Week 6 Vitality County Championship Review

Week 6 Vitality County Championship Review

Round six had the good fortune of avoiding most of the rain that had been forecast, allowing matches to come to a natural conclusion. There were four positive results from the six games played with two matches reaching stalemate, albeit Kent having been made to follow on against Worcestershire.

With Somerset and Essex not in action, it was a chance for Surrey to establish themselves at the top of Division One. They took on Warwickshire at the Oval who, having drawn their first four games, headed the chasing pack. Put into bat, all the visitors’ top order made starts, but only Ed Bernard was able to make it count, his century helping them to 343. Jordan Clark took 4/65. In reply, each of the Surrey top five made a contribution, headed by an impressive 155 off 179 balls from Jamie Smith. He added 115 with Sean Abbott for the ninth wicket, Abbott finishing on 50 not out and Surrey’s 464 gave them a 121 run lead. Craig Miles took 5/43. When Warwickshire batted for the second time it was Kemar Roach who dominated proceedings, his 6/46 restricting Warwickshire to 209. That left Surrey needing just 89 runs which they reached early on the morning of day four, for the loss of one wicket. A maximum haul of 24 points takes Surrey 21 points clear of Essex at the top of Division One.

Fifth placed Durham travelled to Southampton to face a Hampshire side that has struggled so far this season. The home side chose to bat first, posting 503 thanks to centuries from Ali Orr, the first for his new club and Tom Prest. Ben Brown made 67 while Callum Parkinson took 4/139. Durham then dug in, reaching 432 off 148.5 overs, David Beddingham top scoring with 144, while the spinners Liam Dawson and Felix Organ took five and four wickets respectively. When Hampshire started their second innings, 45 minutes into day four, it was a matter of playing out time. Matty Potts gave the visitors a sniff of blood, removing both openers to reduce Hampshire to 9/2, but play was ended by bad light and rain at 3:40pm with the score on 62/2.

Worcestershire’s decision to bat first at Canterbury paid off when they went on to reach 618/7 declared. There were centuries from Gareth Roderick, Jason Holder and Matthew Waite, the latter two putting on an unbeaten 225 run eighth wicket stand. Matt Parkinson bowled 44.5 overs for his three wickets. Joe Leach then removed both Kent openers cheaply before Daniel Bell-Drummond (67) and Jack Leaning steadied the ship. They took the score to 131/3 and following the loss of Bell-Drummond, Leaning battled on, remaining unbeaten on 179 when the innings finished on 407, Beyers Swanepoel making 54 in his first outing for Kent. Despite having been in the field for 149.2 overs, Worcestershire enforced the follow on with 73 overs left in the game. Kent had reached 146/4 when the teams shook hands, Worcestershire having used nine bowlers. The Pears’ attack will be glad to put their feet up for a couple of days before having the unenviable task of taking on Surrey.

Lancashire are badly in need of a strong performance, having already suffered two defeats, but were again second best, this time against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. Choosing to bat first Keaton Jennings (91) and Tom Bruce (73) were the main contributors to a Lancashire first innings total of 331. Olly Stone and Dillon Pennington both took three wickets. Haseeb Hameed has had a slow start to the season, but made up for it with a score of 247 not out that along with 90 from Olly Stone, saw the home side to 503, although they only managed three batting bonus points. When Lancashire came to bat again they were soon in trouble at 61/6 before Matthew Hurst and Tom Hartley gave some respectability to the Lancashire performance. They put on 116 for the seventh wicket before Hartley was dismissed for 50. Hurst was the last man out having completed his maiden first class century, Notts left requiring 81 runs from 50 overs. Pennington had taken another four wickets in the Lancashire second innings. It took just 18.4 overs for Notts to complete their first win of the season and move up to fourth in the table.

Sussex were flying high at the top of Division Two as they went into this round of matches and would have travelled to Cardiff hopeful of coming away with a third win. However Glamorgan had other ideas surprising many, even before the game started, when Sam Northeast chose to bowl first. Sussex were without Ollie Robinson, who was being rested. The Glamorgan bowlers, particularly Mir Hamza and James Harris, made the decision look a good one as despite lower order resistance they restricted Sussex to 278. Hamza had only taken four wickets in the four matches so far, but finished with 4/70 including the key wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara (41). Harris took 4/93. In reply, three wickets from Jayden Seales had the home side in trouble at 41/4, before a 315 run fifth wicket stand between Kiran Carlson (148) and Colin Ingram (170) helped see Glamorgan to 411 and a 133 run lead. The innings ended two balls into day three, Seales finishing with 5/101. Hamza again caused problems for Sussex, dismissing the top three by the time they had reached 32. Medium pacer Andy Gorvin then set about the middle order, recording his first fifer and despite 70 from Flynn Hudson-Prentice (to go with his 48 in the first innings) and 61 not out from James Coles, Sussex were dismissed for 188 inside 50 overs. A thunder storm had interrupted play just before tea and there were 25 overs potentially left in the day’s play when the Glamorgan second innings started at 5:28pm, the target just 56. They did not need long, finishing the job inside eight overs for the loss of one wicket. Glamorgan had done well to wrap up the game with the weather forecast suggesting that there would not be much play on day four. This was their first win in 14 matches taking them to fourth in the table, one point behind Leicestershire and Middlesex, their next opponents.

In the final game at Northampton, Gloucestershire’s Marchant de Lange demonstrated what real pace can do, particularly when the normal fare faced by batters in county cricket rarely passes 80mph. Put into bat, a century from Miles Hammond and 53 from Cameron Bancroft saw Gloucestershire to 409, Northamptonshire’s new overseas signing, Siddarth Kaul taking 5/76. De Lange then took 5/42, having taken seven in the last game, as Northants were dismissed for 171. Gloucestershire did not enforce the follow on and wracked up 319/5 declared, Bancroft making 130 not out. That left a possible 139 overs to dismiss Northants, with them chasing an unlikely 558. They ended day three on 144/2, George Scrimshaw at the crease as night watchman. He was the first to go in the morning, caught behind off Tom Price and then the same bowler took a return catch off the back of Luke Procter’s bat as he swung at a ball down the leg side. Karin Nair (61) and George Bartlett (42) put on 83 for the fifth wicket, but the new ball was taken nine overs into the afternoon session and brought immediate rewards. Josh Shaw had Bartlett caught behind down the leg side and then Nair’s brave resistance, having been struck twice by de Lange, ended when the South African induced him to lob the ball up to mid wicket. He also dismissed Saif Zaib cheaply, leaving Northants on 275/7. The pace of Ajeet Singh Dale and spin from Zafar Gohar cleaned up the tail and Gloucestershire won by 256 runs, Dale and de Lange each collecting three wickets. There will be plenty of celebrating in Bristol as this is their first win since September 2022.

Surrey’s dominant win against one of the stronger sides in Division One emphasises how difficult it is going to be to stop them winning the title again. Meanwhile at the bottom of the table these are troubling times for Lancashire, having lost three of five matches so far. They play Durham at Blackpool next and will hope the return of Nathan Lyon can work some magic.

Wins by Glamorgan and Gloucestershire have opened up the competition in Division Two with all the sides, apart from perhaps Derbyshire, feeling a top two finish is within their compass. Despite their loss this week, Sussex are still 10 points clear at the top and will want a big performance against Yorkshire in their next game.

LV County Championship Division One


LV County Championship Division Two


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