Monday, 29 April 2013

County Round Up

While Queens Park Rangers and Reading were playing out one of the most mundane football matches in Premier League history yesterday, down at Taunton there was a thrilling encounter. Some may even say it was as unpredictable as my speech at the launch of Cricket Banter!


The beardy bear, Rikki Clarke and the poshest man in cricket, Oliver Hannon-Dalby played out just 12 minutes shy of the borefest at Loftus Road to leave Warwickshire nine wickets down against the Somerset bridesmaids.

Somerset’s 406 (Peterson 136 and Buttler 119*) was followed by a well-below-par 158 by the reigning champs. Marcus Trescothick then chose not to make Warwickshire bat again, declaring on 266/4 (Compton 105*) and setting the visitors 515 for an unlikely victory.

Trescothick’s decision to not administer the follow-on was a strange one and one that will no doubt raise a few eyebrows but for me it was fair. The Cidermen had a mixture of old timers and very green bowlers. The pitch, still as fresh as you like and the fatigue of the bowling attack meant that batting again was the right move. Batting a little bit too long was probably key to the result.

Take nothing away from Warwickshire though. They performed like true champions. Dougie Brown saw their performance as “incredible strength of character” and I am not going to argue with that. Clarke is showing the guts and class, which is deserving of an England place.

Rikki Clarke by the end of the season?

It was not just his 139 ball 61 not out that stood out but also his display with the ball. Bowling at a more-than-decent pace, even if not ‘bare heat’ he took 4/70 in Somerset’s first innings and is Warks’ go-to-man with the ball.

Young Jack Leach also impressed with the ball for the home side. A former trolley stacker at Sainsbury’s finished with his first five-for and the 21-year-old was rewarded for his pace and ability to put the cherry in the right areas. It was a good game for those who sported beards!

It was also good to see that the most exciting first class game to have been played in the last couple of seasons was captured by the SKY TV cameras and after watching I have no doubt in my mind that whoever finishes above Warwickshire this season will be champions. They also have Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott to come in on Wednesday…

Elsewhere, neighbours Notts and Derbyshire played out a game in which the haves of Notts, beat the have nots (not Notts) of Derbyshire. James Taylor got a ton for Nottinghamshire and despite Shiv Chanderpaul holding them up (how many times will we write that this year?) Notts won easily thanks to eight wickets in the match from Stuart Broad.

Talking of England bowlers returning Chris Tremlett returned to Surrey's line up at The Oval but it was another Chris who continued his fine form, with a certain Mr Jordan at Sussex picking up his second five wicket haul in two matches. A benign pitch ruined the game somewhat with Gary Wilson filling his boots with a hundred for the hosts, and Luke Wells a double hundred for the visitors.

Root...a quality #digin

Joe Root was the star of the show for Yorkshire with a magnificent 182 as they chased down 339 against Durham with just a few overs to spare. Graham Onions picked up five in the first knock but it was a great result for Jason Gillespie's side in what could be a crucial game come the end of the season when the relegation places are decided.

In Division Two, our tip for bottom spot are sitting proudly at the top of the table as Northants spanked Gloucester at Bristol. Elsewhere, Hampshire are looking extremely strong having beaten Worcestershire by an innings and Kent and Lancashire played out a game similar to the one described at the top of this article between Reading and QPR!

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