For the first time in ages, last week’s leaders are this week’s leaders as Notts cling on for a draw against Surrey. In Division 2, no-one takes advantage of Warwickshire’s week off. And Ramprakash’s wait goes on.
My recommendation of backing a Nottinghamshire defeat nearly paid off as they struggled against Surrey. Having been put in by Notts, Surrey made 403, Usman Afzaal top scoring with 89 and Darren Pattinson taking 5-fer. Mark Ramprakash made 42 to remain on 99 centuries. This was plenty for a substantial first innings leas as Notts made just 218. Following on they were again struggling, leading by just 22 runs with 6 wickets down. However, 134 from Samit Patel in a unbroken stand of 165 with Graeme Swann saw Notts to the draw which keeps them top of the table by a point.
All eyes were on Andrew Flintoff at the Rosebowl as Hampshire batted first against Lancashire. Hants made 327, Chris Tremlett scoring a useful 60 at the end of the innings. Lancs replied with 295, Dimitri Mascarenhas taking 6 wickets. However, despite the promising situation, Hants collapsed to just 130 second time round leaving Lancs needing 163 to win, which they got for the loss of four wickets, Flintoff hitting 39 off 23 balls to finish the game. Lancs go 2nd, one point behind Notts.
A further point back in 3rd are Kent who edged a tight game with Yorkshire. Winning the toss, Antony McGrath and Jacques Rudolph both made tons in a stand of 217. However from a position of 341 for 2, Yorks only managed 410 with Azhar Mahmood taking 6 wickets. Rob Key hit a ton for Kent to hold the top of the innings together in the face of Adil rashid’s first 5 wicket haul of the season. However, it took an unbeaten 90 from Yasir Arafat to give Kent what would become a critical lead of 57 as batting conditions suddenly took a turn for the worse. Arafat then took 4 wickets as Yorks made just 196 to leave Kent chasing 140 to win. At 108 for 7, the game could still go either way, but Arafat and Geraint Jones saw Kent home and into 3rd two points off the top.
Both teams were playing catch-up at the Riverside as rain didn’t allow play to start until the third day. Somerset were best able to take the game on, declaring on 352 for 8, Zander de Bruyn hitting a ton. Durham were then bowled out for 261 and when Somerset declared their second innings at 193 for 5, Durham required 285 in around 50 overs to take an unlikely victory. Somerset reduced Durham to 8 for 2 to scent victory. However a half century from Dale Benkenstein led Durham to safety as the innings closed on 113 for 4.
So two points separate the top three places. Yorkshire were three wickets away from top place, but instead sit 5th, level on points with Durham and 2 points above Somerset. At the bottom, Hants are in danger of being cut adrift.
With Warwickshire enjoying a week off, there was an opportunity for the rest of the Division to close the gap at the top. In the box seat were Middlesex, who opened up by declaring on 300 for 8 in a rain affected match with Gloucestershire, Eoin Morgan scoring an unbeaten 137. Dan Evans then took 5 wickets as Gloucester made 189 in reply. Middlesex then declared on 212 for 4 second time round, to leave Gloucester a target of 324. At 147 for 9 with 22 overs to go, Middlesex must have thought they had the win in the bag. However, Anthony Ireland and Ian Saxelby held out for an unlikely draw and a lost opportunity for Middlesex .
Also affected by the rain were Essex and Glamorgan, who made just 132 in their first innings, Danesh Kaneria taking 5 wickets. Essex went past the Glamorgan total without losing a wicket and despite Dean Cosker’s 5-fer, scored 376, Mark Pettini top scoring with 92. The Welshmen made a better fist of batting second time round and were 268 for 6 when the game drew to a halt.
There was another tight draw despite the weather at Derby where Derbyshire made 208 in their first innings, which was enough for a lead of 19 as Leicestershire made just 189. Derby then made an even 200 second time round leaving Leicester needing 220 to win in 58 overs. Derby reduced Leicester to 100 for 6. However, an unbeaten 72 from James Allenby took the Foxes to the brink of an unlikely win. Two quick wickets from Charl Langeveldt put the breaks on the run chase and Leicester finished on 202 for 8, 18 runs short of victory, with Derby two wickets shy.
Despite a plethora of wickets on the first day, rain for much of the rest of the match put paid to a positive result between Worcestershire and Northamptonshire. Worcester batted first, making just 146. Northants were then reduced to 153 for 7 until a stand of 120 between Lance Klusener and Johan van der Wath took Northants to 287. Vikram Solanki’s ton meant that Worcester never looked like surrendering the game which drew to a finish with Worcester on 245 for 6.
England Player Watch
Andrew Flintoff was the main attraction away from the test match and he took a combined 3 for 83 in 32 overs and hit a brisk 39 to finish the game for Lancs. Chris Tremlett looked in better form with the bat than the ball, scoring a first innings 60 but only managing one wicket. Matthew Hoggard started the Kent second innings collapse bowling with control, while Adil Rashid’s 5-fer is hopefully a welcome return to form.
There looks to be less opportunities on the batting front as Paul Collingwood is probably jettisoned for the returning Flintoff. However, of the players in contention, Rob Key continued his good form with a century. Likewise, Ravi Bopara and Owais Shah both made decent scores as their counties looked to force their matches.
Player of the Week
James Allenby’s valiant effort to win the match for Leicester is worthy of consideration, as is Samit Patel’s effort to save the game for Notts against Surrey. Rob Key kept Kent in the game against Yorkshire. However, it was one of Key’s team mates who made sure that they won a tight match and for 109 runs and 6 wickets, the player of the week is Yasir Arafat.