Play has just been abandoned for the day at Taunton with Hampshire 198 for eight. It’s hard to assess the worth of that score. But I’m fairly sure that Somerset will be relieved since they bowled so poorly in the first session before Tom Abell’s three wickets and a fine final spell from Lewis Gregory rescued the situation. By the same token Hampshire will surely be disappointed by the way their innings subsided from 86 for one.
My guess is that the loss of just over a session will not prevent a result here. The pitch is used but today it was most helpful to the quicker bowlers – even so it was mildly uplifting to see Somerset with an old-fashioned, balanced attack with two spinners, Jack Leach and Dom Bess. They should get some work later in the game. Those trying to impress Ed Smith – I’m thinking of James Vince and Craig Overton – will be disappointed, especially Overton who was unusually off-target and impatient.
Ollie Pope has just reached his second century of the season and third in 10 first-class matches in all – 174 balls with 16 fours. He has helped Surrey turn this day around. They have recovered from 69 for four and 162 for six to reach 310 for 7 with a little more than 11 overs remaining in the day. Whether we get them all, due to the light, I’m not sure.
Warwickshire are trying desperately to gain some control of this breakneck opening day at Edgbaston, with Ian Bell unbeaten on 19 and the score 56 for three in reply to Northamptonshire’s 256. Jonathan Trott was the man to depart just now, pinned lbw by Brett Hutton after a couple of trademark whips through the onside. Sam Hain is new to the crease and Hutton is probing way. The floodlights are on and we have 16 overs to go. Northants, from 52 for six at one stage this morning, are very much the team in the ascendancy.
There are definite similarities to last week’s opening day at Chelmsford when Yorkshire were bowled for 50 and Essex replied with 142 before tea. In the first two sessions of both first days, batting was extremely tricky before it looked completely different afterwards. Despite Ollie Pope’s impressive unbeaten 75, Rikki Clarke is the man who has changed the momentum of this game with a 65-ball fifty. He has moved to 66 out of 274-6.
Not good news if you are a Haseeb Hameed fan. He has been caught behind off Luke Fletcher for nought. Lancashire still looking good at 87-2 in reply to Notts 133, mind you. At Lord’s, Eoin Morgan is unbeaten on 47 for Middlesex (289-3) against Gloucestershire, while Dawid Malan has 61.
We are up and running after tea at the Oval, where Ollie Pope reached an important half-century before the break and, in his unbeaten 28, Rikki Clarke topped 10,000 first-class runs. Surrey are 214-6 as I type.
Wickets have certainly tumbled at Trent Bridge and New Road. Notts all out for 133, although Lancashire are 73-0 in reply. Alex Davies is unbeaten on 46 with Haseeb Hameed to bat at three. Essex have been bowled out for 177, although Worcestershire have yet to start their reply.
Early breakthrough for Northamptonshire as Doug Bracewell follows up his earlier feats with the bat to get Dom Sibley caught at third slip. Slight juggle from Brett Hutton but he held on falling to his right. The Bears are nought for one and this is proving a very quick match so far.
A wicket at Edgbaston and a vital one for Warwickshire as skipper Jeetan Patel removes Steven Crook for an enterprising 92.
It wasn’t exactly one for the highlights reel, with a ball spinning down leg nibbled behind: some sharp work by Tim Ambrose the stumps. Crook’s stand of 122 with Doug Bracewell equalled a record 8th wicket partnership for the visitors against the Bears. Northants are a much healthier looking 225 for eight now.
Notts are all out for 133 at Trent Bridge, with Graham Onions and Tom Bailey finishing with three wickets apiece and Jimmy Anderson, back to a more natural colour of hair, two.
It’s fair to say that the two meetings so far this season between Notts and Lancashire haven’t been ones for batsmen. Surrey, meanwhile, are 157-5. Ollie Pope has 36 of them.
Steven Crook is playing a gem of an innings at Edgbaston in what is proving a fine partnership of 106 runs with Doug Bracewell to see Northants 208 for seven from 47 overs.
Warwickshire have been on the attack, naturally, but so two have this pair, slapping 23 fours between them. Crook is unbeaten on 83 and Bracewell is on 54. Olly Stone started brightly but has struggled a bit after the break, with only the odd venomous delivery in between some loose stuff.
Breakthrough for Yorkshire as Joe Root bowls Dean Elgar for 61, playing all round one and losing his leg stump. Surrey are 137-5 now with Ollie Pope their last recognised batsman unbeaten on 30. All happening at Trent Bridge. Two wickets for Jimmy Anderson and a Samit Patel run out. Notts are 122-7 against Lancashire.
Alastair Cook has gone for 37 at New Road, driving at Joe Leach and edging to first slip. A angry swish at the turf follows. Essex are 68-3 against the Pears. Here, Surrey are 113-4 with Jonny Bairstow standing up to the stumps for Steve Patterson. Dean Elgar has 42 and Ollie Pope 19.
Surrey head into lunch at 92-4, losing Ben Foakes 25 minutes before the break – caught behind off Steve Patterson, with a touch of out-swing enticing him into playing forwards defensively. He fell for 18.
South African Dean Elgar is holding the innings together with an unbeaten 37, not something that will particularly please new national selector Ed Smith, who would have hoped for more success from the likes of Stoneman, Foakes and even Rory Burns.
It is a similar story at Trent Bridge, where Nottinghamshire are 80-4 in the 30th against Lancashire. Graham Onions has three wickets, while Jordan Clark has just removed Jake Libby on the stroke of lunch. Haseeb Hameed is back in Lancashire’s team having been dropped against Somerset last week. Essex have reached 64-2 against Worcestershire at New Road, with Alastair Cook unbeaten on 34.
In Division Two, there are healthy starts for Derbyshire against Durham (107-0), Kent against Sussex (97-2) and Middlesex against Gloucestershire (121-1). Nick Gubbins is unbeaten on 70 for the latter. Leicestershire are 62-5 against Glamorgan at Grace Road.
No shortage of entertainment at Taunton on what is likely to be a shortened day. Hampshire are 111-3 at lunch. The two captains have caught the eye. James Vince always does and there were some silky drives, one lofted against Jack Leach, in his 43-ball 44, which included 10 boundaries.
Less predictably Tom Abell, filling the fourth seamer role very effectively, has 2-18 from 7 overs. He has found late swing and the edge of Vince’s bat on a rare moment when the Hampshire captain was defending.
Somerset have their two spinners playing but in four overs there was no sign of turn. The faster bowlers have been profligate, maybe feeling the pressure of the captain having inserted the opposition. They bowled with far less discipline than against Worcestershire and Yorkshire earlier in the season. This may be a used pitch (they defeated Yorkshire on it) but it still possesses some life for the quicker bowlers.
Marcus Trescothick is alive and well. He hobbled up to the press area to do a little commentary on BBC radio. He will have an operation on Monday and is, of course, optimistic about an early return. (He’s thinking July, everyone else reckons August is more realistic). And there is a sighting of Jamie Overton bowling on the edge of the square.
It has been a breathless morning at Edgbaston, where Northants go into the lunch break with a near run-a-minute 118 but for the loss of seven wickets. Little doubt as to who the start of the morning has been, with Henry Brookes, 18, picking up three and effecting a run out from long leg with a slingshot throw.
Olly Stone has bowled with good heat on his comeback from injury and picked up two, nicking off Adam Rossington first ball and then ending a counter-attacking stand of 50 from Steven Crook and Josh Cobb when the latter slapped to point on 29.
Crook is unbeaten on 43, having made use of the attacking fields, but this pitch is no minefield so there is a whole heap of work to be done after vittles.
Early indications suggest it’s not the usual batting paradise here at the Oval, with Dean Elgar doing well to keep out a Steve Patterson delivery which kept low just now.
