Middlesex’s Sam Robson and Stevie Eskinazi both struck half-centuries at the Ageas Bowl against Hampshire but the hosts fought back late on to ensure it would be an even first day in Southampton. Robson (84) and Eskinazi (82) had put the visitors into a strong position sharing 105 for the second wicket but three late post tea wickets helped Hampshire wrestle back some late initiative. Both Robson and Eskinazi struck 13 boundary fours during their stay at the crease after Middlesex won the toss and elected to bat first to lead the side to 160/1 before Robson edged Gareth Berg to slip to be the only man to depart in the afternoon session. Hampshire though continued to plug away and were rewarded for their efforts late in the evening session collecting four wickets to ensure the spoils would be shared on day one. Brad Wheal picked up two wickets in the post-tea session including the key wicket of Dawid Malan (43) who was caught by Sean Ervine. Ervine himself claimed the vital wicket of Eskinazi who became the next man to fall with the score on 234. Adam Voges (24) and John Simpson (9) were the other two batsmen to fall on the first day to Kyle Abbott and Wheal respectively but Toby Roland-Jones (10*) and skipper James Franklin (17*) guided the visitors through to close unscathed as Middlesex closed on 290/6 on an even first days play.
Essex enjoyed the better of the first day at Taunton as the visitors close just 149-runs behind after bowling the hosts out for 209 on the opening day. On a slow pitch that offered decent turn, Somerset elected to bat first with a clear eye on bowling last on a wicket that will surely offer the spinner plenty of turn during the final knockings of this match. And they were proved correct as Simon Harmer (2-51) and Ashar Zaidi combined to bowl the hosts out for a below-par total in the West Country. The Pakistani spinner was the pick of the Essex attack plugging away on a good length bamboozling the Somerset batting line-up with his subtle variations to finish with economical figures on his first bowling efforts of the season. He removed overseas pro Dean Elgar (34) with a ball that pitched and turned away from the left-hander to give Adam Wheater a routine stumping, Roelof van der Merwe leg before wicket and Jamie Overton to finish with figures of 3-17 from his 12 overs. Ravi Bopara took the first two wickets of the innings as he combined nicely with the returning Alastair Cook to remove Marcus Trescothick (26) and new Somerset skipper Tom Abell (1) as the hosts struggled to get their innings going. Indeed, no batsmen reached 50 as Somerset picked up just a single batting bonus point with only Peter Trego threatening to reach 50, falling on 48 to the impressive Harmer. Essex battled through a tricky late evening spell to reach 60/2 at the close with former England skipper Cook looking fluent on 39 not out, as Browne (11) and Westley (10) fell before the end of the day.
At the Oval, Surrey were left frustrated by Jordan Clark and Shivnarine Chanderpaul after making plenty of early inroads before being pegged back by the superb duo. Lancashire found themselves in a spot of bother when the pair joined each other at the crease at 122/6 after Mark Footitt had taken three wickets to put the ‘Rey in control in South London. But Clark joined the West Indian to lead the Red Rose fight-back. This isn’t the first time the Manchester-based club have shown a late order riposte as Clark and Vilas battled back against Essex last week, but this is even more impressive against a star-studded Surrey attack. Clark struck a century, his maiden first-class century to help the visitors to a far more respectable 294/6 at the close after being in a spot of bother early on after Footitt struck twice in an over to leave the visitors on 67/5. Chanderpaul must take some credit in this admirable fightback as he struck an 183-ball 85 that included 13-fours, but make no mistake about it the day belonged to Clark who’s maiden first-class century will live long in the Lancashire memorable he struck 17 fours and three sixes to ensure the visitors edged the first day in London.
Elsewhere, on a rain-reduced first day at Edgbaston Ben Coad enjoyed another decent day with the ball as his stock as a fast bowler continues to rise. The young Yorkshire seam bowler collected figures of 4-47 as he ripped through the Warwickshire top order to spell further trouble for a struggling Bears side. Coad removed the top three including the prized scalp of Jonathan Trott (13) who fell leg before to the paceman. Warwickshire were again forced to rely on the batting efforts of Jeetan Patel and Keith Barker to rescue them out of a significant hole. The pair shared 63-runs for the eighth wicket before Patel was beaten all ends up by a turning ball from England’s Adil Rashid who bagged his first wicket of the summer. Steven Patterson collected two wickets for the visitors including the wicket of former England man Ian Bell (11) as Yorkshire reduced the hosts to 152/8 in the 48-and-a-half overs possible on day one in Birmingham. It is very much advantage Yorkshire after the opening day.
In Division Two, Jofra Archer produced an impressive spell of fast hostile bowling to collect figures of 7-67 on the opening day at Hove against Kent. The Caribbean-born paceman produced some lightning quick bowling to put Kent on the back foot early on before Darren Stevens (68) and Kent new boy Wayne Parnell (51*) added some vital late runs to take Kent passed the 300 mark. Sean Dickson struck a half-century for Kent to hold the innings together before becoming Archer’s third scalp edging behind to Ben Brown behind the stumps. Archer also removed the dangerous Daniel Bell-Drummond to get the ball rolling for the South Coast club. The Barbadian then wrapped up the tail to finish with a seven-wicket bag for the first time in his career in his career, indeed this was his maiden first-class five-wicket haul. That left Sussex with six-overs to see out before the close, they did lose opener Chris Nash for five but closed on 11/1 on a very entertaining first day in Brighton.
In the pick of the Division, Two ties at Chester-Le-Street Nottinghamshire edged the first day despite a late rally from the Durham bowling attack. Durham already hard-done-by after their 42-point deduction would’ve been hoping for a regard batting effort to chip away at their rather large deficit started poorly with new signing Stephen Cook failing for just two edging Jake Ball behind to the safe hands of Chris Read. And thing didn’t get much better for the hosts as a mini collapse began following the fall of the second wicket. They found themselves struggling on 71/7 following a good spell from Luke Fletcher (3-23) and James Pattinson (3-43). The home faithful though would’ve been buoyed by the regard attitude shown by Irishman Stuart Poynter – who struck a fluent 65 which included 12-fours as he helped his side to 162 all out. Durham, who are blessed with one of the best bowling attacks in the division then fought back strongly with the ball as Nottinghamshire found themselves 7/3 following a brilliant opening spell from both Graham Onions and Chris Rushworth. Greg Smith was the first to go finding the reliable hands of Paul Collingwood off the bowling of Onions before Rushworth struck twice in quick succession to leave the visitors in a spot of bother, he removed both Jake Libby and Alex Hales in the fifth over. Samit Patel in his new spot of three began the rebuilding process with Michael Lumb as the duo steadied the ship to ensure the visitors would reach close on 96/4 with Lumb falling just before close for 33 trapped leg before by Mark Wood.
Fourteen wickets also feel in Cardiff as Glamorgan’s batting frailties raised their ugly head for a third time this summer. The hosts fell to 207 all out largely thanks to the efforts of David Lloyd who put the rest of the Welshmen’s batting line-up to shame hitting 88 of his sides 207 runs. Indeed, the hosts found themselves in the familiar position of 87/7 when Harry Podmore fell to Jack Shantry. This was all after Ed Barnard (2-32) and John Hastings (3-57) had combined to rip through a weak looking Glamorgan top order. Lloyd finally found a partner in Lukas Carey (39) to guide Glamorgan to a batting point, Lloyd struck 10 fours and three sixes during his stay before he became the last man to fall. In reply, Worcestershire found themselves in early trouble on 1 for 2 with both Daryl Mitchell and Brett D’Oliveira falling for ducks to Carey and Michael Hogan respectively. Tom Kohler-Cadmore (52*) and Ben Cox (41*) guided the visitors through to the close to leave the Pears just 29 behind with six wickets in hand on 180/4.
Meanwhile, Gloucestershire dominated the opening day of their encounter against Leicestershire in Bristol. William Tavare was the pick of the host’s batsman finishing the first day unbeaten on 73 as the West Country-based club closed on 236/4. He found support in Graeme Van Buuren as the duo helped the hosts recover from 74/2 to 201/3. Van Buuren struck 79 as the pair shared 127-runs for the third wicket. And despite a couple of late wickets for the visitors, the hosts dominated the first day.
Finally, Nathan Buck took three wickets for Northamptonshire as they shared an even opening day with Derbyshire at The 3aaa County Ground. Buck removed Shiv Thakor, Daryn Smit and Gary Wilson as Derbyshire closed on 219/6. Wilson top scored on debut for the hosts striking 72 before being trapped leg before to become the last man to fall. Ben Sanderson also impressed for the visitors collecting 2-37 including both openers in Luis Reece and Billy Godleman as he continued his fine early season form.
Round-ups by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
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