At last, the weather works for Yorkshire and against Sussex. It’s all very close at the top and bottom of Div 1 while in Div 2, Notts put themselves in pole position.
Surrey and Sussex met in a game which was critical to both teams at either end of the table. However, the four day drizzle affecting the South East of England last week meant that no play was possible. Surrey keep pace with Kent in the battle to stay up while Sussex drop down to second in the table.
Yorkshire took full advantage of Sussex’s misfortune with a comprehensive win over Warwickshire. Batting first on the normally placid Scarborough pitch, the Bears were skittled for 129, with Matthew Hoggard marking his return with four wickets. Yorkshire then amassed 561 for 7 declared, Jacques Rudolph scoring a double hundred and Tim Bresnan getting his second championship ton of the season. Hoggard and Darren Gough then reduced Warwickshire to 31 for 7 before Tim Ambrose’s unbeaten 89 brought some respectability in a total of 222, Gough taking 5-fer. Yorkshire won by an innings and a lot and are back on top.
Rain affected Lancashire and Hampshire’s efforts to make up ground at the top of the table. Hants batted first scoring 393 with Sean Ervine getting a ton, putting on 80 for the last two wickets with James Bruce (1) and David Griffiths (0). Lancs then declared on 403 for 8, with Luke Sutton and Paul Horton both scoring tons. Potentially more critical to the end of season race was Shane Warne fracturing a rib, which threatens to end his season early. Hants only had time to reach 111 for 2 by the end of play.
The bottom of the table battle was also curtailed, and after 3 days of rain Kent and Worcestershire played a one innings game. Kent scored 293 for 3 with Rob Key and Martin Van Jaarseveld scoring tons. However, this didn’t leave enough time to force a result and both teams came away with four points when both really needed a lot more.
Yorkshire are back on top of the table, but have played a game more than Sussex in second and two games more than Hants, Lancs and Durham in 3rd, 4th and 5th. Any of these could still come out on top. However, with Sussex and Hants left as their last two games, Yorkshire have their destiny in their hands. Hants look to have the easiest run in, but the loss of Warne could be crucial. At the bottom, it looks to be between Kent and Surrey for the second relegation place, although Warwickshire’s loss of form means that they are not out of the equation yet.
A tight game at Trent Bridge saw Nottinghamshire bowl Northamptonshire out for 285, with Mark Davies, on loan from Durham, taking 7 wickets. Notts replied two runs shy of that, before bowling Northants out for 229, leaving themselves 231 to clinch a crucial win. A vital 8th wicket partnership between Graeme Swann and Andre Adams of 38 saw them home by 2 wickets to keep them well clear of Essex and Middlesex in the battle for the second promotion spot.
Essex managed to contrive a win against Leicestershire, despite only scoring 191 in their first innings, Jerome Taylor taking 5 wickets. Leicester then declared on 52 for 2, and Essex scored a rapid 151 from 14 overs (against the part time bowling of Tom New and John Sadler) to set Leicester a target of 290 to win. This was 114 too many and Essex keep their challenge alive.
Also still challenging are Middlesex who declared on 305 for 7 against Gloucestershire, before bowling them out for 163. Middlesex then scored a rapid 120 for 2 (unlike Essex, though, this was against Gloucester’s front line bowling attack) to set Gloucester 260. Resolute batting second time round from Gloucester denied Middlesex the win. However, with a game in hand and Notts still to come to Lords, they still have a chance to make up on lost ground.
Glamorgan started well against Derbyshire, bowling the visitors out for 206, with Robert Croft taking 5 wickets. The Welshmen then took a first innings lead, scoring 225. Croft went one better second time round, taking 6 wickets as Derby scored 287, setting Glamorgan 268 to register their second win of the season. However, despite a ton for Gareth Rees, they lost their last 6 wickets for just 12 runs and Derby ran out winners by 42 runs, Ant Botha and Tom Lungley doing the damage with 5 and 3 wickets respectively.
Somerset could confirm their promotion this week at home to Glamorgan. However, the battle for the second spot could also be a lot clearer this week as Notts go to Middlesex, while Essex will be hoping for a draw at Lords and a win for themselves at Derby. Intriguingly, if it goes to the last game of the season, Somerset host Notts, while Middlesex visit Essex.
England player watch
Michael Vaughan managed just five runs for Yorkshire. Andrew Strauss did a bit better with 75 and 36 for Middlesex. Bowling-wise, the return of Matthew Hoggard brought 8 wickets.
Player of the Week
Jacques Rudolph played the stand out innings, with his 220 in Yorkshire’s win over Warwickshire. However, the Player of the Week is the latest player to try to stem the Notts injury jinx. I’m not sure why he’s not getting in the Durham team, but with 7 first innings wickets, along with a crucial unbeaten 35 to keep Notts title challenge alive, the Player of the Week is Mark Davies.