• Specsavers County Championship 2m

    Stone the crows & Paul the other one

    A day of defiant batsmen in the face of wickets tumbling as bowlers made the most of favourable conditions in the Specsavers County Championship


    There was something in the air on Friday. Maybe the uncertainty following the UK's general election infected the cricket. There were a total of 91 dismissals in the day, with the matches at Kent, Lancashire and Somerset all moving on at quite a pace. We could have done with a swing-o-meter to keep up with all the shenanigans.


    One scene of carnage was on the north west coast. Southport's often gusty conditions were becalmed on Friday but there was a gale force wind blowing out in the middle. Defending champions Middlesex were skittled for just 180 inside 51 overs and before the clock had even struck 3.30pm. Then Lancashire lost Alex Davies and Liam Livingstone before they'd put a run on the board!


    It wasn't just the Red Rose who struggled - Yorkshire were in the mire after winning the toss and electing to bat at Taunton, a ground where they hadn't won in seven Championship trips. At 95/6, they were indebted to Andew Hodd's 59 and some lower order resistance to help scrape them up to 202. And just like at Southport, the home side then struggled, reduced to 18/3 before ending on 123/4.

    Most people hit their 40s and experience a mid-life crisis, not Paul Collingwood though. The Durham Destroyer is in some of the best form of his 21-year career, having hit 396 runs in his last five innings. Kent were the latest opposition to feel the sharp end of his bat, as the evergreen Colly struck his second century of the season to take Durham to 448, the Spitfires spiralling out of control in reply, finishing the day 211/8.
    In a match that could be looked back on at the end of the season as a title-decider, Mark Stoneman had a huge say which way the contest would go on the opening day. Surrey and Essex both have the opportunity to go top of the Championship with Hants not involved in this round of fixtures and, as wickets fell around him, Stoneman batted serenely to make an unbeaten 181 and give the Londoners the edge.


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