Maybe it’s due to the wave of cricketing excitement sweeping the country, or maybe it’s due to the three week hiatus which saw us starved of the County Championship in favour of the interminable Royal London One-Day Cup, but this week’s fixtures seemed some of the most exciting we’ve seen all season. Yorkshire continued their procession to the title with a hard-fought win over Durham, whilst Hampshire gave themselves a huge boost with a thumping win over this year’s Jekyll-and-Hyde side, Warwickshire.
In Division Two, Gloucestershire’s remarkable recent form continued with a win over Glamorgan, whilst Leicestershire secured their second win of the season courtesy of a win over East Midlands rivals Derbyshire.
Dawid Malan (Middlesex): Sussex must be desperate to see the back of Dawid Malan. After holding his side’s first innings together with 93 out of a total of 234, Malan completed what can only be described as ‘the Sussex set’: hundreds against them in T20 cricket, List A cricket, and now the Championship, with an unbeaten 120.
Rory Burns (Surrey): Poor old Rory Burns. On Saturday, he scored 158 priceless runs against Essex, only for one prominent media outlet to inexplicably credit it to the Australian Joe Burns. At least we noticed, Rory. Congratulations on your second Championship century of the season. On the final day, a half-century was enough to help see his side to victory.
Wayne Madsen (Derbyshire): If anyone didn’t deserve to be on the losing side this week, it was Madsen. An unbeaten 172, by all accounts made in tough, bowler-friendly conditions, was the highest score from this round of Championship matches, yet he was powerless to prevent his side crashing to a dispiriting defeat.
James Vince (Hampshire): In the context of both the season and the match, Vince’s unbeaten 125 was a true captain’s knock. By putting the game beyond Warwickshire, and ramming home the advantage to seal a victory, Hampshire have given themselves a strong chance of staying up.
Mark Pettini (Essex): Quite incredibly, for a man of his talent and experience, Mark Pettini’s score of 134 against Surrey was only his eleventh first-class century. No matter; living in the here and now, it was a score his injury-hit side would have greatly appreciated.
Glenn Maxwell (Yorkshire): Yorkshire’s game against Durham was a curious affair. When Adil Rashid joined Glenn Maxwell at the crease, 25 wickets had fallen for just 395 runs. A partnership of 248 runs later, Yorkshire were back in control and order had been restored. Maxwell’s 140 runs from 144 balls surely broke Durham’s resistance, both in the match, and in the title race.
Adil Rashid (Yorkshire): With every big score, every impressive haul from an Englishman, the Yorkshire faithful must not know whether to cheer or fear. Rashid’s 127 from 164 balls was only slightly more measured than Maxwell’s, too, as the duo made a mockery of the previous two days’ carnage.
Chris Read (Nottinghamshire): After a really poor start, Nottinghamshire have won their last ten in all competitions, and have hauled themselves clear of danger. Allied to the fact they are coasting through their RLODC group, and credit must go to their captain. A gutsy lower-order 90, coming in at 128/5, proved vital as Nottinghamshire defeated Worcestershire.
Fidel Edwards (Hampshire): Warwickshire simply couldn’t deal with this man’s pace. Nine wickets for 87 saw Hampshire secure a vital win. A word, too, for 18-year-old Mason Crane, too, who in tandem with Edwards, helped bowl out Warwickshire for a paltry total of 125 in the first innings, taking what will hopefully be the first of many five-wicket hauls.
Steve Magoffin (Sussex): As pundits have been quick to point out recently, county cricket may not be able to boast the raw aggression and pace of Test cricket, but in players like Steve Magoffin, regular examinations of high quality seam and swing are never far away. This week, the 35-year-old took nine wickets in the match against Middlesex.
David Payne (Gloucestershire): Another side in a rich vein of form are Gloucestershire, who have won an incredible nine out of their last ten games in all formats (the tenth was abandoned). This week’s seven wicket win over Glamorgan was largely a team effort, but Payne’s eight wickets in the match stand out from the scorecard.