County Championship round-up, 1st day April 18, 2007

Sussex start defence in style

Cricinfo staff

Division One



Never been away: Mushtaq Ahmed was straight back into the wickets for Sussex © Getty Images
It was as though the 2006 season never finished at Hove as Mushtaq Ahmed's 6 for 74 put Sussex in the driving seat against Kent. After opting not to play against MCC, Mushtaq picked up where he left off last summer - a campaign which brought 102 Championship wickets - working his way through Kent's lower order. Geraint Jones was bowled offered no stroke as Kent slumped in ideal batting conditions. The early damage was done by Jason Lewry and the top score was 44 by Ryan McLaren, a South African allrounder on a Kolpak deal. Sussex's reply was equally confident despite the early loss of Carl Hopkinson and the absence of Michael Yardy with a broken finger. Richard Montgomerie and Chris Nash added 112, completing an opening day that couldn't really have gone better for the defending champions.

Jacques Rudolph's deal with Yorkshire didn't go down well with the ECB, but they couldn't do much about it. If his debut century against Surrey at The Oval is anything to go by there'll also be plenty of disgruntled bowlers by the end of the season. Yorkshire stumbled to 73 for 4 when Younis Khan fell for 4, in his first innings for the county, but Rudolph set about the recovery. His main partner was Adil Rashid, dropped on 0 by Scott Newman, who provided further proof of his batting ability with 86, as the pair added 190 for the sixth wicket. Rudolph's century took 136 balls, with 20 fours and three sixes, and lower-order contributions from Tim Bresnan and Darren Gough - including one six out of the ground - further boosted the total. For a side that was crumbling a few months ago, Yorkshire's fortunes continue to take an upturn.

Led by Jim Troughton's even 100, Warwickshire handed Lancashire, one of the pre-season favourites, a tough day in the field at Edgbaston. Troughton's 184-ball formed the backbone of the home side's solid effort, following an opening stand of 79 between Ian Westwood and Darren Maddy which blunted the new ball. Maddy, in his first major innings since moving from Leicestershire, contributed 71 before he was caught off Oliver Newby. When Troughton was yorked middle stump by the second new ball, two deliveries after reaching his first century since last May, Alex Loudon steered the innings towards the close and ended within sight of his first Championship century.

The honour of the season's first Championship century went to Michael di Venuto as he waged a lone battle for Durham against newly promoted Worcestershire at New Road. di Venuto carried his bat for 155, reaching his ton off 141 deliveries, with the next highest score being Steve Harmison's 23-ball 30 at No. 11. Durham's top order had been shaken by Doug Bollinger's impressive first spell as overseas player and wickets fell at regular intervals. Worcestershire's innings started brightly with Stephen Moore reaching 46, but late wickets for Callum Thorp and Ottis Gibson leave Durham in control.

Division Two



Marcus Trescothick was forced to spend the day in the field at Taunton as Middlesex piled on the runs © Getty Images
Owais Shah continued his flying start to the season with an unbeaten 160 to put Middlesex on top against Somerset at Taunton. All eyes were on Marcus Trescothick, but he spent the day stood at slip as the home side toiled against one of last year's relegated sides. It was slow going before lunch - 64 for 1 in 35 overs - and Peter Trego started the season with six successive maidens, but the tempo increased as Shah bedded in. He added 131 with Nick Compton, who was caught behind trying to run the ball past slip, and 157 with new captain Ed Smith (68). Shah's hundred, following his 120 for MCC against Sussex, came off 185 balls and he was still going strong at the close after hitting 22 boundaries.

Starting life with his third county, Ian Harvey proved he is still a force to be reckoned with in domestic cricket with 120 as Derbyshire took control on the opening day against Essex at Chelmsford. Chris Taylor (55) and Simon Katich, dropped first ball by Ronnie Irani at slip, fell to Danish Kaneria, who was given an early indication of the workload ahead by sending down 39 overs, but Harvey's knock carried the game way from Essex during the final session. He added an unbeaten 120 for the seventh wicket with Jamie Pipe, whose 69 included 12 fours and two sixes.

Leicestershire threw away an ideal start against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, losing eight for 127 after a 124-run opening stand between Darren Robinson (50) and John Maunders (82), who was dropped before lunch by Chris Read. Graeme Swann broke the partnership and the middle order all reached the teens before falling, including HD Ackerman who shouldered arms to an inswinger, on a pitch that remained lively throughout the day. A late flourish from Claude Henderson and RP Singh, the Indian left-armer, added 48 but Paul Franks's third wicket stopped them one run short of a third batting point.

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