There may have been plenty of thrills and spills in the Twenty20 quarter-finals but for the cricketing purists the last week of July and the first week of August also saw some outstanding performances in the County Championship. Some remarkable achievements came close to breaking some long-standing records in the county game.
The LV County Championship match between Worcestershire and Somerset at New Road saw the home side make 488 in their first innings, yet they lost by an innings as Somerset responded with 591, thanks to a magnificent double-century by Marcus Trescothick, before Worcestershire collapsed in their second innings for just 95.
Only once before – at Northampton in 1995 – had a side scored as many in their first innings only to lose by an innings. On that occasion a double-century by Tim Robinson saw Nottinghamshire to 527, before Northamptonshire made 781 for 7 declared with four of their batsmen – Alan Fordham, Allan Lamb, Russell Warren and David Capel – all posting hundreds, before dismissing Nottinghamshire for 157 with Indian spinner Anil Kumble taking five wickets.
Then, in the Championship match in the first week of August at Liverpool, Rikki Clarke – the much travelled all-rounder – took seven catches for Warwickshire in Lancashire’s second innings to equal the world record for a non-wicketkeeper.
Five were held at second slip, another at first slip and the seventh was pouched as he ran around from leg slip to square leg to hold on to a miscued stroke and equal the world record held jointly by Surrey’s Micky Stewart against Northamptonshire in 1957 and Gloucestershire’s Tony Brown who achieved the feat against Nottinghamshire.
But it was the game at the Rose Bowl which got the statisticians drooling over their record books and databases as Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie added 523 for the third wicket for Hampshire against Yorkshire. In all they batted together for 135 overs in a stand spanning eight hours, to post the third highest stand in the history of the County Championship and the ninth highest in all first-class cricket anywhere in the world.
A further 36 runs between the pair would have seen them expunge from the record books the historic stand of 555 by Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe for Yorkshire against Leyton in June 1932 which remains both the highest stand in the history of county cricket and the one to have spanned most six-ball overs, occupying no less than 170.4 overs.