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.
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
We do not quite have a full round of matches as Essex and Hampshire played a T20 last night and do not play today. At the end of this round, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire will have played nine matches and will be into the final run-in, in which every point counts. All other sides will have played eight matches and will have six left.
Today we have three, classic encounters, headed by the Roses match which, this year, takes on a special significance with Yorkshire in the relegation places and Lancashire one place above them, with a game more played. We also have a face-off between first and second and Somerset against the bottom side, needing a win to get back into Championship contention.
It has been a day of wild swings in the action, of many LBWs and the day that one Championship contender may well have said good-bye to its chances.
Lancashire v Yorkshire
Even though both teams have their England Test players available ahead of England’s series against India and thus Yorkshire can field a full-strength team, they hand a debut to on-loan Warwickshire leg-spinner Josh Poysden on a one-match deal, while Matthew Fisher missed out with a lacerated toe sustained on Lions duty and was replaced in the XII by Josh Shaw. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow play against England team-mates Jimmy Anderson and Jos Buttler, giving this match excellent quality. The auguries are not great for Lancashire as they have not beaten Yorkshire at Old Trafford since 2000 – their only home win coming during the exile to Aigburgh. Defeat for Lancashire in this game would be catastrophic.
Play was delayed due to the miserable, wet morning conditions at Old Trafford, although the rain relented enough to allow an 1145 start to be contemplated. Yorkshire won the Toss and elected to bat. Yorkshire seemed to be recovering well from the early loss of Harry Brook to Graeme Onions (22-1), with Joe Root looking in prime form, when Jordan Clark came in for his third over. Little did the Yorkshire fans appreciate what was to come when Joe Root eased the second and third balls of the over to the boundary. The last three balls of the over produced a hat-trick. First, he pinned Joe Root LBW for 22 from 19 balls. Kane Williamson came in and went LBW first ball. And Jonny Bairstow got a snorter that he could only edge to Jos Buttler behind the stumps. 59-4 and some disarray in the visitors. Jordan Clark had dismissed the numbers 3, 4 and 16 in the ICC World rankings: Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Jonny Bairstow. It was the first hat-trick in a Roses match at Old Trafford since 1933 and the first in an Ashes match since Ken Higgs took one at Headingley in 1968. At Lunch, Yorkshire were 61-4 and needing Lyth and Ballance to steady the innings. Ballance though did not hang around after Lunch and was bowled by Onions for 9: the fact that he did not offer a shot to the ball did not make it any better. 78-5 and, already, a leading contender for the “Wally of the Day” award. Bresnan then made his bid for the award by running himself out as Lyth drove the ball back at bowler Clark and he deflected it onlto the stumps with Bresnan backing-up too far. Yorkshire were 86-6 and hearing the whisper of relegation threats in their ears.
As Lyth and Patterson battled on, Liam Livingstone dived for a catch in the slips and took the ball on his wrist. Yorkshire had a life and Livingstone had to go off for treatment. Yorkshire could not take advantage of their luck for long as Petterson edged Bailey to Jennings at First Slip for 22 and Lyth fell to Anderson, also to a catch by Jennings. 131-8 and Yorkshire back up against it.
Jack Brooks and Josh Poysden though saw Yorkshire through to Tea with some sensible batting at 166-8 and gave some hope of a batting point. Clark though was not finished with Yorkshire and got Brooks to edge to Hameed, in the covers, straight after the resumption. Enter Ben Coad with a swinging bat. Poysden and Coad added 26 in 23 balls and seemed to be about to lead their side to an unexpected batting point when Coad got a straight one: need you ask who the bowler was? Jordan Clark ended with 5-58 and a run-out: career-best figures and not a bad day’s work!
Lancashire made a slow start with just 3 runs from the first five overs, then Jennings and Davies broke loose with five boundaries in eleven balls. Finally, Tim Bresnan brought the breakthrough. Keaton Jennings smashed the ball towards Joe Root at Mid-Wicket; Root flew through the air and took a brilliant one-handed catch and Yorkshire had their breakthrough: 46-1. Once again, a second wicket fell quickly as Haseeb Hameed’s nightmare season continued as he shouldered arms to a ball from Patterson that thudded into his stumps. Two balls later Dane Vilas fell LBW to Patterson for a duck and Lancashire were 55-3. Jos Buttler came in for a rare Championship innings and survived just four balls before leg-glancing a ball from Bresnan behind, where Jonny Bairstow took a smart catch to make it 66-4: Yorkshire were roaring back into the match.
Davies reached his 50 but fell immediately, edging Coad to Bairstow. Lancashire 92-5 and the match, wide open again. In came Bailey, out went Bailey, bowled second ball by Coad. 92-6 and, incredibly, Yorkshire were right on top. In came Onions and he too fell, second ball, bowled by Coad to give the bowler a rare, triple-wicket maiden. Six overs still remained, with Lancashire struggling to see out the day. Three balls into the next over Jack Brooks got Jordan Clark as Tim Bresnan caught him at Deap Square Leg and Lancashire had collapsed from 46-0 to 92-8: four wickets had fallen in eight balls for no addition. Seven wickets had fallen in ten overs and Liam Livingstone was presumed unfit to bat. Jimmy Anderson and Matt Parkinson managed to get through to the Close at 106-8, but Yorkshire are right on top and looking set for a desperately needed win that would compound Lancashire’s relegation worries.
Nottinghamshire v Surrey
Second plays first. After this match Nottinghamshire will have just five games left. With Nottinghamshire 22 points behind Surrey and only five games left after this one, a Surrey win would almost end Nottinghamshire’s chances of winning the Championship. Surrey play Australian Aaron Finch and recover Sam Curran and Ben Foakes from Lions duty. Nottinghamshire have Stuart Broad back, meaning that both sides can boast a very strong attack.
