The title race was no closer to being decided after the opening day of matches in the final round of the LV= County Championship, as title challengers Warwickshire, Lancashire and Durham all enjoyed reasonably good days, without doing anything spectacular, in their fixtures.
One thing that was confirmed was that Yorkshire will be playing Division Two cricket next year after Worcestershire picked up the solitary point they needed against Durham to condemn them to the drop, and provided a stern test for the title challengers on the first day of their encounter at Chester-le-Street, as they bowled the hosts out for 264. Will Smith made an obdurate 66 for the home side, but none of the other batsmen could pass 33 as Kemar Roach and Alan Richardson ended with three wickets apiece. Graham Onions did brighten Durham’s day slightly, however, by removing Daryl Mitchell before the close to leave the visitors on 21 for one.
Division One leaders Warwickshire made the most of Hampshire’s plethora of dropped catches to close day one on 296 for three at The Rose Bowl. The visitors lost Ian Westwood early for six, but William Porterfield (28) and Varun Chopra steadied the innings before Chopra (109) combined with Shiv Chanderpaul (107 not out) for a third wicket partnership of 188 to put the Bears firmly in control. Dimitri Mascarenhas was the pick of the home side’s attack with two for 28 on a day that Hampshire tried eight different bowlers.
Sussex ended on 312 for six on the opening day of what is essentially a fifth place play-off against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. The home side won the toss and asked the visitors to bat and they reaped their rewards almost immediately as Andre Adams and Charlie Shreck took two early wickets to reduce them to 28 for two. Ed Joyce and Murray Goodwin then put on 111 for the third wicket before Joyce fell for 63, but Goodwin was joined by Matt Machan (71) during a fifth wicket partnership of 114 to ensure that Sussex didn’t squander their advantage.
Somerset endured a nightmarish start to their match against Lancashire before ending day one with the honours at Taunton. They lost Alex Barrow and Chris Jones with just 20 on the board before a fourth wicket stand of 170 between Jos Buttler (68) and James Hildreth took them to 259 for three. Gary Keedy then dismissed Buttler and Peter Trego (1) in quick succession to give the visitors hope but Craig Meschede (24 not out) joined Hildreth (161 not out) to see them through to stumps without further loss.
Leicestershire could make only 319 despite two men hitting centuries on the first day of their LV= County Championship Division Two match against leaders Middlesex at Grace Road. They lost Matt Boyce, Will Jones and James Taylor with just four runs on the board as Corey Collymore took two early wickets, but fortunately for them Greg Smith and Jacques du Toit rescued them with a fourth wicket stand of 84 before the latter fell for 42. Smith then found a willing ally in the shape of wicket-keeper Ned Eckersley as both men brought up centuries – Eckersley’s his first - and contributed to a vital fifth wicket partnership of 131. Tim Murtagh then returned to the attack and took two wickets as the home side lost their last four wickets for just 25 runs.
Northamptonshire recovered from a shaky start against Gloucestershire to end on 316 for nine on the first day at Wantage Road. Will Gidman took three early wickets and Jon Lewis one to reduce the home side to 50 for four at one stage. Thankfully for them, the newly-signed Kyle Coetzer and captain Andrew Hall shared a fifth wicket stand of 121 and David Willey hit a breezy 64 to rescue the situation. Will Gidman ended with five wickets for the visitors and bought up 50 wickets for the season.
Surrey achieved their first objective in their push for promotion by securing maximum batting points on day one against Derbyshire at The Oval. They lost Rory Hamilton-Brown and Mark Ramprakash early on, but Steve Davies and Zander de Bruyn both completed half-centuries to take them to 103 for two at lunch. The rest of the day belonged to Tom Maynard who hit his third century of the season at a typically brisk pace prior to falling just before the close for 123 – Surrey closing on 400 for eight.
Kent were bowled out for 237 on the opening day of the inaugural floodlit Championship match against Glamorgan at Canterbury. Joe Denly top-scored for the home side with 69 and Geraint Jones made 48, but the Glamorgan spinners did the early damage, before Graham Wagg (three for 52) and John Glover (four for 49) took over the wicket-taking mantle. Glamorgan then faced five overs before the close and reached two for none.
Day Two, LV=CCD1, Durham v Worcestershire at Chester-le-Street
Day Two, LV=CCD1, Hampshire v Warwickshire at The Rose Bowl
Day Two, LV=CCD1, Nottinghamshire v Sussex at Trent Bridge
Day Two, LV=CCD1, Somerset v Lancashire at Taunton
Day Two, LV=CCD2, Kent v Glamorgan at Canterbury
Day Two, LV=CCD2, Leicestershire v Middlesex at Grace Road
Day Two, LV=CCD2, Northamptonshire v Gloucestershire at Wantage Road
Day Two, LV=CCD2, Surrey v Derbyshire at The Oval
County News in Brief
Will Bragg has signed a new two-year contract with Glamorgan.
Sussex have confirmed that they will not be renewing the contract of Lou Vincent. More Details
Surrey captain Rory Hamilton-Brown has been awarded his county cap.
© Cricket World 2011