Week five saw the first major weather interruptions of the season with half the games ending in draws and none providing a full allocations of overs.
There were wins for the impressive Gloucestershire, the resurgent Nottinghamshire – who vanquished Essex – along with Northants and Somerset who also came away with a win.
The results this week leave the three group leaders as Nottinghamshire, Gloucestershire and Lancashire, but there is not much between them and the chasing pack. Even with the weather interventions this week there were still some fantastic performances, but who has made it into the team of the week?
Rob Yates (Warwickshire) 104 and five
On a tricky first morning as wickets tumbled around him, Yates gave Warwickshire the foundation they needed to post a competitive score. He not only accumulated runs, but soaked up deliveries too, his 104 taking up 229 balls and just over five hours. Had he succumbed early, the Warwickshire total may well have been well under par and under far more pressure on the last day. His performance went a long way to securing a draw.
Mark Stoneman (Surrey) 119
Mark Stoneman ensured that Surrey batted out for a draw easily on the final day after rain had washed and played its part over days two and three. Stoneman batted nearly 82 overs for his 119 runs and was at the crease for nearly five and half hours. No other batter passed 33 and had he fallen cheaply then that easy draw may not have materialised.
Sam Evans (Leicestershire) 112
Sam Evans is a young man with a big future ahead of him. This was his third century of the season, no one else has more, and on the opening morning when the ball was nipping around and swinging he showed composure and class against an attack of high repute. He scored at a strike rate of over 50 runs per 100 balls too, not allowing himself to get tied down as he batted for more than five hours and shared a partnership of 195 with Australian Marcus Harris.
Saif Zaib (Northamptonshire) 135
The bowlers may grab all the headlines in this Northants victory, but without Saif Zaib’s score the result may well have been very different. He came in at 60-4 and proceeded to steady the ship, first with Rob Keogh and then in a partnership of 148 with Adam Rossington. Had he fallen then quickly then it is highly unlikely that Northants would have been able to post a total big enough to allow them to only bat once and have enough time to secure victory.
Steven Mullaney (Nottinghamshire, c) 117
Steven Mullaney appeared to be playing on a different pitch to everyone else throughout this match. His 117 runs came off just 160 deliveries, he outscored Essex’s first innings on his own and the pace he scored at meant, despite losing a whole day to rain, Nottinghamshire still had enough time to bowl Essex out again and win the match by an innings.
Michael Burgess (Warwickshire, wk) 101 and two dismissals
If Rob Yates was the backbone of Warwickshire’s innings then Michael Burgess was its rib cage, solid around the middle and protecting the other parts of the body. His century, like Yates’, ensured that Warwickshire had a total that kept them in the game. It came off 173 deliveries and when you consider only one other player apart from Burgess and Yates reached 30 in the innings it makes their batting achievements even more impressive. Burgess was also tidy behind the stumps too, taking two catches and conceding just five byes in very tricky conditions.
Craig Overton (Somerset) 74, 2-16 and 5-66
If Craig Overton doesn’t add to his England caps this summer, he can count himself very unlucky if he continues to produce performances like this one. Top scoring with 74 runs in Somerset’s only innings of substance, followed by seven wickets across the two innings, he is becoming a premier all-rounder. He has taken extra responsibility by batting higher in the order and it is paying off. He is regularly a catalyst for Somerset’s victories and his performance in this game was no different.
Gareth Berg (Northamptonshire) 38 and 5-18 and 4-72
It’s not often you take nine wickets in the match and don’t have the best figures for your side, but Gareth Berg will still be delighted with match figures of 9 for 90, even if Ben Sanderson did ever better. His bowling throughout the match was excellent, he kept it tight and posed a real threat. He also contributed a handy 38 runs in Northants’ only innings.
Luke Fletcher (Nottinghamshire) 6-24 and 2-42
The six wickets that Fletcher took in the Essex first innings tore the heart out of the champions and helped dismiss them for under 100 and effectively take them out of the game. He followed it up with two more in the second innings, one of which was fittingly the last wicket to fall to seal the victory.
Ben Sanderson (Northamptonshire) 5-28 and 5-71
Between Sanderson and Berg they claimed 19 of the 20 Sussex wickets to fall. Sanderson took 10 for 99 and placed Northants on the precipice of victory. He bowled with pace and hostility and never let the men from the south coast settle. He is a genuine wicket-taking threat and his performance throughout this match proved that.
David Payne (Gloucestershire) 5-31 and 6-56
Gloucestershire have been the surprise package this season and David Payne has been one of the big reasons they have won four of the five games they’ve played. His performance in this game however was outstanding, taking 11 Middlesex wickets for just 87 runs, his six wickets in their second innings helped dismiss Middlesex for just 152 and allowed them to wrap up victory inside three rain-affected days.