Here comes summer at last, but only a couple of games in each division. Enough games for a change at the top though
Sussex went to Lancashire knowing that a win would send them above Yorkshire in the chase for the title, leaving Yorks fans in the strange position of wanting a Lancs victory. Sussex got off to a good start but lost their last 7 wickets for 98 runs, Murali taking 5-fer, to end up with 274. The Lancashire reply was not much better, and only a last wicket 50 partnership took them to 301 for a small lead. The Sussex second inning mirrored the first, with the last six wickets going for 63 runs in a total of 268. Lancs needed 240 to win but capitulated to just 133 and Sussex are 3 points above Yorkshire at the top.
In the other match Durham looked to maintain their title aspirations at home to Warwickshire. The Bears batted first, scoring 239, with Liam Plunkett and Ottis Gibson taking four wickets each. In reply Durham scored 474, with tons for Kyle Coetzer and Ben Harmison, Darren Maddy taking 5-fer. Warwickshire’s second inning was built around a stand of 219 between Ian Westwood (116) and Kumar Sangakkara (119). However, they were all out for 426 leaving Durham 36 overs to get the 192 needed for victory. With Phil Mustard opening the batting (76 from 58) with Mike DiVenuto (and unbeaten 91 from 102) Durham showed why they are one of the top One Day teams and got home by 9 wickets with 5 overs to spare to move to third.
Derbyshire had the chance to make up some ground on the top three away to Gloucestershire. Derby batted first and made 312, with Travis Birt scoring a ton. Graeme Wagg took five-fer in the Gloucester reply. However, this did not stop the home team racking up 454, built around tons for Grant Hodnett and Alex Gidman. Derby declared on 356 for 3 second time round, with another ton for Birt as well as for Simon Katich. This left Gloucester requiring 210 to win in 37 overs. Five quick wickets put a stop to the run chase and Gloucester held on for the draw.
Middlesex also had an opportunity to make up lost ground at home to Glamorgan and opened up with 361. This was enough for victory though as Glamorgan capitulated to 106 (Murali Kartik taking 6-fer) and 184 to leave the Welshmen bottom and elevate Middlesex to fourth still with a game in hand over those above them.
England Player Watch
The return of England Player Watch as Andrew Flintoff and Saj Mahmood both turned out for Lancashire on their return from injury. Freddie scored a brisk 34 before being unfortunately (by all accounts) given lbw. He did less well second time round with just 9, but he did bowl 8 overs. Mahmood went wicketless in the first inning but took a couple second time round getting thirty overs under his belt during the match.
Player of the Week
A tricky call this week as Phil Mustard’s brutal attack on the Warwickshire bowling clearly set up their win. However, although in the end it was a drawn match, for scoring 2 centuries and giving Derby a chance at an unlikely victory, the player of the week is Travis Birt.