The County Week - April 17-25 April 24, 2006

Muchall and Lewis start with a bang

Cricinfo takes a look back at the week of county action and some of the performances that caught the eye

Cricinfo takes a look back at the week of county action and some of the performances that caught the eye.

Jon Lewis began the season with a rush of wickets for Gloucestershire © Getty Images
Innings of the week - Gordon Muchall, 213 against Kent
Without Paul Collingwood and Michael Hussey - their 2005 run machines - Durham needed someone to take up the slack. Getting promoted was a fine achievement for a developing team, but they were already being tipped with a struggle to survive. Muchall's career-best showed they aim to be in the top flight for the long haul and also confirmed the talent that makes a career average of 31 so frustrating. However, at 23 he has plenty of time to come through and has got this season off to a flying start.

Bowling of the week - Jon Lewis, 10 for 75 in the match against Somerset
This time last year Lewis was edging into the England Test squad. His chance has now probably come and gone, but give him helpful conditions in early season and he is still as destructive as anyone - just ask Marcus Trescothick, who was pinned lbw twice in a day at Bristol. Lewis finished with a Championship best 7 for 38 in the first innings and for good measure pouched 3 for 37 second time around.

Team of the week - Gloucestershire
Unfancied, unfashionable and under-strength without their two main overseas players, Hamish Marshall and Shane Bond, who are on tour in South Africa, but Gloucestershire certainly added up to more than the sum of their parts in the first week of the season. Firstly, they steamrollered Somerset by an innings and then skittled Middlesex for 95 in the C&G Trophy.

First impressions
It isn't easy to stand out in a bowling attack featuring the likes of Dominic Cork, Sajid Mahmood and Glen Chapple but Tom Smith, Lancashire's 20-year-old debutant seamer, more than held his own. On his Championship debut he took 3 for 29, scored 26 and held a sharp catch at third slip. Then he put Lancashire on course for their one-day win against Leicestershire with figures of 3 for 8 from eight overs. Mike Watkinson's faith in his young charges is well placed with Smith.

New season, same problems
Surrey must have had an awful feeling of déjà vu during their match against Derbyshire. Last season the club was hit by a string of injuries and their eventual relegation meant that, for the first time in their history, they won't be challenging for Championship. But, still, 2006 gave them a chance to start afresh with the father-son combination of Mark and Alan Butcher at the helm. So when, after just 3.2 overs, Mohammad Akram limped off the field with a groin strain Butcher - both of them - must have thought it was still 2005. With Alistair Brown picking up a shoulder injury and Martin Bicknell not even making the match, the physio is set to have another busy year.

Alastair Cook has pressed his claims for a spot in England's first Test squad of the summer © Getty Images
Rolling back the years
As Darren Gough tangoed his way to glory during the winter he made his annual 'I can still play for England' appeal. Well, he certainly has better footwork than some of the top order showed in the one-day series against India. During Essex's opening Championship match against Northamptonshire he rekindled memories of the days when he was considered England's next allrounder, taking 5 for 82 in the first innings before hitting 52 off 50 balls at No. 11. One final shot at the World Cup? You can never say never with Dazzler.

A famous double-act
The names Hutton and Compton have a rich history in English cricket and they were reunited this week on a scorecard. While Ben and Nick will struggle to replicate the success of Sir Len and Denis their opening stand of 192, for Middlesex against Oxford UCCE, was one to get the historians and statisticians excited.

Ten10...The new Twenty20?
Twenty20 is so last year. Ten10 is the way to go judging by the rain-affected match between Essex and Glamorgan. Ronnie Irani and Alastair Cook smashed Essex to their target of 99 in just 7.2 overs. Irani finished on 51 off 21 balls while Alastair Cook showed he can also play one-day cricket with 46 off 23.

England watch
Marcus Trescothick recovers from a double failure in the Championship to smash 158 against Kent in the C&G Trophy...Cook makes 88 and 103 not out against Northamptonshire...Simon Jones has his first serious bowl since recovering from injury as Glamorgan take on Cardiff UCCE...Sajid Mahmood takes three as Lancashire down Leicestershire in the C&G.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo