Day one in Division Two was headlined by one man, century maker Paul Collingwood with impressive batting displays elsewhere too.
WORCESTERSHIRE v GLOUCESTERSHIRE
The twilight of Paul Collingwood's career is proving longer and brighter than most, underlined by his third Specsavers County Championship century of the season.
The Durham captain's form is in stark contrast to that of his potential successor, Keaton Jennings, who departed to the first ball of the match against Derbyshire at Chester-le-Street.
Centurion Collingwood said: “I'm delighted to be still scoring runs. It's very enjoyable, although captaincy doesn't get any easier when you have to leave out someone of the calibre of Graham Clark.
“It took me 20 or 30 balls to figure out the pitch because I felt it was a bit two-paced. But then I just found a rhythm."
There were three more wickets for Hardus Viljoen, but after dispensing with the toss it turned into a day of toil for the visitors, especially when Paul Coughlin showed his power in contributing 68 to a stand of 130. He fell lbw to Viljoen just before the close, when Durham were 376 for seven with Collingwood on 127.
The floodlights were on at the start and end of the day, otherwise there was little encouragement for a Derbyshire attack in which Harry Podmore, on loan from Middlesex, was making his debut. He was accurate and got past the bat a few times but came under fire from Coughlin when the second new ball was taken.
There was also another sound contribution of 72 from Cameron Steel following on from his 224 in Durham's last match at Leicester. But it was Collingwood's day after striding in at 94 for three just before lunch.Other than having to sway out of the way of one sharp lifter from Viljoen, he was scarcely troubled as he accumulated steadily, largely through well-timed textbook strokes and leg-side nudges.
When Derbyshire turned to the medium pace of Alex Hughes, his second ball was casually paddled to fine leg to take Collingwood to 50 off 77 balls. He reached his 100 off 150 when he turned Viljoen to fine leg for his 11th four.
Viljoen began with a short, wide loosener, which Jennings tried to slap away, only to edge to wicketkeeper Harvey Hosein.Tom Latham scored only five off his first 36 balls, but then cut Tony Palladino for two fours before shaping to drive and having his off stump rattled.
Viljoen nipped one back to bowl Jack Burnham for nine during a second spell in which he also troubled Steel. He was missed at third slip by Matt Critchley on 38, and it was a thicker edge wide of the slips which gave him his ninth four and took him to his half-century off 81 balls.
Left-armer Luis Reece broke a fourth-wicket stand of 53 when Steel drove at a ball slanted across him and edged low to Wayne Madsen at slip.Michael Richardson edged Viljoen behind for 20 and Ryan Pringle made 19 before hooking Palladino straight to long leg.
Pringle's exit left Durham in danger of under-achieving on 217 for six, but Coughlin eased to 33 against the old ball then cut loose against the new one.
GLAMORGAN v SUSSEX
After slumping to 24 for 3 in the tenth over, Glamorgan staged a commendable recovery to score 294 in their first innings, with Sussex ending on 79 for 3 at the close.
They were indebted initially to opener Nick Selman, who scored 58 from balls, and later Craig Meschede, playing in only his second championship game of the season, who struck an enterprising 87 from 96 balls. His innings included 10 fours and three sixes,with two maximums clearing the road at long on and landing in an adjoining garden.
Glamorgan, who were put in by Ben Brown the Sussex captain, rested five front line players, with an eye on Saturday’s T20 Finals Day, and also to give an opportunity to the younger players who will be challenging for places with Jacques Rudolph and Colin Ingram not playing championship cricket next year.
Jofra Archer struck in third and fourth over, with Owen Morgan becoming his 50th first class victim of the season when he tried to work a straight ball to leg, then Jack Murphy, on his Glamorgan first class debut, edged to second slip. Worse was to follow, when Aneurin Donald, who scored 234 here against Derbyshire last season, nicked Ollie Robinson’s second ball to the wicketkeeper.
Selman was then given solid support by Kiran Carlson, who played some glorious strokes through the off side, and they shared a valuable 72 run partnership for the fourth wicket before Carlson became Archer’s third victim when he was trapped leg before.
After Andrew Salter was caught off the shoulder of the bat at second slip, Glamorgan were 148 for 6, but Meschede and Tom Cullen, who led Cardiff MCCU to victory in the Universities Cup competition at Lord’s this year, improved the position with a valuable stand of 108, enabling them to gain two batting points.
Cullen faced 84 balls, and gave Meschede sound support until he fell leg before to Chris Jordan, who then quickly removed Rory Smith, while Luke Carey was caught on the square leg boundary. Meschede deserved a century, but was denied by Robinson - Sussex’s most penetrative and economical bowler - who ended with four wickets. Archer and Jordan shared the other wickets, as Sussex maintained a commendable over rate.
The visitors had 18 overs to bat at the end of the day, as Luke Wells and Angus Robson set off at a rapid rate, reaching fifty in the ninth over, before Wells was deceived by Carey. Sussex then lost their second wicket when Stiaan Van Zyl was squared up by Meschede, and when night watchman Danny Briggs offered no stroke to Smith to the last ball of the penultimate over of the day, Glamorgan had regained parity.
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE v NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
A total of 20 wickets fell on an extraordinary opening day at Trent Bridge as Division Two leaders Nottinghamshire fought back strongly in their Specsavers County Championship match against third-placed Northamptonshire.
Both sides harbour ambitions of gaining promotion this season, yet seemed more interested in getting this contest over as quickly as possible.
Notts, who have a date at T20 Finals Day on Saturday, could certainly do with an extra day or two of practice, yet wouldn’t have expected to be rolled over for just 213 in only 50.1 overs, after opting to bat first.
Azharullah and Richard Gleeson shared nine of the wickets, with Azharullah taking season-best figures of five for 63 and Gleeson contributed four for 38, as the visitors turned in one of their most emphatic bowling performances of the campaign.
Riki Wessels was last out for Notts, having made 69 from 80 deliveries, whilst Steven Mullaney’s 58 was the only other score above 18.
In the final session of the day Northants were equally profligate at the crease, tumbling to 84 for eight, before Josh Cobb’s unbeaten 46 propelled them to an all-out total of 141, a deficit of 72. Brett Hutton and Luke Wood each took three wickets.
In the final five overs of the day Notts, batting for a second time, advanced their overall lead to 91, closing on 19 without loss.
At the start of the day Jake Libby, who spent the early part of last season on loan with Northants, made 14 before falling to Gleeson after an hour at the crease.
Azharullah then made decisive inroads, bowling Cheteshwar Pujara and Samit Patel, before having Alex Hales taken by Alex Wakeley at second slip.
Pujara, re-joining Notts for a second stint this summer after playing for India against Sri Lanka recently, was beaten by one that nipped back. Patel underwent the same fate but was shouldering arms as his off peg was flattened and then Hales was unable to control his intended drive.
Things could have been worse for Notts but Mullaney had a slice of luck when his nick off Azharullah flew through the slip cordon to bring up his 50, getting there from 72 deliveries.
After a partnership of 36 with Wessels, the opener was bowled by Kleinveldt, as the innings began to spiral into freefall.
Chris Read clipped Azharullah to midwicket, Hutton became the second to be bowled when not attempting a shot and Wood was palpably lbw when struck by a full-pitched Gleeson delivery.
Jake Ball failed to get off the mark, leaving Wessels to dominate the strike in a last-wicket partnership of 31 with Harry Gurney.
With Ben Duckett missing, nursing an injured finger, David Murphy joined Rob Newton as the Northants’ reply began with an opening stand of 28.
Ball separated them, having Newton caught behind for 16, before clean-bowling Wakeley for four.
Wood responded with two wickets of his own, having Murphy caught behind by 23 – Read’s 500th first class catch at Trent Bridge - before toppling Richard Levi’s off-pole out of the ground.
Consecutive lbws forged a bigger hole in the Northants’ middle order as Hutton removed Rob Keogh, after bowling 14 consecutive dot balls at him and Mullaney entered the fray to send back Adam Rossington.
That was Mullaney’s 16th first class wicket of the campaign – the best return of his career – and he celebrated by then having Kleinveldt caught behind.
Hutton picked up the wicket of Ben Sanderson and then ended a partnership of 48 between Cobb and Gleeson; the highest stand of the day.
Cobb hit the only two sixes of the day but was left high and dry when Azharullah presented Read with his fourth catch of the innings.
Notts bowler Hutton commented at the close of play: “It’s all going well for me at the moment and I hope it carries on for as long as it can. There was a lot happening today and there were quite a lot of runs scored as well as all the wickets but, most importantly, we are in a strong position and hopefully can capitalise on that tomorrow.
“We knew they were a good bowling attack and that the pitch would probably do a little bit early on but it had a little bit more pace than we expected but we assessed it quite quickly."
KENT v LEICESTERSHIRE
Last-wicket partners Lewis Hill and Callum Parkinson hit half-centuries to scrub a little lustre off Darren Stevens’ seven-wicket haul on a fascinating opening to Kent’s Specsavers County Championship clash with Leicestershire.
On an ideal batting day in Canterbury, the visitors were in danger of underperforming as they slid to 174 for eight – with Stevens bagging their first seven. But the Foxes’ tail wagged and, as the host attack tired, their last pair counter-punched to add an unbroken 98 that sent their side in at stumps sitting pretty on 326 for nine.
The opening two sessions had belonged to Kent with Stevens making his first breakthrough in the 10th over, nipping one through the defensive push of left-hander Harry Dearden (11) to hit the back pad and secure the first of three successful lbw appeals.
Kent’s three other seamers; Adam Milne, Matt Coles and Mitch Claydon, toiled manfully in the heat but without ever matching the sustained accuracy or continued threat posed by Stevens’ ‘dibbly-dobbly’.
Stevens struck again by trapping Michael Carberry lbw. The former Kent opening batsman jumped back across his stumps when aiming to work to leg only to miss an in-ducker and become Stevens’ 400th first-class victim.
Four balls later Colin Ackerman, the tall South Africa right-hander, pushed outside the line of a leg-stump away-swinger that thudded into his pad and left umpire Russell Warren with little option but to raise his trigger finger once again.
Stevens struck for a fourth time in his second over after lunch when Mark Cosgrove, having smashed nine fours in a counter-attacking 40, flicked airily in the region of mid-wicket only to hole out to long-on via a leading edge.
Stevens nipped one back off the seam and through the gate of Ned Eckersley’s drive to hit the top of off stump and secure his sixth five-wicket haul of the season and the 18th of a prolific all-round career.
Neil Dexter, a crowd favourite during his time with Kent, joined forces with Lewis Hill to add 67 inside 25 overs for the sixth wicket. But, after a short rest, Stevens returned to end Dexter’s 86-ball stay for 40 with a beauty that pitched on middle and grazed the top of off.
Stevens bagged seven for the second time in his career when Ben Raine jabbed down late on an in-swinger and edged low to Coles at second slip. Raine, stood his ground, believing he had played the ball into the ground, but the umpires conferred before upholding the appeal.
Any hope of a Stevens clean sweep ended just before tea when Matt Pillans swung lustily and edged one from Milne through to the keeper Sam Billings.
After tea, Leicestershire’s ninth-wicket partners Hill and Clint McKay opted to throw the kitchen sink at anything pitched up to them, a ploy that seemingly bemused the Kent attack.
Stevens’ figures took a relative battering as the pair went aerial, clubbing fours to all parts in taking their side past 200 for a first batting bonus point. The little and large pairing added 54 before McKay, on 32, sliced a lofted drive against Qayyum into the hands of Milne at deep extra cover.
Hill’s impish approach took him to a deserved 129-ball half-century, his first of the season and Leicestershire’s sole first innings 50 in their last five championship matches.
Foxes’ last man Callum Parkinson joined in the fun by clubbing one from Stevens into the top tier of the Frank Woolley stand to secure a third batting bonus point as the home attack ran out of steam.
Parkinson reached his maiden first-class 50 from 48 balls, with four fours and a six as he and Hill beat Leicestershire’s previous best 10th wicket stand against Kent of 96, set by George Geary and Alex Skelding at the Aylestone Road Ground, Leicester, in 1925.
The outstanding Stevens said: “It was a day of two halves and we’re very frustrated. There wasn’t much pace in it for our quicker lads and at 170-odd for eight we were in a dominant position, but we let ourselves down a little bit after that.
“The ball got softer and the boys got a bit weary, this being the first day back after five weeks of T20. That took its toll a little bit but adapting day-to-day it’s all part and parcel of playing first-class cricket.”