Ball One – Sidebottom smashes Bears as Yorkshire march on
Yorkshire consolidated their lead at the top of Division One with a comfortable win over Warwickshire. Star of the show for the Tykes was ex-England man, Ryan Sidebottom, 37 now his international days five years in the past, but still a formidable force in the domestic game. The left-armer delivered figures of 31-12-76-11 to give him 21 wickets at 16 in his four Champo matches this season. Of course, he won’t play every week, but, with Yorkshire’s conveyor belt of youngsters feeding county as well as country, he won’t need to. But when he does get the call, the nous built up taking 976 senior wickets is brought to bear and Andrew Gale can look forward with growing confidence to raising the pennant himself this season, after being barred by the ECB from doing so in 2014.
Ball Two – Chris Read rides to the rescue again
A good week for Yorkshire got better when their only rivals with a match, Middlesex, came up against resurgent Nottinghamshire and the Midlands weather, the match petering out into a tame draw. Even then, the Londoners had a sniff of a chance when Notts lost their sixth wicket 145 in arrears with what proved to be another 107 overs left in the match. As so often the case, Chris Read came to his team’s rescue with another ton, ably supported by all-rounder, Brett Hutton, with whom he put on 157 for the so often crucial seventh wicket. Notts are one of six clubs that may go down with Hampshire – who look doomed – so they’ll be hoping their wicketkeeper-batsman-captain-talisman stays fit for the rest of the season.
Ball Three – Worcestershire win basement battle as relegation beckons for Hampshire
Rock bottom Hampshire had a golden opportunity to kickstart their disappointing season away at fellow strugglers Worcestershire, but spent day one watching opposition skipper, Darryl Mitchell, compile a century and day two watching him convert it into a double, as he carried his bat for 206. As has been the case all season, Hampshire could find no partnerships, with 65 the best they could muster, as they slid to a horrible innings defeat, Saeed Ajmal bagging eight victims. Hampshire have no batsman with 200 runs or more averaging 36 this season – and you just won’t win cricket matches with form like that.
Ball Four – Coles on fire as Kent leapfrog Leicestershire
In Division Two, the battle for the wooden spoon may have taken an irreversible step in favour of Kent, as they swapped places with Leicestershire after crushing them by eight wickets. Kent’s hero was big all-rounder Matt Coles, whose match figures of 10-98 were a career-best. Still only 25, he has plenty of time to re-build his stalled career – and, if he looks across the dressing room at 39 year old Darren Stevens, plenty of inspiration too.
Ball Five – Scramble to get out of the group stage intensifies in T20 Blast
Kent will be pleased to be eighth and not ninth in Division Two of the Champo, but they’ll be more pleased to sit in pole position atop the South Group of the T20 Blast, as the league stage reaches its conclusion – it’ll take a freak set of results to deny them progression to the quarter-finals. In the North Group,
Warwickshire’s Birmingham’s nine wins have booked a slot in the knockout matches, but all but Derbyshire will fancy their chances of joining them. It may boil down to net run rate – so not so much a case of hit and giggle as hit and calculate.
Ball Six – Azharullah holds his nerve to win the match for Northamptonshire
Performance of the Week in the T20 Blast came at Chesterfield, where Derbyshire needed nine runs off the last over with Tom Poynton and Scott Elstone both set. Northants’ skipper, Alex Wakely, threw the ball to his Pakistan-born bowler Azharullah, a man with plenty of white ball experience and the nerve needed at the death. No wides, no no-balls, two dots, a wicket and just five runs comprised the over and Wakely had his two points. T20 is a batsman’s game, but sometimes bowlers can win a match with the equivalent of a 22 run over. Such was Azharullah’s.