May 31, 2012

LV= County Championship, Thursday May 31

Alex Winter

7.30pm: Alex Winter's roundup

So it wasn't to be for Nick Compton. Oh well, always next year eh! And not to be any longer for Kevin Pietersen in the red and blue of England; although he will hope to keep his white-clothed career going for a few years yet. And we all hope so too. A fine entertainer.

A little bit of rain around today, meant that not much happened at Durham and of course, hindered Compton and Somerset at New Road. They did have agreeable weather at Lord's where Middlesex have replied strongly to Sussex's first innings.

Also replying strongly are Leicestershire, just one down overnight, they will need to survive all day tomorrow to save their match at Glamorgan. Their midland neighbours Derbyshire are also up against it, Gloucestershire in control of that match at Bristol - even more to celebrate for Gloucestershire after their planning application was finally voted through last night.

The other match sees England hopeful Joe Root and incumbent No. 6 Jonny Bairstow together at the crease, looking to go past Northants' modest first innings total. All the reports, as ever, in the usual place on our county homepage and a few on your mobile too.

Talking of England prospects, anyone see James Taylor just now? A stunning CB40 hundred against Hampshire. Beautifully clean hitting. Get him in...see you tomorrow...

5.10pm: Ivo Tennant at Gloucestershire v Derbyshire

Among those celebrating Gloucestershire's planning triumph is David Allen, the former England off spinner turned president, who no doubt can still bowl a bit. In fact it has been suggested to him, as the champagne corks have been popping, that he should still be bowling. For there is no spin bowler in this Gloucestershire side and not many on the staff. The ancients never lose their skills. Tony Cozier, the West Indian commentator, was asked this week what he would do about improving their side for the final Test. "Well," he said, "Garry Sobers is in the country."

4.50pm: Jon Culley at Worcestershire v Somerset

The players have been off for more than two hours now and Nick Compton's chances of scoring 50 more runs are becoming more remote with every minute that passes. Frustratingly, the rain is of the kind the induces a state of limbo in county cricket matches -- not heavy enough to force play to be called off, but not light enough to allow a restart.

The man himself has been leaning over the visitors' balcony in the Graeme Hick Pavilion, looking a little forlorn.

4.10p.m.: Paul Edwards at Durham v Lancashire

We restarted at 3.30 here and Paul Horton has just become the first batsman to carry his bat through a Lancashire innings since Alec Swann achieved the feat against Hampshire at Old Trafford in 2002. Indeed, Horton is only the sixth Lancashire batsman since the war to have batted through a completed innings, although Jack Ikin managed it twice.

Rather more significantly for Lancashire and Durham’s fortunes this season, Horton, who finished on 49 not out, helped his partners add a further 29 runs for the last two wickets this afternoon to give his team a first-innings lead of 68.

4.00pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Sussex

Not a good way to go, Joe. Having made 67 in increasingly fine style, Denly shouldered arms to Panesar shortly before tea and went lbw. And, working on the basis that one wicket often brings another, Sussex piled in with renewed intent – and were rewarded with the scalp of Dawid Malan three balls later.

Anyon, having had no luck before lunch, gained deserved success with a quick, short delivery that the left hander could only steer to second slip. Tea was still good for Middlesex, but not quite so tasty as it might have been with the scoreboard reading 159 for three.

3.30pm: Ivo Tennant at Gloucestershire v Derbyshire

Much champagne is being swilled by the Gloucestershire secretariat, relieved that it can remain in situ at Bristol. The club had spent £900,000 on professional fees through its two applications for planning consent and achieved this, according to treasurer Giles Elgood, by pushing the financial benefits the city will reap through staging international matches. "Our fixture between England and India in 2014 could attract 100 million television viewers," he said, "as well as a large crowd which will spend money in the city." And how many of those 100 million people would ever have heard of Bristol otherwise? Not through the football clubs, for sure.

3.00pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Sussex

Just hang on in there and life will get easier – that’s what Rogers and Denly must have been telling one another this morning. And they were right.

Batting did not become plain sailing all of a sudden. But the middle of the bat came into use more often after lunch with Anyon unable to match his earlier consistency and first change Luke Wright providing a few more opportunities to attack.

Denly, in particular, produced several pleasing drives through the off side and also pulled Wright past mid-wicket as the hosts moved from early trouble to 104 for one.

Middlesex’s second wicket pair were not alone in making runs. Deciding that the personal touch was better than a long distance shout, umpire Nigel Llong jogged at decent speed to the Pavilion fence to ask several members to move to one side when left-arm seamer Naved Arif entered the attack at their end.

2.55pm: Jon Culley at Worcestershire v Somerset

Oh dear. This is so predictable, so English cricket. Nick Compton, the man with 1,000 runs in May in his sights, has been granted the chance he craved, only for rain to intervene. Somerset lost their first wicket in the seventh over, ushering him to trot down the pavilion steps, 59 still to get, with history beckoning. He has had about 30 minutes or so in the middle and trimmed nine runs off the requirement. But now it is raining steadily. Of course, he has to get them today.

There is plenty of time left in the day but every minute that passes with the players in the dressing room will only increase the tension and reduce the likelihood of Compton becoming the ninth man in history to achieve the feat.

In the context of the match, Compton's opportunity does not reflect well on Somerset's position. Having bowled Worcestershire out for 340, they are 27-2. Alex Barrow's loose drive outside off stump had him caught behind off David Lucas, then Arul Suppiah clipped Richard Jones straight to square leg.

1.45pm: Paul Edwards at Durham v Lancashire

Things are looking rather brighter here. The rain has stopped and the tower-blocks of Gateshead can be seen in the far distance. It is not exactly Jude Fawley’s Christminster, but no one’s bothered about that.

The umpires have been out to the middle, although there have been few official announcements of any sort today. The groundstaff began their drying up procedures even before the rain stopped and a Blotter is now rumbling across the outfield. There is to be a pitch inspection at 2.15

1.05pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Sussex

Well, Sussex were 16 for three yesterday – and Middlesex could easily have been something similar as Jimmy Anyon and Steve Magoffin used the new ball equally skilfully.

Aussie Magoffin pinned Sam Robson in front of the stumps with one that came back into the crease-stuck right-hander. And how Anyon failed to remove Joe Denly before lunch is anyone’s (or even Anyon’s?) guess. A couple of edges flashed into the slip cordon without finding a hand before an lbw appeal was stifled by a no-ball call.

Chris Rogers had a few hairy moments as well but the acting captain and his No 3 made it to the interval, by which time Middlesex were 32 for one.

Conditions were good for seam and swing bowling with cloud cover and a decent temperature. Game on.

12.40pm: Jon Culley at Worcestershire v Somerset

12.30 has come and gone and it isn't raining. The visual clues are good. The tractor is no longer manned and the ice cream van has arrived. Worcestershire have fallen apart, however. From 302-3 they have lurched to 324-9.

12.30pm: Ivo Tennant at Gloucestershire v Derbyshire

How many international matches will Gloucestershire anticipate staging in future now they have been given planning permission to rebuild the County Ground? They are now, of course, in competition in the west country with Somerset, who have similar ambitions. And as Rod Bransgrove will tell you (among others) there are only so many matches to go round too many grounds. For ECB chairman Giles Clarke, this is a conundrum. He is a former chairman of Somerset and Bristol is his home city. Gloucestershire's ambition of one limited overs international each summer may have to be downgraded.

12.10pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Sussex

That’s got him! The Blogger’s curse did for Monty as he steered Berg into the bucket-like hands of Ollie Rayner at second slip. But his entertaining 15 helped Sussex to post 283. Competitive? We’ll find out soon enough.

12.10pm: Jon Culley at Worcestershire v Somerset

It's never a good sign when the groundstaff gather round the covers, especially when a couple of them are sitting in the tractor that pulls the covers on to the field. The gloomier forecasts say it will start raining at around 12.30 and go on for three hours. We live in hope that their weather info comes from the same source as the Daily Express.

Thankfully, what has happened so far has been entertaining. To begin with, Peter Trego got himself into a lather when he thought he'd got Vikram Solanki leg before on his overnight score of 82. The appeal was turned down and after fixing the batsman with a long stare not once but twice it took a conversation with umpire Trevor Jesty to calm him down.

Then Solanki advanced rapidly to his century, hitting four boundaries in quick succession, including a couple of crackers off the aforementioned Somerset all-rounder, only for Trego to exact revenge by yorking Solanki for 106, ending what had been an innings of supreme aesthetic quality from the consummate stylist.

Worcestershire have lost a couple more wickets, Trego taking a decent catch at second slip off Trego to remove Cameron and then trapping Matt Pardoe in front. Worcestershire are 309-6. If the rain holds off, Nick Compton might get his crack at glory after all.

12.05pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Sussex

Well, it’s all happening in the wings, so to speak, but there is not much decisive action on centre stage. Or at least there wasn’t until Panesar M arrived at the crease.

Behind the media centre, at the Nursery End, the England women’s team are holding a practice session. And over in the pavilion, members of the International Cricket Council’s Cricket Committee – folk such as Clive Lloyd, Mark Taylor and Kumar Sangakkara – are discussing weighty matters.

As for out in the middle, Sussex’s tail continued to wag: not violently but gently, thereby denying Middlesex’s hopes of a quick kill this morning. Steve Magoffin and James Anyon extended their stand to 36 before the latter played on against Tim Murtagh while attempting to cut.

Considering the visitors were 16 for three and 66 for five yesterday, they had done very well to achieve 264 for nine. But Monty wanted 300 – and two flowing drives (one on, one off) against Gareth Berg suggested he wanted to reach the landmark in quick time.

Murtagh was resting, having taken his first five-for of the season, Steve Finn had bowled six unrewarded overs (he had Magoffin dropped by keeper John Simpson) and Sussex were 281 for nine just after noon.

11.45am: Paul Edwards at Durham v Lancashire

G’day from slate-grey Chester-le-Street, where it’s a b’day for anyone expecting to see cricket this morning.

Rain has been falling from a louring sky since about 8.30 this morning, the covers are arranged in a pleasingly symmetrical pattern on the square and outfield, and some of the players are having a net in the indoor school. Rain was the only way by which this game was going to get into a fourth day and here it is, absolutely slashing down. I have to say that it’s looking like an abandonment, but we’ll see.

11.40am: Ivo Tennant at Gloucestershire v Derbyshire

Relief and celebration this morning over Bristol City Council's decision last night to grant Gloucestershire planning permission to build 147 dwellings within a six-storey apartment block at the Jessop Tavern end of the County Ground. "We are hopeful that our next scheduled international here, against India in 2014, will still take place," said chief executive Tom Richardson. Construction work will start in September. Although there was talk about a move of ground, it was only that - talk. The one venue where Gloucestershire would have liked to have pitched their tent full-time is Cheltenham College, where they stage a hugely successful festival each year. But the school's matches, of course, come first.

10am: Alex Winter sets the scene

G'day, as the Australians, and curiously George Dobell, might say. Last day in May and by Jove we've already had two months of the season! Remarkable.

Graham Onions ripped out early Lancashire wickets, County Championship, Division One, Chester-le-Street, May 30, 2012
Graham Onion's took four wickets on day one at Durham  © Getty Images
Enlarge

This is therefore, the final day for Nick Compton to try and reach 1,000 runs. He needs 59 today but first he needs to get in - Worcestershire only three down overnight - could Compton be denied an opportunity?

Two other Division One fixtures, both with bowlers vying for a call up for the third Test at Edgbaston next week. At Durham, Graham Onions took the first four wickets of Lancashire's innings. He needed to because his side were shot out for just 102; the visitors edging into a lead courtesy of Paul Horton's unbeaten 31 - could be a crucial innings that.

And at Lord's Steve Finn took three wickets but was rather upstaged by Tim Murtagh whose four victims came at a cheaper rate and included three of the top four. Sussex were rescued by Ben Brown's lower order 70.

The big news last night came from the south-west where Gloucestershire, after years of planning, various council meetings, revised plans and much expense, were finally granted permission to develop their Nevil Road home and hopefully keep international cricket in Bristol. There was also excellent news on the field as they bowled high-flying (and vaunted by yours truly on this week's Switch Hit podcast) Derbyshire out for 95, taking a healthy lead with wickets intact by the close.

Glamorgan moved into a similar position against Leicestershire in Cardiff; Marcus North scoring a century. And Yorkshire bowled Northants out with two wickets for Mitchell Starc and closed unscathed with Jonny Bairstow waiting in the pavilion for a chance to score some confidence-boosting runs ahead of the third Test.

The other thing to tell you about was Geoffrey Boycott, Yorkshire's new President, who couldn't just open the new club shop at Headingley, he had some strong words about Adil Rashid. Be certainly interesting to get your thoughts on that...

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Alan Harrison on (May 31, 2012, 17:57 GMT)

Well at least Compton can still claim the record for the most first-class runs by the end of April. Contrary to what is said in the cricinfo report on the second day's play, I feel sure that the previous record was held by Ian Bell (who achieved it in 2004), not Graeme Hick.

Posted by Kev Crossfield on (May 31, 2012, 15:19 GMT)

@Courtney: yes, it would also be a reason to quit, just as Glen McGrath quit 50-over cricket after winning the world cup in 2007. But isn't it obvious that England are about as far away from winning the 50-over world cup as they've ever been? @Justin: the 50-over game might seem not to be very important from certain perspectives, but if England were ranked about 5th in test cricket, and had managed to win the 50-over world cup last year, I think some people's perceptions of how important 50-over cricket is would be very different.

Posted by Courtney on (May 31, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

@Justin You make a very valid point about the timing, I wonder if there is a breach of contract as I would have thought that the ECB terms would expect them to be committed to all formats of the game while under contract and if he was planning to retire an earlier conversation could have been had.

@Kev. There's a paradox in your case, he has nothing further to achieve with T20 so he quits, he is frustrated with the lack of progress with the 50 over game so he quits that too. If he wasn't frustrated with it and won the World Cup wouldn't that also be reason to quit?

Posted by Justin on (May 31, 2012, 13:40 GMT)

Kev The importance of the 40 / 50 over game seems to be lessining each year. With the IPL and Test taking presedance i can see in the future the 20 / Twenty format and test being the main attractions. The 40 / 50 over being the training ground for good 20 / twenty player in to a larger format game. This in mind England being the number 1 in those formats is great.

We hold the world cup and have a good team going for the next world cup this year. My question is the timing of the retirement. with only a few games left for England in the 20/20 format it restricts our choice and really only see two possible for his role. Bairstow and Keisy.

Bairstow has the limelight at the moment but Keisy has been there longer.

He has got to the stage where he needs to reduce the amount of games to help prolong his career as in his 30's now so for him Test is more important. It is a loss but we can cover him but will we be as effective? only time will tell.

Posted by Kev Crossfield on (May 31, 2012, 13:21 GMT)

@Justin and Courtney: my comments were bearing on the 50-over game, not the 20-over game. England won the last twenty20 world cup, with Pietersen playing a starring role, but that is precisely the point; he's already done that and has nothing further to achieve there. That's not true of the 50-over game; in the last five years or so Pietersen has probably been England's only world-class 50-over player and I suspect he has at times (e.g., 2007 world cup) found the team's struggles furstrating.

Posted by Andy M on (May 31, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

Yasir Arafat is playing at Lancs for the T20.

Looks like Barrow has done the decent thing and chased a wide one to get Compton in.

Posted by Courtney on (May 31, 2012, 13:10 GMT)

@Kev Crossfield. I don't think Pietersen is the kind of player to base his decision on the prospects of England's success, England are current World Cup T20 Champions and he has retired from there also. I think England will be a poorer team without him but as Samuel says it may be time for others to seize the day

Posted by Justin on (May 31, 2012, 13:08 GMT)

Kev

WE are the number 1 ranked 20 twenty side and hold the world cup???

Posted by Alan Harrison on (May 31, 2012, 13:07 GMT)

Well, Compton fans, the moment of truth is here ...

Posted by Kev Crossfield on (May 31, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

Surprised by Pietersen's decision but I doubt it will really make much difference to England's one-day international fortunes. England have been a poor team at that form of the game for years. They've never won the world cup, and I can't imagine Pietersen would have made this decision if he thought that they had any chance of doing so in 2015.

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