• Specsavers County Championship 7m

    Div One: Wickets tumble in fight for survival

    Thirteen wickets fell at Taunton in Division One as the battle for survival enters its final week with Somerset and Middlesex both slugging it out to stay up

    Thirteen wickets fell at Taunton in Division One as the battle for survival enters its final week with Somerset and Middlesex both slugging it out to stay up...

    Essex 227 v Yorkshire
    Lancashire 2/0 v Surrey 201/8 dec
    Somerset 236 v Middlesex 18/3
    Warwickshire v Hampshire - no play due to rain


    Middlesex left-arm spinner Ravi Patel claimed a career-best seven for 81 as 13 wickets fell on an action-packed first day of the Specsavers County Championship relegation battle with Somerset at Taunton.

    From a promising 193 for four, having won the toss, the hosts crashed to 236 all out, with a series of attacking shots leading to wickets. Eddie Byrom top-scored with 56, his maiden Championship half-century. Patel bowled 29.4 overs from the River End, getting assistance from a dry first day pitch, but also capitalising on some poor batting by the Somerset middle and late order.

    In reply, Middlesex slumped to five for three, as Craig Overton removed Nick Compton and left-arm spinner Jack Leach, who was given the new ball, accounting for Stevie Eskinazi and Sam Robson.

    By the close they had reached 18 for three, 218 behind, and will need to bat well tomorrow to pass Somerset’s total. There was no sign of the dramas to come when Byrom and Marcus Trescothick almost batted through the morning session.

    Byrom was dropped at slip by on 32 by Robson off Patel and went on to reach fifty off 79 balls, with 11 fours. It was the 20-year-old Zimbabwean left-hander's 14th Championship innings and he had previously been out seven times between 38 and 43.

    Trescothick gave solid support and was unbeaten on 31 at lunch, which was taken after Byrom got a leading edge to Paul Stirling to give a catch to mid-off. The afternoon session was a good contest, Trescothick falling for 37, padding up to a ball from Patel that turned sharply from outside off stump.

    It was 139 for three when George Bartlett, who had lofted Patel over wide long-on for six in moving to 25, was bowled around his legs by Patel looking to sweep. Tom Abell looked in excellent form in reaching the same score before being run out by Patel. James Hildreth turned looking for a second run to fine leg and then changed his mind, leaving his partner stranded.

    Even so, the pair had played Somerset into a decent position by tea. Their innings fell apart after Hildreth, on 41, was leg-before attempting to reverse sweep Patel. Roelof van der Merwe went first ball, caught at slip giving Patel the charge, and Craig Overton, Dom Bess and Leach followed in rapid succession, all looking to attack.

    When Steve Davies was last man out, caught off another reverse sweep, Somerset appeared to have let a great position slip. But Overton then produced an excellent opening spell that saw Nick Compton caught behind and Leach used the new ball to good effect, having Eskinazi and Robson caught by Trescothick at second slip.


    Saqib Mahmood took a career-best 4/50 as Lancashire had the better of the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship clash with Surrey at Old Trafford.

    With Surrey beginning three points ahead of third-placed Lancashire, it’s a match where the winners will finish second in Division One. Surrey lost eight wickets before choosing to declare having reached 201-8 and their first batting point thanks to a half-century from Sam Curran. Lancashire negotiated the remaining nine overs without loss and will resume tomorrow on 17-0.

    The visitors decided not to exercise their right to opt to bowl and the toss was won by Lancashire, who did choose to do so, therefore giving both captains the outcome they wanted. There were a couple of early chances for the hosts as Tom Bailey forced Rory Burns into drives that Dane Vilas and Rob Jones got hands to high above their heads but couldn’t hold.

    Burns and Mark Stoneman, the Championship’s third and second highest run-scorers respectively, would share 47 for the opening wicket before Burns chipped Mahmood to Shivnarine Chanderpaul at mid-on to depart for 18.

    Lancashire would strike again before lunch, with Matt Parkinson producing a superb delivery that spun back at Stoneman who left a ball that crashed into his stumps. That brought Kumar Sangakkara to the crease in his last first-class game and he was welcomed with a guard of honour by Lancashire’s players before guiding Surrey to lunch at 72-2.

    But it was a frenetic innings from the Sri Lankan great, who has made eight Championship centuries this season. Having launched Stephen Parry for six before lunch, he fell for the short-ball trap, hooking a bouncer from Mahmood to Rob Jones in the deep, making just 14.

    Lancashire struck twice more before an early tea was called. Mahmood, playing in just his fourth first-class game, nipped one back at Scott Borthwick to trap the left-hander lbw for 30.

    Stephen Parry then picked up Surrey’s fifth wicket by ripping one past the outside edge of Ben Foakes’ bat with what turned out to be the final ball before tea, called early due to a combination of bad light and drizzle. Surrey were 112-5 at the interval and Lancashire were in the ascendancy.

    But a half-century stand after the resumption between Olly Pope and Sam Curran held up the Lancashire charge. The pair passed the milestone from 102 balls, blending attack and defence skilfully. They could add just four more however as Pope overdid the attacking side of the stand, attempting to launch Parkinson down the ground, the ball turning past his outside edge with Alex Davies completing the stumping.

    Mahmood sealed his career-best figures by trapping Rikki Clarke for seven with one that kept a little low before Gareth Batty came and went without scoring, dismissed by Parry. Curran though carried on with his extremely impressive innings, passing his half-century from 106 balls. He went on to reach an unbeaten 56, taking Surrey past 200 and to their first batting point.

    At that stage they promptly declared, leaving Lancashire with a tricky period to negotiate. Alex Davies and Rob Jones did just that, closing on 17-0.


    Steven Patterson and Jack Brooks took three wickets each to help Yorkshire secure their Division One place for another year on the first day of their last Championship match of the season.
    Yorkshire started the day knowing that a six-point swing with Somerset would finally allay any lingering fears they had of joining Warwickshire in Division Two next season. When Somerset collapsed to 236 all out at Taunton against Middlesex, coupled with the second of their three bowling points at Chelmsford, Yorkshire could breathe a sigh of relief.
    There was a similar sigh in the Essex ranks that it was announced Tom Westley had suffered no more than bruising to his right thumb when rapped on the glove trying to fend off one that reared up unexpectedly from Patterson. The ball looped to second slip, but the Essex No.3 did not hang around to wait for the umpire’s raised finger.
    Never has a batsman dashed quite so quickly from the scene of his demise. Westley barely broke stride as he bounded up the pavilion steps straight into the physio’s room. With England’s party for the Ashes due to be named on Wednesday morning, the sizeable Chelmsford crowd awaited news of the injury. Westley went for a precautionary X-ray that showed no break; he will bat in the second innings.
    It was the first of Patterson’s three wickets. Later he would dismiss both Ryan ten Doeschate and James Foster after the sixth-wicket pair that lifted Essex from the depths of 80 for five. That the county champions would take one batting point for their 227 all out was largely due to some lusty late hitting by Neil Wagner and Simon Harmer, who recorded his maiden fifty for Essex.
    The day started half-an-hour late and ended with 24 overs unbowled because of combination of drizzle and bad light. Varun Chopra made up for lost time, taking 10 runs off Brooks’s first over. He found the pitch sufficiently slow that he was moving several yards down the wicket before the bowler was in his delivery stride. He connected with one from Patterson which sailed so far over long leg that there was a delay while another ball was found.
    Nick Browne settled into characteristic studiously mode. He took 18 balls to get off the mark before denting Coad’s parsimonious start with an imperious straight-drive to the boundary. Coad gained his reward, however, when he had Chopra, on 28, hanging his bat outside offstump to give Alex Lees the catch at first slip.
    Westley cover-drove Patterson gloriously for one of three boundaries in his 13 before the same bowler caused him his discomfort. Westley’s departure precipitated a collapse with four wickets in the 11 overs that preceded lunch as the pitch suddenly became spiteful and Essex fell from 63 for one. Dan Lawrence, centurion in the morale-boosting victory at Hampshire last week, was third to go, playing across one from Brooks for eight. 
    Browne, having faced 92 balls, became Coad’s second victim when he played down the wrong line and was bowled for 29, and Ravi Bopara was trapped plumb to Brooks in similar fashion to Lawrence for just for one.
    Ten Doeschate and Foster set about post-lunch reparations with a stand of 55 in 16 overs that was full of typical sharp singles and some lusty blows. Foster swept Coad effortlessly for six, but the ball after lofting Patterson straight past the bowler for a one-bounce four, the veteran pair were separated.
    Foster attempted to hammer Patterson over the midwicket boundary but failed to clear Kraigg Brathwaite stationed there for that eventuality, and departed for 25. Ryan Ten Doesechate followed seven runs later, nicking behind to give Patterson his third scalp. The Essex captain had faced 50 balls for his 30.
    Wagner weighed in with a crucial 44 at Southampton, and he carried on in the same vein. He bounced down the wicket and arced Coad over midwicket for six before his big-hitting came to a premature end when he miscued to mid-off to give Brooks a third wicket. The eight-wicket stand with Harmer was worth 41 in nine overs.
    Harmer was also nimble on his feet to drive spinner Karl Carver through mid-on for four and his eighth boundary, a straight-drive off Patterson, took him to his maiden fifty for Essex from 63 balls. He finally went lbw sweeping at Carver for 64. Jamie Porter’s contribution to a ninth-wicket stand of 39 was a single, and he was last man out when heaving Carver to long-off.

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