The Toss was uncontested and Surrey did not hesitate in putting in Nottinghamshire. Their decision was rewarded immediately as Jade Dernbach had Mullaney caught behind by Foakes, second ball, for a duck. 0-1 and Surrey had made an immediate statement. For a while, things seemed to be under control as Nottinghamshire reached 59-1 without further alarm, at which point Morkel took Fraine to catch by Ollie Pope. 50-1 became 60-3 as Morkel then added Jake Libby and then Sam Curran added Samit Patel. Nottinghamshire were 74-4 and in trouble. What Nottinghamshire did not need was for Billy Root to give a second catch to Ollie Pope in the penultimate over of the morning. Nottinghamshire 94-5 at Lunch and seeing the chances of the Championship title disappearing.
After Lunch Surrey seemed to struggle to maintain the intensity, but then they only needed one wicket to have Nottinghamshire wobbling again: Jade Dernbach duly took it by removing Riki Wessels for 23; 121-6. Morkel then got Stuart Broad caught by Sam Curran for 3 and Nottinghamshire were a very unhappy 128-7. Luke Fletcher and Tom Moores worked hard to push Nottinghamshire towards a batting point, but their stand was cut short at 36 when Rikki Clarke got Tom Moores LBW. As so often happens, one wicket brought two as Luke Fletcher was bowled by Morkel for 21: 165-9. Harry Gurney and last man, Jake Ball, hung around and took Nottinghamshire to a batting point that they would scarcely have expected a while before, swinging the bat merrily. In the end, Sam Curran launched a straight one at Jake Ball and sent the middle stump cartwheeling: 210ao, but it could have been so much worse.
The Nottinghamshire innings though was put into sharp contrast as Surrey set off in pursuit at a frantic pace. Mark Stoneman decided that the best way to get some form back was to attack and he did so with gusto. After just ten overs Surrey were 61-0 with Stoneman 43* and starting to enjoy batting again. The next three overs then went for 26. Stoneman’s first fifty of the summer took just 40 balls of carnage as Surrey continued to score at faster than a run-a-ball. The hundred partnership came up in one ball under sixteen overs. Stoneman fell finally to Jake Ball to a catch behind for 86, Surrey were 147-1, but the damage had been done to Nottinghamshire’s title hopes.
Surrey reached Stumps at 223-1, with Rory Burns on 97* and 19*, already 13 ahead and looking to eliminate Nottinghamshire as a title rival on Day 2.
Worcestershire v Somerset
After a win in their last fixture, Worcestershire can now see light at the end of the tunnel. Another win in this game would end Somereset’s title hopes and boost their own chances of survival. The big news for Somerset is that Marcus Trescothick is available after his successful 2nd XI return from what many feared was a career-ending injury whilst Jack Leach and Dom Bess are also available again after returning from England Lions duty. Matt Renshaw though has been forced to end his season through injury and Somerset are still without Tim Groenewald (groin), although Azhar Ali was available to make his debut. For Worcestershire, wicket-keeper batsman Alex Milton makes his Specsavers County Championship debut: captain of Cardiff MCCU this summer, he replaces Ben Cox who is ruled out with cracked ribs suffered in the Championship game versus Nottinghamshire. Incredibly, despite his injury, Cox has continued to play in the Blast but the injury has now become too painful for him to be able to play a four-day match: a sore (literally) loss for Worcestershire.
Both sides wanted to bat, but it was Worcestershire who won the Toss and elected to field, no doubt hoping to reduce the influence of Leach and Bess. The Somerset start was awful as Byrom was given caught behind to Magoffin for 5 (11-1) and Marcus Trescothick’s return was brief as he fell LBW, four balls later, to Wood for 6 (11-2). Another wicket would have been serious but, as so often this season, James Hildreath applied his calm head to the situation and, ably supported by Azar Ali, re-built the innings and even went on the attack, with 20 coming off the last two overs before Lunch, which was taken with Somerset at 95-2 and in a much happier place than they had been an hour and a half before. It did not last as Azar Ali edged Pennington behind for 37 from the bowling of Pennington, but 110-3 was a lot healthier than 11-2. In his next over, Pennington bowled Hildreath for 57 to a ball that the batsman was trying to leave (!!) and Somerset were 115-4, with two new batsmen at the crease and back in danger.
However, Steven Davies and Tom Abell were still there for Somerset and they had added 95 by Tea, leaving Somerset 214-4 and the happier of the two sides. Davies on 50, Abell on 49. Moeen Ali, having his first bowl of the season for Worcestershire, had caused problems, without having any luck but, after Tea, he finally got his reward. Steven Davies played back to a ball which turned from the Beard that is Feared, got a nick and ‘keeper Milton did the necessary. Davies out for 72 and Somerset 241-5. Then Moeen added Peter Trego LBW for 1 and Somerset were 251-6, with Tom Abell still there, although not for long, as Steve Magoffin got him LBW for 70: Somerset 266-7 and in danger of falling short of 300. The Overtons though had no intention of letting slip the match position and started to hit out, taking Somerset past the 300. 53 runs came in 7 overs. Finally, Craig Overton edged Moeen to slip for 31 and, soon after, Jamie Overton fell LBW to Ed Barnard for 28, making it 323-9. Stumps were drawn at 324-9, with Leach and Davey holding out, the former undoubtedly looking with interest at the turn that Moeen Ali was obtaining on Day 1.
The highlight of this round was undoubtedly Kent entertaining Leicestershire: 2nd v 4th, with Leicestershire knowing that a win would shake up the promotion race. Elsewhere, Sussex have the chance to keep their chances of promotion very much alive with a win against Glamorgan.
Derbyshire v Northamptonshire
The Derbyshire decision to bat looked pretty dubious when they fell to 21-3 and Northamptonshire had their first bowling point in little more than a quarter of an hour of play. Things got no better as Nathan Buck bowled Hughes to leave Derbyshire 53-4. It looked though as if Hossein and Critchley were weathering the storm until Nathan Buck got one through Critchley and sent the sides to a premature Lunch at 113-5. After Lunch, the Northamptonshire bowlers worked their way through the Derbyshire middle order and, at 183-8, things did not look good for the home side, but Gary Wilson was still there and got some solid support from Dan Wheeldon, adding vital runs and taking Derbyshire to 222-8 at Tea.
