After a particularly wet and miserable April, the start of May dispelled the rumours that summer may not be coming at all, with temperatures soaring to record highs over the bank holiday weekend. Batsman all over the country would have been delighted to look up to see skies without a cloud, but filled with the promise of runs.
GM players amassed their finest displays to date, racking up five 100’s, eleven 50’s and two 5 wicket hauls, all of which are mentioned below.
With a number of GM batsman filling their boots this week, it seems apt to start with the highest score of the season so far in County Cricket.
That honour falls to Dane Vilas, the South African keeper/batsman who scored a ruthless 235* for Lancashire against Somerset at Old Trafford.
With Somerset winning the toss and choosing to bat first, they would have been feeling pretty good about the decision with George Bartlett notching up his first professional hundred, including a 135 run partnership with cricketing stalwart Marcus Trescothick, 22 years his senior.
After finishing 429 all out, Lancashire began their innings cautiously having been restricted to 48/2 before Vilas began his mammoth stint at the crease, which included 27 boundaries and four 6’s. The Red Roses had a slight wobble in the middle of the innings before fellow GM teammate Jordan Clark strolled out to the crease, collecting his third 50 in as many matches to ensure Lancs surpassed Somerset’s total. They eventually finished on 492 all out.
After some batting masterclasses in the first innings, there wasn’t enough time to force a result by either team as the match petered out into a high-scoring draw.
There was a result, however, at Trent Bridge where Nottingham continued their fine form, proving too much for James Vince’s Hampshire side.
With the home side electing to bat first, Ross Taylor continued his good run of scores, falling just short of yet another 50. He was joined by Samit Patel, who obviously prefers the warm weather, as his lean run came to an end with an eye-catching 73, including 12 boundaries, as Notts amassed 302 all out.
In reply, Hampshire slumped to 223 all out, with only Lewis McManus providing much resistance as he made 66, his fifth 50 in county cricket.
The Notts bowling cartel showed why they are the most feared in the country at the moment as all made contributions, with Patel picking up 3 wickets, Harry Gurney 2 and Jake Ball & Luke Fletcher grabbing 1 each.
With a lead of 75, Notts came out swinging to force a result, whacking their way to 389/9d, with Taylor thrashing 83 from 69 balls, ensuring there was plenty of time left in the match to give themselves a chance at bowling Hants out for the second time.
Once again, the GM bowlers for Notts did the damage as Ball continued his terrific start to the season, picking up 3/64, supported by Gurney (3/57) and Patel (1/23). The Outlaws are sitting top of Division 1, 17 points above next best Somerset.
From the top of the table, we head to the bottom, where Surrey took on Worcestershire at the Oval, in another match featuring over 1000 runs without a result.
Surrey skipper Rory Burns continues to make his case for a call-up to the England Test side as he eventually fell for a remarkable 193, falling just short of what would have been his second career double hundred, as Surrey were dismissed for 434.
Unlike Worcester’s previous three matches, they put on a terrific batting display, with Tom Fell and Travis Head passing 50 as the away side battled their way to 526 all out.
With so many runs scored it was an inevitable draw with Surrey eventually declaring on 173/3, however there wasn’t even time for Worcester to face a single ball in reply.
The final game in Division 1 took place in Chelmsford as the reigning champions Essex took on Yorkshire.
However, not even a Yorkshire side including all of their England Internationals could prevent them from being bowled out for just 50, thanks largely to an incredible spell from 20 year old Sam Cook who took 5/28 in just 9 overs.
In a remarkable comeback, Yorkshire restricted Essex to 124, before responding with 329 all out with Cook unable to re-create his first innings efforts. That left Essex needing 237 to secure their second win of the season. However, despite a valiant 34 from Ryan ten Doeschate, Essex fell 91 runs short, being dismissed for just 146.
The run-scoring festivities continued in Division 2 as Middlesex and Sussex battled away in Brighton. With Middlesex electing to bat first, Ollie Robinson made sure to spoil the party as he took quite incredible figures of 7/58, restricting Middlesex to just 230 all out. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that they aren’t even his career best figures, a remarkable feat at just 24-years-old and 32 matches into his career.
Sussex then continued where the bowlers left off, amassing 323 with Robinson once again showcasing his all-round talents by adding 52 runs off just 57 balls.
Middlesex refused to go down quietly, however. Middlesex captain and England batsman Dawid Malan reminded everyone why he was England’s brightest light in Australia by scoring 119, his first ton of the season, as his side fought hard to take the lead past 200.
Needing 229 to win, Sussex steadily chipped away and despite Malan picking up a wicket to leave the home side 215/7, Robinson once again strode out the middle full of confidence ensuring his side secured the win, finishing 10*.
In another high-scoring affair, Derbyshire headed to Birmingham to face a Warwickshire side buoyed by their win last week.
Derbyshire elected to have a bat and Wayne Madsen ensured that was the correct choice as he stroked his way to a fantastic 144. However it appears his teammates didn’t quite get the memo as they slumped to 251/8 before Madsen was joined by Duanne Olivier who made a quick-fire 40* to get Derbyshire to 318.
Olivier then backed up his performance with the bat by taking 4/134, supported by opening partner Hardus Viljoen (2/97). Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to stop Warwickshire racing past Derby’s total, with Jonathan Trott rolling back the years with a dogged 76 as his side reached 439 all out.
Needing to amass a large second innings total, Derby were thwarted by some excellent bowling as only Ben Slater (68) and Viljoen (44) dug in enough to give them half a chance. Viljoen was the last to fall as the visitors limped to 209 all out.
Needing just 89 to win, Trott once again showed that class is permanent as he ensured the victory, scoring 35* off just 45 balls.
And finally, we head to Durham where they faced Leicestershire in a bottom of the table clash. The home side elected to field and could do little as they watched the visitors make 440 all out with Cameron Steel taking 1/30 and Aiden Markram picking up 1/1.
The Durham reply was poor at best, with Graham Clark the only man to pass fifty as they were scuttled out for 184 on a flat pitch. Asked to follow-on, Durham proved how flat the pitch was by making 403, with Steel (86) Markram (94) putting on 152 for the first wicket.
That left Leicester needing just 147 to secure their first win of the season. Unfortunately, they came up against a fired-up Durham bowling attack who ran through the Leicester side for just 101 all out. This was Durham’s first ever victory after being asked to follow-on.