Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Championship Review - Week 3

Not many results this week as the weather gets involved, despite bizarre happenings at Taunton. The tables are still sorting themselves out and Division 2 has a very strange look to it.

Division 1
The weather and the fact that Headingley is turning into a surface as reliable as Taunton meant that a positive result was never an option between Yorkshire and Worcestershire. Batting first in dank conditions, Yorkshire declared in 460 for 6, with Jacques Rudolph getting 198 and Antony McGrath 120 in a stand of 247. At 39 for 2, Yorkshire had thoughts of enforcing a follow on. However, a stand of 317 between Vikram Solanki (206 not out) and Moeen Ali (153) meant that Worcester won the battle of the bonus points as they finished on 405 for 3.

Taunton looked like it was playing to type as Durham racked up 543, with Dale Benkenstein scoring 181 against Somerset. What followed, though, was not expected as Graham Onions celebrated his England call up by taking 6 for 31 as Somerset made just 69. Normal service was resumed in their second innings which closed with them on 485 for 5, centuries for Marcus Trescothick, Craig Kieswetter and Justin Langer.

At Old Trafford, Lancashire batted first, but were bowled out for just 189, Andre Adams taking four wickets. In reply, Nottinghamshire declared on 367 for 9, with Adam Voges making 95. Ashwell Prince led Lancs to safety, making an unbeaten 135 in their 230 for 3 in another weather affected encounter.

Finally in Division 1 to the Rose Bowl, where Sean Ervine made 109 out of Hampshire’s 350 for 8 declared. Matt Prior replied with 140 as Sussex managed 336 all out and with the weather intervening, there was only time for Hants to reach 127 for 2 by the end of play.

Division 2
Northamptonshire hosted Gloucestershire and the visitors made 294, thanks to a late order unbeaten 60 from Ian Saxelby, David Wigley taking 6 wickets. Northants responded with just 161, Steve Kirby and Vikram Banerjee taking four wickets a piece. Gloucester made 237 second time round, setting Northants 370 to win, with Gloucester being two bowlers down through injury. Despite the injuries, Northants were bowled out for 326 to give Gloucester the win which puts them second in the table.

Setting the pace are Derbyshire, who were saved by the weather as they visited Glamorgan. The home side declared on 403 for 6, with Mike Powell and Jamie Dalrymple getting tons. Derby were then bowled out for 210 and were struggling on 34 for 3 following on when the game drew to a close, with two days lost to the weather.

The title favourites met at Chelmsford, where Essex batted first and made 370, with Matt Walker making 98 and James Foster 99. In reply, Kent made just 205 to leave Essex well on top. Following on, Kent did much better and with Darren Stevens and Martin van Jaarsveld making centuries, they declared on 512 for 9, setting Essex a target of 348 to win. This time it was Essex’s turn to collapse, Robbie Joseph taking 6 wickets as they made just 155 to leave Kent as comfortable winners.

Andrew Strauss warmed up for the test series with a ton for Middlesex against Leicestershire. He was joined by Philip Hughes and Eoin Morgan in scoring centuries as Middlesex made 493 for 7. Leicester struggled to 258 in reply. However, as is often the case, the follow on was much more successful, with James Taylor getting a ton as they made 400 for 7 as the game petered out into a draw.

England Player Watch
Michael Vaughan’s week went from bad to worse as he made just 5 in Yorkshire’s 460 for 6. Ali Cook made a run a ball 41 in Essex’s first innings, but collapsed with the rest of the team in the second innings. Andrew Strauss looks in fine form with a run a ball 150, while ODI new boy Eoin Morgan also hit a ton.

Following the plethora of centuries from other wicket keepers last week, Matt Prior responded with one of his own this week and one suspects he will need to be injured not to be England’s test keeper for the summer. James Foster’s 99 keeps him to the top of those poised to challenge for Prior’s place if an injury does occur though.

Contrasting fortunes for the England new-boys Tim Bresnan went wicketless for Yorkshire, while his fellow England debutant, Graham Onions took a 6-fer, outperforming Steve Harmison yet again. Ryan Sidebottom started the rot for Notts against Lancs as he took two early wickets with the new ball. Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar bowled tidily, but picked up just the one wicket apiece in seaming conditions.

Player of the Week
Mentions to Jacques Rudolph, who’s 198 was made in tricky conditions and Vikram Solanki’s who’s 206 wasn’t, but you still have to get the runs. However, the outstanding performance was at Taunton, a pitch normally associated with batting feats. Player of the Week for his first innings 6 for 31 is England new boy, Graham Onions

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