Jamie Porter and Simon Harmer showed why they top Division One's wicket charts while Mark Stoneman, the returning Kumar Sangakkara and Ben Foakes piled on the runs for Surrey...
WARWICKSHIRE v ESSEX
Essex's leading wicket-takers Jamie Porter and Simon Harmer plundered four more apiece as the Division One leaders dominated bottom-of-the-table Warwickshire on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match at Edgbaston.
Porter took four for 62 and Harmer four for 47, taking their season's haul to 61 and 59 respectively, as the home side was bowled out for 201.
Essex bowler Jamie Porter said:"All four bowlers used did really well. Sam Cook hit a good length early on and nagged away and Harmy did what he does pretty much week in and week out, challenging that forward defence with a bit of spin and he got the rewards he deserved. Wags bowled really well as well and took a vital wicket.
"I felt good and it came out pretty well. My job with the new ball as a strike bowler is to knock over a couple early on if I can and I managed to do that. You only get one new ball a game, at least only one when you are fresh, so you have got to make the most of it so it was nice to do my job."
Only opener Dom Sibley, last out for 76 (183 balls, nine fours), showed the necessary resolve and technique against aggressive, accurate bowling which was rewarded by seven lbw dismissals.
Essex reached 69 without loss at the close of the first day of a match which could conclude with them crowned champions and their opponents consigned to relegation. Last time Essex visited Edgbaston in the championship, in August2 010, a seven-wicket defeat condemned them to the drop. This time a much happier outcome is in prospect.
Essex took up the option to bowl at a brittle Bears batting unit and Porter soon inflicted damage in a superb opening spell of 7-3-15-2. The 24-year-old trapped Sam Hain and Jonathan Trott lbw to leave the home side tottering on 12 for two. He would also have had Sibley, on just two, but Harmer grassed the chance at second slip.
Sibley enjoyed good fortune early on but applied himself diligently to the anchor role while partners came and went. The opener added 46 in 16 overs with Ian Bell, 52 in 19 with Matt Lamb and 43 in 15 with Chris Woakes.
Bell (37, 52 balls), averaging just 22.89 in the championship this season, batted with returning fluency but fell lbw to Neil Wagner. Not for the first time this season, Lamb (32, 64 balls) got out just as he had got in, this time edging Samuel Cook to the wicketkeeper. Woakes (22, 52) was pinned lbw on the back foot by Harmer.
Essex then truly took control with three wickets in the last 15 balls before tea - all lbw. Alex Mellor inexplicably left a straight one from Harmer, Porter returned to oust Keith Barker for a duck and Harmer defeated fellow-spinner Patel.
From 187 for eight at tea, Warwickshire soon lost debutant Henry Brookes, bowled by Harmer, before the gallant Sibley at least took them to a batting point before edging a big drive at Porter.
Essex then completed pretty much the perfect day as openers Varun Chopra and Nick Browne made largely untroubled progress to 69 without loss at the close.
Warwickshire batsman Dominic Sibley said: "It was nice to spend some time at the crease and take advantage of a dropped catch early on and get some runs but it was a tough day but hopefully we can bring it back a bit tomorrow.
"Batting was hard work, especially at the start. Porter is a top bowler who has been taking stacks of wickets doing what he does. He hits the seam and was peppering my thigh-guard and bowled really well."
SURREY v YORKSHIRE
Mark Stoneman batted with the assurance of a man who knows he should be Ashes-bound this winter to score a dominant 131 from 171 balls as Surrey cruised to 398 for 3 on day one of their Specsavers County Championship match against Yorkshire at the Kia Oval.
There were also significant runs in the south London sun for Rory Burns, who made 75, and Kumar Sangakkara, who marked his return from the Caribbean Premier League by reaching a sublime 85 not out from 113 balls late in the day and adding an unbroken 143 in 35 overs with Ben Foakes, who is unbeaten on 64 from 104 balls.
Mark Stoneman said: “It was a great day for us. We knew, with a 10.30 start, that the ball might do a bit early on but that it would get easier if we could get through that. So to get that opening partnership going with Rory set us up really nicely and then both Kumar and Ben kept it going well at the end of the day.
“The pitch was quite slow, stump to stump, but if there was any width the ball raced off quite quickly over the outfield. The lads have been making sure I’ve kept my feet on the ground [after coming back from England] but it’s been great to get back and listen to all the banter!”
Sangakkara has now scored 1171 championship runs this summer, at an average of 117.10, and the Sri Lankan is joined in the top three of Division One run-makers by Stoneman (959 at 63.93) and Burns (922 at 54.23). Wicketkeeper-batsman Foakes, whose strokeplay lost nothing in comparison even with Sangakkara’s in the final session, cruised past 550 championship runs for the summer.
Stoneman, back with his county after quietly impressing for England against the West Indies in his maiden Test series, in which he averaged 30 in three matches, included 22 fours in a very fine innings. There were 11 fours in his first fifty, which arrived after just 58 balls, and he was joined by an almost equally fluent Burns in an opening stand eventually worth 178 in 41 overs.
Burns, who reached his fifty just before lunch, was adjudged caught at the wicket off Jack Brooks in the 41st over, aiming towards mid wicket to a ball which pitched in line with his pads – a decision he did not seem overly pleased with after striking 12 fours from 124 balls.
Stoneman finally fell in the 57th over, edging a slash at a short ball from Tim Bresnan to slip. It was the 20th hundred of his first-class career and his fourth of this season.
Yorkshire’s attack, already missing England one-day trio Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and David Willey, was made to look toothless by the two left-handed openers after Surrey won a toss and chose to bat on a good-looking pitch and in warm sunshine. Even when they removed Burns, the 19-year-old Ryan Patel arrived to join Stoneman in a further stand of 55 for the second wicket.
Then, after Stoneman fell, Yorkshire were faced with the sight of Sangakkara – with a championship average for the summer of 108.6 coming into this game – marching to the wicket with the scoreboard reading 233 for 2.
Shortly before tea, Patel edged a drive at Ryan Sidebottom to be caught behind for 27, but that proved to be Yorkshire’s last success of a difficult day in which off spinner Azeem Rafiq also hobbled off with a leg injury after bowling 20 fruitless overs at a cost of 74 runs. Rafiq, who did come back on just before the close but still looked in discomfort, made the odd ball turn quite sharply, too, which will not have improved Yorkshire’s mood as they glance anxiously over their shoulder at the Division One relegation zone close behind them.
There was a suggestion that Foakes had survived a sharp chance to slip off Rafiq early in his innings, shortly after tea, and Sangakkara looked to have given Steven Patterson a tough caught and bowled on 47 that was not taken. Otherwise, however, the third wicket pair were in complete command throughout the day’s last session.
Sixteen overs with the second new ball could not dislodge Sangakkara and Foakes either, with Foakes racing to his half-century with four successive fours off Brooks, and Surrey finished the opening day within touching distance of a full five batting bonus points while Yorkshire have just one bowling point so far. On the second day Surrey will be looking to post a mammoth total, which would heap even more pressure on a Yorkshire team also without opener Adam Lyth, who yesterday celebrated the birth of his first child.
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of professional cricket said: “There is a small margin for error on that pitch, and there’s a short boundary on one side, but with the experience in our seam attack we have to be very disappointed with that performance today.”
“We were always going for a four-ball and that’s why the scoreboard is looking the way it is. The first session tomorrow is very important for us now, and we have to bowl them out before we can even think about batting ourselves. These are all important games now, and every team has something to play for at this stage of the season.”
SOMERSET v LANCASHIRE
Steve Davies hit his second century for Somerset on an absorbing opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match with Lancashire at Taunton. The experienced wicketkeeper-batsman was dismissed shortly before the close for 111, having faced 174 balls and hit 12 fours in what could prove a key contribution to his side’s relegation battle.
Davies shared a fifth-wicket stand of 119 with skipper Tom Abell (46) as Somerset posted 330 for nine on a turning pitch after Lancashire had exercised their option to field first. Young leg-spinner Matty Parkinson had figures of four for 68 from 17 overs, recovering from a wayward start to provide a stiff test for the home batsmen on a turning pitch.
Eddie Byrom batted through the morning session as Somerset posted 103 for three by lunch from 30 overs. The 20-year-old left-handed opener was unbeaten on 38 at the interval, having shared stands of 39 with Marcus Trescothick and 46 with James Hildreth.Trescothick, dropped before he had scored by wicketkeeper Alex Davies, diving in front of first slip off Ryan McLaren, progressed to 25 before falling lbw to Tom Bailey.
George Bartlett, on his second Championship appearance, had made only three when leg-before moving across his stumps to Kyle Jarvis and Hildreth was bowled off an inside edge by McLaren, having moved effortlessly to 25.
When Zimbabwean Byrom fell for 38 in the first over after lunch, the hosts were in trouble at 105 for four. But Davies and Abell patiently rebuilt the innings before being parted just before tea when Abell was caught at slip for 46 off Parkinson, pushing forward to a leg-break.
The Somerset captain had faced 103 balls and hit six fours in a solid contribution. Davies was unbeaten on 78 in a total of 229 for five at tea. At that point McLaren was the most successful Lancashire bowler with two for 44 from 12 overs.
The final session saw 20-year-old Parkinson bowl with increasing confidence once Peter Trego, on 17, had given away his wicket, stumped advancing down the pitch to a wide delivery. Craig Overton went in similar fashion to Abell, edging a turning ball to slip having made only four, and Dom Bess was well stumped down the leg side by Davies after matching Trego’s score.
Davies, who survived two tough chances before he had made 50, batted with increasing assurance to reach three figures off 160 balls, with 11 fours. After a poor start to his spell with Somerset, it was the former Surrey left-hander’s second hundred in as many Championship home games.
He and Jack Leach brought up a third batting point after a short rain break, which Leach celebrated by lifting Parkinson over the short boundary on the town side of the ground for the first six of the game.
At 312 for eight, Lancashire took the second new ball. It proved a wise move as Bailey bowled Davies off an inside edge onto his leg stump with the score on 322.