County Champions Surrey begin their defence of their title with a home game against the side who denied them unbeaten season last year, Essex.
Essex will have fond memories of playing at the Oval after ending their county campaign last season with a dramatic win over Surrey. With bragging right on the line, a battling last wicket stand between Ryan ten Doeschate and Matt Quinn saw the Eagles over the line to seal a one-wicket success, and in doing so stopping the ‘Rey from ending the season unbeaten, a feat ten Doeschate’s men managed in 2017.
Surrey will surely begin the campaign as bookies favourites again with the ‘Rey’s star-studded line-up is sure to cause plenty of problems this season. Rory Burns, Scott Borthwick, Mark Stoneman, Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes have all enjoyed a stint in the England set up recently and provide a daunting top six. Whilst, Morne Morkel returns to lead the line for Rory Burns’ men, and he will be backed up by Tom Curran, new signing Liam Plunkett and Rikki Clarke in a formidable bowling attack.
Surrey enjoyed a productive pre-season and will be looking to get their defence off to a positive start. Michael Di Venuto’s men drew with the MCC – after dominating for large spells in the Middle East, and poor light saw them also draw with Durham MCCU, but their batsmen look in fine touch with Ollie Pope smashing 251 vs the MCC and Stoneman, Borthwick and Ryan Patel all hitting centuries in the final warm-up game.
Liam Plunkett could make his first-class debut for Surrey following his winter move from Yorkshire, whilst England hopefuls Burns, Foakes, and Pope are all likely to be in the starting XI for the hosts.
Essex, meanwhile, will be looking to bounce-back following a disappointing start at the Ageas Bowl. Anthony McGrath’s men were simply blown away by their South Coast Counterparts eventually succumbing to an innings defeat. There were few positive to take from the match in Southampton but the early season form of Ravi Bopara – who struck a second innings century will give the Eagles hope that it was a mere blip.
In Alastair Cook, they have a man who enjoys batting at the Oval, and he too will have fond memories of the batting in South London. The former England skipper struck one final international century in his final appearance in a Test uniform last Summer. Essex will need him to impress again if they are to right the wrongs of their opening fixture.
Injury to Adam Wheater (out for six weeks with a finger injury) and Michael Pepper (missing following an appendix operation) has seen the Eagles utilise the loan market, bringing young Rob White from Middlesex on a two-month long contract, he will deputise behind the stumps while Wheater and Pepper recover from their respected fitness problems.
Peter Siddle, who jetted into England after winning the Sheffield Shield in his native Australia with Victoria will be a welcome return for ten Doeschate’s men, who struggled for breakthroughs in Hampshire with the big Australian set to return to the side against Surrey.
Joe Root will look to continue his early season form as Yorkshire travel south to the Ageas Bowl to face Hampshire.
The England captain struck an unbeaten 130 to save the game for the Tykes at Trent Bridge in game week one of the 2019 campaign. Root, shared a mammoth unbroken stand with Gary Ballance as Yorkshire batted the entirety of the final day to secure a draw. The 28-year-old will get the opportunity to bat at another test venue as he continues his preparation ahead of a busy summer of cricket for England with the World Cup and then the Ashes.
Duanne Olivier will look to continue his decent start to his new career as a county pro, after giving up his South African test hopes to become a full-time Yorkshire player. He began life with a five-wicket bag to be the pick of the bowlers as Nottinghamshire racked up the runs in the first innings in Nottingham.
Of course, there is still a chance albeit unlikely for Adam Lyth and Gary Ballance to receive a call-up to the Ashes such is the wide-open vacancy in the top order for England, they will both hope that time in and around Root will help keep the duo firmly in the mind of the England selectors and captain.
Hampshire meanwhile are looking to make it four championship wins on the spin following their opening game week smashing of Essex.
Against Essex everything seemed to click in Adrian Birrell’s opening game as coach, after being inserted by the Eagles following an uncontested toss they racked up the runs and then simply blew their counterparts away with the ball with Kyle Abbott and Fidel Edwards’ particularly impressive taking a five-wicket haul each.
Sam Northeast struck an important and simply magnificent 169 to lead Hampshire to a massive 525-8 to take the game away from Anthony McGrath’s Essex. His early season form will be pleasing for Birrell with the former Kent man already well on his way to the 451 runs he amassed last summer.
Aiden Markram completes the South African trio, and he made a promising debut and will look to continue to impress ahead of the World Cup in England this summer. Edwards and Abbott will be given the task of removing Root and if their excellent bowling display against Essex is anything to go by it will be a great test for the England skipper.
Hampshire make one change from the victory over Essex with Lewis McManus replacing the injured Tom Alsop to deputise behind the stumps.
Somerset will hope to make it back-to-back Championship wins to kick off their season with a victory at Trent Bridge in the second round of action in the County Championship.
The Cidermen secured victory inside three-days after seeing the opening day wiped out due to rain against Kent at Taunton. The impressive Lewis Gregory starred in the opening round of fixtures securing a Michelle fivefer to help Somerset dismiss Kent to on the final day to secure a 74-run win in a low-scoring encounter.
James Hildreth will look to improve upon the 29 cumulative runs he scored at Taunton last week as he hopes to finally break into the England set-up after years of pundits clambering for the 34-year-old to receive a call-up. A steady run scorer in the County Championship, Hildreth has yet to break down the door and will hope that early season runs will be enough for an Ashes call-up at the twilight of his career. He will likely have a watching England Selectors eye on him at Trent Bridge particularly with Stuart Broad on display.
In the reverse fixture last season, Hildreth struck a century, so will have fond memories of playing at Trent Bridge as Somerset thrashed the Outlaws by an innings in the final game of the season. Craig Overton starred with the ball in that fixture, and he will be another name on the scouting sheet of the on watching England selectors.
It is Joe Clarke though who is the most likely to receive a big chance this summer in the England Test side as the newly signed number three has continued his fine form from last summer into this year. The 22-year struck a debut century in-front of the watching Joe Root last week and followed that up with an unbeaten 97 in the second innings only to be denied a second century in as many innings by a declaration.
Clarke has been around the England Lions set-up for some time and has age on his side with selectors more favourably selecting future talent over ageing talent. I am sure that Stuart Broad will be in the ears of Root even more in the dressing room should the youngster continue to pile on the runs this summer.
Speaking of Broad, this is another opportunity to find some bowling rhythm ahead of a busy summer. He bowled with hostility against Yorkshire but could only manage three first-innings wickets, and was largely frustrated by Root and Ballance in the second innings as batting became easier on the final day.
Nottinghamshire will want to go one further and secure victory after dominating for large spells of the Yorkshire game; it should be a good game this between two good sides.
The two promoted teams meet at Edgbaston as Kent and Warwickshire look to get their first wins of the new 2019 County Championship season.
Kent, of course, suffered defeat against Somerset on the opening week of the season at Taunton; meanwhile, Warwickshire kick start their season with what they will see as one of their ‘must win’ fixtures.
The Spitfires were let down by their batting after they dismissed Somerset for 171 in the first innings with Mitch Claydon particularly impressive on his first foray in Division One, he bagged 5-46. Young Harry Podmore also enjoyed a promising start taking 2-36. Matt Walker’s men even managed to secure a first-innings lead reaching 209 with Sean Dickson and Zak Crawley and Daniel Bell-Drummond all getting starts but failing to kick on.
That is something they will be hoping to rectify in this fixture; they must turn starts into big scores if they are going to compete in Division One. It is a big step up from Division Two attacks to Division One, and they must settle quickly; otherwise, they face a fight to survive this season. Much will rely on Heino Kuhn and Matthew Renshaw who both largely disappointed against Somerset.
They travel to Birmingham with the same squad hoping to collect their first Championship top-flight win since 2010. Warwickshire won the last fixture last time these two met on what was described as the Division Two title decider in 2018.
Ahead of their season opener, Warwickshire will have been buoyed by the news of a new contract for Jeetan Patel – who has become an ever-present overseas professional for the Bears. The Kiwi spinner has become a huge fan favourite at Edgbaston and will as ever play an important role as he will hope to lead his side to comfortable survival this summer.
Sam Hain, Liam Banks and Henry Brookes represent the Brummie community for hosts as they look to build a young side good enough to compete in the top flight. The Bears are very excited by Brookes who has been tipped for a future England call-up by our very own Charlie Jennings.
Warwickshire were the dominant side in Division Two last year and will be looking to carry on the momentum from last season. You do worry that they lack Division One experience though, with only Tim Ambrose, Jeetan Patel and Dom Sibley with any real experience in the top flight.
They will bring plenty of energy to proceedings though and will hope that they can get off to a positive start in a fixture they will see as winnable. Their form has been solid in pre-season with a 530-run win over Leeds Bradford Uni with runs for Adam Hose (200) and Will Rhodes (92) and wickets for Aaron Thomason (5-6) and Patel (3-12).
Thomason will perhaps feel a little aggrieved to miss out the squad after bagging those fixtures, but Oliver Hannon-Dalby is preferred to the youngster.
4/8/2019 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
The County Championship Season is underway, and with the stars on display as players look to get some much needed practise in before the Ashes - there were plenty of talking points from the opening game week of 2019.
In Division One, Joe Root faced up against England team-mate Stuart Broad in arguably the biggest game of the opening set of fixtures. The England Test Captain struck an unbeaten 130 to help salvage a draw for the White Rose at Trent Bridge after making 73 in the first innings to find some welcome form ahead of a big summer for English Cricket.
Root would no doubt be impressed by Joe Clarke as he watched on from slip as the former Worcestershire man struck a century in the first innings and ended 97 not out in the second as the Outlaws looked to force a win by declaring overnight. Clarke, who has toured with the Lions has been a name on the radar for the selectors and making runs in front of the on watching England skipper will have done his chances of an Ashes call-up the world of good.
Broad, meanwhile struck three times in the first innings as Yorkshire found themselves 117-runs behind on first innings. Half-centuries from Ben Duckett (61), Chris Nash (75), Steven Mullaney (57) and Clarkes brilliant unbeaten 97 meant the visitors were set an unlikely 446 runs to win on the final day.
Jake Ball (2-73) struck twice early to leave the Tykes wobbling a little on 24-2 but Root and Gary Ballance steadied the ship despite some hostile bowling from Broad to share an unbroken 253-run third wicket partnership to guide the visitors to a hard-fought draw.
Root finished with an unbeaten 130, striking 18-fours in his 189-ball stay at the crease whilst Ballance struck 17-fours and a six during his 224-ball innings.
Elsewhere, Hampshire thumped Essex at the Ageas Bowl by an innings and 87-runs to get Adrian Birrell's coaching regime off to a dream start.
After an uncontested toss, Hampshire racked up the runs on a pitch that offered surprisingly little on the opening day with Jamie Porter and Sam Cook particularly struggling to offer a threat. James Vince, looking to get his season off to a bright start opened the innings for the Hawks hoping to make an impression at the top of the order to force his way back into the England reckoning.
He made a typically stylish 40 before falling to the final ball before lunch on the opening day trapped leg before falling across his stumps off the bowling of Ravi Bopara. Aiden Markram, a late overseas arrival struck a half-century on debut sharing a 75-run stand with the impressive Sam Northeast - who finally started to show the Hampshire faithful his true potential with a magnificent 169.
The former Kent man shared solid partnerships with Markram and Rilee Rossouw before becoming the fifth man to fall in the innings, smashing 23-fours and a six during 255-ball inning. The Eagles continued to toil away in the Southampton sun as Liam Dawson (64), Gareth Berg (33) and Keith Barker (31 not out) took the Hampshire total up to a mammoth 525-8.
Essex lost wicketkeeper Adam Wheater, who damaged his thumb standing up to Sam Cook's medium fast to injury for the match leaving the visitors with just nine wickets to play with in both innings. The former Hampshire gloveman is expected to be missing for six weeks after undergoing surgery during the match.
Buoyed by having runs on the board, Hampshire ripped through the depleted Essex batting line-up to dismiss the Eagles for a disappointing 164 with Alastair Cook (50) top scoring for the visitors. Fidel Edwards, 5-51, was the pick of the bowlers for the hosts.
Predictably with a lead of 361 on first innings Hampshire asked Essex to have another go at reaching their first innings total. Browne (7), Cook (8) and Lawrence (6) all fell cheaply to give Hampshire a dream start in their pursuit of victory. Tom Westley and Bopara briefly offer respite for Anthony McGrath's men sharing a 67-run stand for the fourth wicket before Edwards enticed Westley to feather an edge through to substitute keeper Lewis McManus to leave the Eagles in trouble on 94-4.
No further wickets fell on the third day, but Essex knew the writing was probably already on the wall, particularly knowing they were a batter light, they were praying for a miracle, that or a deluge of rain overnight and throughout the morning.
The rain didn't come, and it was down to Bopara and skipper Ryan ten Doeschate to attempt to get the visitors out of the woods. The pair added 26-runs to the overnight total of 132-4 before ten Doeschate became Edward's second victim of the innings, edging to McManus behind the wicket.
Bopara was turning into the key man, having survived the carnage of the first innings finishing on an unbeaten 37. He was seemingly playing on a different pitch to the rest of his teammates, seldom looking in any trouble as he began to build a partnership with the last recognised batsmen, and even Simon Harmer himself would admit to being a bowling all-rounder at best.
But alongside Bopara, the South African showed great resolve and battle to frustrate the hosts as the pair shared 111 for the sixth wicket, with Bopara reaching his well-deserved century during that century stand.
When Bopara fell though to Kyle Abbott for 107, the Essex hopes of stealing a draw dissipated. Harmer, who reached 62 fell two runs later to Edwards, and the Essex tail soon folded like a pack of cards struggling to resist Edwards and Abbott's new ball prowess.
Abbott bowled Sam Cook for 3 to collect his five-wicket haul and finish Essex off once and for all to seal an emphatic opening game victory with plenty of time to spare.
The final game in the top flight saw Somerset defeat newly promoted Kent by 74-runs.
After the first day's play was washed out, Somerset batted on the second day following the uncontested toss. The hosts could only manage 171 with Tom Abell (49) top scoring for the West Countrymen; Mitch Claydon bagged figures of 5-46 to impress on his first venture into Division One cricket.
Sean Dickson (43), Zak Crawley (37) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (33) helped Kent to a first innings lead and a batting point reaching 209 all out. Lewis Gregory finishing with figures of 3-26 to be the pick of the bowling for the hosts.
In this low-scoring affair, Somerset were hoping to set the Spitfires a challenging final day score to chase, and thanks to young George Bartlett's 63, they set Kent a tricky looking 205 for victory.
Unfortunately for Kent, their chase got off to the worst possible start losing Dickson to the first ball of the innings, caught by Craig Overton off the bowling of the ever-impressive Lewis Gregory. Worry not, thought the Kent faithful overseas star Matthew Renshaw, formerly of the Taunton Parish, will come to the rescue.
Renshaw, fell for a 6-ball duck to shoot fear through the Kent dressing room as Somerset new boy Jack Brooks removed the Aussie. Bell-Drummond, Kuhn and Crawley all soon followed to leave the visitors staring down the barrel on 41-5. Alex Blake and Darren Stevens threaten to take the game deep, with the veteran Stevens hitting an unbeaten 43.
Once Blake fell though for 20, with the score on 82-7, Somerset hurried to victory with Gregory bagging his fifth wicket when removing Matthew Milnes. Josh Davey finished things off for the hosts when he had Claydon removed caught by Hildreth to get Somerset off to a winning start.
7/5/2018 0 Comments
How do you solve a problem like Ian Bell? Last season he seemed like a player on the decline, with little chance of playing for England. Today there were echoes of the old bell. It may be a phantom ring that you get out at sea of villages long lost to mother nature.
This fixture was a replay of last season’s final which Nottinghamshire won on that occasion. Today they were mainly second best to Birmingham Bears (Warwickshire).
Chris Nash didn’t enjoy his finest day at the office as the was dismissed third ball, and then when fielding, he seemed to land awkwardly on his shoulder going for a catch.
Nottinghamshire lost a cluster of wickets, Samit Patel went first ball caught and bowled by Colin de Grandhomme. Dan Christian didn’t last much longer as Nottinghamshire started to become desperate.
Riki Wessels struck 41 from 29 balls to add impetus to the innings. The innings then began to falter and Billy Root while ticking over the strike could only score singles. It put pressure on the batsman at the other end. Stephen Mullaney with a brisk 22 from 12 balls, he fell for the unwritten rule of six and out.
Luke Fletcher with three sixes in one Jeetan Patel over gave Nottinghamshire some hope late on. It wasn’t until the final over that Root scored a boundary, as a four followed his maximum. It was enough to power Nottinghamshire over the 150 mark and to 155 for 7.
It soon looked far from enough as Ed Pollock hit two sixes in the first over. It was a brief show from Pollock but allowed Bell to settle in for the day.
Adam Hose also came and went for 17. In stepped Sam Hain and along with Bell set about the target with relish. Both traded in fours, Hain the heir apparent to the Bell throne. There were the trademark cover drives on show.
Bell finished with 82 from 57 balls and threatened to overshadow the young pretender Hain. If both had opened this game could have been over much sooner. Hain took only thirty balls to reach 45 not out and if anything deserved a fifty along with Bell.
It will for Birmingham ring out a warning that they can go far in this competition.
Elsewhere, Sussex’s dynamic bowling attack proved far too strong for a weak looking Essex side. Debutant Rashid Khan had the Eagles batsmen's heads spinning as he collected excellent figures of 2-25 to put the brakes of the host’s pursuit of 181.
Earlier in the day, Sussex recovered nicely from 32/3 thanks to fifties from Laurie Evans and the impressive Michael Burgess, who struck a rapid 56 from 23 balls in just his second T20 game of his first-class career.
It was a curious display from the Eagles who picked four spinners but only bowled five overs of spin during the visitors' innings. Three of which came from new overseas signing Adam Zampa, who despite bagging a wicket in his first over, was comfortably outshone by his Afghan counterpart.
Burgess and Evans’ show alongside late hitting from Jofra Archer propelled the visitors total beyond 180, a decent total on a pitch that offered spin and swing for the bowlers. And so it proved as Essex struggled to get going throughout and the anchor that was Khan weighed them down even further. South African David Weise took five-wickets as he took advantage of the scoreboard pressure that was building on the hosts throughout as the Eagles strutted and stalled.
Only Varun Chopra threatened to take Essex close to their target with the former Warwickshire man striking 64 off 48-balls before he fell victim to Khan in the Afghans final over. That triggered the collapse with the hosts capitulating in spectacular style losing their final five wickets for just one run to fall to a 36-run defeat on opening night at ‘Fortress Chelmsford’.
There was plenty of excitement at Wantage Road though as over 440 runs were scored as Leicestershire’s excellent season continued with an opening night success over Northamptonshire.
Leicestershire won the toss and inserted their hosts clearly with half an eye on a chase later in the evening. But they didn’t account for the hitting of Ben Duckett, Josh Cobb and Alex Wakely who all helped themselves to fifties as the Steelbacks raced to 218/3 from their 20 overs.
Duckett, in particular, looked in fine form smashing 12 fours and three maximums on his way to 96, before he holed out to Neil Dexter off the bowling of Ben Raine. But the clean hitting of Alex Wakely ensured Duckett’s efforts wouldn’t go to waste as the hosts set a testing total for the Foxes to chase down.
But this Leicestershire side is a different animal to that of a few years ago; they have grit and steel under their new coach Paul Nixon. And they needed it to chase this total down, what will be please for Nixon and his coaching staff is the fact that everyone mucked in during this innings. With only really Tom Wells failing with the bat.
Colin Ackermann acted as the glue as he held the innings together with an excellent 66 from 31 balls, striking at well over 200. He smashed four sixes and five fours to guide the visitors’ home.
Whisper it quietly, but the Foxes could well be the dark horses from the north group.
Reports by Jamie Ramage (@famousstrauss) and David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
The race for a place in the semi-finals of the Royal London One Day cup begins tomorrow as Essex, Kent, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire all seek Play-Off glory.
We’ll start at Trent Bridge as Nottinghamshire and Kent take the starting gun as they get underway at 11 am, three-hours before Essex tackle the White Rose at Chelmsford in front of the sky-live cameras.
Nottinghamshire enters the encounter fresh from their demolition job on Derbyshire to sneak an unlikely home tie. The defending champions weren’t there usual dominant self and indeed had to rely on other results to even reach this stage of the competition. With five wins out of eight enough to see the Outlaws through to another knockout stage, their latest win an eight-wicket stroll against the Falcons boosted their net run-rate enough to set up this enticing looking encounter with a decent looking Kent side blessed with batting talent throughout.
Joe Denly and Heino Kuhn have impressed through the competition leading the run-scoring charts in the competition. Denly, in particular, has looked in imperious form throughout and his and Kuhn’s rare failure at Chelmsford last week is in small part why they have to travel to the Midlands. The Spitfires looked sure bets entering play on the final game week to be lining up in Canterbury but came short against Essex.
It will be a proper battle between Nottinghamshire’s talented bowling attack and Kent’s star-studded batting line-up, and much will decide on that battle as to who goes on to win this match. Jake Ball and Harry Gurney are always a threat, and with Samit Patel’s spin in the middle overs, the Outlaws are a tough side to dominate.
With bat in hand though, they have the players that can quickly blow a side away. Steven Mullaney – who has recently been named Lions skipper for an upcoming tour is full of talent and can hit some lusty blows at the top of the order, Ross Taylor is one of the best one-day players on the planet, and Riki Wessels can hit a ball a long, long way.
For Kent, a lot will depend on the control that Matt Henry offers with the ball, and the ever-reliable Darren Stevens is always a danger on his day. The evergreen all-rounder will want to have one final day in the sun as his career begins to enter its twilight stage and this could well be the time to produce.
This match has the makings of a belter, but if I was a betting man I have Nottinghamshire to just edge it due to their big match experience in recent years. The winners of this encounter will face Worcestershire in the Semi-Finals.
Elsewhere, Essex makes a rare appearance on Sky Sports as they chase another semi-final place with victory over Yorkshire.
The Eagles were dealt an early blow in the lead up to the match following the news that skipper Ryan ten Doeschate will be banned for this match and one other for breaching ECB rules on the field. Handy time eh Colin? It means that Tom Westley will deputise for the Dutchman as he leads his troops to battle against a weakened Yorkshire side. The Tykes will be missing a number of key men with England now in the midst of a pointless One-Day series with Australia.
Still, Yorkshire’s loss is Essex’s gain, as the hosts welcome back England opener Alastair Cook to the ranks – whether the former England skipper will make the side remains to be seen given the excellent form of Varun Chopra and Adam Wheater in recent weeks. Indeed, the openers have played a substantial part in the Eagles unbeaten run to take them to this stage.
Three wins on the spin have taken them from no-hopers to genuine contenders for the title. At the end of their heavy defeat to Surrey at Chelmsford they looked dead and buried but wins against Glamorgan, Sussex and Kent gave them a home tie against Yorkshire.
Ravi Bopara has also found form with both bat and ball in this competition giving a timely reminder to the England selectors that he may well not be a bad shout for a call-up to the national side given the calamitous batting that England have been offering up recently. Though, you suspect his age may well be a factor that means he falls short of adding to his 100+ ODI caps for England. It is not only his batting that has been impressive, but he has also produced vital wickets for Anthony McGrath’s men on route to this Play-off clash.
For the visitors, they were dealt a blow with the news that none of their international stars will be available for this encounter with Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and David Willey all missing for the Tykes. It does though give the opportunity for the fringe players to make a name for themselves in their absence.
Ben Coad, Jack Brooks and Tim Bresnan have the task of stopping the Eagles batting line-up at tiny Chelmsford. Though, you would think they would have fond memories of the Chelmsford sun having defeated the Eagles in the County Championship earlier this season.
Their batsmen may not though after they were skittled for a pitiful 50 in the same fixture. One man who will be looking forward to striding to the crease is Harry Brook – who made his maiden century in the second innings of that match and will be hoping to repeat the trick again. Tom Kohler-Cadmore is another man the Essex bowlers will be keen to dismiss cheaply as the former Worcestershire man has found some useful form in recent weeks.
You would think given the weakening of the visitors’ side that Essex would be firm favourites for the clash but write the Tykes off at your peril.
The winners of the match will face Hampshire in the semi-finals
By David Bowden
5/17/2018 1 Comment
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
The white-ball replaced the red-ball as the Royal London Day cup got underway on Thursday.
It meant power plays, field restrictions and boundaries galore as Colin Graves finally found his happy place away from the ‘boring scenes’ of County Championship cricket.
Let’s forget the fact that in the last round of Championship cricket we saw a 3-run nail-biter at Grace Road and a tight comeback win for Essex at New Road. A pair of games that had more twists and turns than any games of White-ball cricket could dream of having, but that’s a story for a different day.
One man who perhaps would’ve been pleased to see the boundary rope that much closer and the field that much more spread would be Essex’s Tom Westley. The Eagles number three has been enduring a torrid time with the bat in the early season but pulling on the coloured clothing rather than the white seemed to release the shackles. The Cambridge-born 29-year-old struck a match-winning 134 as the Eagles eased passed a poor Middlesex side at the picturesque Radlett.
After winning the toss, Middlesex elected to bat first hoping to make the most of the small boundaries in an attempt to create some scoreboard pressure. Indeed, things started swimmingly for the Londoners with Nick Gubbins striking the Essex attack to all parts of the Radlett outfield. Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and the returning Neil Wagner all finding it difficult to stem the flow of runs with the hard new ball. Stevie Eskinazi offered strong support to the hard-hitting Gubbins as the pair took the score to 79 without loss entering the 13th over. With the last ball of the twelve over though Wagner bagged his first wicket of the season to remove Eskinazi, Asher Zaidi taking a smart catch to dismiss the opener for 28. Paul Stirling came and went as Wagner again enticed a false shot to offer Ryan ten Doeschate a catch. That put the score on 86/2 and that soon become 86/3 as Gubbins, who had just reached his 50 lost his middle stump to Simon Harmer. Trouble was brewing in the Hertfordshire sun, and the hosts were in desperate need of a partnership. Tasked with doing just that was England’s Eoin Morgan and Australia’s Hilton Cartwright, and the duo started to steady the ship adding 57 for the fourth wicket. But just when the foundations were beginning to be set, ten Doeschate called Sam Cook back into the attack, and the youngster struck with his third ball pinning the Australian in front leg before. John Simpson offered brief support to Morgan, who by was beginning to hold the key for Middlesex. Simpson and Morgan added 37-runs before the Eagles went bang bang to leave the hosts in all sorts of strive. The pair fell within an over of each other and Essex were suddenly right back on top, Harmer and Bopara with the wickets. James Franklin and Tom Helm were the last hopes for the hosts, and they did offer some resistance to the Essex attack who now firmly had their tails up. The pair added a useful 48-runs to take the Londoners passed 200 and beyond. But an inspired Bopara soon ripped through the lower order after Porter removed Helm to keep the hosts down to a below-par 250. Bopara finished with impressive figures of 3-30, while Wagner on his Essex return also collected excellent figures of 3-40 from his nine overs of work.
That left Essex with 251 to get from their 50-overs. Adam Wheater, who has seen his first-team action limited, opened with Varun Chopra as the Eagles looked for a positive start. They didn’t get it, as the former Hampshire man edge through to keeper Simpson to fall for 1, Helm, the bowler. That brought the out-of-sorts Westley to the middle desperate to be rid of the rust that has been following him around. Indeed, he immediately looked to be positive flashing delightful cover drives to the boundary off Helm. He and Chopra continued to be busy at the crease finding the rope with regularity and rotating the strike nicely with quick ones. Although Westley dominated the score the role of Chopra mustn’t be underplayed, the former Warwickshire man offered vital support as he notched a half-century as Essex continued to move serenely to their target. The onslaught continued even when Chopra departed as the in-form Dan Lawrence fresh from his match-winning half-century at New Road kept the scoreboard moving with a typically fluent 35. But make no bones about it the day belong to Westley who had struggled to make double figures against the red-ball flayed the ball to all parts of the Radlett outfield on his way to his century. In the end, he departed with the Eagles just 5-runs short of victory having gone beyond his previous list A best of 111 and reached 134 before the impressive Ryan Patel removed him. The Essex number three had struck 17-fours, and a six during his 117-ball stay to help guide the visitors to a comprehensive six-wicket success in Hertfordshire winning with 44-balls to spare.
Elsewhere, Sussex smashed Kent at Hove in front of a good crowd bolstered by a busload of local school children. Those lucky youngsters saw a bowling masterclass by the hosts as they restricted the Spitfires to a disappointing 188 despite the best efforts of Daniel Bell-Drummond who made just under half his teams runs alone with a score of 90. The Kent opener struck six-fours and a six during his 115-ball stay but lacked the support required to really propel his side to a decent score, indeed only Alex Blake reached double figures as the pace attack of Ishant Sharma, and Ollie Robinson ripped through the top order. Danny Briggs was also dangerous with the ball claiming exceptional figures of 3-23 from his ten overs. Including the wicket of the wily old fox Darren Stevens who can be dangerous on his day. Robinson also impressed with the ball in hand bagging three wickets as the Sussex attack simply outclassed the Kent line-up.
A score of 188 was never going to be enough for the visitors even with the impressive Matt Henry in their ranks. Typically, the Kiwi took two wickets as he continues to shine for Kent following his winter arrival, but he just simply didn’t have enough runs to protect at Hove. Luke Wells and Ben Brown both struck half-centuries in the Sussex sun as the pair helped the hosts to a routine win with more than ten overs to spare. Brown hit six-fours on his way to an unbeaten 73, while Wells struck nine boundaries during his 89-ball 62.
There were a pair of centuries at Edgbaston as Derbyshire beat Warwickshire by 57-runs. In this high-scoring encounter, both Billy Godleman and Sam Hain went big as over 650-runs were scored in a day. Godleman hit 137 striking 12-fours and three sixes during his 116-ball stay before the former Essex man was run out by Adam Hose. But by then the damage had already been done with Godleman with the excellent support of Ben Slater (69) and Wayne Madsen (58), and Daryn Smit and Matthew Critchley latterly had gone beyond 330 by the time the opener was dismissed. Jonathan Trott did his best to stem the runs with his aim of taking regular wickets hoping to slow down the tempo. The former England man bagged four wickets for 60 runs during his 10-over stint. Smit added late runs with Duanne Olivier as the visitors pushed their total beyond 350 to finish on 357-8.
In pursuit of their lofty target, the Bears lost a couple of quick early wickets as Derbyshire’s South African paceman Olivier bagged the wickets of Trott and Ed Pollock to leave the hosts in early trouble on 20/2. Sam Hain and Ian Bell stung to tails of the Falcon bowlers by adding a 78 for the third wicket with Bell contributing just 18 of that with the dominant Hain taking centre stage for the hosts. Another decent partnership then took place this time between Hain and Hose as Warwickshire looked to attack. The pair knew that they had to grab the bull by the horn and start to chip away at the visitors total, the duo shared 75-runs in ten overs before Hose became Ravi Rampaul’s only victim of the day. But with the total on 173 just past the halfway mark, the Bears were well and truly still in the game, and Derbyshire knew that the wicket of Hain would be crucial for their hopes of victory. Tim Ambrose and Aaron Thomason came and went, and while Hain had reached his deserved century by now hitting 11-fours and a six in the process he was acutely aware he was running out of partners. And to his 101st ball, the visitors finally had their man as the centurion went for one big shot too many and found the hands of Rampaul to fall for a quite brilliant 108. His departure left the hosts in the perilous position on 210-7 and staring down the barrel, suddenly it was down to the tailenders to see the job through, and Derbyshire could almost taste success on the tips of their tongue. The ever-reliable Keith Barker had other ideas though; the Bears stalwart frustrated the visitors and even threatened to take the hosts to victory at one point. He shared 59 with Olly Stone for the 9th wicket as Warwickshire edged closer to the 300 mark, but when Stone went for 16 the game was up, and Barker was left stranded on 48, and the Bears were 57-runs short. An excellent advert for 50-over cricket at Edgbaston.
Meanwhile, Olly Stone’s former employers Northamptonshire miserable start to the season continued at Wantage road as the Steelbacks fell to a 72-run defeat at the hands of Leicestershire. The Foxes veteran opener Paul Horton was the hero for the visitors striking a magnificent century to guide Paul Nixon’s men to a competitive 265-7. Horton was the only man to capitalise on a good start as a number of batsmen got going but failed to kick on with five of the Leicestershire top order made 25 or more. The 35-year-old opener though underpinned his sides total hitting nine-fours during his 126-ball stay at the crease sharing decent partnerships with Michael Carberry (25) and Colin Ackermann (30). Ben Raine (32) and Ned Eckersley (25 not out) added vital late runs to help the Foxes set a decent looking total against a team bereft of any real confidence. True to form, the Steelbacks were dealt an early blow when Carberry ran out key man Ben Duckett for just 2, and the wickets continued to fall in clusters as the hosts found themselves in an all too familiar situation at 95/6. Gavin Griffiths (4-30) and Raine (3-31) the men doing all the damage of Leicestershire continue their rebuilding process under Nixon in fine style. Josh Cobb (56), Rob White (38) and Brett Hutton (34 not out) were the only Northants batsmen to show any real fight and resistance of the Griffiths and Raine show ripped through the top and middle order. It was another humbling defeat for the hosts who fell to another heavy defeat, but for Leicestershire, it is another progression box ticked off for Nixon and his coaching staff.
Lastly, in the Sky Live day-nighter at Old Trafford, holders Nottinghamshire edged past Lancashire in a thriller. Scores from Chris Nash (52), Tom Moores (47), Ross Taylor (58) and Steven Mullaney (70) led the Outlaws to the commanding total of 318 from their 50 overs. Mullaney looked mightly impressive indeed against his former employers striking eight-fours and a six during his 54-balls stay. In the grand scheme of thing though, perhaps the six and the four hit late on by big Luke Fletcher was the most crucial moment in the match given how the game panned out. With the ball young Matt Parkinson impressed for the hosts with the young spinner bagging figures of 5-68. In response, Keaton Jennings’ excellent recent form continued as the England hopeful smashed eleven-fours on his way to 136 in front of the sky cameras. He dominated his side’s score of 309-9 with the lack of partners the real reason why the hosts fell agonisingly short. Indeed, only Dane Vilas, Liam Livingstone and Steven Croft offered the opener any semblance of support with scores of 41, 33 and 33 respectively. A cluster of wickets from the 40-over mark onwards also didn’t help matters as the visitors fought back superbly with the ball with Jake Ball and Harry Gurney particularly impressive with the ball for the Outlaws. Gurney bagged the vital wicket of Jennings who held the key to success throughout and when he went in 47th over with 30-runs still required, so did the game and remember those 12 runs that Fletcher hit late on, boy did they prove crucial in the end. Lancashire fell just 9-runs short of victory to give the defending champions the ideal start to the season.
5/11/2018 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
Ball dominated bat on the opening day of the fifth game week of the Specsavers County Championship Division One season, no fewer than 39-wickets fell as the heat subsided and the cool air returned to give the bowlers a much-needed lift.
We’ll start with the leaders Nottinghamshire who endured their worst day since promotion after finding a rampant Lancashire side too hot to handle at Trent Bridge. An already talented Red Rose bowling attack was further bolstered by a fired up James Anderson keen to bounce back from a disappointing match last week against Somerset. With that in mind, Lancashire skipper Liam Livingstone used his right to do away with the toss and invited the hosts to have the first crack at batting. Jake Libby and Steven Mullaney negotiated Anderson’s first over fairly successfully but couldn’t see our Graham Onions’ first over unscathed as the former Durham man removed with Nottinghamshire skipper Mullaney with the penultimate ball of the 2nd over. The naggingly accurate pace duo continued to frustrate the Outlaws top order with runs very much a premium under the hazy Trent Bridge sky. Chris Nash and Libby plodded their way to 46-1 from eighteen and a half overs when Nash was finally put out of his misery departing gritty 18, Onions again the man with the breakthrough. In his very next over, the former England man struck for a third time, this time removing the dangerous Ross Taylor for a duck. Libby must have been watching at the other end of the wicket, thinking ‘come on chaps, this isn’t that hard’. He had moved on to a very patient 34 but must have been dreaming of a nice warm cuppa as he wafted at a ball from Jordan Clark and was snaffled at slip by Livingstone. That left the hosts in a spot of bother on 80/4 and in unfamiliar territory given their largely enjoyable return to the top flight. All that was left now from a Lancashire point of view was for James Anderson to join the wicket-taking party and he did just that striking twice in quick succession to remove Riki Wessels and Tom Moores with Samit Patel run out in between also to leave the hosts on 106/7 and in need of some Stuart Broad magic. After all, he has had the magic touch all week you only have to look at his football fantasy team to know that. The Nottinghamshire faithful were treated to a little 28-ball cameo from the England man but his 20 wasn’t enough to rescue an already sinking ship. Indeed, Tom Bailey finished off the tail and the hosts were dismissed for a disappointing 133.
Fifties for Keaton Jennings (52 not out) and Alex Davies (50) had seemingly given the visitors the upper hand, but a late fightback with the ball has meant that there is still work to do for the Red Rose as they look to finally capitalise on a good start to a County Championship fixture. They close day one with a lead of 24, on 157-4.
Ollie Pope’s blossoming career continued at the Oval as the youngster helped Surrey return back to the straight and narrow against Yorkshire. The Tykes enjoyed a promising start removing four of the top five before 70 was notched up on the scoreboard. That left the Surrey chairmen seeing if the ink had dried on that Virat Kohli contract and getting out the tipex to see if they can change the start date of his contract to today. Dean Elgar and Pope though began to calm the nerves in Surrey dressing room with good measured cricket shots as they slowly silenced an excitable Yorkshire fielding side. The duo shared an unbroken 50-run stand together before the White Rose were back off celebrating again as the South African departed for a well-made 61, England’s Joe Root acting as the golden arm again. Unprederbed though, Pope continued on his merry way slotting the ball away with ease and grace in front of the watching England captain, who would surely be impressed by the 20-year-old. The Londoner would need a partner though if he was going to help the Rey put a decent score on the board, and he finally found one in Rikki Clarke. The former Warwickshire man played a masterful counter charge act to offer the perfect support to Pope. Clarke and Pope took the score beyond 250 and towards 300 as the pair found the rope with alarming regularity. Pope had hit 22-fours in his unbeaten 131 at close, whilst Clarke had his 10 fours and 2 sixes during his entertaining 91-ball 71. Connor McKerr joined the Pope following Clarke’s departure and the young pair would take the hosts through to a dominant position at close at 366-7, a million miles away from the trouble they had previously found themselves in after lunch.
Elsewhere, Worcestershire enjoyed their best day of the season against Champions Essex at New Road. Bizarrely, given their batting fragility at the moment, Ryan ten Doeschate decided to chance his arm at having a toss seemingly forgetting the fact he could’ve just chucked an equally dodgy batting line-up into the cauldron. Instead, the South-African born Dutchman decided to have a bat in gloomy cold conditions in the Midlands. It would prove to be a fateful decision as the visitors never looked comfortable on a pitch that offered early movement. Indeed, only Alastair Cook looked remotely in control during his innings, but even he could only manage 37. The Essex batting line-up looks a shadow of the 2017 side that won by an innings quite frequently during their unbeaten Championship winning season. Tom Westley, who fought his way into the England Test side last year looks rustier than a nail that has been left in the rain too long, he will perhaps be pleased he reached double figures though after his wretched run of low scores. Of course, credit must be given to the Pears pace attack who piled the pressure on the visitors with some tight overs, and that pressure built to create plenty of errors from the Eagles batsmen. It is become a worrying norm to see players like Peter Siddle (playing his last game for the Eagles in this game week) and Simon Harmer digging the top order out of a hole. Again, the Australian added vital lower order runs making 29 to help the visitors to 177. Josh Tongue was the pick of the host's attack collecting four for 45 as the visitors fell short of expectation again. In quickly fading light the Pears easily survived 17-overs of Porter, Siddle and Cook to reach 47 without loss at the close as they enjoyed a very positive opening day.
Lastly, Somerset continued their fine early season form to gain the upper hand in their rain-affected opening day encounter with Hampshire at Taunton. Somerset skipper Tom Abell was the unlikely hero with the ball claiming 3-18 as the visitors crumbled to 198-8 at close. The part-time spin of Abell accounted for James Vince – who again failed to kick on after making another decent start, Joe Weatherley and Lewis McManus. Rilee Rossouw made a pleasing 38 as he slowly starts to return to form before becoming Dom Bess’ only wicket on the innings thus far. But it will be Abell who will be the happiest man in the West Country after collecting 3-wickets to help justify his decision to bowl first after Hampshire asked to have a toss at the County Ground.
5/3/2018 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
With the weather set fair, international star aplenty, it would be rude to not spend your Bank Holiday weekend at the cricket.
We’ll start at Chelmsford where perhaps the most intriguing battle of the game week will take place. Former England Captain Alastair Cook takes on his successor Joe Root as Essex take on Yorkshire at the Cloud FM County Ground. Root will be joined by fellow England internationals Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance to give the White Rose battling line-up a much-needed boost. The Tykes fell to a humbling defeat at Taunton last week with the batting desperately letting the visitors down so seeing the current England captain at the crease will be a welcome sight for the Yorkshire faithful.
Despite their 118-run defeat in the West Country in Game week three there were still some positives to take from their encounter, Ben Coad continued his fine form and another impressive display in the East of England will further boost his chances of gain a place in the England Test side, particularly after the news of Toby Roland-Jones season-ending injury. Indeed, he will be involved in the second interesting little battle that’ll take place in this fascinating clash. With Root, Cook, Bairstow, and Ballance on show in the same match you can be sure that new England selector Ed Smith will be in attendance and that gives both Coad and fellow England hopeful Jamie Porter the potential stage to shine on.
Cook impressive in Essex’s limited game-time in Southampton looking back to the sort of form we are used to seeing. The England opener struck a fluent 84 in the Eagles one-innings bonus point shootout draw with Hampshire. He will be keen to feel some sun on his back and continue to enjoy some time in the middle ahead of the summer tour starting this month. After seeing a complete washout in the reverse fixture both sides will be keen to avenge wasted time as they look to pinch vital points off each other and separate themselves from the bottom end of the league.
Essex remain unchanged with Porter, Harmer, Sam Cook and Peter Siddle tasked with upsetting the Yorkshire party, whilst Alastair Cook, Nick Browne, Tom Westley and Dan Lawrence will all be hoping to impress to watching England selectors.
For Yorkshire, as previously mentioned Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow come in to replace Alex Lees and Andrew Hodd.
Team News in full:
Essex: Ten Doeschate ©, Foster w/k, Beard, Bopara, Browne, Chopra, A.Cook, S.Cook, Harmer, Lawrence, Porter, Siddle, and Westley
Yorkshire: Ballance ©, Bairstow, Bresnan, Brook, Brooks, Carver, Coad, Leaning, Lyth, Patterson, Pujara, Root and Shaw
Weather watch: Largely sunny with highs of 23.
Where to follow: Live streaming service provided by Essex Cricket TV with Commentary from BBC Essex.
Elsewhere, perhaps the surprise package of the division, Somerset travel to Old Trafford looking to make it three wins on the spin. Many tipped the West Country boys to struggle but some shrewd arrivals have made all the difference early on in the season. The signing of Matthew Renshaw, in particular, appears to be inspired, the Australian, who was a late replacement for Cameron Bancroft has looked in great touch in early season and his magnificent pre-lunch century on the opening day against Yorkshire all but led the way to victory in tricky batting conditions. He, again will prove important for the visitors who’s batting has improved of late with Tom Abell and James Hildreth amongst the runs too. The bowling speaks for itself with the spin twins Dom Bess and Jack Leach always likely to cause problems even in these early season conditions being well backed up by some more than useful pacemen in the Overton brothers and Lewis Gregory.
Their hosts, however, have enjoyed a less than stellar start to the season, but they began to show signs of life during game week three, they finally remembered how to bat with half-centuries for Liam Livingstone, Shiv Chanderpaul, Steven Croft, Jordan Clark, Tom Bailey and Joe Meenie in their mammoth score of 439-9 declared against Surrey last week. There is still the worry that the top three (all tipped for relatively bright England futures) still struggling to make any serious runs but if they do start to fire there are signs that they can be the dangerous side everyone thought they would be. There bowling is probably their strong suit and it fired against a very strong Surrey batting line-up at Old Trafford failing an agonizing four-wickets short of victory as time caught up with them. The Red Rose bowling attack will be boosted further by the appearance of England bowling superstar James Anderson, the Lancashire faithful will be hoping the extra class of the Burnley express will help turn the frustrating draw against Surrey into a fabulous win against Somerset.
Team News in full:
Lancashire: Livingstone ©, Anderson, Bailey, Chanderpaul, Clark, Croft, Davies (w/k), Haseeb Hameed, Jennings, Mennie, Onions, Parry, Parkinson, Vilas
Somerset: Abell ©, Bartlett, Bess, Davies (w/k), Gregory, Groenewald, Hildreth, Leach, Overton, Renshaw, Trescothick, van Meekeren, van der Merwe
Weather watch: Largely sunny with highs of 22.
Where to follow: A live stream will be available with BBC Lancashire commentary.
Table toppers Nottinghamshire will be looking to stretch away from their visitors to Trent Bridge during game week four by collecting their third success of the summer when they face Hampshire. It is their first time on home soil this season and they will be hoping to prove that Don Topley’s comments about them being ‘lucky’ is a load of cobblers. Topley tweeted in the week that Nottinghamshire have been fortunate that the fixture gods were smiling on them having played away from home during their opening three games. Of course, there is some logic behind it, it has given them the opportunity to insert their opposition in every encounter in favourable April conditions but Topley’s comments were disrespectful nonetheless.
The Outlaws have adapted very well following their promotion back to the top flight and with players like Jake Ball and Harry Gurney in fine form, it is little surprise to see them sitting pretty at the top of the Championship after winning two from their first three games. They need more from their batting line-up though to help their talented bowling attack as they cannot keep relying on being ‘got out of jail’ by the likes of Ball, Gurney and Fletcher.
It will be interesting to see how they fair back in familiar surrounding and how they will react to being asked to bat first against a very talented Hampshire bowling attack.
For Hampshire, they will just be hoping for some sunshine after freezing during their weather-affected encounter with Essex last week. Images circulated around Social Media of a very cold looking Hashim Amla donning a woolly hat and about 18 sweaters.
They have enjoyed an indifferent season with one win, a loss and a draw from their opening three fixtures of the season. They will be without Sam Northeast again who is continuing his recovery from a broken finger suffered whilst practising slip catching prior to their match last week.
In the cricket that was played in their one-innings bonus point frenzy against the Eagles, they looked decent. Runs from Amla, Jimmy Adams and Kyle Abbott propelled them to 351/7 against what is thought to be one of the stronger bowling attacks in the division. They also enjoyed some success with the ball before Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara stemmed the momentum the hosts had built up when they had reduced Essex to 61/3.
It is widely expected that Hampshire will start this encounter in the Midlands with an unchanged team, whilst Nottinghamshire have Stuart Broad still available in a team that will also likely to be unchanged from their stunning 5 session success over struggling Worcestershire.
Team News in full:
Nottinghamshire: Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney (c), Stuart Broad, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Matt Milnes, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores (w/k), Ross Taylor, Jake Ball, Billy Root.
Hampshire: Adams, Wood, Dawson, Vince, McManus, Weatherley, Amla, Rossouw, Abbott, Edwards, Wheal, Berg and Sole
Weather watch: Largely sunny with highs of 22.
Where to follow: A live stream with BBC radio commentary will be available through TrentBridge.co.uk
Lastly, Worcestershire travel to London looking to show they are worthy to be in the top flight after a woeful start to their season.
Following promotion from the Second Division the Pears have suffered a defeat in five sessions to Nottinghamshire, and two heavy defeats to Somerset and Hampshire respectively. It is safe to say this isn’t the dream return the Midlanders had hoped for. Just when they would have been looking for some kind of respite they travel to the Oval to face a Surrey side sure to be on the buzz after the news broke of Virat Kohli’s impending arrival in June. Kohli will add to an already stacked side that will be sure to cause Worcestershire all sorts of bother. A bowling attack that will be keen to make amends following a disappointing display by their high standards last week against Lancashire. The batting is more than solid with Ben Foakes in the form of his life as he eyes an England call-up and young Ollie Pope also impressing with the willow.
Perhaps the most exciting prospect coming out of Surrey at the minute though is Amar Virdi. England have been crying out for a genuine turner of the ball and in Virdi they hope they have found their man. The right-arm off break bowler is currently the ‘Reys top wicket-taker with 8 and has already been likened to Monty Panesar thanks to his elaborate celebrations. He is another man that Worcestershire’s fragile batting line-up will have to look out for.
The Pears much break the 250 mark at the bare minimum as they have far too frequently been blown away by sides, to give themselves any hope of victory in this one they will have to hope they bowl out Surrey cheaply and capitalise on one of the best batting tracks in the country. This is the opportunity Joe Clarke has been crying out for as he looks to stake a claim for a chance in the England set-up.
Team news in full:
Surrey: Burns, Batty, Borthwick, Clarke, Curran, S. Dernbach, Foakes, Mckerr, Meaker, Patel, Pope, Stoneman and Virdi
Worcestershire: Mitchell, D’Oliveira, Fell, Clarke, Head, Cox (w), Barnard, Leach ©, Tongue, Morris, Magoffin and Twohig
Weather watch: Largely sunny with highs of 25.
Where to follow: Live stream on the Surrey cricket website with live BBC London radio commentary.
4/26/2018 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu), Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid) & Harry Hill (@HarryHill96)
Game week three sees the start of the introduction of the England Test players returning to the County fold looking to find some vital form ahead of the English Test summer.
Alastair Cook in particular needs to find something, anything, to get him going ahead of potentially his last English Test Summer. The former England skipper looked woefully out of touch in the winter and will be hoping some time back with his beloved Eagles will rejuvenate him and offer him some vital time in the middle. Last summer, he was fantastic for the Champions contributing with nearly every innings in an Essex shirt and Anthony McGrath will hope the legendary left-hander can find that form again to help aid the Eagles to their second success of the season in Southampton.
It won’t be easy for Cook though, Hampshire are blessed with one of the best bowling attacks in the division with the likes of Kyle Abbott, Fidel Edwards and Gareth Berg already well amongst the wickets. That, of course, doesn’t even mention Liam Dawson and Chris Wood who are also always a danger with the ball in hand.
The Chef though will just want to go about his work, free of the pressure of holding up an end for England as the doubts continue to linger about his future and the batting order around him. A few early season runs will do Cook the world of good you would expect, and you could also argue he needs them to keep his place in the Test side.
The returning ‘little Chef,’ Sam Cook, who burst on the scene at the back end of last season for the Champions, will join ‘big Chef ‘in the squad. I was lucky enough to witness Sam Cook’s finest hour in his early career in an Essex shirt as he ripped through the Hampshire line-up at the Ageas Bowl last September. How he would love to repeat that trick again in Southampton to prove it wasn’t just a fluke.
A three-pronged pace attack of Cook, Jamie Porter and Peter Siddle, with the spin option of Simon Harmer, is one certainly to challenge the strength Hampshire have and you suspect the performance of those two attacks will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this encounter.
There is still no place in the side for former Hampshire man Matt Coles who is seemingly being saved for Essex’s one-day side.
For Hampshire, they remain unchanged as they look to bounce back from their defeat at the Oval. They would have been pleased to see Sam Northeast amongst the runs, as they look for more stability in the middle order. Essex will know all about Hashim Amla, who previously spent a stint in Chelmsford. The form of the South African will be key to ensure Hampshire get runs on the board as you suspect the visitors will put Hampshire in on the opening morning. It is sure to be an exciting encounter with plenty of international stars past and present on show in Southampton, and who will come out on top is anyones guess, much will rely on Cook and Amla as these two bowling attacks have the ability to blow any batting line-up away.
How they line up:
Hampshire: Adams, Wood, Dawson, Berg, Vince ©, Amla, Northeast, McManus (w/k), Rossouw, Weatherley, Wheal, Edwards, Abbott and Sole
Essex: ten Doeschate ©, Foster (w/k), Beard, Bopara, Browne, Chopra, A. Cook, S. Cook, Harmer, Lawrence, Porter, Siddle and Westley
Day one: Heavy rain – little chance of play
Day Two: Cloudy
Day three: Cloudy – with a chance of afternoon showers
Day Four: Morning rain – clearing in the afternoon
Meanwhile, at Old Trafford, the Lancastrian faithful will be hoping and praying that they can get their season up and running.
It has been a surprisingly testing start to the campaign for Glen Chapple’s men with defeats to Nottinghamshire and Essex leaving them rock bottom of the Championship. They were many people picks for the Championship, a strong looking bowling attack coupled with a decent looking top order meant some of the esteemed View From the Outfield writers fancied them to lift the Division One trophy come September.
However, with a tricky looking game against Surrey now on the horizon, they must now start to look to get their season moving as they are at risk of being cast adrift even this early in the season.
The Red Rose have been forced to wait for the arrival of James Anderson back to their side, but they do still have an impressive attack with Joe Meenie settling in well to County cricket and the evergreen Graham Onions still look dangerous after his switch to Old Trafford from Chester-Le-Street. They do have plenty of potential run-makers in Hameed, Livingstone and Jennings at the top of the order, in theory, all the ingredients are there to make a title-winning team, for one reason or another it just hasn’t quite clicked yet for the Lanky boys.
Glen Chapple has made just the one change to the squad that lost in Chelmsford with promising pace bowler Saqib Mahmood coming into the 14 replacing all-rounder Danny Lamb.
For Surrey, they tasted the sweet taste of success at the first time of trying thrashing Hampshire at the Oval in game week two. The ‘Reys squad looks well balanced and is a threat to any side. The mystery of Amar Virdi adds a different dimension to their team, whilst Sam Curran is another year older and stronger and Jade Dernbach looks to have finally worked out how to stop leaking runs.
With the bat, they have runs throughout the batting line-up as was proved last week with Ollie Pope striking his first century of the season. Mark Stoneman is an England international and in Ben Foakes they have one of the best wicket-keeper batsmen in England. It is hardly surprising they nullified the threat of Hampshire with such ease and grace last week.
Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that ‘moneybags’ Surrey have named no fewer than nine Surrey academy graduates in their 13-man squad travelling to Manchester. Ravi Patel – who has been impressing in the 2XI and Stuart Meaker join the eleven men who played in their opening games success over Hampshire. Clearly, the Rey are expecting some seam movement at Old Trafford as they pack their squad with talented seamers.
If they can dodge the weather the visitors will fancy their chances of making it two-out-of-two at Old Trafford.
How they line-up:
Lancashire: Liam Livingstone (C), Tom Bailey, Shiv Chanderpaul, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Alex Davies, Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings, Saqib Mahmood, Joe Mennie, Graham Onions, Stephen Parry, Matt Parkinson, Dane Vilas
Surrey: Rory Burns (C), Mark Stoneman, Scott Borthwick, Dean Elgar, Ollie Pope, Ben Foakes, Sam Curran, Rikki Clarke, Jade Dernbach, Matthew Dunn, Amar Virdi, Ryan Patel, Stuart Meaker
Day One: Light Rain – expect little play
Day Two: Light clouds
Day Three: Light Clouds
Day Four: Rain in the morning clearing throughout the day
Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire
Worcestershire 13-man squad: Daryl Mitchell, Brett D’Oliveira, Tom Fell, Joe Clarke, Travis Head, George Rhodes, Ben Cox, Ed Barnard, Joe Leach, Josh Tongue, Charlie Morris, Ben Twohig, Ross Whiteley.
Nottinghamshire 12-man squad: Jake Libby, Chris Nash, Steven Mullaney, Stuart Broad, Riki Wessels, Harry Gurney, Luke Fletcher, Samit Patel, Tom Moores, Ross Taylor, Jake Ball, Billy Root.
Ross Whiteley comes into the Worcestershire squad as a replacement for Steve Magoffin, who is rested after suffering a tight hamstring against Somerset last week. Young legspinner Ben Twohig could make his first-class debut if selected. Ed Barnard will be looking to continue his fine form, after taking 11-89 in the defeat at Taunton last week. For Notts, Stuart Broad returns after being rested for his first match of the season, whilst Tom Moores will be looking to take some more stunning catches behind the stumps, that attracted the attention of Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea during the week. Notts will know that they need to improve their batting from defeat at Headingley last week, after relying on Jake Ball’s 44* in the first innings.
Weather Watch: Rain forecast for Friday and Saturday, before dry spells on Sunday and Monday. Highs of around 10c.
Match Odds: Worcestershire 7/4, Nottinghamshire 4/9. (Betfair).
Somerset v Yorkshire
Somerset – Tom Abell (c), Tom Banton, George Bartlett, Dom Bess, Josh Davey, Steve Davies, Lewis Gregory, Tim Groenewald, James Hildreth, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Matt Renshaw, Marcus Trescothick and Paul van Meekeren.
Yorkshire – Gary Ballance ©, Tim Bresnan, Harry Brook, Jack Brooks, Karl Carver, Ben Coad, Andrew Hodd (WK), Jack Leaning, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Cheteshwar Pujara, Josh Shaw, Matthew Waite
Top of the table Yorkshire visit Taunton. The Yorkshire faithful see their good start as evidence that Yorkshire will be Championship contenders, after being well off the pace in 2017. Somerset fans will hope that their side can follow up the win last week and get the fast start that will allow them to play their trump card of Leach and Bess successfully during the Championship run-in. For Somerset, Eddie Bryom dislocated a shoulder in the field against Worcestershire and Jamie Overton has a side strain, although it is minor and he is expected to be back quickly. Paul van Meekeren replaces the latter, while Tom Banton and George Bartlett are added to replace the former. Yorkshire have a long list of absences: apart from Adil Rashid, taking a red-ball sabbatical, Steve Patterson (broken finger), Matthew Fisher (torn side), Liam Plunkett and David Willey (both IPL), Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow are unavailable. Root and Bairstow will be netting at Headingley and should be available for the trip to Essex, although Bairstow will not start preparation until Monday. Yorkshire have won more than half of the 175 games between the two sides (91 wins to Somerset’s 24), but things have been far more even in recent seasons and this game could turn out to be finely balanced. Ben Coad has been flying again this season for the Yorkies and it must be a worry that he may get into the England squad this summer to add to the drain on resources. Jack Brooks is also having a good start to the season. For Somerset, there is quiet optimism, particularly as the quicks proved so potent against Worcestershire, meaning that they will be just as happy if the Taunton pitch has something in it for the seamers as they will be if it is a turner.
Middlesex v Glamorgan
Middlesex – Dawid Malan (captain), Tom Barber, Hilton Cartwright, Stephen Eskinazi, James Franklin, Tom Helm, Max Holden, Tim Murtagh, Ollie Rayner, Sam Robson, George Scott, John Simpson (wicket-keeper), Paul Stirling.
Glamorgan – Hogan ©, Selman, Murphy, Marsh, Carlson, Donald, Cooke, Lloyd, Salter, Carey, de Lange, van der Gugten, Smith
This is one of the most interesting games of this round, matching 2nd v 3rd in the table. Despite their late scare, Glamorgan looked very good against Gloucestershire, while Middlesex have shown the frustrating Jekyll and Hyde inconsistency of 2017 in their first two games. Glamorgan pick the XII who went to Bristol but add Ruaidhri Smith to give them an extra pace option. The Middlesex dressing room, in contrast, resembles a plot line from a popular BBC series when I was a (young) kid, called “Emergency Ward Ten”. While Middlesex welcome back Dawid Malan after his enforced rest for the first two rounds of Championship cricket and Steve Eskinazi (after missing two games with a virus), there is still too much bad news for comfort. After missing the end of the season and the England tour through injury, Toby Roland-Jones has been found to have a recurrence of the stress fracture of his back and will miss the rest of the season. “Toblerone” made such an impact for England on his debut last season and his injury is a tragedy both for Middlesex and for England: he seems fated not to add to his Test caps. Toblerone joins a lengthy injury list of James Harris (side), Steve Finn (knee), Nick Gubbins (not yet quite ready to come back) and Eoin Morgan (broken thumb). Tim Murtagh has recovered from his back spasm and is in the squad, although one suspects that the coach will watch him closely in the pre-match warm-up as Middlesex can ill-afford another bowler to breakdown mid-match, having lost Roland-Jones, Harris and Murtagh at different moments against Derbyshire. While Middlesex’s squad depth is such that they can still field six internationals, one wonders if the fates are against them in their promotion push. This game already looks like a “must not lose” for the Londoners, while Glamorgan are looking forward to their first game at Lord’s for nine years and travel with great optimism that they have a real chance to back up last week’s impressive win, with a big scalp.
Sussex v Gloucestershire
Sussex – Ben Brown (c/wk), Danny Briggs, Michael Burgess, Harry Finch, Ollie Robinson, Phil Salt, Ishant Sharma, Stiaan van Zyl, Stuart Whittingham, David Wiese, Luke Wells, Luke Wright
Gloucestershire – Dent (c), Howell, Roderick, Bracey, J.Taylor, van Buuren, Higgins, Noema-Barnett, Miles, Worrall, M.Taylor, Liddle, Hankins
Gloucestershire travel to Sussex-by-the-Sea having followed a fine win against Kent, with three days of abject cricket against Glamorgan that left them just too much to do to salvage the draw. Sussex have been unfortunate to play their first two matches on absolutely dead surfaces that would not have produced a result in five days and, the pitch at Grace Road, probably not even in six. Both sides want the win to keep up the pressure on the sides at the top of the table. Sussex replace Will Beer, who has a sore side after a long bowl on the pitiless Grace Road pitch, with Danny Briggs, who has recovered fitness after a knee operation and has been playing for the 2nd XI to get match fit. Many people see Sussex as a good outside bet for promotion and it is certainly true that they have impressed in the two draws. Gloucestershire go back to the team that beat Kent. Giant Liam Norwell, who came out batting on one leg to try and save the game against Glamorgan, misses the game with a hamstring injury. After perhaps unwisely being left out against Glamorgan, Craig Miles will expect to be in the final XI. Both sides will hope that the pitch offers something but, if it does, an opening attack of Worrall and Taylor will be a handful, with Miles as first change. Sussex will undoubtedly play the same XI save for the aforementioned enforced change of spinner. Gloucestershire will be delighted by the form of Ryan Higgins and the return to form of Bobby Bracey, but captain Chris Dent is struggling for runs and putting too much pressure on Benny Howell and Gareth Roderick at the top of the order.
Northamptonshire v Durham
Northamptonshire 13-man squad: Alex Wakely, Luke Procter, Richard Levi, Adam Rossington, Josh Cobb, Rob Keogh, Ben Duckett, Steven Crook, Doug Bracewell, Brett Hutton, Richard Gleeson, Ben Sanderson, Rob Newton.
Durham 12-man squad: Paul Collingwood, Aiden Markram, Cameron Steel, Will Smith, Graham Clark, Michael Richardson, Stuart Poynter, Nathan Rimmington, James Weighell, Chris Rushworth, Barry McCarthy, Josh Coughlin.
Both teams will be looking to bounce back from less than ideal starts to the season after Northants have lost both matches inside three days, whilst Durham were taken part by Kent in just two. Northants will be keen to occupy the crease better, starting at the top of the order with Rob Newton and Ben Duckett. Meanwhile, for Durham, Cameron Steel returns to the squad after missing last week’s fixture with illness, as Gareth Harte misses out. Aiden Markram will be looking to put a difficult match last week behind him, after becoming the first player to make a pair on their first day of the County Championship.
Weather Watch: Rain Friday and Saturday afternoon, cloud on Sunday before more rain forecast for Monday. Highs of around 9c.
Match Odds: Northamptonshire 8/11, Durham 11/10 (Betfair).
Leicestershire v Derbyshire
Leicestershire 12-man squad: Michael Carberry, Varun Aaron, Colin Ackermann, Mark Cosgrove, Ned Eckersley, Neil Dexter, Gavin Griffiths, Lewis Hill, Paul Horton, Dieter Klein, Callum Parkinson, Ben Raine.
Derbyshire 14-man squad: Billy Godleman, Ben Slater, Luis Reece, Wayne Madsen, Alex Hughes, Matt Critchley, Callum Brodrick, Gary Wilson, Tony Palladino, Ravi Rampaul, Hardus Viljoen, Duanne Olivier, Will Davis, Hamidullah Qadri.
Paceman Varun Aaron could make his Leicestershire debut for this East Midlands clash in place of Mohammed Abbas who joins up with Pakistan training squad in preparation for the test matches with England next month. Ned Eckersley returns to the squad after a groin injury kept him out of last week’s draw with Sussex. Harry Dearden and Richard Jones are both ruled out through injury. Derbyshire will be high on confidence after a rare home victory against Middlesex last week. The same 11 from that match remain in the squad, with the additions of Will Davis, Hamidullah Qadri and Callum Brodrick.
Rain on Friday, dry and overcast conditions on Saturday and Sunday with the risk of further rain on Monday. Highs of around 10c.
Leicestershire 11/10, Derbyshire 8/11 (Betfair).
By the View from the outfield team
The official hashtag on Twitter for County Championship cricket is #ProperCricket, and today we saw plenty of that in the Saturday sun.
Of the nine Championship games over the two division, we saw one concluded in five sessions, although there were plenty of twists and turns in those sessions. All four Division One encounters are delicately poised although again one suspects if you fancy a trip to the cricket on Monday you may be hard pushed.
We'll start in Chelmsford where Lancashire will require 320 to win in two-days as Essex enjoyed the better of the second day at Chelmsford. In a game where the ball has often dominated the bat, the Eagles showed that it wasn't the minefield that everyone previously had made it seem. The day started perfectly for the hosts who wasted no time in wrapping up the Red Rose’s innings with Jamie Porter and Simon Harmer picking up a wicket apiece to both collect their first five-wicket hauls of the season.
That all meant that Essex had squeaked a lead of six on first innings, that small lead seemed to give Anthony McGrath’s men the momentum and they looked to capitalise with some attack minded batting against the new ball. Varun Chopra, who was presented his county cap during the lunch interval, in particular, took the mentality of see ball hit ball; he raced to 32 before having his stumps rearranged by the impressive Graham Onions. That brought Tom Westley to the crease, the Essex number three still harbours genuine hopes of a future England berth if he can impress again this season and he looked in good touch at the County Ground as he patiently made his way to 49. Nick Browne fell for 17 edging Australian Joe Meenie to Dane Vilas in the slips, whilst Dan Lawrence was the only man to not really get a start for the hosts as he also edged through to the slips off the bowling of Meenie. Westley finally found a partner in crime in Ravi Bopara and the pair began to show the wicket wasn’t as bad it had seemed. The pair added 57 for the fourth wicket before ‘The Big Bopper’ as he is affectionately known as in Chelmsford drove to Livingstone in the slips to give Tom Bailey his first wicket of the innings. Westley and Ryan ten Doeschate continued to build the lead playing with some renewed freedom with the Essex skipper taking a particular liking to young Lancashire Leggie Matthew Parkinson swatting him for a big leg-side six on his way to 25. But it was to be Westley who would be the next to fall. The Essex vice-captain going for his 50th run drove a long hop from Parkinson to Keaton Jennings in the covers and he whacked his bat against his pad in disgust as he walked off knowing that that is another start that he has failed to cash in on. And when ten Doeschate departed with Essex’s lead on just 180, Lancashire began to sniff a chance of victory, and whilst Paul Walter looked all at sea against the Red Rose pace men he provided able support to James Foster albeit by playing and missing an awful lot against the luckless Onions. Walter took the Eagles through to Tea alongside Foster stretching the host’s lead to 214 before finally running out of luck edging Meenie through to the keeper.
Foster was left begging for a partner to add to Essex’s lead with and he found the perfect right-hand man in Simon Harmer, fresh from receiving his County cap he looked like a man on a mission. The pair totally nullified the Lancashire attack playing in a patient yet assured manner waiting for the right ball to slap away to the boundary rope. The duo hit 15 boundaries between them as the long day in the sun seemed to begin to take its toll on the visitors. They shared a potential match-winning 103 for the 8th wicket taking Essex’s lead beyond 300 in the process. But then cruelty struck as Harmer, approaching a well-deserved 50 feathered an edge through to Davies with just five-overs remaining in the day. But he had done his job helping to guide Foster through to his fifty during the partnership. Siddle, whose first innings score of 33 is proving vital came and went for a duck as the effects of the new ball began to show, and with the last ball of the day Foster was adjudged LBW to give Bailey his third wicket. That left the visitors with 320 to get for victory in this clash of potential champions in two days in what is sure to be a fascinating climax to this match.
Surrey took a hulk like grip on their game against south coast rivals Hampshire at the Oval on Saturday. In a contest that looked evenly poised at the start of the day after Surrey could only manage a disappointing 211 in their first innings and Hampshire getting a quarter of the way to that total by the close of day one. But early wickets soon turned the game on its head as the momentum shifted across to the Rey in dramatic fashion. It took just two balls for the pendulum to start swinging the host's way with the experienced Rikki Clarke removing James Vince leg before. Sam Northeast, still yet to find his feet in a Hampshire shirt was soon joining Vince in the dressing room as he pushed forward to a delivery from young Sam Curran only to find the gloves of Ben Foakes behind the stumps to leave the visitors well and truly wobbling on 63/5. Another man struggling for runs is Rilee Rossouw, his disappointing start to the season continued as Tom Dunn, another Surrey youngster pinned him in front to leave Hampshire staring down the barrel on 79/6. If Hampshire were to get anywhere near Surrey’s first innings score everything rested on the shoulders of Hashim Amla, who clearly saw a different wicket to those around him as he serenely went on to his half-century. He shared a mini-revival partnership of 37 with Liam Dawson as Hampshire chipped away at the Surrey total but Dawson’s departure was another untimely blow for the visitors with Jade Dernbach finding the edge of his bat. Perhaps the surprise of the ‘summer’ so far for Hampshire is the batting form of Kyle Abbott, and he again played a steady hand sharing a decent stand of 31 with Amla before two quick wickets from Sam Curran (4-39) put the Rey back in the driving seat. The very next over Amla departed to give Clarke his fourth and spookily gave him the exact same figures as Curran in the process and Surrey had a lead of 64.
With three England hopefuls and a South African run machine in the top five that deficit already looked ominous for Hampshire, and it was only going to get worse as the afternoon wore on in the London sun. Abbott gave them some brief early respite taking the wickets of Rory Burns (10) and England’s Mark Stoneman (24) but Borthwick, Elgar, Foakes and Pope all played decent hands to stretch the hosts lead into a winnable position. Borthwick is the current top scoring hitting eight fours and a six in his total of 74, but with the ever impressive Foakes currently unbeaten on 50. You fear it could be a long day tomorrow for Hampshire unless they can go ‘bang, bang’ in the morning session.
You have to make Surrey firm favourites for this one now with a lead of 281 and six-wickets in hand.
In these days of the super-reduced Championship, three wins give a side a good chance of surviving the drop and four seals the deal. Somerset have been many peoples’ tip for relegation for the last two seasons but will hope to seal the first of those wins tomorrow. Having started the day 49 ahead, but with two Worcestershire wickets left, the first order of business was to knock over the rabbits, breaking the annoying ninth wicket stand. Barnard and Tongue added 20 more before Tongue fell to Gregory and Overton then finished off the innings by dismissing Barnard, but not before he had reached a valuable 50. Somerset must have been heartily sick of Barnard by the end of the day, as he added 5-37 in the second innings to his 5-52 in the first innings and 50 with the bat. However, one man, however brilliant, cannot make up for the inadequacies of the other ten and Worcestershire, beaten once already this season, look to be heading straight back down to Division 2. With a lead of just 23, far fewer than they had hoped for, the last thing that Somerset needed was to lose two quick wickets, one of them Matt Renshaw. However, Marcus Trescothick was still there and, with James Hildreth, steadied the ship. Although Hildreth has Lions caps, he has never had an England call-up and now, 34 in September, never will receive a call from the selectors, despite a First Class average of 43 and, today, making his 42nd First Class century. Hildreth ended the 2017 season with 41 and 109 against Middlesex, which sent the Londoners down, here he has added 48 and 111* on a similarly crabby pitch: one cannot but wonder if he might not have done better than some of the sacrificial lambs sent on recent England tours. When Trescothick fell for 43, Hildreth received useful support from captain Tom Abell; together, they seemed to be batting Worcestershire out of the game. Somerset though, seem to like to get from A to B by the scenic route: 145-3, a lead of 168 – very nice! 153-6… three quick wickets to Beastly Barnard – not so clever! Despite the wobble, Somerset have been battle-hardened by the struggles over the last two seasons and their young lions are starting to show why they might not be a bad outside bet for a top-three finish this season. Rather than folding, the tail gave sensible support to James Hildreth and, despite no one making a big score, the runs were accumulated: 53 added with Overton, 17 with Davey, 16 with Leach and, so far, 16 with Groenewald. It all adds up and, in the case of Worcestershire, adds up to a substantial chase tomorrow. The lead is now 278, Hildreth has only let Groenewald face three balls so far and every additional run added on the third morning will be a further nail in the Worcestershire coffin. Somerset will feel confident of finishing this one off and not a rake, or even a delivery from Jack Leach in sight.
Elsewhere, at Leeds, there was not a pair of water wings in sight in the outfield and the only sharks had a hard, red ball in their hands. Starting 53-4 in reply to Yorkshire’s 256, Nottinghamshire were desperately in need of someone to help Ross Taylor after his first four partners managed just ten runs between them. Rikki Wessels applied for the job and even started to make a go of it, although a tip to Nottinghamshire in their pursuit of First Division success is that finding yourself 6-3 on a regular basis is not the best place to begin. A second tip might be: if you have found yourself 6-3, try to avoid a new collapse just as you are starting to get out of trouble. At 100-4, things were beginning to look up, Ross Taylor was past his 50 and starting to look good and Rikki Wessels was giving a nice imitation of a limpet mine at the other end. Ten balls later it was 102-6 and the outlook was decidedly less rosy. Half an hour later, it was 130-8 and things were looking decidedly grim. Had it not been for Jake Ball, who was so impressive with the… err… balls… against Lancashire, who showed that he can also handle a bat, scoring 44* from 36 balls, Nottinghamshire would have been in an even sorrier plight. Ben Coad was the chief wrecker with 4-49 and is following on from last season’s success. Coad can expect to play for the Lions soon and a trip with the England side in the winter cannot be out of the question. This is only his sixteenth First Class match, but he is averaging around 22 with admirable economy and a strike rate of 48. A lead of 68 was less than the White Rose may have wanted, but still handy, although they made a ropey start in a quest for a winning lead. Like Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire seems to like repeating a good collapse and, in their case, they repeated their first innings slump to 37-3 [this is a nice one for the statisticians – if Nottinghamshire fall to 6-3 for a third consecutive inning it will start to get positively spooky]. In the first innings, it was Lyth and Brook who started to pull things around from 37-3, this time it was Ballance and Brook: different names, similar result: a fifty stand and then a wicket. The difference though was that this time Ballance and Leaning followed through and are closing on a century stand for the fifth wicket. Yorkshire are now 257 ahead and Nottinghamshire have the sort of headache that not even two double-strength Tylenol is going to clear. If the lead gets past 300 – and, surely it will – the writing will be on the wall and Nottinghamshire will be reading something along the lines of “defeat is coming”. With two days to go, they are getting into the sort of bind that would have taxed the powers of Harry Houdini.
Wickets continued to tumble across the grounds on day 2 in Division Two, and there was even a result within 5 sessions at Chester-Le-Street as Kent cruised to the 93 runs required; losing just the one wicket in the process. The day started with Durham 13-1, 65 runs behind Kent, and the day played out as many would have expected, with Matt Henry taking a highly impressive 12 wickets for 73 runs in the match. Only James Weighell and Nathan Rimmington offered some resistance to the Kent attack as Durham added 131 runs for the final three wickets, with Durham recovering from 39-7 to finish 170 all out. Paul Collingwood’s men will need to improve drastically as they head to Wantage Road next Friday to face Northamptonshire.
Meanwhile, at Derby, Middlesex's struggles continued, reaching just 157 all out in reply to Derbyshire’s 265 from day 1. Six Middlesex batsmen made double figures, but no one was able to make a meaningful score as John Simpson top scored with 32. South African Duanne Olivier was the pick of the Derbyshire bowlers on debut, with a probing spell, finishing with 4-26. The Middlesex batsmen may be well advised to re-check their guard, as half of the wickets fell LBW. After lunch, Derbyshire were out to look to extend the first innings lead of 108, with Ben Slater and the highly rated Luis Reece getting off to the good start before rain disrupted proceedings at 56-0. Play resumed after a lengthy delay, as Middlesex were left to toil to no avail as both Slater and Reece pilled on the runs. Derbyshire settled with 118-0 at the close, surely delighted with a very handy 228 run lead.
Across the county border from Derbyshire, at Leicestershire, Sussex bucked the trend of weak batting performances across the country as they extended their total to 438, thanks to a free-flowing 101* Michael Burgess before Sussex skipper Ben Brown called them in with a declaration halfway through the afternoon session. The rain immediately disrupted Leicestershire’s reply meaning an early tea interval. Ishant Sharma got an early breakthrough after the break, as Paul Horton played across a straight one, out LBW. However, Colin Akermann was solid in the face of adversity against a talented Sussex attack and made it to the close on 62*, as Leicestershire reach 112-2, trailing by 326.
Elsewhere, Warwickshire added to Northamptonshire’s early-season woes at Wantage Road. Tim Ambrose shared a 116 run 9th wicket partnership with young Henry Brookes. Ambrose managed a fine 103, and Brookes made 70 in only his 2nd first-class match. Northants had no answers with the ball and will do well to make Warwickshire even bat again, with a 266 first innings deficit. Northants then faced a tricky 10 overs to see out before the close, which Rob Newton and Ben Duckett negotiated well, closing on 41-0, requiring another 225 avoid an innings defeat.
Finally, to Bristol, as a classy 111 from Shaun Marsh has left Glamorgan in control against Gloucestershire. Marsh was well supported by the other batsmen, with 40s from Jack Murphy and Kiran Carlson. With the ball, Ryan Higgins offered the biggest test for the Glamorgan batsmen, with 2-43. This is likely to be the most exciting matches in the next two days, and with a few early wickets tomorrow, all three outcomes remain possible. Glamorgan finished on 296-5, 60 runs ahead.
Written by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu), Mark Kidger (@MarkFromMadrid), and Harry Hill (@HarryHill96)
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
Beers in the coolbox? Check. Cheese and pickle sandwiches? Check. Water? Check. Sun cream? Check. The summer has finally arrived with game week two set to be played in scorching April conditions.
After last weeks rain ruled the opening fixtures, spectators, umpires, players and pitches alike will all be grateful for some springtime sunshine. Particularly in Yorkshire eh Colin Graves?
Talking of Yorkshire, they will hope to put their rather farcical start to the season behind them when they host Nottinghamshire at Headingley on Friday. Against Essex, they were left frustrated by ‘unprescedented levels of rain’ in the north of England seeing all four days wiped out. They do welcome back Ben Coad to the squad after the impressive young seamer missed out on sitting in the sun watching umpires traipsed in and out the pavilion to inspect the outfield. Coad will be a welcome returnee to the squad after racking up the wickets last season for the White Rose. The Tykes will have to wait to have England Skipper Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow for another week or two but I am sure their presence around the place will play a big role.
Ahead of the clash Yorkshire bowler, Jack Brooks seemed in confident mood, the former Northants seamer stated that despite the strength of the Nottinghamshire side he remains confident his side will come out on top.
“We’ve got a good recent record against Notts, and we tend to play some pretty good cricket at home. We know how to play to these conditions. He told the Yorkshire official site.
“They’ve got some decent internationals and a good solid overseas batsman in Ross Taylor. I’d imagine they are still on a high after the summer they had last year, winning a couple of trophies.
“They did well against Lancashire and will be a tough test.” He added.
Nottinghamshire meanwhile managed to dodge the rain to claim a good win against hotly fancied Lancashire at Old Trafford in game week one. In a low-scoring affair, their bowling strength shone through with the likes of Jake Ball and Harry Gurney starring for the Outlaws. The pace duo will once again play a key role in this encounter with the Headingley wicket sure to offer plenty of seam movement early on in the encounter.
Ross Taylor will look to improve on what was a pretty disappointing opening match for the Outlaws. Taylor could only muster nine runs in the match including a golden duck during the shakey chase of just 10.
Jake Libby though is keen to show that their Lancashire success wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
“It’s a long winter and there were a few questions thrown at us with regards to our signing and us going back into Division One and no-one knew how we were going to get on,’ Libby told Trentbridge.co.uk.
“So it’s nice to get that first win to settle us down and show our intentions of finishing at the top end of the table.’ He added.
Yorkshire will be chomping at the bit to get underway and forget the disappointment of last weeks embarrassing episode and they will want to prove a point and make up for potentially lost ground. They’ve got a decent side on paper and will be hoping that they can catch a complacent Nottinghamshire team.
How the line up:
Yorkshire: Ballance ©, Bresnan, Brook, Brooks, Coad, Hodd (w/k), Leaning, Lees, Lyth, Pujara, Shaw and Waite
Nottinghamshire: Mullaney ©, Libby, Nash, Footitt, Wessels, Gurney, Wood, Milnes, Fletcher, Patel, Moores (w/k), Taylor, Ball and Root
Day One: Sunny with highs of 19.
Day Two: light rain with highs of 19.
Day Three: Cloudy with highs of 15.
Day Four: Cloudy with highs of 13.
Essex vs Lancashire:
Elsewhere, two of the early season title favourites meet at Chelmsford with reigning Champions Essex looking to finally get their season underway against Lancashire. The Eagles were left frustrated by the weather last week at Leeds, but have come home to Essex basked in sunshine ready for their home opener.
Peter Siddle will make his long-awaited debut for the club after being made to wait a week by the English weather and will join up with the ever-impressive young seam attack of Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and Paul Walter. Sam’s namesake Alastair will be missing though as he has been made to wait a further week by the England selectors. There is also no place in the side for winter signing Matt Coles, who despite impressing for the second still seems to struggle to break his way into the four-day side. One man who will be pleased to see the baking sun basking down to the wicket is Simon Harmer. The South African spinner impressed in his maiden season and will be hoping to show it wasn’t just a fluke. As for the batsmen, they will hope an extra week in the nets will mean they will be fresh and ready for anything bowled down to them from a strong looking Lancashire attack. Nick Browne entered the season in decent touch having hit a century in the university clash against Oxford and a fifty in the MCC Champions tour match. The opener will act as the anchor whilst others will look to score their runs a little quicker. The Champions will look to get off to a winning home start after only picking up the five points thanks to the Yorkshire weather last week as they bid to retain their title.
Lancashire meanwhile, will be looking to bounce back from their opening game defeat to prove their title backers right. Much will rely on their talented looking bowling unit to utilize Essex’s main weakness. In Graham Onions, Joe Mennie and Tom Bailey they have a terrifying trio of bowlers that will dent even the strongest of batting line-ups. If they can get some early wickets on day one and skittle Essex out cheaply they will back their batsmen to fair far better than they did last week against Nottinghamshire. The likes of Hameed, Livingstone and Jennings all have a point to prove and will hope to make use of a usually very good batting track at Chelmsford.
How they line up:
Essex: Ten Doeschate ©, Foster (w/k), Bopara, Browne, Chopra, S. Cook, Harmer, Lawrence, Siddle, Porter, Walter, Westley and Wheater
Lancashire: Liam Livingstone (C), Tom Bailey, Shiv Chanderpaul, Jordan Clark, Steven Croft, Alex Davies, Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings, Danny Lamb, Joe Mennie, Graham Onions, Stephen Parry, Matt Parkinson, Dane Vilas
Day One: Sunny intervals with highs of 25
Day Two: Sunny intervals with highs of 20
Day Three: Sunny intervals with highs of 20
Day Four: Cloudy with highs of 15.
Somerset vs Worcestershire:
At Taunton, two teams tipped for the drop meet at Somerset meet Worcestershire. The Pears suffered a baptism of fire on their return to the top flight having been smashed by Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl last week. It was their batting that let them down badly as they fell to a 196-run defeat in Southampton, indeed only Ben Cox, Travis Head and Ed Barnard offered any real resistance to a talented looking Hampshire attack. Their bowling, however, showed promise with Joe Leach, Steve Magoffin and Josh Tongue all showing they can be a danger in the top flight.
They do add two names to the squad though ahead of the trip west with Ben Twohig and Charlie Morris coming into the matchday thirteen.
Ahead of the clash, head coach Kevin Sharp told WCCC.co.uk that his side learnt a lot from their defeat on the south coast.
“There were a couple of things in the game that we will really learn from. There was one point in the game where we go back in it from a batting perspective.
“We made 200-7 (in reply to 290) and it looked as though we might nearly get up to their score. But they set the short ball trap and we fell into it a little bit which was a little naïve from out perspective. “ Sharp said.
Somerset enter their season opener a little cold after their university tour game against Oxford completely washed out. Matthew Renshaw becomes the latest Australian to join the West Countrymen replacing Chris Rogers as their overseas player for the season. He will add some vital stability to the batting line-up after Tom Abell and Eddie Byrom endured a difficult time of things last summer. Their skill is with the ball though, with Lewis Gregory, the Overton twins and the spin duo of Dom Bess and Jack Leach offering a mean looking fivesome. I predict they will be too much for Worcestershire, and it is vital they pick up points against their potential relegation rivals early on.
How they line up:
Somerset: Trescothick, Byrom, Renshaw, Hildreth, Abell ©, Davies, Gregory, Davey, C.Overton, J.Overton, Bess, Leach and Groenewald
Worcestershire: Mitchell ©, D’Oliveira, Fell, Clarke, Head, Rhodes, Cox, Barnard, Leach, Magoffin, Tongue, Twohig, Morris
Day One: Sunshine with highs of 19.
Day Two: Sunshine with a threat of thunderstorms with highs of 20
Day three: Cloudy with highs of 15
Day four: Cloudy with highs of 14.
Surrey vs Hampshire:
Lastly, the two southern powerhouses clash at the Oval as the South Coast derby takes place in South London. Excitement is high around the Oval as a number of high profile players have once again come through the revolving door. Dean Elgar – who has impressed during the winter for South Africa has the rather big shoes of Kumar Sangakkara to fill whilst Morne Morkel has signed a two-year kolpak contract with the Rey. Mercifully for Hampshire, Morkel misses out this particular encounter through injury but there will be a first start for Elgar. Perhaps the most intriguing name on the Surrey team sheet is Amir Virdi. The young Englishman was one of the only bright sparks in an otherwise disappointing with the Lions tour in the Caribbean this winter and will hope to flourish on a wicket that usually turns in this, his breakthrough season. Of course, you have the magic stardust of Sam Curran and the wise old heads of Rikki Clarke and Gareth Batty. It is an attack to be feared and that is without mentioning the missing Tom Curran (on IPL duty) and the box of tricks that is Jade Dernbach. England’s Mark Stoneman, keeper Ben Foakes, Scott Borthwick and skipper Rory Burns make up a formidable batting line-up bolstered by the aforementioned Dean Elgar. It is a team that, should it click has every chance to mount a title charge come September.
Hampshire will look to build on an impressive start to their season by bagging back-to-back wins during the course of the match in London. They also boast a decent looking bowling line-up with the likes of Kyle Abbott, Fidel Edwards, Brad Wheal and the evergreen Gareth Berg all amongst the wickets last week. The Southampton based club will also add another South African to their ranks in Dale Steyn soon too. Chris Sole, Chris Wood and Joe Weatherley add the youthful local look to the matchday squad whilst they also have England class in James Vince and Liam Dawson. But it is their overseas signing Hashim Amla who surely holds the key in this encounter; I witnessed an Amla masterclass a number of years ago as South Africa battered England at the Oval. He will have very fond memories of playing in South London and will want to repay the faith Hampshire have shown in him.
It will be a tight intriguing encounter packed full of internationals on display if you have a spare day over the next four, and you are in the proximity this would be one game I’d urge you to get down and watch it has the potential to be a real humdinger.
How they line-up:
Surrey: Burns ©, Batty, Borthwick, Clarke, Curran S, Dernbach, Dunn, Elgar, Foakes, Pope, Stoneman, Virdi
Hampshire: Adams, Wood, Dawson, Berg, Vince ©, Amla, Northeast, McManus (w.k) Roussouw, Weatherley, Wheal, Edwards, Abbot, Sole
Day One: Sunshine – highs of 26c
Day Two: Sunny intervals – highs of 23c
Day three: Sunny intervals – highs of 20c
Day Four: Cloudy with highs of 16c
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