It seems like it has been ages since there has been any Championship cricket. In fact it has only been a month, but a month of only white ball cricket at both the domestic and international level is a long time. Unfortunately it ended up a fairly uneventful week with all four first division matches finishing as draws and so far two of the three second division matches have also been drawn with Northants’ match against Glamorgan only through the second day.
There has been some movement in the tables, however, with Warwickshire getting enough bonus points to move into the top spot of Division One. The Bears have managed this with a match in hand against second-placed Nottinghamshire. Middlesex also picked up enough points to become the third side to 100 in the year, despite being bowled out for an Australia-esque 98 in their first innings. Whilst still outsiders for the title; they remain in the hunt. There was no movement at the bottom of the table with Worcestershire drawing with Durham and both sides remaining in the relegation zone. Division Two leaders Derbyshire did not play this week but Yorkshire, despite a brilliant 222* from Joe Root, did not have time to significantly close the gap. Their draw against Hampshire coupled with Kent also not playing this week was enough to keep Yorkshire in the promotion zone, though they are not secure there. Kent are only seven points behind having played one fewer match and both Hampshire and Northants (who are 336-5 after two days against Glamorgan) are also within a victory of going second. That should make for a very interesting battle over the last two months of the season.
For Lancashire it was another week of disappointment. There was some worry that the month long break may have broken the good form that they had started to show, but fortunately this proved not to be the case. Lancashire put up their highest score of the season with 485-7 against Surrey at Guildford including centuries from Paul Horton and Steven Croft, the latter an unbeaten 154. Lancs made a good start to the bowling as well, with Chapple hitting Rory Burns’ off stump with the first ball of the innings. But with Surrey on 49-2, Lancs ran into Kevin Pietersen. With a fairly flat pitch and small boundaries he hit an absolutely staggering 234* off only 190 deliveries. Whilst Lancashire have had some trouble finishing sides off this year, this time it was not something that can be put at the feet of the bowlers; Pietersen was simply in unbelievable form. It is still a bit troubling for Lancashire, however, that we have now been in very good positions in each of our last four matches and have only managed to win one of them. The weather has been a factor, but our bowling has been surprisingly flat and it has cost us a good chance to move up the table. We still have some good opportunities coming up, but there are now only six matches left in the season and we still sit sixth in the table (and have played more matches than every other team).
KP’s knock was, of course, the highlight of the week, but it was a good round overall for England players. Andrew Strauss scored exactly fifty of Middlesex’s 98 all out in the first innings (the only other double digit score was Gareth Berg’s 32) and 127 not out in the second. Certainly worrying form for the South Africans ahead of the first Test. Ian Bell also scored 57 for Warwickshire.