Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Championship – Week 20

And it only feels like yesterday when I did last week’s update. The penultimate week of the Championship and things are still no clearer at the top of Div 1, while everything else is just about sorted.

Div 1
Sussex took on Durham having moved into a commanding position at the top of the table by thrashing Yorkshire in their previous game. However, they struggled against Graeme Onions and Ottis Gibson and scored just 291, bolstered by a rapid 77 not out from Robin Martin-Jenkins. Durham replied with 316, youngster Mark Stoneman getting his maiden century before skittling Sussex for just 131. Durham knocked off the 107 required to win for the loss of just Stoneman and the Championship race is wide open again.

Lancashire took their opportunity, although against the plummeting Warwickshire, they couldn’t have wanted an easier game. Batting first, the Bears made just 106. VS Laxman made a ton in Lancashire’s reply as they scored 311, Neil Carter taking 5-fer. Warwicks did better second time round scoring 272 to at least make Lancs bat again. However, they made the 71 required for victory for the loss of just one wicket to move to the top of the table and to relegate Warwickshire.

Hampshire were also looking to take advantage of Sussex’s slip. However, they were up against a Kent side who knew that a good win would see them retain their record of being the only side to have played in every season in Div 1. Kent batted first and a Martin Van Jaarsveld ton, and good support throughout the team, saw them reach 495. 98 for 1 became 99 for 4 and Hants made just 216 in reply and then 282 second time round, James Tredwell taking four wickets in each innings. This left Kent needing just 6 to win which took Joe Denly three balls against the occasional bowling of Mike Carberry. Kent are safe and Hants missed a big chance to close the gap at the top.

So at the bottom of the table, it’s a West Midlands double as Worcestershire and Warwickshire go down to Division 2. At the top, anyone of 5 teams could still win the title, although Yorkshire and Hants (who play each other) being 16 and 17 points away look least likely. Lancashire are top by 6 and they travel to the fast improving Surrey, who could still finish above the loser of the Hants- Yorks match. Sussex look to have the easiest task against Worcestershire, who will have been celebrating their Pro-40 title for the last week. Durham, who are a further 2.5 points back travel to Kent.

My prediction – Absolutely no idea.

Div 2
Mark Wallace scored a ton and Lance Klusener took 5 wickets as Glamorgan scored 280 in their first innings against Northamptonshire. Northants replied with 381, Steven Peters getting a ton and Robert Croft taking 6-fer. Monty Panesar found himself at number 8 in the batting line up, scoring 30. He then took 4 wickets as the Welshmen were skittled for just 102 and Northants scored the 2 required for victory and a ten wicket win to leave Glamorgan securely anchored at the bottom of the table.

The other game in Div 2 was a little more meaningful as Middlesex played their game in hand on Notts against Leicestershire. However, Jerome Taylor’s 6-fer denied Middlesex any batting points as they made just 176. Murali Kartik also took 6-fer as Leicester managed a small lead with 190. Ed Smith led the way in the 2nd innings scoring 134 out of the 331 total, Claude Henderson taking 5-fer. Leicester fell 38 short of their target, scoring 279 and the result leaves Notts needing just one point from their game at Somerset to join their opponents in Div 1 next season.

England player watch
Andrew Strauss’s search for form continues, with 11 and 23 for Middlesex. Monty Panesar got in some useful batting practise and was the instigator of Glamorgan’s downfall with the ball.

Player of the Week
In the current situation where overseas players (Kolpak or otherwise) or old pros are dominating the game, it is good to see some new young talent coming through. So joining Adil Rashid, James Harris and Stuart Broad as a weekly winner, for scoring his maiden ton and keeping the title race wide open to the last week of the season, the Player of the Week is Durham’s Mark Stoneman.