July 20, 2012

LV= County Championship, Friday July 20

5.20pm: Ivo Tennant at Somerset v Warwickshire

5.20pm: Ivo Tennant at Somerset v Warwickshire

No-one wants to see Ravi Bopara. Well, Somerset supporters, maybe. Nick Compton has just taken his championship tally for the season to 935 runs, way ahead of anyone else. His average is a mere 93.05. Watch out, Ravi.......

5.05pm: David Lloyd at Kent v Glamorgan

The rain has stopped (for now) and the umps reckon we may get a restart at 6pm. which would leave 13 overs to be bowled today. Then again, another show could roll along.

4.35pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Worcestershire

Lancashire have followed their comprehensive defeat by Nottinghamshire in the only other championship match at Old Trafford this season by losing to Worcestershire by 205 runs after being dismissed for 63 in only 31.1 overs today.

Needing 269 runs for an unlikely victory, Lancashire were never able to cope with the threat offered by the off-spin of Moeen Ali from the Pavilion End, who claimed six for 29 and finished with match figures of 12 for 96. It was also Lancashire’s lowest total at Old Trafford since being dismissed for 62 by Somerset in 1963.

To add to Lancashire’s growing concern about their first division status, two members of the ECB’s pitch liaison panel – Jack Birkenshaw and Bill Hughes – were at the ground to witness their capitulation and they may face further points penalties.

4.10pm: David Lloyd at Kent v Glamorgan

The umpires had fairly high hopes for a 4.30pm restart, but that is not going to happen now. Rain has returned, much heavier than the earlier stuff, and it is starting to look pretty bleak for the rest of the day.

3.55pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Worcestershire

Such has been the velocity of Lancashire’s second innings collapse this afternoon, several members of the press box have been feverishly scouring the record books for their lowest ever totals at Old Trafford.

Another four wickets for Moeen Ali, taking his tally for the match to 10, has left Lancashire reeling on 42 for six at tea still trailing by 226 and in danger of recording one of their lowest post war totals at home base. They are in sight of eclipsing the 48 they recorded against Derbyshire in 1960, their lowest post-War total at Old Trafford, but have some way to go to beat the 96 they recorded in 1964 – their lowest total against Worcestershire at Old Trafford.

For those not interested in statistics, suffice to say that Lancashire’s decision to allow Gary Keedy to join the seconds at Southport so they could play an extra seamer has back-fired badly.

3.30pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Surrey

Despite this being the second fastest drying ground in the country after Lord's, this one is off for the second day running after a fourth inspection by umpires Bainton and Bailey. The problem is the wicket ends and the bowlers' run-ups at the pavilion end, which just are not drying quickly enough on a cool, sunless, windless day.

There was a willingness to play from both teams but the umpires have to take the risk of injury to players into account, although the emergence of a number of players for a kick-about with a football suggests they are not concerned on that count.

It is in the interests of both sides to try to find a way to get a result by some means, with Nottinghamshire anxious to stay in front of Warwickshire at the top and Surrey keen to escape a relegation battle.

3pm: David Lloyd at Kent v Glamorgan

Just when you think the weather is trying to be kind it turns around and kicks you in the unmentionables. A horribly dark cloud toyed with the St Lawrence Ground this afternoon, threatening to waterlog everything beneath it before slinking off down leg-side without releasing a drop of water.

Phew! But then, would you believe it, a puny little light grey thing nipped in to unleash some steady drizzle and halt play. No wonder the ground staff were confused, although they really should have had the wheeled covers in place a little more quickly than they did.

By then, James Harris had claimed his fifth wicket of the innings – clean bowling Mark Davies for a useful 24 – Geraint Jones had moved on to 69 (which included a couple of sixes swept off Dean Cosker) and No 11 Charlie Shreck had caused great hilarity on the home balcony by majestically driving Cosker straight back over the spinner’s head and beyond the rope.

At 456 for nine Kent were surely primed for a declaration.

2.45pm: Ivo Tennant at Somerset v Warwickshire

News from the Somerset second X1 match against Essex at Coggeshall. In fact no news, as it has been abandoned. This means that Marcus Trescothick will not have a further bat following his innings of 42 on Thursday. Still, he is in the squad for the CB40 fixture against Durham this Sunday, which would be his first match back in the county side for three months following his ankle injury. The gate will be boosted, for sure.

2.25pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Worcestershire

If there were any doubt that this wicket, one of the new ones created by Lancashire turning the square at Old Trafford by 90 degrees, was conducive to spin bowling, Steven Croft has ended it by becoming the third spinner in as many days to claim career best figures on it. Croft claimed six for 41 to finish with match figures of nine for 105 with Worcestershire slumping to 135 all out after losing their last five wickets for 22 runs in 13.1 overs.

Croft’s impact was all the more impressive for the fact that, until two years ago he did not take his bowling seriously. It took a conversation with VVS Laxman, the Indian batsman, during his time at Lancashire as overseas player to convince Croft he should work on his off-spin. Croft even claimed two wickets in successive balls to remove Shaaik Choudhry and Vikram Solanki only for Alan Richardson to guide his hat-trick ball off his legs.

It has left Lancashire with an unlikely victory target of 269, or to survive five sessions on this wicket to prevent Worcestershire claiming their first championship win of the summer.

2.15pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Surrey

Umpires Bainton and Bailey are not giving up the ghost just yet. They have had a look and decided that the two men with portable hot-air blowers who have been trying to dry out some wet patches at the edge of the square at the pavilion end can carry on working for a while longer. They will take another look at three.

1.20pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Worcestershire

It has been another fascinating morning at Old Trafford, where Lancashire claimed five quick wickets before being frustrated by a 47-run stand between Vikram Solanki and Gareth Andrew, only to break that partnership shortly before lunch. Worcestershire are still in control of the match, however, leading by 247 runs with four wickets remaining and Lancashire already face a huge task batting last on such a spin-friendly wicket.

Lancashire’s spinners have once again caused most of the damage, with Steven Croft and Simon Kerrigan sharing five wickets. Possibly the most crucial breakthrough of the morning session, however, was the last only three overs before the interval when Croft dismissed Gareth Andrew and ended a productive sixth wicket stand.

Andrew had tried to be positive earlier in his innings of 29, hitting Kerrigan for six, but fell attempting to be aggressive against Croft and was caught at deep mid-on by Ajmal Shahzad. Worcestershire’s hopes of batting Lancashire into submission may rest on Vikram Solanki, who announced his decision to join Surrey at the end of the season earlier today, but has scored a useful 39 to edge his side closer to their first championship victory of the summer.

1pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Surrey

The umpires have been out to have a look, 40 minutes ahead of the scheduled time. They are going to have another think at around two o'clock but the ground is still very soggy and it isn't drying so the word is: don't hold your breath.

12.55pm: Ivo Tennant at Somerset v Warwickshire

Interesting conversation between Warwickshire's director of coaching, Ashley Giles, and David Fulton, Kent captain turned Sky commentator, on the blacony at Taunton. Fulton is quizzing Giles as to why Warwickshire do not have a short leg in place - for any bowler. The consensus is that the position has gone out of fashion this season on account of the seam movement around the country. The slip cordon is fully stocked instead. A dry summer in 2013 might be required to bring this back into play.

12.35pm: David Lloyd at Kent v Glamorgan

Glamorgan have used more subs already this match than an England football manager during a friendly international, but all with good reason. Among those needing a replacement, at various times, were Marcus North (nursing a sore ankle) and Huw Waters (feeling queasy) – and one of those taking to the field was Graham Wagg, slowly but surely making his way back to full fitness after breaking an ankle during the championship match against Essex in early May.

Wagg marked his return to action by holding a slip catch to remove James Tredwell, Waters having earlier dismissed both first day century-makers (Brendan Nash, 114, and Darren Stevens, 123) with the second new ball.

Still with injury news, Eddie Bevan – the BBC Wales radio commentator who is missing his first Glamorgan match since Noah was a boy owing to imminent wedding day duties – has suffered a back spasm, we are reliably informed by visiting scorer Andrew Hignell. Playing golf. That will teach him to take a day off. Happily, though, Eddie will be more than fit enough to march proudly down the aisle, daughter Bethan on arm, tomorrow.

As for here, Glamorgan continue to fight back: the overnight 310-4 became 378-8 when spinner Dean Cosker had Matt Coles taken at slip.

11.45am: David Lloyd at Kent v Glamorgan

It’s amazing how often it happens – look up the details for a record partnership or when someone last scored a century and a wicket is pretty much sure to fall. And so it came to pass that Kent’s fifth wicket stand ended this morning when it was worth 204 – making earlier note-taking almost useless.

Almost but not quite because we’ll use it anyway: Rob Key and Justin Kemp added 215 against Glamorgan in 2009, a stand which remains Kent’s best for the fifth wicket against the Welsh county.

Brendan Nash was the man to go here, caught behind for 114. And, just for good measure, Huw Waters soon struck again, removing the other century-maker, Darren Stevens, for 123 via a mistimed drive to extra cover. The second new ball had done the trick for Glam, leaving Kent a not quite so commanding 319 for six.

11.40am: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Worcestershire

With all the rain about it has been a minor miracle that Old Trafford has escaped most of it, not least yesterday afternoon when Manchester city centre just a few miles away suffered a major downpour while Worcestershire claimed control of this championship match. Despite another night of rain, we have started on time and the sun has even started to break through the early morning cloud cover.

