April 8, 2012

LV County Championship 2012: Sunday, April 8

6.45pm: Alex Winter wraps up the action

6.45pm: Alex Winter wraps up the action

So the first round of a new season comes to an end. We've got reports on wins for Notts, Surrey, Somerset and Yorkshire's draw from our reporters for your perusal.

Elsewhere Derbyshire have pulled off a great win at the Racecourse, declaring just before lunch and David Wainwright, on his debut for the county, rattled through Northants under the lights to hand them a big win and a fine start to the season.

Both other games in Division Two were wrapped up yesterday with wins for Essex by an innings and Leicestershire, who were deducted five points for a slow over rate.

That's week one done and dusted then, hope you've enjoyed our new blog and have got involved on twitter or in the comments section below. We're back on Thursday with our army out around the shires, a London derby to look forward to and Durham v Nottinghamshire too, so make sure you join us later in the week.

4.30pm: David Lloyd at Somerset v Middlesex

About this walk in the park.. Needing 72 to win, Somerset decided to tease their supporters just a little by subsiding to 44 for four. Either that or they had one eye on the ever darkening sky and only one eye on the ball coming towards them.

To a chorus of “re-write, re-write” in the press box, Jos Buttler walked out to join James Hildreth. Fear not you Cidermen! A few good blows from James Hildreth and Jos Buttler, who finished the contest with a reverse sweep, and Somerset were home and dry by six wickets.

3.50pm: Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Kent

County cricket is nothing if not unpredictable and no sooner had there been a press box debate about what time both sides could shake hands on a draw, then Yorkshire suffered a mini-collapse to keep interest in the game.

A draw is still the most likely of outcomes, but losing three wickets in six overs shortly before tea has ensured Yorkshire will not enjoy a comfortable tea interval. They are still 38 runs behind on 135 for three, after following on.

3.40pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Worcestershire

Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket, is not especially surprised that James Taylor was overlooked when England announced their 26-man England Performance Squad for 2012.

“I think now Taylor is playing in Division One the selectors want to see what he has really got,” Newell said of the England Lions captain, who moved to Nottinghamshire during the close-season after scoring 3113 runs at 41.51 in 47 Division Two matches with Leicestershire.

“He doesn’t have a proven record of playing in Division One as (Jonny) Bairstow does, as (Ben) Stokes does and to some extent as (Jos) Buttler does. So they want to see what he has got in Division One and that is a fair position to take.”

Taylor made an inauspicious start to his Notts career in this match, scoring four and 13 in his first encounter with Division One bowlers in challenging conditions. “It wasn’t easy against the new ball,” the Worcestershire skipper, Daryl Mitchell, confirmed. “It is the first week in April and the ball swung and seamed around as you would expect.”

3.10 pm: David Lloyd at Somerset v Middlesex

Take a bow George Dockrell. In fact, take the first of what should be many a bow at the County Ground. The 19-year-old Irishman, playing only his second championship match, finished with six for 27 from 20.1 magical overs.

It was, as you might imagine, his best effort in the competition and it was almost entirely responsible for Middlesex losing their last seven wickets for just 40 runs to be bowled out for 175.

Somerset were left with 72 to win and, with 40 overs remaining and the weather looking reasonable, it should be a walk in the park.

2.15pm: David Lloyd at Somerset v Middlesex

Big trouble here for Middlesex as Big Vern and Young George combine to telling effect.

The visitors were looking reasonably comfortable at lunch but 118 for three has become 148 for six inside nine overs. Philander, trying his luck from the Old Pavilion End (having done all his previous work at the River End), had both Neil Dexter and Dawid Malan caught behind.

But, if anything, George Dockrell – Ireland’s 19-year-old left arm spinner – was looking even more impressive. Turn and bounce accounted for John Simpson, giving Dockrell his third wicket of the innings. And Middlesex were only 44 runs to the good.

1.00pm: David Lloyd at Somerset v Middlesex

Well, would you believe it? Of course you would. Having survived the ‘crucial’ first hour – admittedly, and almost inevitably, with nearly as much luck as judgement – Middlesex lost their first two wickets of the day to the left-arm spin of George Dockrell.

Neither Vernon Philander nor Steve Kirby could find a way through, despite beating the bat plenty of times. But just when Middlesex followers were starting to relax – and wondering whether to visit the aforementioned carvery or plump for take-away pasty and chips – Dockrell struck twice in quick succession to keep them in their seats and away from an early lunch

Sam Robson fell lbw, sweeping and Chris Rogers, having just reached 50, edged an attempted cut.

Still, given the seamer-friendly conditions at start of play, Middlesex would probably have settled for 134 for three at lunch – a lead of 30.

12.20pm: Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Kent

Kent have exceeded expectations, certainly mine, that a positive result may be possible although any claimed sightings of the Easter Bunny on the Western Terrace should be greeted with scepticism – it would never have been able to hop past the stewards!

Four wickets this morning from Charlie Shreck have ensured Yorkshire follow on 173 runs adrift, but not before a bit of drama with last man, Richard Pyrah, walking out to bat with a plaster cast on his left arm after breaking his left ring finger fielding on Friday.

His brave innings, which lasted one ball, brought back memories older readers may have of Malcolm Marshall doing the same at this ground. Marshall was a little more successful in his efforts after walking out to bat with a broken thumb in the 1984 Headingley Test against England.

He lasted 16 minutes and eight balls to help Larry Gomes reach his century and then claimed seven wickets when England batted again. There is no suggestion Pyrah will be asked to bowl again for several weeks, even in the unlikely circumstances he is required to do so again in this match.

12.05pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Worcestershire

No one expected to be playing on Sunday after 20 wickets fell on the opening day. In the event we have had an hour and two minutes but there won’t be any more. Worcestershire are all out for 299 and Notts have won by 92 runs.

It is raining steadily but the umpires were in no clearly mood to prolong proceedings, even after Neil Edwards dropped a perfectly easy chance at second slip offered by James Cameron -- plainly because the ball was like a bar of soap.

Umpire Tim Robinson needed no second bidding to raise the finger when Fletcher appealed for leg before against Alan Richardson two balls after the drop.

11.35am: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Worcestershire

After their collective crumble in the face of the new ball on Saturday evening, there was a suspicion that Worcestershire might be hard pressed to survive until lunch with only four wickets left and a target now probably beyond them.

In fact, they would be on the brink of defeat already had Notts held their catches. James Cameron had an escape on 11, albeit a difficult chance to Michael Lumb at third slip off Andre Adams, then David Lucas was let off on six, when Adams himself put one down at second slip off Luke Fletcher.

Fletcher already has a wicket, though. Shaaiq Choudhry departed to the sixth ball of the morning, leg before. It looked like it might have been veering towards the leg side but umpire Robinson didn’t hesitate.

On the subject of crumble and lunch, the caterers here have, as ever, deserved a shout-out. High quality cooking in the Radcliffe Road dining room. Can’t think of a genuine rival apart from the carvery at Taunton. 294-7; 98 needed.

11.10am Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Kent

There have been plenty of musings in the press box this morning about our chances of seeing a positive result on a wicket that has been batting friendly from the start. Optimistic Yorkshire followers believe they should declare behind (once they have saved the follow on and claimed maximum batting points) and look to set up the game by dismissing Kent cheaply.

I must confess to missing yesterday’s play after being otherwise engaged at Sunderland’s 0-0 draw with Tottenham, but looking at the scores, that scenario seems unlikely. Then again, if I witness a sighting of the Easter Bunny on the Western Terrace, I’m prepared to become a believer.

As to the match, Yorkshire began the final day on 316 for six still needing 72 to avoid the follow on, but have started brightly with Adil Rashid driving the second ball of the day from Charlie Shreck down the ground for four.

11.00am: David Lloyd at Somerset v Middlesex

No disagreement here about the conditions – it ought to be a great morning for bowling with dark clouds and some moisture in the atmosphere. Unsurprisingly, though, the two teams have different views on what should happen next.

“Great conditions for bowling and hopefully some early wickets for us,” said Somerset’s Nick Compton, who had the sweet-bitter experience yesterday of easing into the 90s against his former county only to be dismissed one short of a century.

Middlesex started their second innings last night trailing by 104 and had reached 38, for the loss of Joe Denly, when bad light followed by rain stopped play.

“We’ve battled really hard – our bowlers stuck to their plans and kept us in the game by doing a fantastic job,” said Denly. “Unfortunately I got out yesterday but it’s our task today as batting unit to get through what will be a tough stage at the start of play.

“Vernon Philander is a quality bowler so getting through first hour will be crucial but hopefully we can stick in there. There have been some brilliant battles throughout the whole game.”

10.55am: George Dobell at Surrey v Sussex

Some interesting thoughts from Mark Ramprakash on this game. Writing on Twitter he had strong praise for Luke Wells:

“Luke Wells looks a v good young player. V similar to Cook but possibly better technically,” Ramps wrote.

He also suggested that, in gloomy conditions and under floodlights, the pink ball might be easier to pick-up than the red.

“1st time I've played cricket 1st class cricket under floodlights with red ball. ECB need to clarify rules re shadows/when is it to dark… Mayb we should b playing with pink ball in those circumstances. Easier to see for fielders & spectators.”

10.25am: George Dobell at Surrey v Sussex

Morning from the Kia Oval. A bit gloomy here this morning, but the rain has cleared and we should start on time.

Hugely impressed by Surrey over the last few days. The team are not the finished article but, on and off the pitch, this is a club moving in the right direction. The next few years promise a great deal.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo