It was a mixed day for the England players on show in the fourth game week of the season, as Joe Root fell for a golden duck whilst Alastair Cook makes his second ton of the season for Essex.
It was a day billed as Root v Stuart Broad at Trent Bridge, but it wasn’t to be, as the pair didn’t even have the opportunity to face off against each other. Instead, the day belonged to the impressive Jake Ball who took three quick wickets to put the visitors on the back foot early on in their reply to Nottinghamshire 261. Adam Lyth was the first to go to Ball with the first ball of the day, the England hopeful was trapped leg before in controversial fashion with the ball seemingly missing the off-stump, but unfortunately for the opener, the umpire triggered him. Six overs later, the Lions bowler was off celebrating again producing an out-swinging beauty to remove Gary Ballance for 7. Out strode Root to the middle, but his stay was to last just one ball as Ball collected two-in-two. Root drove at the ball but could only edge through to Riki Wessels at first slip who took a low catch to remove England’s poster boy to leave Yorkshire wobbling at 24/3. In-form Jonny Bairstow and Alex Lees led the recovery for the reigning Champions taking the visitors past three figures. Bairstow fell though with the score on 107 moments before Lunch, the wicketkeeper was pinned in front by Harry Gurney for 29. Poor weather post lunch meant there was a hefty break in play, and when the players came back on Lees carried on his merry way to close day two on 91 not out seeing the day through with his skipper Andrew Gale (21 not out) to end the day trailing by 91 on 170/4.
There was more joy for Ben Stokes at the Oval, however; as the all-rounder collected figures of 4-117 as Surrey were bowled out for 457 on day two. The England man took the wickets of Matthew Pillans and Gareth Batty to finish the host’s innings. In reply, Durham’s Mark Stoneman and Keaton Jennings got the visitors off to an absolute flyer racing to 114 without loss; the pair both struck fifties before falling in consecutive overs. Stoneman, in front of England Selector James Whittaker, struck seven fours in his rapidly made 57 before falling leg before to Gareth Batty. Ten balls earlier, Jennings was bowled by Zafar Ansari after making 53 striking nine fours in the process. Their reply, however, was soon stopped before it could really challenge the hosts’ score by the weather as only 33 balls were bowled after tea. It leaves the game finely poised with the visitors still trailing by 301-runs going into day three.
Liam Livingstone’s maiden Championship century put Lancashire in total control against Somerset. The 22-year-old moved to an unbeaten 108 striking nine fours and a six in his 152-ball stay before Croft, who had earlier fell six runs short of hitting a century himself, declared on 493/9. Alex Davies was the first to fall edging the impressive Tim Groenewald behind to keeper Ryan Davies, then van der Merwe knocked over Croft who made a well-made 94 striking eight fours and three sixes in his 194-ball stay. Van der Merwe picked two further wickets up before the visitors declared. That left Somerset with a tricky looking six overs to face before the close, three of which were delivered by James Anderson. The hosts survived to close on 14/0 and will now be looking to bat long into the third day.
Heavy Southampton rain left the hosts frustrated as Hampshire put themselves in a dominant position. Continuing the day on 315/7 the host could only muster another 21 runs as Tim Murtagh finished with figures of 3-64. Liam Dawson failed to kick on as he fell to Murtagh for 89 in Hampshire’s total of 336. In reply, Middlesex endured a rocky start falling to 58/3 with England hopeful Nick Compton departing for just one. They fought their way to 84/3 when the weather closed in and ended play early with Dawid Malan unbeaten on 40.
Meanwhile, in Division Two, Alastair Cook continued his fine early season form to help to put Essex into a commanding position on another rain-affected day at New Road. Cook, alongside the impressive Tom Westley, shared 222 for the second wicket as the visitors continued to dominate in Worcester. Westley, View from the outfield's Batsman of the Month for April, continued his fine form to reach a second century of the season. He looked the more fluent of the pair striking 22 fours and a six in his 125 before he became the only man to fall on day two falling to Matt Henry leg before. The England skipper though continued to move through the gears as he warms up for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka in the best possible way. He hit 20 fours and a six during his 254-ball stay as he closed the day unbeaten on 130. Ravi Bopara joined the Essex opener and guided the visitors to 335/2 at close with the limited-overs captain on 48 not out. Essex will continue to look for quick-fire runs on the third morning before looking to bowl out the hosts twice.
Kent closed in on a first victory of the season after a solid batting display led the hosts to a lead of 228 on first innings. Daniel Bell-Drummond (84), Joe Denly (58) and Darren Stevens (58) all contributed as the Canterbury-based club reached 488 before being bowled out. Michael Hogan (4-91) was the pick of the bowlers for the Welsh County as they struggled against a dominant batting effort from the hosts. In reply, the visitors lost an early wicket, and will need to improve on their first effort if they are to avoid an innings defeat. Indeed, it was the experienced Jacques Rudolph who fell before close as his lean form continued edging behind for a duck. The Welshmen trail by 216 going into day closing on 16/1.
Leicestershire’s fine batting effort put the Foxes into a promising position against Sussex. Having bowled the pre-season title favourites for just 163 on day one, the visitors took complete control closing on 300/4. Paul Horton, who game-by-game is looking like a shrewd signing for the Leicester-based club continued on 71 and added 29 to his overnight score to reach a well-deserved century striking 14 fours in the process. He shared 114-runs with skipper Mark Cosgrove as the pair put the hosts into a dominate position. George Garton was the pick of the bowlers for the hosts, who look bereft of confidence. He took 2-92 including the wickets of Horton and Cosgrove. Firstly, Horton fell, caught behind before the youngster removed the Foxes captain for 80 knocking back his timber. Mark Pettini, another new arrival closed day two unbeaten on 42 as the visitors lead by 137 going into day three,
Meanwhile, on a rain-affected day two, Northamptonshire made a solid reply to Derbyshire’s 324. Shiv Thakor struck a career-best unbeaten 83 to guide his side to a competitive total. Northants made a dream start to the day removing Luke Fletcher with the fifth ball of the day. But a brave Andy Carter knock of 17 meant Thakor and Carter added a vital 48 for the last wicket. Carter was peppered with short bowling and took a blow to the hand during his stay, but his stay helped the hosts the visitors to three batting points. In reply, Ben Duckett (36 not out) and Jake Libby (28 not out) helped to guide the hosts to 66 without loss before rain brought the day to a premature end.
Reports by David Bowden
All Alastair Cook Alex Hales BBC Radio Commentary Ben Coad Ben Duckett Birmingham Bears Chris Read County Championship County Cricket Dan Kingdom Darren Sammy David Bowden Day/Night Cricket Derbyshire Durham England Cricket Essex Glamorgan Gloucestershire Hampshire Harry Hill James Anderson James Vince Jamie Ramage Joe Root Jofra Archer Jonny Bairstow Kent Kevin Hand Watch Kevin Hand-Watch Lancashire Leicestershire Mark Kidger Middlesex Natwest Blast Neil Harris Northamptonshire Nottinghamshire Previews Retrospective Reports RLODC Round Ups Round-ups Season Review Somerset Stuart Broad Surrey Sussex T20 Blast Team Of The Week Virdi Vitality Blast Warwickshire Wocestershire Worcestershire Yorkshire