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County Championship Round-Up - Week 2: Middlesex Lord's of London after dramatic finish

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Post by Shelsey93 Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:14 pm

A combination of April pitches, and perhaps poor batting, led to results in all seven County Championship matches played last week, and a series of low totals across the country.

Division One newcomers Middlesex and Surrey played out a thrilling London derby at Lord’s. The first day’s play at the Home of Cricket this season was witnessed by an encouraging crowd, including more than a handful of supporters considerably younger than the age some believe you have to be appreciate the county game. Visiting captain Rory Hamilton-Brown somewhat surprisingly elected to bowl first, and Middlesex had the best of the early play, with Sam Robson making a largely untroubled 40. But the first of many twists and turns took place immediately lunch. Tim Linley, switching to the Nursery End after an ineffective new ball spell, bowled a superb over to Robson, castling him with the final delivery. Captain Neil Dexter, horrendously misjudging a straight ball from Jade Dernbach, soon followed and John Simpson lasted only one ball before being snaffled by Gareth Batty in the slips. Surrey were now well on top, but Dawid Malan, supported by an accomplished Middlesex lower order, including Tim Murtagh and Toby Roland-Jones, made an elegant 88 and guided his side to an eventual first innings score 256.

Surrey’s reply promised much early on. Steve Davies, enjoying a bat in the middle after carrying the drinks for England all winter, made a confident 62 and his opening partner Jacques Rudolph contributed 45. However, Mark Ramprakash, who described the surface as one of the most difficult he had come across in his career, could manage just 17 from 90 balls. His second innings effort of 1 from 18 deliveries was equally uncharacteristic. As difficult as it is to say some Surrey fans, including 606 v2’s Corporalhumblebucket, are beginning to conclude that “much of the old magic has faded”. A collapse followed and Surrey finished up trailing by 34 on first innings.

The hosts could manage only 106 in their second dig thanks to an inspired spell of 5-41 from Surrey’s former Gloucestershire seamer Jon Lewis. With a target of 141 a sixth consecutive victory for the South London now seemed on the cards. But Hamilton-Brown, who had scored 63 at a superb rate, lost the battle of the hyphens with Roland-Jones at an inopportune time, and despite the best efforts of Lewis, it was the Middlesex bowlers who had the final say, securing a victory by 3 runs on a dramatic final morning.

Durham v Nottinghamshire at the Riverside looked a mouthwatering encounter between two well fancied teams on paper, but on grass the 2010 champions dominated the 2008 and 2009 title winners to make it two out of two following their win over Worcestershire last time out. The impressive Durham attack, led by Graham Onions (4-42) had the best of the opening day, bowling Nottinghamshire out in less than 60 overs for 161. But the home side could do no better in tough conditions and conceded a deficit of 32. Michael Lumb (131), whose career has stalled since being a crucial component in England’s World Twenty20 success in 2010, recorded his first century for his new county in Nottinghamshire’s second innings, well supported by Alex Hales (57), and in doing so took the game away from Durham. After initially slumping to 54-6, Phil Mustard and the tailenders ensured that Durham reached a respectable 253 all out. But by this point the game had long gone, and Nottinghamshire eventually completed a 114 run victory. Andre Adams and Ben Phillips were the best of the bowlers.

Defending champions Lancashire were unable to begin their 2012 campaign in style as they suffered a 10 wicket defeat at the hands of Sussex. Liverpool was a happy hunting ground for the Red Rose county in 2011, but on this occasion Sussex’s new signing Steve Magoffin dominated proceedings at the quaint Aigburth ground. Magoffin, a Queensland fast bowler who has previous experience in England for Surrey and Worcestershire, took nine wickets in the match, including 7-34 in the second innings. Impressive first-innings performers for the visitors included James Anyon (5-36) and captain Michael Yardy (110), who scored a crucial hundred in the week that he revealed details about his battle with depression in an impressive article published in the Wisden Almanack. Lancashire will need to find form quickly if the achievements of last year are to be repeated.

Warwickshire and Somerset played out an engaging encounter at Edgbaston, with the hosts eventually getting across the line thanks to some aggressive batting from Jeetan Patel. With 16 runs still required, and just two wickets in hand, the New Zealand spinner struck the first three balls of an over from George Dockrell for a six and two fours to complete a well-timed chase of 259. Somerset’s much vaunted batting line-up had failed first time round, and conceded a first-innings lead of almost 100 despite nobody on either side reaching fifty in the first innings. But Nick Compton (133) and Jos Buttler (93) went someway to making amends second time round, setting up a tough run chase for the home team on a difficult surface. Although Patel’s heroics have grabbed the headlines, it was the Ireland captain William Porterfield (84) who initially put his team into a winning position before Peter Trego (4-37) swung things back the other way for a while.

Derbyshire are the early front-runners in Division Two, following a 130-run win over a hapless Glamorgan outfit at the Swalec Stadium. The Welsh side could only manage a total of 197 runs in their two innings, despite a 59 run opening stand second time round. Jonathan Clare, whose match figures read an impressive 11-57, did the bulk of the damage but was aided by Tony Palladino (6-63). In many contests Derbyshire’s batting efforts of 130 and 197 might themselves have been viewed as inept, but in this match that was all that was required for a 130 run victory. All-rounder Clare added 43 in the second innings to his impressive haul of wickets.

Meanwhile, Hampshire started life in the second tier badly with a surprise defeat at the hands of Gloucestershire. Gritty innings from Chris Dent (114) and Ian Cockbain (64) ensured that Gloucestershire made 314, despite career best figures of 8-71 from journeyman seamer David Balcombe. Simon Katich (72), Hampshire’s new overseas signing, found little support in his team’s first innings, as Gloucestershire took a 115 run lead. And, despite dismissing Gloucestershire for 174 second time round, the chase of 290 always looked like an uphill task at this time of year. Michael Bates, a promising wicket-keeper who is beginning to produce with the bat made 87 and put on 118 for the seventh wicket with Chris Wood (65), but the win was always out of the question. Gloucestershire talisman Will Gidman, who took nine wickets in the match, struck the crucial blow by removing Bates, whilst David Payne ended the game with 14 balls to spare by bowling Balcombe. Hampshire will now be well aware of the hard work required if they are to return to the top flight.

Northamptonshire finished six places above Kent in last season’s Division Two table, but Kent are in better form this time round, and crushed Andrew Hall’s team by an innings and 120 runs. Michael Powell (128) played a starring role for Kent, whilst Geraint Jones also made 54 and Ben Harmison 46 in a first-innings total of 368. 21 year-old Matt Coles, who scored a hundred last week, took nine wickets this time round, including 6-51 in the second innings and is now marking himself out as an England prospect. Northamptonshire have now lost their first two games and will be keen to record a win before any promotion hopes quickly slip away.


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Post by ChrisfromStroud Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:01 pm

Thanks S93.

Here is an updated list of this season's less-than-stellar all-out batting performances:

Gla 95, Gla 102, Mid 106, Lei 110, Nor 116, Not 118, Gla 124, Lan 124, Dur 129, Der 130, Wor 130, Nor 132, Nor 134, Sur 137, Glo 146, Som 147, Not 161, Glo 174, Mid 175, Lan 176, Glo 180, Gla 183, Sus 196, Der 197, Ham 199.

What is going on? Are they using different balls this year? Narrower bats? Wider stumps?

Maybe someone with more time than me would like to compile a bar-chart (or "Manhattan" in the current parlance) of individual scores in the ranges 0-9, 10-19, 20-29, 30-39 etc for this season, and compare it with a similar one from last season at the same stage.

PS Glad to see Gloucester Old Boys nearly beat Middlesex.


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Post by guildfordbat Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:24 pm

Good round up, Shelsey. Thanks.

You seem pretty charitable in calling Glamorgan ''hapless''. It's already looking like you called their season of woe correctly.


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Post by JDizzle Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:31 pm

One of the few positives for Somerset was the performance of Jos Buttler. Great one day and T20 potential, but maybe this year is when he becomes a reliable performer in the Championship arena. I remember he made a great 100 against Sussex last year, in tough, tough conditions and I thought perhaps that would be the making of him. After his 93 in this game, in tough conditons again, hopefully he can make great strides in the 4 day game as well. And as for Nick Compton, in a line up full of "show ponies" as good ol'Geoffrey would say, he is fast becoming the glue and our most reliable player. Hopefully he can keep it going!


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Post by Corporalhumblebucket Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:38 pm

Kent are doing better than I expected. I thought they would take more time to come together as a team....

Not a great surprise that Northants have started badly - I thought they rather over-performed against likely potential last season, until they came unstuck near the end and missed on promotion. I don't think they will get anywhere near promotion this year.....


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