County Championship: Essex’s Cook and Browne ruffle Kent on opening day | County Championship


If the County Championship season started with its traditional squelch, a surprising number of batters were able to see off April’s demons.

At Edgbaston, where the wind snapped across the ground like a bad-tempered terrier, terrorising the glove-wearing umpire and billowing the covers, Surrey made steady progress against the reigning county champions, Warwickshire, despite the frequent weather interruptions. Ryan Patel, opening the innings, galloped along to 75 before having a wild swing at Olly Hannon-Dalby, while Ashes flotsam Rory Burns chugged along to a steady 41 in an opening partnership of 117. Hashim Amla was also misled by Hannon-Dalby, stumps-a-splatter for two, and Ollie Pope caressed a quick 40 before stumps.

At Chelmsford, old hands Alastair Cook and Nick Browne made the most of a friendly pitch, putting on 220 for the first wicket and each reaching a century as Kent’s bowlers toiled into the swirling gale. Australian Jackson Bird, on debut, dismissed them both in fairly quick succession before Dan Lawrence shouldered arms to a ball that nipped back.

Stevie Eskinazi made the first Championship hundred of the year, and his first at Lord’s in five years, in a classy innings of 118 as Middlesex ambled along confidently against a wan and depleted Derbyshire attack. Josh de Caires, Michael Atherton’s 19-year-old son, collected his maiden first-class 50 in an innings of careful cribbage.

Derbyshire’s cause was not helped when Ryan Sidebottom, their new signing, limped off the field after 1.1 overs with a suspected hamstring problem.

At Hove, Sussex’s rosy-cheeked apple scrumpers, with an average age only just over 21, made sublime progress against big boys Nottinghamshire. Fifties for Ali Orr and Tom Haines, the captain, and 82 not out from Tom Clark frustrated a bowling attack hobbled by injury. Liam Patterson-White, who bowled unchanged for 30 overs from the sea end, the breeze kissing his left shoulder, was the pick with three for 69.

Apocalyptic hail thwarted progress at Cardiff, where 71 from Colin Ingram kept Glamorgan steady against Durham. Chris Rushworth trapped an enterprising Sam Northeast lbw on his club debut for 24.

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There were, though, some batting sides who hadn’t read the memo. Somerset were bowled out for 180 after electing to bat against Mohammad Abbas and co, with only James Hildreth passing 30. Hildreth, in the last year of his contract, played sweetly for 87. Hampshire were 109 without loss at stumps.

Ben Sanderson took four for 38 to put Northamptonshire on top in the battle of the promotion class of 2019. Only James Bracey, 77 not out, seriously disturbed the scoreboard as Gloucestershire finished 164 for eight. And Worcestershire’s in-out day against Leicestershire was spoiled by Chris Wright’s three for 33, with Azhar Ali run out for two on his club debut.



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