The Bob Willis Trophy First Round Summary
The Bob Willis Trophy got off to an exciting start this week, in the first round, with plenty of results still available coming into the final day.
There were some spectacular collapses in the first round of Bob Willis Trophy action. Many games contained a spell of 5 wickets for very few runs, something that is only to be expected with the long layoff from cricketing action. Similarly there have been some explosive feats of attacking batting combined with some brilliant circumspect patience.
With this in mind, how did the teams fare upon the return to professional cricket?
Bob Willis Trophy First Round – South Group
Sussex dominate El-Classicoast
The ‘El-Classicoast’ derby between Hampshire and Sussex has seen many a classic game in the last few years, their 2016 encounter in the 2016 T20 Blast being just one example.
Whilst far from a classic, this game saw a weakened Hampshire batting lineup (Vince and Dawson away on England duty). They were to take on Sussex’s Ollie Robinson pushing for an England place of his own at the beautiful Arundel. The pacer took an extremely economical 8-65 across the game, seeing Sussex to an easy win.
Both teams batting lineups looked extremely rusty with no Hampshire player reaching more than 30. The only shred of encouragement for Hampshire will be the debut of young Ajeet Dale who took three cheap Sussex wickets, and the performance of twin spinners Mason Crane and Felix Organ.
For Sussex there was not much batting on offer but the talented Phil Salt reached a pair of quick half centuries.
Surrey waste opportunity in London derby
The “REAL” London derby between Surrey and Middlesex promised to be a great contest and did not disappoint. Prospective England number three Nick Gubbins made an imperious 190 in the first innings, ably supported by John Simpson.
Middlesex looked to have missed out by failing to reach an extra batting point but this was not to cost them dearly in the short term. Continuing in their persuit of Middelsex’s first innings, former Durham men Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman made good contributions which the rest of the order failed to capitalise on.
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Irish veteran Tim Murtagh took the last 4 Surrey wickets cheaply to open up a sizeable first innings lead for Middlesex. A quickfire 60 from Gubbins saw Middlesex to an imposing lead which was never going to be threatened. A bright spot for Surrey was the success of left-armer Dan Moriarty on debut. He took 5 wickets for just 64 runs. Surrey then fell apart to 123 with the wickets shared cheaply among the seamers to lose by 190 runs.
Favourites scrape home in thriller
Essex were many people’s pick for favourites in the Bob Willis Trophy and they had to fight to prove it against a very competitive Kent side. A big century for Kolpak signing Heino Kuhn alongside a useful 78 for youngster Ollie Robinson led Kent to a strong first innings of 387. Essex then made a disappointing 298. Sir Alastair Cook seeing the inside of the pavilion early on, Nick Browne and former skipper Ryan Ten-Doeschate then fought to keep the ship afloat.
The Essex bowling line-up then did what it has done for the last few years and that is come roaring back and knock over a team cheaply. Harmer and Cook did the damage this time to see off Kent for 112. Sir Alastair Cook made a typically solid 66 before a burst of wickets from the returning Ivan Thomas made for a tight finish. A useful partnership between Sam Cook and Adam Wheater saw Essex creep over the line.
A great start for the defending champions in the Bob Willis Trophy first round of fixtures.
Bob Willis Trophy First Round – Central Group
Somerset see off Glamorgan
Across the country to Taunton and Somerset handed out a comprehensive thumping to Glamorgan. This, despite not reaching 300 in either innings. Such is the potency of the Somerset attack, Glamorgan failed to reach 300 with both innings combined. This was a dominant display from Somerset. The Overton twins put them in the ascendancy after the first innings.
This came after an excellent last wicket partnership between ex-England wicketkeeper Steven Davies and the ever dangerous, eccentric Jack Brooks of 107. A brilliant second innings century from skipper Tom Abell took the game right out of Glamorgan’s reach.
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Glamorgan can gain some positives from this showing in that they managed to restrict a strong Somerset side to less than 300 twice. The rapid Marchant de Lange looked back to near his skiddy best. He has an action similar to that of Shannon Gabriel and he had Somerset jumping around at times.
Gloucester let down by Batsmen
Worcester ran out comfortable winners in this central clash. The victory was largely thanks to a huge total responding to a sub-par Gloucestershire first innings.
Chris Dent and Graeme van Buuran were the sole resistance to Worcestershire’s fantastic young bowling attack in the first innings. In the third innings Hankins joined Dent to offer some more resistance but again the rest of the order could not stick with them.
Worcestershire built an imposing first innings lead with Jake Libby and veteran Darryl Mitchell combining for a big opening partnership. Brett D’Oliveira and Ben Cox then backed it up with some rapid middle-order batting.
As a result of Gloucestershire’s failure to set a competitive total, Worcestershire helped themselves to an eight-wicket victory. A great start for them in the first round of the Bob Willis trophy fixtures.
Midlands stalemate as Bresnan makes debut impact
The midlands clash between Warwickshire and Northamptonshire was notable for the inclusion of Tim Bresnan.
The Yorkshire legend’s time at Headingley came to an end after 17 years this winter. As a result of this he would have been desperate to prove his worth to his new employers.
After England hopeful Olly Stone dismantled the Northants middle order to bundle them out for 142, Bresnan got to work with the bat. With Warwickshire 5 down and scores level, Bresnan set about compiling a debut hundred. He rescued his team out of trouble to declare on 369.
Warwickshire could not capitalise on their lead however with Northants captain Adam Rossington and Luke Procter building upon the good work of Ben Curran and Charlie Thurston. Consequently, this ensured that they secured an important draw in the Bob Willis Trophy first round.
Bob Willis Trophy First Round – North Group
Young Yorkies sink Durham
In the absence of Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Tim Bresnan and Gary Ballance, Yorkshire needed some of their young charges to step up. Step up they did, with a sharing of wickets for the inexperienced attack and a fourth innings score from Harry Brook.
This was another game with a shortage of runs so composed scores of 60 plus were always going to prove mach changing. In the first innings Durham came up short against a sprightly young attack led by 4- wicket Ben Coad. The seamer who will be looking to be near the front of the queue for the post Broad-Anderson era.
Yorkshire managed to limp to a 96 run lead on first innings with the wickets shared evenly. Chris Rushworth, Ben Raine and Paul Coughlin took three apiece. Durham were well set to Produce a big lead until a timely intervention from Matthew Fisher who precipitated a collapse of 7-32 to scupper Durham. After a top order wobble, Harry Brook joined forces with new signing Dawid Malan to bring home a first Bob Willis Trophy victory for the Tykes.
Derbyshire shock Nottinghamshire
When Nottinghamshire recovered to post a competitive total in the first innings, and when Derbyshire failed to get near it, this result did not look possible. Chris Nash and a (hopefully) resurgent Haseeb Hameed laid a solid foundation.
Notts looked to have squandered it before Samit Patel rolled back the years to help post 324. Leus du Plooy’s Masterful century was the only Derbyshire score of more than 45 as Jake Ball and Joey Evison took three wickets apiece. With a second Hameed fifty of the game and more lower order marshalling from Patel, Nottinghamshire set Derbyshire a notional target of 364.
Enter 24 year old Fynn Hudson-Prentice who helped Derbyshire rally from five down for less than 200 to a brilliant and unprecedented run chase.
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Leicestershire pull of the improbable against Lancashire
Lancashire were always under the pump in this clash with Leicestershire after their first innings 322 was overhauled. Leicestershire went on to post over 400. New signing Ben Slater scored a huge century on debut. Together with a half century for Hassan Azad, there are reasons to be cheerful for long suffering Leicestershire fans.
Ben Mike and Callum Parkinson restricted Lancashire to a lead of just 150. But, the issue for the Foxes being the rate at which they were required to chase down the runs. They needn’t have worried as an exhilarating 73 from Colin Ackermann together with cameos across the order led them to a victory in just 15 overs.
Bob Willis Trophy First Round – England Watch
Every round of county championship cricket there is a spotlight on a player or two who miss out on England honours. This looks unlikely to change in the Bob Willis Trophy.
In round 1 of the Bob Willis Trophy, there were plenty of England hopefuls who pushed their case, should someone fall out of contention. The most obvious example would be Nick Gubbins who scored 250 runs in total across both innings at the Oval. The English number three slot is far from cemented at the moment so Gubbins will not have hurt his case.
Haseeb Hameed has not had a fun time since his impressive start to international cricket as a teenager. A change of scenery seems to have done him the world of good however. His twin half centuries proved in vain for Nottinghamshire. However, England will be keeping a close eye on Haseeb Hameed in the coming weeks.
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Olly Stone is already firmly in England’s thoughts. He will have done his chances no harm by ripping through the Northants middle order with real pace. Similarly, Ollie Robinson has seen himself in the senior English squad recently. His 8 wickets against Hampshire sees his last 187 first class wickets come at an average of less than 19.
Bob Willis Trophy First Round Conclusion
Round 1 of the Bob Willis Trophy has already seen two massive shocks from two teams seen as easy pickings for big teams in recent years. Plus there has been a lot of great individual showings. If this first round is anything to go by then the rest of the season will be one to cherish.
Finally, this round has seen games average around a thousand viewers per day on free to access live streams around social media outlets. This could be the future of county streaming. This will be excellent for exposure to the game. The revolution will be televised.
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