In Division 1, all three games affect top and bottom: Surrey win big and look to be safe, Worcestershire don’t and are relegated while Durham are right back in contention at the top. In Division 2, Somerset are promoted, Notts thwart Middlesex’s chance, but Essex keep themselves in the hunt.
Surrey went to Hampshire still in the relegation places. However, a first inning score of 556, with tons from Mark Ramprakash (obviously) and Mark Butcher. Hants could only make 221 in reply despite a ton from James Adams. Chris Schofield took 5-fer – his first 5 wicket haul of the season, and amazingly only the 6th of his career. Hants did a little better second time round with 298 but Surrey were finally able to take the final wicket (which survived 43 overs) for an innings victory and they are now in the relative comfort of 6th, above Kent and Warwickshire. Hampshire’s title challenge is hanging by a thread.
Kent were on top for most of their match against Lancashire, scoring 327 thanks to a Matt Walker ton. Lancs lost the services of Muttiah Muralitharan while bowling, which will see him out of action until at least after the 20:20 World Championship. Lancs replied with 317, Mark Saggers taking 5-fer and Glen Chapple hitting a rapid 88. Rob Key (182) and Walker (157) then put on a stand of nearly 300 in Kent’s second innings as they declared on 419 for 6. Lancs never looked like chasing the runs down and batted out losing just three wickets for 208 and a draw which doesn’t really help either team. Kent slip into the relegation places while Lance, now without Murali for the rest of the season, miss the chance to make up ground at the top of the table.
Worcestershire batted first at Durham and Ottis Gibson carried on his sparkling form of the year taking seven wickets to reduce the Pears to 182. The Durham innings was the epitome of the old cricketing cliché “One brings Two” as two wickets fell at 14, 86 and 171, Gareth Batty being the main thorn in Durham’s side with 6-fer. In the end Durham ended up with a lead of 115, scoring 297. Worcester scored 390 second time round, Gibson getting another 4 wickets, but Durham scored the 279 required for the loss of 5 wickets and move to second in the table. Worcestershire go back to Division 2 for next season.
Somerset went on to their game against Glamorgan knowing that a win should see their promotion confirmed. However, they were grateful to a stand of 130 between Craig Kieswetter and Andy Caddick to see them over the 400 mark, all out for 402. Caddick then went back to what he does best as he Charl Willoughby and Stefan Jones took three wickets each to bowl Glamorgan out for 233. Somerset declared on 329 second time round, Robert Croft taking 5-fer setting Glamorgan an unlikely 498 for victory. They managed just 199 and Somerset clinched a well deserved promotion.
Second played third at Lords and Nottinghamshire batted first in the knowledge that a draw would be a good result for them. Chaminda Vaas took 5 wickets but Notts scored 473 with Stephen Fleming scoring a ton. In reply Middlesex managed one run less, with Ed Smith getting a ton. Tellingly, though, they took twenty overs more to get the runs, despite being the team most in need of victory. In their second innings Notts finished on 456 for 7 as the game ran out of time on a good Lords wicket, Samit Patel scoring a ton and ten Middlesex players having a bowl.
Essex took the chance to make up ground on the two teams directly above them on a tricky pitch at Derby. Essex scored 272 in their first inning, which was put into perspective as they then skittled Derbyshire for 139 in less than 30 overs, Andy Bichel taking 7 wickets. Second time round, Essex recovered from 28 for 4 to post 268, Ryan ten Doeschate scoring a ton and Bichel 74. This was more than enough as Derby could only muster 174 – 6 wickets for Danesh Kaneria, 4 more for Bichel and Essex move above Middlesex into third, still a fair distance behind Notts though.
Struggling Leicestshire were thankful to Claude Henderson and Paul Nixon for getting them up to 229 having been struggling at 77 for 6, Carl Greenidge doing most of the damage with 6 wickets. However, this was dwarfed by Gloucestershire’s 650 for 8, with tons for Hamish Marshall, Craig Spearman and Kadeer Ali and Steve Adshead falling one run short of being a fourth centurian. Nixon again assured some respectability in Leicester’s second innings, but they fell well short of making Gloucester bat again, scoring 270 and losing by an innings and 151.
England player watch
Andrew Strauss managed just 16 on a very good Lords wicket. However, he did bowl six overs and would have enjoyed taking the wicket of Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming.
Player of the Week
A tricky one this week. Matt Walker scored centuries in both innings of Kent’s draw with Lancashire while the Andys Caddick and Bichel both put in good all round performances in Somerset and Essex’s victories. However, for his 7th century of the season, setting up the win which should now keep Surrey up, the Player of the Week is Mark Ramprakash.