In a pretty good start to the County Championship, six of the seven round one matches had positive results with only Kent’s trip to Headingley ending in a draw. The full results were:
Nottinghamshire beat Worcestershire by 92 runs
Somerset beat Middlesex by six wickets
Surrey beat Sussex by 86 runs
Derbyshire beat Northamptonshire by 202 runs
Essex beat Gloucestershire by an innings and 38 runs
Leicestershire beat Glamorgan by 52 runs
Yorkshire drew with Kent
I mostly listened to the Kent match this weekend (in the hope that the White Rose would lose) so I’m hoping that it is not a sign of things to come as I turn my attention to Lancashire from next week.
The Notts and Leics matches were similar, both times the home side lost the toss and were put into bat (which actually happened in six of the seven matches, Kent winning the toss and batting being the only exception). And in both matches they collapsed dramatically. In Leicester the hosts lost wickets to the first two balls of the season and were 1-3 at one point with each of their top three making ducks. The fact that they made it to 249 all out was a dramatic recovery then. Notts did not start out quite as badly, but they did not recover as well either and succumbed to 118 all out via 34-5. Both sides were able to instigate collapses in their opponents though, Glamorgan were at one point 34-7 en route to 124 all out and Worcestershire simply lost wickets at regular intervals in getting a first innings lead of 12. This is where the matches diverged sharply: Notts proceeded to bat Worcs out of the match with 403, whilst Leics collapsed to 110 all out. Both were enough, however.
Whilst I did not get to watch Yorkshire lose (I would have been pretty surprised if I had) I did get to see Kent rack up 537-9 against them before declaring. Amazingly, that included a ninth wicket stand of 157 after Kent had been 374-8. A century by Jonny Bairstow was not quite enough for Yorkshire to avoid the follow-on (though probably gives him an early lead in the race for number six), but an opening stand of 115 in the second innings mostly ended any hopes of a positive result in that match.
If I had to pick one match that I thought would be drawn, I would have guessed Somerset v Middlesex, after the start was badly delayed by rain. Somerset never let Middlesex build a big partnership in the first innings, though, and then their strong batting order got them a lead of 104. George Dockrell took 6-27 to give Somerset an easy target of 72 with plenty of time. They lost four wickets en route, but made it pretty easily in the end.
Surrey did not get much of a contribution from their batsmen, only three went past fifty in both innings, but a very good group performance from their bowlers made sure it was enough. Sussex were bowled out for 196 in the first innings and the only bright spot as they tried to chase 342 was 108 by Luke Wells. Once again Surrey’s bowlers kept them in check and shared the wickets around and Sussex never really looked like getting the runs.
Derbyshire’s match at the county ground against Northants was very close after the first innings. Derbyshire lead by 22 at that point on the back of 110 by Dan Redfern and 83 by Ross Whiteley. The rest of the batsmen contributed only 87 between them. The second innings was completely different, however. A Martin Guptill 137 anchored a score of 314-3 from Derbyshire and although Northants managed to bat until late on day four, they were bowled out for 134.
The most one sided match of the first round was at Chelmsford. Essex were put into bat and responded by scoring 364. One hundred thirty of those were from opener Billy Godleman and Gloucestershire simply had no response. They collapsed to 180 all out and were asked to follow-on. Second time around Graham Napier took 5-58 as Gloucestershire could only make 146 and succumbed to an innings defeat.
Four sides are still yet to play, but so far Somerset have the early lead in Division One with 22 points from their first match, whilst Essex lead the second tier with 23 points.