Another dramatic week of County Championship action was overshadowed by the entire nation spending their time instead talking about Kevin Peter Pietersen, fake Twitter accounts and whether or not we could dig out some more drug cheats to try and get New Zealand back where they belong, ahead of Australia in the Olympic medals table. In order to try and grab the reader’s attention, we’ve put the more interesting stuff at the start of our roundup. Still, fans of Douglas Adams should definitely read all the way to the end where a couple of references to the Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy will make them feel all warm inside.
One of the reasons for the birth of 51allout is McDonald’s strict approach to dealing with tardiness. If you were to arrive for the Wednesday early shift at around 1pm on Thursday you could kiss your free McFlurrys goodbye, as an even spottier kid would be promoted from the fries in your absence, a bitter kick in the teeth after six months of only occasionally getting confused between Maltesers and M&Ms. And yet in Graham Onions’ case such tardiness was rewarded by being thrust straight into Durham’s bowling attack, with Mitchell Claydon the lucky man able to put his appearance money straight behind the bar.
Onions made the most of the opportunity, blasting through Nottinghamshire’s somewhat fragile batting lineup with nine wickets and, just to impress Lily Allen, a runout. It was, by some distance, the finest bowling performance of the season and the complete antithesis of the filth produced by messers Finn and Broad at Lord’s. And despite a distinctly less impressive performance in the second innings (1/58) it was still enough for Onions to complete his third ten wicket match of the season and, more significantly, for Durham to complete a third win that catapults them up to sixth, clear of relegation.
Not that the win could be described as comfortable; chasing 366 to win Nottinghamshire were well placed at 248/3 and 330/7 before collapsing with victory in sight, Alex Hales’ 101 and Riki Wessels’ 98 ultimately going in vain. The defeat put a dagger through the heart of Nottinghamshire’s title challenge as they slip to third, 18 points behind Warwickshire having played a game more.
Another nailbiting finish in south London saw Surrey edge home by just eight runs, a win that not only moved them out of the relegation places but also saw a 15 point gap open up above Lancashire. Chasing 254 for victory, all looked lost for Middlesex as they slumped to 197/9 in the face of Gareth Batty’s seemingly unreadable mixture of offbreaks that barely turn and offbreaks that go straight on but last pair Tim Murtagh and Toby Roland-Jones added 48 in just under 30 excruciatingly tense/dull overs. The finish line was in sight before Batty’s patented straight one did for Roland-Jones, completing a six wicket haul for the former England man and Surrey’s first win since their opening game of the season.
The defeat came despite five wicket hauls for both Murtagh (5/37 in the first innings) and Roland-Jones (5/39 in the second) as second innings hundreds from Rory Burns and Arun Harinath proved decisive. Middlesex remain in the rather comfortable surroundings of fifth place, looking neither up nor down with any great concern.
Another game ruined by the weather, the relegation clash at New Road finished in a meaningless draw that helped neither team. At least Alan Richardson picked up two more wickets, giving him something to discuss with George Dobell at the dinner table on Sunday.
The top of the table clash up north saw the home side dominate but they were ultimately frustrated by a combination of the weather and the unyielding genius that is Usman Khawaja, with both sides having to settle for a draw. Yorkshire racked up 428 in their first innings, thanks to future Unlikely Lad Anthony McGrath (104); Wes Durston took five wickets for the away side. Derbyshire wobbled in their reply, presumably intimidated by Ryan Sidebottom’s incessant shouting, before eventually being bowled out for 268, just three runs short of saving the follow on.
With time running out Derbyshire dug in. Khawaja’s unbeaten 110 contained 14 fours, two sixes and brought the streets of Sydney, Melbourne and Wagga Wagga to a complete standstill. Australian parliament was postponed as everyone gathered round the radio to listen to BBC Yorkshire eulogising about the greatest innings since Steve Smith made 77 against Pakistan in Leeds back in 2010. When the two sides shook hands on a draw the crowd streamed onto the pitch, carrying Khawaja aloft on their shoulders until he finally reached the sanctuary of the dressing room several hours later.
We tried to speak to Khawaja’s mum to see just how proud she was but, luckily for her, our phone line has been cut off as part of an ongoing dispute between ourselves and British Telecom. The draw keeps Derbyshire top, with Yorkshire in third.
Hampshire’s second division title challenge picked up steam with a fine eight wicket win over Northamptonshire, successfully chasing down 326 in some style, led by 149 from Jimmy Adams. Prior to the spectacular fourth innings, the visitors had dominated, taking an eighty run lead after the first innings and declaring in the second. Indeed it was only a fine 73 from Adams that kept Hampshire in touch first time round.
The win takes Hampshire up to second, eleven points behind Derbyshire. Northamptonshire remain in sixth, seemingly condemned to spend perpetuity clogging up the second division.
A high-scoring draw at Colchester edged both sides away from the wooden spoon. Glamorgan did manage to add ‘losing seven wickets to Harbhajan’ to their list of impressively bad achievements for the season but held on to avoid defeat. Their first innings total of 438 (thanks to 159 from Stewart Walters) was overshadowed by Essex’s 520/9 declared, which was led by enormous partnerships for the first two wickets between Tom Westley (185), Jaik Mickleburgh (74) and Owais Shah (138). Unfortunately they were partnerships that took up the majority of the match, leaving little time to force a result.
While the visitors wobbled at 63/4, Ben Wright (83) and Jim Allenby (103*) took them to the safety of 260/6 before the teams shook hands and headed to the pub for a quick round of Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters. Glamorgan are eighth, Essex fifth.
You may have noticed a large number of pictures of Graham Onions in this week’s review. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, he’s very dreamy and would even enhance the already top-class handsomeness of England’s pace attack. Secondly, we were sent them by a friend of the site who goes by the name of Stepsinpairs, who very kindly took them all himself. We’d include a link to his Flickr account if he’d actually remembered to send us one. Ah well, there’s always next week.