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County Watch | How English Test cricketers and major overseas signings fared in Round 5

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Marnus Labuschagne was in action for Glamorgan


County Watch | How English Test cricketers and major overseas signings fared in Round 5

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Anirudh Suresh


Much to no one’s surprise, rain marred Round 5 of the 2021 County Championship as 4 games ended in a draw, but there was, nevertheless, enough time for individuals to leave their mark in the competition. We look at how every major individual fared in a round that had many interesting sub-plots.

Essex vs Nottinghamshire

Dan Lawrence -  14 & 11

After having made a relatively sound start to the competition - scores of 42, 32, 76, 5, 55 and 90 in the first four rounds - Dan Lawrence endured his first grim game of the 2021 season in Nottingham. Batting at 4, Lawrence managed just scores of 14 and 11 in the first and second innings respectively and was dismissed bowled and LBW. The double-failure pushed Lawrence’s batting average for the season down to 41.12. 

Stuart Broad - 2/31 and 1/46; 41

Stuart Broad was in the headlines for the impeccable spell he bowled against Sir Alastair Cook, but while his figures don’t look impressive, the veteran did a great job playing second-fiddle to the other Notts seamers who were on fire. Lyndon James and Luke Fletcher combinedly took 14 games in the match - and helped Notts win the game by an innings - and Broad did a fine support job to propel his side to the top of Group 1. Not just that, he came out, attacking with the bat, scoring a 42-ball 41, which included six boundaries and a six. Now that's a fine all-round show from him!

Haseeb Hameed - 49

The Renaissance Man of 2021 continued his fine form as Haseeb Hameed, in testing conditions, ground his way to a 92-ball 49 to help Notts post a daunting first innings total on a minefield. With this knock, Hameed’s last 5 scores in the Championship read 49, 94, 0, 114* and 111. 

Other notable names: Sir Alastair Cook (3 and 35), Dane Paterson (0/32 and 3/41), Peter Siddle (1/72) and Tom Westley (1 and 1).

Hampshire vs Somerset

Mohammad Abbas - 2/86

Abass’ dip in form - post an extraordinary start - continued in Southampton, as the right-armer managed to scalp just 2 wickets in the 31 overs he bowled. After averaging a mere 9.25 in the first 5 innings of the season, Abbas’ average across the last 4 innings now stands at a worrying 93.00

Jack Leach - 34 and 0/34

Conditions being tilted in favour of the seamers meant that Jack Leach was not able to make any impact with the ball, bowling just 22 overs in the entire match, but he did, however, continue his more-than-handy form with the bat. Batting at 7, the southpaw helped Somerset keep the Hants bowlers at bay by stringing together a 62-run stand with skipper Tom Abell, and his handy knock helped his side register the easiest of wins. Leach, currently, is averaging 28.25 with the bat this season.

Other notable names: James Vince (6 and 42), Kyle Abbott (3/88), Liam Dawson (0, 0 and 0/25) and Craig Overton (2/16 and 5/66).

Northamptonshire vs Sussex

Travis Head - 9 and 8

Travis Head endured a nightmare start to his 2021 County season as the ex-Aussie vice-skipper was dismissed in single digits twice. The first innings saw Head be caught at slip off the bowling of Gareth Berg, while in the second, the southpaw perished attempting a botched pull-shot, again off the same bowler. Sussex are currently second-to-bottom in Group 3.

Other notable name(s):  Ollie Robinson (5/58) 

Glamorgan vs Lancashire

Marnus Labuschagne - 12 and 0/40

Marnus Labuschagne’s uncharacteristically sluggish start to the 2021 County Championship continued as the Queenslander managed just 12 in the only innings he batted, nicking off to James Anderson. 11 was what Labuschagne managed in his first game of the season against Kent, and rain ensured that he had no second chance to get his campaign going. The #3 batsman in the world also rolled his arm over, but was thwarted for 40 runs off his 9 overs. 

James Anderson - 3/40

Playing his first game of the season, Anderson set the stage on fire as the evergreen ‘youngster’ picked 3 wickets and made the batsmen dance to his tunes, conceding just 40 off the 24 overs he bowled. Anderson’s battle with Labuschagne was hyped up prior to the start of the game, and it was the veteran who came out on top as he bamboozled the Aussie with an unplayable peach. 

Michael Neser - 2/50 and 17

Michael Neser’s Glamorgan debut was unfortunately hindered by rain, but in the 22 overs he bowled, the Queenslander showed exactly why the club were overjoyed to acquire his services. Two wickets was what the right-armer picked, one of which was an absolute seed to Alex Davies that completely squared the batsman up. Apart from his impressive showing with the ball, Neser also added 17 handy runs with the bat, proving why he could turn out to be one of the best signings of the season. 

Other notable names: Saqib Mahmood (3/66), Matt Parkinson (1/46), Keaton Jennings (64)

Middlesex vs Gloucestershire

Peter Handscomb - 10 and 4

‘Captain’ Handscomb’s rotten form in red-ball cricket continued at Lord’s as for the fifth innings in a row, the Victorian failed to post a score over 20. Versus Gloucestershire, Handscomb, batting at 4, was dismissed for 10 and 4 and the double-failure took his average for the season down to 6.20. Dating back to March, Handscomb now averages a mere 13.11 across his last 9 red-ball innings, with no fifty-plus scores to his name. 

Kraigg Brathwaite - 33 and 21

Brathwaite bounced back from his double-failure against Leicestershire to put up a much stronger showing against Middlesex and survived 41 overs in the first innings to blunt Middlesex’s lethal pace trio that came hunting for wickets. He eventually perished for 33, but had, by then, made life much easier for the middle-order batters. He notched up 21 in the second dig and fell 4 balls before the winning runs were hit. 

Other notable names: Sam Robson (12 and 8), Dan Worrall (0/47 and 1/15), James Bracey (75 and 13).

Warwickshire vs Worcestershire

Olly Stone - 1/46

Taking the new ball, 17 overs was all Olly Stone bowled in a rain-interrupted game in Birmingham and managed to see the back of danger-man Jake Libby with the old cherry. Libby’s wicket was Stone’s 12th scalp of the season. 

Pieter Malan - 32 and 28

Pieter Malan replaced a horrendously out-of-nick Hanuma Vihari in Warwickshire’s starting XI, and the South African proved to be an instant upgrade on the Indian batter. Batting at #3, Malan settled into the season smoothly and forged valuable partnerships with the openers - Rhodes and Yates - across both the innings. It is to be noted that Malan came on the back of a 264 against Knights in his previous first-class match. 

Alzarri Joseph - 1/80 and 2/22

Alzarri Joseph’s middling start to the campaign prolonged in Birmingham as the young West Indian seamer finished with match figures of 3/102, managing to pick up just the wicket of just the tail-ender Liam Norwell in the first innings in which he leaked 80 runs @ 3.50 runs an over. The 24-year-old’s bowling average for the season stands at an unremarkable 38.80. 

Other notable names: Hanuma Vihari (Did not play)

Leicestershire vs Surrey

Marcus Harris - 101

Marcus Harris continued being the best Aussie in the 2021 County Championship as the southpaw struck his first century of the season to prolong his fine form. Batting in his new-found #3 role, Harris, walking in at 13/1, took the attack to an extremely strong Surrey bowling unit to post his maiden century in England. Harris’ knock featured 15 fours, and he only eventually perished to the off-spin of Amar Virdi. The southpaw, this season, currently has scored 212 runs at a very healthy average of 42.40.

Rory Burns - 75

Like Harris, Rory Burns continued his strong start to the season by scoring 75, backing up the 80 he scored against Hampshire in Round 4. The wicket was flat, but Burns took a conscious effort to cash-in and blunted the Leicestershire attack to post his fourth fifty of the season. The 75 has now taken Burns’ average for the season to 47.28.

Ollie Pope - 33

Ollie Pope’s ultra-aggression cost him in Leicester as on a wicket that had absolutely nothing for the bowlers by Day 3, the youngster failed to rack up the runs. He raced off to 33 off just 34 balls, but a lapse in concentration saw him get his timber rattled on the 35th ball he faced. With the failure against Leicestershire, Pope blew the opportunity to go atop the 2021 County Championship run charts. 

Ben Foakes - 0, 2 catches and 1 stumping

Ben Foakes’ mid-season dip continued against Leicestershire as the Surrey wicket-keeper perished for a duck. After starting the season off with scores of 26, 133 and 87, Foakes now has posted 11, 17, 7 and 0 in his last 4 innings. 

Other notable names: Recce Topley (2/110), Mark Stoneman (119), Hashim Amla (15).

Yorkshire vs Kent

Zak Crawley - 90

Zak Crawley put up his best performance of the season, yet, at Headingley as the youngster struck a hard-fought 90 against a, particularly strong Yorkshire attack to get into some form. After averaging just 24 in the campaign prior to the game, Crawley needed a big knock to get going, and he responded with a well-compiled 90. Rain playing spoilsport meant that he did not get a chance to bat a second time.

Joe Root - 41

Joe Root once again failed to get any rhythm going as the England skipper fell for a 69-ball 41. The century against Kent in the reverse fixture last month made many believe that Root might have finally found form, but the England skipper’s scores have since read 5, 5 and 41. Thus far, the 2021 season has been a campaign to forget for Root. That his younger brother, Billy, has outscored him thus far, speaks volumes. 

Dom Bess - 1/56

Dom Bess got no purchase on a seaming Day 1 wicket at Headingley, but the off-spinner did a fine job of curtailing the runs and controlling one end. His ER for the season currently reads 2.38, bettered by only one other Yorkshire bowler, Steven Patterson.

Other notable names:  Joe Denly (3), Darren Stevens (9 and 2/48), Gary Ballance (96)

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