Four matches started on Saturday in the Specsavers County Championship where Division Two leaders Essex endured a disappointing day at Wantage Road.
In Division One, Nottinghamshire recovered from a slow start to take control of their clash with Durham at Trent Bridge. After winning the toss and deciding to bat first the hosts lost two early wickets with Chris Rushworth striking twice to remove Steven Mullaney and Jake Libby before Graham Onions had Greg Smith caught in the slips to leave the Outlaws in trouble on 27/3. Michael Lumb and Brendan Taylor led the recovery as the pair shared 66 for the fourth wicket. But with the score on 93, James Weighell collected the first of his two wickets in the day. The youngster had Lumb caught by Scott Borthwick for 22, that brought Samit Patel to the middle and Taylor and the former England all-rounder led the hosts into a position of power going into the second day. The duo added 168 to take the hosts to a couple of batting points. Brendan Taylor reached a deserved century during the partnership striking 18 fours during his 189-ball stay. He fell though for 114 when Rushworth caught him off the bowling of Weighell to leave the Outlaws on 261/5. After passing 10,000 first class runs Patel fell for 84 when he was clean bowled by Borthwick with the score on 291/6. Patel and Taylor had taken the hosts from the perilous position of 27/3 to a dominant position of 291/6, and Riki Wessels and Brett Hutton continued to have their foot on the pedal as the duo took the hosts to 353/6 at the close.
At Taunton, Somerset enjoyed the better of a rain-affected opening day in the West Country. Surrey won the toss and chose to bat first, and despite losing Rory Burns early when the opener edged Craig Overton through to Marcus Trescothick at second slip. Arun Harinath (32) and Kumar Sangakkara (45) took the visitors through to 70, but Harinath fell to Jimmy Allenby to become the second to depart. Twenty runs later Allenby was off celebrating again after he pinned Gary Wilson leg before to start to turn the tide the host’s way. Moments after the lunch break the experience Sri Lankan Sangakkara lobbed a catch back to Tim Groenewald to leave the visitors in a spot of trouble on 111/4. Zafar Ansari and Steven Davies led the visitors through to just before the tea interval but Davies fell just before he could tuck into his cuppa. Jack Leach the man with the wicket trapping the former wicketkeeper LBW to make the hosts cakes taste that much sweeter. After tea, Leach returned like a man on a mission striking three more times in four balls. He first had Ansari caught at slip by Trescothick, he then removed Thomas Curran (0) and Surrey skipper Gareth Batty, also for a duck to leave the visitors at a disappointing 201/8 after deciding to bat first. Ben Foakes and Matthew Pillans shared 35 together before the rain came to signal the end of the opening day.
In Division Two, Essex rather curiously elected to do away with the toss and invite Northampton to bat first on a pitch known to be kind to batsmen. Ben Duckett and Rob Newton soon tucked into a weakened Eagles attack sharing 167 for the opening stand. Essex, who rested Jamie Porter and David Masters for the clash had youngsters Aaron Beard and Matt Quinn bowling on a flattish deck and Duckett and Newton got through to lunch untroubled with both reaching half-centuries before the interval. Duckett was at his usual aggressive best striking regular boundaries as he punished some poor Essex bowling. After reaching 75, Newton threw his wicket away driving Ravi Bopara to point to give sub fielder Kish Velani a simple catch. It had taken the Eagles 42 overs, but at last, the visitors had a wicket to celebrate. Another century stand greeted Ryan ten Doeschate’s men though as Rob Keogh joined Ben Duckett to frustrate the visitors further. Duckett continued to smash the Essex attack around the park reaching three figures for the second time this season playing an almost one-day style knock. After adding 112 runs for the second wicket, Keogh fell to the part-time spin of Dan Lawrence who induced an outside edge to have him caught behind for 41. Duckett and Josh Cobb continued to make the most of some buffet bowling from the Eagles who clearly missed the talismanic Porter. Bopara though did add some respectability for the visitors striking three times late on. He first bowled the impressive Duckett for 189 which including 28 fours and a six. Four balls later Bopara had Adam Rossington caught by Jaik Mickleburgh before Steven Crook found the hands of Tom Westley to fall for a duck to give the all-rounder figures of 4-64 at the close of play. Cobb and David Murphy ensured the hosts would go in at close in complete control, though, on 376/5.
Finally, on a rain-affected first day at Hove, Sussex dominated the early passage of their encounter with Derbyshire. With rain about, Sharks captain Ben Brown made the obvious decision to bowl first and when play began at 4pm his decision was immediately justified when Steve Magoffin edged through to Chris Nash off the second ball of the day. Hamish Rutherford and Billy Godleman guided the visitors through to 33 when Rutherford lost his off-stump to Stuart Whittingham on his home debut for Sussex. And ten runs later Whittingham was celebrating again as he had Wayne Madsen caught by Harry Finch. The visitors were in disarray soon after when Godleman fell for 17 to Ajmal Shahzad. Neil Broom was the next to fall, for 22, when Shahzad had the New Zealander caught by Luke Wells. It was soon 84/6 when Shahzad bowled Tom Poynton for 1. Derbyshire were enduring a nightmare, and it got worse when Matthew Critchley gave Whittingham his third scalp. Shiv Thakor (View From the Outfield’s future star) offered some resistance for the visitors as he reached an unbeaten 44 at the close, but he lose two further partners in Tom Taylor (14) and Tony Palladino (0) with both men falling to Magoffin as the visitors closed on 142/9 and in all sorts of trouble on the south coast.
Reports by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
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