By David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu)
Heavy overnight rain meant no play was possible at four of the six matches on the opening day of the County Season.
Heavy overnight rain in the north put pay to play at both Headingley and Old Trafford as standing water on the outfield gave the umpires no choice but to call play off for the day without a ball bowled.
There was more luck down south though as Hampshire and Worcestershire managed to duck and dodge to rain at the Ageas Bowl. Given the Spring-like conditions in the air it was no surprise that the Pears chose to take their option of holding an uncontested toss and skipper Joe Leach immediately ensured his decision was a good one by removing Lewis McManus early in the morning session to bag the first wicket of the county season. The young opener could only edge behind to fall early for just 2 but England’s James Vince and Hampshire stalwart Jimmy Adams combined to steady the ship for the hosts as the pair shared 106 for the 2nd wicket stand with Vince hitting a rapid-fire 50 in the process. Adams eventually fell for a well-made 33 from 62 balls to help break the back of the new-ball to help the South Coast club to a solid foundation. Steve Magoffin who had proved expensive in the morning returned in the afternoon session to first remove Adams and then four overs later take out the imperious Vince, who by the time the Australian had disturbed his stumps had move onto a better than run-a-ball 75. That brought overseas signing Hashim Amla to the crease to join fellow newcomer Sam Northeast. Amla, in his unfamiliar position of five, played a steady, if unspectacularly hand to help keep the score ticking over as the Worcestershire attack continued to plug away in the helpful seaming conditions. Leach struck soon after the dismissal of Northeast who made just 17 in his first competitive innings for his new county as he was removed by Josh Tongue, and the Pear skipper Leach soon removed the dangerous Roussow for a duck to leave the hosts 164-5. Amla and new man Liam Dawson had shared 29 when Leach struck again to remove the first of his many ‘dream’ victims of the summer, Amla. Leach would eventually finish with figures of 4-42 as Hampshire owed much to the late order runs of Gareth Berg who struck a fine unbeaten 75 including 10 fours and two sixes to help the hosts to a respectable 291 all out.
In reply in the darkening light, the visitors closed on 40-2 with the talented duo of Brett D’Oliveira (1) and Tom Fell (18) both falling to Fidel Edwards and Kyle Abbott respectively.
In Division Two, the clash between Kent and Gloucestershire and Warwickshire and Sussex both also fell victim to the weather.
At The Home of Cricket, they did manage some cricket though with 48.5 overs possible on the opening day of Middlesex Division Two adventure. After being offered to bat, perhaps unsurprisingly given the green nature of the pitch and the cloud cover above they got off to a slow, but ultimately steady start reaching 21 without loss after 8 and a half overs. Suddenly though, Ben Sanderson went bang bang to remove two in two to leave the hosts wobbling a little at Lords. The talented seamer first removed Max Holden caught smartly by Brett Hutton, before Robbie White shouldered arms to his first ball in his first-class debut only to turn round to see his off stuck cartwheeling towards the slips. That got the Steelbacks tails up and it was tasked with overseas recruit Hilton Cartwright to weather the storm for the hosts. He and Sam Robson stood tall for 8 and a bit overs before Brett Hutton removed the Australian for 30 to leave the hosts on 54-3. Robson didn’t last too much longer as the light began to fade in West London and he fell for a patient 14, trapped plumb in front by Hutton. Suddenly, Northants sniffed a chance of restricting the hosts to a poor looking score but Paul Stirling (40*) and John Simpson (31*) combined to ensure they would be there at the close in this light affected opening day as the hosts ended day one on 136-4.
View from the outfield will be live reporting over the weekend – follow up on Snapchat on VFTO.com where Matthew Layton will be at Edgbaston and follow us on Twitter @ViewFromTheOut for live updates throughout the second day.
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