We’re mostly talking about Dans Lawrence and Worrall, Essex’s bowlers, Jordan Cox and Tom Banton this week… and also Keaton Jennings

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It’s not so easy to narrow things down this week. Quite a lot of interesting players made important contributions in the last round of county games. Upshot is… we’re talking about a lot of things.

Dans Lawrence and Worrall

If anything sums up Surrey’s strength right now, it is that after luring Dan Lawrence from their most significant rivals, they’ve dumped him at six in the batting order.

Lawrence has 11 Tests to his name and he’d like a few more. Normally when there’s a 26-year-old in this situation, England encourage that player to challenge themselves. ‘Take responsibility,’ they say. ‘Bat up the order. Make big runs.’

When Lawrence was at Essex, he mostly batted at four. He’s moved counties because he thinks it’ll improve his England chances, yet he’s ended up batting below the wicketkeeper. You look at Surrey’s team and you can see how this happens, but it’s still slightly bizarre.

Lawrence did, admittedly, make a hundred against Kent, batting at three, earlier in the season. But that didn’t last. Nevertheless, he and his replacement in that spot, Ollie Pope, were the only two batters to pass 50 in the first two innings of the match against Worcestershire. Lawrence made 84 and followed that up with 87 in the second innings.

That would on another day have earned him a solo spot in a King Cricket round-up, except that his team-mate and fellow Dan, proud Englishman Dan Worrall, took 10-57 in the match, which is a somewhat ludicrous return.

Essex’s bowlers and Jordan Cox

If Surrey pretty much just minced Worcestershire, their rivals made far heavier weather of securing their latest victory.

How heavy can weather be? (How do you measure it? Which bit do you weigh?) Essex were 235 runs behind after theirs and Warwickshire’s respective first innings. ‘Hey-ho’ reasoned their bowlers and bowled Warwickshire out for 94.

The usual trio of Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and Simon Harmer accounted for the top order. Matt Critchley took 4-24 to account for most of the rest.

There was plenty to do from there though and at 65-3 in pursuit of 330, things didn’t look incredible. Jordan Cox then made 112, while Critchley “chipped in” 99 not out.

We say “chipped in” because convention dictates that you chiefly credit the highest scorer – the guy with a hundred – in these sorts of successful run chases. That seems such a wonderfully arbitrary thing when the guy who was on an unbeaten 99 would almost certainly have gone past his score and had also just taken four wickets for bugger all.

Jordan Cox often gets mentioned when people talk about possible future England wicketkeepers. Somehow or other, we know almost nothing about him beyond that he didn’t keep wicket in this match.

Tom Banton

Surrey are top of the table, but Essex are only actually third because Somerset are going well too. They beat Kent after racking up 554 in their first innings. Tom Banton made a hundred.

Banton felt like the next big limited overs thing for a brief period a few years back, but he hasn’t played for England since 2022. We wonder whether it’s a bit of a foundations thing, like with Jason Roy. A first-class hundred therefore seems noteworthy.

Impressively, Kent managed to secure defeat despite making 564 in their second innings, Zak Crawley contributing 238 after a golden duck in the first dig.

Keaton Jennings

Lancashire have won a game. All it took was twin hundreds from Keaton Jennings.

We wouldn’t say Jennings is fondly-remembered by the majority of England fans. Maybe it was that Virat Kohli chance he missed. Maybe it was that in-swinger he left. Most likely it was because whenever he was playing in England, he played like an awkwardly-constructed Meccano robot with stiff joints and a wooden brain.

At the same time, he did often bat quite well once he was a safe distance away from free-to-air Test highlights shows. And he did once create a wicket with an incredible drop.

He is also – Josh Bohannon aside – Lancashire’s best batter by what at times feels quite a worryingly large margin. Saqib Mahmood – yeah, that Saqib Mahmood – currently boasts their second-highest batting average this season.

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  1. Ebbs, flows, massive turnarounds and squeaky-bum finishes after several delays of battle – the characteristics that make first class and test cricket so very absorbing.

    The 2024 season is well and truly up and running. Shame that the county championship is nearly half done and shame that it is still cold and soggy much of the time.

    1. ‘Ebbs, flows, massive turnarounds and squeaky-bum finishes’ – you’ve clearly been to the same curry house as me.

  2. I do get that Div 1 is important, but surely only when Middlesex are in it? How about some discussion of Middx v Oh, Glammy Glammy (c), eh? The latter are clearly paying Mr Labuschagne a bit. I have to say, watching Helm and Davies eke out the last 40 runs on the live stream beat any IPL match. Crane was turning the ball madly off the whole pitch, MIddlesex were too frightened to lose their 9th wicket, the whole thing was tense, tense. Ged – beer at the Derbyshire game???

    1. I hang my head in shame at my conduct on Monday, following (or avoiding) the Glamorgan v Middlesex Day Four. I watched a little on the stream over an ultra- late lunch, feeling quietly confident for Middlesex even at four down, with Stoneman and the boy Nathan Fernandes (remember where you heard that name first, folks) seemingly set, despite Crane ragging it square.

      I then had some TEAMS meetings and calls, by the end of which, when I looked at the score again, Middlesex were 160-something for 8 and seemed, to me, to be heading for defeat. I decided to sit in the late afternoon sunshine and work on my pile of reading, rather than watch the seemingly inevitable. It was only due to Yorkshire Simon WhatsApping me about 40 minutes later, wondering whether I too was enjoying the exciting ending, that I changed tack and watched the last 15 minutes or so, despite not being able to hide behind a sofa so to do.

      Derbyshire game Jiffy – I’ll be there on the Monday (24th). I have some tennis commitments early-mid afternoon but should be clear of those by tea. It might be metaphorical beer, but for sure up for a drink and some watching if that timing works for you.

      1. Metaphorical beer is, naturally, meta-phor-%-ABV. The brewery might be Fentimans – other botanical brews and metaphorical beverages are available.

  3. Jimmy Anderson’s Test career currently spans seven Prime Minsters. It could become eight, briefly, before he retires.

    1. The Economist headline suggests that Rishi’s choice of date makes no sense…

      …but it makes perfect sense for someone who is hoping to be “between jobs” in time for the Lord’s test the following week.

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