Northeast Sets New Landmark at the Home of Cricket

After one of the wettest winters on record, it was no surprise that four of the nine Vitality County Championship fixtures failed to yield any play on the first day, but at least the competition could welcome a new sponsor, replacing London Victoria. One game that did get underway soon enough was at Trent Bridge, where Essex were put in to bat. Dane Paterson picked up the first five-wicket haul of the season as the visitors were dismissed for 253, despite a solid 80 from new signing Dean Elgar and 84 from another of the club’s new recruits, Jordan Cox. If only the established players had been able to do better. Joe Clarke’s 104 was the centerpiece of the hosts’ reply of 293, though one of their newcomers, Jack Haynes, also shone with 77. But the real excitement in the innings came at the end when Sam Cook picked up the season’s first hat-trick, removing Lyndon James, Brett Hutton and Dillon Pennington in successive balls – perhaps not the most august line-up, but a hat-trick is a hat-trick. Essex built on that to score 374 for nine declared in their second innings, setting a target of 335. The hosts had no answer to Cook, who helped skittle them out for just 80. He finished with remarkable figures of 14-10-14-6 and match figures of ten for 73, while Essex won by 254 runs – the only victory of the first round of fixtures.


At Edgbaston, Worcestershire were put in to bat, and Kashif Ali took full advantage to score his maiden century, before eventually being dismissed for 110. The lower order didn’t offer too much, though new overseas signing Jason Holder made 29 as the visitors were all out for 360. Warwickshire’s overseas player Michael Booth was also making his first-class debut and picked up two wickets. Newly appointed vice-captain Ed Barnard top-scored in the hosts’ reply of 333 to leave things finely balanced at the game’s mid-point. Ali then made his second century of the match, a career-best 133 that featured five sixes. But just 19 overs were played on the final day, and the match ended as a draw immediately after Jake Libby reached three figures with the visitors on 295 for three.


There was some criticism of Somerset’s selection policy at Canterbury, when England spinner Shoaib Bashir was left out of their side, despite the absence of Jack Leach, as they lined up with five frontline seamers. Having chosen to field first after the whole of the first day was lost to the weather, the visitors will have been happy enough to dismiss Kent for 284, Joey Evison top-scoring with 85. The fact that part-time spinners Matt Renshaw and Lewis Goldsworthy each picked up a wicket (for the latter, it was his maiden first-class wicket) merely reinforced the point about Bashir’s absence. Tom Lammonby top-scored in Somerset’s reply, making 90, as they responded with 403. New skipper Daniel Bell-Drummond (107 not out) and Joe Denly (110) put on 222 for the fourth wicket to ensure the hosts batted out the final day to earn a draw, finishing on 290 for four. Goldsworthy went one better than in the first innings and took two wickets.


Just 81.1 overs were possible at Old Trafford, where champions Surrey chose to field first. Josh Bohannon’s 84 was the only significant contribution, as Lancashire were bowled out for 202. Probably the biggest surprise was the identity of the bowlers responsible: Cameron Steel took a career-best five for 25, ripping through the tail, while new signing Dan Lawrence, who had been talking up his ambitions to be seen as more of an all-rounder, took a career-best four for 91. On his first-class debut, Tom Aspinwall made nought.


At Chester-le-Street, no play was possible and so the match between Durham and Hampshire was abandoned.


In the Second Division, all attention was drawn to Lord’s, where Glamorgan’s new captain, Sam Northeast, finished the first day on 186 not out after Middlesex chose to field first. He went on to make 335 not out, setting a new first-class record score at the Home of Cricket, beating Graham Gooch’s famous 333 v India in 1990. His innings lasted for 412 balls, and featured 36 fours and six sixes; with Colin Ingram (132 not out), he added an unbeaten 299 for the fourth wicket and was able to declare with the score on 620 for three – the eighth highest total for Glamorgan and their best against Middlesex. Ryan Higgins was the top scorer in Middlesex’s reply, making a career-best 221. Tom Helm also recorded a career high of 64, adding 114 for the ninth wicket with Higgins. Middlesex were eventually bowled out for 655, the second highest total in their history and just 21 runs short of the record. There was enough time for Glamorgan to score 31 for two before the game ended as a draw. A total of 1306 runs had been scored in the match for the loss of just 15 wickets, an average of 87.06. Not a great game for the bowlers!


At Hove, fans were let in for free on the first day, but the weather restricted the action to just 38.1 overs of play, by which stage Northamptonshire had made 95 for two, having been put in to bat. Skipper Luke Procter top-scored with 92 as the visitors were eventually bowled out for 371, while Sussex’s overseas signing Jayden Seales took four for 86. Tom Haines put a disappointing 2023 season behind him, scoring 133 to lead his side’s reply as they hit back with 478 for nine declared. Fynn Hudson-Prentice made 73, equalling his highest score for the county. That lead of 107 began to take on formidable proportions as the away side struggled in their second innings, eventually reaching 170 for nine as the game was drawn. James Coles took a career-best three for 36.


With just 46 overs played on the first day and none on the third, a draw at Headingley was inevitable after Leicestershire were put in to bat. Ben Mike top-scored with 90, adding 119 for the ninth wicket with Tom Scriven (56), as the visitors reached 354 all out. Matt Milnes’ figures of four for 73 were his best for Yorkshire. Adam Lyth’s 101 in 100 balls seemed positive enough, but it was left in the shade by the returning Harry Brook, who blasted to 100 not out off just 69 balls – the perfect way for Playfair’s 2024 cover star to begin the summer. Yorkshire declared on 264 for six after just 42.4 overs, but the weather intervened again and the away side had reached 26 without loss when the game ended in a draw.


At Derby, the game with Gloucestershire was completely washed out – the first time this has happened at the ground since 1981.