Week 2 Vitality County Championship Review

Week 2 Vitality County Championship Review

More big scores and a lack of results as phase one of the Kookaburra experiment comes to an end.

The weather relented for the second round of Championship matches, but there were still interruptions and rain came to the salvation of Leicestershire in their game against Yorkshire and saved Nottinghamshire a tricky finish. There was plenty of spin bowling on view, Liam Dawson bowling 49 overs in Lancashire’s first innings, but all nine games ended as draws. However, that did not mean there weren’t some tight finishes, the most entertaining one coming at the Oval where Surrey made a bold attempt at scoring 209 from 19 overs. At Chelmsford, Kent needed to hang on for a draw and similarly Gloucestershire were made to battle by Yorkshire.

Scott Borthwick is likely to have been crossed off his bowlers’ Christmas card list at Edgbaston, as his insertion of Warwickshire led to Durham spending 134 overs in the field, conceding 698/3. This was Warwickshire’s second highest total in their history and led to Callum Parkinson, on his Durham debut, going for the most expensive first class analysis in their history, 2/206. Alex Davies scored his maiden double century, while Rob Yates made 191 and Will Rhodes 178. Durham were not helped by losing Scott Boland, who bowled just 13 overs before going off the field with an ankle injury. Alex Lees (145) led the Durham reply and runs all down the order, including 93 from Ben Raine, saw them to 517. More importantly the Warwickshire bowlers were kept in the field for almost 140 overs. The follow on was enforced and at 10/2 Matt Potts appeared as night watchman. He and Colin Ackerman (22) put on 79 for the third wicket, before Rob Yates bowled Ackerman and at lunch on the final day Potts was still there on 66, alongside David Bedingham. Potts went on to score his maiden first class century, finishing on 149 not out and alongside a half century from Ollie Robinson, they saw Durham to safety.

Surrey dominated their game against Somerset at the Oval. Asked to bat first, the visitors made 285 thanks to a century from Tom Lammonby and 50 from Lewis Gregory. Spin and fast bowling (the desired beneficiaries of the Kookaburra ball) did the damage, Cameron Steel taking wickets for the second week, with 4/50 and Gus Atkinson 3/57, having not played a first class game since last July. A century from Dom Sibley and 50s from Jamie Smith and Ben Foakes took Surrey to 428, Kasey Aldridge picking up a fifer. Somerset were then soon in trouble at 0/1, Dan Lawrence opening the bowling and trapping Sean Dickson lbw. They overcame the first innings deficit with four wickets down, thanks to runs from Lammonby (51), Lewis Goldworthy (58) and 80 from captain, Lewis Gregory. Lower order runs from Kasey Aldridge (42) and Craig Overton (52*) took Somerset to 351. Steel took another five wickets finishing with match figures of 9/146. This left Surrey needing 209 from 19 overs, equating to a required rate of 11 runs/over. Jamie Smith and Dan Lawrence put Somerset immediately on the defensive, Surrey reaching 50 from just five overs. Smith was dismissed for 45 off 25 balls, Matt Renshaw taking a diving catch at long on off Gregory. Ollie Pope came in at three and was castled by Aldridge. Aldridge, who had impressed with his five wicket haul in the first innings, was the key to halting the batting onslaught, ending with 3/14 from his three overs and at 123/5 the sides shook hands. Lawrence finished with 53 not out from 34 balls.

At Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire elected to bat first and a century from Joe Clarke and 96 from Lyndon James helped them to 399, Worcestershire’s Kiwi signing Nathan Smith taking 3/67. In reply, Worcestershire reached 355 thanks to 90 from Rob Jones. Spin again was the main threat, Calvin Harrison taking 5/128 with his leg spin. The Pears then took control as they reduced Notts to 144/7 (Smith taking 4/29), a lead of just 195, but the game was abandoned with no play on the final day.

Hampshire also chose to bat first against Lancashire in Southampton, half centuries from Nick Gubbins (50), James Vince (56), Tom Prest (85) and Liam Dawson (86) taking them to 367. Nathan Lyon took 3/110. 172 from Keaton Jennings then guided the visitors to 484, Dawson taking 4/156. At the end of day three Hampshire were 39/2 in their second innings, still 78 runs behind, but no play was possible before an early lunch on the final day and they shook hands when rain started falling at 4:48, Hampshire having reached 179/4. Nick Gubbins had anchored the innings finishing on 69 not out, Lyon taking another two wickets.

The remaining Division One game saw Kent travel to Chelmsford. Essex chose to bat first and Dean Elgar profited from the decision, reaching his century from 148 balls. Jordan Cox chipped in with a half century and then Matt Critchley posted 151 not out, as Essex declared on 530. Centuries from Ben Compton (165) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (135) were the mainstays of the Kent innings, as the other members of the top seven contributed just 21 runs. They avoided the follow on, reaching 413, Critchley (5/105) the main wicket taker with his leg spin. Some aggressive batting by Jordan Cox, scoring 116 off just 89 balls, took Essex to 257/4 at the end of day three, a lead of 374. No play was possible on the morning of day four and when the players finally took the field Essex had declared, giving them a possible 64 overs to dismiss Kent. Despite the absence of the hero from their first game Sam Cook, who was rested as a precaution after feeling a thigh strain, they came close. Jamie Porter did the damage taking 4/20, removing both openers to leave Kent on 19/2. Joe Denly made 39 and his nephew Jaydn was 33 not out when the players went off for rain at 5:02, with the score on 140/7. They were back on after 15 minutes, having lost four overs, thus leaving 11.5 overs to take the remaining three wickets. With Simon Harmer and Matt Critchley bowling, they had actually squeezed in 16.3 overs when the teams shook hands, Denly and Nathan Gilchrist having held firm.

In Division Two the closest finish was at Bristol where Yorkshire were chasing the win. Gloucestershire chose to bowl first and it appeared to be paying off when Yorkshire were 80/4, Adam Lyth, Finlay Bean, Joe Root and Harry Brook all back in the pavilion. However there was still Shan Masood and his 140 alongside half centuries from Jonathan Tattersall and Matt Milnes took Yorkshire to 326. In reply, three wickets a piece for Ben Coad and Matt Fisher, restricted Gloucestershire to 263, Cameron Bancroft top scoring with 70 and Ben Charlesworth making 50. In their second innings, the Yorkshire top order showed their class, Lyth scoring a century with half centuries from Bean, Root, Brook and George Hill. They declared on 434/6, a lead of 497. 26 overs were left in day three when the Gloucestershire openers came out to bat and by the close they had been reduced to 97/4. However, on the final day Ollie Price (147) and James Bracey (102) put on 199 for the fifth wicket, Price edging a ball from Coad into Tattersall’s gloves right on tea. Bracey was dismissed in the same fashion soon after the break, but Charlesworth and Graeme van Buuren batted out the remaining overs, the players shaking hands just after six.

In Cardiff, a game in which 24 wickets fell over the first two days, petered out into a disappointingly tame draw, the pitch flattening out so much that only six wickets fell in the second half of the match. Asked to bat first Glamorgan posted 237 in their first innings, Kiran Carlson (74) the only player to pass 50. There was significant turn on the day one pitch, off spinner Alex Thomson finishing with 7/65. At lunch on day two, Derbyshire had reached 117/3, but they lost their last seven wickets for 81 runs, Mason Crane taking 4/60 and James Harris 3/28. David Lloyd made 60 and Wayne Madsen 63. By the end of day two Glamorgan had reached 74/4, a lead of 113 and the expectation was for Derbyshire to be chasing around 200. However, from the morning of day three onwards the character of the pitch changed and batting became the dominant force. Chris Cooke made 126 not out and James Harris 61 not out as Glamorgan declared on 361/7, leaving Derbyshire a target of 401 from a possible 112 overs. Harris trapped Harry Came lbw in the fourth over, but Glamorgan had little reward from then onwards, Luis Reece (91) and Brooke Guest (72) posting an unbroken fourth wicket stand of 146 before the players shook hands at the earliest opportunity.

At Leicester the weather intervened to prevent Sussex pushing for victory. Chris Wright remained an absentee from the Leicestershire squad, although Josh Hull is due to play a second XI match this week, while Ollie Robinson was rested by Sussex. Leicestershire were put into bat and bowled out for 338, Rishi Patel and Liam Trevaskis both scoring eighties. Fynn Hudson-Prentice was the pick of the bowlers with 5/50, having gone wicketless last week. In reply, the Sussex batters went to town, posting 694/9 declared, John Simpson scoring his maiden first class double century and Tom Haines and Danny Lamb chipping in with centuries. Leicestershire ended day three on 86/1, but no play was possible on the final day.

The Middlesex bowlers must have been thinking they were in a bad dream at Northampton as once again they were presented with a pitch that gave them absolutely nothing with the Kookaburra ball. Clearly Toby Roland-Jones had not learnt from his decision at the toss in week one and he put Northamptonshire into bat. 261 from the bat of Emilio Gay and a maiden first class century from James Sales took the score to 552/5 just before tea on day two, at which point they declared. The Middlesex batters found the conditions equally to their liking and a maiden first class century from 19-year-old Nathan Fernandes, 192 not out from Leus du Plooy and 211 not out from Max Holden saw them to 553/2 when the game was abandoned at lunch on day four. Not a match the bowlers will want to remember!

We have reached the end of the two round stint with the Kookaburra ball and while spinners have bowled more overs and taken more wickets than they could have ever dreamt of, there has been only one positive result from 18 matches. Weather has undoubtedly impacted upon this and there have been some intriguing battles which have been cut short due to overs lost. It will be interesting to see what happens on Friday when bowlers have the Dukes ball back in their hands and how much it will change the make up of teams.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.