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5.20pm: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Yorkshire
Today is Yorkshire Day. But not at Wantage Road, where a good position set up by the 104-run partnership between Jaques and Gale for the third wicket has been badly wasted. Apart from the snorter from David Willey that got rid of Adam Lyth every dismissal can be put down to unforced error. Seven wickets have gone for 75 since Gale's risky single ran Jaques out. Pyrah, Ballance, Rashid and Rafiq seem to have been holding their own contest to see who could get out to the worst shot. 224-3.
5.10pm: Jeremy Culley at Nottinghamshire v Surrey
Surrey captain Rory Hamilton-Brown has returned to Surrey’s first team after a period away from the game following the death of his close friend Tom Maynard in June. Hamilton-Brown was granted a period of compassionate leave after last featuring for his county in a Twenty20 match with Hampshire on June 30.
Surrey team manager, Chris Adams, said: “We are delighted to welcome Rory Hamilton-Brown back into the squad. He is ready to play cricket again and that is excellent news for the team and the club.”
Stand-in captain Gareth Batty will continue to lead the team during tonight’s Clydesdale Bank 40 match with Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
Maynard’s death particularly affected Hamilton-Brown as the two shared a flat together near The Oval. Another of Maynard’s close friends Jade Dernbach is also making his first appearance for Surrey since the passing of his team-mate, although the reason for his absence has been a side strain sustained on England duty.
4.35pm: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Yorkshire
The double dismissal of Jaques and Gale left Yorkshire with two new batsmen together, neither of whom was off the mark, and Northants have taken full advantage. Two wickets since tea have swung the day back in their favour.
Jonny Bairstow started brightly, as he usually does, but after a couple of very nice strokes brought him consecutive boundaries off David Willey he missed a ball from Lee Daggett and was leg before, shaping to play through leg.
Daggett can't keep out of the action -- the first ball of his next over saw Rich Pyrah caught at point off a top edge for nought. That'll be his match over if Bresnan turns up tomorrow.
Gary Ballance has launched a couple of decent blows off Middlebrook and Rashid got off the mark by driving Daggett down the ground for four. Yorkshire are 201-6.
4.15pm: Ivo Tennant at Sussex v Worcestershire
Ed Joyce, in his first session as the new Sussex captain, has overseen the removal of three Worcestershire batsmen. Supporters of Uday Joshi, the county’s former player who is now languishing in a jail near Belfast for an offence involving a minor, are hoping Joyce will add his name to a petition calling for his release. Former skippers Tony Greig and John Barclay, both of whom played with Joshi, have sent hand-written letters of encouragement.
3.15pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Somerset
Heavy showers have now sent the spectators scurrying for shelter, which is not easy on such an open ground as Aigburth. Had this been staged at Old Trafford, which Lancashire had never considered given the schedule of the redevelopment work at headquarters, the crowd would have found plenty of places to hide from the rain.
This being Aigburth, other than the canopy over-hanging the refreshment van, the only other area of sanctuary is in the Pavilion. Under normal circumstances, it is a members-only zone, but Liverpool CC have been very good this summer in allowing paying spectators to shelter at times of extreme weather.
Until the rain began to fall heavily, Lancashire were progressing at some rate with Ashwell Prince and Karl Brown extending their third wicket stand to 63 with a series of boundaries to help them reach 91 for two. Having benefitted from favourable weather conditions throughout last summer at Aigburth – a major factor in their championship triumph – there would be few grounds for complaint inside the Lancashire dressing room now.
3.10pm: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Yorkshire
The graft is -- or rather was -- paying off for Phil Jaques and Andrew Gale, who had kept their discipline against some consistently accurate Northamptonshire bowling to complete a 100-run stand for the third wicket. They hadn't been flawless. Since lunch, Gale has been dropped on 24 at second slip off Willey, the chance a fairly routine one to David Sales, and Jaques on 59, although there was a much higher degree of difficulty involved as Oli Stone, with a lot of running to do first, couldn't quite hold on in the long-on region when the batsman sent a slog-sweep at Middlebrook soaring into the sky.
But it's gone suddenly and calamitously wrong, though, thanks to Lee Daggett, who ran out non-striker Jaques for 75 with a direct hit from mid-off after Gale went for a slightly risky single and, four balls later, held a catch off his own bowling to remove Gale for 38. From 148-2, Yorks are 148-4.
2.40pm: Ivo Tennant at Sussex v Worcestershire
Overheard in the car park, James Anyon talking to a steward: "We'd be playing in Preston (his home patch) in this drizzle." It has now abated, and he is. Ed Joyce, optimistically wearing a huge sunhat, is dictating field placings for the first time as official Sussex skipper.
2.00pm: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Somerset Those souls brave enough to take on pessimistic weather forecasts at Aigburth this morning have been rewarded with an entertaining morning’s session that both sides will review with some encouragement.
Having been put into bat in testing conditions, Lancashire will no doubt be relieved they have only lost two wickets and represents a major improvement from their last championship innings, when they were dismissed for 63 against Worcestershire at Old Trafford. They have reached this point with some determined batting against a new ball that provided plenty of encouragement for Somerset’s seamers.
Peter Trego, given the new ball from the River End, bowled 41 deliveries before the first runs were scored off him with a Karl Brown cover drive breaking his miserly spell. By lunch he had claimed impressive figures of 10-7-12-2 after his first six overs were maidens.
Stephen Moore continued his desperate summer by edging him into the safe hands of Marcus Trescothick at slip, extending his sequence of first class innings without a half century this summer to 23, while Paul Horton fell lbw pushing forward defensively.
We are yet to see Andrea Agathangelou, Lancashire’s championship debutant, but we have had a one-over burst from 21-year-old Jack Leach, a left-arm spinner also given his first championship outing, shortly before the interval. Rain has halted Lancashire’s progress four balls into the afternoon session and the weather prospects are bleak for the remainder of the day.
1.10pm: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Yorkshire
As August days go this is not the best, with no sign of the sun at all, but the Gallone's ice cream van has taken up its customary position, so all is well with the world. Gallone's -- founded by Italian immigrants -- have been doing business in Northampton since 1935. Not sure how long they have had their pitch at Wantage Road but they are long established as providing the best ice creams on the county circuit.
Tim Bresnan may be here to sample one tomorrow, should England not need him at Headingley. Rich Pyrah will stand down from the Yorkshire side in this eventuality.
Yorkshire lost a second wicket when Joe Root was caught behind as he rather casually followed a wide delivery from 18-year-old Oli Stone, a right-arm seam bowler from Norfolk playing in only his second first-class match. It was Stone's second first-class wicket. His first was that of Andrew Gale in the Championship fixture between these sides in May.
Gale and Phil Jaques have guided Yorkshire to lunch with no further losses, although it has been hard graft. The last eight overs before lunch yielded just one run. Stone finished his spell with figures of 6-2-12-1. Andrew Hall, David Willey and Lee Daggett have been similarly tight. Yorkshire are 76-2.
12.20pm: Ivo Tennant at Sussex v Worcestershire
And still the rain falls on Hove. Time, then, to appreciate the long career of Les Lenham, now 76, who tomorrow celebrates the 60th anniversary of his arrival on this ground - he scored 12,796 runs for Sussex - before becoming a well-respected coach. His joint benefit, in 1969, with Graham Cooper, raised £6,300. Sounds peanuts, but was probably enough in those days for the two of them to buy properties even in this expensive area. Les will be having a few drinks with old friends tomorrow.
11.45: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Yorkshire
The question for Yorkshire, who have won the toss and chosen to bat at Wantage Road, is how their promotion prospects will hold up as injuries and international calls disturb the balance of their team. With Steve Harmison, on loan from Durham, unlikely to play any further part after suffering a side strain in the drawn match at Leicester, and Ryan Sidebottom still a couple of weeks away from a return, they have gone into this match with a heavy burden on leading wicket-taker Steve Patterson.
Mitchell Starc, who took five wickets in the match when these sides met at Headingley at the end of May, is with the Australia A side, whose two-match series against England Lions will deprive Yorkshire of two key batsmen in Joe Root and Jonathan Bairstow for the key Division Two match against leaders Derbyshire at Headingley the week after next. In the light of their upcoming absence, the return to form of Adam Lyth is timely but the left-hander will not be delivering a substantial follow-up to his unbeaten 248 at Grace Road in this innings -- he has gone for six, surprised by a short ball from David Willey that looped off the shoulder of the bat to James Middlebrook at gully.
The jeering of Harmison by some spectators at Leicester did not go down well with Jason Gillespie, the first-team coach. "I thought it was poor," Gillespie said. Harmison bowled an assortment of dross and jaffas, by all accounts, sending down wides on both sides of the stumps and a succession of no-balls that made him pretty much unreadable to the batsmen, as Ramnaresh Sarwan discovered when he had the misfortune to be surprised by a straight one in both innings.
Gillespie claimed, nonetheless, that Harmison was getting back to his old self. Interestingly, he cited as evidence the observation from Ian Gould, one of the umpires, that Harmison 'sounded like the old Harmy' in his rhythm as he approached the stumps.
Northamptonshire have some injury problems of their own, incidentally, with both Chaminda Vaas and Jack Brooks missing this one.
11.25am: Myles Hodgson at Lancashire v Somerset
Good morning from Aigburth, where we have had a slightly delayed start in Autumnal conditions but have had some fascinating team news already. Despite both sides needing a win for very different motives – Lancashire want to escape relegation while Somerset are hoping to mount a title challenge – they have included championship debutants in their line-ups.
Lancashire have called up Andrea Agathangelou, a South-African Cypriot signed after impressing for Rishton in the Lancashire League, after Tom Smith failed a fitness test on his thigh strain. A batsman who also bowls leg-spin, he faces a tough baptism after Lancashire lost the toss and were put into bat in seamer-friendly conditions.
Somerset welcome back Marcus Trescothick, their captain, for his first championship match since injuring ankle ligaments against Nottinghamshire in April. His return could not have been more timely as the season braces itself for the championship climax and he no doubt had an input in selecting Jack Leach, a 21-year-old left-arm spinner from Taunton, for his championship debut.
Trescothick played alongside Leach recently in one of his comeback matches for the seconds, for whom the young spinner has claimed 11 wickets in his last two matches. He also has a notable achievement this summer that has already proved beyond England’s attack by dismissing Hashim Amla in the recent two-day match against South Africa at Taunton.
11.15am: Ivo Tennant at Sussex v Worcestershire
Forget about Hove's golden glow. It is raining at present, delaying Ed Joyce's first match as the new Sussex captain following Mike Yardy's decision to stand down. Cricket manager Mark Robinson said: "Michael wants to concentrate on his own game. The captaincy takes a lot of time and attention. Every day you are absorbed by it and live by it. The pressures take their toll." Joyce has got off to a good start: he has won the toss, and has elected to field.
10.30am Andrew McGlashan sets the scene
The Championship is hotting up at both ends of the Division One table. Durham’s narrow victory against Middlesex has bunched together the relegation candidates, while at the top Warwickshire and Nottinghamshire continue to trade blows. A number of teams now have only five games left for the season – sorry, if that brings thoughts of a long winter – and, especially for those at the foot of the table, it is starting to become a nervous time.
This week brings together teams with differing priorities. Lancashire, last year’s champions but now in the relegation fight, face Somerset who are trying to keep in touch with the leaders. One of those pace-setters, Warwickshire, are away to Middlesex on the traditionally flat surface at Uxbridge. Meanwhile, Worcestershire, who have two games in hand on some of the teams, face Sussex now under the leadership of Ed Joyce after Michael Yardy’s decision to stand down.
In Division Two it is also getting tight to see who goes up. Derbyshire, who sat out last week’s round, do not start their match until Thursday and will face a Kent side denied by Hampshire’s last wicket stand at West End. Yorkshire, left cursing the weather yet again, will aim to make up ground against Northamptonshire who are in mid-table no-man’s land at the moment. Steve Harmison’s loans spell, remembered as much for the wides as the wickets, has ended after he picked up a side strain.
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Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.