Most teams have three games left and eight teams could still win the Championship, while in Division 2, Worcestershire have a very good week off.
Ahh, the great British summer. Evocative of such wonderful resorts including the home of the British seaside holiday. Unfortunately, this great British summer has been a bit damp, and the Surrey and Lancashire players could only manage four days on the beach as the Blackpool pitch wasn’t fit for cricket. Surrey now look doomed while Lancs are being drawn into the relegation dogfight.
On the other side of the Pennines, Yorkshire were also by the seaside entertaining Kent at Scarborough. Unusually for Scarborough, the pitch had something in it for the seamers early on and Kent were reduced to 227 all out despite a ton from Martin van Jaarsveld. Yorks then lost two early wickets before the pitch began to flatten out and 146 from Jacques Rudolph with support from Antony McGrath and Adam Lyth took Yorks to 457 and a big lead. Kent did much better second time round, with a ton from Neil Dexter, supported by Joe Denly and van Jaarsveld and some late order hitting from James Tredwell took Kent to 433 leaving Yorks needing 205 in 51 overs. In a remarkable turnaround, Yorks struggled with only Lyth able to get above 50 and were indebted to the bowlers seeing out the last fifteen overs to salvage a draw. Yorks stay in the relegation zone, albeit just 12 points behind Kent in 3rd.
There was another remarkable finish at Basingstoke, where Hampshire played host to Durham. Durham batted first and Will Smith made 70 out of a total of just 156, with Dimitri Mascarenhas taking five wickets. Mark Davies went three wickets better with 8 for 24 as Hants made just 96 in reply, Mascarenhas top scoring with 26. James Tomlinson then got in among the wickets taking five as Durham made 179 second time round leaving Hants needing an unlikely 240 for victory. At 77 for 5, victory was a long way off, but an unbeaten 94 from Sean Ervine took Hants to a victory that took them to just a point behind Durham in 5th. Durham would have gone top had they won.
A more mundane affair at Hove, as Sussex made 339 in their first innings before Nottinghamshire replied with 558 for 7, with centuries for Bilal Shafyat and Mark Wagh and 98 for Matt Wood. An unbeaten Murray Goodwin century and 93 for Mike Yardy led to Sussex to safety at 243 for 3 and a draw, which featured Chris Read bowling a couple of overs. That was enough to send Notts to the top of the table, while Sussex are 6th, five points above Yorkshire in 8th, who they still have to play twice.
So with the end of the season approaching, just 21 points separate the top eight teams in the Division. My predictions? At the bottom Surrey have too much to do and Lancashire look like a team in freefall. At the top, I genuinely don’t have a clue.
With Worcestershire having the week off, Warwickshire had a chance to make up ground on their neighbours at the top. With Jonathan Trott scoring 181, the Bears declared on 476 for 9 against Derbyshire. Chris Rogers led the Derby from the from with an unbeaten 248 as Derby made 474, Ian Salisbury taking 5-fer. Warwicks then made 241 for 3 in their second innings, with Darren Maddy getting a ton and the game finished in a draw. Warwicks stay 2nd while Derby are now too far behind to maintain their promotion challenge.
Third placed Northamptonshire also had the chance to close the gap against struggling Glamorgan, the Welshmen making 287 with Johan van der Wath taking 5-fer. A century from Niall O’Brien and an unbeaten 202 from Lance Klusener (in a stand of 211) took Northants to 488 for 7. Glamorgan then made 238 in their second innings, with Monty Panesar taking four wickets, to leave Nothants requiring 38 to win with just 5 overs left in the game. Alex Wharf took three wickets to keep the chase in check and Northants finished ten runs short, which could be critical come the end of the season.
Essex still entertain hopes of promotion and they did their chances no harm against Leicestershire. In their first innings only HD Ackerman with 55 got into double figures as the Foxes made just 107, Darren Masters taking 5-fer. James Foster then hit his second century in two weeks with an unbeaten 132 as Essex made 335, despite five wickets for Claude Henderson. Chris Wright then took six wickets as Leicester capitulated to 154 and Essex won by an innings to just about stay in touch in 4th.
England Player Watch
Michael Vaughan returned to action and made just ten runs in his two innings. Rob Key didn’t do a lot better with 19 while Joe Denly hit two 50s. James Foster seems to have found some batting form to go with his fine wicket-keeping, unlike Tim Ambrose, who made just 5 for Warwickshire.
Adil Rashid made a useful 43 in Yorkshire’s first innings, but could only muster one wicket in each innings. Dimitri Mascarenhas took a 5-fer and contributed useful runs in Hampshire’s unlikely win, while Liam Plunkett went wicketless on what appeared to be a bowler friendly wicket. Monty Panesar took six wickets and scored an unbeaten 30 runs, as he committed his future to Northants
Player of the Week
As always, the context of the match is critical to deciding this, so while Chris Rogers and Lance Klusener both made unbeaten double hundred and Mark Davies recorded the best bowling figures of the season, they don’t make it this week. For an unbeaten 94 which steered Hampshire to an unlikely victory over title chasing Durham, this week’s player of the week is Sean Ervine.