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Vitality County Championship Round One Review: Sam Northeast makes Lord's history

Sam Northeast broke Graham Gooch's record for the highest first-class score at Lord's, Sam Cook took Essex's first hat-trick in more than a decade, while SACA graduate Kashif Ali shone with twin centuries. All that and more in our Round One review

Division One:
Durham vs Hampshire abandoned without a ball bowled
Kent 284 & 290/4 drew with Somerset 403
Lancashire 202 drew with Surrey 15/0
Nottinghamshire 293 & 80 lost to Essex 253 & 374/9d by 254 runs
Warwickshire 333 drew with Worcestershire 360 & 295/3

Division Two:
Derbyshire vs Gloucestershire abandoned without a ball bowled
Middlesex 655 drew with Glamorgan 620/3d & 31/2
Sussex 478/9d drew with Northamptonshire 371 & 170/9
Yorkshire 264/6d drew with Leicestershire 354 & 26/0

In this story...

  • Northeast makes Lord's history
  • Cook breaks Essex's long hat-trick wait
  • Kashif Ali: SACA's first centurion
  • Harry Brook is back!
  • Dan Lawrence: All-rounder?

Northeast makes Lord's history

April is typically seen as the worst time for county batters; the time of year when bowlers never have it easier. 

Clearly no one told Sam Northeast.

Glamorgan's new red-ball captain's first act was to lose the toss at Middlesex. His second act was to pile up the highest individual first-class score at the Home of Cricket ever. It goes with the career-best 410* he struck in 2022.

Graham Gooch's iconic 333 against India has stood for nearly 34 years, but over the course of nearly nine hours at the crease, Northeast wore down the Middlesex bowlers and made records tumble. He put up three-figure stands first with Billy Root and then Kiran Carlson, and continued the punishment by adding 299 with Colin Ingram, who also struck a century.

Northeast ended the first day of the season with 186 - a tally that was bettered only 12 times in the entirety of last season. On the second day, Middlesex put the field back and Northeast took full advantage, scoring 149 from 146 balls to race past 200 and to 300 - opting to bat on past lunch when 17 short of the triple.

His declaration came at the end of the over in which he broke Gooch's record. Could he have gone for Brian Lara's record? Perhaps. But by the time he walked off with his bat aloft, he'd matched Lara in some form: his 166* in his final innings of 2023 meant that his previous two knocks totalled 501 without dismissal.

Sam Northeast's centuries

Score range Occurrences 
100-199 28
200-299 0
300-399 1
400-499 1

Cook breaks Essex's long hat-trick wait

Everyone loves a hat-trick - aside from the batters involved, of course. But at Essex, they've had a long time to wait. Not since the end of the 2009 season had they recorded a first-class hat-trick, with 14 other counties taking at least one in red-ball cricket more recently.

Step forward Sam Cook. The 26-year-old quick is no stranger to the feat, having taken a glorious treble in the Vitality Blast last summer. But as Essex begun their Vitality County Championship season at Trent Bridge, Cook ended the long wait. His dismissal of Lyndon James, Brett Hutton, and Dillon Pennington in successive deliveries sparked jubilation.

Curiously, Essex had taken six white-ball hat-tricks in between times: Graham Napier achieved it in 2011 and 2013 in List A cricket, while Tim Southee (2011), Shaun Tait (2013), Simon Harmer (2023), and the aforementioned Cook in the Blast.

The list of each county's most recent first-class hat-tricks feature some iconic ones, including Toby Roland-Jones' title-winning hat-trick in 2016, and Tom Price's hat-trick last year - a feat which made him the 16th player to take a hat-trick and score a century in the same match.

Each county's most recent first-class hat-trick

Team Date Bowler
Warwickshire 30 June 1999 Tim Munton
Sussex 06 July 2001 Jason Lewry
Yorkshire 16 September 2009 Matthew Hoggard
Essex 23 September 2009 Danish Kaneria
Kent 13 September 2010 James Tredwell
Worcestershire 28 August 2013 Alan Richardson
Derbyshire 13 April 2014 Tim Groenewald
Leicestershire 09 September 2014 Atif Sheikh
Durham 19 July 2015 Chris Rushworth
Nottinghamshire 06 September 2016 Jake Ball
Middlesex 20 September 2016 Toby Roland-Jones
Somerset 24 September 2018 Craig Overton
Surrey 27 May 2019 Gareth Batty
Hampshire 19 July 2022 Kyle Abbott
Lancashire 20 Sep 2022 George Balderson
Gloucestershire 20 April 2023 Tom Price
Glamorgan 04 May 2023 Michael Neser
Northamptonshire 10 September 2023 Ben Sanderson
NEW Essex 6 April 2024 Sam Cook

 

Kashif Ali: SACA's first centurion

Kashif Ali was the first graduate of the South Asian Cricket Academy, the intervention programme designed to tackle the inequalities highlighted by research regarding the lack of British South Asian (BSA) representation in professional cricket across the UK. 

Having trialled in several places up and down the country, SACA gave Kashif a platform to develop quickly. In 2022, he signed his first professional contract with Worcestershire. In the opening round of the 2024 season, he reaped the rewards. Twin centuries at Edgbaston made him the first Pears batter to score hundreds in both innings since Daryl Mitchell in 2018 - the first to do so against Warwickshire since Glenn Turner managed it in 1972 and 1981.

He did it with skill, brilliance - and, perhaps most importantly of all, a range of styles. Kashif's first innings was a fairly patient vigil, his first 50 in 92 balls and his second in 79. But he reached his milestone with a magnificent six, and laid into the Warwickshire bowlers with incredible flair in the second innings.

Twenty-one boundaries came in his 133, scored at faster than a run a ball, and he looked totally assured. Even when struck by a fierce Michael Booth bouncer, he pulled powerfully to the rope two balls later. Yet another big hit brought up his second century of the match.

These may have been the first centuries to Kashif Ali's name - you suspect they will not be the last.

Harry Brook is back!

More than three months since his last professional appearance, Harry Brook made his return for Yorkshire, and he looked in as spectacular touch as usual.

With rain heavily impacting his side's match against Leicestershire, Brook was able to come out on the fourth afternoon and play with complete freedom. He took that opportunity with both hands, showing his array of typically stunning strokeplay.

He drove and scooped his way to an astonishing 69-ball century, his fastest in first-class cricket. Not even the distraction of a wasp could prevent him bringing up three figures. Brook is set to play in Yorkshire's next four matches (ending 6 May), with his international team-mate Joe Root joining for those fixtures and the club's seventh (starting 24 May). 

Dan Lawrence: All-rounder?

Speaking a week before the season began, Surrey head coach Gareth Batty made a bold claim about Essex-import Dan Lawrence: A suggestion that Lawrence could be a "genuine all-rounder."

A largely washed-out match at Emirates Old Trafford showed Batty's money is where his mouth is. Never before had Lawrence bowled so many overs in a first-class innings as the 28 he sent down against Lancashire - curiously, his second-best of 24.3 came in the opening round two years ago, a double first-innings run-fest in which Essex were shorn of Simon Harmer.

The rewards were there. Lawrence picked up career-best figures of 4/91, with a pair of cheaper four-wicket-hauls in The Hundred and the Big Bash his only superior senior return. That Cameron Steel also claimed his maiden five-wicket-haul (5/25 in 9.4 overs) indicated that the Manchester pitch was especially conducive to spin, but Lawrence still had to make use of that help.

In the title win last season, Surrey bowled just 178.3 overs of spin between Steel, Will Jacks, and Dan Moriarty. If Batty can mould Lawrence into that genuine all-rounder, the title holders will pose yet more threat to opposition teams.

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