Surrey’s Ollie Pope has made 264 runs in four County Championships innings this year. Warwickshire’s Sam Hain has made 284 in two. It’s a reminder of how England’s selectors can sometimes influence the title race.
Essex, Hampshire and (technically) Kent made the early running in the opening round of the County Championship.
However, in round two, the Essex v Lancashire dobble-off was blighted by both rain and competent second innings batting and ended up a draw; Hampshire were beaten by Surrey; and Kent were annihilated by Warwickshire.
Which means the table now looks like this:
Surrey’s win was largely shaped by sometime England wicketkeeper Ollie Pope, who defied Mohammad Abbas et al to make 91 in the first innings and then apparently learned enough from his dismissal to Abbas to make 122 not out off 102 balls in the second innings in what turned out to be something of a canter to victory.
Warwickshire’s innings victory was set up by Sam Hain, a Hong Kong-born, Australia-raised England Lions batter who made 165 not out in a total of 453-4.
Once upon a time Hain was Warwickshire’s next big thing. He probably isn’t any more. Even if 27 isn’t too old to still be a ‘next big thing’ (and we don’t really have a position on that) then there’s a case for saying he’s in the process of graduating into being Warwickshire’s current big thing anyway.
Hain made 1,137 runs at 63.16 last season and has now made a hundred both times he’s batted this season. He is unarguably going well. Too well perhaps? If Warwickshire have designs on winning the title (and presumably they do because, you know, that’s kind of the point) then probably the best thing for them would be if Ollie Pope and Harry Brook carried on playing really well.
Warwickshire won’t achieve much this week though because they aren’t playing. And even more helpfully, the team they aren’t playing are Surrey. After two whole matches, the top of the table’s having a bit of a breather.
It’s a bit confusing, but the same sort of a move worked okay for post-apocalyptic drama, The Last of Us. After two episodes introducing its audience to central characters, Joel and Ellie, episode three pretty much entirely focused on Ron Swanson and that Aussie fella from the first series of The White Lotus, neither of whom we’d encountered before. That was a very powerful episode. Maybe Northamptonshire or Somerset can deliver something similar later this week.