Ones to Watch

As India, with Yuvraj to the fore once again, and Pakistan, taking advantage of a characteristically insipid semi-final performance from New Zealand, set up a sub-continental Twenty20 final in Johannesburg tomorrow, the English County Championship came to a thrilling climax yesterday.

I spent the afternoon watching on TV as Lancashire mounted a sustained assault on the score of 489 which they'd been set to beat Surrey at The Oval and win the title for the first time since 1934. That they failed to do so by just 25 runs is an indication of how well they batted in typically benign Kennington conditions, with VVS Laxman, who made a swift, elegant century, and Stuart Law, combining to give Surrey (and Lancashire's principal championship rivals, Sussex) a major scare. Ultimately you had to feel that if the two major players had managed to stay together for a further hour then the total would have been reduced to a level from which it could have been knocked off with comparative ease. However, they didn't, it wasn't, and Sussex claimed the first division title for the third time in four years.

Down here in the west the talk is all of Somerset, who won the second division with a record total of 266 points. The best aspect of their final victory over Nottinghamshire, secured on Friday lunchtime by an innings and 121 runs, was that Notts were bowled out by a young English leg-spinner.

Michael Munday is 22, comes from Cornwall, and has been involved with Somerset's academy since he was a teenager. He's found it hard to break into their prodigiously successful side this season, but, given a rare opportunity on a wearing track at Taunton, finished the Notts second innings with 8 for 55 and the match with ten wickets.

Although I get to Taunton as often as I can I can't offer any specific comment on Munday as I've never seen him turn his arm over, but you have to like the fact that, after years of drought, there are now a couple of decent young English leg-spinners coming through. With the fact that he's played more first-class cricket and his unquestioned batting ability, the younger Adil Rashid is the only one of the two who's likely to be furrowing the brows of the England selectors anytime soon, but Munday, who spent last winter in Australia and has impressed no less a judge than Terry Jenner, is clearly one to watch.

I'm planning to see plenty of Somerset in Division One next season and will report back on what I see (which will hopefully include plenty of Munday).

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