LV= County Championship, Friday May 25
5.25pm: Jon Culley at Surrey v Warwickshire
This match will finish tonight, you suspect, but it is still not clear who wins.
Warwickshire's fifth wicket added 111, which clearly tipped the balance in their favour, but Gareth Batty has claimed his fourth wicket of the innings and 10th of the match by pushing one through to trap William Porterfield leg before and the visitors suddenly face a tricky passage of play.
Porterfield made 66, Tim Ambrose has 64 but Rikki Clarke will have to take care if Warwickshire are not to start twitching a little. At 156-5, they need another 66, with 11 overs left of the scheduled allocation, but the extra half-hour will probably come into play one way or another.
5.10pm: Alex Winter at Essex v Derbyshire
Everyone’s been robbed of another day in the Chelmsford sunshine tomorrow because Derbyshire have won at an absolute canter. Sailing home by 10 wickets. Martin Guptill has smashed it around for a 42-ball half-century with three sixes – the best of them a straight drive off Charl Willoughby. It’s been finished with a four through midwicket by Paul Borrington – who needed runs. Another 22 points for Derbyshire who maintain their 26 point lead at the top of Division Two.
5.15pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Glamorgan
Cracking finish in prospect here at West End, where Glamorgan, much in need of a championship victory, will need to score at least 260, but perhaps not a great deal more, to win tomorrow. Strangely, the two fixtures here which looked likely, at least on paper, to be over in the shortest time, have gone the full distance. Gloucestershire, beaten in two days at Chelmsford, brought off an unexpected victory earlier this season and anything could happen in this match. And all on a thickly grassed pitch, too.
4.45pm: Alan Gardner casts an eye elsewhere ...
Leicestershire are on the express freeway to Heavy Defeatsville, with Kent just a couple more wickets from a huge innings victory. Michael Powell’s second hundred for his new county helped the hosts rack up 533 – a lead of almost 400 – and only three Leicestershire batsmen have reached double figures (with Josh Cobb’s 12 the best) in the second innings. The post-Glamorgan-win-in-round-one slump continues to afflict Leicestershire for the second season running. Oh, and there goes Wayne White, Darren Stevens’ third wicket, to make it 76-9 ...
At Northampton, the home side are building a commanding second-innings lead, after dismissing Gloucestershire for 268 earlier in the day. It could have been worse for Gloucs, who lost two wickets for the addition of just seven runs to their overnight 156 for 6, before Ian Saxelby stuck around for 30 to help Hamish Marshall to his first first-class ton for the county in three years. Still, with Kyle Coezter heading towards a second half-century in the match and Northants 285 ahead with eight wickets standing, they are well set to pursue a second win of the season on the final day.
4.15pm: Sahil Dutta at Sussex v Nottinghamshire
A meandering, hazy afternoon of sunshine with Sussex well placed at tea was punctuated by an over of utter misfortune for Nottinghamshire’s Andy Carter. Searching for his first wicket on his return to the side he almost had it twice in a single over. First Adam Voges put down a sharp chance off Chris Nash at second slip before, two balls later, a nip-backer to Luke Wright clipped the top of leg stump. The clunk reverberated around the ground and bowler was celebrating with batsman walking off. Yet closer inspection revealed the bails unmoved. The fielders crowded around to check the offending bail was not nailed on and Carter trudged back to fine leg with no reward for his toil.
4pm: Jon Culley at Surrey v Warwickshire
This match remains in the balance. Surrey were looking favourites as Warwickshire slumped to 37-4 in 16.2 overs, chasing 222 to win. But Will Porterfield and Tim Ambrose have added 45 since the last wicket.
Varun Chopra, who played so well in the first innings, departed to the fifth ball of the opening over when he was leg before to Jade Dernbach before Gareth Batty started to get amongst the wickets, bowling from the Pavilion End.
The off-spinner had Ian Westwood well caught by Tom Maynard at slip from the fourth delivery of his first over and had Jim Troughton leg before sweeping with the third ball of his second over, although it looked as though he might have been unlucky with the ball perhaps missing leg stump.
When Darren Maddy drove the second ball of his fourth over straight back at him, Batty held the catch for his ninth wicket of the match. He's taken 10 only once before, against Northants for Worcestershire in 2004.
At tea, Warwickshire are 82-4, needing another 140, with 32 overs left in the day. Bizarrely, we've had to switch off the aircon in the press box because we were cold.
3.55pm: Alex Winter at Essex v Derbyshire
We’ve just seen a remarkable 15 overs in which only James Foster scored runs. He farmed the bowling from seven down and managed to run Tom Craddock out before David Masters struck the only non-Foster runs of the final part of the innings. The second new ball eventually doing for Foster who was yorked, plumb in front lbw for 96 after some lusty blows which included him standing outside off stump for a time.
