Cricket fans across the country were treated to a number of thrilling matches as all 18 counties were in action for the first time since 1999. Read on for the main talking points of each match and find out who makes the top five players of the week in this week’s County Championship Round-Up.
Week Two: County Championship Round-Up
Norwell leads the way:
Liam Norwell took match figures of 10-99 as Gloucestershire brushed aside Leicestershire by an innings and six runs. Leicestershire have lost both matches this season and now face a battle to add to the progress made last season. Gloucestershire, however, put their 334-run defeat to Kent last week behind them by registering their first win of the season.
It was a complete team performance from the home side as they racked up 466-8dec after the visitors opted to bowl first. Will Tavare hit a century and Graeme van Buuren, Phil Mustard, Jack Taylor, and David Payne all registered half-centuries. New signing Gavin Griffiths toiled hard for his four wickets from 34 overs. Likewise, wicket-keeper batsman, Ned Eckersley, provided the only batting resistance with respective scores of 88 and 85.
Surrey hold firm against Lancashire spinners:
Favourites for relegation, Lancashire, went close to upsetting title favourites Surrey as the hosts blunted the Lancashire on the final day at the Kia Oval to gain a draw. The match began exactly in the fashion that was expected as Surrey’s bowlers picked up from their demolition of Warwickshire by reducing Lancashire to 67-5 on the opening morning.
Jordan Clark and Shivnarine Chanderpaul led the fightback for the visitors as the pair shared in a 256 run partnership to gain the upper hand for their side. The unlikely pairing complemented each other perfectly as Clark’s attacking nature proved vital as he celebrated his maiden first-class century. Chanderpaul, on the other hand, accumulated in typical fashion as he brought up his 74th.
After being bowled out for 470, Surrey continued the flow of runs on a great batting track as they reached 211-2 before Lancashire’s spinners brought about a collapse. Simon Kerrigan and Stephen compensated for a lack of spin by mixing up their pace and length during a spell that saw Surrey lose their last eight wickets for 108 runs. The hosts narrowly missed the follow-on target by two runs as Lancashire’s hopes for a surprise win were kept alive.
However, a Kumar Sangakkara masterclass and a first Surrey century for Scott Borthwick ended the visitors’ hopes. Lancashire would have taken a ‘winning’ draw after being 67-5 on the first morning. However, their failure to bowl out their opponents twice for the second time this season will be a concern going forward. They are now winless in twelve matches.
Worcestershire youngsters impress:
Worcestershire began their season impressively as they condemned Glamorgan to their second heavy defeat of the season. Worcestershire’s first-innings score of 403 proved plenty as Glamorgan were twice bowled out for less than 250.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore impressed once more with the bat as he registered his 4th first-class ton while debutant Josh Tongue took 5-45. It is an impressive start for a Worcester side that will be pushing as hard as they can for promotion; while Glamorgan are already facing a battle to finish off the foot of Division Two.
Cook masterclass wins it for Essex:
Alastair Cook proved the difference in a typically low-scoring game at Taunton. Essex overcame a first-innings deficit of 80 runs to register their first win of the season while Somerset’s title challenge was dealt a blow at the first hurdle.
Essex’s second-innings of 257-2 was the highest of the game and due to an Alastair Cook century and a supporting 86* from Tom Westley; the visitors eased home by 8 wickets. The win will be a huge confidence boost for the newly promoted side, while Somerset will not be ringing the alarm bells just yet as they look to mount another challenge for the title this season.
Northants win thriller at Derby:
Northants made it two-from-two against Derbyshire this week as both teams risked defeat in order to achieve victory. Employing a controversial method, Derbyshire made their way to 351-1 on the final afternoon as Richard Levi was the only Northants players not to have a bowl.
Nevertheless, Northants chased down 330 for the loss of seven wickets with seven balls to spare. ‘Declaration bowling’ is certainly an unattractive part of the game, especially when some of the Northants fielders had their hands in their pockets. However, it makes for an exciting finale and more importantly, a result.
All Coads lead to Headingley:
Warwickshire already face the prospect of relegation after being dismantled for the second week running; while Yorkshire bounced back from their shock opening week defeat to Hampshire. Warwickshire have made scores of 91, 178, and 115 so far this season and have fallen to back-to-back innings defeats for the first time in their history.
Yorkshire are feeling more optimistic as youngster Ben Coad took his wicket tally up to 18 for the season. Warwickshire’s new director of cricket, Ashely Giles, is not hitting the panic button yet but has warned of dark times ahead. Warwickshire are surely due a transition period in the not too distant future as eight of their current eleven are the wrong side of thirty. The Bears will do well to avoid a third innings defeat this season as they face Surrey again.
Northeast and Stevens the stars for Kent:
Many across the Country feel that Kent should be playing in Division One this season. That argument will be put to bed if they continue their current trend. Sam Northeast boosted his England credentials with a quite superb 173* and Darren Stevens proved yet again that age is just a number with scores of 68 and 71, along with second-innings figures of 5-51 as Sussex were bowled out for 226 on the final day.
Kent have now won both their matches this season by margins of 334 and 226 runs as they look to go one better this season.
Champions’ quality shines through as Hampshire are denied:
Middlesex showed why they are reigning champions as they were made to battle for a draw against fast-starters Hampshire. Despite being only one of two draws this week, the clash at the Ages Bowl was the most exciting. Kyle Abbott looked destined to force a result for his side by taking five wickets to back up his 7-41 at Headingley last week.
However, Middlesex’s lower order held firm to gain their first points of the season. Hampshire have been by far the surprise package of the season so far and they will be thrilled with a win and a positive draw against the champions for the past three seasons.
Notts clinical against Durham in crucial clash:
The point’s difference between these two sides after the final round of matches last season was 76 as Notts had a horror season and Durham finished in a respectable 5th position. Now, both in Division Two, the difference is a staggering 89. Of course, the primary reason for the vast difference is Durham’s financial peril. Nevertheless, Notts ended Durham’s slim hopes of an immediate return to the top flight by comfortably beating the north-east county by nine wickets.
Keaton Jennings scored yet another second-innings hundred, but it was not enough as his side could only set Notts a target of 110.