Week eight is behind us now and, thankfully, the poor weather that has blighted the last few rounds of the County Championship is also behind us. All six matches played this week ended in a joyous win for a county and a sad defeat for another.
The sides celebrating this week were Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Leicestershire, Surrey, Lancashire and Northamptonshire and those results have made the tables so tight as qualification for the second stage hots up. The top four places in Groups One and Two are both separated by just 13 points, and in Group Three Lancashire are top. The next three places, however, are covered by just 19 points.
Who qualifies in the top two places is still up for grabs, but the selections for the Team of the Week are in and there were some fantastic performances, as ever.
- Keaton Jennings (Lancashire) 114
The old adage of bat once and bat big was so true for Lancashire this week as the put their white rose rivals to the sword. They racked up 509 – 9 declared and Jennings contributed 114 to that total. After Yorkshire had been dismissed for 159, Jennings’ start to the Lancashire Innings was steady. His knock took up 260 balls, and gave Lancashire the start to their innings that ensured that they only had to bat once to complete their victory.
- Will Rhodes (Warwickshire) 91 and 63
Keaton Jennings was the only opener to reach three figures this week, but Will Rhodes came close. He scored a half century in both innings and gave his side a solid and consistent start to both innings, as Warwickshire ended Nottinghamshire’s winning streak. Rhodes’ two innings were very different. His first was solid and steady, Rhodes scoring at a strike rate of 48. In the second innings, when a faster scored rate was needed to set a total and leave enough time to bowl out Notts, his strike rate upped to over 63.
- Hashim Amla (Surrey) 173*
Overseas players should win you games and stand out from the rest. In this innings, Hashim Amla did just that for Surrey. Like Lancashire, they only needed to bat once to vanquish their opponents Gloucestershire this week. In a match where no one else reached three figures, it makes Amla’s score even more impressive. He showed every bit of his international class and pedigree to help Surrey score the impressive and winning total of 473.
- Marcus Harris (Leicestershire) 3 and 185
Normally, when you are set 378 to win in the fourth innings of match, you face the prospect of batting out draw or getting skittled and losing by a lot. Not Leicestershire this week, though. Harris came to the crease at 2-1 in the third over, then set about the total with diligence and composure. Not daunted by the magnitude of the task at hand, he navigated his side to within 60 runs of victory.
- Colin Ackermann (c) (Leicestershire) 8 and 126*
Ackermann, like Harris, was not overawed by the total set the Foxes in the fourth innings and guided his side to a memorable victory. His unbeaten 126 saw the side over the line, and took just under six hours and 263 balls. For the captain of the side to be there at the end, and to hit the winning runs, was fitting and a moment that is bound stay with Ackermann for a long time.
- Josh Bohannon (Lancashire) 127*
If Jennings gave the innings the start it needed for Lancashire, Bohannon gave the middle of the innings the security and stability it required. His unbeaten 127 pushed Lancashire to a total that meant they only had to bat once. Coming off 227 balls it wasn’t a quick scored century, but it was a careful and considered one, and it ensured Lancashire didn’t collapse in the same way Yorkshire had in their first innings.
- John Simpson (Middlesex) (wk) 95* and 17
In Middlesex’s first innings, no one apart from Simpson made more than 38. His 95 enabled Middlesex to generate a first innings lead of 159, which under normal circumstances would be a match winning lead. Simpson, as ever, was exceptional behind the stumps with 3 dismissals and conceding no byes at all in the first innings. Middlesex may have lost this game, but Simpson did not deserve to be on the losing side.
- Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire) 1-49 and 5-47
Others may have taken more wickets this week, but the way Mahmood bowled in pressure situations helped his side to a famous Roses victory. His five wickets in the second innings, as Yorkshire were looking to dead bat and survive, showed great pace and determination. His spell at the end, when he dismissed Thompson and Coad, was vital to Lancashire’s success and it is easy to see why he is rated so highly.
- Dillon Pennington (Worcestershire) 4-44 and 5-32
Worcestershire has a group of exciting young pace bowlers, and none are more exciting than Dillon Pennington. He bowls with genuine pace, gets good nip and swing and is a real wicket taking threat. He showed that clearly in this game, with match figures of 9-76 blowing away Derbyshire in both innings. In the first innings he took wickets throughout, but in the second – when Derbyshire may have had hopes of batting to save the game – Pennington did what all good fast bowlers do and nipped the tail out quickly, giving his side an early finish on day 4.
- Chris Wright (Leicestershire) 6-48 and 1-69
When you get rolled out for 136 in your first innings, you need your experienced players to perform so you can get back in the game – and that’s exactly what Chris Wright did this week. His 6 for 48 in the second innings kept the total they were chasing to a manageable level. His economy rate, of a sniff over two, was also instrumental in restricting Middlesex and helping his side secure an unlikely victory.
- Daniel Moriarty (Surrey) 6-60 and 2-80
Moriarty claimed his fourth consecutive five wicket haul this week, when he took 6 for 60 in just his sixth First Class match, producing his best First Class bowling figures. For any spinner to take wickets in the first innings, but especially an orthodox slow left arm bowler, it shows ability and potential. Following it up with 2 wickets in the second innings was also key, especially as he took the last wicket to secure victory for the second time this season.