Surrey have advanced to 60-3 in the 20th over. If Elgar, who has 27, and Ben Foakes (nine) can navigate the rest of the morning without further damage, that will be a good result for the home side.
As Ali watches wickets tumble at Edgbaston, it’s a similar case at Grace Road, where Leicestershire are 39-4 against Glamorgan, for whom Timm van der Gugten has a couple of wickets.
After 45 frustrating minutes when Somerset bowled four no-balls and a few four balls, as well as dropping a regulation catch at second slip (“old Tresco would have caught that one”, but Matt Renshaw could not hold on), the home side has a wicket. Jimmy Adams was, as they say, adjudged caught behind off Tim Groenewald, and departed grumpily.
Out came James Vince and to his second ball he played that shot and the ball flew at catchable height to third slip. There was no third slip. Since then he has played that shot more effectively and he’s raced to 27 in no time. Somerset are looking ragged and there may be a few old timers in the Colin Atkinson Pavilion shaking their heads – it’s the old players’ dinner tonight.
Tom Abell, flushed by his success at Lancashire, is having a bowl, not a good sign for the home side. Hampshire are racing along at five over. Maybe that Ali Martin was right.
Hang on. Abell just dismissed Weatherley for 28. Now it’s Abell against Amla. And Leach is having a bowl. 86-2
Wowsers. Olly Stone enters the attack and strikes first ball with a beauty to find the edge of Adam Rossington’s bat. Fast, nipped away, found the edge of a straight defensive shot off the back foot and Northants are 47 for five, with Henry Brookes have taken two earlier and pulled off a run out to boot. Warwickshire breathing fire right now.
A couple of key wickets already for Yorkshire, who have got rid of Mark Stoneman and Rory Burns – one man who is fighting to hold onto his England opening berth and the other who has made a pretty strong case to pinch it.
Stoneman was lbw playing forwards at Tim Bresnan for 10 and Burns caught at first slip off a Jack Brooks’ beauty for nine. Surrey are 23-2. Swing on offer and a bit of nibble.
Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire are 17-1 against Lancashire at Trent Bridge, with Steven Mullaney falling against his former county, and Essex are 21-1 against Worcestershire at New Road. Varun Chopra was the man to depart.
Henry Brookes is making some impression here at Edgbaston, with two wickets in two overs to follow the initial breakthrough from Chris Wright and leave Northants in a state of disarray at 20 for three after six overs.
Wright had Ben Duckett caught behind off an inside edge before Brookes bowled Alex Wakeley with a beauty. Just nipped away a touch and trimmed the off bail. The 18-year-old, whose action is effortlessly smooth, then had Richard Levi caught at slip to another leg-cutter, as Richie Benaud would say. Marvellous effort that.
It is absolutely perishing here in Malahide. I’m not sure I’ve ever been any colder at a cricket ground. So I thought I’d chip in with an update just to get the blood flowing through my fingers.
The weather’s actually better than it was this morning, or at least the light has improved. But it’s still spitting, so the covers are on. The umpires are making a cursory inspection as I write this.
In terms of team news, Pakistan say they’re going to play the same side that turned out against Northants, which means Imam-ul-Haq will make his debut, and they’ve a long tail, with Shadab Khan batting at No7. We know most of Ireland’s side, but haven’t heard whether they are going to pick a spinner or not.
In the meantime, the players are skulking in the pavilion, the groundstaff are scurrying around trying to keep everything dry, and the fans are huddled in the stands with their hoods up. Welcome to Test cricket, Ireland.
Bit of a surprise here, as Yorkshire opt for an uncontested toss and elect to bowl first. As expected, Alex Lees has come into their team in place of Gary Ballance, while Josh Shaw has come in for the injured Ben Coad, who misses out with an ankle problem.
Dean Elgar returns for Surrey in place of Ryan Patel following a commitment in South Africa which forced him out of the recent Worcestershire draw here. Jade Dernbach returns in place of Stuart Meaker.
A collector’s item at Taunton. Hampshire obviously wanted to bat first (a used wicket is being used for this game) so insisted upon a toss, which was duly held. Somerset won the toss and promptly put Hampshire in. So the toss was unnecessary after all.
Dom Bess, who was not in the squad announced on the eve of the game, is in the team so Somerset are playing two spinners. No Mason Crane for Hampshire yet and Liam Dawson is injured.
The press box is filling up on “Somerset Day” and there is great anticipation after two home victories, wins that must have come as a bit of a surprise to my esteemed colleague at Edgbaston, who had Somerset relegated in his pre-season predictions. He may yet be proven right. But he’s not completely infallible (it’s Middle Chinnock). If he happens to be wrong, I may remind him come September.
Sadly they predict rain sometime in the afternoon, but the forecast not too bad thereafter.
We have had a toss at Edgbaston and Northants are batting with the sun breaking through the haze. Olly Stone has indeed got the nod against his old club, so looking forward to seeing him steam in and a look at young Henry Brookes too. Highly thought of.
Good morning from the Oval, where we have news. Joe Root will be captaining Yorkshire this weekend following the late withdrawal of regular captain Gary Ballance through illness.
Ballance was feeling unwell and did not train with his White Rose team-mates when they arrived in London yesterday afternoon. He was assessed last night and sent home to Leeds.
This will be Root’s fourth match in charge of Yorkshire in the County Championship, with the other three all coming in their title-winning season of 2014. His first was that record chase by Middlesex at Lord’s when Chris Rogers hit a double century in pursuit of 472, with him earning the nickname ‘craptain’ from his England team-mates.
He then lifted the title at Nottinghamshire later in the season and skippered against Somerset, with Andrew Gale banned following a verbal altercation with Ashwell Prince in a Roses match.
Alex Lees has replaced Ballance in Yorkshire’s squad and will likely open the batting. Surrey come into this match with a win and two draws from their first three matches, while Yorkshire have won two and drawn two.
County cricket live is back, for what is the fifth round of matches and the last before the season switches to 50-over cricket for a spell. It’s also the final audition for any England hopefuls before Ed Smith sits down with Trevor Bayliss and Joe Root next Tuesday to pick their Test squad to face Pakistan, if national team #narrative is your thing.
Anyway, greetings from a fresh and dry Edgbaston where Division Two pace-setters Warwickshire host Northamptonshire – a team they brushed aside by an innings and 48 runs at Wantage Road just three weeks ago. Be interesting to see if ex-Steelback Olly Stone, one of those hoping to catch Smith’s eye, gets a run out. The talk is it may be too soon after a hamstring twang. We’ll see.
Vic Marks, meanwhile, is at Taunton. Social media tells me it’s Somerset Day today, so expect East Chinnock’s finest to take us on a stirring journey from Wookey Hole to the as-yet-constructed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station while he watches Tom Abell’s second-placed side take on Hampshire. My dud prediction of seventh for his old team will probably get an airing too. Groan.
Elsewhere in Division One the battle of the blonds take place at Trent Bridge, where table-topping Nottinghamshire host Lancashire (champions-elect as per another shrewd call by yours truly) in a match that pits Stuart Broad against the peroxide pilferer Jimmy Anderson. Both were resting when the two teams met at Old Trafford in the first round and Notts gloriously romped to their fourth innings target of 10 just four wickets down.
Graham Hardcastle is also on duty at the Oval, where Yorkshire take on Surrey after their epic win over Essex in the last round, while lowly Worcestershire host the champions at New Road.
In Division Two, Mark Wood is back for Durham after being released early by Chennai Superkings and will be in the XI that takes on Derbyshire away, Jason Gillespie’s Sussex, as they are seemingly now known, are at south coast neighbours Kent, Leicestershire host Glamorgan and Middlesex, perhaps featuring Steven Finn and Eoin Morgan for the first time this season, play Gloucestershire at Lord’s. If Morgan plays it will end a near three-year first-class hiatus. Have a great day, all.
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