Robinson Squashes Glamorgan with Nine
Essex’s shaky start to the new season appeared to have continued at Chelmsford, where Tom Westley chose to bat first only to see Durham skittle his side out for just 96 in Group 1, with the wickets spread evenly among the visitors’ attack. Durham’s reply was led by captain Scott Borthwick, who hit 100 in just 129 balls, but his side slipped to 144 for eight before Stuart Poynter (52 not out) and Matt Salisbury added 94 for the ninth wicket, helping their side up to 259 in reply. Simon Harmer, as so often, proved the main threat, taking five for 79.
Essex made a better fist of things in their second innings, reaching 330 despite Brydon Carse picking up five for 82. Ben Allison’s career-best 52 helped set the away outfit a target of 168. Those runs proved vital as Essex removed both openers without scoring, but Durham revived to 83 for three, with the game in the balance. That was when Harmer stepped forward, as the South African took five for 57 to secure what ended up as a reasonably comfortable win for his side by 44 runs. For Harmer it was yet another ten-wicket match haul (his sixth for Essex), and after 52 games for the county since his debut in 2017 he now has a remarkable 268 wickets, taken at an average of just 19.58. It is hard to think of any other modern-day overseas player who has had such an impact for his county.
At Trent Bridge, the home side also chose to bat first, but needed a career-best 73 not out from Liam Patterson-White to take them up to a respectable total of 273, Warwickshire captain Will Rhodes taking four for 53. With Dom Sibley having been injured in the field, the visitors lost a key figure in their line-up, and Stuart Broad picked up three for 50 as the away side were dismissed for 201, Hanuma Vihari making a 40-minute duck on his debut for the county. Nottinghamshire looked set to take complete control at 198 for four, but the last six wickets fell for 62, leaving the away side chasing a tough total of 333. At 184 for six, the tie was in the balance, but Tim Bresnan and Olly Stone added 113 for the seventh wicket, before Bresnan saw them home by three wickets with his unbeaten 68.
Finally in the group, Worcestershire chose to field first on their visit to Derby. Matt Critchley top-scored with 109 as Derbyshire reached a healthy 390 all out, Ed Barnard picking up four for 67. The away team replied with 305, but again it was Critchley who starred, taking five for 67 to complete a rare match double. Critchley nearly made it two hundreds in a match and a five-wicket haul (he’d have been the first to do so since George Hirst, for Yorkshire v Somerset at Bath in 1906), but fell for 84. Derbyshire batted for ten overs of the final day, declaring on 312 for five to set a target of 398. They probably regretted it in retrospect, as Worcestershire just managed to cling on, finishing on 193 for eight, with Ben Cox’s 212-minute 60 not out being vital. Critchley’s great match continued with him picking up three for 76.
Hampshire completely dominated proceedings at the Rose Bowl in Group 2 after they decided to bat first. A total of 319 didn’t appear decisive at first, with Steven Finn nipping in with four wickets, but then Middlesex were blown away in their reply, stumbling to 79 all out. Their destroyer was Mohammad Abbas, who finished with remarkable figures of six for 11, his best in the Championship. He could hardly have made a better start, taking a hat-trick with his fifth, sixth and seventh deliveries to remove Max Holden, Nick Gubbins and Stevie Eskinazi. Ian Holland (with a career-best 146 not out) and Sam Northeast (118) then piled on the pressure, adding 257 for the third wicket before James Vince declared on 290 for four, setting a notional target of 531. Middlesex began the final day on 208 for four, but when Robbie White fell on 73 without adding to his overnight score, the end was swift, and Hampshire completed their victory by 249 runs, taking them top of the group after two wins out of two.
In the West Country derby at Taunton, it was pretty much all-square after the first innings. Somerset were put in to bat and scored 312. Dominic Goodman, making his first-class debut, picked up the wicket of Josh Davey for 17. James Bracey’s 118 was the centrepiece of Gloucestershire’s reply, but even so they ended up three runs shy of Somerset, with Marchant de Lange taking four for 63. Ryan Higgins, with four for 29, tipped the balance in favour of the away side, as Somerset fell away to 149 all out in the second innings, leaving Gloucestershire to chase 153. Bracey completed a fine match, making 83 not out to help his side to an eight-wicket victory, as they also recorded their second win of the summer.
At The Oval, Leicestershire must have felt they’d done well batting first, when they scored 375 all out. Sam Evans made a career-best 138. But that effort was put in the shade by the Surrey reply, and a wonderful innings from Ollie Pope. First of all, he partnered Ben Foakes (87) to a 229-run fourth-wicket partnership, then he went even better adding 234 for the fifth wicket with Jamie Smith. When he was finally out, Pope had made a Championship best score of 245, and his runs had come in just 272 balls. Smith was finally out for 123, his highest score in the Championship. Still Rory Burns’s men piled on the agony, eventually declaring on 672 for eight – it was the tenth highest score in the county’s history and their best against Leicestershire. With 17 overs plus the final day to bat out, Leicestershire had it all to do, but Hasan Azad batted for more than six hours to make 144 not out, the best score of his career, as his side safely secured a draw, finishing on 295 for three.
In Group 3, Northamptonshire were the visitors to Old Trafford, but Lancashire chose to bat first and scored 305 all out. Tom Taylor took four for 91, but there was also joy for former Lancashire star Simon Kerrigan, who picked up four for 60 in 34 overs, his best figures for the county. Kerrigan followed it up with a useful 45 not out, but his side still made just 177 in reply. Veteran Steven Croft hit an unbeaten 103 as Lancashire finally declared on 296 for seven, setting a daunting target of 425. Another former Lancashire star, Luke Procter, did his best, battling for over six hours for his 93, but it wasn’t enough as Northamptonshire were bowled out for 218, losing by 206 runs.
At Canterbury, Yorkshire batted first and newly crowned Wisden Cricketer of the Year Darren Stevens took four for 60 to help ensure the visitors did not make any more than 379. Stevens then top-scored with 52 in Kent’s reply of 265, before Adam Lyth, who’d narrowly missed out on a century in the first innings with 97, made sure he avoided any repetition in reaching 116. England skipper Joe Root then made 101 to set up a declaration on 330 for five, giving Kent a formidable target of 445. David Willey took five for 61, his best figures for Yorkshire, as Kent were bowled out for 244, to lose by 200 runs.
Sussex put Glamorgan in to bat at Cardiff and had immediate joy as Ollie Robinson struck in the first over. Kiran Carlson helped his side bounce back from a worrying 23 for three, scoring an unbeaten 127 to push Glamorgan to a first-innings total of 285. Five Sussex players passed the half-century, with only Stiaan van Zyl going on to make three figures (113), but the real surprise package was George Garton, who made a career-best 97 before falling three runs short of a maiden century. A total of 481 put his side firmly in the driving seat, as Glamorgan set about overturning their 196-run deficit. Fortunately, Carlson again stepped up, making his second century of the match before finally being dismissed for 132. But the real star of the innings was Ollie Robinson, who took a brilliant career-best nine for 78 to finish with match figures of 13 for 128, with four wickets in his last nine balls. Glamorgan made 349, which meant Sussex needed 154 for victory. They eased their way to an eight-wicket win in just 40 overs, a result that took them to the top of the group, one point clear of Lancashire.