A good week for wicketkeepers but another bad week for the Champions. And the same old story down at Taunton.
Warwickshire go to the top of the table with an innings victory over neighbours Worcestershire. Batting first, the Bears declared on 610 for 6, with Jim Troughton and Tim Ambrose both getting hundreds, Ambrose scoring an unbeaten 251. Worcester could only manage 288 and 209 in reply, despite Ben Smith and Graeme Hick getting two half centuries apiece. Dale Steyn weighed in with 8 wickets.
Previous leaders Yorkshire were held up by title favourites Hampshire. Batting first, the Tykes scored 299, with Younus Khan scoring a hundred as recompense for running out the impressive looking Michael Vaughan,who had scored 72. Hants finished three short on first innings, with Mike Brown scoring a ton. The pitch then suddenly got a lot easier, and Yorks declared on 439 for 4, with a double hundred for Younus and a ton for Gerard Brophy (and 61 for night-watchman Matthew Hoggard). A flurry of wickets to Younus Khan’s leg breaks had Hants worried, but they got home for the draw, eight wickets down, thanks largely to Nick Pothas’s second unbeaten 70 of the match.
Champions Sussex’s disappointing start to the season continued. Batting first, Kent amassed 368, with tons from Matt Walker and old boy Yasir Arafat being the highlight, Robin Martin-Jenkins getting a five-fer. That was more than enough as Arafat left Sussex reeling at 26 for 4, with scores of 102 and 160 (six wickets for Simon Cook) meaning Kent got home by an innings and 106 runs.
Surrey got off to a good start at Lancashire, before collapsing to the spin of Gary Keedy for 284. Lancs edged passed that, thanks to a ton from Stuart Law and despite five wickets for Neil Saker. Having started their first innings so well, Surrey’s openers faced one ball between them in the second innings to leave them 0 for 2. They never recovered, scoring 120 and Lancs got home by 7 wickets. That’s three losses out of three for Surrey now, and both this season’s new boys to Division 1 are struggling.
Notts continued their march back to Division 1 with a comprehensive victory over Glamorgan. Batting first, Notts scored 475, with tons for Jason Gallian and Samit Patel. That was more than enough as the Welshmen scored 262 and 205 (six wickets for Charlie Schrek) and Notts ran out winners by an innings for three wins out of three.
Essex’s challenge stumbled somewhat at Northants. Despite another ton from Ali Cook, Essex scored 334. Northants took a handy first innings lead with 416 and then Jason Brown took for as Essex collapsed to 190, allowing Northants to knock off the runs for a six wicket victory.
Another big score without a century maker came at Leicester where visitors Gloucester scored 507, before bowling the home team out for 376. Gloucester declared their second innings on 249 for 4, with Marcus North scoring 106 off 77 balls. However, there wasn’t enough time to secure a results and Leicester finished on 218 for 7.
Finally to Taunton, where the balance between bat and ball has never been tilted so much in the favour of the batsmen. Derby declared on 801 for 8 (which seems about par) with hundreds for Simon Katich (221), Ian Harvey, Ant Botha and David Pipe. Somerset replied with a disappointing 530 (hundred for Cameron White and five wickets for Graham Wagg). The game ended with Somerset on 309 for 4 (hundred for Justin Langer) and assorted bowlers cursing the Somerset groundsman.
Back from the Caribbean, a few of the squad were back in action for their counties. Michael Vaughan looked in great form until run out in the first innings for Yorkshire. Then he broke his finger in the second innings and the injury curse continues. Ali Cook’s run of form continued with his third century of the season. Marcus Trescothick will be disappointed with 32 and 24 on the Taunton wicket.
Monty Panesar got a couple of wickets for Northants, although he was overshadowed by his spin partner, Jason Brown. He did well with the bat though, scoring 33. Also more effective with bat than ball was Matthew Hoggard, scoring 61, but only one wicket in the game.
On the wicketkeeping front, there were hundreds this week for David Pipe, Gerard Brophy and Tim Ambrose, while Nic Pothas scored 150 runs in two innings without getting out. However, for the potential England keepers, Steven Davies got a pair of 1s, Chris Read scored 34, James Foster 0 and 17, Paul Nixon, 30 and 15 and Matt Prior 4 and 35 (in just 25 balls, but probably not what Sussex needed in the context of the game). I thus declare this to be a draw and all must do better.
Player of the week
Two contenders this week. Younus Khan scored a hundred, a double hundred and then took more wickets with his leg-spin than Shane Warne or Adil Rashid, However, it wasn’t enough to force the victory, so my player of the week is Kent’s Yasir Arafat for his hundred and then ripping through the Sussex top order and setting up a comprehensive victory.