May 10, 2012

LV= County Championship, Thursday May 10

6.30pm: Alan Gardner wraps up the day

6.30pm: Alan Gardner wraps up the day

Not that there's much to wrap. Away from the soggy shires, England Lions tore into the touring West Indians to dismiss them for 147. You can catch up on the first day's play from Northampton with Andrew McGlashan's report, then head over to the county homepage for the latest news - including Lasith Malinga's signing for Middlesex.

5pm: Alex Winter at Gloucestershire v Yorkshire

It’s brightened up nicely here and we should be set fair for the rest of the match. Yorkshire undoubtedly bowled because of the earlier conditions but as things have turned out it has been very amicable to bat. An inevitable slow surface but one that’s played pretty well – this is the first day of Championship cricket at Bristol this year remember.

Kane Williamson has been quite sublime. He’s improved his game since last year. He defends with the most delicate of hands, runs the ball around nicely and plays quite perfectly off the back or front foot straight and through the off side. He’s looking the real deal at the moment. Excellent support from Chris Dent too – another whose promise is starting to produce more regular runs. Good day for the Glaws so far.

4.30pm: Charles Randall at Essex v Kent

Rain has ended the day's play -- a near wash-out at Chelmsford after only 10 balls bowled. During the sunshine there was no play; during the rain there was no play. Frustrating for everyone.

4.15pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Middlesex

Michael Lumb's luck ran out on 162 when, seeking to up the pace after six and a half hours at the crease, he drove straight to Tim Murtagh at mid-off. Murtagh, you will remember, had dropped Lumb on 86, which was the first of four lives for the former Hampshire batsman.

He was dropped twice by the current England captain on 95 and 99 and could have been stumped as well off Neil Dexter. He had also bisected two short extra-covers when on 83. He did hit 23 fours, though, so to call it a streaky 162 would probably be a little unfair.

It was Lumb's second century since he moved to Nottinghamshire over the winter, following a match-winning ton at Chester-le-Street last month. Not his first at Trent Bridge, however. That came in August 2009 when he made 219 in a Hampshire total of 654-8 declared.

Notts won't make that many but they could just about snatch a fifth batting point from 362-4 with six overs left. Mullaney, who benefited from a third drop by Andrew Strauss on 34, has raced on to 59 with a couple of sixes, one of them hooked OVER the Bridgford Road stand off Gareth Berg, which is some blow.

4pm: Charles Randall at Essex v Kent

Hardly any point in firing off rain dispatches when the weather is so changeable. After almost an hour since the last brief session the players emerged, David Masters prepared to run in for the first ball and torrential rain drove everyone off again. A couple of Essex members even marched off into the distance muttering: "That's it this time." A large number of spectators seemed determined to hang on. Unfortunately, after such a soaking from last night's cloudburst, the outfield cannot take much more. Kent 24 for five.

3.35pm: George Dobell at Worcestershire v Surrey

We have had a rain break at New Road, but we’re about to resume after tea with a 45-over final session.

The tea break did provide a chance for the BBC London Surrey commentators Johnny Barran and Mark Church to discuss their plans for ‘Ashes ’81 - The Musical. It sounds like a fine plan to me.

They’re hoping Hugh Jackman can play Dennis Lillee, James Cordon can play Botham, Rolf Harris can play Ray Bright and Cliff Richard can play Brearley. I’ve suggested that Kylie Minogue could play Kim Hughes. Other suggestions welcome.

2.55pm: Charles Randall at Essex v Kent

Rain. The players are off to the pavilion after 10 balls, with Kent's score 24 for 5. Groundstaff are waiting by the covers, and play might continue soon.

2.50pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Middlesex

After the comparative mayhem of the last overs of the morning session -- three dropped catches and a suicidal run-out -- everything has settled down again. Nottinghamshire have a second first-innings batting point for the first time in six matches.

Michael Lumb's century is his second in four first-class innings against Middlesex. The other one he made for Yorkshire at Southgate in 2006.

Six years is not a long time but what is noticeable about the scorecard is that none of the Middlesex line-up on that day is even at the club now. Odd that, in a sport that tends to be associated with conservatism and continuity.

The Yorkshire side had a few more familiar names. Gale, McGrath, Bresnan and Brophy played, as did their current coach, Jason Gillespie.

Lumb has moved on to 143 -- one short of his Southgate score -- and Notts are closing in on a third batting point at 298-3. Middlesex have had 10 overs with the new ball but not taken a wicket with it.

2.45pm: Charles Randall at Essex v Kent

Play has started in gloom under floodlights, and Geraint Jones played no stroke to the first ball, a wicked inswinger from Charl Willoughby. Huge shout, not out (too high). What is going on out there? As David Masters starts his first over, there are spots of rain.

2.40pm: David Lloyd at Hampshire v Derbyshire

That’s it, I’m through with optimism. I’ve tried it for a good few hours today and, clearly, it doesn’t work. The weather has worsened, rather than improved, and the umpires abandoned all hope of play a short time ago.

So two days gone, two to go. Could we still get a positive result? Well, there is always the forfeiture route. Then again, when the covers were removed for a few minutes this morning, the pitch – even after the mower had done its best – still looked very green..

But maybe I'm just being optimistic again.

2.05pm: Charles Randall at Essex v Kent

In a carbon copy of yesterday it has been announced at Chelmsford that play will start at 2.45pm, again with 55 overs scheduled. Kent will want to dismiss any notion of a Groundhog Day repetition when they resume batting at 17 for 5.

I checked youtube a minute ago and noticed that the hits for Justin Bieber's rather weak song Baby have just topped 735 million. This is nothing to do with cricket, except that one wonders how many potential website hits there would be for a Tendulkar-Bieber duet. Or maybe KP and young Justin. Many a true word is spoken in jest...

2pm: George Dobell at Worcestershire v Surrey

We’re off for rain at New Road. The delivery before they came off Jon Lewis found a tiny gap between Solanki’s bat and pad - the bowler had already gone up for a lbw shout - when the ball rolled back and knocked off the bails.

As I write, the players are coming back out….

1.50pm: George Dobell at Worcestershire v Surrey

Worcestershire have just achieved their highest first innings total of the season, surpassing the modest 157 they made against Nottinghamshire. Moeen Ali has also just recorded his second championship half-century of the season and his partnership with Vikram Solanki is worth 102.

Solanki is out of contract at the end of this season. He has already informed the club he would like to continue playing but, in this economic climate, it is likely he will have to accept a hefty pay cut if he is to remain at New Road.

1.15pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Middlesex

Andrew Strauss may not be fretting about his batting form but his mind is clearly on something other than taking slip catches. The England captain has put down two this morning. What's more they were off consecutive balls.

They allowed Michael Lumb to complete his second century of the season in circumstances he would have to admit have been slightly fortunate, given that he had already been given a life on 86 when Tim Murtagh, fielding at mid-on to the left-hander, put down an absolutely sitter off Ollie Rayner, the off-spinner.

Lumb was on 95 when Strauss, the only slip to the medium pace of Neil Dexter, let him off again, failing to hold a fairly routine chance to his left, instead pushing the ball along the ground for four. Astonishingly, the next delivery produced the same outcome, albeit to a more difficult chance for which Strauss had to stretch. He has held plenty of those in the past, however.

Lumb scampered through for a single to reach 100. Not surprisingly, his celebration was somewhat restrained.

Not that all the giveaways have been to Nottinghamshire's benefit. Slightly redressing the balance, Riki Wessels surrendered his wicket just before lunch, run out by Chris Rogers from mid-on attempting a silly single. That ended the third-wicket partnership on 83, to which Wessels had contributed 41.

Lumb's century came off 213 balls with 14 fours. Notts are 234-3 at lunch.

1pm: George Dobell at Worcestershire v Surrey

There was some hostility shown by spectators towards Gareth Batty on his last appearance at New Road. He received quite a barracking where he played here for Surrey in 2010, having left Worcestershire at the end of 2009. There was no repeat when he came on to bowl this time, but he still found the batsmen far from welcoming. Moeen Ali slog-swept Batty’s fourth ball for six, while Solanki cover drove - a perfect shot - his sixth delivery. The pair have now added 80 runs and put Worcestershire well on their way to picking up their first batting bonus point of the season.

Fascinating conversation with Percy Price, the chairman here at Worcestershire. He was showing me the plans for the new development. Building will start a week after the end of the season with the club’s new facilities - new offices, a bar etc - ready for the 2013 season. The building of a hotel on the site will take a little longer. The area currently containing the executive club and the club offices will be demolished in September.

12.55pm: Charles Randall at Essex v Kent

Inspection at 2pm. It is a forlorn sight at Chelmsford, with the ground staff mopping up excess outfield water and a couple of players wandering around with hands in their pocket waiting for lunch-time.

12.45pm: Kenny Shovel on the power of the county cricket marketing budget

The county game has always felt like it had a marketing budget that was in danger of running out if Giles Clarke started taking two sugars in his tea... a problem highlighted during the week when this season’s CB40 competition bust into life with a fanfare, which in true English domestic cricket style, was less London Philharmonic Orchestra and more a recorder being played by an asthmatic.

It's worth clicking the link.

Kenny Shovel's baleful humour is winning more fans than a wet day at Grace Road. County Cricket Matters can be found here.

12.30pm: Alex Winter at Gloucestershire v Yorkshire

£440! Goodness, George where on earth did you park!?! Did you leave it in the Priory overnight?

Hello from Bristol. Somehow play started at midday. I say somehow because the amount of rain that fell around the area in the past 24 hours made anything but water sports an impossibility. Roads turned into rivers around the shire; the local public school rowing team training on their first XI rugby pitch.

The outfield quite clearly drains superbly. It was re-laid two winters ago and an the outfield was left looking like an athletics track after poor weather meant the works hadn’t bedded in properly. But we’re now seeing the rewards of that work. The main problem was just off the square where water had ran off the covers but extra sheets and a timber-yard’s-worth of sawdust has got the ground in shape.

But given the light which was appalling and now improved to poor and the chance of rain still lingering I’m far from confident of anywhere near the 88 overs scheduled being sent down. I digress, Yorkshire are bowling and Tim Bresnan has struck...

12.25pm: George Dobell at Worcestershire v Surrey

Hello from New Road. Apologies for the delayed update: I’m £440 worse off after a brush with a car-clamping firm.

Batting has looked far more difficult today. The groundstaff have performed wonderfully well to ensure a prompt start but the pitch seems to have freshened up under the covers. Worcestershire lost both openers within five balls in the fifth over of the day - Mitchell bowled off the glove having been caught on the crease and Klinger leg before to one that nipped back. Tim Linley was the bowler.

Moeen Ali and Vikram Solanki are batting well, though. Moeen has just received one that kept horribly low but, apart from one ill-judged swish outside off stump, has looked well disciplined, while Solanki has pulled well. The pair have just brought up their 50 partnership in 14 overs.

11.30am: Charles Randall at Essex v Kent

The sun is blazing at Chelmsford. That's the good news; the bad news is that there will be no play until lunch, thanks to overnight rain.

11.30am: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Middlesex

Alex Hales says that the good behaviour of the pitch so far conforms with the characteristics encountered in previous matches played on the Bridgford Road side of the Trent Bridge square, in that it does not give the bowlers the unhealthy advantage they sometimes appear to hold here.

Nonetheless, Hales argued that with swing still a factor there is a good deal of work to do if Nottinghamshire are to get anywhere near the full complement of batting points they have targeted, which might be seen as a tall order given that they managed only one in their first five matches.

The opening batsman says he is disappointed to have been overlooked for the England Lions match against the West Indies today after playing a part at home and away during the last 12 months. Then again, his form has not necessarily warranted his selection.

He still has a tendency to let his concentration lapse just as all seems well. As if the illustrate the point, he is first man out this morning for 79, having hit 14 fours in a style that has been pleasant to watch but then hung his bat out a little to a ball from Tim Murtagh and been caught at first slip.

The drainage system did its job to allow an on-time start despite a night of continuous heavy rain. Dark clouds are scudding across but they are being driven by a brisk wind, which suggests that the thundery showers forecast should at least pass through quickly. Notts are 154-2.

11.20am: David Lloyd at Hampshire v Derbyshire

Well, apart from slate grey sky, low mist, thin drizzle and a wet outfield, Hampshire’s home at West End was looking a picture this morning. We are not, as you may have guessed from that, going to start any time soon but the optimist in me predicts we will see play later today.

If – no, when – action gets under way there is fair chance Hampshire will give a first team team debut to Bilal Shafayat, the 27-year-old former Notts and England Under 19 batsman who played some second XI games for the county last season and again during the early stages of this ‘summer’.

Shafayat’s main claim to fame in recent years was ‘won’ while on England 12th man duty at Cardiff during the first Test of the 2009 Ashes series. With last pair Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar battling for a draw, Shafayat was called on to the field two or three times in the last few overs to deliver fresh gloves and cooling drinks – much to the fury of Australia captain Ricky Ponting, who didn’t much care for England’s tactics and treated the blameless Bilal to the rough edge of his tongue.

As a player, Shafayat’s career has stalled badly but few doubt his talent.

10.00am: David Hopps with the Rise and Shine

Morning all. It's another glorious English spring day. You think not? I have just watched Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris and it's all about having the artistic imagination and fondness for life to recognise that rain is a beautiful thing. At least some of it is.

So cast off that mournful look and, if you are staring at nothing in particular on a wet county ground, and wondering whether to resort to another bacon sandwich, just drink in the beauty all around you. It's time to give that electronic scoreboard another, more lingering, glance. It might not be midnight in Paris, but hey, 10am at Northampton can't be that bad. At least that's the gist of what Woody says. We are just passing it on.

As ever ESPNcricinfo introduces a host of new cricket stories at the start of a new day.

The Australian squads for their summer one-day tour of England and Ireland in June and July are out - and there is a return for Mitchell Johnson. Durham, who have signed him up for Twenty20, will feel that the season is conspiring against them.

Kevin Pietersen tells George Dobell that he is sick and tired of apologising for playing in IPL. It's a great tournament, he says, and it's about time everybody woke up to the fact. If it tipples down in Worcester today, one fancies he might need Woody Allen on the phone with an uplifting word or two.

And the old fox, Misbah-ul-Haq has stepped down as Pakistan's T20 captain, but still plans to be available for the format. More will follow on this as the morning progresses.

There are reports from all yesterday's matches over on our county homepage.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo