5/11/2018 0 Comments
By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
Ball dominated bat on the opening day of the fifth game week of the Specsavers County Championship Division One season, no fewer than 39-wickets fell as the heat subsided and the cool air returned to give the bowlers a much-needed lift.
We’ll start with the leaders Nottinghamshire who endured their worst day since promotion after finding a rampant Lancashire side too hot to handle at Trent Bridge. An already talented Red Rose bowling attack was further bolstered by a fired up James Anderson keen to bounce back from a disappointing match last week against Somerset. With that in mind, Lancashire skipper Liam Livingstone used his right to do away with the toss and invited the hosts to have the first crack at batting. Jake Libby and Steven Mullaney negotiated Anderson’s first over fairly successfully but couldn’t see our Graham Onions’ first over unscathed as the former Durham man removed with Nottinghamshire skipper Mullaney with the penultimate ball of the 2nd over. The naggingly accurate pace duo continued to frustrate the Outlaws top order with runs very much a premium under the hazy Trent Bridge sky. Chris Nash and Libby plodded their way to 46-1 from eighteen and a half overs when Nash was finally put out of his misery departing gritty 18, Onions again the man with the breakthrough. In his very next over, the former England man struck for a third time, this time removing the dangerous Ross Taylor for a duck. Libby must have been watching at the other end of the wicket, thinking ‘come on chaps, this isn’t that hard’. He had moved on to a very patient 34 but must have been dreaming of a nice warm cuppa as he wafted at a ball from Jordan Clark and was snaffled at slip by Livingstone. That left the hosts in a spot of bother on 80/4 and in unfamiliar territory given their largely enjoyable return to the top flight. All that was left now from a Lancashire point of view was for James Anderson to join the wicket-taking party and he did just that striking twice in quick succession to remove Riki Wessels and Tom Moores with Samit Patel run out in between also to leave the hosts on 106/7 and in need of some Stuart Broad magic. After all, he has had the magic touch all week you only have to look at his football fantasy team to know that. The Nottinghamshire faithful were treated to a little 28-ball cameo from the England man but his 20 wasn’t enough to rescue an already sinking ship. Indeed, Tom Bailey finished off the tail and the hosts were dismissed for a disappointing 133.
Fifties for Keaton Jennings (52 not out) and Alex Davies (50) had seemingly given the visitors the upper hand, but a late fightback with the ball has meant that there is still work to do for the Red Rose as they look to finally capitalise on a good start to a County Championship fixture. They close day one with a lead of 24, on 157-4.
Ollie Pope’s blossoming career continued at the Oval as the youngster helped Surrey return back to the straight and narrow against Yorkshire. The Tykes enjoyed a promising start removing four of the top five before 70 was notched up on the scoreboard. That left the Surrey chairmen seeing if the ink had dried on that Virat Kohli contract and getting out the tipex to see if they can change the start date of his contract to today. Dean Elgar and Pope though began to calm the nerves in Surrey dressing room with good measured cricket shots as they slowly silenced an excitable Yorkshire fielding side. The duo shared an unbroken 50-run stand together before the White Rose were back off celebrating again as the South African departed for a well-made 61, England’s Joe Root acting as the golden arm again. Unprederbed though, Pope continued on his merry way slotting the ball away with ease and grace in front of the watching England captain, who would surely be impressed by the 20-year-old. The Londoner would need a partner though if he was going to help the Rey put a decent score on the board, and he finally found one in Rikki Clarke. The former Warwickshire man played a masterful counter charge act to offer the perfect support to Pope. Clarke and Pope took the score beyond 250 and towards 300 as the pair found the rope with alarming regularity. Pope had hit 22-fours in his unbeaten 131 at close, whilst Clarke had his 10 fours and 2 sixes during his entertaining 91-ball 71. Connor McKerr joined the Pope following Clarke’s departure and the young pair would take the hosts through to a dominant position at close at 366-7, a million miles away from the trouble they had previously found themselves in after lunch.
Elsewhere, Worcestershire enjoyed their best day of the season against Champions Essex at New Road. Bizarrely, given their batting fragility at the moment, Ryan ten Doeschate decided to chance his arm at having a toss seemingly forgetting the fact he could’ve just chucked an equally dodgy batting line-up into the cauldron. Instead, the South-African born Dutchman decided to have a bat in gloomy cold conditions in the Midlands. It would prove to be a fateful decision as the visitors never looked comfortable on a pitch that offered early movement. Indeed, only Alastair Cook looked remotely in control during his innings, but even he could only manage 37. The Essex batting line-up looks a shadow of the 2017 side that won by an innings quite frequently during their unbeaten Championship winning season. Tom Westley, who fought his way into the England Test side last year looks rustier than a nail that has been left in the rain too long, he will perhaps be pleased he reached double figures though after his wretched run of low scores. Of course, credit must be given to the Pears pace attack who piled the pressure on the visitors with some tight overs, and that pressure built to create plenty of errors from the Eagles batsmen. It is become a worrying norm to see players like Peter Siddle (playing his last game for the Eagles in this game week) and Simon Harmer digging the top order out of a hole. Again, the Australian added vital lower order runs making 29 to help the visitors to 177. Josh Tongue was the pick of the host's attack collecting four for 45 as the visitors fell short of expectation again. In quickly fading light the Pears easily survived 17-overs of Porter, Siddle and Cook to reach 47 without loss at the close as they enjoyed a very positive opening day.
Lastly, Somerset continued their fine early season form to gain the upper hand in their rain-affected opening day encounter with Hampshire at Taunton. Somerset skipper Tom Abell was the unlikely hero with the ball claiming 3-18 as the visitors crumbled to 198-8 at close. The part-time spin of Abell accounted for James Vince – who again failed to kick on after making another decent start, Joe Weatherley and Lewis McManus. Rilee Rossouw made a pleasing 38 as he slowly starts to return to form before becoming Dom Bess’ only wicket on the innings thus far. But it will be Abell who will be the happiest man in the West Country after collecting 3-wickets to help justify his decision to bowl first after Hampshire asked to have a toss at the County Ground.
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