Eight takeaways from the latest round of Bob Willis Trophy fixtures
In between rain delays, the return of the Bob Willis Trophy saw some fine cricket on show. Here are some highlights from this week’s fixtures:
After sunny spells dominated lockdown, it was inevitable that cricket’s return would be soon followed by the rain. This weekend saw every county fixture disrupted by bad weather with most games ending in draws. However, that didn’t stop counties getting creative to force a result. At the Fischer County Ground, both sides forfeited an innings each after some vintage declaration bowling from the home side.
Some vintage declaration bowling on display from Leicestershire against Durham.
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) August 18, 2020
Unlucky for Some-rset?
Sitting top of the central group going into the round, Somerset continued to dominate in the Bob Willis Trophy but were desperately unlucky to leave Edgbaston without a victory. In reply to Warwickshire’s 121, Somerset declared on 413-9. An innings that featured centuries from Steven Davies and Jamie Overton; the pair put on 180 runs for the ninth wicket. Somerset needed four wickets at the start of the final day to seal a third consecutive win, but rain meant they could only take two.
Essex were able to make it three wins out of three as they recovered from a first innings deficit of 54 to win against Sussex. Simon Harmer’s second innings five-for changed the momentum of the game, as in true Essex style they somehow found a way to win. Set 196, Dan Lawrence led the chase with a fine 60, as Essex reached Sussex’s target with three wickets remaining. A vital win as other’s were forced into rain inflicted draws.
A brilliant performance from Somerset here in Birmingham. A performance that would have resulted in victory 99/100 times
We still take a good haul of 16 points into the local derby on Saturday 👍#WeAreSomerset #WARvSOM pic.twitter.com/gxqzuj7sFP
— Somerset Cricket 🏏 (@SomersetCCC) August 18, 2020
A batsman’s game?
Low scores dominated the gameweek as batsmen struggled amid testing conditions and rain delays. There were low scores up and down the country but it was Sophia Gardens that saw the lowest scoring game of the week. Glamorgan were bowled out for 116 before Gloucestershire fell to 181 all out themselves in reply.
We’ll just blame it on the pitch, right?
That’s quite green… https://t.co/kreTcXPbXW
— Yas Rana (@Yas_Wisden) August 17, 2020
Favourable conditions saw the seamers shine. Darren Stevens took his 800th career wicket with a five-wicket haul for Kent, as Ian Holland tore through the Surrey top-order on his way to a first-innings six-for at Arundel. Elsewhere, Jamie Porter and George Garton impressed with five wickets apiece for Essex and Sussex respectively.
England’s fringe players making a case?
On his Kent return, Joe Denly narrowly missed out on a ton as Dan Lawrence scored 60 on a difficult surface at Hove. At Headingley, David Malan registered a career-best double hundred while Sam Northeast scored 81 in Hampshire’s win over Surrey.
Positive signs for Notts
Hundreds from Ben Slater and Ben Duckett saw Nottinghamshire pile on 472 against Lancashire. Tom Barber, Zak Chappell and Peter Trego all took three wickets apiece as Lancashire were forced to follow on. A promising performance from Notts ended in a draw, with rain the main obstacle coming between them and a first first-class victory in two seasons.
Surrey’s struggles continue
After winning the County Championship two years ago, Surrey have struggled to hit the heights of 2018. Hindered by numerous players now in the England set-up, Surrey once again disappointed with the bat. Even the return of Jason Roy couldn’t stop Surrey’s top order falling to 36-5 in the first innings only for Sussex loanee Laurie Evans to bailed them out with a 65 to take Surrey to 172. The returning Morne Morkel went wicketless as Amar Virdi’s took a six-for with the ball, the only real highlight on an otherwise disappointing week that got worse in their second innings. Surrey were skittled for 74 second time round to lose by an innings as James Fuller registered a hat-trick, sealed with a questionable leave from Morkel. That defeat means that Surrey are the only team in the country to have lost all three of their Bob Willis Trophy games so far.
Fell’s first red-ball century since cancer battle
Tom Fell scored his first first-class century since his battles with cancer. His sixth first-class century came off 205 balls as Worcestershire beat Northamptonshire by 78 runs. The win puts Worcestershire top of the central group with two rounds of fixtures remaining.