There were runs galore on Day one of the Specsavers County Championship as the sun finally shone on the cricket season.
Yorkshire were made to toil in the West Country sun as Somerset dominated day one at Taunton. Four of the host’s top five batsmen scored half-centuries to lead Somerset to 342/4 at the close of play. After deciding against having a coin toss, the visitors struck early to remove promising opener Tom Abell (8) as Steven Patterson bowled the youngster. But skipper Chris Rogers and the experienced Marcus Trescothick steadied the ship for the hosts to guide Somerset into a dominant position. The pair shared 148 for the second wicket with both just falling short of deserved centuries. Former England opener Trescothick was the first to depart after striking 17 fours in his 151-ball stay for 97. The left-hander fell to the leg spin of Adil Rashid who took a return catch to see the back of the aggressive veteran. James Hildreth picked up the baton though from Trescothick and shared 69 for the third-wicket with the Australian Rogers. The new Somerset skipper fell though nine short of a ton again at the hands of Rashid who found the edge of the Aussies bat to find the hands of wicket-keeper Andrew Hodd. Hildreth became the third man to pass 50 when he reached his half-century off 75-balls hitting six fours in the process. He added a further two boundaries before finishing the day unbeaten on 68. His new partner Jim Allenby gave him a solid ally making a fluent 51 before becoming the last man to fall, Allenby hit four fours and a six in his 77-ball stay before being caught by Gary Ballance off the bowling of Will Rhodes. But the day belonged to the hosts after being inserted by the league leaders they closed in a strong position requiring 58 runs from their remaining 14 ‘bonus points’ overs secure maximum batting points.
Warwickshire tail-enders Chris Woakes and Keith Barker both struck centuries to rescue the visitors from a potentially nightmare first innings. After winning the toss and electing to field first, the returning Luke Fletcher bowled the hosts into a great position. His opening burst cost just three runs and he collected three wickets in the process to leave the Bears on 17/4. Fletcher, who returns to Nottingham after a brief loan spell with Derbyshire, tore through the visitors’ top order. He removed Ian Westwood (1), Laurie Evans (4) and Sam Hain (0) to leave the Bears in a pickle. And when Steven Mullaney removed Tim Ambrose for 14 leg before to leave the visitors on 60/5 they were staring down the barrel of a sub-standard total. Jonathan Trott offered some resistance to help steady the ship alongside stand-in skipper Woakes. The pair shared 57 to lead Warwickshire past the century mark, but Trott fell after making a well-made half-century. The former England man struck 68 before he became Jackson Bird’s second victim of the day. That left Warwickshire on 117/6 and very much second best, but Woakes looked fluent and after Samit Patel removed Rikki Clarke (9) he finally found a partner in crime in Barker. Both played in an aggressive fashion as the pair tried to wrestle back the initiative, Barker, in particular, struck the ball brilliantly reaching his century at just under a run-a-ball. He struck 20 fours and a six to push the visitors back towards respectability alongside his captain Woakes who hit 19 fours during his 121. After frustrating the hosts for 38 explosive overs the former England man finally fell caught behind off the bowling of Australian Bird. Jeetan Patel and Barker took the Bears to a fourth batting point before Barker’s vital innings came to an end in similar fashion to Woakes caught by Read off the bowling of Harry Gurney. Chris Wright and Patel safely saw the final few overs through and require 28 runs from 14-overs if they are to gain maximum batting points. The visitors closed on 372/8 and in a healthy position after their nightmare start.
It’s even-Stevens in the London derby clash at the Oval after a batting collapse from Middlesex made it honours even in South London. Nick Gubbins (91) and Sam Robson (53) shared yet another century stand as the pair guided Middlesex to 126 without loss at lunch. But soon after the interval, England hopeful Robson was stumped off the bowling of Gareth Batty. Dawid Malan was the new man to the crease and he continued his fine form to strike another half-century. But Gubbins fell short of what would’ve been a deserved century; he had reached 91 when he found the hands of Arun Harinath off the bowling of Thomas Curran. The visitors were still in a promising position with Adam Voges and Malan steering the North Londoners to their first batting points. James Burke dismissed Malan (58) finding the edge of the left-hander to find the gloves of Ben Foakes to leave the score on 238/3. Burke then pinned Voges in front on 47 to spark a mini-collapse at the Oval. Three wickets fell for 24 as Curran took two quick wickets to finish the day with figures of 3-80. He removed Paul Stirling (7) and Ollie Rayner (6) to leave the visitors on 298/7 at the close.
Scott Borthwick’s century put Durham in control against in-form Lancashire at the Riverside. Borthwick, who was on a lean run of form before this knock helped to lead a recovery to see his side to a dominant position come the close of play. He struck 18 fours during his 221-ball stay to reach 134 with only Paul Collingwood (85*) and Jack Burnham (44) making it past 30 for the hosts. After electing to bat first the hosts found themselves in a little bit of bother with both Keaton Jennings and Mark Stoneman falling early to leave the score on 46/2. Tom Bailey was the man doing all the early damage dismissing the in-form pair to give the early initiative to the visitors, but Borthwick and Burnham steadied the ship to share 88 for the third wicket. Youngster Burnham fell, though, again to the impressive Bailey to swing the tie again into Lancashire’s favour. By now the Red Rose had their tails up and they quickly removed Michael Richardson for 1 with Kyle Jarvis striking to remove the wicket keeper. Out strode Durham stalwart Collingwood to the middle knowing he had work to do, and alongside Borthwick, he guided Durham back to respectability. He offered support to Borthwick as the Durham number three went through to three figures before falling to the spin of Simon Kerrigan after sharing 123 for the fifth wicket. After passing their third batting point the hosts lost their final wicket of the day when Ryan Pringle became Bailey’s fourth victim of the day. But Collingwood saw the rest of the day through with youngster James Weighell to finish on 85 not out and his team on 341/6.
In Division two, Monty Panesar returned to Championship action to help peg Kent back at Wantage Road. The former England spinner made his first competitive four-day appearance for Northants since rejoining from Essex in the close season. And the Luton-born man picked up two wickets to help the hosts battle back against an in-form Kent side. After winning the toss and electing to bat first, the visitors recovered from the early loss of New Zealander Tom Latham to reach 117/1. Azharullah struck though to remove the dangerous Daniel Bell-Drummond for 47 to bring an end to a 102-run stand between the opener and Joe Denly. With wickets proving hard to get with the free flowing Denly looking in wonderful touch alongside Sam Northeast with the pair taking the visitors to their first batting point. Northants skipper Alex Wakely chucked the ball to Monty in the hope his golden arm could bring him a wicket. And Panesar delivered that killer blow to remove Northeast for 49, the former Essex man took a return catch to mark his return with a wicket. That wicket halted the momentum for Kent as they could only add a further 98-run for the loss of a further four wickets. Denly, though, continued on his merry way to reach a deserved century hitting 15 fours on his way to 126 not out at the close. His partners are seemingly running out though as a late burst from the hosts left the game in the balance. Rory Kleinveldt took two wickets late on including the experienced Darren Stevens to leave the hosts on 300/7 at the close.
Elsewhere, Nick Browne returned to form for Essex with a magnificent unbeaten 154 at the Essex County Ground. Browne, who has been out shadowed by Alastair Cook in recent weeks, underpinned the Eagles total of 284/3 on the opening day against Derbyshire in Chelmsford. Former Essex seamer Tony Palladino had threatened to put his former side on the back foot on day one striking twice early to leave the hosts on 70/2 removing Jaik Mickleburgh (24) and Tom Westley (0) – both leg before. Essex’s recovery was led by Browne and Bopara (49) though as the pair shared 111 for the third wicket to guide Essex back into control. Bopara struck seven fours in his 49 as he continues to find his form, but the Essex one-day captain couldn’t reach his half-century falling one run short of the landmark, as he was trapped leg before by Shiv Thakor. That was to prove the final success for Derbyshire though as a glimpse into Essex future with Browne and England under-19 international Dan Lawrence safely saw the Eagles to close unscathed. Essex opener Browne, who was dropped on 49 reached a well-made century off 203-balls with 18 fours just before Bopara fell. Lawrence though proved to be a more than a handy partner for Browne as the pair shared an unbroken stand of 101 with both players reaching a milestone in the process. Browne, the more senior of the duo reached a career-best score whilst Lawrence reached his half-century just before the close as the host dominated again in the Essex sun.
In the battle between the early season favourites, Worcestershire took control on the opening day against Sussex. The Pears opener Brett D’Oliveira fell an agonising one run short of a third successive Championship hundred as he helped his side into a commanding position at New Road. Daryl Mitchell and D’Oliveira shared 113 for the opening partnership before the Pears’ skipper fell for 43 – caught off the bowling of youngster Stuart Whittingham (2-71). Looking to get to his century in style, in-form D’Oliveira played a loose cut short to find the hands of Harry Finch to fall short of what would’ve been another deserved ton. But Joe Clarke (82), Ross Whiteley (54 not out) and Tom Kohler-Cadmore (43 not out) continued to make the Sussex attack toil as the hosts enjoyed some good batting conditions in the Worcester sun. They closed on 382/4 require a further 18 runs off 14 overs to secure maximum batting points.
Meanwhile, at Bristol, Glamorgan enjoyed the better of the first day in their encounter with Gloucestershire, who continue to be hit and miss this season. The Welsh County never allowed their hosts to settle bowling a good line and length throughout the day. Indeed, only youngster George Hankins threatened to take the game away from Glamorgan as the top order struggled in Bristol. The evergreen Graham Wagg (3-65) and new-boy Timm van der Gugten (3-49) both impressed to put the hosts on the back foot. Hankins though struck his maiden half-century to help the host recover to some kind of respectability. The teenager along with tail-enders Craig Miles (49 not out) and David Payne (39) guided the hosts to 262 all out. That left the Welshmen with 26-overs to see out, and despite the early loss of Mark Wallace to Craig Miles they saw through the day untroubled with Will Bragg (45 not out) and skipper Jacques Rudolph (33 not out) leading the visitors to 82/1 at close, 180 runs behind on first innings.
Reports by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
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