August 7, 2012

LV= County Championship, Tuesday August 7

5.30pm: Alex Winter at Somerset v Nottinghamshire

5.30pm: Alex Winter at Somerset v Nottinghamshire

Well that didn’t last long. It was eight overs of hell for the batsman with Pete Trego and Steve Kirby beating the bat and finding the edge – most of the 18 runs were to third man. With the first ball of the ninth over Trego found Rikki Wessels’ edge and straight after a heavy shower took the players off. That’s now upgraded itself to steady drizzle and surely this is going to be knocked on the head now.

It had looked hellish over the hills during that eight overs, the umpires flirted with leaving the field and finally they were forced to go and surely this is goodnight Charlie now with all the sheets being dragged on. Not soon enough for Wessels the poor boy. Well, he should have moved his feet properly!

4.40pm: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A

The wicket this match is being played on is one of those Lancashire regard as “tried and trusted.” It occupies the plot shared by the old square, before it was rotated through ninety degrees, and the new. The pitch has so far behaved pretty well, and this is very much for the best since Chris Wood and Jack Birkenshaw, two members of the panel that decided the last Old Trafford strip was “poor”, are now out in the middle discussing the wicket with groundsman Matt Merchant.

As to the cricket, England Lions have proceeded cautiously against an accurate Australian attack. Fast bowler Jackson Bird has bowled 10-4-21-0. The wicket, however, was taken by Michell Johnson who bowled a lifter to Joe Root which the Yorkshire batsman could only fend off the glove down the leg side to Tim Paine. Nick Compton has batted with reassuring steadiness and is 36 not out. Eoin Morgan is 25. England 68-1 off 34 overs

4.30pm: Alex Winter at Somerset v Nottinghamshire

Well everyone in Somerset has suddenly woken up. Much credit due to the umpires here for hanging on and now the worst of the rain has cleared, we’re going to get some cricket. 29 overs starting at 4.40pm. The pitch has a large amount of grass on it.

Hold the phone. It’s raining again and the covers have been replaced. So we’re not out of the rain just yet then and we haven’t yet tossed up. Oh hang on, the covers are off again and now we’re getting a toss! This is very silly. Somerset have now won the toss and will bowl first, predictably.

Graeme Swann is confirmed in the Notts line up, he will be hoping to not be required for some time. And Abdur Rehman has finally arrived and plays for Somerset, we await to see what role he will have to play.

4.15pm: Myles Hodgson at Durham v Surrey

The arrival of a pitch inspector at a county ground, particularly when plenty of wickets have fallen on the first day, usually provokes the home county into becoming very twitchy for fear of being docked points for a poor pitch. Durham, lying bottom of the first division, can ill afford such a penalty so the arrival of David Hughes, the former Lancashire captain, early in the day could have caused great anxiety in the home dressing room.

After dismissing Surrey for 129 within 48.3 overs after they won the toss and chose to bat first, there could have been reason for Durham to worry. On this occasion, however, it would be a big surprise if Hughes attributed the collapse to anything more than good bowling and loose batting.

Durham also lost an early wicket, Mark Stoneman pulling Jade Dernbach straight to mid-wicket, but with plenty of moisture in the wicket following heavy rain yesterday, it would have been a surprise had Surrey reached a competitive first innings total.

3.15pm: Myles Hodgson at Durham v Surrey

Reading conditions and adapting accordingly is one of the key skills within cricket, but one that every so often catches even the most experienced of cricketers looking like novices. Gareth Batty, Surrey’s captain, has plenty of experience at county level and international level yet there are times when even someone of his cricketing knowledge can be caught out.

This morning would fall into that category when he chose to bat after winning the toss in sunny conditions at the Emirates Durham stadium and watched his side slump to 129 all out in only 48.3 overs. No doubt Chris Adams, Surrey’s Director of Cricket, would point to a number of loose shots and a run out in the over before lunch as contributory factors in their collapse, but conditions have also not behaved as they expected.

Paul Collingwood, Durham’s captain, expressed his surprise at Surrey’s decision and claimed he wanted to bowl but that may have been typical mind games at the start of play. He might also have had an insight into moisture in the wicket after recent bad weather, which included flash floods in Newcastle only yesterday.

It was wet enough for Durham’s ground staff to put mats on the right hand edge of the square to protect damp patches and Collingwood’s attack exploited the conditions superbly. Chris Rushworth set the tone with a new ball burst of 6-2-11-1, but Ben Stokes was the pick of the attack and finished with four for 40 bowling with pace and displaying an impressive yorker. Surrey have some work to do if they are to remain competitive from here, although Jade Dernbach has just removed Mark Stoneman in the third over of Durham's reply.

2.15pm: Alex Winter at Nottinghamshire v Somerset

Hello again. Slightly better news here in that it has stopped raining and the groundstaff have been able to get one cover off next to the wicket. The umpires, Ian Gould and Steve O’Shaughnessy, thought it was damp but probably playable. The challenge is a larger amount of water on the cover furthest away from the wicket – the blotter is busy trying to mop that up. There’s going to be anther check at 2.30pm but its grey and more rain is a distinct possibility.

On the plus side, the food here at Taunton is excellent and the old pavilion bar a delight; even more so with footage of another GB gold. The toughest of choices between ham and cheese ploughman’s but a ploughman’s really isn’t a ploughman’s without cheese therefore a large lump of Somerset cheddar won out. And if this lack of cricket becomes terminal, a pint of Ringwood Best – very nice drop – with be watering it down sooner rather than later.

2pm: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A

We are to have a 2.30 start here and a projected 63 overs in the day. England Lions have won the toss and will bat.

Teams: Lions: Root, Compton, Morgan, Bairstow, Kieswetter, Patel, Woakes, Meaker, Tredwell, Harris, Kerrigan. So that’s four Test players: Bairstow, Morgan, Patel and Tredwell. Three spinners: Tredwell, Patel and Kerrigan (the latter making his four-day debut for the Lions.) There’s no Ravi Bopara in the Lions side.

Australia A has four Test players too: Cowan, Paine, Johnson and Lyon, plus Davis, Klinger, Forrest, Burns, Cooper, Bird and Holland.

12.40pm: Myles Hodgson at Durham v Surrey

There is no doubt that local knowledge pays off sometimes and Paul Collingwood’s experiences of conditions at Emirates Durham stadium have given the bottom placed county in division one an early lift. Having lost the toss to Gareth Batty, Surrey’s captain, Collingwood expressed his surprise that their opponents had decided to bat first.

Admittedly, the conditions suggested a good day for batting with a sky-line stolen from the opening credits of the Simpsons, but that is to ignore the recent conditions in the North East, including flash floods in Newcastle yesterday. Matting had to be put on the right hand side of the square to hide the damp patches, so it was little surprise Collingwood was pleased his side was bowling in the hope they exploit any moisture there may be in the wicket.

That confidence was backed up by his attack with Chris Rushworth bowling a superb outswinger that Zafar Ansari edged behind, Rory Burns was beaten by a swinging yorker from Ben Stokes, who followed that by nipping one back to win an lbw appeal against Zander de Bruyn. All in all it has been Durham’s morning.

12.30pm: Alex Winter at Somerset v Nottinghamshire

So I’m now tucked into the old press box at Taunton – a funny pokey little thing really with old strobe lighting and desks including a mini upper-sill, combined with a large sign for a well-known mobile provider. The press box reflects the whole ground's mix of old and new – the tired Sir Ian Botham stand sat alongside the swanky Colin Atkinson pavilion at the river end being the best example.

Unfortunately the rain that has prevented a start here looks pretty set in. The Quantock hills in the distance are now invisible behind low, miserable, grey cloud. But it was cloud that only appeared a few miles up the motorway, call it the Bridgwater turn, suggesting Taunton has been pretty unlucky. They are playing at Bristol.

But despite the weather this is such a lovely place to be. Quiet and peaceful. Well it was until I switched on the telly and began ranting about Phillips Idowu – another seemingly wasting his talent with silly behaviour towards administrators.

11.45am Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A

Well, it may be a county blog but there are one or two county cricketers playing for England A this week and next whose performances will be even more closely monitored as a result of Kevin Pietersen’s outburst after the Headingley Test. So maybe we should keep in touch with them….The Australians, too, of course.

So good morning from a pretty damp Old Trafford, although the only progress made this morning has been on the ground’s new players’ and media suite. The rain’s been pretty solid for an hour but my guess is that we’ll get some play later in the day. For the moment, though, not only has Cheshire disappeared, but so has the Hilton. And those of you who know Old Trafford at all well will have some sense of the cloud cover from that. My optimism may be wide of the mark. Never mind, at least I’m not in a motorway service station…

10.15am: Alex Winter at Gordano services

This cricinfo lot don’t half send me to some rum places. Thankfully this M5 location just south of Bristol is only a stop off en route to Taunton for Nottinghamshire v Somerset, so my next writing location shall be far more luxurious. Saying that, this is a new coffee shop here, there’s also a revamped KFC.

Starbucks nowadays asks you for a name when ordering, so they aren’t forever booming out “LARGE LATTE WITH VANILLA! LARGE LATTE WITH VANILLA!” until someone volunteers to take the drink off their hands. But they only require a name, they don’t request your name, therefore I’m having some fun with this technicality. Firstly, I went for Dave then Olympic fever meant I changed to Seb. Then the novelty and slight confusion of being addressed by a different name wore off. Today I plumped for something to challenge the girls behind the counter. “Large Americano for, er, Pa-ran-a-vit-an-a?!” No-one recognised me as the Sri Lankan opening batsman. Can’t think why.

It’s a little game that Graeme Swann, the cheeky chappy, might try. And it is he I’m off to watch today. Back on county duty after being left out of the England team for the second Test and a week to go until the third. Hopefully for the national side he can find some form.

The broader picture is that it is a huge game for both Notts – eight points off top of the table Warwickshire – and Somerset – 20 points adrift. Warwickshire are back in action tomorrow at home to Worcestershire with George Dobell watching – surely a home banker but we said that last week when both the Bears and Notts were held at home.

The only other Division One match today is down in the basement with Durham – revitalised perhaps after that miraculous success over Middlesex last time out – entertaining Surrey – themselves buoyed by their fightback to secure a draw at Edgbaston a few days ago. Myles Hodgson is up there for us.

Also today it is day two of Gloucestershire against Hampshire at Bristol. Hamish Marshall and two other half-centurions gathered the hosts, who won at West End earlier this year, up to a couple of batting points. Kent against Essex begins tomorrow.

The gold medals may be rolling in for Great Britain but remember the main reason why the world looks upon our green and pleasant land and thinks of us as great: the County Championship – in that table we’ll always be No. 1.

[Reluctant afterthought] Oh go on then, what about Kevin Pietersen. I don't think he deserves to be associated with such a revered institution as England cricket the way he's behaving. Take your Indian dollars and come back in 20 years and I'll ask you if you're satisfied. Bring back an unfit and horrendously out of form Alec Stewart I say - there was a man prepared to sacrifice for Queen and Country.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo