More damp weather meant just the one positive result this week. However, it was a good week for England wicket-keepers past and present.
Starting at Headingley where despite the overcast conditions, Darren Gough decided that Yorkshire should bat first against Nottinghamshire. Scoring was slow and Ryan Sidebottom started with a run of seven maidens, although no wickets. A century from Jacques Rudolph helped to rescue the Yorkshire innings from 111 for 5 to 299 all out. The Notts innings followed a similar path and they looked to be in trouble at 115 for 5. However, a stands of 136 between Chris Read (142) and Graeme Swann (68) and 113 between Read and Stuart Broad (53) took Notts past 400 and meant that Yorkshire had to bat out 69 overs for a draw, which they managed with 2 wickets to spare, making 187 for 8. Notts take all of the credit though.
Rain meant that the game at Hove turned into a battle for bonus points, with Sussex making 475. Carl Hopkinson fell 3 runs short of his century, with Murray Goodwin going one run better with 98. In reply Surrey declared on 400 for 5 (century 99 for Mark Ramprakash). Sussex made 13 in 13 overs in their second innings against the testing bowling of Usman Afzaal and Ali Brown as the game petered out.
Glamorgan batted first against Gloucestershire, scoring 277. Gloucester then declared on 141 for 4 in an effort to set up a positive result. Some declaration bowling took Glamorgan to 178 for 1 leaving Gloucester a challenging 315 to win. Gloucester lost their first 5 wickets for just 76 runs. A stand of 114 between Hamish Marshall (105) and Stephen Snell (53) gave some hope of securing a draw. However, the veterans of the Glamorgan team, Robert Croft and Jason Gillespie broke through and took the last five wickets for just ten runs and Glamorgan have as many victories in this season’s championship as they managed last time round.
Warwickshire were indebted to two stands of over 150 in their total of 433 for 8 with Tim Ambrose (156*) and Jonathan Trott (82) putting on 152 for the 5th wicket and Ambrose and Neil Carter (84) putting on 157 for the 8th wicket. In reply Leicestershire had a large stand of their own, with Matthew Boyce (106) and HD Ackerman (104) putting on 182 for the second wicket. However, from that promising position, Leicester fell away to 357 all out, with Ian Salisbury taking five wickets. Unfortunately the weather meant that the second innings wasn’t started.
Finally to Northampton, where Northamptonshire capitulated to just 168 all out having decided to bat first. The pitch then seemed to even out somewhat as Worcestershire declared on 400 for 8, with Stephen Moore continuing his fine start to the season with 109. Needing 233 to make Worcester bat again, Nicky Boje set about trying to get the runs on his own, scoring an unbeaten 226. he had plenty of support though, and the game closed with Northants on 514 for 5.
England Player watch
Michael Vaughan wouldn’t have enjoyed Darren Gough’s decision to bat first on a damp Headingley pitch, but his battling 42 and 34 show that he’s in reasonable nick, particularly as the Notts bowling attack is substantially more threatening than the Kiwi attack. Ian Bell scored 45 for Warwickshire, while Matt Prior scored 51, which is his lowest first class score of the season. Prior was outshone by his successor, as Tim Ambrose scored an unbeaten 156, and one of his predecessors as Chris Read hit 142.
For Notts, in the first innings Ryan Sidebottom was very tight, starting with seven consecutive maidens but wicketless, while Stuart Broad was more expensive, but took three wickets, including Vaughan. Both took wickets in the second innings, while their likely partner in the England team, Matthew Hoggard took two wickets in the Notts innings, but also started with four consecutive maidens. Monty Panesar went wicketless for Northants.
Player of the Week
Nicky Boje has had a good couple of weeks for Northants. However, the stars of the show this week were both wicketkeepers. Tim Ambrose is almost certain to be in the test team next week and in good form. However, for taking Notts from a position of potential defeat to a position of strength and almost forcing an unlikely victory, the player of the week is the man who should have been the England wicketkeeper since Alec Stewart retired, Chris Read