Having spent a weekend in Paris in glorious sunshine in Mid-March, Spring decided it wasn’t quite ready to arrive fully and the first day of the new County Championship season saw me dressed in thermals as if I was going to watch a rugby match! It was COLD! The wind being the biggest issue in Chelmsford, the ‘new’ floodlights swaying in the wind was fascinating! If I’m perfectly honest, the cricket on offer, not so much. More of that later – I’m going to start with the first win of the round before going in some sort of alphabetical order. We’re back to two Divisions this season too, so, Division 1 will go first, naturally. (All photos will be from the Essex v Kent match). Back to my article at the end of Day 4 and this first round produced 6 draws and a single win in each division, it was batting practice to a great degree, with centuries galore, whether they were useful runs remains to be seen.

Division One

Hampshire v Somerset – The Ageas Bowl, Southampton – Tom Abell won the toss for Somerset and elected to bat. Hampshire won by an innings and 113 runs.

Somerset – 180 All Out & 135 All Out, Hampshire 428 All Out

Only 6 of England’s Centrally Contracted players were available for their counties for this first round, Jack Leach wasn’t one of them. Craig Overton who has a development contract wasn’t on the team sheet either. That being said their batters, with the exception of James Hildreth had a bad day at the office, twice. Hildreth scored 87 from 129 balls batting for over 3 hours in the first innings, he saved Somerset from an embarrassingly low total. Tom Lammonby battled for 78 minutes but scored only 11 runs. The wickets were shared between 7 bowlers as Somerset were bowled out in 63.4 overs.

A case of teams playing on 2 different wickets? Hampshire had a brilliant start to their innings, Joe Weatherley and Ian Holland put on 180 for the first wicket, Holland was out for 81 from 161 balls, Weatherly carried on with a partnership of 83 with Nick Gubbins and 71 with James Vince, he was out for 168 from 281 balls having batted for over 5.5 hours, a mammoth innings. Vince contributed 56 at 4 as Hampshire scored their 428 in 119.4 overs. Scoring fairly quickly they won themselves 4 batting points to add to the 3 bowling points.

Somersets second innings lasted just 50.2 overs, and they had no determined Hildreth to spare their blushes, Tom Lammonby top scored with 32 from 74 balls as the Hampshire bowlers did their thing. Pakistan man Mohammad Abbas took 4 for 22 from 10.2 overs, he does love to bowl in England. The match was over in 2.5 days with 23 points in the bag for Hampshire.

Essex v Kent – The Cloud FM County Ground, Chelmsford – Ollie Robinson won the toss for Kent and put Essex in to bat. Match Drawn

Essex 514 All Out 7 68 for 1, Kent 581 for 9

The first CC game of the season for my county, Essex, was a must watch for me, the conditions on day 1 were atrocious with strong winds making a cold day into a thoroughly unpleasant one, I can only imagine how grotty it must’ve been to be on that field, with bat or ball. Sir Alastair Cook and Nick Browne battled well in tough conditions (with the wind alone) putting on 220 for the first wicket, both reaching their centuries, I missed both as I’d left early to travel into London to see the worst thing I’ve seen on the stage (don’t bother with Dirty Dancing, it’s dreadful!). I do love a photo of a 100 celebration! I got two more opportunities however. The Australian bowler Jackson BIrd got his reward for a day of hard work with the ball as he took the wickets of both openers. Both Dan Lawrence and Jamie Porter were despatched after being caught LBW to Matt Quinn and Nathan Gilchrist respectively. Essex’s new signing Matt Critchley gave Essex fans something to shout about as he top scored with 132 from 268 balls, he batted for nearly 4.5 hours as Essex approached and went past 500 runs. In the stands we couldn’t quite understand why Westley didn’t declare before Essex were bowled out, which came just before tea. Loanee Adam Rossington had a positive cameo with 41 from 52 balls. The wickets were shared between 5 bowlers.

Essex took an early Kent wicket with Daniel Bell Drummond being trapped LBW by Sam Cook, that came after a. very strong appeal for a catch in the over before from the bowling of Jamie Porter. With no Joe Denly who’d pulled up with what looked like a pulled hamstring while fielding Tawanda Muyeye joined opened Ben Compton, Grandson of the late, great, Dennis. The pair put on 121 for the second wicket with the 21 year old Muyaye making 58 on his debut. Compton, also on debut batted well and with a great degree of patience, he scored 129 from 289 balls batting for just over 6 hours. He was kept company by Jordan Cox, a player with a fascinating and all new leave, that involved one of his legs flying in the air! It added some amusement to another slow day of cricket, COx matched Compton with 129 facing 332 balls and batting for just over 7 hours. To my regret I left early again so missed the inevitable cameo if Darren Stevens 51, Matt Milnes contributed 67 and Jackson Bird 53 as the 8 Essex bowlers struggled to find a wicket. Those 8 included an over from Sir Alastair Cook! Things were getting desperate.

