The Royal London One-Day Cup got underway on 17 April, the very early start to the 50-over competition, perhaps reflecting the low priority given to it by the ECB. Fortunately for players and fans, it coincided with a general warming of the temperatures so that those who ventured to Canterbury for the first day-night match didn’t freeze to their seats.
Six games were played in the first round, with five of the sides who batted first making totals of 300-plus and all six teams going on to win their matches. Durham’s 72-run victory was the narrowest, and they made 342 for five after they were put in to bat. Skipper Cameron Bancroft made 151 not out in 130 balls and Michael Richardson scored 102. Durham fielded three debutants in this format: Brydon Carse, Liam Trevaskis (out first ball) and Scott Steel who, three days short of his 20th birthday, opened the batting and made 68 in 65 balls. Trevaskis did at least have some success with the ball, picking up the wickets of Northamptonshire skipper Alex Wakely and West Indies captain Jason Holder. Carse accounted for Ben Sanderson.
The biggest win of the round came at Headingley, where Yorkshire beat Leicestershire by 213 runs – the second biggest winning margin in their history. Gary Ballance continued his fine early-season form with a career-best 156, and Harry Brook made a maiden century (103) in this format. A total of 379 for seven overwhelmed the visitors, who were bowled out for 166, with Matthew Pillans taking a career-best five for 29.
Perhaps the biggest surprise came at Bristol, where Gloucestershire beat Surrey by 147 runs, despite making only 235. Four for 43 from Rikki Clarke appeared to have put the visitors in charge, but for only the second time this century Surrey were dismissed for under 100. At Old Trafford, Hamish Rutherford (108) and Daryl Mitchell (101) helped Worcestershire up to 367 all out, despite Matt Parkinson taking a career-best five for 51. Brooke Guest made his debut and, with 36, was one of six Lancashire batsmen to score between 27 and 54, with none going any further. All out for 242, they lost by 125 runs.
At Cardiff, Essex were the emphatic winners by 180 runs. Varun Chopra made 111 to help set a total of 326 for seven, and Glamorgan could muster only 146 in reply. In the day-night game at Canterbury, Hampshire made 310 for nine, with Sam Northeast scoring 105 not out in 95 balls. Matt Milnes, on his List-A debut, took five for 79. Kent suffered three run outs and no one reached a half-century as they subsided to 220 all out.
On Good Friday there were eight more games, and finally a side batting second won. Having kept Leicestershire to 233 for nine at Chester-le-Street, Cameron Bancroft completed a second successive century, making 118 not out in 117 balls to guide Durham home by six wickets with plenty of time to spare. Hampshire had a seemingly tougher run-chase at Southampton after Glamorgan made 292 for nine. Graham Wagg was joint top scorer, with 68, the highest of his career. Tom Alsop made an unbeaten 130 in 115 balls, a personal best for him, in Hampshire’s reply as they cruised home by seven wickets with 49 balls to spare.
At Taunton, Somerset recorded the second biggest winning margin in their history, when they trounced Kent by 264 runs. Tom Banton made his maiden century in fine style (107 in 79 balls), while Craig Overton’s 66 not out (in just 36 balls) was also his highest score and helped the team up to 358 for nine. Overton followed that up by taking five for 18, the best figures of his career, as Kent collapsed to 94 all out. By contrast, the game at Edgbaston was a thriller that went to the final over. Warwickshire batted first and made 270 for eight, Liam Banks scoring 31 on his debut. At 33 for four, Yorkshire’s run chase seemed doomed, but a 138 sixth-wicket partnership between Jonathan Tattersall (79) and Tim Bresnan (89) brought them right back into it, but both men fell within four ball of each other to tip the balance again. At the start of the final over, ten runs were still required, with eight wickets down, and by the last ball it was two needed with the last pair in. A bye meant the game ended as a tie – the first of the season.
Derbyshire recorded a routine home win over Northamptonshire at Derby. Having chosen to bat first, they made 268 for six. Tom Lace made his debut in this format and scored 21, while Mark Watt and new Kolpak signing Leus du Plooy (30) made their debuts for the county. After slipping to 31 for four, it was a long way back for the visitors, and they never came close, being bowled out for 215. At Chelmsford, Essex made a gallant effort to chase down Middlesex’s 366 for eight. George Scott’s career-best 63 off 30 balls provided spectacular impetus towards the end. Varun Chopra was another to make a second century in the competition, scoring 127 at a run a ball, but it wasn’t enough as Nathan Sowter took six for 62, his best figures and the best this year. Essex were all out for 328.
There was a run-fest at Trent Bridge, where Nottinghamshire batted first and set a daunting total of 417 for seven, their third highest List-A total. Joe Clarke continued his fine start to the summer, making a career-best 139 in 99 balls, and Luke Fletcher finished the innings with a devastating cameo of 46 not out in just 17 balls. For Lancashire, Steven Croft hit 110 in 82 balls, but it was Dane Vilas who really brought them into contention with his career-best 166 in 100 balls (including eight sixes). He seemed destined to see his side home, but he was seventh out in the 47th over leaving the tail to add 25 off 19. It was too much, and they finished on 406 for nine – the best List-A score in their history. The match aggregate of 823 runs was the seventh highest in all List-A games, and the fourth highest in England. In the batting mayhem, James Pattinson took five for 61, including both of Lancashire’s centurions. On his debut, Jake Libby neither batted not bowled for Notts.
In the day-night match at Hove, Surrey made 274 for nine, with Mir Hamza taking four for 43. At 232 for seven with nine overs left, Sussex’s chances of victory were in the balance, but David Wiese’s 92 not out off 81 balls saw them home with two wickets and 11 balls to spare.
With Easter Sunday proving to be one of the hottest on record, there was always going to be a good crowd at Headingley for the Roses match – and they were given a treat in a thriller of a game. Lancashire chose to bat first, and Steven Croft’s 97 set them on their way, but it was a 32-ball career-best 55 not out from Josh Bohannon that saw them over the 300-mark to finish on 311 for six. Tom Kohler-Cadmore also scored 97, but as their run chase reached its climax, Yorkshire were depending on Jonathan Tattersall to see them home. He was still there at the start of the final over, with his side needing 16 for victory, two wickets remaining. Three of Saq Mahmood’s first four balls went to the boundary, and suddenly it was three off two, but Lancashire’s fielders held their nerve, with Dane Vilas effecting two run outs to give them victory by a single run.
It was almost as tight at Cardiff, where Somerset batted first and made 261 for nine, Craig Overton leading the tail to help them up from 178 for eight. Glamorgan’s innings got off to an appalling start, as they slumped to 21 for five inside six overs. David Lloyd (84) led the rebuilding work, but even so they were still only on 202 when the ninth wicket fell, leaving Lukas Carey and Timm van der Gugten to chase down the remaining 60 runs. They put on a record-breaking partnership of 57 for the tenth wicket, and at the start of the 49th over needed just three more runs for victory, but Roelof van der Merwe kept his calm and Carey was caught by Azhar Ali.
There was a high-scoring affair at Leicester where the home side made 377 for four – their third highest List-A score, and their highest against first-class opposition. Colin Ackermann made a career-best 152 not out and added a county record 200 partnership for the fourth wicket with Lewis Hill, whose blistering 118 took just 62 balls (and 54 balls to reach three figures). Ross Whiteley took 68 balls to make his century, and was eventually out for 131, but it wasn’t enough as they were all out for 339.
An opening partnership of 153 between Luis Reece (88) and Billy Godleman (116) seemed to have set up Derbyshire in their home game against Nottinghamshire, but they occupied 30.1 overs and the hosts finished on 297 for eight, with Luke Fletcher cleaning up at the end to finish with personal best figures of five for 56. The visitors cruised to their target to win by six wickets with 29 balls remaining. Middlesex also won by six wickets, beating Gloucestershire at Lord’s. The day’s only debutant, James Bracey, immediately settled in to this format, top-scoring with 83 in 61 balls to help the visitors up to 283 for seven. Steve Eskinazi (107 not out) and Nick Gubbins (98 not out) made easy work of the chase, putting on a county record unbeaten partnership of 184 for the fifth wicket.
Northamptonshire beat Warwickshire by 194 runs at Northampton, the fourth highest winning margin in their history. Five of their batsmen made between 48 and 69, with Jason Holder’s 31-ball 60 not out the highlight in their total of 358 for six. The visitors were then bowled out for 164, with the wickets also shared out. At Beckenham, Matt Renshaw made 109 in Kent’s total of 298, but a career-best 137 not out from Phil Salt saw Sussex to victory with seven wickets and ten overs to spare.