COUNTY ROUND-UP: Entertainment abounds in Championship openers

There was entertainment aplenty on the opening day of the 2015 LV= County Championship, with hundreds and subsequent collapses at Taunton, Lord’s and New Road.

Johann Myburgh hit 118 for Somerset as they reached 224 for two at one stage thanks also to contributions from Tom Cooper (47) and James Hildreth (53) before being bowled out for 299 by Durham. A collapse of eight for 75 began with Myburgh’s dismissal. Paul Collingwood was the unlikely chief destroyer, taking five for 57 during a devastating spell of seam bowling. Graham Onions then helped mop up the tail and ended with four for 59 as none of Somerset’s last seven batsmen bettered Abdur Rehman’s 16.

Durham then bounced back from the loss of both openers early on to Lewis Gregory to close on 98 for two in reply. Scott Borthwick (52 not out) and Michael Richardson (35 not out) had added an unbroken 85 by the time stumps was called.

There was an equally dramatic opening day at Lord’s where Nottinghamshire began strongly against Middlesex before a collapse necessitated a Chris Read counter-attack. The Notts skipper is unbeaten on 62 off 89 balls with his side on 298 for nine. Brendan Taylor had ensured that the first half of the day had belonged to the visitors. He hit his second successive first-class century and dominated a third-wicket stand of 108 with James Taylor (36).

James Taylor’s wicket, though, triggered a collapse of four for three and six for 44 as James Harris (4-75) removed him, Samit Patel, Riki Wessels and Brendan Taylor for 106 within the space of three overs.

There was a third first-class century for the supremely talented Tom Fell on a similarly topsy turvy day at New Road. Jack Brooks had Worcestershire 11 for two. Fell and Moeen Ali took the score to 129. Ali’s departure for 62 triggered a steady collapse of five for 87; one which ended with Fell’s for 114. Gareth Andrew then added some late stability and finished with 42 and his side on 264 for eight. Brooks, with three for 38, and Tim Bresnan, with three for 48, were the picks of the eight bowlers that Yorkshire utilised.

Sussex overcame a poor start against Hampshire to close on 300 for six at Southampton. A brace of early wickets for Hampshire new boy Gareth Berg had helped reduce Sussex to 22 for three after they had opted to bat. Ed Joyce (42) and Craig Cachopa (41) then began the recovery with a partnership of 70 before Luke Wright and Ben Brown took over. Wright fell four short of his century, handing a second wicket to James Tomlinson shortly before stumps, but Brown remains on 85.

In Division Two, Jacques Rudolph and Will Bragg hit centuries, adding a massive 227 for the second-wicket, to help Glamorgan close on 294 for two against Leicestershire. James Kettleborough had departed early to Atif Sheikh, but that was to be the hosts’ sole success until Rudolph was caught behind off the same bowler for 111 late on. Bragg is undefeated on 113, with Colin Ingram on 14.

20 year-old Craig Miles recorded career-best figures of six for 63 as Northamptonshire were all out for 333 at Wantage Road. Northants had struggled to 162 for six in the first half of the day, mainly thanks to Miles, before Adam Rossington and David Willey threatened to undo all of the Gloucestershire seamer’s good work. The pair put on 137 in less than 19 overs during a characteristically aggresive seveth-wicket stabnd. Willey was finally claimed by Kieran Noema-Barnett (3-48) for 62 off 57 balls, with Miles returning to help wrap up the innings, inlcuding dismissing Rossington for 95 from 98 deliveries. Gloucestershire then closed on 18 without loss in the seventh over.

With England due to start the first Test against the West Indies tomorrow, Kevin Pietersen ramped up the pressure with an aggressive century on his cricketing comeback. Granted, it was only against Oxford MCCU in the genteel surroundings at The Parks. And granted, the match does not even have first-class status. Nevertheless a knock of 170 off 149 balls will remove plenty of rust and set him up for Surrey‘s Championship opener next week against Glamorgan. Gary Wilson added 203 with Pietersen for the sixth-wicket en route to 119 not out.

The county batsmen likewise made hay in the other MCC University fixtures. There were centuries for Essex‘s top three of Tom Westley, Nick Browne and Jaik Mickleburgh against Cardiff MCCU. Derbyshire racked up over 500 against Cambridge MCCU thanks to hundreds from Martin Guptill and Wayne Madsen. Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sam Billings were Kent‘s three-figure contributors against Loughborough MCCU. Ian Westwood retired on 155 for Warwickshire against Durham MCCU, while Paul Horton hit a fluent 83 as Lancashire closed a truncated day one against Leeds/Bradford MCCU on 128 for one.

News in brief:
Former Hampshire wicket-keeper Adam Rouse has agreed a trial period with Kent to cover for any possible injury to Sam Billings while regular back-up Ryan Davies is in Australia with the England Under-19 side.

Daniel Grummitt

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!
Daniel Grummitt

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