County Championship team of the week: Matt Renshaw, Alastair Cook and Jake Ball make the cut
Do you agree with our side? Tweet us your XIs to @SkyCricket...
By Sky Sports Cricket
Last Updated: 04/05/18 2:44pm
Wet weather ruined much of week three of the Specsavers County Championship and helped ball dominate bat elsewhere.
Somerset's Matt Renshaw - scorer of the only century over the weekend - takes his place at the top of the order, along with England's Alastair Cook, who hit a half century in his first innings of the summer for Essex.
But, which other batsmen have made our XI and who took the bulk of the wickets? Read on to find out and then tell us who you would have picked on Twitter @SkyCricket...
Matt Renshaw (Somerset)
The first name on the team sheet is an obvious one; Renshaw smashed a stunning 112 off only 99 balls against Yorkshire, meaning he now has two centuries in as many games to start his stint as Somerset's overseas replacement for Cameron Bancroft. He has hardly scored his runs on flat tracks either, with this ton part of a team total of 216, while his unbeaten 101 against Worcestershire last week dominated a score of 202.
Alastair Cook (Essex)
Cooky's back! Well, maybe not quite yet back to his century-scoring best, but 84 in his first innings of the summer for Essex represents a very good return given his struggles for England over the winter, particularly following his double-hundred at the MCG - Cook averaged just 17.63 over his next eight innings, with a top score of 44 as questions circled over his international future.
Stevie Eskinazi (Middlesex)
Eskinazi seemingly opted for a similar modus operandi to Renshaw of hit out, or get out. With the bowler-friendly conditions up and down the country, the Middlesex man too enjoyed success by taking the attack to the bowlers instead of sitting and waiting for a ball with his name on it - he cracked 16 boundaries in a 91-ball 94 in the draw against Glamorgan, following on from a century against Durham University last week to see him in fine nick to start the season.
Ross Taylor (Nottinghamshire)
Some international class to sure up our middle order. Hampshire's Hashim Amla could also have been an option here (52 against Essex), or Lancashire's Shivnarine Chanderpaul (65 against Surrey), but we've given the nod to Taylor due to his own half century coming in seemingly slightly trickier conditions. Amla's knock was part of a team total of 351-7, Chanderpaul's as Lancs racked up 439-9, while Taylor's 50 came in the same game that Nottinghamshire skittled Worcestershire for 110 and 149 in each innings.
Tom Abell (Somerset, captain)
Abell captains the side, having skippered Somerset to a 118-run win over Yorkshire, in which he contributed a crucial 82 second-innings runs for his side. Renshaw's ton and Yorkshire's capitulation to 96 all out had given Somerset a more-than-handy first-innings lead of 120, but they then proceeded to slip to 24-4 early on in their second dig before Abell's captain's innings saved the day. He also chipped in with two late wickets to wrap up the win.
Ben Foakes (Surrey, wicketkeeper)
Foakes claims the gloves, more by virtue of being one of only two wicketkeepers to hit a fifty this week - Leicestershire's Ned Eckersley (54) the other - as he scored 57 against Lancashire. Also, his second-innings effort was particularly important in the context of the game, with Surrey wobbling somewhat at 90-4, following-on, on the final day before he helped them bat out for a draw as they finished on 199-6.
Ryan Higgins (Gloucestershire)
Gloucestershire allrounder Higgins was the chief destroyer of Sussex, claiming 5-21 in the first innings as Hove outfit collapsed staggeringly from 92-0 to 117-8, and then subsequently 145 all out in their first innings. Higgins returned to take a further 3-65 in the second, but was denied the chance to see Gloucestershire to victory when the weather intervened as Higgins was 18 not out with his team needing a further 59 runs, with four wickets in hand.
Tom Bailey (Lancashire)
Talking of impressive all-round efforts, there were none better than Bailey's. The seamer actually bats at No 10 for Lancashire, but helped bail them out of trouble in the first innings as they recovered from 128-5 to 439-9 declared with lower-order contributions from Steven Croft (62), Jordan Clark (78), Joe Mennie (68no) and Bailey (66) himself. He then took four wickets in both innings as Surrey were forced to follow-on - his incredible figures of 4-13 from 19 overs (including 12 maidens!) very nearly firing Lancashire to an unlikely final-day victory.
Luke Fletcher (Nottinghamshire)
Nottinghamshire's potent seam attack - including the returning Stuart Broad (four wickets for 35 in the match) - twice ripped through Worcestershire's flaky batting line-up in an innings-and-41-run win, with Fletcher doing the damage in the first innings, finishing with 5-27 as the Pears were bundled out for 110 in just 26.3 overs, while he added a further two scalps in the second innings.
Jake Ball (Nottinghamshire)
Another Notts seamer in the side, and a second appearance for Ball in the opening three weeks. His seven-wicket match haul, not only mirrors Fletcher's efforts but follows off the back of the nine he claimed against Lancashire in week one and five against Yorkshire in his last outing. Ball did the bulk of his work here in the second innings, taking 5-59 to skittle Worcestershire for 149 and wrap up an emphatic victory.
Amar Virdi (Surrey)
Surrey 19-year Amar Virdi is the front line spinner in the side, following up his four wickets in the season-opener against Hampshire last week with another four-for against Lancashire - Virdi claimed 4-80, admittedly while Lancashire's lower order were racking up runs by the plenty. Gareth Batty now 40, it seems like fellow offspinner Virdi is now the future for Surrey and, having already played for the Lions, possibly England too?