LV= County Championship, Thursday July 12, 2012
4.45pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Sussex
Warwickshire are 175 for three at tea but it is raining here now and the groundstaff are wasting no time in bringing out the sheets, which does not augur well. If the deluges elsewhere are anything of an indicator, we may not see any more play today, which is the second big disappointment of the afternoon.
The other came when Ian Bell was out for 57, having just driven a ball from Steve Magoffin gloriously through the offside for his 10th boundary. Bell has been in wonderful form lately and this was his sixth score of 53 or more in his last eight innings and the Edgbaston crowd, at this stage still enjoying some rare sunshine, were lapping it up.
But then, out of the blue, he was out, going to pull the next delivery as Magoffin dropped one in a little short but mistiming the stroke and finding the fielder at midwicket, who took an easy catch.
4.20pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Yorkshire
No more play today on the south coast. At this rate, maybe no play ever again. That will not suit Jonny Bairstow, who desperately needs to find some form:his last ten innings have read 16, 0 not out, 4, 68, 18, 17, 2, 5, 1 and now a duck. Mind you, Kabir Ali, who had him caught at the wicket, reckoned it was a ball that would have accounted for most batsmen. He was good enough to get a touch, as they used to say of Colin Cowdrey.
1.40pm: George Dobell at Surrey v Lancashire
It’s raining at Guildford at present - never a surprise in this dreadful summer - and it would be no surprise if we didn’t play any further cricket today.
Steven Croft has batted well in compiling the fifth first-class century of his career. He helped Lancashire recover from 298 for six to post their highest total of the summer. If the rain relents they are in a decent position, though the pitch remains flat.
John Edrich was among those at the launch of Micky Stewart’s book. Am I the only one who can see just a hint of Leonard Nimoy in Edrich?
3.45pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Sussex
Given that the players are off the field at West End, Guildford and Cheltenham, it looks like rain is sweeping northwards. Mercifully none here yet although we haven't been without interruptions. Varun Chopra changed his bat twice during the morning and we have had a hold-up since lunch when the public address started relaying a conversation between the scorers, amid much mirth in the middle.
When he has not been laughing, Ian Bell has looked in much the same imperious form that has characterised a much of his summer. He had to rein himself in a bit against Monty Panesar after the left-arm spinner, who has bowled beautifully, took his second wicket with the third ball after lunch, getting Chopra leg before, but has gone back on the attack again and Monty's is out of the attack now, with two for 47 from 18 overs, 29 of those conceded in the last six.
Bell has 44 from 67 balls with eight fours and Warwicks are 140-2 from 52 overs.
3.35pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Nottinghamshire
With a grim weather forecast for tomorrow, the visitors were in no mood to hang around. Then again, Andre Adams seldom bothers too much with the forward defensive – and his innings here was a delight for those who like to see tailenders throw the bat.
It went like this, with Roland-Jones bowling: driven six, pulled four, edge, (dropped at slip, by Gareth Berg), played on, swinging again. Great stuff.
Voges soon followed, caught behind for 105 and when Harry Gurney was last out there was both good news and bad for Middlesex. The good? Some spots of rain suggested the weather might be about to lend a helping hand. The bad? Notts have a lead of 231 and this game has not yet reached the halfway stage.
3.15pm: Alex Winter at Gloucestershire v Essex
We’re off for rain here and this could quite possibly be the end of the game. That might sound an extreme prediction but this rain isn’t expected to cease until 5am tomorrow morning. That could saturate the outfield – this ground does drain well but has no drainage system like a county ground. There is more rain forecast to arrive for midday tomorrow and Saturday isn’t great either. Sigh.
My colleague at Radio Essex can’t even find solace in his second favourite sport, racing. Warwick and Chepstow have scheduled cards for tomorrow – his day off – but one has already been abandoned and the other is expected to be abandoned too!
We’ve had two more overs – 51 – than we managed yesterday. 137 for 2 today having been 147 for 2 yesterday. Very slow going for Cheltenham but never short of entertainment here, the marquees are set to get a boost in business.
3.05pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Nottinghamshire
The statisticians reckon that Middlesex have dropped more catches during the first half of this championship campaign than they did throughout the whole of last season when winning the second division title.
Whether a fifth chance has gone begging in this innings is hard to say for certain. Murtagh, striving for his 401st first-class wicket and armed with the second new ball, defeated Chris Read but whether or not a thin edge carried to keeper Simpson was unclear.
Beyond dispute is the fact that Voges and Read, ex-Australia and ex-England respectively, have put the championship leaders into a wonderful position with a sixth-wicket stand of 143.
It ended, somewhat surprisingly, with Read lobbing a simple return catch to Roland-Jones while looking to turn to leg. At 288 for six, Notts were 190 ahead – and they had added 11 more when Voges completed his century (167 balls) by straight driving R-J for boundary No 11.
Although reasonably consistent, Voges did not manage a championship century last season. The 32-year-old signed on late this summer, because of IPL duties, but has taken only three innings to reach three figures.
2.40pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Yorkshire
It is raining again. Precipitating, as those in the know like to say. No play since lunch at West End and, at a guess, no more likely today following a washout on the first day of this match. Thunderstorms are forecast for tomorrow. There is no word as yet on Hampshire's takings for the t20 competition this summer, but they will not be impressive. Still, one ray of sunlight: in the atrium today is Alan Rowe, now 76, who coached Danny Briggs, Michael Bates, Liam Dawson and Chris Wood, all of whom have become 1st X1 regulars. He is not given to wild predictions, so remember the name of a 13 year-old currently playing for the club's representative side whom he believes will also make the grade: Felix Organ, a batsman and off spinner. Not a name that will be easy to forget, either.
2pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Sussex
From the press eyrie in the new pavilion it looks like a pleasant day by the dreadful standards of this soggy summer, although you know it cannot be that warm because there is not a single bare torso visible in the crowd and the hardy Brummies who sit opposite, in the vicinity of the old press box, don't normally need much encouragement.
On the field, the Warwickshire openers warmed to their task after a steady task. It was not easy progress -- Varun Chopra got so bogged down he managed only one single in 39 balls before incongruously hitting two boundaries in a row off Steve Magoffin -- but 77-1 from 33 overs at lunch must have looked a satisfactory return from where Jim Troughton was watching. The Warwickshire skipper seemed to have taken a gamble, given the damp conditions, by opting to bat first, but so far it is paying off.
The only regret for Troughton will be that the batsman out -- in the 30th over -- was Will Porterfield, who had looked rather more comfortable than Chopra but, having helped himself to his seventh boundary by clipping Monty Panesar nicely through midwicket he went back to the next delivery, which Monty pushed through to trap him leg before for 43.
Monty has bowled very well this morning, without finding a lot of turn, keeping the batsmen on their toes with his variations. His 10 overs have cost only 14 runs, although Ian Bell has come in looking up for a tussle with his old England teammate, promising an entertaining afternoon.
1.40pm: George Dobell at Surrey v Lancashire
Journalists are often criticised for always taking the negative angle to a story, so let us, on this occasion, be positive: fielding is an important part of the game and Kevin Pietersen has enjoyed ample opportunity to practise his ahead of the Test series against South Africa which start at the Oval next week.
An unbroken partnership of 58 between Steven Croft and Glen Chapple has ensured that Surrey will shortly begin their fifth session in the field. With a bank of poor weather approaching with some menace, it is far from certain that Surrey will enjoy much opportunity to bat today or tomorrow.
Chapple, as has so often been the case over the last couple of decades, has quickly altered the direction of this game. While Lancashire were not exactly in trouble when he came to the crease, they were in danger of squandering their strong platform. But Chapple, taking a characteristically positive approach, pulled Meaker for a six, lofted Kartik for a four and ensured his side secured a fourth batting bonus point. Croft, initially watchful but increasingly fluent, lent support and played one delightful late cut off Kartik.
Surrey, however, have been limited to just two bowling bonus points. For a side that inserted, that may be some disappointment, though the umpires say the pitch is increasingly slow and offers little to the bowlers.
1.10pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Nottinghamshire
Let’s hear it for the ice-cream man (and woman). If batsmen think conditions have been tough, more often than not, so far this summer, what about those folk trying to sell us 99s in the rain?
