County Championship team of the week: James Vince sends England selectors timely reminder

There were plenty of impressive performances in the final round of Specsavers County Championship matches before a mini break for the start of the Royal London One-Day Cup.

Lancashire vs Notts

May 17, 2018, 1:30pm

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The likes of James Vince, Nick Gubbins and young hopefuls Ollie Pope and Joe Clarke hit big runs ahead of England’s first Test squad of the summer – but do they make our XI?

Also, there were some striking contributions from the bowlers, and not just with ball in hand, as Matt Henry and Marchant de Lange produced fine all-round efforts for their counties.

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

Keaton Jennings (Lancashire)

With England naming their squad for the first Test against Pakistan on Tuesday, there were some timely runs for Middlesex’s Nick Gubbins – heavily tipped for a place – who followed up a century last week with 99 in the first innings against Gloucestershire. However, he is edged out for the first opener’s spot in our team by a somewhat forgotten name in terms of England selection, Lancashire’s Jennings. He was in the Test team last summer, but hasn’t been talked up in the slightest since being discarded midway through the series against South Africa. That might soon change if he builds on his fine 126 in the innings win over Nottinghamshire and his 109 against Somerset a week prior.

Will Rhodes (Warwickshire)

Partnering Jennings at the top of the order is Warwickshire’s Rhodes, who hit a maiden first-class hundred in the win over Northamptonshire. With team scores over the first three innings of the game hovering between 187 and 265, the Bears’ target of 179 was by no means a cake walk, but the former Yorkshire youth product certainly made it look that way, serenely going through to a century off only 165 runs – doing so in style, reaching the landmark with the match-winning boundary.

James Vince (Hampshire, captain)

Can double-hundreds be any more timely than the one Vince scored on Monday, with that Test squad announcement looming? Vince, whose place in the England team is arguably most under threat, had managed only one half century in Hampshire’s first four games of the season, but he sparked into life against Somerset with 201 second-innings runs in a high-scoring draw. Special mentions too for Hampshire team-mate Hashim Amla, who hit 107 in a 194-run stand with Vince, and Somerset veteran James Hildreth who earlier hit 184.

Ollie Pope (Surrey)

While Vince’s double-ton was the standout knock of the week, there is arguably no batsman in better form right now than Surrey’s 20-year-old Pope. He hit 145 in their season opener against Vince’s Hampshire, and went even better in the innings-and-17-run thrashing of Yorkshire this week, scoring a sublime 158 not out off only 224 balls as Surrey amassed 414 in the first innings. While it may be a little too soon for international recognition, he will surely be mentioned in England squad discussions, along with some fellow future stars – Joe Clarke at Worcestershire, who scored a century for the second game running, against Essex, whose own Dan Lawrence tallied 71 in the second innings.

James Bracey (Gloucestershire)

Clarke misses out on selection for another young batting talent, making his way in the second division. Not many may have heard of Gloucestershire’s Bracey, but the the 21-year-old left-hander has made quite the impression during the first few weeks of the season. Already with an unbeaten 120 against Glamorgan under his belt, Bracey was at it again with 125 not out to help his side hold on for a draw against Middlesex. Forced to follow on, Gloucestershire started day four on 66-2 – Bracey on only five, and still trailing by 179 runs – but the youngster’s starring century helped them claim a share of the spoils, finishing on 326-4.

Stuart Poynter (Durham, wicketkeeper)

With Ireland currently involved in a historic maiden Test match against Pakistan, Poynter – who has played 16 ODIs and 14 T20Is for the Emerald Isle – gave the selectors a reminder of his big-scoring abilities with a magnificent 170 for Durham, off just 208 balls. Poynter also hauled in five catches in the Derbyshire second innings. It all helps him edge out England’s Jonny Bairstow – who blasted a characteristically counter-attacking 95 off 94 balls in the first-innings of Yorkshire’s heavy defeat to Surrey – for the right to have the gloves in our team.

Sam Curran (Surrey)

Talking about that heavy defeat suffered by Yorkshire, the star for Surrey with ball in hand was undoubtedly 19-year-old left-armer Curran, who claimed 6-54 in the first-innings – including England captain Joe Root lbw for 14 – on his way to 10-101 in the match. And, while others listed below him in our team scored plenty more runs than his 19 for Surrey this week, we’re sticking with him at No 7, where he bats for his county.

Marchant de Lange (Glamorgan)

A prime example of the batting talent to come is Glamorgan’s De Lange, who struck a simply extraordinary 46-ball 90 – containing eight sixes and five fours – that took his team to within a boundary of an unlikely victory over Leicestershire. Having been set 251 to win, Glamorgan appeared to be limping to defeat at 139-8, only for De Lange to then launch a staggering fightback before perishing four agonising runs short of victory. The South African Kolpak seamer made an impression with the ball too, taking three wickets in each innings to finish with 6-121.

Matt Henry (Kent)

Henry is the standout bowler in county cricket right now with a quite staggering 37 wickets to his name through Kent’s first four matches of the summer. The New Zealand overseas quick’s latest starring act came against Sussex as he took 6-53 to dismiss the south coast outfit for 211 when chasing 270 to win – he finished with 10-122 in the match. Henry is also another to have had a fine game with the bat; with Kent struggling at 146-7 in their second innings – a lead of only 180 – Henry struck 55 crucial runs, off only 53 balls, to fire his side up to a match-winning total.

Simon Harmer (Essex)

There was plenty of bowling talent on show in Worcester this week. The home team’s 20-year-old, talented fast bowler Josh Tongue took nine wickets in the match – including a second-innings 5-32 – while Australian veteran Peter Siddle claimed 5-37 to help Essex bowl out their hosts for 182 when chasing a gettable 215-run target. But, with our team currently lacking a spinner, we’ve saved this spot for offspinner Harper, whose own 5-43 in that Worcestershire second innings – including the game-clinching wicket – helped Essex escape with a 32-run win.

Graham Onions (Lancashire)

We round off our XI in much the same way we started it, by once again referencing the upcoming England Test squad announcement, as James Anderson and Mark Wood both played themselves into form this week – Anderson with match figures of 6-53 in Lancashire’s win over Notts, and Wood tearing through Derbyshire batsmen in the second innings with 6-46. But, it’s Anderson current team-mate at Old Trafford, and a former one of Wood’s at Emirates Riverside, who sneaks in ahead of both. Former England seamer Onions claimed match figures of 9-77 – including 6-55 in the second innings – in Lancashire’s innings-and-67-run win.

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