Monday, 14 May 2007

The Championship - Week 4

Blimey, we’re a quarter of the way through the season for some teams already. This week, the gap between Division 1 and 2 looks even greater, the weather plays a part and Trescothick’s therapy is revealed!

Div 1
Yorkshire are back to the top of the league with an emphatic win over Worcestershire. It was a game that was always going to be weather affected, but the Yorkshire innings took a familiar look, with Joe Sayers (123) and Craig White (98) putting down a solid platform for the middle order – this time Jacques Rudolph with 129 – to build upon. Declaring on 521 for 7, the Tykes then skittled the Pears for 129 (Matthew Hoggard 5 fer) and 131 (Tim Bresnan and Adil Rashid four each) and a huge win. Three losses out of three for Worcester though.

Last year’s other promoted team, Surrey, were also on three lost out of three although they finished a rain affected draw at home to Warwickshire on top. The Bears batted first, scoring 329, largely thanks to Darren Maddy’s ton. Surrey made batting look easy, scoring 400 for 1 declared, hundreds for Jon Batty and inevitably Mark Ramprakash. Unfortunately that was it, as the rains came down.

The weather also ruined a highly anticipated clash at Hampshire, where Lancashire, complete with Jimmy Anderson, Saj Mahmood and Andrew Flintoff were the visitors. Stuart Clark took seven wickets as Lancs could only manage 207. The Hants reply was 272 and that was it.

A positive result was possible at Durham, where Kent were the visitors. A double hundred from Mike Di Venuto got the home team to 407, which ended up being a lead of just 7 as Rob Key scored a ton for the visitors (Five for Liam Plunkett, four for Steve Harmison). Durham then set Kent over 300 to win, which despite 92 from Joe Denley, they fell 150 short (Five for Harmison, Three for Plunkett).

Div 2
The relegated teams did battle at Trent Bridge. Nottingham scored 336, with Paul Franks getting 92 and Tim Murtagh getting 6 fer. Middlesex capitulated to 176 (six for Charlie Schrek) but did much better following on and an Andrew Strauss ton led them to rain affected safety.

The only positive result in the second division was at Derby. The home team took a lead of 50 in the first innings (259 to 209) and then bowled out Leicester for just 137 (Tom Lungley five fer and nine in the match). They lost three wickets on the run in but ran out comfortable winners.

Somerset look to have their home games sorted as draws, with the Taunton wicket being a graveyard for bowlers. However, this week at Northampton, it would appear that they took the Taunton pitch with them as a high scoring draw was played out. However, one person clearly enjoying that is Marcus Trescothick, who scored a career best 284. There were also hundreds in the game for James Hildreth for Somerset and David Sales for Northants. Andy Caddick got six wickets in the game and must be wondering what he’s done to upset the Division 2 groundsmen.

England Player watch
Lots of them on display, getting used to dodging the showers. A ton for new captain Andrew Strauss in his second inning. Owais Shah was just getting going second time round when it was all called off. Paul Collingwood followed up a first innings duck with a quickfire 58 to set up the Durham declaration. However, Ian Bell didn’t get a second chance having got 9 for Warwicks. Most important, though, was Andrew Flintoff top scoring for Lancs with 61 and hopefully that will be the start of a return to form.

Wickets again for Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard who look in prime form. Liam Plunkett bowled himself back into the test team with eight wickets, while Jimmy Anderson and Saj Mahmood shared 6 of the Hants wickets to fall. Monty Panesar also got plenty of overs under his belt, and three wickets, on the bowlers graveyard that was Northampton.

A look at the batting averages shows wicketkeepers Nic Pothas and Tim Ambrose in first and second place. However, for those in the England reckoning Steven Davies got 0 and 38, Paul Nixon got a pair of 40s and Chris Read got 20. However, it’s what Matt Prior does next week that will be crucial

Player of the week
A tricky decision with lots of good team displays. An honourable mention to Steve Harmison for the whole of his start to the season but, because he’s one of my favourite players and because it was a career best, I’ll ignore the fact that the Northampton pitch was as flat as a pancake and my player of the week is Marcus Trescothick.


Tim said...

Another great win for Yorkshire. It will be interesting to see how they fare without Hoggy, but they certainly seem viable title contenders..who'd have thought it?

River Taff End said...

Tbh guys, I don't find the Yorks thing a surprise. There's talent right throughout the spine of the side and I think they'll still be right up there without Hoggy.

I still think that Rudolph is a bloody cheek tho'!

Richard Lake said...

The emergence of Bresnan as a genuine bowler this year has been a bonus, and hopefully might see him get another shot int he ODI team. Gough's not bowled too much so far (about ten overs per innings). However, Hoggy will be a loss and he has bowled brilliantly so far this season (even if overshadowed by Harmison)

RTE - Rudolph may be a bloody cheek, but we still had seven players born inside the county playing in the last game - actually eight as Worcester had Gareth Batty!

Chrispy said...

That rain is a pain, good to see Stuart Clark settling in now! Yorks are definite contenders though it will be interesting to see how Gough copes with the extra load once Hoggy is with England. McGrath is in a bit of rutt tho.

River Taff End said...

Richard, I accept your valid point totally about home grown players, more counties should do it.

I am in principle against counties having 2 overseas (not a problem in itself) and then supplementing that with a 'Kolpak'.

I know Leics do it, Kent do, Sussex (2 overseas plus Saqqi and Goodwin?). I think the reason tha Rudolph stirs such emotions is that we may well see him playing for SA v England next summer, and hence plays via an extreme bending of the rules

Richard Lake said...

In our defence, he was signed when we thought that McGrath was leaving, Lumb had already left and Adams had turned us down. On that basis I have much less trouble with Rudolph as a Kolpak than I do with some of the others, or even some of the overseas players who are real journeymen players moving from county to county.

If Kolpak players increase the level of competition, then I have no problem - there is still plenty of young English talent coming through. And that talent has to play at a higher level to compete.

Also legally, I'm not sure whether Rudolph will be allowed to play for SA for the next three years due to the contract he's signed.