The most meaningless game for English cricket takes place in Division 2 while in Division 1, Notts are beginning to open a gap at the top and Yorkshire put in the sort of performance to give my Sunday team a run for their money.
Starting with the early pace-setters, Nottinghamshire as they hosted Lancashire without their England opening bowling pair of Sidebottom and Broad. One of the replacements, though, Darren Pattinson, took six wickets as Lancs made just 113, Stuart Law and Steven Croft scoring most of those in a 5th wicket stand of 85. In reply, Notts salvaged a batting point and a decent first innings lead with 202 before Lancs scored 233 second time round, Charlie Shreck taking 5-fer. Needing just 147 to win, Saj Mahmood took three early wickets, but a century stand between Mark Wagh and Adam Voges gives Notts a healthy lead at the top of the Championship.
Taunton looked to have rediscovered some of its characteristics from last season as Somerset racked up 557 for 8, James Hildredth getting a hundred while Neil Edwards was run out for 99. In reply Sussex managed just 202, despite Michael Yardy and Carl Hopkinson putting on a hundred for the 2nd wicket. Yardy and Hopkinson did exactly the same during the follow on before a Murray Goodwin ton led the Champions to safety. Sussex have started the season poorly, but they did last year as well.
Performing worse than Sussex were Yorkshire, who allowed Durham to reach 406 in their first innings, largely due to 184 from Michael Di Venuto with Tim Bresnan taking four wickets. Yorkshire’s total of 194 was something of a recovery, from 50 for 6, with Adil Rashid and Bresnan putting on 85 for the 6th wicket, Rashid making 70 and Graham Onions taking 5 wickets. Durham batted again, declaring on 205 for 6, setting Yorkshire an unlikely 417 to win. In an agonising finish, they ended up just 295 runs short, scoring an abject 122 and losing Matthew Hoggard to a broken thumb.
A much tighter finish happened at the Rose Bowl where all eyes were on Mark Ramprakash and his quest for his 100th 100. Surrey batted first and Ramps could make just 17 as Surrey made 278. Chris Tremlett took 5-fer to put his name in the frame for the 2nd test, although the back spasms wich kept him out of the rest of the match probably put paid to that. Hampshire replied with 227, despite a century partnership between the Michaels Brown and Lumb. Surrey declared on 229 to set Hants a target of 281 to win in 75 overs. Brown’s 94 gave the home team hope, but with Saqlain taking 5 wickets, Hants were holding on for a draw at the end, finishing on 247 for 8.
The Kolpakshire derby took place at Grace Road, with Leicestershire scoring 527 in their first innings, Jacques du Toit scoring a ton, while Nicky Boje took four wickets for Northamptonshire. The weather intervened so Northants could only manage 302 for 3 in reply before the end of the match. However, with only nine Englishmen playing in the match, the interest outside of the counties focussed on the Kolpak regulations.
Glamorgan have deliberately gone against the Kolpak route and are putting their trust in their youngsters, a policy that is beginning to pay off. Having restricted Derbyshire to 289, the Welshmen scored 384 in their first innings, with centuries for 23 year old Gareth Reed and 37 year old David Hemp, Charl Langeveldt taking 5 wickets. Derbyshire struggled second time round, but dogged resistance from Dan Birch (43 from 136 balls) and Karl Klokker (19 from 88 balls) and poor weather meant Glamorgan weren’t able to claim the victory.
Finally to New Road where Worcestershire had Gloucestershire in all sorts of trouble at 85 for 5. However, centuries for Chris Taylor and Stephen Snell in a stand of 222 took Gloucester to 444, Simon Jones taking 5 wickets and bowling 24 overs without getting injured. In reply Worcester also had the poor start, but without the recovery, they made just 214. Batting again, they reached 194 for 3 before the game fizzled out into a draw. Stephen Moore scored 84 of these and he is the first batsman to 500 runs this season.
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Matt Prior failed for the first time this season with 1 while Luke Wright only managed 3 more. Michael Carberry scored 8 runs, albeit in two innings. Adil Rashid top scored for Yorkshire with 70, and is currently looking like his batting is his strongest suit.
Bowling-wise, the injury to Matthew Hoggard means that there is a chance for someone to get into the next England squad. Chris Tremlett bowled well, but there are doubts about his fitness due to his back spasms. Talking of crocks, Simon Jones took five wickets, but it is far too early to think about throwing him back into the mix. Graham Onions and Charlie Shreck both took 5-fer, while Tim Bresnan is currently the highest rated English player by the PCA ratings. He took 6 wickets and scored 78 runs in Yorkshire’s abject performance at Durham.
Player of the week
Lots of good performances this week, with Tim Bresnan’s virtually solo resistance for Yorkshire, Michael Di Venuto's big hundred in the same game, Gareth Rees’s fluent hundred for Glamorgan and Simon Jones’s five-fer all worthy of a mention. However, for setting Nottinghamshire off on their victory in the absence of Broad and Sidebottom with six wickets, the player of the week is Darren Pattinson.