The County Week - May 15-22 May 22, 2006

Worcestershire's thrill of the chase

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.



Tom Smith grabbed career-best figures in the Roses clash at Headingley © Getty Images
Innings of the week - Phil Jaques, 107 v Worcestershire
For a first outing of the season this was a pretty impressive effort as Jaques creamed the Surrey bowlers around The Oval in a rollicking 64-ball hundred. This match - which also included a first-innings 61 - showed that Jaques is determined to repeat the same run-scoring form that he has brought to Yorkshire and Northamptonshire. Competition is fierce for slots in the Australian team and another productive season will keep Jaques's name in the shake-up.

Bowling of the week - Tom Smith, 4 for 55 v Yorkshire
Lancashire's latest seam-bowling recruit can do no wrong at the start of his career and he has constantly found himself in the wicket-taking lists during the early stages of the season. In his first Roses clash, Smith produced his best Championship figures to give Lancashire a chance of forcing a win - although they were ultimately denied by the weather and a stubborn Jason Gillespie, whose batting defied yet another team. Smith has acquired the happy knack of taking early wickets and this continued when he removed Matthew Wood in his first over. Lancashire have an impressive record of producing seam bowlers; Smith can continue that production line.

Team of the week - Worcestershire
It's been a tough start to the summer for the men from New Road, but they could well look back on the final day against Surrey as the turning point. Rain had left the match needing some positive declarations to stay alive and Worcestershire chased 285 in 62 overs. They were storming along at 95 for 0 in the ninth over when the heavens opened and as play resumed there were just 32 overs to chase the runs. Yet they still won. Boundaries flew, wickets tumbled, two bowlers were on hat-tricks and the match was finished with a first-ball six from Zaheer Khan. Phew. The new two-up promotion set-up is certainly creating some positive cricket.



Covered up: a familiar sight during the past week of cricket © Cricinfo Ltd
Rain is a pain
For the first time this season the weather played havoc with a week of cricket. All the Championship matches were affected in some form, while only one C&G match ended with a positive result and three were called off without a ball bowled. With it being a reduced round of Championship games over the last seven days, a number of counties will be thanking the fixtures computer as they watched other teams tread water, literally, and miss out on the chance to push for wins.

Scotland the brave... or is that Australia?
The one C&G game to escape the weather threw up a surprise as Northamptonshire were downed by the impressive Scots. Corey Richards and Ian Moran, the Australian overseas duo, led the way as Scotland notched their second win of the group stages. For the benefit of their World Cup campaign it would be great to see some homegrown talent prosper but a win is a win. For Northants the one-day circus is proving no laughing matter. They are rooted to the foot of the North Group after four straight defeats.

Debut delight
A quick word about Ollie Rayner, the 20-year-old offspinner, who marked his first-class debut with a century against the Sri Lankans. Coming in at 98 for 6, with Lasith Malinga working up an impressive head of steam, Rayner took just 132 balls to reach his ton. It was a fine performance, even if the Sri Lankans resorted to some part-time bowling, but wasn't enough to secure Rayner a place in the Sussex squad for this week's Championship game.

England watch
Michael Vaughan has a gentle net at Headingley...Steve Harmison makes his Championship return with 15 overs against Nottinghamshire...Ian Bell makes runs for Warwickshire 2nd XI but can't keep his spot in the Test squad...Ian Blackwell is back in action after his back problems.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo