the fall of Chris Dent after getting a start, led to a house-of-cards collapse. 50-0 became 50-3 in 17 balls as Dent, Hammond and Howell fell in quick and bewildering succession to Gareth Griffiths (Dent) and Mohammad Abbas (Hammond and Howell). At this point, Gloucestershire fans usually pull out the tin hats and hide under the bed. Bobby Bracey and Gareth Roderick, though, batted through past Tea to the tune of a century partnership. At 150-3, the home supporters were emerging from under the bed, blinking with surprise. Even the fall of Gareth Roderick, to give Mohammad Abbas his third wicket, did not bring about an immediate capitulation as Bobby Bracey and Jack Taylor pushed on. With two balls until the new ball, it was 191-4, and home fans were wondering how many bonus points would be attained, not whether any would be. Alas, this is Gloucestershire, and we may expect the unexpected. The fall of Jack Taylor to Colin Ackermann for 21 to the penultimate delivery with the old ball propitiated the most horrific collapse. You feel for Sir Robert Hunt who has to commentate on these events. 191-4 became 202 all out in just 46 balls. James Bracey fell LBW to Mohammad Abbas for 76 as the innings imploded around him. Abbas finished with 5-30 and Ben Raine with 3-43.
In reply, Harry Dearden fell to the first ball of David Payne’s third over. Payne has had a miserable time with the ball recently but is a handy bowler, and one hopes that this does something for his morale. 11-1 in reply, Leicestershire will want to avoid losing early wickets in the morning.
Durham v Northamptonshire
Last and, probably, least, as it is the only game with nothing really to play for, for either side, was the game at the Riverside. Both teams now know that they will be playing their cricket in Division 2 next season. You only had to look at the grim face of Martin Emmerson as he gave his summary of the morning session at lunchtime to know that things had gone pretty badly for the hosts. Subsequent events have cheered him up slightly, but Durham are playing catch-up here.
No one reached thirty as Durham fell to 102-8 at Lunch. It was pretty grim stuff, with the top score Alex Lees with 25. After Lunch, Stuart Poyner added some useful runs with the tail, until Brett Hutton bowled him for 28, but 129 all out did not give much hope to the loyal home fans. The brutal truth was that 5-33 for Luke Procter simply dynamited Durham. Northamptonshire’s batting though has also been fragile for the last two seasons and, although every batsman who has come to the crease has reached double figures, they have closed in 189-6, held together by Alex Wakeley’s 60. The fall of Zaib to the last ball of the day has given Durham some hope that the damage can be limited if they can remove Adam Rossington – 40* overnight – early. However, in a low-scoring game, a lead of 100+ will almost certainly be decisive. If Northants avoid early losses, they know that they can bat Durham entirely out of this game.
7/25/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
If you are of a certain age, you will remember seeing dark, grainy black and white images with an excited Kenneth Wolstenholme shouting “they think that it’s all over. It is now!” That might be true of the Championship race, with Surrey pulling away from their faltering challengers. However, if you are from south of the river, a look at the carnage in Division 2 will not go amiss: promotion seemed to have been carved up between Warwickshire and Kent and served on toast... it is not any longer.
Lancashire v Yorkshire
A Roses match knows nothing of logic. When Joe Root came on for the penultimate over last night, probably in the hope that his England colleague, Jos Buttler, would relax and do something daft, little could he imagine that he would finish the innings with career-best figures. Lancashire held out for 12.4 overs in the morning, time enough for Joe Root to bowl himself to figures of 7.4-5-5-4.
Having holed Lancashire below the waterline by getting Jos Buttler with his fifth delivery last night, Joe Root compounded the Lancashire misery by getting Graeme Onions to edge through to Jonny Bairstow with the first ball of the morning and, in the process, going on to bowl a second consecutive wicket maiden. Parkinson ruined his figures by taking a single from his third over before Root bowled a third wicket maiden in his fourth. Root though punished Parkinson for his cheek, getting him to give a catch to Lyth, leaving him, at that moment, on 3-2-1-3. In came Jimmy Anderson and, with Liam Livingstone nursing a broken thumb, it was assumed that this would be the last wicket partnership. Anderson held out for 19 balls in the company of Tom Bailey before Steve Patterson removed Bailey LBW. To everyone’s surprise – and not knowing exactly why he was being risked – Livingstone came out with his thumb in a cast but, before he could face a delivery, Jimmy Anderson did the decent thing and allowed Joe Root to castle him.
Yorkshire won by 118 runs and took away 19 points. Lancashire’s misery was complete when they had a point deducted for a slow over rate. Yorkshire are now 14 points ahead of their rivals with a game in hand and 15 clear of relegation. In contrast, Lancashire have a sizeable relegation problem now.
Worcestershire v Somerset
Can anyone stop Surrey? Step forward the Cidermen. Only Moeen Ali stood between Somerset and an easy victory. While the rest of the Worcestershire attack wilted before the assault of Marcus Trescothick and Azhar Ali, Moeen showed the England selectors that he is still “The Beard that is Feared”. Moeen took five of the top six and, while the rest of the attack bowled pies, he seemed to be bowling hand grenades. Sadly, for the romantics, Banger did not get his century: having scored 71 of the first 110, he advanced to Moeen Ali and was stumped smartly by Milton. However, Worcestershire needed quick wickets, and enough players added runs to Azhar Ali’s 125 for the lead to grow rapidly past 300. Finally, Tom Abell had mercy when Azhar Ali was out and declared at 362-9. The target for Worcestershire was a mere 443. More realistically, Worcestershire had to survive 111 overs. Their first task though was to survive the 15 overs to the Close. Josh Davey got Daryll Mitchell for 6, but Head and Moeen seemed to be steering their side to Stumps with no further loss until Moeen had a rush of blood to the last ball of the day and was bowled by Jamie Overton. 50-2, Worcestershire need a miracle. Somerset, in contrast, are eyeing 16 points and leap-frogging into second, 34 points down on Surrey and still, just about in the fight for the Championship, with a game against Surrey to come at Taunton in the penultimate round.
So much for Division 2 being wrapped up. Kent and Warwickshire have looked so much better than the rest of Division that it seemed that everyone else was fighting for third place. If Division 1 has had its Kenneth Wolstenholme moment, Division 2 has seen a repeat of Devon Loch. Or, maybe, the right simile is the 1967 Gran National’s 23rd fence and, somewhere in the pack, there is a Foinavon who will come through unnoticed to win, while everyone else is trying to imitate John Cleese and the Ministry of Silly Walks. As of tonight, probably only Glamorgan of the sides in Division 2 feel, in their heart of hearts, that they are out of the promotion race. Even Northants, who had such a desperate start to the season, will look at the table tonight and think that, if they can wrap up the win, they will have a real chance of “doing a Foinavon”; actually, come to think of it, even Gloucestershire will wonder what might happen if they wrap up a win against Durham.
As of now, the Division 2 table is thus:
1 Warwickshire P8 W5 L2 D1 128
2 Sussex P8 W4 L1 D3 121
3 Kent P8 W5 L2 D1 115
4 Leicestershire P8 W4 L2 D2 111
5 Middlesex P8 W3 L3 D2 87
All four teams below Middlesex could conceivably win tomorrow and cosy-up behind them. The gap between Leicestershire and Middlesex is still 24 points, which is a considerable gulf with just six games left but, as we have seen, strange things can – and do - happen.
Middlesex v Warwickshire
Oh, Middlesex! Totally unreliable. Just about everyone had, sensibly, given up on the game this morning. 183-6 overnight, Middlesex felt that they needed at very least eighty more to have a chance. They did not get them. Not even near. Ollie Rayner hung around for a while, then John Simpson and James Harris added 23, but the lead was still under 200, and the last three wickets fell for six runs in under three overs. The target for the leaders was 203, and one felt that unless wickets fell quickly, Warwickshire would walk this. Who could stop them?
Enter the Lambeth Lara in his guise of a wily old seamer. First ball, Rhodes pushed a single and Warwickshire, it seemed, were off. Two dots to Dom Sibley. Fourth ball, Sibley edges and Ollie Rayner, the original bucket-hands himself, took the catch. Kevin Hand’s scream of delight shook the windows on the media centre. In came Ian Bell. Dot ball and then, last ball of the over, a shattering scream that registered on seismometers around the south of England: off stump uprooted, Warwickshire 1-2, Kevin Hand deliriously happy. Surely Middlesex, 76-7 on Saturday, could not pull off this heist? Warwickshire just needed one partnership.
Then James Harris bowled first-innings centurion, Rhodes. 21-3 and Warwickshire were trembling. For seven overs Trott and Hain threatened to put together the winning partnership that was needed. 36 runs came in rapid time. Murtagh bowling to Trott. Hit on the pad… GIVEN!!! Warwickshire though, like Middlesex, bat long. In came Chris Woakes; Ollie Rayner gained an LBW decision against him: 64-5. Now, the match situation shifted again. Sam Hain and Tim Ambrose were at the crease and knocked-off the runs steadily. Middlesex needed a wicket desperately, and James Harris provided it: 108-6. Again, two batsmen seemed to be guiding Warwickshire to victory as Tim Ambrose, and Jethan Patel combined in a crucial partnership that got the runs wanted down to 52. Had they stayed together for just another half a dozen overs they might well have ensured victory. Again, Middlesex were desperate to get a wicket and, this time, it was James Fuller, who had saved their first innings, who produced the magic ball and, again, bucket-hands Rayner did the necessary. In the very next over, Murtagh got Jethan Patel too and, for the first time, Middlesex were firm favourites to win. Hannon-Dalby did not last long: caught behind off Fuller; but Wright and Sidebottom inched towards the target in singles. Thirteen overs produced twenty-two runs: twenty singles and a two. The tension ratcheted-up with every run. Was there a hero? Finally, after seventeen consecutive dot balls, James Fuller re-adjusted Wright’s stumps and the delirium was complete. Middlesex had given their promotion campaign a lifeline and had blown apart the entire promotion race.
As I said, last night, they are totally unreliable. You cannot trust Middlesex with any match situation.
Gloucestershire v Durham
Durham’s season started so poorly that even the stoic Martin Emmerson was speechless. A side that has suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous ECB decisions finished in the top half of Division 1, but was relegated and has seen most of its star players leave. Most around the club had given up promotion as a lost cause again but, with the events elsewhere in the last two days, suddenly a glimmer of hope has returned. If they could somehow get a win from this game, they would move onto 84 points, just three behind Middlesex. At the same time, Gloucestershire, who must have thought that their season was over when, for the second time this season, a winning position against Sussex went begging, will add 16 points mentally and see that suddenly they would enter the fringes of the promotion race on 76 points.
Tomorrow, there will almost certainly be a result, as the draw is possibly the least likely of the possible outcomes. Durham need to chase 340 to win and will require 305 from 96 overs with ten wickets in hand. Make no mistake; this is a dogfight. Bob Hunt, Sir Robert himself, felt that anything over 300 would take a lot of getting, but neither side is giving an inch.
Durham started the day 219-5, with Tom Latham, the danger man. Durham, undoubtedly, hoped for parity, or close to parity but, when Craig Miles bowled Poynter in the fifth over of the morning, there was very little more support on offer. Ryan Higgins got two, Wood was run out, and then Latham was the last man out, caught by Howell off the economical Payne. The Gloucestershire lead was 87, and it was obvious that they were going to set a target of some kind.
Within three overs Gloucestershire were in danger of losing the initiative. Rushworth removed Hammond and the still-bandaged Bracey. Gloucestershire were 15-2. Chris Dent and Benny Howell combined to steady the innings but, just as it looked as if things were under control, three wickets fell in nine balls, and Durham were right back in the match: 86-5 and the lead 173. Higgins and Noema-Barnett, once again, brought the innings out of intensive care and pushed the lead past 250. Higgins fell caught and bowled by Will Smith when nearing his fifty. The lead was useful, but more was needed, and Kieron Noema-Barnett supplied them. He batted steadily to 69*, guiding the tail. This time, not even Ben Stokes could stem the tide. The lead was 307 when the ninth wicket fell, and then Noema-Barnett and Drissell added 32 crucial runs for the last wicket before Will Smith came back and had Drissell caught, inevitably, by that man Stokes. Durham were severely handicapped in the field because Mark Wood was injured and unable to bowl and probably suffered for it in that last wicket stand.
Durham had to survive 12 overs before Stumps and did so quite comfortably. Gloucestershire need an early breakthrough in the morning. 340 should be too many to chase for Durham, but there again, they, like Middlesex are totally unreliable, as both their wins have come from positions in which they should have lost.
Derbyshire v Northamptonshire
Again, two sides in the bottom half of the table who can do arithmetic, add sixteen to their current points and like what they see. It is quite ludicrous to suggest that, having lost four of their first five games, Northamptonshire could be promoted but, were they to win this match, it would be far from impossible, with the sides above them taking wins off each other.
Derbyshire started the day 147-4, 118 ahead and thanks to a century from Wayne Madsen and fifty from Matt Critchley, reached 291-5, threatening to bat Northants out of the game. The key contest of the day was always going to be Madsen v Prasanna; Madsen won it but, when he was out, the innings subsided. 342ao left Northamptonshire a tricky target of 314 with more than four sessions to play so, one way or another; there was going to be a positive result.
When Wheeldon got Duckett LBW for 16 and Qadri added Vasconcelos for 10, Northamptonshire were 48-2 and wobbling. Luke Procter’s 68 steadied the innings and Wakely and Levi have put on an unbroken fifty for the fourth wicket. Northamptonshire need 140 in 96 overs to win on the last day with seven wickets in hand: if these two can stay together for an hour in the morning they will tip the balance irrevocably towards the visitors and Northamptonshire will start to dream of Division 1.
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
In golf tournaments, Day 3 is often called “moving day”, in the County Championship though it is Day 2 that has been moving day in both divisions. Things could change, but it is entirely possible that, in late September, we will look back at today as the day when the Championship was settled and the Division 2 promotion race, that had looked an open and shut case, was thrown wide open. The relegation race – that Pythonesque battle to see who is the slowest – is also getting a good shaking-up: while Lancashire look like being the biggest losers, Hampshire, not playing in this round, seem almost certain to finish tomorrow in the relegation places. Things could be even worse for Hampshire and Lancashire, but it appears that Somerset will do them a favour by seeing-off Worcestershire (a Worcestershire win would take them out of the relegation places, leaving Hampshire bottom and Lancashire in seventh).
Nottinghamshire v Surrey
I would like to be referring to the battle for the Championship. Instead, it looks more like the sort of case of case of cold-blooded murder that Sherlock Holmes would, in his Benedict Cumberbatch incarnation, dismiss as “boring! It was Surrey that did it. Even the ECB can solve that case”. Day 2 has ended, and Nottinghamshire need only another 325 runs to avoid an innings defeat and to bat out close to six sessions to save the match. Barring a display of stone-walling that would make an all-night filibuster in parliament look like a garden party, Surrey will bury their nearest rivals and all but settle the Championship.
Having knocked-over Nottinghamshire in less than two sessions on Day 1, Surrey batted for three balls short of 120 overs at a rate of 5-an-over. Not only did they limit their rivals to just one batting point and seal their own full set of batting points with more than twenty-five overs to spare, but they also made sure that Nottinghamshire failed to get full bowling points. Even if Nottinghamshire somehow saved this match, the bonus points have broken 8-3 to Surrey, and their lead at the top of the table will be reinforced, even with a draw.
Not only was it the magnificent 153 from Rory Burns – leading to loud calls for him to be called up for the Tests against India – and the 86 from Mark Stoneman. After a mid-innings wobble, there was a first century in six years for Rikki Clarke, 70 from Sam Curran and then, when Rikki Clarke was dismissed, the last two wickets added 43 in 37 balls of gay abandon. One hundred and twenty runs were added in the last 51 balls of the innings. In the midst of the devastation, there was some room for levity: there is a tradition that when a player takes (or scores) a career-best, they buy drinks for the whole team: Steve Mullaney will have been delighted to drink the health of Billy Root tonight as put on at the end of the innings, he took his first, First Class wicket and then followed it by wrapping up the tail to finish with 4.3-0-37-3.
Batting again, 382 behind, Nottinghamshire could be forgiven for folding meekly but, instead, saw out the last hour for the loss of Jake Libby. 57-1 at Stumps, needing 325 more to avoid the innings defeat, the writing on the wall says “defeat on the third day”. Surrey will, undoubtedly, finish the day 43 points ahead of their victims, with a game in hand. Nottinghamshire are likely to finish this round of matches in third in the Championship, behind Somerset who will also have a game in hand.
Lancashire v Yorkshire
This match has seen more twists and turns than The Orbit in the Olympic Park in Stratford. It could easily have finished tonight as Yorkshire could have claimed the extra half hour, with Lancashire six wickets down and with Liam Livingstone unable to bat.
If, as seems almost certain, Yorkshire do seal victory, they would push themselves up the table into the fight for prize money and reduce their relegation worries, which dropping their eternal rivals right in the proverbial. Having dismissed Lancashire for 109, to seal a first innings lead of 83, Yorkshire fell to 21-3 and seemed to be letting the Red Rose right back into the match as the old warhorse, Graeme Onions, blew away the top order, while Jimmy Anderson removed Joe Root. Enter Jonny Bairstow. For just under two hours he changed the course of the match with a swashbuckling inning at a pace more attuned to T20 than County Championship. In the 19.3 overs that Harry Brook and Jonny Bairstow were together, they added 133 runs. Both went in quick succession and there followed the expected collapse, but Tim Bresnan and Steve Patterson added 41 for the seventh wicket to ensure that the lead was almost 300 and likely to be well out of Lancashire’s reach.
The target was 323. Lancashire needed someone to score a prominent century: quite likely they needed two centuries. Jennings and Davies got a start and were producing the sort of sensible batting that hinted at a Lancashire miracle. Even when Davies fell, LBW to Bresnan, Keaton Jennings held firm. At 86-1, Lancashire could hope. Seven overs later it was 110-5, and Lancashire were sinking fast. The fact that the match did not end well before the Close was entirely down to Jos Buttler. Buttler came in and played an innings similar to the one that Jonny Bairstow had played. It was more calculating, less violent; his 59 came from 69 balls. Buttler and Bailey added 80 in good time and seemed to be giving Lancashire reason to hope when Joe Root came on for a token over just before the Close and bowled a wicket-maiden, removing Buttler into the bargain. Graeme Onions faced only one of the seven balls remaining before Stumps and Lancashire start again in the morning needing 129 to win, with just Anderson and Parkinson to come.
Worcestershire v Somerset
This game too is turning into a cracker. Somerset desperately need the win to keep alive their halting challenge, even if Runners-Up seems to be the best that they can aspire to barring a Surrey implosion. Having reached 337 and three batting points, Somerset looked to be set to be able to enforce the follow-on as Worcestershire struggled to 166-8; still 22 short of the follow-on. Jamie Overton was bowling fast and furious and was too much for some of the Worcestershire batsmen, who are still short on confidence. Luke Wood, though, 22 years old, came in and batted like a veteran in partnership with Pennington. Together they passed the follow-on, then they brought up a batting point and even a second batting point, with Somerset seeing their first innings lead disappearing apace. Finally, Pennington chopped on to his own stumps to Jamie Overton and Davey knocked-over Magoffin to leave a lead of eighty, far fewer than Somerset had hoped.
When Somerset batted again, Eddie Byrom acted as a limpet, while Marcus Trescothick scored more freely at the other end. Somerset were 47-0 at Stumps, 127 ahead, and will be looking to turn the knife on Day 3 while the wicket deteriorates further to give Jack Leach something to use on the last day. Somerset will be bitterly disappointed if they cannot close this one out.
Today, the Division 2 promotion race has been dynamited. Sussex, in third, have marmalised Glamorgan and, even more significantly, Leicestershire, in fourth have destroyed Kent. If Middlesex had shown a little more staying power, we might have talked about the promotion race being blown wide open as, for much of the day, it looked as if Warwickshire might be facing a tough chase at Lord’s. As of the close of play tonight, it looks as if a Warwickshire win is likely although, Middlesex being Middlesex, the watchword for Day might be “expect the unexpected”: they are worse than Durham for sheer unpredictability in the face of both triumph and defeat.
Let’s imagine that Warwickshire do wrap-up a win against Middlesex. What might the Division 2 table look like tomorrow night?
1. Warwickshire P8 W6 L1 D1 144
2. Sussex P8 W4 L1 D3 121
3. Kent P8 W5 L2 D1 115
4. Leicestershire P8 W4 L2 D2 111
5. Middlesex P8 W2 L4 D2 71
We see that, even though Warwickshire are riding high and dry, the battle for the second promotion spot has become a melange à Trois, with consecutive wins for Sussex and four wins in five matches for Leicestershire changing the panorama. A Middlesex defeat is likely to see them drop to sixth or seventh depending on other results. Any side wishing to come out of the mid-table scrum to be promoted will need to win at least five of their last six matches.
Kent v Leicestershire
What a run Leicestershire are having! Four wins in five matches and just ten points off promotion with six games to play. A ten-wicket annihilation has put a severe check on Kent’s apparently serene progress back into Division 1. Facing a 125 run first innings deficit, Kent needed a big score from someone and, at 109-2, looked as if they might be able to get back into the match. It was, though, just a mirage. After losing Daniel Bell-Drummond fifth ball, Dickson and Kuhn were batting confidently, but Kuhn’s wonder spell when he scored runs for fun has ended. He, Denly and Billings all got into the twenties, but only Dickson pushed on. Had Dickson got 80+ instead of 59; had one of Kuhn, Denly and Billings got 50, Kent might have set a tricky target, but each got in and got out as the Leicestershire bowlers shredded the wickets and made the vital breakthroughs every time that a partnership seemed to be getting threatening. At 133-3, Kent were ahead and still had a chance but, with the fall of Dickson, all resistance crumbled, and wickets fell regularly. Zak Chappell, with 3-39 and Mohammed Abbas, with 4-55 will get the headlines, but it was a team effort, and Kent subsided to 199ao, the last six wickets falling for 66.
Chasing 75, Dearden and Horton saw off the threat of the new ball and strolled to victory, with Dearden scoring 55*. Kent were well beaten, and Leicestershire have put their names in the pot for promotion.
Sussex v Glamorgan
At one point on the first day, Sussex had collapsed from 114-1 to 176-6 and seemed to be in danger of missing out on a vital win. Sussex though had got through a nail-biter with Gloucestershire and, with news of the Kent surrender telling them that a win would put them second, set about rectifying things. The Glamorgan horse had well and truly bolted when they let Sussex reach 327ao. Glamorgan batted this afternoon, not imagining that the match would be over before the floodlights were needed.
Archer and Jordan ripped into the Glamorgan first innings. There was no coming back from 15-5, with four wickets to Jofra Archer, tipped to play for England next season and one for Ollie Robinson and when Archer had to be rested, three wickets for Chris Jordan ripped the heart out of the middle order. Only Chris Cooke and, more briefly, Lukas Carey put up any kind of resistance and, when a run-out finished the innings in just 28.4 overs, there was never any question of the follow-on not being enforced.
Glamorgan had almost to triple their first innings 85ao to make Sussex bat again and did only fractionally better second time around. Again Archer and Robinson blew away the top three – this time it was 15-3 inside ten overs – before Jordan and Wiese joined in the fun. 88ao, with Archer taking 8-46 in the match, Jordan 5-37, Robinson 4-44 and Wiese 2-36. It was a devastating Sussex performance to win by an innings and 154 having scored only 327. Sussex look like a Division 1 side.
Middlesex v Warwickshire
Ah! Middlesex! For much of today, they had Warwickshire on the ropes and groggy, before inevitably offering a glass chin and ending the day looking to be on the verge of a knock-out themselves. Macbeth would have put it thus:
Is this a Middlesex collapse which I see before me,
The wickets toward Kevin Hand’s heart? Come, let me clutch thee.
I have thee not, and yet I see thee still.
Art thou not, fatal vision, defeat
Looming in my sight?
Yes, once again the Middlesex fans are threatening to open the MiddlesexBattingCollapse.com website that has been promised for a decade. Middlesex have gone from 152-2, threatening to bat Warwickshire out of the game, to 179-6, leading Warwickshire by just 139. One early wicket on the morrow and we may well see the game finishing soon after Lunch on Day 3. It seems incredible, given that around Tea today, the prospect of a draw seemed to be looming, as Middlesex appeared to be building up a big lead with the pitch apparently flat and dead. Middlesex fans say that no position is safe from a Middlesex collapse and here we had a superb specimen.
This was similar to the first innings, in which Middlesex stumbled from 51-1 to 76-7. It seemed that the recovery, led by the obdurate Holden and the brilliant Fuller might even be enough to give Middlesex a first innings lead, as Warwickshire themselves stumbled today. 152-4 overnight, wickets fell regularly, despite a superb century from Rhodes who added an invaluable 27 for the last wicket, of which Ryan Sidebottom’s contribution was 0*. Middlesex, led by the evergreen Murtagh and by James Harris could even feel disappointed to have conceded a lead as large as 40.
The similarity to the first innings was paralleled in another blazing cameo from Paul Stirling: 18 balls, 16 runs, all in boundaries – and then pocketed by Jonathon Trott at slip off Chris Woakes. Then we had an extended period of sensible batting as Gubbins and Eskenazi put Middlesex ahead and started to build a lead. The pitch looked flat, fans began to speculate with a boring draw, and the last thing that anyone expected was a calamity. Jethan Patel pinned Gubbings for 47, but Dawid Malan came in and batted nicely. It was 152-2, Middlesex were 112 ahead and sitting pretty. Then Jethan Patel got Eskinazi, caught by Hain for 73 and the bottom fell out of the Middlesex innings. Eoin Morgan fell LBW to Patel for 3. Sidebottom caught Holden off Patel for 8 and then, Malan, desperately short of runs, was bowled by Hannon-Dalby for 28. It was 179-6 and, from looking to set a target and declare, Middlesex were praying for more tail-end resistance.
Jethan Patel has 4-38 and seems to hold the key to this match. The lead is 143. Any target under 200 is unlikely to exercise Warwickshire seriously. If a wicket falls quickly in the morning, the match may well not reach Tea. There is no question that after great expectations, the disappointing Championship campaign, followed by poor One Day Cup and T20 results, has led to Middlesex struggling to remember how to win and, sad to see, the fans are kicking them when they are down when, what they most need, is some confidence.
Gloucestershire v Durham
This is not exactly the game where you would expect to find thud and blunder but, low-key or not, between two sides who know that they will be playing in Division 2 next season, there has been fire and some intrigue. As on the first day, the second ends with the match finely balanced. Gloucestershire reached the comparative riches of 362 and four batting points. And, what is more, they did it despite getting the holy terrors every time that Ben Stokes went near the ball. 25-8-52-5 and a batsman sent to hospital suggest that the thought of playing the Indians has put fire in his belly.
When Durham batted, wickets fell regularly. Were it not for Tom Latham’s 120*; they would be in a sorry mess, as the next highest score has been 21. Durham have closed on 219-5 and, if Latham were to fall early, you suspect that Gloucestershire could end up with a decent first innings lead.
The first session tomorrow should tell us whether this match is heading for a dull draw (neither of these teams seems to be good at dull draws) or, instead, Gloucestershire might just make something of the match and put some distance between them and the wooden spoon.
Derbyshire v Northamptonshire
With so much rip-roaring action going on elsewhere, it is easy to forget that this game is on too. After their strong start to the season, Derbyshire are now resigned to another season of Division 2, while Northamptonshire seem to be heading for the sort of mid-table mediocrity that seemed unlikely in the extreme at the end of May. In fact, with mid-table so tight, finishing in the top half is far from impossible for the boys of Wantage Road. If this match, which looks certain to produce a result, falls their way, they may even start to entertain thoughts of finishing higher than that.
A century for Alex Wakely and sixty for Steven Crook saw Northamptonshire to 289ao and a useful lead of 29. Tony Palladino’s 4-33 made certain that the lead would not be larger and Matthew Critchley added 4-88. Derbyshire had barely cleared-off the arrears when Billy Godleman fell, but then fifties for Ben Slater and Wayne Madsen seemed to be putting Derbyshire in a strong position. The fall of Slater to Prasanna at 123-1 hastened a mini-collapse as Hughes and Wheeldon followed quickly. Derbyshire reached Stumps at 147-4, 118 ahead, with Madsen still there on 52* and seemingly the key to this match. If Madsen goes early, Northamptonshire will be confident of finishing this one off. If, in contrast, he can push on, they may find themselves chasing a challenging target on the final day. The big threat is the leg-spinner, Prasanna: the winner of the contest between Madsen and Prasanna will win the match for his side.
6/20/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
Glory be!!! The ECB’s fixture computer has arranged a game for all eighteen First Class counties. No excuses. No cop-outs. Everyone plays on the same days (although not the same hours, as one Division 1 and one Division 2 game are Day/Night, albeit almost at the summer solstice, when there is still natural light at 10pm). Of course, simultaneous with this round of matches we have the England v Australia ODIs and a tri-series between the England Lions and India A and West Indies A. The result is that many counties are seriously understrength: Yorkshire, for example, contribute SEVEN players to the two England squads.
We also have the rather neat situation where the top four and the bottom four in Division One battle among themselves. This leads to a number of crunch, dog-eat-dog games. At the top, second plays first and third plays fourth. At the bottom, it is eighth against fifth and seventh against sixth in the bargain basement. To the winners, the spoils! To the losers, some heartache come Saturday evening, as this round may well make or break the season for various sides.
Today, we may have seen the mistake that decides the destination of the Championship pennant. Definitely, today has seen things moving, both at the top and at the bottom of the table.
Where do we start? There is only one possible choice. Guildford!
Depending on your point of view, it is either very disappointing, or tremendously exciting that a top-of-the-table clash between two unbeaten sides is being played at an outground. This is the 80th Guildford Cricket Festival and what a game to open it! Somerset head Surrey by a single point, with Essex a further six points behind, having played a game more. This was supposed to be Virat Kohli’s first game for Surrey but, after his withdraw, the patrons delight in the debut of Theunis de Bruyn: even the ever-optimistic Surrey publicity machine has struggled to sell this as a like-for-like replacement.
Surrey were already without a host of big names due to England and to Lions calls and brought in Will Jacks for his debut, while Somerset, who had been relatively untouched, have lost Craig Overton. The Toss was uncontested under grey skies and Somerset invited Surrey to bat, no doubt thinking of the top-order uncertainty in the Surrey ranks and the missing names: the surprise was Mark Stoneman’s late withdraw from the XI for family reasons. The Somerset XI included Leach and Bess, with Tim Groenewald also back from injury, but van der Merwe missing-out. Somerset’s decision to bowl was an interesting one given that they might well have been hoping to bat first, set a big total and then have the benefit of bowling on a fourth day pitch that was taking some turn. As it was, they went largely unrewarded until shortly before Lunch, when Tom Abell pinned emergency opener Arun Harinath after a stand of 83. Surrey went into Lunch at 98-1, definitely the happier of the two sides. After Lunch it was no better: the runs mounted and one wondered just why Somerset had decided to bowl; at these times the Captain’s life must flash before his eyes and he must start to wonder if he has made the mistake that will cost his county the Championship. A measure of how the day going was that the first Surrey batting point arrived well ahead of the first Somerset bowling point: not what you want to see after inserting.
At 246-2, Tom Abell could not have been a happy man, but then Borthwick was bowled by Groenewald for 83 and, just five balls later, debutant de Bruyn fell to Bess: Surrey were 247-4 and Abell must have felt a little better about life. This brought the two twenty-year-olds – Ollie Pope and Ryan Patel – together. If Somerset thought that they were through, they had another think coming: the pair started to add runs quickly, putting on 52 before Patel edged Tom Abell through to the ‘keeper, bringing in another youngster in Will Jacks. Surrey closed on 351-5, four batting points in the bag and will hope to add the fifth, while Somerset have just 14 overs to take a wicket for their second bowling point. Definitely, Surrey have taken the honours and will be looking to consolidate on the second day and convert this into a winning position. Has Tom Abell’s decision to bowl handed the Championship to Surrey? It is early days in this game, but Surrey will be very, very pleased with their position.
In the other big clash, at Chelmsford, Nottinghamshire won the Toss and decided to bat on what looked like a perfect batting track – not a hint of green in it – with Harry Gurney coming in, as expected, for Steven Mullaney, who was off with the Lions. The Nottinghamshire decision to bat may not have looked the best at 60-2, but Chris Nash and Ross Taylor started to put together a good stand at a fast pace and went into Lunch at 109-2 and probably enjoyed their meal more than Essex did. Chris Nash went straight after Lunch but, then, Ross Taylor and Billy Root batted serenely through the session. Taylor went on to his century and his partnership off 122 with Root steadied the innings. The day was one of solid accumulation after the early scare, with the third batting point achieved comfortably, well in advance of the Close, as Taylor batted Essex steadily out of the match, finding fine support from Tom Moores as the bowlers started to tire. However, unexpectedly, just as Essex must have thought that they were going to have a sizeable problem on the second morning, Jamie Porter got Ross Taylor to edge behind: he fell for 146 out of 309-6, severely damaging the hopes of the visitors to get full batting points. 311-6 at the Close though was a quite satisfactory position.
At Worcester, Lancashire opted to bowl and soon had Worcestershire in trouble. Martin Guptil’s debut innings was brief as he edged Onions to the ‘keeper, while Tom Fell played on to Tom Bailey. 15-2 was not the start that they wanted in a game that they dared not lose. Things did not get better as Joe Mennie took two in two to leave Worcestershire staggering to 84-5 at Lunch. However, Daryll Mitchell was still there and went to a superlative century, being the last man to fall as the Worcestershire tail disintegrated around him. 247ao was riches compared to their Lunch situation, but Worcestershire will be frustrated to miss out on a second batting point. Joe Mennie and Jordan Clarke both took 4 wickets. Was this a difficult wicket to bat on, perhaps? Davies and Jennings came out for Lancashire and rattled along at a fair old rate, with Davies particularly severe on the Worcestershire attack before Jennings decided to join the party. Worcestershire may reflect on the fact that their nickname – the Pears – is a perfect fit to the shape of their season. However, the fall of Davies for 43 led to a quite astonishing collapse as Parry, Hameed, Chanderpaul and, to the last ball of the day, Jones, all fell to Barnard for ducks. 77-0 became 86-5 in 47 balls. It seems that Worcestershire do not plan to go down quietly but, then, in various games they have competed strongly before falling away to defeat: this one does not look likely to last 4 days. Tomorrow morning will be extremely interesting!
The final Division 1 game was a day-nighter between Hampshire and Yorkshire 2nd XI. Yorkshire travelled to the Ageas bowl with seven players on international duty and some unfamiliar names in their makeshift XI. The ones who were available though did the white rose county proud. When Yorkshire fell to 21-3 you fell that it could get ugly, but Gary Ballance and Harry Brook stood firm and first stabilised the patient and then got him out of intensive care. It was impressive against a strong, international attack of Edwards, Steyn and Abbott. Ballance went on to make an impressive 109, adding 143 for the fourth wicket with Harry Brook, who made 79. Jack Leaning helped add 71 more before Ballance fell, bringing in the hero of the hour, Jack Tattersall, who ran into an inspired Dale Steyn with his tail up, quickly followed by Edwards dismissing Leaning. Even so, Tim Bresnan and Steve Patterson held firm to the Close and have so far added 38, taking Yorkshire to a third batting point, with the promise of a fourth and a competitive total very much in sight. For Hampshire, Dale Steyn’s figures – 25-9-48-4 – were a reminder of what an outstanding bowler he is, while Fidel Edwards was expensive, but occasionally deadly when he got it right (which was not often enough). The match remains finely balanced going into Day 2, with perhaps Yorkshire slightly ahead on points.
By Harry Hill (@HarryHill96) and Mark Kidger (@markFromMadrid)
The ECB has tried a novelty today: after two days with just a single One Day Cup match, all the other teams played their matches the same day; yes, it was an outbreak of sensible scheduling. It also threw up a series of games that, even at this early stage of the competition, were getting critical for the progress of sides. The North Group continues to be a mess but has thrown up one definitive conclusion: Durham’s post-ECB nightmare continues – barring a mathematical miracle, they are out of contention for the knock-out stages with five games left, but Surrey have avoided following them. Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire have made a serious statement of intent and Leicestershire will not have thanked them for it.
Let’s start at Grace Road. While batsmen, especially openers, have been having a tough time so far this season, team psychologists have generally recommended a spell of R&R at Grace Road to get over the trauma. The immortal Martin Emmerson summed it up “Fancy scoring more than 300 at home and still losing by 93 runs!” If Taunton is “the beach”, Grace Road is “THE Road”: wickets may have been falling like Autumn leaves elsewhere but, up Leicester way, they are an endangered species. It comes to something when, as an opener, you score an excellent 50 at almost a run-a-ball and end up being the anchorman. Chris Nash suffered that indignity as his 56 at a strike rate of 90 made him the tortoise that was slowing down the scoring. A century for Samit Patel in 63 balls, 76 for Riki Wessels in 44 balls and 56 boundaries between 4’s and 6’s had David Bracegirdle in serious medical risk (latest reports are that he has not managed to calm his excitement yet, several hours after the game finished). 409-7 and the Leicestershire bowlers were left licking their wounds, apart from the wise old “Fireball” Dexter, who always seemed under bowled at Middlesex but came out of the carnage with credible figures of 10-0-50-2. The only way that Leicestershire were ever going to get close was if they made a tearaway start: 13-2 from 17 balls… game over. By the time that they had slipped to 93-5, Dave Bracegirdle must have been thinking of starting his celebratory pint early, but the Leicestershire lower middle order made sure that the overs were batted out and the margin of defeat was reduced to something less humiliating than had seemed likely a couple of hours earlier. Notts are the holders, and they are serious about hanging on to the title: they are now second in the North Group with a positive NRR.
Martin Emmerson was forced to venture into the frozen south with a road trip to Derby, knowing that defeat would all but mathematically end his beloved Durham’s interest in the Royal London ODC. Suffice it to say that he is not a happy bunny tonight. Durham showed a lot of spirit and took the match deep into the last over, but needed to separate Gary Wilson and Alex Hughes, but failed to do so until the scores were level. A total of 272-8 was disappointing from 137-2 in the 27th over, and when Godleman and Reece added 125 at a good pace for the second Derbyshire wicket, Durham were always likely to be short of a defendable total. The result leaves Derbyshire third in the North Group and in contention, while Durham are anchored to the foot of the table with (un)easily the worst NRR of the eighteen teams.
Down in London, Surrey knew that they faced Durham’s fate if there was a repeat of the 2015 Royal London Final. Despite the fact that there is a slight difference in bank balance between the two sides (Surrey’s chequebook arrives at the ground on a 10-ton lorry, a pair of butterflies carries Gloucestershire's), there is a healthy rivalry and some history between the two sides. Commentator Mark Church (Surrey) got in an early mention of Surrey’s record 50-over score (496-4, made against Gloucestershire), while Bob Hunt (Forest Green and Gloucestershire) may have mentioned a few times the Surrey collapse in the 2015 Final. A win for Gloucestershire would have put them on three wins from three and Surrey on three defeats – the one well on the way to the knock-out stages, the other preparing sadly for the 2019 tournament. To the delight of a noisy crowd, Surrey chose this game to awaken, and Gloucestershire chose it to have an off-day. Batsman after batsman of the Shire were convicted of dangerous driving on a pitch that did not permit too many liberties. Every time that a partnership started to get the innings on an even keel, a wicket fell, and Rory Burns used Scott Borthwick skilfully in mid-innings and, with Rikki Clarke, the scoring rate was strangled in the middle overs. At 131-5 in the twenty-ninth over, there was a real danger that a target under 200 would be set. Once again though, Ryan Higgins (Oh Middlesex! What have you done in letting him go?) And Jack Taylor pushed the total far beyond anything that seemed likely (the pundits in the box were suggesting 250 maximum) and Tom Smith added some late biff. 282-6 on a pitch that was not entirely simple to score on quickly looked like a pretty decent effort. No one though reckoned with 19-year-old Will Jacks. Playing just his third 1st XI game for Surrey, he left his previous best of 28 far behind. A superlative 121 in 112 balls set Surrey on the way to an easy win. Elgar, Burns and Foakes gave him solid support and, despite a tremendous effort from Benny Howell, who bowled his ten overs for 1-32 to add to 60 with the bat, Surrey won at a canter and live to fight another day. Gloucestershire are one of four sides in the South Division with two wins and one defeat, chasing leaders Hampshire.
Finally, to Sophia Gardens for the heart-stopping finish of the day in the televised game. Fifties for Gubbins, Morgan and Franklin and 49 for Eskinazi pushed Middlesex up to 304-6, which should have been a winning total. This though is Middlesex, a side that still finds it easier to read Linear B than to read a limited overs game. They were 185-2 and scoring at will, looking set for a total in the 340-360 range, before one of those inexplicable collapses that has made MiddlesexBattingCollapse.com a fan favourite: losing 3-16 in 20 balls left the lower order to re-build and made reaching 300 an achievement. This was not a run chase for the nervous. Glamorgan got away like a train, adding 86 in 95 balls. Depression among the Middlesex fans, elation among the Welsh. Glamorgan then lost 3-10 in 18 balls. Euphoria among the Sea Axes, depression by the Taff. A partnership of 126 between Lloyd and Ingram, with the run-rate accelerating smoothly: surely Glamorgan have it in the bag? 227-5 with just 61 balls left? Tipping back to Middlesex. The final act was pure comedy as if both teams were determined to lose (yet, it was like that infamous badminton match at the London Olympics): Glamorgan collapsed horribly when it seemed easier to win. 289-9 with just five balls left. 16 needed to win. All over, right? You could hear Jon Patrick MacEnroe screaming “you cannot be serious!”
The last 5 balls went like this:
49.2 – Helm to Carey. Dot ball. 16 needed from 4.
49.3 – Helm to Carey. Boundary. 12 needed from 3.
49.4 – Helm to Carey. Boundary. 8 needed from 2.
49.5 – Helm to Carey. Quick single.
Six to tie. New batsman van der Gugten on strike.
49.6 – WHACK! But it is only a boundary four.
Somehow Middlesex have scrambled a win by two runs when they could somehow have managed to contrive to lose. In his nightmares tonight, Tom Helm will see that last ball heading over the rope for six and will wake up in a cold sweat. Middlesex. This is Middlesex. Anything is possible in a limited overs game!
Yorkshire v Worcestershire
Worcestershire 350-6, Yorkshire 346-9
There was a thrilling contest at Headingley, where whoever came out with defeat will inevitably fell that a vital win was well within their grasp. Perhaps curiously, Yorkshire invited Worcestershire to bat first although Daryl Mitchell fell early for 11 LBW from Ben Coad, England hopeful Joe Clarke and Australian sensation Travis Head put on a good partnership of 108. A familiar problem for Yorkshire was the absence of key players, particularly with the ball, with Liam Plunkett and David Willey unavailable. Tim Bresnan in was unable to cause problems to the Pears batsman, with figures of 0-78. As the innings progressed, Steve Patterson managed to control the rate, with his skilful variations, but the Worcestershire batsmen took a liking to leg-spinner Adil Rashid, who despite his two wickets, went for 86 runs from his ten overs. Yorkshire will be disappointed to have conceded 122 runs from the final ten overs, and that was ultimately the difference between the two teams, with the last over going for 20 runs, thanks to Ross Whiteley, who finished on 66* from just 41 balls.
As required, the Yorkshire reply got off to a solid start as Adam Lyth, and Tom Kohler-Kadmore saw off the new ball with a 72 run opening partnership. Kohler-Kadmore continued to play nicely even after the loss of Lyth for 29 caught behind, with a 101 run partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara. However, Kohler-Kadmore unable to reach his ton, at being caught on the boundary off a D’Oliveira leggy. The wickets soon started to tumble, as Wainmann lasted just two balls and Brook fell for only 5 runs. Leaning, Bresnan and Rashid then got off to a start but lacked the resilience shown by Kohler-Kadmore and Pujara towards the end of the innings. As the wickets continued to fall, and the tension began to rise at Headingley, Joe Leach kept his nerve as the penultimate over went for just five runs, leaving Yorkshire requiring an unlikely 16 from the last over, with only the one wicket remaining. Yorkshire, managed 11 from the last over, losing by four runs.
Northamptonshire v Lancashire
Lancashire 279-8, Northamptonshire 282-8
In a day of enthralling drama across the RLODC, Northants came out on top in a cracking game thanks to a vital 43* runs from Luke Procter. Lancashire elected to bat first after winning the toss, which looked a good decision on Liam Livingstone’s part as in-form Keaton Jennings and Alex Davies achieved a 105 run opening partnership. It was, however, a hard-fought and attritional partnership on a slow pitch, taking 18 overs to reach 100. Credit to the Northants bowlers, who were tight and offered few boundary opportunities, particularly Graeme White, who despite failing to get a wicket, went for just 45 runs from his ten overs. Dane Vilas was the only Lancashire batsman to play with any real fluency, making 83* from 68 balls at the end of the innings to set a competitive score for Northants to chase.
An equally impressive opening partnership was the order of the day for Northants, as Josh Cobb and Richard Levi got 113 runs before Cobb fell to Stephen Parry. Levi would have been disappointed not to reach his ton, as he played nicely with eight fours and 1 six for his 90 runs. Perhaps looking at the success of White from the first innings, Lancashire turned to the off-spin from Matt Parkinson, and Liam Livingstone, who both went for less than 4 runs an over. As the game got tight, Adam Rossington and Luke Procter kept the score moving, despite the late wickets of Crook, White and Hutton. A Nathan Buck maximum of the last ball of the 49th over meant that Northants required just four runs from the final over. Perhaps fittingly it was Luke Procter that saw Northants over the line with a boundary on the last ball.
Hampshire v Essex
Essex 303-6, Hampshire 304-4
Rilee Rossouw backed up his 90 against Surrey on Monday with a superb 111 to see Hampshire take the points against Essex at the Ageas Bowl. Hants skipper James Vince won the toss and elected to bowl; however, this was without immediate success as Varun Chopra and Adam Wheater got the Eagles off to a flying start with a 67-run opening partnership. Tom Westley then entered the match and looked good to repeat his performance at Radlett last Thursday, before being clean bowled by Brad Taylor for 66. Ravi Bopara and Ashar Zaidi continued to pile on the runs for the Eagles later in the innings, pushing the total beyond 300, finishing on 303-6. Perhaps the Hampshire bowlers lacked variations with just the five bowlers bowling ten overs each.
After the innings break, the South African opening pair of Hashim Amla and Rilee Rossouw were looking to get the South Coast outfit off to a good start, but young Sam Cook bowled well and with hostility in just his third RLODC match, taking the wicket of Amla. However, Essex were left to toil in the Southampton sun and failed to land a glove on the Hants batsman as Rossouw and Vince’s 126 runs partnership took the game away from Essex. In comparison to Hampshire’s five bowlers, Essex used seven bowlers, desperate for a breakthrough. In the end, it was the medium-pace of Ravi Bopara who took the much-needed wickets of Vince, Joe Weatherley and latterly Rossouw. Always ahead of the rate, it was the calm head of club stalwart Jimmy Adams, with the support of Brad Taylor who took Hampshire over the line with 16 balls remaining.
5/11/2018 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
Ball dominated bat on the opening day of the fifth game week of the Specsavers County Championship Division One season, no fewer than 39-wickets fell as the heat subsided and the cool air returned to give the bowlers a much-needed lift.
We’ll start with the leaders Nottinghamshire who endured their worst day since promotion after finding a rampant Lancashire side too hot to handle at Trent Bridge. An already talented Red Rose bowling attack was further bolstered by a fired up James Anderson keen to bounce back from a disappointing match last week against Somerset. With that in mind, Lancashire skipper Liam Livingstone used his right to do away with the toss and invited the hosts to have the first crack at batting. Jake Libby and Steven Mullaney negotiated Anderson’s first over fairly successfully but couldn’t see our Graham Onions’ first over unscathed as the former Durham man removed with Nottinghamshire skipper Mullaney with the penultimate ball of the 2nd over. The naggingly accurate pace duo continued to frustrate the Outlaws top order with runs very much a premium under the hazy Trent Bridge sky. Chris Nash and Libby plodded their way to 46-1 from eighteen and a half overs when Nash was finally put out of his misery departing gritty 18, Onions again the man with the breakthrough. In his very next over, the former England man struck for a third time, this time removing the dangerous Ross Taylor for a duck. Libby must have been watching at the other end of the wicket, thinking ‘come on chaps, this isn’t that hard’. He had moved on to a very patient 34 but must have been dreaming of a nice warm cuppa as he wafted at a ball from Jordan Clark and was snaffled at slip by Livingstone. That left the hosts in a spot of bother on 80/4 and in unfamiliar territory given their largely enjoyable return to the top flight. All that was left now from a Lancashire point of view was for James Anderson to join the wicket-taking party and he did just that striking twice in quick succession to remove Riki Wessels and Tom Moores with Samit Patel run out in between also to leave the hosts on 106/7 and in need of some Stuart Broad magic. After all, he has had the magic touch all week you only have to look at his football fantasy team to know that. The Nottinghamshire faithful were treated to a little 28-ball cameo from the England man but his 20 wasn’t enough to rescue an already sinking ship. Indeed, Tom Bailey finished off the tail and the hosts were dismissed for a disappointing 133.
Fifties for Keaton Jennings (52 not out) and Alex Davies (50) had seemingly given the visitors the upper hand, but a late fightback with the ball has meant that there is still work to do for the Red Rose as they look to finally capitalise on a good start to a County Championship fixture. They close day one with a lead of 24, on 157-4.
Ollie Pope’s blossoming career continued at the Oval as the youngster helped Surrey return back to the straight and narrow against Yorkshire. The Tykes enjoyed a promising start removing four of the top five before 70 was notched up on the scoreboard. That left the Surrey chairmen seeing if the ink had dried on that Virat Kohli contract and getting out the tipex to see if they can change the start date of his contract to today. Dean Elgar and Pope though began to calm the nerves in Surrey dressing room with good measured cricket shots as they slowly silenced an excitable Yorkshire fielding side. The duo shared an unbroken 50-run stand together before the White Rose were back off celebrating again as the South African departed for a well-made 61, England’s Joe Root acting as the golden arm again. Unprederbed though, Pope continued on his merry way slotting the ball away with ease and grace in front of the watching England captain, who would surely be impressed by the 20-year-old. The Londoner would need a partner though if he was going to help the Rey put a decent score on the board, and he finally found one in Rikki Clarke. The former Warwickshire man played a masterful counter charge act to offer the perfect support to Pope. Clarke and Pope took the score beyond 250 and towards 300 as the pair found the rope with alarming regularity. Pope had hit 22-fours in his unbeaten 131 at close, whilst Clarke had his 10 fours and 2 sixes during his entertaining 91-ball 71. Connor McKerr joined the Pope following Clarke’s departure and the young pair would take the hosts through to a dominant position at close at 366-7, a million miles away from the trouble they had previously found themselves in after lunch.
Elsewhere, Worcestershire enjoyed their best day of the season against Champions Essex at New Road. Bizarrely, given their batting fragility at the moment, Ryan ten Doeschate decided to chance his arm at having a toss seemingly forgetting the fact he could’ve just chucked an equally dodgy batting line-up into the cauldron. Instead, the South-African born Dutchman decided to have a bat in gloomy cold conditions in the Midlands. It would prove to be a fateful decision as the visitors never looked comfortable on a pitch that offered early movement. Indeed, only Alastair Cook looked remotely in control during his innings, but even he could only manage 37. The Essex batting line-up looks a shadow of the 2017 side that won by an innings quite frequently during their unbeaten Championship winning season. Tom Westley, who fought his way into the England Test side last year looks rustier than a nail that has been left in the rain too long, he will perhaps be pleased he reached double figures though after his wretched run of low scores. Of course, credit must be given to the Pears pace attack who piled the pressure on the visitors with some tight overs, and that pressure built to create plenty of errors from the Eagles batsmen. It is become a worrying norm to see players like Peter Siddle (playing his last game for the Eagles in this game week) and Simon Harmer digging the top order out of a hole. Again, the Australian added vital lower order runs making 29 to help the visitors to 177. Josh Tongue was the pick of the host's attack collecting four for 45 as the visitors fell short of expectation again. In quickly fading light the Pears easily survived 17-overs of Porter, Siddle and Cook to reach 47 without loss at the close as they enjoyed a very positive opening day.
Lastly, Somerset continued their fine early season form to gain the upper hand in their rain-affected opening day encounter with Hampshire at Taunton. Somerset skipper Tom Abell was the unlikely hero with the ball claiming 3-18 as the visitors crumbled to 198-8 at close. The part-time spin of Abell accounted for James Vince – who again failed to kick on after making another decent start, Joe Weatherley and Lewis McManus. Rilee Rossouw made a pleasing 38 as he slowly starts to return to form before becoming Dom Bess’ only wicket on the innings thus far. But it will be Abell who will be the happiest man in the West Country after collecting 3-wickets to help justify his decision to bowl first after Hampshire asked to have a toss at the County Ground.
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid
Division 1 already looks to be a battle between 3 or 4 sides. There is only one really juicy clash, but some interesting games are promised.
Surrey v Yorkshire
Surrey squad: Rory Burns (captain), Gareth Batty, Scott Borthwick, Rikki Clarke, Sam Curran, Jade Dernbach, Dean Elgar, Ben Foakes, Conor McKerr, Stuart Meaker, Ryan Patel, Ollie Pope, Mark Stoneman, Amar Virdi
Yorkshire squad: Gary Ballance ©, Jonny Bairstow (WK), Tim Bresnan, Harry Brook, Jack Brooks, Karl Carver, Jack Leaning, Adam Lyth, Steven Patterson, Cheteshwar Pujara, Joe Root, Josh Shaw, James Wainman
Yorkshire lose Ben Coad for this match that is undoubtedly the pick of the Division 1 clashes. After their miracle win, Yorkshire are firmly back on the Championship train. Dean Elgar returns for Surrey, who will be disappointed to have managed only two draws against the bottom two clubs. This is the last chance for England Test contenders to impress: with runs for Gubbins and Jennings, Mark Stoneman knows that he needs runs. For Yorkshire, this is likely to be the last that they see of Root and Bairstow. An Oval pitch that was full of runs looks an unlikely surface to produce a positive result, but Amar Virdi can expect to get a lot of overs in and will hope to enhance his growing reputation.
Nottinghamshire v Lancashire
Nottinghamshire squad: Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney (c), Stuart Broad, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Matt Milnes, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores (wkt), Ross Taylor, Jake Ball, Billy Root.
Lancashire squad: Liam Livingstone (c), James Anderson, Tom Bailey, Shiv Chanderpaul, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Alex Davies, Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings, Graham Onions, Stephen Parry, Matt Parkinson, Dane Vilas
Nottinghamshire start this round of matches in pole position and will see the Lancashire side as vulnerable and another potential win, having already beaten them at Old Trafford. Joe Mennie has a thigh strain and misses out, undoubtedly reducing the potency of the Lancashire attack, while Jimmy Anderson will hope for a much better outing this week. The Nottinghamshire attack has looked imperious so far this season and Stuart Broad has looked like the bowler of five years ago. There are signs though that Lancashire are starting to get to grips with Division 1, although they will be concerned that they could not close out a strong position against Somerset and the Nottinghamshire attack will test them sorely.
Somerset v Hampshire
Somerset squad: Tom Abell (c), George Bartlett, Eddie Byrom, Josh Davey, Steve Davies, Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Matt Renshaw, Paul van Meekeren.
Hampshire squad: Jimmy Adams, Joe Weatherley, Mason Crane, Brad Taylor, Rilee Rossouw, James Vince*, Hashim Amla, Kyle Abbott, Gareth Berg, Ryan Stevenson, Fidel Edwards, Lewis McManus, Tom Alsop, Brad Wheal.
Could this be Somerset’s season? Most pundits have marked Somerset for relegation but, despite a relative lack of impact by Jack Leach so far, Somerset are looking to be one of the strongest sides in the Division. Marcus Trescothick is unavailable with a broken toe, but Eddie Byrom is available again, but there are doubts about Josh Davey’s fitness. Hampshire pushed Nottinghamshire very hard on the last day at Trent Bridge and will need to show similar determination to get a result from this game. While the Somerset seam attack is looking strong, Hampshire have been lacking an attack leader, with Fidel Edwards blowing hot and cold and often very expensive.
Worcestershire v Essex
Worcestershire squad: Mitchell, D’Oliveira, Fell, Clarke, Head, Cox, Barnard, Leach, Twohig, Morris, Tongue, Magoffin
Essex squad: Ryan ten Doeschate (27) Captain, James Foster (7) Wicket-keeper, Aaron Beard (14), Ravi Bopara (25), Nick Browne (10), Varun Chopra (6), Alastair Cook (26), Sam Cook (16), Simon Harmer (11), Dan Lawrence (28), Jamie Porter (44), Peter Siddle (64), Tom Westley (21)
This is not a game that many people would have picked as a relegation battle at this stage of the season, but Worcestershire, despite having their moments, have looked badly off the pace and how much Essex’s confidence will have been harmed by defeat to Yorkshire remains to be seen. Another defeat for Worcestershire would leave them short-odds to drop back into Division 2, while Essex desperately need the win to kick-start their season. Worcestershire welcome back Steve Magoffin to strengthen their attack. Essex’s problems are not hard to identify: Alastair Cook is struggling for runs at the top of the order and Tom Westley has hardly scored a run since being dropped by England, leaving the batting short of punch. The Essex squad is unchanged and they will look to restore their fortunes at New Road.
County Championship Division 2
Division 2 is lagging behind Division 1 but this round of matches throws up a couple of fascinating encounters that could help shape the table.
Kent v Sussex
Kent squad: 6 Joe Denly (c), 23 Daniel Bell-Drummond, 58 Sean Dickson, 4 Heino Kuhn, 16 Zak Crawley, 10 Alex Blake, 3 Darren Stevens, 25 Calum Haggett, 12 Adam Rouse (wk), 24 Matt Henry, 1 Harry Podmore, 5 Ivan Thomas, 33 Adam Riley.
Sussex squad: 26 Ben Brown (c/wk), 21 Danny Briggs, 5 Michael Burgess, 15 George Garton, 6 Harry Finch, 25 Ollie Robinson, 11 Abi Sakande, 28 Phil Salt, 97 Ishant Sharma, 74 Stiaan van Zyl, 96 David Wiese, 32 Luke Wells, 10 Luke Wright
Third against second in the table. Both sides had good wins last week. Kent have now won their last two games and a third win would see them well-positioned to make a long-overdue promotion bid. This though is the classic “promotion 32-pointer”, with the winner damaging the loser’s challenge, as well as setting-out their own credentials. Kent welcome back Blake and Hackett, while Will Gidman continues to tread water on the sidelines. Sussex have Ishant Sharma back in their squad. The struggling Kent batting will have their hands full with the Sussex attack.
Warwickshire v Northants
Warwickshire squad: Patel, Ambrose, Barker, Bell, Brookes, Hain, Hose, Hannon-Dalby, Lamb, Rhodes, Sibley, Stone, Thompson, Trott, Wright
Northants squad: Wakely (c), Newton, Duckett, Levi, Keogh, Procter, Rossington, Cobb, Crook, Bracewell, Hutton, Sanderson
Warwickshire have a chance here to go further clear at the top of the table against the side that appears to be comfortably the weakest in the Division. Ryan Sidebottom has a side strain, but Olly Stone and Keith Barker are available again for Warwickshire. The Warwickshire attack has so far swept all before it and comes up against a Northants side short of confidence that seems to depend too much on Bracewell. A third win in four games would leave Warwickshire in a very strong position.
Middlesex v Gloucestershire
Middlesex squad: Dawid Malan (captain), Tom Barber, Hilton Cartwright, Stephen Eskinazi, Steven Finn, Nick Gubbins, James Harris, Tom Helm, Max Holden, Eoin Morgan, Ollie Rayner, Sam Robson, John Simpson (wicket-keeper)
Gloucestershire squad: Dent (c), Howell, Bracey, Roderick, J.Taylor, van Buuren, Higgins, Noema-Barnett, Miles, Worrall, M.Taylor, Liddle, Hankins.
Not a game that would have caused Middlesex many sleepless nights when the fixture list was published but, now, they are desperately in need of a win and cannot afford a defeat. Tim Murtagh and Paul Stirling hope to make their Test debuts in Dublin, but Middlesex recover Steve Finn, who has been getting back match fitness in the 2nd XI and Eoin Morgan. Gloucestershire name the same squad that were robbed by rain of possible victory against Sussex. A measure of Chris Dent’s determination to regain form was that he joined van Buuren and various others of the 1st XI in the 2nd XI team that overwhelmed Glamorgan 2nd XI this week. Dent scored runs and van Buuren took wickets. Gloucestershire are likely to field an unchanged XI, with Ryan Higgins keen to join the long list of players released by Middlesex who have haunted their former county. Higgins has been promoted to the new ball and has runs and wickets to his name. The loser of this game will probably be parking any thoughts of promotion.
Derbyshire v Durham
Derbyshire squad: 1. Billy Godleman, 26. Ben Slater, 10. Luis Reece, 77. Wayne Madsen, 18. Alex Hughes, 20. Matt Critchley, 11. Daryn Smit, 16. Harvey Hosein, 41. Ravi Rampaul, 7. Hardus Viljoen, 74. Duanne Olivier, 28. Tony Palladino, 44. Will Davis
Durham squad: Paul Collingwood (c), Aiden Markram, Cameron Steel, Will Smith, Graham Clark, Gareth Harte, Michael Richardson, Stuart Poynter (wk), James Weighell, Mark Wood, Nathan Rimmington, Matt Dixon, George Harding
Mark Wood has decided to return early from the IPL in an attempt to get back into the England side. Gary Wilson is playing for Ireland, so Derbyshire name both Smit and Hosein as potential replacements and Tony Palladino is again available. Durham have been boosted by their extraordinary comeback win against Leicestershire and know that a second win would put them back in the hunt for promotion, while Derbyshire’s strong attack will pose a real challenge. Chris Rushworth and Barry McCarthy are injured, but loan signing Matt Dixon seems likely to play, while George Harding and Gareth Harte have been withdrawn from the current Durham 2nd XI match to reinforce the squad.
Leicestershire v Gamorgan
Leicestershire squad: Carberry (capt), Aaron, Ackermann, Cosgrove, Dexter, Griffiths, Hill (wk), Horton, Javid, Klein, Parkinson, Raine.
Glamorgan squad: Hogan (capt), Selman, Murphy, Marsh, Donald, Carlson, Cooke (wk), Lloyd, Salter, Carey, de Lange, van der Gugten, Smith.
Two sides that lost badly last time out and need a boost. Leicestershire have just about forgotten how to win and, on a dead Grace Road pitch, will at least be confident of avoiding defeat. Glamorgan name an unchanged squad. Ned Eckersley injured against Durham is replaced by Lewis Hill for Leicestershire, while Ateeq Javid's excellent 2nd XI form earns him a call-up to the squad. Leicestershire say that they feel that the team is “in a really good place” despite the loss to Durham, but Glamorgan have been showing signs of some real form.
5/6/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
The games at Old Trafford and The Oval are heading for the most tedious of draws, but events at Chelmsford have more than made up for them. As for Trent Bridge, a finish is on the cards, but there is still plenty of life in the game.
Only six times in Championship history has a side been bowled out for fifty or fewer in the first innings and won. The fans would have turned up at Chelmsford this more expecting a tight finish, after all, Essex were 97-4 and only needed 141 more to win, with two set batsmen at the crease. A tight finish threatened. What no one expected was that, after a steady start, they would implode in the most extraordinary way. Six overs were seen off, seventeen added. Suddenly, things went horribly wrong for Essex. Ben Coad got ten Doeschate and James Foster with the second and fifth balls of the 39th over and Harmer with the last ball of his next over. Then Steve Patterson took Dan Lawrence. 114-4 had become 114-8 and the match was all over bar the shouting (mainly expressed as fevered appeals). Although Siddle, Porter and Cook hung around for a while, the result was never in doubt. Yorkshire came back from being bowled out in a little over an hour on the first morning to win by the large margin of 91 runs and go top of the table, at least temporarily.
No such fun at Old Trafford, or at The Oval. Both games look set to end in the driest of dull draws. Surrey must have been licking their lips and be anticipating an easy win when they saw that Worcestershire would be coming. Reality though has been different. Worcestershire have passed Surrey’s 434 with something to spare and could yet get far enough ahead tomorrow to make Surrey bat for survival. Given though that the biggest danger to the batsman on this pitch is boredom, it will take something nigh on miraculous to produce a result. Worcestershire will begin the final day 469-6, 35 ahead and will be hoping to add enough runs to make Surrey at least a little nervous tomorrow.
At Old Trafford, any chance of a good finish tomorrow depended on Lancashire making a monumental score and being able to put some pressure on Somerset in the last two sessions. The good news for England was that Keaton Jennings took full advantage of the benign conditions to score an excellent century. He has been getting in recently, but not pushing on – trying too hard, perhaps? – but, today, it came right. In the company of Dane Vilas, who made the first double century of the season, they nullified the Somerset attack (perhaps “attack” was being generous here, with conditions so loaded in favour of the bat). They put on 201 together. At 431-5, Lancashire looked set for a big lead. An amazing collapse in the circumstances saw them fall to 443-9 before Clark and Parkinson added 49 for the last wicket. With no Marcus Trescothick, Renshaw opened with Davies and saw Somerset to 51-0 and near parity at the Close. It is now hard to see any way that there can be a result here.
At Trent Bridge, there should be a finish. Nottinghamshire batted far beyond the point at which there was any reason to do so, finally setting Hampshire 469 to win. Ross Taylor scored 83 in just 69 balls and the score mounted at an astonishing pace. Nottinghamshire batted in full T20 mode at the end of their innings and lost some wickets doing so, but they were set on enjoying themselves and did not care in the slightest about wickets. Tasked with surviving four and a half sessions, or a nominal 140 overs, Hampshire started well, but Nottinghamshire just needed a breakthrough. When Samit Patel, who finished the day with remarkable figures of 8-5-6-1, got Weatherley, Gurney added Jimmy Adams quickly and then Stuart Broad bowled a fine delivery to get James Vince cheaply. Amla and Wood hung on to the Close, but it will be a huge surprise if Nottinghamshire does not close this one out and leapfrog Yorkshire back into top spot.
5/5/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
This is a warning to readers: some normal, sensible cricket has happened today and some England players are beginning to show signs of returning form and confidence. Do not adjust your reading glasses!
Starting at Chelmsford, there has been a very severe outbreak of tough, competitive cricket. The bare facts are that after their jet-propelled start last night, Yorkshire stuttered a little, but still set Essex 238 to win. This has left statisticians consulting record books to find out if any side has ever scored as few as fifty in their first innings and won. In truth, Yorkshire should have put this match out of sight, having reached 276-3, with Joe Root and Harry Brook batting beautifully. That they did not was down, in the first place to Ravi Bopara, one of the forgotten men of English cricket and then to a fine spell from Jamie Porter. The day though, belonged to Harry Brook, with a highest score of 38 before this match; the youngster scored his maiden First-Class fifty and then converted it into a maiden ton. First, Pujara, with 41 kept him company and then Joe Root, with 35 although, of the last six, only Leaning with 29 reached double figures. Essex must have been mighty pleased not to be chasing 350 and set off well in pursuit of their target. Alastair Cook, who has not repeated his extraordinary batting for Essex of 2017, looked in decent form, seeing off Coad and Brooks. The introduction of Steve Patterson shook things up, with Cook and the luckless Westley, who has hardly scored a runs since being dropped by England last summer, both fell in the same over and when he repeated the trick by taking Browne and Bopara in the sixteenth over it looked like a quick finish might be in order. Lawrence and ten Doeschate took the score from 55-4 to 97-4 at the Close and left the match in the balance. If they can bat on for an hour in the morning without alarms, this game will be heading for a heart-stopping finish. Patterson, with 4-21, will be planning to derail the Essex bid for a successful chase.
Off to Old Trafford and a game that looks to be heading for a bore draw. If yesterday belonged to Marcus Trescothick – although there are fears that his injury may be career ending – today has belonged to Tom Abell and to Keaton Jennings. Abell fell agonisingly short of his own century, falling for 99 dismissed, appropriately, by Mennie. After his batting struggles since taking on the captaincy, Abell is finally getting rewards, both personal and with the team. Somerset’s 429 though was put into context by the Lancashire batsmen who, after a shaky start, shook off their stupor and were lifted from 48-2 to 217-2 by Keaton Jennings and Dane Vilas. Jennings, with 91* is threatening to be the first serious candidate for the England opening spot to score a century this season, while Vilas is 83*. While the match is seemingly heading for a bore-draw, no one will want to see Keaton Jennings fail to add those extra nine runs tomorrow morning. Spare a thought though for poor Haseeb Hameed, who has lost his England place to injury and to Keaton Jennings and now has lost his place in the Lancashire side.
Another bore draw threatens at The Oval. Surrey’s 434 was built around Rory Burns’ monumental 193. Charlie Morris finally got him when it looked as if the first double century of the season was his for the taking. However, after taking 144 overs to score their 434, they needed wickets to hurry the match along. Worcestershire’s batsmen have struggled horribly so far this season, but look as if they should avoid a fourth consecutive defeat here. So far only Brett D’Oliviera has fallen, LBW to Rikki Clarke for 23. Worcestershire have closed on 135-1 and, with their shaky batting and confidence, it is not impossible that they could lose quick wickets in the morning and end up struggling to avoid the follow-on, but this one looks like a draw unless Virdi can extract something from the pitch.
There should be a finish at Trent Bridge, but it may have to wait until Monday. There is every chance that Nottinghamshire will increase their lead at the top of Division 1 with a third win. Although 69 from Amla and 66 from McManus reduced the Hampshire arrears to something more respectable than seemed likely, 79 put Nottinghamshire in the driving seat unless their batsmen did something stupid. Mullaney and Libby have both reached their fifty. Nottinghamshire are 136-0, 215 ahead and will be looking to turn the screw in the morning. Hampshire will be chasing 350 or more.
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