April 26, 2012

LV= County Championship, Thursday April 26

7pm: Alex Winter rounds up the day
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7pm: Alex Winter rounds up the day

Only play in five of the matches today, with washouts at Bristol, The Oval and Chelsmford. Best of the cricket at Taunton, where George Dobell reports that Brian Rose is targeting the loan market for Somerset.

Yorkshire battled to a score down at Canterbury, Worcestershire enjoyed a late rally with the ball at New Road, runs for Jonathan Trott at Hove and Hampshire on top against Leicestershire. All today's action on our county home page. Hope you can join us again tomorrow...

4.20pm: David Hopps at Sussex v Warwickshire

The nomination of Sachin Tendulkar as an MP in India Upper House has, it has to be admitted, caused rather more of a stir on ESPNcricinfo today than a rain-affected day of county cricket. But the crowd at Hove will have watched Varun Chopra and Jonathan Trott build towards centuries oblivious to cricket’s biggest news story of the day. There again, some of them have only just realised that rationing has finished.

There has been no sense of rationing for Warwickshire’s third-wicket pair. They have quietly gorged upon Sussex’s attack, both of them the essence of reliability. In their presence county cricket has settled back into normality. Trott is six runs short of a hundred at tea, Chopra 79 and Warwickshire 182 for 2. It is a 6.30pm finish here because of the delayed start.

One famous Sussex player did have a political career. Ted Dexter, the former England captain, stood in Cardiff South East against one of the foremost Labour politicians of his day, Jim Callaghan, in 1964. Cricketing prowess was no advantage for Dexter, who lost his deposit. Dexter had declared himself unavailable for the 1964-65 tour of South Africa but after he lost he made himself available and was made vice-captain.

Then there was AER Gilligan, a former England captain, who was a Mosleyite and had a stand named after him, although more for his cricket than his fascist tendencies.

4.20pm: George Dobell at Somerset v Lancashire

Play has just resumed after tea at Taunton. Lancashire, despite losing a wicket to the first ball after lunch, enjoyed much the better of the afternoon session, with the inexperience of Somerset’s attack becoming increasingly apparent. They are young and will, no doubt improve. Today, though, they have been pretty awful. This is already Lancashire biggest score of the season, while the 167 added so far for the fourth-wicket - in just 35 overs - is also their highest stand this year. Croft, who hit the winning runs when Lancashire won the title here last season, has not given a chance, while Prince may well have been missed at slip on seven.

Amanda Barrie - Carry on Cleo and Coronation Street among many other things - is a cricket lover. She went to watch the Stanford games in Antigua. I was in the hotel room next door to her.

4.05pm: Jon Culley at Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire

Notts have been remarkably consistent. Every batsman has played himself in and got himself out, the latest being Samit Patel, who had been doing everything right with the England selectors on the premises until, having progressed cautiously to 26, he had a carve at Alan Richardson on the back foot and could only locate Michael Klinger, fielding in a widish gully position. The Aussie took a decent catch, goalkeeper style.

It was not a great shot and Mick Newell, the Notts director of cricket, will have told him so. Newell generally says it like it is. Patel's four innings before this accumulated a total of 33 runs in his bid to make a convincing claim on the No 6 slot in the England Test line-up. "He's not impressing anyone at the moment," Newell commented.

Richardson, on the other hand, impresses just about everyone who sees him bowl these days. The Worcestershire seamer, who turns 37 a week on Sunday, had figures of 17-9-18-2 at tea, when Notts were 144-4

3.30pm: News update:

Peter Siddle will not join Essex this season. Full story here

3.10pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Worcestershire

After a morning of no rewards, when they did not make enough use of what appeared to be bowler-friendly conditions -- friendly enough to stick Notts in, anyway -- the Worcestershire bowling has been tighter this afternoon and the visitors have been made to work pretty hard.

A lunchtime score of 70 without loss has been replaced by 124 for 3 as things stand. Neil Edwards gave his wicket away a little tamely in the second over of the afternoon, flicking Richardson to short square leg, where Cameron took a decent diving catch and Alex Hales missed the chance to make a half-century at least in front of the England selectors when he slashed at a ball from Richard Jones and was held by Daryl Mitchell at second slip despite first slip Vikram Solanki diving across him.

Michael Lumb played himself in with a good deal of caution but just as he seemed to be settling in after 74 balls he bottom edged the next one into his stumps trying to steer a ball from Cameron towards third man. Samit Patel and James Taylor now proceeding with caution.

An optimistic ice cream man is sticking to his guns in his usual pitch over towards the cathedral. Suspect he'd have more customers were he selling hot soup. You know it's cold when coats and woolly hats are advisable inside the (enclosed) press box.

3.00pm Mark Pennell at Kent v Yorkshire

Yorkshire’s top-order appear to be heeding the words of this year’s club president Geoff Boycott who, as a life-long subscriber to the principle of selling your wicket dearly, made an early-season plea to his promising young bladesmen by asking them to bat longer and show some patience.

The theory does not appear to be paying dividends in windy conditions in Canterbury, however, where the Tykes have limped on to 106 for 4 after 50 overs.

Yorkshire lost captain Andrew Gale just after lunch to a good diving catch by Kent’s acting captain Geraint Jones off the bowling of Mark Davies. He had batted an hour for his 22 runs.

Yorkshire finally reached three figures through a beautifully timed on-drive from Jonny Bairstow that thudded into the boundary boards, but Bairstow should have gone to Charlie Shreck’s next delivery that took the edge only to be dropped at second slip by James Tredwell.

Five balls later Kent did strike again, however when a hooping Darren Stevens in-swinger trapped Phil Jacques leg before to end the Aussie left-hander’s 111-ball stay for 30.

With little entertainment to be had by way of flamboyant strokeplay, a member in the pavilion quipped: “Who needs the IPL when you’ve got batting like this to watch!”

At least ‘Sir Geoffrey’ would approve.

2.50pm: George Dobell at Somerset v Lancashire

Peter Trego struck with the first ball after lunch - Moore, half-forward, missing a straight one - but Somerset may have missed a key opportunity when Hildreth, at slip, put down Prince off Trego when the batsman had just seven. Since then, Lancashire have accumulated with ease. Prince has just thrashed George Dockrell for 14 in three balls. Lancashire are fast heading towards 200.

Talk at Taunton has turned to celebrity. Lord Archer and John Cleese are among the Somerset celebrity supporters, though Vic Marks says he hasn’t seen the latter at a Somerset match since the late 1970s.

My favourite story so far comes from Graham Hardcastle, ECB young journalist of the year and co-author of the excellent book Champions… About Bloomin’ Time, the story of how Lancashire won the 2011 championship. He says that Sean Wilson, who used to play the part of Martin Platt in Coronation Street, was in attendance at one of the Champions book signings and paused to look at the book before moving on.

If anyone out there has similar stories of celebrities at county cricket - and the more obscure the celebrity the better - we’d love to hear them.

2.30pm: David Hopps at Sussex v Warwickshire

Jonathan Trott and Varun Chopra have stabilised Warwickshire’s first innings with half-centuries against Sussex at Hove.

Chopra, one senses, relishes early-season pitches when bowlers keep the ball up in search of seam and swing and he can play to his strength, namely to get well forward and drive discerningly. He even caused Sussex to employ a cover sweeper and that has happened so little this April, most of us assumed that he was a drinks waiter or something.

Trott has been in the sprightliest of moods, with ten boundaries in his fifty. The trademark clip through square leg was in evidence only as were several square cuts, but it is his controlled, understated runs to third man that have gained most attention. We vaguely wondered if they were thick edges at first, but have decided that as he plays them so often, and they always go exactly where he wants, they are doubtless all part of his masterplan. Trott’s half-century, from 56 balls, was 38 balls faster than his partner.

Richard Hobson from the Times of London is in the box. He has brought the family down to Brighton in the hope of some Spring sunshine and found only a grey, raging sea. It was obligatory to take his son, Kenneth, three next week, for a quick paddle. “Kenneth loved it, but I was terrified,” he said.

1.55pm: Alan Gardner at Surrey v Durham

And no sooner have we hailed the new head groundsman at The Oval, than his team have pulled the plug for the day. We'll have to wait until the morrow for the Surrey-Durham bowl-off - though in these sorts of conditions, a three-day contest is probably as good as four.

1.40pm: Alan Gardner on a new head groundsman at the Oval

Lee Fortis is to return to The Oval as head groundsman next week. Fortis, 30, was previously assistant head groundsman and, since leaving the club in 2006, has been in charge of tending the Honourable Artillery Company ground in the City of London.

He will take charge at The Oval on Monday April 30, leading a team that will include former head groundsman Bill Gordon, who remains at the club in a consultancy role and has led the ground staff team in the interim period following the recent departure of Scott Patterson.

Full story

1.10pm Mark Pennell at Kent v Yorkshire

Lunch at St Lawrence and time to queue up for the lamb carvery on offer in the Colin Cowdrey stand restaurant. It’ll be most welcome on a bitterly cold day in Kent.

Kent will go in happiest having restricted the Tykes to 52 for two from the 30-over session. After a cautious start through openers Joe Root and Joe Sayers, Kent finally broke through in the 21st over of the match through in-form seamer Matt Coles.

Sayers made a late decision to shoulder arms only for Coles to nip one back, against the Nackington Road slope, to clip the top of the left-hander’s off stump. Sayers had batted 79 minutes for his 12 runs and hot only one boundary in an instantly forgettable stay.

His opening partner Root went five overs later, playing back to a Darren Stevens inswinger he went leg before for 21 from 77 balls.

Coles returned excellent figures of one for nine from six overs, while Charlie Shreck proved even more frugal. The former Nottinghamshire bowled sent down six overs for two runs.

12.55pm: Jon Culley at Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire

Inevitably, we've had rain at New Road. That apart, it has been a morning few would have predicted in that Nottinghamshire have got through 22.2 overs without losing a wicket, indeed without looking particularly uncomfortable.

Ball has beaten bat a few times but with no real scares. Alex Hales, whose instincts are to attack, has seven boundaries. The Worcestershire bowling has not been as accurate as it might have been, mind.

Worcester folk are clearly an optimistic breed, however. The ice cream van is here. Lunch taken early and looking a bit brighter, happily. Think the ice cream man has a customer ...no, he's walked past.

