The County Week - June 12-19

Benning's solo and nearly all ten

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

Andrew McGlashan

June 19, 2006

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

James Benning hit 189 off 146 balls but still Surrey lost © Getty Images
Innings of the week - James Benning, 189 not out against Gloucestershire
There was plenty of competition for this slot; Stuart Law's 121 against Warwickshire, Justin Kemp's 70-ball 118 off Durham and Phil Jaques' career-best 244 at Chelmsford. But a late entrant sneaked in with an amazing one-man show in the C&G Trophy. There won't be many times that an unbeaten 189 finishes on the losing side of limited overs match, but James Benning couldn't quite pull off one of the great solo one-day efforts against Gloucestershire. Chasing 339, Benning carried his bat with the next highest score being from the No. 11, Neil Saker. With three needed from two balls, Saker hit towards midwicket and ran but Benning didn't. Not bad for a match that had nothing riding on it.

Bowling of the week - Charlie Shreck and Zaheer Khan
Two bowlers came to the brink of one of cricket's magical performances - all ten wickets in an innings - during the last round of Championship matches. Charlie Shreck, the tall Nottinghamshire seamer, was the first to approach the mark as the Middlesex batting disintegrated to the tune of 49 all out. However, Graeme Swann took the ninth wicket and Shreck would not actually have the chance for all ten in any case as Ben Hutton was absent ill in the second innings. Zaheer Khan, though, should have done it. After tearing through Essex, on the second evening at Chelmsford, he ended the day with 9 for 78. The next morning he was given every chance to claim all ten and produced the opportunity. But Steven Davies, the Worcestershire keeper, fluffed his lines and spilled the catch off Darren Gough. Matt Mason eventually took the final wicket.

Team of the week - Nottinghamshire
The season is approaching the halfway point and Nottinghamshire have struggled to get into their stride. So it's to their credit that they managed to break their Championship duck this week with an impressive performance against Middlesex. David Hussey's return to form will have major long-term benefits while Shreck has shown the potential to scare the life out of opposition batsmen. Retaining the Championship title, after such a slow start, is too much to ask, but the about-turn in fortunes over the last few days should leave them in good heart as they aim to move away from the foot of the table.

Dominic Cork was always in the thick of the action at Edgbaston © Getty Images
Lord's bound
Sussex booked their place at Lord's for the C&G final and, to be honest, their progression has rarely appeared in doubt. After all the talk of meaningless matches in the new-format tournament, the clash against Hampshire was a virtual semi-final. Hampshire should have scored more than 254 and it proved a comfortable chase for Sussex's powerful top-order, although it was the unheralded Carl Hopkinson who guided them over the line. For once Shane Warne's magic wasn't enough. Their opposition won't be known until next weekend, but Lancashire are in the box seat because if they beat Warwickshire, Durham can't catch them.

Cork pops
Talking of Lancashire, life is pretty good for them at the moment. They went top of the Championship with a comprehensive seven-wicket win over Warwickshire and even without the likes of Sajid Mahmood and Glen Chapple have a powerful line-up. Dominic Cork is taking on added responsibility and produced a destructive 6 for 53 at Edgbaston. In the second innings he went wicketless, but still showed his competitive edge with a spot of crowd banter. "Get back to Derbyshire," yelled one spectator. "Get on an Atkins diet," retorted Cork. He just can't help himself.

England watch
Michael Vaughan hits 36 against Leicestershire in C&G Trophy...Monty Panesar takes six wickets in the match against Derbyshire... Jon Lewis bags four scalps...Owais Shah scores 66 against Nottinghamshire

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

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Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.

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