The batsmen continued to hold sway over the bowlers as another week of county cricket action drew to a close yesterday, with another batch of Clydesdale Bank 40 fixtures following the completion of a draw-heavy seventh round of the LV= County Championship.
Over the course of the past seven days, 14 different batsmen scored centuries whereas only four bowlers managed to record five-wicket hauls, and it is from these performances where this week’s CW County Player of the Week must come.
Simon Katich hit the week’s highest score with 196 in the bore-draw played on an increasingly docile Headingley track, with Anthony McGrath joining him in reaching three figures. There were also centuries for, among others, David Sales (140 against Kent); Ramnaresh Sarwan (117 against Essex) and Martin Guptill (132 against Glamorgan).
Of the bowlers, Surrey’s Stuart Meaker was streets ahead of the rest as he returned match figures of 11 for 167 in Surrey’s thrilling, but ultimately drawn, game against Somerset at The Oval. He bowled “not only [with] great pace, but also exceptional control” during his third day spell of five for 42, which he eventually converted into the season’s best figures to date of eight for 52 early on the fourth day. The 23 year-old has now taken 21 wickets in three Championship matches and must surely be pencilled in for this summer’s One-Day International series.
Nonetheless, it is a batsman who takes the award this week. Following on, with his team 360 runs behind on first innings, Paul Horton batted for a day and a half to deny Championship leaders Warwickshire a win at Edgbaston. His marathon knock of 137 not out from 362 balls took Lancashire to safety and ended, or at least brought a temporary halt to, a dismal run of form that sees the defending champions lie eighth in Division One this year.
The 29 year-old from Liverpool via Sydney struck his highest Championship score since September 2009, and his first century for over two years for his county’s first-team – he had been left stranded or been dismissed in the 90s on six occasions since then – as he shared an unbroken sixth-wicket stand of 139 in 309 balls with wicket-keeper Gareth Cross.
Speaking after his seven-and-a-half-hour innings, he said, “It was nice to get a hundred, but it’s more important that we drew the game and to be not out at the end. Cricket’s a game of momentum; Warwickshire have won a couple of games and had good momentum, and we’ve managed to stop that.”
Indeed, Horton went on to illustrate his point about momentum, as he was one of three Lancashire batsmen to half centuries the following day as his team made it two wins out of two in the Clydesdale Bank 40 competition against Essex at Old Trafford. The strong final day performance against Warwickshire might – just might – prove to be the catalyst for change as far as Lancashire’s 2012 season is concerned. Peter Moores, Glen Chapple and the rest of the squad must surely hope so.
© Cricket World 2012