5/6/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid)
The games at Old Trafford and The Oval are heading for the most tedious of draws, but events at Chelmsford have more than made up for them. As for Trent Bridge, a finish is on the cards, but there is still plenty of life in the game.
Only six times in Championship history has a side been bowled out for fifty or fewer in the first innings and won. The fans would have turned up at Chelmsford this more expecting a tight finish, after all, Essex were 97-4 and only needed 141 more to win, with two set batsmen at the crease. A tight finish threatened. What no one expected was that, after a steady start, they would implode in the most extraordinary way. Six overs were seen off, seventeen added. Suddenly, things went horribly wrong for Essex. Ben Coad got ten Doeschate and James Foster with the second and fifth balls of the 39th over and Harmer with the last ball of his next over. Then Steve Patterson took Dan Lawrence. 114-4 had become 114-8 and the match was all over bar the shouting (mainly expressed as fevered appeals). Although Siddle, Porter and Cook hung around for a while, the result was never in doubt. Yorkshire came back from being bowled out in a little over an hour on the first morning to win by the large margin of 91 runs and go top of the table, at least temporarily.
No such fun at Old Trafford, or at The Oval. Both games look set to end in the driest of dull draws. Surrey must have been licking their lips and be anticipating an easy win when they saw that Worcestershire would be coming. Reality though has been different. Worcestershire have passed Surrey’s 434 with something to spare and could yet get far enough ahead tomorrow to make Surrey bat for survival. Given though that the biggest danger to the batsman on this pitch is boredom, it will take something nigh on miraculous to produce a result. Worcestershire will begin the final day 469-6, 35 ahead and will be hoping to add enough runs to make Surrey at least a little nervous tomorrow.
At Old Trafford, any chance of a good finish tomorrow depended on Lancashire making a monumental score and being able to put some pressure on Somerset in the last two sessions. The good news for England was that Keaton Jennings took full advantage of the benign conditions to score an excellent century. He has been getting in recently, but not pushing on – trying too hard, perhaps? – but, today, it came right. In the company of Dane Vilas, who made the first double century of the season, they nullified the Somerset attack (perhaps “attack” was being generous here, with conditions so loaded in favour of the bat). They put on 201 together. At 431-5, Lancashire looked set for a big lead. An amazing collapse in the circumstances saw them fall to 443-9 before Clark and Parkinson added 49 for the last wicket. With no Marcus Trescothick, Renshaw opened with Davies and saw Somerset to 51-0 and near parity at the Close. It is now hard to see any way that there can be a result here.
At Trent Bridge, there should be a finish. Nottinghamshire batted far beyond the point at which there was any reason to do so, finally setting Hampshire 469 to win. Ross Taylor scored 83 in just 69 balls and the score mounted at an astonishing pace. Nottinghamshire batted in full T20 mode at the end of their innings and lost some wickets doing so, but they were set on enjoying themselves and did not care in the slightest about wickets. Tasked with surviving four and a half sessions, or a nominal 140 overs, Hampshire started well, but Nottinghamshire just needed a breakthrough. When Samit Patel, who finished the day with remarkable figures of 8-5-6-1, got Weatherley, Gurney added Jimmy Adams quickly and then Stuart Broad bowled a fine delivery to get James Vince cheaply. Amla and Wood hung on to the Close, but it will be a huge surprise if Nottinghamshire does not close this one out and leapfrog Yorkshire back into top spot.
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