August 17, 2012

LV= County Championship, Friday August 17, 2012

6.40pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

6.40pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

Three overs to bowl here with strong evening sunshine making nonsense of the glaring floodlight pylons. The light, meanwhile, may be dimming on Nottinghamshire's hopes of wresting back the Championship pennant they won two years ago.

A partnership of 59 runs so far between Paul Collingwood and Mark Wood has probably put Nottinghamshire out of the match, giving Durham a lead of 335 at 295-6, which will give Graham Onions plenty of licence to let rip again tomorrow, when he will attempt to supplement his 9-67 by bowling Durham to victory.

5.10pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

From 230-1, when Surrey would have expected they would be able to choose the point at which their innings would end, Surrey are now highly unlikely to get into a position from which they can declare. This is largely due to the superb Roland-Jones, whose nagging line, seam movement and ability to resist the temptation (never easy for a 6ft4in frame man) to bowl too short accounted for three wickets in ten balls with the second new ball. He has 5-39. Surrey have moved on to 335-8, a lead of 247, with Steven Davies regaining some form with a sensibly compiled 38*. The signs of turn will please Surrey as shadows begin to extend across the field.

In other news, how fantastic that Kevin Pietersen will play in Surrey's CB40 game at Hampshire on Sunday. The game is that rare county beast: a sell-out. Well, of sorts, anyway: Hampshire decided to give away all their tickets, for free, to members of the local community. What a great initiative - and if KP tees off lots of them might be tempted to come back again.

4.10pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

There has been no play here for about an hour and 20 minutes but a restart is scheduled for 4.20pm, when Durham will try to add as many runs as they can to a lead of 233 between then and the moment at which they consider they have enough to unleash Graham Onions again. Dale Benkenstein and Paul Collingwood have the immediate responsibility. 193-4.

3.10pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

The new ball has brought two wickets for Middlesex already and it’s not yet four overs old. Toby Roland-Jones has taken both – he’s been quite exceptional all game – and with two new batsmen at the crease, the 12 overs until tea have the feeling of being rather pivotal.

More importantly, the club have confirmed that it is indeed free after four. We'll be playing till half 6 or so so come down - there's really no excuse!

2.45pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

Arun Harinath’s fine innings has ended, after he was well taken by Chris Rogers at second slip after Adam Rossington had spilled his edge. Still, Surrey are looking serene enough, having passed 250 with only two second innings wickets down, though they’ll be grateful Rogers put down a tricky chance from Rory Burns, who has otherwise been chanceless. There’s little sign of any deliberate change in batting tempo just yet – and with 50 overs remaining why should there be – but Zander de Bruyn has started fluently.

Incidentally, the consensus seems to be that it is free to come down after 4pm but I’m just waiting for a club official to confirm. It’s certainly a day for sun cream, as Rory Burns – whose face is covered in it in a way reminiscent of a young Dominic Cork – would agree.

2.35pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

Four people have been arrested in connection with the armed robbery that was taking place just up the road from here during Wednesday's opening session. Another -- unconnected with the four alleged robbers -- has been cautioned after finding some of the booty in the street and thinking he could pocket it. A salutary lesson.

Mark Stoneman has tucked away the fourth first-class century of a career that began in 2007. No longer can it be said that he makes hundreds only against Sussex and students, which was the case until a few minutes ago.

He's out now, though, after his innings ended in a way he will not expect to repeat. Horribly dropped on 106 by Alex Hales at deep backward square when he swept Graeme White, taking a single, he took another run to the next ball he faced from White and then, now at the other end on 108, he hooked Ben Phillips through the hands of Paul Franks on the boundary for six. He couldn't hook the next ball, though, which shot through at ankle height to have him leg before for 114.

Durham are 188-3, leading by 228. Rain is imminent, but with a good forecast for tomorrow Durham will be disappointed not to turn this position into a third win in a row.

2.30pm: Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Derbyshire

Headingley may be best known for its cricketing and rugby league traditions, but after a walk taking in some of the local hostelries last night, it has emerged there is another rival for sporting heritage in the area.

Just a big Kevin Pietersen drive away from the cricket ground on the Otley Road there is a private school called Richmond House, who have proudly erected a banner celebrating their own sporting heritage. According to their sign, Olympic medallists Alistair and Jonny Brownlee, who claimed gold and bronze medals in the triathlon, attended the school earlier in their development.

There is no record that they were inspired into a sports career after a school trip to watch the cricket, but had their successors been taken this morning they would have seen Ryan Sidebottom’s outstanding spell of swing bowling from the Rugby Stand End. He claimed three for nine in seven overs to reduce Derbyshire to 42 for four, who have since recovered with a century partnership between Will Durston and Ross Whiteley.

1.20pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

Given what Graham Onions did to Nottinghamshire on Thursday, Durham's lunchtime lead of 175 is looking pretty handy. And they are only one wicket down.

The Nottinghamshire bowlers may consider themselves to have had not much luck when they have got it right but the opener Mark Stoneman, who is looking well set for his fourth first-class hundred, has not reached 81 by being lucky. There have been 11 fours from his bat. Alongside him in a partnership worth 73 so far, 20-year-old Keaton Jennings has made a confident 31. Durham are 135-1.

1.10pm: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

Rory Burns and Arun Harinath have continued to amass their runs at a near-identical pace. Infact, both have just reached their maiden championship centuries, which came within three balls of each other. They have displayed tenacity, excellent shot selection and an aptitude for unobtrusive accumulation – something that can seldom be said about Surrey’s batting this season. Both were clearly ecstatic upon reaching their landmarks, Burns celebrating with a cheeky bow in the direction of the pavilion. For Harinath, who is 25 but had never passed 63 in the championship before, the innings could just reinvigorate a career that appeared to be drifting. Their stand is now worth 197 – a Surrey second wicket record against Middlesex – and Middlesex’s lack of quality spin is proving costly, with the part time legspin of Dawid Malan and Joe Denly indicative of their desperation.

With the sun shining in all its glory and the possibility of Roy et al accelerating later in the day, why not pop down to The Oval later if you can sneak off work a little early? There’s already perhaps 2000 people here. And – would you believe it – spectators are even allowed onto the lush outfield. Infact, I’m off for a stroll there now.

12.30pm: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

Paul Franks answers to the nickname Pike, which goes way back to when he was a lanky teenager in the Notts dressing room and someone likened him to the hapless private in Dad's Army. He speaks up for himself more forcibly these days and seems to prefer the alternative nickname, The General, from which he draws his Twitter identity (@thegeneral_8) too.

General Tommy Franks, of the United States Army, was in charge of United States Central Command from July 2000 until July 2003, during which time he led the post 9-11 attack on the Taliban in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. There may be a connection. But somehow I doubt it.

Paul Franks is a subordinate in the Nottinghamshire attack, although he has been no less successful than the leadership in preventing Durham's progress towards a decent advantage. In 90 or so minutes this morning, they have added 88 runs for the loss of only one wicket, obtained by Luke Fletcher when Will Smith played at a ball that lifted and left him outside off stump and was caught behind. Mark Stoneman, who survived three appeals in a row from Franks in one particularly impassioned over, is 74 not out. Durham are 115-1

11.45am: Myles Hodgson at Yorkshire v Derbyshire

The Yorkshire press box has used a slight delay this morning usefully by attempting to fill in the ECB questionnaire on county and international cricket. Those of you who have not attempted it yet should beware that you will need plenty of patience, despite optimistic claims that it can be completed in 15 minutes.

Personally, I believe the authors of the survey are trying to wear you down until you’re prepared to tick the box advocating all-night championship cricket, starting at midnight under floodlights. It has not deterred my father, however, who used the comments box at the end to suggest the government should subsidise the county championship, Yorkshire should be immune from relegation and all one-day cricket should be banned.

Here at Headingley, we have had a slight delay for rain (again), but have already had more play than we expected after forecasts of Biblical-type storms. In the brief passage of play we have had, Andrew Hodd has gone a step further securing a permanent contract from Yorkshire with a brilliant, one-handed diving catch to remove Usman Khawaja. He followed that with a more comfortable catch to dismiss Matt Lineker, both off Ryan Sidebottom.

11.40am: Tim Wigmore at Surrey v Middlesex

Cricket has rather a knack for coincidences. Four balls after Arun Harinath reached a well-compiled 50 with a flick to square leg, Rory Burns played an almost identical shot to do the same. To add to the comparisons, Harinath’s 50 came off 109 balls; Burns’ off 110 balls. Harinath has just brought up the century partnership – only Surrey’s fifth of the championship this season – with a wonderful piece of timing through the covers. Amazingly, it’s his first championship half-century since May 2010, against the same opponents at the same ground. 120-1 now, with Middlesex bowling too straight so far today.

To return to yesterday’s outgrounds chat, what about the worst? I’ll put an early vote in for Guildford, which seems to lack any conspicuous charm. The pitch is normally very good, but it somehow lacks a proper outground feel. Any other suggestions?

11.30am: Jon Culley at Nottinghamshire v Durham

Is it my imagination or are there more people sniffing and sneezing with hayfever this summer? And where are all the wasps? Is it the jetstream? I must buy a Daily Express...

Meanwhile, the players here seem to have moved to another pitch. Half an hour gone and almost nothing has happened. The bowlers will be looking up towards the Durham balcony soon. Graham? What am I doing wrong?

Durham are 50-0.

The 10.15am Roll Call

By now many of you should be out of physio having endeavoured to fill in the ECB's form on the future of county cricket. Don't worry - one day you will feel better. Now you know what our ball-by-ball commentators feel like - and that is only when they are halfway through the day.

We would encourage you to complete the survey on the grounds that is good to have your voice heard even if you have reservations about some of the questions of whether even now Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, will be observing in the Long Room that Jack from Stourbridge makes some pertinent points. You never know.

Kenny Shovel knows what he thinks. Read his latest column here. It will soon be time for him to negotiate a 2013 contract so he needs to get his figures up.

Our match reporters will be along later - and if we get another performance like that of Graham Onions yesterday, it should keep us interested.

Tim Wigmore also becomes all misty-eyed over Murali Kartik's display in the London derby at The Oval.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo