Week 5 Vitality County Championship Review

Week 5 Vitality County Championship Review

Everything put in context by the sad news of the death of Josh Baker

The start of this round of fixtures took place in a subdued atmosphere, with a minute’s silence observed at the start of play, following the sad loss of Worcestershire’s Josh Baker. The 20-year-old had died unexpectedly, having been playing in a second XI game earlier the same day. It followed the announcement of the premature retirement of 23-year-old Ben Wells following the diagnosis of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy by a routine pre season screening test. This is the same condition that brought an end to James Taylor’s career and highlights the rewards from the cardiac screening that has been offered to young sportsmen for at least 10 years, following a number of high profile incidents, involving footballers in particular.

The good news was that temperatures, particularly in the south of the country were warmer even if rain was never too far away, preventing any play on day one at Lord’s. Only ten counties were in action over the Bank Holiday weekend, two matches in Division One and three in Division Two; all part of the master plan?

Essex, the joint leaders in Division One after the last round, took part in the game that created the most talking points, defeated by Somerset inside two days. The outfield at Taunton was underwater due to heavy rain on the Thursday so it was a credit to the ground staff that the game started on time. However, whether due to the weather or by design, the pitch was much the same colour as the rest of the square and behaved accordingly. Essex were inserted and dismissed for 156 despite 43 from Tom Westley, Migael Pretorius taking 4/36. Jamie Porter (5/37) and Sam Cook (5/38) then ran through the Somerset line up, Essex batting again before the end of day one. They were all out before tea on the second day, making just 138 leaving Somerset a target of 167. It was not going to be easy, but an opening partnership of 75 between Sean Dickson (42) and Matt Renshaw (35) helped settle the nerves. Essex’s bowlers fought back, Shane Snater taking four wickets, but Lewis Gregory and Craig Overton saw Somerset home with three wickets to spare. Credit should go to Andrew Umeed, who scored 65 runs in the match and has made a solid return to the Somerset side. The win takes Somerset into second place although Surrey have not played this week.

The bottom two teams, Kent and Lancashire met at Old Trafford and it was the visitors who went on to celebrate their first win first win at the ground since 1997. They were put into bat first, despite Lancashire going with Nathan Lyon and Tom Hartley in their eleven. Joey Evison, not for the first time this season, was the main contributor with 71, putting on 69 with Grant Stewart (45) for the seventh wicket. The innings ended on 261 and then Nathan Gilchrist (6/24) and Wes Agar (4/35) ran through the Lancashire batting, dismissing them for just 92 in 30 overs. They followed on after tea on day two, finishing on 119/4, still 50 behind. When play resumed on day three their Kiwi overseas signing, Tom Bruce, continued his struggles, dismissed with the score on 122, but George Bell (65) dug in with George Balderson (48), putting on 75 for the sixth wicket and then 78 for the seventh wicket with Matthew Hurst (58). Hartley (35) added another 54 with Hurst for the eight wicket and the innings ended on 332, leaving Kent to score 164 on a pitch which was now turning significantly. Kent did not start well, George Balderson trapping Zak Crawley lbw with the seventh ball of the innings. Ben Compton and Daniel Bell-Drummond saw them safely to the end of the day, with the score on 71/1 and it was Bell-Drummond who saw them home on day four with a captain’s knock, defying the two Test spinners. Kent won by seven wickets, Bell-Drummond finishing with 79 not out. The win jumps Kent up to sixth spot, while Lancashire remain at the foot of the table with work to do.

In Division Two, Yorkshire dominated their game against Glamorgan, but were unable to complete the job. They used the same pitch at Headingley that had been played on last week, albeit having only endured two-and-a-half day’s play and therefore went in with Dan Moriarty and Dom Bess as well as having Joe Root available to bowl and just the three pace bowlers. Similarly Glamorgan played just the three seamers, but had more limited spin options. It was the Yorkshire spinners who did the damage in the Glamorgan first innings, when having chosen to bat first, they were dismissed for a sub-par total of 221, Billy Root making 51 and Colin Ingram 48. Bess finished with 4/25 and Moriarty 4/74. Yorkshire then put the Glamorgan bowling to the sword, reaching maximum batting bonus points inside 79 overs. Finlay Bean (173) and Joe Root (156) shared a 265 run third wicket partnership at a run a ball and they declared on 519/7. Mason Crane took a fifer that he will probably want to forget, conceding 152 runs at 6.56 per over. Glamorgan’s second innings commenced halfway through the afternoon of day three, with the first target being 298 in order to make Yorkshire bat again. Moriarty was on by the eighth over. Wickets for both Bess and Moriarty and a freak run out of Kiran Carlson as the ball ricocheted off short point back to the keeper, with Carlson out of his ground, reduced Glamorgan to 93/3, but the experienced duo of Sam Northeast and Ingram saw them to the close on 171/3, both players approaching half-centuries. A concern for Yorkshire was Matthew Fisher turning his ankle when trying to save a boundary and he did not take the field on the final day. On what was effectively a seventh day pitch, spin was the favoured mode of attack, but the Glamorgan batters held firm, Ingram reaching his century just before lunch, by which time the deficit had been reduced to 21. Joe Root made the breakthrough in the sixth over of the afternoon session, Ingram failing to clear Shan Masood at mid-off. Chris Cooke joined Northeast, who went to his century soon after Glamorgan had levelled the scores. Joe Root then bowled Cooke for eight and Tom Bevan struggled to put bat to ball. He was trapped lbw by Adam Lyth with the last ball before tea and Glamorgan were 362/6, a lead of 64. James Harris went in the same fashion soon after the resumption, with the score on 370/7, but a flash of lightning at 16:18 sent the players off and they did not return. Yorkshire will be cursing not being able to complete their first win, while Glamorgan will be thankful to Ingram, Northeast who finished on 142 not out and the weather gods. Yorkshire do take maximum bonus points.

At Derby, Sussex reinforced their promotion credentials with a win inside three days. Choosing to bowl first they dismissed Derbyshire for 246, Luis Reece top scoring with 50. The wickets were shared between six of the seven bowlers used. In reply, Cheteshwar Pujara led the way with 113 as Sussex reached 479 and maximum batting bonus points. Derbyshire’s new overseas signing, Daryn Dupavillon took 3/89. Derbyshire were then rolled over for just 109 in their second innings, Jayden Seales taking 5/29 and Sussex were winners by an innings and 124 runs. They sit comfortably at the top of the table with a game in hand against their nearest rivals. They play Glamorgan next week and will be hopeful of another win.

As already mentioned, no play was possible on day one between Middlesex and Leicestershire. The visitors were asked to bat first on the second morning and Ethan Bamber removed both openers with just 37 on the board. That soon became 83/4, but Leicestershire have shown resilience in their batting this season and a century from Peter Handscomb and runs from Rehan Ahmed (42) and Tom Scriven (46) saw them to 306. Bamber finished with 4/68. In reply the returning Sam Robson made 162 and the reliable Leus du Plooy with 131 saw Middlesex comfortably past the Leicestershire total, ending day three on 407/8. More rain on day four prevented any further play, leaving both teams on 68 points, six points behind Sussex having played a game more.

Essex and Somerset sit at the top of Division One, separated by just two points, but the two counties are the only ones to be resting next week and Surrey will undoubtedly move back above them. At the bottom of Division One it is something of a surprise to see Hampshire and Lancashire occupying the relegation spots, but their performances on the field have been lacklustre.

Meanwhile in Division Two, the evidence so far indicates that the promotion spots will be occupied by two from Sussex, Middlesex and Yorkshire, although Yorkshire are not having the start they would have envisaged. The other counties do not have bowling attacks of the same quality and will therefore struggle to win games.

Current Championship tables:

LV County Championship Division One


LV County Championship Division Two



Leave a Reply

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