Not only have we had a prompt start but Lancashire have made two early breakthroughs, which will be vital if they are to remain in the match. They are already condemned to batting last on a wicket that has taken spin throughout and began the third morning 138 runs adrift with Worcestershire yet to lose a second innings wicket.

It is probably just as well, then, that Lancashire have made some early inroads with seam bowling making a rare appearance on the scorecard. After 17 wickets had previously fallen to spin during the match, evergreen captain Glen Chapple struck a blow for the shopfloor workers of any cricket team by having Daryl Mitchell caught behind down the leg-side.

That breakthrough prompted Chapple to turn straight away to the left-arm spin of Simon Kerrigan for the next over, who struck with his next ball to have Phil Hughes caught at short leg and reduce Worcestershire to 40 for two.

11.30am: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Surrey

The weather that did for Derbyshire against Yorks in Chesterfield dumped lots of water here too, which is not surprising given that Queen's Park is less than 30 miles up the M1. No play before lunch and while it is not raining at the moment the forecast until mid-afternoon is showery.

If the weather changes for the better as predicted, Notts anticipate a five-figure crowd for the Twenty20 quarter-final with Hampshire next Wednesday.

But they have also put their minds to how to lure in spectators should conditions still be on the iffy side. Reasoning that the way to a fan's heart is through his (or her) stomach, they have a deal that involves a ticket for the match plus a pre-match meal in the Derek Randall Suite comprising a chargrilled sirloin steak, home-made chips, peppercorn sauce, a rocket and tomato salad and a bottle of beer.

It is a nice idea, the kind of thing in the good old days that John Robertson used to tuck into before playing 90 minutes across the road. Well maybe without the rocket salad.

11.15am: Ivo Tennant at Somerset v Warwickshire

Dire news in the Daily Mail this morning for Richard Gould, the popular chief executive at Somerset who is now running the Oval, first Test and all, and is one of the favourites to take over in due course from David Collier at the ECB. Camberwell, where he has bought a flat, is rated the fifth worst area in the country in which to live. No wonder he has kept his home just outside Taunton.

10.40am: Nigel Gardner at Derbyshire v Yorkshire

First Cheltenham and now Chesterfield. Two of the loveliest grounds in England but the weather has drawn a curtain of rain across both. Sad to say that for the second day running, there is no cricket at Queen’s Park after another night and morning of persistent rain in North Derbyshire. There are large puddles of surface water on the outfield and the game was called off for the day shortly after 9am. The prospects for tomorrow are not encouraging but even if the weather improves, the match is well and truly scuppered. If the teams can get on, the only likely scenario is playing for bonus points, Yorkshire can pick up another bowling point and Derbyshire could bank a batting point if the last three wickets can muster 65 runs.

One man who will be hoping for some play on Saturday is umpire Sunderan Ravi whose stint on the county circuit ends tomorrow. He came here as part of the umpiring exchange scheme and was scheduled to stand in 11 days. So far, five of those have been washed out – he was at Cheltenham last week – and he has umpired just two full days., one of which was here on Wednesday and the other was a Second XI fixture between Middlesex and Surrey at Radlett. He flies home to Chennai on Sunday which, if the forecast is to believed, is when summer finally begins in England. Now, when does the monsoon season start in India....

10.35am: Alex Winter gets your day underway

For much of the summer the County Championship has been played out in 50 Shades of Grey but without the sadomasochism. But the weather is now set to improve and with it, the quality of cricket.

The traffic in London has also improved. I’ve never had a better drive into the office than my commute this morning. My only theory is that the Olympics have scared everyone away and no-one is driving in London until September. I was on cruise control for most of the way, it was remarkable. Throw in a freshly squeezed orange juice and this is a damn good day so far!

And County Championship action can only make it better. Yesterday, Myles Hodgson watched Lancashire struggle to adapt to the new Old Trafford, they’re up against it playing Worcestershire. Likewise Somerset, yet to bat of course, but Warwickshire have put good runs on the board, courtesy of Jim Troughton, but Ivo Tennant has told us about the impending comeback of Marcus Trescothick.

Even Stevens at Arundel yesterday and no play at Trent Bridge. No play either at Chesterfield but Yorkshire will be back out today hoping to press home their advantage in the big game with Derbyshire.

Elsewhere in Division Two, David Lloyd watched two hard-nosed pros, namly Darren Stevens and Brendan Nash, get the better of Glamorgan’s young attack. Neil McKenzie also proved a cut above the rest at Chelmsford and Ian Saxelby produced career-best figures as Gloucestershire piled more misery on Leicestershire.

All of the reports on our county cricket homepage.

Lots of other pieces to enhance your enjoyment of our county coverage. Kenny Shovel has again provided his thoughts on the game – this week on the cruel battle against the weather.

And make sure to watch Jarrod Kimber’s interview with Paul Nixon. It’s always great to see one of cricket’s greatest eccentrics getting publicity. Nixon is pretty eccentric too.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo