May 2, 2012

LV= County Championship, Wednesday May 2

6.45pm: Alan Gardner wraps up the day's play

6.45pm: Alan Gardner wraps up the day's play

Hampshire lost three early wickets against Northamptonshire (Andrew Hall with 2 for 9) to close 176 runs behind, but Derbyshire batted throughout day one to reach 362 for 9. James Fuller was the pick of the Gloucestershire bowlers with 3 for 64. In the MCCU matches, Leeds/Bradford have built a 208-run lead over Sussex with a day to play, while Oxford were 50 for 2 at stumps in response to Kent's 251 for 8 declared. For reports from our writers around the country, head over to the county homepage - and be sure to return for more news and views tomorrow.

5.20pm: Alan Gardner on the rest of the action

Derbyshire have reached 300 with six wickets down against Gloucestershire, thanks in part to Wayne Madsen’s 101 – the first innings in which he has reached 25 this season. Dan Redfern also added a half-century, before falling victim to Kane Williamson on the New Zealander’s return to play for the county coached by his compatriot John Bracewell. Hampshire, meanwhile, have successfully pegged back Northamptonshire at Wantage Road, the impressive young left-armer Chris Wood taking 4 for 52 as the hosts slipped from 150 for 3 to 218 all out after being inserted.

In the two MCCU matches being played, Leeds/Bradford are 48 for 4 second time out - just 10 shy of Sussex’s first-innings total. Sussex’s destroyer, the Lancashire scholar Luis Reece, has just departed for 4 to become Lewis Hatchett’s third wicket. And in Oxford, Kent have declared on 251 for 8, with Alex Blake making 97. Daniel Bell-Drummond, in his first innings since returning from England U-19 duty, managed just 5 batting at No. 7.

5.10pm: David Hopps at Yorkshire v Leicestershire

Jonny Bairstow came over all serious after tea, but he has his century, the fifth first-class hundred of his career. It took him more than an hour to progress from 80 to 100 as he abandoned the skittish approach that had characterised much of his innings. Scarborough has seen two of his five hundreds. It is an intimate ground and suits Bairstow's ability to communicate with the crowd particularly well. Yorkshire are 250 for 5. Leicestershire need a late wicket or two to claim an even day.

4.25pm: Alex Winter at Glamorgan v Essex

Like the weather, the cricket is settled in Cardiff. Like the scones with clotted cream and jam, the bowling has been tasty to consume – Petersen sending two pulled fours into the square leg fence to take him into the 90s before bringing up an inevitable century. He’s played very well.

I fancied a bat if I had won the toss and bravery from Mark Wallace this morning could have seen his side making hay on a good wicket, if a little slow. Keith Exton, Glamorgan’s groundsman, said there was moisture underneath the surface but that hasn’t materialised into anything of much use for the bowlers. It’s been quite straightforward for Pettini and Petersen to add 130 and counting.

4.00pm: David Hopps at Yorkshire v Leicestershire

Somerset have become the first county to express an interest in taking Ajmal Shahzad on loan. Brian Rose, their director of cricket, has told the Somerset County Gazette: “We first heard the news about Ajmal Shahzad on Tuesday evening and we are currently assessing the situation. It has been publicised that we are looking at the list of potential loan players and of course he is an exciting addition to that list.”

Yorkshire are 207 for 4 at tea, with Jonathan Bairstow unbeaten on 80, an impatient innings that has needed luck at times, notably when he was dropped at 19 by Jacques Du Toit at second slip. Andrew Gale also made 80. He looked the securer of the two until an unfortunate end when he knelt for a square drive against Wayne White and edged to the wicketkeeper. Ramnaresh Sarwan’s two drops at slips have been joined by a third opportunity in which he was frozen – probably literally – to the spot.

The lucky wedding couple, who came straight to the cricket at Scarborough from a ceremony in Leeds this morning, have been treated to some enterprising Yorkshire batting in the afternoon. They have also finally been felicitated on the PA, which is now working thanks to the loan of some batteries from the Press box, after one of the younger inhabitants briefly came over all romantic. You don’t see that often.

