April 20, 2012

LV County Championship 2012: Friday, April 20

Alex Winter

8pm: Alex Winter at Kent v Gloucestershire

Glosters on top at Canterbury, all the reports from around the country available on our County Cricket home page.

Hopefully the weather holds and we get some more action tomorrow, many games already set up for an interesting second half. Have a good night...

5.30pm: David Lloyd at Surrey v Worcestershire

The weather allowed only another 15 minutes – but that was enough time for Alan Richardson to turn three for 42 into five for 42. Great stuff from the Wisden Cricketer of the Year. And by removing Tom Maynard and Chris Jordan he made sure this was Worcestershire’s day with Surrey reduced to 123 for seven.

5.00pm: David Lloyd at Surrey v Worcestershire

Well, hope of more play has not been abandoned. If the weather holds – and it is quite a big if with another batch of dark clouds coming this way – action will resume at 5.15pm with the possibility of another 23.3 overs thereafter.

4.30pm: George Dobell at Nottinghamshire v Somerset

Very wet here. Another inspection at 5.30pm.

4.15pm: David Hopps at Yorkshire v Essex

It’s the Tymal Mills show at Headingley. You might think that the previous updates from Yorkshire v Essex have concentrated on little else, and now there is belated justification for it, because Mills has transformed the outlook for Essex with a blistering spell that has brought him three wickets in four overs in mid-afternoon.

Yorkshire, who lost their last seven wickets for 43 to be dismissed for 246, have tossed aside a commanding position. Without Phil Jaques 126, it could have been another iredeemable batting display. Mills finished with 4 for 62 and might yet get a plaque one day in Dewsbury town centre.

Mills switched to the Kirkstall Lane End after lunch (or the University block end as the cynics have it these days) and immediately found a rhythm that he had lacked going up the hill earlier in the day. He might not be asked to bowl uphill much more after this.

Jonathan Bairstow jabbed a quick ball to gully, Gary Ballance took him on and hooked t fine leg and Anthony McGrath was out for a single as he shouldered arms to one that swung back. McGrath is batting at No 7 in this match, as valued for his wobbly slow-medium pace in bowler-friendly April conditions as his batting, and that suggests a career that is on the wane. Adil Rashid’s shovel to mid-off was another poor shot and brought belated reward for David Masters who had bowled beautifully before lunch without reward.

Jaques, who had picked off the Essex attack to make a century on debut, must have observed Yorkshire’s sudden collapse from 203 for three with frustration. Jacques himself was then eighth out, edging Maurice Chambers off the back foot to slip.

3.50pm: David Lloyd at Surrey v Worcestershire

Brush away the crumbs, drain your cup and.. here comes the rain again. It is possible we’ve seen all the cricket we are going to see here today.

Still, at least the tea interval was not wasted. Esteemed cricket photographer Graham Morris, 58 today but still looking about 24, was pushed onto centre stage in the media centre dining room and presented with cake and Champagne by the Kia Oval catering team.

3.45pm: Jon Culley at Middlesex v Durham

There is hope, here, of a resumption in play. It is a little way off yet but the sun is out, the hailstones have melted and been slurped up by the drainage system and the plastic sheets have been rolled up again. The sky in several directions does not look entirely without threat but rain clouds always look darker when the sun is out, so they may be misleading.

You would imagine that Neil Dexter, the Middlesex batsman, is less keen to be out there again than Graham Onions, the Durham bowler. Dexter, without a half-century in the Championship since May last year, has stepped down from the Middlesex captaincy in order to concentrate on his batting form.

He will have some sympathy with Andrew Strauss after his second-ball dismissal this morning. Dexter might have gone on four when he edged Ben Stokes to gully but the chance went down. As it is he has survived to scratch his way to 14 out of 57 for four.

Onions, the only Durham bowler with 50 first-class wickets last season and who picked up six in his side's opening match against Nottinghamshire, bowled beautifully this morning, accounting for Joe Denly as well as the England skipper. His eyes are on a Test recall this summer.

3.35pm: David Lloyd at Surrey v Worcestershire

The sun is shining and there is a bit of blue sky above The Oval. So we’re playing cricket, right? Wrong. It’s tea. Funny old game, sometimes

3.35pm: George Dobell at Nottinghamshire v Somerset

We’re off for rain at Trent Bridge. The flood lights have been on for a while.

Somerset, despite the absence of their injured captain, are batting well. Arul Suppiah has just reached an elegant half-century, while Nick Compton is typically patient and sound at the other end.

3.15pm: Alex Winter at Kent v Gloucestershire

We’ve been remarkably fortunate weatherwise. Dangerous cloud formations have skirted the ground. Everyone has waited silently looking to the heavens like spies on the run, hoping the searching Gestapo slip past. So far so good, the ground remains in sunshine but an icy breeze feeds on exposed skin.

On the field, Gloucestershire have battled along to almost a second batting point thanks to two long-awaited partnerships. Mark Davies fired out two in two with the new ball but it’s been a largely frustrating day for Kent. A member was ordering a scotch at lunchtime – an early tonic for the home side’s lack of penetration – Gloucestershire have added over a hundred for three down today.

3.10pm: George Dobell at Nottinghamshire v Somerset

Bit of controversy here. Samit Patel, at third slip, claimed a catch off Arul Suppiah from the bowling of the impressive Gurney. It looked from the press box as if the ball had bounced before reaching Patel and, after consulting with one another, the umpires agreed. Suppiah, on 19 at the time, has otherwise timed the ball sweetly and looked untroubled.

Meanwhile Trescothick has gone to hospital for a scan on his ankle.

2.50pm: David Hopps at Yorkshire v Essex

Phil Jaques has reached his hundred on Yorkshire debut (second time around), crashing a wide half-volley from Maurice Chambers to the cover boundary. It has been an assertive knock, his hundred coming from only 135 balls with 18 fours and a six.

He edges the next ball wide of slip for another boundary.

"Settle down, lad," says a Yorkshire supporter, right on cue.

2.45pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Warwickshire

Rain has curtailed the entertainment since lunch, which has been far more engrossing than the battle of attrition that was waged prior to the interval. Glen Chapple, Lancashire’s captain, has been the catalyst for a far more aggressive style of batting which has guided his side to t heir first batting bonus points of the season.

Chapple, many people’s choice for the best county player never to have played Test cricket in recent years, started aggressively with some early boundaries and contributed 38 to a 74-ball half-century partnership with Luke Procter, who has now batted 50 overs for his unbeaten 42.

Procter’s innings has been vital towards Lancashire recovering from another shaky start to their innings yesterday, but his approach may be explained by a tweet from his girlfriend Sam, who explained she has advised him to “just stay there.” She can’t accuse him of not listening!

2.30pm: David Hopps at Yorkshire v Essex

Tymal Mills has just produced a moment of pure comedy at Headingley. His run-up from the Rugby Stand End is quite soft after yesterday’s rain so once his footholds were dark enough to make out is run, he took up arms of sawdust after lunch and purposefully plonked them into each indentation in turn. Job done he then walked back to the end of his mark.

Having identified his run, he then lost entirely confidence in him. As he approached the crease for his next delivery, he stuttered enough to miss every sawdust mark by several feet and was so unbalanced at the cease that he treated Andrew Gale, Yorkshire’s captain, to a beamer that sailed harmlessly over his head. He is a promising bowler, but he has had better days.

One of the pleasures of Headingley are the vast number of cheap eateries in the town itself, a symptom of the large student population. Add a browse around the second-hand books and records and getting back for the start of the afternoon session can be a challenge.

Headingley seems to have a thing for retro shops at the moment. Perhaps the recession is persuading young people to seek value in vintage bric-a-brac; perhaps they have won the right to cheaper rents. I am beginning to understand how they managed to sell all that rubbish in Brick Lane on a recent episode of The Apprentice.

As for Headingley, the cricket ground, what joy would befall it if it was suddenly regarded as retro rather than tatty. How about £100m for the West Stand anybody? They could even throw in a few retro members free of charge.

2.30pm: David Lloyd at Surrey v Worcestershire

What a spooky scene at The Oval. With the floodlights at full blaze and the sky inky black, it was as near as you are likely to get to watching night cricket in the middle of the afternoon.

