After a month-long pause to play the Royal London One-Day Cup, it was time for the Specsavers County Championship to get under way again. The first match to be completed in Division One was at Chelmsford where the home side won by eight wickets. Nottinghamshire were bowled out for 187, with James Porter taking four wickets. At 158 for eight, things were nicely balanced until Simon Harmer (43) and Peter Siddle (40 not out) added 81 for the ninth wicket, helping their side up to 241 in reply. Luke Fletcher took five for 50. The visitors needed a big score from someone, but could make only 158 as Harmer picked up six for 60. Sir Alastair Cook ensured there would be no worries in chasing down 105.
Last year’s top two sides met at Taunton and Surrey batted first. Centuries from Rory Burns (107) and Dean Elgar (103) saw them compile at total of 380. Lewis Gregory was the star performer of Somerset’s reply, hitting 129 not out in just 153 balls, as they made 398. The game was heading for a draw anyway, but the final day was curtailed by the weather, with Surrey on 255 for eight in their second innings. The draw left Somerset top of the table on 54 points.
Two points behind them are Yorkshire, after they beat Kent by 172 runs at Canterbury. The away side made just 210 in their first innings, with six batsmen passing 20 but none reaching 30. Kent appeared to have taken complete charge in their reply, after Ollie Robinson made his second century of the summer (103), but the real star of the innings was Tom Kohler-Cadmore, who took six catches (one short of the world record), equalling the Yorkshire record set by Ellis Robinson in 1938. Gary Ballance maintained his superb start to the summer, with his third and highest century in three matches (159). It was the central plank of his side’s total of 469, and enabled them to set a daunting target of 384. Ben Coad, with six for 52, made sure Kent got nowhere near. Dom Bess made his Yorkshire debut on loan from Somerset, taking just one wicket in the match.
The most one-sided fixture took place at Edgbaston, as Warwickshire were comprehensively outplayed by third-place Hampshire, who won by a mammoth 314 runs. Tom Alsop hit a career-best 150 as the visitors made 354 all out. Jeetan Patel’s long spell was rewarded with figures of six for 94. Dom Sibley hit his second century in successive matches (109), but had little support from the rest of the team as they reached 233 in reply. Rob Yates scored 6 on his debut. Hampshire raced to 302 for five declared in just 50 overs, with Rilee Rossouw hitting 76 in just 46 balls. The target of 424 never looked likely to be achieved, and Warwickshire subsided to 109 all out. Although they have played only two games, a total of seven points suggests a tough season ahead for the Midlanders.
In the Second Division, it is the two relegated sides who are leading the promotion chase, despite the fact that both Worcestershire and Lancashire have played only two games so far, and they will face each other this week. At Worcester, the home side edged out Durham by five wickets. The visitors scored 273, as Charles Morris took six for 53, his second big haul of the summer. The hosts were in trouble at 17 for three, when debutant Joshua Dell came in (the 50th debutant of the summer). He went on to make a gritty 61 in more than four hours at the crease, freeing up Riki Wessels to blast 118 in just 133 balls. Together they turned things around and set their side on the way to a reply of 390. Durham made only 197 in their second innings, falling to Josh Tongue, who took five for 37. A target of 81 didn’t seem too daunting, but Chris Rushworth was still able to take five for 28 to make things uncomfortable for the top order.
At Old Trafford, Lancashire also made it two out of two when they beat Northamptonshire by ten wickets. It won’t have cheered up the visitors that it was one of their former players, Richard Gleeson, who did most of the damage, taking five for 63 as they were dismissed for 230. Keaton Jennings and Dane Vilas both hit 97 in Lancashire’s first innings, to set up a total of 415. Luke Wood, back on loan from Nottinghamshire, followed up his 66 with the bat with five for 72. Jamie Overton, on loan from Somerset, didn’t have as much success. Gleeson completed match figures of ten for 113 after taking another five wickets in the second innings to bowl out the visitors for 220, leaving Lancashire needing just 16 runs to complete their victory.
Spytty Park in Newport hosted its maiden first-class match, with Gloucestershire the visitors. James Bracey (152) became the first centurion on the ground, with Ryan Higgins (103 in 92 balls) following him to help the visitors to a hefty 463 all out. Glamorgan responded with just 250, George Drissell’s off-breaks earning him a career-best four for 83. Following on, the hosts did much better, with Nicholas Selman hitting a career highest score of 150 and Marnus Labuschagne making a career-best 137. Their efforts took Glamorgan to 481 for eight declared and almost to safety. The visitors had a target of 269 to reach, but after 50 overs the match ended in a draw with them on 137 for six.
Leicestershire emerged from Lord’s with a draw after Middlesex scored 349 in their first innings, Tom Lace returning from his Derbyshire loan spell to make 51. The away side made 268 in reply, as Ollie Rayner picked up four for 58. The hosts were then bowled out for 223, leaving Leicestershire with a target of 305 for victory. After 74 overs they finished on 226 for five, in what was a rather tame draw, with only 61 overs possible on the final day.