Proper cricket returned with a glorious day of sun, runs, and some fascinating contests. These were the highlights on the first day:
Fun in the Sun
Fears of a freezing cold, earlier than usual, start to the County Championship proved to be unfounded. England was bathed in sunshine on the opening day and the prospect of some great cricket, coupled with the afterglow of last season’s exciting finale, saw increased crowds reported at every ground, and there was plenty to satisfy the spectators.
Quick Off the Mark
Mark Stoneman wasted no time bedding in at Surrey after signing from Durham and he became the first centurion of the summer. On a batting day at the Kia Oval, Stoneman and opening partner Rory Burns put on 154 before the former was claimed by Keith Barker for 71. Stoneman batted on with Steve Borthwick and Kumar Sangakkara but he was finally out late in the afternoon, caught behind off Chris Wright for 165, surrey ending the day 327-3.
Yorkshire were deep in the muck against Hampshire at 152-7, thanks in part to a blistering spell from Fidel Edwards. But, new Tykes skipper Gary Ballance was having none of it, digging in to seal a brilliant hundred on his first official day in the job. Ably assisted by Steve Patterson, who finished on 37 not out, Ballance helped Yorkshire post 273, then a devastating spell of 5 for 18 from Ben Coad saw the visitors reduced to 58-5 by the close.
Leicestershire hosted Second Division title favourites Nottinghamshire, and the day started with a bang as Stuart Broad took the first wicket of the new season. Two more wickets followed soon after, but Chris Read’s men didn’t have it all their own way. Leicestershire’s tail backed up a stubborn half-century from captain Mark Cosgrove to post a respectable-ish 251. Notts were 52-1 at the close in reply.
Glamorgan won the toss and elected to bat at Wantage Road, but captain Jacques Rudolph may have been ruing that decision when he was the third wicket to fall leaving his side reeling at 9-3. They were all out for 101, but then reduced Northants to 27-3. With the match finely balanced, Alex Wakeley and Adam Rossington tipped the scales in favour of the home side. Rossington made it to 58 before he was out, but Rory Kleinveldt provided some huge hits late in the day, making 72 from just 41 deliveries as the lead grew to 167 at stumps.