Some weeks, we put our heart and soul into our County Championship roundup. This isn’t one of those weeks. We do have some good excuses though: we’ve always been big into canoe slalom, clay pigeon shooting and losing to drug-assisted Chinese athletes so this week has been been something of a sporting utopia. Plus the 51allout bunker has been ravaged by man-flu (and we have notes from our mums to prove it), leaving us down to the bare bones. Even the work experience boy had to pull his finger out and actually write some stuff for us. Obviously it went straight into the bin – it seemed to be written in young person’s vernacular – but the mere fact that we barely had the energy to bully him into it merely emphasises how far away from the County Championship our minds were.
Still, like the little troopers that we are, we plugged away anyway, to produce a few words about the latest set of seven matches. For legal reasons, to do with our apparent lack of an appropriate HR policy, we have to point out that none of this article was actually written by, or based on the writing of, the work experience boy.
The weather intervened at the crucial stage at Liverpool, with Somerset 93/3 chasing 279 to win. In difficult batting conditions the two sides traded low first innings scores; Lancashire making 185, Somerset just 149 (with Nick Compton passing 1,000 County Championship runs in the process). When the home side crumbled to 50/6 in their second innings on the third day it looked as if the men from Taunton would be hitting Liverpool’s cider bars that night. However, a superb 129 from Ashwell Prince saw Lancashire to 242 and a distinctly tricky target that would ultimately remain unchased.
The draw didn’t really do much for either side; Somerset drop to fourth place, 20 points behind leaders Warwickshire, while Lancashire climb level with Surrey, still a precarious nine points above the relegation zone.
Mddlsx gt 402 nd thn Wrwckshr gt 324. Mddlsx thn scrd 181 nd giv up nd it ws drw. Innit?
Sussex joined the throng of teams with title ambitions after thrashing Worcestershire by an innings and 117 runs inside three days. Worcestershire made just 162 and 141 in two very poor efforts, with nobody reaching 50. Sussex’s lone innings was rather different, as they racked up 420/8 declared; Ed Joyce making 107 and Luke Wright 78. Pick of the Worcestershire bowlers was that perennial dinner guest at the Dobell household, Alan Richardson (5/90).
The defeat leaves Worcestershire second from bottom with Durham suddenly on their coat tails, just six points behind. Sussex are up to third, 13 points behind leaders Warwickshire having played a game more.
This one was a bit of a washout, allowing both teams to fit in a spot of batting practice around watching Australians being relentlessly crushed by the sporting juggernaut that is Team GB. Tom Westley and Jaik Mickelburgh put on a rather splendid 248 for the first wicket as Essex piled up 434/3 declared, presumably the highest opening partnership of the season. We’d check the details but someone got Lemsip on the 51allout laptop and now it won’t switch on.
In reply Leicestershire for once managed to avoid embarrassing themselves, making it to 359 thanks to a century from Michael Thornely. David Masters tucked in like an athlete getting his share in the Olympic village, taking 7/60. The draw leaves the two sides bottom of the table, with Essex being New Zealand to Leicestershire’s Australia.
We’ve spent the majority of the season saying mean things about Glamorgan, with their performances ranging from utterly inept to slightly less utterly inept. And yet, whisper it quietly, they’re actually starting to do some of this batting/bowling/fielding malarkey slightly less badly now. Their second win of the season was mainly down to eight wickets for Robert Croft, a man who’s been around so long that he probably remembers rioting in the streets of Swansea in response to the Gin Act of 1736.
After mediocre first innings efforts from both sides – Glamorgan making 208, Gloucestershire just 165 – Glamorgan made their way to 204/7 before declaring, leaving their visitors with a challenging target of 248. At 195/6 Gloucestershire were reasonably placed before Croft, presumably inspired by the British government’s attempts to prohibit the gin trade by making it economically unfeasible, grabbed the final four wickets in quick time. Glamorgan’s win by 26 runs takes them up to the heady heights of sixth, a point above Essex and a point below Gloucestershire.
Been raining in Northampton? Innit. My man Rashid was wicked tho.
Another dramatic finish in the top of the table saw Derbyshire edge home by two wickets, opening up a 26 point gap on second placed Yorkshire. This was despite being skittled for just 132 in their first innings, conceding a deficit of 133 and barely avoiding the follow-on. After Kent were then rolled over for just 161, Tony Palladino following up his spanking of the Aussie A ‘attack’ with a seven wicket haul, Derbyshire successfully chased down 295 for victory.
Usman Khawaja was the topscorer, making the sort of elegant 56 that would make his mum proud, but it was Dan Redfern (50*) who shepherded the tail through to victory, reaching his half century with the winning boundary. Despite the result, Kent actually move up a place, edging ahead of Hampshire who spent the week on the sofa watching the telly.