COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP DIV 1
Darren Stevens and Sam Billings forged a record sixth-wicket stand of 315 runs © Getty
On a rain-marred day 1, Surrey progressed to 137 for 4 at stumps in their Division 1 game against Essex in Chelmsford.
Surrey won the toss and opted to bat after start of play was delayed due to inclement weather. Jamie Porter, known for extracting seam movement, however, pegged the visitors back by prising Mark Stoneman out LBW with a delivery that nipped back in sharply from round the wicket.
Porter continued to find seam movement from round the wicket and also accounted for the scalp of Scott Borthwick. At that stage, Jamie Smith and Ollie Pope tried to resurrect the innings and stitched a stand of 51. Unfortunately for Surrey, Samuel Cook dismissed Pope LBW right after the Tea break. Cook, who rose into prominence after dismissing Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott in the 2017 first-class season, nipped one back to trap Pope in front.
Cook then induced an outside edge off Smith’s bat to leave Essex in trouble at 99 for 4. Ben Foakes, the skipper, and Will Jacks, however, shared a timely unbeaten stand of 38 before bad light played spoilsport.
Brief scores: Surrey 137/4 (Jamie Smith 34; Samuel Cook 2-35) v Essex
Day 1 of the Somerset-Hampshire game at Rose Bowl had its fair share of twists and turns, with Somerset finishing on 30/2, trailing by 166 at stumps. Liam Dawson was the star performer for Hampshire with a 156-ball 103.
Hampshire, who opted to bat on a track that had a good covering of grass, found themselves in deep trouble at 24 for 5. The trio of Lewis Gregory, Josh Davey and Craig Overton shared the first five wickets to fall. Davey also dismissed Aneurin Donald to leave Hampshire in further trouble at 57 for 6.
However, Dawson came to the home team’s rescue with a brilliant ton. He also found an able ally in Keith Barker as the pair shared a crucial alliance of 92 for the eighth wicket. Dominic Bess, eventually, broke the threatening partnership by dismissing Barker. Tom Abell took over by providing the finishing touches with the scalps of Dawson and Fidel Edwards. Hampshire, though, made a fine comeback with Kyle Abbott sending both Murali Vijay and Steven Davies back to the hut before bad light and rain forced umpires to call stumps.
Brief scores: Hampshire 196 (Liam Dawson 103; Lewis Gregory 3-63) lead Somerset 30-2 (Kyle Abbott 1-2) by 166 runs.
Darren Stevens (225-ball 237), the seasoned veteran, sent Yorkshire’s fielders on a leather hunt to pilot Kent to an imposing 482 for 8 in just 96 overs in Leeds.
When Stevens walked out to bat, Kent were reeling at 39 for 5, but the all-rounder, changed the complexion of the game via a whirlwind 346-run stand in just under 65 overs with Sam Billings (138). In the process of scoring his double century, Stevens, 42, became the oldest player to score a double ton in first-class cricket since Notts’ prolific run-getter, Walter Keaton composed 210 versus Yorkshire in 1949.
Stevens’s hitting prowess can be capsulised by the fact that he cracked as many as nine sixes and 28 fours. He also found support from Billings as the duo explored all corners of the ground. The pair also surpassed the County’s highest sixth-wicket stand of 315 between Aravinda de Silva and Mark Ealham versus Nottinghamshire in 1995. Incidentally, when Stevens amassed his maiden first-class ton for Leicestershire in 1999, Sam Billings was just eight years old. Stevens finally fell to Ajaz Patel and Billings was dismissed by Duanne Olivier, but by then, the damage had been done.
Earlier, Olivier with able support from Matthew Fisher had scythed through the opposition ranks to put Yorkshire in control. Just that Stevens turned the game on its head with his astounding innings.
Brief scores: Kent 482/8 (Darren Stevens 237, Sam Billings 138; Duanne Olivier 5-108) v Yorkshire.
Steven Mullaney (179) and Joe Clarke (125) made enterprising centuries as Nottinghamshire ended Day 1 of their County game versus Warwickshire with a substantial score of 425 for 6.
Mullaney, the skipper, who opened the innings, strung together a partnership of 205 with Clarke for the third-wicket before falling to Jeetan Patel. Clarke, however, continued to play with freedom as he took the score past 350. Eventually, Will Rhodes, the seam-bowling all-rounder, accounted for the scalp of Clarke. Joey Evison (45), Ravi Ashwin (29*) and Paul Coughlin (22*) then made decent contributions lower down the order to leave the visitors searching for answers. Henry Brookes and Rhodes took two scalps each.
Brief scores: Nottinghamshire 425/6 (Steven Mullaney 179, Joe Clarke 125) v Warwickshire