Hampshire and Yorkshire meet at the Ageas
The Easter weekend produced another enthralling feast of cricket – one that marked the first time since 1999 that all 18 first-class counties were playing Championship cricket simultaneously.
If we continue to dine like this, we will all be rather rotund characters come September. By word it is nourishing, though.
Alastair Cook reminded everyone there’s life after England captaincy with a match-winning hundred at Chelmsford, Middlesex opened their title defence with an entertaining draw at the Ageas Bowl, Yorkshire secured their first win – dealing Warwickshire their second innings defeat in as many matches, and the unflagging gods that are Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Kumar Sangakkara, registered their first centuries of the summer. Just the 131 first-class centuries between them... that’s all.
Here are this week’s fixtures...
Previous result: Middlesex 356 and 278 for 9d; Hampshire 438 – Match drawn, The Rose Bowl
One to watch: 20-year-old Brad Wheal has taken nine wickets in Hampshire’s first two matches. Meanwhile Mason Crane’s absence from the XI has raised eyebrows.
Squad: James Vince*, Jimmy Adams, Reece Topley, Sean Ervine, Liam Dawson,Tom Alsop, Gareth Berg, Michael Carberry, Lewis McManus, Mason Crane, Brad Wheal, Kyle Abbott.
Previous result: Warwickshire 178 and 115; Yorkshire 381 – Yorkshire won by an innings and 88 runs, Edgbaston
One to watch: Ben Coad followed his eight wickets against Hampshire with 10 in the match – five in each innings – as Yorkshire crushed Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
Squad: Gary Ballance*, Jonny Bairstow (WK), Tim Bresnan, Ben Coad, Matthew Fisher, Peter Handscomb, Alex Lees, Adam Lyth, Steven Patterson, Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, David Willey.
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Previous result: Lancashire 470; Surrey 319 and 323 for 3d (f/o) – Match drawn, The Oval
One to watch: After knocks of 47 & 45 against Essex, Haseeb Hameed is still searching for his first half-century of the season after falling for a two-ball duck to Sam Curran at The Oval. Jordan Clark registered his maiden first-class hundred, at the other end, Shivnarine Chanderpaul registered his 74th, the pair shared a 243-run partnership to help Lancashire recover from 122 for 6.
Squad: Liam Livingstone*, James Anderson, Tom Bailey, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jordan Clark, Alex Davies, Haseeb Hameed, Kyle Jarvis, Simon Kerrigan, Ryan McLaren, Stephen Parry, Luke Procter, Rob Jones, Dane Vilas.
Previous result: Somerset 209 and 174; Essex 129 and 257 for 2 (target: 255) – Essex won by eight wickets, Chelmsford
One to watch: In their eight-wicket loss at Chelmsford, Somerset’s captain Tom Abell scored just one run, facing 16 balls.
Squad: (To follow)
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One to watch: Adam Voges (92) registered his first half-century of the summer as Middlesex batted to save the game on day four. Middlesex’s top-order is strong and Voges adds some serious ballast at No.5.
Squad: James Franklin*, Steve Eskinazi, Steve Finn, Nick Gubbins, Tom Helm, Ryan Higgins, Dawid Malan, Tim Murtagh, Ravi Patel, Ollie Rayner, Sam Robson, Toby Roland-Jones, John Simspon (WK), Adam Voges.
Previous result: Somerset 209 and 174; Essex 129 and 257 for 2 (target: 255) - Essex won by eight wickets, Chelmsford
One to watch: If Alastair Cook doesn’t fire, Tom Westley – who scored 1,217 runs last summer - will be crucial to Essex’s top-order batting first drop.
Squad: Ryan ten Doeschate*, Aaron Beard, Ravi Bopara, Nick Browne, Varun Chopra, Alastair Cook, Simon Harmer, Dan Lawrence, Jamie Porter, Matt Quinn, Neil Wagner, Tom Westley, Adam Wheater (WK).
One to watch: Not a great deal putting their hand up here as Warwickshire struggle. The Bears need their batsman to stand up - only Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell and Keith Barker have passed fifty in the first two matches. The bowlers have also found the going tough as Surrey and Yorkshire posted big totals resulting in innings defeats.
Squad: Ian Bell*, Tim Ambrose (WK), Keith Barker, Rikki Clarke, Oliver Hannon-Dalby, Matt Lamb, Alex Mellor (WK), Jeetan Patel, William Porterfield, Grant Thornton, Jonathan Trott, Ian Westwood, Chris Wright.
One to watch: Of Surrey’s top five, only Rory Burns has failed to register a century – not that he hasn’t been threatening - with knocks of 71, 91, 20.
Squad: Gareth Batty*, Zafar Ansari, Scott Borthwick, Rory Burns, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Jade Dernbach, Ben Foakes (WK), Mark Footitt, Stuart Meaker, Kumar Sangakkara, Dominic Sibley, Mark Stoneman.