County week May 22-29 May 29, 2006

Starting in style and a familiar pair

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.



Mushtaq Ahmed was in the wickets again this week © Getty Images
Innings of the week - Varun Chopra, 106 v Gloucestershire
Debut nerves, what debut nerves? Chopra looked like he'd been playing first-class cricket for years as he made a stunning start to his career. During the winter he was part of the England Under-19 set-up that toured Bangladesh and then went to Sri Lanka for the World Cup. He has impressed good judges with his mature approach and classical batting style. Benefiting from Alastair Cook's England appearances and Will Jefferson's injury, Chopra took the opportunity of his first Championship match with both hands at Chelmsford as he became the second youngest Essex batsman to hit a century. The hundred came from 149 balls and, just for good measure, he followed up with an unbeaten half-century in the second innings.

Bowling of the week - Mushtaq Ahmed and Naved-ul-Hasan
This could become repetitive. These two players have already featured heavily in this column, but there was very little competition this week and very little to split them. So it's a joint award. Durham could have been forgiven for thinking they were playing in Karachi instead of Chester-le-Street (if he hadn't been for slight temperature difference) as Mushtaq and Naved combined to take 19 wickets between them. In the second innings Durham were threatening to make a game of it by easing to 47 without loss; then Mushtaq took three in four balls and the writing was on the wall. The pair have shared 65 wickets already this campaign, but the one saving grace for the chasing pack is Naved's time with Pakistan when their tour starts. Mushtaq, though, will be around all summer.

Team of the week - Sussex
Top of the Championship, top of their C&G group - life is pretty rosy on the south coast at the moment. Sussex have been a force in four-day cricket for a few seasons now, but one-day form has often suffered as they plough their energies into the longer format. This season, however, both have clicked at the same time - and in some style. The batting has often been the key in one-day matches, with large targets being chased down, while the bowling attack has led from the front with some devastating performances in the Championship.



Michael Vaughan was back in action for Yorkshire © Getty Images
To declare or not to declare

Chasing the game, no problem
Talking of chasing targets, the incredible one-day international at Johannesburg showed that almost any total is gettable. Although not on the same scale, Sussex and Yorkshire both produced outstanding run chases to win their respectively C&G games on Sunday. Sussex were down, and nearly out, at 56 for 4 in pursuit of 297 against Essex. However, Murray Goodwin unleashed a stunning, unbeaten 158 - after running out his captain, Chris Adams - to carry the team home with seven balls to spare. Darren Lehmann was equally destructive against Lancashire as his 69-ball 92 showed he is still one of the best finishers around.

Another KP?
Kevin Pietersen grabbed most of the headlines this week - not for the first time, or last - with his amazing innings at Edgbaston. Back on the county scene, there is another South African making a name for himself by going about his business in a more understated manner. Jonathan Trott qualifies for England at the end of the season and this summer has 588 runs at 84 in the Championship. Throw in his sharp fielding and useful medium-pace and don't rule him out a one-day call-up in the near future.

England watch
Michael Vaughan starts his first game since the tour of India when he lines up for Yorkshire against Scotland and hits 67...Steve Harmison steps up his return with four wickets against Sussex...Ian Bell makes just 14 against Middlesex...Owais Shah hits 73 in the same match

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo