Week 10 Vitality County Championship Review

Week 10 Vitality County Championship Review

Three exciting run chases provided plenty of scintillating red ball action this week

The start of this round of Championship fixtures was accompanied by the announcement of the England squad for the first two Tests against the West Indies. The role of Championship cricket in the development of Test players is called into question by the selection of Shoaib Bashir ahead of Jack Leach, when the latter is preferred this week by Somerset and Jamie Smith coming in as wicket keeper, while Ben Foakes retains the gloves for Surrey. It is difficult to imagine that Bashir’s selection is based on Championship performances this summer, as having gone out on loan to Worcestershire he has managed just six wickets at 76.83. While he may well have promise, it would seem sensible for the 20-year-old to learn a bit more in the county game before venturing onto the Test stage.

When it came to activity on the field, the return of some damp conditions resulted in the captains winning the toss in all the games in Division One and two of the four in Division Two choosing to bowl first. Favourable overhead conditions and some grass covered pitches meant that 34 wickets had fallen across the nine matches by lunch on day one and at three grounds both sides had been dismissed before the end of the first day. However, batting conditions improved and there were three exciting run chases that went down to the final overs, the most dramatic of which occurred at Cheltenham, where Glamorgan fell one run short of recording the highest ever chase in first class cricket, having been set a target of 593 by Gloucestershire. Sensational cricket for those lucky enough to witness it!

At the Oval, Surrey took the opportunity to open up a gap aginst their nearest challenger Essex. Only two overs were possible before lunch on day one, Essex having elected to bowl first and when play got under way it was only Jamie Smith who was able to prosper on a green-tinged pitch. He notched up his second century of the season as Surrey were all out for 262, five overs into the second morning. Shane Snater and Eathan Bosch both took three wickets while Jamie Porter had to leave the field following a blow to the hand, although he was fit to return on day two. Essex also lost Jordan Cox, who went off with abdominal pain on day one, to later undergo an emergency appendectomy. They are already without Sam Cook due to a hamstring injury. When Essex came to bat they found life equally difficult, Paul Walter (64) and Matt Critchley (48) the main contributors to a total of 180, Jordan Clark and Dan Worral both taking three wickets. Surrey were then able to build a 360 run lead thanks to 107 from Ryan Patel, playing his first match in the first team since April, and 70 from Smith. Having gone wicketless in Surrey’s first innings, two scalps for Jamie Porter took him to a career first class total of 500. This left a possible 108 overs for Essex to bat out and they ended day three on 21/2. Dean Elgar went on to make 60 and Paul Walter 56, but the Surrey pace bowlers were too good, Tom Lawes taking 4/26 and Essex were dismissed for 215, falling 145 runs short. It is unfortunate that Cox was unavailable to bat in either Essex innings and raises the question of when substitutes might be allowed. The win moves Surrey 29 points clear of Essex, although Somerset have now moved into second place.

Somerset hosted Warwickshire at Taunton and having chosen to bowl first, made early inroads through Migael Pretorius, who removed three of the top order to reduce the visitors to 40/4. Will Rhodes (63) and Ed Barnard (92) then launched a fight back, putting on 104 for the fifth wicket, but the big score came from Michael Burgess with 147 and the innings ended on 412, Pretorius taking 5/104. When Somerset came to bat, Tom Abell (61) and Tom Banton (78) were the main contributors to a final total of 284, Oliver Hannon-Dalby finishing with 6/56. Then half centuries from both openers, Rob Yates 50 and Alex Davies 57 and 66 from Jacob Bethell guided Warwickshire to 281/8, declaring at the end of day three to leave Somerset a target of 410 from 96 overs. While Tom Kohler-Cadmore set off cautiously, Andrew Umeed made 30 off 26 balls before he was dismissed by Hannon-Dalby. Kohler Cadmore went on to make 49, but it was Abell who was the hero for Somerset as he scored an unbeaten 152, seeing them over the line with 20 off the last four balls. Going into the last session Somerset needed 180 runs from 33 overs at 5.45 runs per over, with seven wickets in hand. At this point Tom Banton (81) was going well alongside Abell and the pair added 138 for the fourth wicket. Pretorius had a brief stay, but then James Rew joined Abell and with the light fading and the floodlights starting to take effect there was some urgency in the chase. They were up to the task and put on 114 in 16 overs, Rew finishing unbeaten on 57. The result moves Somerset up into second place, ahead of Essex and 23 points behind Surrey. Interestingly, while discarded England spinner Jack Leach picked up five wickets in the game, Chris Woakes failed to get on the scorecard.

After a failure last week, Lancashire skipper Keaton Jennings was back in the runs as his side made a better fist of batting than most, having won the toss at Southport. He was still there at the end of play on day one on183, George Balderson’s 41 the only other significant score. Unfortunately rain prevented any play on day two and they returned on day three at 344/8. Jennings declared when Lyon was out for 12, leaving himself not out on 187 and Lancashire with a first innings total of 353. It was then the turn of the ever youthful James Anderson to work his magic, playing his first match since the fifth Test against India. He dismantled the Notts batting, with Ben Slater the only one able to cope, surviving through the innings for 64 not out as they were dismissed for 126, Anderson ending with 7/35. The follow on was enforced and the Notts second innings started 12 overs before tea on day three. Further interruptions occurred on day four, taking overs out of the game and the teams shook hands with Notts on 270/4, Joe Clarke on 115 not out.

At Chester-le-Street the players were met with another pitch displaying a distinctly green hue and it was no surprise when Jake Libby, standing in for Brett D’Oliveira as the Pears’ captain, put Durham in to bat. 56 from Ben Stokes was the main score as they were dismissed for 190, Nathan Smith, back after being rested for the last game, taking 4/36 and Ben Allison 3/57. 55 from Kashif Ali was then the only significant score from the Worcestershire batters as they were skittled out for 112, four wickets from Matty Potts and three from Ben Raine. By the end of day one, Durham had already lost three second innings wickets with just 33 on the board. They stuttered to 152, Colin Ackerman making 40, while Smith took another four wickets and Tom Taylor 4/48. Worcestershire were left needing 231 and registered their first win of the season as they were guided home by Kashif Ali with 76 not out and a half century from Adam Hose. They won with six wickets to spare, although it was not enough to move them out of a relegation spot. Meanwhile Durham were also hit with an over rate penalty.

James Vince has found some form with the bat, following up his unbeaten century last week with another three figure score, this time against struggling Kent. Hampshire had been asked to bat first at the Rose Bowl and it seemed to be paying off for Kent when they reduced the home side to 56/3. Ben Brown (110) then joined Vince and the two added 259 for the fourth wicket. Vince went on to complete a double century and fourties’ from James Fuller and Keith Barker, who has been a regular contributor with the bat this season, meant they could declare on 505/8. A century from Jack Leaning (playing his first match since the beginning of May following a broken hand) and 53 from Feroze Kushi, on loan from Essex, helped Kent to 343, but this was not enough to avoid the follow on which was duly enforced. Barker had backed up his batting with 4/85. Kent started their second innings before tea on day three and battled hard, Ben Compton making 92, Leaning 43 and Harry Finch was the last man out for 84 as Kent were dismissed for 340 in the extra time taken before tea. That left Hampshire with 31 overs to score 179 runs at 5.77 per over, but at 92/2 from 12.3 overs there was a brief rain interruption and when they returned, one over had been lost. It was not enough to save Kent from their fifth defeat of the season, Liam Dawson seeing Hampshire home with 56 off 28 balls, the target reached with six wickets and seven overs to spare. The win sees Hampshire move above Durham into fourth place.

Division Two leaders Sussex also fell foul of favourable bowling conditions as they were bowled out for 143 at Northampton. Daniel Hughes came in for his Championship debut and top scored with 35, while Northamptonshire were pleased to have Jack White back in their ranks, having played just one game so far this season. He has been missed, taking 4/23 with Luke Procter ending with 3/37. However, the main reason that Sussex are in the position they are is their bowling and they rattled through home side’s batting, Ollie Robinson responding to his omission from the England squad with 4/42, as Northants were dismissed for just 97 in 20.1 overs. Ricardo Vasconelos and Prithvi Shaw both made thirties, but none of the other batters reached double figures. Sussex then made a better fist of their second innings, fourties from Tom Haines and John Simpson helping them to 237, Procter taking another four wickets. That left Northants needing 284 to win and despite 67 from Prithvi Shaw they fell 63 runs short, Nathan McAndrew taking 5/73. With Middlesex losing, Sussex have extended their lead at the top to 23 points and look firm favourites for promotion. Their one failing seems to be their over rate, losing a third point this week.

At Leicester it was a similar picture, with both sides bowled out inside the first day.  Middlesex dismissed the home side for 179, having been asked to bowl first, Lewis Goldsworthy, on loan from Somerset, top scoring with 41, while Toby Roland-Jones and Ryan Higgins both took four wickets. The nature of the conditions was highlighted by Higgins opening the bowling. Then when Middlesex came to bat, only two batters made double figures and they could muster just 86 runs. The Bens, Mike with 5/22 and Green with 4/28 did the damage, Green back for a second loan spell with the Foxes. Leicestershire were then reduced to 63/4 second time around before Goldsworthy again steadied things. He put on 101 with Harry Swindells (26), playing his first Championship game of the season, before being dismissed for 75. The lower order then added valuable runs, the last four wickets contributing 204, Green making 77. Toby Roland-Jones took 5/76 and the final total of 372 left Middlesex requiring 466 to win. Most of the batters made starts, six reaching 30, but wickets fell steadily and Middlesex fell short by 123 runs, Roland-Jones making a defiant 59 off 33 balls. This was Leicestershire’s first win of the season and moves them above Glamorgan into fourth place.

Yorkshire’s promotion bid is certainly up and running with their second successive win, this time against struggling Derbyshire. Having chosen to bat first at Chesterfield, the home side managed just 76, Vishwa Fernando taking 5/30, including a spell of 5/0 in 21 balls and Jordan Thompson 4/31. Yorkshire then piled on the runs, James Wharton making 188 and Jonathan Tattersall 107 as they declared on 451/9. Fifties from David Lloyd and Ross Whiteley provided token resistance in Derbyshire’s second innings, but they were dismissed for 171, the victory margin an innings and 204 runs. Ben Coad took 6/30 and Fernando 4/58, moving the Sri Lankan’s tally to 17 wickets in his three matches. The win sees Yorkshire move within four points of Middlesex, despite one less win and one more loss, the possession of 12 extra bonus points (six batting and six bowling) potentially significant come the end of the season. Middlesex have scored plenty of runs, but not very quickly. Meanwhile it is coming up to two years since Derbyshire have enjoyed a Championship vistory.

The ball was dominant at Cheltenham on day one and Gloucestershire were reduced to 88/8 by lunch, Timm van der Gugten the main destroyer, finishing the innings with 5/59. The Gloucestershire batters did not help themselves and were finally all out for 179, some respectability provided by a partnership of 75 between Marchant de Lange (46*) and Ajeet Singh Dale (32), the largest of the innings and the highest last wicket stand between the two counties. For Glamorgan it was their ninth wicket partnership of 52 between Mason Crane (44) and Andy Gorvin (12) that saw them to an 18 run first innings lead, Beau Webster taking 5/17. Conditions had eased when the Gloucestershire openers came out second time around, half way through the morning of day two, but van der Gugten still managed to take two quick wickets. That is where Glamorgan’s celebrations ended as Cameron Bancroft (184) then put on 201 with Miles Hammond, whose 121 came off just 110 balls, and then 253 with James Bracey (204*). Webster scored a quick 65 not out and Gloucestershire declared after lunch on day three on 610/5, a lead of 592. By the end of the day Glamorgan had reached 222/3, the key figures of Marnus Labuschagne and Sam Northeast still at the crease. They had come together at 156/3 and Labuschagne was the first to reach his century. He was eventually dismissed for 119, having put on 153 with Northeast and while the target remained a long way off, Glamorgan knew that runs were coming fast enough for them not to have to push hard. However, Chris Cooke fell soon after lunch for 14 bringing Dan Douthwaite to the crease. He put on 105 with Northeast, the latter having passed the hundred mark, but Douthwaite went to a sharp catch by van Buuren on the stroke of tea for 39, leaving Glamorgan 453/6 and still needing 140 runs off 38.4 overs; the game now firmly back in Gloucestershire’s hands. After tea van der Gugten (31) put on 56 with Northeast, but when he was caught by Bracey off Dale the equation was 84 runs from 22.4 overs with three wickets left to be taken. Northeast looked immovable, but Matt Taylor induced an edge and Bracey pocketed his ninth catch of the match to remove the Glamorgan captain for a superb 187. The odds had swung back in Gloucestershire’s favour again with Glamorgan still needing 48 from 88 balls and only two wickets in hand. However, Glamorgan bat deep and Crane almost completed the job, putting on 17 with Gorvin and then taking the game to the final over with Jamie McIlroy, the requirement just two runs. He took a single off the penultimate ball to bring the scores level and then the final ball flew off the edge of McIlroy’s bat, high to Bracey’s right and the keeper took a superb diving catch to secure the tie. Gloucestershire will be ruing dropping Crane when he was on nought.

The odds on Surrey retaining their Championship title are shortening, with Somerset now their strongest challenger. Essex and Hampshire look the only other contenders. At the bottom of Division One things go from bad to worse for Kent, while Lancashire will regret that the weather prevented them being able to press home their advantage against Nottinghamshire. The biggest surprise is the position of Warwickshire, the only county in Division One without a win so far.

Sussex continue to dominate Division Two, securing their fifth win this week. Yorkshire are closing in fast on the top two following their second victory, while Middlesex will be disappointed with their loss to Leicestershire. They remain in second place and it looks to be between them and Yorkshire for the second promotion spot, the remaining teams struggling to register wins.

Current Championship tables:

LV County Championship Division One


LV County Championship Division Two



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