LVCC REVIEW: It’s Yorkshire and Hampshire who set early pace

With the first batch of LV= County Championship matches now complete, it is Yorkshire and Hampshire who lead the way in the respective divisions as attention now turns to the opening NatWest T20 Blast matches.

Jack Brooks

The top of Division One is particularly tight, with just 11 points separating the top five sides after Middlesex and Nottinghamshire recorded wins and Sussex were held to a draw by defending champions Durham at Hove in the latest round of matches. Meanwhile, Hampshire have an 11-point lead at the top of Division Two; albeit having played a game more than second-placed Worcestershire. Surrey finally registered the first win of their stuttering campaign as Graeme Smith came good on the final day at The Oval.

Yorkshire’s win over Warwickshire came inside three days at Headingley as Leeds largely avoided the showers that dogged matches elsewhere. Adam Lyth and Joe Root gave the hosts a good start after they had been asked to bat by Bears skipper Ian Bell, but Warwickshire fought back by taking six wickets for 90 runs to leave Yorkshire on 181 for six. However, Kane Williamson built on a fluent half-century from Root in making 75, while Tim Bresnan and Liam Plunkett led a pivotal lower-order charge. The pair both hit half-centuries, with Bresnan adding 113 with Williamson for the seventh-wicket and Plunkett and Steve Patterson (43) putting on 106 for the ninth.

Ian Bell then did his best as Warwickshire battled to avoid the follow-on. He was last man out for 97 as Jack Brooks put his recent disappointments behind him - arguably benefiting from the decision to rest Ryan Sidebottom for this match - to lead the Yorkshire bowling effort. His three for 39 helped dismiss the Bears for exactly 200 first time around. He then took four for 37 after they had been asked to follow-on as they were skittled for a miserable 89.

“It’s unbelievable how the game has gone,” Brooks told Yorkshire’s website. “We fought hard while we were batting and churned out a really good score and went hard at them yesterday [on day two]. We had to go hard at them early in the second innings and get right into their guts. Tim Bresnan and myself hit good areas and the lads took fantastic catches and to take five wickets in that opening spell was unbelievable, really. I’m easily frustrated and I’m my own worst critic, no matter how well or badly I’m doing, I’m always trying to improve. That spell today is as good as any spell I’ve bowled for a while.”

Sussex Sharks v Worcestershire Royals - Yorkshire Bank 40 LeagueThere were centuries from Luke Wright, Ben Brown and Kumar Sangakkara as Sussex and Durham played out a high-scoring draw at Hove, leaving the hosts three points behind leaders Yorkshire. Sussex did struggle initially after being invited to bat, slipping to 115 for five. However, the Durham attack was soon shorn of its spearhead Graham Onions due to injury and Wright and Brown put on a mammoth 335 for the sixth-wicket in good time. Wright eventually departed for a career-best 189 - his 12th first-class century - while Brown also made the highest score of his career in falling for 163.

Two early wickets fell in the Durham reply, but Scott Borthwick and Sangakkara began the recovery with a stand of 110. Borthwick did depart to James Anyon (2-111) for 84, but skipper Paul Collingwood (74) joined Sangakkara (159) to take the champions to safety. Durham ended on 451 for seven in reply to Sussex’s 505 for nine declared.

Middlesex are just a point further back in third place after taking nine wickets on the final day at Lord’s to beat Lancashire. Resuming on 15 for one with a sizeable deficit, Lancashire were unable to cope with Tim Murtagh, who ended with six for 60, as they were dismissed for 223 in spite of a sixth-wicket stand of 117 between Ashwell Prince (86) and Jos Buttler (50). This left Middlesex needing just 31 in the fourth innings, which openers Sam Robson and Chris Rogers knocked of inside four overs.

Riki Wessels

It had been Neil Dexter’s medium-pace that had done the damage to Lancashire’s perpetually fragile batting line-up on day one. He ripped the heart out of their middle-order en route to career-best figures of six for 63 as only Buttler and Tom Smith passed 50. Middlesex’s batting line-up the made hay despite the early loss of their captain to the returning Kyle Hogg. Robson made 51, Dawid Malan 92, Dexter 51 and Eoin Morgan enhanced his England Test claims with a rare first-class century. John Simpson (50) and Ollie Rayner (77) then piled on the misery by sharing 1124 for the seveth-wicket before the declaration arrived with the lead at 193.

Nottinghamshire kept their title hopes very much alive on a thrilling last day against bottom-side Northamptonshire. Resuming day four just 11 runs ahead on 259 for five, a draw looked almost a certainty. However, Riki Wessels progressed from his overnight 78 to make 158 off only 152 balls to lead a Notts charge. He and Ajmal Shahzad put on 107 in less than nine overs for the eighth-wicket, with Shahzad contributing 36 off only 25 balls. That gave the hosts a lead of 161, which proved sufficient for an innings victory.

Peter Siddle and Shahzad dismantled the Northamptonshire batting line-up, each ending with four-wicket hauls, as they were all out for 151. Andrew Hall top-scored with just 27, meaning that the newly-promoted Northants are already well adrift at the foot of the table; 23 points behind eighth-placed Durham.

LATEST DIVISION ONE TABLE

Teams Mat Won Lost Tied Draw Aban Pts
Yorkshire 5 2 1 0 2 0 71
Sussex 5 2 1 0 2 0 68
Middlesex 5 3 2 0 0 0 67
Notts 5 2 2 0 1 0 64
Warwickshire 5 2 2 0 1 0 60
Somerset 4 1 0 0 3 0 51
Lancashire 5 1 2 0 2 0 43
Durham 4 0 0 0 4 0 42
Northants 4 0 3 0 1 0 19

Hampshire were always bossing their match against Glamorgan ever since Jacques Rudolph was dismissed for a duck in Kyle Abbott’s opening over. Abbott went on to be one of three Hampshire bowlers to end with three wickets - the others being Sean Ervine and Matt Coles - as Glamorgan were all out on day one for 224 in spite of Mark Wallace’s spirited unbeaten 67. Three of the hosts’ top four then hit half-centuries as they responded with 345. Michael Carberry and Liam Dawson added 108 for the second-wicket, with James Vince then continuing his fine start to the season with 61.

Glamorgan’s second innings was then built around a knock of 74 from the in-form Will Bragg, but the left-hander received insufficient support as the Welsh county were bowled out for only 187 to leave Hampshire needing just 67 to win. James Tomlinson and Kyle Abbott ended with three wickets apiece.

Graeme Smith hit his first Championship century for Surrey as they recovered from a first innings deficit to beat Gloucestershire in south London. Chasing 267, Smith dominated an opening stand of 145 with Rory Burns before being dismissed for 103. Steven Davies then went some way towards vindicating his decision to ditch the gloves by hitting a typically fluent 61 as Surrey won by four wickets. Chris Tremlett had earlier given Surrey the upper hand with a welcome return to form that yielded six for 59 as Gloucestershire fell away from 106 for one in their second innings to be all out for 230.

Both sides’ first innings had belonged to the bowlers. Matt Dunn continued his strong start to the season with a career-best five for 48 after the hosts had decided to rest both Jade Dernbach and Stuart Meaker from their first-choice attack. It didn’t matter as the visitors were all out for 168 with only the talented Will Tavare passing 50. Surrey’s top-order then imploded to James Fuller, who picked up six for 47, as they were bundled out for only 132. Ian Saxelby’s match was sadly short-lived. He could bowl only two balls and wouldn’t bowl again in the contest as his injury-plagued start to the season continued.

The other match ended in a rain-hit draw at a soggy Derby. The first and third days saw not a ball bowled, but home fans would have been fearing the worst on day two as their re-jigged side was skittled for only 118 - albeit in helpful bowling conditions - by five-fers from Doug Bollinger and Darren Stevens. They had made four changes from the eleven that lost last time out to Worcestershire, with Paul Borrington, Scott Elstone and Alex Hughes replacing the discarded trio of Billy Godleman, Chesney Hughes and Wes Durston, and new-signing taking over from loan-signing Dan Hodgson behind the stumps.

Kent then declared their first innings at 235 for six on day four, with West Indian Brendan Nash left unbeaten on 95. Derbyshire then faced a potentially tricky session, but the contrast with their first innings couldn’t have been more stark. Openers Stephen Moore and Borrington took them to stumps on 106 for none, with Moore finishing on 73 and the more obdurate Borrington on 31.

LATEST DIVISION TWO TABLE

Teams Mat Won Lost Tied Draw Aban Pts
Hampshire 5 2 0 0 3 0 76
Worcs 4 2 0 0 2 0 65
Glamorgan 5 1 1 0 3 0 51
Essex 4 1 0 0 3 0 49
Kent 4 1 1 0 2 0 47
Surrey 5 1 2 0 2 0 45
Leics 3 0 0 0 3 0 34
Derbyshire 4 0 2 0 2 0 25
Gloucs 4 0 2 0 2 0 25

The three-day MCCU match at Fenner’s ended in the expected draw. Worcestershire batsman Tom Kohler-Cadmore was, however, able to find some much-needed form with 110 in the visitors’ 303 for eight declared, as was medium-pacer Joe Leach, who took five for 21 in Cambridge MCCU’s reply of 231.

Daniel Grummitt

Cricket Writer at World Cricket Badger
Daniel first began writing about cricket in 2011, having been a fan of the game ever since his Grandad introduced him to it at the age of 10.

He worked for CricketWorld.com for almost three years, leading their county and domestic cricket coverage and contributing to a book about the 2012 ICC World Twenty20, before joining the hugely ambitious World Cricket Badger early in 2014.

The first Test that he remembers watching was on Channel 4 - back before the ECB marginalised potential future fans by selling the TV rights to Sky Sports - when England beat Pakistan by an innings and nine runs at Lord’s.

Besides a passion for domestic cricket, he also has an unexplainable interest in all things Zimbabwe cricket!

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