Durham begin fightback from points deduction
What finer sight than a half-scuffed orb of red leather arcing through the air?
Early-season cricket always conjures images of overcast skies and frost-bitten slippers. Not on the opening weekend, not this year. I was at The Oval on Saturday and was treated to a feast of swing bowling by Mark Footitt. Not a cloud in sight, it was hot out there.
Here's what you need to know ahead for this week's fixtures...
Previous result: N/A
One to watch: This is a season for Shiv Thakor to convert the promise he showed in his teenage days at Leicestershire.
Squad: Billy Godleman, Luis Reece, Ben Slater, Shiv Thakor, Wayne Madsen, Daryn Smit, Gary Wilson, Jeevan Mendis, Alex Hughes, Tom Milnes, Antonio Palladino, Ben Cotton, Will Davis.
Previous result: Glamorgan 101 and 187; Northamptonshire 310, Northants won by an innings and 22 runs, Northampton
One to watch: Rory Kleinveldt claimed the first two wickets of a procession that saw Northants reduce Glamorgan to 26 for 6 on the opening morning. The veteran South African then contributed 86 with the bat in Northants reply and finished with match figures of 6 for 89 in the innings victory.
Squad: Alex Wakley*, Nathan Buck, Josh Cobb, Steven Crook, Ben Duckett, Max Holden, Rob Keogh, Rory Kleinveldt, Richard Levi, Rob Newton, Adam Rossington (WK), Graeme White.
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One to watch: Despite still being a teenager, Jack Burnham was asked to bat No.4 by Paul Collingwood 12 months ago and enjoyed a solid if unspectacular season. Expect runs galore this time.
Squad: Paul Collingwood*, Keaton Jennings, Stephen Cook, Cameron Steel, Jack Burnham, Michael Richardson, Paul Coughlin, Ryan Pringle, Stuart Poynter (WK), Mark Wood, Brydon Carse, Graham Onions, Chris Rushworth.
Previous result: Leicestershire 251 and 81; Nottinghamshire 329 and 9 for 0 (target 4), Nottinghamshire won by 10 wickets, Grace Road
One to watch: Nottinghamshire’s Australian quick James Pattinson took the headlines with authoritative displays with both bat and ball. Pattinson claimed three wickets in the first innings before hitting a career-best 89* in a 122-run partnership with Stuart Broad. The Australian then took 5 for 29 as Leicestershire were skittled for 81 in the second innings.
Squad: Chris Read*, Jake Ball, Luke Fletcher, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Brett Hutton, Jake Libby, Michael Lumb, Tom Moores, Samit Patel, James Pattinson, Greg Smith, Riki Wessels.
One to watch: Jofra Archer, 22, could be the next big thing in English cricket. Born in Barbados, the former West Indies Under-19 international is a UK passport holder and is qualifying for England having signed for Sussex up until the end of the 2019 season. Bowls with real pace, despite an economical run-up and rhythmic action, and also bats well.
Squad: Luke Wright*, Jofra Archer, Danny Briggs, Ben Brown (WK), Laurie Evans, Harry Finch, Steve Magoffin, Chris Nash, Delray Rawlins, Ajmal Shahzad, Vernon Philander, Stiaan van Zyl, David Wiese, Stuart Whittingham.
Previous result: Kent 298 and 246; Gloucestershire 149 and 61 (target: 396), Kent won by 334 runs, Canterbury
One to watch: Daniel Bell-Drummond saw his progress towards top class interrupted by mid-season injury last summer, but the 23-year-old still managed 747 Championship runs at 53.35
Squad: Sam Northeast*, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Sean Dickson, Joe Weatherley, Joe Denly, Will Gidman, Darren Stevens, Adam Rouse (WK), Wayne Parnell, James Harris, Matt Coles, James Tredwell, Mitch Claydon.
One to watch: There wasn’t a great deal to shout about for Glamorgan as they fell to an innings defeat inside two days - 19 year-old Lukas Carey’s 4 for 85 a rare glimpse of promise.
Squad: Rudolph*, Selman, Lloyd, Ingram, Cooke, Donald, Carlson, Meschede, Salter, De Lange, Hogan, Carey, Podmore.
One to watch: Still only 20, Joe Clarke continues to impress the England hierarchy with the speed of his development. Clarke score 1,206 runs last summer and recently top-scored for MCC with 89 in the Champion County game v Middlesex.
Squad: (To follow)
One to watch: Right-armer Liam Norwell claimed eight wickets in the match and top-scored in Gloucestershire’s second innings with 24, as they were rolled-over for 61.
Squad: Mustard*, Dent, Bancroft, Tavare, van Buuren, Hankins, J Taylor, Payne, Miles, Norwell, Liddle, Currill.
One to watch: A fine allround effort from Ben Raine was not enough to prevent Leicestershire from a hefty 10-wicket defeat. Raine hit an unbeaten 55 from No.9 in the first innings, took 6 for 66 then was not out again in the second innings with 17 to his name.
Squad: Cosgrove*, Ackermann, Chappell, Dearden, Dexter, Eckersley (wk), Griffiths, Horton, Jones, McKay, Pettini, Raine, Sayer.