A full set of fixtures for the weather to get its teeth into as the Championship goes into its mid season break. It’s getting tight at the top in both divisions…
Top played second (and Champions) at Headingley Carnegie, and the early success went to the rain as the first day and a half was lost. When put into bat by Sussex, Yorkshire found the conditions difficult, losing the first 5 batsmen for 26 runs before recovering to 139. Sussex started well in reply, reaching 43 for the opening stand. However, the conditions were still difficult and in the end they managed just 2 more than Yorks. Batting appeared easier second time round, and Yorkshire declared on 284 for 6. However, despite two early wickets, there wasn’t enough time to force a result and the match was drawn.
The result above (with no batting points being collected) gave Durham a chance to take over at the top. They started well with Graham Onions taking two wickets in his first over, and dismissed Hampshire for 232, before replying with 288, built around a ton for Michael DiVenuto. Shane Warne took 6-fer. Hants batted much better second time round, with Warne and Chris Tremlett hitting out to allow the declaration at 309 for 9, setting Durham 253 to win. Warne and Tremlett did the damage, taking 5 and 4 respectively and Hampshire close the gap to the top teams.
Also looking to play catch up were Lancashire, who scored 451 for 5, Brad Hodge getting an unbeaten ton. Kent couldn’t reach the follow-on target and subsided to 272 and 190 in their two innings, with Murali taking 4 wickets in each innings. Lancs did lose two quick wickets, but knocked off the 12 runs required for victory and are now just 12 points off the top spot, in fifth place.
Warwickshire stay fourth despite not being able to roll over their local rivals Worcestershire. Batting first, the Bears scored 343, Jim Troughton scoring a hundred. Worcester replied with 399, with Stephen Moore getting a ton and Graeme Hick scoring his 40000th run in first class cricket. However, with the rain around, there was barely time to start the Warwickshire 2nd innings and the match finished in a draw.
It’s all very tight at the top of the table now, with Yorkshire still ahead of Sussex. However, with Kent in 7th place only 28 points off the top, any of the top 7 could be challenging for the title. Unfortunately, the relegation issue seems to be done and dusted already, with Surrey and Worcester well adrift of the rest.
Nottinghamshire looked to bounce back from defeat at Glamorgan and skittled Derbyshire for just 108, with Charlie Shrek continuing his impressive form with 7-fer. Mindful of the weather, Notts then scored a rapid 302 for 2, Mark Wagh getting a ton, at 6 an over. However, with only just over 100 overs available in the match, Derby were able to hang on for a draw and Despite their best efforts, Notts lose top spot.
Somerset were another team not hanging around, and with Andrew Caddick taking 7-fer (and Marcus Trescothick taking five catches, Gloucestershire scored just 121. Somerset declared on 410 for 7 (from just 78 overs) and then proceeded to skittle Gloucester again, this time for 138, Caddick and Charl Willoughby taking five apiece. The 50 extra overs that Somerset had over Notts was enough to take them to the top of the league.
Essex and Middlesex were also looking to take advantage of Notts stumbles. Essex batted first and despite being 97 for 6, they recovered to score 376, with James Middlebrook and Andy Bichel getting hundreds. Martin Saggers then took 5-fer as Middlesex subsided to 177. Second time round, however, they were on 360 for 6 as time was called on the game, Owais Shah getting a ton.
Northamptonshire and Leicestershire were also victims of the weather. Northants scored 251 in their first innings, David Masters getting 5-fer, before Leicester declared on 131 for 4. Northants were 171 for 7 second time round and that was it with barely a day and a half available and only 18 overs possible on the final day. Neither team looks like challenging at the top this season.
The promotion race looks like a good 4 horse race, with Somerset and Notts in the box seat at the moment over Essex and Middlesex. At the bottom, Leicester are still to win a game, while Glamorgan seem to have played less games than anyone else, probably because half of their team have to wait for the school holidays.
England player watch
Stuart Broad took 4 wickets and got some good overs under his belt dodging the showers. Ian Blackwell, however, was just given the one over (a maiden). His batting looks in top form though, with 72 from 68 balls, if the selectors are to give him another go. In the same boat is Jamie Dalrymple, whose batting looks well ahead of his bowling at the moment. Chris Tremlett’s explosive batting and eight wickets is a timely reminder to the selectors. Liam Plunkett took four wickets in the same game, but wasn’t able to stem the flow of runs from the Hants lower order. Tidy stuff and five wickets for James Anderson for Lancs. A similar story for Tim Bresnan at Yorks, with 2 for 14 off 9 overs, and a breezy 27 as the declaration was set.
Mal Loye’s 75 for Lancs should have the selectors taking notice. Alex Gidman missed out as Gloucester subsided to Somerset, while James Hildreth scored 48 and took four catches for the opposition. Owais Shah scored a ton for Middlesex and must surely come back into the England One Day reckoning, possible ahead of Ed Joyce, who seems to be struggling for runs at the moment. Not such good news for Ravi Bopara though, whose injury will keep him out of the forthcoming series. Vikram Solanki scored 41 for Worcester before he leads the England Lions later in the week.
Player of the Week
Shane Warne comes close, with some big hitting and eleven wickets. However, another veteran gets the award this week. He probably thinks he should still be in the England team and his county captain thinks that he has spoken some of the biggest rubbish ever about cricket, but for match figures of 12 for 71 and forcing the victory that takes Somerset top of Division 2, the Player of the Week is Andrew Caddick