Week 9 Vitality County Championship Review

Week 9 Vitality County Championship Review

There were some interesting selection decisions with the fixture congestion caused by the shoehorning of two Championship rounds in the middle of the Blast (we don’t know why it couldn’t have waited until the end either) with some players rested having played two straight nights of Blast games. The good news is that it has all taken place in summery temperatures as thermometers were touching 30C.

The last round saw the surprise defeat of leaders Surrey, but normal service resumed this week as they completed an innings victory against Worcestershire, whilst their nearest challengers had to settle for draws. 

Surrey’s first innings total of 490 was based on 175 from Dan Lawrence, with half centuries from Dom Sibley (76), Jamie Smith (86) and Ben Foakes (52). Worcestershire were then dismissed for 212, Lawrence taking 3/49 and 23-year-old James Taylor, playing his first Championship game for two years, taking 3/19. The follow on was enforced and despite sixties from Gareth Roderick, Kashif Ali and Adam Hose, the Pears fell five runs short of making Surrey bat again, Jordan Clark taking 5/65.

Meanwhile second placed Essex had to work hard to hold out for a draw at Chelmsford, against Durham. The visitors chose to bat first and reached 587 thanks to 113 from Alex Lees and 198 from Ollie Robinson, the latter’s runs coming off just 209 balls. Paul Walter with 134 and 53 from Matt Critchley then  helped Essex to 339, still trailing by 248 and Durham then added another 184, declaring eight down in their second innings, Simon Harmer taking his second four wicket haul of the match. This left Essex with a target of 433 from 107 overs and they finished day three on 28/1. Night watchman Jamie Porter was out early on the final day, but Dean Elgar and Tom Westley shut up shop and batted out the day, Elgar ending on 120 not out and Tom Westley 63 not out from 229 balls. They finished on 208/2 maintaining their position ahead of Somerset, but losing ground on Surrey.

At Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire and Somerset played out a tame draw. Fifties from Joe Clarke and Jack Haynes and 83 from Olly Stone took the home side to 360, Kasey Aldridge, playing his first Championship game since April, taking 5/94 and Migael Pretorius 4/96. Somerset then established a 110 run first innings lead thanks to 111 from Tom Abell, 87 by Tom Lammonby and 95 not out from Pretorius, Dillon Pennington taking 5/96, moving his wickets tally to 29 for the season. However any thoughts of pressing for the win were quashed as the Notts batters dug in and bowling became a labour under the warm sun. They had reached 177/1 by the end of day three, Haseeb Hameed out for 91 and on the final day, night watchman Stone made 63 and then Ben Slater (168*) and Will Young (68*) saw out the day, Notts on 425/2 when they shook hands. 

Lancashire have turned their season around over the last month, currently leading the North Group in the Blast and now recording their second win in their last three Championships outings. This time it was a comfortable innings defeat of Kent, who look set to be fighting a relegation battle again. Kent were without Zac Crawley and having been asked to bat first, were only able to reach 244, fifties from Ben Compton and Tawanda Muyeye. George Balderson and Nathan Lyon’s both took three wickets. For a change this season, Keaton Jennings failed, but a century from Luke Wells (150) and a double century by Josh Bohanon (205), established a second wicket partnership of 312 and Lancashire finally declared on 549/9. The Kent batting could not hold out and the only significant score was 64 from Charlie Stobo, the total of 222 falling 83 short of making Lancashire bat again. 

Warwickshire had to hold on against Hampshire at Edgbaston, the south coast side setting an unlikely target of 498 from 108 overs. 74 from the bat of Fletcha Middleton helped Hampshire to a first innings total of 298, having elected to bat first. When Warwickshire came to bat, 6/74 from Keith Barker meant they were held to 254, the impressive Jacob Bethell top scoring with 69. Centuries from James Vince (166*) and Liam Dawson (120) then took  Hampshire to 453/6 declared, Vince happy to reach the three figure mark for the first time this season. With Warwickshire 123/6 and 66 overs remaining, Hampshire looked in the driving seat, but Michael Burgess (79) then joined Sam Hain (111*) and the pair seemed to have guided the home side to safety. However Burgess went with 11 overs remaining. James Fuller then removed Chris Woakes and Craig Miles leaving the last pair to survive five overs and Hain kept his head and most of the strike to see them to safety. 

At Hove the contest between the Division Two leaders Sussex and Leicestershire became the Louis Kimber show as the Foxes’ batter turned around a game that seemed to be in the home side’s pocket. Asked to bat first, 96 from Oli Carter and an unbeaten 183 by John Simpson saw Sussex to 442, Ian Holland taking 4/64. Ollie Robinson then took three quick wickets as Leicestershire were reduced to 51/4, before Peter Handscomb (92) and Wiaan Mulder (53) came together and put on 108. Sean Hunt picked up 4/70 and Leicestershire finished on 275. It was then a matter of Sussex extending their lead and this they did through Tom Alsop (81) and Hunt (65), who went in as night watchman at the end of day two. They declared on 296/6, setting Leicestershire a target of 464 from 136 overs and seemed well on course to victory with the Foxes finishing day three on 139/5, still trailing by 324. That soon became 175/7, James Coles removing Mulder and Scott Currie early on day four. However that brought Ben Cox out to join Kimber, who was already showing his intent, having scored 24 from 24 balls with five boundaries. He then dismantled the Sussex attack, Robinson conceding 43 runs in one over. By lunch Leicestershire had moved on to 375/7, 236 runs in the session, Kimber going in on 191 from just 92 balls. After lunch he completed the fastest ever first class double century, in 100 balls, beating the previous record by 23 balls. It included 17 sixes. Cox was providing admirable support at the other end, but was struck amidships by Robinson, requiring an injury delay and then next ball was trapped in front for 34 off 82 balls. The score was 414/8, with 50 runs still needed. The field was scattered for Kimber and he was still clearing them, but Ben Mike chipped a ball from Robinson tamely to mid off and the England paceman then got his revenge on Kimber as the Leicestershire hero chopped on, finally dismissed for 217 from 107 balls, including 20 fours and 21 sixes. Sussex will breathe a huge sigh of relief as they maintain their lead at the top of Division Two on the back of this 18 run win.

Middlesex maintained their promotion challenge with a win at Lords against struggling Derbyshire. Choosing to bat first, Middlesex’s total of 433 was based on 163 from Ryan Higgins, adding 121 for the eighth wicket with his skipper, Toby Roland-Jones (52). 125 from Luis Reece then helped the visitors to 339, Roland-Jones taking 5/81. Higgins scored another 67 in Middlesex’s second innings, matched by Sam Robson, as they reached 302, Alex Thomson taking 4/115. This left Derbyshire needing 397 from the 96 overs of day four and they were in trouble by lunch at 71/5. Late resistance was put up by Alex Thomson with 41 from 119 balls and Zak Chappell with 50 off 91, but it finally petered out in the final session, all out for 202. Ethan Bamber and Henry Brookes both took three wickets. The win keeps Middlesex eight points behind Sussex and increases the gap to the chasing pack.

Yorkshire fans will want to carry on playing matches at Scarborough following their team’s first Championship win of the season. They beat Gloucestershire by an innings and 22 runs, having made the West Country side follow on. An opening stand of 307 between Finlay Bean (164) and Adam Lyth (129) set the home side well on their way, ending with a first innings total of 456. Three wickets a piece from Jordan Thompson and Matthew Revis then dismissed Gloucestershire for 197, with forties from Ben Charlesworth and Ollie Price. They fared slightly better having been asked to follow on, 70 from Zaman Akhtar getting Gloucestershire to 237, but it was not enough to make Yorkshire bat again. Given the mid table congestion, the win vaults Yorkshire from seventh to third.

The game in Cardiff found its way to a tight finish, with both side’s still looking for the win as they entered the last session. Northamptonshire opted to bat first on a greenish looking pitch and Emilio Gay led the way for the visitors with 65, as his team mates were unable to build on starts. They were grateful to Gus Miller (40) and Liam Patterson-White (30) for getting the score to 279 having been 195/7. 93 from Marnus Labuschagne and 71 by Kiran Carlson were the main contributors to Glamorgan’s first inning’s total of 490, again with useful lower order contributions. The pitch had flattened out under the sun and heavy roller and Northants ended day three on 236/4, Ricardo Vasconselos falling one short of a century. Luke Procter went on to make 98, but the main score came from Lewis McManus who finished on 168 not out from 200 balls, having hit the first four balls of the final over, bowled by Mason Crane, for successive sixes. This was McManus’ first century for Northamptonshire and his first since 2016. The declaration came on 472/8, leaving Glamorgan with a target of 262 off 39 overs, at 6.72 runs per over. They set off in pursuit, led by Labuschagne with 64 from 62 balls. He and Carlson (34) put on 62 in 57 balls, but wickets fell and when Chris Cooke was out for 27, with the score on 196/6, 68 were still needed from eight overs and Glamorgan were left having to hang on with all the Northants fielders around the bat to the spinners. Two more wickets fell, but Timm van der Gugten held firm, making 27 from 42 balls and he saw Glamorgan to safety. 

Surrey have reestablished their authority in Division One and with Lancashire the only other winner, they have opened up a small gap at the top. The win for the red rose county has lifted them out of the relegation zone, leaving Worcestershire and Kent at the bottom.

Wins for Sussex and Middlesex have reinforced their promotion credentials and it is difficult to see any other teams occupying the top two spots come the end of the season. They will however be keeping an eye on Yorkshire, who following their first win, have jumped up to third. There is only seven points between them and Gloucestershire in seventh.

Current Championship tables:

LV County Championship Division One

9Worcestershire 80351319072

LV County Championship Division Two

5Leicestershire 80172218096
6Northamptonshire 80171919094
7Gloucestershire 81252016092


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