A muted celebration of a debut century for Ben Compton

An unusual leave for Jordan Cox, who scored 129

I chose a day at home, at the cinema (The new Fantastic Beasts is Fabulous!) on day 4, Essex did indeed have to bat again as one Kent fan, who’d clearly made use of the bar, was shouting at tea-time on day 3. Natahn Gilchrist added the wicket of Nick Browne to his figures, Cook added 26 runs and Westley 32 to their averages in what was an inevitable draw.

Northamptonshire v Gloucestershire – The County Ground, Northampton – Ricardo Vasconcelos won the toss for Northants and put Gloucs in to bat. Match Drawn.

Gloucestershire 223 All Out & 363 All Out , Northants 288 All Out & 272 for 8

James Bracey got his CC season kick started with 117 from 209 balls, he batted for nearly 5 hours, sadly for him the next highest score was 28 as Gloucs were bowled out for 223. Ben Sanderson took 4 for 66 in his 25 overs. Gloucestershire were bowled out in 70.4 overs.

Rob Keogh in at 5 for Northants scored 113 from 180 balls, batting for 9 minutes less than Bracey. Gareth Berg in at 9 scored 66 to tale Northants to 288. They were bowled out in 77.1 overs with Ryan Higgins taking 4 for 68 in 17 overs.

Gloucs opener Chris Dent scored 54 from 117 as he saw the wickets falling around him, they fell to 21 for 4 before Dent dug in he Ryan Higgins put on 78 for the 5the wicket. Higgins went on to share 165 runs with Tom Lace, who contributed 73 from 151 balls. Higgins ended with 139 from 213 balls after batting for nearly 6 hours. Zafar Gohar one of 2 Pakistan cricketers (the otehr is bowler Naseem Shah) in this Gloucs team made 53 from 96 balls. The first 5 wicket haul to mention, Sanderson added to his 4 from the first innings taking 5 for 66 in his 24.2 overs.

Two decent innings from Saif Zaib with 65 from 101 balls and Rob Keogh with 74 also from 101 balls helped save the day for Northants, they batted for 81.5 overs to save the draw.

Warwickshire v Surrey – Edgbaston, Birmingham – Rory Burns won the toss for Surrey and elected to bat. Match Drawn

Surrey 428 for 8 dec & 43 for 0, Warwickshire 531 All Out

The Surrey openers, Rory Burns and Ryan Patel put on 117 for the first wicket before Burns was out caught & bowled by Danny Briggs for 41, Patel went in to score 75 from 107 balls. Ollie Pope batting at 4 scored 58 from 85 balls but it was keeper Ben Foakes who top scored with 132 from 263 balls, batting for over 6 hours. Jordan Clark batting at 8 contributed 50 from 91 balls. Oliver Hannon-Dalby took 4 for 78 in his 30 overs.

With Warwickshire on 41 for 4 Surrey must have been hoping for a positive result after their good first innings, however, Matthew Lamb and Michael Burgess had other plans. Lamb made a quick 106 from 138 balls in just 76 minutes, that will have been a delight to watch, last time I watched Essex at Edgbaston he scored a century too! Burgess played a different innings batting for nearly 5 hours he scored 178 from 221 balls. A mention from Sam Hain who scored 78 from 228 balls. Those efforts largely, took Warwickshire saling past that Surrey score.

Rory Burns and Ryan Patel scored the runs required for a draw in 13.1 overs.

Division Two

Glamorgan v Durham – Sophia Gardens, Cardiff – Scott Borthwick won the toss for Durham and put Glamorgan in to bat. Match Drawn.

Glamorgan 234 All Out 7 220 for 5, Durham 383 All Out

Colin Ingram top scored for Glamorgan with 87 from 152 balls, it’s interesting to see Sam Northeast on the team sheet for Glamorgan, he’s been a favourite of mine over the years, I’m glad he has a gig for 2022. The only other innings of note for Glamorgan was Keeper Chris Cooke with 59 from 120 balls. The wickets were shared between 4 bowlers.

Alex Lees who’s enjoying playing for Durham started his CC season with a mighty innings, he carried his bat, a rare thing, making 182 from 358 balls, the innings lasted for just under 8 hours as he saw the wickets falling at the other end. Captain Borthwick was with him for nearly 3 hours scoring 64 from 121 balls, David Bedingham took over for and hour and three quarters making 76 from 85 balls. The Glamorgan opening batter Andrew Salter took 7 for 45 in 12 overs, the best bowling figures of this opening round.

Glamorgan fell to 28 for 3 then 66 for 4 before Kiran Carlson with 61 from 111 balls and Chris Cooke with 85 from 144 saved the draw.

Leicestershire v Worcestershire – Uptonsteel County Ground, Leicester – Brett D’Oliveira won the toss for Worcestershire and elected to bat. Match Drawn.

Worcestershire 348 All Out & 234 for 5 dec , Leicestershire 213 All Out & 218 for 9

The captain’s choice was a good one for him personally, he top scored with 118 from 235 balls batting for nearly 6 hours. His tyeam having fallen to 45 for 4 he and Ed Barnard shared a partnership of 94 with Barnard contributing 57 from 108 balls. Joe Leach then joined the man replacing him as captain in a partnership of 127, he scored 70 from 104 balls. D’Oliveira finished the innings not out, great for his averages! Worcestershire scored their 348 in 93.3 overs.

Leicestershire’s first ininnings lasted just 70 overs, Lewis Hill batted for 19 of those overs, top scoring with 93, he batted for over 3 hours. Chris Wright in at 10 with 32 was the next highest scorer. Joe Leach took 4 for 37 in his 15 overs. Leicestershire were bowled out in 70 overs.

Ed Pollock and Jake Libby put on 163 for Worcs first wicket, Libby was out for 75, facing 101 balls (that seems a common number!) Pollock made 112 from 122 balls. Captain D’Oliveira declared on 234 for 5 looking for a positive result.

Another opener with a century helped save the draw for Leicestershire, Hassan Azad batted for over 6 hours, facing 28o balls and scoring 104 runs, his was the only innings of note, but 7 others contributed double figures. Josh Baker took 4 for 51 in his 30 overs.

Middlesex v Derbyshire – Lord’s, London – Billy Godleman won the toss for Derbyshire and put Middlesex in to bat. Match Drawn.

Middlesex 401 All Out & 258 for 5, Derbyshire 304 All Out & 255 for 5

An early wicket for Suranga Lakmal saw Mark Stoneman on his way back to the pavilion and Middlesex on 13 for 1. A good start for the visitors. But, Josh De Caires (I am going to say it, son of Michael Atherton) and Stevie Eskinazi put on 186 for the second wicket. De Caires was out for 80 from 163 balls having batted for just over 4 hours. Ezkinazi went on to score the first century of the season, he batted for nearly 4.5 hours facing 216 balls before becoming Lakmal’s second scalp. Middlesex had gone from 13 for 1 to 227 for 3. Robbie White in at 4 scored 65 from 157 balls. Alex Thomson took 4 for 103 in his 32.5 overs.

Derbyshire’s openers Shan Masood and Billy Godelman put on 65 for the first wicket, Masood went on to score 91 from 152 balls, he batted for just over 3.5 hours. Anuj Dal in at 7 was the next highest scorer with 52 from 129 balls. The wickets were shared between 5 bowlers as Derbyshire batted for 116.4 overs.

2 quick fire innings from Robbie White with 81 from 96 balls and Max Holden with 82 from 91 saw a declaration after 50 overs for Middlesex,

Opener Shan Masood started the Derbyshire innings off well with 62 from 68 balls, Billy Godelman made 38 from 96, Brooke Guest added 43 from 93 and Wayne Madsen 54 from 72, important innings to save the game.

Sussex v Nottinghamshire – Steven Mullaney won the toss for Notts and put Sussex in to bat. Nottinghamshire won by 10 wickets

Sussex 375 All Out & 172 for 9 , Nottinghamshire 534 for 9 dec & 14 for 0

I’ve written details of lots of centuries in this first round of the season and this match is no exception,

Ali Orr and Tom Haines put on 110 for the first wicket, Haines made 59 from 102 balls and Orr 68 from 187 balls, Orr batted for 91 minutes longer than Haines and his was the fourth wicket to fall. To Clark batting at 5 made a round 100, facing the same number of ball as Haines, batting for pretty much the same time. Delray Rawlins contributed 49 from 75 balls. Sussex batted for 127.1 overs for their 375.

Notts fell to 52 for 4 in reply, before Lyndon James and captain Mullaney had a stand of 108, James made 63 from 139 balls. The highest score of the first 3 days of this new season came from Mullalney, he scored a mighty 192 from 279 balls, he batted for over 7 hours. The third century of this match came for 20 year old Joey Evison, he finished 109 not out, facing 182 balls in just over 3 hours. Mullaley declared after 143 overs. The 8 wickets taken were shared between 5 bowlers.

Sussex had Ibrahim out injured hence the 9 wickets, Opener Ali Orr top scored with just 45 from 161 balls, all out in just 78 overs Notts needed just 14 to win this game, they did that in 2.1 overs.

There were centuries galore (20 to be precise) in this first round of matches – here’s a list

  • Joe Weatherley(Hants) – 168 from 281
  • Nick Browne (Essex) – 107 from 253
  • AlastairCook (Essex). – 100 from 266
  • Matt Critchley (Essex) – 132 from 179
  • Ben Compton (Kent) – 129 from 289
  • Jordan Cox. (Kent) – 120 from 332
  • James Bracey (Gloucs) – 117 from 209
  • Rob Keogh (Northants) – 113 from 180
  • Ryan Higgins (Gloucs) – 139 from 213
  • Ben Foakes (Surrey). – 132 from 263
  • Matt Lamb. (Warwicks) – 106 from 138
  • Michael Burgess (Warwicks) – 178 from 221
  • Alex Lees ( Durtham). – 182 from 358
  • Brett D’Oliveira (Worcs) – 118 from 235
  • Ed Pollock ( Worcs). – 112 from 122
  • Hassan Azad (Leics). – 104 from 280
  • Stevie Eskinazi (Middx) – 118 from 216
  • Tom Clark (Sussex). – 100 from 187
  • Steven Mullaney (Notts) – 192 from 279
  • Joey Evison ( Notts). – 109 from 182

A selection from the over 4000 photos I took at the Essex match

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