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This week in County Cricket - w/c 26th April 2015

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Round-up

The glorious weather was never going to last and it got the better of the matches at the Oval and the Ageas Bowl.  

In division 1, there were wins for Durham and Middlesex whilst the weather killed off the match between Hampshire and Nottinghamshire. There was stalemate at Headingley as Yorkshire could only prize out four of Warwickshire’s batsmen on the final day. In division 2, Lancashire move to the top of the division making it two from two with their win over Kent. Essex had the better of Surrey at the Oval before the rains came wiping out the entire final day. Derbyshire bounced back from their first round defeat beating Gloucestershire at Nevil Road and Leicestershire are still hunting for that elusive win after being beaten by Northamptonshire.  

Talking points

Emerging talent

One of the joys of following county cricket is watching emerging talent and tracking how their careers develop towards international honours or flop towards obscurity. One can never be quite sure which way it’s going to go but two more names have been added to the “ones to watch” list this week. Somerset’s Lewis Gregory is, perhaps, the least well known of the names announced in the England squad to play Ireland in next week’s ODI but for those who’ve watched him develop over the last couple of years the call up comes as no surprise. He’s developed into skiddy bowler who has decent pace and the ability to swing the ball and now seems to be the spearhead of Somerset’s attack. Gregory took 8 wickets in their match against Middlesex and although it was part of a losig cause, both Matt Maynard and England will be excited by the way he’s started the season. The potential is there for Gregory to continue to develop and push on towards Test cricket.

Sussex the healer?

It seems that if you’re a cricketer for whom things aren’t quite working out, the place to head to for rehabilitation is Hove. 21 year old Ollie Robinson was released (or sacked if you want to put it more bluntly) from Yorkshire after a “series of disciplinary breaches”. Sussex invited him to go and train with them, and as they do with a lot of county crickets’ waifs and strays decided there was something they liked about him and added him into their squad. There wouldn’t have been a space in that squad but for their current injury crisis (James Anyon, Lewis Hatchett and Tymal Mills are all on the sick bench) but opportunity knocked and Robinson grasped it with both hands coming in with his side in trouble on 145 for seven and knocking out a quick fire 110 from 112 sharing a record breaking last wicket stand of 164 with Matt Hobden then followed up with three wickets.

No fun for batsmen in England in April?

Not so. There were a staggering amount of fantastic individual performances by batsmen in this round. So many that performances such as these only got a fleeting mention in dispatches. There were all in all this week 40 individual half centuries scored, eleven centuries (including 196 by Ian Westwood) and one double century.   

In any normal week, there would room to focus on the individual century makers. This week the headlines belong to Ollie Robinson (above), Martin Guptill who smashed 227 from 176 balls which included 29 fours and 11 sixes and Essex’s 19 year old batsman Daniel Lawrence. Lawrence will be a new name to many but in a match that contained names such as Kumar Sangakkara, Kevin Pietersen, Jesse Ryder, James Foster played a beautiful and composed innings scoring 161 to put his side into a commanding position before the weather denied them the chance of victory.  

Durham make it two from two

Durham’s squad is small, mostly homegrown – and at the moment depleated by the absence of Mark Wood and Ben Stokes. But they’ve just made it two wins from two matches with a six wicket victory over Sussex. The key men again were local boys Chris Rushworth with the ball and Scott Borthwick with the bat. Every year someone (including yours truly) predicts that Durham are relegation candidates and every year they prove people wrong. It’s early days but Durham, who are the county with the longest continuous presence in the top division, are showing all the signs of a side who will comfortably retain their division one spot for another year.

Age is just a number

When James Middlebrook was released at the end of last season, it left many Northamptonshire members scratching their heads as to why. That decision has been called further into question after the 37 year old was signed by Yorkshire last week and played for them against Warwickshire at Headingley and took eight wickets in the match. Middlebrook is a hugely experienced cricketer who will bring a great deal on and off the pitch to the Yorkshire squad – quite why Northants – relegated Northants one might add – felt that they no longer required his services is an odd one.



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Lizzy Ammon is a UK based freelance cricket writer and broadcaster who works for the BBC and variou...

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