Starting at the Rose Bowl on Friday with Hampshire vs Somerset. A cracking game of cricket here, once again demonstrating that the Rose Bowl pitches are ready for Test Match status, even if the access currently is not. Hampshire batted first and racked up 286-4 from their 50 overs, Kevin Pietersen scoring a belligerent fifty (61) on his first appearance of the season. He was joined in reaching that landmark by Michael Lumb (55), John Crawley (51) and Sean Ervine (55), who ended unbeaten with a strike rate of 153. Perhaps after a below par season last year he is returning to the kind of form which made him a key component in the 2005 winning side. To Somerset’s innings and Ervine once again stands out, for the wrong reasons this time however. His 10 overs went for 88 runs, not what was required, although he did dismiss Marcus Trescothick (1). Shane Bond meanwhile limped off after 5 overs and will be out for a few weeks. South African allrounder Zander de Bruyn scored 79, following his 1-56 from 7 overs. The main man was James Hildreth though, who finished unbeaten on 112 from 90 balls. Greg Lamb took 4-47 from 9 overs, while Chris Tremlett (10-1-45-0) and Pietersen (5-0-34-0) both went wicketless.
Derbyshire played host to holders Durham and emerged victorious, just. The Phantoms scored 236-6 from their 50 overs, Chris Rogers (72) and Steve Stubbings (52) sharing an opening stand of 132. Neil Killeen took 2-21, whilst Gareth Breese ended with 2-50. Paul Collingwood kept up his decent bowling form, taking 1-48 from 9 overs, which will be of interest to the selectors who must decide whether to go into the New Zealand Test series with a four or five man bowling attack. The Dynamos started well with Michael Di Venuto (41) and Phil Mustard (45) sharing 76, Mustard again failing to go on when well placed. Graham Wagg sparked a collapse with 4-35, whilst Charles Langeveldt continued his impressive start to his Derbyshire career, taking 3-44. Ben Harmison (31*) and Neil Killeen (16) took the Dynamos to the brink of victory (235 all out) but Killeen was run out on the final ball, handing victory to Derbyshire by 1 run. Durham seem to have a penchant for the tight game, having narrowly defeated Yorkshire the previous week, and they were to experience another tight game against Lancashire as we shall see. Collingwood scored a slow 25, whilst Steve Harmison bowled 10 harmless overs for 47 runs and no wickets.
To Sunday’s fixtures now. Kent narrowly defeated Sussex at Hove with one ball to spare. Michael Yardy (50) was the star of the Sussex innings of 245-6. Matt Prior (31) made his lowest score of the season to date, whilst fellow England hopeful, Luke Wright, hit 35 before being run out. Yasir Arafat took 3-58 from 9 overs, whilst Simon Cook was in miserly form, taking 2-25 from his 10 overs. In reply, Rob Key (2) failed to keep up the pressure on the selectors, whilst fellow opener Joe Denly hit a painfully slow 43 from 80 balls. South African’s Martin van Jaarsveld (58) and Justin Kemp (68*) made the difference, whilst fellow countryman Ryan McLaren finished the job (17*). Luke Wright took 3-65 from 10 overs to make him the most successful Shark bowling wise.
There was a rare event indeed at Taunton meanwhile where only 423 runs were scored across the two innings, Somerset losing to Glamorgan. The Dragons hit 221-7, with Captain David Hemp (95) (pictured below) the only real scorer of note. Alfonso Thomas took 2-43 from 10 overs for the Sabres, whilst Ian Blackwell (pictured bowling below) was tidy with 1-36 from 10 overs. Blackwell, who will be catching the selector’s eyes, and Steffan Jones, each hit 42, but with little contribution from the top order, the Sabres were all out for 202, Alex Wharf (3-42) and Jamie Dalrymple (3-47), two ex-England ODI players, each taking 3 wickets and pushing their cases for inclusion.
Somerset's Ian Blackwell bowls to the in-form Glamorgan skipper David Hemp at a redeveloping Taunton. (Pic c/o RTE)
The weather played a part at Trent Bridge, where Northamptonshire could only muster 189-7 from 50 overs, Stephen Peters (90) and Lance Klusener (60) the only standouts. Darren Pattinson took 3-39 and is looking like a handy bit of business by the Outlaws. Nottinghamshire reached 145-4 from 28 overs to claim victory via the Duckworth-Lewis method, Adam Voges ending unbeaten on 42 from 40 balls. Monty Panesar only bowled 2 overs, which went for 17 runs, to continue his less than impressive start to the county season. Will the selectors go to Lord’s with an all seam attack of Flintoff, Hoggard, Sidebottom, Broad and Collingwood I wonder?
It was local derby time at Lord’s where Middlesex hosted Surrey. The Crusaders top order crumbled to leave them 55-5, Ed Joyce (1), Andrew Strauss (13) and Owais Shah (1) the notable failures. Gareth Berg (65) and wicketkeeper Ben Scott (52 in two parts) gave them something to defend, helped by Tim Murtagh’s late bludgeoning (35). Jade Dernbach (3-44) and Matthew Nicholson (3-37) each took 3 wickets. If England fans were dismayed by the performance of the Middlesex top order, they would have been delighted with the form of James Benning who won the game with a typically belligerent 106 from just 84 balls. Ali Brown chipped in with 40* to end it meanwhile. Berg followed his good batting display with average bowling figures of 1-56 from his 10 overs.
Grace Road bore witness to Leicestershire vs Ireland. HD Ackerman hit 103 in the Foxes’ total of 251-6 and was ably supported by James Allenby (62). The pick of the Irish bowlers was Thinus Fourie who took 2-45 from 9 overs. Ireland slipped to 68-5 in reply and were indebted to Andrew White (52) and young wicket keeper Gary Wilson (58), who took them close. Garnett Kruger (3-25) and Allenby (4-44) proved too much for them however as they were all out for 212.
Durham were in action again, this time at home to Lancashire, in a truncated 23 over game. The Dynamos reached 151-7, Michael Di Venuto (66) and Dale Benkenstein (40) the main contributors, while Andrew Flintoff stole the headlines with 2-13 from 5 overs. James Anderson in comparison took 2-40 from 5 overs, while Kyle Hogg took 2-24 from his 5 overs. Should Anderson be in the England side? I personally think not, given his unpredictability and inconsistency. Phil Mustard meanwhile scored only 6. Durham's 151 was not enough and the Lightning won off of the final ball to continue Durham's trend of being involved in tight matches. Mal Loye hit a rapid 58 up front, while replacement overseas signing Mohammad Yousuf scored 32. Andrew Flintoff was snared for just 10 by Paul Collingwood (1-22 from 4 overs), while Steve Harmison took 2-33 from 5 overs.
The Rose Bowl was the place to be this weekend for runs. Having not been able to defend 286 against Somerset on Friday, Hampshire Captain Nic Pothas elected to bowl first on Sunday when Gloucestershire were in town. Still short of Dimi Mascarenhas and the injured Shane Bond, the Hawks attacked looked thin and so it proved to be. The Gladiators tallied 350-5 from their 50 overs, a new record for the Rose Bowl. Alex Gidman led the way with 105, while Hamish Marshall (64), Marcus North (85) and Chris Taylor (53) all played their part, Taylor’s knock coming at an incredible strike rate of 230. Billy Taylor took 2-72, whilst England hopeful Chris Tremlett ended with 1-62 from 10 overs. Gulp, game over, go home. Then the rain came, hang on a minute. Duckworth-Lewis came into play and suddenly the Hawks had a revised target of 240 from 30 overs, demonstrating that perhaps Duckworth-Lewis is a little dated in the age of Twenty20 cricket. The new target seemed a lot more gettable and England Lion Michael Carberry (60) set the Hawks on their way. With Kevin Pietersen contributing just a run a ball 23, the Hawks seemed to be in trouble. However, Chris Benham (54*) and Pothas (43) came together to score nearly 100 runs off of the last 10 overs, Benham nearly matching Taylor’s strike rate with his own standing at 200. Greg Lamb hit the winning runs with 3 balls to spare. Steve Kirby took 1-46 from 6 overs for the Gladiators as he looks to keep the selectors interested.
Duckworth-Lewis played a role in the match between Scotland and Derbyshire as well. Scotland were all out for 169, Navdeep Poonia standing out with 75. Charles Langeveldt took 4-28 from 8.1 overs, while allrounder Jonathan Clare captured 3-39 from 8 overs. Derbyshire won it with 136-4 from 31.4 overs, Chris Rogers the main man with 57. Gordon Drummond (2-27) and Glenn Rogers (2-20) each took 2 wickets for the Saltires, but it wasn’t enough.
Monday’s games to be reviewed soon…!