Lancashire frustrated Surrey on the final day at Old Trafford as they held the champions to a draw. Heading into the final day needing 410 runs to win and with all ten wickets in hand, a potentially exciting finish seemed on the cards. However, after the departures of Luke Wells and Keaton Jennings in consecutive overs, Lancashire understandably opted against attempting to chase their sizeable target. A drab day ensued as Surrey struggled to take wickets, and Lancashire sauntered to an easy draw thanks to an excellent hundred from Josh Bohannon and a dogged half-century from Steven Croft.
Surrey did excellently to reach 442 in their first innings after being reduced to 77-4 on an opening morning that favoured the bowlers. Ben Foakes was crucial to their recovery, weighing in with a measured 76, but Cameron Steel stole the limelight with an outstanding unbeaten 141, while Tom Bailey picked up four wickets for the hosts. Lancashire were bowled out for 291, but things could have been worse as an 81-run partnership between Colin de Grandhomme and Will Williams spared them an even larger deficit, de Grandhomme finishing undefeated on 67 after Keaton Jenning’s earlier 76 had appeared to be a lone hand.
With a sizeable advantage, Surrey’s batsman put their foot on the accelerator in the second innings after Rory Burns’s fifty had given them a solid foundation. Surrey declared on 292 after Ben Foakes had completed a brilliant hundred at a strike rate of over 100; despite an excellent winter, Foakes’s place in the England side is threatened by the impending conundrum Jonny Bairstow’s return poses, and his performance laid down an emphatic marker for the summer ahead. Check out the full scorecard: here
Hampshire got their season off to a strong start with a comfortable eight-wicket victory over newly promoted Nottinghamshire. Notts were bundled out for 185 after choosing to bat on the first day, only forties from Joe Clarke and Tom Moores providing any resistance. Hampshire’s much-vaunted pace attack did the damage, Pakistani overseas Mohammad Abbas leading the way with six wickets. Hampshire gained slight ascendancy as they reached 231 in reply, Fletcha Middleton scoring the game’s first half-century, while England bowler Olly Stone picked up three wickets on his Notts debut.
Notts fared little better in the second innings as they were bowled out for 177 despite a fifty from England opener Ben Duckett. This time Kyle Abbott was the destroyer-in-chief with figures of 4-39. Hampshire easily knocked off the 132 required to win, with Middleton making his second half-century of the match while Nick Gubbins finished unbeaten on 54. Middleton’s performance was particularly impressive considering it was his championship debut, and if Hampshire’s batsman can back up their bowling attack, their title aspirations suddenly look very healthy. Check out the full scorecard: hereEmbed from Getty Images
An excellent bowling performance propelled Essex to victory over newly promoted Middlesex at Lords. Essex were put into bat on a rain-delayed first day, and their total of 266 was built around a superb century from England hopeful Dan Lawrence. Toby Roland-Jones carried on his fantastic form from last year with figures of 7-61, but Middlesex were soon reeling in their reply. Jamie Porter put an injury-ravaged 2022 behind him, claiming two wickets from his first two legal deliveries as Middlesex were reduced to 4-4, all of their top four making ducks. Middlesex’s recovery to 170 was largely thanks to fifties from John Simpson and Ryan Higgins as they added 127 for the sixth wicket.
The evergreen Tim Murtagh led the way in the second innings with four wickets as they bowled Essex out for 210, with Matt Critchley impressing with his second fifty of the match. But their chase got off to a terrible start as Porter and Sam Cook reduced them to 15-3, with Porter once again removing poor Mark Stoneman in the first over. Middlesex eventually struggled to 210 thanks to the efforts of Luke Hollman and Higgins as Essex claimed victory by 97 runs, Porter and Cook sharing three wickets apiece. Check out the full scorecard: here
Kent got their season off to the perfect start with an easy seven-wicket win over Northamptonshire at Canterbury. Kent’s bowlers, led by Matt Quinn (4-25), vindicated captain Sam Billings’s decision to bowl first as they hustled out Northants for just 117, with only Ricardo Vasconcelos and Gareth Berg reaching double figures. Kent’s total of 222 was spearheaded by an excellent 91 from Zak Crawley, as his efforts gave his side a healthy lead. Aussie seamer Chris Tremain impressed on his Northants debut with figures of 5-44, while Jack White provided ample support, taking four wickets.
Northamptonshire’s batters performed better second time around; Rob Keogh’s excellent unbeaten 116 hauled them to 331 as young all-rounder Joey Evison caught the eye with four wickets. Keogh’s hundred partnership with Berg for the eighth wicket gave Northants a sniff of a chance, which was bolstered further when Tremain bowled Crawley with a beauty as Kent initially stuttered in their chase. But Kent strolled home in the end, thanks to an unbroken 167-run stand between Ben Compton and skipper Jack Leaning, Compton finishing unbowed on an excellent 114. Check out the full scorecard: hereEmbed from Getty Images
Warwickshire were made to rue a day one washout as Somerset held them to a draw at Taunton. At 127-6 and leading by just 19 runs, things looked a little ropey for Somerset, but Craig Overton dug in alongside opener Tom Lammonby to see them through to a draw, Lammonby finishing unbeaten on 66. Oliver Hannon-Dalby had given Warwickshire a strong chance after removing Sean Dickson and Cameron Bancroft for ducks, but ultimately time proved to be the visitors’ enemy.
Somerset’s 284 in the first innings was largely indebted to the contributions of their tail after they were languishing at 136-7, but stand-in skipper Lewis Gregory’s half-century and some able support from Josh Davey steered them to a respectable total. Hannon-Dalby picked up three wickets for the away side, while Ed Barnard chipped in with three of his own on his debut after his winter move from Worcestershire. Warwickshire replied strongly, with excellent hundreds from Alex Davies and Sam Hain helping them establish a lead of just over a hundred. Warwickshire just missed out on the fourth batting point as England spinner Jack Leach finished with figures of 4-119. Check out the full scorecard: here