• Specsavers County Championship 9m

    Division One batsmen prosper on sweltering day

    It was a day of hard runs in Division One as the bowlers toiled away under warm summer sun to restrict the batsmen

    It was a day of hard runs in Division One as the bowlers toiled away under warm summer sun to restrict the batsmen

    Essex 263/5 v Warwickshire
    Lancashire v Hampshire 346/8
    Middlesex 337/4 v Yorkshire

    Essex v Warwickshire
    Nick Browne and Ravi Bopara both posted their highest scores in the Championship this season and combined in a fourth-wicket stand of 127 to underpin Essex’s innings on a stiflingly-hot first day at Chelmsford.
    The two individual innings were of great contrast. Browne batted for five hours and 12 minutes in grinding out a 244-ball 84; Bopara gave his partner a 160-minute lead and was within 13 runs of him when Browne departed. They were together for 42 overs in the middle of a cloudless day, puncutated only at the interval by the welcomign of Mohammed Amir.

    Highlights - Essex v Warwickshire Day 1

     Browne’s innings was lulls punctuated by the occasional outburst and beat his previous highest score this season, the 77 he scored in the second innings against Surrey 10 days ago; Bopara’s knock was of outbursts punctuated by the occasional lull. He finished the day unbeaten on 84, 20 runs ahead of the 64 he recorded in the first innings at Guildford.
    That Essex managed just 263 for five from a full 96-over day highlights what a day for painstaking run-scoring it was. A measure of just how slow the day was can be seen by when milestones were reached: the first fifty came up in the 23rd over, 100 in the 46th and 150 in 59th. The new-ball was taken after 80 overs with the score on just 217 for three.
     Rikki Clarke took two quick wickets with the second cherry to peg Essex back at a time when they threatened to build a huge total and inflect Warwickshire’s fourth innings defeat of the season.
    Essex were obdurate from the start after electing to bat on the same strip on which 743 runs, for the loss of 10 wickets, in the Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final on Friday. It was slightly different on a soporific first half an a hour before Patel was introduced at the Hayes Close End. With the final ball of his third over, he had Alastair Cook thrusting a leg down the wicket to kill the spin and being rapped on the pad and ending a first-wicket stand of 60.
    Cook had been the more forthright of the openers – Nick Browne took 47 balls to reach double-figures – and started the scoreboard moving from the 23rd ball of the day with a glorious off-drive for four. When he was out for 39 from 64 balls, he had added another three boundaries.
    Tom Westley had just swept Patel for four when he played forward and got a decisive edge to be held at slip by Rikki Clarke. Browne was almost added to Patel’s scalps soon after lunch when the ball dollied off a forward prod and just eluded Sam Hain at short leg.
    Patel had a three-over breather after bowling unchanged for 11 overs with figures of two for 28. Three balls into the interregnum, Boyd Rankin had Varun Chopra inexplicably leaving alone a straight-ish delivery to be bowled.
    Bopara went after Patel when he returned, taking two steps down the wicket and depositing the ball over the bowler’s head for six. He collected a two from a paddle-sweep and a four, handsomely driven through the covers.
    Browne went to his fifty from 161 balls with a three carved through midwicket off Patel. His first real show of aggression came 220 balls into his innings when he took several strides down the pitch and smashed Patel through mid-on for his sixth four.
    Browne’s seventh boundary, driven through the covers off Sunny Singh, brought up the 100 partnership in 35 overs. Next ball, he swept another four to bring up Essex’s 200 in the 77th over. Bopara then took advantge of a full-toss by Singh to go past his previous highest Championship score of the season.
    After his marathon effort, Browne’s innings finally ended when he was beaten for pace by Rikki Clarke and was bowled. Clarke claimed a second victim in quick succession when he had Ryan ten Doeschate almost doubled up by one that came back to leave him lbw for four.

    Lancashire v Hampshire

    George Bailey’s five-hour century and some determined resistance from Hampshire’s lower order left the visitors’ slightly better placed in this Specsavers County Championship match at the end of a fluctuating first day on what seems a good batting pitch at Emirates Old Trafford.

    Highlights - Lancashire v Hampshire Day 1

    Bailey made 127 and hit 17 of the 187 balls he received to the boundary. Even more significantly he shared four fifty-plus partnerships to enable his side to recover from 125 for five and reach 351 for 8 when the players eventually returned to the pavilion at nearly seven o’clock.

    Even more encouragingly from a Hampshire perspective Kyle Abott is 76 not out, having batted with excellent good sense in his attacking style and the South African now has an opportunity to strengthen his team’s position on the second morning and overtake his career-best score of 80.

    However the visitors’ prosperity on the first evening of this Division One game is in sharp contrast to their position in the first session when Steven Croft’s six-man attack had taken three wickets in the first 65 minutes

    That the visitors reached 84 for three at lunch was testament to the rectitude and vigilance of Bailey and James Vince who ensured that Lancashire made no further breakthroughs in the second hour of the session after Michael Carberry’s flat-footed slash had only given a catch to Alex Davies off Ryan McLaren.

    The Hampshire opener departed for 14 but his was the third wicket to fall in 23 balls after Kyle Jarvis had marked  his return to the Lancashire eleven after injury by removing both Jimmy Adams and Rille Rossouw.

    Adams was caught at cover by Rob Jones for 16 when looking to play to leg and the out-of-form Rossouw played too early at Jarvis’s slower ball and gave a return catch to the bowler, thus leaving the visitors on 38 for three. 

    Lancashire’s bowlers claimed three more wickets in the afternoon session but were prevented from making further breakthroughs by Bailey, who was 94 not out at tea. But t he relative respectability of Hampshire’s total was explained not only by Bailey’s skill but also by the obduracy of his partners. 

    The Hampshire skipper shared a stand of 69 for the fourth wicket with James Vince, who was leg before to Luke Procter for 22, and another of 52 for the sixth wicket with Lewis McManus, and he defied the Lancashire attack on a steamy afternoon when the bowlers frequently found it difficult to control the swinging ball.

    In addition to Vince’s wicket, Procter also dismissed Sean Ervine, who was caught behind for seven when fencing at a ball outside the off stump, but the other wicket in the afternoon session fell to Jordan Clark, who had McManus pouched at second slip by Jimmy Anderson for 15.

    In the evening session Bailey took his seventh-wicket stand with Gareth Berg to 55 before the ex-Middlesex all-rounder was leg before to Stephen Parry for 27 but that wicket only brought Abbott to the crease and it thereby heralded the best period of the day for Hampshire.

    The pair added 83 in 78 minutes before Bailey gave Jimmy Anderson his first wicket of the day when his attempted cut only bottom-edged the ball into his stumps. By then, though, Hampshire were 314 for eight and that position was strengthened by Abbott and Brad Taylor before the close.

    All six Lancashire bowlers took wickets with Jarvis (two for 59)  and Procter (two for 49 ) being the most successful members of an attack which rather lost its discipline when put under pressure by Abbott’s uninhibited hitting.  Anderson finished with one for 74 from 22 overs. 

    At the close of play, Bailey commented: "We’re happy with that score. We knew that there was going to be a little bit there early in the day but it was important to get a good score on the board in the first innings.

    "It’s a pretty dry wicket now so hopefully a few cracks and footmarks will appear for the spinners later in the game. It’s a good wicket, we had to fight back and it was pleasing that we did."          

    Middlesex v Yorkshire

    England’s forgotten Test opener Sam Robson hit a season’s best 152 while Paul Stirling posted a maiden Championship century as Middlesex reached 337 for four to dominate the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match with Yorkshire.

    A Lord’s crowd approaching almost 4,000 enjoyed the dominance of bat over ball as third-wicket partners Robson and Stirling batted 45 overs – including the entire mid-session – in adding 187 on yet another placid pitch at the ‘Home of Cricket’.

    Highlights - Middlesex v Yorkshire Day 1

    Sydney-born Robson, who won the last of his 7 Test caps against India in August 2014, batted throughout the hottest day of the year to date to reap his 18 boundaries and ensure that the title-chasing visitors will have to play at their absolute best to force any sort of positive result over the remaining three days.

    Compton equalled his season’s best of 22 but then pushed with hard hands at one from Steven Patterson to feather a catch through to Andrew Hodd behind the stumps.

    First change bowler Ben Coad enjoyed no luck from the Nursery End but Brooks might have struck with his first ball of a new spell when Robson, on 31, drove back firm and low only for the bowler to spill the tough chance. Brooks saw another chance go begging when Alex Lees, diving full-length to his right in the gully, downed a one-handed catch off Stevie Eskinazi, who had yet to get off the mark.

    Brooks opted for a more direct route to wicket-taking four balls later to peg back Eskinazi’s off pole via the inside edge as the Middlesex right-hander offered a crab-like defensive prod.

    Robson reached a deserved 81-ball 50 soon after lunch as he and Stirling went on to dominate the mid-session. In searing heat, Yorkshire introduced England wrist-spinner Adil Rashid and off-spinner Adam Lyth but all to no avail the third-wicket partners added an unbroken 153 through to tea.

    Soon after the resumption, Robson – in only his fourth start of an injury ravaged season – late cut Rashid for three to reach his second century this summer from 184-balls and with 12 boundaries.

    Then Stirling, who had given Robson a 36-run start, reached his maiden championship century from 119 balls. He hit 15 fours and a six into the Allen Stand to move past his previous best of 85, scored against Somerset here last summer. It was Stirling’s first hundred for two years, his four other first-class hundreds had all been for Ireland, and it came four years after his championship debut for Middlesex.

    Yorkshire’s wait for a breakthrough came to an end after 45 overs when Stirling departed lbw for 111 after aiming an ambitious pull to an Adil Rashid top-spinner. He and Robson had added 187 runs.

    Middlesex skipper James Franklin marched out to help Robson see off the second new ball and raise their side’s third batting bonus point but, with his score on 17 Franklin had his off stump pegged back by Ryan Sidebottom, just two deliveries after surviving the veteran left-armer’s prolonged lbw appeal. It proved Yorkshire’s final success of a long, hot day in the dirt.

    At the close of play, stand-out Stirling said: "It's about time I did this and also about time I started to score more consistently.

    "That said, I don't want to take away my natural instinct to play attacking cricket ...that's the balance I have to find. Our skipper James Franklin has given me freedom to go in and play at the same sort of tempo as I would in one-day cricket."

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