While rain played a spoilsport last week and the week before, this week was rather a pleasant week of County action, where there were little to no talks of the rain shadowing the games. However, there were several Australian batters in action, all of whom barring Marcus Harris were terrible.
Leicestershire vs Middlesex
Marcus Harris - 3, 185
A unique lifeline was handed to Marcus Harris, after his last Test at the Gabba against India, with a county stint for Leicestershire and he has really taken it up with both sides. After realising that his place at the top of the order is under threat, Harris has transformed himself into an able No.3 batsman in the county, with two centuries in the month for Leicester. While his first innings didn’t quite live up to the mark, with a three, before being adjudged out in a dubious decision. In the second innings, he not only battled, but he also batted and battered the Middlesex bowling attack with a 185, which led to a miracle win for Leicestershire, who looked dead for rights after day three. Possibly this innings has now pushed Harris’ chance of featuring in the Ashes?
Peter Handscomb - 26, 36
Peter Handscomb looked solid, in fact, he even swatted Callum Parkinson for a boundary on the leg-side. However, after spending 57 deliveries at the crease, he was greeted by an amazing in-swinger from Ed Barnes, which beat the Australian for pace and swing, being trapped in front of the stump. While his 70 last week was exciting, his 26 had some energy in it as well. In the second innings, Handscomb joined a tricky time and steered his side to the lunch session without giving away his wicket. However, his dismissal would irk him, trying to swat one wide off the off stump for a well-made 36.
Surrey vs Gloucestershire
Hashim Amla - 173
Made the skipper for the County clash against Gloucestershire, Hashim Amla brought his ‘A’ game and never looked in doubt for the rest of the clash. In essence, he took the leadership role seriously and packed a punch that unassumingly sealed the fate of the clash. While Stoneman was dismissed with the score reading 50, there was work to be done for Surrey. On the back of Amla’s 173, a knock which saw him tire out several bowlers, several times, Surrey had got themselves a first-innings score of 473. After the double century against Hampshire, captaincy has indeed got the best out of Amla.
Sean Abbott - 40 & 0/22, 2/5
The Australian all-rounder made his County debut this season, for Surrey in the clash against Gloucestershire. Not only did he strike lusty blows with the ball, but he also scored a cameo in the first innings, scoring a crucial 40, helping Surrey reach a total of 473, which in the end was enough for them to win by innings and 47 runs. Two wickets followed in the second innings to cap off an amazing debut for the Australian.
Kraigg Brathwaite - 38, 28
No sunglasses, no century for Kraigg Brathwaite, as he continued to slumber in the mid-20s and 30s in the County Championship, without much success. The Windies opener since his debut this season had only one score of above 50, often getting a good start. The theme continued here as well, where he got himself off to great starts in both innings but his dismissals, for 38 and 28 suggest that he has to take his game to the next level if he wants to succeed in England.
Other notable names: Amir Virdi 3/46 & 4/96
Sussex vs Northamptonshire
Travis Head - 1, 0
“Head stumbles again,” read the report from Cricket Australia and that was evidently the theme of this County Championship, the Australian left-handed batsman, who was destined for greater things had succumbed under the pressure, twice. Even when the sun was out, the conditions were easier to bat on, as he poked one-off Sanderson to the slips. Repeat it till it becomes a habit said several, Head listened, with another poke, this time off Kerrigan’s bowling for a duck. From scoring 9 & 8 in his County debut, Head has now had only one double-figure score in the tournament.
Wayne Parnell - 2/27, 0/29
Parnell turned back the clock and got the ball to swing around, with two wickets off deliveries that swung back, one into the right-hander Ben Brown and the other, into the left-hander, Delray Rawlins after going wicketless two games in a row. Barring that, Parnell really didn’t have to do too much in a game that was dominated thoroughly by Northamptonshire.
Lancashire vs Yorkshire
Dom Bess - 3 & 1/120, 46
Last year, same time, Bess was busy in preparation for England’s return to Test cricket. In just one year, he has gone from being involved in the setup to being out of it. A prime reason for that, his bowling, which again was the weaker point of his game, in the clash against Lancashire, with just one wicket conceding 120 runs. While his batting was a bit undercooked in the first, his valiant attempt in the second innings, of 46 showed that batting remains his stronger suit.
Saqib Mahmood - 1/49, 5/47
You can’t say the same for Saqib Mahmood, his spell, his breathtaking fiery spell was the game-changer for Lancashire, who put on a show for the home fans. After being run-out of his very first delivery, Saqib breathed fire in the second innings, a spell that would go down as one of the best in this year’s competition. Every delivery looked threatening, every spell looked menacing as he rolled his arm over. Especially his second spell, where he came on, dismissing Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Will Fraine and Steven Patterson, it looked like there was a kind of ‘Archer’ moment in him. That fire since the Ashes has been rather missing in the country, truth to be told and the fifer was just a fitting end.
Keaton Jennings - 114
Often flirting with the England national team, Keaton Jennings was a revelation before the outbreak of Coronavirus, which has seen him slip down the radar. While now he is behind Haseeb Hameed on the list, his repeated displays in the County would surely keep the selectors interested. 60, 91*, 64, 27 has been his last four scores in the Championship but this hundred would be mighty special, considering the importance of the game - top of the table clash in Group 3. 177 balls for his fifty, Jennings was out there to make a statement, rather leave one, eventually reaching the three figures. 114 runs later, he was dismissed off a poor shot.
Other notable names: Matthew Parkinson - 1/26, 3/61
Worcestershire vs Derbyshire
Alzarri Joseph - 2/78, 2/28
Alzarri Joseph blew hot and cold in the first innings, where he was taken to the cleaners by the Derbyshire batsmen, who loved his pace. However, after conceding all the runs in the innings, Joseph made a very late impact on the game, dismissing Ben Aitchison and Samuel Conners to prevent Derbyshire from avoiding a follow-on. On day four, however, Joseph was back at it again, the wickets of Derby skipper Billy Godleman and tail-ender, Dustin Melton to take Worcestershire to an innings and 23 runs victory.
Ben McDermott - 25, 1
After hanging in during the late hours of Day two, Ben McDermott really looked well set to salvage some pride for Derbyshire. But that stay was rather reduced to just 25 runs when Dillon Pennington got the right-hander to edge one to the slip cordon. While he showed his visible anger, swinging the bat wildly against the wind, his stay was well anticipated.
Warwickshire vs Nottinghamshire
Pieter Malan - 17, 6
The forgotten South African opener, who made his debut in the home series against England in 2020 made his third appearance in the County, on Thursday against Nottinghamshire. After a crisp shot on the leg-side to a boundary, Malan found himself in all kinds of tangles, just short of his 50-run partnership with Will Rhodes, for just 17. In the second innings, Malan didn’t do himself any good, with a shot straight to the deep fielder, with a pose that suggested anger.
Haseeb Hameed - 39, 2
Only a few days after the Three Lions call-up, Haseeb Hameed looked in great form, converting every delivery into gold with his hammer-like bat, helping Notts reach the tea session without any loss of wicket. However, constant rains ruined any sort of momentum, which resulted in the opener getting out on return, leaving a delivery that would cartwheel his stump. 309 runs to chase, it was definitely going to be a tough ask for Nottinghamshire but his early dismissal in the second, completely beaten by Liam Norwell’s delivery called it an early shower for him, for just 2 runs.
Other notable names: Tim Bresnan - 1/28, 1/21, Dane Patterson 5/90, 0/72
Durham vs Essex
Cameron Bancroft - 20, 4
After Essex were shut short for just 182 runs, Durham knew that the pitch was a demon, as Cameron Bancroft and Alex Lees came out to bat. While Lees was sent back relatively early by Jamie Porter, Bancroft sneakily survived the first wave, with an edge of the pacer’s bowling. When Peter Siddle walked into the bowling attack, there was a familiar Australian affair on display. Siddle accounted for Bancroft, who looked to turn off his hips, instead missed the delivery for just 20. In the second, the Australian opener had no chance of tackling Porter’s cracker, being dismissed for just four.
Peter Siddle - 3/29, 3/47
Peter Siddle and England - a story that never loses its interest - despite it being spanning over so many years now. In 2019, Siddle made his Australian comeback in England, where he was instrumental in Australia taking home the ‘Urn. This time around, for Essex, his pinpoint accuracy combined with his scrambled seam allowed for wickets to tumble. Two of his three dismissals in the first innings were LBWs, with the last one bowled, showing excellent accuracy. In the second, there was a repeat of the same, straight as an arrow, to account for three more wickets. 16 wickets in just 5 games, not bad for a 36-year-old Aussie playing in England.
James Porter - 3/27, 4/31
While Siddle was catching the pads and stump off-guard, Porter was bowling at his best, speedy stuff to take the batsmen by surprise. He opened the damage for Essex, with the wicket of Lees and never looked back, with two wickets to seal the first innings. Porter never looked back, with four wickets in the second innings, taking his wickets tally to 17 this season, averaging 33.58, just one summer after being snubbed from the 55-member squad for the Three Lions.
Other notable names: Sir Alastair Cook - 2, 7