August 10, 2012

LV= County Championship, Friday August 10

6.10pm: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Leicestershire

6.10pm: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Leicestershire

A second century in a week from Stephen Peters, and a very fine effort too, has re-established Northamptonshire's grip. His 12th boundary completed his hundred and he celebrated with another off the next delivery, off Claude Henderson's slow left arm. Peters and Andrew Hall have added 94 so far for the fifth wicket.

Wayne White has just finished a hostile spell from the Wantage Road end that deserved some success. Wicketkeeper Ned Eckersley had his work cut out when the bowler strayed down the leg side but there have been a couple off the edge that flew through the strangely vacant second slip area and several that have beaten the bat for sheer pace. Northants 255-4.

5.45pm: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A

The first unofficial Test has been drawn. Two late wickets after tea didn’t prevent the players shaking hands at 5.40. Michael Klinger was 65 not out off 148 balls. Meaker and Tredwell claimed successes after tea but an earlier declaration might have helped the Lions. Australia A were 144 for four at close of play.

5.45pm: David Lloyd at Sussex v Middlesex

Sussex are fighting hard to hang on their first day advantage on this still awkward pitch. Ed Joyce, playing against his old county, has lost Chris Nash, Luke Wells and Murray Goodwin along the way but the host are still sitting fairly pretty, if not entirely comfortable, at 79 for three with 14 overs left today.

5.30pm: Breaking news ...

Rory Hamilton-Brown has stepped down as Surrey captain, with Gareth Batty to continue leading the side until the end of the season. Read the full story, from George Dobell.

5.25pm: Alex Winter at Somerset v Nottinghamshire

Somerset took the game into the final hour but in the end left themselves too much to do and a draw has been declared with Notts five down. Somerset only take a point more from the game but have had the better of this one. I’ve had a chat with the Somerset chief executive Guy Lavender so typing up his thoughts on T20 and the domestic structure. A touch more interesting than this limp draw. The weather killed it.

5pm: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Leicestershire

The crowd here is not huge but the Gallone's van has had to send for more ice cream twice today, which is all you need to know about the weather. At the 4.40pm tea interval, Northamptonshire were 186-4 and Leicestershire could claim the session as theirs. Shiv Thakor, the 18-year-old all-rounder who scored an unbeaten 62 against Essex last week, has looked as dangerous as any of the bowlers, who have generally been more disciplined than they were before lunch.

Northamptonshire, who were 126 without loss, could have been five down at tea had Michael Thornely not put down a sharp low chance at slip offered by Andrew Hall on 13 just before tea, off the bowling of left-arm spinner Claude Henderson. If Northants are to build substantially on their tea position they will need Stephen Peters (71) to be as steadfast as he has been to date.

4.10p.m: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A

We have got to tea with Australia A on 83 for two and this game is surely heading for a draw. The second wicket to fall was that of Liam Davis, caught by Bairstow (another fine snare at the second attempt) off Patel for 43. Michael Klinger is 28 not out at the game’s last interval while Tom Cooper has faced a mere five balls.

Of the 38 overs bowled, 18 have been delivered by spinners and the problems they have caused suggest that the proportion should have been rather higher. Nonetheless, the afternoon is drifting away and even the construction workers have gone home.

4.10pm: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Leicestershire

Play is scheduled to finish at 6.30pm today and tomorrow to make up for today's 12 noon start. Tomorrow will see 104 overs bowled, weather permitting. To those who regard this as a punishing schedule -- and there are those, amazingly, who see it this way -- it is worth recalling that 104 was the norm up to 2008, and that was a sizeable reduction on the requirement to bowl 110 overs that was the previous minimum. Ask Jack Simmons, the former Lancashire off-spinner, and he'd go back to 120 overs in a flash.

Yet 96 overs -- or even today's allocation of a mere 88 -- can seem to take forever sometimes, especially when it takes until four o'clock to get through half of them. It doesn't help, of course, when a Robbie Joseph over frequently contains seven deliveries, sometimes eight.

Leicestershire have bowled a right old mixed bag so far but have come back well in the afternoon. Northants were cruising along at 126-0 but are now 167-4. Wayne White took two wickets in three balls, striking first when Niall O'Brien's otherwise impressive 70 ended with a flat-footed drive and a catch behind the stumps.

David Sales, after waiting for the umpires to consult, went to a low catch at first slip by Michael Thornely, who held another to dismiss Alex Wakely off Shiv Thakor, who has taken two in four deliveries, across two overs, by accounting for Rob Newton leg before.

4.10pm: Mark Pennell at Canterbury: Kent v Essex

Essex are heading for the Dartford Tunnel with a second win of the season and 21 points under their belts after hammering Kent by seven wickets with over a day to spare at a hushed St Lawrence ground. With the marquees jam-packed for the 161st Cricket Week, there will be no cricket for the punters to watch after tea, let alone on Saturday, after Kent succumbed to their second defeat of the LV= County Championship Division 2 campaign. Their modest chances of winning the race for promotion also appears to have run its course. Needing 55 for victory Essex lost Jaik Mickleburgh and Tom Westley to Azhar Mahmood, his first two championship wickets of the summer, then Owais Shah, holed out to long leg off Charlie Shreck to make it 35-3. However, Mark Pettini combined with Ryan ten Doeschate to polish the job off, ten Doeschate hitting a straight six off Adam Riley coupled with a single through backward square to see Essex through to victory with four sessions in hand.

3.50pm: David Lloyd at Sussex v Middlesex

Batting became a bit easier as the ball got older – but not easy enough to deny Amjad Khan his second five-for of the season or to prevent Middlesex from being dismissed for an apparently sub—standard 170.

Amjad, who played a Test in 2009 but has slipped well down the pecking order when it comes to England qualified fast bowlers, had the remarkable figures of five for 14 from 10.2 overs when he had Gareth Berg beautifully caught, low down, by Mike Yardy at second slip.

Middlesex’s first eight batsmen fell to catches behind the wicket, from keeper through to gully, but that sequence ended with Monty Panesar wining a leg before decision against Toby Roland-Jones.

Thanks to Tim Murtagh, who top-scored with 34, at No 10, the visitors did not quite collapse in a heap. But they will need to make good use of their new ball to get back into this contest.

3.45pm: Alex Winter at Somerset v Nottinghamshire

Very pleasant here. A long leisurely lunch in the Long Room with plenty watching the Olympics in the cool because outside, particularly in the sun that shines directly onto the Colin Atkinson pavilion, it is very hot and a touch muggy too. But no-one is complaining about the weather, there are a few grumbles about the lack of Somerset wickets though. It hasn’t turned as they would have liked for the spinner, Abdur Rehman, who has got the odd ball to square up the right-hander but nothing to suggest he can run through Notts here. The two wickets, first Riki Wessels driving Steve Kirby to slip and then a superb catch by Jos Buttler, diving to his left with one hand, removed Michael Lumb off Pete Trego – proving that Somerset aren’t missing Craig Kieswetter behind the stumps.

But an hour’s more cricket and we’ll be done here with a draw. A very good week for Warwickshire in the end, with Notts the happier of the two with a draw – particularly as it is they who are being asked to bat out for a draw.

3.20pm: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Worcestershire

Warwickshire have beaten Worcestershire by seven wickets at Edgbaston and will, presuming Nottinghamshire draw their game with Somerset, go 21 points clear at the top of the table. Worcestershire’s relegation troubles deepen.

2.45p.m: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A

We have reached the first drinks break of the afternoon session and Australia A are 40 for one after 19 overs The man out was Cowan for nine, caught by second slip Patel off a good ball from Harris which perhaps bounced more than the Australia A skipper was expecting. The critical view would be that he could have let it go.

Anyway, Kerrigan has just come on from the Pavilion End. You would think this game is drifting towards a draw. Anyone who thinks the tourists might get the runs (354) should be detained for the good of his own health and the safety of the public

2.25pm: David Lloyd at Sussex v Middlesex

There is still plenty happening here but, to Middlesex’s relief, the figure in the wickets column (6) has not changed since lunch.

Ollie Rayner, playing against his former county and often a good man for a batting crisis, has fought his way into the 20s despite taking a nasty blow on the left hand from a Jimmy Anyon delivery that lifted quite alarmingly.

Then, an over later, Sussex spoiled their 100 per cent catching record by reprieving Gareth Berg. A fast, head-high chance when Berg threw the kitchen sink at a Steve Magoffin ball outside off stump would have taken some holding, though, and Mike Yardy almost managed it.

Meanwhile, Angus Fraser – Middlesex’s director of cricket – has popped into the press box. There’s always a bit of banter when Gus is about but the Big Lad was serious when asked for his reaction to a story that Surrey might be interested in recruiting Chris Rogers for next season.

According to Fraser, Rogers – the soon to be 35-year-old former Australia batsman – has been offered a new two-year contract and Middlesex are optimistic it will be signed.

Back on the park, Fraser’s boys are 109 for six.

2.14pm: Mark Pennell at Canterbury Kent v Essex

Needing 55 for their second win of the summer, Essex have lost opening bat Jaik Mickleburgh after four overs, but remain well on course for a three-day win with four sessions in hand. With just a single to his name, Mickleburgh waltzed across his stumps shaping to leg, only to miss a straight one from Azhar Mahmood and depart leg before. Earlier, Kent lost seven wickets in a 29-over opening session. Maurice Chambers finished with four 31 - including his 100th first-class wicket for Essex - while Graham Napier and Harbhajan Singh provided quality support with three wickets apiece.

2.05pm: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Worcestershire

Is there just a glimmer of hope for Worcestershire? Chris Russell has just dismissed Ian Westwood with a bouncer that the batsman, having decided to pull, then changed his mind and prodded the ball in the air to allow the bowler to take a return catch.

Warwickshire only require 79 more to win with eight wickets in hand, but Moeen Ali is finding some turn and bowling with good control at the Birmingham End, so if Russell and Alan Richardson can maintain the pressure from the Pavilion End, they may yet apply some pressure. Warwickshire remain well on top, though.

2pm: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Leicestershire

Apart from the odd ball that has beaten the bat and a couple of edgy boundaries, nothing at all has happened to support Josh Cobb's decision to invite Northamptonshire to bat first on a sunny, warm day at Wantage Road. The pitch looks well grassed but none of the Leicestershire seam bowlers has made it work in their favour. Cobb is captaining Leicestershire in the absence of Matthew Hoggard, who has rested himself. Although he is the county's official one-day captain, this is only his second match in charge of the four-day side.

Northamptonshire have identified the meeting with their nearest neighbours as one they must win to keep alive their outside hopes of winning promotion. So far it is going well for them. It's almost lunch and they are 94-0 after 30 overs. O'Brien 51, Peters 34.

1.45p.m: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A

To nobody’s surprise England A have declared on 315 for six – the second time they have mustered that total in the match. Rather more importantly, Australia A have 64 overs in which to score 354 to win this unofficial Test, an asking rate of 5.53 runs an over. Hands up, anyone who likes their chances.

All the same, it will be interesting to see how they approach the task of batting time on his pitch and how the England spinners go in the second innings. Will Patel get a bowl this afternoon?

1.15pm: Alex Winter at Somerset v Nottinghamshire

Lunchtime here with a draw at 4.50pm looking the most likely result at the moment. Somerset calamitously missed out on a second batting point after refusing a second run to get them there, Gemaal Hussain was out three balls later. But James Hildreth didn’t kick on as he needed to in order to really put Notts under pressure. And they way the openers have played, it could be comfortable for Notts this afternoon. But you never know, it could turn and something might happen. But it will need to happen fast with only two sessions left in the match.

But this has been much more like Taunton today. Beautiful sunshine, the Quantocks in full vision, runs flowing, cider being supped and now a host of spectators on the outfield at the break – Danny Boyle vision right here. Talking of which, few rumours that they’ve booked The Wurzels for the closing ceremony. Their set is scheduled in between Adele and Dizzy Rascal.

1pm: David Lloyd at Sussex v Middlesex

It’s all happening here – and none of it is very pleasing if you are a Middlesex fan.

After the early losses of Rogers and Denly, the visitors recovered just a little though Sam Robson and Dawid Malan. And when Malan plundered three boundaries in an over from Luke Wright, something substantial seemed possible.

Forget that. Amjad Khan effectively wrecked the middle order by taking three wickets in the space of eight balls, then Wright added to the damage with a success of his own.

The bounce has not been entirely consistent with a few flying though and the occasional one keeping a little lower than expected (extra lift certainly seemed to do for Robson).

There was no excuse, though, for Neil Dexter, who played a horribly loose shot outside off stump to complete Amjad’s purple patch. With John Simpson expertly caught at second slip, by Mike Yardy, soon after, Middlesex were reeling at 65 for six.

12.30p.m: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A

Having sated himself by making 139 off 168 balls with 20 fours, a five and two sixes, Jonny Bairstow departed caught at the wicket when reverse sweeping Peter Forrest, thus giving the bowler his maiden first-class wicket.

England Lions have scored freely this morning, adding 133 in 30 overs. Kieswetter has now been joined by Chris Woakes.

Meanwhile, I’m delighted to hear that the 161st Canterbury Festival is going well. It’s the inaugural Redevelopment Festival at Old Trafford where the construction workers wear their attractive lime-green jerkins and there is no shortage of posterior cleavage on display. At the moment we’re all enjoying the Parade of the Cranes and later on it’s the ever-popular Scaffolding Competition. It may not be the St Lawrence Ground but it’ll do for us. It’s great up north.

The Lions are 291 for five, a lead of 329. Kieswetter is 49 not out and pretty much everyone, including the Australians, is waiting to see when the declaration will come. Then, one suspects, it will be Kerrigan and Tredwell time again.

12.30pm: Jon Culley at Northamptonshire v Leicestershire

Good morning from Wantage Road, where the starting time was delayed until noon to give the Northamptonshire players a little more recovery time after their televised CB40 match with Yorkshire, the legacy of which is that the Sky commentary box/camera gantry is still nicely in position to obscure the view of everybody in the press box. As a consequence, the four representatives of the media present have taken a trip down memory lane by decamping to the building locally known as 'the signal box' on the Clarke Road side of the ground, which was the press box in a former life, although too long ago for any of us young whippersnappers to know how it was then.

Meanwhile, Leicestershire have won the toss and decided to field, with three changes to the side that drew with Essex in a rain-affected match at Chelmsford last week. Greg Smith, wicketkeeper Paul Dixey and captain Matthew Hoggard step down. Josh Cobb is back after missing two weeks with a broken finger. He leads the side, with Ned Eckersley keeping wicket. Robbie Joseph comes in for Hoggard in the seam attack and there is a place too for Will Jones, who makes his first Championship appearance of the season.

Northamptonshire have Niall O'Brien in for Kyle Coetzer from their similarly weather-disrupted draw with Yorkshire but have confirmed Chaminda Vaas has been released from the rest of his contract. The 38-year-old Sri Lankan fast bowler has struggled for form in an injury-hit season, taking only six first-class wickets at 47 runs each compared with 70 at 21.44 last season, when he was the County’s player of the year.

Leicestershire have not managed the early inroads they hoped for on a green pitch, Northants advancing to 32 without loss after seven overs.

11.55am: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Worcestershire

Whatever else Worcestershire take from this match, the emergence of Chris Russell should be of great encouragement. The fast bowler with an action bearing some similarity to Chris Silverwood has just made an important breakthrough here, dismissing Varun Chopra for 58 with a straight one that the batsmen, losing balance, simply missed. It is Russell’s first over of the morning.

He is an interesting character. He has been bowling at some pace in the Birmingham League for a while, but struggled to make much of an impression in Second XI cricket. There were also one or two mutters about his action - a few have suggested he chucked his short ball - though on the evidence of this game it is hard to see why. He looks absolutely fine.

He keeps it simple, really. He has quite a long run, bowls straight and gains just enough movement to trouble the batsmen. Sky have, in the past, timed him in excess of 90mph - a fact that perhaps says more about the speed guns than his actual pace - but he has been the pick of the Worcestershire bowlers in this game - no mean feat when Alan Richardson is a teammate - and has kept his side just about in the game. Warwickshire need another 154 with nine wickets in hand.

11.50am: David Lloyd at Sussex v Middlesex

Beautiful morning at Hove – unless you’re a top-order Middlesex batsman, that is. Ed Joyce, once of Lord’s, saw enough in a green tinged pitch to insert his former employers, who promptly lost Chris Rogers and Joe Denly inside the first six overs.

Middlesex captains walk out more in hope than expectation so far as the toss is concerned: with Rogers calling incorrectly today they have seen the coin land against them 26 times out of 34 in all cricket so far this season.

Mind, that has not stopped them enjoying a more than steady return to the championship’s top flight and but for a narrow loss to Durham a couple of weeks ago they would be right in the title shake-up.

Sussex, though, have flown past them into third spot with three wins from their last five matches. That is a terrific turn-around considering they looked relegation material when losing to Middlesex by 10 wickets in early June.

Steve Magoffin, the Aussie paceman, has hit a rich vein of form and it was he who did the business with the new ball here, having both Rogers and Denly caught in the gully.

11.50am: Mark Pennell at Kent v Essex

"Woe, woe, thrice woe" Frankie Howerd would bemoan at the start of Up Pompeii and Kent's faithful are remonstrating in similar fashion having just seen Maurice Chambers snaffle his third wicket in nine overs and his third of the innings. The Essex paceman, having removed night watchman Adam Riley late last evening, has now accounted for Kentish lynchpins Brendan Nash and Michael Powell. Nash, the former West Indies Test bat, made a poor decision to shoulder arms to a Chambers off-cutter to go leg before for one then, four overs later, Michael Powell, the ex-Glamorgan stalwart, fenced at a Chambers lifter to be caught behind. Kent have limped on to 40-5 and still trail Essex by six runs, but at least Chambers is taking a breather.

11.35pm: Paul Edwards at England Lions v Australia A

Morning all from Old Trafford where England have lost their nightwatchman James Tredwell, caught behind by Paine off the fourth ball of the morning, bowled by Jon Holland. Untroubled by this departure, Jonny Bairstow has reached his century off 135 balls and England Lions are 205 for four, a lead of 243.

The news is no better for the residents of Combe Florey and Stogumber. Nick Compton is still unable to bat because of back spasms. However, Craig Kieswetter is 16 not out and has already straight driven Lyon into the sightscreen at the Brian Statham End.

11.30am: George Dobell at Warwickshire v Worcestershire

Good morning from Edgbaston. It’s a beautiful morning here and we are watching an absorbing contest that is sure to have quite an impact on both ends of the table. If Worcestershire win it will be only their second victory of the season and will take them up to sixth in the table. It will be a considerable boost to their hopes of avoiding relegation.

If Warwickshire win it will be their fifth victory of the season by their first since May. It will extend their lead at the top of the table with Nottinghamshire and Somerset’s game seemingly slipping to a draw.

Warwickshire will be the happier of the teams at this stage. After half-an-hour on the third day, they have extended their overnight unbroken stand to 89 and now need another 171 to win.

11am: Mark Pennell at Canterbury Kent v Essex

The third day of a golf event is universally known as 'moving day' - the round when the leading player makes his decisive move - and the same could be said of Friday's action at the 161st Canterbury Week clash between neighbours Kent and Essex.

Having suffered a dreadful Thursday, Kent resume on 9-3 and still trail the visitors by 38 runs. Shoudl Rob Key's side lose further wickets in this steamy first session, then we might all be moving out late this afternoon having reported on an Essex win.

10.45am: Alex Winter at Somerset v Nottinghamshire

This is more like it, stunning day in Taunton, can they get a game going here? Somerset need quick runs and wickets but they tell my yesterday it began to turn. Interesting.

Some news from elsewhere, Northants will be without Chaminda Vaas for the rest of the season due to injury. He was last season's player of the year and nearly played a part in Northants' promotion. Not to be this year.

9am: Alex Winter’s early arrival

Hello, hope all is well and how can it not be in tremendously beautiful weather and basking in the glory of 25 gold medals. One enjoyed a quite superb day in the Olympic park yesterday but now I am back in Westcountry to see if Somerset can force a win against Notts. Their free-flowing batsman will need to continue to play with impetus to build up a lead that can put pressure on the opposition order that Somerset hope will crumble against the spin of Abdur Rehman – what an introduction that would be for the Pakistani. George Dockrell has already won them a couple of games this season, including skittling Middlesex on the final afternoon of the first game of the season, can Rehman step into his shoes this afternoon?

And Somerset may need the win to keep pace in the title race because Warwickshire fought back against Worcester at Edgbaston and today need another 181 to win with ten wickets in hand – few will back against the Bears extending their lead at the top. Notts being denied victory at Taunton will also help their cause.

Worcestershire’s collapse yesterday was compounded by Durham’s hammering of Surrey. They polished off the innings win before lunch yesterday and have jumped out of the relegation zone, leaving Surrey just two points above second-bottom Lancashire. As well as Surrey ended last season to win promotion, this campaign looks to be heading in the opposite direction.

Division Two yesterday saw Ian Cockbain score an important century to secure Gloucestershire a draw with Hampshire, while Kent, on Ladies Day at Canterbury, slipped to 9 for 3, still 38 behind Essex – Mark Pennell says Kent can’t buy a win at the moment, even if they won the Euromillions tonight.

If I won the Euromillions, property would be on my agenda and a country retreat in Sussex would be high up the list. The South Downs are a beautiful part of the country. And on that note, with all the Test match, County Championship and Olympics drama, I managed to entirely miss Glorious Goodwood. There’s always next year but maybe no more Frankel.

I digress, and my point is that Sussex are playing today, they host Middlesex at Hove with the visitors in negotiations to hold on to Chris Rogers, who has been a fine servant in his two years so far. Surrey are rumoured to be lining up a deal to offer Rogers the captaincy.

Also beginning today is Northamptonshire against Leicestershire. Very much a dead rubber but I hear Northampton is quite delightful in the sun – the Bordeaux of the East Midlands.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo