County Championship round-up: Graham Napier hits fifth half-century in nine innings - Cricket - Sport - The Independent

County Championship round-up: Graham Napier hits fifth half-century in nine innings

Batsman of the day

Graham Napier will always be best known for his extraordinary ability to hit the ball out of the ground – he has twice struck 16 sixes in an innings, in a Championship match as well as his then world record Twenty20 innings against Sussex in 2008 – but those monstrous feats naturally did not happen every week. Nowadays, he is more of a little-and-often contributor for Essex by comparison. Against Kent at Chelmsford his fifth half-century in nine innings, one of which he converted into a hundred, took him to 451 runs for the season so far at an average of 90.20, which for someone who bats at No 8 is fairly impressive. No batsman in the Second Division has more, and his count of 14 sixes comfortably outstrips the field.

Bowler of the day

Lest anyone should think that his 7 for 22 against Kent last week was a freakish throwback to his prime years, the 38-year-old Worcestershire seamer Alan Richardson did it again with interest at New Road, finishing with career-best figures of 8 for 37 against Gloucestershire. His analysis was also remarkable for its economy, given that he bowled 30 per cent of the overs yet conceded only 16 per cent of Gloucestershire's total of 234. He now has 20 wickets in his last match and a half.

Ashes watch

Interestingly in an Ashes summer, a poll on the cricket website Cricinfo asks readers to vote for the shrewdest overseas signing of the season so far – and three of the four nominees are Australians. One of them, Sussex's 33-year-old Queensland-born seamer Steve Magoffin, blew away troubled Somerset at Horsham with career-best figures of 8 for 20, including one burst of four wickets in the space of eight deliveries without conceding a run. Somerset, who had won the toss, were dismissed for 76 in just 22.4 overs, a worrying sign so soon after they were thrashed by Middlesex at Taunton. Magoffin has 24 wickets for the season so far, one more than his team-mate, Chris Jordan. Only Tim Murtagh of Middlesex, with 30, has more in the First Division.

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