The England regulars were all in action in week two of the County Championship, but it was the England hopefuls who stole the show on Sunday.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad went head-to-head at Old Trafford as Lancashire took total control on Day One. After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Nottinghamshire found themselves in all sorts of trouble early on as the hosts new overseas star Neil Wagner swung the ball nicely to cause chaos for the visitors top order. The New Zealander enjoyed a dream debut finishing with figures of 6-66 to put the hosts firmly on the front foot. But it was Zimbabwean Kyle Jarvis who got the ball rolling for the new-promoted hosts as he induced an edge to remove the dangerous Steven Mullaney for 19. Jarvis then bagged his second of the day pinning Michael Lumb in front leg before to leave the visitors wobbling on 48-2.
It then turned into the Wagner show as he chipped away at the middle order to give the hosts the early impetus. Whilst, the locals may well have turned up to witness a rare Jimmy Anderson (0-40) appearance in the Roses shirt, they were left feeling assured that they’ll be just fine when the England man returns to the international stage later on in the summer.
Wagner claimed his first of many for the day when he found the outside edge of Greg Smith’s bat to find the hands of Liam Livingstone. Just one over later he was celebrating again as he nipped one back into the right-handed Brendan Taylor who could only manage to smash the ball onto his middle stump. Jarvis bagged his third when he trapped Samit Patel leg before to finish with figures of 3-72. Wagner then returned to action to put the visitors in real trouble at 98-6 as he pinned Riki Wessels in front to bag his third, Wessels fell for 27. His departure brought in Stuart Broad, who teamed up with former England man Chris Read looking to steady the ship and wrestle some of the initiative back. Broad played in his typical aggressive manner hitting six boundaries in his 43 before the spinner Simon Kerrigan disturbed his stumps. Read continued on his merry way as the skipper reached a vital half-century for the visitors, but Wagner returned to finish of the tail to complete his six-wicket haul with Nottinghamshire dismissed for 242. That left a tricky final hour for the hosts to see off, and they lost the early wicket of Karl Brown. The opener was trapped leg before for 0 off the bowling of the impressive Jake Ball. Haseeb Hameed and Luke Procter though dropped anchor and safely saw the hosts to close at 25-1.
England hopeful Sam Robson struck a brilliant unbeaten 175 at Lords to give Middlesex the upper hand against Warwickshire during their opening fixture at the Home of Cricket. Ian Bell, the Warwickshire captain, decided against the toss and asked Middlesex to bat first and went on to witness an opening stand of 180 between Robson and Nick Gubbins. Gubbins eventually fell for 68, much to the relief of Ian Bell couldn’t have endured a worse start having inserted the host. He would have been feeling slightly better though when Chris Wright backed up the wicked of Gubbins up with the dismissal of Nick Compton the very next ball. Robson carried on though seemingly untroubled as he found the gaps and boundaries with ease. Dawid Malan (15) and skipper Adam Voges (21) added a further 83 with the opener before they both fell to Keith Barker to leave the hosts on 263-4. And Robson brought up a mightily impressive 150 as he score started to dominate the hosts total, the one-time England man struck 24 boundary fours on his way to his unbeaten 175 as he alongside John Simpson saw the host through the close at 317-4.
Meanwhile, at Headingley the reigning Champions got their campaign underway in a positive fashion. Despite a bad start from the hosts after being invited to bat first, Yorkshire recovered to reach 270-5 at stumps. The fight back was led by England hopefuls Adam Lyth and Jonny Bairstow, the pair both struck centuries to rescue the hosts from a potentially embarrassing first day against Hampshire. The White Rose found themselves in a bit of a hole when Bairstow strolled to the middle to join Lyth, the hosts were struggling at 41-3 after Chris Wood and Ryan McLaren had struck in quick succession for the south-coast visitors. Fellow England hopeful Gary Ballance fell cheaply for 12 as the left-armed Wood found his outside edge as the number three attempted to leave the ball, then skipper Andrew Gale also contrived to find the gloves of Adam Wheater behind the stumps falling for a duck off the bowling of McLaren. But Bairstow fresh from being named as one of Wisden Crickets top five players of the summer added a cool head to proceedings alongside Lyth who had watched his partners comes and go. Lyth and Bairstow struck the ball sweetly through as the pair shared a fourth-wicket stand of 205. Opener Lyth was the first to pass three figures as he struck 18 fours for his 111 off 188 balls. He fell though to Sean Ervine who trapped the 28-year-old leg before to bring a much-needed wicket for the visitors. And like London buses, one brought two Hampshire as Wood struck to remove Jack Leaning for one, Wheater with the catch again. That was to be the last success of the day for the visitors though as Bairstow and Adil Rashid saw the rest of the session through with ease. Bairstow closed on 107 not out having struck 14 fours and a six in his 169-ball stay to take his side into day two just about on top.
Essex travelled to Sussex as two of the bookies favourites began their Championship fixture at Hove on Sunday. At an emotional Hove, after a service was held pre-match for the late Matthew Hobden, who tragically died in the winter, the host enjoyed the better of proceedings. The Sussex players all wore the number 19 in memory of the bowler and both Ed Joyce and Chris Nash did him proud in an opening stand of 188. Nash, fit again after missing the opening fixture was in fine fluent form. He took a liking to the bowling of the wayward Matt Dixon as the opening got the hosts off to an absolute flyer.
The veteran struck 21 fours on his way to a first century of the summer off just 144 balls. Joyce meanwhile went as a more serene rate going along at a strike rate of 37.4. But he provided the glue that allowed Nash to play at his aggressive best, but when Joyce went, caught behind by Foster off skipper Ryan ten Doeschate, it sparked a collapse of sorts. The Dutchman struck again in the same over to dismiss Nash as both openers fell in the space of two balls. Just when Essex thought they were grabbing a stranglehold on the game again they looked round to see New Zealander Ross Taylor striding to the middle, mercifully though for the visitors, he wasn’t at his best and he became the first of three wickets for Graham Napier. Taylor lazily wafted at a Napier delivery to gift a routine catch to Foster behind the stumps. But at Tea Sussex were still in full control of the game, just two balls after the interval though Essex began their fight back, Tom Westley squared up Matt Machan to take a simple caught and bowled chance. The very next over Napier struck for a second time pinning Ben Brown plumb in front to leave the hosts 249-5. Luke Wells and Ollie Robinson were left with the task of getting the hosts back in control and they started to rotate the strike and put bat on ball with more authority again. But just as they were starting to gain a foothold again Westley off-spin struck. Wells pushed forward and snick off to Jesse Ryder to bring an end to Robinson and Wells’ 40-run stand. Robinson continued the fight, though, reaching a well-deserved 50 off just 73 balls. The all-rounder struck nine fours during his 86-minute stay in the middle before he too was trapped LBW by Napier. It was starting to prove to be a decent looking comeback by the Eagles who must have feared the worse when Nash and Joyce were calmly going about their business in the morning session. Youngster George Garton was the last to fall in the day as Ravi Bopara knocked his stumps back for 1, but Ajmal Shahzad (24) and Danny Briggs (6) saw the Sharks through to close on 355-8.
New-look Leicestershire enjoyed a positive opening day at Sophia Gardens as Clint McKay took six-wickets to put the visitors in control on Sunday, There were four half-centurions for Glamorgan but they were left to regret, not one of them kicking on to make a big score. Will Bragg (50), Chris Cooke (56), David Lloyd (59) and Graham Wagg (64) were all in runs in Cardiff but none pressed onto to convert their score into three figures. Make no bones about it, they were up and against a new and reformed Leicestershire bowling line-up, who felt they had a point to prove after a poor few seasons. Clint McKay, in particular, impressed removing the top three on his own on his way to a six-wicket bag. Perhaps the most important being that of Jacques Rudolph, who the edged behind to Niall O’Brien for just 6 early on. Charlie Shreck chipped in with three crucial wickets to help reduce the hosts to just 348. He removed the dangerous Cooke and Wagg to help keep the Welsh County in check. In reply, new opener Paul Horton, fresh from joining from Lancashire ensured calm alongside the impressive Angus Robson (brother of Sam Robson) and the pair saw their side comfortably to close on 15-0.
Derbyshire dominated their opening day against Gloucestershire in Bristol. Chesney Hughes and Ben Slater started to charge sharing an unbeaten opening stand of 103, with Hughes reaching his half-century in the process. Slater though fell short of that milestone falling for 42 finding the hands of Jack Taylor off the bowling of Liam Norwell. Moments later Norwell was off celebrating again after dismissing the dangerous Hamish Rutherford, who edged behind to Gareth Roderick. Hughes and new man Wayne Madsen put that slight wobble to one side though and shared a stand of 71 where the aggressive pair found the boundary with ease, but with just one more boundary required Hughes swung at one too many and saw his stumps knocked back by the impressive young spinner Jack Taylor. The West Indian-born opener fell for 96 with the score on 176-3, that brought New Zealander Neil Broom to the middle and he, alongside Madsen serenely went on their way to close, with the latter reaching his half-century just before close. Gloucestershire will need early wickets on Monday if they are to gain any kind of stranglehold on the game. The visitors closed with the score on 242-3 and in firm control.
Reports by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
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