Love takes lead in internationals' absence
As Australia's first choices prepared for the Ashes in various nets around the world, it was a more subdued week of county cricket for the Down Under performers. Martin Love was the standout batsman in lieu of the usual suspects Simon Katich and Mike Hussey, who were ironing their limited-overs uniforms and heading to training camp. Katich was also protecting his injured knee.
Showing his barren Australian summer was a distant memory, Love opened the match against Somerset with 161 in 261 balls, including 25 fours, and now has three centuries for the season and a tally of 595 at 85. He was upstaged slightly by the century of Riki Wessels, the son of Kepler, the Northamptonshire coach and former Australia batsman. However, the pair's plunder was not rewarded in the second innings as they fell for a disastrous 100, Love top-scoring with 33 while Damien Wright, who made nine in the first innings, was unbeaten on 14. Wright also picked up a victim in each innings, but Northamptonshire fell by four wickets.
David Hussey stepped up in the absence of his brother, but was stranded on 98 not out in Nottinghamshire's first innings against Gloucestershire at Bristol. Hussey stayed for 130 deliveries, posting 10 fours and a six, but headed back to the pavilion when Carl Greenidge bowled the No. 11 Oliver Newby. The extra two runs didn't matter when Notts won by an innings and 27 runs to move a point clear of Hampshire on top of the Division One Championship table.
Hampshire suffered horribly without Katich as they were dismissed for 184 and 124, and lost to Warwickshire in two days at Stratford. The one positive was another big haul for Shane Warne, who dismissed the final six batsmen in Warwickshire's first innings to give his side some hope. However, the second collapse, where Warne added 4 to his 0, ensured a 10-wicket win for the home side.
Half-centuries to Phil Jaques and Ian Harvey helped Yorkshire to a high-scoring draw with Essex in Division Two of the Championship at Headingley. Jaques, who began with 2, blasted 89 from 99 balls in the second innings as they followed on despite making 408 in reply to Essex's 8 for 622 declared. Harvey added 76 at the opening attempt, but could make only 15 as they held on for the draw. Yorkshire are now second, eight points behind Durham.
Derbyshire lost to Leicestershire by four wickets in a close match, despite a double of 76 and 73 from Michael Di Venuto. The strength at the top of the order was not matched further down, where Jon Moss collected 4 and 5, but Moss did manage two wickets.
Matthew Elliott, moving back to opener, collected 43 in the National League Division One match against Worcestershire at Sophia Gardens. Worcestershire, who may have been missing the guidance of Tom Moody, who accepted the coaching job of Sri Lanka last week, fell 53 short of Glamorgan's 227.
Durham's new overseas player Ashley Noffke, who has replaced Mick Lewis, made an instant impression with 3 for 33 in nine overs as they secured a one-run win over Kent at Tunbridge Wells. On top of the Division Two competition, Durham made 189 and Kent reached 3 for 170 before Noffke and Nathan Astle stepped in.