May 17, 2012

LV= County Championship, Thursday May 17

George Dobell

7.30pm: Alan Gardner signs off

Wayne White had the final word on day two of Leicestershire's match against Essex, removing Tom Westley for 81 to edge the hosts in front; while Lancashire's case of the Champion Yips continued, as they slumped to 61 for 5, needing 408 to avoid the follow-on. For all that and more, head over to the county homepage.

6pm: Alan Gardner rounds up the stragglers

At New Road, Moeen Ali has again led the way with the bat for Worcestershire but his dismissal for 85 with the score on 206 for 4 has precipitated a mini-collapse. Three wickets fell for 11 as Sussex seek a useful first-innings lead.

In Division Two, Derbyshire are again proving their credentials as surprise promotion candidates, passing 300 just four down, with hundreds for Martin Guptill and the captain, Wayne Madsen. Glamorgan, 18th in the country, needed Marcus North’s runs to keep them competitive in their first innings and he’s now chipped in with the ball, taking his third wicket to leave Derbyshire on 305 for 5, already well ahead.

At Grace Road, conditions remain good for batting, despite Leicestershire losing their last five wickets for 21 this morning. Essex’s Mark Pettini hit his fourth consecutive half-century, while Tom Westely is unbeaten on 70. In the remaining fixture, at Canterbury, Kent have inched their way to 127 for 3 at stumps, in reply to Northamptonshire’s 418.

5.15pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Lancashire

Warwickshire's declaration came after they had added 37 runs to their total at tea, the object of which seemed to be to allow their opening batsmen only 10 minutes rather than 20 to prepare themselves after five sessions in the field, and to impose the psychological pressure of needing to score in excess of 400 merely to avoid the follow-on.

The Warwickshire total is their largest on this ground against Lancashire, beating the record of 532-4 set in 1901.

Lancashire were given 25 overs to get through before the close and they have lost their first wicket, Paul Horton leg before to a full length ball from Keith Barker, the in-form left-armer. They are 31-1 in the 10th.

4.35pm: David Lloyd at Surrey v Somerset

Now, with regard to Glenn – I mean, Vernon – Philander. Talk about change ends and change your luck... Mr Philander, having switched to the Pavilion End immediately after tea, suddenly looks much more like the bowler we saw making his Championship debut for Somerset a few weeks ago.

The control and the accuracy were once again spot on. And his reward was to remove Zander de Bruyn and Rory Hamilton-Brown in the space of eight balls via an edge to slip and a plumb-looking lbw.

With George Dockrell having gained enough bounce to remove century-maker Steve Davies through a gloved catch to short leg, Surrey found themselves in unexpected bother at 193 for five.

4pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Lancashire

Tim Ambrose does not have a first-class century since August 2009 and has failed by a tantalising four runs to put that right. On 96, having hit nine boundaries in an innings just into its fifth hour, he went down the track looking to hit Simon Kerrigan over the top only to clip the ball rather tamely to short mid-wicket, where Stephen Moore took the catch.

It is his highest score in that period but a palpable disappointment, nonetheless, for the Warwickshire wicketkeeper, whose century against Yorkshire at Scarborough three years ago was his ninth in first-class cricket but who has had 55 innings in search of the 10th.

No such frustration for Rikki Clarke, with whom he shared a stand of 137 for the sixth wicket. The former England all-rounder completed his off 162 balls with eight fours and three sixes and Warwickshire are 521-6 at tea.

The bowling figures show both spinners having got through 47 overs. It is the most in a single innings so far for Kerrigan, who is currently 3-160. Gary Keedy has a little way to go yet to match his heaviest workload. He took 3-156 from 59 overs against Yorkshire at Old Trafford in August 2006.

3.45pm: Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Hampshire

After losing 37 overs through rain, which delayed the start until 2.30pm, both sides appear to be in a hurry to advance the state of the match with indecent haste. After experiencing few alarms for most of yesterday while batting, Hampshire have contrived to lose three wickets in eight overs which could have jeopardised their attempt to claim maximum batting points.

Firstly Michael Bates ran himself out after failing to notice Simon Katich running a single after pushing Steve Patterson down the ground and was run out by a yard when Andrew Gale’s threw to wicketkeeper Gerard Brophy.

Katich followed in Adil Rashid’s second over, top-edging an attempted sweep to mid-on just four runs short of his double century and Chris Wood was caught at cover facing Patterson, leaving Hampshire with two wickets remaining needing five runs for the final batting point and two overs in which to get them.

Kabir Ali provided another chance only nine balls before the bonus point cut off point, hoisting Rashid down the ground, only for Patterson to miss the catch running back from mid-on. Kabir made no mistake with the next delivery, cutting a long hop for four to reach 400 and secure the bonus point.

3.00pm: David Lloyd at Surrey v Somerset

Vernon Philander has been likened, more than once, to Glenn McGrath. Well, not today he won’t be. The great Glenn may have gone for 44 runs in seven overs at some stage during his career, but it seems unlikely.

Yes, it’s a flat pitch and, true, there is a short boundary on one side. But the bowler who scarcely wasted a ball right at the start of the season was unable to build any pressure here through drilling a consistent line on off stump.

Philander did manage to snaffle Surrey’s second wicket, though, with Jason Roy falling into the short ball trap and top-edging to deep backward square leg where Craig Meschede – having appeared to misjudge the chance – stuck out a hand to hold out a stunner.

Other than that, though, the only real problem for Surrey was Zander de Bruyn’s sudden nose-bleed which halted play for a couple of minutes.

Nothing could stem the flow of runs, however, and the hosts were rattling along at six an over at 134 for two with Steve Davies having already passed his previous season’s best of 62.

2.30pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Lancashire

An interesting question for the umpires here. Lancashire, for whom the spinners, Gary Keedy and Simon Kerrigan, have bowled 56 per cent of the overs in the Warwickshire innings, are +4 on over rate, yet may be at risk, theoretically at least, of being penalised for time wasting.

Rarely has the game progressed by more than a couple of overs before Glen Chapple has wandered across for chat with one or other of the bowlers, or moved his field around in a (vain) attempt to plug the gaps that Rikki Clarke and Tim Ambrose keep finding, which has obviously slowed Warwickshire down. If it were the business end of a one-dayer you could understand why this might be happening. But halfway through day two of a Championship match?

If it were a football match, Martin Bodenham would simply tap the pocket containing his yellow card and point out that his watch has a stop button on it. It is slightly less straightforward in cricket, in that there is a minimum requirement of overs in a day, which makes time slightly irrelevant, except if you lose overs for rain or bad light. If the umpires are sufficiently irritated, they are at liberty, you suppose, according to the Laws, to award the batting side five runs.

As it is, warwickshire have 440 accumulated by the usual means and Lancashire still have only one wicket on the day. Chapple has not bowled at all. Shahzad and Procter are back on, just to speed things up a bit.

1.45pm: Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Hampshire

Finally, we have an inspection. Umpires Steve Gale and Neil Bainton have been out to the middle to order the covers are removed and will have a further look at 2.00pm with a view to making a start half an hour later.

That was the signal for the fitness coaches from both sides to choreograph a series of elaborate stretches and runs though ever more complicated patterns with plastic cones so their charges are ready for action when the call comes. It is a far cry from the days when counties would warm up after a rain delay by throwing the ball to each other as they walked out to play.

1.25pm: Elsewhere with Alex Winter

The other game in Division One is at New Road. Worcestershire v Sussex was a bit of a basement battle last season, both teams will hope they are further up the table this term. Sussex with runs on the board and have picked up an early one in Worcestershire’s reply.

The Division Two feature is at Headingley where there’s been no play so far today. Little play at Derby too, where Simon Jones is back in four-day action for Glamorgan. Northants pressing on at Canterbury against Kent and also runs at Grace Road where Leicestershire put up a good score and can try to put pressure on Essex who are early in their second innings.

Some solace at last for the batsmen perhaps...

1.15pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Lancashire

Another session for Warwickshire, who have added 94 runs and lost only one wicket. Simon Kerrigan and Gary Keedy have been bowling in tandem for the last hour and have managed to bring down the scoring rate from 4.3 per over when Ajmal Shahzad was bowling to 2.66. But that's about the extent of Lancashire's success, aside from Darren Maddy holing out to mid-off.

They could have done with a burst of Glen Chapple while the ball was still hard but the skipper's side strain is clearly giving him gyp. The captain has been on the field, but mostly in an advisory role. His advice to Shahzad not to keep sending it down the leg side did not work, however.

The rain that delayed the start by 15 minutes has not come back and Warwickshire are steadily building a total that they hope will not require them to bat a second time. Tim Ambrose has his second half-century of the season and he and Rikki Clarke have so far put on 61 for the sixth wicket. Warwickshire took lunch at 383-5, their only regret, you suspect, being a failure to secure a fourth batting point.

1.00pm: David Lloyd at Surrey v Somerset

There are two Overtons out there – but one of them seems intent on hogging the headlines. Fresh from scoring 34 off 35 deliveries with seven fours, Jamie didn’t hang about with his bowling, either.

It took him only five balls to claim his maiden first-class wicket. And it was a pretty good one, too, with Jacques Rudolph – veteran of 43 Tests for South Africa – being yorked leg stump by one that must have swung late.

12.40pm: David Lloyd at Surrey v Somerset

Well, who would have thought it? After crash, bang, wallop yesterday we had a right clatter of wickets here this morning with Surrey – against all the odds – managing to pick up maximum bowling points.

Jon Lewis and Stuart Meaker combined to knock over George Dockrell, Craig Meschede and Vernon Philander in the space of nine balls – and suddenly this pitch did not look quite such a belter.

But, even better, the mini-collapse allowed 18-year-old twins Craig and Jamie Overton to bat together. They began by touching gloves (something the Bedser twins probably never bothered with throughout their long careers) and then put together an unbeaten stand of 38 to annoy Surrey.

Craig, playing his third first-class match and described as an all-rounder, contributed four runs at No 10. But Jamie, a ‘specialist fast bowler’ by most accounts, marked his first-class debut with a very bright and breezy 34 not out from No 11.

It all meant Somerset were able to declare at 512 for nine, giving themselves a 20- minute dart before lunch under full cloud cover.

12.10pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Lancashire

Worryingly from Lancashire's point of view, Glen Chapple has not bowled in the first 55 minutes, even with a ball that is still relatively hard and with some moisture in the air. The old boy is on the field but it looks like the pain he felt in his left side yesterday is a problem. It may be that he has taken the sensible option and is just making sure it does not get worse. They have another Championship match next week.

Peter Moores was singing Ajmal Shahzad's praises last night, complimenting him on his consistency in landing the ball in the right places, or 'on the money' as certain commentators like to describe it. He has not been on the money much at all today, unfortunately, spraying it both sides of the wicket. His five overs cost 27 runs plus one bye and eight leg-byes. Not what you need when you are a bowler short.

Lancashire picked up a wicket when Darren Maddy miscued first change Gary Keedy's fourth ball of the day and was caught at mid-wicket and Warwickshire have added 53 runs but neither side has gained any extra points. 342-5 from 112.

11.35am: David Lloyd at Surrey v Somerset

A good many cricket fans on the train into Waterloo this morning. News of Somerset’s sparkling batting and Surrey’s splendid beer festival must have spread far and wide. Curiously, though, all those with hampers, rucksacks and straw hats headed for the Jubilee Line, rather than the Northern.

Oh well. Those of us at The Oval have seen Surrey’s bowlers show a good deal more discipline, early on today, than they displayed for almost all of yesterday. It was a poor day for the Brown Caps, even allowing for a flat pitch and a high quality Somerset top order.

The visitors added 181 runs between lunch and tea to finish on 441 for five. They had added only four this morning, though, when Stuart Meaker removed Peter Trego, caught at second slip off an edged drive.

Getting rid of a destructive hitter like Trego for minimal cost must have been a relief for Surrey but Somerset were still only six down when they went past their previous highest total, 463, at The Oval.

11.15am: Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Hampshire at Headingley

After yesterday’s remarkable turn of events – bright sunshine for most of the day and, perhaps more shockingly, a county team bowling more overs than were required to finish the day on time – we are back to the normality of county cricket 2012.

Steady drizzle and covers greeted anyone who has made the optimistic journey to Headingley and, with further rain forecast for the rest of the day, I fear another day of waiting in frustration. That would apply more than ever to Simon Katich, who stands poised unbeaten on 180 and in sight of a double hundred.

Given that Headingley is the ground where Katich made his Test debut back in 2001, he has not had the best of times on his return since – including being run out for a first ball duck on his debut during a brief spell with Yorkshire back in 2002.

Should the rain ever cease, he will be keen to make a bigger impression by progressing to his double hundred today. “It’s always going to be special playing here because I made my debut here, but it’s probably been one of my bogey grounds as well,” he admitted.”But it certainly is a place that’s good to bat at when the sun is out.”

11.10am: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Lancashire

I had the wipers in action most of the way down from Nottingham but was able to switch them off going past Fort Dunlop and the news is that in the air conditioned media centre it feels almost uncomfortably warm. It is bright enough even to make me wonder what I did with my tinted reading glasses at the end of last summer and which black hole in my office at home might be concealing them.

Outside in the ground, though, there are no such deceptions. Fleeces, anoraks, woolly sweaters in abundance. There is normally a considerable acreage of bare flesh on display at Edgbaston by this time of year, most of it of the middle-aged male variety and not necessarily gym-honed. I think we'll be spared that in this match.

Play starts only a little late, at 11.15.

George Dobell sets the scene

Poor Mark Ramprakash. He has spent several weeks struggling for runs on a series of horribly difficult pitches only to see batsmen cashing in with glee on a batting paradise at the Kia Oval the moment he is left out. He will be searching for form with Stanmore in the Middlesex Premier League this Saturday.

Yesterday was the best day of the season so far for batsmen. With the sun out, five England seamers at Lord’s and the pitches a little truer the likes of Arul Suppiah, James Hildreth, Simon Katich and, perhaps of some interest to the tourists at Lord’s, Ramnaresh Sarwan. Michael Bates, Hampshire’s excellent young wicketkeeper who has, as yet, struggled to prove his worth with the bat, also resumes on the verge of his highest first-class score.

Also keep an eye out for Simon Jones bowling for Glamorgan this morning and Kabir Ali for Hampshire. Both might, with a little more fortune, have taken a couple of hundred Test wickets. They deserve some luck as they come back from injuries.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Dave the Eagle on (May 17, 2012, 18:19 GMT)

Well, quite surprising.

The Bears make the pitch look like a road then Lancs flail about as if its an uncovered surface from 1944.

Still early days but not a good sign for Lancs.

Just makes the Bears insistence on putting a huge total on the board look even more mystifying as its deeply unlikely that Lancs will get anywhere near 400 to avid the follow-on.

Posted by Anonymous on (May 17, 2012, 15:32 GMT)

Nick - Yes 150 for CC.

Hallelujah and praise the Lord! The Bears finally declare. If they don't get a couple of wickets before the end tonight they (and I) will not be happy.

Posted by Nick C on (May 17, 2012, 15:18 GMT)

2 new batsmen and the crease for Surrey neither have faced a ball yet. I was starting to worry but they are still a long way off from avoid the follow-on(it's 150 for CC right?).

Posted by Dave the Eagle on (May 17, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

Samuel.

Its a mindset that will ensure we don't lose many matches but reduce the chances of winning. Considering the points difference between a win and a draw its a crazy approach.

I don't mind them missing out on the odd batting point here or there (at least not much) but a wilful grind until the life has gone from the game is inexcusable. Lancashire now know they just have to bat for 7 sessions with 20 wickets in hand, and its harder to get a team out thats in survival mode rather than chasing a result.

Posted by Samuel on (May 17, 2012, 14:35 GMT)

Dave - it's especially odd considering you have the deepest batting line-up in the competition and it's predominantly an aggressive one. Getting to 400 inside 110 overs should be a doddle, yet they rarely seem to manage it.

Posted by Dave the Eagle on (May 17, 2012, 14:00 GMT)

Being a Bears fan can be frustrating at times.

463/5 and approaching Tea on Day 2. Are we just going to keep on batting until this time tomorrow and then pootle about the field for a draw?

Get a shift on boys, T20 mode (for Clarke and Ambrose) then declare and get stuck in. Stop (insert expletive)ing about!

Posted by Andy Barrick on (May 17, 2012, 13:46 GMT)

@Mike That's true enough. The 50 he got amid the failure of all around him shouldn't be forgotten either. As before, it's too early to think about it at the start of the Test summer, but if all goes well for all our batsmen this summer, it will be a rare old selection dilemma this winter.

Posted by Mike on (May 17, 2012, 13:39 GMT)

@Andy Barrick

Clearly Bell had a pretty horrendous winter but his loss in form began against Ajmal and his doosra. India don't have any 'mystery' spinners. I think Bell has proven himself one of England's better players against conventional finger spin over the last few years. Assuming he's on the plane I think he make a better fist of things this winter.

Posted by Andy Barrick on (May 17, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

If there is consistency in the consistency of selection, if you see what I mean, then it would appear that Ravi will have to wait.

The only parallel I can remember in recent times is when Trott came in for Pietersen at the Oval in '09, but KP returned for the SA tour that winter due to Flintoff's retirement.

There should be a space coming up this winter for a second spinner to go to India, but it will presumably be Patel for his batting. It's too early to speculate who he'd come in for, given the potential for injuries and loss of form, but it would be interesting to see what would happen if Bell has an extraordinary summer, given his struggles last winter.

Posted by Samuel on (May 17, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

Also, on another note - Warwickshire really need to start showing some initiative with the bat if they're not to suffer a repeat from last year.

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