The opening round of the County Championship saw title challengers Durham and Yorkshire win in three days at Somerset and Worcestershire respectively, whilst Sussex also gained victory at the Ageas Bowl.
The final top tier game saw Middlesex and Nottinghamshire battle out a draw, whilst both Division Two games ended in draws at Grace Road and Wantage Road. But who performed well enough to get into Deep Extra Cover‘s Team of the Week? Share your thoughts on our selection at @deepextra_cover on Twitter.
1) Chris Dent (40 and 104* v Northamptonshire) – Whilst others may have made a larger quantity of runs, Chris Dent arguably made one of the more significant efforts with an unbeaten 104 in the second innings. The opener helped Gloucestershire bat 110 overs to save the game at Wantage Road, with Dent batting for 285 balls and more than six hours including the entire fourth day.
2) Brendan Taylor (106 and 34 v Middlesex) – Having made a century in Nottinghamshire’s warm-up match, Brendan Taylor hit his second century in two matches, and in his opening County Championship match to boot. Batting at Lord’s in April is far from an easy challenge, but the former international showed the form that made him so integral to Zimbabwe, with 14 fours in his 188-ball first innings in the draw with Middlesex.
3) Scott Borthwick (94 and 51* v Somerset) – Despite watching his side struggle to 13/2 in the first innings, Scott Borthwick showed the kind of innings that’s seen him move up to number three in Durham’s first-class setup, with his aggressive 94 from 110 balls guiding the visitors to a first innings lead at Taunton. What’s more, the one-Test England man remained unbeaten with a second fifty in the match as the visitors strolled to a seven-wicket win against Somerset.
4) Tom Fell (114 and 14 v Yorkshire) – Like Borthwick, Worcestershire’s Tom Fell had witnessed his openers fail against Yorkshire, but the opener responded with a brilliant century against one of the best attacks in the County Championship. The 21-year-old had shown strong promise in the previous season, but stood up to the mark in his first game in Division One, holding together a jittery Pears batting line-up to get the hosts to 311 and three batting points at New Road.
5) Paul Collingwood (109*, 5/57 and 1/20 v Somerset) – Paul Collingwood showed that there’s still life in his twilight years, delivering crucial knockout blows with both bat and ball against Somerset. The former England man, soon to be 39 years of age, firstly ripped out the hosts’ middle order with the third five-wicket haul of his 20-year career, before blasting 11 fours and two maximums in his 145-ball unbeaten 109 to give Durham a vital first innings lead at Taunton.
6) Chris Read (62* and 101* v Middlesex) – Two red inkers was the perfect start for Chris Read as the Nottinghamshire captain came close to leading his side to victory at Lord’s. The wicketkeeper may have had little impact with the gloves, but his contribution with the bat was vital after the visitors collapsed from 180/2 to 203/7 in the first innings, whilst his unbeaten century second time round, from just 77 balls, batted Middlesex out of the game at the Home of Cricket.
7) David Willey (62 and 104*, 4/72 and 0/48 v Gloucestershire) – An impressive all-round performance from David Willey almost gave Northants an opening week victory, but despite the 25-year-old’s efforts, they were forced to settle for a draw. Willey hit 62 in the first innings to obliterate the jitters of earlier players, but it was the second knock that really did the damage, with an unbeaten 104, surprisingly his maiden first-class hundred, whilst his four wickets, including three in an over, gave his side hope of getting the better of Gloucestershire.
8) Ajmal Shahzad (35 and 28, 3/54 and 3/63 v Hampshire) – This could be seen as a surprise selection in the best XI, given a number of other players hit 50s or took five-fors, but Ajmal Shahzad’s role in Sussex’s win at Hampshire gives him the nod this time round. The former England man made timely runs, firstly allowing Ben Brown to go big with a century, before his 28 in a low-scoring second innings helped boost the Hampshire target, which they ended up short of by 92 runs. Shahzad also picked up the timely wickets of James Vince and Liam Dawson in Hampshire’s chase for single figure scores, dismissing the two batsmen who were mostly likely to have threatened Sussex’s target.
9) Craig Miles (6/63 and 2/74 v Northamptonshire) – Gloucestershire’s Craig Miles registered an impressive six-wicket haul in the first innings, restricting the hosts to 333 in the process. The right-arm bowler continues to go from strength to strength, with this his tenth five-wicket haul in just 40 matches, and his best figures overall as the hosts’ top order was disheveled after a solid start. Miles also took the wickets of the two Northants openers in the second innings.
10) Jack Brooks (5/56 and 4/28 v Worcestershire) – The “Headband Warrior” seems to have picked up from where he left off in 2014, taking nine wickets in Yorkshire’s thumping win over Worcestershire. Brooks took a five-wicket haul in the first innings, including both Pears openers within his first four overs, whilst flourishing alongside Steve Patterson in the second innings to help dismiss Worcestershire for 100.
11) Chris Rushworth (0/52 and 6/92 v Somerset) – After uncharasterically going wicketless in the first innings, Chris Rushworth responded with aplomb with six wickets, blowing apart the Somerset top order to set Durham well on their way to victory at Taunton. The fast bowler finished with 6/92, including that of first innings centurion Johann Myburgh, bringing up his 400th first-class wicket in the process.
12th Man: Jonathan Moxon (Yorkshire) – A genuine 12th man this week, with Jonathan Moxon getting his chance at New Road as a replacement on the field for the injured Ryan Sidebottom, with the usual 12th men absent on Second XI duty. Moxon is the son of Yorkshire’s Director of Cricket, Martyn.
Unlucky to Miss Out
- – Ben Brown (104* and 0, four catches v Hampshire)
- – Gareth Andrew (59 and 16, 5/85 and 0/25 v Yorkshire)
- – Will Bragg (120 and 6 v Leicestershire)
- – Ned Eckersley (147 and 1 v Glamorgan)
- – Steven Patterson (1/40 and 5/11 v Worcestershire)