June 6, 2012

LV= County Championship, Wednesday June 6

7pm: Alex Winter rounds things off

7pm: Alex Winter rounds things off

What of Durham? I hear you cry. Well they've done rather well today, bowling Warwickshire, of all line-ups, out cheaply and claiming a solid lead. Also into the lead are Middlesex. Chris Rogers' smashed it this afternoon and put the hosts into another winning position, could they be heading to the top of the table? A couple of days weather-dodging to make it happen.

Andre Adams has a lovely record against Lancashire in recently times, at it again today with four wickets. The other Division One clash involved Surrey wickets tumbling at Horsham - a few problems all of a sudden for the outside tip for the title.

Plenty of rain in Division Two. It was Disgraceful, Tunbridge Wells between Kent and Hampshire and likewise at Colwyn Bay. Derbyshire were also hindered by the rain as they looked to build a lead on Leicestershire and Ravi Bopara was in the runs once more.

All the best analysis, need I tell you where to go by now, on our county homepage and the pick of the action on your mobile too. Rain tomorrow, bring your sou'wester...

5pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Lancashire

Play resumed at 4.45pm but only 26 deliveries were possible before another burst of rain drove the players off again. It looks a bit mucky out to the west.

It was time for Lancashire to register their first batting point simultaneously with Ashwell Prince and Gareth Cross completing a fifty partnership for the sixth wicket. But Notts went ahead again -- on points -- when the latter pulled a ball from Andre Adams to deep square leg, where James Taylor took the catch. Cross had picked up four in the same area four balls earlier.

Adams has four wickets, which puts him ahead of Graham Onions as the country's leading wicket-taker on 39. The surprise is that he has conceded 13 boundaries, one of which went under Samit Patel at third slip.

4.25pm Mark Pennell at Kent v Hampshire

Play at last at The Nevill where Kent have elected to field after plenty of heel-kicking and frustration through until 4.10pm. Hampshire are already in dire straits at 20 for two, having lost Bilal Shafayat and Michael Carberry five overs into their innings and having lost the toss. The visitors lost their first wicket after only 19 balls when former Kent opener Carberry, fencing at one going across him from Charlie Shreck, nicked one to Geraint Jones diving in front of slip. Shafayat, who recently signed a one-year deal for Hampshire, then prodded half-forward at a Mark Davies off cutter to go leg before for nine. A maximum of 36 overs will be bowled on the opening day here but, with the clouds banking up again, the prospects of Hampshire improving on their position appear bleak.

3.45pm: Dan Brettig at Middlesex v Somerset

Chris Rogers is going off like a firecracker at Lord's, taking Middlesex close to Somerset's plainly inadequate 173 on the second afternoon.

As threatening clouds continue to hover over St John's Wood, Rogers has spanked 14 boundaries to go to 78 out of a total of 102 for the loss of his opening partner Sam Robson.

Gemaal Hussain has come in for the heaviest treatment, his eighth over going for 17 runs as Rogers peppered the point boundary. Somerset's captain Alfonso Thomas claimed the wicket of Robson lbw in his first over of the innings.

A poor weather forecast means Middlesex may have limited time to press for a result, but Rogers is making the most of the intermittent sunshine peeking through this afternoon.

3.05pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Lancashire

Henry Blofeld caused more than a stir during the recent Test match here by announcing to the world via the airwaves of the BBC that the 123-year-old Trent Bridge pavilion was to be demolished. Informed that this was most definitely not the case, the old boy then set off a second wave of consternation by confessing that he'd got the story round his neck -- it was actually the scoreboard next to the pavilion that was going.

Given that said scoreboard, which doubles as an action replay screen, and the offices housed in the same building have been standing only since 2008 -- part of the £7.2 million development on the Bridgford Road side of the ground -- it was hardly surprising that Nottinghamshire's admin staff were soon dealing with another rush of bemused callers.

The truth is that the scoreboard at the opposite corner of the ground is the one destined for the chop, which is not quite such dramatic news but actually a bit of a shame. For those unfamiliar with it, this one is manually operated, with four personnel and an enormous array of levers, but has the linear look of something much more modern. State of the art when it was built in 1977, it still puts quite a few fancy electronic ones to shame.

But under the new rules governing Test match grounds, there have to be two giant replay screens and Notts have decided to replace it with a duplicate of the one next to the pavilion, which will definitely remain intact.

Meanwhile, out in the middle, Lancashire are 170-5. The two out since lunch are Steven Croft, who misread the bounce against the lanky Andy Carter and looped a catch off the glove to Chris Read, and Luke Procter, who fished for several Adams outswingers without success before finally getting a bat on one that flew to third slip. Ashwell Prince has a half-century but just had a big escape when Alex Hales put him down at first slip, denying Adams a fourth wicket.

2.50pm Sahil Dutta at Sussex v Surrey

It's getting colder at Horsham with every passing hour. Sussex can at least retreat to the pavilion now, having knocked Surrey over for 124. Steve Magoffin was again the pick of Sussex's bowlers with four wickets. Unlike James Anyon he doesn't bowl any bad balls. Simple enough principle, really. Between innings I might go and hug the kettle for warmth.

In other news Cricinfo's contributor to this blog, Ivo Tennant, has brought his spaniel puppy to the cricket today. Mighty friendly mutt it is too. Just before play he bounded out onto the pitch though (in doing so doing a remarkable impression of Luke Wright) and was sternly reprimanded. He's found fun elsewhere though, merrily tucking into the press tent's sandwiches.

1.50pm Mark Pennell at Kent v Hampshire

On the face of it, The Nevill Ground in Tunbridge Wells appears at its resplendent best. The covers are off, the sun is shining and players from both sides are cavorting on the outfield. The only pity is, they aren’t playing cricket yet. The Hampshire lads are kicking a football about, while Kent’s players are loitering by the ropes, signing autographs and half-heartedly going through a few warm-up exercises. The reason for their lethargy, despite a breeze to crack the flags and warm sunshine, is a flash flood that hit the Royal Spa Town in the early hours of Sunday morning that left the outfield sodden and parts of the pitch damp. One of the players likened the playing surface to the top of a crème brulee, so little wonder the umpires’ reticence to start the match on what might transpire to be a wholly unsatisfactory pitch. They will next inspect at 2.45pm.

1pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Lancashire

Apart from the sumptuous carvery at Taunton, the kitchen at Trent Bridge has few serious rivals in the lunchtime catering stakes. Good hearty stuff, as you need in an English summer. Proper cooking. Then again, it's a friendly club, Notts. There is no more popular nor well-run venue on the Test circuit. Some people have begrudged the award of Ashes Tests to the ground in 2013 and 2015. They should come here and learn some lessons.

It has been an entertaining morning. Lancashire were cracking on at four an over in the first hour but lost three wickets and Ashwell Prince and Steven Croft have proceeded with more restraint since Stephen Moore was bowled off an inside edge trying to leave one from Andre Adams.

The Kiwi's eyes light up when he sees Moore. In six first-class matches since April 2009 he has dismissed him seven times.

12.30pm Mark Pennell at Kent v Hampshire

Hot coffee and bacon baps are the order of the day at The Nevill in Tunbridge Wells where the opening day of the 100th Cricket Week here is proving to be something of a damp squib. At an event where rhododendrons, Pimms and lemonade and strawberry teas are usually the norm, supporters have been forced to huddle in marquees in order to keep warm and out of the rain. In amongst the showers, the match umpires held their inspection just after noon, but decided there could be no play before lunch. They will take another look at 1.40pm.

12.10am: Jon Culley at Notts v Lancs

There's nothing like being confident. Division One leaders Notts are already talking about how many more wins they might need to reclaim the title they won in 2010. They have won four of their first seven matches and were thwarted by the weather in two of the other three. Mick Newell, his future seemingly settled again after finding himself in the frame for the Bangladesh job last month, reckons five victories in the last nine could be enough, so he is not suggesting it will be easy.

Lancashire are talking about momentum. A dramatic last-over win against Durham in the Championship -- breaking their duck for the season -- and a Duckworth-Lewis fashioned victory over Worcestershire in the CB40 have made it a good week so far. They won by six wickets here last season.

Stuck in by Notts today, they lost two wickets in the first hour against a swinging ball but scored 64 runs. Karl Brown took a positive approach, hitting 34 off only 24 balls including seven boundaries in three overs off Andre Adams. But Adams made him pay for his audacity by having him caught at third slip, although much of the credit had to go to Samit Patel for taking a superb one-handed catch to his right. Paul Horton, who made 99 here last season, went for three this time, caught by Adam Voges at second slip off Andy Carter.

12pm: Dan Brettig at Middlesex v Somerset

Rain has returned at Lord's and the covers are on, but not before the hosts took advantage of an early start and overhead cover to pluck another four Somerset wickets at little cost.

Tim Murtagh and Gareth Berg have three wickets apiece, though there will be concern in the Middlesex dressing room at Corey Collymore's failure to return to the bowling crease after walking off on the first afternoon complaining of knee pain.

Craig Kieswetter didn't add to his overnight 48 before touching Berg to the wicketkeeper John Simpson, and Jos Buttler followed three balls later for a two-day duck, his stumps splayed by Murtagh.

Chris Rogers, the Middlesex captain, had said after the first day that his bowlers dropped a little too short when bowling to Kieswetter and James Hildreth after having Somerset a queasy 45 for 3, and they successfully followed the advice to get the ball a little fuller so far on the second morning.

10.55am Mark Pennell at Kent v Hampshire

Kent’s 100th Tunbridge Wells Cricket Week is off to a damp start today where heavy overnight rain has left outfield at The Nevill sodden.

Accordingly, the start to their LV= County Championship clash with Hampshire will be delayed and umpires Richard Illingworth and Steve Gale plan a noon inspection. Fearing the worst, however, the Hampshire players have already returned to their team hotel.

At least the few punters who were at the ground for 10am received a cheery welcome from Kent’s public address announcer and former DJ, Steve Watts.

Having spoken his usual messages, Watts mistakenly left his microphone switched on when listening to his former radio station and went on to grace the entire ground with his rendition of the Andy Williams classic ‘You’re Just to Good to be True’. Thankfully, just as he reached the barr, dap, barr, dap, barr-de-dap section ahead of the chorus someone finally got the message through to him that his microphone was live and that he was singing to the ground. Oops!

10.45am Sahil Dutta at Sussex v Surrey

Hello all. Bizarre trip this morning which started in Peckham, went through Brighton and ended in Horsham but without my pass. All of which brought more confusion with the Horsham stewards doing their best US-immigration-officer impression. Having eventually persuaded them I was, despite appearances, here to work there was a battle getting wifi and power to the tent on the boundary that is home for the next few days.

Nonetheless, festival cricket is a treat. A more characteristically understated celebration of community and nationhood than the weekend's activities. The sun, for the moment, is playing its part too and we are set for a prompt start. Surrey welcome Mark Ramprakash back to their side while Sussex's veteran, Murray Goodwin, has gone the other way and is replaced by Luke Wells.

9.30am: Alex Winter still has the Union Jack in the window

Greetings from the United Kingdom. I hope you're bounding back to work this morning with British pride pumping in your hearts after a tremendous four days of thanksgiving for Her Majesty the Queen. 627 England Test matches have been played during her reign, with England winning 216, losing 176 with 235 draws.

Of those draws, one wonders how many were as a result of the weather? The forecast is not too clever for the third Test starting tomorrow so what price draw number 236?

Of course the real implications of bad weather is that it may get in the way of the final round of the first half of the County Championship season. Seems crazy to say it but that's where we are; the annual T20 jamboree kicks off next week.

And what better way to give the smaller, jazzier format one across the bows than for the four-day game to be taken out among the shires, away from the urban sprawls and into the heart of our green and pleasant land. That's what we have this week with three outgrounds in use - Yorkshire are making the shorter trip across the Pennines and into the Principality to play Glamorgan at Colwyn Bay, Kent are entertaining Hampshire at Tunbridge Wells and Horsham is playing host to Sussex and Surrey. I'm envious of anyone who is able to get out to one of those three this week. Nothing like festival cricket.

Back among the chimneys, Northamptonshire versus Essex and Nottinghamshire versus Lancashire also begin today with three matches having started yesterday. Reports on Derbyshire getting back into the swing of things by bowling Leicestershire out cheaply, Durham making a better fist of batting than recently against Warwickshire and a shortened day at Lord's where Somerset are the visitors, are available on our county homepage.

So your last chance for a few weeks to get stuck in to the County Championship, twitter and the comments below at your disposal to join the conversation. I shall join you after another re-run of the River Pageant...God Save the Queen...and festival cricket...

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo