The County Week - July 24-31 August 1, 2006

Powell's one short and Croft's 13

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



His England days are well behind him, but Robert Croft is bowling as well as ever for Glamorgan © Getty Images
Innings of the week - Michael Powell, 299 v Gloucestershire
For most batsmen one double century in a season would be classed as good going; Michael Powell has now had two in as many matches. Had a case of the 'nervous 299s' not struck against Gloucestershire, Powell would have reached the rarified atmosphere of the 300 club. As it is he joins the likes of Martin Crowe in being one short of that rare milestone. Powell got within touching distance of the England team when he was called up into the one-day squad in 2004, but never made it as far as the pitch. Since then his form has been inconsistent but a further chance is not out of the question, especially judging by the words of Matthew Maynard, England's assistant coach: "If the other England batsmen weren't doing so well, he'd be in for the next Test." Nothing to do with the fact they used to play together, of course.

Bowling of the week - Robert Croft, 13 for 187 v Gloucestershire
It's turning into a damn good time for English spinners - yes, you heard me right. Last week it was Adil Rashid turning heads with six wickets on debut for Yorkshire, then Monty won a Test with finger spin and on the same day a former England finger-spinner, Robert Croft, showed he still had the skills. On the same pitch that Powell smacked 299, Croft bagged a 13-wicket haul to spin his side to victory. They were the second-best figures of his 17-year career and show why Croft was once the great spinning hope for English (and Welsh) cricket. Sadly, he fell out with the England set-up and retired from international cricket in 2003 to concentrate on his Glamorgan career. It has proved a wise decision.

Team of the week - Lancashire
Never mind backs-to-the-wall, Lancashire were gone for all money at Trent Bridge as their Championship title challenge threatened to implode following their narrow loss to Kent. After crashing for 200, 197 behind Nottinghamshire, the Lancashire openers were almost ready to head straight back out for the follow on. However, Stephen Fleming opted to bat again and Glen Chapple tore through them with six wickets. Still, a target of 312 on a tricky pitch left Nottinghamshire favourites, but Lancashire continued to turn the tables. Iain Sucliffe, without a century in 30 innings, marshalled the chase and Stuart Law could even afford to bag a pair. Lancashire now top the table by one point to Sussex, who they face at Hove in the next round. In football terms, it's a six-pointer.



Chris Tremlett has returned from injury and produced a fine run of form as he tries to keep his name in the England frame © Getty Images
Tall orders Quietly this summer the re-emergence of one of England's forgotten men has been taking place on the south coast. Ask many fans who was the 12th man in the England squad for the first four Ashes Tests and they'll probably say Gary Pratt before even thinking of Chris Tremlett. However, a year ago Tremlett was the next in line but he broke down towards the end of the summer and missed the Pakistan tour and the A tour of West Indies. Injuries still plagued him at the start of this season and attentions quickly shifted to Sajid Mahmood and Stuart Broad. Tremlett, though, has gone about his business very effectively for Hampshire in recent weeks and now as 22 wickets at 21 in the Championship. If he can find a bit of fire in the belly he won't be far away again.

Wanted: new coach, Afrikaans speaking an advantage
The shocking county news of the week is that a South African has actually left Wantage Road. In recent seasons that hasn't happened too often, with most arriving on a one-way ticket via the Kolpak immigration line. However, the club has now parted company with Kepler Wessels with the team lying second-bottom in the second division. The press released suggests the decision wasn't made on the best of terms: "Understandably a poor run of results had led to frustrations for the Director of Cricket, the dressing room and the club and inevitably tensions run high in these situations." Anyone up for a challenging coaching role?

England watch
Chris Read fails in the Championship but hits 72 in Pro40 and gets an England recall... Jamie Dalrymple scores just 6 and 8 at Lord's but takes three wickets against Durham...After a dash back from Old Trafford, Jon Lewis bowled just nine overs in Gloucestershire's defeat against Glamorgan... Chris Tremlett takes seven in the match against Yorkshire.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo