Saturday, 12 May 2012

County Cricket 9-12 May Division 1

Nottinghamshire seemed to have finally put their recent batting woes behind them as they amassed 423 in their first innings against Middlesex at Trent Bridge. Michael Lumb went quite a way to proving that he is not just a one-day specialist by scoring a very patient 152. Hard hitting from the lower order helped Notts to earn their fifth batting point. Middlesex slumped to 50-4 in reply, but were saved by their nightwatchman Ollie Rayner. Annoyed by the fact that he was employed as nightwatchman, he proved his batting credentials by compiling an unbeaten 143, his career-best score and his first century since his 101 on debut against Sri Lanka. However, while there were useful partnerships throughout the innings, no one else made a really significant score and Middlesex declared on 300-9 in an attempt to force a result. In sharp contrast to their first innings, Notts then collapsed to 22-4, but Lumb and Chris Read put on 110 to save their blushes. They declared on 174-7 to set Middlesex a rather unlikely 298 off 51 overs, which Middlesex declined to chase as they moved to to 87-0 before the game was called off as a draw. Andrew Strauss will be pleased with his 43* as he spent some vital time at the crease before the First Test.
There was a pleasing result for an injury-stricken Somerset at Chester-le-Street, a game which had no play on Days 2 and 3. The Somerset squad was stretched to the limit with Nick Compton (playing for England Lions) and Jos Buttler (hand injury) both absent. It meant that the 11 playing this game were the only 11 contracted players remaining, the 12th man being the Academy director Jason Kerr. Against all the odds, they bowled out a highly experienced Durham team for 125 with Craig Meschede taking 3-26 and 18 year-old Craig Overton nipping out 4-38. The Somerset reply was held up by 96 from Craig Kieswetter, 62 from Meschede and 40 from Peter Trego. Somerset had a lead of 142, but a result seemed highly unlikely heading into the final day. Durham did their best to ridicule that prediction, losing regular wickets as Trego and Meschede, enjoying a fine all-round game, both picked up three wickets. Stubbornness from Ian Blackwell and the tail meant that Durham closed on 234-9, denying Somerset what could have been one of the shocks of the season.
Surrey almost staged an incredible comeback against Worcestershire at New Road, but were denied by lack of time. The first few days were heavily disrupted by rain and Worcs reached 285, their highest first innings score of the season. In reply, Surrey crashed to 113 all out with Jacques Rudolph scoring more than half their runs with 68. Following-on though, Surrey looked a completely different team. Kevin Pietersen shifted the momentum with a hard-hit 69 before Tom Maynard and Rory Hamilton-Brown both crashed quick centuries. Their partnership was worth 225 and Worcs were set 260 to win in 52 overs. That they were only two wickets away from losing was due to the promising 19 year-old fast bowler George Edwards. He ended with 4-44 as the top order disintegrated, leaving Matthew Pardoe and Richard Jones to bat out the last seven overs to salvage the draw.
Shahzad claims 3 on Lancashire debut.
The game at Hove between Sussex and Lancashire was so ravaged by rain that only the last day was utilised. Lancs struggled to 144-8 before mystifyingly declaring, even though it was not entirely sure what they stood to gain. Sussex set off at a one-day pace and stormed to 300-8 at the close, the run rate being 6.29, earning them three batting points. Matthew Prior, Michael Yardy and Joe Gatting all played enterprising innings, but the real talking point was Ajmal Shahzad. Following his move across the Pennines, he had figures of 3-15 at point before Gatting laid into him. Despite his promise, Lancs' poor start to the season is now a real worry.
Nottinghamshire move into 1st place in Division 1, but Warwickshire are seven points behind with two games in hand. At the other end of the table, only three points separate the bottom three teams, Lancashire, Worcestershire and Durham.

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