New leaders (again) in Division 1 as Notts have the week off, while at the wrong end of the table, the bottom two are beginning to come adrift. In Division 2, last year’s relegated teams occupy the top spots after big wins.
With Nottinghamshire having a week off, Kent were the best placed team to take advantage. Somerset, however, had different ideas and set off like a train to record 427 all out at nearly 5 runs an over. The three bowling points did take Kent to virtual top spot, but that was as good as it got for them as they were bowled out for 208. Somerset declared second time round on 243 for 8 leaving Kent needing 463 to win, with Rob Key unable to bat for family reasons. Stefan Jones took 5 wickets, Kent made 216 and Somerset move up to second, ahead of Kent, who stay third.
This meant that Durham had the chance to go top as they played Surrey at the Guildford festival. Guildford is normally a batsman’s paradise. However, while Scott Newman didn’t seem to have many difficulties, his 113 was more than half the team score of 220 as Surrey were missing both Marks Ramprakash and Butcher from their middle order. Will Smith, the man most likely to make way for Paul Collingwood, then made an unbeaten 201 as Durham scored 410 for a healthy first innings lead. Surrey did better second time round scoring 323. However, Durham knocked off the 134 needed for victory without losing a wicket and move to the top of the table. Surrey, however, are struggling.
Also struggling were Sussex and Hampshire who met at Arundel. Sussex batted first and recovered from 25 for 4 thanks to a stand of 194 between Murray Goodwin (184) and Carl Hopkinson (106), ending up on 426 all out, James Tomlinson taking 5-fer. Corey Collymore took four wickets as Hants were unable to meet the follow on target, making just 257. They did even worse second time round, scoring 179, Ollie Rayner taking 5 wickets as he bids to keep the returning Mushtaq out of the team. Sussex scored the 11 they required without loss to move up the table while Hants remain bottom.
The top two met at Uxbridge, with Warwickshire batting first and making 393, built around a stand of 157 between Jim Troughton and Tony Scott. Middlesex could only make 170 in reply, and then made 3 less in their second innings, Chris Woakes showing his promise with a five wicket haul. The Bears thus won by an innings and remain well set for promotion.
Also pushing hard for promotion are Worcestershire, for whom the match saw Simon Jones facing his old county, Glamorgan for the first time. Batting first, Worcester declared on 457 for 8, with Ben Smith top scoring on 99. Imran Arif then took five wickets on his debut as Glamorgan made 279. Following on, they made the same score in their second innings, with Kabir Ali taking 6 wickets. Worcester made the 102 required without losing a wicket and move into second.
Northamptonshire were also looking to make up ground towards the top of the table. However, the weather, and a flat Northampton pitch meant that their game with Derbyshire could not produce a result. Batting first, Derby declared on 485 for 7, thanks largely to a stand of 203 between Graham Wagg and Jonathan Clare, both of whom hit tons. Clare then turned to his stronger suit and took seven wickets as Northants made 341. Batting again second time round, Derby were in a strong position at 278 for 5, Chris Rogers getting a ton, when the game drew to a close.
England Player Watch
Following the surprise selection of Darren Pattinson, it would seem that any player is fair game. However, I will keep the search to those I believe should be considered rather than Australian wild cards.
Owais Shah had a pretty miserable time with the bat as Middlesex collapsed twice, while neither Rob Key nor Joe Denley were able to put pressure on the England top order. As the wicket-keeper debate starts again, Matt Prior’s runs have dried up. Stephen Davies, however, made 83 for Worcester.
Bowling-wise, Simon Jones had a quiet match against his old county, although encouragingly, he did bowl 21 overs in the first innings (taking 3 wickets). Steve Harmison took 6 wickets for Durham while Liam Plunkett continued his recovery from injury with 5 wickets.
Player of the Week
I normally like the winning player to have had an impact in a positive result. However, despite the double hundred for Will Smith, Kabir Ali’s 6-fer and Chris Woakes’s performance, this weeks award goes to the stand out performer in a drawn game. For an unbeaten 129 and 7 for 74 in the only competed innings of his match, this weeks Player of the Week is Jonathan Clare.