From Thursday to Sunday the first round of fixtures in the 2023 County Championship took place. My main focus was on Lancashire v Surrey, but I caught snatches of two other games as well.
A DRAW WITHOUT DULLNESS
Thursday was a work day, so I missed the first day’s action, in which Lancashire won the toss and put Surrey in. Surrey were well past 300 by the close and had wickets in hand. On the second morning Cameron Steel played magnificently to record his first championship century for Surrey, eventually boosting their total to 442. Lancashire started well enough in reply, and got into the 180s with their fifth wicket pair in residence. Then came a collapse caused by bad batting, on a pitch that never had the slightest hint of menace, which saw them 197-8. Will Williams then came to the crease, and proceeded to produce an effort that should have had some of his team mates feeling decidedly embarrassed, as he helped the ninth wicket to add 81 largely untroubled runs. The tenth wicket stand took the score up to 291, 151 adrift, but to nobody’s great surprise Surrey opted not to enforce the follow on. The feature of their second innings, in which they boosted their lead to 402 before declaring on the third evening, was a magnificent century by Ben Foakes, scored at more than a run a ball, an innings that probably killed off any notion of Jonny Bairstow being given the gloves in the test side. Matt Parkinson claimed five wickets. Lancashire never had any thoughts of anything other than a draw, but Surrey were mostly serious in their attempts to get through Lancashire’s defences. There was a period of frivolity just before the second new ball was due, with Lancashire still only two wickets down. Skipper Rory Burns bowled some off spin, and Ollie Pope bowled his first ever over in first class cricket, purveying a version of leg spin. Then for a brief period serious cricket returned as the Surrey new ball bowlers tried to make inroads into the Lancashire innings, but they did not do enough to endanger the red rose, and the return to the bowling crease of Burns was the signal for hands to be shaken on a draw.
A significant first innings deficit and a poor batting effort in the second put Somerset in grave danger of defeat at the hands of Warwickshire, but Tom Lammonby and Craig Overton held out together for long enough to see off the danger. The last cricket of Sunday evening featured…
HISTORY AT HEADINGLEY
Headingley is to put kindly not generally a happy hunting ground for Leicestershire – they came into this match having not won a first class match at the ground since 1910, and few would have bet on that stat changing when they entered the fourth innings needing 389 from 87 overs to win. Gradually however they whittled away at the deficit, though they were always a fraction behind the clock – 44 needed off six overs, 23 needed of three. The seamer Ben Coad then very atypically had a nightmare over, and suddenly Leicestershire, with three wickets still standing, needed just five off the last two overs. A four early in the penultimate over brought the scores level, and then another off the fifth ball took Leicestershire over the line.
Not many photos today due to poor weather – though it has improved dramatically while I have been typing this…
One thought on “The 2023 County Championship”
… and Sussex won their opening Championship match and last time they did that Noah was still building his boat.