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Stokes Blasts Back into Action with 17 Sixes


Surrey recorded a comprehensive win by an innings over Northamptonshire at The Oval inside three days. When the home side were put in to bat, skipper Rory Burns took full advantage making 107, his first century of the summer. Gus Atkinson made a career-best 66 not out, adding 124 for the ninth wicket with Jamie Overton (59, his highest score for the county) to help his team to a total of 401. The visitors were then bowled out for 194, despite 83 not out from Luke Procter, with Colin de Grandhomme taking four for 39. Following on, the away side failed to do much better, bowled out for 202, with Atkinson taking a career-best three for 26 to conclude an excellent match for him. Ben Foakes took eight catches in the match.


At Chelmsford, the match rarely seemed likely to end in anything other than a draw after Yorkshire chose to field first and Essex found themselves on 234 for three after the first day’s play. By that time, Alastair Cook had reached his 71st first-class century (107), though Paul Walter would have to wait until the second day to complete his first hundred, eventually falling for 141. Essex were finally all out for 403, with Dom Bess having taken three for 82 in 44 overs – it was that sort of attritional game. In reply, Yorkshire upped the rate, with Joe Root making 75 on his return to the side. Harry Brook continued his fine start to the summer, making 123 in 152 balls – it was his second successive hundred; the lowest of his six innings this summer is 56 not out, and his 635 runs have come at an average of 158.75. His knocking on the door of the England selectors is getting increasingly loud. Yorkshire’s reply of 465 was not completed until early on the fourth morning. There was time for Cook to make a second century of the match (102 not out), on the way he went past 50,000 balls faced in first-class cricket. When Essex reached 167 without loss, the draw was duly agreed.


The outcome at Old Trafford followed a similar pattern, though there was some rain to interrupt proceedings. Warwickshire chose to bat first, and ex-Lancashire star Alex Davies will have wanted to do better against his old side than an eight-ball duck, but his opening partner Dom Sibley proved to be the glue in the innings, carrying his bat for an unbeaten 142 in 329 balls in the visitors’ total of 315. Lancashire’s opening pair of Luke Wells (80) and the returning Keaton Jennings (110) put on 166 for the first wicket, but the chance to put real pressure on the away side was not taken as they were dismissed for 361 in reply, Nathan McAndrew taking four for 85. Warwickshire then batted out the final day, making 184 for six as the game ended in a draw.


There was a welcome return to action for Aneurin Donald, who had missed the entirety of the 2020 and 2021 seasons, at Southampton. Felix Organ, with a career-best 107, made the most of the opportunity to bat first as Hampshire scored 342. Gloucestershire could do little to stop Mohammad Abbas, who took six for 45, though Ajeet Dale’s 36 not out was his first-ever score in double figures. Bowled out for 179, the away side needed to hit back immediately, and a second-ball wicket for Mohammad Amir set the tone. At 76 for eight, Hampshire were in danger of throwing away a very strong position, but Donald made a counter-attacking 89 to see his side up to 204 all out, thanks to a last-wicket partnership of 101 with James Fuller (32 not out), setting a target of 368. Someone needed to make a century, but George Scott’s career-best 77 was the highest anyone on the away side could manage, as they were bowled out for 280. The 87-run win kept Hampshire in touch with Surrey, eight points behind the leaders.


In Division Two, with Nottinghamshire having a week off, Middlesex went eight points clear at the top of the table after a spectacular win at Hove. Sussex chose to bat first, and Ali Orr fell one short of a deserved century, but Tom Alsop went on to make his maiden century for the county (113) as the home side made a hefty 392 all out. Luke Hollman’s career-best 82 was the biggest contribution to Middlesex’s reply of 358, while Ollie Robinson’s return to action saw him pick up five for 66. Cheteshwar Pujara’s fourth century (170 not out) in four games helped Sussex to a declaration at 335 for four, setting a formidable target of 370. Sam Robson’s 149 set Middlesex on their way, supported by Peter Handscomb’s highest score for the county (79), before Max Holden and Martin Andersson put on 99 in just 82 balls to secure a remarkable seven-wicket win.


If that sort of runscoring seemed impressive, it was as nothing compared to what happened at Worcester. Durham chose to bat first, and centuries by Sean Dickson (104) and David Bedingham (135) proved to be little more than preambles for the returning new England captain Ben Stokes, who smashed his way to 161, hitting an English record 17 sixes in his innings (a total bettered only four times in all first-class cricket). He took 64 balls to reach three figures, the fastest-ever century by a Durham player, and he scored 147 runs before lunch. Durham were able to declare on 580 for six, with Ben Cox not conceding a bye. Ben Gibbon, making his debut, picked up a couple of wickets.


The hosts’ reply got off to the worst possible start as they were 16 for three inside four overs, but they recovered to 309 all out. Matthew Potts picked up six wickets (for 62) for the third time this summer; he now has 24 wickets this summer, topping the list along with Hasan Ali of Lancashire. Scott Borthwick decided against enforcing the follow-on, which allowed Dickson to score another hundred (105), taking him to 729 runs this summer (narrowly ahead of Pujara – 717 – and Shan Masood, 713), as they declared on 170 for one, setting a notional target of 442. Azhar Ali, who has had a tricky time of it this season, made his highest score of the summer (92) while Jack Haynes hit a career-best 120 not out to see Worcestershire up to 262 for three, as the match ended in a draw.


Glamorgan went second in the table after a six-wicket win over Leicestershire at Sophia Gardens. The visitors were put in to bat and made a decent total of 320, with Rishi Patel’s career-best 82 the most significant contribution. In reply, Glamorgan scored 437, helped by a catalogue of no-balls in their 64 extras; on his debut Andy Gorvin made 23. A lead of 117 was substantial enough, and no one from Leicestershire could turn things around, as they were dismissed for 266. The target of 150 was achieved without alarm.