Afternoon all. I hope you enjoyed the bank holiday. There was sun, lots of it, and that meant lots of cricket too. What a nice change from last week’s deluges. The county championship was in full flow, with results aplenty, and lots of eye-catching performances. Indeed, a few England hopefuls really put down a marker over the extended weekend. So let’s get straight to it …
We begin at The Oval, where Surrey and Worcs played out a bore draw with runs aplenty. However, although there was very little threat of a result, the game brought key runs for a number of players Ed Smith’s iMac will be keeping tabs on.
The first player to impress was Rory Burns, whose name seemed quite apt on a scorching afternoon on which several spectators either (a) forgot to bring sunscreen, or (b) drank so much Pimms that they forgot to apply the sunscreen they’d brought. Burns complied a marathon 193 off 408 balls. If England want someone to occupy the crease for long periods of time they should probably look no further. It’s getting harder and harder to understand why Mark Stoneman is the Surrey opener currently in possession. It’s worth mentioning that Ben Foakes also scored 72 in the first innings. He’s a very tidy batsman.
Worcestershire responded to Surrey’s large total with an even bigger total. Daryl Mitchell returned to form with 81, the orthodox Tom Fell made 88, and the talented Joe Clarke gave Ed’s desktop a nudge with a classy 157. Clarke is a lovely player to watch – a bit like James Vince – but he also seems to have a knack of making big scores – which isn’t a bit like James Vince. I’d love Clarke to play for England in the near future but the selectors need to promote him at the right time (which might not be now).
Another player to keep an eye on is the young spinner Amar Virdi, who is becoming a regular mention in this e-column. The teenage off-spinner collected 6-105 in 41 overs in Worcs’ innings. This shows he has good control as well as wicket-taking ability. I’m yet to see him live but he’s obviously turning heads as well as turning the odd ball past the bat.
Notts continued their good form with a win over Hants at Trent Bridge. The stars of the show were Steven Mullaney, who made 130, and Ross Taylor, who is accumulating runs quite consistently. Notts have quite a team on paper. Samit Patel got both runs and wickets in this match, and Stuart Broad and Jake Ball continue to terrorise county batsmen. I wonder if both might find their way into England’s XI for the first test?
There was a close game at Old Trafford where Somerset held out for a draw against Lancs. It was a story of the old and the new for the cider guzzlers. Marcus Trescothick made exactly 100 (that’s the old bit), while young Tom Abell scored 99 and 20 year old George Bartlett made 110. There seems to be quite a lot of talent coming through the ranks at Taunton.
Lancs will be disappointed that they couldn’t force a result. Dane Vilas top scored with 235, and Keaton Jennings finally made some runs with a very welcome 109. If you’re wondering how Haseeb Hameed got on, I’m afraid the news isn’t good. He was dropped from the Lancs side before this game. Somehow I don’t think Baby Boycott will be playing for England anytime soon.
Before I move on I’d quickly like to tell a tale of two spinners. Lancs’ leggie Matt Parkinson had a very good game (taking eight wickets in the match) and thoroughly out-bowled Jack Leach. However, the latter made amends by saving the game with the bat. He scored a stubborn 66 on the final day, thus proving that he’s no Monty Panesar with the willow.
The final game in division one was a remarkable affair between Yorkshire and Essex. The former triumphed despite being bowled out for a derisory 50 in their first innings. Essex were in pole position after making 142 in reply, thanks mainly to Dan Lawrence’s 48 in tricky conditions.
However, Yorkshire recovered magnificently in the second dig. A half-century from Jonny Bairstow and a hugely impressive 124 from teenager Harry Brook notched up a team total of 329. That meant Essex needed 238 to win. The lads from Chelmsford never looked like making the runs and folded for 146 all out. The hero for Yorkshire was veteran Steve Pattinson, who claimed 6-40.
Down in division two there was an interesting game between Middlesex and Sussex. There were runs for Nick Gubbins, whose 107 must have made him feel a whole lot better, and Dawid Malan also registered three figures. Young Max Holden was also in the runs for Middlesex.
Unfortunately for Gus Fraser’s team, Sussex ultimately played the better cricket as a team and secured the win by three wickets. Ollie Robinson’s 7-59 was key, as was Ben Brown’s cool headed batting in the chase. Young Harry Finch also played extremely well and made 103. It was good to see yet another up and coming batsman do so well.
The other games in division two saw Kent see off Glamorgan at Cardiff. Darren Stevens, who bizarrely got warned for dangerous bowling at one point, took a sensational 6-26. One wonders how a man who bowls at sloth-pace can be deemed ‘dangerous’? Personally I reckon 65 mph beamers are good scoring opportunities more than anything else. Matt Henry also continued his good form with 8 wickets in the match.
Durham also registered a welcome win over Leics at Chester-le-Street. South Africa’s Aiden Markram, who looks a fine player to me, made 94 in a decisive opening partnership with young Cam Steel. Northern lad James Weighell sealed the win in the fourth innings with 7-32. Spare a thought for Leics’ Gavin Giffiths though. He took ten wickets in the match but still finished on the losing side.
The final game witnessed an eight-wicket win for table-topping Warwickshire over Derbs. Sometimes I think the Midlanders are a bit too good for this division. Derbs were out-gunned despite Wayne Madsen’s 144. Jeethan Patel took his usual hatful of wickets, and runs for Bell and Trott saw Warwickshire home.
Before I sign off I should mention that Jonathan Trott is retiring from all cricket at the end of the season. What a fantastic player he has been for both Warwickshire and England. I’d love to know what your favourite Trott moments are? His Ashes century on debut at The Oval will live long in the memory, as will his huge ton at Melbourne in partnership with Alastair Cook in 2010.
However, rather than pinpointing one particular moment, I’d like to highlight an interesting statistic instead. It’s Trott’s ODI record: 2819 runs at an average of 51. That’s more than Joe Root and the sixth highest career average of all time. It’s amazing when you think about it, especially as so many people used to moan about him.
Just for the record, the batsmen above Trott in career ODI averages are Ryan Ten Doeschate, AB De Villiers, Michael Bevan, and MS Dhoni. That’s pretty impressive company. And before you mention Trott’s strike-rate, I’d like to point out that he scored his runs faster than Bevan did. And many regard Bevan as possibly the best finisher of all time.