5/6/2018 0 Comments
By Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid
Warwickshire’s momentum at the top of Division 2 is beginning to look well-nigh unstoppable, even at this early stage of the season.
Even if Warwickshire lost a second quick wicket in reaching their target of 89, a bombardment of boundaries from Bell and Trott hurried them to the victory. From 29-2, the two former England players added 60 in 12 overs. Jonathan Trott has announced his retirement this season and, at this rate, he will be able to celebrate it with an early promotion to Division 1. Derbyshire, who looked so good against Middlesex, were well off the pace in this game.
After the great Sophia Gardens drain leak, play started late, but Kent took just eight balls to finish off the Glamorgan innings. Given that Kent had not scored more than 174 so far this season, a target of 194 looked like a huge challenge, but Bell-Drummond and Dickson set off at a pace and, when they fell, Kuhn and Denly took over. Although both Denly and Crawley fell just before victory was sealed, there was never any danger that Kent would lose this.
Amazing things have happened at Chester-le-Street today. Leicestershire have not enforced a follow-on since 2010, mainly due to the fact that they have never since been in a position to have the choice to do so. Today, even though, Durham managed a partial recovery to 184ao, Leicestershire did not hesitate in putting them back in. However, to the surprise and delight of the suffering locals, who celebrated Aiden Markram’s first runs for Durham, Markram and Steel put on 152 together and it was a major disappointment when Markram fell for 94, rather than getting his century. Steel and Will Smith though have continued to score freely and at 233-1, Durham are now just 23 behind. However, the new ball is due in the morning and Durham will need to see it off against bowlers who have now spent 134.3 overs in the field. If they *can* see it off, there is even a chance that they can get 180 ahead and make a declaration, just to see what happens. A result, other than a Leicestershire win is unlikely, but Durham can take heart from Yorkshire’s example.
We save the best for last. A see-saw encounter at Hove enters its last day with the contest finely balanced. Despite Sussex dropping something like nine catches, they may now be slight favourites as a Middlesex collapse saved them just as it seemed that only a Middlesex win was possible. Nick Gubbins and Dawid Malan both scored brilliant centuries, with the former now seemingly in a shoot-out with Keaton Jennings to play in the 1st Test. Their stand of 234 seemed to have set up a comeback win; from there though, Middlesex lost their last eight wickets for 79 and their last five for just nineteen. What was amazing was that Sussex could do that despite yet more catches going down, taking the count to at least nine in the match from them. Chasing 230, Sussex have made a rocky start, with James Harris dismissing both openers – he must come into the reckoning for the 1st Test too. Sussex finished the day 35-2 and will remember how batting has come much simpler in each innings as the ball has softened. On the negative side, three or four balls have shot through almost rolling when pitching outside the off stump. Sussex know that if they can get through the first hour they will have a great chance to win this match. Middlesex know that they cannot afford to lose this one to a direct rival. It is all set up for an incredibly tense finish.
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