Still Derbyshire batted on and even when Wilson fell, bowled by Nathan Buck for 66, Wheeldon and Qadri took them to the second batting point. The fun ended finally on 260 when Prasanna bowled Qadri.
Northamptonshire got off to an excellent start in reply, Luke Procter and Ben Duckett adding 53 at better than 4-an-over. However, the fall of Duckett for 29 led to a mid-collapse as Vasconcelos fell two balls later for a duck – two in three balls to Tony Palladino. Three overs later Luke Procter fell LBW to Viljoen for 30 and Northamptonshire were 59-3 and Derbyshire were back in the game. Buck and Wakeley took Northamptonshire through to the Close at 74-3, with the game well balanced.
Gloucestershire v Durham
Gloucestershire brought in the recovered Benny Howell for the disappointing Graeme van Buuren and elected to bat. After his success against Sussex, Miles Hammond kept the opening spot, with Benny Howell slotting-in down the order. For Durham, Ben Stokes got a rare County Championship outing. Solid starts have not been a feature of the Gloucestershire batting this season but Dent and Hammond were giving the home team one of their better starts before Ben Stokes got Chris Dent LBW for 19: 40-1 and Chris Dent’s disappointing season continues. Stokes then hit James Bracey a heavy blow on the arm and forced him to retire hurt. Benny Howell came in at #4 to replace him. Whatever concerns there might have been about Ben Stokes’ ability to bowl his full share of overs in a Test, were dissipated further as he got Howell to nick it through to Cameron Steel: 48-2 and the Gloucestershire fans thinking “here we go again…” Miles Hammond though has a good head on his shoulders and, in partnership with Gareth Roderick, took Gloucestershire through to Lunch at 88-2.
Miles Hammond duly went through to his 50, confirming that in Bracey and Hammond, Gloucestershire have two young batsmen to watch. Sadly, though, just as he had against Sussex, where he seemed to lose concentration on reaching his century and get out immediately, he was dismissed immediately after reaching his fifty, when Chris Rushworth flattened his off stump for 51. With Bobby Bracey unable to return and in hospital with a suspected broken arm, Ryan Higgins came in and accompanied Gareth Roderick to a fine fifty and a fifty-partnership. Higgins then went on to his third fifty of the season. As Higgins reached his fifty, Ben Stokes started rubbing is left knee and went off for a time at the end of the over before coming back just before Tea. Roderick and Higgins went on to the century partnership. Gloucestershire 218-3 at Tea and Higgins just short of his highest First Class score.
Roderick fell LBW to Salisbury, second ball after Tea, for 67 and James Bracey came back bravely, arm well strapped. Higgins roared past his highest ever First Class score, supported by the valiant Bracey, until the new ball did for Bracey, LBW to Chris Rushworth for 38; 283-5 after a partnership of 64. Rushworth then bowled Noema-Barnett for 7 before Higgins hit consecutive boundaries off Salisbury, the second, a hook to the Fine Leg boundary to reach his first First Class century and bring up the Gloucestershire 300. Ryan Higgins fell finally to Ben Stokes for 105 and Stumps were called at 315-7: Stokes can be satisfied with a fine day’s work, as can Ryan Higgins, with honours even on the day.
Kent v Leicestershire
A year ago, any county seeing Leicestershire as visitors on their fixture list would have licked their lips and anticipated slaughter. This season though, Leicestershire have suddenly come alive and consecutive wins have left them in with a realistic chance of promotion. This thus became the original “promotion 48-pointer”: not something that many would have predicted back in April. Leicestershire elected to bowl at Canterbury and saw their decision justified rapidly as two wickets from Ben Raine in his fourth over shook-up the Kent batsmen. Raine dismissed Bell-Drummond and Kuhn with consecutive balls, leaving Kent 25-2. From there, things just got worse as Zak Chappell came on as first change and scythed through the Middlesex middle order with three wickets for very little, supported by the dismissal of Sam Dickson by Gareth Griffiths. At Lunch Kent were 73-6 and in desperate need of both Live Aid and Band Aid from the old rocker, Darren Stevens.
Things though got no better after Lunch as “Fireball” Dexter bowled a double-wicket maiden, getting both Harry Podmore and Gavin Stewart and leaving Kent 78-8. In a match that that Kent could not afford to lose, their promotion bid seemed to be running out of oxygen with the summit in clear view. A third wicket for Raine and a wicket for Mohammed Abbas and Kent were 104ao and in desperate trouble, not half way through the first day. A quick response was needed and Harry Podmore took just two balls to clean-up Harry Dearden: 0-1 and this game was not making plans to go into a fourth day.
Darren Stevens added Ackerman and, at that point, had the extraordinary figures of 5.1-4-1-1, with Leicestershire 17-2 and struggling in turn. Paul Horton edged Thomas through to Sam Billings and it was 47-3. Mark Cosgrove fell LBW to Gavin Stewart: 51-4 and Kent right back in the match. Leicestershire though had Fireball Dexter and Ned Eckersley together: they put on 70 and got Leicestershire into the lead before Ivan Thomas bowled Dexter for 41: 121-5. Joe Denly came on late in the day and produced an expensive first over before getting Raine with the last ball of the day. Leicestershire have ended the day 149-6 and Kent can still hope to keep their first innings deficit under control.
Middlesex v Warwickshire
Middlesex won the Toss and batted in a must-win match on a track that looked full of runs. With pre-season expectations set so high: promotion and the knock-out phases of at least one of the Cups, as a minimum, this was a last chance for Middlesex to set down a real marker, as Gus Fraser indicates that there will be a major re-think about the playing staff this winter. Chris Woakes and Ryan Sidebottom returned for Warwickshire to give the home side’s batting a serious test, with Woakes immediately promoted from recovery in the 2nd XI to new ball duty. For Warwickshire, a win would leave them with one foot in Division One and just requiring a steady run-in to get promoted. For Middlesex, Sam Robson was out with a broken finger. Middlesex featured a new 1st XI coach whose influence was reflected in the choice of Stirling to open with Gubbins, with Holden dropped back #6. Stirling immediately launched into Woakes, who produced one jaffa and two very slightly short balls that were hammered to the boundary, suggesting that the batsmen may still have been in T20 mode. In the commentary box, Kevin Hand made an immediate check of the colour or the clothing and the ball on the field, concluding that this was, genuinely a County Championship match: given Middlesex’s lack of success in T20, one wondered if it was a sound strategy to use T20 techniques. Stirling whacked four boundaries in the first two overs before edging behind to the last ball of the second over. With Stirling’s dismissal, the game started to look more like four-day cricket again. Hannon-Dalby then game on and bowled a ball that snorted back in and castled Nick Gubbins. Chris Wright then removed Eskinazi to a catch by Jonathon Trott at First Slip. Middlesex were 53-3 and already in some difficulty.
Things rapidly got worse and the riches of 51-1 soon became 76-6 as Malan, Morgan, Simpson and Harris departed in swift succession. The good news for Middlesex though was that this brought in James Fuller, whose form for Middlesex 2nd XI and, latterly, for the 1st XI, should see him awarded a Superman cape rather than a County Cap. Although he was lucky to see Tim Ambrose drop him on 29, Fuller and Max Holden decided to take the attack to the bowlers and score runs while they were available. The result was a quick fifty-partnership and a switch in the balance. Finally, Max Holder tried one hit too many at Jeethan Patel and was LBW for 48 after a partnership of 86. Fuller though kept on his merry way going on to a 50 with 5x4 and 1x6. With Ollie Rayner back from loan and back in favour, batting at #10, Fuller found a solid partner in a ninth wicket partnership that earned the first batting point. As Fuller took a rest and let the Brighton Bradman, Ollie Rayner, take the lead, the fifty partnership came up in good time, before Rayner was adjudged caught behind off Wright for 28 and very unhappy with the decision.
Rayner’s dismissal brought in the Lambeth Lara and Tim Murtagh set off to show just why the fans call him that by joining Fuller in some swinging to push Middlesex towards what would have been a totally implausible second batting point. Finally, Fuller got a straight one from Hannon-Dalby and departed for a brilliant 71. Middlesex 236ao.
There were a few scares for Warwickshire when they batted but, in general, Middlesex bowled a little too short. James Harris though bowled a straight one at Sibley and pinned him to make it 20-1 and give the bowlers a lift. Ian Bell came in, hit two gorgeous fours and the Murtagh got him LBW with a ball that swung a little. 30-2 and game on! Rhodes and Trott – playing his last game at Lord’s? – batted solidly to the tune of an 88 run partnership before Rayner who, a fortnight earlier looked to have played his last game for Middlesex, pinned Trott LBW for 47. A second wicket came for Tim Murtagh when he got Tim Hain LBW for 16: yet another LBW on a day when there was an incredible quantity of LBWs around the country.
Warwickshire reached Stumps at 152-4, with the match in the balance.
Sussex v Glamorgan
This was the joker in the pack. With Sussex having got their promotion bid back on track, they played host to Glamorgan in a day-night match, knowing that Kent’s innings was in tatters before they started. Sussex won the Toss and batted. Salt and Wells added 73 for the first wicket, before Salt edged Hogan to ‘keeper, Cooke. Tom Haines came in and kept Luke Wells company, with Sussex going to Lunch at 114-1, Wells 48* and looking to make their decision to bat count.
The afternoon session, though, was a bad one for Sussex. From the riches of the lunchtime score they slipped to 171-6, squandering the opportunity to turn the screw. The rot started immediately after Lunch when Lukas Carey dismissed Haines for 18, without addition to the score. Harry Finch came in and acted as sleeping partner for Luke Wells: his contribution to a stand of 25 was a single. Hogan got him to another catch behind to wicket-keeper Cooke: 139-3 and some of the shine was going off the scorecard. Luke Wells was next to go, in Hogan’s next over, for 71 and Sussex had slipped to 140-4. Burgess was joined by captain Ben Brown, needing a partnership to steady the innings, but the former became the first of two victims for young Jeremy Lawlor, promoted from Glamorgan 2nd XI after some solid all-round performances and playing just his seventh First Class match. Burgess became the third catch for wicket-keeper, Cooke. In his next over, the same combination accounted for David Wiese for 2 and Sussex were 171-6 and sinking.
Ben Brown though was still there and Chris Jordan has considerable talent with the bat, even if he does not always use it. Together, they added 83 and brought up two batting points, with Jordan reining-in his attacking tendencies. The pair were turning around the day again, when Ben Brown fell to the off-spinner Andrew Salter for 49, giving Cooke his fifth catch of the day. Jordan, on 46, was joined by the hero of the Sussex win against Gloucestershire: Jofra Archer. Just four balls later, Jordan fell too, bowled by Hogan for 46 and 254-6 and dreams of 300+ had become 254-8. Hogan had 4-29 and, as so often this season, was holding together the Glamorgan attack with another heroic bowling performance, taking him to 28 wickets at 20.2 for the season. Ollie Robinson joined Joffra Archer with nearly 20 overs of the day remaining and Sussex struggling to see out the day.
Glamorgan took the new ball, hoping to finish off the innings quickly. It took Timm van ter Gugten just three balls to break though, dismissing Ollie Robinson for 6. With only Danny Briggs left, Archer was a model of self-denial, scoring off just 3 of his first 29 balls (and 5 of his first 47, although four of those scoring-shots were boundaries) as Danny Briggs cracked-on at the other end towards the third batting point. A boundary from Archer off Hogan brought up the 300 and three batting points: Sussex cannot afford to leave bonus points behind and were grateful for this unexpected last wicket stand. As the tenth wicket partnership pushed on towards fifty, Glamorgan were probably happy to keep the batsmen quiet rather than have to come out to bat for a few overs under lights, although there was no hint of the extreme behaviour of the ball that the Kent bowlers had found a few weeks earlier against Middlesex. Consecutive boundaries to Danny Briggs off Lukas Carey took Briggs to 40 and brought up the fifty partnership in what was no longer a nuisance stand and was becoming a major annoyance, with even a fourth batting point looming into view.
With two overs of the day remaining, Glamorgan were guaranteed not to have to bat, even if the last wicket fell and the major question became whether or not Briggs, scoring at better than a run-a-ball, could reach his fifty before Stumps. Archer played out a maiden to Hogan and the last over started, with Briggs on 46*. Sadly, for Briggs, he fell, first ball, to Lawlor – yet another LBW – and Sussex were all out for 327: fewer than they would have expected at Lunch, many more than seemed likely at Tea. Glamorgan will bat in the morning against a strong Sussex attack: this will be one of the decisive days of the Sussex season if they are to exploit Kent’s difficulties.
5/4/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid) and Harry Hill (@HarryHill96)
It is Spring Bank Holiday weekend. The weather is nice. The rain is forgotten. Pakistan take on Ireland in their inaugural Test next week, before facing England. It is time for England’s stars to show that they are up for it and for suitors for the open positions at opener and at #3 to hammer helpless attacks into cringing submission. That at least is the theory. The practice was that the star opener of the day is a sprightly 42-year-old and that the England stars making hay in the Sun were a little in short supply.
We start at Chelmsford. Alastair Cook, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Cheteshwar Puajar, Gary Ballance, Dan Lawrence, Tom Westley. Just tell the bowlers to take a couple of Aspirin before plays starts to dull the pain of a cricked neck caused by watching the ball whizzing past at great speed off broad bats. That was the theory. The reality was that the day looked more like a homage to the Marx Brothers’ classic “Duck Soup”. There was even, at one point, the very real possibility that the extra half hour could be requested to finish the game on the first day. Had it not been for Ballance’s 22 from 41 balls, Yorkshire could genuinely have lost in one day. Harry Brook went for the first duck of the day after nine balls of the morning. Adam Lyth, with seven Tests behind him, joined him back in the Pavilion pretty quickly. Joe Root took his cue from this and got a first-baller. None of them had troubled the scorer and Yorkshire were 9-3, all the runs to Pujara. Sam Cook had 3 wickets and the locals were rubbing their eyes. Pujara, who was obviously getting embarrassed by the length of his stay, rapidly joined the queue of batsmen at the door of the Pavilion. 27 balls. 11-4. Jonny Bairstow, who reportedly only had his first net of the season on Monday, also fell cheaply and surprise at the goings on was no longer sufficient: the members had to resort to astonishment. Six overs of – gosh! – sensible batting followed. Were Yorkshire going to dig in and scramble out of the mire? They reached 41-5 before the question was answered. The last five wickets fell in twenty-six balls for just nine runs. Yorkshire 50 all out and much consulting of the record books.
Surely Essex were going to return some equilibrium to the Force? After all, it was Star Wars day. Answer: no! Alastair Cook added his homage to the Marx Brothers (six balls, caught behind off Jack Brooks). Tom Westley may have fond thoughts of getting his England place back, but his innings, like Joe Root’s, was the shortest possible. In no time Essex were 12-3 and that Yorkshire total started to look like a decent score. The only batsman who seemed not to be in a hurry to get back and have a cup of tea and a chat with his teammates was Dan Lawrence, who even threatened to make a fifty. When Lawrence fell, the procession resumed. With more than forty overs of the day remaining, Essex were 93-7 and a result on the first day looked all too possible. Harmer and Siddle pushed the total up to 142. Yorkshire needed 92 to avoid the innings defeat. There were 31 overs left, plus the possibility of an extra 8. Let the fun begin! And it did, but suddenly it was the batsmen who were enjoying themselves. Jonny Bairstow was sent out to open and responded with 6x4 and 1x6 in a 44-ball 50. Harry Brook, demoted to #3, took his cue from that and Yorkshire knocked-off the deficit at quicker than a run-a-ball. We do not know what the batsmen were served at Tea, but it was certainly performance-enhancing. The bottom line is that Yorkshire lead by 62, with 8 wickets left and suddenly and bizarrely are on top. How often a side is dismissed for 50 in just over an hour and can end the day saying that is open to question. Heaven only knows what these two sides have planned for Day 2.
At Old Trafford it was definitely a batting day and what a hero to take advantage. Marcus Trescothick could well decide to call it a day if Somerset do not win the Championship this year but, if he does, he has shown that he still has runs in him. When Banger was an England regular, Jimmy Anderson was just getting established in the team. Today, he appeared on the pitch as a dyed blonde, possibly hoping to dazzle the batsmen into submission. Even if Matt Renshaw failed to score a century, Banger certainly had no intention of missing out. In the company of George Bartlett the batsmen set about the Lancashire attack, which was made to look pedestrian and helpless. What we did not know is that he had broken a bone in his foot in an awkward fall as he approached his century. Trescothick, who was in obvious pain, got those last few runs, before falling almost immediately to the leg-spin of Livingstone and heading straight off to hospital, where the break was confirmed. Hildreth missed out, but Bartlett went on his sweet way to his own century in company with the gloriously revived captain, Tom Abell. Lancashire were watching the overs ticking-down and beginning to wonder if they were going to get any more than the single bowling point that had been obtained by mid-afternoon. Two wickets in the last hour sweetened the medicine a little, but Somerset will certainly be hoping to obtain full batting points still. Oh yes… Jimmy Anderson ended with 0-70 and added his name to the list of England players who did not have the best of days. Somerset are making a fast start to the season and look to be real contenders for that Championship Pennant.
The Oval, in contrast, saw a day of more attritional play. Worcestershire’s start to the season has been dire and Surrey were in no mood to give anything away. with one exception (need one say that it was a candidate to open the batting in the 1st Test?) Rory Burns batted through the day for 137* and will come back tomorrow hungry for more. When anything happened for Worcestershire it was thanks to Barnard, Leach and Cox in differing combinations. Barnard ran out Stoneman for 28 – his second highest innings of the season so far, his best being 29 – Borthwick and Patel must be twins, both falling for 10 to catches by Cox off Leach, but Ben Foakes, one of the few England possibles to be scoring runs for fun, put on 125 with Burns before falling to the Cox/Barnard combo. With Ollie Pope bedding-in, there is a real danger of Worcestershire having to settle for a single bowling point in the morning. Surrey will hope to accelerate against a tiring attack and rub in their advantage. One thing that Worcestershire will not want is to spend five sessions in the field and concede well over 400, but that scenario looks more than likely right now. Worcestershire may be thinking fondly of how much easier life was in Division 2 last season and consoling themselves that another promotion bid lies in store in 2019. Surrey, in contrast, will be thinking of a 22-point win and getting themselves up into the jostling pack at the top of the table.
Last, but by no means least, the current leaders of Division 1, Nottinghamshire, can reflect on a thoroughly satisfactory day. At 27-3 in the seventh over, they would have settled gratefully for 302ao and three batting points. Their total was based on solid contributions from Ross Taylor (47), Samit Patel (73), Rikki Wessels (54), Tom Moores (29) and Stuart Broad (33), although it took one of those tenth wicket partnerships that drive opposing teams to distraction to add the third batting point, as Harry Gurney and Jake Ball added 27. What was remarkable is that the runs were scored at a fast rate and left Nottinghamshire plenty of time to go at Hampshire with the ball in the evening. While most of the England team and the possibles are having a fairly torrid time, Stuart Broad seems to be reborn. His form has definitely been the exception to the rule and he looks to be raring to go. 3-28, 38 & 1-17 v Worcestershire. Now, 33 with the bat and a fine new ball spell to put the skids under Hampshire and leave them 17-2. Broad has ended the day with figures of 7-3-19-2 and is currently averaging under 11 with the ball and 35 with the bat this season. Those figures won’t last, but the Stuart Broad of a few years ago seems to be back and loving playing cricket. We know how Stuart Broad saves his best for Pakistan and, yes, they are the first Test opponents that he will face. Luke Fletcher supported him well at the other end and, needless to say, another England hopeful, James Vince, his hapless victim. Scores of 75, 12, 6, 33, 47 & 5 make him one of the form England batsmen this season – arguably the only one and will probably earn him a place in the squad for the 1st Test, but today was definitely not his day with the bat. Amla and Rossouw have steadied the innings and taken the score from 23-3 at the fall of Vince, to 70-3 at the Close, but Nottinghamshire know that an early wicket will open-up an end with Liam Dawson at #6 and a long-looking tail. While the late partnership has evened things up, you cannot help thinking that, with the pace that this game is progressing, the win is there for Nottinghamshire if they want it.
Glamorgan V Kent
Allow me to briefly set the scene in Cardiff this morning, everything was calm, Nick Selman and Jack Murphy enjoyed a solid start with a 57 run partnership during the morning session, but the supporters in attendance at Sophia Gardens were unsuspecting of the drama that was about to unfold. After the lunch break, Kent stalwart Darren Stevens was a man possessed and on a mission, aided well by Matt Henry, 8 wickets fell in the first hour. Opening batsman Murphy was left stranded on 39 as Glamorgan fell to 94 all out. In overcast conditions, the Glamorgan batsman couldn’t read the movement that 42-year old Stevens achieved, as he finished on very impressive figures of 6-26. Without being too cheeky, one might wonder whether the Glamorgan batsman got a bit confused and thought the T20 Blast campaign started, falling inside just 15.3 overs after lunch. Perhaps with the surprise of getting out to bat so early in the day, the Kent batsman got off to a shaky start thanks to a good opening spell of bowling from Timm van der Gugten. Nevertheless, Kent skipper Joe Denly steadied the ship in a way the Glamorgan batsman failed to earlier in the day, sharing an important 78 run partnership with rising-star Zak Crawley. Not to be downhearted, van der Gugten soon got back to work, adding Stevens, Rouse and Henry to his scalps, finishing the day with 6-40. Harry Podmore offered some late resistance and is still at the crease with Ivan Thomas, with the spitfires closing on 163-9, 69 runs ahead of their hosts.
Durham v Leicestershire
A huge clash is taking place at Chester-Le-Street as last years’ bottom sides are looking for vital points to kick-start their respective seasons. Leicestershire’s opening batsman, Michael Carberry and Paul Horton got the Foxes off to a fantastic start with an opening partnership of 146, with the level of dogged resistance rarely seen this season. Durham skipper Paul Collingwood must have expected better from the likes of Chris Rushworth and Nathan Rimmington, who were unable to offer much threat with the new ball. Runs continued to flow after lunch with the introduction of Barry McCarthy and James Weighall into the attack. Carberry and Horton went on to make fifties alongside Mark Cosgrove, who were very patient in their attention of the Durham attack. In the final overs of the day, Durham were unable to find a 5th wicket that might open the match-up on day 2, as Mark Cosgrove returns to the crease with Lewis Hill on 66*. Leicestershire reached 301-4 at the close, with more Durham toiling in the field expected tomorrow.
Sussex v Middlesex
Middlesex’s blushes were sparred on the south coast today thanks to a fluent 84* from young Max Holden, who seemed to be the only batsman capable of facing Ollie Robinson in the form that he showed today. More top order woes will be a concern for Dawid Malan’s men, with Gubbins, Robson, the skipper himself and Cartwright all falling short of meaningful contributions. Despite this, full credit should go to Ollie Robinson, achieving career-best figures of 7-58 on a lively pitch at Hove. It could have been worse for Middlesex, had Sussex not dropped the three chances they created, although Stevie Eskinazi and Hilton Cartwright will be disappointed to have not punished such mistakes. At 169-8, and looking like missing out on any batting bonus points, Tim Murtagh added some useful late runs with Holden, as Middlesex finished on 230 all out. However, with the bat, Sussex were unable to capitalise on Robinson’s good work, thanks to some very tight bowling from Tim Murtagh in particular, who picked up the wickets of the opening pair of Luke Wells and Philip Salt. In honesty, it was difficult to see what Middlesex could achieve in the tricky 21 overs left in the day, but the Londoners will be delighted with the wicket of the dangerous Luke Wright towards the close. Sussex will return in the morning 60-4, with Harry Finch set on 26*, 170 runs behind.
5/3/2018 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
With the weather set fair, international star aplenty, it would be rude to not spend your Bank Holiday weekend at the cricket.
We’ll start at Chelmsford where perhaps the most intriguing battle of the game week will take place. Former England Captain Alastair Cook takes on his successor Joe Root as Essex take on Yorkshire at the Cloud FM County Ground. Root will be joined by fellow England internationals Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance to give the White Rose battling line-up a much-needed boost. The Tykes fell to a humbling defeat at Taunton last week with the batting desperately letting the visitors down so seeing the current England captain at the crease will be a welcome sight for the Yorkshire faithful.
Despite their 118-run defeat in the West Country in Game week three there were still some positives to take from their encounter, Ben Coad continued his fine form and another impressive display in the East of England will further boost his chances of gain a place in the England Test side, particularly after the news of Toby Roland-Jones season-ending injury. Indeed, he will be involved in the second interesting little battle that’ll take place in this fascinating clash. With Root, Cook, Bairstow, and Ballance on show in the same match you can be sure that new England selector Ed Smith will be in attendance and that gives both Coad and fellow England hopeful Jamie Porter the potential stage to shine on.
Cook impressive in Essex’s limited game-time in Southampton looking back to the sort of form we are used to seeing. The England opener struck a fluent 84 in the Eagles one-innings bonus point shootout draw with Hampshire. He will be keen to feel some sun on his back and continue to enjoy some time in the middle ahead of the summer tour starting this month. After seeing a complete washout in the reverse fixture both sides will be keen to avenge wasted time as they look to pinch vital points off each other and separate themselves from the bottom end of the league.
Essex remain unchanged with Porter, Harmer, Sam Cook and Peter Siddle tasked with upsetting the Yorkshire party, whilst Alastair Cook, Nick Browne, Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence will all be hoping to impress to watching England selectors.
For Yorkshire, as previously mentioned Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow come in to replace Alex Lees and Andrew Hodd.
Team News in full:
Essex: Ten Doeschate ©, Foster w/k, Beard, Bopara, Browne, Chopra, A.Cook, S.Cook, Harmer, Lawrence, Porter, Siddle, and Westley
Yorkshire: Ballance ©, Bairstow, Bresnan, Brook, Brooks, Carver, Coad, Leaning, Lyth, Patterson, Pujara, Root and Shaw
Weather watch: Largely sunny with highs of 23.
Where to follow: Live streaming service provided by Essex Cricket TV with Commentary from BBC Essex.
Elsewhere, perhaps the surprise package of the division, Somerset travel to Old Trafford looking to make it three wins on the spin. Many tipped the West Country boys to struggle but some shrewd arrivals have made all the difference early on in the season. The signing of Matthew Renshaw, in particular, appears to be inspired, the Australian, who was a late replacement for Cameron Bancroft has looked in great touch in early season and his magnificent pre-lunch century on the opening day against Yorkshire all but led the way to victory in tricky batting conditions. He, again will prove important for the visitors who’s batting has improved of late with Tom Abell and James Hildreth amongst the runs too. The bowling speaks for itself with the spin twins Dom Bess and Jack Leach always likely to cause problems even in these early season conditions being well backed up by some more than useful pacemen in the Overton brothers and Lewis Gregory.
Their hosts, however, have enjoyed a less than stellar start to the season, but they began to show signs of life during game week three, they finally remembered how to bat with half-centuries for Liam Livingstone, Shiv Chanderpaul, Steven Croft, Jordan Clark, Tom Bailey and Joe Meenie in their mammoth score of 439-9 declared against Surrey last week. There is still the worry that the top three (all tipped for relatively bright England futures) still struggling to make any serious runs but if they do start to fire there are signs that they can be the dangerous side everyone thought they would be. There bowling is probably their strong suit and it fired against a very strong Surrey batting line-up at Old Trafford failing an agonizing four-wickets short of victory as time caught up with them. The Red Rose bowling attack will be boosted further by the appearance of England bowling superstar James Anderson, the Lancashire faithful will be hoping the extra class of the Burnley express will help turn the frustrating draw against Surrey into a fabulous win against Somerset.
Team News in full:
Lancashire: Livingstone ©, Anderson, Bailey, Chanderpaul, Clark, Croft, Davies (w/k), Haseeb Hameed, Jennings, Mennie, Onions, Parry, Parkinson, Vilas
Somerset: Abell ©, Bartlett, Bess, Davies (w/k), Gregory, Groenewald, Hildreth, Leach, Overton, Renshaw, Trescothick, van Meekeren, van der Merwe
Weather watch: Largely sunny with highs of 22.
Where to follow: A live stream will be available with BBC Lancashire commentary.
Table toppers Nottinghamshire will be looking to stretch away from their visitors to Trent Bridge during game week four by collecting their third success of the summer when they face Hampshire. It is their first time on home soil this season and they will be hoping to prove that Don Topley’s comments about them being ‘lucky’ is a load of cobblers. Topley tweeted in the week that Nottinghamshire have been fortunate that the fixture gods were smiling on them having played away from home during their opening three games. Of course, there is some logic behind it, it has given them the opportunity to insert their opposition in every encounter in favourable April conditions but Topley’s comments were disrespectful nonetheless.
The Outlaws have adapted very well following their promotion back to the top flight and with players like Jake Ball and Harry Gurney in fine form, it is little surprise to see them sitting pretty at the top of the Championship after winning two from their first three games. They need more from their batting line-up though to help their talented bowling attack as they cannot keep relying on being ‘got out of jail’ by the likes of Ball, Gurney and Fletcher.
It will be interesting to see how they fair back in familiar surrounding and how they will react to being asked to bat first against a very talented Hampshire bowling attack.
For Hampshire, they will just be hoping for some sunshine after freezing during their weather-affected encounter with Essex last week. Images circulated around Social Media of a very cold looking Hashim Amla donning a woolly hat and about 18 sweaters.
They have enjoyed an indifferent season with one win, a loss and a draw from their opening three fixtures of the season. They will be without Sam Northeast again who is continuing his recovery from a broken finger suffered whilst practising slip catching prior to their match last week.
In the cricket that was played in their one-innings bonus point frenzy against the Eagles, they looked decent. Runs from Amla, Jimmy Adams and Kyle Abbott propelled them to 351/7 against what is thought to be one of the stronger bowling attacks in the division. They also enjoyed some success with the ball before Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara stemmed the momentum the hosts had built up when they had reduced Essex to 61/3.
It is widely expected that Hampshire will start this encounter in the Midlands with an unchanged team, whilst Nottinghamshire have Stuart Broad still available in a team that will also likely to be unchanged from their stunning 5 session success over struggling Worcestershire.
Team News in full:
Nottinghamshire: Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney (c), Stuart Broad, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Matt Milnes, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores (w/k), Ross Taylor, Jake Ball, Billy Root.
Hampshire: Adams, Wood, Dawson, Vince, McManus, Weatherley, Amla, Rossouw, Abbott, Edwards, Wheal, Berg and Sole
Weather watch: Largely sunny with highs of 22.
Where to follow: A live stream with BBC radio commentary will be available through TrentBridge.co.uk
Lastly, Worcestershire travel to London looking to show they are worthy to be in the top flight after a woeful start to their season.
Following promotion from the Second Division the Pears have suffered a defeat in five sessions to Nottinghamshire, and two heavy defeats to Somerset and Hampshire respectively. It is safe to say this isn’t the dream return the Midlanders had hoped for. Just when they would have been looking for some kind of respite they travel to the Oval to face a Surrey side sure to be on the buzz after the news broke of Virat Kohli’s impending arrival in June. Kohli will add to an already stacked side that will be sure to cause Worcestershire all sorts of bother. A bowling attack that will be keen to make amends following a disappointing display by their high standards last week against Lancashire. The batting is more than solid with Ben Foakes in the form of his life as he eyes an England call-up and young Ollie Pope also impressing with the willow.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect coming out of Surrey at the minute though is Amar Virdi. England have been crying out for a genuine turner of the ball and in Virdi they hope they have found their man. The right-arm off break bowler is currently the ‘Reys top wicket-taker with 8 and has already been likened to Monty Panesar thanks to his elaborate celebrations. He is another man that Worcestershire’s fragile batting line-up will have to look out for.
The Pears much break the 250 mark at the bare minimum as they have far too frequently been blown away by sides, to give themselves any hope of victory in this one they will have to hope they bowl out Surrey cheaply and capitalise on one of the best batting tracks in the country. This is the opportunity Joe Clarke has been crying out for as he looks to stake a claim for a chance in the England set-up.
Team news in full:
Surrey: Burns, Batty, Borthwick, Clarke, Curran, S. Dernbach, Foakes, Mckerr, Meaker, Patel, Pope, Stoneman and Virdi
Worcestershire: Mitchell, D’Oliveira, Fell, Clarke, Head, Cox (w), Barnard, Leach ©, Tongue, Morris, Magoffin and Twohig
Weather watch: Largely sunny with highs of 25.
Where to follow: Live stream on the Surrey cricket website with live BBC London radio commentary.
5/3/2017 0 Comments
Reports by Harry Hill (@HarryHill96)
Where else can we start than at Northampton, where a stunning 277 run a piece tie left the honours even. Northants skipper won his first toss in 11 attempts and elected to bowl first on an overcast day at Wantage Road. Worcestershire lost Tom Kohler-Cadmore and Tom Fell early thanks to Graeme White and Richard Gleeson respectively. Daryl Mitchell and Joe Clarke stabilised the innings before a useful contribution of 82 from Ben Cox and a quick-fire 42 from Ed Barnard gave Worcestershire a decent score to defend. In response, good early bowling from Jack Shantry and Ed Barnard saw the dangerous Josh Cobb and Richard Levi out early. Rob Newton, however, played superbly for his 107 off 123 balls, sharing a century stand with Alex Wakely (52). With the tension rising, Northants required an unlikely 14 from the last over, Adam Rossington (63*) found the boundary with immense calmness. However, with two needed from the last ball, a scrambled single left both teams with a point each.
At a high scoring day of 50 over cricket at Headingley, Jonny Bairstow starred after contributing an enthralling career-best 174 off 113-balls to Yorkshire’s run case. Durham skipper Keaton Jennings won the toss and elected to bat, which appeared the correct decision with a superb opening stand of 124 from Stephan Cook and Jennings himself. Following a spectacular catch at deep mid-wicket by Peter Handscomb from the bowling of Matthew Waite, Jennings was walking back to the hutch for 72. That did not deter Cook, who was seamlessly joined in the middle by Michael Richardson, both of whom reached a ton. When Cook eventually fell in the 40th over with the score at 248-2, progress was slowed somewhat with the wickets of Clark, Collingwood, and Coughlin giving Durham a respectable 335-5, but will think that they should have finished better. Bairstow took no time to get started in his effort towards the highest ever List-A score at Headingley and notable contributions from England Test Captain Joe Root (55) and Peter Handscomb (47) saw Yorkshire reach the target inside 48 overs.
At a rain-affected game at the Ageas Bowl, Middlesex beat Hampshire by 89 runs (D/L Method). The ever-impressive Nick Gubbins was the key man for Middlesex with the bat reaching 114 from 117 balls. After Middlesex reached 180-2, wickets kept falling at regular intervals, thanks in part to four wickets from Reece Topley and three for young spin bowler Mason Crane helping to dent Middlesex’s progress. Chasing 296 to win, the Hampshire top order couldn’t deal with Toby Roland-Jones’ brilliantly hostile bowling (4-10). The threat of rain hung over the Hampshire reply and only George Bailey (52*) and Sean Ervine (33) offered any real resistance. The rain eventually came and the players were called off the field with Hampshire well behind the rate at 146-7 from the 30.3 overs possible.
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