Astonishingly, another week of county cricket passed under blue skies and sun. As one supporter was heard to say “we’ll pay for this nice weather later on in the summer”.
The second round of the LVCC saw wins for Sussex, Lancashire and Essex although it wasn’t a full programme – just three matches in each division. There were draws in the matches between Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Hampshire and Surrey/Glamorgan.
Sussex lead division one by 11 points winning two from and Lancashire move to the top of division 2 after their win against Derbyshire although joint on points with Glamorgan.
Proving a point
Nottinghamshire’s Alex Hales has expressed his frustration at not being given a fair chance by England and he’s clearly channelled that frustration into his batting scoring an incredible 236 from 282 deliveries against Yorkshire. These two teams are tipped to be battling for the trophy come the end of the season and in this match decided safety first making sure they had enough runs to prevent losing even though that would mean victory was unlikely only a fairly docile pitch. There were centuries for two of Yorkshire’s talented young batsmen Alex Lees and Jack Leaning. It really is a procession of talent coming through at Headingley much to the credit of Martyn Moxon, Jason Gillespie and Richard Dawson (now departed for Gloucestershire).
One bad session
At Hove, Worcestershire had the better of 3 of the four days play but as it did last week, one bad session – the morning of the final day – cost them dearly. Chasing 240 was never going to be easy in the final innings but openers Daryl Mitchell and Richard Oliver battled through a tricky period on third evening to leave themselves requiring exactly 200 on the final day with all 10 wickets in hand. Sussex have something of a bowling casualty list at the moment but it was Ajmal Shazhad who ripped through Worcestershire with a searing spell taking 5 for 46 – another indication perhaps of why Sussex have a reputation for being the rehabilitation centre for ailing bowlers.
There are plenty of positives that Worcestershire can take from both this match and last week’s against Yorkshire. Richard Oliver’s first innings century was one of patience, determination and class. There was an inspired bit of captaincy from Daryl Mitchell throwing the ball to Alexei Kervezee who only had two first-class wickets to his name prior to this match and both of those from some gentle medium pace. Kervezee has turned his hand to off-spin and picked up three important wickets in Sussex’s second innings to add to his 93 runs in the first innings. Worcestershire are a side greater than the sum of their parts led very well by Mitchell but the first division is unforgiving, they will need to eliminate the one bad session they’ve had in these two matches if they are to stay up.
Wickets tumble at Chelmsford
Essex wrapped up a five wicket victory in two and a half days at Chelmsford where a green pitch, albeit not one that would cause concern to a pitch inspector, saw sixteen wickets fall on the first day. Kiwi all-rounder Jesse Ryder has found a home in Essex picking up where he left off last season. He has a particular liking for getting batsmen from Kent out. Last season he took 10 wickets against them at Canterbury and six in this match before finishing the job off with the bat early on the third afternoon in partnership with his captain James Foster.
This should be an interesting season for Essex who have been dubbed perennial under achievers in recent years. They have a strong squad and whilst we say this every year, they really should be pushing for promotion this season.
Meschede becomes the story
The nation’s press descended upon the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff to witness the return of Kevin Pietersen to county championship cricket. The story turned into one about 23 year old Craig Meschede, on loan from Somerset, scoring his maiden first-class century to save the match for his adopted county. Surrey piled on the runs in the first innings mostly thanks to a Sangakkara special. The visitors amassed 563 – 7dec with the intention of bowling Glamorgan out twice and it looked as though their plan was working when Glamorgan lost their seventh wicket still 121 runs short of the follow-on target. Meschede’s 130 ball innings which featured 16 fours and a six guided Glamorgan to 419, avoiding the follow-on by seven runs. Surrey batted again and Pietersen duly came to the party with 70 ball half century.