County Championship round-up: Stokes fuels chase to replace Bairstow

 

Cool customer though Jonny Bairstow is, he may just have felt the icy blast of other batsmen's runs down his neck as he prepares for the Third Test. Ben Stokes, the extremely likely lad from Durham, made 66 yesterday for the improbable table-proppers against the table-toppers, Warwickshire.

That is hardly an unanswerable case for Test recognition, but following a Championship hundred in his return to the county side last week, Stokes' diligent innings over 139 balls on a fitful day ensured his name continued to feature in selectors' notebooks.

If Bairstow makes runs at No 6 in the third Test at Edgbaston, the debate will be over for a while. But if he fails other contenders will be immediately promoted. Ravi Bopara's blazing hundred for Essex on Monday garnered plenty of attention and James Taylor is in action for Nottinghamshire in the Championship today after a breathtaking CB40 hundred last week.

For once this season, Nick Compton failed for Somerset, at Lord's against his former county, Middlesex. Having reached 1,000 runs on 1 June he lasted only five balls before being bowled by Tim Murtagh for 1.

The first hat-trick of the season was achieved by Tony Palladino for Leicestershire against Derbyshire, with Michael Thornely lbw, Ned Eckersley caught behind and Ramnaresh Sarwan bowled. It was Tim Groenwald who made capital from these early incisions, by taking his first five-wicket haul of the summer to maintain Derbyshire's determined campaign to enter Division One for the first time since their only top-flight season, in 2000.

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