Adverse April weather conditions caused havoc on Day Three of the County Championship as rain, sleet and snow caused issues for Counties up and down the country.
At Edgbaston, a century from former Warwickshire skipper Varun Chopra ensured that their rain-affected encounter with Yorkshire looks set for a draw after the final session was wiped out due to a heavy downpour. The visitors could only add a further eleven runs to their overnight score before Ryan Sidebottom edged Chris Woakes (4-87) to second slip to bring an end to the innings with the total on 379. Jack Brooks struck early for the Champions as the headband-wearing seamer managed to nip one back into Ian Westwood, who heard the death rattle behind him to fall for 4 with the score on 18/1. That brought skipper Ian Bell to the middle and the Warwickshire number three continued his fine early season form striking a half-century to lead the Bears fight back alongside his predecessor Chopra who was playing fluently at the other end. Bell’s fifty included eight fours before he fell off the bowling of England hopeful Adil Rashid for 59. Out strolled Jonathan Trott to the middle fresh from his unbeaten double-century last week, the retired England international picked up where he left off at Lords as the South African-born batsman played confidently hitting five fours in his unbeaten 38. But the day belonged to Chopra, the opener looked untroubled throughout in the freezing Birmingham conditions striking fourteen fours on his way to an unbeaten 101 to all but secure a draw for his side.
Marcus Trescothick rolled back the years to strike his first County Championship century of the summer to help his side to avoid the follow-on at the Oval. The former England opener made 127 before falling to Gareth Batty as he saw wickets tumble regularly around him as the 40-year-old made light work of the Surrey attack whilst his teammates struggled in the cold conditions. His knock spanned 213-balls and included 20 fours and a six as his innings proved vital for his team, as no other batsman passed 50. Lewis Gregory (47 not out) and Craig Overton (44) added crucial late runs for the visitors, who would’ve been relieved to avoid the follow-on before a heavy snowstorm brought an abrupt end to proceedings. For Surrey, who still lead by 110 going into the final day, Ravi Rampaul was the star of the show claiming his second five-wicket haul since joining the county in March. The West Indian took the important wickets of Chris Rogers, who was bowled for a paltry 11, and James Hildreth (10) caught behind to help his side to a sizable lead. The hosts would’ve been left frustrated by the adverse weather conditions as they looked to press home their advantage but they will now need to score quick runs on the fourth morning to secure anything other than a draw from this match.
Meanwhile, In Durham snow, sleet and rain meant no play was possible at all to leave the game destined for a draw. The best Durham can hope for from the final day is maximum batting points and with Mark Stoneman going so well you wouldn’t put it past the hosts. The opener will continue on 139 not out and will be eager to impress the England selectors with the tour of Sri Lanka on the horizon.
Fourteen Northamptonshire wickets fell on Day three at Chelmsford as Essex bowled themselves into a winning position at the Essex County Ground. Jamie Porter collected his second successive five-wicket haul as the hosts enforced the follow-on after bowling the visitors out for 119. Essex added 90 runs to their overnight total with Ravi Bopara (76) top scoring for the Eagles. Ryan ten Doeschate (26) and James Foster (36 not out) added late runs to push the Eagles towards 450 but when Graham Napier fell the hosts declared on 441/8. That left Northampton with a tricky looking 20-minutes to see out before lunch, and it turned into a nightmare spell for the visitors. The returning David Masters (3-27) struck twice in his opening over to leave the visitors 0/2 inside two overs. Masters’ first removed the dangerous Ben Duckett with a rank long-hop which the opener could only maneuver to Porter in the deep, the Essex stalwart then produced a beauty which pitched and left the new man Alex Wakely, and the Northampton skipper could only prod the ball to Alastair Cook. It then turned into the Porter show as the 22-year-old turned the game on its head. The Leytonstone-born man has Jake Libby caught in the slips before trapping Richard Levi leg before as Northants trudged back into the dressing room for lunch on 6/4. Masters returned after lunch and claimed the early scalp of Joshua Cobb who found the hands of ten Doeschate to leave the visitors in all sorts of bother at 14/5. Adam Rossington (67 not out) and David Murphy led a recovery of sorts for Northampton before Murphy became the first of two victims for Napier. The Colchester man trapped Murphy LBW for 20 with the hosts on 75. Kleinveldt added 11 before he fell to Porter, and the Essex man took two further quick wickets to claim his five-fer. Napier finished the job off to ensure the Eagles could enforce the follow-on and speed the match progress up by bowling last man Sanderson for 4. The visitors fared far better in the second innings, however, with Duckett reaching a half-century, but a flurry of late wickets for Porter and Napier ensured the visitors require a further 174 to avoid an innings defeat on the final day. Northampton closed on 141/4 with the Eagles in prime position to strengthen their grip on top spot.
Snow in Derby meant that the encounter between Derbyshire and Glamorgan looks set for a draw. Wayne Madsen and Ben Slater both struck half-centuries for the hosts to guide Derbyshire to 331/9 before the snow brought an end to proceedings. Replying to the Welsh counties score of 377, Slater and Madsen continued the recovery after the early losses of Hamish Rutherford and Chesney Hughes last. The pair shared 103 for the third-wicket with Slater hitting seven fours on his way 62 before he became the first man to fall to Andrew Salter (3-56). The spinner trapped Slater leg before to leave the score on 161/3. New Zealander Neil Broom came and went for 4, bowled by Kolpak star Timm van der Gugten. Wes Durston and Madsen then got together and guided the hosts to their first batting point as the pair shared a partnership of 59. Durston fell however to David Lloyd caught by Chris Cooke with the hosts still trailing by 136. New man in the middle Matt Critchley could only add 5 before he found the hands of Jacques Rudolph off Salter, then the mainstay of the innings Madsen went three runs short of a deserved century when Salter bowled the in-form man. In truth, the dismissal of Durston sparked a collapse in the cold conditions as five wickets fell for 48-runs. Michael Hogan (3-65) removed Tony Palladino for a duck to continue the slump before Craig Meschede found the Australian’s hands to remove Luke Fletcher, Derbyshire did though battle back to collect another bonus point thanks to a quick-fire 31 from Andy Carter as the snow started to fall, and it eventually brought an the day to a premature end with the score on 331/9.
The clash between Gloucestershire and Worcestershire is just about honours even despite a late flurry for Matt Henry (3-60). The New Zealander struck late three times to leave the hosts on 217/6, a lead of 186. The visitors started the day on 297/5, and added 114 to their overnight score, a lead of 31 on first-innings. Liam Norwell took the vital wickets of the impressive Joe Clarke (135, a career best) and Ben Cox (69) to finish with figures of 3-112. Despite losing Cameron Bancroft (29) early, Gloucestershire fought back thanks to half-centuries from Chris Dent (81 not out) and Ian Cockbain (67). The pair shared 108 for the second wicket to guide the hosts to a decent lead, Cockbain struck 12 fours on his way to his 67 before he well caught and bowled by Joe Leach. Leach followed that up three balls later by trapping the host’s captain Gareth Roderick leg before without scoring to leave the Bristol club on 157/3. Henry then struck three times in quick succession to tip the favour towards Worcestershire, he removed the dangerous Hamish Marshall, George Hankins, and Keiran Noema-Barnett (all bowled) to leave the hosts on 217/6 at close with the game still all to play for on the final day.
Finally, Leicestershire skipper Mark Cosgrove struck an unbeaten 99 to put the hosts in control of their encounter with Kent. Foxes seamer Zak Chappell took his first wickets at Grace Road to finish off the Kent first innings, he first has Mitch Claydon (24) caught by Cosgrove before bowling Callum Haggett (38) to leave the visitors on 264 all out. Kent got off to a flying start removing the in-form Paul Horton (3) and Gus Robson (0) early to have the hosts in trouble at 17/2. Robson was the first to go caught behind off the bowling of Matt Coles for a duck, before the same mode of dismissal did for Horton as Darren Stevens claimed his 500th Kent wicket. But that was as good as it got for the visitors as Cosgrove and Neil Dexter guided the hosts to an early close after sharing 159-runs for the third wicket. Cosgrove hit 19-fours in his 99, whilst Dexter was more patient on finding the boundary eight times in his unbeaten 57 as the hosts closed on 174/2 after only 45-overs were possible on day three after snow and rain brought the game to a premature close.
Reports by David Bowden.
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