Back from the 20/20 break and controversy abounds in Division 1, while in Division 2 it’s the battle of the wicketkeepers
Starting at New Road where Worcestershire didn’t take on Kent in the game that never was. While having every sympathy with the flood damage cause to New Road, I am amazed that they ever thought that the pitch would be ready for this match. If, as has been suggested, they just wanted to work on the pitch for the limited overs game on the Friday, then sever sanctions need to be taken against Worcester for failing to fulfil the fixture. The decision to replay the match also sets a dangerous precedent and I can understand Martyn Moxon’s frustrations after Yorks and Lancs played out a meaningless draw in less than half the time available on a difficult pitch. We haven’t heard the last of this one.
Meanwhile at the Oval, Surrey began their bid for safety against Durham, bowling the visitors out for just 191, before replying with 243 for a useful lead. Durham didn’t do much better second time round with 204 leaving Surrey 153 to win. Steve Harmison soon had them in trouble with a quick four wickets, but Rikki Clake’s quickfire 68 eventually saw them home and they have Kent in their sights.
The Roses match between Lancashire and Yorkshire was a washout for the first two days, and even when Yorkshire were put into bat, conditions were not conducive to flowing cricket. James Anderson enjoyed the run out though as he took 5 wickets in Yorkshire’s 320. Michael Vaughan top scored with a gritty 74. With things at the top so tight, this was only ever going to be a dash for bonus points, which led to some excitement at the end of the day. With the last ball of the day, Lancs needed 3 runs for an extra batting point, Yorks needed a wicket for an extra bowling point. Stuart Law charged down the wicket to Adil Rashid, missed and was stumped, to give Rashid a 5-fer and Yorkshire remain top.
Lots of time was lost at the Rose Bowl, where two innings were sacrificed in an attempt to secure a positive result. Warwickshire opened up with 353 for 5 before the rains came, Darren Maddy scoring a ton. Hampshire then scored a quick 23-1 (Mike Carberry being the unlucky batsman), Warwicks didn’t bother with their 2nd innings and Hants needed 331 to win, which they got for the loss of 5 wickets, largely thanks to an unbeaten 192 from Carberry. Hampshire stay 6th, but only 2 points behind Lancs in 2nd.
With Somerset not playing, Essex and Nottinghamshire had a chance to make some ground at the top of the table. However playing on a pitch that resembled the Taunton wicket from earlier in the season, a draw was inevitable. Batting first, Essex scored a mammoth 700-9 declared with England discard wicketkeeper James Foster scoring a double century and tons for Andy Bichel and Graham Napier. Not to be outdone, Notts replied with an even more mammoth 791 with England discard wicketkeeper Chris Read scoring a double century and tons for Mark Wagh and Samit Patel. The game finished with the rare sight of Chris Read having a bowl but it was enough to take Notts back to the top of the table.
Middlesex’s challenge took a huge step backwards as they were beaten by Derbyshire, who are now only half a point behind their opponents. Batting first Derby scored 340 which gave them a healthy first innings lead as they bowled Middlesex out for 258, with Tom Lungley getting 5-fer. Second time round the Derby batting struggled with Murali Kartik taking 5-fer as they were dismissed for 199, setting Middlesex 281 to win. At 208 for 4, a Middlesex win looked the most likely, but a late order collapse saw Derby home by 15 runs and promotion now looks beyond Middlesex.
Leicestershire took out their 20/20 frustrations on Glamorgan, dismissing the Welshmen for just 268, despite a maiden ton for 19 year old Ben Wright. Leicester took control in their innings, scoring 481 with HD Ackerman, Paul Nixon and Mansoor Amjad getting to three figures. James Harris was again the pick of the Glamorgan bowlers. Second time round, Glamorgan did just enough to make Leicester bat again with 236 despite 5 wickets for Garnett Kruger and Leicester won by 10 wickets – their first win of the season.
Finally to Northamptonshire, where the home side opened with 310; Steve Kirby taking 5-fer. This was enough for a lead of 60 as Gloucestershire scored 250, despite an unbeaten ton from Chris Taylor. Taylor then took 4 wickets as Northants were dismissed for 270 second time round. However, Gloucester never looked like getting close and 6 wickets for Monty Panesar saw Northants home.
England Player Watch
Only a few batsmen in action as the test series gets ready to go. Andrew Strauss got two starts but couldn’t build on them, taking his England form back to Middlesex. Michael Vaughan scored a gritty 74, which may well have been a ton on a drier pitch.
All of the expected bowlers played, although, Matthew Hoggard only had 6 tight overs as Adil Rashid ran the show for Yorkshire. Steve Harmison got a few more overs under his belt and took 7 of the 14 Surrey wickets to fall. Ryan Sidebottom is probably just glad to be away from Chelmsford, having bowled 30 wicketless overs, while Monty Panesar took 9 in total in Northants’ win. James Anderson kept himself in the selector's minds with a 5-fer in the Roses match
Player of the Week
This was nearly a joint award to the two ex-England wicket-keepers who scored double hundred at Chelmsford. However, because his innings forced a positive result and took Hampshire back into the title race, this week’s Player of the Week goes to Mike Carberry.