As many as eight games were played in Round 7 of the ongoing County season, with as many as seven ending in draws, owing to the ever persistent rains. But that didn’t sway our attention from some engrossing cricket, with notable names putting up a show in an intense round of games.
Hampshire vs Leicestershire
Kyle Abbott - 6/47, 1/6
Kyle Abbott still remains one of those Kolpak deals that most of the Proteas fans wish had never materialized, owing to his prowess with the red-ball. After not having picked up a fifer in the first five games of the season, it's been an Abbott storm since then as he has picked up three five-fers in the last four innings. The Saffer blew away Leicestershire in their first innings when he picked up a six-fer and helped bundle them out for 84. However, the game was unfortunately marred by rain, which stopped him from taking another ten-fer, like he had done against Middlesex.
Mohammad Abbas - 3/19, 0/8
Though it was Abbott who shone through in terms of taking wickets, Pakistan's swinger Mohammad Abbas also played a key role, initially, taking two of the three wickets in the first five overs against Leicestershire. More importantly, it was Abbas who got Leicestershire's back bone of the side, Marcus Harris, by cleaning him up on 2. After claiming six wickets against Middlesex, Abbas continued to prove to the world that he’s as accurate as a machine in terms of line and lengths, and provided great support to the Saffer.
Marcus Harris - 2 and 7*
Marcus Harris has blown hot and cold this season. And his first innings dismissal wasn't something that he would recall fondly as he completely got outfoxed by Abbas, leaving a straight ball that disturbed his woodwork. If not for rain, Leicestershire would have found it difficult to even save the game but it also denied Harris another chance to make amends for the first innings. After making a well-made century against Surrey, the Aussie opener was expected to do better, especially after enduring a promising start to the season.
Other notable names: James Vince (32 and DNB), Liam Dawson (19 and DNB)
Surrey vs Middlesex
Rory Burns - 64 & 104*
After an underwhelming India series, Rory Burns is back to what he does the best - dominate County cricket. And the encounter against Middlesex was no different, albeit with a change, he finally scored a century this season. In the first innings, he got a 50-50 decision going against him when he was given out on 64 to a ball that was just kissing the top of off stump. But in the second innings, neither his lack of conversion (six 50s, 0 100s), nor a marginal decision could stop him from scoring a phenomenal hundred as he helped Surrey to setting up an intriguing target of 290 for Middlesex.
Ollie Pope (0 & 37*)
It's been a strange kind of season for English middle-order batsman Ollie Pope. His twin centuries (245 and 131) have helped him top the run-charts for Surrey and be among the top five leading run-getters. But, barring those twin centuries, he has failed to capitalize on his starts, making a string of 20s and 30s. However, the game against Middlesex proved even worse, especially in the first innings, when batting at off stump, something he has done all season to turn straight balls into leg-side, caught him off-guard as he was trapped in front for a duck. He did make a quickfire 20-ball-37*, aiding Surrey's effort to enforce a result.
Ben Foakes - 0 & DNB
Martin Andersson was on a spree to hog the limelight against Surrey and what better way than bamboozling the English middle-order duo of Pope and Foakes. After sending back Pope for a duck, in the same over, he made Ben Foakes edge to the keeper even before he could open his account. After starting off brilliantly against Gloucestershire and Leicestershire, the English gloveman has failed to cross the 17-run-mark in the next six innings, even bagging two ducks. He needs to pull up his socks before the New Zealand Tests and improve on his displays.
Kemar Roach - 4/61 & 5/86
Kemar Roach did have a slow start to the season but now he's just making the batsmen dance to his Calypso tunes. And who knows it better than the Middlesex batters, who just got blown away by him. He scalped a four-fer in the first innings and bowled like a dream, helping Surrey to a great start taking three wickets, including that of Peter Handscomb, when he sent the Australia's off-stump for a walk. It helped Surrey gain a lead despite making a meagre 190. Even in the second innings, he got both the well-set Nick Gubbins (124) and Peter Handscomb (70) out, and ended up with a fifer, making it 19 wickets in the last four innings for himself.
Peter Handscomb - 5 & 70
After getting embarrassed by Kemar Roach in the first innings of the game, Australian international Peter Handscomb made a strong comeback in the second innings. He finally gained form after failing to cross 24 in the first eight innings of the season as he played a captain's knock, scoring 70 off 94 in the chase of 290, giving his side a sniff in what was a rain-affected draw.
Other notable names: Mark Stoneman (63 & 74), Hashim Amla (24 & 43), and Sam Robson (17 & 32).
Gloucestershire vs Somerset
James Bracey - 1 & DNB
Baited into a big booming drive against the new ball, James Bracey did exactly what he shouldn't be doing when he dons the England jersey, if he does get a chance against New Zealand. The left-hander could hardly add one on the board before he was dismissed and failed to impress against Somerset in a rain-curtailed game where less than 120 overs were bowled.
Kraigg Brathwaite - 15
When a team is reduced to 27 for 6, you don't expect many great performances. Windies opener Kraigg Brathwaite fell prey to an innocuous delivery from Josh Davey as a soft dismissal brought about his end. He was the only batsmen among the top six to even score a double-digit score for Gloucestershire. Brathwaite would be disappointed with his dismissal, given in the last three games not even once has he converted his start into a half-century.
Jack Leach - DNB
Somerset spinner Jack Leach didn't have any involvement in the game whatsoever be it batting or bowling. Before he could bat, Somerset declared their innings and when it came to bowling, he didn't even get an opportunity to deliver a single delivery in the game.
Craig Overton- 4/16
It was certainly not a pitch where a side should get reduced 27 for 6 but Craig Overton did have a major role to play in Gloucestershire's collapse as he was the destructor-in-chief. Continuing his red-hot form, he picked up four wickets and would be specifically delighted with the scalps of James Bracey and Tom Smith. He induced a false drive from his soon to be teammate Bracey, while a brilliant in-swinger undid Smith. Not bad to pick up wickets going into the summer.
Kent vs Glamorgan
Zak Crawley - 0 & 18*
Zak Crawley is having a mediocre County season thus far. And the encounter against Glamorgan didn't change much as his average run continued with him bagging a 8-ball-duck in the first innings where there was an opportunity for him to finally get a big score and get back his confidence ahead of the two-match Test series against New Zealand. And like most of the other games, the second innings was disrupted by rain and didn't give him a chance to score much.
Michael Neser 4/67, 1/28
Australia's perfectionist Michael Neser has been the pick of bowlers for Glamorgan in his small three-match stint so far, having picked up 12 wickets at 15.33. After impressing with a five-fer against Yorkshire, he carried on his good form as he scalped four wickets in the first innings and had Glamorgan in a strong position before the Darren Stevens storm took over the game. Maybe the time ain’t far that he debuts in Tests for his country as he keeps bolstering his reputation with every passing game.
Marnus Labuschagne- 11 & DNB
Marnus Labuschagne's poor season just got even poorer with the encounter against Kent. He was looking good at once, batting on 11 off 13, having got two early boundaries. But as we know, Darren Stevens couldn't do any wrong in the game. He got Marnus out even though the ball hit him outside the line of off stump and the batter's disappointment said it all. Another game wasted for the world's no.3 ranked Test batsman.
Other notable names : Sam Billings (11 & DNB) and Darren Stevens (190 & DNB, 1/18 & 0/9)
Northamptonshire vs Lancashire
Keaton Jennings, James Anderson, Liam Livingstone and Matt Parkinson were part of the game but it was washed out with only 34.3 overs getting bowled.
Derbyshire vs Durham
Mark Wood - 2/84
English pacer Mark Wood played second-fiddle to Chris Rushworth as the history-maker ran through the Derbyshire line-up with a six-fer. Wood didn't have the best of outings as he took two wickets and conceded 3.65 runs per over. Wood has decent numbers this season with 10 wickets in three games but it has been Chris Rushworth who has been a revelation for the side, with 32 wickets in six games. And that should not sit well with an international bowler like Wood given he ought to dominate at the domestic level.
Cameron Bancroft - 39
After turning into a center of attraction post his revealing interview about the ball-tampering scandal, Cameron Bancroft did a respectable job with the bat. Playing his first County game this season, the Aussie opener put in the hard yards, faced 137 deliveries and spent 199 minutes at the crease, but couldn't capitalize on a solid start, failing to reach the fifty-run-mark.
Essex vs Warwickshire
Dom Sibley - 43 & 2*
English opener Dom Sibley hasn't featured much in County cricket this year owing to injury, but in what was his third game of the season, the right-hander, on his comeback, exhibited dogged determination with a 120-ball-43. It was Sam Cook who brought about his downfall as he squared him up on off stump and induced a false shot, safely taken by Simon Harmer at the slip cordon. Good signs from Sibley though as he, at least, got time to spend at the crease.
Olly Stone - 1/62
Olly Stone, who had made a remarkable impression in the Test in Chennai, with his raw pace and hit-the-deck lengths, had a forgettable game. After taking six wickets in the last encounter between both the sides last month, in the reverse fixture, Stone wasn't able to break through the Essex line-up and even his solitary wicket was that of Essex's no.11.
Simon Harmer - 0/30 & 0/11
After bullying Derbyshire with a 12-wicket haul in the last game, Essex's spin king Simon Harmer experienced contrasting fortunes as he failed to even take a single wicket against Warwickshire. Harmer bowled only 18 overs, but more than anything, the way the Essex trio of Peter Siddle, Jamie Porter and Sam Cook dominated the proceedings, there was nothing much for the Saffer to do, though he did pull off a great catch.
Daniel Lawrence - 14
Coming on back of an exceptional 152* against Derbyshire, that included some scintillating strokes, hopes of another big knock were ripe when the English middle-order batsman came out to bat against Warwickshire. He did get a start off 14 as well but then was yorked by a beauty from Liam Norwell that disturbed his woodwork.
Other notable names : Alastair Cook (57), Peter Siddle (6/38 & 0/24), and Pieter Malan (7 & DNB).
Nottinghamshire vs Worcestershire
Haseeb Hameed - 24
Haseeb Hameed has been in great form this season but he got an absolutely snorter from the Windies pacer Alzarri Joseph, and despite his best attempts he couldn't duck or get out of the way of a delivery that just took off from the pitch and got the youngster nicking to the keeper.
Alzarri Joseph - 1/80
Apart from taking out Haseeb Hameed with a peach of a delivery on a pitch with greenish tinge, there was hardly much that the Windies pacer Alzarri Joseph did in the game. In fact, he was quite expensive and erred a lot, giving away 4.44 RPO as he had no answer whatsoever to the onslaught by the hosts.
Stuart Broad - 3/28 & 2/31
Seasoned campaigner Stuart Broad is having a great season and he's the last man to stop cashing in on his peak, especially in the English conditions. The lanky pacer showed a lot of discipline and bite as he picked up five wickets in the game after the Notts batsmen had put the hosts into ascendancy. Broad is all warmed up for the home Tests against New Zealand and, by the looks of it, is ready to wreak havoc on the Kiwis.
Other notable names : Dane Paterson (0/11 & 4/49), and Ben Duckett (177).