News Today – County Championship round-up: Champions Essex skittled for 96 and more landmarks for Darren Stevens

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Durham bowler Matt Salisbury dismisses Essex captain Tom Westley
Matt Salisbury was among the Durham bowlers who helped dismiss county champions Essex for just 96

The County Championship dusted off any remains of the snow which curtailed some of its opening-round matches as another set of early-season fixtures began.

The snow stayed away, but there was still room for eye-catching performances and surprising scores.

Champions Essex got a taste of the medicine their own bowlers have dished out in recent seasons as Durham bowled them out for just 96. But the hosts also enjoyed success with the ball despite a fine century from Scott Borthwick.

Elsewhere, fresh from his inclusion as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, Kent’s Darren Stevens notched up yet another career landmark with his 550th first-class wicket.

That came in a match where England captain Joe Root failed again to make the most of time at the crease, making just 11.

There were also a few more centurions, Derbyshire’s Matt Critchley with 109 against Worcestershire, Glamorgan’s Kiran Carlson scoring an unbeaten 127 at Sussex and Leicestershire’s Sam Evans reaching 100 before stumps against Surrey.

Throw in the return of a few more England-contracted players like Stuart Broad for Nottinghamshire and there was no shortage of incident.

Group One

After only 20 wickets fell across four days of their opening match against Worcestershire last week, Essex saw 18 fall on the opening day of their meeting with Durham.

Essex opener Nick Browne was first to go just three balls in for a duck and only Dan Lawrence (32) repelled the Durham dominance.

Chris Rushworth (3-13) and Brydon Carse (3-37) both took three wickets as Essex made just 96.

Durham looked in pole position at 98-1 in reply, but Essex fought back, taking seven wickets for 46 runs under very dark skies to peg the visitors back to 148-8, a lead of 52.

In between the wicket flurries, Durham captain Borthwick struck 15 fours in his 129-ball century.

Stuart Broad batting for Nottinghamshire against Warwickshire
Stuart Broad scored 21 and took 1-10 for Nottinghamshire against Warwickshire

Nottinghamshire welcomed back Stuart Broad against Warwickshire and he first played his part with the bat as his side recovered from 119-6 to 273 thanks to Liam Patterson-White’s unbeaten 73.

Notts claimed two wickets before the close, including Broad’s removal of India batsman Hanuma Vihari, caught by Haseeb Hameed for a duck, as the Bears replied with 24-2.

Derbyshire made 360-8 against Worcestershire at the County Ground thanks to Critchley’s 109 off 159 balls. Leus du Plooy (98) and Harvey Hosein (65 not out) also stood out for the visitors.

Group Two

Hampshire were big winners in the first round but found runs harder to come by against Middlesex.

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But half-centuries by Ian Holland (64) and Sam Northeast (63) and Kyle Abbott’s stoic unbeaten 35 steered them to 281-8 to keep the likes of Steven Finn (2-90) at bay.

Somerset produced a fine comeback win against Middlesex at Lord’s last week and were again indebted to their lower order against Gloucestershire.

Steven Davies (87) and Craig Overton (54) rescued them from 110-5 to an eventual 312 all out at Taunton. Gloucestershire will resume on 13-0.

Leicestershire look in a strong position against Surrey after opener Evans reached 100 before the close to guide them to 215-3.

Hassan Azad (55) also kept an attack including West Indies paceman Kemar Roach at arm’s length.

Group Three

Adam Lyth (97) continued his strong start to the season with the bat to help Yorkshire reach 358-8 against Kent.

Harry Brook (54) and England off-spinner Dom Bess (36) helped build useful partnerships as evergreen Stevens (3-52) did the trick once again with the ball.

Carlson was the mainstay for Glamorgan at Sussex with 127 not out in their 285.

Simon Kerrigan celebrates a wicket for Northamptonshire against Lancashire
Simon Kerrigan (centre) took 3-53 for Northamptonshire against his former county Lancashire

David Lloyd (84) added 110 for the fourth wicket alongside Carlson as Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson (4-50) showed why he is in the England selectors’ thoughts.

The hosts finished the day well on 99-0 in reply thanks to a promising stand between Aaron Thomason (52 not out) and Tom Haines (43 not out).

Lancashire reached 264-8 after choosing to bat against Northamptonshire.

Josh Bohannon (68) and Alex Davies (57) were the mainstays as former Red Rose spinner Simon Kerrigan returned to Old Trafford to claim 3-53.

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