In a week where the two standout wins featured Yorkshire tightening their grip on the Championship title, and Worcestershire recording a vital win in their battle to avoid the drop, this week’s edition of Team of the Week reflects that, with big hundreds and eye-catching figures from pace bowlers a recurring theme.
Daryl Mitchell (Worcestershire): Understandably, many both inside and outside New Road have long stated that Worcestershire’s survival chances depend on their captain leading from the front. In their biggest game of the season so far, an unbeaten 204 did just that.
Nick Browne (Essex): Admittedly, a wet Tuesday went some way to saving Essex, but avoiding defeat at Emirates Old Trafford this season is a noteworthy result. That they were even remotely in contention in the match was largely down to the performance of Browne, whose 105 made up more than half his side’s total. A fifty in the second innings made the game safe.
Dawid Malan (Middlesex): On a bizarre-looking scorecard, only Malan (182*) and James Harris (73) got above 19 and prevented Nottinghamshire from running through the Middlesex line-up on day one at Trent Bridge. On such innings as Malan’s do seasons hinge; Notts will sorely hope they are not left ruing the batsman’s career-best score.
Matt Machan (Sussex): For a while, it looked as if Sussex might force a highly impressive win at Taunton. Admittedly, any hope evaporated into a draw, but that they were ever in such a position owed much to a mammoth 192*, made all the more surprising, yet intensely satisfying, by the fact that he was in a poor run of form.
Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire): In light of the final result, it seems a fanciful assessment, but at 55/4 on the first day at Edgbaston, Warwickshire would have scented blood. Step forward Jonny Bairstow, whose counter-attacking innings of 108 proved the turning point.
Peter Trego (Somerset): The sight of Trego taking the attack to the bowlers is one of the more enduring sights of county cricket in recent years, but a tremendous rearguard action, recording 95* off 141 balls, frustrated Sussex and earned Somerset a draw.
Jack Taylor (Gloucestershire): Gloucestershire’s game with Northants only lasted two games, much to the chagrin of the Cheltenham festival organisers, but it was still time enough for Jack Taylor to make his mark. A stunning innings of 156 from 125 balls demoralised Northants to the extent that victory became a procession late on Thursday.
Joe Leach (Worcestershire): With every performance, the decision to omit the 24-year-old from the LV Breakthrough Player shortlist looks increasingly like a painful oversight. Despite enduring a quiet second half to the match, Leach followed up a useful 59 with 4/75 to put the home side firmly on top.
Ryan Sidebottom (Yorkshire): Is there a better left-arm bowler in the country? The man who played 22 Tests reminded everyone of his class with eleven wickets at Edgbaston, including five bowled, and five lbw.
Saeed Ajmal (Worcestershire): That this Team of the Week is looking decidedly Worcestershire-heavy is testament to the importance of their win over Hampshire. Ajmal’s first five-wicket haul since remodelling his action, allied to three further wickets in the second innings, has answered some of his critics.
Chris Wright (Warwickshire): If Warwickshire can take any positives from their defeat to Yorkshire it is the performances of two players who continue their rehabilitation from injury. Young Sam Hain’s century proved in vain, whilst Chris Wright’s five-wicket haul shows promising signs that he may yet replicate the form of 2012 after a torrid time with injury.