12.50pm: George Dobell at Somerset v Lancashire

This Somerset attack is looking as green at the Taunton outfield. Craig Meschede, Craig Overton, Lewis Gregory and George Dockrell have played just 27 first-class games between them before today and, at times, that has been obvious. Meschede - at 20 years and 157 days - is the oldest of the lot. We think we may have seen the first occurrence of two Craigs bowling in tandem for Somerset, too.

They have some talent. After Overton’s first two balls - long-hops - were cut to the boundary, he utilised his height to gain steep bounce and looks to be a talent worth perseverance. Gregory, meanwhile, is a bowler capable of producing the occasional much quicker delivery. He just ended Karl Brown’s fluent innings with a yorker.

Somerset needed that wicket. Philander was disappointing in his first spell, failing to make the batsmen play enough, and Lancashire seemed to have vindicated their decision to bat first.

Brown had batted particularly well. He scored his first championship half-century of the season - it is only the third time a Lancashire player has reached the landmark - while Stephen Moore has passed 20 for the first time in nine first-class innings this season.

12.40pm: David Hopps at Sussex v Warwckshire

The first requirement of potential champions in a Spring like this is to avoid the rain, and Warwickshire, top by a point and with a game in hand on their closest challengers in Division One, have done just that at Hove.

Play was only briefly delayed and the forecast is better on the south coast than in many parts of the country, but Warwickshire’s luck did not extend as far as the toss. They lost that – and they have also lost two to wickets in the first six overs.

Sussex’s Australian quick Steve Magoffin had William Porterfield caught at second slip, but only after Luke Wells had fumbled the catch at third, leaving Ed Joyce to tidy up. Ian Bell’s stumps have just been flattened by Jimmy Anyon, hurtling down the hill; a seventh-ball duck for Bell, who is no more content on English seamers at the moment than he was in an angst-ridden tour of the UAE and Sri Lanka. Warwickshire 13 for 2 in no time.

11.55am: Mark Pennell at Kent v Yorkshire

Kent were thrown into a last-minute minute team re-shuffle when captain and opening bat Rob Key failed a late fitness test at the St Lawrence ground.

The former England batsman turned his ankle earlier in the week and had hoped to play, but he hobbled out of the pre-match warm-ups and handed captaincy duties to wicketkeeper Geraint Jones.

Jones duly won the toss soon after and decided to bowl first a blustery Canterbury morning. He named Sam Northeast, fresh from scoring 156 for the Kent second string, as Key’s replacement. He will open the batting later in the match together with the on-loan signing from Middlesex, Scott Newman.

11.50am: Jon Culley at Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire

Incidentally, a further incentive for those who want to see their batting regarded as less than shambolic, particularly the Notts opener Alex Hales and the latest touring Lions captain, James Taylor, is the presence on the ground of the England selectors, including Andy Flower, who are meeting, among other things, to decide the shape of the Lions side to play the West Indies at Northampton next month.

11.40am: Jon Culley at Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire

On recent evidence, you might expect Nottinghamshire to be about 17 for 4 by this stage of an opening morning, especially after being put in, and given predictably damp conditions. Instead, they are 32 without loss, which it almost goes without saying represents an exceptional start.

Then again, after being branded 'hopeless' and 'a shambles' by their director of cricket, Mick Newell, after the one-sided draw with Somerset last week, there are several batsmen who are under some pressure. Yet the player who has given way to the returning Andre Adams, who was ill for the Somerset game, is Paul Franks, the seam bowler, who might consider his omission an odd way to be rewarded for reaching 500 first-class wickets.

The Worcestershire side includes the England Under-19 all-rounder Aneesh Kapil in place of Shaaiq Choudhry but no return yet for Gareth Andrew, who is still 'not quite there' in terms of readiness for a four-day game, according to director of cricket Steve Rhodes, following knee surgery at the end of last season.

11.30am: George Dobell at Somerset v Lancashire

The players just left the pitch due to a rain shower. Thankfully it was a brief delay and they are now back on.

Somerset’s players are wearing black armbands today to mourn the death of former youth team coach, Dan Hodges. Dan was 75 and, as well as coaching several of the current first team as youngsters, also managed and coached two disabled sides. Peter Trego, who is currently opening the bowling, said he would be “bowling my heart out for Dan Hodges.” It is understood that it was the players’ idea to wear the armbands.

By contrast, there has been no official recognition of the death of former club captain Peter Roebuck, who died over the winter, at Somerset.

Neither of the main scoreboards is working at Taunton at present which is not ideal for a club hoping to stage international cricket in the near future. If they were, they would be showing that Vernon Philander struck with just his fifth ball.

10.55am: Alan Gardner at Surrey v Durham

Good day from The Oval – though quite whether it is a good day probably depends on whether you have gills or not. The outfield calls to mind the description of an otter’s pocket and while the rain is intermittent, there’s already been enough to wipe out the morning session. Blue skies occasionally skud into view, before hurrying off to put something warmer on. The Surrey dressing rooms recently took delivery of a new set of ergonomic posture chairs, so a back workout might be the best the players can expect from today.

Should we get underway later, then we can hope for an engaging tussle between Surrey’s punkish new generation (ft. Mark Ramprakash) and the Durham Old Guard. Both sides could probably lay claim to having the best bowling resources in the country and, given conditions for batting in April in general and in London in particular, this could be the sort of game to give Ramps a headache. It would be interesting to see what he would write on the Thought for the Day board down at Oval tube – though I suspect asterisks might feature heavily.

As I type, the rain has started to sheet in sideways. Expect to hear an update when the umpires don their snorkels in a couple of hours.

10.40am: George Dobell at Somerset v Lancashire

Morning from Taunton. It’s dry – for now – and we’re going to start on time. Lancashire have won the toss and will bat first. That’s a brave decision: Vernon Philander could prove a tricky proposition in these conditions.

Somerset remain hampered by injury. Marcus Trescothick goes under the knife at 11am, Steve Kirby failed a fitness test and Adam Dibble and Geemal Hussain remain unavailable through injury. Alfonso Thomas is absent on IPL duty, too. So Craig Overton, a seam bowling allrounder, will make his debut. He is just 18 years and 16 days old and was selected ahead of his twin brother, James.

Sajid Mahmood comes into the Lancashire side in place of Gary Keedy.

There’s quite a lot of talk here about Mark Ramprakash’s comments. The general consensus is that pitches really haven’t been that bad. Maybe Ramprakash has been unlucky to have played on a couple of poor ones but, from what I’ve seen, batsmen who leave the ball well, play straight and resist feeling for the ball outside their off stump, can still flourish.

8.45am: David Hopps sets the scene

If this bedraggled start to the season had to crack anybody, there was a fair chance it would prove to be Mark Ramprakash. As capricious early-season pitches spat and seamed, the only question was whether Ramps would eventually find himself up before the ECB disciplnary committee for cursing umpires or disrespecting fixtures or fittings. In the end, it was the animate objects that got it, leaving Ramps only one more misdeed away from suspension.

It is not to defend the indefensible to say that Ramprakash deserves some sympathy. If he abused the umpires then his punishment was fitting, but early season has put pressures on batsmen, especially batsmen who care, and nobody has cared more than Ramprakash in his 26 seasons in the game.

While others - some in his own Surrey dressing room - have opted to play aggressively because it will not be too long before they get an unplayable ball, Ramprakash has laboured to find an answer, trusting to his innate belief that a batsman nearly always gets out because of batting error. It is a method that has sustained him for a generation and that keeps him playing well past his 40th birthday with more first-class centuries to his name than any other current first-class player.

If Ramprakash was in his prime, you would back him to find the answer and to play the sort of innings that were once a daily feature in the days of uncovered pitches. Batsmen have become unaccustomed to such malevolence in pitches. But if Ramps summoned a response so late in his career then it would confirm him once again as one of the giants of the county circuit.

But that is the big picture. Ramprakash will be looking at the small one - 62 runs in six innings - in what many suspect might be his farewell season. You can imagine him travelling to The Oval, shaking his fist at the billboards that tell him London is officially in drought. He has been too good a player to allow what is expected to be the wettest April since records began to rain on his parade.

More will follow here later from the best team of county correspondents around. Please join us for the most enlightening county cricket chat.

Kenny Shovel also has a typically off-the-wall take on the county scene in the latest County Cricket Matters. Read Put your house in order, Team England. Returning to matters Surrey, Alan Gardner took his tape measure along to The Oval recently, to see how Rory Hamilton-Brown measures up.

And, if you see that Facebook Like button above this page and fancy pressing it, even better. If you are cool, you'll get away with it.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Triple centurion on April 26, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    So Somerset have a few injuries and immediately Brian Rose talks about entering the loan market.

    Must be very encouraging for their young second team players to hear this. Could they not look to see if neighbors Devon for instance or the Unicorns squad have someone suitable instead? Worked out well for Wes Durston with Derbyshire a couple of years ago.

    Instead they will end up with someone with no affinity to the club until the mercenary Thomas returns

  • Maxgate on April 26, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    'But the crowd at Hove ..... ' re David Hopps report! Er ... what exactly constitutes a crowd in County Cricket??

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    Hi Samuel.

    Chopra is a good player and does seem to fire early in the season. Needs more consistency though to put himself in line for the England job. A good year this year and maybe. Not exactly a huge amount of openers in the CC vying for the job.

  • Brick on April 26, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    Someone mentioned playing all 3 formats in one week and the problem being divisions. Simple solution. Scrap all the leagues and cups, and create one 2 or 3 division league combining all formats. Play all 3 forms of the game against the same county in a week. Ten points for a win plus 5bat/5bowl bonus points for the first class match, eight points for winning the list A game, and six for the T20, half win points for a draw/tie. The old Pro40 and T20 cups go to the team that scored the most points in thier respective format - if the finals days must stay simply take the top 2 teams in each division to the semis. This would give more cricket yet less travelling and more social time for players, since every other week they would be spending the entire week at home, instead of travelling half way across the map just to play one twenty twenty! Coaches/tour managers would love it better too as they woudnt need to plan transport/accomodation/nets for a different place every day.

  • Samuel on April 26, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    ... and as I say that, he gets out. My impeccable timing striking for a batsman yet again.

