The new Specsavers County Championship season is just four days old, and has delivered early drama already.
Here are Press Association Sport’s highlights:
Surrey pair Mark Stoneman and Mark Footitt top the list. Bowlers largely dominated nationwide, with four finishes out of six inside three days, so Stoneman’s 165 on championship debut for his new club stands out. So too does Footitt’s first-innings figures of 9-2-14-6 against Warwickshire, among whom five made ducks as the left-armer steamed in and found Mitchell Johnson-style swing and pace at The Oval.
Gloucestershire. From 89 for two in their first innings, they lost their next 17 wickets for 97 against Kent at Canterbury en route to defeat by 334 runs. That is some going.
Tweet of the round
Quote of the round
“You always try to push for that. If you keep taking wickets and bowling well then why not? Gareth Batty got a call-up last winter and he was 38!” – Footitt, 31, pondering his England prospects.
On the front foot
Hampshire’s fightback to win away to Yorkshire hints at a proper scrap in the offing for top-flight honours, while Kent and Nottinghamshire have set off like two teams with points to prove in Division Two.
Can we start again, please?
Leicestershire fall into a very different category. Hit by a 16-point deduction on the eve of the new campaign, the Foxes were cowed in a 10-wicket hammering at home to neighbours Notts. Their second-innings capitulation to 81 all out was an especially worrying sign.
White Rose on the wane
Too early to say, obviously. But the pattern of Yorkshire’s shock opening defeat is a dodgy portent at Headingley. Young seamer Ben Coad was to the fore, after new captain Gary Ballance’s hundred, as Yorkshire had the visitors 75 for eight in reply to 273. Yet Ballance’s men still somehow ended up losing inside three days as Kyle Abbott staked an early claim to be ‘King of the Kolpaks’ – and for good measure, General Tim Bresnan bagged a pair for the first time in his career.
Alastair Cook has missed precious few important assignments over his record-breaking career – the last 139 of his 140 Test caps have come in succession. A sore hip kept him out of his head-to-head with fellow England champion James Anderson, though. Essex could have done with his runs against Lancashire, but indications are the ex-Test captain should be back soon enough.
Jonathan Trott, like his county captain Ian Bell, has just signed a new long-term contract at Warwickshire. Both multiple Ashes-winners are part of the furniture at Edgbaston. To celebrate his confirmed, extended longevity Trott chose the scene of his glorious 2009 Test debut to chisel out a vain but defiant 41st first-class hundred – and take his career output to a mere 16,800 runs.
Division One: Hampshire v Middlesex, Somerset v Essex, Surrey v Lancashire, Warwickshire v Yorkshire
Division Two: Derbyshire v Northamptonshire, Durham v Nottinghamshire, Glamorgan v Worcestershire, Gloucestershire v Leicestershire, Sussex v Kent