A Neil Dexter ton thwarted promotion chasing Worcestershire while Northants dismissed Glamorgan for 207...
Promotion-chasing Worcestershire met strong resistance from bottom placed Leicestershire as skipper Mark Cosgrove and centurion Neil Dexter shepherded the visitors to three batting points on the opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match at New Road.
Worcestershire were brimming with confidence after an eight-wicket win over leaders Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge and initially continued in the same vein after Leicestershire opted to bat and were reduced to 25-3.
But it was an uphill struggle for second placed Worcestershire after that against a side without a Championship win so far this summer. Cosgrove completed 1,000 Championship runs for his third successive season since joining Leicestershire and was well supported by Aadil Ali in a century partnership.
Then Dexter and Lewis Hill put together another hundred stand for the resolute Foxes who closed on 325/7 after 93 overs when bad light intervened. Joe Leach picked up three wickets and there were two apiece for Josh Tongue and Ed Barnard but it was a challenging day for Indian star Ravichandran Ashwin.
He had a couple of early lbw shouts rejected but only the very occasional ball turned and he finished the day with 0-99 from 29 overs. Tongue made the first breakthrough as on loan Hampshire opener Michael Carberry (5) nicked through to keeper Ben Cox.
Ned Eckersley, who is playing the 100th first class match of his career, was promoted to open for the first time this season but made only 12 before edging Leach to Daryl Mitchell at second slip.
Barnard then broke through in his first over as Colin Ackerman (4) had his stumps spread-eagled to secure a bowling bonus point for Worcestershire inside 14 overs. But from that high point, the home side experienced a frustrating time as Leicestershire fought back in impressive fashion.
Cosgrove completed his 1,000 Championship runs for the season when on 43 - the third player in Division Two to reach four figures after Worcestershire opener Daryl Mitchell and veteran Durham all-rounder Paul Collingwood.
The 33-year-old was given excellent support by Ali - in only his second Championship appearance of the season - during a stand of 104 in 30 overs for the fourth wicket. The pair counter-attacked to good effect before Ali on 40 was trapped lbw on the back foot by Leach, his 60th Championship wicket of another productive summer.
It became 172/5 when Cosgrove, after making 74 from 123 balls with eight fours, skied a Barnard delivery to Joe Clarke at square leg. But further spirited resistance came from Dexter and Hill during a partnership of exactly 100 in 28 overs.
Dexter was full of aggressive intent from the start and posted a run a ball half century with nine fours and a six over mid wicket off paceman Pat Brown. The second new ball accounted for Hill (33) who was leg before to Tongue and Raine (3) who was bowled by Leach (3). Dexter had time to reach three figures off 120 balls with 18 fours and a six and was unbeaten on 102 before bad light intervened.
SUSSEX v DERBYSHIRE
Sussex fought back after Derbyshire’s openers had put on a century stand to restrict their visitors to 338 for 9 on the first day of their crucial Specsavers County Championship game.
Playing at Hove for the first time in the Championship since June 5, Sussex put Derbyshire in then saw them reach 227 for 3 at tea.
But the visitors lost six wickets in the final session with no one bettering the 51 made by Luis Reece and Billy Godleman.
Sussex, needing to win to keep the pressure on Worcestershire in the battle for the second promotion place in Division Two, bowled disappointingly with the new ball.
Reese and Ben Slater had Derbyshire’s 100 up in the 25th over as only Ollie Robinson bowled with the necessary control until left-armer George Garton, who has played more first-class games for England Lions than his county this season, picked up wickets in successive overs in his first Championship appearance of the summer.
Shortly after passing 50 for the sixth time this season Reese, who had hit seven fours, was lbw playing no shot to one that nipped back then Slater (48) mis-timed a pull to third man when Garton dropped short.
Wayne Madsen (25) fell in similar fashion to Reese to give David Wiese the first of his four wickets but Derbyshire recovered nicely in a stand of 87 in 22 overs between Godleman and Alex Hughes for the fourth wicket.
Godleman passed 7,000 first-class runs on 42 and went to his sixth fifty of the summer off the first ball after tea before he fell in the next over, caught behind off Garton, having hit six fours.
His departure sparked a collapse with Wiese picking up two smart return catches to dismiss Matt Critchley (11) and later Will Davis (18), a diving effort to intercept a full-blooded drive.
Stiaan van Zyl ended a promising innings by Alex Hughes on 46 when he was superbly caught at fly slip by Luke Wells. The South African medium-pacer was given the new ball in a surprise move but it paid off as Hardus Viljoen (7) padded up to a straight one.
Harry Podmore (1) was Wiese’s fourth victim off a thin edge to keeper Ben Brown but wicketkeeper Harvey Hosein frustrated Sussex’s efforts to wrap up the innings with an unbeaten 3 as he and 16-year-old off-spinner Hamidullah Qadri added an unbeaten 21 for the last wicket.
GLOUCESTERSHIRE v KENT
Overseas signing Cameron Bancroft registered a maiden Specsavers County Championship hundred against Kent in his final appearance for Gloucestershire before returning to Australia.
Put in to bat on a green-topped pitch on the opening day of this Second Division contest, Gloucestershire had the better of things to reach 242-5 before bad light intervened with 10 overs unused.
Joe Denly weighed in with two wickets for Kent, but Western Australia batsman Bancroft took centre stage, registering an authoritative 124 not out from 260 balls and staging an opening stand of 141 with Chris Dent.
First employed by Gloucestershire as a short-term locum for the absent Michael Klinger in 2016, Bancroft was invited back for the whole of this season. But he has struggled to find consistency in English conditions and went into this game having scratched 424 runs at an average of 26.50.
He was fortunate not to be given out in single figures on this occasion, the Australian surviving a strident appeal for lbw from veteran campaigner Darren Stevens in the fourth over of the day.
He certainly made good his escape, chiseling 50 from 125 balls in a patient innings characterised by sound temperament and good technique.
He and Dent raised three figures inside 39 overs and went on to register Gloucestershire's highest opening stand of the summer against a Kent attack that lacked a cutting edge.
A third hundred of the season appeared to be there for the taking for Dent, who passed up the opportunity when attempting to sweep Denly and departing lbw for 59. Given that the left-hander had already plundered ten runs in the over, it was a needless shot.
But there was no stopping Bancroft, whose second 50 occupied 72 balls as batting became easier. He was especially severe on Denly, hitting him for six and four off consecutive balls in the 54th over to move into the nervous nineties.
When he clipped the same bowler off his legs to attain three figures via 197 balls soon afterwards, a sparse County Ground audience stood to show their appreciation of a fine innings.
Gareth Roderick clipped Mitchell Claydon to short mid-wicket for ten and Academy product James Bracey was dismissed lbw by Denly for 12 in the act of sweeping as Gloucestershire, reduced to 193-3, threatened to squander a position of strength.
Kent made good use of the second new ball, Adam Milne and Stevens removing George Hankins and Phil Mustard respectively, only for Bancroft and Jack Taylor to summon stiff resistance thereafter.
GLAMORGAN v NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
Glamorgan bounced back on day one of their Specsavers County Championship match against Northamptonshire, their first at Cardiff since June, after being bowled out for 207, to lead by 148 overnight.
A partnership of 97 between Andrew Salter (59) and Craig Meschede (49) allowed Glamorgan to bounce back after they had struggled to 102-6.
Glamorgan were 75/3 at lunch, having been 6/1 in the first two overs after winning the toss. It looked to be a good toss for Northamptonshire to lose early doors, as it took just 1.5 overs for Richard Gleeson to strike, bowling Jacques Rudolph as he shouldered arms without scoring.
And so it was down to the young pairing of Nick Selman and Jack Murphy to begin the Glamorgan recovery against the opening pace attack of Gleeson and Rory Kleinveldt. Selman had looked to be doing just that before the young Australian-born opener edged to skipper Alex Wakely at slip off Muhammad Azharullah for 22. It wasn’t long before Murphy followed him back to the pavilion, as he was trapped lbw by the same bowler for 12 with the home side soon in trouble again at 36/3.
Colin Ingram and Welsh youngster Kiran Carlson had added 39 before a light rain shower brought about an early lunch at 75/3. However, Ingram lasted just one ball after the interval, clumsily caught by keeper David Murphy off Rory Kleinveldt off second slip. Carlson went in the next over, lbw to Gleeson for 10.
Chris Cooke was removed by Gleeson, caught behind and Glamorgan were 102-6 as the rain delayed play for the second time. The wicket brought Andrew Salter and Craig Meschede together and having waited twenty minutes to get off the mark, Meschede was almost caught at second slip before the ball trickled to the boundary.
After the scare, the batsmen piled on the pressure before some frustration crept in to offer the visitors a couple of squandered chances. Salter had to kick the ball away from the stumps off Kleinveldt before Richard Levi dropped Meschede off Kerrigan at second slip.
Salter brought up his half-century from 100 balls before Kerrigan claimed two wickets in an over. Meschede fell one run short of his fifty when he was stumped to end a 97 partnership, before Marchant de Lange was bowled as Glamorgan slumped to 205/8. Lukas Carey was bowled by Gleeson without scoring before he picked up his fifth wicket when Andrew Salter was caught at mid-on by Kleinveldt and Glamorgan were all out for 207.
Northamptonshire, in reply, started strongly racing to 24 in just 4.2 overs before Ben Duckett was caught by Jack Murphy at mid-wicket off Lukas Carey for 11. They had reached 49 when a David Murphy off-drive found Kiran Carlson off Michael Hogan’s bowling for nine.
Rob Newton (31 not out) and Richard Levi (2 not out) had added 10 runs when the players were taken off for bad light. Subsequently some rain set in and Northamptonshire ended the day on 59/2.