6/28/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
Day 3 ended with all four games in Division One still in play. Only at Scarborough is a result certain: barring a spectacular clatter of wickets, Surrey seem destined to win that one, to re-affirm their title credentials and to put Yorkshire in some difficulty around the relegation places. Nottinghamshire will be confident of bowling out Worcestershire, but the hosts may yet hold out for a draw. The games at Chelmsford and at Old Trafford look like draws, although quick wickets for the visitors in either might just revive the prospect of a run chase.
In Division Two, two of the four matches ended on Day 3, with big wins for Leicestershire (currently third in the table) and Kent (who have snatched, at least temporarily, the top spot from Warwickshire), while Middlesex are now in fifth, 40 points behind the second promotion spot. Both remaining games look likely to produce results: Northamptonshire will feel that they can wrap up the game at Cardiff, while all results are still possible in the match at Chester-le-Street, although it was leaning towards Warwickshire.
Did it pan out this way? Read on!
We start at Chelmsford, where Browne and Bopara had got Essex through to the Close at 17-2, recovering from 1-2. Essex started 127 ahead and in the knowledge that they could ill-afford a quick wicket that would leave Somerset pushing for an unlikely win. In reality, the equation was simple: if Essex were still batting halfway through the second session, the game would be a draw; if Somerset had them 7 or 8 down in the first session, there would, most likely, be a run chase. With Nick Browne acting as sheet-anchor at one end and Ravi Bopara with a fifty at the other, the game was dying a death until Dominic Bess had Bopara caught at slip for 58 and then, three balls later, bowled ten Doeschate. The lead was 218 at that point, with 69 overs left, so the game was still, just about alive, although Essex knew that Alastair Cook would be available to bat at #7 having recovered from illness, so they would not be batting a man short. At Lunch, Essex were 125-4, 235 ahead with 65 overs to go after a potential change of innings and Somerset knew that they needed an improbable three or four quick wickets to keep their slim victory hopes alive. The wickets came in an extremely unexpected manner after Lunch. Essex came out swinging and, even though Wheater, Cook and Browne fell in quick succession, 60 runs came from 10 overs. With both sides needing the win to stay in touch with the leaders, Essex declared, challenging Somerset to score 319 to win in 50 overs. Somerset set off at the necessary 6-an-over, but once Byrom was run out by ten Doeschate, wickets started to fall, and Somerset had to think of survival. Essex used Simon Harmer and Tom Westley in tandem, with very attacking fields, but Tom Abell and Lewis Gregory showed the sort of mastery of the forward defensive that would have made Fred Boycott drool. Essex kept going until the bitter end, only giving up when they required five wickets from the final over. If there was music playing over the public address during the last hour of inaction, it could only have been Te Deum.
Surrey had reached Stumps on 89-0 with Mark Stoneman past 30 for the first time in the season: would this be the day when he re-discovered his hunger for runs? Sadly, not! He fell, LBW to Ben Coad, without adding to his overnight 32. Rory Burns though continued to lead the charge to victory until he picked out the fielder on the rope when looking for the boundary to take him to his century, giving Tim Bresnan an unexpected wicket. Scott Borthwick though picked up the torch in partnership with Ryan Patel. He fell to Jack Leaning, for 62, with victory in sight, but Surrey won soon afterwards by seven wickets and go back to the top of Division One. The way that Surrey turned this game around will send a warning to their rivals, while Yorkshire know that this season they could be too close to comfort to the relegation places during the run in.
At Old Trafford, Hampshire started 66-2 and 106 ahead. Lancashire needed quick wickets to make something of the game. Although Sam Northeast fell early, Tom Alsop combined with Joe Weatherley in a 75 run stand that appeared to have killed the match. However, when Stephen Parry bowled Alsop and, immediately afterwards, Clark pinned Roussow, the lead was only 204 and another wicket would have made things very interesting. Unfortunately, that was as exciting as it got and, with no further wickets falling by Tea, there was some pretty blatant time-wasting to reduce the number of overs that would be bowled before the 4:50 pm handshake. Weatherley went on to 126* against some less than challenging new ball bowling, with Holland 26* and the score 237-5 when the declaration and handshake came.
At Trent Bridge, Worcestershire started at 43-0, with the challenge to survive the last day, albeit with all wickets intact. Daryl Mitchell and Martin Guptill ticked-off the overs, seemingly without great alarm, but it really needed one batsman to stay there for much of the day and let the rest of the batting take their lead from that. There was the rub. What you might define as sticktoitiveness has not been a defining characteristic of the Worcestershire season, with the county getting into promising positions and then finding ways to lose. Wickets fell just often enough to keep Nottinghamshire interested. After an opening stand of 62, Mitchell and Guptill fell in quick succession. Fell and Clark added 63, and then Fell gave a catch to stand-in wicket-keeper Rikki Wessels. At Lunch, it was 151-3, there were at least 67 overs to go, and the smart money was, just about, on Nottinghamshire, particularly as, if everything panned-out as Nottinghamshire hoped, the tail would be batting in the difficult twilight conditions at the end of the day. This time though, Worcestershire refused to fold. Led by a century from Joe Clark who, fortunately for the Pears, did show the necessary application. But Nottinghamshire made just enough progress to be kept interested as none of his partners wanted to stick around for long enough to make the game completely safe, seven of them got into double figures, but none passed 35. Nottinghamshire knew that if Clark went, they would win. However, Joe Clark also knew this and refused to budge. His 150 came up in the company of Ben Twohig, and Nottinghamshire must have known that the game was up. Twohig fell finally, bowled by Luke Fletcher for 35 but, by then, there were just 24 balls left, and Clark was certainly not going to give anything away. Pennington fell with 12 balls left and the last over started with Nottinghamshire two wickets short and with Luke Fletcher bowling at #10, Charlie Morris. Morris survived and sealed the draw, with Clark 177* at the non-striker’s end.
With Surrey the only winners, the table looks very good from South of the River Thames. Surrey are 22 points clear of Nottinghamshire and have played a game fewer. Somerset are 10 points behind Nottinghamshire and Essex 5 points further back, while Yorkshire have fallen into the bottom two and face a relegation battle in the second half of the season.
Back in Division Two, the game at Chester-le-Street, Day 4 started with the visitors at 152-5. Durham needed an almighty clatter of wickets for something to be set up. Initially, Warwickshire appeared to be sailing calmly to a token declaration; they reached 179-5 and then, suddenly, all hell broke loose. Ryan Pringle took three wickets in four balls, then, with the third ball of the next over, Chris Rushworth added Hannon-Dalby. Warwickshire were 182-9 and only 309 ahead, with a potential 89 overs to play after the change of innings. The match was alive, and Durham needed that last wicket as quickly as possible. Keith Barker survived the hat-trick ball. Warwickshire then declared on 185-9, setting-up a chase of 313 in 88 overs. This was exactly what the match needed. All four results were possible. Despite the early loss of Cameron Steel, Will Smith and Tom Latham batted sensibly and kept the required run rate under control. At Lunch, the game was intriguingly poised, with Durham 60-1, needing 253 more runs in 68 overs, but knowing that the low, slow nature of the pitch would make acceleration difficult, so they could not let the required run rate rise much more if they were to reach their target. The fall of Will Smith, soon after Lunch led to a full-scale collapse and, at 148-8, it seemed that Warwickshire would win with time to spare. Rimmington and Salisbury put on 31 for the ninth wicket before Rimmington decided that, with the situation hopeless, he would at least have some fun. The last wicket pair had added 47 and had the runs required down to 87 when Rimmington made one heave too many against Samit Patel and was castled for 61.
Leg spinner, Seekkuge Prasanna gave Northamptonshire the perfect start to day three at Cardiff, by taking his 3rd wicket of the innings when he trapped van der Gugten LBW, leaving Glamorgan 126-5 chasing 434. From there it was just a matter of time as batsman after batsman got in and then got out: seven got into double figures, but there was no score higher than Khawaja’s 38. With the captain, Michael Hogan, unable to bat, the only sustained resistance was the ten and a bit overs when Carlson and Cooke were together. When Hutton got Carlson caught behind for 32, the end came swiftly and was sealed when Prasanna took his fourth wicket, finishing with 4-49 in a straightforward win by 233 runs that lifts Northamptonshire off the foot of the Division 2 table.
Warwickshire return to the top of Division 2, 11 points clear of Kent, with Leicestershire 21 points behind Kent. Sussex are 34 points behind Kent with a game in hand but Middlesex, in fifth, are 45 points from the promotion places and would need an extraordinary run of results to get into contention, with only seven games left.
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