County Championship Round Four Preview

A preview of the Championship games starting tomorrow and a bumper crop of photographs.

This post looks ahead to the county championship matches that get underway tomorrow. The competition is organized in an unusual way this year: the counties have been arranged in three groups of six, and will play an opening league stage of 10 rounds, after which there will be a split into three divisions, featuring the top two from each group, the middle two from each group and the bottom two from each group. For the teams who were in the same groups half points will be carried forward into this final stage, which will comprise four further matches. The leading side in the first division at the end of all this will become County Champions, and they and second place will play off for the Bob Willis Trophy.

GROUP ONE

Derbyshire v Nottinghamshire: The ‘Brian Clough Way’ Derby. The main road linking these two east midland cities is now named in honour of Brian Clough who had his greatest successes as a football manager in the two cities concerned. Neither side are going particularly well this year, and Nottinghamshire are without a first class victory since 2018. Many eyes will be on Haseeb Hameed of Nottinghamshire to see if he can kick on from scoring twin centuries last time out, but someone else who definitely merits some attention is Derbyshire’s leg spinning all rounder Matt Critchley.

Worcestershire v Essex: Essex will be looking to rebound from their loss to Warwickshire, and Simon Harmer will have been stung by going wicketless on a fourth day pitch in that game. Dan Lawrence will be looking to score some big runs for Essex.

Durham v Warwickshire: Warwickshire will be looking to build on their success against Essex last time out. Robert Yates will want to prove that his unbeaten ton in that match was not a one off, and Sam Hain is also one to watch.

GROUP TWO

Gloucestershire v Leicestershire: Gloucestershire won their first two games and held out for a draw against Hampshire in the third and most recent. That game saw the last pair defy Hampshire for over an hour to secure the draw. Hassan Azad will be looking for runs for Leicestershire to further bolster his England credentials. With an all rounder needed for England Gloucestershire’s Ryan Higgins will be looking to to continue his fine start to the season.

Somerset v Middlesex: The Lee family clash (Harry Lee was a Middlesex opener of long ago, and his brothers Frank, later a test umpire, and Jack both played for Somerset, and there was one occasion one the scorebook feature all three brothers on one line – Harry was caught by Jack off the bowling of Frank). The reverse of this game was played in round one and Somerset won, a result they will keen to duplicate on their own patch. Tom Lammonby will be looking to continue the rehabilitation from a poor run that his unbeaten 70 in the last match started. Several Somerset bowlers have fared well this season. Ethan Bamber has been impressive with the ball for Middlesex, and Luke Hollman, a leg spin bowling all rounder who is just starting out could well be worth watching.

Surrey v Hampshire: The Phil Mead clash (the dour left hander failed to make the grade at Surrey but moved to Hampshire and set records for the most runs (48,809) and most centuries (138) made by anyone for a single first class side). Ollie Pope and Ben Foakes have both made runs to start this season and will be looking to continue that trend, while Amar Virdi will want to put down a marker given the successes other spinners have been having early this season.

GROUP THREE

Glamorgan v Kent: Indifferent starts for both of these sides. Zak Crawley will be looking to get among the runs for Kent. Kiran Carlson has had one fabulous match for Glamorgan this season.

Yorkshire v Northamptonshire: David Willey, who played for Northamptonshire earlier in his career may feature for Yorkshire. Dom Bess who took six wickets in the final innings of Yorkshire’s last game, in which they beat Sussex, will be looking to continue his revival. For Northamptonshire the obvious one to watch is Ricardo Vasconcelos, with two 150+ scores to his name already this season.

Lancashire v Sussex: First against third in the group. Matt Parkinson will be looking to continue his massively impressive start to the season. For Sussex Oliver Edward Robinson will be looking to underline his England credentials by producing something at a test match venue, and left arm pacer George Garton could well be part of England’s plans, especially if he plays well.

FOLLOWING THE ACTION

It will not be possible for fans to watch these games at the grounds, although it is my understanding that we are only a few weeks away from that happening. Commentaries on all games will be available via www.bbc.co.uk/cricket – click the ‘live county cricket’ button and scroll across to select your commentary, livestreams are available via the county websites and youtube, and for extra detail you can keep a cricinfo.com tab open with your chosen game selected.

PHOTOGRAPHS

I have lots of photographs to end this post…

Robson’s Luck Runs Out At Last

A look at developments in the London derby, and a skate through the rest of the county championship action.

In this post I will bring you up to date with developments in the county championship I am following, and also provide a quick look at goings on elsewhere.

MIDDLESEX AHEAD IN LONDON DERBY

Middlesex are currently 63 ahead of Surrey with three first innings wickets standing. They owe this position to a combination of Sam Robson and absurd amounts of good fortune. Robson has just fallen for 95, having been dropped three times along the way and survived a few other close calls. Reece Topley snared him LBW. Between his 95 in this match and the 165 against Somerset in the first match Robson has surely used up a whole season’s allocation of good fortune. Middlesex are quite possibly some way from being done – Luke Hollman is making his FC debut at no9 and is officially recognized as an all rounder. Topley has four wickets, and if he has a good season and stays fit he may be in the Ashes tour party (the only other left armer of comparable pace and ability who England might think about is George Garton of Sussex).

AROUND THE GROUNDS

Sussex v Yorkshire: Sussex moved into a first innings lead with only three wickets down, but Yorkshire have come back and restricted their advantage to 71. Yorkshire are no 28-0 in their second innings. Duanne Olivier and Steven Patterson took four wickets each for Yorkshire, while young opener Tom Haines top scored for Sussex with 86.

Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire: Worcestershire are 430-9 in the 143rd over. Joe Leach is on 81. Libby made a century, and there have also been 50s for Mitchell, Barnard and Alzarri Joseph. Liam Patterson-White, the left arm spinner, has 3-114 from 41 overs.

Warwickshire v Essex: Essex were restricted to 295 in their first innings and Warwickshire are 119-4 in reply. Browne, Walter and ten Doeschate all scored 50s for Essex, while Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Olly Stone each took four wickets. Porter, Cook, Siddle and Harmer each have a wicket for Essex and no one has yet produced a significant score for Warwickshire.

Northamptonshire v Glamorgan: Glamorgan tallied 407 in their first innings, and Northamptonshire are struggling at 76-4 in reply. Chris Cooke scored 136 for Glamorgan, and Dan Douthwaite scored 44 at number eight. James Harris, James Weighell and David Lloyd (who scored 65 yesterday) have a wicket each for Glamorgan.

Durham v Derbyshire: Durham are 469-9 after 146 overs. David Bedingham scored 257 of these and Jack Burnham 75. Samuel Conners has four wickets. Bedingham is now averaging 45.83 in FC cricket with eight centuries in 67 innings at that level.

Kent v Lancashire: Lancashire are 438-8 after almost 150 overs. Danny Lamb is 86 not out, while Luke Wood made 119, and Josh Bohannon 87. Darren Stevens has fared best among Kent’s bowlers, with 2-44 from 26 overs.

Hampshire v Gloucestershire: Hampshire are 470-9. Tom Alsop made 149 and Ian Holland 114. England limited overs batter James Vince scored 52 and former England man Liam Dawson scored 65. Aussie Daniel Worrall has 4-75, and Ryan Higgins continues to press his England claims with 4-78.

Leicestershire v Somerset: Leicestershire made 233 in the first innings, Somerset are currently 252-6 in response. Lewis Hill scored 68 for Leicestershire, while Overton took 3-39, Jack Leach 2-23 and Lewis Gregory 2-39. Tom Abell made 88 and George Bartlett 48 for Somerset. Jack Leach as nightwatch scored 26, lasting 89 minutes in the course of which he faced 68 balls. Steven Davies and Craig Overton are currently batting together, Lewis Gregory is next in.

PHOTOGRAPHS

My usual sign off…

As I prepare this post for publication Middlesex have moved on to 245-8.