LV= County Championship, Thursday August 9
6.15pm: Mark Pennell at Canterbury Kent v Essex
The second new ball in the hands of Kent's wily seam bowler Charlie Shreck finally proved too much for Essex as the vistors lost their last for wickets for 20 runs to post 273 for a tidy first innings lead of 47. Shreck, the winter recruit from Nottinghamshire, finished with 5-51 after mopping up the tail in his third burst of the day from the Pavilion End. Darren Stevens accounted for James Foster after a marathon 76 from 226 balls, caught at slip off an away swinger, leaving Shreck to run through nine, 10 and jack.
5.40pm: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Worcestershire
Warwickshire will require the largest score of the match to win this game but some more flimsy batting - pretty much the theme of this game - has given them an outside chance of success.
Worcestershire, bowled out for 145, have set 260 to win on a wicket that it offering some turn and uneven bounce. It is by no means a terrible batting wicket, though, and with more than two days to score the runs, Warwickshire have a decent chance to take themselves a step closer to the Championship title.
The other cloud on Warwickshire’s horizon is the possibility that they will face action for dissent. Suffice it to say that they and the umpires have differed often and vocally in their views on decisions. At one stage the umpires spoke to Varun Chopra, captaining in the absence of the sick Jim Troughton, while it seems that Clarke’s views and his language upon being dismissed were not to the liking of Neil Bainton, in particular.
5.15pm: Mark Pennell at Kent v Essex
Essex captain James Foster is ensuring Kent will not be having things all their own way during this 161st Canterbury Week clash at St Lawrence. The former England wicketkeeper-batsman has anchored the visiting reply to reach an unbeaten 72 and ease his side into a first innings lead worth 18 so far. Graham Napier is keeping him company with a watchful 24, but Foster's 270-minute stay could yet prove the match-defining innings.
5pm: Ivo Tennant at Gloucestershire v Hampshire
Not surprisingly, Hampshire have not gone after a target of 273 off 16 overs. Match drawn. Now, if Barry Richards and Gordon Greenisdge been opening......
3.35pm: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Worcestershire
Hello from Edgbaston, where Worcestershire have taken a strong grip of this match.
By bowling out Warwickshire for 132, Worcestershire took a first innings lead of 114 and are well set to offer a daunting fourth innings target. They quickly lost Phil Hughes, who left a straight one, Daryl Mitchell, drawn into an edge off a good one on off stump, and Moeen Ali, who pushed at an outswinger, early in their second innings, so Warwickshire are not out of the game.
There is little wrong with the pitch. Worcestershire bowled well - Chris Russell in particular - and Warwickshire played some weak cricket. Jeetan Patel picking out the third man fielder as if offering catching practise was a low moment, with several other batsmen guilty of either playing across straight ones or pushing at balls they might have left. Russell, though, bowled with good pace and consistency in a 12-over spell in the morning and fully deserved his success.
Only Rikki Clarke impressed for Warwickshire. He looked untroubled in passing 50 for the fifth time in the Championship season, but clearly thought he should not have been given out - caught at short leg off bat and pad. Even if the umpire was wrong, it does not excuse his show of dissent. He will be very fortunate to escape censure.
Meanwhile the ECB have produced a survey seeking your views into the future of county cricket. It’s great that they have asked, so please take the time to fill it in: www.ecb.co.uk/countycricketsurvey
3.30p.m: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A
Even by Simon Kerrigan’s already extraordinary standards, this has been an interesting afternoon. At one stage the slow left-armer’s figures were 13-2-35-0; he finished with 25.3-7-59-6. His last five wickets were taken in the space of 43 balls.
More stats. Australia A lost their last seven wickets for 63 runs in 24 overs and England Lions have a first innings lead of 38.
Apart from that it’s been deadly dull.
3.28pm: Ivo Tennant at Gloucestershire v Hampshire
A century here for Ian Cockbain, only the second of his career, which has probably prevented Hampshire from winning this match. On the boundary, chatting with Rex Boddy, the Gloucestershire chairman, who reckons the club has done all it can to attract more spectators for first-class matches (a poor turnout again today) is David Morgan, the former chairman of the ECB, who produced a blueprint into the future of the game in England. He anticipates there will be a further pink ball trial at a county match next month, just as there was at the end of last season at Canterbury, which he attended. It seems to be taking the ECB an age to decide whether to use pink balls on a regular basis.
3.25p.m: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A
Sorry to go on but even by Simon Kerrigan’s already extraordinary standards, this has been an interesting afternoon. At one stage the slow left-armer’s figures were 13-2-35-0; he finished with 25.3-7-59-6. His last five wickets were taken in the space of 43 balls.
More stats. Australia A lost their last seven wickets for 63 runs in 24 overs and England Lions have a first innings lead of 38.
Apart from that it’s been deadly dull.
3.15pm: Mark Pennell at Canterbury Kent v Essex
A bright and breezy half-century by Essex No6 Adam Wheater has just about kept the faithful awake on a steamy St Lawrence afternoon. After limping to 76 for five, Essex are now looking considerably happier at 153 for five courtesy of Wheater's 50 and a sixth-wicket stand with James Foster that has added 77 so far. Wheater reached his personal milestone from 81 balls and with eight fours. Meanwhile, Foster has been content to play second fiddle, batting almost three hours so far for his unbeaten 40. No wonder the punters are looking forward to the Fashion on the Outfield display during the tea interval to enliven the entertainment.
2.15pm: Myles Hodgson at Chester-le-Street
After far lengthier discussion than were required it has now been confirmed that Surrey have lost two points for their slow over rate while Durham have escaped without sanction. The result means Durham have moved up to fourth bottom, five clear of Surrey while Lancashire and Worcestershire occupy the bottom two relegation places.
1.40pm: Myles Hodgson at Durham v Surrey
Cricket has various nuances that are special to all that love the game, but the regulations regarding the docking of points for slow over rate at the end of a match remain very much a mystery. Surrey were three behind the required over rate at the end of Durham’s innings according to the scoreboard, so should have been docked all three points they gained after losing by an innings and 38 runs.
Not so, though, because there are various discussions going on although we do know that Durham, one behind the rate on the scoreboard, have escaped any sanctions. It means they have secured 22 points from their second successive victory, have moved off the bottom of division one and have leapfrogged over Surrey.
1.25p.m: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A
Despite the fine cricket being played by the Lions and Australia A there is a measure of gloom at Old Trafford this lovely afternoon. Well, there always is, the chroniclers of the Pit of Hate might reply. Maybe, but Durham’s win over Surrey has just pushed Lancashire into the bottom two in LV= Division One. And what’s more, even the Pit of Hate’s been demolished in the redevelopment; it’s now the Building-site of Bile.
Any road up, Australia A are 207-3. Klinger was caught at short leg by Root off Tredwell for 66. The off-spinner's figures this morning were 10-5-15-2. By the way, why is an unofficial Test not a five-day match?
12.55pm: Ivo Tennant at Gloucestershire v Hampshire
The poor tannoy announcer here, befuddled by the unknown Hampshire 12th men coming and going, calls their talented young wicketkeeper ‘Bill’ Bates when he takes a fine catch to account for Dan Housego in front of first slip. Michael Bates is an authentic person and prospect. Nevertheless, Gloucestershire are building a useful lead.
Meanwhile, a text comes from eminent photographer Graham Morris, who is at the 161st Canterbury festival. Morris it was who took arguably the most iconic post-war cricket picture: Mike Gatting wagging his finger at Pakistan umpire Shakoor Rana. “Brilliant development” it reads. He knows how to wind up Men of Kent as well as Gatting. Thank goodness Lord Harris did not live to see an ugly housing estate and convenience store built on his beloved ground.
12.45pm: Mark Pennell at Canterbury Kent v Essex
Happily, for Essex supporters at least, the visitors have reached 74-4 and have thus eased past their previous lowest total against Kent – 34 recorded at Brentwood in 1969. Having been reduced to 23-4 at one point, Essex have fought back valiantly in the last hour to post 50 for the fifth wicket through captain James Foster and all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate. In his maiden championship appearance of the summer former Pakistan Test bowler, Azhar Mahmood, has beaten the bat on several occasions yet without success, while Darren Stevens has plugged away from the Pavilion End swinging the ball at will, but again with no luck. As we approach lunch and the Fashion on the Outfield competition, Kent still enjoy a first innings lead of almost 150.
12.25p.m: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A
The lazy-minded stereotypical view of Australian sportsmen would suggest that to offer them sympathy is also to invite a snarl of rejection. Well, one of the very many fine things about Ed Cowan’s outstanding book, In the Firing Line, is that it demolishes those bone-headed ideas although Cowan is, of course, not the first to do this.
So let me offer sympathy to the Australia A skipper who was dismissed for 99, ct Kieswetter b Tredwell, to the off-spinner’s first ball of the morning. It’s the second 99 of Cowan’s first-class career; the first was against Hampshire when he was playing for Oxford UCCE and was lbw to Shaun Udal back in 2003.
Michael Klinger, meanwhile, has moved on to 59 not out and the Old Trafford wicket now looks very good indeed. Australia A 181 for two.
11.50am: Myles Hodgson at Durham v Surrey
After a miserable first two days during their trip to the North East, Surrey would have hoped for a change in fortunes as they began their unlikely attempt to avoid a humiliating defeat against Durham. Trailing by 112 runs overnight on 69 for five, the least they would have wanted would have been to make Durham work hard for their victory.
Instead, they lost a wicket with the sixth ball of the day and a second within the first 10 overs. Tim Linley was the first to fall, playing around a straight delivery from Chris Rushworth and Rory Burns edged a lifting ball from Graham Onions behind.
Even the loss of those two early wickets were not quick enough for the representative from BBC North East, who called in hoping to secure footage of Durham’s victory en route to another assignment at Newcastle United’s training ground. Sadly for his tight schedule, Surrey have resisted long enough to force him into fleeing up the A1 to talk to Alan Pardew, although there is always the option of returning later if Gareth Batty and Matt Spriegel can frustrate Durham for another couple of hours.
11.45am: Mark Pennell at Canterbury Kent v Essex
It's Ladies Day at St Lawrence on day two of the 161st Canterbury Week, it is the day when the wives and girlfriends wear their summer frocks and hats and the gents air their summer blazers with carnations for their buttonholes - in the Kent red of course! It's also a hot and steamy start to the day and the Kent seam attack are profiting as a result by swinging the ball around at will to reduce Essex ro 26-4. Charlie Shreck started the rot with the 11th ball of the day, running one away from Jaik Mickleburgh for a tumbling catch at the wicket by Geraint Jones. Only 14 balls later Matt Coles ran one in to Owais Sha to snare the former England bat leg before then, one run later, Coles had Tom Westley pocketed low at first slip by Rob Key. Shreck bagged his second of the session when Mark Pettini (1) pushed from the crease only to be squared up by an away-swinger that clipped the top of off stump.
11.40am: Don't miss
The latest episode of County Cricket Matters where even Kenny Shovel, the county game's No 1 fan, becomes disillusioned by the lolling-tongue stupidity of CB40.
11.25am: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia
Good morning from Old Trafford where Australia A have progressed to 156 for one in the 25 minutes play we’ve had this morning. I’ve no wish to alarm my friends at Taunton or specifically in the wonderful Priory Barn - the best county cricket museum in the kingdom - but Nick Compton is off the field with back spasms. He believed he did the damage when attempting a reverse sweep and I will offer more updates when they become available.
Anyway, Jordan Clark is subbing for the mighty Compo and the game continues with the sweet sounds of summer in the background: the grinding of machinery, the clanking of cranes and a gentle zephyr whistling seductively through the scaffolding. Oh my Wimpey and McAlpine long ago!
11.10am: Ivo Tennant at Gloucestershire v Hampshire
Good finish in prospect at Nevil Road – this match started on Monday, although no-one knows why – where Gloucestershire have resumed 97 runs to the good, six second innings wicket intact. Strange comings and goings in the field yesterday, which bemused the tannoy announcer. He asked Giles White, the Hampshire coach, the identity of the acting 12th man. “Something Gibson,” was the retort.
Some internet research revealed this individual to be called Rob and that he was on the Hampshire academy. Beyond that, he remained A.N. Unknown. Then he went off the field and was replaced by the physio, Craig de Weymarn, who, confusingly, was wearing Liam Dawson’s shirt. Next, the real Dawson took a slip catch. By now, the poor announcer did not know what was going on.
10.30am: Alex Winter’s Olympic breakfast
A very good morning once again. I’m taking a day off from Somerset v Notts today. The last thing I’d want to do is miss the third day of a Championship match but I’m off to the Olympic hockey semi-final between Australia and Germany later - an opportunity too good to miss, no matter how well James Taylor bats today. Only problem for me is who to support, the Aussies or ze Germans? I was inclined to want Germany to win Euro 2012 because of the football they tried to play and so I’m leaning towards them again here. And besides it’s been a very lets-all-laugh-at-Australia Olympics with their poor performance, so another disappointment for them would be another healthy dollop of schadenfreude for us Brits. And let's be fair, it's been the other way around for long enough.
Anyway, I’m set to miss, wait for it, an entire day’s cricket at Taunton! The first two days included so little action that I ended up writing about bat making yesterday. But today the weather is set fair and with any luck the match may have moved somewhere before I return tomorrow.
Durham and Surrey are also moving – in opposite directions in the table. Paul Collingwood’s highest score of the season set Durham up with a match-winning lead and Surrey will do well to avoid an innings defeat in the north east.
Ironic it would be if Surrey were relegated and Worcestershire survived with Vikram Solanki trading New Road for The Oval next season. He made a half-century yesterday, and Phil Hughes a hundred, as Worcestershire gained the upper hand at Warwickshire. But beware the injured Bear – their lower order has been in immense form this season and could well mount another fightback.
In Division Two, there’s an exciting final day in store at Bristol, where we have Ivo Tennant in place to watch Gloucestershire try and build on their 97-run lead with six second-innings wickets in hand against Hampshire – are they finally getting a promotion charge underway?
Also challenging in Division Two are Kent, who were bowled out cheaply by Essex yesterday and Mark Pennell was already describing the end of their promotion push. Plenty of time to go Mark, fear not Men of Kent, or indeed, Kentish Men.
And I see Kevin Pietersen is still doing his best to grab column inches in the face of the Olympics. He’s now paid a PR man to set up a spoof twitter account to make him look hard done by! When will it ever end ... (Legal note: Joke, Kevin, alright? Joke. A bit like your hair in 2005.)
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo