A good week for the Champions, a big injury blow for the leaders, a huge shock in Division 2, and lots of big scores. Plus all the usual gubbins.
It was the battle of the spinners at Arundel as the Mushtaq inspired Sussex took on the Shane Warne led Hampshire. Warne struck first taking 5-fer as Sussex made 341. However, Mushtaq went two better, taking seven as Hants struggled to 202. Neither were as effective second time round, but the damage had been done to Hants. Chris Adams scored a ton, with Murray Goodwin getting 99 as Sussex declared at 360 for 5, before bowling Hants out for 333 and a win that takes them into 2nd place, albeit having played a game more than everyone else at the top.
Yorkshire’s game plan was in effect again against Kent as they built a solid platform, with Joe Sayers scoring a career best 187 and Anthony McGrath getting an even hundred, before declaring on 551 for 8. Darren Gough then took 6 wickets as Kent were bowled out for 292. It came at the cost of a broken hand, however, which will keep him out of this weeks game against Sussex and the 20:20. Following on with Yorkshire a bowler light, Kent reached 383 for 6 at stumps. I say “a bowler light”, Gough did come on for 6 overs and take a wicket despite his broken hand. Jason Treadwell led the rear-guard with an unbeaten 116.
Mark Chilton found some form for Lancashire with a ton in their 367 against Durham. Murali then took 5-fer as the home team replied with 312. Rapid scoring from Stuart Law and Dominic Cork set up a declaration leaving Durham 370 to win. They never looked like getting close, but managed to hang on for the draw, Paul Wiseman facing 92 balls for his 7 runs as they finished on 229 for 9.
It was the battle of the bottom two at Worcestershire, and the home team got on the front foot straight away scoring 701 for 6 declared, with hundreds for Phil Jacques, Steven Moore and 232 (at nearly a run a ball) for Vikram Solanki. A rare over for Mark Ramprakash saw him concede 18. In reply, Surrey scored a respectable 370, with Jon Batty getting a ton, and then following on, like Durham, held out for the draw 9 down, with Mark Butcher dropping anchor taking 142 balls for 29 runs. Five wickets for Gareth Batty, although one more could have made a lot of difference. Both teams remain win-less.
Top played bottom at Swansea. It went to form to start with as Nottinghamshire reduced Glamorgan to 193 for 8. However, the elder statesman and youngster of the team then put on a stand of nearly 200, with Robert Croft scoring 115 and prodigy James Harris showing all-rounder credentials with an unbeaten 87 as the Welshmen reached 429. Notts reply got off to a good start, but they then collapsed to from 311 for 5 to 364 all out. Graeme Swann took 7 wickets (and 10 in the match) as Glamorgan managed just 197 second time round. However, this was plenty. Dean Cosker took 5-fer (for 9 in the match) as Notts were bowled out 56 runs short of victory. A first defeat for Notts and a first victory for Glamorgan, although they remain top and bottom respectively.
A strange game at Somerset, where Leicestershire became the first team to struggle with the Taunton pitch, collapsing to 168 all out, Stefan Jones taking 6 wickets. Somerset then showed what could be done on the pitch, declaring on 675 for 5, with each of the top four batsmen (Marcus Trescothick, Neil Edwards, James Hildreth and Cameron White) getting hundreds. Leicester did little better second time round scoring 248, Charl Willoughby being the main wicket taker with 5-fer and Somerset ran out comfortable winners to maintain their challenge at the top of the table.
Also winning big to maintain their promotion effort were Essex, who declared on 649 for 5, with Ravi Bopara and Grant Flower both getting double hundreds, with a stand of 320. Northants managed just 241 in their reply and although they did better with 367 second time round (5-fer Danesh Kaneria), it wasn’t enough to make Essex bat again.
Finally to Derby, where Steve Stubbings scored a ton, and Ant Botha was run out for 98 as Derbyshire declared on 500 for 9. Tom Lungley then took 5-fer as Gloucestershire were reduced to 258 all out, Alex Gidman maintaining his form with the bat with 91. Gloucester did much better second time round, and tons for Hamish Marshall and Mark Hardinges took them to 441. Derby for to 40 for 1 second time round, but there was no time to force a result.
England Player Watch
A big hundred for Marcus Trescothick and a double hundred for Ravi Bopara will increase the pressure on Andrew Strauss somewhat. Also, with the ODIs around the corner, some timely runs for Vikram Solanki and the form of Alex Gidman and James Hildreth may force their names into the frame as England look to build again.
The wicket-keepers continue to impress with the bat now that it’s too late to usurp Matt Prior, with Geraint Jones, James Foster and Stephen Davies all getting 50+ this week.
Graham Onions and Adil Rashid were both wicketless this week (although Rashid did score a fifty and bowled 46 tight overs in the Kent second innings). James Anderson also bowled a lot of overs, 26, taking 2-46. Of the potential ODI bowlers, Tim Bresnan continued his solid form with bat and ball and Rikki Clarke was the only Surrey bowler to emerge with any credit out of the game at New Road, where Gareth Batty took eight wickets to push his claim if England go with a second spinner, although Graeme Swann, who took ten wickets may look to dispute that.
Player of the Week
Despite being bottom of the table, Glamorgan win their second POTW award. Unlucky to Dean Cosker, whose 9 wickets were vital, but for the little matter of a hundred to rescue the first innings and bowling nearly 70 overs of bowling to take four wickets in the most unlikely win of the season so far, the player of the week is Robert Croft