Superb Ball inspires Notts
Paceman takes five wickets but Lancashire fight back Hampshire take control despite Cox’s sharp fifty
Jake Ball earned a standing ovation at Old Trafford after a superb five-wicket performance helped Nottinghamshire to skittle hosts Lancashire for 158 in the Specsavers County Championship.
The pace bowler’s display included two wickets in two balls shortly before tea to put last season’s second-placed side in Division One on the back foot after there was no play on Friday’s opening day due to a wet outfield.
First, Ball tempted Steven Croft into mishitting a hook that spooned the ball behind, enabling slip Riki Wessels to take the catch on the run. Then Tom Bailey chased a ball wide outside off stump and edged through to wicketkeeper Tom Moores.
Ball’s first victim was Haseeb Hameed, one of two England hopefuls who opened the batting for Lancashire only to disappoint. Hameed was lbw for three while his partner, Keaton Jennings, on his debut for the hosts, was caught and bowled for 11. Ball also had Jordan Clark caught cheaply and finished the Lancashire innings by removing Graham Onions for a duck.
Lancashire’s bowlers started modestly in response, allowing their visitors to reach 62 for two, before claiming a late flurry of wickets that put the match in the balance. Nottinghamshire were on 127 for six at the close.
The fightback began when Onions took his first Championship wicket for Lancashire, although that came courtesy of a leg-side “strangle” which removed Jake Libby for 15. Bailey then had Steven Mullaney caught by Alex Davies for 24 when the keeper dived in front of first slip to take the catch.
The same bowler removed Chris Nash, also for 24, when the former Sussex batsman played across the line to a ball that may have been drifting down leg. Bailey then had Ross Taylor lbw for nine to complete a fine fightback.
Joe Mennie then induced Samit Patel to play on when he had made 28 and nightwatchman Luke Fletcher was caught down the leg side for two.
At the Ageas Bowl, Worcestershire’s
Ben Cox claimed the 22nd first-class fifty of his career, but Hampshire finished with an 242-run lead following an enthralling second day.
Cox collected 65 in a quality knock, as the visitors posted 211 in reply to Hampshire’s 290, leaving them with a first-innings deficit of 79. Hampshire then ended play on 163 for eight, with a lead of 242, after a sprightly evening of bowling from Worcestershire.
In the second division, James Harris starred with bat and ball at Lord’s and there was a landmark moment for Tim Murtagh as Middlesex wrestled control from Northants on a day when 26 wickets fell.
Harris followed a gutsy unbeaten 46 with five wickets for nine runs for the 2016 county champions, who are looking for an immediate return to the top tier following relegation last season.
“It’s nice,” said Harris. “I’ve been at home all this winter and spent a lot of time putting work into my game. You hope for days like this and I’ve played enough games to know they don’t come along that often. I need to do well with everything. I have been put in to bat seven so I have to score more runs and take more responsibility with that. It was nice to do that first innings and get us past 200 for the extra point.
“If I can bowl the length I bowl when I’m at my best then that is the sort of wicket I’d like to pack up and take around with me.”
Murtagh celebrated his 700th firstclass wicket as Northants were routed for 71 in just 21.2 overs. It gave Sam Robson’s side a 143-run first-innings lead despite losing their last six wickets for 78 in an extended prelunch session.
At Canterbury, Kent were dismissed inside 91 minutes for 64 and only a Gareth Roderick half-century saved
Gloucestershire from similar ignominy as 18 wickets fell on day two of the rain-delayed clash.
When bad light stop played just before 6pm, Gloucestershire had mustered 110 for eight to establish a slender lead of 46 courtesy of Roderick’s top score of 51 and a vital 42-run stand in tandem with Kieran Noema-Barnett (18).
Wickets had started to tumble almost as soon as the umpires, Neil Bainton and Mike Burns, had declared conditions fit for play at 1.10pm when, after the loss of the game’s first four sessions, Gloucestershire elected to bowl after an uncontested toss. Leftarm paceman Matt Taylor revelled in ideal bowling conditions to bag four for 20 while Craig Miles took three for 11 as Kent were bowled out inside 18.5 overs.
Tim Ambrose and Ian Bell rose above the collective rust with polished halfcenturies as Warwickshire and Sussex belatedly launched their season at Edgbaston. When the match finally started, the first four sessions having been lost to the weather, Sussex eagerly took up the option to bowl but the home side reached 284 for nine – an impressive total given the desperate batting elsewhere in the second tier.
With both sides starved of match practice after the rain-ravaged pre-season, batsmen and bowlers alike were feeling their way into the season.
Of the batsmen, only Ambrose (76 not out from 106 balls, with 10 fours) and Bell (70, 91 balls, 14 fours) found any fluency. For others it was a case of cobbling together runs against a Sussex attack that, led by David Wiese (four for 50), delivered its share of good balls without the consistency of performance that comes with regular cricket.
In the Indian Premier League, England batsman Jason Roy’s scored an unbeaten 91 off 53 balls to guide the Delhi Daredevils to a thrilling sevenwicket win over the Mumbai Indians.
Day to forget: Keaton Jennings made a poor start to his Lancashire career, being dismissed for 11 as his side collapsed to 158 all out