  • Samuel on April 26, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    What do Warwickshire fans, and others in general, think of Varun Chopra's chances for England? Strangely for a batsman, he seems to flourish in these sort of conditions; didn't he bang out a couple of double centuries at this time last year, only to go quiet as the batting got easier throughout the season? It's not a bad thing to score runs when the going is tough mind.

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    Absolutely, Dave. They've performed thus far, though perhaps without the time constraints that this match is likely to present.

    Excellent from Trott, and of course Chopra. As I said earlier, Trott was the perfect man for such conditions. He has slowed down since reaching his half century, but once again occupation of the crease has been superb.

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 15:57 GMT

    Trott with a ton and the Bears in a commanding position. With rain forecast at the weekend I would assume that Sussex will struggle to win this and will be looking at a draw, so its up to the Bears bowlers to win this from here.

    Hopefully we can get to 350 and then see what the game brings.

  • Justin on April 26, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    Looks like somerset will look for a draw already with a big batting score required.

    Young bowlers look great in smallparts but so little exp between them showing more often than not. Just gaining exp though.

    Team is so much structured towards the shorter formats though i just can not wait for the 40 and 20 / 20 to start.

  • Stupid Jack on April 26, 2012, 15:12 GMT

    Chris Schofield is on 5 live Sports Extra...

    What a waste of talent. It makes for depressing listening. The regret in his voice is so easy to hear.

    His case should serve as a good warning to some of these arrogant young sportsmen around today (Ravel Morrison et al)who think they are superstars before they have proven themselves. If you're going to "talk the talk", you have to be able to "walk the walk" or you'll be shown the door...

    Sad.

  • Triple centurion on April 26, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    So Somerset have a few injuries and immediately Brian Rose talks about entering the loan market.

    Must be very encouraging for their young second team players to hear this. Could they not look to see if neighbors Devon for instance or the Unicorns squad have someone suitable instead? Worked out well for Wes Durston with Derbyshire a couple of years ago.

    Instead they will end up with someone with no affinity to the club until the mercenary Thomas returns

  • Maxgate on April 26, 2012, 18:27 GMT

    'But the crowd at Hove ..... ' re David Hopps report! Er ... what exactly constitutes a crowd in County Cricket??

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    Hi Samuel.

    Chopra is a good player and does seem to fire early in the season. Needs more consistency though to put himself in line for the England job. A good year this year and maybe. Not exactly a huge amount of openers in the CC vying for the job.

  • Brick on April 26, 2012, 17:19 GMT

    Someone mentioned playing all 3 formats in one week and the problem being divisions. Simple solution. Scrap all the leagues and cups, and create one 2 or 3 division league combining all formats. Play all 3 forms of the game against the same county in a week. Ten points for a win plus 5bat/5bowl bonus points for the first class match, eight points for winning the list A game, and six for the T20, half win points for a draw/tie. The old Pro40 and T20 cups go to the team that scored the most points in thier respective format - if the finals days must stay simply take the top 2 teams in each division to the semis. This would give more cricket yet less travelling and more social time for players, since every other week they would be spending the entire week at home, instead of travelling half way across the map just to play one twenty twenty! Coaches/tour managers would love it better too as they woudnt need to plan transport/accomodation/nets for a different place every day.

  • Samuel on April 26, 2012, 16:29 GMT

    ... and as I say that, he gets out. My impeccable timing striking for a batsman yet again.

  • Samuel on April 26, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    What do Warwickshire fans, and others in general, think of Varun Chopra's chances for England? Strangely for a batsman, he seems to flourish in these sort of conditions; didn't he bang out a couple of double centuries at this time last year, only to go quiet as the batting got easier throughout the season? It's not a bad thing to score runs when the going is tough mind.

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    Absolutely, Dave. They've performed thus far, though perhaps without the time constraints that this match is likely to present.

    Excellent from Trott, and of course Chopra. As I said earlier, Trott was the perfect man for such conditions. He has slowed down since reaching his half century, but once again occupation of the crease has been superb.

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 15:57 GMT

    Trott with a ton and the Bears in a commanding position. With rain forecast at the weekend I would assume that Sussex will struggle to win this and will be looking at a draw, so its up to the Bears bowlers to win this from here.

    Hopefully we can get to 350 and then see what the game brings.

  • Justin on April 26, 2012, 15:53 GMT

    Looks like somerset will look for a draw already with a big batting score required.

    Young bowlers look great in smallparts but so little exp between them showing more often than not. Just gaining exp though.

    Team is so much structured towards the shorter formats though i just can not wait for the 40 and 20 / 20 to start.

  • Stupid Jack on April 26, 2012, 15:12 GMT

    Chris Schofield is on 5 live Sports Extra...

    What a waste of talent. It makes for depressing listening. The regret in his voice is so easy to hear.

    His case should serve as a good warning to some of these arrogant young sportsmen around today (Ravel Morrison et al)who think they are superstars before they have proven themselves. If you're going to "talk the talk", you have to be able to "walk the walk" or you'll be shown the door...

    Sad.

  • Dave Ballantyne on April 26, 2012, 15:04 GMT

    Simon: A continental in Canterbury! It shouldn't be allowed. What wrong with proper English food. Anyway - just tell him to plate 15 dinners up and stick them on the side for later.

