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LV= Insurance County Championship 2022 Round 1 Day 1: April 7th – 10th - Latest News, Scores and Match Reports

Umpire's light meter comes out
Umpire's light meter comes out
©Cricket World / John Mallett
 

Here are all the latest news, scores and match report updates from the LV= Insurance County Championship 2022 Round 1 Day 1: April 7th

Division One


Warwickshire vs Surrey, Edgbaston

Ryan Patel started the season with a flourish as Surrey made 168 for three against champions Warwickshire on a heavily rain-affected opening day of the LV=Insurance County Championship campaign at Edgbaston. 

Patel averages just 24.50 in first class cricket but showed his potential by batting with verve to race to a 56-ball half-century after Surrey won the toss and chose to bat. 

The 24-year-old struck 75 (107 balls) in an opening stand of 117 with Rory Burns before Warwickshire hit back among a series of rain breaks. Burns (41, 77 balls) and Patel fell within four balls of each other, albeit two hours apart either side of a heavy downpour. 

Ollie Pope then moved sweetly to an unbeaten 40 (46 balls) in the last session of a day which brought the shivering crowd just 45.5 overs. 

On a staccato day, with a bitterly cold wind blowing, it was a bracing opening to their title defence for Warwickshire who were missing their three most potent fast bowlers. Already without England pair Chris Woakes (unavailable) and Olly Stone (long-term injury) they are also without last year's talisman Liam Norwell due to a back spasm. 

After Surrey captain Burns called correctly, he was soon watching approvingly from the other end as Patel sped to his half century with five fours and two sixes. The 100 came up in the 22nd over and when the visitors reached the last ball before lunch on 117 without loss, their day was advancing perfectly to plan. 

But Burns then lifted that ball back to bowler Danny Briggs and when play finally resumed in the afternoon, Patel flashed at the fourth ball, a wide offering from Olly Hannon-Dalby, and nicked it to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess. 

Hashim Alma's uncomfortable 23-ball stay for two runs was ended when Hannon-Dalby shattered his stumps but, from 126 for three, Surrey were stabilised again by Pope who took advantage of some ill-directed bowling to hit eight fours. 

Warwickshire are without new signing Alex Davies whose debut is delayed by a one-match suspension for historical social media posts. Seam bowler Henry Brookes is recalled for his first championship game since September 2019. 

Surrey are without the Curran brothers, both on their way back from back injuries, but are otherwise at full strength. 



Essex vs Kent, The Cloud Country Ground

Essex openers Sir Alastair Cook and Nick Browne battled through fierce winds to record a 220-run stand that threatened to demoralise Kent on the opening day of the LV= Insurance County Championship at Chelmsford.

It took the men of Kent exactly five and a half hours of unremitting toil and strife to finally break the stubborn partnership when Australian debutant Jackson Bird forced Browne into his only mistake in an innings that spanned 253 balls, contained 13 fours and brought him 107 runs.

Browne’s dismissal did not upset Cook’s concentration, at least in the short term, and the former England captain duly clocked up the 70th century of his distinguished career before driving loosely at Bird four balls later and edging behind for 100.

However, the platform built by Cook and Browne threatened to be wasted as present England batsman Dan Lawrence departed lbw for seven, having played no shot. Essex, put in, closed on 272-4.

It was an overcoat and bobble hat sort of day for spectators and equally uncomfortable out in the middle where blustery conditions had bowlers aborting run-ups, chasing to retrieve caps blown off. A damp outfield in the morning also turned potential fours into twos.

Cook, in particular, seemed the more unsettled by the wind early on if not by the benign wicket. He was comprehensively outscored by the traditionally less adventurous Browne to the extent that when Browne reached his fifty from 109 balls shortly after lunch, Cook had only just accelerated to 34 from a similar number of deliveries.

Indeed, Cook’s contribution had been just seven runs in the first hour. However, the introduction of his former Essex team-mate Matt Quinn just after noon enabled him to more than double his score from two successive freebees down the legside.

Browne was consistently strong when straight-driving and reached his half-century with a sweet shot through mid-off that slowed up just short of the boundary to yield two.

It is not often that Cook’s strike-rate is overshadowed significantly by his opening partner, but he faced 31 more balls than Browne to reach his fifty– and took nearly an hour longer - before he flicked Matt Milnes off his legs in familiar style. It was as if the tortoise and the hare roles had been reversed.

However, when Cook rolled his wrists to pull Daniel Bell-Drummond for four, he had moved to within one run of Browne, whose total he overhauled for the first time in the following over. It then became a race to be the first to reach three-figures, a race ultimately won by the junior partner.

Before that landmark, the 200-run stand was reached when Browne abandoned normal restraint and bounced down the wicket and lofted a full-toss from rookie offspinner Tawanda Muyeye over the midwicket boundary.

He followed that by whipping Bird’s first delivery with the new-ball through the onside to record the 13th boundary of his innings and the 17th first-class century of his career.

Suddenly memories were revived of the pair’s 373-run first-wicket stand against Middlesex at the same ground five years ago. But that was stilled in Bird’s next over when Kent’s Australian recruit had Browne groping at a fullish ball.

Cook went to his hundred when he glanced Matt Milnes for a quick single. It had taken 262 balls. But Bird dismissed Cook, Quinn had Lawrence lbw shouldering arms to one that nipped back, and Nathan Gilchrist trapped nightwatchman Jamie Porter for nought.

Essex centurion Nick Browne said: “It’s nice to bat for that length of time with Cookie. It’s a shame we’re still not there. But you take that when you’re doing your sprints in the winter and if someone said you’d score a hundred in your first game here you’d back that.

  “The way I see my job is to protect our talented middle order and if I can do that and score some runs as well then brilliant. We managed to do that and hopefully we can pile on a few more tomorrow.

  “I was a bit frustrated when I got out. It was one of my only mistakes: I pushed at the ball and it came back through the gate. It was a decent ball but I was frustrated that I didn’t go on and score a really big hundred and make it count.

  “Batting with Cookie, I’m so fortunate. Every other opener to the country would be sitting there envious of me. He instils calmness and the ability to concentration and keeping switched on. We’ve got a good partnership and hopefully we can continue.”

 

Kent head coach Matt Walker said: “It’s always good to finish a day well. I thought we did well all day actually. The only thing that was missing was something in the wickets column. But I thought we did enough to deserve a couple of wickets. Cook and Browne played very well. We tried everything, stuck to our plans really, really well. They gave us very little chance, but we kept plugging away. We knew if we stuck to our guns something would happen and eventually it came, a bit late in the day, but in the end it was pretty even stevens.

  “Jackson’s just off the plane and been here just under a week. He’s been playing, you could tell that. He’s a bit different, but I thought he bowled beautifully. I thought they all did. They all played their part really well today and that was key. It was great to see Jackson come in with a couple of wickets. It’ll give him plenty of confidence and he deserves it, he bowled beautifully. I’m looking forward to seeing him more and I’m sure there will be more days to come.”


Hampshire vs Somerset, Ageas Bowl

Under pressure pair James Hildreth and Joe Weatherley proved their worth with half-centuries as Hampshire enjoyed an impressive opening day to the 2022 LV= Insurance County Championship.

Hildreth ended last season out the Somerset side, while Weatherley averaged 18 last season and only has a single Championship century.

But the former ploughed a lone furrow by scoring 87, his 126th first-class score over 50, with absent-plagued Somerset collapsing twice to get bowled out for 180.

While Weatherley made a mockery of the potential axe above his head by seeing off the new ball to reach an unblemished 65 – Hampshire closed on 109 without loss, just 71 runs behind.

This could be Hildreth’s swansong season. He is out of contract at the end of the year and after two lean campaigns, by his high standards, could be starting his 20th and final year on the circuit.

In fact, Hildreth had been left out of Somerset’s final fixture of the 2021 season, and there is a school of thought that he would have missed out here if there wasn’t such a lengthy absent list. Somerset were already without seven first-team players before George Bartlett damaged his shoulder in training on Wednesday and Jack Brooks went down with illness overnight.

Hildreth was dragged to the crease within 10 overs after Somerset had won the toss and chosen to bat first. Ben Green edged Muhammad Abbas to second slip before Kyle Abbott produced an away jagging delivery, that wouldn’t have been out of place in his famous 17 for 86 against this opposition in 2019, to find Tom Abell edging to third slip.

Hampshire’s bowling attack was relentless. Holland had Tom Lammonby caught behind, Lewis Goldsworthy was lbw to one which straightened from Abbas and Steven Davies was castled by Keith Barker leaving the last ball of the morning.

Lunch saw Hampshire pay tribute to former captain Shane Warne, who died aged 52 last month, with a video played on the big screen and crowd members permitted on the outfield for a minute of applause.

The interval also saw Hampshire captain James Vince depart to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, with Abbott taking over the leadership. And he found Hildreth an immovable object, alongside Roelof van der Merwe.

Hildreth has recorded at least one score of fifty or more in each County Championship season since 2004, and found fluency on a decent Ageas Bowl pitch which offered springy bounce. That characteristic saw square either side of the wicket the most profitable areas to score, with the cut shot a trademark. The shot that brought half-century, in 89 balls, was the perfect encapsulation of this, as it rocketed past point.

The Hildreth/van der Merwe combination raised the visitors from their 61 for five malaise, to a healthy 134 for six, before a second act of the collapse. The Netherlands international chopped James Fuller onto his own off stump before Liam Dawson struck with a sumptuous loopy yorker to see off Hildreth with his first delivery of the season.

The final three wickets fell for just a single run in 13 balls, as Barker had Peter Siddle caught at first slip and Marchant de Lange bowled while slogging, either side of James Aldridge bowled playing down the wrong line by Dawson.

Hampshire’s average first innings opening stand in 2021 was 26, which has led to pressure being put on Weatherley’s position in the team. Those worries about his selection felt less weighty, as he cruised through the evening session with Ian Holland. The homegrown batter rushed to an 83-ball half-century – his first since last July and 10th of his first-class career.

Holland was dropped on 33 at point but otherwise, the hosts were untroubled as they eased to the close.

Hampshire fast bowler Keith Barker, who took three for 33:

"It was a good day for us. We started really well, they had a good patch in the middle, but we clawed it back and started really well with the bat. It was important we didn't let them get away and we kept our foot on their throat. We now need to bat for a long period of time to take the game away from them. 

"We have got two world-class bowlers which is a big difference, as they have a couple of young lads. If you are slightly off on this wicket you are going to get punished and that's something we did quite well.

"We all have pressure going into a season. Joe is a cool customer, he takes things in his stride and gets on with his game. I am really glad he has started the season with a fifty and hopefully he can go on and get a big hundred."

 

Somerset batter James Hildreth, who top-scored with 87:

"You come into the first day of the season and everyone has high hopes for the season so to spend some time in the middle on a challenging surface feels great.

"I don't know [if I'm close to being back to my best]. I hit them alright today and it felt good, but I don't know the last time I felt good. I'm hoping this is the start of a good run. I've flirted with form in the last few years so it would be nice to have a purple patch.

"With the new ball it was challenging. They have a world-class bowling attack so whenever they put things in the right areas with the new ball it was hard work.

"You could see from the way they batted on it there were runs to be had. It isn't a 180 pitch."


Northamptonshire vs Gloucestershire, The County Ground, Northampton

Ben Sanderson served notice Northamptonshire are ready to defy the odds on a rain-affected first day of the LV= Insurance County Championship season against Gloucestershire at Wantage Road.

Sanderson backed up new skipper Ricardo Vasconcelos’s decision to bowl in seamer-friendly conditions to return 4-38 as the visitors struggled to 164-8 in between the rain squalls.

That total would have been even lower but for the obduracy of England hopeful James Bracey, who defied conditions to top score with an unbeaten 77 before bad light ended play.

Northamptonshire have been immediately relegated on each of the four previous occasions they’ve reached division one and pundits have wasted no time in predicting them for the wooden spoon ahead of curtain up this time.

Whether new head coach John Sadler used such musings as motivation in his pre-match pep-talk, following a 50-minute delay to the start of play because of rain, the hosts wasted no time attempting to tear up the script.

Gareth Berg, now 41-years young made the initial thrust, picking up former Gloucestershire skipper Chris Dent for a duck, Emilio Gay diving across in front of second slip to snaffle a sharp catch, one of two on the day for the young opener.

The first stoppage for rain soon followed, but once play resumed it wasn’t long before Sanderson, whose 23 previous wickets against Gloucestershire had come at a shade over 16, took centre stage. As usual there was no great pace, but his full length and nagging line in dreary light, which necessitated the switching on of the floodlights, gave no respite and opener Ben Charlesworth saw his off-stump plucked out before rain drove the players off for an early lunch at 10-2.

Only another 22 balls were bowled after another delayed start before the rain returned once more and the stop-start nature of the cricket meant Sanderson was able to keep bowling every time play resumed and he trapped skipper Graeme Van Buuren lbw just before a further squall sent the players scurrying for cover again.

All this time, Bracey was defying both Sanderson and the conditions, producing an innings which wasn’t fluent, but eye-catching nevertheless given England’s batting travails in the Ashes and their subsequent tour to the West Indies in the winter.

The wicketkeeper/ batter endured two horror Tests last summer against New Zealand which yielded just eight runs, but his rehabilitation began with 113 for England Lions against Australia A, Scott Boland included, prior to the Ashes series.

He needed the odd slice of luck, missing one Sanderson leg-cutter and surviving a confident shout for lbw at the hands of the seamer, but he left the ball well, looked tidy and organised and showed tremendous concentration to re-start his knock no less than eight times around the interruptions.

Partners came and went, Miles Hammond perishing to a super slip catch from Gay, while Sanderson returned to end Ryan Higgins’s brief attempt at a counter-attack, before producing the ball of the day to have Tom Lace caught behind – a first catch in Northamptonshire colours for debutant on-loan wicketkeeper Lewis McManus.

Left with the tail, Bracey changed gear, three boundaries in quick succession taking him to his half-century and more followed as he skilfully farmed the strike to nurse debutant Naseem Shah through to the close.

 

Northamptonshire captain Ricardo Vasconcelos said: “This morning Sanderson and Berg set the tone brilliantly. We were on and off, so they could bowl a longer spell, but they went one an over for the first 15 overs.

“Bowlers need rhythm and especially on days like this with the wind howling and coming on and off that’s not the easiest thing to do so credit to our bowlers for sticking at it all day in freezing conditions.

“James (Bracey) batted brilliantly. He played and missed a lot, but held his line and never followed the ball . That’s all you can do as a batter with the ball nipping around like it was and when the time came he put his foot down. Sometimes you’ve just got to say well played. Hopefully we can knock him over tomorrow morning.”


Division Two


Glamorgan vs Durham, Sophia Gardens

Just 47 overs were possible on a day curtailed by weather  in the LV=Insurance County Championship match between Glamorgan and Durham in Cardiff. The home side reached 164 for four at the close on a day that was full of weather delays after the lunch break.

It was the visitors who won the toss and put Glamorgan into bat. Useful contributions of 28 from David Lloyd and 24 from Sam Northeast gave Glamorgan a decent start but two wickets in eight balls just before lunch brought Durham back into the game.

It was Colin Ingram who was the star for Glamorgan finishing on 71 not out before a huge hailstorm took the players off the field for the final time just after tea.

Glamorgan experimented with Andrew Salter as an opener, the third time in three different matches that he has been given the job. This one was no more successful than the other attempts with Salter now having 7 runs from his three innings at the top of the order. While there has been some batting success for the off-spinner, he has nine fifties from his 99 innings in first-class cricket, it will be interesting how long-lasting and how successful this experiment will be. When Eddie Bryrom is back from injury the expectation is that he will be given the job.

Lloyd, himself a relative newcomer to opening in first class cricket, looked much more assured with real positive intent from the outset. He made an enterprising 28 before he edged behind to David Bedingham off the bowling of Ben Raine.

New Glamorgan signing, Sam Northeast, looked in good touch before he was trapped lbw by Chris Rushworth. When Raine had Kiran Carlson bowled for 1 in the next over Glamorgan found themselves 108 for four despite having looked in control for much of the morning session.

Ingram, who has played just one other first-class match since 2017, looked in fantastic touch, passing his fifty from 76 balls with one half chance in the gully being his only slip up.

Just 17 overs were possible after the lunch break with short but heavy rain and hail showers taking the players off the field at regular intervals before one almighty downpour took them off for good.

Despite these regular interruptions Ingram and Chris Cooke put on an undefeated partnership of 56 for the fifth wicket. With the ball getting older things looked a little easier for batting although there was still the odd delivery that seamed or swung.

Raine was the pick of the Durham bowlers as he got the ball to move often enough to trouble the batters throughout his 11 overs, he will be disappointed that the weather prevented him from having further opportunities for wickets.

David Lloyd, Glamorgan captain quotes -

On Ingram innings

Colin Ingram has filled in at number three and he has done a very good job today for us and looks in really good touch. He [brought white ball shots to the game], I think that’s the way he plays and that is when he plays his best cricket so for him to do that paid off and hopefully he can rebuild again in the morning.

Colin Ingram has a lot of experience and knows he’s game pretty well so I think it is a bit easier than someone a bit younger coming in to do it. He has fitted in very well and has looked good all pre-season so he has finally showed his form.

 

On having three overseas players on the staff when only two can play

We will have to send Marnus {Labuschagne) back home I think, and Colin can take his place! Obviously, it is a good place to be having that competition and Colin has come in and done a really good job.

 

Ben Raine, Durham bowler quotes 

The wicket looks OK to be fair. Looks a good wicket, but early year when it has been undercover for a day and a bit you’ve got to bowl on that, and I think they would have done the same thing. We were happy to get four quick ones, they batted quite well, batted positively. It is very small boundaries all the way around so it is going to be quite a quick scoring game.

I think we feel we could have bowled a bit better but it is a bit hard to judge at the moment, balls that at the Riverside that might go for twos are racing away to the boundary. I think fairly even after the first day.


Middlesex vs Derbyshire, Lord’s

Stephen Eskinazi’s stylish century propelled Middlesex into a strong position against a depleted Derbyshire attack on the opening day of the LV= Insurance County Championship.

Eskinazi struck an accomplished knock of 118 – his eighth Championship hundred and his first at Lord’s in five years – as he and teenage opener Josh de Caires shared a second-wicket stand of 186.

De Caires, the 19-year-old son of former England captain Michael Atherton, registered his maiden first-class half-century in an innings of 80 that helped to lay the foundations for the home side to post 307 for four.

It was a difficult day for Billy Godleman’s team, who opted to put Middlesex in but quickly lost the services of on-loan seamer Ryan Sidebottom, pulling up with a suspected hamstring problem just 1.1 overs into his Derbyshire debut.

Mark Stoneman got Middlesex’s campaign off to a positive start after Godleman had invited them to bat, clipping Sam Conners’ opening delivery firmly to the square-leg boundary.

However, the left-hander was first to depart, with Derbyshire’s two overseas players combining to remove him for 12 in the fourth over as Shan Masood dived forward at midwicket to hold a catch off Suranga Lakmal.

The Seaxes’ second-wicket pair dug in, with Eskinazi quick to punish loose bowling and displaying excellent timing and placement – exemplified by a sweet straight drive to the boundary off Anuj Dal to raise the 50 partnership.

There was a let-off for De Caires on 21, when he carved a widish delivery from Conners to point, but the ball whistled through Dal’s fingers and Derbyshire’s four remaining bowlers continued to toil after lunch.

Eskinazi brought up his half-century from 80 balls in the first over of the afternoon session, while his junior partner took a little longer to reach that landmark but did so in style, cutting Lakmal off the back foot for four.

De Caires’ watchful style took his stay at the crease beyond four hours before Conners tempted him outside off stump and Brooke Guest gratefully snapped up the opportunity to end the partnership prior to tea.

Lakmal claimed his second wicket when Eskinazi’s outside edge carried to Wayne Madsen at slip, but Robbie White and Max Holden maintained Middlesex’s momentum, joining forces in a stand of 58.

Holden (35) looked well set, only to perish reverse sweeping off-spinner Alex Thomson, but White (40 not out) and Jack Davies ensured a third batting point was safely secured before stumps.

Middlesex batter STEPHEN ESKINAZI, who top-scored with 118, said:

“Fantastic application from the boys today – it couldn’t have gone much better, but if we want to start being the ruthless side we’ve talked about, we’ve got to stack days on top of days.

“I’ve had some challenges over the last couple of years so it’s nice to put the side in a good position, but I know it’s just a start. I think we made them work hard and I’m sure they’re going to do the same to us.

“Joshy (De Caires) is a really level-headed young fellow, he’s not fazed by situations. I think he probably found out yesterday or the day before he was in the side, to open the batting at Lord’s and he looked assured, he looked like he’d maybe played 100 games.

“The surface was pretty good. The longer Joshy and I went on, the easier it got, which it definitely does do here.”

 

Derbyshire coach MICKEY ARTHUR said:

“I thought Alex Thomson and Anuj Dal picked up the slack quite well through the day, but I was really disappointed to lose another of our frontline seamers (Ryan Sidebottom).

“He won’t take further part in the game. It’s not that severe so we’ll have him back in the next couple of weeks, I’d have thought.

“The wicket played really well today. You had to be spot on the money, which we weren’t in our first hour but after that I can’t fault the endeavour, the discipline and the attitude.

“We clawed it back well through the day and managed to control the rate but I’d like us to have added a couple more wickets on the back end of that.”


Sussex Nottinghamshire, The 1st Central County Ground

Tom Clark, with an unbeaten 82, was one of three batsmen to make fifties as Sussex made a promising start against Nottinghamshire in their LV County Championship opener at blustery Hove.

Haines and Orr began impressively after Sussex were put in, putting on 110 in 36 overs before left-arm spinner Liam Patterson-White led a fightback for the second division promotion favourites.

Patterson-White bowled unchanged until the second new ball was taken after coming on in the 22nd over, sending down 30 overs.

He was brought back into the attack to bowl four more overs before stumps to finish with three for 69, but by then Clark and Delray Rawlins seized back the initiative on a fluctuating day, adding 87 in 21 overs for the sixth wicket to help take Sussex to 302 for six at stumps.

Both teams will have been pleased with their efforts. There wasn’t too much in the pitch for Nottinghamshire’s seamers and the strong wind caused several disruptions as headwear and even the bails flew across the outfield, although Patterson-White enjoyed the breeze over his left shoulder as he settled into his marathon spell at the sea end.

He picked up Haines for 59 and debutant Tom Alsop in successive overs just after lunch before removing Orr for 68 as Nottinghamshire took four wickets in the afternoon session.

Dan Ibrahim, one of two 17-year-olds in a Sussex side whose average age is 21.6, was run out but Clark progressed serenely to only his second Championship half-century and Rawlins counter-attacked impressively against the second new ball.

No one scored more Championship runs last season than Haines’ 1,176 last season and the Sussex captain was soon back in the groove, hitting eight boundaries as he brought up his fifty off 59 balls.

Orr was more circumspect, and although one or two loose shots kept the seamers interested it wasn’t until Patterson-White came on with 76 already on the board that Nottinghamshire exerted some control.

Patterson-White struck in his eighth over when Haines was bowled through the gate by one which turned and in his next he had Alsop, making his debut after signing on a season’s loan from Hampshire, leg before for one to a ball which would have only just clipped the top of the bails.  

Sussex lost a third wicket on 137 when Oli Carter (14), who had looked in good touch, picked out mid-wicket but Orr again demonstrated both sound judgement outside his off stump and a calm authority in putting away anything loose. It was a surprise after more than four hours when he edged Patterson-White to slip, driving loosely.

Nottinghamshire sensed an opening, but Clark and Ibrahim gave little away in a fifth wicket stand of 43 either side of tea. Then Clark called for a third run and his partner was slow to react with a combination of Hutton in the deep, Patterson-White at the non-striker’s end and wicketkeeper Tom Moores running him out for 15.

It left Sussex 214 for five but Clark reached his fifty in the next over and together with Rawlins they counter-attacked in the final hour. Rawlins hit eight fours in his 49 only to play on in the penultimate over to Nottinghamshire skipper Steven Mullaney. 

Sussex captain Tom Haines said, “We would have bowled because there was a bit of dampness around. We worked hard in the first session to get through the new ball and overall I think it was a good day for us. The wicket did a little bit but I thought Ali [Orr], who loves getting into the battle, and myself set up the day nicely for guys like Tom Clark and Delray [Rawlins] to come in and give us a good platform. Liam Patterson-White bowled extremely well for them and controlled one end, which was impressive in that wind. Personally, it was nice to get a start, but I was disappointed with the way I got myself out.”

Nottinghamshire spinner Liam Patterson-White, who took three wickets, said, “I didn’t expect to be bowling 34 overs on the first day of the season I must admit, it felt a bit unnatural for a spinner, but I thought I did my job quite well. The ball that got Tom Haines out did spin which was important because he’s a big player for them, but not too many balls turned so it was a case of holding an end. We got a wicket at the end of the day and feel we’re slightly on top but Sussex batted pretty well.”

Leicestershire vs Worcestershire, Uptonsteel County Ground

Veteran Leicestershire seamer Chris Wright took three for 33 as Worcestershire closed on 118 for four after a rain-affected opening day of the LV= County Championship season at the Uptonsteel County Ground in Leicester.

The first two scheduled sessions were lost to a series of squally showers before the Division Two rivals squeezed in 26 overs either side of another stoppage.

After opting to bat first on what looked like a good batting surface, Worcestershire slipped to 32 for three, with former Warwickshire batsman Ed Pollock and Pakistan Test No 3 Azhar Ali both out for single-figure scores on debut.

They stumbled further to 45 for four before Damian D’Oliveira (34 not out) and Ed Barnard (41 not out) fought back in an unbroken stand of 73, although both were dropped in the slips.

Pollock, who played in Worcestershire’s age group sides up to 17, has returned to New Road in the hope of forging a red-ball career after playing only white-ball cricket for Warwickshire. He guided 36-year-old Chris Wright’s opening ball of the innings to third man for four to give himself an immediate confidence boost but was bowled by an inswinger in Wright’s next over, shaping to leave and adjusting too late.

Azhar, starting a third spell in county cricket after two stints with Somerset, would doubtless have liked a repeat of his Championship debut four years ago, when he made a century against Worcestershire. Instead, after picking up two singles, he aborted another that never looked realistic and was run out off his own bowling by South African left-armer Beuren Hendricks, making his Leicestershire debut.

Jack Haynes looked unlucky to be given out leg before against Wright before another squall forced the players off at 32 for three. It was a chance for Worcestershire to reset but after the restart they lost another wicket - a third for Wright - as opener Jake Libby flashed at one outside off stump to be caught at third slip for 27.

In tricky conditions made no easier by a strong crosswind, D’Oliveira was fortunate to survive on three as George Rhodes spilled a chance at third slip that was travelling but at a catchable height. Barnard edged along the ground between third and  fourth slips in the same over, much to Wright’s frustration.

Both batters then unveiled some nice shots as the opening bowlers began to tire but Barnard then had some luck after Ed Barnes replaced Wright at the Pavilion End, escaping on 21 as Hassan Azad put down a more straightforward catching opportunity at first slip.

Worcestershire’s Ed Barnard said after finishing unbeaten on 41:

“There were a few early-season nerves and the rain delay didn’t make for an easy start.  Chris Wright is always going to be effective in those conditions and Hendricks is a bowler with Test experience, so it was difficult at the start, which we knew it would be. But it was nice to get out there and get a few runs and put the pressure back on their bowlers a bit.

“Dolly and I tried to play quick-tempo cricket, which was possible with a quick outfield and a good cricket wicket where it came on to the bat quite  well. It was good to see Dolly playing that kind of innings in his first game as captain because it is a day he has been building towards for a while, a very proud day for him and his family.

“But it was quite hard for an early season pitch and we felt that once we were through the first 10 or 15 overs it would get a bit easier, which I think it did a little bit.”

Leicestershire’s Chris Wright, who took three wickets, said:

“We were really pleased to have them 40-odd for four, not so pleased that they got to almost 120 for four at the close, but they played nicely.

“But the beauty of a short session is that it allows you to regroup and hopefully we can come back and bowl with a bit more discipline in the morning.

“It was quite bowling up the hill into a strong crosswind, so I was quite pleased with the way it came out. They were not nice conditions at all but it looks like it will be a bit less windy tomorrow.

“It was good to have Beuren at the other end. We are a very young side and I think last year it showed that we needed one more guy with a bit of experience with the ball. He is Test quality and a fit guy and once he settles in I think he will be a really good asset for us.”



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