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Stevens Sets New Records – at 45 Years Young

With the May weather continuing to suggest March or early April, Round 7 of the County Championship was yet again hard hit by the rain. In Group One, at Trent Bridge, a belligerent unbeaten 177 from Ben Duckett, off just 196 balls, saw Nottinghamshire up to 400 for five declared, but even though the innings lasted just 84.3 overs it was not completed until well into day three. Luke Fletcher’s fine season with the ball continued, as for the second match in succession he achieved a personal best, taking seven for 37 as Worcestershire were rolled over for just 80. Following on, the visitors fared little better in their second innings, Fletcher ending up with match figures of ten for 57 as they were all out for 150, to lose by an innings and 170 runs.


Nottinghamshire’s win took them nine points clear of Essex, with a game in hand, as the latter could only draw against Warwickshire at Chelmsford. The visitors succumbed to 166 all out, with Peter Siddle taking six for 38, his best Championship figures. Essex ground their way to 217 in reply, before the away side made 66 for one as the game ended in a draw. Simon Harmer remains the leading wicket-taker this summer, with 34 wickets.


There was another draw at Derby, where the home side were bowled out for 258 by Durham, in-form Chris Rushworth picking up six for 49. Then it was the turn of 21-year-old paceman Ben Aitchison to shine, as he took a career-best six for 28 to dismiss Durham for 208, Ned Eckersley’s 82 being the only innings of more than fifty in the match. David Bedingham of Durham remains the leading runscorer this season (624), with Matt Critchley of Derbyshire his nearest rival, on 561.


In Group Two, Gloucestershire narrowly hold the lead in the division by one point over Somerset, who have played a game more, after the two sides drew at Bristol. Tom Abell hit an unbeaten 132 to see his side up to 300 for eight, selflessly declaring just three short of his career-best score. The hosts were fortunate there wasn’t more time for their innings, as they had crumbled to 27 for six in just 14.2 overs when the game ended. Craig Overton took four for 16 to further press his claim for a place in the first Test. He is second in the list of wicket-takers with 33 this season.


The game at Southampton started a day early, with the home side making 233. Leicestershire then fell away to Kyle Abbott, who finished with six for 47, as they were bowled out for 84, saving the follow-on by one run. In an attempt to force a result, Hampshire forfeited their second innings, but only 17 more overs were possible, by which time the visitors had made 26 for one. Abbott also finished with 33 wickets for the summer.


In the London derby at The Oval, Surrey collapsed from 135 without loss to 190 all out, as Pope, Foakes, Smith and Clark made just one run between them. Middlesex could make only 160 in reply, with four wickets each for Kemar Roach and Jordan Clark. In a rare double, Surrey’s second innings opening partnership was also 135, but this time Rory Burns went on to score 104 not out. Surrey declared on 259 for two, setting a target of 290. A fine innings of 124 in 145 balls from Nick Gubbins gave Middlesex a chance, but Roach (with five for 86) kept them in check and they finished on 250 for six.


There were just two games in Group Three, and league leaders Lancashire barely got started in their match where just 34.3 overs were possible as they made 88 for one. They are three points clear of Yorkshire.


But there was much more action at Canterbury, and there was no doubt who took the limelight there. Glamorgan had reduced the home side to 128 for eight when Darren Stevens decided to counterattack. In the 27.1 overs that followed, Stevens destroyed the bowling as he and Miguel Cummins added 166 – of which Cummins made just one run! With five extras in the mix, Stevens made 160 of them – at 96.39%, this was the highest share of any partnership of a hundred or more. His innings featured 15 fours and 15 sixes – the latter just one short of the County Championship record, and one short of the record for any innings of under 200. Meanwhile, Cummins went 108 minutes without adding to his one run – the longest scoreless spell in any match played in England, and the fifth longest in all first-class cricket. Stevens was eventually out for 190 off 149 balls, his hundred having come in 92 balls, and Kent finished on 307 all out. Glamorgan then made 64 for three declared, followed by Kent’s 60 for one declared, leaving Glamorgan to chase 304 but they reached just 23 for one.