Thursday, 3 July 2008

Championship Review - Week 9

Back from the 20:Twenty break and it’s the same old story. We have new leaders in Division 1 (again) as last week’s leaders lose (again) and Ramprakash’s wait still goes on.

Division 1
Leaders Yorkshire were put into bat by Durham and this looked to be a good decision as the home side made just 184. Durham were also struggling in their first innings at 161 for 7 until a stand of 143 between Phil Mustard and Liam Plunkett took them to a total of 347 and a healthy first innings lead, despite Tim Bresnan’s 5-fer. Yorkshire then recovered from 13 for 2 with a stand of 138 between Michael Vaughan and Adam Lyth. However, despite some late hitting from Darren Gough, the total of 273(Callum Thorp taking 5-fer) meant that Durham only needed 111 to win. Matthew Hoggard reduces them to 8 for 2 but they reached the total with no further losses and yet again, the league leaders lose.

Given recent history, I would thoroughly recommend backing a Nottinghamshire loss next week as they moved back to the top of the table. Hampshire batted first and made 293 despite most batsmen getting a start. Notts replied with 354, Mark Wagh and Matt Wood putting on 149 for the 2nd wicket. Hampshire’s second innings was much like their first, with most batsmen getting into double figures, but no-one going on. There total of 248 was helped by a Chris Tremlett 50 but meant that Notts only needed 188 to win, which they reached for the loss of just four wickets. Notts go top, while Hants are in the relegation zone and beginning to lose touch.

In the same boat as Hampshire are Surrey, although they have the benefit of playing the league leaders next week! With Mark Butcher injured and Mark Ramprakash struggling to get past 99 centuries, they were reliant on Jon Batty’s hundred to get them to 397 against Kent. This was enough for a substantial first innings lead as Saqlain took 5-fer to restrict Kent to 270, despite Martin van Jaarsveld’s hundred. Van Jaarsveld then turned bowler and took five wickets as Surrey were skittled for just 130 leaving Kent needing 258 to win. At 28 for 3 they were struggling but another van Jaarsveld hundred got them over the line with four wickets to spare and Surrey, like Hants, are struggling.

All eyes were on the returning Andrew Flintoff as Lancashire took of Sussex. However, it was Saj Mahmood who took the early honours with five wickets as Sussex made 253. Stuart Law (and unbeaten 158) and nightwatchman Gary Keedy put on 160 for the fifth wicket as Lancs made 392 for a substantial lead. It was Glen Chapple’s turn to outshine Flintoff in the Sussex second innings, with 6 wickets as Sussex made 245 leaving Lancashire 108 to win. Flintoff hit an unbeaten 62, his highest score in 18 months to win the game for Lancs with 8 wicket in hand.

So Notts have a 13 point lead at the top while just 6 points separate Lancashire in 2nd and Somerset in 7th place.

Division 2
Gloucestershire made 336 against Warwickshire, thanks in part to a ton from Hamish Marshall while fellow Kiwi Chris Martin took five wickets. However, this total began to look far too low as Ian Bell made a career best 215 and Jonathan Trott an unbeaten 164 in Warwickshire’s 528 for 8 declared, the pair of them putting on 221 for the 3rd wicket. Unfortunately for the Bears, the weather played a part and Gloucestershire had just about seen of the deficit at 189 for the loss of four wickets when the game came to a close.

The weather also put paid to Middlesex’s chances of closing the gap of the leaders. Batting first, Dawid Malan scored an unbeaten 132 in the Middlesex total of 340, Johan van der Wath taking five wickets. Rob White made a ton as Northamptonshire replied with 377. However, a ton from Tony Scott and good support from Eoin Morgan got Middlesex to 401 in their second innings, despite seven more wickets for van der Wath ,leaving Northants needing 324 to win. At 33 for 3 Middlesex were favourites. However, David Sales and Lance Klusener then put on an unbeaten century stand as weather brought a premature end to an evenly poised game.

Worcestershire had a chance to make up some ground on the leaders, particularly after skittling Leicestershire for just 120, with Simon Jones continuing his good recent form with five wickets. Vikram Solanki then hit a century as Worcester made 379 for a substantial first innings lead. Leicester, thanks to 94 for Paul Nixon did at least make Worcester bat again, scoring 346. However, the Pears only needed 88 to win which they made without the loss of a wicket.

Finally to Chelmsford where Ryan ten Doeschate’s ton was the highlight of Essex’s first innings 404. Derbyshire replied with 271, Ravi Bopara mopping up the innings taking the last four wickets for four runs. Bopara then made 71 as Essex made 238 to set Derby an unlikely 372 to win. This time it was ten Doeschate’s chance to prove his all rounder skills with four wickets as Derby made just 226.

Warwickshire are still clear at the top, although they have played more games than anyone else. Behind them, just five points separate Middlesex, Leicester, Essex, Northants and Worcester for the second promotion spot.

England Player watch
Only Andrew Strauss missed out as Michael Vaughan, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell and Ali Cook all got some useful time in the middle. Owais Shah also missed out while Ravi Bopara got a half century as did Andrew Flintoff, after a torrid time with the bat recently.

The England bowlers were given the week off. Flintoff bowled well, but without wickets, while Matthew Hoggard again lost out to Tim Bresnan in the battle of the Yorkshiremen.

Player of the week
One absolutely outstanding performance this week. Ian Bell’s double hundred, 12 wickets for Johan van der Wath and the all round performances of Essex’s Ravi Bopara and Ryan ten Doeschate don’t even get a look in. For two centuries and a 5-fer as Kent came back to beat Surrey, the Player of the Week has to be Martin van Jaarsveld

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