Derbyshire are rolling on. They will chase 94 to win after tea; a fourth win of the season approaching. Is this a breakthrough season for Derbyshire? They look a team high on confidence and clearly finding a method to win cricket matches. But like Northamptonshire last year, will have the t20 break to deal with but you would back them to put up another win next week against Gloucestershire – a chance to really take a grip of the division.
3.30pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Glamorgan
Interesting chat on Test Match Special at lunchtime with Sir Viv Richards, Sir Ian Botham and plain Mr Vic Marks reminiscing about their Somerset days. They mentioned everyone from Brian Close to Derek Taylor to Colin Dredge to Peter Denning - but not a word about the late Peter Roebuck, who, of course, was instrumental in breaking up their best ever side. Somerset also seem to be air-brushing him out of their history. There was no minute's silence or mention of him at the start of the season. It is unlikely the press box will be named after him. All rather sad. But all rather predictable.
2.30pm: Alex Winter at Essex v Derbyshire
It’s even hotter today at Chelmsford but thankfully a cooling breeze is running across the ground. But it keeps trying to close the one window we’ve actually managed to get open in the press box – I don’t know how the guys to my right are surviving stuck behind glass. As I type, Mark Elkid of the Derby Telegraph has managed to finally prop it open with a camera charger! Beer for the gentleman please. Or water...the staff have kindly brought a fresh tub for the cooler on my request – I’ve finished half of it already.
There was drama this morning as Phil, the Opta man, was late! Who to score the cricinfo card!?! Thankfully he only missed an over, traffic problems in north London accounting for his delay – that pesky A12 again I think. Thankfully I’ve taken that out of the equation with my use of the train today.
And today is perhaps going to be all we need to get this game wrapped up. Derbyshire enjoyed a three-wicket morning with Essex still behind at lunch. Owais Shah getting out in bizarre fashion, about a day early on a Wes Durston long-hop that hit his leg stump. There’s also been another gorgeous David Wainwright delivery; he’s now trying to mop up the lower order.
A hardcore band of Derbyshire followers is present – I remember they staged a mini pitch invasion after winning a most unbelievable game at Bristol three years ago. They were bowled out for 44 on the first morning, after being 9 for 7, but turned the game around and bowled Gloucestershire out for 72 to win the match before tea on the second day. Wild it was.
Speaking of Gloucestershire, their revised planning application has been approved by Bristol City Council’s planning officer – but that blessing mattered little with the planning committee when the original plans were heard. The new plans are to be debated on Wednesday.
2.00pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Glamorgan
Bilal Shafayat has become Hampshire's latest acquisition from another county. He is not exactly an old lag, though, in that he is only 27 and has signed a one year contract following his successful debut against Derbyshire two weeks ago when he made 93. When he played with Kevin Pietersen for Nottinghamshire, he was reckoned to be no less promising, but his career fell away, surprisingly. Moves to Northamptonshire and then back to Trent Bridge did not work out. "The journey has got me where I am but it is not over yet," he said. Indeed not.
2.00pm: Sahil Dutta at Sussex v Nottinghamshire
Sussex’s schoolchildren might have enjoyed their lunch more than their county team. Three wickets - two self-induced - on a cloudless day were not part of the script after choosing to bat first.
The kids, though, were full of cheer. I counted 12 chaotic games of Kwik Cricket, a precursor to Twenty20 but surely the kind of fast-paced action the market craves. At the end of lunch there was a crowd of youngsters craving Ben Phillips’ autograph. He was very obliging, and surprised I imagine.
1.25pm: Jon Culley at Surrey v Warwickshire
Lunch was delayed by about 12 or 13 minutes in the end, with Jade Dernbach the last man out, bowled taking a big swing at Chris Woakes. But the extra minutes were useful to Surrey, who gained another 11 runs. They were all out for 245, leaving Warwickshire five sessions to chase 222. One way or another, it could be over today.
1.05pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Middlesex
It has not been the best of days for Middlesex, who learned early in the morning they would not be allowed the use of Steven Finn, their fast bowler, after he was left out of England’s line-up for the second Test at Trent Bridge. According to ECB regulations, Finn had to be at Aigburth by 11.00am so he could take part in the final two days of the match.
His bowling could have been useful when Lancashire begin their second innings after lunch with a useful 162-run lead having decided against enforcing the follow on. Resuming on 155 for five, Middlesex lost their last five wickets for only 48 runs in 15.1 overs in good, sunny batting conditions on a good wicket.
Lancashire, presumably, have decided the humid conditions are not conducive towards enforcing the follow on, while bowling last on a worn surface always has its advantages. The morning session was also another triumph for Ajmal Shahzad since his controversial move from Yorkshire. He claimed four for 40, including a wicket with his fourth ball this morning, to further endear himself to Lancashire’s support.
1pm: Jon Culley at Surrey v Warwickshire
This fascinating contest remains absolutely in the balance. Jeetan Patel has six wickets for 92 runs, having taken all five to fall this morning, but Surrey have built enough of a lead to give Warwickshire plenty to do in the fourth innings.
Patel saw off three batsmen in the first 35 minutes, at which point Surrey were 165-7, which put them only 141 in front. But Jon Lewis and Chris Jordan have scored valuable runs since then, adding 54 before Will Porterfield took a good catch at short mid-wicket to curtail Lewis's progress.
He made 31 and Jordan has just been out for 40 adjudged to have been leg before by umpire David Millns, although the batsman's body language conveyed the impression that he thought he had hit the ball before it thudded into the pad.
The wicket came almost on the stroke of one o'clock, which meant lunch would be delayed by potentially up to 30 minutes because nine wickets were down. Surrey are 235-9, leading by 211.
12.15pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Glamorgan
Richard Illingworth, one of the umpires standing in this match, has just held up the match for a few minutes to go to the groundsman's hut for what is euphemistically known as "a comfort break." It is remarkable, really, that the umpires, most of whom are in late middle if not old age, do not require these more often. Dickie Bird, one would have thought, would have been on and off the ground repeatedly, but he was not. He was once brushed aside in a race for the pavilion by the great Garry Sobers, who had been up all night and whose stomach was playing up. Sobers, of course, was such a genius that this made no difference: it was his last Test at Lord's, in 1973, and he still made a century.
11.40am: Jon Culley at Surrey v Warwickshire
London does not always get a good press, especially among provincial types, such as me and my friend Brian Halford, who may work in Birmingham but is sensible enough to live in Warwick. We venture into the capital from time to time, share our experiences of noisy, overpriced hotels, and go home.
You can only admire people who live here, who get to enjoy all the obvious attractions but who pay a heavy price. The tube trains, for example, are not only overcrowded and hot but increasingly prone to breaking down. One of them did on the Jubilee Line the other evening, between Baker Street and St John's Wood, and 770 passengers literally had to get out and walk, along the tunnel, in swelteringly hot conditions. The whole ordeal lasted about four hours. Embarrassingly for Transport for London, the train involved was one of two newly painted in a special livery to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee.
You can't imagine it was a particularly funny experience, although it would have been mildly amusing to note how long it took for someone to drop the pretence that nothing untoward had happened and actually speak to someone else.
Not much fun for the locals watching Surrey this morning. They have lost three wickets already, all to Jeetan Patel, who had Tom Maynard caught at silly point and bowled Jacques Rudolph before Gareth Batty clipped him straight to mid-on. At 168-7, Surrey's lead is just 144.
11.00am: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Middlesex
We have another hot, sunny day at Aigburth where Lancashire will be hoping to force home their advantage and claim their first victory of the season. Within their ranks they have one player who is still on a high from attending the Stone Roses first live appearance in 16 years on Wednesday night in Warrington.
All-rounder Kyle Hogg, who spends the winter working for SJM, a leading concert promotions company, went to the surprise concert straight after playing the opening day against Middlesex. It is the Stone Roses’ first warm-up gig before playing to thousands in three major concerts at Heaton Park in Manchester that were announced to mark confirmation they were re-forming.
“It was awesome,” said Hogg. “It was just great to see the four of them on the stage again together. If the other night is any guide, Heaton Park is going to be crazy because there were only around 1,000 people there the other night and that was mad enough.”
Lancashire have also confirmed that Ajmal Shahzad, their loan signing from Yorkshire, will not be available to play in either of the Roses t20 matches being held on June 29 at Headingley and July 6 at Old Trafford.
10.45am: Sahil Dutta at Sussex v Nottinghamshire
Picture perfect at Hove. Enough to draw a decent scattering of supporters to the ground a good hour before play, though maybe they were deceived by the 30-minute delay to the start time this morning, granted to give the groundsmen extra time after last night’s CB40 game.
A feature of covering matches at Hove is sharing the cosy press box with hoards of kids who come through partly to see the scribes at ‘work’ but mainly for a decent view of the pitch. Most are nonplussed but one this morning watched the teams warm up with wide eyes before asking, clearly bemused, “why are they playing football?” Good question son, good question.
10.30am: Alex Winter arrives by train
Yes indeed, public transport all the way to Chelmsford today. My sister has borrowed my car to go on a hen do to Devon! How awfully inconsiderate I initially thought but after my journey this morning, about 80 minutes from South London with two changes at Bank and Stratford, I forgive her. It was pleasant and the train station is but a five minute walk from the ground here.
The main cricketing action, as ever, is out in the shires and today our writers are in situ to provide you all the best coverage once again. All the action so far, including Somerset's victory at Taunton, is available on our county homepage. So have a perusal, catch up with where we are at, grab a cold one and prepare for another day on planet earth, made so much the more worth living for sunshine and the County Championship.
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo