Monday, 15 April 2013

County Championship review

The County Championship is underway at last. We have given you the previews and who to put your well earned cash and mortgages on and here is a look at the opening round of matches, the winners, losers and rained on. You'll be pleased to know that in this round of cricket there was no fighting in the seats, no one tried to punch a police horse at any venue and no one had to listen to Andy Townsend.

Division One

Varun Chopra
Champions Warwickshire hosted newly promoted and relegation favourites, Derbyshire at Edgbaston. Winning the toss, Warks skipper, Jim Troughton stuck the lads from Derby in. 226 with an attacking 68 from number nine Tony Palladino would have left Derby feeling good, if not a little disappointed they didn’t push on after losing four wickets inside 20 minutes. There was no play on day two and little on days three and four, Warwickshire finishing up 201/4 in their first innings with openers Varun Chopra and Ian Westwood putting on 139.

Match drawn.

Middlesex, without a championship for 20 years went to Trent Bridge looking to impress fans of their more-than-impressive seam attack. Toby Roland Jones was the pick of the bowlers in Notts’ first dig claiming 6/33. Middlesex replied with 353, John Simpson unbeaten on 97 after the Lambeth Lara, Tim Murtagh, failed to see his buddy to a hundred. An impressive Notts batting line-up, at least on paper, failed in the second innings being rolled for 182. The gentle dobblers of club captain Neil Dexter taking 5/27. Middlesex openers Sam Robson and Chris Rogers both scoring unbeaten 50’s in the easy chase of 110, and both could potentially wear the Australian Baggy Green this summer.

Middlesex win by 10 wickets.

Craig Kieswetter
Somerset, always the bridesmaids, are bound to come second in something this season but travelled to Chester-le-Street in a buoyant mood. Durham are as skint as Martine McCutcheon and having lost Liam Plunkett and Ian Blackwell, are favourites of The Middle Stump for the drop. Under Paul Collingwood however, they will have some back bone and showed it. Durham were bowled out for 250 but struck back by skittling the Cider men for just 132. Not to be outdone, Durham folded for 116 on day three setting up an exiting final day with Somerset needing 235 for the win. A 72 from Craig Kieswetter was not enough and Chris Rushworth finished with match figures of 8/104.

Durham win by 48 runs

Yorkshire, boosted by the arrival of Jack Brooks and the availability of Jonny Bairstow hosted Sussex at Headingley. A dreadful first day for the Yorkies saw them dismissed for 96. Chris Jordan, having moved from Surrey claimed 6/48. Sussex racked up an impressive 356 with Ed Joyce and Ben Brown falling in the 90’s. The evergreen Ryan Sidebottom took 4/72 with Middle Stump interviewee Brooks also picking up four after initially taking a bit of tap. Yorkshire improved in their second dig but it was not enough. A stand of 81 between Gary Ballance and Sidebottom was not enough to gift Sussex an innings victory.

Sussex win by an innings and 12 runs

Division Two

There were runs galore at Chelmsford! Visitors Gloucestershire racked up a mammoth 409 after being asked to stick ‘em on by James Foster. Dan Housego and Hamish Marshall scoring 150 and 149 respectively. Essex, not to be outdone, dug in themselves. 163 from opener Tom Westley and half centuries from Ravi Bopara and James Foster took them to 353/5 at the close of day four.

Match drawn

Ben Wright gets dismissed
Down in Cardiff, Glamorgan would have had their usual optimistic look ahead to the season albeit with one eye on the seemingly frail batting order. Gareth Rees was dropped as the Welshmen opened up with Will Bragg and Ben Wright. It didn’t matter, Glamorgan were all gone for 134 with Steven Crook taking 4/30. Northampton didn’t seem to have any of Glamorgan’s problems, reaching 292. Glamorgan finished their second innings on 96/4 before the heavens opened on God’s green country. The rain spent more time in the middle than the Glammy batsmen.

Match drawn

A magnificent 148 from the impressive James Vince backed up with 93 from Australian George Bailey got Hampshire to 454/7 dec against Leicestershire at The Rose Bowl. Leicestershire, who I can see winning the wooden spoon this season were all-out for 143. Following on, the men from Leicester reached 182/5 before the rained saved them. Ned Eckersley unbeaten on 99!

Match drawn

Moeen Ali helping Worcs along
The battle of the heavyweights in Division Two also resulted in a stalemate. Lancashire hosted fellow relegated side Worcestershire at Old Trafford. Worcs were put in by Lancs and made the early season pitch look sublime notching up 334. Lancs in reply posted 448/7 dec with everyone chipping in, most notably Ashwell Prince with 95 and Simon Katich with 84. They say experience counts in Division Two and with 1300 first class appearances, I wouldn’t look past Lancashire for the title.

Match drawn

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