So there we are: 5 rounds gone and just the final of the Bob Willis Trophy, between Essex and Somerset, to come at the Home of Cricket Lord’s on 23rd September to go. The final full round of fixtures saw some fantastic fixtures and even better performances, but who makes the final team of the week, and do you agree?
- Tom Lammonby (Somerset) 28 and 107*
Every opening batsman dreams of carrying their bat and setting up a total that propels their side to victory, and that’s exactly what Tom Lammonby did in the second innings. Somerset won the match and secured them a place in the final. His unbeaten century took 220 balls and accounted for over 50% of their second innings total. Even more impressive is him shepherding the tail, where his largest partnerships occurred. Somerset are a true team, but this week Lammonby stood out.
- Rory Burns (Surrey) 103 and 52
If you put all 18 counties from top to bottom in this truncated season Surrey would be 17th, but don’t let that fool you. They have been missing a swathe of their international stars to England duty and their Kolpak stars to covid-19 restrictions. Rory Burns is one of those who has been missing, but in his only appearance for Surrey this year he reminded them of what they have been doing without. He made 155 runs across two innings and showed his astute captaincy. Had Burns been available all summer, who knows how well Surrey would have done?
- Ben Duckett (Nottinghamshire) 150 and 36*
Duckett has really kicked on in red ball cricket this season and nearly, so nearly, pushed Nottinghamshire to their first victory in First Class cricket in 2 and a half years. Sadly it was beyond him and the club, but Duckett can be very proud of his performance in this game. He set a huge first innings total and then batted aggressively in the second innings, in a chase that ultimately proved futile. Duckett’s 186 runs, however, were not futile and if he continues to bat like this, then an England recall may not be far away.
- Joe Clarke (Nottinghamshire) 133 and 8*
Like Duckett, Clarke set a huge first innings total and then batted unselfishly in the second innings in a futile run chase. Clarke is one of the brightest prospects in English cricket and his first innings here showed why. His 133 came from 207 balls, and his 8 not out in the second came off seven. He is a classy player and one who will go far. He will be gutted he did not manage to win the game for Nottinghamshire, but will be very proud of his performance.
- Ian Bell (Warwickshire) 50 and 90 (Captain)
I’ll be honest with you, in his last game of First Class cricket Ian bell could have got two golden ducks, dropped 17 catches and bowled a 58 ball over and I still would have picked him. Thankfully for me, he scored two half centuries and nearly a century in the second innings. Sadly he didn’t have the fairy tale last innings, or victory, but it was close. He missed out by 10 runs and Warwickshire by one wicket. Bell will be greatly missed by Warwickshire and I’m glad he got to show just how much in his last match.
- Adam Wheater (Essex) (wk) 83* and DNB plus 3 Dismissals
In a relatively low scoring match, Wheater was the difference between Essex winning and losing, without his unbeaten 83, Essex’s first innings score would have been much lower – he was the highest scorer by 40 runs. He also claimed 3 dismissals, which helped his side to victory and top spot in the south group as well as the trophy final. Wheater has always been an impressive batter, but his ability with the gloves has improved no end, and his not conceding a single bye in both innings is a great indicator of this.
- Darren Stevens (Kent) 0 and DNB, 5/37 and 4/35
Every team of the week I have put out, Kent fans have messaged me claiming Stevens should have been selected. Well, he saved his best for last and gets selected this week. Like a fine wine he gets better and better with age, and the fact that he has signed a contract extension means county batters torment will go on – just as it went on for the Hampshire batters in this match. Kent have been very impressive in First Class cricket this season. Stevens has been a big part of that and this victory especially.
- Danny Lamb (Lancashire) 8 and 50*, 4/60 and 3/12
Lancashire looked a very impressive side against Derbyshire this week and George Lamb was a huge element in that impressive showing. He took wickets in both innings and made a maiden first class half century in the Lancashire second innings, as they set a total large enough to defend and gain their second victory of the campaign. Derbyshire’s strength in batting is the their top four, and Lamb took five out of eight top four wickets in this match. What more could you want from your opening bowler?
- Ben Coad (Yorkshire) 4 and DNB, 5/18 and 3/23
Ben Coad is a great example of the fact that not all bowlers need to be express pace to take wickets – what he lacks in express pace he makes up for with skill. He regularly takes wickets and this match was no difference, his eight wickets giving Yorkshire the victory that ensured they finished top of the North group. As well as being a genuine wicket threat, he also offers his captain control with the new ball, conceding under two runs an over throughout both innings.
- Daniel Moriarty (Surrey) 1 and DNB, 5/154 and 6/70
In only his second first class match Moriarty has bowled Surrey to victory with his slow left armers, taking 11 wickets at a shade over 20 runs per wicket. Five of those wickets came in the first innings, which as a spinner is always a highly desirable quality, and being able to go at under four runs an over is also a highly desirable quality. In a season in which Surrey have struggled with international call ups, Moriarty has been a great find for the county.
- Amir Virdi (Surrey) 0 and DNB, 3/80 and 4/40
Virdi is one of the brightest young English spinners in the game. He bowls an aggressive line and gives the ball a real rip, and gets plenty of revolutions on the ball. He takes wickets at the top and bottom of the order and economically at that. His economy rate is under two and a half runs an over, and his wickets under 20. I would expect to see Virdi bowling Surrey to many more victories in the future and, if I were a betting man, England too.