Peter and Ivy’s van, parked determinedly at the Mike Gatting Way end of this ground, did precious little business yesterday (Gatt might have helped out but he was nowhere to be seen, sadly). Today, though, something suspiciously like a queue formed on at least a couple of occasions with the sun bringing warmth and cheer.
As for on the field, Middlesex were not shining nearly as brightly as they needed to in order to repair 98 all out. You may have heard this before but, apparently, catches win matches – and having let a couple of chances get away yesterday, two more opportunities failed to stick this morning.
Ollie Rayner dived left at second slip but could not hold on when Adam Voges (11) edged Toby Roland-Jones. Then Chris Read (15) saw Gareth Berg parry a very hard overhead catch at point, following a drive against Corey Collymore.
Ironically, a terrific catch did for Michael Lumb just after he had raised his bat for a half-century. Lumb snicked one from Tim Murtagh that left him late but it needed a diving, left glove take from keeper John Simpson to complete the dismissal.
The pitch is flattening out and the outfield has quickened just a touch but Notts are well and truly in the diving seat at 209 for five, already 111 ahead.
12.55pm: Alex Winter at Gloucestershire v Essex
Yesterday’s rain made the car parking situation here even worse. A field used at the end of the Thirlestaine Road which runs behind the pavilion is also out of bounds today meaning parking is now very tricky. No idea where the anticipated 4,000 for Sunday are going to leave their cars – but at least the forecast is better for the CB40, also against Essex.
Amazing what T20 can do for form. Hamish Marshall performed well, he was T20 captain too, and has taken that touch back into white ball cricket. He’s played his usual busy-style innings, plenty of trying to force away square on the off side on the back foot, but he’s found the middle of the bat quite often today, and struck five crisp boundaries.
The new ball is now due just before lunch and Essex, who struck with the second ball today, will look to break another stand that’s building dangerously.
12.30pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Yorkshire
Interesting to observe Michael Bates, the young Hampshire wicketkeeper, standing up to the sharp medium pace of Dimitri Mascarenhas without a helmet. Only last night Neil McKenzie, his team mate and friend of the badly injured Mark Boucher, was intimating that more 'keepers will don the same protection as batsmen in future. But not Bates, who evidently trusts his own ability. And, of course, Godfrey Evans had no facial protection when standing up to Alec Bedser.
12.25pm: Jon Culley at Warwickshire v Sussex
Remarkably, given yet another Edgbaston washout in the CB40 last night, there is play. The only reason it didn't start until noon is that it was never meant too, owing to the generosity of the schedulers in allowing the players an extra hour in bed to compensate for the late finish they would have had last night, had it not rained again.
The most miserable statistic is that seven of the last 12 scheduled days of cricket here have been completely lost to the weather, including four days of international cricket and two Twenty20s in addition to the 40-over game. Only one of Warwickshire's five home t20s was not affected by the weather.
So far, so good today, though. There is rain forecast for later -- when is it not? -- but with luck it will be after we've all gone home, even allowing for a seven o'clock finish.
And it is proper cricket, of course, that is first-class. What's more, those privileged to be here will see a proper cricketer in Ian Bell, one of whose many virtues is that he actually wants to play. He may be batting soon, too, given that Warwickshire won the toss and opted to make first use of a pitch the groundstaff have done their utmost to keep as dry as possible. After six overs, they are 11 without loss.
12.20pm: George Dobell at Surrey v Lancashire
Surrey have enjoyed much the best of the morning here at Guildford. Lancashire have lost three wickets in the first 70 minutes and, from a position of 233 for two, have stuttered to 298 for six.
There has been more than an element of carelessness about all three of the wickets to fall this morning. First Ashwell Prince attempted to loft the left-arm spin of Murali Kartik back towards the Oval but was beaten by a bit of turn and instead slogged the ball to the deep mid-wicket boundary; a careless shot but also vindication of Gareth Batty’s decision to delay taking the new ball until the 88th over and the seventh over of the day.
Tom Smith then drove to mid-off and attempted a sharp single, but was beaten by Zander de Bruyn’s direct hit, before Gareth Cross attempted a short-arm pull off Stuart Meaker and hit the ball straight to mid-wicket.
Peter Moores remains in good spirits, though. A couple of us media types have just enjoyed a long chat with him that will, no doubt, work its way into a piece in due course. The thing of the conversation was pretty simple, though: county cricket remains strong and deserves far more credit than it receives. Your thoughts on that subject are very welcome.
12pm: Alex Winter at Gloucestershire v Essex
Good morning once again from Cheltenham. I will push you immediately in the direction of my twit-pic which shows you just how beautiful this ground is, particularly in the sunshine we’ve been blessed with this morning. But it’s not expected to last, poor weather likely to move in later in the day and when it arrives we’ll all be off to the Exmouth Arms on the Bath Road sooner rather than later.
Former players day today here and one such attendee is Don Toplee, the former Essex seamer and father of Reece who took both wickets to fall yesterday and who struck with his second ball today, removing the captain Alex Gidman leg before, having played an attractive cut stroke for two first ball.
Dickie Bird is also at the festival, a guest of the PCA. He was huddled up in the pavilion yesterday waiting for the Gloucestershire dressing room attendant to arrange him a lift back to the Queen’s Hotel. Mr Ravi – the Indian umpire over here on the umpires' exchange programme, this the first of his three matches – was also staying at the same hotel so umpires old and new shared a taxi.
11.45: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Yorkshire
We have some play on the south coast, a day late. And we have Jonny Bairstow out for a duck.- first ball no less. A good length ball from Kabir Ali, who for once is not injured, an indeterminate prod and a straightforward catch by Michael Bates. Now he will be cursing the England selectors for allowing him to play in this match.
10.40am: George Dobell at Surrey v Lancashire
Morning from Guildford. It’s a bright, sunny morning, too, though there is a forecast for rain from around 4pm.
It’s been quite a long night. While my new flatmate left me keys as promised, they were not the keys to the right flat. After much expense and searching, I found a hotel that, judging by the noise and vibration, was about eight feet from the end of the runway at Heathrow.
There are quite a few interesting visitors expected at Woodbridge Road today. Micky Stewart is launching his autobiography The Changing Face of English Cricket, a customarily excellent Stephen Chalke production, at about 12.30pm, with the likes of Alec Stewart, John Edrich and Mike Gatting expected to attend. Kevin Shine is here, too, no doubt in the hope of seeing Chris Tremlett and Stuart Meaker in action.
Today might also present Kevin Pietersen’s last chance to bat before the Test series against South Africa. The forecast for tomorrow, in particular, is not promising.
Lancashire, I’m told by my learned friend Paul Edwards, are the last of the 18 counties to play a first-class game at this ground.
10am: David Hopps with the scenesetter
That Andrew Strauss is mentally prepared for the forthcoming Test series against South Africa was amply illustrated at Uxbridge yesterday when he made 50 out of 98 all out.
The combination of another grouchy day, the blare of traffic and a bumpy outfield did not make it the easiest place for an Ashes-winning England captain to concentrate. But buckle down he did and Middlesex were grateful for it. Give Andre Adams a pitch with a bit of juice in it and the years fall off him.
Alan Gardner is not in the Uxbridge base-camp tent today - we have packed him off to Canterbury for a South Africa media day - but Jon Culley joins the team for the first day of Warwickshire v Sussex.
News is just out that Leicestershire have made Nadeem Malik and Jacques du Toit available on loan with immediate effect. Neither will have their contracts renewed at the end of the season. It is further proof of the financial pressures facing Leicestershire after a rain-ruined T20 campaign.
A few snippets around the websites today:
* Marcus Trescothick could return from injury in Somerset's 2nd X1 game against Essex at Coggeshall next week.
* Wembley CC, in the second division of the Middlesex League, have ambitions to sign Muttiah Muralitharan next season - and Murali, even though he can be a bit of a prankster, has persuaded them that he is thinking seriously about it.
* Kent's chief executive Jamie Clifford has damped down loose talk of Kent bidding for England one-day matches when their development is finished.
While you are waiting for our reporters to adjust the guy ropes and put a brick under the rickety table leg, why not catch up to date with the brightest and most comprehensive county reports:
George Dobell at Surrey v Lancashire
Alex Winter at Gloucestershire v Essex
Alan Gardner at Middlesex v Notts
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo