May 24, 2012

LV= County Championship, Thursday May 24

Alex Winter

7.30pm: Andrew McGlashan wraps up the day

That's it for another day. It didn't look as though we would have any results today, but George Dockrell's wonderful spell at Taunton changed all that and set up Somerset for a very significant victory. Meanwhile, Lancashire are on top against Middlesex and there's a very tight game emerging at The Oval. In Division Two, Leicestershire are in a heap of trouble against Kent while Derbyshire have taken charge against Essex.

For all the reports, scorecards and news head over to our County Cricket page and we'll see you again tomorrow.

6pm: Jon Culley at Surrey v Warwickshire

A fascinating day of ebbs and flows took another twist when Surrey lost Jason Roy and Rory Hamilton-Brown in the space of four deliveries. Roy had hit 71 off 85 balls when he chipped Rikki Clarke to the straighter of two short mid-wickets. Then Hamilton-Brown, who would almost certainly have gone after the Warwickshire bowling with as much urgency as Roy, tried to cut Jeetan Patel and was caught behind by Tim Ambrosem holding the seventh catch of a match to which he has also contributed a run-out.

It put the brakes on Surrey's progress rather sharply but they have dug in commendably since, Tom Maynard and Jacques Rudolph, playing his last innings for Surrey, adding 36 in just short of 13 overs. At 144-4, Surrey lead by 120.

5.40pm: Alex Winter at Essex v Derbyshire

Spiral staircases, when did they go out of fashion? There’s one at the exit of this stand, atop which lies the press box, and below and behind it was a boy, if he was 15 we’re lucky, rolling up and attempting to light a cigarette. A large chap came up to him and gave him a stern warning about such activity, “you only live once” came the reply. Heaven help him.

And at the moment Essex are looking for divine inspiration, reeling at 3 for 2 after Tom Poynton’s first-class best, 50 not out from 35 balls, helped push Derbyshire’s lead to 141 after a while looking like it would be less than a hundred. A momentum-swinging innings.

5.20pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Middlesex

There may have been some reservations at the signing of Ajmal Shahzad, the former Yorkshire all-rounder, on loan until the end of the season but his performances are fast endearing him to even the most suspicious of Lancastrians.

Two wickets in five balls on his debut against Sussex, Shahzad has followed that with two wickets during an impressive six over burst after tea from the River End, including that of England batsman Eoin Morgan.

His eye-catching spell began with Joe Denly reaching for a ball outside off-stump and picking out point and, in his next over, he swung the ball into Morgan who got an inside edge into his stumps, prompting Shahzad to celebrate excitedly.

Shahzad’s impact was followed up by Simon Kerrigan, Lancashire’s left-arm spinner, having David Malan caught at short leg to leave Middlesex struggling to remain in the match on 101 for five.

Sadly, we will not be hearing Shahzad’s views on his day in the sun because interview requests have been blocked by Lancashire at the request of his management company, International Sports Management. They have allowed him limited media access ever since Colin Graves, Yorkshire’s chief executive, criticised Shahzad’s attitude following his release from his native county.

5.25pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Glamorgan

David Hughes, the ECB's pitch inspector, has given this strip the all clear. He was concerned yesterday about some indentations but not about the lush grass. Interestingly, he sees this as a new approach by groundsmen on the basis that such grassy pitches provide more pace and carry, much needed after the wet spring. "He's a fine groundsman, Nigel Gray," said Hughes.

3.50pm: Jon Culley at Surrey v Warwickshire

The Warwickshire innings was a bit of a mess in the end. At lunch they were 182-4, trailing by 41 runs, which was still a handy position on what is essentially a good batting surface, even though it was not as handy as they hoped it would be from 106-1 overnight.

Between lunch and an early tea, however, they lost all their remaining wickets and didn't pick up even a second batting point.

After five wickets fell for 23 runs between the 68th over and the 85th, the last wicket at least took them in front. Surrey delayed taking the new ball until the 90th over, with the scores level, at which point, slightly ironically, Chris Woakes and Chris Wright suddenly started to score runs, with the ball coming on to the bat a little quicker. The last 20 balls of the innings, in fact, yielded another 24.

But a bat-pad catch by Jason Roy to remove Wright brought it to an end. Gareth Batty finished with 6-73, his best figures for Surrey, without doing anything extravagant with his off-spin.

Surrey are off to their usual pedestrian start. After five overs of their second innings, they are 27 without loss.

3.40pm: Alex Winter at Essex v Derbyshire

Another sweaty afternoon here but far from the toil for the bowlers I was expecting. They have managed to chip away and take Derbyshire away from a position of dominance into one of mere strength. There’s a danger the visitors could slip away with a lead of less than a hundred, which would be disastrous because it’s so good to bat today. And Wes Durston knows it – he’s the one man to go on and make a big score.

A few enjoying the grassy picnic area behind the river stand; a shame there’s no view of the cricket from there – this ground is perhaps a little too compact – plenty more ignoring the cricket and lounging around on the riverside in central park (nothing, absolutely nothing like New York). Ice cream, cider, ice blocks on the knees (yes one chap, his picnic swallowed up, was doing that) – anything to keep cool here.

3.15pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Glamorgan

Marcus North is outscoring his fellow Aussie left hander, Simon Katich, in this match, but this has been over-shadowed by news of greater gravitas which has filtered through from down under to West End: Shane Warne, who is returning to have a stand named in his honour, has lost weight since his playing days here and at the old ground at Northlands Road. We shall see for ourselves when he appears on June 16. One thing is for sure: the pre-match lunch being put on to honour him and the late Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie won't result in anyone piling on the pounds, given that the main course is cottage pie. As the centrepiece of a meal costing £99 a head including wines, most punters will be after double portions.

2.55pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Middlesex

Temperatures have increased sufficiently for the press tent to put in an order for ice-cream. There is no word back yet whether the refreshment van is prepared to extend the special discount applied to bacon butties earlier in the day to include other forms of refreshment.

There may also be plenty of heated discussions inside the Lancashire dressing room after they lost six wickets for 71 runs in only 28.3 overs from the moment they lost centurion Ashwell Prince during the morning session. The collapse, thanks largely to off-spinner Ollie Rayner’s three for 88, ensured Lancashire were dismissed for 392 and have still only reached 400 once in seven championship matches this summer.

2.40pm: Jon Culley at Surrey v Warwickshire

Bumped into David Fulton at lunch. The former Kent opener turned Sky Sports reporter abseiled from the roof of the OCS stand last Saturday -- for charity, you understand, not just out of boredom. As a scary experience, he said, it did not come close to going forth among 3,000 schoolchildren in search of relatively coherent interviews.

Warwickshire somehow struggling to get their noses in front. 106-2 overnight, they are now 213-9. Five have gone since lunch. Darren Maddy and Rikki Clarke leg before to Stuart Meaker and Gareth Batty respectively, in between which Rory Hamilton-Brown, a reluctant purveyor of off-spin, took his first Championship wicket since last May.

Since then Batty has taken two in two balls, having Keith Barker stumped and taking a return catch to remove Jeetan Patel before Chris Wright repelled the hat-trick ball. Batty has 5-70, largely through his own skill rather than anything in the pitch.

1.45pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Glamorgan

News of Nic Pothas, Shane Warne's favourite wicketkeeper (or, to tell the truth, one of): having left Hampshire at the end of last season, against his wishes, he has become adept at hockey, playing in central defence for a team in Winchester. He wants to go into cricket coaching and also has a property business which he is intent on expanding. As a nomadic individual who will be 40 next year, a South African with a Greek passport, he need not be confined to the south coast.

1pm: Alex Winter at Essex v Derbyshire

Good day; delightfully leisurely here at what once again is a gorgeous day at Chelmsford. The sun has broken through earlier than yesterday and it’s bloomin hot. Speaking of which; my hotel last night.

The most violent, powerful music was being pumped out of the front of the Saracens Head Hotel; I approached with a dreadful feeling. But I walked past the punishing sound and through a courtyard, up some stairs to a light, tiled atrium that served as the hotel reception. The rooms were up even more stairs and my smile widened. By the time I opened room 12 there was no noise at all. Just heat. The room looked out over the atrium, the glass roof of which created a greenhouse effect that was conducted into my room. On went the blow fan. On went the shower on cold. 20 minutes later I was luke warm rather than hot. A cold lager later, at a pub far removed from the one below my accommodation, and I was getting back to somewhere closer to 37.5 degrees.

Thankfully I overcame the warmth to enjoy a reasonable night’s sleep. This morning my al fresco breakfast was followed by a walk round Chelmsford Cathedral – not the oldest nor the grandest of Cathedral’s I’ve visited but beautiful nonetheless. Also one of the few Cathedrals’s to double as the parish church.

Over the dual carriageway, it’s been an excellent morning for Derbyshire who lost Martin Guptill to a poor stroke – I was looking forward to more of him. The visitors may only need to bat once in this match. After the first half hour it’s been plain sailing. No success for David Masters today but last night his wicket of Paul Borrington was his 500th in first-class cricket; George Dobell spoke to him before the start of the season.

12.40pm: Jon Culley at Surrey v Warwickshire

Surrey's bowlers are doing their best to fight back on behalf of their under-performing batsmen at The Oval, where Warwickshire are looking somewhat less likely to build a substantial lead than it had earlier appeared.

Comfortably placed at 106-1 overnight after Surrey's disappointing, some would say wasteful 223 all out, the First Division leaders suffered three setbacks in the space of eight overs and are proceeding rather cautiously now, at 175-4.

Will Porterfield gave his wicket away somewhat, failing to get to the pitch of the ball as he went to drive Gareth Batty, who has found some help for his off-spin. The ball flew off a thick edge to Tom Maynard at slip. Skipper Jim Troughton's bad run continued when he was yorked by Stuart Meaker, before Batty claimed his second wicket -- the big one of the morning -- by setting up Varun Chopra with a nice piece of bowling.

He allowed the opener to claim his 10th boundary by offering him some width outside off stump before catching him by surprise with a quicker, fuller delivery that bowled him only a couple of balls later.

Troughton has only 40 runs from eight innings in the Championship so far.

12.30pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Glamorgan

David Hughes, the ECB's pitch inspector for this match, is back at West End this morning. He is not satisfied with the state of the thickly grassed pitch that Nigel Gray has cut. As a former left arm spinner - of the flatter variety, like his Lancashire team-mate and off spinner Jack Simmons - Hughes will not have been pleased to see Danny Briggs, a fellow left armer, made 12th man on this ground once again. After all, he has an England future.

12pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Middlesex

This morning has been the tale of two catches for Middlesex as they desperately try to limit Lancashire to a manageable first innings total. The first chance was missed, wicketkeeper John Simpson snatching at an edge after Luke Procter had edged Tim Murtagh on 23.

Disappointed as they were for missing that regulation opportunity, I am sure those of a Middlesex persuasion would have taken that miss to finally remove Ashwell Prince, Lancashire’s South African overseas batsman.

Having resumed on 121 overnight, Prince helped Lancashire to a third batting point before driving forcefully at Gareth Berg from the River End and edging behind, where Ollie Rayner took a brilliant, reflex slip catch diving to his right. He had scored 144 after six hours at the crease, helped Procter add 90 for the fifth wicket and has put Lancashire on course to reach 400 for only the second time this season.

11.40am: Jon Culley at Surrey v Warwickshire

Hats off to Surrey for making a proper job of engaging with the schoolchildren of the area who might become their future supporters.

The odd little knot of eager youngsters is a regular feature of county cricket around the country but perhaps not on this scale. Surrey invited every school in south London and Surrey to come along to the second day of the match with Warwickshire and 100 have taken up the offer, as a result of which the club are expecting around 3,000 children to show up. Luckily for them it is a glorious day.

How many will turn up with a thermos flask and a couple of woollies in April when they grow up remains to be seen but working on the law of percentages there should at least be a few who get the bug.

It will be a noisy day if you are anywhere near the Family Stand but in such numbers the kids will feel part of an event, which is the whole point. It appears a good number of them are watching, too, judging by the increase in decibels when Surrey claimed the day's first wicket.

That was William Porterfield, who got a thick edge to slip when he went down the wicket to Gareth Batty, whose partnership with Varun Chopra had yielded 117 runs. Warwickshire are 136-2.

11.00am: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Middlesex

The sun is out, although there is a chilly wind, and we are almost ready to start the second day at Aigburth. There has been a busier procession than normal from the press tent towards the nearby refreshment van, who have given added incentives to some of their best customers by offering a discount to anyone with a press pass.

Lancashire will also be hoping to feast in conditions, which traditionally favour the bowlers early on before allowing batsmen to prosper. The champions have struggled to get past those early stages this summer and have yet to reach 300 in three matches at Aigburth, so far.

They should do so with ease this morning with Ashwell Prince, their South African overseas batsman, unbeaten on 121 after nearly five hours at the crease after scoring his first century in county cricket since 2009. Middlesex, for their part, will be hoping for a little more luck than yesterday morning, when Tim Murtagh finished wicket-less during his 10 over new ball spell but could easily have claimed three wickets with the number of times he beat the bat.

9.15am: Alex Winter with a croissant and white Americano

If I was on live television right now you could probably call it a poor rip off of James Richardson on Gazzetta Football Italia - remember that? Channel 4; hell of a theme tune; Richardson sat outside a delightful café mulling over the weekend’s papers? I’m also sat outside, mulling over the day’s papers but online – the same scene updated for 2012 perhaps? Also my view is nowhere near as romantic as the one enjoyed by Richardson. I digress.

Steven Croft batting with Lancashire in trouble, Lancashire v Middlesex, Liverpool, May, 23, 2012
Steven Croft helped Lancashire out of trouble  © Getty Images
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The cricket news that broke late last night – and clogged up my twitter feed, there are downsides to following 20 blokes all doing the same job – was that Kevin Pietersen was fined an undisclosed amount for a tweet about Nick Knight. Would love to hear all your opinions on the topic – ECB too harsh? KP stupid? Knight boring? Get involved below and on twitter.

All yesterday’s County Championship action to mull over too. Nick Compton needing another 67 runs to emulate Graeme Hick with 1,000 runs before the end of May. Lancashire rediscovering the attitude that took them to last year’s title and Surrey, struggling at The Oval, in the words of Monty Gardner: Some of Surrey's batsmen are not old enough to remember Myspace, let alone the leave outside off stump.

I watched David Wainwright bowl superbly yesterday at Chelsmford, he took his third five-wicket haul of the season to put Derbyshire on top against Essex. Elsewhere, my young Gloucestershire attack sweltered at Wantage Road; a first hundred of the season for ex-Essex James Middlebrook there.

Also, Kent on top at Canterbury after Leicestershire’s batting failed and Sean Ervine scoring a hundred to put Hampshire in a decent position against Glamorgan, for whom John Glover took four wickets – a friend who I’ve played with and against, so my congratulations to him and long may such form continue.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Paul, Somerset on (May 24, 2012, 18:02 GMT)

Oh. And, Derm: which nation do you suggest Dockrell represents if he wants to play Test cricket? Australia? The West Indies? Zimbabwe? Or the country which has been involved in his coaching since he was sixteen?

Posted by Paul, Somerset on (May 24, 2012, 17:54 GMT)

Just back from Taunton. To answer some questions, the Zum declaration this morning was presumably to take advantage of the warmth and heavy cloud cover. Getting rid of di Venuto early justified it. He was by far Durham's best batsman in the first innings.

In the afternoon the sun shone, batting conditions were superb and Durham mostly just got themselves out. They looked a tired, lacklustre side. I wonder whether some of them are simply too old and cynical and are already mentally resigned to Div. 2.

By contrast, the Zum teenagers were like spring lambs. The Overton twins are enormous, and may well be injury-prone in the future, but for now are haring around, biffing runs and taking wickets and catches with an exuberance that makes me feel old just watching them. The catch which one of them plucked from about 12 feet in the air at mid-off to dismiss Plunkett was a joy. The contrast in attitude with Plunkett's lazy attempt to clear the young giant was striking.

Posted by Nick C on (May 24, 2012, 15:58 GMT)

@Derm, I can't bother by that silly argument yet again...

Samuel's right Suppiah or whoever's covering for Banger have generally failed meaning Compton has generally failed meaning Compton may as well opened in the past few games. No matter anyway somehow Compton's 'failed' as well so we'll go about getting these runs sharpish. Hildreth not in the mood hand about it looks like and Kieswetter/Buttler to come.

Either way at least this game will be a result unless something mad happens.

Posted by Daniel on (May 24, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

Re. comments earlier on the Test bowlers' pace - it seemed to me like the registered speeds for everyone were down, on both sides, and including Swann, which suggests that the Lord's speedgun was poorly calibrated.

Posted by Dave the Eagle on (May 24, 2012, 15:39 GMT)

And the Bears are trying to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I say that but they still had a lot of work to do but the collapse put paid to an easy victory.

Surrey are flying along and with two days to go now look in a very strong position. What a difference (almost) a day makes. Will there be more twists to this game?

Posted by Momo on (May 24, 2012, 15:39 GMT)

Derm is confused, it hurt itself in it's confusion.

Posted by Alan Harrison on (May 24, 2012, 15:26 GMT)

Well, Samuel, that way everyone gets what they want; Compton doesn't open, but he still gets his chance to come out to bat with 152 still needed!

Posted by Derm on (May 24, 2012, 15:24 GMT)

Dockrell for England? Sure why don't you take Stirling while you're at it!? England will be fielding a team of overseas-born players at this rate!

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