The sun shone and the runs flowed as the seventh round of matches in the LV= County Championship got underway today. There were centuries for Varun Chopra, James Hildreth, Arul Suppiah, David Sales, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Simon Katich on the opening day as Glamorgan were the only side to lose all ten wickets during the day.
Championship favourites Warwickshire enjoyed the better of the first day against the defending champions Lancashire at Edgbaston as they closed on 289 for four. It might have been worse for the title holders had they not fought back in the final session with three wickets – two of them to Simon Kerrigan. Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood had shared an opening partnership of 168 before the latter fell for 70, with Chopra eventually going on to complete his second century of the season off 218 balls.
Worcestershire’s seamers toiled manfully in the absence of their talisman Alan Richardson at New Road as they held Sussex to 282 for eight after losing the toss. Chris Nash dominated the early running for the visitors as he scored 84 of the first 109 runs scored prior to giving Gareth Andrew his first Championship wicket of 2012. Jack Shantry then proved himself to be a more than adequate replacement for Richardson chipping in with the wickets of three middle-order players to reduce Sussex to 167 for six as the Sharks looked to be squandering a good start. However, Ben Brown (42) and Naved Arif (46) added 84 for the seventh wicket to wrestle back some of the initiative before the close.
Arul Suppiah and James Hildreth both hit rapid centuries to take Somerset to stumps on 441 for five on the opening day against Surrey at The Oval. The home side had elected to leave out Jade Dernbach and Tim Linley from their seam attack and were soon left regretting that decision as Alex Barrow and Suppiah put on 63 for the first wicket within the first 15 overs. Things only got worse from then on, with Nick Compton edging his way closer to the 1000 run mark with an innings of 83, and Hildreth taking over the baton from Suppiah following the latter’s dismissal for 106. The Somerset captain put on 102 for the fourth wicket with Craig Kieswetter, who made 49, and fell just prior to the close for a well made 120 from 138 balls.
In Division Two, an innings of 79 from Marcus North wasn’t enough to prevent Glamorgan from being bowled out for a below-par 236 against Derbyshire at the County Ground. Jonathan Clare delivered two early blows with the wickets of Nick James and Will Bragg on his way to figures of three for 45, while there were three wickets also for Tim Groenewald. The home side faced eight overs in their first innings prior to stumps and reached 22 without loss.
Northamptonshire’s batsmen ground their way to a position of strength on the first day of their match against Kent at Canterbury. They overcame a shaky start – reaching 87 for four – at one stage with another batsman retired hurt – to close on 244 for four thanks to an unbeaten 104 from David Sales and a doughty innings of 57 from 171 balls from James Middlebrook.
Josh Cobb and Ramnaresh Sarwan shared a fourth-wicket stand of 216 to help Leicestershire end the first day at Grace Road on 323 for five against Essex. David Masters (four for 57) had dismissed the returning Will Jefferson from the first ball of the match, and he and Charl Willoughby followed that up with a wicket apiece to reduce the Foxes to 29 for three at one stage. However, Sarwan reached his century from 154 balls, while Cobb tamed his attacking instincts to hit 80 from 197 balls, as the duo gave the home side the edge.
Simon Katich needed only 99 balls to reach three figures for Hampshire as they closed in the imposing position of 352 for six at Headingley. Ryan Sidebottom and Steven Patterson had each taken an early wicket for Yorkshire to reduce the visitors to six for two, but Katich added 124 for the fifth wicket with Sean Ervine (44), and an unbroken 145 for the sixth wicket with talented wicket-keeper Michael Bates, who ended undefeated on 88, to close on 180 not out from 240 balls.
Day Two, LV=CCD1, Surrey v Somerset at The Oval
Day Two, LV=CCD1, Warwickshire v Lancashire at Edgbaston
Day Two, LV=CCD1, Worcestershire v Sussex at New Road
Day Two, LV=CCD2, Derbyshire v Glamorgan at Derby
Day Two, LV=CCD2, Kent v Northamptonshire at Canterbury
Day Two, LV=CCD2, Leicestershire v Essex at Grace Road
Day Two, LV=CCD2, Yorkshire v Hampshire at Headingley
Weather Forecast: Tomorrow sees a return to showers for the northern half of England, with the south mainly dry albeit overcast and cold with highs of between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius. Friday and Saturday appear similar with light rain and cloud expected for much of England.
County News In Brief:
Leicestershire have extended the contract of Robbie Joseph until the end of the season.
Somerset are understood to be considering signing Richard Levi as their second overseas player in the Friends Life t20.
England spin coach Mushtaq Ahmed is to join Surrey as a coach and mentor for one month starting from 20th June.
Australian fast-bowler Mitchell Starc has arrived in the UK and is expected to make his Yorkshire debut in the CB40 match against Derbyshire on Sunday.
© Cricket World 2012