County round-up: Alastair Cook’s stand-in Jaik Mickleburgh impresses

 

Batsman of the day

Jaik Mickleburgh has big boots to fill as Alastair Cook’s stand-in at the top of the Essex batting order but he seems to be handling the responsibility pretty well, in the current match against Leicestershire at least.  Unbeaten on 121 overnight, the 23-year-old went past his previous career best of 174 to reach 243 before he was bowled by paceman Ollie Freckingham, hitting 28 fours and a six as Essex moved well in front at Chelmsford. It followed his scores of 90 and 58 in the friendly against Cook and his England colleagues three weeks ago at Chelmsford, although those runs subsequently lost their first-class status.

In a run-heavy season, there have now been 17 double hundreds in the Championship. Mickleburgh’s partnership with Ben Foakes, a fellow Essex academy graduate, added 270 for the fifth wicket before Foakes was caught in the deep after completing his maiden County Championship hundred.

Bowler of the day

Good moments have been unusual this season for Monty Panesar, whose form and confidence for Sussex have been at such a low ebb at times it is hard to believe he was playing Test cricket only four months ago.  The left-arm spinner was far from sure of his place against Middlesex but coach Mark Robinson went with him in the hope of conditions being in his favour and was rewarded – in a qualified sense – for his show of faith as Panesar took four wickets for 16 runs in 6.4 overs at Hove yesterday. Middlesex lost their last five wickets for 20 runs, although given that they were 476 for 5 when Monty began to work through them, it was hardly a collapse. Panesar finished with 5 for 95.

Extras

The fortunes of Worcestershire’s Leach brothers have moved in opposite directions this week. Joe, the 22-year-old batting all-rounder who was handed his first full-time contract during the winter, hit a maiden century for Worcestershire in their second innings against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham only 48 hours after what was then a career-best unbeaten 82 in the first innings. Sadly his 19-year-old brother Steve, an opening batsman who has been on a summer contract after spending the winter at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide, has been told he will not be retained.

Ashes watch

Steven Finn overcame his disappointment at being left out of the second Test by taking two wickets for Middlesex at Hove, but went for more than four an over.

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