Another few days of rubbish weather hindered the progress of this week’s County Championship games, but also gave us time to dig out some old Jimi Hendrix albums. He was a smart fellow that Hendrix and we’re beginning to think he might’ve been right about us all eventually needing to become Mermen. He was just a bit optimistic in predicting that it would be by 1983, that’s all. And he was probably thinking about it more as a response to nuclear war than as a solution to the flooding at New Road.
The good times continue to roll at Old Trafford as defending champions Lancashire stumbled to their third defeat in four games. It wasn’t even a close-run thing either, with Notts winning by 185 runs as the home side dismally failed to chase 328 to win. It’s not all good news for Notts though – they’ve still only picked up a single batting point so far this season after being rolled over for just 169 in the first innings. Had it not been for a drawn-out 69 from Samit Patel things would have been even worse. And that’s a sentence we hoped we’d never have to use.
Andre Adams (7/32) and Graeme Swann (3/26) made short work of Lancs’ reply, restricting the hosts to just 146, before the Notts batsmen made a rather better effort second time around, reaching 304. England discard Michael Lumb made 62, England discard Chris Read 54 and future England discard James Taylor 46 – his highest score of a so-far disappointing season.
Chasing 328 to win Lancashire collapsed to 38/5 and from there it was just a matter of time. The weather failed to come to the home side’s rescue on the final day and they were all out for 142 shortly after lunch. A very rusty-looking Stuart Broad picked up 3/67 while Andre Adams took 3/18 (to finish with splendid match figures of 10/50), Graeme Swann 2/30 and Samit Patel 2/11.
The momentum for Warwickshire is all going in the right direction, as they cruised to a nine-wicket win over Durham, thanks to a slight return to form for Ian Bell, who made 120 on a pitch where nobody else made it past 45. Were it not for Bell’s innings, Durham’s first innings score of 163 might have been reasonable, but after Warwickshire made 267 things looked rather bleak for the visitors.
At least the bowlers were enjoying themselves: Keith Barker took 5/33, Chris Wright 4/41 and Graham Onions 4/74. And in Durham’s second innings Barker tucked in again, helping himself to five more wickets as the vistors reached just 139.
Even in bowler-friendly conditions, chasing just 36 to win was unlikely to provide much of a challenge. And so it proved. There was just time for a quick comedy dismissal – Varun Chopra dropping his bat onto his stumps – before, fittingly, Bell saw his side home.
Just to make things a little more complicated, things at Lord’s started a day later than everywhere else, presumably due to the players getting caught up in crosstown traffic on Wednesday. There was no play on the first day and just 40 overs on the second, meaning that if there was going to be a result it would have to be conspired between the two captains.
And conspire they did – Middlesex declared on 327/7, with Andrew Strauss making a reasonable 49, Sam Robson a better-than-reasonable 59 and Joe Denly a rather superb 134*. Alan Richardson took 5/89, presumably to the sound of champagne corks in the Dobell household.
Worcestershire’s reply didn’t exactly get off to a flyer, reaching 45/2 at the end of day three before the conspiring began. After a long night of discussions, the two captains burning the midnight lamp to try and find a way to engineer a result, Worcs declared, Middlesex forfeited their second innings and the away side had a target of 283 to win. Of course, they didn’t get anywhere near it, being bowled out for 150. Still, you have to commend the effort.
Something of an anomaly in Derby, with a game largely unaffected by the weather. Regardless, it still managed to turn into something of a bore draw after Gloucestershire, being made to follow on, racked up 409/4 at well under three runs per over. Attritional stuff and not entirely pleasant, like the Hendrix/Jim Morrison album ‘Bleeding Heart’.
Things started brightly for the home side, Wayne Madsen making a hundred and Wes Durston and Dan Redfern half-centuries in their total of 388. Gloucs rather stumbled in their response, with a number of batsmen getting in but only Chris Dent (55) making it beyond 25 and Tony Palladino picking up 5/47. Following on 178 behind, things looked rather desperate but Benny Howell (64), Ian Cockbain (63*) and Hamish Marshall (90) all laid anchor while Kane Williamson occupied the other end like Chumbawumba squatting during the early days (and not the period when they sold out and signed for EMI), making 128. Williamson has been on the 51allout radar for a while now and this was another very promising knock.
In other less interesting news, Hamish Marshall has now gone nearly three years without a century for his county.
Another victory for the weather in Wales, with Glamorgan’s gossamer-thin batting lineup bailed out by the rain before they stumbled to 99/5 in pursuit of an unlikely 239. The home side had been behind since day one, when Alviro Petersen’s fine 145 led Essex to a very competitive 259. After the second day had been washed out, crucially as it would transpire, Glamorgan struggled their way to 187 before Essex trudged to 166/9 to set up a slim chance of victory on the final afternoon. It looked like it might be possible when the home side wobbled at 37/4 but they dug in to see the game through. 51allout writer Matt H was amongst those who experienced the arctic Welsh summer, but his day out was ruined by the bar not having any Brain’s Black on draught. Even sadder than that was the sight of a greying Simon Jones carrying the drinks for the home team.
Hampshire’s attempts to bounce back up to the first division haven’t exactly started well and took a further blow with a heavy defeat to Northants in a low-scoring game. In massively bowler-friendly conditions both sides traded collapses, Northants making 218 and 232, Hampshire 154 and 179. Pick of the bowlers was David Willey who finished with match figures of 8/92 but it was the way Hampshire batsmen played (as if they’d left the iron on at home and were worried about their house burning down) that really summed up this one.
Pulling holes in Leicestershire’s batting lineup isn’t the most challenging task in the world as Yorkshire discovered this week. Having amassed 447, led by a superb 182 from renowned ginger Jonny Bairstow, Yorkshire made short work of skittling their visitors, blowing them away for a pitiful 116. When Anthony McGrath is ripping through your middle order manic depression is the inevitable result. Following on Leics did a little better, Matt Boyce making a spirited hundred to lead them to 309. It still wasn’t enough to avoid an innings defeat though and even at this early stage of the season it already looks like Leicestershire’s best hope of avoiding the wooden spoon is the utter shambles that is Glamorgan.