  • Simon on April 26, 2012, 14:30 GMT

    Sorry to throw in a celebrity spot at a Test Match instead of Championship, but this tale must be told. David Haye, he of the passable boxing ability and monumental ego, arrived at the special secret(ish) VIP entrance, had the first wave of minders go in first, then him with his big heavies, and then the following wave of minders. He strutted around for 10 minutes desperate to be recognised, and nobody batted an eyelid. Think a small child might have recognised him, but he didn't seem sure.

  • George Dobell on April 26, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    Dave and Kenny: Nick Owen actually recommended KP to Warwickshire having seen him score 100 in the Birmingham League. KP top-scored with 90-ish (next highest was about 30) in his trial game for Warwickshire seconds, but Warwickshire turned him down. Signed a guy called Gavin Franklin instead. A couple of decades earlier, they turned down Graeme Hick, too.

  • Martin on April 26, 2012, 14:24 GMT

    If Bairstow wants to make himself a viable candidate for an England middle order slot he's going to have to stop making schoolboy errors and start playing in a manner which does his talent justice.

    Honestly? Caught in the covers after hitting 3 successive boundaries... it's the kind of thing that happens at our (not particularly good) club on a Saturday afternoon!

  • Simon on April 26, 2012, 14:23 GMT

    Dave/Andrew - re. the timing of the lunch break. Having worked as a dressing room attendant/flunky, and had plenty to do with the incredibly hard working chefs and waiting staff in the players dining room, it isn't popular to move the lunch break timing around. Those poor folk rush around all morning getting everything ready for the luncheon interval, the last thing they want is to have to have it all ready 1/2 hour early. While I understand the frustration, as i'm also a spectator, I also understand the dangers of an angry chef (or more tellingly, an angry Continental maitre de ...)

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    Come on Kenny, at least keep it believable.

    I saw Nick Owen (newsreader from Midlands Today) in the stands at Edgbaston watching the Bears ply their trade last year. I thought he was more of a football fan. Must have been on a freebie.

  • Samuel on April 26, 2012, 14:14 GMT

    And of course, the minute you typed that Mark, Bairstow perishes to a rash shot! Otherwise, batsmen around the country seem to be getting their act together; Patel is playing sensibly, Chopra and Trott are fluent, Lancashire are making hay. Our back up bowlers are being horribly exposed at Taunton.

  • Kenny Shovel on April 26, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    Re: atl stories of celebrities at county cricket

    I once saw Kevin Pietersen at a championship game. Tru story. No, really.

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 13:37 GMT

    *looks like *bowling

    Sorry - my typing is getting worse! My spelling is better than that - honestly!

    Any reports from the grounds still in action?

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    Looks ilje the Bears have one eye on the weather and are getting a move on. Going at 4 an over and Trott firing at over 100% strike rate. Get some batting points on the board and try to do damage to the Sussex batting lineup for bownig points - looks like a lot of draws on the horizon so these points will be very important later in the season

  • Kenny Shovel on April 26, 2012, 13:06 GMT

    @Nick Curd

    > has Trego found his new calling in life? Opening bowler

    The wickets in August will probably give you a better idea on that.

  • Nick Curd on April 26, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    Speaking of Somerset as I always do...has Trego found his new calling in life? Opening bowler, great economy again and just taken another wicket.

  • Nick Curd on April 26, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    I'm not legitimately calling for Bell's head lad's done well in recent years. Strauss and No. 6 as you said are the real concerns and I believe Cook could step up to Test Captain now. However I;m one of those people who called for Cook's head prior to the last Ashes series so I try not to ask for it now unless I'm 100% certain like I was with Morgan.

    Ah but it's Taunton as many other fans will always kindly remind us if one our batsmen is doing well ;)

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    Dave and Andrew above - not only did they only play 15 overs at Hove, the match is no delayed by rain (as any chancer could have guessed). Surely waiting until it rained again then taken lunch would have been more sensible. Two birds, one stone, no common sense.

  • Samuel on April 26, 2012, 12:33 GMT

    Nick - it seems to me that whenever Bell is out of form people call for his head. He averaged over 100 last year. The man has credit in the bank. Strauss and the no.6 role are far more serious concerns.

    On the other hand, bit of a horror session for us down at Taunton. A second string attack yes, but dare I say it for fear of angering Ramprakash, conditions also more benign for batting compared to the last couple of weeks? Quite nice to see Philander can be spanked around though in many ways! Still think KP, Bell and Prior really need to have a go at him over the summer...

  • Nick Curd on April 26, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    @David Hopps, My comment wasn't really directed at anyone except Ramps himself for complaining about conditions. There's no doubt the conditions aren't ideal but the focus seams to be on batsmen who aren't getting to grips with them.

    For instance we're talking about the No.6, Bell and Strauss quite rightly being dropped from the side for lack of form however there seams to be a general consensus that there's no one to replace them. However you have 13 players averaging over 40 in just Championship games I don't think England have a lack of choices.

    On Roebuck, George while I'm too young to remember the incident Roebuck will probably always be remember as the Captain who lost Somerset Richards, Garner and Botham. While there were other factors involved I don't think his tenure is fondly remembered by the fans. Which is why the club has probably not chosen to do anything more than release the statement they did at the time.

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    It is one of many utterly ludicrous ways embedded in cricket unfortunately, Dave. Makes so little sense.

  • Dave ballantyne on April 26, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    So the rain in Hove delays the start by an hour. They then bowl 15 overs and stop for lunch. And they wonder why no-one goes! Poor loves, they must be starving.

  • Tom Maston on April 26, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    George, it is surely the first instance of two Craigs bowling in tandem and a Craig keeping wicket....if only Craig David had built a cricketing career at Notts and we could have had a full set

  • David Hopps on April 26, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    @Anus McGuigan. Yes, freelances do get paid when it rains. Even journalism in its current impecunious state has yet to get quite so mean-spirited!

  • Nick Curd on April 26, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    Anyone know why Extras is having such a good day at Taunton? 8 No balls (4 deliveries) in the last 2 overs.

  • David Hopps on April 26, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    @ Nick Curd. I'm not sure I totally understand the point you made earlier, but I think that players who have achieved are probably entitled to a bit more RESPECT because of it. If I have misunderstood let me know.

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 11:49 GMT

    Warwickshire's number four today is the kind of man that will excel in such conditions...Jonathan Trott.

    Agree with your sentiments though, Julian, they'd certainly put their name in the hat.

  • Julian Dawson on April 26, 2012, 11:44 GMT

    It will be fascinating to see what batsmen come out best from the testing conditions, and who can best adapt to them. I would suggest that those topping the batting averages at the end of the month should be knocking on the door for England selection as they clearly have the temperament and technique.

  • Alex on April 26, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    I owe Bell an apology, and Horton. Both new members of my fantasy cricket team this week.

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    A duck for Ian Bell, then. Really isn't in form, is he.

  • Warren Erses on April 26, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    After Ramps comments, there's definately going to be more tears what with Onions in the line up.

  • Richard Evans on April 26, 2012, 11:05 GMT

    I totally agree that having so little County Championship cricket in the middle of the summer is a disaster. The first thing to emphasise is that Test cricket has to be preserved and nurtured. The only form of the game that can do that is Championship cricket. But it needs to played when people can watch it in reasonable conditions. And don't reduce the number of matches! Also crowds would miraculously increase if Middlesex & Surry do what every other form of entertainment in the capital does -- ADVERTISE! Ever seen a picture of Ramps on the side of a bus? Yes, it costs money but guess what? There is a financial return.

  • Nick Curd on April 26, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    Jim it's quite simple the T20 and CB40. While most Cricket followers prefer First-Class Cricket very few of us can actually make it to games, however getting to some form of one day has never been a particular issue. Also due to the insular nature of the game you buy one ticket you see an entire game on a day. Great family outing especially if it's in the baking sunshine. This leads to a congested fixture table at that time of year with 10 T20 and 12 CB40 games to play.

    I think a advocated a format similar to the following Monday-Thursday County Championship (weekends may be used for BIG games e.g. Middlesex Vs Surrey, Roses Matches, End of Season) Friday-Sunday T20 matches and CB40 matches. A county would 'tour' another and would usually play them at CC game, a T20 and CB40 in the same stint. Obviously division wouldn't always make it practical. The CC game should be in between the CB40 and the T20. You could even finish up a CC game on a Friday and play a T20 that evening.

  • George Dobell on April 26, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    Hi Jim and Samuel. You may be interested in this: http://cricketsupportersassociation.org.uk/

  • Anus McGuigan on April 26, 2012, 10:49 GMT

    *words missing* "Aside from .."

  • Anus McGuigan on April 26, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    Question for the cricket reporters: Extended spells on the porcelain throne, what you get up to in order to pass the time in the press box when it is raining?

    Do they get paid when there is no play or a game finishes a day early?

  • Samuel on April 26, 2012, 10:46 GMT

    Alan - I'd love to see him given a go at the top of the order with KP in the T20s, but there's a few batsmen with a stronger claim to that middle order berth in the Test side for me.

    And Jim - I've been thinking along similar lines about starting a petition to save the county game, but I don't know how to go about it! It just seems like the only people who haven't been asked about how the game could be improved is the actual fans, which I think should be put right. Anyone else got any ideas?

  • Ray W on April 26, 2012, 10:43 GMT

    Jim: The Morgan Review actually addressed this issue, and its proposed fixture spreads the Championship much more evenly through the season. Unfortunately it also proposes cutting the number of Championship games to 14, which (rightly) caused uproar.

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 10:37 GMT

    Jim, Kenny Shovel's article above discusses that (to some degree) and the idea to have the T20 season moved to Friday nights holds some merit. Whenever we (workmates and I) go to the T20 its always a Friday, due to the irresponsible drinking involved and inability to get up for work the following day. The only problem here is that county games would need to finish on Thursday (but I'm sure the schedulers would make a better job of it!)

  • jon filby on April 26, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    12 against 11 at Hove according to Cricinfo. These test playing counties know know limits in their desire to make things as hard as possible for the minnows.

  • Alan Gardner on April 26, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    @Samuel Agreed, I think he's most likely to be looked at in one-day cricket first (if at all). It's true that his first-class record is worse than many of the players he is competing against - though no worse than Eoin Morgan's a couple of years ago - but his form so far this season, on pitches that have stitched up many a good batsman, is worth talking about.

  • Jim on April 26, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    Does anyone know what is going on in bristol for the gloucestershire vs glamorgan game, weather seems to be fine, not a whole lot of rain last night, but still no play! I hope we get more cricket in than we did last year!

  • Jim Forrest on April 26, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    Does anybody out there know how we can put an end to the recent ridiculous fixture arrangements for county cricket, in which there are too many fixtures in April, a month that normally is not suitable for cricket, and very little first class cricket in June and July, when we might stand a chance of feeling warm while watching the game?

    The situation is going to drive people away from the county game at a time when the players have a lot to offer. Whom should the public lobby on this? Our county committees? Or do they have no say in arranging the fixtures? Is there a named contact at the ECB who would listen to the public's view? Please advise all of us how we can fight this, so that next year we can watch first class cricket in comfort and some sunshine.

    Jim

  • David Hopps on April 26, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    Indeed, Thomas Moore, that's what I said. Or meant to say. Thanks, we've tweaked the line now.

  • Samuel on April 26, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    On that RHB article, I reckon he'd be a good shout for the T20 side in the near future, but Tests? Not for a while I don't think.

  • Thomas Moore on April 26, 2012, 10:21 GMT

    You mean of course David that Ramps has more first-class centuries to his name than any other first-class player still playing that game!

    One more for Ramps would bring him level with Viv Richards. The list, of course, is topped by Jack Hobbs with 199 centuries and I daresay there he shall remain there for the rest of time.

    The best player on the list slots in at number three, Wally Hammond, who scored more runs for England than the top two in the list, the other being Pasty Hendren.

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 10:19 GMT

    Lancashire's decision to bat backfiring in the very first over as Philander traps Horton lbw.

  • Charlie on April 26, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    Slightly erratic weather down here in SE16, several rather heavy-sounding showers this morning already and if yesterday was anything to go by I can't see there being much in the way of play at the Oval today. I notice the start's been delayed...

  • David Mossey on April 26, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    Delayed start at Sussex, inspection at 11. Hopefully wont be too long before we get underway though.

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    The Bears must be feeling pretty confident at the moment, and with good reason considering the performances so far. Not dominating but doing what they need to do in difficult conditions. With Woakes to return at some point to strengthen the team they will be happy with progress made so far.

  • Nick Curd on April 26, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    With Ramps comments does that mean Batsmen who have succeeded deserve even higher credit than they are already getting? Shame this round of games looks to be severely hampered by the weather.

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    Thanks, Sahil.

    David, agreed. Warks batting line-up looks considerably stronger for their inclusion, though Sussex do of course welcome Matt Prior back in to their side.

    It should be an interesting game, weather permitting, but you'd have to say that Warks are slight favourites.

  • David Mossey on April 26, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    Another big week in a fasinating start to the CC. Really hoping we can get some good playing time this round. Backing Warks to continue their excellent start if we do, especially with both Bell and Trott in today's team. Belly needs some time at the crease after the winter and also struggling against Lancs last week.

  • pinhead on April 26, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    whats the weather like in Canterbnury, Yorkies need to get the season going.

  • Sahil on April 26, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    Andrew, view from my Brighton window is very cloudy and grey but so far, so dry.

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    How are we looking weather-wise, gents? Particularly at Sussex, I'd be interested to know.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    How are we looking weather-wise, gents? Particularly at Sussex, I'd be interested to know.

  • Sahil on April 26, 2012, 9:45 GMT

    Andrew, view from my Brighton window is very cloudy and grey but so far, so dry.

  • pinhead on April 26, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    whats the weather like in Canterbnury, Yorkies need to get the season going.

  • David Mossey on April 26, 2012, 9:47 GMT

    Another big week in a fasinating start to the CC. Really hoping we can get some good playing time this round. Backing Warks to continue their excellent start if we do, especially with both Bell and Trott in today's team. Belly needs some time at the crease after the winter and also struggling against Lancs last week.

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    Thanks, Sahil.

    David, agreed. Warks batting line-up looks considerably stronger for their inclusion, though Sussex do of course welcome Matt Prior back in to their side.

    It should be an interesting game, weather permitting, but you'd have to say that Warks are slight favourites.

  • Nick Curd on April 26, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    With Ramps comments does that mean Batsmen who have succeeded deserve even higher credit than they are already getting? Shame this round of games looks to be severely hampered by the weather.

  • Dave the Eagle on April 26, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    The Bears must be feeling pretty confident at the moment, and with good reason considering the performances so far. Not dominating but doing what they need to do in difficult conditions. With Woakes to return at some point to strengthen the team they will be happy with progress made so far.

  • David Mossey on April 26, 2012, 9:59 GMT

    Delayed start at Sussex, inspection at 11. Hopefully wont be too long before we get underway though.

  • Charlie on April 26, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    Slightly erratic weather down here in SE16, several rather heavy-sounding showers this morning already and if yesterday was anything to go by I can't see there being much in the way of play at the Oval today. I notice the start's been delayed...

  • Andrew Bloxham on April 26, 2012, 10:19 GMT

    Lancashire's decision to bat backfiring in the very first over as Philander traps Horton lbw.