4/22/2018 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
Warwickshire thrashed Northampton at Wantage Road to kick-start their Promotion challenge with a comprehensive innings and 48-run success. After building a mammoth lead over their hosts by reaching 413 thanks to telling contributions from veteran wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose (103), Sam Hain (85) and youngster Henry Brookes (70) the Bears were in confident mood especially given the brittle nature of the Northants batting line-up at present. Indeed, their latest effort of 218 was their highest total to date after being dismissed for 71, 142 and 147, so take some solace Steelback fans that slowly but surely you are making progress, maybe by late May you’ll reach that magic mark of 400. It turned out to be the Ryan Sidebottom show (no, not the curly haired Yorkshireman) as the young Australian plucked from the local Birmingham cricket league ripped through the hosts for a second time to claim his first ever 10-wicket match haul. Only Adam Rossington (58) threatened to frustrate the Bears as Northamptonshire sunk without a trace for the fourth time which is becoming a worrying trend for the much fancied Midlanders. Fittingly the contest ended with young Brookes collecting the final two wickets to secure a well-earned victory for the visitors, the tailender enjoyed a memorable game making his highest score with the bat whilst also contributing with the ball. It is a damaging defeat for Northants but for Warwickshire, it is the first of what they will hope to be many comprehensive successes in their pursuit of an immediate return to Division One.
Perhaps the story of the day is at Derby though as Derbyshire enjoyed a day to remember against promotion favourites Middlesex. The hosts made the most of a weakened visitors attack to put themselves into a dominant position going into the fourth day, only the weather now can deny them what would be a deserved success. I am sure the Londoners will be Googling ‘Rain dances’ tonight as they seek to avoid what would be a pretty humbling defeat for the 2016 County Champions. Derbyshire began the day on 116 without loss with Ben Slater and Luis Reece in imperious form slapping the Middlesex attack all over the place. Slater fell one short of a deserved ton when he was caught off Ollie Rayner, which I am sure he would admit makes a welcome change from watching the ball sail into the car park. Reece though continued on his merry way to collect a magnificent century, the opener had struck 10-fours and a six on his way to an unbeaten 157. He will perhaps be a little miffed that the skipper didn’t allow him to knock off the 12-runs he would need to get a career best especially given the way the evening session panned out. Instead, though, Derbyshire declared on 333-3 with a mammoth lead of 442 in their back pocket. In truth, that lead is more than enough as Middlesex look seemingly all at sea in Derby – a place that it is important to point out the hosts have struggled to pick up wins in recent history. If you ask a member of Derbyshire – their response would be ‘a win here? They are as rare as rocking horse poo’. Well, pinch yourself chaps it is about to happen in this match, the visitors found themselves three down at close with Daunne Olivier bagging two wickets to leave the Londoners starring down at the barrel on 86/3 heading into the final day.
Whilst the whole country found batting an absolute nightmare, at Grace Road it felt like high August batting on an absolute road. Indeed, 860 runs were shared between Leicestershire and promotion hopefuls Sussex; even Ishant Sharma scored a cheeky 66 to help Michael Burgess reach a superb century in the midland sunshine. Burgess’s second day century though was outshone by Colin Ackermann’s wonderful 186 striking 24 fours during his 350-ball stay at the crease. Ackermann’s hundred very much underpinned his side's total of 422-9 but he did have useful support from veteran Mark Cosgrove (64) and all-rounder Ben Raine (40) down the order. Captain Michael Carberry tactically declared with 6-overs left remaining in the day as he hoped to cause some nerves in the Sharks camp but given the docile nature of the pitch they easily saw those over through to reach 11 without loss at the close. The smart money is on a draw; however, if Sussex harbour genuine hopes of promotion perhaps these are the kinds of games they will have to manufacture into unlikely wins.
Lastly, Glamorgan took a firm grip on their game against West Country rivals Gloucestershire in Bristol. In truth, it is a game that has been totally dominated by the Welsh side, centuries from astute Australian recruit Shaun Marsh (111) and David Lloyd (no, not Bumble) helped Michael Hogan’s men to a massive first innings score of 526/9 declared. If you are a Gloucestershire bowler I wouldn’t be walking up to the scorers and asking for your figures it doesn’t make for pretty reading fellas. Perhaps still a little drained from their extended stint in the sun, the hosts' reply didn’t get off to the perfect start losing three quick wickets on a pitch that now looked like an absolute minefield in the minds of the hosts' batsmen. Lukas Carey removed Benny Howell (6) and Gareth Roderick (4) to put the Bristol-based club firmly on the back foot and staring defeat in the face. That face pressed its head that little closer when Marchant de Lange collected two further wickets to add to his earlier dismissal of Chris Dent to leave the hosts on 133/5 at the close with Ryan Higgins and James Bracey tasked with the role of performing the great escape. The hosts' trail by 157-run with just five-wickets still in hand and that would only make Glamorgan bat again.
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