Just how well Tom Maynard and Chris Jordan could see the ball, only they will know. But both batsmen played some ferocious shots whenever the bowlers dropped short and their partnership for the sixth wicket was worth 48 when rain, accompanied soon after by thunder and lightning, returned.

Surrey had reached 117 for five by that stage but a long delay appeared inevitable.

2.30pm: George Dobell at Nottinghamshire v Somerset

Harry Gurney has made a fine start to his Nottinghamshire career. Having helped his captain to a century and played a part in making the 10-wicket stand the highest of the Nottinghamshire innings, he has also impressed with the ball. His first three overs have been maidens and, had Read been able to cling on to a tough chance – a bottom edge – he would have had a wicket. Nick Compton, on six, was the fortunate batsman.

Lewis Gregory has gone, though. He missed one that came back at him a little from Ben Phillips.

Gloucestershire supporters, in particular, may be interested to know I’ve just arranged to interview Mike Procter. Questions for him welcome.

Just awaiting an update on Trescothick.

2.00pm: Alex Winter at Kent v Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire have shown far more application today – perhaps buoyed by the sunshine that has occupied most of the day. Will Gidman made a gritty 56 but five balls after lunch ran himself out. The visitors are now scrapping for a batting point.

Today’s one-wicket proves how badly Gloucestershire played yesterday – run scoring isn’t climbing the north face of the Eiger on this pitch. The Glosters need to cobble 220 togather or risk conceding a healthy first-innings lead if Kent display their batting form of the first two games.

1.25pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Warwickshire

The temperature has dropped significantly here at Aigburth and there has been precious little out in the middle to cajole spectators into clapping and therefore keeping warm for a few seconds. The tone was set by Warwickshire bowling eight successive maidens this morning, adding to the two they bowled the previous evening, and Lancashire struggled to move out of attritional mode after that.

They were far from easy conditions to bat and Lancashire will no doubt be pleased that nightwatchman Gary Keedy batted for 48 minutes before slashing Chris Wright to point. They could, however, have done without losing Gareth Cross to the same bowler only 10 minutes before lunch having added only 47 runs in 32 overs during the morning session.

It has been fairly turgid action, not helped by the plunging temperatures. Indeed, one press box colleague announced at lunch he was marching off to the other side of the ground “to see if the Mersey had frozen over.”

1.00pm: Jon Culley at Middlesex v Durham

Goodness me it's hard going for Middlesex, although having survived until lunch there may be a lengthy respite as the weather is closing in again. It has been a sunny morning for the most part but the showers promised are gathering in the west. They went off for bad light but it is raining now.

Poor old Andrew Strauss might have known he was on a hiding to nothing. Against a fast bowler with sharpened ambitions -- Graham Onions wants his England place back -- it was never going to be a gentle re-introduction. And, as you would expect in what is proving to be typically damp April weather, the track is not exactly benign. He must have thought there might be a ball with his name on it somewhere along the line but he would have hoped it wouldn't be his second.

Not that he was doing anything extravagant. Batsmen seem to be of a mindset sometimes these days that the only way to counter bowler-friendly conditions is to go after the ball hard, almost from the outset, which is why the slips get so much catching practice. Strauss was merely pushing forward tentatively. But the ball deviated enough in the air to come back and bowl him, possibly with a tickle of inside edge.

Individual disaster quickly turned into collective calamity for Middlesex as Joe Denly, caught at first slip off Onions, and Sam Robson, taken at second off Callum Thorp, departed to consecutive balls to leave them two for three. Dawid Malan survived an enormous lbw shout in the same Thorp over.

Their fourth wicket fell on 28 when Chris Rogers pushed hard at a ball from Mitch Claydon -- his first after replacing Onions at the Pavilion End -- and was caught at third slip, since when Neil Dexter, another man in search of batting form, has been dropped in the gully off Ben Stokes.

12.50pm: David Lloyd at Surrey v Worcestershire

Has he gone? Is this the beginning of the end? Only a brave (or foolish?) pundit would shout out loud that Mark Ramprakash has played his last innings of real authority but there are bound to be a few negative whispers around the circuit.

Ramprakash is 42, after all, and last season was a lean one by his sky-high standards: 700 championship runs at 33 with only one century. And so far this campaign, five innings have brought him 52 runs – including today’s ninth-ball departure for one.

Given that precious few top order batsmen have been pulling up trees in these bowler friendly conditions it is probably best to wait until something approaching summer arrives before reaching any conclusions. But if Surrey are to live up to their billing as title candidates then Ramps may need to rediscover his golden touch sooner rather than later.

Here he was half forward when edging a catch behind off Richard Jones. And, having been 48 without loss, his was one of four wickets to fall in the space of seven overs.

Worcestershire would love to have built on those rat-a-tat-tat successes but rain arrived, with Surrey 60 for four, to force an early lunch.

12.40pm: George Dobell at Nottinghamshire v Somerset

A fine innings by Chris Read has been overshadowed by an injury to Marcus Trescothick.

Read was on 58 when the ninth Nottinghamshire wicket fell but, with Harry Gurney resisting at the other end, Read has just reached the 21st century of his first-class career and his ninth since the start of 2009. The tenth-wicket pair added 56 – the highest stand of the Nottinghamshire innings – before Steve Kirby returned to take Gurney’s off stump. Read finished with 64% of Nottinghamshire’s runs. No other batsmen scored more than 10.

Somerset have been let down a bit by their support bowlers. Lewis Gregory, in particular, has struggled with his length and has been pulled for a string of boundaries.

All that has been overshadowed by an injury to Trescothick. Running to retrieve a ball that had eluded Craig Kieswetter, Trescothick suddenly sank to the ground clutching his right ankle. That is the same ankle that troubled him last year. He was forced to leave the field and, though it would be foolish to presume too much, it does seem inevitable that he will be sidelined for some time.

12.30: David Hopps at Yorkshire v Essex

Tymal Mills, muscular, Dewsbury born, but East Anglia raised, has not taken advantage of his first opportunity to put one over the county of his birth. His first spell cost 28 runs in four overs and was encapsulated by a short ball that Phil Jaques pulled over long leg for six. Mills’ reputation has grown after a winter with England Lions in Bangladesh, but his only consolation this morning is that Headingley’s traffic jams, while bad enough, are not quite as wearing as those in Dhaka.

Jaques, now English qualified, is in his second spell at Yorkshire and offers them the top-order solidity that they badly missed during their relegation season in 2011 when they never compensated for the loss of Jacques Rudolph. His first championship half-century has already been secured. Yorkshire lost Joe Root in the first over, caught at short leg

11.20am: George Dobell at Nottinghamshire v Somerset

Morning from Trent Bridge. We’re underway on time, though the forecast isn’t hugely encouraging.

Peter Trego has just completed the first five-wicket haul of his Somerset championship career. After removing the left-handed Paul Franks with a good one that nipped back, Trego produced a beauty that pitched middle and leg and moved away late to take the edge of Ben Phillips’ bat. The word ‘unplayable’ is over used, but quite how that delivery could have been played is not clear.

Trego’s only previous five-wicket haul in first-class cricket came for Middlesex in 2005.

Here is an oddity: Nottinghamshire are playing their third championship game and have won their previous two. But they have yet to gain a single batting bonus point. It appears unlikely that will change today: they are 102 for 8.

11.15am: Jon Culley at Middlesex v Durham

A day working at Lord's reminds you from time to time that this is no ordinary cricket ground. It is a tourist attraction, too, the Media Centre being an architectural highlight as well as an extraordinary place from which to watch cricket, if you are lucky enough to see some.

Lingering there long after yesterday had been given up as a bad job, finishing off a story relating to events elsewhere, I was at times surrounded by enormous groups of sightseers, with their apologetic guides, excited to see that one of the seats they had been told were "occupied by members of the press" when a game was taking place, actually contained a real one. Some took photographs.

Later I found myself suddenly in the middle of a cocktail party as the media centre filled up with chattering people carrying drinks, attended by waiters and waitresses bearing trays of canapés. One guest enquired whether I was a working journalist and when I said I was he offered me a glass of red wine, as if he had come across an endangered species and should mark the occasion appropriately. I declined, of course.

It turns out they were attending a conference of the Sports Heritage Network, an organisation established in 2003 by some of the country's major sports museums -- including the National Football Museum in Manchester, the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum and the MCC Museum here -- to promote and preserve Britain's sporting heritage.

Andrew Strauss, the England captain, could have done with preserving his wicket for a while here in his bid to play himself into form. Unfortunately, he has gone second ball to Graham Onions, who rather likes tasty April conditions and looked quite pleased with himself as Strauss pushed forward tentatively and lost his off stump, possibly with the involvement of some inside edge.

10.50am: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Warwickshire

We may have arrived at Aigburth this morning in bright sunshine, although the temperatures remain very cool, but we have already been greeted by stewards confidently predicting rain before lunch. So much for the sunny disposition of the north!

The match is finely poised, although one of the biggest dramas of a rain-hit opening day was the umpires being forced to turn off their walky-talkies, with which they communicate with the scorers. Apparently the waveband they were using was also picking up broadcasts from a local taxi firm, which must have prompted the inevitable jokes when Lancashire suffered a late collapse.

We have also been treated, if that is the word, to louder than usual pronouncements from Matt Proctor, Lancashire’s likeable PA announcer. Several loudspeakers have been fixed and he now booms out across the ground with a ferocity that would make a rock band blush.

10.40am: David Lloyd at Surrey v Worcestershire

Glorious (well, bright and sunny) at 7, 8, 9 and 10. By 10.30am? Well, the clouds are starting to build up over south London, but at least they are mostly white at the moment.

There is a forecast for showers and possibly thunder storms later on but at least we should get a chunk of play – and after yesterday’s complete wash-out, anything will be gratefully received.

The ground looks in decent shape considering the torrential rain but batting is almost certain to be tricky. And while Worcestershire, having won the toss 24 hours ago, just before the rain arrived, would rather have started their bowling work yesterday they should still fancy their chances of doing some early damage.

10.10am: Alex Winter at Kent v Gloucestershire

Rain filled most of the country yesterday but the weather in Canterbury relented enough for 54 overs. Driest place in the land? No wonder Geoffrey Chaucer brought his pilgrims here. But, like Canterbury tales, the St Lawrence Ground was also unfinished, at least for the time being here at least, as I described in my report of yesterday's play where Gloucestershire slumped unnecessarily.

Elsewhere, George Dobell saw more evidence of Somerset's title credentials at Trent Bridge. And Myles Hodgson saw Lancashire continue their shaky title defence at Aigburth.

See our County Cricket homepage for all the report of the cricket from across the realm, and in the case of our men at The Oval and Lord's, other news.

Once again do get involved and we'll be happy to join the debate below on the comments or on twitter, use the hashtag #countycricket.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by BenP on (April 21, 2012, 7:20 GMT)

I am not a Nottinghamshire supporter, but I feel immensely sorry for Chris Read. He's one of the unluckiest men of his generation with regard to an England career. He wasn't given time to show what he could do, but he's been showing everyone ever since. Duncan Fletcher, the hero-turned-villain of the 2005 and 2006/7 Ashes, has a lot to answer for. Where is Geraint Jones now?

Posted by Andy Barrick on (April 20, 2012, 17:14 GMT)

The quality and importance of Jacques' innings is increasing by the minute. Follow-on looming?!

Posted by yorkie on (April 20, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

Is Hoppsy now typing in Yorkie speak ("hooked t fine leg") and well as speaking it? It could catch on...

Posted by Mark Halliwell on (April 20, 2012, 15:53 GMT)

On another subject, I am the back-page sub for tomorrow's Worcester News, so if they could call play off for the day at the Oval so I can go home early, I would be very grateful.

Posted by Mark Halliwell on (April 20, 2012, 15:50 GMT)

Will Gidman now has 3-13. I was worried about second season syndrome, but no sign of it as yet. Kent 30-4 and tottering. Great stuff from the Glos youngsters.

Posted by Martin on (April 20, 2012, 15:18 GMT)

That backbone I asked for earlier YCCC? Very disappointing, it has to be said, although I'll give them the benefit of the doubt until we bowl on it.

Posted by Matt on (April 20, 2012, 15:14 GMT)

Echo Rick Lane's comments on Chris Read's defiant century.....accepted that Prior has excelled in the Test Arena over the last few years but Read has time and time again demonstrated that he is good enough at International level. Still regarded one of the best glovemen in the world, were Prior to suffer an injury.....who knows?

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