County Championship Round Up

Middlesex clinched their first win of the season in thrilling fashion at Lords, Sam Robson hitting the winning runs in near-darkness. A bold declaration from Nottinghamshire’s captain Steven Mullaney on the final afternoon left Middlesex chasing 249 to win in forty overs after the rain had ravaged most of day four. Stephen Eskinazi was promoted to open the innings, signalling Middlesex’s intent, but his partner, Mark Stoneman, with 43 from 32 balls, provided the early impetus.

When Dane Paterson removed Stoneman, Middlesex had reached 82 inside 12 overs, and Pieter Malan (61) and Max Holden (53) continued the momentum adding 96 for the third wicket in fifteen overs. When Mullaney removed Malan and Stuart Broad got rid of Holden, it appeared Notts were creeping back into the game, while the fading light increasingly looked like becoming a factor. But cameos from John Simpson and Luke Hollman powered the home side along, and Robson and Ryan Higgins safely saw them home with an over remaining.

Defeat was harsh on Notts, who had controlled most of the previous three days. Ben Duckett lit up a rain-interrupted first day, and after adding 117 for the first wicket with Haseeb Hameed (55), he went on to make a sparkling 177. Duckett’s excellence and useful contributions from Mullaney and Lyndon James propelled Notts to a score of 364. Middlesex achieved their first batting point of the season as they reached 274 in response, with Stoneman putting a difficult start to the season behind with a hard-fought 76, and Ryan Higgins continued his good form with his third fifty of the season. Stuart Broad was the chief destroyer of the Middlesex innings, picking up four wickets.

Notts had stretched their lead to 248 runs by day three, largely thanks to Joe Clarke’s first half-century of the summer, while Ethan Bamber impressed again with the ball. An intriguing last day looked on the cards, but persistent rain appeared to curtail any chance of a result. However, credit must go to Mullaney, whose declaration ensured an exciting finish for those who had waited patiently in the rain all day. See the full scorecard: here

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Hampshire bounced back from their defeat at Surrey by crushing Northamptonshire by an innings and 270 runs at Wantage Road. Forced to follow after mustering just 149 in response to Hampshire’s imposing 482 for eight declared, Northants subsided to a lowly 63 second time round, with Mohammad Abbas continuing his strong start to the season with four wickets. Abbas had removed Ricardo Vasconcelos first ball in Northants first innings before James Fuller stole the limelight, finishing with figures of 6-37 as only Josh Cobb showed much resistance.

High-class centuries from Nick Gubbins and James Vince had initially put Hampshire in control, as the pair added 198 for the third wicket. Gubbins fell just before close on day one, but Vince motored on to reach 186 the next day, with Ben Brown providing some valuable support. A finger injury to wicket-keeper Lewis McManus capped Northants’ miserable outing, while they will also be searching for a replacement for overseas bowler Chris Tremain, whose visa cannot be extended. See the full scorecard: here

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Rain and some staunch resistance from Kasey Aldridge and Lewis Gregory denied Lancashire victory over Somerset at Taunton. The home side were faltering at 169 for six on the final day, just 56 in front, and with their first innings heroes, Tom Abell and James Rew, back in the pavilion. Tom Bailey had been the chief destroyer, getting the key wicket of Abell after removing both openers. But Aldridge and Gregory batted for 27 overs together, ensuring the home side escaped with a draw on a typically batsman friendly Taunton surface.

Somerset were floundering at 24-3 after being stuck in on the first morning, but fantastic hundreds from Abell (151), and Rew (117), salvaged their innings. Both batsmen recorded career-best scores, adding 244 for the fifth wicket against a high-quality Lancashire seam attack. Nineteen-year-old Rew batted with maturity beyond his years and, after touring Sri Lanka with the Lions in the winter, looks certain to be a future international player. Some sparky late-order hitting from Jack Leach helped Somerset reach 441, despite another five-wicket haul from indefatigable James Anderson.

Lancashire’s response was brutal, with Keaton Jennings and Luke Wells adding 154 for the first wicket. Wells’s 82 included three successive reverse-swept boundaries off Leach, and Josh Bohannon (85) continued the fun, adding 222 with Jennings. Jennings was forced to retire with a suspected torn hamstring after destroying the Somerset attack, finishing unbeaten on an outstanding 189, striking 27 fours and 2 sixes. The efforts of Lancashire’s top order helped them reach 554, gaining a healthy lead, but ultimately the weather and Aldridge and Gregory’s defiance would deny them. See the full scorecard: here

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Rain consigned Kent’s match against Essex to a draw, with no play possible on the final day after days one and two had been heavily interrupted. Kent’s bowlers once again struggled, although their new overseas player, Australian seamer Wes Agar impressed. Essex racked up an imposing 451 for the loss of just five wickets over the first three days. Alistair Cook had given the innings a rollicking start, hitting nine fours in 30-ball 39, tucking into some loose bowling. Nick Browne and Tom Westley then put the visitors in total control, scoring classy centuries as they added 265 for the second wicket. Tom Pepper’s run-a-ball 52 helped speed them to a declaration on the third morning as they sought to put pressure on a Kent batting line-up that had looked fragile at Edgbaston the previous week.

But Kent’s response was emphatic as Zak Crawley dominated a stand of 146 for the first wicket with Ben Compton. Simon Harmer bowled Compton for 46, but Crawley continued to rattle along, reaching a brilliant century from just 96 balls. Crawley was eventually removed by Jamie Porter for an imperious 170, his first century of the season, and a positive statement of intent with the Ashes on the horizon. Kent finished day three on 342 for the loss of seven wickets as Harmer made several inroads into their middle order, but ultimately the weather would have the final say. See the full scorecard: here

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Weather curtailed all three Division Two games, frustrating several well-placed sides. Yorkshire were arguably the hardest done by, as consistent rain washed out day four at Hove, with the visitors requiring just another 63 runs to win with seven wickets in hand. After their washout at Bristol, it was immensely frustrating for a Yorkshire side that had turned the game on its head with a brilliant fightback on day three after the hosts appeared to be in control.

Beginning day three, 216 for seven, still 145 runs behind, Ben Coad clubbed five sixes in an entertaining 45, adding 59 for the last wicket with Mickey Edwards in just seven overs. Coad’s fingertips derailed Sussex’s second innings, which looked well set until the seamer got a finger on Tom Haines’s straight drive, running out Ali Orr. Unbelievably, it was the third time in five innings that Orr had been dismissed in such a manner. Sussex collapsed to 137 in the face of a brilliant team bowling performance, with seven wickets falling LBW.

Needing 201 to win, Yorkshire’s chase looked a little shaky at 39-3 after Fynn Hudson-Prentice had got rid of Saud Shakeel and Dawid Malan. But Adam Lyth and Shai Hope appeared to have put them in control, although there was some controversy, with Hope appearing to have been stumped after wandering out of his crease to a delivery from Henry Crocombe.

It wasn’t the only incident of needle, with Haines and Finlay Bean appearing to exchange verbals on day two as Yorkshire replied to Sussex’s 361. Sussex’s innings had been built on a dogged 95 from Tom Alsop and a half-century from Oli Carter, while Jack Carson and Crocombe frustrated the Yorkshire bowlers in adding 57 for the last wicket. Carson then starred with the ball, picking up five wickets to put Sussex in a position of strength, as several Yorkshire batsman made starts without going on. Despite being on the verge of victory, Yorkshire came away with fewer points than Sussex. See the full scorecard: here

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The rain denied Durham a potential victory over Glamorgan at Cardiff, with a heavy rain shower wiping out the remaining 22 overs on the final day. For Glamorgan, it was a relief, as they were 104-6, following on, still 62 runs behind. Disciplined bowling from Durham’s seamers appeared to be leading them to victory, with Paul Coughlin picking up three wickets, including the crucial dismissal of Marnus Labuschagne.

Glamorgan were indebted to the efforts of Kian Carlson in the first innings, the 24-year-old making his second century of the season and hauling them to 305. Carlson had added 110 for the ninth wicket with Timm van der Gugten, a crucial partnership that ultimately denied Durham victory. For Durham, Ben Raine impressed with four wickets, while Brydon Carse again bowled with pace and fire, giving the Glamorgan batsman a stern examination against the short ball.

Carse’s prowess with the bat had helped Durham to an imposing 471 for nine declared, hitting a career-best 91 to put the visitors in a position of strength. Carse had added 128 for the seventh wicket with Liam Trevaskis (79), while Ollie Robinson, Scott Borthwick, and Michael Jones all contributed fifties. Labuschagne picked up four wickets in his first county appearance of the season, but Glamorgan can count themselves fortunate that a washout on day two, as well as lost overs on the final day, ensured they avoided defeat. See the full scorecard: here

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The weather denied Gloucestershire a probable victory, having torn through Worcestershire’s top order on the final day. But the match will be remembered for the stunning first-day exploits of the young all-rounder Tom Price. Price became the first player in history to hit a hundred and take a hat-trick on the same day as he single-handedly hauled Gloucestershire to a position of strength. Having opted to bat first, Gloucestershire were holed in the mire at 8-4 and then 88-8, but Price, coming in at number nine, counter-attacked superbly, adding 143 for the last two wickets with Marchant de Lange and Ajeet Dale. Price’s 109 came from just 98 balls and included four sixes,

But Price wasn’t done there and facilitated a Worcestershire collapse from 58-0 to 59-4, with an impressive trio of hat-trick victims: Azhar Ali, Jack Haynes, and Brett D’Oliveira. 22-year-old seamer Dale stole the limelight on day two, taking career-best figures of 6-41 as Worcestershire were bowled out for 157, giving Gloucestershire a lead that seemed scarcely believable on the first morning.

Half-centuries from Chris Dent and James Bracey then helped Gloucestershire press home their advantage, and after 54 runs had been added in ten overs on the final morning, they declared. Worcestershire were set a tricky target of 301 to win, but they quickly slipped to 51-4 in seaming conditions through a mixture of excellent bowling and dubious shot selection. D’Oliveira had also been forced to retire hurt after being struck by a delivery from de Lange, effectively leaving the visitors five down. But the rain arrived at lunchtime, denying Gloucestershire what would have been a deserved victory. See the full scorecard: here

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