Worcestershire, having been 97-5 in pursuit of 215 to beat Essex at New Road, are now 140-5 as Australia’s Travis Head and Ed Barnard steady they ship. They have 38 and 26 respectively. 75 more for a first win of the season for the Pears.
We have our second result of the round, and it’s at Edgbaston, where Division Two leaders Warwickshire have beaten Northamptonshire by six wickets. It is their third win from four matches this summer. Here at the Oval, Yorkshire are 24-2. We still have 40 overs to bowl.
At tea Hampshire are 70-2. The cricket has been sedate but of high quality. Vince and Amla have played watchfully as the situation demands; Somerset’s England bowlers have been on target. Overton bowled much better than in the first innings; Leach was also accurate but extracted little turn. We are therefore in connoisseur country in lazy Sunday afternoon sunshine. For the first time at Taunton this summer the bowlers are going to have to toil for their wickets but Hampshire will also have to work very hard to avoid defeat here. Like many others around the country this is a good game.
The champions are fighting hard. Worcestershire are now 68-4 and still 147 away from their target against Essex at New Road, with Peter Siddle doing the early damage with three wickets, including that of Joe Clarke lbw for two. In Division Two, Sussex are 88-4 chasing 270 against Kent at Canterbury. Matt Henry has two, with everything he touches turning to gold at present. Warwickshire are on the verge of beating Northamptonshire. They are 23 away with six wickets in hand. Here at The Oval, Yorkshire are 15-2 in their second innings. Joe Root has two of them, a dab wide of slips.
Yorkshire’s batting troubles continue. They are 10-2 in their second innings. Jade Dernbach and Sam Curran have removed Alex Lees (caught at second slip) and Che Pujara (bowled off an inside edge) to bring captain Joe Root to the crease. Whatever they do, the White Rose county can’t seem to get going with the bat. It’s a long standing problem and one that has left coaches and players scratching their heads.
The pitch has flattened here but Somerset have a second wicket, one that Joe Weatherley will want to erase from his memory. Not much was happening against tight bowling especially from Tim Groenewald. Then Abell and Groenewald decided to send George Bartlett towards the square leg boundary. With great precision Bartlett was stationed about 15 yards inside the rope and next ball Groenewald, who has never been a speedster (except when holding the bat) dug the ball in. Weatherley pulled and Bartlett did not have to move an inch to take the catch. So now Hampshire’s key batsmen, Vince and Amla, are together. 48-2
Yorkshire are all out for 229 and will follow-on, 185 runs behind. We still have 57 overs left in the day, not taking into account a possible extra half hour. Sorry to be pessimistic, Yorkshire fans. Sam Curran has finished with six wickets and has just taken his 100th in first-class cricket, the fourth youngest Surrey player to achieve that feat. He turns 20 in June.
Adams has played a loose swish outside the off-stump and has been caught behind off Gregory. So Vince is at the crease early. I wonder whether what he does here will influence the selectors, who announce the Test squad on Tuesday or have they already reached their conclusions? Of those on the outside Clarke, Gubbins, Jennings, Burns and Foakes have all scored recent runs – and so has Hildreth. Vince has hit one delicious shot to the boundary. I leave you to ponder what it was. 24-1
Jonny Bairstow has just fallen for 95 to Jade Dernbach, caught at first slip by Rikki Clarke on the drive. Yorkshire are 203-9, with Surrey set to choose whether to bat again. I wouldn’t, not in a million years.
Worcestershire are chasing 215 at New Road as they bid to inflict a second successive defeat upon champions Essex. They hadn’t lost in 19 before last week’s heist by Yorkshire at Chelmsford. The hosts are currently 11-0. Here, Jonny Bairstow is in the early nineties (93 to be precise), with Yorkshire 197-8. They need 68 more to avoid the follow-on.
Somerset all out for 506. Bess was bowled by a trimmer from Berg for 94, Groenewald, one of the better No 11s on the circuit, hit 25 in no time. So the lead is 275. Now we wait to see whether fresh bowlers can find life in a pitch that is now pale green.
It’s been a romp for Somerset in an elongated session. Hildreth and Dom Bess, an imposter at No 10, added 145 together as the pitch ran out of malice and the Hampshire bowlers – with the exception of Fidel Edwards who kept steaming in to no great effect – ran out of puff. At lunch Somerset sit pretty on 472-9, a lead of 241.
Hildreth has been the more measured of the two. He knows how to capitalise. This was the 15th time he had passed 150 out of his 43 hundreds. Then in the last over before lunch on 184 he mishit a high full toss from Tom Alsop, a very occasional left-armer, to mid-on.
How fortunate for Somerset that they are unlikely to be deprived of Hildreth’s services once the Tests start, how unjust that he has never played a match for England, though he represented the Lions on a regular basis a few years ago. His self-deprecating manner may not have endeared him to the men that matter, I suppose.
We know the powers that be like the buzz and business of Bess, who will surely not bat in double figures again for Somerset. He has a first class hundred to his name for the MCC against Essex in Barbados in March. At lunch he was unbeaten on 84 and he may have the chance top register his first one for Somerset after the break.
With the sun out the demons seem to have departed so we expect plenty from Bess and Leach with the ball before long.
Yorkshire have lost two more quickly, Jack Leaning for 20 lbw to Rikki Clarke and Tim Bresnan caught at second slip off Sam Curran for one, to slip to 158-7, still 107 runs away from the follow-on target. Curran has five wickets, and Jonny Bairstow is still there on 76.
Warwickshire are 21-1 chasing 179 against Northamptonshire, while Kent have lost three morning wickets and are 198-7 against Sussex at Canterbury, leading by 232. Glamorgan are turning things around at Grace Road and have taken five this morning, with Leicestershire 158-7 and leading by 171. Michael Hogan has four-for. Here, Jonny ploughs on, although helped by a missed opportunity from Jade Dernbach (one-handed to his right) off his own bowling on 66. He has 74 of 154-5. Yorkshire need to reach 265 to avoid the follow-on.
Jonny Bairstow reaches 50 off 46 balls with 10 fours, his second successive fifty after last week’s effort against the new ball in the second innings at Chelmsford. Is he England’s best batsman right now? Anyway, Yorkshire are 131-5. And Lancashire have won by an innings and 67 at Trent Bridge, bowling Notts out for 138 in their second innings. 6-55 for Onions and 4-26 for Anderson. That is Lancashire’s first away win in the Championship since July 2015 against Glamorgan at Colwyn Bay when Ashwell Prince and Alviro Petersen put on 501 for the fourth wicket – also an innings win.
Lancashire are on the verge of their first win, with Nottinghamshire having lost three morning wickets to slip to 127-8. They are still 78 runs in arrears, with Graham Onions completing a five-for. He has shared all eight to fall with new ball partner Jimmy Anderson, who has most recently trapped Luke Fletcher lbw for nought.
Greetings from Taunton, where Somerset are attacking the second new ball – there haven’t been many of those unwrapped here this season.
Jack Leach lost his off stump to the old ball, not playing a shot. Obviously he was trying to play too responsibly. Against the new one the runs have flowed. Hildreth purrs on and Dom Bess is not really a number ten. In fact the names of Somerset’s batsmen from 7-10 (mind you Groenewald at 11 is not so bad) could be put into a hat to sort out the order.
Just enjoyed a magnificent slice of coffee and walnut cake produced, if not cooked, by our press box doyen and host, Richard Walsh. What a fine start to the day.
I mentioned in the scene-setter that Doug Bracewell had to back up his first-innings 81 to give Northamptonshire a realistic chance of victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston. Well, he’s gone for seven, caught behind off Olly Stone. Northants are 179/8, leading by 170. Here, Yorkshire are five down having lost Harry Brook, caught behind off Sam Curran for 17. They are 86/5, and Jonny Bairstow has 33 of them in typically pugnacious fashion.
Joe Root has gone to the day’s sixth ball from Sam Curran. He’s been trapped lbw playing around his front pad for 14 having faced the second half of the over. Jonny Bairstow joins Harry Brook at the crease, and Yorkshire are 41/4.
Saturday was a day for two centurions who are very much in the category of England hopefuls; Keaton Jennings for Lancashire against Nottinghamshire and Joe Clarke for Worcestershire against Essex. On Sunday, the current Test captain will hope to match them as Yorkshire bid to stave off a Surrey charge towards victory here.
Joe Root will begin day three unbeaten on 14 with his side at 40/3 in reply to Surrey’s 414. Jonny Bairstow is still to come as well, and the White Rose will need them both to perform. The general consensus is that this is a new ball pitch, so the first hour or so will be very interesting.
Both Jennings and Clarke, Lions team-mates, scored their second successive centuries. Jennings helped put Lancashire in control at Trent Bridge, with Notts 106/5 in their second innings and still 99 runs behind. That one could easily be done by lunch. It would not be a great surprise to see the left-hander named in Ed Smith’s first Test squad later this week. Clarke’s inclusion, surely ahead of James Vince if anything, would be a touch more left field. But why not?
His Worcester side just about have the edge against Essex, who will resume day three on 143/4 in their second innings with a lead of 82. Alastair Cook was out for 66 late on last night.
James Hildreth will resume unbeaten on 125 for Somerset (324/7) against Hampshire (231) at Taunton. England chance passed him by? Probably, yes, although many will put him in the unlucky bracket.
In Division Two, like here at the Oval where rain damaged day two, they will get under way at Lord’s between Middlesex and Gloucestershire. The hosts declared on 455/8 before rain arrived at lunch. Leicestershire (191 and 119/2) are on top against Glamorgan (178) at Grace Road with a lead of 132, as are Kent (215 and 125/4) against Sussex (181) at Canterbury. They lead by 159. The draw looks favourite between Derbyshire (427) and Durham (115/2) at the County Ground.
And finally, Division Two pacesetters Warwickshire are on course to win again, with Northamptonshire struggling at Edgbaston. They are 160/7 in their second innings with a lead of 151. New Zealand all-rounder Doug Bracewell is at the crease. If he can match his first-innings 81, they could be in business.
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