The Specsavers County Championship wrapped up before a near month-long white-ball hiatus with another round of fascinating four-day games.
Once again, there were a few day-night encounters in the mix, with some hugely impressive performances put in under floodlights – but who stood out the most?
Read on to find out who made our county team of the week and then tell us who you would have picked on Twitter @SkyCricket…
Ben Duckett (Northamptonshire)
The forgotten man, certainly in terms of England selection after struggles for form and off-field incidents during 2017 derailed his international ambitions. But, despite his former England opening partner Alastair Cook hitting 96 for Essex against Somerset and Rory Burns – talked up as a potential future top order mate of Cook’s – striking 59 and 97 in consecutive innings for Surrey, we’ve given the nod to Duckett. His typically enterprising second-innings 133 off 154 balls helped tee up a declaration and ultimately a second win of the season for Northants.
Jake Libby (Nottinghamshire)
Libby’s opening partner for Notts, Chris Nash, scored a fine first-innings century the draw against Worcestershire – sharing in an opening partnership of 164 – but, following up his 88 from that stand, Libby hit a hundred of his own in the second innings, while Nash managed only 1, to see him win our second opener’s spot.
Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire)
Arguably the star performer with the bat this week, as Trott rolled back the years with one of his Trott-like knocks at No 3, occupying the crease for 465 minutes, hitting 14 boundaries along the way, as he scored an unbeaten 170 in the first innings. 53 further runs came in Warwickshire’s second dig, as they set Durham a stiff 313-run target, which ultimately proved 86 runs too much.
James Vince (Hampshire, captain)
Vince has a Royal London One-Day Cup final to worry about on Saturday, captaining his Hampshire side against Kent at Lord’s – watch live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am. Not that Vince will, in fact, be the slightest bit worried given the sensational form he is in, striking his third century in his last five matches across all formats in his side’s draw with Lancashire. Vince hit 103 in the first innings, enough to just edge out Glamorgan’s Usman Khawaja who matched the Hampshire skipper’s score, continuing the Australian’s own fine form with his third ton in three games.
Joe Clarke (Worcestershire)
Worcestershire continue to battle away at the bottom of the County Championship table, with no better example of their fighting spirit than Clarke, whose second-innings 177 not out off 214 balls was no less stunning than it was crucial as the Pears held out for a draw on 368-8 after having been set 462 to win by Notts. Trott and Vince come ahead of Clarke in this line-up, and the Worcestershire youngster is also tipped to follow those two into the England set-up sooner rather than later.
Ravi Bopara (Essex)
Another man familiar with England takes his place at No 6 in our XI, due in part to the additional help he can offer with the ball. Not that this is what his inclusion is based on this week, with Bopara scoring 118 as Essex amassed 517-5 declared in their first innings against Somerset. He put on a staggering 294 for the fifth wicket with captain, and great mate, Ryan ten Doeschate (173no), who is only edged out due to, as I say, Bopara’s all-round option, and his handy second-innings 58.
Dane Vilas (Lancashire, wicketkeeper)
Plenty of impressive performances put in by wicketkeepers this week, namely Ollie Pope as Surrey stand-in and Yorkshire’s Jonny Tattersall with fifties in the match between the two teams in Scarborough. Also, Tom Moores’ impressive displays continue for Notts as he scored another half century. But, up at Old Trafford, two keepers cashed in with even greater scores – Alex Davies (115) and Vilas (134) both scoring centuries in a 138-run stand for the fourth wicket. As it was Vilas who held the gloves in the game, he edges out his county colleague in our team.
Grant Stewart (Kent)
Another week in county cricket, and another convincing win for Kent in Division Two – a fifth in seven, and the third time already this season they’ve bowled a team out for less than 100. The bulk of the damage has been done by New Zealand paceman Matt Henry but, with him now gone for the second half of the season, it was young Stewart who picked up the mantle. Not only did he take a staggering 6-22 to dismiss Middlesex for 56 in their first innings, he then smashed 103 off 74 balls batting at No 10 and claimed two further second-innings strikes.
Jeetan Patel (Warwickshire)
The spinner’s spot is taken by wily Warwickshire operator Patel. The Kiwi offspinner returned match figures of 9-129, including 6-83 to crucially bundle Durham out for 226, when chasing 313 in their second innings, to ensure another win for his side that sees them stay slightly ahead of Kent in top spot of the second division.
Morne Morkel (Surrey)
Talking of top spot, Surrey strengthened their grip on first place in the top division as they beat Yorkshire by seven wickets in Scarborough. Morkel played a crucial part, taking just 2-63 as their hosts started impressively enough with a first innings 342, and lead of 75. But, it was with the South African seamer’s second-innings 5-39 – taking two wickets in his opening three overs – that the contest truly turned, with Yorkshire bowled out for just 152 and Surrey able to chase down 228.
Mohammad Abbas (Leicestershire)
Leicestershire – winless through the whole of 2017 – now have three triumphs to their name through the first seven games of the season, with their latest owing greatly to the supreme skill of Pakistan seamer Abbas. Like Morkel, the best of his work came in the second innings, following up his earlier two strikes with 6-54 to run through the Derbyshire batting order and hand his batsmen a simple enough run chase of 133 to win.
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