County news April 1, 2012

Robson hundred makes history

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It would have sounded like an April Fool to the cricketers of yesteryear, but it is a fact: Sam Robson, Middlesex's Australian-born batsman, has made the earliest first-class hundred ever witnessed in the UK - and he did it before March was out.

Robson struck a century on the opening day of the match between Middlesex and Durham MCCU at Merchant Taylor's School in Northwood as counties revelled in balmy early-Spring weather.

It was all but certain that a record would be set as five first-class matches began on the last day of March. There were seven hundreds in all as the counties warmed up against University opposition, but Robson's was the first, secured shortly after three o'clock. A 22-year-old batsman from Sydney, he made 117 in 190 balls before he was run out. Middlesex declared, amid the creeping realisation that history had been made, at 368-9.

It might also be that March has provided what will turn out to be the fastest first-class hundred of the season. Graham Napier struck a 48-ball hundred with eight sixes against Cambridge UCCE at Fenner's and immediately put himself in contention for the Walter Lawrence Trophy. Only one hundred was faster last season - Kevin O'Brien's' 44-ball affair for Gloucestershire against Middlesex.

Essex made three hundreds in all in their 506-6 against Cambridge UCCE, but they were all late in the day with Robson's achievement already confirmed.

Glamorgan's new captain, Mark Wallace, had to settle for becoming the earliest player ever to make a first-class hundred for a Welsh county - and in Wales they will tell you that is all that matters.

The South African, Zachary Elkin, achieved his own small slice of history. He made the earliest hundred against a first-class county, batting through the day for 127 not out against Somerset in Taunton.

England's crowded first-class fixture list, currently under review, has forced the county season to resort to increasingly early starts. The opening round of championship matches begin on April 5, a fortnight earlier than what historically has been the traditional start in mid-April.

Either the ECB has been extraordinary fortunate or the UK's weather patterns are changing. The weather in early Spring has been dry and sunny for several successive years, forever destroying the theory that the most effective rain dance in the UK involves putting three sticks in the ground 22 yards apart and 22 people dressing in white.

When the clocks went an hour forward last weekend for the start of British Summer Time, the UK was basking in temperatures up to 20C, outshining European holiday destinations such as Barcelona, Nice and Majorca.

Merchant Taylor's School will regard itself as a suitable venue for Robson's spot of sporting history. The boys' school was established in 1561 and its first headmaster, Richard Mulcaster, introduced the concept of referees in football.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY AdrianVanDenStael on | April 4, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    @Meety: well indeed it is certainly clear that some of our Australian correspondents have a go at the Poms whether they have any reason or not. However, since you have provided some evidence, let's consider that. This figure of 10 of the 28 England test debutants being born outside of the UK is a bit misleading, because a) it's equally true that only 11 of the last 63 England test debutants were born outside the UK, b) you're confusing cases like Prior, Owais Shah, and Khawaja (people who've been born in one country but played all their serious cricket in another) with people like Pietersen and Wessels (who played substantial amounts of cricket elsewhere before qualifying for another country). Is there anyway much difference between someone like Shah (born overseas) and players like Samit Patel, Panesar and Sajid Mahmood (not born overseas but descended from people from another country)? Only perhaps in so far as the latter category ultimately encompasses most Australian cricketers.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | April 4, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    @AdrianVanDenStael - I personally don't care where a player comes from to qualify to play tests. I don't like it when a player has played through one countries junior ranks & ends up playing elsewhere, particularly when both countries are test playing nations. I & a fair few Ozzys like to bag the Poms (do we need a reason?), due to the HIGH number of these instances. At times England have 5 out of their top 7 batsmen from another country, TEN of their last 28 debutants have come from beyond their shores. IMO - it is just too good an opportunity to miss. You are right, if I was a young bloke & got a job opportunity overseas that was way beyond my pay paygrade, I would accept it. Just like young blokes (& not so young), that have a crack at the insane money in the IPL. I am very pro the individual on this. I like the fact Morgan has played Test cricket.

  • POSTED BY AdrianVanDenStael on | April 3, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    @Meety: Yes Proctor and Richards had played test cricket for South Africa, although not much of it, and Kirsten would eventually play test cricket for South Africa (ironically alongside Wessels), but I referred to the option of 'not playing for any other country' (i.e., besides South Africa), an option which those players did not take, but Wessels (along with A. Lamb, eg) did. I don't actually as a rule have a problem with people qualifying to play tests for another country if there is no obvious other way for them to play test cricket, but a lot of people here do. This seems particularly, but not exclusively, true of England fans dissing players qualifying to play for Australia, and Australia fans objecting to players qualifying to play for England. I think there's some hypocrisy here: are these people saying they personally would automatically have said "no" if aged 18-22 (for instance) they'd received an offer of lucrative and/or reputation-enhancing work in California or NYC?

  • POSTED BY Meety on | April 3, 2012, 4:05 GMT

    @AdrianVanDenStael - couple of things, I understand your arguement re: Wessells, however, if you factor in an individuals desire to a) relocate or b) play test cricket, what Wessells did was his personal choice, if he wanted to play test cricket, he had a choice between miserable gloomy old england or the more homely feel of QLD! Also - thought Kirsten DID play for Sth Africa? Some of the guys you noted, already had played test cricket & would of had residential requirements & possibly not the same drive to play tests again as somebody who had not experienced it. Also as you'd know there was a lot of Rebel tours to keep most of the players you mentioned keen to stay & play in Saffaland.

  • POSTED BY charlesandrewbudge on | April 2, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    @RandyOZ - Strauss learned his trade at my local club in south-east England. Pietersen never played for South Africa, and was an off spinner who batted in the lower order before he came to play in England. Kieswetter represented South Africa at U19 level but never played a first class match for a South African provincial team. Trott holds a British passport and was never considered an overseas player. All three of them decided to stop playing in South Africa of their own accord, nobody was "poached". So basically, there IS another way to describe it. Get your facts straight next time, eh?

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    @ chiggers. England are the worst culprits of poaching other teams' cricketers. Australia only had 2 imports in the last 30 years, england had about 30 to 40 imports in the last 30 years. LOL

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    Australlia should just give Sam Robson a ODI or 20-20 international debut. This will stop England from poaching him from Australia.

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | April 2, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    @allblue... Time for you to follow your own advice... Robson was born in Oz, went to school in Oz & played grade cricket in Oz... Personally I don't care where his mother was born & believe this parent rule is rediculous & should be cut out... @:- "Australia have Khawaja and so on"... lol - what "& so on"?... Please explain... Khawaja came to Oz aged 4 & grew up gaining his experiences in Oz with his Oz family... A plainly misguided justification to your illogical argument...

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 2, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    @charlesandrewbudge - you are having a laugh. Trott, Kieswetter and Pietersen all PLAYED for South Africa, and learnt all their trade there. Strauss learnt his trade in Melbourne. It's blatant poaching and there's no other way to describe it.

  • POSTED BY AdrianVanDenStael on | April 2, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    @Dashgar: I don't have a problem with these games being recorded as first-class. The annals of first-class cricket after all are littered with one-sided contests. I do however wonder if the way in which certain counties approach these fixtures is the right one. I don't see the point in Somerset letting their batsmen rack up a second-wicket stand of 450 as they have done today (the third highest second-wicket stand ever in first-class cricket in England), not least in the context of the match. @zenboomerang: to answer your question "Who was he [Keppler Wessels] going to play for?... " a) he could have qualified to play for England, as he was playing domestic cricket for Sussex at the time. b) he actually didn't have to play test cricket for any other country at that time. Some significantly better South African players (e.g., Jimmy Cook, Ken McEwan, Clive Rice, Barry Richards, Mike Proctor, Garth LeRoux, Vincent Van Der Bijl, Peter Kirsten) chose that option at that time.

  • POSTED BY AdrianVanDenStael on | April 4, 2012, 13:17 GMT

    @Meety: well indeed it is certainly clear that some of our Australian correspondents have a go at the Poms whether they have any reason or not. However, since you have provided some evidence, let's consider that. This figure of 10 of the 28 England test debutants being born outside of the UK is a bit misleading, because a) it's equally true that only 11 of the last 63 England test debutants were born outside the UK, b) you're confusing cases like Prior, Owais Shah, and Khawaja (people who've been born in one country but played all their serious cricket in another) with people like Pietersen and Wessels (who played substantial amounts of cricket elsewhere before qualifying for another country). Is there anyway much difference between someone like Shah (born overseas) and players like Samit Patel, Panesar and Sajid Mahmood (not born overseas but descended from people from another country)? Only perhaps in so far as the latter category ultimately encompasses most Australian cricketers.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | April 4, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    @AdrianVanDenStael - I personally don't care where a player comes from to qualify to play tests. I don't like it when a player has played through one countries junior ranks & ends up playing elsewhere, particularly when both countries are test playing nations. I & a fair few Ozzys like to bag the Poms (do we need a reason?), due to the HIGH number of these instances. At times England have 5 out of their top 7 batsmen from another country, TEN of their last 28 debutants have come from beyond their shores. IMO - it is just too good an opportunity to miss. You are right, if I was a young bloke & got a job opportunity overseas that was way beyond my pay paygrade, I would accept it. Just like young blokes (& not so young), that have a crack at the insane money in the IPL. I am very pro the individual on this. I like the fact Morgan has played Test cricket.

  • POSTED BY AdrianVanDenStael on | April 3, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    @Meety: Yes Proctor and Richards had played test cricket for South Africa, although not much of it, and Kirsten would eventually play test cricket for South Africa (ironically alongside Wessels), but I referred to the option of 'not playing for any other country' (i.e., besides South Africa), an option which those players did not take, but Wessels (along with A. Lamb, eg) did. I don't actually as a rule have a problem with people qualifying to play tests for another country if there is no obvious other way for them to play test cricket, but a lot of people here do. This seems particularly, but not exclusively, true of England fans dissing players qualifying to play for Australia, and Australia fans objecting to players qualifying to play for England. I think there's some hypocrisy here: are these people saying they personally would automatically have said "no" if aged 18-22 (for instance) they'd received an offer of lucrative and/or reputation-enhancing work in California or NYC?

  • POSTED BY Meety on | April 3, 2012, 4:05 GMT

    @AdrianVanDenStael - couple of things, I understand your arguement re: Wessells, however, if you factor in an individuals desire to a) relocate or b) play test cricket, what Wessells did was his personal choice, if he wanted to play test cricket, he had a choice between miserable gloomy old england or the more homely feel of QLD! Also - thought Kirsten DID play for Sth Africa? Some of the guys you noted, already had played test cricket & would of had residential requirements & possibly not the same drive to play tests again as somebody who had not experienced it. Also as you'd know there was a lot of Rebel tours to keep most of the players you mentioned keen to stay & play in Saffaland.

  • POSTED BY charlesandrewbudge on | April 2, 2012, 15:14 GMT

    @RandyOZ - Strauss learned his trade at my local club in south-east England. Pietersen never played for South Africa, and was an off spinner who batted in the lower order before he came to play in England. Kieswetter represented South Africa at U19 level but never played a first class match for a South African provincial team. Trott holds a British passport and was never considered an overseas player. All three of them decided to stop playing in South Africa of their own accord, nobody was "poached". So basically, there IS another way to describe it. Get your facts straight next time, eh?

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    @ chiggers. England are the worst culprits of poaching other teams' cricketers. Australia only had 2 imports in the last 30 years, england had about 30 to 40 imports in the last 30 years. LOL

  • POSTED BY on | April 2, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    Australlia should just give Sam Robson a ODI or 20-20 international debut. This will stop England from poaching him from Australia.

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | April 2, 2012, 14:20 GMT

    @allblue... Time for you to follow your own advice... Robson was born in Oz, went to school in Oz & played grade cricket in Oz... Personally I don't care where his mother was born & believe this parent rule is rediculous & should be cut out... @:- "Australia have Khawaja and so on"... lol - what "& so on"?... Please explain... Khawaja came to Oz aged 4 & grew up gaining his experiences in Oz with his Oz family... A plainly misguided justification to your illogical argument...

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 2, 2012, 12:57 GMT

    @charlesandrewbudge - you are having a laugh. Trott, Kieswetter and Pietersen all PLAYED for South Africa, and learnt all their trade there. Strauss learnt his trade in Melbourne. It's blatant poaching and there's no other way to describe it.

  • POSTED BY AdrianVanDenStael on | April 2, 2012, 12:10 GMT

    @Dashgar: I don't have a problem with these games being recorded as first-class. The annals of first-class cricket after all are littered with one-sided contests. I do however wonder if the way in which certain counties approach these fixtures is the right one. I don't see the point in Somerset letting their batsmen rack up a second-wicket stand of 450 as they have done today (the third highest second-wicket stand ever in first-class cricket in England), not least in the context of the match. @zenboomerang: to answer your question "Who was he [Keppler Wessels] going to play for?... " a) he could have qualified to play for England, as he was playing domestic cricket for Sussex at the time. b) he actually didn't have to play test cricket for any other country at that time. Some significantly better South African players (e.g., Jimmy Cook, Ken McEwan, Clive Rice, Barry Richards, Mike Proctor, Garth LeRoux, Vincent Van Der Bijl, Peter Kirsten) chose that option at that time.

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | April 2, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    @chiggers... lol... Symonds was born in UK to a WI father & Scandinanian mother & adopted out & moved to Oz at a few mths old... lol... Wessels couldn't play cricket for SA as they were banned from international cricket, so he moved to Oz & became a citzen... Who was he going to play for?... Is that as good as you've got... lol...

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | April 2, 2012, 10:04 GMT

    @charlesandrewbudge... Must have been extemely embarrassing being bowled out for a lowly 51 against a lowly ranked WI's... Its all good & well sledging other fans, but always expect a return if you do... To be honest, I'm not even sure some said Oz fans are even Aussie...

  • POSTED BY jaycee71 on | April 2, 2012, 9:34 GMT

    Meety, no one is questioning Symonds' or Khawaja's credentials to play for Australia, the issue is that RandyOZ labels every England player not born in the UK as foreign, even those like Strauss and Prior who came to England as youngsters, were schooled in England, learnt their cricket in England, and came through the English county system, while ignoring the other examples given like Tahir, Nash, Van Wyk, etc. By the way, I do agree that university matches should not be given first class status.

  • POSTED BY charlesandrewbudge on | April 2, 2012, 9:00 GMT

    @Meety - And all of England's "imports" have always held British passports and with a tiny handful of exceptions have never played domestic first class cricket as a home-qualified player outside of England. The point I'm trying to make is that there's a huge double standard at work here. It's totally fine for Australia (Khawaja, O'Keefe), the West Indies (Nash), South Africa (Harris, Tahir) or New Zealand (van Wyk, Watling, Brownlie, Elliott, probably Wagner and de Grandhomme soon) to field "imported" players but if England do it, the whole thing is somehow outrageous.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | April 2, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    @chiggers - Symonds never played cricket in England as a junior, this fellow has played in U19s state cricket, also regarding Wessells, he had no country to play for at the time. @Dashgar - it does make FC stats in the UK dubious from time to time. @charlesandrewbudge - Usman Khawaja left Pakistan when he was about three.

  • POSTED BY Dashgar on | April 1, 2012, 17:17 GMT

    That these games are considered First Class is a farce

  • POSTED BY jevans90 on | April 1, 2012, 16:50 GMT

    @RandyOZ Only overseas players the only ones making big scores? Of the 7 centuries made yesterday, 3 (Napier, Foster, Burns) were made by men born in England, one by a Welshman (Wallace), one by the son of an English mother (Robson), and one by a student (Elkin). And, yes there was also one Kolpak player (Smith). I note that you picked up on the mention of O'Brien for a century he scored last year, but completely ignored Napier and Wallace, who were mentioned in the article, and couldn't be bothered to look up who the 3 centurions not explicitly named in the article were.

  • POSTED BY chiggers on | April 1, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    Ah, RandyOZ - you mean like the Birmingham-born traitor Andrew Symonds, or the Blomfontein-born traitor Kepler Wessels? What selective memories you Australians have...

  • POSTED BY PunchDrunkPunter on | April 1, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    Robson will be opening for England before the end of 2014. Top talent raised through the English system! Expect to see Robson, Taylor, Hildreth and Stokes in the Test line up before 2015!

  • POSTED BY charlesandrewbudge on | April 1, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    @RandyOZ - I find it funny that you think the England batting lineup is easy to break into when Shaun Marsh managed to play seven tests for Australia. And don't forget Chris Martin's bunny Phil Hughes and the Pakistani-born Usman Khawaja. Also, as fragile as England's top order is currently, at no point have they been reduced to 21 for 9 or had to rely on their final wicket partnership to more than double their innings total.

  • POSTED BY allblue on | April 1, 2012, 14:10 GMT

    @RandyOZ I want you to sit down, take a deep breath and try to remain calm because you're not going to like this. Sam Robson was Australian born to an English mother and has stated his intention to play for England. He is I believe, in his last year before qualification. What's more, he looks good, an international player in the making and I wouldn't be surprised to see him playing Test cricket before too long. It's just how it is these days. South Africa have Tahir, the Windies Nash, the Kiwis van Wyk and probably soon Wagner, Australia have Khawaja and so on. We live in an increasingly multi-cultural world, and international sport reflects this reality. As a Middlesex supporter it's been great to see him progress through the seconds and fully establish himself last year. I'm hoping for big things from him this season.

  • POSTED BY AdrianVanDenStael on | April 1, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    It used to be the case that cricket fans in England complained about the soccer season being stretched in both directions so it also occupied the places on the back pages of newspapers during the summer months to which cricket felt it was entitled. Now with all these twenty20 matches they play these days, and all these Champions Leagues, Cricket Leagues, Premier Leagues, and Big Bosh Leagues all around the world it seems cricket is trying to do the same thing and ends up starting its seasons earlier and earlier. The difference is however that the back pages of newspapers are still full of soccer ...

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 1, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    The English complain about the overseas players but with an Aussie (hardly surprising), South African and Irishman mentioned in this article, they seem to be the only ones making big scores. And why does it say Robson is Australian-born and not just Australian. That sounds to me like he is trying to play for England. I know their batting line up is a farce and very easy to break in to, but he better not be a traitor!!!

  • POSTED BY anuradha_d on | April 1, 2012, 12:00 GMT

    an academic record......that it finds its way as a headline news means lack of real substance to report on

  • POSTED BY MikeMcCallan on | April 1, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    I think I'm right in saying hundreds scored against university sides (excluding British Universities) don't count towards the Walter Lawrence Trophy. Of course I coud be wrong....

  • POSTED BY SDHM on | April 1, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    The weather may have been good for the warm ups, but apparently we're due snow over the next week! Who'd be a county championship fixture scheduler?

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  • POSTED BY SDHM on | April 1, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    The weather may have been good for the warm ups, but apparently we're due snow over the next week! Who'd be a county championship fixture scheduler?

  • POSTED BY MikeMcCallan on | April 1, 2012, 11:40 GMT

    I think I'm right in saying hundreds scored against university sides (excluding British Universities) don't count towards the Walter Lawrence Trophy. Of course I coud be wrong....

  • POSTED BY anuradha_d on | April 1, 2012, 12:00 GMT

    an academic record......that it finds its way as a headline news means lack of real substance to report on

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 1, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    The English complain about the overseas players but with an Aussie (hardly surprising), South African and Irishman mentioned in this article, they seem to be the only ones making big scores. And why does it say Robson is Australian-born and not just Australian. That sounds to me like he is trying to play for England. I know their batting line up is a farce and very easy to break in to, but he better not be a traitor!!!

  • POSTED BY AdrianVanDenStael on | April 1, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    It used to be the case that cricket fans in England complained about the soccer season being stretched in both directions so it also occupied the places on the back pages of newspapers during the summer months to which cricket felt it was entitled. Now with all these twenty20 matches they play these days, and all these Champions Leagues, Cricket Leagues, Premier Leagues, and Big Bosh Leagues all around the world it seems cricket is trying to do the same thing and ends up starting its seasons earlier and earlier. The difference is however that the back pages of newspapers are still full of soccer ...

  • POSTED BY allblue on | April 1, 2012, 14:10 GMT

    @RandyOZ I want you to sit down, take a deep breath and try to remain calm because you're not going to like this. Sam Robson was Australian born to an English mother and has stated his intention to play for England. He is I believe, in his last year before qualification. What's more, he looks good, an international player in the making and I wouldn't be surprised to see him playing Test cricket before too long. It's just how it is these days. South Africa have Tahir, the Windies Nash, the Kiwis van Wyk and probably soon Wagner, Australia have Khawaja and so on. We live in an increasingly multi-cultural world, and international sport reflects this reality. As a Middlesex supporter it's been great to see him progress through the seconds and fully establish himself last year. I'm hoping for big things from him this season.

  • POSTED BY charlesandrewbudge on | April 1, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    @RandyOZ - I find it funny that you think the England batting lineup is easy to break into when Shaun Marsh managed to play seven tests for Australia. And don't forget Chris Martin's bunny Phil Hughes and the Pakistani-born Usman Khawaja. Also, as fragile as England's top order is currently, at no point have they been reduced to 21 for 9 or had to rely on their final wicket partnership to more than double their innings total.

  • POSTED BY PunchDrunkPunter on | April 1, 2012, 15:39 GMT

    Robson will be opening for England before the end of 2014. Top talent raised through the English system! Expect to see Robson, Taylor, Hildreth and Stokes in the Test line up before 2015!

  • POSTED BY chiggers on | April 1, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    Ah, RandyOZ - you mean like the Birmingham-born traitor Andrew Symonds, or the Blomfontein-born traitor Kepler Wessels? What selective memories you Australians have...

  • POSTED BY jevans90 on | April 1, 2012, 16:50 GMT

    @RandyOZ Only overseas players the only ones making big scores? Of the 7 centuries made yesterday, 3 (Napier, Foster, Burns) were made by men born in England, one by a Welshman (Wallace), one by the son of an English mother (Robson), and one by a student (Elkin). And, yes there was also one Kolpak player (Smith). I note that you picked up on the mention of O'Brien for a century he scored last year, but completely ignored Napier and Wallace, who were mentioned in the article, and couldn't be bothered to look up who the 3 centurions not explicitly named in the article were.