By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
Wickets tumbled on the second day of the first County Championship round of games as matches begin to head towards results.
Yorkshire and Essex were further frustrated by the weather as once again no play was possible on the second day despite clear skies throughout the day. The decision was made at 2 pm that the outfield was still too sodden to get any cricket for the paying spectators in the ground. Rumours began to circulate that the new building work on the rugby stand side has affected the drainage system at Headingley, which would certainly leave egg on the faces of the ‘people county’.
There near northern neighbours meanwhile, despite enduring the same weather other recent weeks managed to start on time at Old Trafford. Predictably, visitors Nottinghamshire took their right to not contest the toss and asked England hopefuls Hasseb Hameed and Keaton Jennings to open up against the new ball in tricky spring conditions. A slow start ensued as a typically watchful Hameed played safe cricket alongside his new opening partner. The pair battled their way towards 21 without loss in the 11th over when England man Jake Ball pinned Hameed in front for 3 to give the Outlaws the early breakthrough they craved. One, soon became two as Jennings became the next man back in the shed tamely looping a catch back to Harry Gurney who struck just three balls into his first spell of the season. That brought the Red Rose skipper Liam Livingston to the middle; he failed to have the impact he would’ve hoped to make as he looks to impress Trevor Bayliss and the England Selectors. He had made just nine when he heard the death rattle off the bowling of young Luke Wood (2-43). The experienced heads of Dane Vilas and Shiv Chanderpaul offered some resistance sharing 64 for the fifth wicket, 64 runs that would prove critical given what was about to follow. The scoreboard showed 124 when the West Indian legend found the hands of Jake Libby off the bowling of big Luke Fletcher to fall for 11 as he played second fiddle to the more aggressive Vilas (49). 34-runs later the innings was all over as Jake Ball (5-43) produced a brilliant spell of bowling to bag four quick wickets to leave the hosts all out for just 158.
That left the Outlaws with a tricky look elongated evening session with 44-overs still left in the day after the first-day washout. Everyone in and around Old Trafford was eager to see how their new look bowling attack would fair. Graham Onions, fresh from signing from Durham in the winter made them wait for just seven overs before their new man struck having Jake Libby caught behind for 15 as Nottinghamshire lost their first wicket with the score on 20. But new Nottinghamshire captain Steven Mullaney and new recruit Chris Nash batted steadily to steady the ship, the pair had shared 42 before Tom Bailey bagged his first of three wickets. He first had Mullaney caught behind for 24 and trapped both new signing Nash, and perhaps most impressively Ross Taylor LBW for 24 and nine respectively. With the light beginning to fade Australian recruit, Joe Mennie bagged his first two wickets for his new county. He first found the inside edge of Samit Patel's bat as the experienced all-rounder chopped on, he then got nightwatchman Luke Fletcher strangled down the leg side to swing the tie back in the balance as the hosts closed on 127-6.
Sixteen wickets fell at the Ageas bowl on Day Two as the game edges closer to a result. Worcestershire started the second morning on 40/2 but lost nightwatchman Josh Tongue early with South African Kyle Abbott finding the edge of his bat to offer a simple catch to fellow South African Rilee Roussow. Another Kolpak recruit Fidel Edwards struck soon after as Daryl Mitchell’s resistance came to an end finding the bucket hands of Sam Northeast in the slip cordon. That dismissal left the Pears in a spot of bother on 52/4, they hoped their new Australian overseas recruit Travis Head would be the main to steer them to safety alongside young prospect Joe Clarke. That hope was brief though with the duo only managing to muster a partnership of 26 before Head became the first of two quick wickets for Cape Town-born Gareth Berg (is anyone else sensing a theme here). When Berg removed Clarke a couple of overs later the visitors were in heaps of trouble a long way adrift of Hampshire first innings effort of 290 on 83/6. Crucially though, the Worcestershire tail stood strong, as they so often did last season, Ben Cox and Ed Barnard managed to nullify the bombardment of overseas talent to share an important stand of 76. Cox eventually departed for a well-made 65 including 12 fours, and finally a Hampshire academy product Brad Wheal stopped the rot of foreign wicket takers by removing the wicketkeeper-batsman. One home-grown wicket brought three as Wheal bagged his second to remove Joe Leach before Liam Dawson ended Ed Barnard's gutsy innings to dismiss Worcestershire for 211. Leach knew he’d have to rally his troops and get early wickets if they were to stand any chance of picking up an unlikely result down South.
Hampshire started steadily and efficiently reaching 47 without loss after 10 overs, but the demise of Lewis McManus sparked a mini collapse. Tongue removed the wicketkeeper opener for 27, Leach continued the revival removing Jimmy Adams the very next ball, Sam Northeast struck a four and then had his timber disturbed and suddenly the Pears were right back in it as the hosts had gone from 47 without loss to 51-3. James Vince and Hashim Amla showed their international class to stem the momentum momentarily sharing a nine-over 22-run partnership. Vince was the man to go as Steve Magoffin snicked him off to give Michell a simple chance at slip. That brought Roussow to the crease to join his fellow Proteas Amla with the task of seeing the hosts through to close. Although, clearly Roussow hadn’t read the script, hitting a 24-run 29 before being bowled by Magoffin. Dawson and Berg came and went for 16 and 10 respectively, and perhaps crucially the South African wall Amla was run out by Tom Fell overs before the close. Abbott and Wheal ensured the hosts would still be batting on the third morning but this game is firmly in the balance with the Hampshire lead still just 242 with two full days left (weather permitting).
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