LV= County Championship, Friday July 13
6.15pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Yorkshire
And now, after a double century from Joe Root, an opening over by Stephen Harmison, that honorary Yorkshireman making his debut for the county. A mere three wides in it. Ah well, these things happen.
4.15pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Yorkshire
A century for Joe Root and - talking of Andrew Strauss - Yorkshire folk feel that Root might well eventually succeed him in the England side. Contrast Root's fine batting in this match with the non-appearance of James Vince, his one-time England u-19 colleague, who has had to make way for three ringers.
3.50pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Nottinghamshire
Well, it’s just a case of when Middlesex declare and how many they set Notts. Okay, maybe not. But what a good fightback this is turning out to be.
Apart from a close lbw call on 1 and an edge behind, when 59, that barely carried, if indeed it did carry, to keeper Chris Read, Strauss was pretty much untroubled until just before tea when he mistimed a pull against Andy Carter and was fortunate to see the ball land safely at deepish mid-wicket.
By the interval the opener had gone on to 127 and, at 239 for two, Middlesex were eight runs to the good.
3.10pm: Alex Winter at Gloucestershire v Essex
Well the wet patches of outfield have proved too wet and the day has, disastrously really because the overhead weather is gorgeous today, been abandoned. Still plenty in the club tents and I might just have to join them.
3.05pm: George Dobell at Surrey v Lancashire
Pietersen looks in awesome form. This is now his highest score in first-class cricket for Surrey - it is was previously 69 and this is only his ninth innings - and some of the shots have been quite exceptional.
Kerrigan’s post-lunch spell of five overs - perfectly respectable overs - cost 46, while a reasonable delivery from Ajmal Shahzad, just back of a length, was pulled with daunting power straight back past the bowler. It was a shot it is hard to imagine anyone else playing.
It makes Tom Smith’s words about Lancashire’s plans for Pietersen seem somewhat ineffectual. Asked how Lancashire intended to deal with Pietersen, Smith replied that they would simply give the ball to Kerrigan.
2.55pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Nottinghamshire
Never mind the Test series against South Africa, Strauss must be making a play for England’s T20 team. With 38 runs from 24 balls, including a soaring six over long-off against Samit Patel, the opener stormed from 62 to 100.
In all, Strauss’s century came from 157 deliveries, with 12 fours as well as that six, and Middlesex were close to wiping out the arrears when a touch too much confidence did for Chris Rogers.
The county captain tried to whip Gurney through the leg side but fell lbw to the left-armer with the total 198. That ended a stand of 143 for the second wicket – the same number of runs added yesterday by Adam Voges and Chris Read for Notts.
2.45pm: George Dobell at Surrey v Lancashire
Apologies for the lack of updates from Guildford. A bit of writing and a bit of interviewing going on.
On the pitch, we are being treated to a Kevin Pietersen master class. He is batting magically well at present and has just reached his 50 from 42 balls with seven fours and a six.
He has been particularly harsh on Simon Kerrigan. Kerrigan, a left-arm spinner - supposedly a weakness of Pietersen - has been murdered. His first ball after lunch was deposited somewhere into the Surrey hills, while Pietersen has also cut, swept and driven with rare skill. Kerrigan has found a thick outside edge on a couple of occasions, but Pietersen looks monstrously hard to bowl against at the moment.
2.30pm: Alex Winter at Gloucestershire v Essex
Northing more annoying than dry weather and no cricket and that’s exactly what we’ve got today. A patch of ground just off the square on the Sanford Road side of the ground, near the club tents, is very damp and even though we’ve had warm sunshine for the whole day, it’s not fit for play at the moment and could possibly prevent any play at all. But still, there’s a fair few in today enjoying the hospitality. A Union Jack with “Essex CCC” has been unveiled in the temporary public stand too - still two more days for Essex fans to enjoy Cheltenham.
Tom Richardson, the Gloucestershire chief executive, has been charging around the ground on his mobile, desperate to try and get play. The festival is under-budget so far.
I’ve also been having a good chat to Jon Batty about the capping system. He is a fan of the traditional way but empathised with the notion that capped and uncapped players divides a dressing room – there used to be a physical wall at The Oval for the two sets of players. Some players that were subsequently capped did not want to cross the divide. It took Dave Gilbert, the Australian coach, to bring that wall down.
But Batty saw the capped players at Surrey as something to aim for and 48 County Championship appearances after his debut in 1994, he was presented with his Surrey cap – the 173rd Surrey player to be capped. A marvellous achievement. Gloucestershire’s caps now number in the 500s.
2.15pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Nottinghamshire
Plenty of applause here, both during and immediately after the lunch interval. For starters, so to speak, Jim Carter (of Mr Carson, the butler, fame in Downton Abbey) was handing out awards in a boundary edge marquee to Middlesex Cricket Board volunteers.
Then, once play resumed, Chris Rogers, the home captain, gave spectators every chance to put their hands together by driving Ben Phillips for three fours in an over.
For reasons not entirely clear, Phillips had spent some of the break hurling a medicine ball into the turf with all his might. Anyway, he didn’t appear to be bowling a heavy ball at Rogers.
Middlesex were not exactly playing the Notts attack with a stick of rhubarb. But batting looked a pleasant enough occupation with the scoreboard showing 136 for one.
2.15pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Yorkshire
Overheard in the atrium during yet another rain delay: umpire Nigel Cowley greets an old friend with the words "Welcome to Lake Ageas."
1pm: Jon Culley at Edgbaston
Appearances can be deceptive. There is a definite hint of warmth and a brightening sky at Edgbaston, where the covers are coming off and the blotter is busily sucking up a slick of water to the west of the square. Sadly, this is only in preparation for tomorrow. Today's play has been abandoned, the result of a sodden outfield that has taken all the water it can absorb. This means that eight of the last 14 scheduled days of cricket here in The Summer That Never Was have come and gone without a ball bowled.
1.05pm: David Lloyd at Middlesex v Nottinghamshire
Middlesex have lost just once in the championship this season – bowled out by Somerset on the final afternoon of the first game – and, by the looks of this morning’s session, they will fight hard here to avoid a second defeat.
The ground staff at this venue by the A40 did their temporary tenants no favours by somehow getting the outfield fit for play despite last night’s torrential rain. Happily for the neutral, though, Middlesex responded to all that hard work by putting noses to the grindstone.
Having been bowled out for 98 in the first innings – thanks to tricky pitch, good bowling and too much Twenty20 style batting – the hosts went past that paltry total for nothing worse than the loss of Sam Robson. By lunch they had reached 107 for one, 124 behind
Andrew Strauss was exempt from criticism on Wednesday, making more than half of Middlesex’s runs before being bowler by a beauty from Andre Adams, and England’s captain added a second solid half-century this morning.
It wasn’t at all what Notts had in mind. But the table-toppers still have plenty of time (five sessions, if the weather plays ball) to wrap up victory No 5.
12.15pm: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Yorkshire
With little more than half the season gone, Hampshire have already lost 60% more play to rain than they did throughout all of last year. Last season, Hampshire lost 46.25 hours to rain, with only Middlesex (51.2 hours) more badly affected. Sussex (12.5 hours) were least affected. It is not just Hampshire’s Championship campaign that has been hit. Two of their six CB40 games have also been rain-affected, with one abandoned. Chairman Rod Bransgrove admitted: "It's difficult to put a figure on it, but there's no denying there has been an impact."
11.50am: George Dobell at Surrey v Lancashire
Suddenly that 336 looks a bit further away. Rory Burns, having fielded for two-and-half days, has been bowled first ball, leaving one that turned out to be very straight.
11.40am: George Dobell at Surrey v Lancashire
Croft has surpassed the highest first-class score of his career - previously 122, scored against Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire - and has accelerated Lancashire to their declaration: 485 for 7. Lancashire scored 60 in 37 minutes this morning, with Croft scoring 50 of them this morning in 35 balls with six fours and a six. He ends unbeaten 154 - from 202 balls, with 19 fours and a six - and, despite one scare when he top-edged into his helmet, batted with admirable flair and selflessness.
Surrey require 336 to avoid the follow-on.
11.10am: George Dobell at Surrey v Lancashire
Morning from Guildford. Only a fantastic effort from the groundstaff has us under way on time this morning. It rained a great deal last night and, as an out-ground, to have dealt with that is a wonderful tribute to their hard work.
Lancashire have decided to bat on this morning. That’s a bit of a surprise at first glance, though they may feel that batting once is their best chance of victory. They may also have reasoned that Surrey can’t have relished the prospect of coming out to field for the third successive morning. At least Chris Tremlett, bowling in a first-class game for the first time in more than six months, has come through a tough test unscathed. Sensibly reasoning that there is little point over-exerting himself on this pitch, he has kept a little back, but he has still looked the most dangerous of the bowlers.
Croft has started aggressively this morning. He slashed the first ball of the day - from Meaker - for four and has just pulled Lewis for six. The forecast for later is not great but, if the weather holds, Surrey could face a challenging session or two.
11.10am: Ivo Tennant at Hampshire v Yorkshire
We have play at West End - and that is quite something these days. Thunderstorms are forecast, but that is only to be expected. All too few spectators, but that is only to be expected, too. Kevan James, the popular former Hampshire all rounder who now works for the BBC, has been asked how many times he was called a c*** during his playing days - or whether such insults are confined only to the football field and Westminster Magistrates Court. "Too many times," he said, "including by the very best."
10.55am: Alex Winter at Gloucestershire v Essex
Very good Monty, they used to play that song before the players walked out at Bath Rugby - perhaps the least intimidating venue in world rugby! Quite often it would be the relaxed nature of the place that caught the opposition out.
Her at Cheltenham, it's another marvellous Westcountry morning. The sun is shining, the temperature is warm, walkers are up on Cleeve Hill, God is in his heaven but the final piece of the puzzle is missing because we have no cricket until at least after lunch. The rainfall last night was relentless. It began around 4pm when the players left the field and never returned. By the time I was turning in some seven hours later, six miles away towards Gloucester, the rain had not ceased. As such the outfield is soggy and some areas around the ground – behind the club tents at the bottom of the slope especially – are rather ugly.
But the conditions this morning are conducive to drying everything up. It just depends whether we can avoid one of the sharp showers that are around throughout the day. But even if we can get on, where can this game go? We have another 10 overs for bonus points in this first innings. Realistically Gloucestershire can only get one more point, 16 runs required, and Essex probably won’t get another, needing more two wickets when the first four have taken some labour.
The beauty of Cheltenham is that it isn’t a disaster when it rains (some say the same about Center Parcs). The town centre is a 10 minute walk away and the Bath Road, a mere two minute shuffle, is often the first port of call for many whose day at the cricket is interrupted. In fact one of my best afternoons at the Cheltenham Festival came a few years back when play against Sussex in a CB40 was quickly abandoned. A very good friend and I retreated up the Bath Road and the afternoon was spent in the Brown Jug pub, Wadworth 6X and skittles galore with the locals.
10am: Alan Gardner with the coffee and pastries
Good morning from all of us on the county blog. As Axl Rose once said, "Welcome to the jungle, we've got fun and games." The Championship may be less of a jungle and more of a menagerie, but fun and games is certainly apt. We have a few big beasts roaming the circuit to bring you news from Guildford, West End, Edgbaston, Cheltenham and Uxbridge - weather permitting, of course - as well as all of yesterday's reports, on our county homepage.
In fact, perhaps petting zoo would be a more appropriate description, as you're invited to wander through the gates and get involved. Be careful which of our writers you approach, however, else you might lose a finger, or worse ...
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo