Ball One – Table topping Lancashire rolled Hampshire in little more than two day’s play. No surprise there from the form team of the season. Well yes actually, it was a surprise, as 19 wickets were taken by bowlers who had not played in last week’s pulsating win over Yorkshire, with Kyle Hogg the pick, bagging 11 wickets in the match. That’s the depth of squad that wins championships.
Ball Two – On the batting paradise that is Taunton, the clash of two of the form batmen of the season went Somerset’s way, but not before Jonny Bairstow (136 and 80) and Marcus Trescothick (189 and 151*) underlined their credentials. Tresco won’t play for England again of course, but the flame haired Tyke is building a convincing case – in his father’s day, he might be in already, such was the revolving door selection policy in those days. Stability, correctly, rules today.
Ball Three – Another young pretender, Durham’s Ben Stokes, missed out with the bat contributing just 33 to Durham’s gigantic 602-6 declared, but was not to be denied with the ball, delivering 39 overs in the match, taking seven wickets and filling in for Steve Harmison, no less, as opening bowler in the second dig. Still a teenager (until next week) Stokes has the inestimable quality of making things happen.- good for Durham, and possibly, good for England.
Ball Four – Another player who makes things happen is Graham Napier, who backed up his record-breaking 196 of last week with five wickets in Middlesex’s first innings. In many ways, Napier’s role at Essex is a little like that of the overseas pro in a Lancashire League club – but he has to do it five days a week, rather than just at the weekend.
Ball Five – Usman Khawaja has taken time to find his feet in the English game, but you don’t get a reputation like his without being able to play a bit. His century for Derbyshire may mark his arrival in county cricket after a slow start and will stand him in good stead in the queue for slots in the Australian Test XI.
Ball Six – Though London-based players often get rather more media coverage than their performances merit, Surrey’s Jason Roy looks like a very special talent. He is electric in the field and brings some of that to the crease, hitting the ball very hard indeed. After scoring his maiden ton, albeit in batting out a draw, he has staked a claim to an opener’s berth at The Oval. Returning to Ball One, England still miss Tresco, especially in the limited overs stuff, and a hard-hitting opener may well catch the selectors’ eye.
The Final Over of the Week in County Cricket will also appear at Spin Cricket through the season.