Pope’s masterclass, Notts up and running – five talking points from round two of the County Championship
The second round of the County Championship wrapped itself up over the weekend – here are the major talking points from the action across Division One and Two.
Pope’s masterclass kicks Surrey into gear
Ollie Pope stole all the headlines with his magnificent 93-ball century at The Oval, once more marking South London as his territory. It was also a fruitful final day for Dom Sibley in his first home match since returning to his former county. He anchored Surrey home with a well-made 79 not out, albeit characteristically less elegant than Pope’s masterclass.
However, the final evening’s play and victory margin mask what was a thrilling and close fought encounter despite the significant time lost to rain. The quality on offer from both sides showed why they’re earmarked as the title frontrunners. Mohammad Abbas led the way as ever with his second six-for in as many games and Nick Gubbins’ slow burn fell short of putting the chase out of reach on the final day, but they were countered by Pope’s brilliance in both innings and Dan Worrall’s third five-for in a Surrey shirt.
After a frustrating draw for the defending champions last week and a decisive victory for Hampshire in just the second round of competition, the final day’s play felt important. With so much international cricket on the calendar, Surrey must make the most of Pope while he is available, and they certainly cashed in yesterday.
Compton’s successful run continues
Although Sam Hain and Rob Yates were the top scorers at Edgbaston with twin centuries in the first innings, Ben Compton’s 88 in Kent’s second innings quietly highlighted his stellar first-class run with the bat. Having spent some of the winter playing red-ball cricket in Zimbabwe, Compton came into the game having scored centuries in each of his last five games, one of them a double and one last week against Northants.
He had amassed well over a thousand runs last year for Kent, and after 56 innings, he averages 57.97 in first-class cricket. His last five second-innings scores read 154, 217, 131, 114*, and 88 – 704 runs at 176.00.
While some of the chatter during his profitable run in the early part of last season was to wait for his scoring to settle or go through a bad patch – which, to some extent happened at the end of the competition – those calls are getting ever quieter. His innings didn’t quite manage to salvage the result for Kent, but Zak Crawley’s double dismissals on day two offered an interesting contrast.
Kuhnemann the latest Aussie making an impact
In an Ashes year, the early of the Championship cannot evade the whiff of Ashes auditions, but the first two rounds have felt more impactful on Australia selections rather than England’s. Last week it was Marcus Harris, with over 200 runs across innings for Gloucestershire. This week, Matt Kuhnemann made his case to be Nathan Lyon’s understudy.
Kuhnemann rattled through Worcestershire’s order, taking a steady flow of wickets including those of Azhar Ali and Jack Haynes from one end. He was paired brilliantly with Potts, who was at one point on a hat-trick, but it was Kuhnemann who claimed the final wicket of the game after 14 overs of resistance from the final stand.
Yorkshire’s woes deepen
After two games, Yorkshire sit at the bottom of Division Two. It’s not pretty early season reading. With the pitch too waterlogged for any action at Bristol, five points were all that was possible to take from the game. After losing their first fixture in the lower division since 2005 to Leicestershire last week, and conceding their fifth-highest run chase ever to boot, Sussex await them at Hove in the next round.
Notts underway Division One
Back to Division One for the first time since 2019, a shaky start against the Hampshire bowling attack last week gave them a tricky welcome back to the top league. But, with Stuart Broad back in the county ranks and a five-for in 11 overs for Dane Patterson gave them a dominant victory over Somerset. Although Broad was wicketless in his first spell of the match, he bowled a blistering delivery to Cameron Bancroft to castle his off stump in the second innings.
Somerset’s capitulation to 129 in the second innings and failure to pass 200 in either digs continues a worrying trend of brittle batting from their draw against Warwickshire last week. Across both innings only Josh Davey passed fifty at Trent Bridge.