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County Championship 2023

Nine County Championship talking points: Rushworth leads Warwickshire’s title charge and a controversial finish at Old Trafford

Chris Rushworth celebrates a wicket as Warwickshire put together a County Championship title bid
by Josh Stacey 4 minute read

After the sixth round of the 2023 County Championship, Josh Stacey goes through nine talking points from the latest week of action.

Durham boost promotion hopes against Yorkshire who continue winless run

It was a close affair in the North of England, with Durham skirting home by one wicket. This leaves them top of Division Two with three victories, whilst Yorkshire remain rooted to the bottom of the table. Durham scraped over the line thanks to Ben Raine and Matthew Potts who put on 71 for the ninth wicket. With the chance of returning to Division One for the first time since 2016, Durham will continue to push for results, which could reap rewards, but also produce a few stumbling blocks along the way.

Rushworth rules roost as he leads Warwickshire’s title charge

At 36 years old, Chris Rushworth has seen it all in the County Championship and is using his wealth of experience to lead Warwickshire’s attack as they aim for a second Championship title in three years. After his surprise departure from Durham at the end of last year, Rushworth signed for Warwickshire on a two-year deal and has made the step up to Division One look simple. He already has 30 wickets to his name, to go with his match-winning 7 for 38 against Hampshire in the last round. Against Essex, he added a further 8 wickets to his tally, pushing Warwickshire to a four-wicket victory.


Lancashire and Somerset stalemate a poor advertisement for the County Championship

Lancashire and Somerset played out an underwhelming draw in round six with Lancashire reportedly refusing Somerset’s offer of a declaration on the third evening. After Lancashire declined, Somerset’s pushed their lead above 300 on the final afternoon. With no sign of a declaration, Lancashire tossed the ball to wicketkeepers Dane Vilas and George Bell, who bowled a combined 21 overs before the teams shook hands at 4:50 pm, producing a stalemate that was a poor advertisement for the County Championship, especially when you consider that both teams are now winless after five games, and in need of their first victory of the summer.

Gus Atkinson is the game-changer in the London derby

Middlesex were cruising in their first innings on 166 for 1 when Atkinson dismissed both set batters causing a collapse of nine wickets for 43 runs. Surrey grabbed this opportunity with both hands and completed a comfortable nine-wicket victory. Atkinson is highly rated at Surrey and currently has the best average and strike rate of any bowler in Division One with more than 10 wickets. He is sharp and adept at bowling with the older ball; he could be an outside shout for Ashes selection should England be faced with a litany of injuries.

Northants batting woes are on display again

Northants collapsed again to their third defeat in five games. In two of those games, they have been beaten by an innings. In this case, losing by an innings after Notts only posted 255 was catastrophic. Their strength in depth is lacking, with Saif Zaib batting at four averaging just 23.88 in his 42 first-class matches. Sam Whiteman and Rob Keogh have shown some fluidity, and are the only players to average more than 30 this season. Unless they can turn this around, relegation to Division Two seems a certainty.

Kent show strong middle-order resistance to keep the rampant Hampshire at bay

Kent’s middle order saved their blushes as they batted out 113 overs to save the game. After being bowled out for 95 on the first day, defeat looked unavoidable, but it was Kent’s struggling middle-order duo that dug in. They boast one of the most flamboyant openers in county cricket in Zak Crawley, and one of the most consistent in Ben Compton, but have faltered this season beyond those two. However, Leaning and Cox faced 336 balls between them to blunt Hampshire’s strong seam attack and force a draw. Sitting ninth in the table, the continued improvement in their middle order’s form is essential to them avoiding relegation.

Gloucestershire face an uphill battle as the rain stops play again

Any hopes that Gloucestershire had of bouncing straight back to Division One look lost in the weather, as rain forced yet another draw for the west-country side. Gloucestershire have had nine out of 20 days rained off so far this season, and although they haven’t lost, they are yet to register a victory. They are sixth in the table and have had a reasonable start to the season with several players chipping in with good performances, but the weather has left them unable to force a single result

Neser’s sparkling form is a blessing and a curse for Glamorgan

Glamorgan were once again spearheaded by Australian overseas Michael Neser. Neser has been on top form this season, taking 16 wickets and scoring 186 runs. Against Worcestershire, he took four wickets and top scored with 86 down the order, helping the Welsh team to their first win of the season. Despite his performances, there is little time to celebrate, as Neser looks set to be called up to a pre-Ashes warm-up squad, prompting Glamorgan to work out contingencies should they lose their Aussie all-rounder. It is possible that Neser’s stint will be shorter than what Glamorgan initially planned.

Smith’s subdued start affects Sussex in more ways than one

The talk around Steve Smith’s stint in the County Championship has been deafening since its announcement. His inclusion has polarised opinions, but it has not been as fruitful as expected. Smith has scores of 30 and 3, but his underwhelming performance could be overshadowing a greater issue. Since Smith’s arrival, Sussex have had to sacrifice Nathan McAndrew, who was their leading wicket-taker at the time. Sussex have now twice failed to secure victories from dominant positions by struggling to bowl teams out. In a statistical quirk, Steve Smith had the highest number of first-class wickets in the Sussex side facing Leicestershire, which shows the lack of experience at Hove when take away the skills of the rested Ollie Robinson and the left out McAndrew.

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