County Championship roundup: Kent and Northants suffer stunning collapses
And so within 48 hours the County Championship swung from the damply ridiculous to the calamitously camp. A combination of pitches sweating under covers, dampness in the air and tentative early-season batting led to a cascade of wickets – 85 in all – tumbling with a comedy parp and a wiggle all the way from Canterbury to Lord’s. With five of the six first-round games in play on the second day of the season; two teams were bowled out for less than a hundred, one match was into its third innings and one into its fourth.
At Canterbury, where the sun promised to dry up the outfield, play didn’t start until lunch but then Kent were bowled out for 64 in 18.5 overs with only the loudly-whispered-about Zak Crawley making it into double figures. The wickets were shared between Gloucestershire’s bowlers, with Matt Taylor’s four for 20, and Craig Miles’ three for 11 the pick. It was Kent’s lowest first‑class total for five years. In reply Gloucestershire stumbled to 56 for six before recovering to 110 for eight at the close, with eight players in single figures and only the wicketkeeper Gareth Roderick holding things together with 51. Darren Stevens took three for 19 and there were two wickets for Matt Henry, including one with the third ball of his career.
Over at Lord’s where Friday’s play had promised something rather more strong and stable, 26 wickets fell in the day. were bowled out for 71, with James Harris pocketing wonderful season-boosting figures of 5.2 overs, five wickets for nine. There was a wicket for Toby Roland Jones and four for Tim Murtagh who captured his 700th first-class dismissal in the process. In their second innings Middlesex folded to 159 all out with Max Holden top scoring with 33 and Murtagh swinging the bat at the end for 31. There were three wickets each for Doug Bracewell and Luke Procter. At the close, Northants were nine without loss, chasing an improbable 294 to win.
At Old Trafford, Jake Ball, long‑legged and tidy, and desperately keen to regain the selectors’ affections after a winter of disappointment, ran in purposefully from the James Anderson end. He took five for 43 as the fancied batting lineup failed to flourish in a Manchester sun so fierce that at one point it stopped play until a reflective panel under the sightscreen was draped with what looked like a tablecloth.
Keaton Jennings, Haseeb Hameed and Liam Livingstone all fell cheaply, with only wicketkeeper Alex Davies of the favoured top four looking confident with 23. Dane Vilas and Shivnarine Chanderpaul put on 64 before Chanderpaul was caught for 11. Vilas was bowled for 49 by Harry Gurney in an impressive bowling performance by promoted . Luke Fletcher, who was ruled out of the second half of last season after sustaining a head injury in a T20 match, bowled some vigorously burly spells and grabbed a wicket.
In reply, Nottinghamshire batted increasingly anxiously through a sun-drenched evening session finishing on 127 for six with wickets for Graham Onions and Joe Mennie on their Lancashire championship debuts, and three for 17 for Tom Bailey.
There were half-centuries for Ian Bell and Tim Ambrose at Edgbaston where knocked up a relatively statesmanlike 284 for nine thanks to an unbeaten last‑wicket partnership of 62 between Ambrose and Chris Wright. There were four wickets for David Wiese. It was Jason Gillespie’s first outing as Sussex coach.
At Southampton, Worcestershire fought back from 83 for six to 211 all out thanks to a cracking little fifty from wicketkeeper Ben Cox and 40 from Ed Barnard. There was to be no further cameo from James Vince in Hampshire’s second innings, caught off Magoffin for 12, nor runs for Sam Northeast, bowled Leach for four. The top scorer was Hashim Amla, run out for 36 as Hampshire finished on 163 for eight, leading Worcestershire by 242 runs.
There was no play at Headingley for the second day in a row, with the sponge‑like conditions on the outfield near the Football Stand end making it too dangerous to start the match. For that, Yorkshire and Essex might feel just a tiny bit of relief.