4pm: Jon Culley at Lancashire v Nottinghamshire

Oh dear. Stuart Broad's tendency to make his feelings known could land him in trouble again after he was dismissed first ball at Old Trafford. Steven Croft claimed a diving catch at short leg as Broad went to sweep spinner Simon Kerrigan but Broad stood his ground as the Lancashire players celebrated. Umpires Steve Gale and Rob Bailey conferred before Gale raised the finger, at which point Broad appeared to aim a few words at Croft and then umpire Gale. All very unseemly.

The Kerrigan-Croft combo had accounted for Paul Franks to usher in Broad for his first appearance on a cricket field since the calf injury that forced him to come home early from England's tour of Sri Lanka.

Nottinghamshire, who were 16-3, are trying to graft their way out of trouble in what for them is a familiar scenario, although this time Chris Read won the toss and decided to bat first. Samit Patel is leading the way as today's Mr Responsible with an unbeaten 50 at tea out of 121-7.

Still a bit of a mystery as to how fit Jimmy Anderson is after that blow on the thumb. As reported earlier, his trip to the hospital revealed no fracture and he returned to the game after lunch beaming widely. But after bowling another seven overs -- wicketless so far still -- he fielded a drive from Patel and that seemed to start it off throbbing again, prompting him to go off for a second time, although the word is that he will be out after tea following ice treatment.

3.20pm: Alan Gardner reports on a Sussex debacle

Sussex have been dismissed for 58 by Leeds/Bradford MCCU, with Luis Reece taking 7 for 21. Harry Finch, Ben Brown, Matt Machan, Kirk Wernars, Andy Hodd, Callum Jackson and Will Beer shall henceforth be known as Reece’s pieces. The students lead by 106, after totalling 164 in their first innings, though this isn’t a first-class match – which is a good job, else there might be a few grumbles about counties devaluing the standard.

3.20pm: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Durham

Durham have just been bowled out for 163, with Chris Wright and Keith Barker sharing nine wickets for 74 runs. It says something for the performance of Durham’s top order that Graham Onions was their highest scorer. Onions, looking a far improved batsman, dominated a stand of 49 for the ninth wicket with Ian Blackwell and produced some pleasing strokes. Generally, though, Durham’s batting was far too loose against good quality seam and swing bowling.

25-year-old Barker will be the man gaining the headlines. Much of the attention, no doubt, will focus on his past as a professional footballer, but it is his future as a professional cricketer that is of more interest. As an all-rounder who bowls left-arm swing at a decent pace and who can also bat in the top six, Barker could well be forcing himself into the England T20 reckoning. England have yet to identify a replacement to Ryan Sidebottom in that format and still feel that left-arm option is a huge benefit in T20 cricket.

It’s also worth noting that Barker is out of contract at Edgbaston at the end of this year. He has, to date, resisted Warwickshire’s attempts to persuade him to re-sign and will, no doubt, be attracting the attention of several other counties.

3.00pm: David Hopps at Yorkshire v Leicestershire

Forget the Shahzad Crisis. At least for now. The Yorkshire Battery Crisis is rivalling it. A newly-married couple are shivering on the terraces waiting for their troth plighting to be announced to all and sundry and the PA is still dead.

So far, 23 middle managers have been rung and nobody has done anything about it even though there is a newsagent at the end of the street. Somebody has promised to try to remember when she picks up the kids from school. That’s British industry for you. Yorkshire are 175-3 on county cricket’s finest outground – Gale and Bairstow making merry.

2.40pm: George Dobell rounds up the action

Luis Reece is a name that may well be unfamiliar to many, but he is proving highly effective in the game between Leeds/Bradford MCCU and Sussex. The 21-year-old allrounder, who developed through the Lancashire system but has been playing for the Unicorns for the past couple of years, had at one stage taken five wickets without conceding a run as Sussex slipped to 22 for 6. The Sussex team is nowhere near full strength and the game is not first-class but, after the ignominy of Durham MCCU’s 18 all out against Durham, it is a reminder of the quality that exists outside the professional game. Sussex are currently 30 for 7 with Reece having taken 6 wickets for 4.

Batsmen are faring better elsewhere, with Wes Durston’s 68 underpinning Derbyshire’s effort - they’ve passed 150 with just three wickets down against Gloucestershire. Northants have also made a solid start, their third wicket falling with the score on 109 against Hampshire. Kyle Coetzer and Alex Wakely have added another 20-odd and Northants have so far largely managed to deny David Balcombe, who claimed his 25th first-class wicket of the season when he removed Rob Newton before lunch. And Kent are showing their south-coast neighbours how to bat against students, Scott Newman and Alex Blake steadying Jimmy Adams’ side after they lost their first three wickets for 41.

2.45pm: David Hopps at Yorkshire v Leicestershire

Half-centuries from Andrew Gale and Andrew Bairstow have been met with approval at Scarborough, where the sea air is among the most bracing in the kingdom. There has been a looseness about Bairstow’s strokeplay, a man in the mood to right wrongs, but nevertheless both have reached fifty in the same over, off 80-odd balls, and the stand in worth more than 100.

Neither half-century has been announced because Scarborough have forgotten to buy any batteries for the mic. “The information is piling up and I can’t tell anyone anything,” bemoaned Tony, the PA announcer. It is probably good for his health. He once gave out the football results and was howled down by angry members.

There have been no further announcements about Ajmal Shahzad, batteries or no batteries, but there have been a few revelations, muttered out of the side of mouths parched with cold. He has clearly been emotionally fraught. A tantrum on the boundary did not go down well in the last championship match against Glamorgan at Headingley. The umpires, Rob Bailey and Alex Wharf (another Yorkie in the plot) were moved to have a chat at the end of play, although no charges were pressed.

Leicestershire are captained today by Ramnaresh Sarwan (who has dropped two slip catches), in the absence through injury of another former Yorkshire and England fast bowler, Matthew Hoggard. Just think, Yorkshire allowed Hoggard to leave for Leicestershire because they had just secured a three-year deal with an ambitious young fast bowler name of… Ajmal Shahzad.

There is another fast bowler making a name for himself in Leeds today -- at Weetwood – but I will leave George Dobell to tell you about him.

2.20pm: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Durham

Keith Barker has just taken four wickets for one run in 12 balls; Thorp the latest to go, well caught at short mid-wicket at he attempted to pull a short ball.

Had Keith Porterfield, at gully, held on to a relatively simple chance offered by Ian Blackwell, on 10, then Barker would have taken five for one in 14 balls.

2.05pm: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Durham

Keith Barker has just taken three wickets in three balls. All three batsmen were left handers, all three drove at away swingers and all three were smartly held in the slips. Barker has now taken 16 wickets at an average of 16 in the championship season. As he showed last year, he is also capable of scoring centuries. He might be just starting to interest the selectors.

1.55pm: Jon Culley at Lancashire v Nottinghamshire

Relief for Lancs (and England). Injury to Anderson's right thumb is just bruising and he'll bowl again later. Tom Smith still off the field, however. But Chapple will probably take all the wickets himself anyway. He is now 4-18 from 10 overs having just had James Taylor caught at third slip for 15. Notts are 52-4.

1.40pm: Jon Culley at Lancashire v Nottinghamshire

Update on Anderson: the England bowler injured his right thumb not in the Lumb catch incident but shortly afterwards when he fielded a drive by Taylor off his own bowling. Still bowled at least one full over subsequently. Awaiting word on the x-ray.

1.30pm: David Hopps, exasperated, at Yorkshire v Leicestershire

It is not the first Yorkshire crisis but it’s sure as hell one of the coldest. There is a bitter wind blowing off the North Sea and as Yorkshire try to pretend it is business as usual, a day after announcing that Ajmal Shahzad could leave the county, spectators have donned winter apparel to glower suspiciously at all and sundry.

What a mess this is. Shahzad is not just the first Yorkshire-born player of Pakistan origin to play for the county, he is also a Yorkshire-born England fast bowler. Not most recently admittedly, but an England bowler nevertheless. Instead of making him central to the county’s ambitions, a figure in which they can take pride, Yorkshire’s relationship with him has declined to the point where they let him go with – whatever the bland PR statement might suggest – more than a hint of good riddance.

Sure, they will be faults on both sides. But Shahzad’s volatile ego has run straight into the arms-folded, straight-talking, uncompromising nature of Yorkshire cricket and nobody comes out of this well. It is one thing to produce Asian cricketers, it is another thing entirely to integrate players like Shahzad into the set-up so that their personal ambition and mood swings become subservient to a real feeling of involvement with the county. That is what personal management is meant to be all about.

This breakdown of relations has been going on a long time. Jason Gillespie, the new coach, has taken a look at it and seemingly has decided things are too far gone to recover. But Yorkshire, however they dress it up, however much they plead that righteousness is on their side, have followed up a mediocre start to the season by abandoning a troubled relationship with just the sort of player who might have kick-fired their season. They have also released one of their own, something that is meant to matter to them.

There is a lesson for Yorkshire and it comes in the way the England management, indeed the dressing room, manages Kevin Pietersen. The Ego has his moments, but nobody works harder or is more anxious to succeed. The overwhelming memory of Ajmal Shahzad will be of an emotional individual trying his socks off. It is a brave, or perhaps foolish, county that turns its back on that.

Andrew Gale, the captain, who has to sort out much of the mess, is 33 not out at lunch, with Yorkshire 84-3. I haven’t seen much because of the PCA release about the future of English county cricket and because I have been getting angry about this. There is talk of a media conference with the chairman, Colin Graves tomorrow. The first question should be “How is it, Mr Chairman, that Ajmal Shahzad is not right for Yorkshire when most of the other 17 counties will be wondering whether to give him a go?”

1.25pm: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Durham

Warwickshire have enjoyed the best of the first session at Edgbaston. On a slow, low pitch, they have claimed four wickets with Chris Wright and Keith Barker finding movement in the air and off the pitch to trouble all the Durham batsmen.

Will Smith was drawn into pushing at one that left him - a delivery he could probably have left - before Paul Collingwood, who never looked comfortable, was beaten by an inswinger and Michael Di Venuto was beaten by one that nipped back.

There was a bonus wicket a couple of overs before lunch, too. Jeetan Patel, the New Zealand offspinner, struck with just his third ball when Dale Benkenstein was caught behind, attempting to cut. Ian Blackwell, slashing at the last ball before the interval, can also count himself fortunate to have survived.

There was good news for Warwickshire off the pitch, too. Chris Woakes is expected to return next week - whether in the first or second team is yet to be decided - though Boyd Rankin is still around four weeks away from fitness.

1pm: Jon Culley at Lancashire v Nottinghamshire

It has been a tough morning for Nottinghamshire, but maybe a tougher one for Lancashire, who ended with two bowlers off the field.

On of them, worryingly, is England's James Anderson, who sprinted to the temporary dressing rooms after completing a more than decent 10-over spell. It was assumed he'd be back after a quick rub-down but he has not returned. Suspicion fell on the blow to his arm he took fielding a drive by James Taylor off his own bowling but it turns out he injured his thumb with his part in the dismissal of Michael Lumb, parrying the ball from fourth slip to Ashwell Prince at third. He has gone to hospital for an x-ray.

The other casualty is Tom Smith, who is back in the side after a hamstring injury but looked like he may have suffered another, or a recurrence, when he pulled up at the end of his third over. Kyle Hogg and Saj Mahmood are substituting.

Notts have recovered from 16-3 to be 50-3 at lunch, with Taylor 15 and Samit Patel, desperate for some runs to support his claim to be retained in the England side, on 10. Glen Chapple took all three wickets in a superb opening spell.

1pm: Alex Winter at Glamorgan v Essex

The weather has now even obliged; clouds parting and the sunshine producing a glorious end to the morning – an hour in the riverside stand was most pleasant. Listening to Ken and Dai talking tales of hill walking, golf injuries and the black and white pub (the cough medicine man brought the beer!) was nothing short of hilarious.

Hilarity it was not for Ravi Bopara – sent back for a three-ball duck. Cook only made nine too. But Alviro Petersen – clapped to the wicket – has defied the scowls and looks like he’s got the bit between his teeth. Good job too; three victims against a fine top order represents a good session for Glamorgan.

11.45am: Jon Culley at Lancashire v Nottinghamshire

Old Trafford may be a building site but it is, for the moment -- and for a while, too, looking at the sky -- a sunny building site. You might even say it is warm. This is the first County Championship match at Lancashire's headquarters since September 2010.

It is noisy, mainly from the direction of the Player/Media Centre at the Statham End, opposite the pavilion, which is looking a bit forlorn as the transformation of the stadium takes place around it. The aforementioned new facility will be ready in August, with the whole £32 million project due to be finished by next year, in time for the Ashes Test.

The pavilion is out of use at the moment. While members sit in front of The Lodge, the pit of hate is reduced to a concrete terrace, denuded of seats. The is a temporary sightscreen with a grubby sheet hanging from the balcony behind it.

The 117-year-old bit of Victoriana now enjoys a behind-the-arm view for the first time since the square was rotated and while it will be restored to something like its former glory it will forever be overshadowed by The Point, which may be a wonderful corporate facility but I can't help but think is an incongruous piece of architecture in this setting, resembling a giant red fan heater. The Player/Media Centre is being decked out in the identical colour.

On the field, Jimmy Anderson is building up his pace at the Pavilion End, conceding just six runs from his first six overs. But the two wickets to fall so far after Notts won the toss has gone to Glen Chapple, who has bowled Neil Edwards off a bottom edge as he tried to leave and just this second trapped Alex Hales leg before. 15-2 in the 12th.

11.30am: Alex Winter at Glamorgan v Essex

Good day from the Principality where the weather is cloudy but fair and there is a slight breeze that just picks up the branches of the trees lining the River Taff. It really is quite pleasant; Bute Park and Cardiff castle to the north side of the ground, the wealthy suburbia of Pontcanna to the south. Just a pity this ground is now three-quarters rubberdome – an ugly mass of empty blue seats is away to my right.

On the field today we have a couple of sub-plots with Alastair Cook and Alviro Petersen in the Essex line up. Glamorgan haven’t beaten Essex here since they won the Championship back in 1997 – the current crop could not have lurched further away from that glorious team.

11.25am: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Durham

Morning from Edgbaston, where Warwickshire have won the toss and inserted Durham.

This game represents a severe test of Warwickshire’s championship credentials. They haven’t beaten Durham in first-class since 2006, whereas the visitors have inflicted seven defeats over the same period. Warwickshire’s problems over those years has been coping with Durham’s fast bowling attack, so the presence of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott in the home side may prove crucial. The absence of Liam Plunkett and Steve Harmison - both of whom are hoping to play second XI cricket today - may also help Warwickshire.

Among the visitors to the press box this morning are Brett Morrissey, the sports psychologist who has worked with Michael Yardy and Gautam Gambhir, among others and ECB batting coach Graham Thorpe.

10am: Alan Gardner kick-starts the day

Hello and welcome back to ESPNcricinfo's county blog. It's good to see you. Have you had a haircut? Today marks the beginning of the fifth round of the Championship. Or the fourth, for some teams ... Let's call it 4.5. April weather, minefield pitches and Warwickshire's Mariana Trench of a batting order have all been topics of discussion in the first quarter of the season (yes, folks, we're that far through already) but we have now entered the merry month of May, traditionally a time for clear skies, hardening tracks and, quite possibly, Warwickshire's Mariana Trench of a batting order. For most, a round uninterrupted by rain would be blessing enough - though the forecasts are not exactly promising on that front either.

Anyway, why not start your day with a fresh cup of drama and controversy, for a change? The mood in Yorkshire this morning is likely to be darker than the clouds hovering over the Pennines, after the brouhaha surrounding Ajmal Shahzad led the club to announce that he will be allowed to leave. And beyond the shire of Sir Geoffrey, a PCA survey of English professional cricketers has resulted in a call for the ECB to found its own IPL-style Twenty20 competition.

For today's full match coverage, we have George Dobell at Edgbaston for Warwickshire v Durham; Jon Culley reporting on the champions, Lancashire, on their return to Old Trafford against Nottinghamshire; Alex Winter taking in Glamorgan v Essex at Cardiff; and, possibly, David Hopps at Scarborough for Yorkshire v Leicestershire, editorial commitments permitting. As ever, our County Championship homepage is the place to bookmark for scores, news and reports later in the day, while you can catch up with the latest gossip and opinion in audio form on our Switch Hit podcast.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo