New leaders again in Division 1, although not as convincingly as they would have liked. A good win for the leaders in Division 2 and now he’s got his 100th hundred, Ramprakash can’t stop scoring runs.
Somerset went into their match with struggling Hampshire knowing that they would return to the top of the table with a draw and bonus points. However, they would have been hoping for much more and only Michael Lumb, scoring his first century of the season, held them up as Hants made 316. An Ian Blackwell century was the main contribution as Somerset secured maximum bonus points at 436. However, poor weather at the start of the game and an unbeaten stand of 170 between Lumb and Michael Carberry meant that Hants were able to finish on 196 for 1, which was enough to take them out of the bottom two, while Somerset’s cushion at the top isn’t as great as they’d have hoped.
Sussex have struggled this season and would have hoped to turn things around with their visit to local rivals Surrey. Surrey made 455, based around a stand of 232 between Mark Ramprakash (178) and Jon Batty (102). Sussex made 328 in reply, Robin Martin-Jenkins adding respectability to the total with an unbeaten 71 from number 9 in the order. Surrey then declared on 171 for 7, setting Sussex 299 to win in 62 overs. At 313 for 3, Surrey had a sniff of victory, but Carl Hopkinson and Chris Nash batted out for an unbeaten 123 partnership and a draw.
Geraint Jones was the star with a ton as Kent scored 283 against Lancashire. This was enough for a big first innings lead as Lancs succumbed to 125, Robert Joseph taking 5 for 34 and Martin Saggers 4 for 26. Joe Denly then scored a hundred as Kent declared on 317 for 4, setting Lancs an unlikely target of 476 to win. Despite a hundred from Paul Chliton, this never looked likely as they were bowled out for 283. Kent move above Lancashire, whose current form means they should be wary of the relegation battle.
Northamptonshire went into their game with bottom club Gloucestershire looking to make up ground on the leaders. However, poor west country weather turned the match into a race for bonus points, with Northants finished one run short of their 4th point on 349, despite 148 from David Sales, Oliver Newby, on loan from Lancashire, taking 5-fer. Kadeer Ali then hit a career best 161 as Gloucester declared on 401 for 6, but with only three overs possible in the Northants second innings, the game was drawn. The bonus points were enough to lift Gloucester above Glamorgan at the bottom while Northants remain 3rd.
In a good week for the Ali cousins, Kabir took 6 wickets as Worcestershire reduced Essex to just 282, Ryan ten Doeschate making an unbeaten 94. This was enough for a first innings lead, though as Worcester made just 258. With a lead of 24, Essex declared their second inning on 322 for 8, with James Foster making an unbeaten 111. This left Worcester needing 347 to win, which they made for the loss of just 4 wickets, Daryl Mitchell scoring his first championship century of the season, with significant contributions from Ben Smith and Graeme Hick. Worcester move clear at the top of the table and look certainties for promotion.
A second wicket stand of 124 between Andrew Strauss (71) and Ed Joyce (101) set Middlesex up for a total of 367. However, this was dwarfed by the Leicestershire effort, who made 533, including a stand of 270 between HD Ackerman (194) and 18 year old Josh Cobb (148 not out). Middlesex lost early wickets in their second innings, being reduced to 73 for 4. However, they were able to bat out the 71 overs left in the game for a draw although both teams are now looking to next season.
England Player watch
Some useful runs for Andrew Strauss to keep him in touch while the rest of the England team is playing One Day cricket. With the Lions tours in mind, Joe Denly, Ed Joyce and James Foster have done themselves no harm, with Joyce being a possible captain for the tour. Likewise with the ball, Kabir Ali keeps taking wickets to keep the pressure on the English bowlers.
Player of the week
Mark Ramprakash keeps scoring runs as does HD Ackerman. However, it is from Ackerman’s county that we go to for this week’s winner. Leicestershire have been criticised for their Kolpak policy. However, they are also beginning to bring some young talent through and if the first sign of this came in this week’s matches, it could be very exciting. For an unbeaten 148 just days after his 18th birthday, this weeks Player of the Week is Josh Cobb.