The penultimate round of County Championship games continued today, and a reasonable amount of play was on show despite the gloomy weather around much of the country.
Little to play for here in terms of the league table, but Hampshire will be cheered by the continuing progress of David Balcombe, at Canterbury on loan at present. Joe Denly made what has been an increasingly rare spectacle for him – a big score. With his contract expiring in the summer (a move to Middlesex seems likely) and England still searching for reliable back-up to Messrs Strauss and Cook, this was a timely knock. Chris Tremlett has shown that time in the international wilderness does not necessarily mean your days are over.
Wickets tumbling here throughout the day although the game remains in the balance. Essex will still fancy their chances as the evergreen David Masters has given them a fighting chance if they can restrict Surrey to around 200. Stuart Meaker continues to be mentioned occasionally as part of the cabal of potential England seamers and took five wickets to wrap up the Essex tail.
A family affair in Bristol as the Gidman brothers helped the home side to a decent total with valuable middle order runs. Nathan Buck has oft been the sole bright point in Leicestershire’s Championship season and so it proved once again – still over 100 short of avoiding the follow-on and with just four wickets remaining, this looks like another loss to add to the huge collection.
Probably the most pivotal game with issues to settle at both ends of the table. Glen Chapple fell agonisingly short of what would have been his first century since 2004 and while Gary Keedy has once more found the late-season conditions to his liking – still seems perverse that he was never even called up for an England squad, let alone getting a game – Hampshire have rallied a touch to just about keep them in a game that they must win. Sean Ervine will need to push on tomorrow to give them a fighting chance.
Runs galore at Edgbaston but the tawdry pace of Warwickshire’s batting yesterday saw them miss out on the fourth batting point despite their massive total. Jim Troughton and Rikki Clarke, reminders of the days when England were REALLY rubbish at one day cricket, scored centuries – Clarke’s innings coming off just 101 balls – but their surprisingly high scores and Nottinghamshire’s easy progress in their reply suggests that the Bears will struggle to take the required 19 wickets over the final two days.
Bleak stuff for the home side as they fight desperately to stay out of the bottom two. Unable to deal with Monty Panesar – desperate to get on that tour of the UAE for the Test series against Pakistan – the top order collapsed in familiar fashion and they are surely reliant on weather saving this game for them now. Sussex meanwhile are surely now all but safe.
Sustained periods of play were few and far between at Taunton, though Ryan Sidebottom found the time to take four lower order wickets and boost Yorkshire’s hopes of going into the final round of games with a chance of survival.
There was no play for the second successive day at Cardiff, as Glamorgan and Middlesex have yet to take to the field.