The County Week - August 1-7 August 8, 2006

Ramprakash goes large while Sussex denied

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



After a near-miss earlier in the summer, Mark Ramprakash joined the 300-club © Getty Images
Innings of the week - Mark Ramprakash, 301 not out v Northamptonshire
He came close against Gloucestershire in May with 292, but finally Mark Ramprakash has joined the 300-club after his marathon effort against Northamptonshire. Whatever you say about the man, from his failed Test career to the switch from North to South London, there is no denying his thirst for runs. The triple-century was a study in batsmenship; he was never in trouble, picked the right ball to hit (of which there were plenty), and never wavered in his concentration. His career will always be tagged with 'what if', but at least he has crossed one more milestone off the list. With five Championship matches still to play, Ramprakash now has 1848 runs and is on course to be the first English batsman passed 2000 since he did it himself in 1995.

Bowling of the week - Stuart Broad, 9 for 135 in the match v Gloucestershire
If there are any spare places floating around on England's flight out to Australia, the most likely opening is in the seam bowling department. Their third/fourth seamer - whether it's Liam Plunkett, Sajid Mahmood or Jon Lewis - has failed to impress this summer and the spot is still someone's to claim. Stuart Broad continues to make his case stronger by the week, and added nine wickets to his season tally against Gloucestershire, lifting him to 38 for the summer at 30. Nobody has failed to be impressed by Broad, the 20-year-old, but there has been a feeling around that he shouldn't be rushed. However, sometimes a player becomes irresistible and with the one-day series against Pakistan around the corner he is surely worth a punt.

Team of the week - Surrey
Surrey are a class apart from anything else in the Second Division and proved it again this week, despite having to work hard to nail Northamptonshire. Their batting order - led by the unstoppable Ramprakash - is too much for most bowling attacks in the lower division, and when you throw in the likes of Mark Butcher, Scott Newman and Ali Brown it is a recipe for carnage. Surrey's power with the ball is not lacking much, either, especially now they have the skills of Anil Kumble, who claimed 11 against Northamptonshire, on board. Admittedly they aren't the youngest side around, but the Australians have shown that age doesn't have to be a barrier to success. Surrey are storming away in the Championship, in the finals day of Twenty20 and three wins from three in the Pro40. There's a good vibe around at the moment.



Murray Goodwin hit 103 against Lancashire but Sussex had to settle for a draw © Getty Images
Another near miss
This summer's Championship is set to go down to the wire with Sussex, Lancashire and Hampshire the frontrunners. However, Sussex will be rueing another win that got away after having Lancashire nine wickets down when time ran out at Hove. They know the feeling only too well this season. Against Middlesex, at Southgate, they were one strike away from the win points and against Kent at Hove they were three wickets away from victory. Their latest close shave could have been different if Mushtaq Ahmed had been fully fit, and given his various aliments 37 overs was a commendable effort. But again, Chris Adams was left frustrated and could be counting the cost of those missed points come the end of season.

Twenty20 warm-up
Leicestershire are well known for their prowess in Twenty20 - they've reached all four final days - and their big-hitting skills were thrillingly transferred to the Championship arena this week. Set 240 in 45 by Gloucestershire, they didn't seem overly interested during the first half of the innings and when HD Ackerman fell, making it 82 for 3, most thought they'd settle for the draw. But Twenty20 has made high run-rates very attainable, although the manner in which Leicestershire knocked off the runs was still impressive. Coming in at 187 for 6, Claude Henderson launched 42 off 16 balls with six sixes and in the end they had 13 balls to spare. If they play like this next weekend at Trent Bridge, the Twenty20 cup as good as theirs.

England watch
Alex Loudon takes 4 for 16 against West Indies A ... Robert Key hits an unbeaten 136 against Shane Warne's Hampshire ... Geraint Jones makes 35 and takes three catches in the same match ... Darren Gough continues to stake his one-day claims with 3 for 16 and 53 off 49 balls for Essex in the Pro40 against Middlesex.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo