Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Championship - Week 7

Eek! Week Seven already!Surrey’s problems continue, Yorkshire have a good week off, there’s a contender for game of the season in the 2nd division as well as an odd decision at Lords.

Div 1
The only positive result in Division 1 came as Surrey were comprehensively outplayed at home to Kent. Batting first, the home team struggled to just 166, with Andrew Hall getting a 5-fer. Kent then showed how easy batting could be, declaring on 564 for 5, with Martin van Jaarsveld, Darren Stevens and even Geraint Jones getting hundred. Needing over 400 to make Kent bat again, Surrey put up a better fight with Mark Ramprakash getting yet another hundred. However, from 210 for 3 they collapsed to 319 all out and Kent move well clear of the bottom two places. Surrey and Worcester need to turn their seasons around quickly if they aren’t to disappear back from whence they came.

Two top of the table contenders met at Edgbaston, although the weather prevented either from stealing a march on the current leaders. Hampshire were dismissed for just 169 in their first innings, with Warwickshire managing 262, mainly on the back of a ton from Alex Loudon. Hants then looked as if they were struggling second time round on 85 for 4, but a ton from Nic Pothas and support from John Crawley saw them to safety.

The top two teams from last season did battle at Hove, with Lancashire opening with 330 (a ton for Stuart Law), before Murali took 5-fer as Sussex were reduced to 235. Lancs struggled second time round, before declaring on 206 for 8. However, despite another 4 wickets for Murali, there wasn’t enough time to force a result and the result leaves Lancs already 27 points adrift of Yorkshire and in seventh place.

Div 2
Bizarre happenings at Lords, where in a rain affected first day, Somerset declared on 50 for 8, possibly with the aim of depriving Middlesex of a bonus point. The home team faired better in their first innings, scoring 252. Somerset were then struggling again second time round on 50 for 5 before a James Hildreth ton took Somerset to a respectable 339 (Chris Silverwood taking 6-fer). Middlesex knocked off the 139 needed to win for the loss of just three wickets to move above Somerset to second in the table.

The leaders Nottinghamshire did their best to manufacture a result with Leicestershire. Leicester batted first and despite a 5-fer for Charlie Schrek, reached 364, Paul Nixon top scoring with 98. Notts then declared at 102 for 3 and when Leicester did the same at 114 for 3, the leaders were left chasing 377. Stumps (and the game) were drawn with both teams still interested as Notts were 14 runs away with 8 wickets down.

A ton from Gareth Rees helped Glamorgan to a first innings total of 352 against injury hit Essex, for whom Danesh Kaneria took 5-fer. Prodigy James Harris took a wicket first ball in the Essex reply as they struggled to 204 all out. Glamorgan then declared on 174 for 5, leaving Essex to chase 323 to win. They did this for the loss of 6 wickets, thanks largely to 147 not out from Ravi Bopara. Glamorgan remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

The best game of the round and maybe the season so far came as Gloucestershire played host to Northamptonshire. It was all looking comfortable for the home team as they made 394 on the back of tons for Marcus North and Alex Gidman before bowling Northants out for 223. A second ton for Gidman then set up the declaration at 244 for 8, setting Northants a target of 416 to win. At 343 for 4 and 405 for 6, with David Sales getting 99 and Lance Klusener getting a ton, a Northants win looked probable. Into the final over, bowled by Carl Greenidge and Northants needed 8 to win with three wickets in hand. However, Gidman ran out the dangerous Niall O’Brien, before Greeidge bowled Steve Crook and then had Monty Panesar caught on the boundary as he went for the winning hit by who else by Gidman. Gloucester’s first Championship win of the season, by just four runs with one ball to spare.

England Player Watch
Marcus Trescothick was caught up in the odd goings on at Lords, scoring 12 and a duck. His recall this summer is looking less and less likely. Paul Nixon and Geraint Jones reminded the England selectors that they are still around. However, like Chris Read last week, Matt Prior’s start to test cricket has turned it into something of an irrelevance.

Bowling wise, James Anderson looked tidy if not particularly threatening. Saj Mahmood did slightly better but is now off for a hernia operation. With the successful recall of Ryan Sidebottom, his ex-Yorkshire teammate Chris Silverwood may be looking to press his case for another go in England colours, with match figures of 9 for 62. Monty Panesar was the only current England player on duty in this round of matches, taking a couple of wickets in each innings a scoring a 102 ball 20 in the Northants first innings.

Player of the week
Ravi Bopara’s match winning knock for Essex deserves a mention. However, there can only be one winner this week. Two hundreds, a couple of wickets with his medium pace, a vital run out and the match winning catch off the penultimate ball, this week’s player of the week has to be Alex Gidman

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