If last week the grounds people deserved a mention, this week they deserve a statue building. It is a testament to them that there was as much cricket played as there was.
This week saw wins for Hampshire, Essex and Durham while the other three matches ended in a draw, with the game at Taunton between Somerset and Surrey managing only a meagre 68 overs across the four days due to rain. This week’s results see Essex jump back to the top of Group 1, albeit by three points – and they have played a game more than Nottinghamshire and Durham.
Gloucestershire remain top of Group two, despite not playing, and are in a very strong position to qualify for the top group later in the season. Group Three sees the white rose on top by 5 points from the red rose, who have played one game less.
Down to the important news, though: with only six games on this week, it was a prime opportunity for people to get selected. So, let’s see who has:
- Alex Lees (Durham) 99 and 12
On a tricky first morning, as wickets tumbled around him, Alex Lees showed great skill and resolve to anchor the innings and set a total that their bowlers could defend and produce a first innings lead from. Lees’ 99 runs came off just 202 balls showing that, despite tricky conditions, he could still score at a decent rate. He will be disappointed to get out one short of a century, but will take solace in an excellent performance and a victory for his club.
- Will Young (Durham) 5 and 103
No song titles this week as Young keeps his place in the side, thanks to his knock in the second innings. He scored a century off 254 balls, building a lead and allowing others to bat around him to build a score big enough to declare on and ultimately win the game. In the first two innings, only one batter passed 50 and that was his opening partner Alex Lees. This knock was a testament to Young’s ability, and his determination to grit it out and create a victory.
- Tom Westley (c) (Essex) 106
Westley scored his 106 off just 112 balls, contributing to his side’s mammoth 412 in just 76 overs. He scored quickly enough to allow his side to declare and have enough time to bowl Derbyshire side out twice, in a match severely shortened by the weather. Westley has played for England and, in this innings, he showed that international class. He also captained the side and made some excellent bowling changes throughout, setting attacking fields that enabled pressure to be made and chances to be taken.
- Joe Root (Yorkshire) 99
In a match that ultimately ended up as a draw, a knock of 99 might not appear that impressive. However, coming in at 6-2 in very difficult batting conditions and then scoring nearly half your side’s runs is impressive. Root showed all his international class and pedigree as he marshalled the Yorkshire side to a lead, which with less precipitation about may have allowed them enough time to push for a win. In an innings where only one other batter scored more than 20, his runs were vital in Yorkshire not capitulating and offering up a large first innings deficit to Glamorgan.
- Dan Lawrence (Essex) 152*
Like Westley, Lawrence has played international cricket and with this innings, it is clear why. His 152 came off just 133 balls and he hit the ball with some extraordinary shots, one of which ended up with him face down on the crease and the ball in the stands for six. His wrists are a thing of beauty and he hits the ball in different areas – he must be a nightmare to set fields to. The only blot on his copybook was taking the wicket of Billy Godleman in Derbyshire’s first innings and thus depriving Simon Harmer of a 10 wicket innings.
- Jack Leaning (Kent) 67 and 127
In Kent’s first innings of 145, Leaning made 67 of those runs thereby ensuring they had something that resembled a first innings score. With no one else reaching 25 in the innings it would, in all probability, have been a paltry offering and they would have conceded a first innings for greater than the 111 runs they did. In the second innings, which was realistically an exercise in batting time to secure a draw because of the weather, Leaning amassed 127 runs and, more importantly for his side, he occupied the crease for over five hours and soaked up 263 balls. He had support from around him, but Leaning’s knock was the backbone of Kent escaping with a draw.
- Ollie Robinson (wk) (Kent) 4 and 85, 4 dismissals
Robinson, in the first innings, lasted just seven deliveries and scored four runs. He did redeem himself, however, when he donned the gloves and took four dismissals. He is fast becoming a wicketkeeper of a fine reputation. In the second innings he, like Leaning, gave the innings a backbone. His 85 runs – collected from 135 balls in just under two and a half hours – helped ensure Kent secured those vital eight points for a draw and didn’t slip to their fourth defeat of the season.
- Simon Harmer (Essex) 9-80 and 3-122
Has there been a better Kolpak/overseas signing than Simon Harmer in the last 10 years? If there has, I couldn’t name him. Harmer is a wicket taking machine, and this game was no different. His nine wickets didn’t just tear the heart out of the Derbyshire innings and remove any chance of them winning the game, it tore it out, stamped on it and threw it away. On a pitch that wasn’t showing a great deal of turn, he bowled with great control and changes of pace, flight and line – and was simply too good for the Derbyshire line up.
- Josh Tongue (Worcestershire) 5-39 and 2-59
Whenever a young bowler returns from injury, there is always a worry that they will not be the same. Tongue’s performance here, however, shows he hasn’t lost the nip and pace from when he burst into the first team. His five wicket haul in the first innings was full of pace and venom, and kept the Durham score to a manageable total. In the second innings, when carnage was ensuing around him, he kept the economy rate below three and also picked up two wickets.
- Kyle Abbott (Hampshire) 6-44 and 5-41
The saying goes that a quick game is a good game, and when there is lots of inclement weather a quick game is even more important. The 11 wickets in the match for Sean Abbot meant that Hampshire could wrap up the victory over Middlesex in three days. Abbot’s strike rate of a wicket every 15-and-a-bit balls was excellent; his height, pace and bounce proved too much for the men from Lord’s and meant that they failed to reach 200 in either innings.
- Chris Rushworth (Durham) 5-56 and 4-52
It’s probably not Chris Rushworth’s greatest achievement to be named in our side this week. It’s more likely to be when he removed Jack Haynes in Worcestershire’s second innings, becoming the leading wicket taker in Durham’s history with 528 wickets. And he wasn’t finished there. He took three more wickets in the innings, narrowly missing out on his 29th five wicket haul. His nine in the match, however, did help Durham to a victory – a fitting way to celebrate a fantastic achievement for a fantastic bloke and great supporter of the County game.