Australian players' contributions to the English Twenty20 competition continued to be mixed for a second week which ended in mystery over whether the counties will still have the ultimate $5million prize to shoot for. It emerged on Sunday that Pakistan was being considered as an alternative country to replace England, whose counties continued to field ICL players despite warnings that counties with such links wouldn't be allowed in the Champions' League.
All the players can do is carry on trying hard regardless - they are professionals and have the domestic title to aim for - and of course some Australian players are already through with their state sides.
Michael Di Venuto isn't one of them, but he will be pleased with how Durham fought their way to the top of the North Division this week. They chased down Lancashire's 180 at Old Trafford, Di Venuto reaching double figures at last with 21 while Stuart Law - whose only route to the Champions League would be with Lancashire - made a 36-ball 54. Di Venuto's solid 40 helped beat Leicestershire at Chester-le-Street, while his 12 was a small contribution to Durham's tie with Yorkshire at Headingley, the teams ending on 159 apiece.
Law's Lancashire went on to lose twice to Yorkshire; Law making 23at Headingley, then in the return match, he bagged 1 as they came up just short at Old Trafford. But Law was in the winning team against Adam Voges and Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. Law made 33 while Adam Voges made a half-century.
Voges' 52 was agonisingly not enough as Nottinghamshire lost to Derbyshire on the last ball at Trent Bridge. He made 4 in a victory chase of 150 against Leicestershire at Trent Bridge. Darren Pattinson grabbed 1 for 22 from three overs in that game then his 3 for 18 kept Derbyshire to 114 which was easily chased down at Derby, Voges' 45 setting up the chase.
In the Midland/West/Wales Division, last week Justin Langer's efforts went largely unrewarded; this time even though his personal scores were modest, he still led Somerset to a few wins. He made 8 as Somerset beat Glamorgan at Taunton, then 20 as they beat Worcestershire at Taunton - Steve Magoffin's four overs punished wicketless for 45. Somerset's renaissance continued in their next match - even though Langer made a duck - as they reached a whopping 212 to beat Worcestershire by 67 runs at Taunton. Magoffin's sole wicket, meanwhile, couldn't help Worcestershire defend a lowly 120 against Warwickshire at Worcester.
Marcus North's 30 for Gloucestershire was not enough either as Northamptonshire charged down their 170 with ten balls to spare at Milton Keynes. It was a similar story with his 26 against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Down in the South, Dirk Nannes unleashed his magic once again - his 3 for 19 at Lord's curbing Sussex's to make it five wins in five - and five losses in five for Sussex. Middlesex finally notched their first loss - as Kent beat them in an eight-over thrash at Beckenham, Nannes bagging one wicket for 24 from two overs. Middlesex lost again next match when Sean Ervine's 6 may not have propelled Hampshire far but their 133 was enough at Richmond.
Ervine had earlier made 5 as Hampshire were beaten off the last ball against defending champions Kent at Canterbury but his 46 helped defeat Surrey at The Oval. But his duck was one of four as Sussex won at The Rose Bowl.