Lancashire fans look away now! The Scots were in town on Monday and they embarrassed the Lightning again, having done so previously in 2007 and 2003. Opting to field, Stuart Law’s side restricted the Saltires to 155-9 from their 50 overs, Andrew Flintoff impressive once again in taking 2-18 from 9 overs. He really seems to be back to somewhere near his best with the ball, if only the same could be said of his batting, but I will return to this momentarily. Steven Croft took 4-24, whilst Kyle Hogg took 2-33. James Anderson meanwhile went wicketless for 33 runs from his 8 overs. Ed Cowan (41) and Colin Smith (35) were the main contributors for the Scots. It looked easy for Lancashire, guess again though. They soon found themselves reduced to 44-7, after terrific bowling from Dewald Nel (3-26), John Blain (2-22) and Craig White (2-34). However, then Kyle Hogg (66) and Luke Sutton (24) offered some gritty resistance. Hogg and Anderson took it to the last over and with Anderson needing four off of the final ball, bowled by Gordon Drummond, they could only scamper a single, which handed Scotland a deserved victory. Returning to Flintoff, who made just 8, and the selectors must really be concerned about whether they can even bat him at seven in International Test Match Cricket. They must already be thinking about using a four man attack, supported by Collingwood and Vaughan. The only question would seem to be over whether Matthew Hoggard or Monty Panesar plays at Lords next week and given their current form it would be hard to pick against Hoggard.
Moving on to Northampton, where Northamptonshire welcomed Ireland. The Irish were put into bat and struggled to 203-9 from 50 overs, youngster Paul Stirling (70) the stand out performer and one saving grace of the day. Monty Panesar did well with the ball here, taking 3-36 from 9 overs, which will help his England cause. Chasing, the Steelbacks got home with plenty to spare and with just 2 wickets down. It was an Irish boy who did for Ireland ironically, Niall O’Brien scoring 75, while Stephen Peters (103) helped himself to a hundred.
Kent elected to bat at The Oval and it looked a pretty bad decision by Rob Key (0) initially, as they slipped to 52-4, Surrey's Pedro Collins showing some lethal swing bowling (4-46). Justin Kemp (63) and Geraint Jones (86) put together a fantastically paced partnership however and allowed Azhar Mahmood (62) and Ryan McLaren (17*) to come in and lauch some fireworks, as the Spitfires totalled 282-7. Surrey never got going in reply as Yasir Arafat (4-35) and an injured Mahmood (1-27) bowled fantastically in tandem up front. Ryan McLaren (5-46) kept up the pressure with career best figures and the Brown Caps were all out for 192, only Jon Batty (63) offering any real resistance. The commentators from Sky seemed particularly impressed with Geraint Jones’ keeping, as well as his batting. Whilst I agree that his keeping is of a far better standard now than it has been, it is still his batting which is of concern. He needs to prove that he is a consistent run scorer once again, as he was dropped in the end ironically for his lack of runs, rather than keeping errors.
Middlesex’s top order put in a better showing on Monday than on Sunday, but to no avail, as Sussex still emerged victorious. The Crusaders totalled 273-5, with Ed Joyce (80) and Owais Shah (68) scoring good runs. Andrew Strauss meanwhile hit 26. There were 2 wickets apiece for Michael Yardy (2-36) and James Kirtley (2-59). Sussex got off to good start, Chris Nash (34) and Matt Prior (79) sharing a rapid 70 for the first wicket. Chris Adams then stole the show with 109 not out and he was well supported by Murray Goodwin (44), as Sussex won with two overs to spare.
There was a shortened 23 over game at Edgbaston where Warwickshire elected to field first against Leicestershire. The Foxes made 148-6 courtesy of cameos from Jacques du Toit (34), James Allenby (32) and Boerta Dippenaar (32). The Bears didn’t get close in reply, subsiding to 103 all out, only Darren Maddy (29) and Tim Ambrose (28) scoring anything of note. Ian Bell made just 3. Ryan Cummins was the pick of the bowlers (3-21) and he was supported ably by Garnett Kruger (2-23), Nadeem Malik (2-20) and Claude Hendersen (2-23).
Glamorgan visited New Road in another shortened game, but they couldn’t defend their total of 184-4 from 28 overs against Worcestershire, who crossed the line with 9 balls to spare. David Hemp (47), young Tom Maynard (48) and Jamie Dalrymple (both pictured below) helped set the target. Simon Jones got through 6 overs which went for 43 runs, as he took a wicket in the process. The Royals reply was led by Vikram Solanki (88* (below)), who carried his bat through the innings. Ben Smith (41) and Stephen Moore (30*) offered the support, while Alex Wharf was the pick of the Glamorgan bowlers (2-37).
Images from Worcester (left to right): The highly promising Tom Maynard strikes out, Vikram Solanki on his way to a match winning 88*, and Worcester Cathedral - an iconic backdrop to domestic cricket. (Pictures c/o RTE)
Our final match took place at The Riverside, where Durham hosted Yorkshire. Durham were all out for just 185, Kyle Coetzer top scoring with 61. Phil Mustard scored 26, failing to go on yet again, while Paul Collingwood managed just 2. Darren Gough (3-31) did the major damage, removing Mustard, Collingwood and Neil McKenzie. Richard Pyrah (3-25) and Adil Rashid (2-21) also got in on the wicket taking act. Yorkshire briefly wobbled in reply at 94-3, after Michael Vaughan (22) had fallen after a start yet again. The ever improving Andrew Gale (68 from just 50 balls) and Anthony McGrath (45*) did the bulk of the scoring and Yorkshire avenged last week’s defeat with plenty of overs to spare. Steve Harmison took 3-58 from his 9.4 overs, threatening, but very expensive given the context of the game.
That completes the round-up of the 17 FP Trophy matches this week and so there is just one final matter to address…
Player of the Week: I am going to pick five this week based on one performance and give a few honourable mentions to overall performers, given the volume of games on offer. First up is Geraint Jones, whose 86 and partnership with Justin Kemp turned the game at The Oval for Kent against Surrey. He was also splendid behind the stumps, taking one superb catch. Second is Darren Gough whose key wickets of Mustard, Collingwood and McKenzie against Durham put Yorkshire in charge. Third is James Benning, whose 106 at the top of the Surrey order defeated Middlesex. Fourth is David Hemp who put in two good performances for Glamorgan, his 95 at Taunton effectively setting up the game for the Dragons. Lastly, Yasir Arafat excelled in both of his matches for Kent, taking key early wickets and destroying the Surrey top order. Meanwhile, how can I not mention Ryan McLaren’s best bowling figures of 5-46 or Dewald Nel and John Blain, whose new ball bowling partnership did for Lancashire. Finally I must also give honourable mentions to Vikram Solanki, Chris Adams and Chris Benham, who all guided their sides to victory, remaining unbeaten with substantial scores at good run rates.