Week six of the County Championship was a draw fest! The groundsmen up and down the country have clearly decided that all the abuse they get for being the cause of the problem for England’s batting woes needed to be addressed. In the eight fixtures in this round, there was just one win, (achieved within three days) although the weather on Sunday probably saved both Leicestershire and Kent from defeat. It means the batsmen continued to make hay, and with several high profile bowlers rested, notable bowling performances were few and far between.
- Keaton Jennings (Lancashire) 238
Two games back from injury and Keaton Jennings is bang in form. Two matches, two innings, a century last week followed by this week’s double, and the former England opener is quickly making up for lost time. Jennings’ big score at the top of the order helped Lancashire amass 566-9, and at one stage when Joe Root was bowled in the second innings, Yorkshire looked under pressure. The in-form Harry Brook put a stopped to the winning charge from the red rose, but it was Jennings’ who set the game up.
2. Ricardo Vasconcelos (c) (Northamptonshire) 156
When Vasconcelos lost the toss he must have feared the worse; looking down at a cricket pitch which resembled one of Birmingham’s surrounding motorways. The reason Northamptonshire were put into bat by Will Rhodes is probably only really known to him, but Vasconcelos and Northamptonshire didn’t care and nor did they look back. Having been made captain just before the start of the season, Vasconcelos has only made a single score above 50, so he would have been delighted with a big score personally, his club record partnership of 287 with Will Young and 597-6 dec. in the first innings. Unfortunately for Northants, the road stayed a road and Warwickshire only lost 4 wickets in the next two days!!
3. Jack Haynes (Worcestershire) 133 & 16*
Last week Jack Haynes did something which everyone knew he would do, but for some baffling reason hadn’t yet managed. He made his maiden first-class century. Haynes you see, is a talent that the people of Worcestershire (and a few other areas), have been purring about for some time, all cricket watchers who see Haynes expect big things, and he’s shown plenty of signs. whether it’s the monkey off his back or the London bus scenario, Haynes backed up last week’s ton, with his second of the season. Expect more.
4. Joe Root (Yorkshire) 147 & 4
Facing up to Lancashire’s 566-9 in the first innings at Headingley, Yorkshire were in the mire at 68-4 and 134-5. Joe Root’s 147 didn’t stop them following on, but in reality, it saved them in this game. The joy of seeing Root facing Jimmy Anderson probably attracted a fair few people to the live stream this week, and in the first dig it was Root who had the upper hand. Anderson got his revenge in the second, but by that stage a win for Lancashire was a long shot, and Yorkshire hung on for the draw. No Root, and it would have been a different story. England fans can empathise.
5. Sam Hain (Warwickshire) 202*
Sam Hain is a seriously good cricketer. He plays all formats for Warwickshire and excels in all of them. He has the highest List A average of any current England qualified player, heavily contributes in T20 cricket, and yet it is in red ball cricket where most people expect him to flourish. However, his performances aren’t as prolific as many would expect. This season he’s scored a couple of fifties and is generally doing ‘OK’. Presented with a flat deck here at Edgbaston, Hain did not look a gift horse in the mouth. Having seen the opposition post 597-6, Warwickshire wobbled early, falling to 57-2 and 113-3, but Hain’s mammoth effort saw the home safely.
6. Steven Mullaney (Nottinghamshire) 92 & 100*
Nottinghamshire, unsurprisingly, look the class of Division Two of the County Championship. Middlesex who are currently top of the division were under the pump here and got away with a draw thanks to Sam Robson and rain. Mullaney lead from the front. His 92 helped set up a big first innings total and in the second innings as Nottinghamshire looked to declare, Mullaney bludgeoned 100 off just 58 balls. In the end the weather got in the way of a win, but Middlesex know the strength of the opposition at the top of Division Two.
7. Ben Foakes (wk) (Surrey) 91, 3 dismissals
Ben Foakes was part of a unique, but perhaps unwanted record. In Surrey’s monster 671-9 declared, no batsmen scored a century, the largest score where that’s happened. Foakes was one of three players to fall in the 90s. (Ollie Pope, 96; Jamie Overton 93). When Kent were dismissed for just 230 in response, Surrey and Foakes must have thought it was game on. But stubborn resistance from Ben Compton and wash out last day meant Foakes and his friends couldn’t force victory. Foakes will be delighted to post a big score as he looks to retain his spot behind the stumps for England.
8. Matt Parkinson (Lancashire) 4-90, 2-53
While Matt Parkinson continues to enjoy highlight reel fame on social media, it’s not so much the wonder balls but his consistency which will be pleasing Lancashire fans and interesting England selectors. He’s the second leading wicket taker in Division one so far this season (23), is averaging 23 and at an economy of 2.19. For a leg spinner the last statistic is probably the most impressive. It was more of the same here against Yorkshire (2.2 economy), and his performance nearly forced a result on a flat pitch against a high quality Yorkshire batting line up. In the first innings Parkinson dismissed Root, Brook, and Harry Duke, the three leading run scorers for Yorkshire, and a couple of quick wickets in the second innings threatened a win for a while. He’s becoming harder and harder to ignore.
9. Will Jacks (Surrey) 4-65, 1-27
By all accounts the wicket at Beckenham was not bowler friendly (see Ben Foakes above). So, for Jacks to return figures of 4-65 and give Surrey a chance of the win is highly creditable. Jacks is part of a varied bowling attack at Surrey and is working alongside the likes of Sam Curran, Jamie Overton, and Jordan Clark, but it was Jacks who was forcing the issue here and Surrey will hope he can continue to add to his tally as the season progresses.
10. Matthew Potts (Durham) 4-61 & 7-40
At the start of the season the Deep Extra Cover team picked Matthew Potts as our ‘one to watch’ at Durham. He’d shone in white ball cricket and earnt himself some T20 contracts, but his red ball exposure was limited to just a few fixtures. Between a spate of injuries and Potts’ red hot form, the current thinking is that he’ll be playing against New Zealand in a couple of weeks time. 35 wickets makes Potts far and away the leading wicket taker across both divisions, and James Franklin his coach at Durham described his performances as ‘the best fast bowling he’s seen for some time’. Another career best in the second innings here is going to keep Mr Key and McCullum interested. Doing it front of the new England captain isn’t a bad idea either
11. Jack Leach (Somerset) 5-49 & 3-41
In the one ‘result’ of this round of the LV= County Championship, Somerset annihilated Gloucestershire. Having posted 591-7, Leach set about crushing any hopes of survival for the home team taking 5-49 as they were bowled out for just 186 in response. Following on, Leach took another three wickets to finish with match figures of 8-90. Leach will be delighted to bowl himself into some form as England selection meetings loom large, and Somerset will be equally pleased if a motivated Leach keeps spinning them to victories.